Showing posts from April, 2009

John Pilger: Obama's 100 days.

Pilger is nothing if not negative! This article makes me feel I should defend Obama but there is a great deal of truth in what he says. Obama's foreign policy follows Bush and even ups the ante to some extent. However, he has opened up a bit on Cuba and is less belligerent in his dealings with Iran and Venezuela than the Bush administration. Also, he is closing Guantanamo but when remains to be seen! He also has released torture memos whereas Bush kept everything under wraps. As Pilger shows Obama has absolutely zilch to do with any sort of leftist radicalism. Everyyone at Fox news should read Pilger!

Obama's 100 DaysThe Mad Men Did Well
By John PilgerApril 29, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- The BBC's American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relat…

30,000 flee army raid on NW Pakistan

This is from RawStory via AFP.

The Pakistani armed forces tend toward a very destructive scorched earth policy in attacking militants and the result is a huge internal refugee problem and humanitarian disaster. Often resentment against the central govt. simply increases providing recruiting opportunities for the Taliban and other militants.
The Pakistan govt. seems to be going along with the US policy of concentrating upon a military confrontation with Islamic militants, a policy that is not at all popular in Pakistan and may even result in local civil wars. There is a new offensive in Buner.
This new offensive is not going all that well as militants have captured troops and police stations but no doubt the Pakistani forces will prevail but at what cost remains to be seen.

30,000 flee army raid on NW Pakistan: local official
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Around 30,000 people in northwest Pakistan have been displaced by a military offensive to flush out Taliban militants, a provincia…

Washington, auto union to take control of GM, Chrysler.

No doubt some commentators on Fox News and other US media giants will claim that this is socialism. Quite the opposite, it is the rescue of capitalism on the backs of taxpayers and workers. Workers get a share in almost bankrupt auto makers and also the taxpayers get to invest in them as well! While it is true that investors such as bondholders and shareholders have also lost instead of following the free market ideology of letting the companies fail the govt. and workers rush in to bail the companies out. If and when the companies turn profitable the government and probably the unions too will sell their equity. Profit is for private capital not the public or workers the latter share only the risks!

Washington, auto union set to take control of GM, Chrysler
In Washington: Government to buy 50% of GM, UAW seeks 55% of Chrysler GREG KEENAN AND SHAWN MCCARTHY
With a report from AP
April 28, 2009
In a historic reshaping of American capitalism, the U.S. government and the auto workers union ar…

Taliban derides 'worthless' truce

This is from the Guardian.

The Taliban are probably correct in that Pakistan is being forced by the Americans into a more aggressive stance. However, the Taliban did little to defuse the situation when they brazenly entered Buner to extend the territory under their control. Pakistan is now reacting vigorously even though the Taliban had already withdrawn their forces that were from outside the area.
Almost unnoticed in all this is the scorched earth policy often used by Pakistani forces and the humanitarian disaster being caused with thousands being displaced and now internal refugees.

Taliban derides 'worthless' truce with PakistanAP foreign, Monday April 27 2009 ZARAR KHAN

Associated Press Writer= ISLAMABAD (AP) ” Taliban militants declared their peace deal with the Pakistani government "worthless" on Monday after authorities deployed helicopters and artillery against hide-outs of Islamist guerrillas seeking to extend their grip along the Afghan border.

The regions…

Iraqi Govt. Outraged After Deadly U.S. Raid

This is from

It seems that the U.S. paid no attention to the requirement that there be a court order authorising this operation. The official report seems even more surreal and less connected to reality than usual. It will be interesting to see what if anything the Iraqi govt. does or if there is any notice at all in the manistream media of this event. The Swine Flu seems to be infecting the media so that they cannot report much of anything else.

Iraqi Govt Outraged After Deadly US Raid
Posted By Jason Ditz On April 26, 2009 @ 7:34 pm
A pre-dawn US raid this morning in the Iraqi city of Kut left two civilians dead and several others captured. Hundreds of local residents took to the streets to condemn the raid, while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared the attack a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Iraq. He ordered two Iraqi security officials arrested over it, demanded the release of the captives, and for the US to turn over those res…

Lieberman rules out attack against Iran

This is from

Of course if you read the article it is clear that Lieberman is ruling out an Israeli attack on Iran. He wants the US to do the job for Israel! At the same time Lieberman has announced the death of peace talks with the Palestinians. The US will probably come into considerable conflict with Israeli policies for the first time in some while. The Obama seems to be encouraging reconiciliation between Hamas and Fatah and is trying to make it possible for aid to flow through a unified Palestinian govt. that would include Fatah.

Lieberman Rules Out Israeli Attack on Iran
Posted By Jason Ditz On April 26, 2009 @ 6:54 pm In Uncategorized
Though only in office for a few weeks, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has dramatically redefined Israel’s official foreign policy on a number of fronts. His first major act was to declare the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians dead, sparking both international and domestic outrage. In his first media interview he a…

Torture used to try and establish Al Qaida Iraq connection

This is from the Guardian.

Cheney and Rumsfeld did more to corrupt and damage intelligence services than Obama can ever do. Instead of collecting intelligence the services were put to work trying to provide evidence for Rumsfeld Cheney theories that were most improbable but important for justifying their policies.

Shedding some light on why it could have possibly been necessary to waterboard someone 183 times – as was done to al-Qaida planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – McClatchy reported that, according to "a former senior US intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue," former vice-president Dick Cheney and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld "demanded that intelligence agencies and interrogators find evidence of al-Qaida-Iraq collaboration".

According to McClatchy's source, for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld were "demanding proof of the links between al-Qaida and Iraq. … There was constant pressure on the intelligence agenci…

CIA death squads killing with impunity in Afghanistan

From wsws.

This type of reporting is virtually absent from the mainstream media. At most there are reports of collateral damage caused by air raids but these special forces raids are for the most part not reported at all or at most very rarely and almost never with any followup. As this article points out followup is almost impossible anyway since everyone clams up and is not interested.

CIA death squads killing with “impunity” in Afghanistan
By Joe Kay19 May 2008
A United Nations investigator released a preliminary report last week citing widespread civilian deaths in Afghanistan, often at the hands of unaccountable units led by the CIA or other foreign intelligence agencies.
The investigator is Philip Alston, a New York University professor serving as the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution. His report provides a partial glimpse into the illegal actions of intelligence agencies, occupying forces, and Afghan police…

Obama rejects Truth Panel.

Obama is already facing criticism for releasing the torture memos. Most Americans are probably more interested in where the money is coming from to pay living expenses rather than whether the US tortured terror suspects. There is little domestic political advantage in having this commission and the right wing and others would be sounding alarms about Obama being soft on terrorism etc. etc. Obama probably feels he has done more than enough for his human rights constituency by simply releasing the memos but then it is not clear how much choice he had.

Obama Rejects Truth Panel

Commission Would Have Investigated Abuses in Terrorism Fight
By Shailagh Murray and Paul KaneWashington Post Staff WritersApril 24, 2009 "Washington Post" -- President Obama rebuffed calls for a commission to investigate alleged abuses under the Bush administration in fighting terrorism, telling congressional leaders at a White House meeting yesterday that he wants to look forward instead of litigating the…

Krugman: Reclaiming America's Soul

Krugman might also mention that America would not only be reclaiming its soul by following through with investigations and possible trials but also this would vastly improve the reputation of the US among many other countries and among human rights organisations around the globe. However, the Obama administation has supported denial of any rights for Gitmo detainees and is carrying on policies such as rendition and attacks by drones and special operation forces that clearly violate human rights so that it should not be unexpected if his administration simply tries to move on. Besides the resistance even to releasing the memo's was fierce and Obama no doubt has had enough.

Reclaiming America’s Soul
By Paul Krugman
April 24, 2009 "New York Times" -- -
"Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." So declared President Obama, after his commendable decision to release the legal memos that his predecessor used to justify torture. S…

Appeals court rules Gitmo detainees are not ''persons''

This is from Raw Story.

So the Obama administration is behind this appeal to the court. The great new hope of America's own Justice Dept claims the court should find that the detainees have no constitutional nor statutory rights nor are they persons. The court did as it was told and went directly against the logic of the Supreme Court decision cited in the article.

Appeals court rules Gitmo detainees are not 'persons'
04/24/2009 @ 3:58 pmFiled by RAW STORY
A Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are not "persons" according to it's interpretation of a statute involving religious freedom.The ruling sprang from an appeal of Rasul v. Rumsfeld, which was thrown out in Jan. 2008. "The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the constitutional and international law claims, and reversed the district court's decision that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…

Fudging figures in the Philippines

This is from Asia Times. No doubt the Arroyo govt. can be credited with greater sins than spinning economic data but this article at least gives a less rosy picture of the Philippine economy so that we can have a more balanced view of the situation.

Southeast Asia
Apr 25, 2009

Fudging figures in the Philippines
By Joel D Adriano
MANILA - The Philippine Labor Department has said that unemployment concerns are easing and that the government is now more vigorously tracking job gains rather than losses. This despite the fact the Philippine economy has slowed amid the global economic crisis, with export, foreign investment and corporate profit statistics all down. The Labor Department reported broadly that only 121,000 workers lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts or had their working hours reduced between October last year to mid-March this year. Officials have presented those numbers as positive news, considering they had earlier projected between 180,000 to 300,000 workers would lose their jobs…

Frontier (Pakistan) wisdom by Syed Shahzad

This is from asiatimes.

This is just one page of a detailed analysis of what is happening in SWAT and adjacent areas that is in stark contrast to the fear mongering simplistic rhetoric supporting US policy decisions that passes as commentary in the mainstream US press. The situation is not straightforward but extremely complex and it is no easy task for the Pakistanis to accomodate themselves to the simple minded simplistic US view that they should be concentrating on fighting terrorism. This emphasis has already helped the Taliban and emboldened them and is likely to continue to do so. Already the ability to supply Afghan occupiers from Pakistan is being threatened so that more costly routes through Russia and neighbouring states are being set up.

Page 1 of 4INTERVIEW
Frontier wisdom
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
PESHAWAR - A year ago, the United States brokered a deal in Pakistan between then-Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf and opposition parties to bring Pakistan back onto the pat…

Escobar: Torture whitewash from the Dark Side.

This is from asiatimes.

I was rather shocked by the treatment of these issues by mainstream media such as CNN. On the Lou Dobbs show there was considerable criticism of the Obama decision to release the memos.
This article does not mention that Obama has seemingly changed his tune or at least qualified his view that no one should be charged over the torture. While he claims that those who acted within the parameters of what was at the time declared legal should be immune, those who provided the legal framework might be charged. I doubt that much if anything will come of this.
Dobbs stressed reports that the torture worked as if that should settle the matter. That this uses the principle that the means justifies the end doesn't come up or that it violates basic human rights. Dobbs is at times so stupid and superficial that it boggles my mind. The show also ignored the fact that many experts believe that torture rarely if ever provides much useful information. Dobbs takes self-se…

Philippine Recession 'bottoming out''

This is from the Manila Standard.

The concept of a recession is obviously relative. The Philippines has experienced a slowdown rather than a recession in the sense of negative growth in the economy. Even so, with the global decline the Philippines will be experiencing a decline in foreign remittances which is very important for the economy.

Recession’ bottoming out
By Roderick T. dela Cruz
The economic slowdown in the Philippines has started to bottom out and growth will pick up in the third quarter of the year as the impact of the world financial crisis on the country subsides, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said yesterday.
“We are seeing a bottoming out of the crisis,” said Recto, who is also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority.
He said the first quarter growth would be the poorest this year and that higher numbers were expected by the third quarter.
Neda said the economy likely grew 2.1 percent to 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, the pe…