Showing posts from March, 2009

U.S. seeks to reassure Iraqi Sunni allies

This is from
This is blowback from U.S. policy of enlisting Sunni militias against Al Qaeda. Now there is conflict between the militias and the Iraqi govt. The Iraqi govt. also is unwilling to keep on paying the militias as the US did. More conflict in the making.

US seeks to reassure Sunni allies
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 30, 2009
(03-30) 12:06 PDT BAGHDAD, (AP) --
The U.S. military sought to reassure its Sunni allies Monday that it would support them despite fears that the Shiite-led government plans a purge of their ranks after a weekend crackdown in Baghdad.
A major rift between the Shiite government and the Sunni groups could fuel sectarian tensions and threaten security as the Americans begin withdrawing their forces this year.
Iraqi authorities have denied plans to disband Sunni paramilitary groups, known as Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq, which broke with al-Qaida in Iraq and joined forces with the Americans to help combat the insurge…

Dr. Doom still pessimistic

Unlike some Roubini sees the recent rally as a bear market rally. Already at the end of the week it seemed to be ending. Obama seems dead set against nationalising the banks and will do everything he can to avoid it.
Over the long term the huge increase in spending by the US will no doubt cause serious inflationary pressures. It remains to be seen what the response to that will be.

Stocks Will Drop; Banks Will Go Belly Up - Roubini

By Charting Stocks

March 27, 2009 "Charting Stocks" -- - The stock market will drop as major banks go belly up says Nouriel Roubini, the NYU economist that successfully predicted the current economic collapse. Below is the text from an interview Mr. Roubini gave today on Bloomberg TV.

U.S. stocks will fall and the government will nationalize more banks as the economy contracts through the end of 2009, said Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted last year’s economic crisis.

“The stock market is a bit ahead of the real macroeco…

Taliban and Al-Quaida must be stopped: Obama

While the concentration seems to be on Al Quaida obviously the biggest problem is the Taliban and they were the de facto rulers of Afghanistan when the US with the help of the Northern Alliance turfed them out and later occupied the country under the fig leaves of NATO and the UN.
Obama is following the same policy as Bush with slightly different emphases and rhetoric. He is anxious to get more allies involved but is unlikely to receive much help in the way of more non-US troops. Obama is also treating the issue as a regional one because of the strength of radical Islamic movements in Pakistani tribal areas.
Obama is quite likely to come out with a greater disaster over time than Bush did in invading Iraq although the security issue there is by no means settled by any stretch of the imagination.

Obama: Taliban and al-Qaida must be stopped

Obama declares US must push harder against al-Qaida network in Afghanistan, Pakistan

AP News

Mar 27, 2009 12:15 EST

President Barack Obama …

Israel attacks convoy in Sudan

This surely is against international law but since it is done by the Israelis no Israeli leader will be summoned by the International Court of Justice to face charges unlike the Sudanese leader who has a warrant out for his arrest.

Israel Killed 39 in Attack on Sudan Convoy
January Strike Destroyed Several Trucks, Injured Civilians

Posted March 25, 2009

Answering accusations from a Sudanese minister that the US Air Force had killed 39 people in a January attack in that nation, US officials say that in fact it was the Israeli military that launched the attack on a convoy of trucks northwest of Port Sudan city.

Reportedly, the Israeli planes used a US base in Djibouti to stage the attacks, as part of the agreement between Israel and the outgoing Bush Administration made in mid January. Israeli officials would neither confirm nor deny the attacks.

The trucks attacked were said to be smuggling small arms to Hamas, and while an exact date for the attack was not given it appears to h…

Obama's Drone Policy: Bush on Steroids

It sounds from this article as if Obama's review of drone strategy includes increasing the number of attacks. Obama may also begin attacks in new areas that so far have been out of bounds. Many commentators have claimed that the attacks in effect help to recruit more to the militant cause but no one in the Obama administration seems to be listening. Any policy that avoids any US casualties is OK no matter how much collateral damage it may cause.

US plans new drone attacks on Pakistan: report

1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Washington is planning new drone attacks on militant targets in Pakistan as part of its overall review of military strategy there and in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Intelligence officials from the United States and Pakistan are composing a "fresh list of terrorist targets for Predator drone strikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border," the newspaper said citing officials involved.

However, cooperation between the two allies is co…

Afghanistan: A Surge Toward Disaster.

This article traces the increase in troops and activity by the US led NATO occupation of Afghanistan. The article fails to mention that Obama is also continuing the drone attacks that Bush initiated. It seems that he may also actually increase the area covered by drone attacks. He may end up being responsible for creating a civil war in Pakistan. Maybe he wants that so that the army will take over. Obama has spoken about talking to the Taliban unlike Bush but this is just a rather transparent attempt to create splits in the Taliban. Moderate Taliban are by definition those that go along with the US NATO occupation. Already the Afghan govt. has many of the same laws as the former Taliban regime including the death penalty for Muslims who convert to Christianity.

Socialist Project - home The B u l l e t Socialist Project - home
Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 193
March 17, 2009
Afghanistan: A Surge Toward Disaster
Anthony Fenton

As United States President Barack Obama simultaneou…

Zardari boxed in after judge reinstated

This is from Monsters and Critics. I gather that the other sacked judges as well are also to be reinstated. It seems that the armed forces were crucial in forcing Zardari to give way. He now appears as a very weak leader although no doubt the US still stands behind him in preference to Sharif. There are still umpteen problems facing Pakistan and no doubt ordinary Pakistanis will not see much change in their situation for the short term. At least this is a step forward for democracy in Pakistan.

ANALYSIS: Zardari boxed in after judge reinstated
South Asia News

By Nadeem Sarwar Mar 16, 2009, 16:14 GMT

Islamabad - The reinstatement of the Pakistan's sacked top judge is a healthy sign for the fragile democracy but a bad omen for President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, analysts said Monday.

Pakistan's judiciary, under the reinstated and independent-minded Iftikhar Chaudhry, plus re-energised opposition parties with massive street power, is expected…

Sharif calls off long march.

This is from Reuters.

Although the chief justice is to be reinstated there is no word about the dozens of other senior judges who were also sacked by Musharraf being re-instated. This seems more of a clever ruse to defuse the situation.

Pakistan's Sharif calls off "Long March" protest
Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:39pm EDT
GUJRANWALA, Pakistan, March 16 (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition leader Nawaz Sharif on Monday called off a "Long March" protest after the government decided to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice.

"I hope after this, we'll implement the charter of democracy and true democracy in Pakistan. We'll make the judiciary stronger and parliament supreme," Sharif told supporters in Gujranwala, a town north of Lahore, where the protest procession stopped on its way to Islamabad when news came through of the government's backdown.

"We have got the fruit of our two-year struggle. Now the destiny of this country will change. This develo…

You know you are in the Philippines when.....# 17- 20

You know you are in the Philippines when....

17. Stopping at a stop sign when no one is coming is a sign of dementia or that you are a foreigner..

18. Cutting off oncoming vehicles is a normal way of entering traffic.

19. At intersections the largest vehicle has the right of way.

20. Malls all have backup power generators so they can remain open during frequent power outages.

You Know you are in the Philippines when...# 13- # 16

# 13 No motorized tricycle has a functioning speedometer.

# 14 Use of headlights at night is regarded by some as optional.

# 15 At pedestrian crosswalks vehicles still seem to have right of way.

# 16 As soon as children can walk they have the skills to jaywalk.

You Know you are in the Philippines when...# 9- # 12

You know you are in the Philippines when......

# 9 Only wimps and foreigners shower with warm water.

# 10 Every flat roof attracts many clothes lines.

# 11 It takes over two hours for your bus to exit Metro Manila--when traffic is light.

# 12 Street vendors sell anything and everything in Manila traffic jams.

Karzai may help Iran join Afghan talks

Karzai trip may help Iran join US-led Afghan talks.

The United States, other world powers and neighbours of Afghanistan meet later this month to explore ways of restoring stability to a country where international forces are battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency.In what is being seen as an overture by President Barack Obama's administration towards arch-foe Iran, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Tehran will receive an invitation to the gathering.Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari will meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ahead of a Tehran summit on Wednesday of the regional Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO).Although supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has Iran's final say on issues of strategy, the meeting of the three presidents is expected to see Karzai urge Iran to accept the invitation to the March 31 talks."Karzai will push Iranians to attend this conference as it will reinforce his own position and also help to secure support …

You know you are in the Philippines when.....# 5 to # 8

5. Most toilets do not have seats and come with a flush bucket.

6. Roman Catholic bishops together with communist front organizations mount regular demonstrations against the government.

7. The most efficient tax collector is the NPA (New People's Army, Maoist revolutionaries)

8. Unless you are a foreign barbarian you shower with cold water.

more to come..

You know you are in the Philippines when....#1 to # 4

I have been listing some of the idiosyncratic features of being in the Philippines. Here are the first four:

1) Every second vehicle is a jeepney.

2) Every second jeepney has a big Mercedes Logo ornament on its front.

3) Your automatic washing machine is a maid.

4) If you use a knife when you eat, it shows you are a barbarian.

more to come.

Philippines: Ugly Betty goes Global.

We have cable TV here in Legazpi and there are several Filipino stations. I was surprised to see a show called (translated): I love Ugly Betty.
Not only does Ugly Betty have glasses similar to her US namesake but she also has ugly braces on her teeth. The drama also imitates the US show in that there is a scheming older beauty -played by Vanessa Williams in the US show--and also a gay sidekick. Betty also has a more attractive sister and a similar father. She seemed to have similar problems with her boyfriends as well and with her boss. Even pop culture comedy dramas have gone global!

Karzai unable to change presidential election date.

This is rather bizarre. The "independent" election commission in effect violates the constitution while Karzai's suggestion would be in accord with it. Of course the US and NATO are all for the later time since they expect to have more control over security in August. Also, no doubt they will have arranged for one of their favorites to have the inside track. They probably will not even countenance Karzai remaining president from the time his term ends until the election. Karzai has just been an uppity puppet who does not understand he must do as he is told and not criticise the US and NATO much if at all.

Afghanistan confirms August poll Afghanistan's election commission has said that presidential polls will take place on August 20, rejecting a request from Hamid Karzai, the country's president, for them to be held in the spring.

In a decree issued last week, Karzai said the elections should take place in April in line with the constitution …

Georgia: Halt Russian Military Buildup

This is from the International News (Pakistan). It seems that Russia is going to expand its presence in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia whether Georgia and the west like it or not. It will be interesting to see if Obama confronts Russia over this or keeps quiet in order to improve relationships on other issues. It would seem that Russia is co-operating with the US insofar as allowing US supplies to go through Russia on route to Afghanistan.

Halt military buildup: Georgia

Wednesday, March 04, 2009
TBILISI: Georgia’s defence minister appealed to the West to halt what he said was a continuing Russian military build-up in two breakaway Georgian regions, adding that a fresh Russian attack ‘cannot be ruled out’.

The Kremlin recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states in the wake of last year’s five-day war between Russia and Georgia, when Moscow smashed a Georgian assault on South Ossetia.

Defence Minister David Sikharulidze told Reuters in an interview late on Monday t…

Trip to the Philippines

We drove to Winnipeg on Saturday and stayed over at the Airport Inn. Fortunately they allowed us to park our car for a month saving us a bundle compared to some of the park and fly places by the airport.
The flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver next day was uneventful but when we arrived in Vancouver in the middle of the afternoon we had to wait for the flight to Manila at 10:45 pm.
We had our bags booked through to Manila so we just had to get a boarding pass. Of course the PAL station was not open.
We inquired at information and were told that it opened at six. At six it did not open. So we inquired again. We were then told that it opened three hours before the flight or about 6:15. Hmm..! Three hours before 10:45 would be 7:45 not 6:15. Anyway at about a quarter to seven someone came and fired up a computer that put signs by each lane indicating whether it was for transfers or for those with baggage. Lo and behold a little after seven two clerks actually appeared and we were f…