Showing posts from September, 2007

The Post-Washington Dissensus

This is a quite interesting article. As Bello details some of the alternatives they sound little better than the original Wasington Consensus if not worse.

Foreign Policy in Focus
September 24

Walden Bello*

When two studies last year detailed how the World Bank's research
unit had been systematically manipulating data to show that neo-
liberal market reforms were promoting growth and reducing poverty in
developing countries, development circles were not shocked. They
merely saw the devastating findings of a study by American University
Professor Robin Broad and a report by Princeton University Professor
Angus Deaton and former International Monetary Fund chief economist
Ken Rogoff as but the latest episode in the collapse of the so-called
Washington Consensus.

Taking off from Margaret Thatcher's famous remark, partisans of this
development model during its heyday the 1980s and early 1990s claimed
that the alternative to the Washington Consensu…

Hearings to be held on prison population increase

Imagine the US has 25 percent of the world's prisoners. I wonder if Americans still think the US is soft on criminals. Probably. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.



SENATOR JIM WEBB (D-VA) will hold a Joint Economic Committee hearing
to explore the economic consequences and causes of and solutions to
the steep increase of the U.S. prison population. The hearing
entitled, "Mass Incarceration in the United States: At What Cost?" -
in light of 500 percent increase in prison populations in last 30
years - is scheduled for Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 10:00 am in
Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. The United States has 25
percent of the world's prisoners, despite having only 5 percent of
the world's population. The JEC will examine why the United States
has such a disproportionate share of the world's prison population,
as well as ways to address this issue that responsibly balance pub…

Goodman, Parsi, Abrahamian discussion of Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia

Discussion by Amy Goodman, Trita Parsi, and Ervand Abrahamian. It is interesting that there seems to be a consensus that Iran does not really believe that the US or Israel will attack it. Iran surely does not read the US very well. I thought that Ahmadinejad was trying to lower the temperature a bit but I guess it did not come over that way to most people.

In a speech at Columbia University, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to nuclear power but denied Iran
was seeking to build nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad's appearance
sparked widespread protests at Columbia. We speak with Trita Parsi,
author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran
and the United States" and Baruch professor Ervand Abrahamian, co-
author of "Targeting Iran." [includes rush transcript]
Ervand Abrahamian, Iran expert and CUNY Distinguished Professor of
History at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is the
author of several books…

J. Jay Park on the Iraq Oil Law.

This fellow obviously knows his stuff. The mainstream media hardly noticed the Dubai meeting even though it was obviously very important. I guess it was just not sexy enough! Interesting that Park was involved in drafting a law for Somalia. The development of oil there is a part of the determination not to allow the Islamists to gain control. Until the security situation improves there is not likely to be much development.
The Iraq oil law still seems to be in limbo.

Interview: J. Jay Park on the Iraq oil law

Published: Sept. 26, 2007 at 6:02 PM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:By BEN LANDO
UPI Energy Editor
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- J. Jay Park's work on international legal petroleum regimes has taken him around the world. He helped craft Somalia's new hydrocarbons law and has led training sessions for officials in Iraq's Oil Ministry.

He also represented Western Oil Sands, a Canadian firm, in its deal with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Governmen…

US air raid in Baghdad kills 10 civilians

How can the US claim that it tries so hard to avoid civilian casualties when it conducts air raids in a city. This is bound to produce civilian casualties. It seems that the US does not care. The same thing happens in Afghanistan. This only turns the populace against the occupying forces.

US air raid in Baghdad kills 10 civiliansArticle from: Agence France-PresseFont September 28, 2007 06:32pm
A US air raid early today killed at least 10 people, including women and children, in a building in a mainly Sunni area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.

The raid targeted a building in the Al-Saha neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad where families were sleeping, the Iraqi officials said.

Bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the building, which was destroyed.

"Ten people were killed and seven wounded when American helicopters attacked Building No 139 at 2am. We have no idea of the reason for the attack," said an Interior Ministry official.

An official at Baghdad's Al-Yarmuk hospit…

Pentagon Gives Blackwater New Contract

I wonder if Blackwater also flies prisoners around to different secret prisons or renders people to outsourced torture sites? Maliki has already discovered he really doesn't have the power to make Blackwater disappear from Iraq. This article talks of Maliki revoking Blackwater's licence. Another article I have read claims that Blackwater never bothered to get a licence from Iraq in the first place! It will be interesting to see what force the new Iraqi legislation on private contractors will have if any.

Pentagon Gives Blackwater New Contract

by Ali Gharib
A U.S.-based private security firm received a contract worth up to 92 million dollars from the Department of Defense amid hard questions about its involvement in two separate violent incidents in Iraq.

"Blackwater has been a contractor in the past with the department and could certainly be in the future," said the U.S.’s top-ranking military officer, General Peter Pace, at an afternoon press conference here.

The futur…


I have not had a chance to read Klein's book yet but this review seems more positive than some other recent reviews I have read. Some reviewers are quite upset and dismissive of Klein's views. However, Stiglitz is much more even handed perhaps because he himself of late has been also critical of the prevalent "theology" of free markets.
As I have mentioned in another post, Friedman's role is perhaps overemphasized although he was directly involved in Chile as an advisor to Pinochet. In Russia the shock was delivered more by a Harvard School featuring the likes of Jeffrey Sachs who not only delivered a privatisation shock but made themselves in some of the deals it would seem.
Stiglitz's term "bleakonomics" is a great neologism.


Published: September 30, 2007
There are no accidents in the world as seen by Naomi Klein. The destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina expelled many poor black residents and allowed…

We'll revoke Al-Maliki's Licence First

One wonders if an American actually said this. Given US insensitivity it is possible. I was not aware of some of the other incidents with Blackwater that are listed here. They do not get much play in the western media. We will see what if anything happens as the result of the joint investigation. The Iraqi govt. is already drawing up a law that will hold contractors responsible. I wonder what the US response will be. It is unlikely that they will fire Blackwater for sure.

This is from the following site.

'We'll revoke Al-Maliki's licence first'
The privatisation of security in Iraq threatens more than innocent civilians, reports Nermeen Al-Mufti


The killing of 11 civilians in Baghdad two weeks ago has once again put Blackwater on the spot. The US security firm first came into the public eye in early April 2004, wh…

Lost in Translation: Ahmadinejad And the Media

This is an excellent article in that it enables one to make sense of what seem senseless statements. I took Ahmadinejad to be actually refusing to admit there were gays in Iran. This interpretation makes much more sense.
I had already realised the "wiping Israel off the map" statement was misconstrued. Of course the most extreme interpretations of Ahmadinejad on Israel are so established in the US media and the US psyche that articles such as this which do not get much coverage anyway will have nil effect.

Lost In Translation: Ahmadinejad And The Media

By Ali Quli Qarai

09/28/07 "ICH" -- - First I want to make some remarks about that now world-famous statement of President Ahmadinejad at Columbia: “We do not have homosexuals in Iran of the kind you have in your country.” The American media conveniently ignored the second, and crucial, part of his sentence as something redundant.

Obviously he was not saying, We don’t have any homosexuals whatsoever in Iran—something …

Dilip Hero: The Bush Oil Grab

If anyone doubts that to a considerable degree the US invasion of Iraq was about oil here is an excellent history that gives lots of evidence that it was. It seems that in the US even many leftists think that oil was really not a significant factor that oil control could have been obtained other ways etc. The Iraqis themselves have a more realistic assessment IMHO! The material comes from this site.

How the Bush Administration's Iraqi Oil Grab Went Awry

by Dilip Hiro

Here is the sentence in The Age of Turbulence, the 531-page memoir of former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan, that caused so much turbulence in Washington last week: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Honest and accurate, it had the resonance of the Bill Clinton's election campaign mantra, "It's the economy, stupid." But, finding himself the target of a White House attack – an administration spokesman…

Iraq in talks with oil majors

A glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes and out of the mainstream press it seems. This is from earthtimies.
Iraq in talks with oil majors for plans
Posted on : 2007-09-27 | Author : General News Editor
News Category : World

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 (UPI) Iraq's government is discussing oil field development with global oil majors as it attempts to boost production amidst security concerns.

Iraq produces about 2 million barrels per day now, but the vast oil sector needs billions in investment to fix and modernize the operating infrastructure, let alone develop and explore.

Iraq Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said earlier this month in Dubai his government would move forward on signing oil deals despite the lack of a modern oil law. That law is stuck in parliamentary debate. Shahristani would rely on 1980s legislation to dictate deals.

The Christian Science Monitor reports Chevron i…