Archive for June, 2003
This lot sent me one of their articles today concerning the Bushes…the site is pretty good, and the name refers to the long-gone leftist movement in the 1890s in America. (A lesson – you can have left-wing populism too, not just Richard Littlejohn..)
I’m considering giving them a permanent link and reposting the article, but this obviously had to wait for Ranter security checks to be completed – as they say, on the net no-one knows you’re really a dog, and that goes for nutters, anti-Semites, conspiracy weirdsters etc. Initial examination was pretty clear, but then I found this….
“When I wrote my earlier articles on remote control, I was inclined to discount the issues surrounding pilot capabilities. I was concerned that readers would give the benefit of the doubt to the “terrorists” and believe that they somehow managed to carry off the mission in spite of their lack of training. However, I received the following mail from a reader, who convinced me that this is a serious problem indeed for those who believe the official story.
While in the Air Force I worked on heat-seeking, video, electro-optical, and laser-guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and bombs. As a profession today I work in computer network engineering. As a hobby I am an avid fisherman very familiar with the concepts of GPS. From my perspective it would be a piece of cake to build a back door access into an aircraft’s avionics and sieze control of the vessel.”
Yes. 767s really can be secretly controlled via the internet. You may believe that if you wish. From there, it was no surprise to find that it was all a Jewish conspiracy orchestrated by Israeli companies involved in phone billing. If you want to be taken seriously, Margie Burns and http://www.populist.com, don’t write this sort of shite. It’s a pity about populist.com, but this sort of thing is a class-A discrediting factor. In all, a waste of good bandwidth.
The deaths of the 6 military policemen in al-Amara have pointed up just how dangerous and – especially- unpredictable Iraq has become. Despite the weird, heroic old-empire nature of the incident – the last stand in the police station against a thousand-strong armed mob – it shows yet again how politically and technically poor the Anglo-American administration of Iraq has been. Paul Bremer, the US civil governor, is quoted as telling a WEF meeting in Jordan that one of his first priorities is “diverting people and resources from state enterprises to more productive private firms…ending special deals and subsidies to force state enterprises to face hard budget constraints”. What is wrong with the man? Can he not look out of the fucking window? There is no “more productive, private” power or water company to supply Baghdad. How could massive reorganisation possibly help those infrastructure enterprises – on top of everything else? What if the Free Democratic Iraqi Parliament – whenever Mr. Bremer decides the natives are sufficiently evolved to elect it – doesn’t want its water privatising? Who the hell would buy a broken power network in a country without a worthwhile currency or a government, where they shoot at you?
There were several all-defining problems to be solved as quickly as possible after victory, and these were in effect the establishment of order, the rapid re-establishment of essential services, the establishment of a meaningful money, and the setting-up of Iraqi involvement in government. In the famous phrase, speed was more important than accuracy. Without water, power, transport, basic policing and a real currency, nothing will happen but further degeneration. With them, recovery can be dramatic, as shown by the example of the 1948 currency reform in Germany. (The potential for recovery was perhaps best shown by the farmers trying to get into Basra to market whilst fighting went on.) The importance of political representation really ought to be obvious. These four tasks should have been planned, not as a cheese eating civvie afterthought but as an integral part of the military operational plan and just as well as the military ops were. Now, months later, despite lies from Bremer and spin doctors, there is still 5 hours of power (if you are lucky), dodgy water, broken transport, three different and hyperinflationary currencies (different denominations of notes have different market values that are different from their face values, just to help), and anarchy. The only worthwhile money in Iraq was the so-called “Swiss dinar” issued by the Kurds, but using this would have been politically foolish. Dollarising – the Texan, macho, tough, healthy, non-European, non-deviant I’m-jest-a-kindly-homespun-nigger-burner solution – is even worse (imagine what your friendly local imam would say) and has the disastrous fault that US monetary policy is not and cannot be set for Iraqi conditions. It would also mobilise the pay of the US administrators and soldiers, creating that depressing phenomenon of a post-conflict ghetto economy serving rich foreigners with imported goods and drivers (why can UN officials never drive their own brand-new white Landcruisers?) whilst creating yet more inflation. What is needed is a New Dinar – what better symbol for the new Iraq? Given the sheer quantity of Saddam shinplasters in circulation, there would have to be a limit to conversion or (better) some mechanism to taper the conversion out, thus preventing a burst of inflation. Backing this could have been a financing facility – on the IMF perhaps – secured against oil revenues to provide immediate funding for reconstruction and government wages.
The political side needed only some sort of immediately-begun “advisory council” or whatever, with the specific task of preparing to elect a (say) Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Convention or whatever sounds good in Arabic. If you’re meant to be bringing democracy, it helps to have some in your bag on arrival. These ideas are not amazingly novel; but why has so little in terms of practical ground realities been actually done? There was a lot of theology about free Iraq’s glorious future, but far too little preparation for actual concrete steps towards it. One can only hope it is not already too late. In general, it bears out the point that in a situation of political war, the division between military and civil policy is a bug, not a feature. The divide is the problem – they have to unite as a single cohesive whole. Which means, clearly, democratic control over the military and, most of all, over the government itself. Montgomery spoke of his disagreement with the concept of “army co-operation”: “There are not two plans, Army and Air, but one: Armyair. When you are one entity you cannot cooperate.” The same applies to military, police and aid policy if a “war against terrorism” is to be anything other than a succession of futile and counter-productive punitive expeditions, always marching bravely forwards in the wrong direction.
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There’s been a certain amount of terror porn concerning an aeroplane stolen in Angola, which major media have recently picked up on as a supposed “9/11 plot”. But the story isn’t new, and the reality may be much less dramatic. This was the first report I saw of it, on the 28th of May. Aviation-related sites have been covering the affair copiously.
“It happened on Sunday night, and we were waiting for the international press to get hold of this one.
The 727 is an ex AA one that has been here for a year now.
Story from the guys on the ramp is that it fired up and taxied, no lights, no calls (not that that tower answers you on a good day anyway) and made for 23 in the dark.
As it happens a ruski of some type was finals for 05 so they did a quick turn in the run up bay and back tracked 25 as what was described as very quick and then departed 25 dissapearing into the dark
We laughed well after that, I wonder if there flight had been dispatched.
So if anyone else in West Africa sees a Sliver 727 with Blue and White stripes. Take cash for gas and wave as they depart.”
Another poster to http://www.pprune.org on 29th May:
“If I’m not mistaken, that is the aircraft that we ferried from MIA to Luanda for a THIEF known as Keith Irwin out of Jo- Burg. It was an Ex AA pax B-727. That aircraft is a full blown fuel hauler and if in the wrong hands could be a serious threat however, I would guess at this point it was just the repo man claiming his property. Keith Irwin brought a crew of six over from the states to operate this aircraft and after two months on the project, the crew left without collecting a single pay check. He also owed several other people lots of money and may have got in trouble for buying a HOT HF radio, stolen from the Angolan military and they may have had something to do with seizing the aircraft originally. Who knows.”
There followed various speculation, and a surprising number of posters declared a grudge against Mr. Irwin. On the latest page, though, we may be approaching the truth (Link):
“According to the private Airclaims airplane database, the 727’s current owner is a Miami-based firm called Aerospace Sales & Leasing Co., which bought it in 2001 after it was flown by American Airlines for decades. In 1997, Aerospace Sales’s president, Maury Joseph, was barred from running any publicly traded firm after he was convicted of forging documents and defrauding investors by exaggerating the profits of another company he ran, Florida West Airlines. Joseph’s son, Lance Joseph, said the company has committed no wrong. He said a firm that had leased the plane from Aerospace Sales — a company whose name he said he couldn’t recall — had removed the seats and replaced them with fuel tanks. It flew the 727 to Luanda with a plan to deliver fuel to remote African airfields, he said.
According to the Airclaims database, a company called Irwin Air had planned to buy the 727 last month. No more information could be learned about the company.
Helder Preza, Angola’s aviation director, told the Portuguese radio network RDP that the plane arrived in Luanda in March 2002, but that authorities prevented it from flying on because “the documentation we held did not pertain to the aircraft in question.” Angolan officials also demanded stiff ramp fees as well as settlement of private liens on the 727, Joseph said. Aerospace Sales was settling the disputes and planning to repossess the aircraft and fly it away when the 727 — one of about 1,100 worldwide — disappeared, he said.”
“In the 1980s, Gabriel was convicted of importing 5,000 pounds of marijuana. He did not return messages left at his office requesting comment, and his attorney, Jack Attias, declined to comment.
Preza, the Angolan official, said that “the owner of the aircraft contacted us saying he wished to fly out of Angola.” Then, he added, a man who presented himself as “the legitimate representative of the aircraft’s owner” — a man Preza described as a U.S. citizen but whom he declined to name — entered the aircraft. Moments later, Preza said, the man flew the plane away.
“The person who flew out the plane was no stranger to the aircraft,” Preza said.
Another twist in the case is that the State Department is asking its diplomats in Africa, in searching for the 727, to ask host governments whether they have any information about two men that its cables say “reportedly” own the plane — Ben Padilla and John Mikel Mutantu. The men are not listed as owners on any public database, and no other information about them was available.”
That from the Washington Post. Finally, though:
“Fort Lauderdale, Florida – The family of a 51-year-old pilot from Miami fears that he crashed while flying a Boeing 727 that authorities say has been missing since taking off without permission from Angola in Africa last month.
Ben Padilla had been hired by a Miami-based firm to repossess the plane after Angola Air failed to make payments on it, Padilla’s sister, Benita Padilla-Kirkland, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
His family suspects Padilla was flying the Boeing that took off from Angola on May 25 and may have crashed somewhere on the African continent, his sister said. Padilla is an airplane mechanic and pilot who has flown cargo planes around the world for two decades. ”
Grim-sounding, but by today a rumour had appeared to the effect that “the aircraft is back in South Africa with the original owners having been repossessed. Some of the excitement was supposed to have been caused by the plane flying at a very low level with its transponder off which led to the fears of terrorist activity. Allegedly the plane was fueled by one of the companies which was owed money.” So, no reason to listen to those “security sources”…..
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Well, I suppose I really ought to write something vaguely connected to the aims of this blog…..
The reshuffle furore demonstrated a very good political rule, which is that doing something wrong in the right way scores many more points than doing the right thing the wrong way. A paradox which is important at the moment, when the political class spend so much time and energy telling us that – whatever evil horror they have come up with – it’s all for the best and the end justifies the means. With any luck, this might supply a little revenge in the end. The decision to abolish the lord chancellorship was a long time coming, but it’s basically a good ‘un. A judge who is also a legislator, who is also a minister representing a particular party – but acts as a neutral speaker in the Lords. It’s not natural. But, Christ, what a mess. The government looked stoopid, chaotic and without command. George Bush’s career shows what can be achieved by looking Tough and Resolved and Macho in those of your appearances you can control, however badly things are going in reality. If Tony Blair still believes that a similar leader image will save him, he’s got another think coming. Britain doesn’t have the tradition of “Supporting our President”, in actual fact nothing could be more foreign than US Congressmen clapping the president. And the still-widespread belief in Blair’s popularity has been delusional for at least two years – the degree of loathing he inspires in so many people is truly impressive. It was always a feature of politics that, even when everyone else seemed to love him, Blair provoked an unusually savage hatred in some. This has spread, now, well outside the hard-right mind ghetto in which it began.
Strangely enough, it’s only now, six years in, that an important feature of the Labour government has really begun to tell. That is the fact that so few of them have serious administrative experience. The emblem of this is the sacking of Michael Meacher from the Environment slot. Meacher, who has done an unexpectedly good job in sticking up for environmental issues, was also the most experienced minister – he had spent 24 out of 29 years in parliament since 1974 as a minister or opposition front bench spokesman. No wonder he knew which civil service bowlers to pull down over the eyes. It contrasts with Tony Blair, who after all has gone straight from opposition to the premiership. And it shows in the periodic, disrupting panics the government is so given to – the reputation for mechanical efficiency and control was always questionable, and the key moments have been marked by unnerving botches, as if no-one in the Blair clique really believes that the state will still exist tomorrow. Rather like a pilot who does not trust the instruments, the PM tends to over-control violently and get into a dangerous spin.
This is utter insanity…