Showing posts from April, 2008

Nearly 200 Zimbabwe Opposition supporters released.

This is from AP. Mugabe simply refuses to admit defeat. What I find rather surprising is that the recount confirms the opposition won in most cases. This shows that there is enough independence in the counting process that Mugabe cannot control events. This must be the case with the presidential vote as well and is the reason the results have not been announced. While Bush is certainly correct in his criticism of the situation in Zimbabwe it is probably counterproductive. Mugabe stock in trade is to explain problems in terms of foreign intervention and in supporting the opposition Bush and others just give Mugabe more ammunition.

Nearly 200 Zimbabwe opposition supporters released
By ANGUS SHAW – 1 hour ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Police on Tuesday released nearly 200 people who were arrested last week in a raid at opposition headquarters, while President Bush called on Zimbabwe's neighbors to step up the pressure on longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

Many of the 215 people arrested on F…

Review of Klein's "Shock Doctrine"

This is a review by Doug Henwood in the leftbusinessobserver. I haven't read Klein's book as yet. Henwood's critical analysis seems cogent as far as my knowledge of Klein is concerned. However, Klein's book has a wealth of useful detail about the ravages of capitalism in recent times. Whatever its faults Klein's book has certainly captured the attention of a mass audience and is good antidote to the paeans to the free market capitalism that are standard fare.. However, Klein's analytical framework is certainly lacking and Klein does not even advance a socialist alternative---except that discourse is now so debased that her kinder welfare capitalism would be regarded now as some sort of radical socialism in many quarters! Henwood does a good job of showing how many supposed leftists such as Blair in the UK and Douglas in New Zealand helped destroy the welfare state and pave the way for Neoliberalism.


Philippines: Bitter Medicine..

Compared to some of the swindles in Iraq this is probably small potatoes. One wonders if the fraud was all on the Philippine side. As the article mentions the claims are filed on behalf of 9,000 U.S. servicemen retired in the Philippines although they probably were not involved but were just the vehicle for the inflated claims. In most hospitals medical costs are far below that in the U.S. Perhaps the claims seemed reasonable at the Pentagon!

Bitter medicine

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:17:00 04/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines - The stunning news filtered out through the wires last Thursday. An elaborate scam based in the Philippines had swindled the Pentagon out of billions of pesos in fraudulent health care claims. The exact amount of the total fraud is still undetermined, but it has been reported that one health care provider in the Philippines, Health Visions Corp., allegedly defrauded the US Defense Department’s Tricare program of almost $100 million between 1998 and 2004.…

Pakistan Taliban chief pulls out of peace talks

This is from wiredispatch.
Obviously the U.S. has put pressure on the Pakistani govt. not to negotiate with terrorists. I can't understand why a Taliban chief should pussyfoot around with phrases such as "foreign forces" when he means the U.S. Maybe the Taliban are just garden variety politicians who can't call a spade a spade.
The fact that negotiations have broken down does not mean that there will be renewed conflict between Pakistan forces and the Taliban. A ceasefire may hold.

Pakistani Taliban chief pulls out of peace talks

Zeeshan Haider
Reuters North American News Service

Apr 28, 2008 07:34 EST

ISLAMABAD, April 28 (Reuters) - A Pakistani Taliban commander pulled out of a peace deal with the government after it refused to withdraw the army from tribal lands on the Afghan border, the militant's spokesman said on Monday.

Tribal elders in Pakistan's South Waziristan region have been trying to broker a peace deal between the government and Baitullah Mehsud, an…

U.S. air strikes kill 6 in Sadr City despite truce..

This is from wiredispatch. This sort of attack will not likely even register in the U.S. mainstream news. Yet as the article shows it registers among the families of victims. You can expect more attacks against Americans. Actually Sadr is trying hard to maintain a truce but for some reason the U.S. is forging ahead. Even the Iraqi govt. has condemned the attacks but the Iraqi govt. has no control over the U.S. forces. The occupying forces do as they like.

WRAPUP 1-U.S. air strikes kill 6 in Sadr City despite truce

Wisam Mohammed
Reuters North American News Service

Apr 27, 2008 09:50 EST

BAGHDAD, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. forces said on Sunday they killed six militants in air strikes overnight in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, despite a call by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for his fighters to observe a truce which seems to have reined them in.

In a sign of progress towards reconciling Iraq's main sects, Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met Sunni Arab Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi to …

More Americans Decry Decision to Invade Iraq

The "success" of the surge is not translating into any support for the war. In spite of the anti-war surge the Democrats seem not to be capable of doing anything to stop Bush. Actually there is bi-partisan agreement for the huge U.S. military expenditures and aggressive foreign policy. The Democrats seem to compete with the Republicans to see who can hate Iran most while both they and the Republicans support Maliki who is supported by Iran!

Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research
More Americans Decry Decision to Invade Iraq
April 27, 2008
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many adults in the United States are dissatisfied with their government’s decision to launch the coalition effort, according to a poll by Gallup released by USA Today. 63 per cent of respondents think the U.S. made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, up six points since December.

The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein’s regime was launched in March 2003. At least 4,051 American soldiers have died du…

The neoconning of a nation...

This is from the Toronto Sun. This article repeats the claim that one aim of revealing "intelligence" about the Syrian reactor at this stage is to sabotage nuclear talks with North Korea that the neocons oppose. But the article also reveals another motive and that is to prevent accomodation between Israel and Syria. Perhaps Margolis is correct that the neo-cons want a confrontation with Iran before the next election because they think that this will get McCain elected. Perhaps the neocons are right but given the public opinion polls on the Iraq war and the state of the U.S. economy a new war may not be that popular.

April 27, 2008

The neoconning of a nation
Vice-President, shilling troupe of retired generals, deliver fantastic tales for their cause


PARIS -- U.S. intelligence released a dramatic video last Thursday, supposedly taken by an Israeli spy, that purportedly showed North Korean technicians helping build a nuclear reactor in Syria.

The reactor was destr…

Redefining Iran as the Enemy in Iraq.

This is from As this article points out the emphasis upon Al Qaeda in Iraq is now being very much downplayed by the administration. This is possible because the U.S. is financing former insurgent Sunnis through the awakening movement directed against Al Qaeda. This has hurt Al Qaeda in some areas. The enemy now is Al Sadr and Iran which to some degree supports his Mahdi Army. However, other militias such as the Badr brigades that support Maliki are supported even more by Iran. The contradiictory nature of U.S. policy re Iran is simply ignored by mainstream media. Both Iran and the U.S. support the Maliki government. Maliki has good relations with Iran much to the chagrin of the U.S. You would think that a few reporters would take a bit more interest in the fact that Maliki has very good relations with the country that the U.S. now defines as the main enemy of Iraq!

Redefining Iran as the Enemy in Iraq

By Ivan Eland
April 26, 2008

Editor’s Note: In W…

Cheney camp 'behind Syrian reactor claim'.

This is from ABC (Australia) This article gives a motive as to why the U.S. might want to play up North Korea's alleged role in building a reactor in Syria. This could derail negotiations with North Korea if they are not already on the rails.
Of course the U.S. always takes every opportunity it can to blacken the reputation of Syria. No one notices that attacking the reactor was a clear violation of international law and the UN charter. Israeli (and US) violations of international law or the UN charter don't count. They are the good guys after all.

Cheney camp 'behind Syrian reactor claim'
Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:04pm AEST
Updated Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:26pm AEST

'Out to scupper diplomacy': Dick Cheney (File photo) (Getty Images: Win McNamee)

Video: US Govt outlines allegations (ABC News) Audio: US says Israel destroyed suspected nuclear reactor in Syria (AM) Related Story: N Korea helped Syria build bombed reactor: US US Government allegations that North Korea he…

Scepticism toward Bush claims about Syria and North Korea.

This is from Salon.
The hand of Cheny should be visible behind all this. There does not seem to be much critical acumen in most of the mainstream press. Plenty of space is given for regurgiitating official accounts but little to critical analysis of the validity of them. This article shows some of the reasons for scepticism.

Glenn Greenwald
Friday April 25, 2008 07:12 EDT
Skepticism toward Bush claims about Syria and North Korea
(updated below - Update II)

There are multiple reasons why substantial skepticism is warranted concerning the Bush administration's claims that the structure which Israeli jets destroyed inside Syria last September was a nuclear reactor Syria was developing with the aid of North Korea. Such skepticism, however, is difficult to find in most (though not all) American press accounts, which do little other than repeat Government claims without challenge.

This Associated Press article, for instance, is 32 paragraphs long, yet it contains little other than unchalleng…

Socialists slam Sarkozy over new benefit for poor.

This is distributing wealth from the poor to the poor, but I guess that is an improvement from distributing wealth from the poor to the rich. Maybe the point is that misery should be distributed more equally among the poor. France has always had an egalitarian streak! This is from IHT.

Socialists slam Sarkozy over new benefit for poor
By Thierry Leveque
Friday, April 25, 2008
PARIS: France's opposition Socialists accused President Nicolas Sarkozy of helping some poor people by penalising others on Friday after he said he would fund a new state benefit by cutting tax breaks for low income workers.

The new "active solidarity revenue" of 1,000 to 2,000 euros (787-1,573 pounds) per person per month is intended to help poor single parents and long-term unemployed people. It is expected to benefit 1.9 million people.

Sarkozy said it would cost the state 1.5 billion euros in new funding. Extra money would come from savings obtained by cutting tax breaks for low income work…

UN probes US Syria reactor claim

This is from the BBC. There is nothing but contempt for the IAEA on the part of the U.S. and Israel. The US and Israel have their own agendas. Israel's raid is a clear violation of the UN charter and international law but no one ever bothers with that aspect of the situation. Both Israel and the U.S. hid intelligence from the IAEA which they were duty bound to provide. The IAEA of course had no chance to investigate before the Israelis bombed the site.
Seymour Hersch had written earlier about the nuclear claim. As his article points out it is certainly rather weird that there seems no evidence of security around what is supposed to be a place where a reactor is being built:

"Much of what one would expect to see around a secret nuclear site was lacking at the target, a former State Department intelligence expert who now deals with proliferation issues for the Congress said. “There is no security around the building,” he said. “No barracks for the Army or the workers. No associa…

Pakistan fury at NATO border raid

Anti-American and anti-NATO feelings in Pakistan run high. Even the party of Bhutto is reacting against U.S. policy and seeking peace with the Taliban. At the same time NATO carries on an operation such as this. Of course drone attacks have been rather common as well.
Sometimes I wonder if U.S. foreign policy makes any sense at all or if it is run by different people on different days of the week!

Pakistan fury at Nato border raid

Pakistan's foreign ministry has said it has lodged a "strong protest" with Nato and the Afghan military after a border skirmish left a Pakistani soldier dead.

At least eight Taleban militants were also killed during the clashes which began when an Afghan border post was attacked before dawn on Wednesday.

During the battle, Nato forces fired shells and carried out an incursion into the Bajaur tribal region, it said.

Nato has not been granted permission to pursue militants over the frontier.

The Pakistani government warned earlier this year t…

Pakistan Taliban leader orders militants to halt attacks

This is from the CBC. The new Pakistani government is undercutting U.S. policy completely. The U.S. is gungho for battle with the Taliban and was urging Musharraf to battle them even more than he was. Now, the Pakistani government and the Taliban are in effect declaring a truce. This will indeed enable the Taliban to regroup and to solidify their control of the tribal areas. No doubt there will be more infiltration of militants into Afghanistan.

Taliban leader orders militants to halt attacks
Last Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2008 | 8:58 AM ET Comments59Recommend55CBC News
A senior Taliban commander in Pakistan has ordered his followers to stop all attacks along the Afghanistan border, threatening those who disobey him with severe consequences.

Baitullah Mehsud, an al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani warlord whom authorities said was behind the killing of Benazir Bhutto, warned those who don't abide by the command will be publicly hanged upside down.

The order is final and there will be no leni…

Maoists conciliatory after election victory in Nepal

This is from the Guardian. Fortunately it seems as if the monarchy hasn't the power to strike back unlike Mugabe in Zimbabwe who refuses to accept electoral defeat. The Maoists did far better than predicted and other opposition parties including another communist party did poorly. However the Maoists will need to reach out to others to form a majority.
A constitution has still to be drawn up but so far there has been no return to civil war.

Former rebels conciliatory after election victory in NepalRandeep Ramesh, South Asia correspondent The Guardian, Thursday April 24 2008 Article historyAbout this articleClose This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday April 24 2008 on p22 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:11 on April 24 2008. Nepal's former Maoist rebels emerged triumphant as the largest party in the country's new parliament last night, signalling they would work with the traditional politicians who have been routed.

The Communist party of …

Oil Underlies Darfur Tragedy

This is an old article but it serves to remind us that Darfur is not just a humanitarian tragedy. The roots of the crisis are not only in Christian, Muslim conflict and tribal conflicts but also in struggles to control oil involving numerous interests including China and the US that are outside Sudan itself. The article is from Zaman Daily.
Published on Monday, July 5, 2004 by Zaman Daily

Oil Underlies Darfur Tragedy
By Cumali Onal

The fighting in Sudan's Darfur region, which is being reported in the world press as 'ethnic cleansing' and a 'humanitarian crisis', reportedly stems from attempts to gain control over the oil resources in the region, claim Arab sources.

These Arab sources find it interesting that such skirmishes occurred when a peace agreement that would have brought an end to 21 years of north-south conflict was about to be signed. The sources point out that oil fields have recently been discovered in Darfur.

So far at least 10,000 people have lost their l…

Assessing the global food crisis.

This is from the BBC.
There is always funding for the war on terror but always a lack of funding for the war on hunger or poverty. As a result the poorest will be secure. Secure and starving to death. But the war on terror does not even produce security just as the war on poverty does not produce security from poverty.

Assessing the global food crisis

By Emily Buchanan
BBC News

"A silent tsunami which knows no borders sweeping the world".

That is how the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) summed up the global food shortages.

It is certainly a storm that has hit with little warning and has plunged an extra 100 million people into poverty.

The crisis has triggered riots in Haiti, Cameroon, Indonesia and Egypt and is deemed a dangerous threat to stability.

It is not so much famine that is the worry, it is widespread misery and malnutrition.

The WFP's biggest concern is for the people living on 50 cents a day who have nothing to fall back on.

Budget shortfall

Amongst t…

Philippines rejects bids for 2011bonds at auction

From the Economic Times (India) Obviously authorities think that the Philippines is less of a risk than bond purchasers. Authorities usually have an unrealistic optimistic view of their country's condition!

Philippines rejects bids for 2011 bond at auction
22 Apr, 2008, 1138 hrs IST, AGENCIES

MANILA: The Philippines' Bureau of Treasury rejected all bids at an auction of 2011 domestic bonds on Tuesday after the average rate offered was deemed too high. The Treasury had put seven billion pesos of the bond, originally issued as five-year paper in 2006, on sale.

The bond has a remaining life of three years and six months. Only 2.98 billion pesos of bids were recorded with the average rate at 7.711 percent. The closest comparison is the average rate of the 4-year bond at the last successful auction on Dec 11, which was at 5.876 percent.

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