Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Back to the Desert

Posting may be light over the next week as I prepare for a move to Oman. The plan is to stay there until June, but things could change overnight. It should be an interesting experience but I may not have much time to post in the next few days.


9/11 Conspiracies: If You Don’t Believe, You’re One of Them

Browsing through one of my new favorite blogs, BuelahMan’s Revolt, I came across an interesting piece on Julian Assange and Wikileaks.  BuelahMan suggested that WikiLeaks was nothing more than a tool of the ruling elite, used to create the appearance of dissension when in fact it was merely reinforcing the status quo:

Of course, I do not KNOW what Assange’s motivation is, but I can see that Israel and the American Empire is being protected and the actions are being justified. I can see that the mass of information is being filtered by the likes of the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the government of Israel (among other criminals, as well). I can see that what info is let, is being released slowly and with purpose of misdirection… NOT some info dump that allows the citizenry to scrutinize and filter as we see fit. No, we need the MSM and complicit governments to let us know what we “need to know”, when we need to know it.

Now, this is a unique perspective and honestly not one that I’ve given much thought to.  It could very well be accurate, but that discussion is for another post.  What really grabbed my attention was B’Man’s assertion that “911 is the nut-cuttin issue of our lives”:

It is really quite simple: it comes down to the nut-cuttin of 911. When you look at what Assange says about 911, I see a hack. Why? Because anyone, at this point, who denies 911 was a demolition is either wholly uninformed, a stupid and ignorant asshole or complicit in the murders of that day. That goes for ANYONE who denies a demolition or anyone who still blathers the “official story” (friend or foe). Chomsky is another asshole, but that is a different post because I suspect he is lying about (or hiding) the true feelings he has.

I do not consider myself a stupid, ignorant asshole, but I am not quite prepared to conclude that the collapse of the twin towers was due to  a controlled demolition.  I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, but there simply isn’t enough evidence to conclude, without any doubt, that this is in fact what happened.

What I will say about 9/11 is this:   Read more of this post

Jared Loughner Was Not a “Dangerous Loner”

crazy Jared Loughner - why the fuck is he smiling?

Ever since the tragedy in Arizona last week, the corporate media has taken a rather predictable course of action.  First, they attempted to lay the blame on both the left and right sides of the grossly restricted American political spectrum, claiming that both sides needed to tone down the rhetoric of anger and violence.  Once this mission was largely accomplished, the narrative of Loughner the “dangerous loner” was inevitably brought to the fore:

Dangerous loners hard to catch before they act

WASHINGTON – The gunman accused of trying to assassinate Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others, Jared Lee Loughner, was not on any government watch list that might have warned someone not to sell him a gun or caused police to investigate his unstable behavior.

It turns out there is not a list in the United States for people like Loughner.

This particular example of AP propaganda then goes on to blatantly contradict itself by describing six other incidents in the last two years alone in which an “angry loner” has perpetuated similar acts of wanton violence:

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Street Scenes from Riyadh

riyadh street life
As some readers may know, I had the extreme misfortune of being stranded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a solid seven months of my life.  I was drawn by the relatively high salary, but quickly realized that some things just aren’t worth the money.

What you see above is a shot taken in one of Riyadh’s most bustling neighborhoods, just outside of Bathaa.  Bathaa is known as the immigrant area, or as some of my Pakistani colleagues liked to call it, Little Karachi.  Unlike most of Riyadh, which was intolerably sterile and devoid of pedestrian activities of any kind, Bathaa actually felt like a city.  But the sense of oppression was tangible; the Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian immigrant laborers were, for all intents, slaves.  Although they were paid a negligible amount for their services, they were literally held hostage at the whim of their Saudi employer.  I can speak from experience when I say that Saudi employers can be savagely ruthless.

It is the American addiction to Saudi oil that allows this system of modern slavery to exist.  And the hideous, rubble-strewn streets of Riyadh are testament to the fact that absolutely nothing constructive is being done with the unfathomable sums of money we’ve been funneling into Saudi Arabia for the last sixty years.  Riyadh is among the ugliest, most under-developed cities I have ever visited – slightly above the capital cities of, say, Laos and Cambodia, but remarkably impoverished for what is purportedly the wealthiest city on earth.  It is estimated that upwards of $1 billion dollars of profit funnel through Riyadh on any given day, but by and large the city and its residents – particularly its foreign residents – have seen very little of those riches.

The Saudi monarchy is corrupt.  The Imams who wield the real power in Saudi culture are so obsessed with enforcing a millennia-old moral and legal code that they have little concern left for such arbitrary matters as social development or progress.  And yet Saudi Arabia remains one of our strongest allies in the region, a supposed friend of democracy in spite of its atrocious record of flagrant human rights violations and its openly professed antipathy for the very concept of self-governance.

The moral of the story here is that our oil addiction has some ugly consequences, beyond the obvious implications of climate change.  It’s time to lay off the oil, folks.

More Dead Birds Found in Alabama

The mysterious spate of dead birds and fish continues:

Three hundred dead birds fell from the sky in Alabama on Friday. The carcasses of grackles, who appear similar to blackbirds, were found along Interstate 65 in Alabama. Wildlife biologist, Bill Gates told WAFF television he saw the bodies of the dead birds scattered all over the snow along the side of the highway.

Scientists have not confirmed if the mysterious Alabama bird deaths are related to other sudden birds deaths being reported in the southern United States and worldwide.

On New Year’s Eve, 5,000 blackbirds died suddenly in Beebe, Arkansas. Two days later, 500 blackbirds fell dead in Pointe Coupee Parish Louisiana. More birds were then reported dead in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, and thousands of doves inexplicably died in Italy.

In addition to the bird deaths, millions of fish have washed up dead, during the same period of time.

The cause of the massive increase in dead birds and dead fish has occurred simultaneously over the past three weeks. No solid data has been discovered to explain the deaths.

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Apologies for the Light Posting

A combination of a bad internet connection and lingering fears of an imminent, painful death from rabies have conspired to keep me from writing, but things should be back to normal by tomorrow.

Remember Bradley Manning

More than five months after being transferred from Kuwait to the Quantico Marine Brig, Bradley Manning is still subject to torturous, highly unconstitutional conditions:

Manning’s cell consists of a bed bolted to the wall, a mattress with a built-in pillow, a quilted cover of jean-like fabric, water fountain/sink, mirror, and toilet. The entire front wall of Manning’s cell is bars, so he can see the guard when he/she passes. He can talk to any other detainee in the wing, but cannot see them. Villiard would not verify whether there are other detainees in Manning’s wing.

There is a different area in the brig for detainees held in “solitary confinement.” Those cells do not have open bars in the front, and the detainee cannot see out except for a small window, nor can he hear or speak to others.

The military distinguishes between being held in a solitary cell for 23 hours per day and being held in “solitary confinement” . . . a fine point, indeed. The Geneva Conventions ban solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment.


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The End of Suffering

I’ve had a strange couple of weeks.  This tumultuous period began with the death of my cat, just two days before the end of 2010.  Initially I suspected that he had been poisoned – this being Thailand, after all.  A quick Google search quickly revealed, however, that he had more likely died from rabies.  In his case, the disease appears to have taken the paralytic route, a lesser known but nonetheless extremely common form of the notoriously lethal illness.

I ended up receiving rabies PEP only to later discover that the course of treatment I was administered was well beneath the standard of that recommended in the States (for those who know the score, I was given the vaccine only, without HRIG/ERIG).  Needless to say, this resulted in quite a bit of worry on my part, as I considered the (relatively small) possibility that I might be one of the unlucky few who developed symptoms of the disease more rapidly than the vaccine alone could provide immunity.

This sudden possibility of my own imminent demise necessarily lead to, amongst flashes of sheer panic, reflections on the nature of life and – at the risk of sounding cliched – our ultimate purpose here on this earth.

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Boehner’s Boners

Apologies for the hackneyed title, but I just couldn’t resist.

Just a quick post as I’m on the road today, but I encourage everyone to check out Matt Taibbi’s latest article, dealing with that horrible specimen of a human being known as John Boehner [h/t Tengrain].  Although Taibbi seems a little too sympathetic with the Tea Party movement in general, the article is a good read and offers some excellent insight into the remarkably corrupt and wholly amoral existence of the new Speaker of the House.

Some highlights:

Boehner, in short, has for most of his career been a Bush Republican, i.e., a corporate schmoozer and a remorseless spender of taxpayer money for whom the notion of small government is just something to say when the cameras are on, or when the public money in question might go to poor people or immigrants or other such unlikely golfers. This was a fine way to be during the 2000s, back when America was still unfucked enough to enjoy a phony real estate boom and launch recreational wars of conquest in the Middle East — but in this new decade, post-Bush and post-crash, there is serious doubt on the Hill that a reflexive favor-churner like Boehner will be able to keep delivering Republican votes to lavish taxpayer money on his industry pals. Money is simply too tight now, and people are too pissed off. …

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Christian Wackos: 20,421 People Have Gone to Hell Since You Opened This Web Page

I come from an extremely religious family, of the fanatical Protestant type.  I grew up attending church services multiple times per week, and daily Bible study and prayer was simply a part of life.  Everything revolved around an obsessive belief in Jesus and the notion that some day, after death, we would join him for  an eternity of bliss.

Needless to say I’ve outgrown such parochial beliefs, but the majority of my family – both immediate and distant – have not.  And although this means I can’t discuss anything more than the weather with most of my family, the endless stream of wacka-wacka Christian emails and Facebook postings provides a steady source of entertainment.

Today, for instance, I was directed to the website of “100.9 The Cross,” a cheesy Gospel music station in North Carolina, with which one of my relatives is affiliated.  Now, the website in itself provided a barrel full of laughs – just check out this screen grab:

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