Showing posts from December, 2008

NPA Xmas truce over...

This is from
Surely the guerrilas and AFP could agree to a longer holiday truce instead of breaking up the holiday truces with a three day period of hostilities in between Xmas and New Year's.
The NPA thinks that if you use NPA territory and don't pay revolutionary taxes then you must suffer the consequences. Probably the NPA is a more efficient tax collector than the Arroyo administration!

Communist guerrillas resume hostilities
COMMUNIST New People’s Army guerillas have resumed hostilities with the end of their three-day Christmas truce last Friday.
The rebels toppled a communications tower in Quezon and engaged troops in a firefight in Agusan del Sur, killing a soldier and wounding two others.
The communist-declared truce ended December 26. A New Year’s truce will take effect December 31 and January 1.
Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said he was optimistic no untoward incident would occur during the New Year’s truce as in t…

Israeli Military Declares Online Media Ánother war zone''.

The press coverage in the West is almost universally pro-Israel with the occasional note that perhaps the Israeli response to the Hamas rockets is somewhat unproportional. But then the blame is always based squarely on Hamas as if by attacks on militants Israel does not provoke Hamas!
The Hamas rockets are indeed to be deplored but the damage they inflict is minimal compared to that inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. Israel of course does very well at controlling the spin and what the media reports. Journalists are not allowed in Gaza to report firsthand what is happening. Even the warfare within the media is asymmetric with the Palestinian side having little power whereas Israel has plenty of power and control.

This is from

Israeli Military Declare Online Media ''Another war zone.''

Journalists Kept Carefully Away From Gaza as Israel Tries to Restrict Coverage
Posted December 30, 2008
Across the world, mainstream journalists are expressing increasing …

Palestinian negotiator says peace talks with Israel ''suspended'

This is hardly surprising. In any event the last thing that Israel is interested in at this point is negotiating peace. It is interested in doing as much damage as it can on Hamas before reacting to international condemnation for the attacks on its own Gaza prison. There are bound to be numerous Palestinians who have only revenge in mind and heart after this so that even if Israel does manage to find some Palestinians to bargain with it will not stop the counter attacks since no Palestinian authority will have the power to control these militants as Israeli seems to demand. It would seem that Israel is also contemplating a ground invasion. This is bound to cause more losses for the Israelis and of course many for the Palestinian side in this very asymmetric warfare.

Palestinian negotiator says peace talks with Israel "suspended" 2008-12-29 22:19:29

RAMALLAH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said on Monday the peace negotiations…

Somali president resigns.

This is from AFP.

This resignation is just a further sign of the weakness and virtual irrelevance of the internationally recognised Somalia govt. Meanwhile the Islamists are re-establishing their power base throughout most of the country. Once Ethiopian troops withdraw the Islamists will further consolidate their power. It will be interesting to see what Obama will do in relation to Somalia.

Somali president resigns
7 hours ago
BAIDOA, Somalia (AFP) — Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned Monday following a bitter power struggle, adding political uncertainty to the war-ravaged country's security vacuum.
"I had promised to return the power if I could not bring peace, stability and democracy where people can elect their leader," Yusuf told a special meeting of parliament.
"I have handed over my letter of resignation to the speaker of parliament who will be the president in line with the transitional federal charter. I don't want to violate and never v…

Grief and Fear in Gaza.

The blame for this tit for tat is mutual and not just to be put on Hamas as there is a tendency to do in the west. Israel has been targetting Hamas members for some time and the rocket attacks have been in response to these. The attacks then cause Israel to escalate resulting in more rocket attacks. Israel is punishing the whole population of Gaza and has been for some time. In fact Gaza is a huge prison controlled by Israel but also a democratically elected group of inmates Hamas!
Bombing in built up areas is bound to cause civilian casualties and the deaths of innocents indeed many more than the inefficient primitive rockets launched by Hamas into Israel.
The best we can hope for is that the US and others are able to pressure Israel sufficiently to arrange another ceasefire that will at least reduce the level of mutual violence. However, that is a very faint hope. The Israelis seem to think that this attack and a ground invasion will be a final solution to the problem of Ha…

Philippines: Hospitals Ready for New Year casualties.

When I first arrived as a visitor in Legazpi in October a few years ago,the first night I thought that we must live in a dangerous neighbourhood since I heard what I thought were gunshots in the evening. I was soon set straight that it was simply noisy firecrackers. The climax came on New Years when the noise lasted all night along with rockets and flares that seemed to go up from everywhere. It seems that there are few rules about fireworks in the Philippines and there are always accidents.

DOH readies hospitals
WITH Christmas over, the Department of Health is gearing for the New Year revelry by ensuring that hospitals have enough supply of medicines and equipment for victims of firecracker-related injuries.
"We have to make sure government hospitals, doctors, medical technicians and x-ray radiologists are ready," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
"We would want to know if there are hospitals needing added support in terms of medicines and equipment," he said.

Russian prophecies.

This is from Moscow Times. Interesting tidbits of prophecies including one about Russian world domination! In the short term though as the price of oil and gas declines the Big Russian Bear is facing a big deficit in 2009 According to the official news agency, the deficit will be 70 billion. Even in its deficit Russia does not come close to the USA.
But the lives of people and the fortune of nations are very different stories. While the fortune of a person is his or her own affair, those of countries, and of the world, are the problems of mankind. Philosophers, astrologers, and fortune-tellers have been giveing advice on these matters through the ages. Yes, people may have different attitudes to prophecies, but regardless of one's opinions about them, one thing is for sure: they are fascinating.
One historical figure that has come to be synonymous with prophecies is Nostradamus, whose name happens to be one of the most f…

Israel's Gaza Assault

This is from Aljazeera.

In one attack Israel has probably caused more casualties than the Hamas rockets have in years. Israel intends to overthrow the Hamas govt. in Gaza but even if it should achieve this which is not at all certain the desire for revenge is not about to evaporate. In the short term there could be even more attacks on Israel just to demonstrate that Israeli attacks cannot guarantee security. The outlook for peace between Palestinians and Israelis looks quite dim as we approach the New Year.

Analysis: Israel's Gaza assault
Osama Hamdan, the Palestinian Islamist Hamas representative in LebanonInterior ministry buildings were targeted in the raid [AFP]
Speaking to Al Jazeera, commentators and political figures share their thoughts on the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon
"I believe what happened today is a continuity of the Israeli collective crime against the Palestinians.
What happened in the last three years, the Pales…

Bush's 1 Trillion War on Terror: Even Costlier Than Expected

This is from Yahoo.
The absolute amount of US debt will be staggering when the hundreds of billions in bailout costs is added to these war costs. Once attempts are made to reduce these deficits wages and social programs will be the first to suffer. There will be continual clamour about unsustainable social security, unsustainable medicare and aid, unsustainable welfare, and on and on. What must be sustained however are profits because that is the sine qua non of capitalist production.
Once the economy begins to turn around watch for inflation and decrease in value of the US dollar.

Bush's $1 Trillion War on Terror: Even Costlier Than Expected
By MARK THOMPSON / WASHINGTON Mark Thompson / Washington Fri Dec 26, 4:30 am ET
The news that President Bush's war on terror will soon have cost the U.S. taxpayer $1 trillion - and counting - is unlikely to spread much Christmas cheer in these tough economic times. A trio of recent reports - none by the Bush Administration - suggests that…

Pakistan deploys soldiers to Indian border

This is from the Guardian (UK)
The US wants to defuse the tension between India and Pakistan so that Pakistan can concentrate on the war on terror but it seems that this is not to be. I suppose India believes that if the US can use drones to attack jihadists in the territories then India should be able to use air attacks against suspected jihadist sites in Pakistan.

Pakistan 'deploys soldiers to Indian border'

Saeed Shah in Islamabad, Maseeh Rahman in Delhi
The Guardian, Saturday 27 December 2008

Pakistan moved troops away from its western border with Afghanistan, amid reports that thousands of soldiers were being redeployed along the eastern frontier with India yesterday, in what would be a major escalation of the confrontation between the two countries after the Mumbai terrorist attack last month.
Most experts still believe that war between the nuclear-armed adversaries is unlikely but, if confirmed, the troop movements risk triggering a conflict, with both sides in a state of ner…

Samir Amin: There is no alternative to Socialism.

This is from hinduonnet.
Samir Amin is a well known Egyptian left wing economist.
Amin takes a very different view of the present crisis than many leftist. For example many leftists consider the present crisis to be caused by a lack of regulation to a considerable extent. Amin considers the crisis one of the distribution of profits among oligolopolies. Deregulation is a product of the competition for profits. It should be noted that as the crisis continues large corporations often become larger by gobbling up failing competitors or merging often with the aid of governments.
Amin sees countries of the South possibly decoupling from the western global finance system. He believes that China has already done so to some extent and by concentrating its stimulus finance on internal markets will do so even more. India is moving in the direction of further integration with the west. I am not sure how far China can decouple as its development has been strongly linked to export deve…

Gaza braces for Israel attack.

This is from AFP.

It seems that another ceasefire is not likely. Note this article speaks of Hamas violently ceasing power but in fact Hamas was elected and the power seizure was to stop a potential seizure by Abbas supporters. The innocents and children will be in danger of course because of Israeli attacks which pay little attention to collateral damage. Both sides are guilty of not concerning themselves with innocents and there is a never ending tit for tat as Israel targets militants and the militants respond with rockets, most of them ineffective and just prompting more Israeli reaction.

Gaza braces for Israeli offensive
4 hours ago
JERUSALEM (AFP) — The spectre of a military invasion loomed large over Gaza on Friday as militants fired another volley of rockets despite Israeli warnings that failure to stop the attacks would lead to bloodshed.
"Army preparing for combined ground, air operation in Gaza," declared the front-page headline in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

U.S. Russia, China in Dogfight over Jet Sales

It seems the an economic downturn does little to cool down very costly jet sales. Countries such as India, Malaysia, and Indonesia have populations with many whose basic needs are not met but the military will gobble up available resources to get the latest high tech jet planes.

US, Russia, China in Dogfight Over Jet Sales
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is bracing for tough competition from Russia and China as cash-flush Asian economies look up to the trio for a new breed of fighter jets to beef up their air forces, experts say.
Japan, India, Australia and South Korea are keen to have the most modern, fifth generation, jet fighters while Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia are reportedly eyeing fourth generation fighters from China.
With Asia powering ahead with military modernization and capability growth, the United States wants to maintain leadership in defense sales in the region attracted by low…

Philippines: Hunger at new record-high

This is from bayanihanpost.

The economic downturn plus the continuing high price of staples such as rice no doubt are contributing to this situation.

Hunger at new record-high 23.7% of families, Moderate Hunger at 18.5%, Severe Hunger at 5.2%
by SWS

The proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months reached a new record-high of 23.7%, or an estimated 4.3 million households, according to the final Social Weather Survey for 2008, fielded over November 28-December 1, 2008.The latest Hunger record is 11 points above the ten-year average of 12.6%. It has surpassed the previous record-high incidence of 21.5% in September 2007 [Chart 1, Table 1].Hunger has now been at double-digits for over four years, since June 2004. The Hunger average of 2008 is 18.5%, higher than the 2007 average of 17.9%. The measure of Hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of anything to eat. R…

Contract Point to Significant US Commitment in Afghanistan.

This is from the Washington Post.

Plenty of money for new construction to house occupying troops but there is no mention of how much is being spent to rebuild for Afghan civilians. As in Iraq there are plenty of facilities and services for the foreign occupiers but most Afghans remain without basic services.
This commitment also shows the seamless foreign policy continuity between the Obama and Bush administration further illustrated by the fact that Obama has retained the services of Gates as minister of defence.

Contracts Point to Significant U.S. Commitment in Afghanistan
By Walter PincusWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, December 25, 2008; A05
Earlier this month, standing at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the United States is making a "sustained commitment" to that country, one that will last "some protracted period of time."
A series of new proposals coming out of the Pentagon make clear a significant aspect of that c…

Somali president resigns under US pressure.

This is from
As usual the US is intervening in Somalia. This intervention is not likely to further US policy very much as the Islamists continue to take over more territory while the recognised govt. is little recognised on the ground.
It would be nice if the US could force Robert Mugabe to resign. Mugabe is now even losing support among key anti-colonial figures such as Desmond Tutu.

Somali President Yusuf Resigns Under US Pressure
New Prime Minister Also Steps Down
Posted December 24, 2008
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf announced the he intends to formally resign as of Saturday in a move praised by the African Union as a way to strengthen the mandate (such as it is) of the floudering Somali government and allow Yusuf to “go with some sort of dignity.”
The announcement came just hours after Prime Minister Mohamed Guled, himself in power for only a week after Yusuf dismissed the former prime minister, announced his own resignation. While Yusuf gave no official reason …

Southeast Asia economies declining and still coupled to US.

THis is from the Asiatimes.
Interesting that it is the most open of these Asian economies that are most effected. Singapore in particular is actually in recession while most others are simply showing declines in growth. It seems that Indonesia might require loans from the IMF. The terms would no doubt limit severely freedom for Indonesia to set its own financial policies.

Down and still coupled
By Shawn W Crispin BANGKOK - With falling exports, declining confidence and tight liquidity squeezed by fleeing foreign capital, Southeast Asia has wholly failed to decouple from the mounting downturns in the United States and Europe. Looking ahead to 2009, the question is not if, but rather how far, the trade-geared economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members will fall in line with the global economy. As global trade collapses, some of ASEAN's 10 members will be hit harder than others, economists predict. The region's most open economies, namely Singapore …