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Showing posts from August, 2007

Palestinians poorer than ever.

This is from the IPS. There will probably be little media coverage of the UN meeting or this report. I note that there were anti-Hamas demonstrations in Gaza today. No doubt poverty is worst there. Israel will never grant Hamas any of the tax revenue they have collected and that belongs to the Palestinians. Some has gone to Abbas of course as a reward for going along with Israel and the US.

MIDEAST: Palestinians Poorer Than Ever
By David Cronin

BRUSSELS, Aug 31 (IPS) - Poverty in the Palestinian territories has reached "unprecedented levels" because they have been held under an "economic siege" for almost seven years, a United Nations body has found.

During 2006 the number of Palestinians living in 'deep poverty' almost doubled to more than 1 million. Some 46 percent of public sector employees do not have enough food to meet their basic needs, with 53 percent of households in the Gaza reporting that their incomes declined in the last year by more than half.

Thi…

Pentagon won't make surge recommendation to Bush

I guess the president will have to take the blame or praise himself. It sounds also as if there is no wide consensus on what should be done.

Pentagon won't make surge recommendation to Bush
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 email | print tool nameclose
tool goes here
WASHINGTON — In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won't make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations.

"Consensus is not the goal of the process," Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. "If there are differences, the president will hear them."

Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat.

"The professional military …

Philippine anti-terror law protested.

This is from the Tribune.
Often religious groups especially the Catholic Bishops speak out vociferously against the government often joining in demonstrations or even sponsoring them.
Imagine mainstream religious groups in the US talking about US state terrorism!
What makes the contrast even more striking is that the Philippines suffer from terrorist attacks of various sorts on a regular basis. (Of course even this should be taken in perspective. Your likelihood of suffering from violence of a garden variety criminal sort is far more likely than ever suffering from terrorist violence)


Religious groups also want HSA junked


By Benjamin B. Pulta and Sherwin C. Olaes

08/31/2007


After lawyers groups and a number of political personalities having done so the other day, religious groups now have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to void the recently enacted anti-terror law of the country because it apparently espouses a “culture of violence.”

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippine…

Former Philippine President much more popular than incumbent (Arroyo)

Erap is the nickname of the deposed former president Joseph Estrada. He was overthrown by Arroyo through the use of people power, the sort of demonstrations that Arroyo now dreads and regularly derides. Arroyo's rating makes president Bush look popular. However, to give her her due her policies are not nearly as bad as Bush's and the economy is not doing too badly. Inequality in the Philippines is the third worst in Asia but it has not increased during her term.
The ABCDE categories relate to income percentiles. As I understand it A would be the top 20 percent down to E which would be the bottom tweny percent. THe former president is much more trusted by the lowest income levels. He is being tried for corruption. The trial has been going on for years and the judgment will be coming out next month.


Erap gets 64% trust
rating; Gloria, 18%




BY ASHZEL HACHERO

DEPOSED President Joseph Estrada has a trust rating of 64 percent compared to President Arroyo’s 18 percent, according to a …

US-Allawi coup may be on its way.

Somehow I doubt that Allawi will ever get to be prime minister. As the elections showed he has little popular support. It would be a disaster if the US actually managed to get him in as premier again. However, the stupidity of the US policy in Iraq seems almost without bounds so maybe the article has a point. Certainly Allawi is trying and making the right noises as she shows.

US-Allawi Coup May Be On Its Way

By Arianna Huffington

08/30/07 "HP" --- - As we all await the Petraeus Report on the state of the surge, we may also need to be anticipating the Allawi Coup.

I'm talking, of course about Ayad Allawi, longtime C.I.A. asset and former interim prime minister of Iraq. He's making quite the PR push to get his old job back, penning an op-ed for the Washington Post, hooking up with Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition on Sunday, and even putting the high-powered GOP lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers on a $300,000 retainer.
It says everything you need to know about who th…

US ready to step into Basra as British withdraw.

If the US step into the Basra area there will be just more bloodshed and the need for more US troops in Iraq. However, the US will not be willing to sit back and see the southern oil fields fall into the wrong hands. Although neither of the two main groups fighting for control are pro-US.

US ready to step into Basra as British pull out
Posted 4 hours 38 minutes ago

The US military is ready to intervene in southern Iraq to quell any unrest as British forces prepare to pull out from their last base in the oil port of Basra, the Pentagon says.

Press reports in London suggest that the British departure and handover of security control to Iraqi forces may be imminent, although the official line is that it will take place before the end of the year.

US forces will not allow any security advances in southern Iraq to be abandoned, Brigadier General Richard Sherlock, deputy director for operational planning at the Department of Defence, told reporters.

As requirements on the ground dictate, "t…

Hundreds Arrested in Chile Clashes

There seems to be reaction against neo-liberal policies and the gross inequalities in most South American regimes. Bolivia seems to be experiencing a reaction against the successful grass roots movement by the elites. Not much news about the struggles in Chile in North America.

Hundreds arrested in clashes with
Chileans take to streets in anger at regimeEconomic inequality at heart

of protest in capital

Jonathan Franklin in Santiago and agencies
Thursday August 30, 2007

Guardian

Thousands of Chileans took to the streets yesterday in a burgeoning
middle class revolt against the 17 years of coalition government that
has ruled since the fall of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

Hundreds of Chileans were arrested as they approached the presidential
palace. Squares in and around the palace became a chaotic mix of
mounted
police, riot troops and teargas. As water cannons blasted protesters,
waves of students counterattacked with rocks. Burning barricades almost

closed central Santiago.

Television images show…

Iraq oil law set to pass with majority.

This is from this site. It could hardly pass without a majority! This article seems quite confident. However, there seem to be a lot of groups opposed to the law as it stood. Perhaps it has been modified. The present text does not seem available. So much for democracy, transparency, and accountability. Perhaps the law will be passed in time for the Dubai meetings in September.

Iraqi oil law set to pass with majority
DUBAI: Iraq's draft oil law should pass by a comfortable majority when parliament meets to discuss it after the end of its summer break in September, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi said.

"The oil law was completed in cabinet... the draft that was approved in cabinet is the one that will be presented to parliament," he said.

"The parliament remains now in recess and will return at the start of September when we will reaffirm that the law will be presented to the parliament."

The controversial federal oil law has been approved by the Iraqi govern…

What's another 50 billion for Iraq?

The Democrats seem to be absolutely toothless with respect to reigning in Bush. He can simply thumb his nose at the Democrats and at the American people. At the same time war supporters have sponsored ghastly ads. They claim that the opposition would have the US withdraw from Iraq for political reasons. As if the US is not in Iraq and staying there for political reasons. It is the pro-war ads that are taking advantage of people's ideals and concern for soldiers to promote political aims just as much as any anti-war moves to force withdrawal are political.
There is the same cynical appeal to people's emotions in Canada when it comes to the Afghan war but nothing so gross and pukish as the US ads.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush is preparing to ask Congress for as much as $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing a White House official.



The request signals increasing White House confidence that…

Al Sadr declares unilateral ceasefire

Al Sadr is always see-sawing opportunistically from one position to another. Here he even rejects fighting US forces rather than just Iraqis. It may be that he is having continuing troubles controlling his own militia. If so he will not be concerned if the US should eliminate some of his own troublemakers.

Al-Sadr declares ceasefire in Iraq


Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Wednesday August 29, 2007
Guardian Unlimited


Iraqis carry the coffin of a pilgrim killed in clashes between police forces and Shia fighters in Karbala. Photograph: Qassem Zein/AFP/Getty Images



The Iraqi militia leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, called a six-month truce today after fighting with a rival Shia Muslim group in the holy city of Kerbala left more than 50 dead.
A spokesman for the Mahdi army claimed it would lay down its weapons for six months and, during this time, would attack neither rival Shia groups nor the US army.

Mr Sadr, who has thousands of armed men at his command, has called truces before but these have proved to …

Grading Bush's History Speech

Street must have a strong stomach to actually go through Bush's meanderings paragraph by paragraph subjecting them to a detailed critique. To counterpoise the high sounding phrases about democracy and liberty against the historical realities is quite effective.


ZNet | U.S.

Grading Bush’s History Speech

by Paul Street; August 27, 2007



As a former college history teacher, I have an ingrained habit developed over years of grading. I often mark up things I read, adding commentary in the margins. The commentary is generally addressed to the author by first name.

Yesterday, I read former Yale history major and current day messianic militarist George W. Bush’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In this disturbing oration, the United States' "Worst President Ever" (according to distinguished U.S. historian Eric Foner) attempted to make an historical case for continuing the criminal United States occupation of Iraq.



Below I present selected passages of Bush’s speech fol…

Critique of Summers

This seems a reasonable criticism of Summers. Dean does by the way think that there should be some steps taken to help people who may lose their homes but not speculators as Summers bailout would seem to do. I assume Summers would claim that the bailout might serve to calm the markets and prevent even further stock losses and create confidence.

Summers Calls for Bailing Out the Wall Street Boys

By Dean Baker | bio
In a Financial Times column whose logic escapes me, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers calls for having the huge government created housing intermediaries, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, step in and start buying up more mortgages and mortgage backed securities. Summers’ says “if there is ever a moment when they should expand their activities it is now, when mortgage liquidity is drying up."

Let’s check the scorecard. The value of hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage backed securities has just fallen through the floor because investors now realize that a very high p…

Lawrence Summers on the Credit Crunch

I do not feel qualified to comment on this but at least Summers not only gives his analysis of the causes of the problems but also possible solutions.


This is where Fannie and Freddie step in
By Lawrence Summers
Financial Times
August 26 2007

Over the past 20 years major financial disruptions have taken place
roughly
every three years, starting with the 1987 stock market crash; the
Savings &
Loans collapse and credit crunch of the early 1990s; the 1994 Mexican
crisis; the Asian financial crises of 1997 with the Russian and
Long-Term
Capital Management events of 1998; the bursting of the technology
bubble in
2000; the potential disruptions of the payments system after the events
of
September 11 2001 and the deflationary scare in the credit markets in
2002
after the collapse of Enron.

This record suggests that by 2007 the world had been overdue a major
disruption. Sure enough the problems of subprime mortgages –
initially seen
as a confined issue – went systemic as the market began to doubt the
cre…

Another area opens for investment in Iraq

The entire article is at Iraq Slogger. There are huge numbers of private contractors in Iraq and there are just not enough spaces in the US military health care facilities in Iraq. Of course the Iraqi facilities are crumbling and ill supplied so no contractor is going to use them. Only Iraqis deserve such ill treatment.

DoD Contractor Medical Care May Be Privatized
Pentagon Explores Options as Contractors Overwhelm US Mil Medical Facilities
By EASON JORDAN Posted 22 hr. 38 min. ago

US arrests and then releases Iranian visitors

Obviously the Iraq government was consulted only after the arrests. The US does not bother to consult the Iraqi govt. on issues such as this. Actions such as this can only inflame both Iranian and Iraqi feelings that the US hasn't the slightest respect for the sovereignty of either country. Maliki has already said that Iran is playing a constructive role in Iraq and the leaders of both countries have recently made visits to the other country.

US forces say free eight Iranians held in Iraq
29 Aug 2007 08:55:26 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Ross Colvin

BAGHDAD, Aug 29 (Reuters) - U.S. forces said on Wednesday they had detained eight Iranians overnight and seized a suitcase full of money from their central Baghdad hotel but later freed them after consultations with the Iraqi government.

A media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Yasin Majid, said the men had been members of an Iranian delegation invited to Iraq by the Ministry of Electricity to discuss construction of a new power pl…

US poverty declining

The decline should be looked at in light of the fact that during 2000 it was 11.3 so the decline is from very high levels. At the same time as the article notes the number of people not covered by health insurance is growing.

U.S. poverty rate declines significantly

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer
50 minutes ago

Five years into a national economic recovery, the
share of Americans living in poverty finally dropped.

The nation's poverty rate was 12.3 percent in 2006,
down from 12.6 percent a year before, the Census
Bureau reported Tuesday. Median household income
increased slightly, to $48,200.

The numbers provided some good economic news at a time
when financial markets have been rattled by a slumping
housing market. But they were tempered by an increase
in the number of Americans without health insurance,
from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million last year.

Some advocates said the numbers were evidence of an
uneven economy that is leaving many Americans behind.

"Too many America…

US most armed country.

This figure of course refers only to civilians not the military. The statistics are interesting in that the US actually buys over half of new weapons made every year.


U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people
Tue Aug 28, 2007 1:43 PM ET
By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has 90 guns for every 100
citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a
report released on Tuesday said.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world's 875 million known
firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based
Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide
each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

"There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide.
Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm
per 10 people," it said.

India had the world's second-largest civilian gun arsenal, with an
estimated 46 million firearms …

Britain hits low point in drug war in Afghanistan.

Cutting opium production was a reason for the UK to send troops to Afghanistan? Comical. Of course before the Taliban were thrown out they had successfully stopped most poppy production and even been rewarded for doing so. Now production is such that over 90 percent of world supply comes from Afghanistan. It is not just the farmers in the area of production but dealers and manufacturers of opium throughout Afghanistan are the problem and as the article notes there are connections to important political and other figures. By the way cutting down production will not necessarily stop funding from the drug trade to the Taliban. The big profits go not to the farmers but to other links in the chain. Cutting production just raises prices and the middlemen's incomes will not decline just those of farmers who will want to throw NATO and the US out as well as kill those who colloborate.

Britain hits low point in opium war
5:00AM Wednesday August 29, 2007



Poppies are flourishing in Afghanistan …

South Korean Hostages Released

Not a peep about what the Taliban received in return for the release. I wonder who else besides the S. Korean representatives were involved. At least lives were saved. I have never been impressed by the argument that negotiations just encourage the hostage takers to take hostages again. Of course it does this but this is more than offset by the value of the lives saved. A partial solution is to provide security for those who may be in harms way and in the Korean's case simply to have refused to let them travel the way they did. Anyway even if hostage takers are not rewarded they will probably continue to take them and just kill them if there is no negotiation.

Cheers and apology greet S.Korea hostage release
28 Aug 2007 15:57:52 GMT
Source: Reuters
Alert Me | Print | Email this article | RSS [-] Text [+]

Background
Afghan turmoil
More By Cheon Jong-woo

SEOUL, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Relatives cheered and hugged each other after being told on Tuesday that 19 South Korean hostages held in A…

UN horrified by increase in Afghanistan opium production

The article leaves out some important facts. Although production may be most in the south certainly the drug trade is also in the north. No doubt many who profit from the trade are also in the government or "former" warlords. While Taliban no doubt are involved there are countless others including many supporters of the Karzai government. Another fact that is left out is that during the Taliban era they were paid to stop production and did so. Colin Powell presented them a check for their good work not all that long before everything turned sour and after 9/11 of course there was no more dealing with the Taliban. The Taliban never did completely stop drug dealing.
Anyway the mission in Afghanistan can at least record one outstanding economic success.

UN horrified by surge in opium trade in Helmand


Despite 7,000 UK troops, Taliban-backed production up 48%

Declan Walsh
Tuesday August 28, 2007
The Guardian


Britain's drug policy in Afghanistan's Helmand province lay in tat…