Showing posts from November, 2008

Philippines: Gloria allies ready final push for Constitutional Change aka Cha-cha.

Even though Gloria claims that the constitutional change has nothing to do with extending her term, the opposition refuses to believe that. Gloria shows her tactical skill by attempting to bend the rules to her aims by having the two houses vote together on the changes since she has a large majority of support in the lower house. Although the Supreme Court will probably have to decided the constitutionality of this scheme it is packed with Arroyo appointments. However, even then the eminent judges sometimes decide enough is enough!

Gloria allies ready final push for Cha-cha
By Angie M. Rosales
Running short of time, allies of President Arroyo in the House of Representatives are moving at double-time to push Charter change (Cha-cha) efforts with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel warning that Mrs. Arroyo’s allies would likely use numerical superiority to ram through efforts to amend the Constitution.
Insistence of Palace allies in Congress to have the two chambers vote jointly in effecting …

No news out of Afghanistan, just propaganda.

This is from wiredispatch.
The US is more and more taking command in Afghanistan. They will have difficulty recruiting troops from other countries to help them. They may have to buy some troops from East Europe or elsewhere.
""Washington is already scheduled to send another 3,000 troops to arrive in the country in January and is now considering sending 20,000 more troops in the next 12 to 18 months, further tipping the numerical balance among ISAF forces.
"What we are seeing is a gradual increase of American influence in all areas of the war," the NATO official said. "Seeking to gain total control of the information flow from the campaign is just part of that." (Editing by John Chalmers) ""
At least now the news situation is transparent. There will be no news just propaganda to further the war effort. No doubt news will still filter through.

Press, "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ-sources
Jon HemmingReuters North American News Service

Obama's one trick Wizards.

Failed financiers run the Obama transition team the article notes. Of course they have not failed, in that they are still in control. It is Obama who has failed to bring in change or anyone really outside the elite that caused the mess the US is in. Of course these people are smart enough to know that they must change their tune and there may even be some mildly progressive aspects to the stimulus but the same people are in control and they will do what is in their interests. There will be some collateral crumbs for the people.

Obama's one-trick wizards
By Spengler
One wants to ask the Wall Street wizards who comprise the talent pool for the incoming administration, "If you so smart, how come you ain't rich no more?" Manhattan's toniest private schools, harder to get into than Harvard, quietly are looking for full-tuition pupils now that the children of sacked Wall Street bankers are departing for public schools in cheaper suburbs. Harvard University president Drew…

Still opposition to SOFA agreement

This is from Juancole.

Even though there is still opposition to the SOFA there does not seem to be any increase in insurgency even the Sadr group. It remains to be seen how things will work out in practice. The Iraqi's still have little jurisdiction over troops or contractors when they commit crimes while on duty. I understood that the Iraqis did have the power to open mail but perhaps not.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that controversy continues to rage around the security pact, dividing communities against one another. The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned the Iraqi Islamic Party and other Sunni Arab parties for "selling Iraq" with their votes in its favor. Muqtada al-Sadr announced three days of mourning in protest against its enactment, but he did not order his supporters to engage in confrontation to overturn it, "in order to safeguard the unity of the country. One of the aides to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called it a "diminution" of Iraq's so…

Philippines: Catholic bishops lead march calling on people to oust Arroyo.

This is from the Tribune (Manila)
The Pope's demand that clerics keep out of politics seems to have fallen on deaf ears in the Philippines. Many of the country's clerics take the view that they are responsible to their flock to see that they are treated better by the government and not just exploited. They fight for their interests to gain the respect of their charges.
Many clerics are particularly upset that Arroyo is trying to push through constitutional change to keep herself in power. Of course they are also upset by the pervasive corruption that they see within the Arroyo administration. Many clerics have been at the forefront of people power uprisings in the Philippines before.
It is doubtful that the clerics will actually be charged with sedition although calling for an uprising to remove Arroyo does seem a bit provocative! To charge the clerics with sedition would be likely to destabilise the situation even more and make them all heroes.

Bishops-led march on to oust Arroyo

Venezuela: After the regional elections

This is from
This is an analysis of the results from a socialist perspective. Those supporting Chavez are it would seem a motley crew. As this critique shows some of the losses of the Chavez group were due to the poor quality of the candidates. As in most movements that have an electoral aspect there is always the problem of mobilising the grass roots to create genuine social change rather than simply electing some champion of the people and then the people are left on the sidelines.
I gather that there is considerable corruption withing Venezuelan politics and that this is a problem within the Chavistas as well as the opposition groups.

Venezuela: After the regional elections, the workers propose a clean out and more revolution
Stalin Perez Borges
By Stalin Perez Borges, translated by Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
November 25, 2008 -- I want to give some preliminary and personal impressions, in the heat of the momen…

The Summers Conundrum

Read this and weep. In the US it seems centrist means a deregulation promoter, an arrogant sexist, a person who ravaged the Lithuanian economy often involving personal enrichment for his friends, a key employee of a hedge fund and of the World Bank, a person who worked in the Reagan administration and on and on. Anyone who was even remotely leftist would send this guy packing back to his corporate buddies.

The Summers Conundrum
By Mark Ames
November 10, 2008

. The conventional wisdom is that Summers is the "centrist" choice--Fareed Zakaria ("I think Summers is an extraordinarily brilliant guy") and David Gergen ("Larry Summers would be superb at this job"), two titans of centrism, both weighed in Sunday on the Stephanopoulos show in favor of Summers. And yet so far the debate over Summers has been largely confined to two outrageous moments in his career: his 1991 World Bank memo calling Africa "UNDER-polluted," and his more recent declarations, whi…

Summers and Hedge Funds

These two articles give some of the background of Summers insofar as he was associated with Hedge Funds. His work and pay are both secrets it seems. The Hedge Funds as a group were active in lobbying against their regulation and regulation of derivatives. The latter are often part of the toxic wastes floating about in the paper sewage generated by bright financial entrepreneurs as a source of profit.

Summers and Hedge Funds
By Ken Silverstein
After being named as Barack Obama’s top White House economics adviser, Lawrence Summers resigned from his post as a managing director of D.E. Shaw & Co, a leading hedge fund. “Neither the Obama transition team nor D.E. Shaw would say exactly what Summers had done in his two years of work for the $36 billion hedge fund, or how much he has been paid, Politico reports. A 2007 article in Institutional Investor’s Alpha says only that Summers was hired to work “with the senior management team to find new ways to generate profit and manage risk.”D.E. Sha…

Excerpts from the SOFA with Iraq

Some excerpts from a translation of the agreement at NYtimes. There are innocuous sounding packages that will actually give the US control over oil profits:
See my post and article at kenthink.

3. Consistent with a letter from the President of the United States to be sent to the Prime
Minister of Iraq, the United States remains committed to assist Iraq in connection with its
request that the UN Security Council extend the protections and other arrangements
established in Resolution 1483 (2003) and Resolution 1546 (2003) for petroleum,
petroleum products, and natural gas originating in Iraq, proceeds and obligations from
sale thereof, and the Development Fund for Iraq.

The sections on Iraq jurisdiction over criminal acts of troops and contractors is very limited:

The United States shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over members of
the United States Forces and of the civilian component for matters arising inside agreed
facilities and areas; during duty status outside agreed faci…

Michael Perelman: How to Create a Crisis

This is from Michael Perelman's blog a US economist. Unfortunately the paper often of little or no real value creates real debt via the government bailout that involves borrowing that the US citizen must eventually repay. In fact the taxpayer is paying to rescue the people who brought about the crisis in the first place. Many of those same people are in charge of this bailout.

Matter and Antimatter: How to Create a Crisis: A Thanksgiving Rant
Posted November 27, 2008Filed under: economics
Skilled physicists do not know how to take nothing and turn it into matter and antimatter, but finance behaves as if it had the capacity to do something similar. Imagine a simple market economy about to create a bubble. I want to tell the story of this bubble, only to put the current, crazy stimulus package into perspective.
Somebody says to me they have a piece of paper worth $1 million. I can buy for half the price. I borrow the money to cover most of the cost. People are willing to lend me the mo…

Bernanke on Deflation causes and cure.

This is a six year old speech but quite relevant to what is happening in the present crisis. Many of the policies he recommended are now being implemented. It remains to be seen if they will work.

Remarks by Governor Ben S. BernankeBefore the National Economists Club, Washington, D.C.November 21, 2002
Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here
Since World War II, inflation--the apparently inexorable rise in the prices of goods and services--has been the bane of central bankers. Economists of various stripes have argued that inflation is the inevitable result of (pick your favorite) the abandonment of metallic monetary standards, a lack of fiscal discipline, shocks to the price of oil and other commodities, struggles over the distribution of income, excessive money creation, self-confirming inflation expectations, an "inflation bias" in the policies of central banks, and still others. Despite widespread "inflation pessimism," however, during the 1980…