Showing posts from April, 2010

U.S. House subcommittee has hearings on legality of drone attacks.

Not a very impressive article. The arguments against drone use are not advanced at any length. The defense is a joke. As is inevitably the case the argument starts out with the inevitable move of framing their use as part of a war. No one questions that according to the article. No doubt there is a war on drugs, a war on crime, and a war on poverty. Lets use drones on the same premise in those areas. The are some assumptions that are just not to be examined since the whole house of cards would fall down. This is from CNN so it is not too surprising the reporting is so bland and uncritical.

House subcommittee hearing questions legality of drone attacks

By the CNN Wire Staff

NEW: ACLU calls drone attacks part of illegal program for U.S. to target, kill terror suspects
Since President Obama took office, number of drone attacks has risen
U.S. law professors debate legality of such attacks during a House subcommittee hearing
Biggest controversy: legality of strikes conducted by CIA, as oppose…

Prompt Global Strike Program expensive and dangerous

As the article points out, this whole project is a Rumsfeld throwback. There seems to be very little discussion of this among all the talking heads of the mainstream media. Not only may the missiles be mistaken for a nuclear attack but it seems rather ludicrous to be using these against terrorists. The fight against terrorism costs a tremendous amount for what is achieved. Terrorists ruin multi-million dollar vehicles with 15 dollar IED's now very expensive weapons are being used to attack very small groups of terrorists apparently. No doubt many potential U.S. enemies will wonder if all of this has anything to do with terrorism. They will start their own programs to counteract the weapons beginning a new arms race. This is the legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize President who is following in the footsteps of Rumsfeld. This is from

How To: Risk World War III, and Blow Billions Doing It
By Noah Shachtman
The Pentagon’s plan to fire ballistic missiles at terrorists isn’t just…

CIA boss promises new cover for secret ops.

No doubt your friendly neighborhood contractor or NGO will be harboring CIA spies in future if it is not happening already. As it is now apparently the vast majority operate out of U.S. embassies. No wonder places such as Iraq need such huge embassies with lots of luxuries to keep spies in the style to which they are accustomed. This is from the Washington Post.

CIA chief promises spies 'new cover’ for secret ops
New cloaks for old daggers?

CIA Director Leon Panetta told employees today that the spy agency is going to give undercover operatives more ways to avoid exposure overseas.

“The CIA will enhance its use of more flexible and innovative deployments overseas—including new approaches to cover—paving the way for even better intelligence collection,” Panetta told a gathering of employees in the agency’s auditorium, in remarks also broadcast to agency workers around the world via closed-circuit TV.

It was difficult to discern exactly what Panetta had in mind.

There are two kinds of …

Clegg claims Labour should not rule if it comes third in votes

The author may be reading a bit into what Clegg says but it would seem to imply that he would not form a coalition with Labour but no doubt Clegg will wait for the results before he really makes any firm commitment to anything. It seems that the British electorate is not about to give any party a clear majority to govern. Canada has had a minority government for some time now. It seems to muddle through especially now when no party can see a majority if they defeat the government only another situation with about the same distribution of seats! This is from abc(Australia)

Clegg hints at Conservative coalition
By Europe correspondent Philip Williams

British Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Clegg finally made it clear it is the votes, not seats, that count. (Reuters: Andrew Winning)

With just 11 days to go before Britain's election, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, is finally laying the ground rules for a possible coalition government.

Up until recently the idea o…

The Lessons of the Kyrgyz Revolution.

The Tulip revolution brought Bakiyev to power and hopes of reform but Bakiyev to a considerable extent returned to the same type of corruption and nepotism that led to the Tulip revolution. Bazhanov points out that democratization often leads to unmet hopes and when these are blocked revolution can result. In countries such as Singapore the ruling elites were able to reform themselves stop corruption and promote change and modernization that helped the majority of the people. However South Korea often suffered from corrupt regimes. There it was probably the introduction of advanced capitalist production that led to improvement of the lives of many and led to relative stability. However, the North has been reasonably stable with no revolution and relatively little progress economically. This is from the MoscowTimes.

The Lessons of the Kyrgyz Revolution

By YevgenyBazhanov

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan was on its way to becoming a model of nation-building. Russia…

Ex-Russian air force commander criticizes new U.S. Orbital Test Vehicle.

While the U.S. rejects any idea that this new vehicle has anything to do with placing weapons in space it is not surprising that others should see it otherwise. The U.S. is also developing a hyperfast missile which also has Russians and others worried about U.S. intentions. Most of the information about the X 37 B is kept secret another factor that arouses suspicions in other countries. This is from monstersandcritics.
Ex-Russian air force commander slams US "space plane"

Moscow - Former Russian air force commander Anatoly Kornukov has sharply criticized the US launch of an unmanned space craft, saying that Russia now needs to develop a new defence system against space and air attacks, Russian media reported Friday.
A rocket carrying the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, commonly referred to as the 'space plane,' took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida late Thursday.
The space craft will significantly increase US fighting power and shows that the country has ambitions to &#…

Wall Street: Betting on all sides.

Sam Webb is the chairman of the Communist Party USA. This is an interesting article especially his quotes from Ben Bernanke. It is surely true that Wall Street firms bet on all sides. This is common and a form of hedging but then what Goldman Sacks did along with Paulson and company was truly sleazy and a reason for the SEC to make charges--taking a brief break from watching pornography I guess. Paulson and Goldman knew that the securities that they were bundling and selling to investors were going to tank and so they in effect sold them short. We will have to wait and see what comes out of the regulation bill but given that Wall Street provides plenty of funds for both parties and has on top of that plenty of lobbyists and inside connections it is unlikely that the bill will hurt them much. The stock markets are not dropping but going up.! This is from peoplesworld.

Betting on all sides
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If you listened to the recent testimony of Wall Street executiv…

In UK election debate Liberal Democrat Clegg shines again.

Although not so clearly a winner this time around he still seemed to do very well and was perhaps even best. The Conservative leader improved quite a bit. Although Clegg wants to distance UK policy somewhat from following the US line on foreign policy he still did not commit to any immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. He is just making some rhetorical flourishes to woo the anti-US anti-Afghanistan voters. This is from npr.

In U.K. Debate, Outside Candidate Shines Again

Nick Clegg proved he wasn't a one-hit wonder in Britain's second election debate Thursday, holding his own against Labour's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Conservatives' David Cameron over thorny issues such as Afghanistan, the Catholic sex-abuse scandal and the special relationship with the United States.

An initial poll gave Clegg a slight edge in the debate, but it appeared to be close to a three-way tie. Still, Clegg managed to keep some of his political stardu…

Allwai fears Baghdad vote recount could be manipulated.

Allawi has reason to fear. Maliki has been doing everything possible to overturn the results of the election even though he if anyone had most control over the process. Many Sunni candidates were disqualified. As the article mentions international observers certified the process as fair. Yet Maliki is contesting the results even in Baghdad where he won. If there are no observers then everyone will suspect that the recount was meant to help Maliki even if it is fair. If there are no observers this will only heighten an already tense situation as the Sunnis and Allawi will believe that Allawi's right to form a coalition government is being stolen away from them.

Allawi fears Baghdad vote recount could be manipulated
By Agence France Presse (AFP)

BAGHDAD: Former Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya bloc narrowly won last month’s general election, said on Tuesday he was concerned about possible irregularities during a recount ordered for Baghdad.

Iraqiya “supports the manual recou…

Afghan hash production at an all time high.

We are apt to think of Afghanistan as the top world producer of opium but it also now a top producer of hashish. As this article points out it is not only the Taliban that profits from the drug trade but all sorts of government officials and police. Of course these people who are plentiful and part of the corruption western officials continually carp about are not about to help out in poppy eradication or attempt to reduce the production of hashish. After all they benefit greatly from that production.
Of course the industry could never survive at production rates this high if it were not for demand from outside the country. Nor could it survive without global distribution networks. Somehow the distribution networks manage to survive and drug demand continues at high levels. This is from asiatimes.

Afghan hash at an all-time high
By Julien Mercille

In addition to being the world's leading producer of opium, Afghanistan has now become the largest producer of hashish, according to …

Yemen slow to pursue al-Awlaki.

It would seem the U.S. just expects every country to immediately go along with what the U.S. wants, in this case killing or capturing al-Awlaki. Yemen for its part has plenty of problems of its own and is certainly not anxious to stir up another hornet's nest and face the wrath of al-Awlaki's tribe. Saleh the president of Yemen is a survivor and is not going to jump when the U.S. commands if it means likely assassination. This is from AsiaTimes.

Yemen dithers as US hunts to kill
By Oliver Holmes

SANA'A - Yemen is dithering as the United States intensifies its anti-terrorism campaign by authorizing the killing of radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. In an act of defiance, the Yemeni government initially refused to hunt Awlaki, saying it would not take action until intelligence from the US proved he was a terrorist.

Last week, the Yemeni government appeared to have reversed its decision. Yemen's Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Awlaki was being pursued for alleged…

Fighter jet engines suffer damage from volcanic ash.

There seem to be some conflicting results from test flights. Perhaps it is just a matter of where the different flights flew. Some test by civilian airliners showed no damage to engines but military fighter jet flights showed some damage to the engines. At least the cloud seems a bit less extensive now and some flights have already resumed today. I imagine if they fly somewhat lower the situation might be better. THis is from abc(Australia)

Fighter jet engines suffer volcano damage

NATO fighter jets have returned from flying through some of Iceland's drifting ash plume, and have reportedly suffered engine damage.

On Sunday, test flights in England, France Germany and the Netherlands, returned seemingly safely, with pilots reporting no problems. Their engines are still being examined.

But today, several NATO F-16 fighter jets have suffered damage, with glass fragments being found in their engines.

It comes not long after several airlines appealed for the regulator to review the blanket…

Kucinich speaks out on extrajudicial killings

There seems to be a willingness to mute any criticism of policies which under George Bush would have led to huge liberal outcries. Cogent criticism of these policies have been left to people such as Ron Paul on the right and Kucinich on the left while mainstream liberals are silent. This is from the nation.

Kucinich: White House Assassination Policy Is Extrajudicial killings.


April 15, 2010

There has been almost universal silence among Congressional Democrats on the Obama administration's recently revealed decision to authorize the assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen, has been accused of providing inspiration for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged "underwear bomber," and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter. In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic surge in US government chatter about the alleged threat posed by al-Awlaki, with anonymous US officials accusing him of directly participati…

Obama Dept. of Justice goes after Whistleblower

If this had happened during the Bush administration all the Liberals would be crying foul and the media would be full of this. But this is the Obama administration and criticism if any is muted. Even though on many issues such as upping the war effort in Afghanistan and using targeted killing via drones far more than Bush the silence is mostly deafening in many liberal circles. While targeting whistle blowers the same Dept. of Justice by looking forward not backward overlooks any Bush era war crimes. I guess it should because looking forward it is already overlooking any Obama continuation of those crimes. This is from salon.

What the whistleblower prosecution says about the Obama DOJ
(updated below)

The more I think and read about the Obama DOJ's prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, the more I think this might actually be one of the worst steps the Obama administration has taken yet, if not the single worst step -- and that's obviously saying a lot…

Civilian Deaths soar in southern Afghanistan

As the article mentions most of the casualties are the result of insurgent action but some are also caused by NATO forces. One wonders too how many casualties are caused by special forces who operate underneath press radar. Once the offensive begins to forcefully attempt to dislodge the Taliban from Kandahar no doubt casualties will go up especially if there are battles right within the city as seems highly probable. This is from

Civilian Toll Soaring in Southern Afghanistan
Posted By Jason Ditz

Despite President Obama’s claims of “progress” in Afghanistan the nation’s restive south, where virtually all of the latest escalation of troops have been deployed, has continued to see soaring violence, particularly in Kandahar.

According to the latest numbers out of the Red Cross in Kandahar, the number of civilians wounded in roadside bombings has risen between 30-40 percent compared to the same months in 2009. Despite massive increases in the amount of personnel and funding the US…

Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America

I am always wary of talk about Fascism in the U.S. Some on the left seem to enjoy calling any repression or even any right wing protests they do not like as fascist. Fascism arose in a context when there were strong working class movements challenging the status quo in times of crisis and economic troubles. The working class in the U.S. is extremely weak and although there are some right wing groups targeting unions this does not seem to be a prominent feature. Also, in Germany in particular Jews were targeted. This surely is not happening much in the U.S.! This is not to say there are not family resemblances between what is happening now and during the rise of fascism. The left should be busy critiquing the Obama administration and its policies not worrying about whether the Tea Party is Fascist--which it isn't Many in the Tea Party support people such as Ron Paul who is if anything a bulwark against Fascism and U.S. imperialism. All this being said Chomsky as always has many…

U.S. Military Confidence on Winning Afghan War Drops

Although the confidence level is dropping it is still over fifty percent. The survey seems to contain some anomalies. Although there is overwhelming support for the surge only 36 per cent think that Obama is handling the war well. It would have helped if the survey had sought more detail so that one could see why respondents felt this way. Note that the number one reason for joining the military was job security and second retirement benefits. This is from politicsdaily.

David Wood

U.S. Military Confidence Sinks on Winning Afghan War, Poll Finds

The military's confidence that it will win the Afghan war is declining, according to a new tracking poll showing only 60 percent of active-duty military personnel believe the U.S. can triumph.
The poll, conducted by the Military Times newspapers, which are not affiliated with the Defense Department, showed the percentage of respondents who believe the United States is likely to win in Afghanistan has dropped from 77 in 2008 to 68 in 2…

Israel issues new decree that allows expulsion of Palestinians from West Bank

This may not get much coverage in the western mainstream press. Even Israeli human rights groups are outraged by this move. It may be directed at Gazans who have fled the Gaza strip. These permits as mentioned were never required before so most Palestinians will not have them. This new decree allows Israel to deport Palestinians from the West Bank almost at will. Jordan has even complained about this new decree. This is from Xinhua

Israel issues west bank expulsion order

BEIJING, April 14 -- A new order may see thousands of Palentinians being expelled from the West Bank...Isreal's military tried to impose the new measures Tuesday... but were quickly denouced by human rights activists and the Palestinians themselves.

Under the new rules, anyone caught living in the West Bank without an Israeli permit could face expulsion within as few as three days or be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

The new measures have been denounced as "an affront to the most fundamental principles…

Levine: Hypocrisy and the end of empires.

This is a wide ranging long article on the hypocrisy evident in the media and its alleged consequences for the U.S. empire. I doubt that the hypocrisy will have anything at all to do with the end of the U.S. empire. Hypocrisy is standard in politics and in any countries account of itself and its relationship to the rest of the world. It is necessary to build up a notion of a country as some sort of moral beacon above others especially for those countries that have an empire such as the U.S. Although the rhetorical hypocrisy requires a type of intellectual denial or blindness to contradictory data this negation actual binds people to the official story in many cases. Of course many people may come to doubt accepted view or parts of it. This is from aljazeera.

Hypocrisy and the end of empires
By Mark LeVine

Culture of hypocrisy which existed during the Bush era continues to thrive in the US today [EPA]
Every so often, a convergence occurs between a few ostensibly unrelated events in the …