Showing posts from March, 2008

Philippines: A dangerously crippling decision

This is from the Inquirer. This is typical of Arroyo's tricks in avoiding damaging testimony before hearings. She is fortunate as the article notes that the Court ruled in her favor. Note the article is by a Jesuit priest. Many of the Roman Catholic clergy are critical of Arroyo.

A dangerously crippling decision
March 31, 2008 00:30:00
Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - Without resorting to the language of Governor Salceda, indeed it can be said that the President is the luckiest woman. The Court could have decided that Romulo Neri should answer the three questions pregnant with cloudy foreboding: (a) Whether the President followed up the NBN project; (b) Whether the President directed him to prioritize the ZTE; (c) Whether the President said to go ahead and approve the project after being told about the alleged bribe.

But the Court placed all three questions under executive privilege, and nothing derogatory to the woman, if there was any, as…

Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Sermons

This is a more extensive analysis of Wright's sermons than one gets in the sound bytes characteristic of much mainstream media. However, some of his views about AIDS and HIV really seem to be conspiracy theorists dreams or nightmares. However, this article at least makes such views understable within the social context of Wright's sermons.

Chicago Tribune - March 28, 2008

Wright's sermons fueled by complex mix of culture, religion

By Manya A. Brachear Tribune reporter

On the Sunday in 2003 when Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. shouted "God damn
America" from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, he
defined damnation as God's way of holding humanity accountable for
its actions.

Rattling off a litany of injustices imposed on minorities throughout
the nation's history, Wright argued that God cannot be expected to
bless America as the anthem requests unless it changes for the
better. Until that day, he said, God will h…

Philippines to upgrade facilities at disputed Spratlys chain

Vietnam, China, and the Philippines have some joint exploration agreement. I wonder where this leaves Malaysia and Brunei. Does China hold that Taiwan's claim is actually a claim of its own!! This is from ABC (Australian Broadcasting)

Philippines to upgrade facilities at disputed Spratlys
Air force chief, Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog says the airstrip at Kalayaan island will be lengthened and repaired to ensure air force transport aircrafts can continue to land there.

General Cadungog says the improvements which includes an upgrade of troops quarters should not be seen as a military buildup.

The Spratlys believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits -- are claimed in full or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

All but Brunei have troops posted on some of the islands.

Americans in Green Zone under siege.

This is from Salon via Der Spiegel. The Americans have already been dragged into the fighting via way of air attacks. No one seems to even mention that the use of air attacks in an urban area is bound to cause many civilian casualties as well as turn many Iraqis against the occupiers. Those who lose family members are likely to join the insurgency.


Americans in Green Zone under siege
Fighting between militants and the Iraqi government has threatened what was once the best-secured district in Baghdad.
By Dieter Bednarz

Mar. 28, 2008 | Sarah is not the type of woman who loses her cool very easily. As an employee of the U.S. State Department, she has seen too much for that. Her superiors in Washington have repeatedly sent her to the world's hot spots. Now Sarah works as a "special agent" in the personal protection unit of the U.S. Em…

China and the World Market

This gives a short summary of the Communist Revolution in China and then discusses the policy and economic changes since 1978 when the first market reforms were started that gradually led to the resotration of capitalism.

The B u l l e t
Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 94
March 30, 2008


China and the World Market:
Thirty Years of the ‘Reform’ Policy
Gregory Albo
It is now thirty years since the People’s Republic of China announced its market reform policy at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in December 1978, under the then new leadership of Deng Xiaoping. The policy followed the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the purging of ‘leftists’ in the Party and the state, symbolically represented by the trial of the ‘Gang of Four.’ The policy was the declaration of the end of ‘Maoism’ as the economic and political framework for the Chinese revolution, although Ma…


We have all heard of Stagflation. I just wonder if we will not see a period of Recflation (RECession and inFLATION) in the U.S. and elsewhere. By increasing the supply of money and lowering interest rates the Feds in the U.S. are making other goods more expensive. Add to this the fact that basic foodstuffs are increasing in price because of decreased supply, and increased costs for transportation, packaging, etc. The high price of oil increases the price of fuel, transportation, and all products such as plastics that depend on oil production. Diversion of agricultural production into ethanol does not help either.
Of course some areas such as house prices will see falling prices but in other areas prices may still rise because demand is inelastic or increasing as with global demand for food.

Philippines hit by high global rice prices

This is from Australian Broadcasting. Vietnam along with some other Asian countries has moved to limit exports in order to have sufficient supply domestically.
Given the corruption within the Arroyo administration it remains to be seen how effective Arroyo's steps to improve the situation will be.

Philippines hit by high global rice prices

[This is the print version of story]

Philippines hit by high global rice prices
Updated March 29, 2008 18:23:43

Commercial rice prices in Philippine markets have doubled in the past days, amid a tight global supply and denials by government officials of a shortage.

Shirley Escalante reports from Manila.

Rice prices in Manila have soared to as high as a dollar and 15 cents a kilo from as low as 50 cents a kilo a week ago. People in the countryside have started complaining of a lack of supply of cheaper, government-subsidized rice in the market. Meantime, President Gloria Arroyo convened her cab…

Iraqi officials in talks with Sadr group to stop fighting.

This is from SMH.Probably the U.S. was urging Maliki to attack Sadr's militia guaranteeing him backup, a backup that has been increasingly evident. This can do nothing but damage Maliki's credibility such as it is. If the war goes sour again as it probably will unless there is a renewed agreement on a ceasefire this could damage McCain's chances and make it difficult for the Democratic candidate to avoid promising a genuine pullout. Note that Sadr's is not the only militia in Basra just the one whose power Maliki and the U.S. wants to curb. Note that the negotiations are not for the Sadr group to lay down arms but to stop fighting. The ultimatum is obviously a no go.

Iraqi officials in talks with Sadr group to end fighting
Representatives of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi authorities have begun talks to end fierce fighting between security forces and Shiite militiamen that has killed several hundred people, an aide to Sadr said on Sunday.

"Negotiations …

Chile, Allende, Cybernetics and Socialism

Here are three articles on Socialism in Chile under Allende and the role of Simon Beer and others who attempted to use cybernetics in planning. The first is from the NY Times. The second is from the Financial Post. The final article is from the
National Post and was written by the son of Stafford Beer who was the cyberneticist who helped Allende.

March 28, 2008 / New York TIMES

Santiago Journal

Before '73 Coup, Chile Tried to Find the Right Software for Socialism

SANTIAGO, Chile — When military forces loyal to Gen. Augusto Pinochet
staged a coup here in September 1973, they made a surprising
discovery. Salvador Allende's Socialist government had quietly
embarked on a novel experiment to manage Chile's economy using a
clunky mainframe computer and a network of telex machines.

The project, called Cybersyn, was the brainchild of A. Stafford Beer,
a visionary Briton who employed his "cybernetic" concepts to help Mr.
Allende find an alternative to the planne…

Progressives for Obama

More rah rah rah for Obama. Tom Hayden must be as ancient as I am by now. I really don't see any sense at all of progressives or radicals spending much time working within the two major parties except to expose them as vehicles for maintaining the status quo. Perhaps the Obamamania helps Hayden relive his youth. I wonder where Hayden thinks a lot of Obama's money comes from? Does he think those big bad corporations shun him like the plague? What of the military contractors? Do they hate Obama because he wants to increase the already huge U.S. military?
Of course capital would probably on the whole prefer McCain but as sensible investors in the system they will hedge their bets.

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Progressives for Obama

FBI eyes militarization in Philippines.

This is from presstv.The U.S. has still managed to keep the Philippines within the U.S. orbit with operations such as these. There are close links between the AFP and the U.S. military including aid in the form of military equipment. The U.S. is concerned about increasing ties with China (and Vietnam) including the Spratly oil exploration deal. However the U.S. itself as far as foreign investment is concerned has plenty of investment in China and increasingly in Vietnam as well.
Because of the presence of the Maoist insurgency and radical Islamic groups in the Philippines the U.S. has involved itself in the Philipppines under the cover of the war on terror or officially to help (or hinder) the Philippine government.

FBI eyes militarization in Philippines?
Wed, 26 Mar 2008 20:47:31

US Federal Bureau of Investigation launches a six-month training program for police and military personnel in southern Philippines.

"The FBI experts and instructors are now in Jolo to extend support to …

The Philippine American War: Waterboarding

This is from the Inquirer. Obviously waterboarding is not a new torture method or even new to Americans. The article draws some interesting parallels to the war in Iraq even noting that the American public became rather indifferent to the conflict or at least the reporting of atrocities.

By Michael Tan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: March 28, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—In the year 1902, the Philippines was very much in the Americans' public consciousness, much like Iraq is today. America's adventure in the Philippines began in 1898, when it went to war against Spain. Commodore George Dewey sailed into the Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, and quickly defeated the already demoralized Spanish forces. Spain had its hands full in the islands, with Filipino revolutionaries fighting for independence and was probably only too happy to unload the Philippines, together with Guam and Costa Rica, to the Americans through the Treaty of Paris.
But trouble was already brewing when the T…

Is This the Big One..

This is an excerpt from a larger article in the Nation. The article gives a good summary of some of the financial instruments that gave rise to the crash near the end of this selection. How bad the recession will be remains to be seen. The government is not just sitting back and waiting for markets to turn around at least but whether the interventions will have much success is still moot. Pumping a lot of money into the economy could very well create problems with inflation. This is beginning to make itself obvious in the price of basic foodstuffs such as bread, and globally rice. This added to the cost of oil which is used to manufacture many products as well as to produce fuel will result in even more inflation. The expenditure on foreign military adventures will do nothing to help the situation except to create further debt.
Is This the Big One?


[from the April 14, 2008 issue]

For more than a decade, we Americans have been living o…