53 Brentwood Blog

Friday, December 19, 2008

Three-word road map

Millions of Americans knew him only as a shadowy figure in the 1976 movie made from the Watergate saga, “All the President’s Men,” which made “Woodward and Bernstein” legends of American journalism. In the movie, Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) gives Mr. Woodward (Robert Redford) probably the most famous bit of free advice in the history of investigative journalism. It was a three-word road map to the heart of the matter: “Follow the money.”

Mr. Felt never said it. It was part of the myth that surrounded Deep Throat.

TIM WEINER, http://www.nytimes.com/

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What... a... Dick... Cheney...

In his first television interview since the presidential election in November, Cheney displayed no regrets and gave no ground to his many critics within America and around the world. He summed up his record by saying: "I think, given the circumstances we've had to deal with, we've done pretty well."

Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 December 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008


But no one seems to know for sure who will run the agency [NASA]. Or at least they are not saying.

As Scott Pace, the new director of the Space Policy Institute, puts it, "Those who talk don't know, and those who know don't talk."

Washington Post

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I guess we make our own prophecies

Technology is a drug.

We can't get enough of it.

We feed it to our kids and watch them grow on a forced diet of desensitization. Switch on the T.V and someone will tell you 50,000 people died in India. Two seconds later you're watching a comedy. Technology can do that. It gives us simulated realities that make us oblivious to the real world. Heroin does the same thing. So do most class A drugs. Basically, we are all addicts - addicted to the comfort and convenience that technology provides - addicted to the notion that progress is directly related to the size of your computer screen. Of course it is. We must be right. We come from the developed world. We're already developed. Sure. Then again, wealthy kids in America shoot each other. Poor kids in Soweto can't stop smiling.

So who's developed?

I met an Aborigine in Arnhemland, Australia - his nephews showed me symbols where I saw trees and rainbows through smoked glass. They could see fish through clouded water. I couldn't even see my own reflection. I must have forgotten how.

When I look in front of me, I see two paths - spiritual or material. Two worlds - developed or developing. You decide which is which. We're still in the wake of millennium paranoia - earthquakes, floods, end of the world scenarios, cult suicides, viral diseases that eat into our computer realities. This is our developed world.

Then, as Nelson Mandela says 'We are free to be free'.

I guess we make our own prophecies.

Nitin Sawhney – March 2001

Thursday, December 11, 2008

SERE: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape

In July 2002, Rumseld's senior staff began compiling information about techniques used in military survival schools to simulate conditions that U.S. airmen might face if captured by an enemy that did not follow the Geneva conditions. Those techniques -- borrowed from a training program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE -- included waterboarding, or simulated drowning, and were loosely based on methods adopted by Chinese communists to coerce propaganda confessions from captured U.S. soldiers during the Korean war.

The SERE program became the template for interrogation methods that were ultimately approved by Rumsfeld himself, the report says. In the field, U.S. military interrogators used the techniques with little oversight and frequently abusive results, the panel found.

"It is particularly troubling that senior officials approved the use of interrogation techniques that were originally designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies against our own soldiersand that were modeled, in part, on tactics used by the Communist Chinese to elicit false confessions from U.S. military personnel," the report said.

By Joby Warrick -- Washington Post December 11, 2008.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"The numbers here are truly horrific," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, a consultancy. "It is clear this economy is now deteriorating with frightening speed and ferocity."

Monday, December 01, 2008

The result was ...

... nobody would pull the plug on stupidity.

"I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I believe that's how the best decisions are made," Obama said. "One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in group-think and everybody agrees with everything and there's no discussion and there are no dissenting views. So I am going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House."

"But understand, I will be setting policy as president. I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I will expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made . . . The buck will stop with me."

Noting Obama's choice of economic advisers, David Cho and Alec MacGillis wrote in The Post on Thursday that "a central leadership challenge the president-elect will face: how to manage a stable packed with big brains and bigger personalities -- and how to make decisions when those high-powered experts disagree."

Roger Cohen writes in his New York Times opinion column: "President Bush had one overriding criterion in choosing his inner circle: loyalty. The result was nobody would pull the plug on stupidity. Obama wants the kind of competence and brainpower that challenge him. The God-gut decision-making of The Decider got us in this mess. Getting out of it will require an Oval Office where smart dissent is prized."

By Dan Froomkin
Monday, December 1, 2008