Archive for December 12th, 2008
12 12 2008
Obama’s chief of staff provided the Illinois governor with a list of people fit to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat, a report says.
Fox News Chicago reported Friday that Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, had “multiple conversations” with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris about the Senate seat.
The report, which cited a source familiar with the investigation, added that the conversations were “likely recorded and in FBI possession.”
Gov. Blagojevich and Harris were arrested Tuesday on charges related to the selection of the replacement for the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama.
12 12 2008
The inquest jury examining the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has returned an open verdict - refusing to accept the police’s contention that he was lawfully killed in a fast-moving anti-terrorist operation.
The jurors also answered a series of questions about the circumstances of Mr de Menezes’s death on board a Tube train at Stockwell, South London, in a way which rejected much of the account of the shooting given by police firearms officers.
Asked if they believed that the policemen had shouted a warning of armed police, the jury answered no. They also answered no when asked if Mr de Menezes had moved towards the officers before he was shot.
The jury had been banned by Sir Michael Wright, QC, the coroner, from considering a verdict of unlawful killing. His ruling led the de Menezes family to withdraw from the proceedings and brand the inquest “a complete whitewash”.
12 12 2008
Seven years ago, a convoy of container trucks rumbled across northern Afghanistan loaded with a human cargo of suspected Taliban and al Qaida members who’d surrendered to Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord and a key U.S. ally in ousting the Taliban regime.
When the trucks arrived at a prison in the town of Sheberghan, near Dostum’s headquarters, they were filled with corpses. Most of the prisoners had suffocated, and others had been killed by bullets that Dostum’s militiamen had fired into the metal containers.
Dostum’s men hauled the bodies into the nearby desert and buried them in mass graves, according to Afghan human rights officials. By some estimates, 2,000 men were buried there.
Earlier this year, bulldozers and backhoes returned to the scene, reportedly exhumed the bones of many of the dead men and removed evidence of the atrocity to sites unknown. In the area where the mass graves once were, there now are gaping pits in the sands of the Dasht-e-Leili desert.
Afghan Massacre - Convoy of Death
12 12 2008
Demonstrations against the killing were seen in cities across the continent with left-wing radicals and other sympathisers taking to the streets.
In Spain, 11 protesters were arrested and several police officers injured when clashes took place in Madrid and Barcelona.
In Copenhagen, 32 people were arrested when their protest in support of the Greek protests turned violent.
In neighbouring Turkey, about a dozen left-wing protesters daubed red paint over the front of the Greek consulate in Istanbul.
Around 150 people belonging to a Danish underground movement took to the streets, throwing bottles and paint bombs at buildings, police cars and officers. In Moscow and Rome, protesters threw petrol bombs at Greece’s embassies.
Journalists came under attack for the first time in the riots, with a Russian news crew assaulted by a mob of about 50 youths, some of them reportedly drunk.
And in Britain one man send a strongly worded letter to his MP and then snoozed off again!
The West is indirectly funding the insurgency in Afghanistan thanks to a system of payoffs to Taleban commanders who charge protection money to allow convoys of military supplies to reach Nato bases in the south of the country.
Contracts to supply British bases and those of other Western forces with fuel, supplies and equipment are held by multinational companies.
However, the business of moving supplies from the Pakistani port of Karachi to British, US and other military contingents in the country is largely subcontracted to local trucking companies. These must run the gauntlet of the increasingly dangerous roads south of Kabul in convoys protected by hired gunmen from Afghan security companies.
The Times has learnt that it is in the outsourcing of convoys that payoffs amounting to millions of pounds, including money from British taxpayers, are given to the Taleban.
12 12 2008
Over 650 scientists have put their names to a US Senate Minority report that challenges the contention of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change that there is a scientific “consensus” on the causes of global warming.
Set to be released within the next 24 hours, the report features contributions from hundreds of prominent researchers, including current and former IPCC scientists, who are now speaking out in opposition of the UN’s stance on climate change.
The Senate report is an updated version of a 2007 release, with over 250 more names added, highlighting how widespread dissent continues to grow in the scientific community to the alleged “consensus” that the modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis.
In comparison, twelve times fewer - just 52 scientists - participated in the much touted IPCC Summary for Policymakers meeting in April 2007. Climate scientists allied with the IPCC were recently caught citing fake data to make the case that global warming is accelerating.
The new Senate report will feature new peer-reviewed scientific studies and analyses refuting man-made warming fears.
12 12 2008
Voters in Manchester have overwhelmingly rejected plans for a congestion charge after a city-wide referendum in which more than a million people voted.
The Greater Manchester scheme was rejected by 79% of voters, amid a turnout in the 10 boroughs of 53.2%.
The biggest support for the charge was in the borough of Manchester, but, even there, only 28% were in favour of the scheme, the Manchester Evening News reported. There was least support for the charge in Salford, where 84% voted against it.
The resounding no vote will effectively cause more disarray for attempts to introduce national road pricing, a key recommendation of the 2006 Eddington transport study. The report said road pricing offered potential benefits of £28bn a year by 2025.
The Manchester result could also discourage other local authorities pursuing a congestion charge option.
The high turnout aided opponents of what would have been Britain’s biggest congestion charging zone.
The timing of the proposals, which would have seen drivers paying up to £5 a day – or £1,200 a year – to use the region’s roads, was questioned amid the economic downturn.
One no voter said: “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas – and motorists won’t vote for more taxes to drive.”
The former Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Afghanistan yesterday accused the country of being corrupt “from top to bottom”, and said the international community had wrongly treated President Hamid Karzai with kid gloves.
The criticism came from Kim Howells, who was in charge of the Afghanistan brief for three-and-a-half years until he stepped down as a foreign affairs minister in the October government reshuffle. The remarks reflect his considered judgment on what has been described as the most difficult foreign policy challenge facing the UK government and its armed forces.
Breaking his silence on the issue, he told MPs: “Institutionally, Afghanistan is corrupt from top to bottom. There are few signs that the chaotic hegemony of warlords, gangsters, presidential placemen, incompetent and under-resourced provincial governors and self-serving government ministers has been challenged in any effective way by President Karzai.
12 12 2008
We live and struggle in an era of blatantly militarized capitalism and the violence of capital. War, occupation, national security ideologies and repression of dissent –at home and abroad - make for booming business opportunities the world over. As pro-free market US journalist Thomas Friedman succinctly put it: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist - McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.”
Militarized capitalism: The military-industrial complex in 2008
What is the military-industrial complex in 2008? Where is it? What does it look like? I am not even sure if the phrase, used so famously by former US president Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 is the best descriptor to encompass the many tentacles and facets of the war and security industry and the links and connections between capital and its political allies. Do terms like ‘defence industry’ and ‘arms trade’ adequately encompass the face of today’s war profiteers, whose devastating impacts can equally be found in the high-tech apartheid wall being built by Israel to seal off the West Bank and Gaza, and its Western Hemispheric counterpart on the US-Mexico border, in the computer flight simulation programs provided to US and British military by Canada’s CAE, in private corporate mercenary armies like Blackwater, DynCorp and Aegis in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, in the outsourced intelligence, IT, interrogation and translation services of L-3/Titan, in the massive military aid budgets which the US gives to the governments of Israel, Pakistan, Egypt and Colombia, among others, and in the ‘hearts and minds’ operations of US Special Operations Forces based in the Philippines doing ‘humanitarian work’ - medical, dental and other social services, including infrastructure projects in many remote communities - services which should be the function of a government, in Mindanao, as much as it is in weapons production and arms exports.
Like all transnational corporations, these companies enjoy both patronage and revolving door relationships with the highest echelons of governments and their armed forces, tax breaks, support for exports, and all kinds of other incentives which help them to focus firmly on their bottom line – profit. US administrations, regardless of their party allegiance, brim with politicians with investments and business interests in the defence industry and war profiteers, perhaps most vividly symbolized by Dick Cheney’s ties to Halliburton and its multi-billion-dollar contracts to provide construction, hospitality, and other services to the US military after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But it is business as usual for US militarized capitalism. An April 2008 Centre for Responsive Politics report states that US Congress members invested US $196 million of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to US armed forces, ranging from aircraft and weapons manufacturers to producers of medical supplies and soft drinks. To cite a couple of typical revolving door examples, General Dynamics board of directors includes an ex-Vice Chief of US Army staff, a former US Air Force General, a former Chief of Naval Operations in the US Navy, and a former Chief of Defence Procurement at the British Ministry of Defence, while Canada’s CAE’s current and former executives include a former Canadian minister for international trade and former PM Mulroney’s head of staff.
12 12 2008
Whether you believe in man-made global warming or not, please realize that carbon trading is a scam.
A big red flag is that our bailout buddies over at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and the other Wall Street pirates are buying heavily into carbon trading.
Since these firms contributed so heavily to Obama’s campaign, they will exert enormous pressure on Obama to push a huge carbon trading program. As University of Maryland professor economics professor and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission Peter Morici writes:
That’s right. The same companies that made billions off of derivatives and other scams and are getting bailed out on your dime are going to make billions from carbon trading.
Moreover, even based on its stated goal of reducing carbon emissions, carbon trading might not work.
Carbon trading is a scam.
12 12 2008
The Irish Government bowed to pressure from European leaders yesterday and rang the starting bell on round two of its battle to pass the Lisbon treaty by rerunning the referendum that it lost decisively last summer.
Opponents of the EU treaty immediately announced the formation of a Europe-wide political party to field anti-treaty candidates in all 27 member states in next June’s European Parliament elections to campaign against the EU’s “growing anti-democratic tendency”.
The pledge by Brian Cowen, the embattled Irish Prime Minister, to ratify the Lisbon treaty by the end of next year put his political reputation and his Government’s future on the line. Mr Cowen could not resist intense lobbying led by President Sarkozy of France to try to salvage a document that was itself drawn up to rescue many of the reforms in the EU constitution that was defeated by French and Dutch voters in 2005.