Showing posts from January, 2010

Special Forces night attacks spur Afghan protests.

This is just one example of the type of horrendous secret attacks mounted by special forces in Afghanistan. It is not surprising that there are many Afghan complaints. No one seems to take responsibility for these attacks and the attackers seem to be not accountable to anyone. Gen. McChrystal formerly led such special forces i in Iraq.

This is from

One Dark Night in November

It was the 19th of November 2009, at 3:15 am. A loud blast awoke the villagers of a leafy neighborhood outside Ghazni city, a town of ancient provenance in the country’s south. A team of U.S. soldiers burst through the front gate of the home of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture. Qarar was in Kabul at the time, but his relatives were home, four of whom were sleeping in the family’s one-room guesthouse. One of them, Hamidullah, who sold carrots at the local bazaar, ran towards the door of the guesthouse. He was immediately shot, but managed to crawl back inside, leaving a…

Kai Eide: Afghan Strategy Doomed

Eide does not mention the recent attempt to buy off the Taliban. This actually seems to be a policy that is at odds with the military strategy that Eide criticizes. It as if the new policy has many different features that includes more training of Afghans a policy Eide supports. However the question will be where the emphasis will be. The new reconciliation policy is unlikely to be very successful absent a clear withdrawal plan that will convince the Taliban that long term the foreign occupation will end.

Afghan strategy doomed: UN envoy
Tom Coghlan From: The Times

THE military strategy in Afghanistan is seriously flawed and is doomed to failure without major adjustments, the outgoing head of the UN there has warned.
Kai Eide, who will stand down as UN Special Representative in March, was withering in his assessment of the Afghan surge recently set in motion by US President Barack Obama.

He warned that the military focus was at the expense of a "meaningful, Afghan-led political stra…

Judge Advocate General: Indefinite detention defies common sense.

This article provides a thorough repudiation of the reasons given why the remaining 47 prisoners in Guantanamo cannot be released. Nevertheless I suspect that many will still think that keeping these prisoners who are regarded as dangerous indefinitely detained is itself just common sense. Obama is clearly just following in the footsteps of Bush but without acknowledging it. You would think that in the area of human rights and law Obama would be more progressive but in this case he is not--probably because he thinks it is probably not a good idea to appear soft on terrorism. He is already being criticized for that.

- Original - -

JAG Officer: Indefinite Detention ‘Defies Common Sense’

Posted By William Fisher

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to detain 47 of the just-under 200 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo without trial indefinitely is drawing scorn from legal experts and human rights advocates, who charge that the government simply does no…

General McChrystal signals support for negotiated settlement with Taliban

It is not really clear how serious this is or whether it is just another version of bribing some Taliban to change sides. The whole policy just shows how ludicrous the claim was that there would be no negotiations with terrorists. It also makes a mockery of the defence of the surge that it was necessary to clear the Taliban from the most populous areas of Afghanistan and provide security from the Taliban. Now those same Taliban are to be part of the government!
What may happen is that some Taliban may support the government and lay down their arms but they may also be used as a legal wing of the Taliban and also infiltrate the armed forces and police. That such a policy is being considered must give hope to the Taliban. The new rationale for the surge is that it is necessary to put pressure on the Taliban to negotiate. I just wonder who it is that is anxious to negotiate the Taliban or NATO and the US! Original - -

Behind Cautious Signal, a Deci…

Fidel Castro on Haitian Earthquake Aid

I did not realise that the US refused aid from Cuba during Katrina. As the article notes Cuba has been co-operating with the US aid allowing overflights of Cuba which shortens the flying time between Haiti and Miami by about 90 minutes. Castro admits that its own aid has been able to get through without being delayed. However as the article countries have noted US control of the airport seems to have caused them problems. There are also questions about the number of US troops being sent and whether they are all part of the humanitarian effort.

This is from motherjones.

Reflections by Comrade Fidel


In my Reflection of January 14, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighboring sister nation, I wrote: “In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country. Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers are helping the Haitian people free of cha…

Krugman: Obama Liquidates Himself

Obama has to throw a bone at those who are dogging him because he is spending too much and that is what this is. That it makes no economic sense is of no significance. It may make voter approval sense. However Obama has constantly irritated his supporters on the left. Soon only the most diehard left Democrats will be left. I have noticed on a list I subscribe to that almost all those who originally supported Obama and were thrilled when he was elected have now abandoned the Democratic cause altogether. Earlier this was because of his foreign policy moves but now after the health care compromises and disaster and this move it is domestic policy that is fueling the flight from Obama.

Obama Liquidates Himself
A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to hav…

U.S. may equip Pakistan with drones.

Note that the drones to be supplied are surveillance drones not those capable of making attacks. Gates seems to be acting as a cheerleader (and enforcer as well) to push Pakistan towards even further attacks on Islamic militants in the tribal territories.

US may equip Pakistan with drone aircraft, Gates says
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told leaders on his visit to Islamabad that all of South Asia faces instability if Al Qaeda goes unchecked in Pakistan.

By Ben Hancock Correspondent

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates landed Thursday in Islamabad with the goal of pressing Pakistan to stamp out Al Qaeda and other terrorist factions that he earlier warned could destabilize South Asia.

In his first visit to the country since the inauguration of the Obama White House, Mr. Gates said the US is considering supplying Pakistan with unarmed drone aircraft. While Pakistan has publicly called America's use of drones a violation of sovereignty, Islamabad has requested the techn…

Cuba and US Co-operate on Haiti Relief

This just shows that co-operation between the two countries is possible. Too bad it takes a horrible disaster to make this happen. From this site.

Cuba Aids Haiti Relief

The massive international relief effort in Haiti has received a boost from Cuba, which has more than 400 health workers, many of them doctors, working throughout the devastated country. The government in Havana has also aided United States relief efforts by opening restricted Cuban airspace to American planes flying medical evacuation missions.

Shortly after the horrific earthquake struck Haiti January 12, causing untold destruction and killing tens of thousands of people, the U.S. reached agreement with Havana for evacuation flights from the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay to pass through Cuba on their way to Florida.

An understanding had been in place allowing individual emergency flights to travel through the area, but the new agreement expands that authority to a standing basis. Now planes that are carrying badly inj…

Obama to freeze discretionary spending for 3 years.

Obama will end up with few supporters except perhaps a few Republicans and hard core Democrats who will vote Democrat no matter what. Notice that Obama has exempted defence and homeland security. This is the war president for sure. Although he talks about jobs the only jobs will be to volunteer for cannon fodder in more and more wars unless even those jobs are replaced by drones. What will happen if robots do most of the work in making drones and fighting? This is from CNN.

Obama wants to freeze discretionary spending for 3 years By Ed Henry, CNN
January 25, 2010 11:01 p.m. EST
3-year spending freezeSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
Discretionary spending is about one-sixth of the entire federal budget
Agencies would be able to give some programs increases, cut money elsewhere
Exempted under plan: budgets of Defense, Homeland Security departments
Some Democrats saying cuts would be tough to swallow
Washington (CNN) -- President Obama will announce in Wednesday's State of the Union address that he's pr…

Haaretz Editorial: Save the Peace: Jordan Israel Relations in Crisis

Articles such as this are simply missing from most of the western mainstream press. In the US no doubt such an article would be immediately jumped upon by the watchdogs of the Israel lobby. Criticism of Israel is left to Israeli media! Only in Israel, a pity!

Save the peace

By Haaretz Editorial

The diplomatic stalemate and the provocations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in East Jerusalem harm not only the chance for peace in the future but also past fruits of peace. Fifteen years after the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was signed, the two countries are now deep in a crisis the government is doing nothing to resolve.

As Barak Ravid reported yesterday in Haaretz, there is almost a complete lack of communication between Netanyahu and King Abdullah II. The situation is no better on the lower echelons: the Jordanians are boycotting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and hold few meetings with senior Israeli officials. Joint economic projects between the two c…

Pakistan refusal to mount new offensive rankles US

The US seems to think that it can just force the Pakistan military to follow any policy the US wants because it provides so much military. However the Pakistani military is loyal to Pakistani objectives rather than those of the US. In particular when the US is very friendly with India and even helping out the Indian nuclear program, Pakistan is not about to take on further military campaigns against Taliban with whom they wish to retain connections. No doubt the Pakistan action or inaction will just cause the Obama administration to rely even more on drone attacks which in turn will cause even greater anti-American feeling in Pakistan.

This is from the NYTimes.

Pakistan’s Rebuff Over New Offensives Rankles U.S.
WASHINGTON — The Pakistani Army’s announcement last week that it planned no new offensive against militants for as long as a year has deeply frustrated senior American military officers, and chipped away at one of the cornerstones of President …

Howard Zinn: Obama at One.

As Zinn says it is Obama's rhetoric rather than his policies that stand out. In spite of his change of tone with respect to the Muslim world in practice in areas such as the Palestine Israel peace process nothing has happened and he has not been able even to restart peace negotiations. Zinn does not mention Honduras but there his rhetoric again was no match for reality. The coup leaders in effect won and Micheletti snubbed negotiatiors and then simply refused to follow through and presidential elections went on as if nothing had happened. The US will nevertheless recognise the results. Zelaya was never returned to the presidencyand Micheletti never resigned!

The Nation
Obama at One: Little Surprising in Absence of Progressive Social Movement
by Howard Zinn

Looking back at President Obama's first year in office, The Nation asked members of its community to give their assesment of his performance. You can share your take on Obama's highest and lowest moments in the form provi…

Pakistan Supreme Court Threatens to Call in Army!

No doubt the US is scrambling to make contacts with opposition members and within the governing party to prepare for what will happen if Zardari is forced to resign, a situation that seems to be more likely as the days go by. Pakistan US relations seem destined to be unsettled during 2010.

- News From - -

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Threatens to Call in Army Over Zardari Immunity

Posted By Jason Ditz

In a move that could greatly up the ante in the clash between the Zardari government and the Pakistani judiciary, A top lawyer of the Pakistani Supreme Court warned that they could call in the army to enforce their rulings in the administration declined to do so.

Last month the Supreme Court declared the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) unconstitutional, stripping several key members of the ruling party of legal immunity from a littany of corruption charges stemming from their roles in the previous administrations.

Though President Zardari hypothetically …

FBI illegally collected phone records

There is little in the mainstream news about this. Imagine the FBI just made up stories about terror investigations to justify their fishing expeditions. If this had been done by the old Soviet intelligence operatives in the USSR it would be spread wide and far as an example of Bad Big Brother at work. The article also shows how terror legislation can be misused by intelligence authorities. No doubt no one will be held accountable for these breaches of the law.

- News From - -

Justice Department Report Details ‘Egregious’ FBI Crimes

Posted By Jason Ditz On January 20, 2010 @ 8:46 pm In Uncategorized 1 Comment

The Justice Department Inspector General today issued a highly anticipated report on the FBI’s illegal collection of phone records, declaring the crimes an “egregious breakdown” of the system involving “startling” methods of violating privacy laws and established policy.

The …

Yushchenko Orang Revolution figurehead concedes defeat in Ukraine

Interesting that this is covered in Pakistan but there is not much coverage in the mainstream western press. The two remaining front runners who will face a runoff election are both more pro-Russian. This is in effect the end of the Orange Revolution although as Yuschenko points out there is now a more democratic system in the Ukraine. However whoever wins the tilt of Ukrainian politics will now be more toward Russia than the West.

This is from thenews (Pakistan)

Yushchenko concedes defeat

Thursday, January 21, 2010
KIEV: President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday said he accepted defeat in Ukraine’s presidential elections but defiantly vowed to remain in politics as the next stage of the campaign heated up.

Yushchenko, the figurehead of the 2004 Orange Revolution, won just 5.45 per cent of the vote in the first round elections on Sunday amid widespread disappointment with his presidency.

But in a characteristically defiant statement, Yushchenko said that the holding of free elections, warml…

Drone protests

There seems to have been little coverage of this process in the mainstream media but that is hardly surprising. A nice touch to mark off the protest area with crime scene tape. Perhaps the protesters should have removed it when they left and strung it around the border of the headquarters of the CIA.
The author is correct that the drone attacks are a type of net-centric warfare which is no doubt a wave of the future for many corporate contractors. The civilians killed are not Americans so collateral damage will be of little concern even when it is counterproductive it would seem.

This is from dandelionsalad.

I was invited by activist Cindy Sheehan to speak at the CIA drone protest held on Saturday afternoon (January 16) outside their Langley, Virginia headquarters. As we arrived we saw big orange barricades all along the road with yellow “crime scene” plastic tape stretched all along the highway and also draped from tree to tree in the narrow spit of woods separating the four-lane r…

Expert Jonathan Gruber and health care reform.

It seems that Jonathan Gruber an economist specialising in health care has been helping out and has a contract with Health and Human Services. Gruber has given advice to both Democrats and Republicans but is closely associated with Democrats now. He wrote an op ed for the Washington Post without disclosing the contract he held. As Perelman points out Gruber thinks everything has been tried but of course this excludes a single payer system. This oversight no doubt qualifies him to be a career expert in health economics in the United States. Health Care in the US is really Health Insurance Company care.

This is from Michael Perelman's blog.

Off the Table or Under the Table: Economics vs. Health Care

Apparently, the Obama folks are following the Bush precedent, paying Johathan Gruber, a health care economist, under the table — at least he seems to have done nothing to let it be known — to influence the health care debate


Protest at Civilian Killing in Afghanistan produces more casualties

It is amazing that the US Lt. Col. simply shrugs off the civilian casualties. The earlier deaths as it usual are "'under investigation". This means that they have not been able to sweep things under the table so they will wait a while and see if press interest declines not that there is that much interest in the first place.

News From -
NATO: US Troops Shot Civilian Protesters in Afghanistan’s Garmsir District

Posted By Jason Ditz

In the second NATO shooting incident in a little over 24 hours in the Garmsir District of Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, US troops opened fire on a crowd of civilian protesters on Wednesday, wounding five.

NATO explained that US Marines went out to direct an anti-NATO protest in Garmsir and when the “civilians in the crowd disregarded instructions,” the troops opened fire on the crowd. US Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale shrugged off the civilian casualties, insisting “things like this happen.”

Ironically the civilians at the Wednesday …

Pakistan anger growing as Drone Strikes increase in Pakistan

I am really aghast at the lack of discussion of the moral and legal issues that drone strikes raise. These attacks make the operators of the drones police, judge, and often executioner. Intelligence upon which the attacks are based is often faulty and killing of innocents inevitable. As the article mentions no one is held accountable for the attacks. In fact the US does not even admit to them officially most of the time even though it is an open secret. Instead of questioning the morality and legality of the attacks most critics appeal to US self interest by noting that the attacks are counterproductive. But nothing seems to penetrate Obama's thick skull. Obama is absolutely as bad if not worse than Bush when it comes to warlike US foreign policy.

News From -
Pakistan Anger Grows as Obama Steps Up Drone Strikes

Posted By Jason Ditz On January 14, 2010 @ 6:17 pm In Uncategorized 6 Comments

Long something quietly tolerated by the Pakistani government and ignored by the in…

Ukrainian election will oust western backed president.

This seems to be a little covered victory for Russia over the West. No matter who wins it will be someone who wants better relations with Russia even if it is not the main Russian backed candidate. The western backed Yuschenko and hero of the Orange Revolution is polling at a disastrous 3 per cent. This is from the Globe and Mail (canada)

The Orange Revolution fades to black as Russia rises again in Ukraine .



It was the handshake that sealed the end of a revolution.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the charismatic Ukrainian Prime Minister and a key figure in the 2004 Orange Revolution that set the country on a pro-European, anti-Russian course, sat down late last year with Vladimir Putin, who offered her a generous deal for sending Russia's natural gas through Ukraine's pipelines, paying 30 per cent more than previously.

She appeared on television warmly shaking hands with the Russian Prime Minister, in what is widely seen as Moscow's endorsem…

African Union attacks kill children and civilians

This appears to be a deliberate type of collective punishment by the African Union forces. Where is the outrage from the US and UN about this sort of action. No doubt these actions simply result in cries for revenge by families of those killed. This is from

AU Forces Shell Playground in Somalia, Kill Seven Children
Somali Govt Declares Attack 'Retaliation' for Attack on AU Base
by Jason Ditz,
In the second high profile killing of civilians by the ostensible “peacekeeping” body in less than a week, African Union forces shelled a playground in the Somali capital city of Mogadishu, killing 10 people including seven children who were playing soccer.

Members of the AU forces in SomaliaA spokesman from the self-proclaimed Somali government shrugged off the latest killings, saying the shelling was “retaliation” for an attack by Islamists on AU bases earlier in the week. No Islamists appear to have been anywhere near the playground at the time of the attack.

On Thursday of last…

Geithnergate: Why Geithner should go.

This is a sad story that is kept off the mainstream news. Where is Fox news on issues such as this? The last part of the article summarises five reason why Geithner should get the boot but discussion of these issues in the media is limited if not nonexistent. This is from alternet.

GeithnerGate: Obama's Treasury Sec. Should Get the Boot and Let's Take Our Money Back Too
By Les Leopold and Dylan Ratigan, AlterNet

Editor's Note: Published below Les Leopold's article is Dylan Ratigan's 5-point takedown of Geithner and why it's time for him to go.

"An arm of the Federal Reserve, then led by now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, told bailed-out insurance giant AIG to withhold key details from the public about overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs." Huffington Post
Cover-up revelations keep coming about Timothy Geithner's secret assistance to AIG. The latest show that he u…

Afghan Villagers: NATO forces opened fire on protesters, killing 13.

As usual there are contradictory accounts of the same event. In this case NATO authorities themselves have given contradictory accounts. The more official accounts I see the more it becomes clear that official accounts are meant to generate the most favorable public perception rather than report on what happened. The public should understand that war includes psychological warfare and this makes truthful reporting irrlevant. Only when other reports eventually force a change to the official story does the official account change but even then as little as possible.

- News From -

Afghan Villagers: NATO Forces Opened Fire on Protesters, Killing 13

Posted By Jason Ditz

In what is just the latest in a growing string of recent allegations of NATO forces killing civilians, local villagers in the Garmsir District, Helmand Province said they came out to protest against a reported raid in a nearby town when a NATO patrol arrived on the scene. The villagers say NATO forces opened fire on…