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Friday, February 29, 2008

Philippines' Galoc oilfield to start in April

This if from Reuters.
This is good news since the Philippines is very much dependent on foreign oil making the cost of gasoline and diesel quite high.


REFILE-UPDATE 1-Philippines' Galoc oilfield to start in April
Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:26am EST
(Corrects web site name in paragraph 4.)

(Adds details throughout)

By Maryelle Demongeot

SINGAPORE, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Philippines' 17,500 barrels per day (bpd) Galoc oilfield will start commercial production in April, slightly behind plans for a first-quarter launch, an executive with Nido Petroleum Ltd (NDO.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday.

The new crude will raise the Philippines' domestic crude oil output by some 70 percent to up to 42,500 bpd and will provide the first major crude oil addition to the Asia-Pacific region this year.

"Wells are now ready for production services in April 2008," Jon Pattillo, head of exploration for Australia's Nido Petroleum, which holds a 22.279 percent in the development, told an industry conference in Singapore.

Two wells, Galoc-3 and Galoc-4, were completed earlier this month. Galoc-4 flowed at 6,150 bpd and Galoc-3 at 5,200 bpd, operator Galoc production company said in statements earlier this month (www.galoc.com).

The light sweet crude, with a 35 American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity will be marketed by European trader Vitol, a partner in the field, said a company official last year.

Around 240,000 bpd of new sweet crude are expected to come onstream in Asia this year, well below oil demand in the region.

Benchmark Malaysian Tapis crude settled at a record-high of $104.00 a barrel on Wednesday, according to Reuters calculations, above over other bellwethers, which also hit records, reflecting the higher quality of Asia-Pacific grades.

Pattillo said the timing for the Galoc field to come on stream could not have been better. "With $100 oil, the timing is perfect," he told the 13th Asia Upstream Conference.

Pattillo had predicted at the same conference last year that Galoc could come online in the fourth quarter of 2007 and other officials said later in the year the field would start during the first quarter of this year.

Pattillo told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference the timing had slipped from the year-ago plans because of delays in drilling the wells.

The country consumes about 330,000 bpd, which forces it to rely on expensive crude imports.

Other partners in the Galoc field, located in the Northwest Palawan basin, offshore Philippines, include several Philippine companies, Australia's Otto Energy (OEL.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) and Vitol. (Editing by Ramthan Hussain)


© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

1 in 100 U.S. Adults behind bars

Even though the average yearly cost for retaining someone in jail is $23,000, it seems there is still lots of support for being being tough or even tougher on crime. The U.S. is now number one in incarcertang their citizens surpassing even Russia. The prison-industrial complex will probably not suffer from any recession.


1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/28cnd-prison.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
By ADAM
LIPTAK
Published: February 28, 2008

For the first time in the nation's history, more than one in 100
American
adults is behind bars, according to a new report.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it
to
almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The
number of
American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1
adults
is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic
adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006.
One in
15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages
of 20
and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one
in
355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 is behind bars, but that
one
in 100 black women is.

The report's methodology differed from that used by the Justice
Department,
which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population
rather
than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department's
methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

Either way, said Susan Urahn, the center's managing director, "we
aren't
really getting the return in public safety from this level of
incarceration."

"We tend to be a country in which incarceration is an easy response to
crime," Ms. Urahn continued. "Being tough on crime is an easy position
to
take, particularly if you have the money. And we did have the money in
the
'80s and '90s."

Now, with fewer resources available to the states, the report said,
"prison
costs are blowing a hole in state budgets." On average, states spend
almost
7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare,
education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting
Officers,
states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from
$10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With
money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total
state
spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report
said,
states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005, the most
recent
year for which data is available. But state spending varies widely,
from
$45,000 a year for each inmate in Rhode Island to just $13,000 in
Louisiana.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report
said,
a rate that will accelerate as the prison population ages.

About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and
some
states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more
than
$500 million on overtime alone in 2006.

The number of prisoners in California dropped by 4,000 last year,
making
Texas's prison system the nation's largest, at about 172,000 inmates.
But
the Texas legislature approved broad changes to the state's corrections
system, including expansions of drug treatment programs and drug courts
and
revisions to parole practices.

"Our violent offenders, we lock them up for a very long time —
rapists,
murderers, child molestors," said John Whitmire, a Democratic state
senator
from Houston and the chairman of the state senate's criminal justice
committee. "The problem was that we weren't smart about nonviolent
offenders. The legislature finally caught up with the public."

He gave an example.

"We have 5,500 D.W.I offenders in prison," he said, including people
caught
driving under the influence who had not been in an accident. "They're
in the
general population. As serious as drinking and driving is, we should
segregate them and give them treatment."

The Pew report recommended diverting nonviolent offenders away from
prison
and using punishments short of reincarceration for minor or technical
violations of probation or parole. It also urged states to consider
earlier
release of some prisoners.

Before the recent changes in Texas, Mr. Whitmire said, "we were
recycling
nonviolent offenders."

More than 900,000 on U.S. terror list.

Wow! Surely this creates a niche market and leaves room for an operator to fly terror suspects. Perhaps those flights that the CIA used for rendition could now be resumed as for profit flights to help recoup some of the U.S. taxpayers money that was spent on costly rendition flights of terror susspects to foreign torture sites.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/ACLU_calls_out_US_over_absurd_0227.html
ACLU calls out US over 'absurd bloating' of terror watch list

Nick Juliano
The Raw Story

More that 900,000 people are currently listed as suspected terrorists
on the
US government's "do not fly" list, and that number will grow to beyond
1
million by summer, says the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If there were a million terrorists in this country, our cities would
be in
ruins," Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty
Program, stated in a press release from the group. "The absurd bloating
of
the terrorist watch lists is yet another example of how incompetence by
our
security apparatus threatens our rights without offering any real
security."

The ACLU has launched a new Web site to track the growth of the watch
list,
which it says includes thousands of innocent Americans, including
prominent
politicians and authors as well as people with common names.

CONTINUES:
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/ACLU_calls_out_US_over_absurd_0227.html
___________________________________

Joseph Stiglitz: The Three Trillion Dollar War

This sounds as if it will be an interesting book. I am amazed that there is so little discussion of the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The Democratic front-runner wants to increase the size of the military so that Americans are unlikely to see any decline in military spending. The type of Keynesian militarism that has fuelled the U.S. economy for ages does not seem to be even within the radar of present discussions of the U.S. economic crisis.


http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/28891.html
By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush
administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that
rebuilding the nation would cost less than $2 billion.

Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate
now
estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America
more
than $3 trillion.

That estimate from Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also
serves
as the title of his new book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War," which
hits
store shelves Friday.

CONINUES: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/28891.html

Obama and Clinton flip-flops

There are five from each Democratic candidate. Perhaps the Republican candidates never flip-flop!


from washingtonpost.com

Monday, February 25, 2008; A04

Top Obama Flip-Flops

1. Special interests. In January, the Obama campaign described union
contributions to the campaigns of Clinton and John Edwards as "special
interest" money. Obama changed his tune as he began gathering his own
union endorsements. He now refers respectfully to unions as the
representatives of "working people" and says he is "thrilled" by their
support.

2. Public financing. Obama replied "yes" in September 2007 when asked
if he would agree to public financing of the presidential election if
his GOP opponent did the same. Obama has now attached several
conditions to such an agreement, including regulating spending by
outside groups. His spokesman says the candidate never committed
himself on the matter.

3. The Cuba embargo. In January 2004, Obama said it was time "to end
the embargo with Cuba" because it had "utterly failed in the effort to
overthrow Castro." Speaking to a Cuban American audience in Miami in
August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president
because it is "an important inducement for change."

4. Illegal immigration. In a March 2004 questionnaire, Obama was asked
if the government should "crack down on businesses that hire illegal
immigrants." He replied "Oppose." In a Jan. 31, 2008, televised
debate, he said that "we do have to crack down on those employers that
are taking advantage of the situation."

5. Decriminalization of marijuana. While running for the U.S. Senate
in January 2004, Obama told Illinois college students that he
supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. In the
Oct. 30, 2007, presidential debate, he joined other Democratic
candidates in opposing the decriminalization of marijuana.

Top Clinton Flip-Flops

1. NAFTA. In a January 2004 news conference, Clinton said she thought
that "on balance [NAFTA] has been good for New York and good for
America." She now says she has "long been a critic of the shortcomings
of NAFTA" and advocates a "time out" from similar trade agreements.

2. No Child Left Behind. Clinton voted in favor of the 2002 education
bill that focused on raising student achievement levels, hailing the
measure as "a major step forward." She now attacks the law at campaign
rallies and meetings with teachers, describing it as a "test, test,
test" approach.

3. Ending the war in Iraq. In June 2006, Clinton restated her
long-standing opposition to establishing timetables for withdrawing
U.S. forces in Iraq. In a Jan. 15, 2008, Democratic debate in Las
Vegas, she proposed to "start withdrawing" troops within 60 days of
her inauguration, to bring out "one or two brigades a month" and to
have "nearly all of the troops out" by the end of 2009.

4 . Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. In a campaign statement
on Oct. 31, 2007, Clinton expressed support for a plan by New York
Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) to offer limited driver's licenses to
illegal immigrants, after going back and forth on the matter in a
televised debate. In a Nov. 15, 2007, televised debate from Nevada,
she replied with a simple "no" when asked if she approved the driver's
license idea in the absence of comprehensive immigration changes.

5. Florida and Michigan delegates. In September 2007, the Clinton
campaign formally pledged not to participate in primary or caucus
elections staged before Feb. 5, 2008, in defiance of Democratic
National Committee rules. She now says delegates from Florida and
Michigan should be seated at the Democratic National Convention,
despite their flouting of rules that all the major Democratic
candidates endorsed.

(c) 2008 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, February 28, 2008

U.S. Demonstrators protest Iraq Oil Law.

This is from the Freepress. As noted, the mainstream press simply ignores demonstrations such as this. At least, some segments of labor have shown solidarity with Iraqi labor. Imagine that unions in the public sector are still banned so that the government does not recognise the oil unions. How many Americans are even aware of this?

Kick that barrel
by Mike Ferner
February 23, 2008

In a town awash in irony, this particular example of it couldn’t have been more striking.

Yesterday, in Washington, D.C., former Marine Corps Sergeant and Iraq War vet, Adam Kokesh, kick-rolled a 55-gallon oil drum lettered “Hands Off Iraqi Oil” across K Street – an avenue that has become synonymous with the power of corporate lobbyists.

Kokesh, former Army National Guard Sergeant Geoff Millard, and former Army Private Marc Trainer, in the center of a knot of demonstrators, took turns kicking the barrel up 16th Street towards Lafayette Park, adjoining the White House, for a protest sponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and Oil Change International.

The protest and an earlier news conference at the Institute for Policy Studies was called to bring public attention to the Oil Law passed by the Iraqi Cabinet one year ago and now waiting approval by Parliament.

Citing a letter USLAW sent yesterday to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and George Bush, Gene Bruskin, co-convenor of USLAW, said that under Paul Bremer, the man Bush put in charge of running Iraq right after the invasion, the Hussein administration laws were wiped off the books – except for Law 150 and Law 151 which prohibit Iraqi workers from organizing unions in the public sector, some two-thirds of the nation’s economy.

“For there to be freedom in Iraq,” Bruskin said, “working people have to have representation. And not just on labor contracts but on social policy.” He pledged the continuing support of USLAW, whose member organizations represent some three million U.S. workers, to Iraqi oil workers and their union, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.

Kokesh, who said his time in Iraq taught him that “we are making enemies faster than we can kill them,” called the U.S. presence in Iraq a military and an economic occupation, and that they are “inherently tied.”

Trina Zahller, representing Oil Change International, stated, “No law passed under the U.S. occupation can have legitimacy. Iraqi oil is not a resource for the oil companies, it is for the Iraqi people.”

She said her group’s position is that there should be an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq; that no oil law or long term contracts law be passed under the U.S. occupation; and that international oil companies should be prohibited from owning Iraqi oil. She added that the pending Oil Law provides that currently operating fields stay under Iraqi control, but that future profits from “undiscovered” oil – estimated at 50 percent of all Iraq’s oil – be controlled by oil corporations.

Maintaining its tradition of largely ignoring events critical of U.S. policy in Iraq, U.S. corporate news outlets were conspicuously absent from yesterday’s news conference and protest. United Press International, Talk Radio News, Voice of America and a D.C. television station were the only U.S. news media present. Representing the international press were Reuters; Agence France Press, one of the world’s top newswires; Telesur, a TV network serving much of Latin America; Al Jazeera; and the Japanese newspaper, Akahata.

---
Ferner is an independent journalist and author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.”

Chomsky: The World According to Washington

The whole article is at Asia Times. With his usual sharp sarcasm Chomsky reveals at great length and in detail the transparent hypocrisy involved in Washington's (and to a great extent the world press) moralistic and vehement denunciation of some terrorist acts while studiously ignoring others.

'The world' according to Washington
By Noam Chomsky

On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hezbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it," US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said. "One way or the other he was brought to justice." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh had been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden".

Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as "one of the US and Israel's most wanted men" was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, "A militant wanted the world over", an accompanying story reported that he was "superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden" after



September 11, 2001, and so ranked second among "the most wanted militants in the world".

The terminology is accurate enough, according to the rules of Anglo-American discourse, which defines "the world" as the political class in Washington and London (and whoever happens to agree with them on specific matters). It is common, for example, to read that "the world" fully supported President George W Bush when he ordered the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001. That may be true of "the world", but hardly of the world, as revealed in an international Gallup Poll after the bombing was announced. Global support was slight.

In Latin America, which has some experience with US behavior, support ranged from 2% in Mexico to 16% in Panama, and that support was conditional on the culprits being identified (they still weren't eight months later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported), and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by "the world".

Following the terror trail
In the present case, if "the world" were extended to the world, we might find some other candidates for the honor of most hated arch-criminal. It is instructive to ask why this might be true.

The Financial Times reports that most of the charges against Moughniyeh are unsubstantiated, but "one of the very few times when his involvement can be ascertained with certainty [is in] the hijacking of a TWA plane in 1985 in which a US Navy diver was killed". This was one of two terrorist atrocities that led a poll of newspaper editors to select terrorism in the Middle East as the top story of 1985; the other was the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro, in which a crippled American, Leon Klinghoffer, was brutally murdered. That reflects the judgment of "the world". It may be that the world saw matters somewhat differently.

The Achille Lauro hijacking was a retaliation for the bombing of Tunis ordered a week earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. His air force killed 75 Tunisians and Palestinians with smart bombs that tore them to shreds, among other atrocities, as vividly reported from the scene by the prominent Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk. Washington cooperated by failing to warn its ally Tunisia that the bombers were on the way, though the Sixth Fleet and US intelligence could not have been unaware of the impending attack. Secretary of State George Shultz informed Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Washington "had considerable sympathy for the Israeli action", which he termed "a legitimate response" to "terrorist attacks", to general approbation. A few days later, the UN Security Council unanimously denounced the bombing as an "act of armed aggression" (with the US abstaining). "Aggression" is, of course, a far more serious crime than international terrorism. But giving the United States and Israel the benefit of the doubt, let us keep to the lesser charge against their leadership.

A few days after, Peres went to Washington to consult with the leading international terrorist of the day, Ronald Reagan, who denounced "the evil scourge of terrorism", again with general acclaim by "the world".

The "terrorist attacks" that Shultz and Peres offered as the pretext for the bombing of Tunis were the killings of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus. The killers, as Israel conceded, had nothing to do with Tunis, though they might have had Syrian connections. Tunis was a preferable target, however. It was defenseless, unlike Damascus. And there was an extra pleasure: more exiled Palestinians could be killed there.

The Larnaca killings, in turn, were regarded as retaliation by the perpetrators: They were a response to regular Israeli hijackings in international waters in which many victims were killed - and many more kidnapped and sent to prisons in Israel, commonly to be held without charge for long periods. The most notorious of these has been the secret prison/torture chamber Facility 1391. A good deal can be learned about it from the Israeli and foreign press. Such regular Israeli crimes are, of course, known to editors of the national press in the US and occasionally receive some casual mention.

Klinghoffer's murder was properly viewed with horror and is very famous. It was the topic of an acclaimed opera and a made-for-TV movie, as well as much shocked commentary deploring the savagery of Palestinians - "two-headed beasts" (Prime Minister Menachem Begin), "drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle" (Chief of Staff Raful Eitan), "like grasshoppers compared to us," whose heads should be "smashed against the boulders and walls" (Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir). Or more commonly just "Araboushim," the slang counterpart of "kike" or "nigger".

Thus, after a particularly depraved display of settler-military terror and purposeful humiliation in the West Bank town of Halhul in December 1982, which disgusted even Israeli hawks, the well-known military/political analyst Yoram Peri wrote in dismay that one "task of the army today [is] to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim living in territories that God promised to us", a task that became far more urgent, and was carried out with far more brutality, when the Araboushim began to "raise their heads" a few years later.

We can easily assess the sincerity of the sentiments expressed about the Klinghoffer murder. It is only necessary to investigate the reaction to comparable US-backed Israeli crimes. Take, for example, the murder in April 2002 of two crippled Palestinians, Kemal Zughayer and Jamal Rashid, by Israeli forces rampaging through the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. Zughayer's crushed body and the remains of his wheelchair were found by British reporters, along with the remains of the white flag he was holding when he was shot dead while seeking to flee the Israeli tanks which then drove over him, ripping his face in two and severing his arms and legs.

Jamal Rashid was crushed in his wheelchair when one of Israel's huge US-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers demolished his home in Jenin with his family inside. The differential reaction, or rather non-reaction, has become so routine and so easy to explain that no further commentary is necessary.

Car bomb
Plainly, the 1985 Tunis bombing was a vastly more severe terrorist crime than the Achille Lauro hijacking, or the crime for which Moughniyeh's "involvement can be ascertained with certainty" in the same year. But even the Tunis bombing had competitors for the prize for worst terrorist atrocity in the Mideast in the peak year of 1985.

One challenger was a car-bombing in Beirut right outside a mosque, timed to go off as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. It killed 80 people and wounded 256. Most of the dead were girls and women, who had been leaving the mosque, though the ferocity of the blast "burned babies in their beds", "killed a bride buying her trousseau", and "blew away three children as they walked home from the mosque". It also "devastated the main street of the densely populated" West Beirut suburb, reported Nora Boustany three years later in the Washington Post.

The intended target had been the Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who escaped. The bombing was carried out by Reagan's CIA and his Saudi allies, with Britain's help, and was specifically authorized by CIA director William Casey, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's account in his book Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987. Little is known beyond the bare facts, thanks to rigorous adherence to the doctrine that we do not investigate our own crimes (unless they become too prominent to suppress, and the inquiry can be limited to some low-level "bad apples" who were naturally "out of control").

'Terrorist villagers'
A third competitor for the 1985 Mideast terrorism prize was Prime Minister Peres' "Iron Fist" operations in southern Lebanese territories then occupied by Israel in violation of Security Council orders. The targets were what the Israeli high command called "terrorist villagers". Peres's crimes in this case sank to new depths of "calculated brutality and arbitrary murder" in the words of a Western diplomat familiar with the area, an assessment amply supported by direct coverage. They are, however, of no interest to "the world" and therefore remain uninvestigated, in accordance with the usual conventions.

We might well ask whether these crimes fall under international terrorism or the far more severe crime of aggression, but let us again give the benefit of the doubt to Israel and its backers in Washington and keep to the lesser charge.

These are a few of the thoughts that might cross the minds of people elsewhere in the world, even if not those of "the world", when considering "one of the very few times" Imad Moughniyeh was clearly implicated in a terrorist crime.

The US also accuses him of responsibility for devastating double suicide truck-bomb attacks on US Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 Marines and 58 paratroopers, as well as a prior attack on the US Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, a particularly serious blow because of a meeting there of CIA officials at the time.

The Financial Times has, however, attributed the attack on the Marine barracks to Islamic Jihad, not Hezbollah. Fawaz Gerges, one of the leading scholars on the jihadi movements and on Lebanon, has written that responsibility was taken by an "unknown group called Islamic Jihad". A voice speaking in classical Arabic called for all Americans to leave Lebanon or face death. It has been claimed that Moughniyeh was the head of Islamic Jihad at the time, but to my knowledge, evidence is sparse.

The opinion of the world has not been sampled on the subject, but it is possible that there might be some hesitancy about calling an attack on a military base in a foreign country a "terrorist attack", particularly when US and French forces were carrying out heavy naval bombardments and air strikes in Lebanon, and shortly after the US provided decisive support for the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed some 20,000 people and devastated the south, while leaving much of Beirut in ruins. It was finally called off by President Reagan when international protest became too intense to ignore after the Sabra-Shatila massacres.

In the United States, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is regularly described as a reaction to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist attacks on northern Israel from their Lebanese bases, making our crucial contribution to these major war crimes understandable.

In the Dragon's Lair

This is part of an article from Asiatimes. Those humanitarian and infra-structure programs of the U.S. military are designed to make the Philippines easily available for use by U.S. forces. I wonder if these secret CSL's or Co-operative Security Locations are even discussed in the Philippines. Don't be surprised if there is some corruption involving them and key filipino politicians and business people.






IN THE DRAGON'S LAIR

US prowls for China in the Philippines
By Herbert Docena Since the closure of its military bases in the country in 1991, the United States has incrementally regained, transformed and deepened its military presence and intervention in the Philippines. The manner in which the US has attempted to re-establish basing in the Philippines illustrates its attempts to radically overhaul its global offensive capabilities to become more agile and efficient while overcoming mounting domestic opposition to its presence around the world. The objectives with which the United States has sought to achieve this in the Philippines - a country that is firmly within what US analysts and strategists call "the dragon's lair" - point to the
emerging US strategy toward what it has officially identified as the one country with "the greatest potential to compete with the United States" - China. In this strategy, the Philippines, by virtue both of its location as well as its political disposition towards the US relative to its neighbors, plays a crucial role. Basing without basesAfter George W Bush came to power, the US began to attempt in earnest to implement what its proponents bill as the most comprehensive reconfiguration of its global military presence since World War II. The underlying rationale is clear: the positioning and forms of US military bases of the past - built as they were for the Cold War - no longer suffice for the present. The US overseas basing must therefore be transformed so as to enable the US military to become leaner and meaner, quicker and more agile. In the Philippines, as in a growing number of places around the world, the one persistent constraint for both the US and Philippine governments, however, has been the long-standing domestic sensitivity to US bases in the country. This opposition was actually an important - if not the decisive - factor in the decision to close the bases in 1991 and in the adoption in the post-Ferdinand Marcos 1987 constitution of provisions banning foreign military bases in the country. As it has embarked on the project of transforming its global presence, the US has also sought to adapt to and undermine domestic opposition to its bases. In this, the US military's reconceptualization of its global military presence - no longer as merely a collection of physical structures but as a global "posture" - is illuminating. By posture, explained US Under Secretary of Defense Douglas J Feith, "We are not talking only about basing, we're talking about the ability of our forces to operate when and where they are needed." Thus, recognizing that the local political situation is not yet ripe for the re-establishment of the kind of large military bases it once had in the Philippines, the United States has instead moved to achieve this ability in various other ways. Recurring deploymentsThe United States has been deploying a growing number of its troops, ships and equipment all over the Philippines ostensibly for training exercises, humanitarian and engineering projects, and other missions. In 2006 alone, up to 37 military exercises were scheduled - up from around 24 in the preceding years. As many as 6,000 US troops are involved, depending on the exercise. Although packaged as on-and-off temporary programs to train US and Filipino troops, such exercises are seen as an alternative way for the US military to secure access to the Philippines. "The habitual relationships built through exercises and training," former US Pacific Command head Admiral Thomas Fargo noted in March 2003, "is our biggest guarantor of access in time of need." He continued: "Access over time can develop into habitual use of certain facilities by deployed US forces with the eventual goal of being guaranteed use in a crisis, or permission to preposition logistics stocks and other critical material in strategic forward locations." As US troops come and go in rotation for frequent and regular exercises, their presence - when taken together - makes up a formidable forward presence that brings them closer to areas of possible action without need for huge infrastructure to support them and without inciting a lot of public attention and opposition. As the US National Defense Strategy states, "Our posture also includes the many military activities in which we engage around the world. This means not only our physical presence in key regions, but also our training, exercises, and operations." Along with troops, an increasing number of ships have also been entering the country's territorial waters and docking at various ports with growing frequency. Such ship visits are also seen as ways to establish presence. As the US Congressional Budget Office has pointed out, The Navy counts those ships as providing overseas presence full time, even when they are training or simply tied up at the pier." Dual-use infrastructureApart from the troop deployments and ship visits, the US has also been constructing an increasing number of structures and facilities that could be useful for the US military when the contingency arises - while at the same time allowing it to buy political support from the national and local governments. In various parts of the country, especially in the southern regions of Mindanao, the US has been engaged in a flurry of construction activities, building or renovating airports, piers, wharves, roads and other infrastructure. In General Santos City, for example, the US constructed a deep-water port and one of the most modern airports in the country, connected to each other by one of the country's best roads. Why the United States was so intent on financing and building this modern airport in a small city where relatively few passenger or cargo planes land could not be explained if not for its potential military use. In Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, where US troops routinely go for exercises, the airport has been renovated and its runway strengthened to carry the weight of C-130 planes. In Sulu, the US is renovating the airport, upgrading roads, and building ports that can berth huge ships. All this is consistent with a US Air Force (USAF)-funded study which recommended having more deployments to have more infrastructure. By increasing deployments, notes the study, the United States can get into arrangements that "include measures to tailor local infrastructure to USAF operations by extending runways, improving air traffic control facilities, repairing parking aprons and the like". Cooperative security locationsThe US is also establishing in the Philippines a new category of military installations it calls "Cooperative Security Locations" (CSLs). As part of the innovations introduced in the ongoing revamping of the global US network of bases, CSLs refer to facilities owned either by host-governments or even by private companies that are to be made available for use by the US military as needed. According to the Pentagon, these CSLs are to be run and maintained by either host governments or private contractors and are as useful for prepositioning logistics support or as venues for joint operations with host militaries. While intended to be small so as not to attract attention, they could be expanded to become larger bases when necessary. In August 2005, the US Overseas Basing Commission, the official commission tasked to review US basing, categorically identified the Philippines as one of the countries where such CSLs are being developed by the US in the region. The Philippine government, however, has refused to disclose the locations and other details about these CSLs. Base services without basingThe US has obliged the Philippines to provide it with a broad range of locally provided services that would enable it to launch and sustain operations from the Philippines when necessary. In November 2002, the US and Philippine governments signed the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA), which researchers with the US Congressional Research Service describe as "allowing the United States to use the Philippines as a supply base for military operations throughout the region". The MLSA obliges the Philippine government to provide the US with logistical supplies, support and services during exercises, training, operations, and other US military deployments. These supplies include food, water, petroleum, oils, clothing, ammunition, spare parts and components, billeting, transportation, communication, medical services, operation support, training services, repair and maintenance, storage .

Philippines: Tiklos and Carinosa

My wife is teaching two Philippine folk dances the Tiklos and Carinosa to public school kids in a rural area. You tube has a number of videos of the dances. Philippine folk dances sound very Spanish to me! Here are a couple of addresses for the You Tube videos. There is a wealth of other material linking to the sites.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg_LxU5ZBcA&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjU1QDKetiQ

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Defense Dept.: More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is from the CSMonitor. There seems little reaction against the huge military buildup and expenditures by Americans. Even Obama is promising not to reduce the military but to expand it. So much for change. If he is elected there will be the same U.S. drive for hegemony as before. No one dares suggest a draft of course so what we have is more carrots. I wonder how this scheme will fit with those who are already enlisted and don't receive this benefit:
ALBANY, N.Y. -- How's this for a recruiting slogan? Join the Army, Buy a House. Faced with the challenge of expanding the U.S. Army in wartime, the military is testing an incentive program that pays enlistees up to $40,000 toward a home or a startup business after their commitment. The Army Advantage Fund program is being tested here and four other areas _ Montgomery, Ala., Cleveland, Seattle and San Antonio _ for the next six to nine months.



More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department says
An Army general warns of strain on deployed troops.
By David Montero
posted February 26, 2008 at 10:25 am EST
The Defense Department says it needs more troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Army general warns that troops already in the fight are under too much strain. The warning comes as violence in Afghanistan – unlike Iraq, where violence is down - is expected to increase.
The Defense Department announced that by July 2008, it will have more troops on the ground in Iraq than when the "surge was announced last January, while troop levels in Afghanistan will be at their highest since 2001, the Associated Press reports:
Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that by July, the troop total [in Iraq] is likely to be 140,000. That compares with 132,000 when President Bush approved orders to send an additional five Army brigades to Iraq to improve security and avert civil war.
Ham also announced that the Pentagon believes U.S. force levels in Afghanistan will stand at 32,000 in late summer, up from about 28,000 currently. The current total is the highest since the war began in October 2001, and another 3,200 Marines are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this spring.
As that announcement comes, "Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, told a Senate panel that the Army is under serious strain from years of war-fighting and must reduce the length of combat tours as soon as possible," the Associated Press reports.
"The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future," Casey said.
USA Today adds that Casey pointed out that stress in the Army has added to these concerns:
"Discipline. Desertions and unexcused absences have increased," Casey said. "You're seeing folks not showing up for deployments."
Divorce and suicide. Divorce rates spiked in 2004 but have leveled off, he said. Suicides have increased, however. "That is a disturbing trend," he said. He maintained that the Army, while stressed, is resilient and able to meet its commitments. "It's not broken; it's not hollow."
The revelation comes at a bad time. In a recent survey, Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for New American Security interviewed 3,400 military leaders and found widespread beliefs that the war has "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin." More than half the officers also said the war had not broken the military. (A PDF copy of the report is available here.)
In a recent profile of Defense Secretary Robert Gates by The New York Times, Mr. Gates, on a November visit to an Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, is quoted telling a group of wives of soldiers still in Iraq that he knew the 15-month tours were "exhausting" soldiers and families and hoped to return to the usual 12-month tours by the end of 2008.
But all these calculations depended on two crucial premises — that security continues to improve in Iraq and that Iraqi politicians settle their sectarian disputes. If those premises don't hold, further troop cuts beyond July might not be possible; deployment schedules might not be relaxed, either. Under those circumstances, it will be hard for the Army to sign up tens of thousands of extra recruits.
One recent recruiting initiative, which has been compared to the GI Bill of Rights, offers $40,000 toward a home after an enlistee commits to the military, reports the Associated Press.
Still, as the US continues to struggle with its frayed military units

Esperon says military preparing for old and new threats:Philippines

This is from the Inquirer. It seems that there is never a time when the AFP leadership does not think that someone is out to overthrow the leadership. This shows how popular the leadership is and how restive are the rank and file. For a change the AFP is actually talking about threats from the right! Usually it is the NPA (Communists) or Muslim separatists who are regarded as threats.

Esperon says military preparing for old and new threats
By Nikko DizonPhilippine Daily InquirerFirst Posted 23:16:00 02/26/2008
MARAGONDON, Cavite, Philippines -- Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is not taking any chances.
Despite the assurances of the heads of the major service commands they were on top of the situation, the AFP is looking at all possible rightist threats that may arise in the face of the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal hounding the Arroyo administration, Esperon said.
And this means not just the threat posed by the Magdalo group of renegade officers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, he added.
“When you look at the security threat situation, you do not have to confine yourself to known threats. You have to continue looking at other angles without necessarily casting doubt on anybody,” Esperon told reporters here.
Esperon was here with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the US Pacific Command, to check on the construction of a four-classroom school building at Maragondon National High School by Philippine and US troops under the Balikatan joint military exercises of 2008.
Esperon said that while the military would certainly not intervene in the crisis faced by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said that “there is and there will always be” a lingering threat from rightist groups.
“What we’re saying is there might be a new group. So we keep on doing what we call counter-intelligence operations to see if there really is another group. As of now, there is none,” Esperon said.
Esperon said the Magdalo, as well as the Marine and Army Scout Ranger officers implicated in the alleged February 2006 power grab, were considered by the military not so much as threats but as “deviants from the normal military behavior.”
“How can we treat them as threats when they are already confined?” Esperon said.
In July 2003, a group of junior officers calling themselves the Magdalo took over the Oakwood serviced apartments at the Makati commercial center and called for the overthrow of the government

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama's religion

I have seen some of this stuff about Obama being a Muslim etc. on the net. This is from MSNBC. As usual the posts are not totally baseless but a mixture of fact and fiction. Obama's father was a Muslim and Obama was in Indonesia but rather than attending a Muslim school he went to Catholic and secular institutions.

"I've been to the same church _ the same Christian church _ for almost 20 years," Obama said, stressing the word Christian and drawing cheers from the faithful in reply. "I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible. Whenever I'm in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. So if you get some silly e-mail ... send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate."

Conflict in the SEIU

It seems from these posts that Stern wants to increase union membership and thus dues by making sweetheart deals with employers. Rosselli is supposedly "old-fashioned" because he places members' interests first! With the increasing weakness of labor there is a big markout for sellout union leaders. The press applauds such leaders as "innovators" !


<http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-02-20/news/local-union-leader-rosselli- blasts-seiu-boss-andy-stern/>SF Weekly - February 20, 2008Local Union Leader Rosselli Blasts SEIU Boss Andy SternBy Matt SmithSomewhere in California there's a woman alone in a nursing home with bedsores that grow more painful and life-threatening by the day. And down the hall there's an orderly who would like to do something about her but can't, because during some shifts he's one of just two care- givers on a ward with dozens of patients."California nursing homes are sweatshops, [and] a terrible place to live," said Sal Rosselli, president of California's largest healthcare workers' union local, Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers–West, during an online interview last week with the magazine Labor Notes.While Rosselli's statement might sound like ordinary pre-strike cant, his words are actually much more radical than that.Rosselli's criticisms are directed at America's most famous labor leader, Andy Stern, the celebrity president of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU). According to Rosselli, Stern's expansion of the union has cost workers the ability to complain or fight to improve conditions."People join unions because they want to change their lives," Rosselli told Labor Notes. "Workers in struggle create real moral authority, and other people see it and it makes them want to join unions, too. The same is not true with these top-down deals ... where the union agrees to prenegotiated contracts that severely limit workers' bargaining rights and voice."I've written before about these SEIU deals (see "Partners in Slime," June 30, 2004, and "Union Disunity," April 11, 2007), where the union agrees to prohibit workers from complaining about conditions in exchange for being able to recruit more members in nursing-home chains. I've also described how this strategy privately angered workers and organizers in California, the union's greatest stronghold.But last week Rosselli turned this once-secret dispute into an open rebellion. This is no minor quarrel. Until recently, he was the head of the 600,000-member SEIU California state council; he resigned earlier this month as a member of the policy-setting national SEIU executive committee, while retaining his post as president of United Healthcare Workers–West, the 150,000-member SEIU branch representing California hospital, nursing home, and home-care workers.Rosselli's new dissident movement has the potential to derail Stern's ambitious plans to expand into home daycare, alliances with overseas unions in countries such as China, and collaborative agreements with companies such as Wal-Mart, which joined with SEIU last year to push for broadened healthcare coverage. By painting SEIU's national leadership as bent on undermining workers' rights, Rosselli's renegade battle could harm efforts by SEIU to present a united front during a crucial presidential campaign. Last week, SEIU endorsed Barack Obama, and is mobilizing members to work on his primary and general election campaigns.Rosselli announced his resignation in an open letter claiming that Stern has focused on growth at any cost. Rosselli's local has also launched a new Web site, www.seiuvoice.com, accusing Stern of expanding union power at workers' expense. Rosselli also issued a series of statements in response to inquiries from SF Weekly in which he made public for the first time his accusations of a Stern power grab. SEIU's national press office did not respond by press time to my request for an interview with Stern or his representatives.Stern's supporters may protest that this is a bad time to open a national discussion about whether the key Democratic Party ally has been instrumental in curtailing workers' rights. But after a decade in which the poor have gotten poorer, the sick have received less care, and organized labor has made few inroads into making things better, I can think of no better moment for a long-delayed debate over whether Stern's vision of expansion at any cost is truly in the best interest of workers.During an election year filled with calls for "change," it may seem ironic that an anachronism within an anachronism might be a source for change within the Democratic Party.To the extent organized labor appears in the press as something other than a component of a political or business story, it's portrayed as outdated and irrelevant — unless the story happens to mention Stern. He is known for pursuing a "collaborative" rather than adversarial relationship with employers. As Stern's fame has grown, his supposed modernization campaign has become the most-covered story in the labor movement.Rosselli, meanwhile, is a longtime activist little known outside the old-line labor city of San Francisco, despite leading a behemoth California healthcare union. He is a former nursing home worker who was president of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club in the early days of the AIDS crisis. In 1988, he led a dissident faction in the local healthcare workers' union that blamed decline in membership on "30 years of international control," referring to the union's top leadership. Rosselli defeated a slate of candidates who had been handpicked by the national SEIU and has been one of California's top labor leaders ever since.In the storyline of the current U.S. labor movement — as depicted in piles of Stern magazine profiles — Rosselli is the kind of old- fashioned leader that history might forget. But it's Stern's cheap- trick "modernization" that should be left in the dust.This view has been challenged by the specific details of Stern's supposed "modernizing" labor deals. A nursing home pact (first described in SF Weekly's 2004 story) between the union and home operators took away the right of patients and their families to sue those operators in cases where patients are injured, raped, or killed. Subsequent contracts obtained by SF Weekly showed these deals stifled workers' free speech rights while also curbing their ability to earn decent pay. Rosselli had previously privately criticized these agreements within the union while giving them tacit public support. Last week he made his criticisms public, creating the first credible rebellion against Stern's leadership.In his letter to Stern, Rosselli lists a series of grievances suggesting that SEIU's sellout model of union organizing stretches beyond the wards of nursing homes.Rosselli described secret negotiations last fall between Stern and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In these meetings, Stern allegedly agreed to support a watered-down healthcare package in exchange for measures that would help expand SEIU's membership. Some union leaders had urged California Democrats to support a single-payer plan that would eliminate private insurers. An eventual compromise bill between the Democrats and Schwarzenegger was based on requiring more Californians to have insurance. The bill is now considered dead."Your secret meetings with Governor Schwarzenegger and other elected officials, without the participation of SEIU California leaders, fatally weakened our many years of disciplined work to bring about true healthcare reform," Rosselli wrote to Stern.While the healthcare bill may now be dead, the Schwarzenegger-Stern negotiations appear to be the legislative equivalent of a ghost. According to Sacramento insiders, Senate Bill 867 was the quid pro quo SEIU demanded in order to back the doomed healthcare plan. If passed, it would help SEIU absorb into its union ranks people who provide state-subsidized day care in their homes. Though healthcare reform has died, this apparent sop to SEIU lives on. The bill was sent to committee last week.Rosselli alleged that Stern grabbed for power elsewhere, too, claiming that Stern is poised to weaken Rosselli's local union's influence by attempting to separate 65,000 home care workers out of Rosselli's UHW, essentially cutting Roselli's union in half. Rosselli also accused Stern of sabotaging his local unions' efforts to participate in negotiations on new contracts with healthcare systems affiliated with the Catholic Church."We are concerned that SEIU's international leadership has charted a course that values growth above all other principles," Rosselli said in a statement responding to questions from SF Weekly."Our folks are enraged," Rosselli told Labor Notes. "We had been working for 20 years toward similar working conditions and standards for nursing home workers and hospital workers. They are different now, and very different in terms of conditions for patients."Rosselli's bid to incite open revolt inside what is America's fastest- growing union seems a long shot. Stern enjoys firm control over SEIU's national executive committee. During the past year, Rosselli's complaints have been brushed off by national leadership.But despite Stern's status as American labor's biggest celebrity, some union members — many of them outside Rosselli's dissident healthcare union — are furious about the way he has wielded power during the past few years. In California and elsewhere, the SEIU has consolidated what used to be dozens of small local unions into large industry-based locals. In the process, union staff have been laid off or moved into different jobs with worse benefits. This has created a bizarre situation where the AFL-CIO–affiliated union that represents SEIU organizers, secretaries, and other union office staff has filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that SEIU itself has behaved as an abusive employer. Rank-and-file workers, meanwhile, feel that in some cases their ability to select their own leadership has been either diluted or abridged.And there's the issue of the downright nastiness of Stern-led deals that trade away the legal rights of people as helpless as the elderly and the disabled. SF Weekly's stories about SEIU's nursing-home deals have been widely read within organized labor as evidence that Stern's "collaborative" arrangements with employers aren't modernization at all. Instead they hark back to the bad old days of company-union sweetheart deals that have given organized labor a reputation for corruption.Rosselli's open rebellion is premised on the hope that somewhere in America, there are SEIU workers growing tired of Stern's ruse who will begin to advocate for real workers' rights.___________________________________

This is from Harper's:


ttp://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/02/hbc-90002386>
Internal Dispute at SEIU Deepens
Ken Silverstein
February 13, 2008
A few months back I reported on internal fighting at the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU), describing what looked to be a
power grab by President Andy Stern. Now Stern’s chief in-house
critic, Sal Rosselli, the president of United Healthcare Workers West
(UHW), has resigned from the SEIU’s Executive Committee. In his
resignation letter, reproduced below, Rosselli accused Stern of
disenfranchising workers, cutting backroom deals with companies and
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and trying to block an
SEIU endorsement of Barack Obama.
February 9, 2008
Dear Brother Stern:
Like you, I take great pride in the recent growth of SEIU and the
prominent position our union holds in the labor movement and in
public policy debates of critical importance to working families. I
was honored four years ago when you appointed me to your executive
committee. During the previous eight years, we had worked together
constructively to help hundreds of thousands of health care workers
in California and beyond join our union and change their lives.
In United Healthcare Workers West (UHW), we have always believed that
our international union should be about more than numbers and
headlines. Over the past two years, a stark difference has evolved
between SEIU’s projected image and its real world practices. An
overly zealous focus on growth—growth at any cost, apparently—has
eclipsed SEIU’s commitment to its members. As labor leaders, we are
obligated to place the needs of our members first and to uphold
democratic principles not only in the workplace, but also in our
union. That is increasingly being blocked, circumvented and
manipulated.
It is said that “democracy dies in the darkness.” It is with deep
disappointment and great concern that I have watched dark shadows
fall upon SEIU, diminishing our hopes for revitalizing the labor
movement. Let me shed some light on the undemocratic practices we in
UHW have experienced firsthand:
You unilaterally decided to eliminate the Catholic Healthcare West
(CHW) Unity Council and appointed an International Union consultant
to manage our collective bargaining relationship, even though the
Council's creation was adopted by CHW rank-and-file leaders and
approved by the International Executive Board. By all accounts, our
relationship with CHW had been enormously successful and had led to
significant growth and dramatic improvement in the lives of SEIU
members who work at CHW. Your decision potentially weakens us just as
we are about to enter negotiations for 16,000 CHW employees,
jeopardizing the lead contract of our 2008 contract campaign that has
lined up the expiration dates of nearly 100 acute care hospitals
covering approximately 100,000 caregivers.
Similarly, you silenced workers' voices in bargaining with the
California Nursing Home Alliance by directing International Union
representatives to meet with our employers behind our backs and then
abused your power by barring UHW members and staff from participating
in direct negotiations with our employers, despite the fact that UHW
represents 75 percent of the nursing home members in bargaining.
Based on our recent meetings with representatives of the nursing home
industry, it is obvious that the International Union's secret
discussions with our employers are continuing.
You recently decided to intensify the divisive debate about
separating long-term care workers from hospital workers in California
which will further undermine our unity just as negotiations commence
for contracts at more than 100 nursing homes—contracts we fought for

years to align on a common expiration date of June 2008 — in order to

win major improvements for caregivers and residents and secure
organizing rights for workers in as many as 98 additional facilities,
including 17 where organizing drives are already under way.
Despite our representation of the largest number of workers in
Catholic health care of any SEIU local and the direct involvement of
two employers with whom we are engaged in active campaigns, you
exclude UHW from participation in discussions with the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops. In response to our request for review
of your decision, you have now scheduled a hearing in Chicago for
February 12, with only 8 days' notice, whose scope is far broader
than anything approved by the International Executive Board, on the
alleged ground that it is necessary to review all aspects of our
Catholic health care employer relations and representation, raising
the specter that these matters will be placed entirely under control
of the International Union and its bureaucracy where rank and file
members will have no say, and no ability to affect their workplace
destiny.
In a deliberate attempt to create instability in important ongoing
organizing campaigns by fomenting mass resignations among our
Southern California organizing staff, your officers and staff helped
orchestrate the recent resignation of Southern California Organizing
Director, Amado David, whose letter of resignation appeared to have
been created on SEIU equipment weeks before his resigning and is now
being circulated by you to other SEIU leaders, all as a pretext for
taking further action against UHW's leaders and members. Despite this
attempt, our UHW Southern California organizing program remains fully
staffed and staff remain committed to UHW's organizing program.
You and other international officers interfered in the affairs of the
SEIU California State Council—our collective vehicle for state
legislative and electoral action—using the imposition of a revised
constitution and bylaws to prompt a presidential election when none
had been anticipated, then manipulating the per capita voting formula
and procedures in order to produce the outcome you desired.
Ultimately, you permitted provisional locals with no members (and
locals that have never paid per capita) and locals that were months
behind in per capita payments (owing the State Council nearly $2
million) to vote in the election so that you could control the
outcome of the election and seat the leader of your choice.
Your secret meetings with Governor Schwarzenegger and other elected
officials, without the participation of SEIU California leaders,
fatally weakened our many years of disciplined work to bring about
true health care reform. Those secret discussions with the governor
and his staff led them to believe that SEIU—and the labor movement
along with us—would settle for far less than was necessary to protect

the interests of working families or to win the support of
California's voters. The final deal that was struck, while far better
than the settlement you had recommended, was flawed and tainted as a
result of your actions and was politically doomed.
Just last week you attempted secretly, although unsuccessfully, to
squelch the SEIU California State Council's endorsement of Barack
Obama for President.
You removed a UHW administrative vice president from the Executive
Board of the California United Homecare Workers Union (CUHW) for
asking questions about "budget and allocation of funds." Your actions
like this have created a culture of fear throughout SEIU, making
local officers, members and staff afraid to speak up for fear of
reprisal.
Your international officers and staff manipulated voting procedures
in Unity Council bargaining with Tenet Healthcare in order to thwart
the will of the members and achieve your desired outcome.
Specifically, international officers tried to cast "per capita" votes
on behalf of unorganized workers who had no knowledge of the
negotiations, paid no dues to SEIU, and were not even in the process
of forming a union. Your failed effort would have given away our
members' right to strike for seven years and would have forced them
to accept lower standards.
As you know, UHW (formerly Locals 250 and 399) is the oldest health
care union in the country, with 75 years of proud and historic
accomplishments. We stand for the principle of one member, one vote
and the basic belief that members must have a seat at the bargaining
table and the right to vote on all agreements that affect them. We
believe that involving members at all levels of our union, providing
rank-and-file workers with the support they need to decide our
direction and lead our struggles, while winning good contracts that
improve caregivers' lives and the quality of the care we provide.
These are the best examples we can use to organize the unorganized.
Consistent with this, we believe that the deterioration of democracy
in our union will have disastrous consequences.
The Nursing Home Alliance agreements and others negotiated by the
International Union appear to relegate entire categories of workers
to permanent second-tier status, without basic rights and standards
to be expected in a union contract or any reasonable hope of
achieving them. This transactional exchange of members’ rights and
standards for greater numbers contradicts the core mission of SEIU.
We must be committed to fight for higher standards so that workers
who perform the same work will ultimately earn the same pay and
benefits, regardless of the identity of their employer.
Let me be clear. We fully support a culture of organizing and
strongly approve the goal of organizing our core industries. We also
understand the obligation that union strongholds like California and
New York have to help organize health care workers outside those two
states. Our own organizing record, our leadership in developing and
supporting the organizing recommendations of the President’s
Committee 2000 and the establishment of the Unity Funds, our
successful bargaining-to-organize fights in CHW, Tenet and HCA that
led to growth opportunities outside of California, and our direct
assistance to local and international organizing efforts throughout
the country leave no doubt regarding our commitment.
Each year UHW provides $23 million in per capita payments and Unity
Fund contributions to the International Union. We do so, even though
this is the fourth straight year in which not a dime is spent in
California. However, we cannot support, as you propose, sending even
more of our organizing dollars to Washington and giving the
International Union even greater control of their use when so many of
SEIU’s organizing ventures have not and will not build power in our
core industries, which was the purpose of the dues increase.
Furthermore, we see an ever diminishing International Union
commitment to improve workers’ lives now or in the future.
Much of what I have outlined here I have said to you directly and in
Executive Committee meetings. I have abided by the code of conduct
for Executive Committee members that requires what is said in the
committee to stay in the committee and that positions adopted by
majority vote of the committee should determine the position of all
its members.
In good conscience, I can no longer allow simple majorities of the
Executive Committee to outweigh my responsibility to our members to
act out of principle on these critically important matters. I say
this with no ill will, but with a deep sense of conviction.
As an elected leader of UHW and an elected international union vice
president, I believe that maintaining my silence about the sacrifice
of our principles and our failing to give voice to a clear and honest
disagreement about the road we are on and the future direction of our
International Union is too high of a price to pay. Therefore, my
conscience leaves me no option but to resign my position as a member
of the Executive Committee, effective immediately.
I believe that workers must have a voice. Indeed, that is the central
reason I believe in our union. I believe that for workers to have a
representative and effective voice, capable of changing their lives
and the direction of our nation, many voices must be heard, not just
those from Washington. I resign not to walk away, but to stay
involved and to be able to speak freely.
In Unity,
Sal Rosselli
___________________________________

Who Americans will not vote for....

This survey does not bode well for McCain or perhaps to a lesser extent for Hillary but Obama can take comfort!

An atheist 65%
Someone in "their" 70s 50
Muslim 48
Homosexual 46
Mormon 32
Hispanic 15
Woman 11
Black 4etc.<http://pewresearch.org/pubs/744/mccain-too-old>

Phillipine business community divided on another "People Power" revolt.

This is from the Inquirer.
Politics is rather different in the Philippines than the U.S. I can't even imagine the U.S. public organised to overthrow the U.S. government even though Bush is very unpopular and has done much to violate American's rights as well as advancing the interests of his crony capitalist friends. Even less can one imagine business groups backing such an overthrow. I guess this just goes to show how much more politically advanced the Philippine populace is compared to Americans !
One American revolution was more than enough it seems. Homeland Security is ready for any People Power in the U.S.

Business divided on another 'People Power' revolt
Philippine Daily InquirerFirst Posted 19:42:00 02/24/2008
MANILA, Philippines--Like many sectors of the Philippine society, the business community is divided over the prospect of another people power revolt unseating President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
They are also divided over the ability of the country to weather another mass uprising.
Surprisingly, however, anecdotal evidence shows that more and more business people are now open to the possibility of an extra-constitutional change in government under specific conditions.
This shift has become more palpable over the past few months and contrasts starkly with the sentiment of business leaders who speak regularly to the Philippine Daily Inquirer from their positions just a couple of years ago.
Makati Business Club trustee Jose L. Cuisia Jr., who played an active role in Edsa I, laid out preconditions under which the country could survive another people power.
"I agree with Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo about what he calls a different brand of people power," he said.
Cuisia, who is also president and chief executive of Philamlife, said another people power would make sense if there were no street protests or bloodshed, and if it would result in a major change in the country's leadership.
"[We may need people power again] because reforms have not taken place and the system rewards the same [groups]," Cuisia said. "If it would be a different kind of people power, then yes the economy can [weather it]."
SGV & Co. chair David Balangue believed that the country could survive another people power convulsion, saying that people should "try again" after failing to get it right in the last episode.
"We need to try and try again until we get it right, because the systems of checks and balances provided for in the Constitution are not working," Balangue said.
At the same time, other members of the business community felt strongly against an uprising, and warned of dire consequences should another one occur.
Industrialist Raul T. Concepcion said the Philippines could not afford another revolt unless it would bring the country together as what happened in Edsa I in 1986.
"Edsa I was correct in that respect, but Edsa II in 2001 was different," Concepcion said. "We can't have an Edsa III because it would not change the system."
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) also opposed the idea, with its chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. warning that people power would be "almost fatal" to the economy at this point.
"Even without any semblance of another people power, foreign investors have been holding off with regard to the Philippines," he said.
"What more if there would actually be another?"
"The first people power was OK. The second was a problem," Ortiz-Luis said. "A third would be very bad [for business]."
Economists also have opposing views on whether another people power will adversely affect the country's economy, which some said had just started to take off following the 31-year-high gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent in 2007.
Cielito Habito, an economist from the Ateneo de Manila University, said that he believed that the Philippine economy had somehow developed a wall shielding it from the goings on in politics.
"The economy seems to have a life of its own. Last year, we saw how the peso strengthened and stock market prices rose to record highs despite political problems," Habito said.
Economist Benjamin Diokno of the University of the Philippines did not believe another people power would be bad for the economy.
The economy should not be made an excuse for doing what would be best for the country, he said.
"The economy has grown despite Mrs. Arroyo," he said.
"It's more because of sustained OFW [overseas Filipino workers] remittances and favorable global economic environment. If she has to go because she has lost moral authority to govern then she has to go," he said.
But economist Victor Abola said another people power would undermine the country's institutions and worsen political instability, which could drive away investors.
"I don't think people will be willing to do another revolt, but if that happens, it's the economy that will suffer," he said. "The elections are just two years [away]. Why would we need to do something that will undermine our institutions?"
From the outside, however, the verdict is clearer.
The Philippine economy is widely seen to be in a stronger position to survive any domestic political turbulence like another uprising—but not necessarily emerge out of it unscathed.
"Given that the macroeconomic fundamentals are now stronger than they were three or four years ago, that means that whatever disruption that may occur, whether it's people power revolution or something else, the country will be able to withstand more," said Agost Benard, sovereign credit analyst at Standard & Poor's.
"But, of course, events of such nature will threaten to undo some of the progress," Benard said.
The Philippine credit rating already takes into account a big degree of domestic political uncertainty, which has for a long time been a feature of the economy, according to Benard. He said the uncertainty tended to affect and interfere with policy making.
"But the current events are not something that will change our view," the S&P credit analyst said.
An economist at a New York-based think tank said that the effect of political turbulence on growth numbers would probably not be big given the momentum of domestic demand.
Margarita Gonzales of Global Source also noted that growth had been largely driven by OFW remittance-induced private consumption. "But it matters how the business sector and investors view the change," she said.
If leadership change would be swift and resolve the problem quickly, the economy might stay resilient. But if it were to lead to further political instability or plant the seed for future instability, the economy could suffer greatly, Gonzalez said.
Despite the disparate views among business people, it was clear that the disagreements came from the time frame—whether long- or short-term—with which they assessed the effects of politics on the economy.
"I think our economy is resilient enough that it should survive over the long term," said JV Emmanuel de Dios, former energy undersecretary and now president of Nido Petroleum Philippines Inc.
"The question is whether we are willing to accept the short-term consequences which may derail the momentum the economy currently enjoys," De Dios said.Reports from Ronnel Domingo, Doris Dumlao, Michelle Remo, Abigail Ho, Riza Olchondra and Daxim Lucas
Copyright 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Al Sadr demans end to Turkish incursion.


The Turkish incursion has the effect of creating some unity between groups that are often at loggerheads. Al Sadr is very much an Iraqi nationalist and does not look favorably on Kurdish separatism or regionalism. However, it is interesting that Al Sadr also blames the occupying authorities for the situation implying (no doubt correctly) that the U.S. has in effect allowed if not sanctioned the incursion. The U.S. should have acted long ago and the Turks simply lost patience as virtually nothing was done to stop the PKK in northern Iraq.

Muqtada al-Sadr's office demands end to Turkish military offensive in northern Iraq
The Associated Press
Sunday, February 24, 2008
BAGHDAD: Iraq's firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's office demanded on Sunday an immediate withdrawal of Turkish forces from northern Iraq and advised negotiations instead.
"We demand that the Turkish government withdraw its forces immediately from the Iraqi territory and rely on negotiations to solve this conflict," al-Sadr's influential political committee said in a statement issued by his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
The incursion is the first confirmed Turkish military ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
"We call upon the Muslim neighbor Turkey through its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its Muslim people to be an element of peace and security in the region," the statement added.
The Sadrists also held the Iraqi government and U.S.-led forces responsible for the "deteriorating security situation on our northern borders."
"The government is called upon to move rapidly to guarantee the security of our Muslim Kurdish people according to its constitutional responsibilities," the statement said. Al-Sadr's political committee is composed of senior members of al-Sadr's movement.

Monday, February 25, 2008

American History: The water cure etc. in the Philippines a century ago.

Annals Of American HistoryThe Water CureDebating torture and counterinsurgency—a century ago.By Paul Kramer 21/02/08 "New Yorker" --- Many Americans were puzzled by the news, in 1902, that United States soldiers were torturing Filipinos with water. The United States, throughout its emergence as a world power, had spoken the language of liberation, rescue, and freedom. This was the language that, when coupled with expanding military and commercial ambitions, had helped launch two very different wars. The first had been in 1898, against Spain, whose remaining empire was crumbling in the face of popular revolts in two of its colonies, Cuba and the Philippines. The brief campaign was pitched to the American public in terms of freedom and national honor (the U.S.S. Maine had blown up mysteriously in Havana Harbor), rather than of sugar and naval bases, and resulted in a formally independent Cuba.
A picture of a “water detail,” reportedly taken in May, 1901, in Sual, the Philippines. “It is a terrible torture,” one soldier wrote.
The Americans were not done liberating. Rising trade in East Asia suggested to imperialists that the Philippines, Spain’s largest colony, might serve as an effective “stepping stone” to China’s markets. U.S. naval plans included provisions for an attack on the Spanish Navy in the event of war, and led to a decisive victory against the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in May, 1898. Shortly afterward, Commodore George Dewey returned the exiled Filipino revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo to the islands. Aguinaldo defeated Spanish forces on land, declared the Philippines independent in June, and organized a government led by the Philippine élite.During the next half year, it became clear that American and Filipino visions for the islands’ future were at odds. U.S. forces seized Manila from Spain—keeping the army of their ostensible ally Aguinaldo from entering the city—and President William McKinley refused to
recognize Filipino claims to independence, pushing his negotiators to demand that Spain cede sovereignty over the islands to the United States, while talking about Filipinos’ need for “benevolent assimilation.” Aguinaldo and some of his advisers, who had been inspired by the United States as a model republic and had greeted its soldiers as liberators, became increasingly suspicious of American motivations. When, after a period of mounting tensions, a U.S. sentry fired on Filipino soldiers outside Manila in February, 1899, the second war erupted, just days before the Senate ratified a treaty with Spain securing American sovereignty over the islands in exchange for twenty million dollars. In the next three years, U.S. troops waged a war to “free” the islands’ population from the regime that Aguinaldo had established. The conflict cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and about four thousand U.S. soldiers.Within the first year of the war, news of atrocities by U.S. forces—the torching of villages, the killing of prisoners—began to appear in American newspapers. Although the U.S. military censored outgoing cables, stories crossed the Pacific through the mail, which wasn’t censored. Soldiers, in their letters home, wrote about extreme violence against Filipinos, alongside complaints about the weather, the food, and their officers; and some of these letters were published in home-town newspapers. A letter by A. F. Miller, of the 32nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, published in the Omaha World-Herald in May, 1900, told of how Miller’s unit uncovered hidden weapons by subjecting a prisoner to what he and others called the “water cure.” “Now, this is the way we give them the water cure,” he explained. “Lay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they don’t give up pour in another pail. They swell up like toads. I’ll tell you it is a terrible torture.”On occasion, someone—a local antiwar activist, one suspects—forwarded these clippings to centers of anti-imperialist publishing in the Northeast. But the war’s critics were at first hesitant to do much with them: they were hard to substantiate, and they would, it was felt, subject the publishers to charges of anti-Americanism. This was especially true as the politics of imperialism became entangled in the 1900 Presidential campaign. As the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, clashed with the Republican incumbent over imperialism, which the Democrats called “the paramount issue,” critics of the war had to defend themselves against accusations of having treasonously inspired the insurgency, prolonged the conflict, and betrayed American soldiers. But, after McKinley won a second term, the critics may have felt that they had little to lose. Ultimately, outraged dissenters—chief among them the relentless Philadelphia-based reformer Herbert Welsh—forced the question of U.S. atrocities into the light. Welsh, who was descended from a wealthy merchant family, might have seemed an unlikely investigator of military abuse at the edge of empire. His main antagonists had previously been Philadelphia’s party bosses, whose sordid machinations were extensively reported in Welsh’s earnest upstart weekly, City and State. Yet he had also been a founder of the “Indian rights” movement, which attempted to curtail white violence and fraud while pursuing Native American “civilization” through Christianity, U.S. citizenship, and individual land tenure. An expansive concern with bloodshed and corruption at the nation’s periphery is perhaps what drew Welsh’s imagination from the Dakotas to Southeast Asia. He had initially been skeptical of reports of misconduct by U.S. troops. But by late 1901, faced with what he considered “overwhelming” proof, Welsh emerged as a single-minded campaigner for the exposure and punishment of atrocities, running an idiosyncratic investigation out of his Philadelphia offices. As one who “professes to believe in the gospel of Christ,” he declared, he felt obliged to condemn “the cruelties and barbarities which have been perpetrated under our flag in the Philippines.” Only the vigorous pursuit of justice could restore “the credit of the American nation in the eyes of the civilized world.” By early 1902, three assistants to Welsh were chasing down returning soldiers for their testimony, and Philippine “cruelties” began to crowd Philadelphia’s party bosses from the pages of City and State.
Dr. June Terpstra
Faculty
Justice Studies
Northeastern Ilinois University

http://juneterpstra.com

Kosovo and Greater Albania

The Greater Albania push is an aspect of Kosovo's declaration of independence that is ignored by much of the media. Imagine those seeking independence are carrying mostly Albanian flags. I noticed that there were also many U.S. flags in some demonstrations since the Kosovans are quite appreciative of the fact that the U.S. had assured them that they would recognise Kosovo.

The recognition just ignores that the U.N. recognises the "sanctity" of existing borders so that parts of a country cannot simply secede without the consent of the country as a whole. There was not even a referendum held in Kosovo. While there is little doubt the vast majority in Kosovo do not want to be part of Serbia the unilateral declaration has split the global community. Other countries that face separatist challenges such as China, Russia and Spain have not recognised the state. Canada is still sitting on the fence but in the end will no doubt go along with the U.S. U.K. Italy etc.



Operation Independence Kosovo: NATO and the New Step Toward "Greater Albania"
Sungur Savran
The celebrations by the Albanian people of Kosovo upon the declaration of an "independent and sovereign" state were aired on television extensively. Two flags were waved during these celebrations. One was the familiar U.S. flag. And the second one? This flag with a double-headed black eagle on a red background, which country might that belong to? Better not to be too rash and say that it is the flag of the newly "independent" state of Kosovo, for that would be misunderstanding the true nature of what has happened. In the newly "independent" state of Kosovo, the people celebrating on the streets were waving the flag of another country. This was the flag of Albania!
The declaration of the "independence" of Kosovo is, first and foremost, a vast step forward for one of the pet projects of the U.S. in the Balkans, the creation of a "Greater Albania." This fact is so tangible, so concrete that when Martti Ahtisaari, the Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN), in a report he submitted in spring 2007 after two years of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia had reached a deadlock, recommended the "independence" of Kosovo, he had to qualify this by a special formula, "supervised independence." And against what would the "independence" of Kosovo be "supervised"? Why, the first precondition that Ahtisaari had to propose was to rule out unification with Albania! The mere imposition of this qualification demonstrates, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the real aspiration of the Albanians of Kosovo (and of the U.S.) is the creation of a "Greater Albania" through unification with the present state of Albania. Hence, the "independence" of Kosovo is sham independence.
And who is supposed to "supervise" the "independence" of Kosovo? The answer to this question gives us the second dimension of Kosovo's "independence." It is a well-known fact that, after the seventy four-day air strikes inflicted on the former Yugoslavia by NATO, Kosovo was delivered to the civilian rule of UNMIK (the UN Kosovo Mission) and the military control of KFOR (the Kosovo Peace Force). According to the terms of the resolution adopted by the UN after the termination of the Kosovo War, Kosovo was to remain Serbian territory, but was also to be converted into a "UN protectorate." This was a legal formula that was permeated with contradiction, since the status of "protectorate" is an entirely colonial status and to declare a territory that is under the sovereignty of an independent state (the former Yugoslavia and today's successor state of Serbia) a colonial belonging defies logic.
The "independence" granted today to Kosovo removes this contradiction, making it thereby a straightforward colony, one under multilateral rule. The initiative regarding the declaration of "independence" does not belong to Hashim Thaci, the leader of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army become prime minister in January this year, but Ahtisaari on behalf of the UN. It is a travesty to pretend that Thaci is a "hero." Imperialism has offered "independence" to the KLA on a golden platter. Today Kosovo is controlled by 17 thousand NATO troops. It is being delivered to the rule of the EU, which will be sending an additional force of 1800 to police the territory. "Independence" on the force of arms of others is sham independence!
The real historic significance of this sham independence resides in this, that the U.S. and the EU have, through the Kosovo War, forcibly wrested a part of Serbia away from the country! (It would not be futile to remind EU fanatics that, in contrast to the Iraq War of 2003 for instance, all the big EU countries were comrades in arms with the USA, and even led, the Kosovo war.) The 1999 war was fought on the declared grounds of stopping the cruel treatment and ethnic cleansing the Albanians of Kosovo were suffering at the hands of Milosevic. But the final outcome nine years later demonstrates that the real aim was to carry to its conclusion the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. "Operation independence Kosovo" is but the belated consummation of the forcible destruction of Yugoslavia in the years 1991 to 1999.
A clear understanding regarding the aims of this imperialistic policy is of paramount importance. To start with, the Balkans are the South-western tip of Eurasia, an immense region that has come up for grabs as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the other degenerated workers' states in Europe between 1989 and 1992. It was imperative for imperialism to prevent the survival of a state (Federal Yugoslavia) that had the capacity of obstructing imperialist plans in the Balkans. The dismemberment of Yugoslavia was the most violent form that capitalist restoration took in this historical period. Secondly, for the smooth implementation of EU plans to annex central and Eastern Europe, it was necessary to carve Federal Yugoslavia into mini-states and subsequently to destroy the historically strong identity of the Balkans through the imposition of the concept of "Southeast Europe." The so-called "Southeast Europe Stability Pact" (of which Turkey is such an ardent protagonist) is a product of this operation. Third, the Albanians were promoted as a special ally of the USA. Albania has today become the stronghold of reaction and pro-imperialist policies, as well as the Balkan centre of trafficking in drugs and prostitution. The project of "Greater Albania" is a U.S. initiative, developed as a counterweight to the preponderance of the Southern Slavs in the Balkans. Today Albania and Kosovo seem to embody the two heads of the eagle on the Albanian flag. Tomorrow, the eagle may become triple-headed, with the Albanians of Macedonia joining the band wagon. The "independence" of Kosovo should be situated in this overall picture.
The Albanians of Kosovo seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of secession from Serbia. Would it not be appropriate under these circumstances, it might be asked, for internationalists to support this "independence" on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination? The specific evolution of Kosovo history and the existence of a project to establish a "Greater Albania" complicate matters. Before it came under Ottoman domination in the wake of the notorious Kosovo War of 1399, Kosovo used to be the historic centre of Serbia. It was only towards the end of the 19th century that Albanians became the majority in this territory as a result of the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs under Ottoman colonial policy and the support extended by the Empire to Islamised Albanians as against the Serbs. Add to this the fact that Albanians already wield a state that neighbours the Serbian state. Under these circumstances the national question in Kosovo overlaps with that of the quest of one state to expand its territory (and population) at the expense of another. Beyond the plain and simple principle of the right of nations to self-determination, we see here a struggle for power between two sovereign states. But all these arguments pale beside the fact that the status accorded to Kosovo today has nothing to do with "independence." A new colony is born. How long the status of protectorate will last is totally unforeseeable, given the policy of imperialism in the Balkans.
That Turkey should have recognised the "independence" of Kosovo immediately, on the same day as the U.S. and the larger states of the EU, and this despite its own Kurdish question and its fears regarding the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, has certainly nothing to do with respect for the rights of oppressed nations. The ruling classes of Turkey have made it a principle to serve the policies of imperialism, and of U.S. imperialism in particular, in the region of Eurasia, as long as these do not come into direct conflict with its own interests as in the case of the Kurdish question. The Eurasia policy of Turkey, pursued since Özal established it in 1991, has taken the form of military support to all kinds of imperialist endeavours (Somali, Afghanistan, Lebanon etc.)
During the Kosovo War, Turkish bombers poured death over the Serbian people arm in arm with the air forces of imperialist powers, three military air strips were allocated to imperialist fighter jets (but were not ultimately used because the war ended earlier than predicted), and the supposedly nationalist prime minister Ecevit declared, in the early stages of the war, that Turkey was prepared for land combat. The recognition of the "independence" of Kosovo implies that Turkey continues to play the game of imperialism and is directly connected to the agreement of 5 November 2007 between Bush and Erdogan related to the bombing of Kurdish (PKK) targets in Northern Iraq. Given the oppression of the Serbs by the Turks and the role they played under the Ottoman Empire in the forcible Islamisation of Kosovo, this policy becomes all the more shameless.
Sungur Savran is editor of the newspaper Isci Mucadelesi (Workers' Struggle) in Istanbul, Turkey (http://www.iscimucadelesi.net/).