Showing posts from June, 2008

Obama may ask defence secretary Gates to stay on.

This is just symptomatic of the lack of any real difference in foreign policy between the Democrats and Republicans. Both parties share an aggressive imperialist policy that attempts to assert U.S. global hegemony even though it will ruin the U.S. economy, in the end burdening the populace with ruinous debt and wasting resources that could have been used to improve the condition of Americans at home. Also, there is a waste of American lives for foreign adventures that mostly benefit the capitalist cronies of the two main parties who lavishly support them and are richly rewarded with defence contracts and no bid contracts in Iraq and elsewhere.
If the war on terrror did not exist something else would have been invented to hoodwink the U.S. populace. Don't be surprised if China or Russia become new evil empires within a very short while. A new unifying diversion may be necessary as times get harder.
Robert Gates continuing tenure is also symptomatic of what Obama stands for in …

The era of oil wars is growing.

This is from the Guardian (UK).
As the article points out the U.S. is determined to make sure that the West has access to and preferably control over the development of Iraq oil. This is already happening. Although the new oil law has not passed agreements are being inked with Kurdish authorities and also development agreements with the Iraqi oil ministry. Since there is so much opposition to the oil bill foreign companies are doing an end run around it!
There is also feirce competition in Africa for oil resources and the U.S. is increasing and unifying its military involvement there.

The era of oil wars
Growing competition for oil may escalate to something as hot and dangerous as nuclear proliferation

Michael Meacher,
Sunday June 29, 2008
Article history
Gordon Brown meeting Britain's oil chiefs to discuss higher North Sea output to bring down prices is prompted by oil prices hitting a record high of $135 a barrel, twice as high as a year ago and a staggering 12 tim…

Secret U.S. operation kills Iraqi, strains relations

This is from McClatchy.
These operations are often counter-productive in terms of relations with occupied countries. The same type of operations have created havoc in Afghanistan. Not only the U.S. there but also British and perhaps even Canadian special forces are involved in Afghanistan. Many if not most of the operations clearly violate international law and often involve war crimes. No one seems to care except the local people who no doubt develop an undying hatred for the occupying forces.
This particular operation has gained publicity only because a person who was a relative of an important person was killed. I wonder if this operation will garner any headlines in the U.S. mainstream media.

Secret U.S. operation kills Iraqi, strains relations
By Hannah A

llam, McClatchy NewspapersSat Jun 28, 6:11 PM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Senior Iraqi government officials said Saturday that a U.S. Special Forces counterterrorism unit conducted the raid that reportedly killed a relative of Iraqi Prim…

Krauthammer on Obama

This is from
This is by Krauthammer the right wing U.S. commentator. It is worth reading the other side sometimes! Krauthammer shows not that Obama is moving to the middle but to the right .He was already in the middle or at most a ten minute march away I would say! Anyway the opposition often pens truths that our good guys hide!

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." -- Obama spokesman Bill Burton, Oct. 24, 2007
WASHINGTON -- That was then: Democratic primaries to be won, netroot lefties to be seduced. With all that (and Hillary Clinton) out of the way, Obama now says he'll vote in favor of the new FISA bill that gives the telecom companies blanket immunity for post-9/11 eavesdropping.
Back then, in the yesteryear of primary season, he thoroughly trashed the North American Free Trade Agreement, pledging to force a renegotiation, take "the hammer" to Canada an…

Southern Philippines calls for Muslim rebel talks

This is from the Bangkok Post.
I wonder if part of the reluctance to negotiate is not influenced by the U.S. view that there should be no negotiation with terrorists. Not only are these peace talks in limbo but also earlier talks with the NPA Maoist guerrillas have broken down. The NPA is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. Arroyo claims she is going to rid the Philippines of the insurgency but with economic conditions turning sour especially in rural areas that is quite unlikely.

Southern Philippines calls for Muslim rebel talks

Manila (dpa) - More than 100,000 people gathered on Saturday in key cities in the southern Philippines, calling for the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the government and Muslim rebels.
Amirah Ali Lidasan, one of the organizers of the rallies, said people gathered in the cities of Marawi, Iligan, Cotabato, General Santos and Basilan to urge President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to resume talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front…

Dick Cheney 'tried to block North Korea nuclear deal''

This is from the Telegraph.
Cheney is losing influence within the Bush administration it seems. Of course the thaw with North Korea could freeze up again quite quickly. Rice sometimes seems to be a bit more pragmatic than Cheney and other neocons.

Dick Cheney 'tried to block North Korea nuclear deal'
By Philip Sherwell in New York
Last Updated: 6:51PM BST 28/06/2008
Vice President Dick Cheney fought furiously to block efforts by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to strike a controversial US compromise deal with North Korea over the communist state's nuclear programme, the Telegraph has learned.
"The exchanges between Cheney's office and Rice's people at State got very testy. But ultimately Condi had the President's ear and persuaded him that his legacy would be stronger if they reached a deal with Pyongyang," said a Pentagon adviser who was briefed on the battle.
Mr Cheney's office is believed to have played a key role in the release two months ago…

Update on Fengshen casualties in Philippines

Given that there are so many on the ferry unaccounted for it seems that the toll will rise still higher in the coming days. The damage to crops will make things even worse for many filipinos already facing high rice prices.

Typhoon death toll rises to 664 in Philippines 2008-06-28 00:40:02

MANILA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from typhoon Fengshen has risen to 664 in the Philippines, according to the latest government data released on Friday night.
Besides those confirmed dead due to the capsizal of an ill-fated ferry, the Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council said as of Friday evening, 540 more fatalities have been reported from all parts of the typhoon affected areas. Floods and mudflows were the major reasons for the deaths.
The M/V Princes of the Stars capsized off the Philippines' central province of Romblon last Saturday at the height of the typhoon, with 862 passengers and crew on board. The last official casualty count from the shi…

Deadly Iraq blast in Anbar days before security handoff.

This is from the LAtimes.
Al Qaeda in Iraq may be down but certainly it is not out as these actions show. The recent pronouncements of the Americans about the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq is a bit like Bush's pronouncement years ago about mission accomplished in Iraq. I suppose the mission is accomplished in the sense that Americans are probably not focused very much on the war anymore but on the upcoming election and the U.S. economy. I am quite surprised that there is not more reaction by the U.S. public about the billions if not trillions of dollars being spent by th U.S. on its foreign wars. Americans can no longer afford their houses in many cases but they can afford to support multi-billion dollar wars that are sinking them into even more debt.

Deadly Iraq blast in Anbar comes days before security handoff
A suicide bomber kills 21 at a meeting of sheiks and city leaders in the province that has been seen as a security success story. In Mosul, explosions kill at least 18.By …

Global Finance, the Current Crisis and Challenges to the Dollar

This is an interesting analysis of the U.S. financial crisis by David McNally. McNally is a prof. at York University in Toronto Canada. McNally claims that the crisis is not a liquidity crisis but a bank solvency crisis. McNally certainly has a point but the fact that banks are facing financial problems does cause a liquidity crisis of sorts in that money stops flowing as loans to a considerable extent. The crisis is exacerbated by the increasing costs of energy and foodstuffs as speculative funds seek as safe haven. This drives up prices even further. At the same time these problems cause a slowing economy and distress for ordinary citizens. It is rather ironic that Bush a worshipper of the free market applies a band-aid of giving Americans a government check (aka handout) as means to stimulate the economy. If a leftist had suggested this it would have been panned as a unconscionable interference in the operations of the market as concocted by some idealistic free spending liberal wh…

Bush administration lifts North Korea sanctions.

This is somewhat surprising but welcome news of progress in relations between the U.S. and North Korea. Maybe the visit by a US symphony orchestra created sweet music! There still is a long way to go and a lot of mutual distrust but this is further than the two countries have ever managed to go before.

This is from wiredispatch.

Bush administration lifts North Korea sanctions
Bush administration lifts sanctions, moves to take North Korea off terrorist list
Jun 26, 2008 08:26 EST
President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."

The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process.
Bush called the declaration a positive step along a long road to …

Israel prodding U.S. to attack Iran

This is from CBSnews.
Reports such as this help boost the price of oil. It remains to be seen whether the Bush administration is willing to risk disaster during the last months of its life. Iran's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and Israel is probably not capable of taking them out at one fell swoop. The reaction to any such attack is hard to predict. It certainly could be very forceful and simply widen conflict.

Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran
June 24, 2008
(CBS) Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen leaves Tuesday night on an overseas trip that will take him to Israel, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. The trip has been scheduled for some time but U.S. officials say it comes just as the Israelis are mounting a full court press to get the Bush administration to strike Iran's nuclear complex. CBS consultant Michael Oren says Israel doesn't want to wait for a new administration. "The Israelis have been assured by the Bush…

Raimondo: Is War Good for the Economy?

This is from
Justin Raimondo is one of my favorite right wing libertarian types. Here he is replete with references to Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. In spite of the fact that I am on the opposite side of the political spectrum, I find much of what Raimondo has to say is bang on. Raimondo is almost always worth reading for his provocative and insightful analyses. As the article points out there are beneficiaries of pursuing an aggressive warlike policy. The crony capitalists of the Bush administration do well as do the suppliers to the giant U.S. military machine. War also works as a sort of military Keynesianism to keep the economy expanding.

Is War Good For the Economy? In short: No.
by Justin Raimondo
The idea that warfare helps the economy is a prime example of Bizarro logic, which has pervaded our collective consciousness since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ideological fallout from the explosion of national hysteria that followed. In Bizarro World, as we all know, the …

Bush administration to leave Iraq oil deals alone

Did anyone think that the Bush administration would interfere in these negotiations? This is from this site. The Bush administration is no doubt quite pleased that Big Oil is getting in on the ground floor. It is quite possible that the administration even encouraged the deal in the first place. Anyway the Iraqi government probably learned about no bid contracts from the U.S. It encourages the development of corruption that can benefit the players while fleecing taxpayers. Isn't that what politics is all about?

Bush administration to leave Iraq oil deals alone
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
(06-24) 10:21 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
The Bush administration indicated Tuesday that it had no plans to interfere with negotiations between Iraq and several Western oil giants to boost crude production in that country, despite concerns by some Democrats that the deal could inflame anti-U.S. sentiments.
"Iraq is a sovereign country, and it can make decisions base…

The timing of the Status of Forces Agreement

This is from an Baghdad journalist's blog.
I was not aware of the signing of the oil contracts as described in this article. However, it is certainly true that the negotiation of the status of forces agreement is going on in secret. However, some Iraqi journalists and politicians are certainly discussing the issue. The U.S. however is more self-absorbed as mentioned. The U.S. economy however is probably more of an issue than the elections. There has been some discussion of whether the status forces agreement is a treaty and should go before the legislature but even this issue seems to have died.

June 21, 2008
Status of Forces Agreement at American Elections' Time
What ingenuity! The timing is brilliant!
The American people are almost completely taken up with the presidential elections and the race to the White House.
The Iraqi people are so overwrought a lot of them don't even know what's going on – some just don't care any more, they are too taken up with the basic …

Security agreement with the US and Iraq

This is from VOI.
Perhaps the parts dealing with the right of the U.S. to attack other countries from Iraq were part of an original draft and have been removed. Apparently, the document has been revised to remove some parts that would make it impossible for the Iraqi parliament to approve. As with the oil bill the contents of the agreement are shrouded in secrecy. If the U.S. intended Iraq to be a true democracy it would encourage public discussion of the oil bill and of this agreement but of course that is the very last thing that the U.S. wants in these cases. There is still no oil law and this agreement may be stalled until the last minute when some other short term substitute for the UN motion will be adopted.

Politics and Security

Deal allows U.S. to attack any country from Iraq – IAF

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Tuesday , 24 /06 /2008 Time 3:46:34

Baghdad, Jun 23, (VOI) – A Sunni legislator said on Monday that the security agreement to be signed between Baghdad and Washington would a…

48 from Philippine ferry survive, at least 67 confirmed dead.

This is from Xinhua.
No doubt there are many more bodies in the ferry to be recovered. Perhaps a few survivors will be rescued elsewhere but it looks as if the vast majority must have perished. This tragedy could have been avoided had the ship not been allowed to set sail when authorities knew that Fengshen was on its way.

48 survive, 67 fatalities confirmed in Philippines sea mishap
MANILA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Coast Guard said Tuesday the situation of 115 people of the 862 on board of a capsized ferry have been known. Forty-eight survived and 67 have been killed.
Beside them, the conditions of the remaining passengers and crew are still unknown and are considered missing, said Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo in a press briefing.
On its way from Manila to Cebu, the 23,800-ton M/V Princess of the Stars sank off the Philippines' central province of Romblon at the height of Typhoon Fengshen, which lashed the archipelago from east to west over the weeken…

Truce in Gaza holding-for the most part!

This is from Al Jazeera.
As the headline would indicate Al Jazeera is not exactly pro-Israel, although they do point out that there was also a rocket from Gaza since the ceasefire. At least the truce seems to be holding and the incident cited by Al Jazeera is not in Gaza at all. However, the incident in the West Bank will put pressure on Abbas. There seems a definite move towards more accomodation between Abbas and Hamas and also a somewhat more pragmatic stance by Israel in dealing with Hamas. This is surely all to the good in terms of creating conditions for peace.

Israel kills West Bank Palestinians
Olmert, left, is meeting Mubarak to discuss the progress of the Gaza truce [Reuters]
Israeli troops have shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank town of Nablus, five days after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups took effect.
Israeli troops killed the men on Tuesday in an exchange of fire, an Israeli military spokesman said, adding that one of them was a fighte…

Tsvangirai always had few options

This is from Al Jazeera.
This is an absolute disaster. In order not to appear to be interfering in another African nation's internal affairs other African countries and in particular South Africa have not put sufficient pressure on Mugabe to cause any difference. You would think that with all the problems it is having with refugees South Africa would take a more forceful stance. The U.S. was able to fund and support rebellion against the Sandinista government but with Mugabe it is all rhetoric. In any event it would be much more appropriate if African countries put more pressure on Mugabe. Mugabe uses anti-colonial rhetoric to justify his incompetence and his gifts to his incompetent cronies as well. The country has become a basket case. Talk about failed states!

UPDATED ON:Monday, June 23, 2008 13:57 Mecca time, 10:57 GMT

Tsvangirai always had few options
By Musaazi Namiti
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he pulled out of the June 27 poll after his supporte…

Typhoon Fengshen sinks ferry and kills at least 155 in the Philippines

This is from AP.
The authorities were surely remiss in letting the ferry set sail given that a typhoon was approaching. I was away for the weekend and just learned of the typhoon today. It seems that the area where our relatives live was relatively unscathed as the typhoon changed course. Deforestation of hillsides causes many of the mudslides that bury people and increase the number of casualties.

Red Cross: 155 dead in Philippines typhoon
17 hours ago
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Red Cross says the death toll from Typhoon Fengshen has risen to at least 155.
The storm has submerged entire communities in torrential downpours and setting off landslides.
In addition to the dead, more than 740 passengers and crew from a passenger ferry that ran aground Saturday were missing. Only four survivors from the ship have been found so far.
Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the national Red Cross, says the figure of 155 dead is based on field reports from his staff.
He said Sunday he has aske…

Yahoo Philippines!

This is from the Inquirer.
Yahoo is becoming more and more popular in Asia. There are plenty of filipinos on Yahoo Chat. This is the second Asian country to have a Yahoo subsidiary. Earlier Yahoo created a branch in Singapore.

Yahoo! establishes Philippine subsidiary
By Erika
Posted date: June 20, 2008
MAKATI City, Philippines -- After 120 days of local preparation, Yahoo! Philippines has finally established an office in Manila, becoming the Internet giant’s second 100-percent owned subsidiary in Southeast Asia after Singapore.
The local Yahoo! office is looking at employing between 10 and 15 people, according to Jojo Añonuevo, General Manager of Philippine Operations for Yahoo! Southeast Asia. Añonuevo added that 20 percent of Yahoo! Singapore employees are Filipinos. The Yahoo! Philippines office is located at Fort Bonifacio Global City.
Based on internal Yahoo! metrics and surveys, 85 percent of Filipinos in the Philippines use Yahoo! platforms. However, the company…

Official: Negotiator kept 60 percent of Philippines TV crew's ransom.

This is from the AFP.
60 percent of the ransom seems a hefty negotiating fee. I guess the salary of the mayor is probably quite low so he needs to supplement it by negotiating release of persons kidnapped by his relatives! I wonder if the mayor is a good Arroyo supporter!

Negotiator kept 60 percent of Philippines TV crew's ransom: official
7 hours ago
MANILA (AFP) — A local Philippines official arrested for the abduction of a television crew kept 60 percent of the ransom while pretending to negotiate their release from Muslim militants, authorities said Friday.
Police have asked prosecutors to file kidnapping charges against Alvarez Isnaji, mayor of Indanan town in the southern island of Jolo, and his son Haider Isnaji, for the abduction of ABS-CBN network presenter Cecilia Drilon and three others.
National police chief Avelino Razon said a police undercover agent saw the Isnajis handling five million pesos (112,500 dollars) delivered to their home by a brother of Drilon to buy her…

Opposition considers pulling out of Zimbabwe vote.

Given the conditions the opposition is facing and the fact that the army and police have both said that they will not support an opposition victory, pulling out seems a prudent action. Only some type of insurgency will overthrow Mugabe it seems unless Mugabe himself is assassinated and some other leader more amenable to negotiation with the opposition takes over. The problem seems to go beyond Mugabe himself though and relate to his party, the army, and the police.

Opposition considers pulling out of Zimbabwe vote
June 20, 2008 at 6:43 AM EDT
HARARE — Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considering whether to pull out of the June 27 presidential run-off election amid fears it will be a charade, a spokesman said on Friday.
Some African nations, the United States and former colonial power Britain have said they do not believe the poll would be free and fair because of growing violence that the opposition blames on veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Mr. Tsva…