Showing posts from May, 2008

U.S. FBI agents to probe bombing in South Philippines

This is from Xinhua. I wonder why the Philippine govt. finds it necessary to call in the FBI? Maybe there is some agreement that they will be invited in when the matter has to do with terrorism. There seems to be quite a bit of co-operation on military maneuvers and the fight against terrorism with the U.S.

U.S. FBI agents in S Philippines to probe deadly bombing 2008-05-31 21:41:49

MANILA, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have arrived in the southern Philippine city Zamboanga to investigate Thursday's powerful bombing which killed two and injured more than 20, reported local daily Philippine Daily Inquirer website Saturday.
The report quoted U.S. embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson as saying that FBI personnel were sent "at the request of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police."
Thursday's bombing took place in front of the office of the U.S.-funded re…

Opposition mounts to US-Security deal.

The opposition is spreading beyond the Sadr supporters obviously. I have never heard a U.S. commentator consider the possibility that Iraq and not the U.S. might decide when U.S. troops will be withdrawn! It is always discussed as if it was only a question for Americans to decide!

Opposition mounts to US-Iraq security deal
Thousands protest in Iraq against proposed security agreement with US
May 30, 2008 14:43 EST
Tens of thousands rallied in several cities Friday against a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, raising doubts that negotiators can meet a July target to finalize a pact to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after the current U.N. mandate expires.

Although U.S. officials insist they are not seeking permanent bases, suspicion runs deep among many Iraqis that the Americans want to keep at least some troops in the country for many years.
"We denounce the government's intentions to sign a long-term agreement with the occupying forces," Asaad al-Nassiri, …

The coalition of the willingly bribed!

This is from the Times of India.
I imagine that the UK would have joined in with the U.S. any event given that Blair was usually anxious to please Bush. Poland and South Korea perhaps would not have gone to Iraq without some inducements.

The Times of India

US paying allies to fight war in Iraq31 May 2008, 0335 hrs IST,Subodh Varma,TNN
NEW DELHI: The tale of massive fraud and embezzlement of millions of dollars by the US military in its operations in Iraq continues. Testifying before the US Congress Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on 22 May, Mary Ugone, deputy inspector general of accounts in the Pentagon said that an audit of $8.2 billion spending related to the Iraq war showed that $7.8 billion had been improperly spent. Over 180,000 payments, mostly since the war started in 2003, were made by the defense department to contractors for everything from bottled water to vehicles to transportation services. In her testimony, Ugone also revealed that $135 million were given to …

U.S. absent as global cluster munitions ban agreed.

There is a new axis of evil: U.S. China, and Russia (et al). The U.S. not only opposes this ban on cluster bombs but also the ban on landmines. The U.S. through its allies and client states such as Canada and Australia have been pressing for the loophole mentioned that in joint operations with non-signatories such as the U.S. signatories could be involved in joint operations that use cluster bombs. Whether the final text retains this loophole should be evident today.

U.S. absent as global cluster munitions ban agreed
By Andras GergelyWed May 28, 5:40 PM ET
A draft treaty for a worldwide ban on cluster munitions was adopted on Wednesday although major powers including the United States did not attend the meeting.
The Dublin gathering attended by more than 100 nations made the final step towards agreement after a promise from Britain to stop using the devices. Cluster bombs can cause indiscriminate injury long after a conflict has ended.
Diplomats and activists said the text built on the les…

Why doesn''t Al Qaeda attack the U.S.

This is from ( needs donations or it may close up shop). I have often been surprised that there are not attacks on the continental U.S. This article gives some of the reasons. As I recall there have been threats to attack the U.S. Threats without any actual backup hardly give Al Qaeda any credibility. In fact Al Qaeda's seeming inability to attack the U.S. gives credibility to the U.S. official position that the U.S. will fight in Iraq and elsewhere to avoid having to fight them in the U.S.

Why Doesn't al-Qaeda Attack the US?
by Michael Scheuer
With daily television coverage of suicide car-bomb attacks, ambushes, drive-by shootings, stabbings, and other Intifada-type attacks around the world, the question arises as to why al-Qaeda does not stage such small-scale but deadly operations in the United States. From Washington and the presidential campaign trail comes a cocky, multi-part answer: our massive homeland security spending has worked; al-Qaeda is o…

Sadr City truce strains as militia leaders grumble

This is from wiredispatch.
Sadr it seems is safe in Iran and not part of the action in Sadr City. It seems clear that some groups had earlier rejected his leadership. Sadr was probably happy enough that the US and Maliki incursions into Sadr City helped eliminate them. Now it looks as if even more leaders on the ground are rejecting his leadership and feel betrayed. It may do little good that he urges unity. In fact he may find himself losing power within his own movement unless he can show that the truce is not being used by the Maliki govt. to dismantle his militia movement.

Sadr City truce strains as militia leaders grumble
Sadr City truce under strain as Shiite militia leaders grumble about mounting pressures
May 28, 2008 15:49 EST
An angry Shiite militia commander complained Wednesday that "we were duped" into accepting a cease-fire in Sadr City — remarks that point to a potentially damaging rift within the movement of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.


Scott McClellan on Bush administration.

This is a series of comments on a new book by a former Bush administration insider. It is a bit ironic that after having been an apologist for the administration and making good money doing that, McClellan now makes money through exposing lies that he had earlier adopted as the truth! At least the book provides verification for what many of us already knew!

McClellan, Bush and the Press
The Bush Administration still has about eight months to go, but the first big former insidertell-all book is out and our Readers Who Comment are all over it. Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary who spent an enormous amount of time at the podium defending Bush and the war in Iraq, says it was sold to Americans with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by the president, aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war," Michael Shear reports.
This provides the ammunition our RWC need to repla…

US consumer mood at 16 year low..

This is from BBC.
These results don't' augur well for consumer spending. With oil prices skyrocketing inflation will soon be a problem so that cutting interest rates will not be an option for stimulating the economy. We may very well encounter what I call recflation.

US consumer mood at 16-year low
Confidence among US consumers hit its lowest level for 16 years in May, according to the Conference Board.
The research body's Consumer Confidence Index fell to a level of 57.2 in May, down from April's figure of 62.8.
The Conference Board blamed the pessimism on the short-term outlook for the US economy as well as weakening business and job conditions.
The figures tell a similar story to the University of Michigan's Index, which hit a 28-year low in May.
"There is a fear the economy is in a recession or going into one and people may find their jobs in jeopardy," said David Coard from the Williams Capital Group in New York.
"When you talk to people on the stree…

Michel Suleiman new Lebanese president.

This is from BBC.

The Doha agreement whose main terms are listed below finally unlocked the logjam that blocked any settlement of the political deadlock in Lebanon. Although the West may be very unhappy that Hezbollah gets a veto, the Western backed government still has power and a majority in cabinet. Of course if the two sides insist on continual fighting the system will not work but at least it is better than civil war and worth a try.

First tasks for Lebanon president
Lebanon's new President, Michel Suleiman, has arrived at the presidential palace to begin his first full day in office.
His first official visitor is expected to be Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Mr Suleiman will then begin consultations about forming a new national unity government.
His appointment came after months of political division which exploded into bloody clashes earlier this month.
Mr Suleiman has been head of the army for the past nine years. The presidency has been vacant since November.
He is …

U.S. military launches alternative fuel push.

No talk of making any of the military vehicles more fuel efficient or cutting down on usage! Imagine a 13.6 billion bill and usage of 1.5 percent of all US consumption! Maybe a few less wars would help!

U.S. Military Launches Alternative-Fuel Push
Dependence on Oil Seen as Too Risky; B-1 Takes Test Flight
By YOCHI J. DREAZENMay 21, 2008; Page A1
(See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- With fuel prices soaring, the U.S. military, the country's largest single consumer of oil, is turning into an alternative-fuels pioneer.
In March, Air Force Capt. Rick Fournier flew a B-1 stealth bomber code-named Dark 33 across this sprawling proving ground, to confirm for the first time that a plane could break the sound barrier using synthetic jet fuel. A similar formula -- a blend of half-synthetic and half-conventional petroleum -- has been used in some South African commercial airliners for years, but never in a jet going so fast.
"The hope is that th…

Philippines, US to hold naval exercises near Spratlys

This is from AFP.
I guess that this is meant to show those Chinese, Malaysians, and Vietnamese who is boss. The Americans! The Philippine sparrow, maya maya, can tag along flying under the American Eagle.

Philippines, US to hold naval exercises near Spratlys: report
1 day ago

MANILA (AFP) — US and Philippine forces will carry out joint naval exercises off Palawan, the closest major Philippine island to the disputed Spratlys chain in the South China Sea, a report said Saturday.

The joint exercises will begin Monday, Vice Admiral William Douglas Crowder, commander of the US seventh fleet flagship the USS Blue Ridge, told the Philippine Star newspaper.

About four US ships will sail to Palawan, southwest of Manila, for the combined naval war games involving about a thousand US and Filipino sailors, the newspaper said.

The Spratlys, a chain of islands and atolls believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits, are claimed in full or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and …

PNAC no more?

This is sad news in a way. The site was always a good place to reference to show people what the neocons policy agenda was straight from the horse' s mouth so to speak. I can think of four reasons why the site is no more:
1) The neocons think it was too useful to the left
2) The policy is already part of the mainstream so that the site is no longer needed.
3) The neocons are broke (very unlikely)
4) The site is being bought out by the PNCC (Project for a New Chinese Century)

This is from

PNAC No More?
May 20, 2008 in News by Jim Lobe
The website of the Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century ( has vanished. If you go to the site, you are diverted to another one that says, “This Account Has Been Suspended. Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.” A metaphor, perhaps, for the bankruptcy of the ideas that inspired the project and the strategic disaster that they produced for U.S. interests in Iraq, the …

Myanmar to allow in UN aid workers.

This is from Al Jazeera.
It remains to be seen how much of a breakthrough this is once the details are worked out. The deal excludes aid through the military. The regime maintains that the basic aid stage is over and now reconstruction will begin. I just wonder how the UN is able to assess the degree to which people have received aid.

FRIDAY, MAY 23, 200814:52 MECCA TIME, 11:52 GMT
Myanmar to allow in UN aid workers
The announcement came after talks between Ban, left, and Myanmar's Than Shwe [AFP]
Myanmar's military leaders have agreed to allow access to all foreign aid workers to help with the relief operation after Cyclone Nargis, according to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.

Ban made the announcement on Friday after more than two hours of talks with Than Shwe, Myanmar's senior general.
Than Shwe's earlier refusal to allow relief workers to operate in Myanmar earned him international condemnation.

His change in a…

Running on Empty? Fears over oil supply move into the mainstream.

This is from the Financial Times. As the article points out worries about oil shortages have moved from being the concern of a few pessimists to the mainstream media. The huge demand increases in newly developing nations such as China is not matched by similar increase in supply. New supplies such as those in the Canadian Oil Sands are quite expensive. Oil is reaching new price highs every few days it seems.

Running on empty? Fears over oil supply move into the mainstreamBy Carola HoyosFinancial TimesMay 19 2008On a rainy day last month, four drummers, three guitarists, a bagpiper, twodidgeridoo players and 186 others assembled in the rural English town ofCirencester to discuss turning their neighbourhoods into low-impactcommunities built around farming, arts and crafts and herbal medicine.After communal meditation and a few speeches, those present gathered insmall groups to discuss everything from transport without oil to engaginglocal politicians in the “Transition Towns” movement’s …

Death toll from Philippines storm at 37

This is from the Age. The storm in Burma, earthquake in China, and tornados in the U.S. have meant that this storm in the northern Philippines has been below the radar of the mainstream press in North America.

Death toll from Philippines storm now 37
May 21, 2008 - 5:08PM
The death toll in a tropical storm that pummelled the Philippines over the weekend rose to 37 as rescuers reached far-flung villages in the worst-hit areas.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said 16 more people were injured in the aftermath of storm Halong that brought heavy rains which triggered landslides and flash floods in several northern provinces.
The NDCC said more than one million people were adversely affected by Halong's fury and several roads have been rendered impassable and bridges swept away by swollen rivers.
Most of the fatalities were in the province of Pangasinan, 180km north of Manila, which was worst hit by Halong.
Many of the victims drowned in flash floods, died when struck by tin…

Rival Lebanese reach deal to end crisis.

This is a good sign and it looks as if civil war has been avoided. The article is from Reuters.

Rival Lebanese reach deal to end crisisTue May 20, 2008 7:02 PM ET
By Nadim Ladki
DOHA (Reuters) - Rival Lebanese leaders reached a deal on Wednesday to end 18 months of political conflict that had pushed their country to the brink of a new civil war.
Delegates from the U.S.-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition told Reuters disputes over a parliamentary election law and a new cabinet had been settled on the sixth day of Arab-mediated talks in Qatar.
"The deal is done. The text has been written," an opposition delegate told Reuters. The official announcement was expected at 10.00 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT), he added.
A ruling coalition delegate also confirmed the deal, which will meet the opposition's long-standing demand for veto power in cabinet.
Hezbollah, a group backed by Iran and Syria, increased pressure on the ruling alliance this month by routing its followers in a…

Economist: Philippine rice crisis due to bad policies not by shortage of rice.

Some economist this. What he must mean is that the shortage is caused by bad policies not that there is no shortage. Well maybe he doesn't mean that. He seems to think that the problem is just that if Filipinos had enough money they could buy the rice. In fact in saying that it is an income problem that seems to be his line. Of course the role of the World Bank and IMF in helping set Arroyo's agricultural policies which indeed are partly to blame is left unmentioned! This guy is already an executive director. He is on his way up! Certainly neo-liberal policies are partly to blame for the crisis but they are not just a function of Arroyo's whims but of the neo-liberal institutions that guide that policy, the World Bank and IMF. For this economist they don''t seem to enter the equation.

Philippine rice crisis due to bad policies, not shortage: economist
10 hours ago
MANILA (AFP) — The rice crisis affecting the Philippines is not caused by a shortage of rice but due to …

NATO rejects UN report on Afghan civilian killings

So they reject the report but none of the countries involved in the mission provides numbers of civilians killed, results of investigations, or whether anyone was punished. This is certainly not a great record of accountability from which to criticise the UN report.

NATO rejects UN report on Afghan civilian killings
REUTERSReuters North American News Service
May 18, 2008 09:12 EST
KABUL, May 18 (Reuters) - NATO rejected on Sunday a report by a UN rapporteur about the number of civilian killings at the hands of the alliance-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston said on Thursday some 200 Afghan civilians had been killed by foreign and Afghan troops and around 300 by Taliban insurgents since the beginning of 2008.
"In summary, we find much of the substance and the overall tone of his statement inaccurate and unsubstantiated," Mark Laity, a spokesman for NATO, told …

Russia, China, U.S. oppose cluster bomb ban

How nice that Russia, China, and the United States can agree not to ban this vicious weapon that ought to be outlawed. Of course Israel, which used cluster bombs in Lebanon, is also on board with this motley crew of countries. When it comes to blowing people up and creating future situations where for years people are maimed by unexploded bombs the great leader of the Western world and the former Commie giants see eye to eye. Will Obama take a position on this matter? This is from common dreams.

Published on Sunday, May 18, 2008 by The Boston Globe
Conferees Seek Cluster Bomb BanRussia, China, US oppose treaty
by Nick Cumming-Bruce
GENEVA - Believe the advocates of a treaty banning cluster munitions, and the international community is about to take a decisive step toward curbing the use of a weapon that inflicts terrible suffering, particularly on civilians. Believe the US government, and the measure they propose threatens to undermine the NATO alliance that has underpinned Western securi…

The Scars of Losing a Home

No doubt part of the American Dream is owning your own home. For many it has become part of the American Empire. It has always been a means of tying citizens to the system. People are encouraged to invest in their own homes through allowing income tax deductions for mortgage payments and through extending mortgages and lately through lending to people without paying much attention to credit worthiness.
It remains to be seen if the loss of homes is any sort of catalyst for producing change in the U.S. or as this article maintains will simply leave a scar on many. It probably will necessitate a much larger and wider dissilussionment to puncture the bubble of the American Dream. However, already the middle class hard-pressed by economic reality is encountering a bit of indigestion that makes sleep difficult.

The New York Times/May 18, 2008/Economic ViewThe Scars of Losing a HomeBy ROBERT J. SHILLERACROSS the United States, there were 243,353 foreclosure filings inApril alone, nearly th…