Showing posts from February, 2009

US combat missions will continue after 'pullout''

This is from

The withdrawal is more like a troop reduction plan. Of course the Iraqis themselves may decide that they do not want 50,000 troops staying in the country. Obama is quite flexible in meeting campaign promises. Many of the troops he is withdrawing will no doubt be simply sent to Afghanistan.

I am off to the Philippines for a month and so I may not post too often during March.

US Combat Missions in Iraq Will Continue After ‘Pullout’
Obama Pledge to Withdraw Combat Troops Won't End Combat by Troops
Posted February 25, 2009
Just one day after reports came out regarding the Obama Administration’s 19 month withdrawal plan from Iraq, the Pentagon was detailing the enormous number of troops that would remain on the ground after Obama ostensibly fulfills his promise to remove all combat troops, and all the combat they’ll be engaging in.
After the “pullout,” as many as 50,000 troops will remain on the ground, and despite being touted as a withdrawal of combat troops,…

Galoc Oil Field back on stream in the Philippines

This is from ogj.

The Philippines is almost entirely dependent upon imported oil so any increased production at Galoc will be a positive for the Philippines. The article does not say who owns the companies involved.

Galoc oil field back on stream in the Philippines
Rick WilkinsonOGJ Correspondent
MELBOURNE, Feb. 26 -- Production has resumed from Galoc oil field in the Palawan basin off the Philippines following completion of repairs and enhancements to the mooring and riser systems.
Operator Galoc Production Co. said the Rubicon Intrepid floating production, storage, and offloading vessel has been reconnected and that output would steadily be increased to 13,000-14,000 b/d of oil.
Production from the field was temporarily shut down in late December 2008 after a survey of the mooring and riser systems showed a partially detached component that would need to be reattached before the system could be reconnected to the FPSO.
Galoc holds a 58.29% interest in the field. Other partners include N…

Philippines: Business sentiment cautious.

This is from Philstar.

Interesting that smaller businesses are on the whole less pessimistic than the larger ones. I suppose this is because export business in particular will see a drop in demand. Also Mindanao businesses are less pessimistic because many of them produce food which will always be in demand.

Business sentiment cautious in Philippines amid economic crisis Updated February 26, 2009 08:01 PM
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Most businesses are cautious in the first quarter of 2009, weighed down by concerns on the global economic crisis and slowdown in export growth, the Philippine central bank said today.
The overall Confidence Index slipped to -23.9 percent, the lowest-recorded level since the first quarter of 2002. Most of the 21,410 business respondents surveyed from Jan. 5 to Feb. 11 have a negative outlook, believing that the global economic turmoil will hurt both local and international markets.
Reports that export receipts are falling also weakened business sentimen…

Panetta: Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Continue.

Obama changes words not reality. There is no longer a war on terror although there is a battle against terrorists and extremism. There are also drone attacks begun by Bush and now continuing with the clear blessing of Obama. Meanwhile, Sharif the opposition leader in Pakistan is disqualified along with his brother from running for office. The Pakistan govt. may be on the verge of toppling if not facing civil war. The US might not mind if a govt. more willing to face casualites in the tribal areas took power but that is not likely. The drone attacks have made the Pakistani populace even more anti-American.

Panetta: Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Continue
New CIA Director Declares Nothing Has Changed, Nothing Will Change
Posted February 26, 2009
The new Director of the CIA Leon Panetta declared yesterday that the controversial drone attacks against sites in Pakistan would continue, in spite of the growing criticism. Panetta declared that the attacks, which began under the Bush Administrat…

Pakistan in Turmoil over Sharif Bans

This is from

This is totally bizarre. Just read the incident upon which the decision was made. It was associated with an attempt by Sharif to stop Musharraf's coup! Of course Sharif left a coalition with Zardari''s govt. because of their refusal to re-instate judges kicked out by Musharraf!
This is the worst sort of political manipulation and it remains to be seen whether the Zardari govt. will even survive.

Pakistan in Turmoil Over Sharif Bans
Protests in Pakistan, Stock Market Tumbles Over Political Confrontation
Posted February 25, 2009
Protests were sparked across Pakistan today when the Supreme Court decided that Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister and opposition leader, as well as his younger brother Shahbaz were ineligible to hold public offices. The ruling brought down the Punjabi Provincial government, which Shahbaz was chief minister of, and placed the province under direct national control.
Enraged supporters of the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bu…

Sullenberger: Pay cuts driving out best pilots

This is from AP.

As if to confirm Sullenberger's observations the crash of a plane near Buffalo just recently had a crew with very little experience in flying the plane that crashed and the auto pilot was on when it would have been more prudent to have been flying the plane manually. It is certainly true that pilot wages plumetted after deregulation and the bankrupticies after 9/11. The high price of fuel last year put even more pressure on airlines to control expenses. Now the recession will make things bad for airline labor again. Eventually this may very well have a negative effect on passenger safety.

Sullenberger: Pay cuts driving out best pilots

By JOAN LOWY and MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writers Joan Lowy And Michael J. Sniffen, Associated Press Writers
AP – US Airways flight 1549 Capt. Chesley B Sullenberger III, second from right, talks with Rep. Vern Buchanan, …
WASHINGTON – The pilot who safely ditched a jetliner in New York's Hudson River said Tuesday tha…

Dr. Doom: Nationalise the Banks.

This is from the WSJ.

Here is another article by Dr. Doom advocating the nationalisation of some banks. It seems that Obama would rather spend umpteen billion to avoid doing this! Obama seems to be giving the banks a high speed auger to upload bucks into distressed banks bottomless cash bins.

FEBRUARY 21, 2009
Nouriel Roubini
'Nationalize' the Banks
Dr. Doom says a takeover and resale is the market-friendly solution.

New York
Nouriel Roubini is always dressed in black-and-white.
I have known him for nearly two years, and have seen him in a variety of situations -- en route to class at New York University's Stern Business School, where he's a professor; over a glass of wine in his boyish loft in Manhattan's Tribeca; at an academic conference, seated sagely on the dais; at a bohemian party in Greenwich Village, at . . . oh . . . 3 a.m. -- and he always, always wears a black suit with a white linen shirt.
Terry Shoffner
And so…

Iraq faces a new war as tensions rise in north.

This is from the Independent.

So far the south and central Iraq have remained relatively calm although there are still tensions between Sunni and Shia. In the districts bordering Kurdistan however things are heating up rather than cooling down. These areas are being fought over by the central govt and Kurdish forces. Also, what is left of the Al Qaeda groups in Iraq seems to be concentrating around Mosul.

Iraq faces a new war as tensions rise in north
Violence between Iraqi Kurds and Arabs is threatening an all out conflict that could complicate US plans to withdraw troops
By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul
Monday, 23 February 2009

A new war is threatening Iraq just as the world believes the country is returning to peace. While violence is dropping in Baghdad and in the south of the country, Arabs and Kurds in the north are beginning to battle over territories in an arc of land stretching from Syria to Iranian border.
A renewal of the historic conflict between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq, which rag…

The KBR empire doing well during recession!

This is from asiatimes.

This article gives a glimpse of the extent of KBR's contracts with the military.

By Pratap Chatterjee
President Barack Obama will almost certainly touch down in Baghdad and Kabul in Air Force One sometime in the coming year to meet his counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will just as certainly pay a visit to a United States military base or two. Should he stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight chow with the troops, he will no less certainly choose from a menu prepared by migrant Asian workers under contract to Houston-based KBR, formerly Kellogg Brown & Root and once a subsidiary of Halliburton. If Obama takes the Rhino Runner armor-plated bus from Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone, or travels by Catfish Air's Blackhawk

helicopters (the way mere mortals like diplomats and journalists do), instead of by presidential chopper, he will be assigned a seat by US civilian wor…

Philippines: US urges caution on Philippines defence treaty review

This is from AFP.

The US wonders why there is so much anti-Americanism in the world. This episode is a perfect example. Even though the Philippine Supreme Court has ordered the marine back into Philippine custody he is being retained by the US. Earlier he was more or less snatched from Philippine custody by the US while in a local facility. The claim by the US is that until final appeals are exhausted he can remain in US custody. No matter what interpretation the Philippine Supreme Court makes. The Arroyo govt. must obviously have co-operated with the US in allowing the marine to be removed from local custody originally!

US urges caution on Philippines defence treaty review
1 day ago
MANILA (AFP) — The United States Monday cautioned the Philippines against reviewing their defence treaty, in a row over a US Marine's appeal against a 40-year jail sentence for raping a Filipina.
US envoy Kristie Kenney said it was "premature to talk about reviewing" the Visiting Forces Agr…

End times for New York Times.

It seems that many print media are on the verge of failure. At least their failure will save a lot of trees for posterity! Advertising seems to be migrating to other media and advertising is the life blood of for profit media. As this article points out the decline of newspapers could be precipitous during the present downturn rather than gradual as many others predict.
January/February 2009 The Atlantic
Can America's paper of record survive the death of newsprint? Can journalism? End Times
by Michael Hirschorn
Virtually all the predictions about the death of old media have assumed a comfortingly long time frame for the end of print--the moment when, amid a panoply of flashing lights, press conferences, and elegiac reminiscences, the newspaper presses stop rolling and news goes entirely digital. Most of these scenarios assume a gradual crossing-over, almost like the migration of dunes, as behaviors change, pa…

Lobe: Storm brews between US and Israel

This is from the asiatimes.

It remains to be seen whether Obama can achieve any real agreement with Iran since no less than Bush Obama's aim is to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme does not go ahead. However, Obama has supported the attempt to reconcile Hamas and Fatah. If this is successful and Egypt proposes a peace agreement that the US could support there could be real conflict with Israel as Lobe suggests. We will just have to wait and see. Obama no doubt will be loathe to bring down the wrath of the Israel lobby on his administration when he is already facing multiple serious challenges.

Storm brews between US and Israel
After eight years of the closest possible relations, the United States and Israel may be headed for a period of increased strain, particularly as it appears likely that whatever Israeli government emerges from last week's election will be more hawkish than its predecessor. Iran, with which President Barack Obama has pledged…

Israel replaces envoy to Egypt talks, Hamas angry

This is from Reuters via

No doubt Gilad was out of line to criticise his own government's policy justified as the critique might have been. To tie the peace deal with the release of an Israeli soldier captured long ago just complicated matters since there has been a separate negotiation on this matter going on for a long time now. Hamas was bound to reject the inclusion and that has happened.
With an even more hard line govt. being formed in Israel the peace process may very well bog down even more. Perhaps as Jim Lobe claims in another article I have posted, there may be conflict brewing between the US and Israel but we will have to wait and see.

Israel replaces envoy to Egypt talks, Hamas angry
REUTERSReuters North American News Service
Feb 23, 2009 11:56 EST

* Hamas accuses Israel of poor faith
* Dispute reveals fault lines in coalition
(Adds Olmert comment, paragraph 4)
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will replace Israel's l…

Obama continues Bush policy on detainees at Bagram: indefinite detention, no legal rights.

This is from Rawstory.

So we have a sort of Bush lite in Obama. In fact it is not even very lite. Obama has also retained the practice of rendition while restricting interrogation methods. In fact he is outsourcing torture. Obama has also sided with Bush on use of the state secrets act in a recent case.
Note that even though Guantanamo is in Cuba and Bagram in Afghanistan neither country has anything to say about persons held in their territory by the US.

Despite rhetoric, Obama continues Bush policy on detainees: Indefinite detention, no legal rights
John ByrnePublished: Saturday February 21, 2009

Bagram airbase flies under the radar but will continue to operate without US lawIn a stunning departure from his rhetoric on Guantánamo Bay prison, President Barack Obama signaled Friday he will continue Bush Administration policy with regard to detainees held at a US airbase in Afghanistan, saying they have no right to challenge their detentions in US courts -- and denying them legal sta…

US admits Afghan civilian deaths

This follows the predictable pattern. The US claims all casualties or most in an incident are Taliban but the Afghan locals and officials claim many civilian casualties. The US then investigates and changes their tally at least somewhat depending on the particular case. Of course in this instance there is the marvelous spin to the effect that the investigation shows how serious the US takes these instances. Indeed, when their erroneous reporting is taken to task and their is Afghan outrage. However, the policy that produces the casualties is not changed.

US admits Afghan civilian deaths

An investigation into a missile strike carried out by US-led forces in Afghanistan earlier this week has found that 13 civilians were among 16 people killed, the US military has said.
The military made the admission on Saturday, after originally saying that 15 opposition fighters had been killed in the strike in the Gozara district of Herat province.
Afghan officials insisted all along that six women and …

CIA expands its covert war in Pakistan

It sounds as if these extended attacks may have been welcomed by Pakistan since they are aimed at those who are claimed to have assasinated Bhutto. However, such bombings produce collateral damage that often simply recruits more militants.

CIA expands its covert war in Pakistan
WASHINGTON — Over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the CIA inside Pakistan, launching attacks against a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.
The two missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by unmanned drone aircraft. Under President George W. Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from al-Qaida and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a …

Chomsky on Obama and the Israel Palestinian conflict

Chomsky does not mince his words although there are a few places when this transcription of an interview with Chomsky seems to garble the English somewhat.
There are a few signs that things might be changing a little for the better as the US has apparently approved of steps to bring about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. With a quite right wing government in the offing for Israel there may very well be some conflict between the US and Israel but as this article points out Obama has so far toed the Israeli line almost completely.

Israel is a Terrorist State by Definition: ChomskyFollowing is an excerpt of Professor Chomsky’s interview with Christiana Voniati, who is head of International News Department POLITIS Newspaper, Nicosia, Cyprus.By Christiana VoniatiFebruary 21, 2009 "Countercurrents" -- Voniati: The international public opinion and especially the Muslim world seem to have great expectations from the historic election of Obama. Can we, in your opinion, expec…