Iraq: at least prisons are going up; Financial derivatives up to $415 trillion; Turks & Kurds set to kill

Some misc bits for you. First check the Google Zeitgeist, the global popular search phrase listing.

First the Econ: Agonist.org has a bunch of economic stories up today (and most Mondays) to get you thinking seriously. The total value of derivatives rose nearly 40% to a whopping $415,000,000,000,000, which of course dwarfs the national debt and national economy. More on that here. The 1929 Stock Market's got nothing on Modern America!! Who needs to worry about margin calls when you can just make up some more devious debt instruments until next quarter? Real America's economy sucks, but in pretend derivatives-world it's all gravy.

Amazingly, a funny article about adjustable mortgages. Lying cheerleaders on CNBC blame the recent Sarbanes-Oxley for everything - bullshit! This guy thinks that bubbles are good because after they Pop, they leave infrastructure behind. Seems dumb to me.

Hearts and minds:

Supporting the security and justice systems in Iraq is one of the main challenges that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confronts to help the Iraqi government develop the infrastructure countrywide.

According to Rick Mers, a project engineer with the Gulf Region South District the New An Nasiriyah Maximum Security Correctional Facility, which is built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the Dhi Qar Province, is considered to be the biggest prison in the south of Iraq. "The project is a new maximum security correctional facility located near the city of Nasiriyah. The prison will hold up to 800 inmates and includes holding areas, laundry, dining facilities, and administrative offices," he said.

Michael Osborne, a resident engineer with Gulf Region South, said that the prison will help to provide employment for security personnel, medical personnel and support staff. It will also improve the quality of security correctional facilities south of Iraq.

Meanwhile the Turks and Kurds are gearing up to kill each other across northern Iraq:

While President Bush's new strategy in Iraq focuses on stopping the violence in Baghdad, trouble threatens to boil over in Iraq's Kurdish region to the north, which the administration frequently holds up as an island of stability and a model for the future.

The long dispute between Turkey and Iraq over renegade Kurdish fighters camped on the Iraqi side of their shared border reached new heights last month. When the head of Iraq's Kurdish regional government threatened to provoke an uprising among Turkish Kurds, Turkey responded with warnings of direct military action and an angry complaint to Washington.

Ankara has massed thousands of soldiers on its side of the border and has warned it will dismantle the camps in Iraq if the U.S. military will not use some of its nearly 150,000 troops in Iraq to do it.

.....On the Iraq side of the seam, there is wide concern that the administration has already given Turkey a green light to act in northern Iraq, one State Department official said, although others insist that Washington has urged restraint.

Looming over the conflict is the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The postwar Iraqi constitution calls for a referendum in December to determine if the population wants to become part of the Kurdish region. Turkey has made clear it would view that as a direct threat to the rights of Kirkuk's large minority of ethnic Turkmen.

Turkey believes that "if the Kurds get Kirkuk, it will mean an independent Kurdish state," said Qubad Talibani, the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talibani and the Kurdish regional government's spokesman in Washington. "We've seen Turkish groups lobbying quite actively" against the referendum.

Alleged Turkish interference over Kirkuk sparked a flare-up last month when Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, threatened retaliation if Turkey continued "interfering" in Iraqi affairs. It would be easy, he warned, for Iraqi Kurds to stir up their 30 million ethnic brethren in southeastern Turkey.

Turkey's military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, responded with a warning of a cross-border attack, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul demanded that the United States restrain Barzani. Ankara sent sharply worded notes to Baghdad and Washington, and Erdogan said publicly that Barzani would be "crushed under his words."

An old story, but interesting: a guy found MS Word documents from the old Coalition Provisional Authority, then used the Track Changes feature to reveal secret material from 2004. The secret material proves the CPA were a seriously dumb bunch of gringos. In particular they said that a healthy dose of violence would intimidate foolish Arabs - a classic racist stereotype that has carried America far.

One of the American outlying patrol outposts got overrun by Iraqi guerillas at 0400, and the media termed it an "ambush" even though the American forces were stationary. Is this intentional spin or just journalistic ignorance, Pat Lang asks.

Chalmers Johnson is the scholar of the current global American empire, especially the military base structure that underpins everything. He's concerned the military-industrial complex is going to bankrupt America. Check out "Ending the Empire" for the problems today, and how to shutdown the military-industrial complex.

John Bolton shrewdly advises bombing the fuck out of Iran immediately. This guy's one long-term thinker. He sucks as someone on the Internets managed to point out.

Chinese wheat gluten is contaminated with melamine, just one situation among many. Huge setback for Chinese agriculture.

Old school spy angle: Phil Giraldi, an old CIA hand, enumerates the way Tenet has been lying about his record.

The so-called Class Action Fairness Act is gonna screw regular people. Sweet.

Freight rail works. I agree. You can get a ton of cargo 400 miles on a gallon of fuel - that's what we need right now. Auto manufacturers conspired to kill rail back in the day, blah blah blah...

The War Czar may be illegal. Where's Congress?

Lobbying reform might not work as Dems sink into the Beltway swamp.

Major strategy writer Andrew Bacevich's son, also named Andrew, was killed serving in Iraq. Our condolences to the family. The father's book "The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War" is excellent! Even handles the eschatology of the military-industrial complex and evangelicals.

Bridges to Money from Nowhere: Alaska Senator Ted "Shut Up! It's a series of tubes" Stevens has more corrupt friends still trying to get bridges to their property holdings.

Once there was a joke called the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, who can't release their own reports without political hacks scratching out the bad stuff.

Feel sorry for the Schloz: another doomed gremlin in the Department of Justice, Bradley Schlozman, is pretty much screwed. Schloz is the kind of lawyer you send when you need to get more black people kicked off the voter rolls in Missouri. Good times in Purple America. Fox "News" features only black people in stock footage suggesting illegal voting. Nothing new, just visual shorthand for what they always say.

Murdoch trying to take over Wall Street Journal: A WSJ China specialist talks about how Murdoch would sugarcoat China news to help his own bottom line. More on this.

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