Archive for May, 2015

Red Card

May 27, 2015

Red_Card_lao_xu

Q: How many FIFA officials does it take to start a bribery investigation?

A: None, because FIFA doesn’t investigate bribery.

OK, I admit it’s a cheap joke at the expense of an easy target, but enough is enough.   Let the plea bargaining begin: who wants to make the best deal possible?

 

Elsewhere in the world of crime …

Spanish authorities suspect that Basque separatists may have been responsible for the brutal murder recently uncovered when skeletal remains were found in a cavern in northern Spain.  Of course, these would be very, very old Basque separatists:

The victim was likely male and probably in his 20s. The cranium shows evidence of two blows located adjacent to each other just left of center on the forehead.  Both injuries were strong enough to break through the bone and puncture the brain, the researchers said.  The victim was facing his assailant when the violence occurred.  [Investigators] are not sure what weapon was used, but a wooden spear or stone hand ax are likely candidates.  Metal tools were not available at that time … 430,000 years ago.

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OK, I admit I fabricated the part about Basque separatists –to make a point or two.  First, how many people in the United States these days actually remember the 11-M Madrid bombings in 2004?  A few, vaguely.  (Americans are probably somewhat more likely to remember the London transit bombings a bit later, but just barely.)  And even fewer people in the Western Hemisphere are likely to remember that in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid attacks, the Spanish government attempted to assign blame for the bombing to ETA, the Basque separatist movement.  Subsequent investigation (more or less) established that Islamist terrorists were instead responsible, but some segments of Spanish society remain unconvinced.  Conspiracy theorists are everywhere these days, and who can blame ’em?  The point is, let’s not rush to judgement:

“We are pretty sure that these two fractures are the result of two blows repeated with the same implement,” Rolf Quam, a paleoanthropologist at Binghamton University, said. “And that implies a clear intent to kill.  One implication of the study is that murder is a very ancient human behavior.”

“We believe that intentional interpersonal violence is a behavior that accompanies humans since at least 430,000 years ago,” said Ignacio Martínez Mendizábal of the University of Alcalá in Madrid.  “We have not changed much in the last half million years.”

Whoa, fellas!  Not so fast!  Counsel for the defense would like to suggest a couple of alternative scenarios that no one seems to be considering here:

  1. Self-defense.  Let’s consider the possibility that the deceased 20-something hominid might have been a violent intruder in the cavernous neighborhood, intent on pillage, rape, mayhem and slaughter.  Would a jury of 12 angry cavemen begrudge a cave-owner the right to defend what’s near and dear to him?  In New Spain they have “stand-your-ground” laws to cover precisely this situation.  Why should Old Spain have been any different?
  2. Natural causes. In the original sense –of paleolithic predator attack. Two deep puncture wounds in the skull would seem to correspond quite closely with what one would expect from (say) a sabre-toothed tiger chomping down on the head of its prey.  And if the rest of the skeleton shows no signs of gnawing, maybe that’s because the tiger was chased away by clansmen of the deceased after the mortal wounds had been inflicted.  Is anyone asserting that these wounds are completely inconsistent with the bite of a humongous tiger?  Why not rule out the possibility instead of ignoring the obvious?  Because “Tiger Bites Caveman” ain’t newsworthy.

So, to sum up:  things aren’t always what we’d like them to seem.  And Sepp Blatter is crispy, crispy toast.

 

Bad Mojo, Mofo

May 22, 2015

Yo.  Peoples:  did I or did I not warn you that Plains All American Pipeline LP was gonna incur bad mojo for stirring up noise and “moving earth” in Tai Sui‘s home turf during the Year of the Goat?  That’s right, I certainly did.  That was in February, as the lunar year began.

Plains All American LP will build two new crude oil pipelines in far West Texas and New Mexico to move Permian Basin production to markets [including] a 60-mile, 16-inch State Line pipeline to connect Culberson County output to Wink, Texas, along the Texas-New Mexico state line.

“Moving earth” and major construction projects in the Grand Duke’s south-southwest realm are surefire ways to irritate the year’s cosmic ruler; this will definitely not turn out well.  It’s clear that the U.S. petroleum industry will have to learn its feng shui protocol the hard way.  Which reinsurance provider is currently holding liability policies on Plains All American LP?  Time to double-check your risk management posture!

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Who’s scoffing now?  Certainly not the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Coast Guard.

A 24-inch Plains All American oil pipeline between ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon Processing Facility near Refugio [California] and a Gaviota pumping station 10 miles away [burst on Tuesday morning, spilling] an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude.  About 21,000 gallons is believed to have made it to the sea and split into slicks that stretched 9 miles along coast.  A 23-mile by 7-mile area was closed to fishing.

Since 2006, Plains All American and its subsidiaries have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million.  Corrosion was determined to be the cause in more than 80 of those accidents.  Failures in materials, welds and other equipment were cited more than 70 times.  Enforcement cases against the companies resulted in the collection of $154,000 in penalties, according to a federal database.

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

However, before attributing this particular industrial debacle to supernatural causes, we might as well consider human agency and direct intervention:

Plains pipeline operations director Rich McMichael said Wednesday evening that two of the company’s pumps had problems on Tuesday morning.  He said the pump was shut down at about 11:30 a.m. after employees noticed a “pressure anomaly.”

“At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, we experienced some mechanical issues at our Las Flores pump station on line 901 to Gaviota, causing the pipeline to shut down. We started the pumps at 10:55 a.m. Pacific Time, but were still having trouble with our pumping units.

“The pump at our Sisquoc Station went down at 11:15 a.m. and the operator in our control center shut the pipeline down at 11:30 a.m.  At 12:30 p.m., we received a call from a local first responder reporting an odor in the area.  We immediately dispatched a Plains employee to the pipeline to make a visual inspection, and he confirmed the release at 1:30 p.m.”

Lemme guess:  Plains All American’s pipeline network is fully automated and monitored by a corresponding network of SCADA control nodes.  Pumps, valves, sensors and alarm stations linked by a company-wide ethernet platform that provides an overall view of system flow, throughput, and operating status.  And that ethernet process-control network is air-gapped from the internet … maybe.  Not that it could be hacked or anything.

The Plains pipeline is the only pipeline in Santa Barbara County without an automatic shutdown valve in case of a rupture. Instead, the Plains pipeline must be shut down manually in case of such emergencies. That’s because Plains All American took Santa Barbara County to court more than 20 years ago to restrict the county’s regulatory oversight.  It won.  According to County Energy Division director Kevin Drude, the SCADA equipment of other pipeline operators is so sensitive it can detect the loss of 20 barrels of oil over a 20-hour period.  By contrast, the Plains pipeline leaked about 2,500 barrels worth of oil in a matter of a few hours before the company’s crew manually shut it down.

Oops!  My bad.  Looks like a semi-automated pipeline with a key vulnerability –no automatic shut-down valve.  “All your leetle pipeline is belong to us.

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Who wants to be the guy that tells Greg Armstrong his computer network has been completely hacked by the Rooskies?  Who wants to tell Californians –or Jerry Brown— that the Refugio pipeline breach is payback for the United States’ Christmas Eve cyberwar attack on the Rosneft/Transneft pipeline at Tuapse?  Better to blame it all on the cosmic forces of feng shui.

Triangle Gangsters

May 9, 2015

It’s unclear whether this story should be filed under “many a true word is spoken in jest,” “out of the mouths of babes,” or “what a fuckin’ chooch!” … but here it is:

Three people, including one who works for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, were arrested last week after claiming to operate the Masonic Fraternal Police Department, with jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico.

Capt. Roosevelt Johnson of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department Santa Clarita Valley station said he met with members of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department on Feb. 4.  Two were wearing black jumpsuits with Masonic Fraternal Police patches and stars on their collars. One had a handgun on her utility belt, Johnson said.  Brandon Kiel, deputy director of community affairs at the California Department of Justice since July 2013, was there too, wearing a dark navy business suit. The three told Johnson they were opening a new Canyon Country police station.

They met for 45 minutes, Johnson said, but he grew wary when they couldn’t answer questions about where they derived their authority, or jurisdictional issues.  He was left confused and suspicious — so much so that he immediately ordered deputies to pull station surveillance video so they would have images of the visitors.  He also assigned detectives to check them out.

Apparently, though, it took almost three months to establish probable cause that these were bogus cops, write the warrants, and make the arrests.  Probably because they weren’t Muslim.

David Henry was charged with multiple misdemeanors and three counts of felony perjury.  He is scheduled to be arraigned May 21.  Brandon Kiel is charged with six counts of impersonating an officer and unlawful use of a state ID.  Tonette Hayes was charged with four counts of impersonating an officer.  Henry, Hayes and Kiel had allegedly introduced themselves to police agencies across the state, though it is unclear why.  A website claiming to represent their agency cites connections to the Knights Templars that they say go back 3,000 years.  All three are members of a religious philanthropy group that does charitable work in South Los Angeles.   Los Angeles County prosecutors said the whole effort was a ruse, though for what purpose remains unclear.

Why such scorn for these knuckleheads?  Because anyone with any time at all in the American police industry soon realizes that virtually every law enforcement agency in the country is a masonic police department.  Police organizations in the United States –as in almost all of the Anglophone world– essentially function as the armed wing of freemasonry, helping to maintain and reinforce its social influence within civil society.  How?  By providing intelligence about potential political adversaries, by neutralizing or harassing opponents, and –most importantly– by selectively enforcing (or not) those laws that might otherwise overly burden the lifestyles and economic opportunities of their fellow masons.  American police officers aren’t all freemasons, but many are, and promotion to upper echelons in the command structure is often contingent on masonic membership and service to the order.

Eye_Aye

Therefore, the very first police chief visited by a “Masonic Fraternal Police” representative is going to make his very first phone call to the local lodge master, asking, “WTF?!?”   Then he’ll “take it to the next level” at the District Council, and then up to the state’s Grand Lodge.  In triplicate and then some, because there are parallel York Rite, Scottish Rite and Prince Hall organizational structures to navigate –all the way up, and all the way back down, link by link.  And no one can be certain that it’s not actually a secret initiative sanctioned by the “speculative degrees,” so careful inquiries must be circumspectly made.  No wonder it took three months.

Wait, I’ve changed my mind!  These three musketeers aren’t idiots, they’re fuckin’ geniuses:  it’s a low-tech, old-school, distributed-denial-of-service attack on a key communications network of the ancien regime, designed to sow confusion and erode trust.  This is a classic masonic tactic dating back to at least the 18th century.  How much did the Chinese pay these guys?  They got a bargain, because the telephone call record data just mapped out the entire masonic leadership structure for all of California.  Let’s wait and watch to see how this intell will be leveraged.  Should be interesting.

 

Tell It To The Marines

May 6, 2015

This year’s May Day celebrations in France exhibited a bit more novelty than usual: an inter-generational, cross-gender family feud within the country’s leading neo-fascist clan … and a new graphic style for Femen body art!  All in the same place, at the same time!  Zut!

The far-right Front National’s traditional Paris May Day rally –its annual tribute to Joan of Arc–  was disrupted by women from the Femen activist group, who made mock-Nazi salutes from the balcony of a [four]-star hotel and disrupted a speech by party leader Marine Le Pen.  The topless activists wore blonde wigs and had “Heil Le Pen” and “Stop fascism” [sic] written across their chests, unfurling banners linking the party’s logo with the Nazi party.  For five minutes, they drowned out Le Pen’s speech with a bullhorn, chanting anti-Front National slogans while the crowd booed.  Three men from the party’s security service then forcibly pulled the women inside before one of the men raised his fist to the crowd in an apparent sign of victory.

They will be forced to get dressed,” Le Pen said of the protesters as she resumed her speech.

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Quite a novelty!  It’s customary for French politicians to employ force while undressing women!

One thing that wasn’t novel: the classic Femen sloganeering style of uppercase block lettering in black body paint.   But an earlier diversionary foray at ground level unveiled the spring look from the House of Femen.  Black mixed-case lettering on a rectangular red-bordered white background … with a red accent: “Le Pen top fascist”  Lettering that breaks the boundary of the imaginary protest placard emblazoned on the living-body-as-living-placard.  Good to see a graphic designer’s influence at the heart of the message.

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And note the symbolism at work in the streetscape background — the signboard of the Hotel Regina.  Do you need to know Latin (or be a latent royalist) to understand that Regina = Queen?  Many, many intersecting cultural vectors impinging at Place des Pyramides, not least of which are those radiating from the statue of Jeanne itself, originally commissioned in 1874 by Napoleon III.  Clearly intended to commemorate the obliteration of the 1871 Paris Commune, the statute is the work of sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet.

Born in Paris, he was a nephew and pupil of Sophie Frémiet, and later he became a pupil of her husband François Rude. He chiefly devoted himself to animal sculpture. In times of adversity he served in the gruesome office of painter to the Paris Morgue.  Named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1878, he became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1892.

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If you’re an American not in Paris, replicas of this statue can be found closer to home –in Portland, Oregon and the Big Easy –New Orleans, Louisiana.  Frémiet being who he was, it’s more a statute of Jeanne d’Arc’s horse than of the rider herself, but the notion of a woman borne away by an animal was almost an idée fixe with him:

In 1887 Frémiet had exhibited his “Gorilla Carrying off a Woman” which won him a medal of honor at the Salon.  Although praised in its time, this work now evokes ridicule from some observers for its depiction of a gorilla abducting a nude woman, presumably with the intention of raping her.

GorilleEnlevantUneFemme

Which brings us back to the racist, xenophobic platform of the Front National.  Beneath all the economic, religious and cultural argumentation advanced by the FN to support its project, the underlying message is profoundly simple: “Those black monkeys want to fuck ‘our’ women.”  By which they actually mean, “these foreigners want to fuck the women I claim to reserve for my own exclusive fucking.”  Control over the means of reproduction is what’s at stake; the battle remains just as ugly as the endless struggle over the means of production itself.

But eventually the aging patriarch no longer has the strength to exercise coercive enforcement of his “right” to dominate:

On Monday eighty-six-year-old National Front party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen was summoned to a disciplinary hearing at the headquarters in Nanterre, just west of Paris, but stubbornly refused to attend, calling it “detrimental” to his dignity.  [In his absence] Le Pen was suspended from FN for violating party discipline, by last month repeating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” in history.  He had also defended the historical legacy of Philippe Pétain – leader of the Vichy war-time government that cooperated with Nazi Germany.

Papa Le Pen’s reaction was predictably vitriolic:

“Let her get married as soon as possible. I do not want her carrying my name anymore,” he told Europe 1 radio.

La fille had her own perspective on the situation:

“I get the feeling that he can’t stand that the National Front continues to exist when he no longer heads it,” she said.

So is Marine Le Pen actually … a Trojan Horse feminist at the core of France’s neo-fascist patriarchy?  Naaaaaah.  Probably not.  More likely she’s a textbook example of an archetypical Daddy’s Girl … on testosterone.

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May Day in Paris was definitely a bizarre spectacle on so many levels:  21c patriarchal zealots honoring –even revering– a 15c transgender activist.  The sight of foreign legionnaires protecting a xenophobic ideologue.   A father rebelling at his daughter’s usurpation of patriarchal power.  The lingering 19c specter of helpless womanhood subjected to bestial violation.

Only May Day in Moscow could have been more jarring.