blind_html Fwd: New: From The Kwagga.com BLOG

  • From: Nimer Jaber <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html <blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 30 May 2009 13:03:53 -0400

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Hanif Kruger <grr@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 04:27:42 -0400
Subject: New: From The Kwagga.com BLOG
To: nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx

Greetifications nimer

Wellcome to this newsletter thing over here.
This is a newsletter that updates you on the newest additions to my
personal Weblog.

My name is Hanif and I live and work in Pretoria, South-africa. When
browsing the internet, reading newsletters or generally mucking about,
I always find interesting things on the wild, wild web. Keeping these
bits of info in my bookmarks is probably an option but, I love to
share and besides, keeping a publically accessible record available,
benefits many people.

Politics, computers, software, tips and lots of other stuff is covered
on my blog.

Also, if you are visually impaired or would just like to get access to
a new, small but, perssonal collection of useful software
applications, mostly for windows, be sure to visit BlindFiles.net

If you have anything to contribute, in the form of articles, opinions,
etc, please feel free to let me know by replying to this email or by
clicking on the link below. Contact Me.

Enjoy and Take care

Hanif Kruger

********
Friday, May 29, 2009, 08:53 AM.:
Amnesty: Israel repeatedly breached laws of war in Gaza offensive
Category: palestine | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Originally published on May 28, 2009, 9:44 GMT

Tel Aviv - Amnesty International, in its annual report released
Thursday, accused Israel of having 'repeatedly' violated the laws of
war during its December offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed more
than 1,400 Palestinians.

'Israeli forces repeatedly breached the laws of war, including by
carrying out direct attacks on civilians and civilian buildings and
attacks targeting Palestinian militants that caused a disproportionate
toll among civilians,'

Some 300 children were among the dead and around 5,000 people were
wounded in Israel's three-week bombardment of the coastal enclave,
according to the 2009 report titled: The State of the World's Human
Rights.

Israeli organization NGO Monitor criticized the report, saying Amnesty
had ignored violations by the Palestinian Hamas movement that controls
the Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem-based organization also accused the international rights
watchdog of failing to provide context in highlighting four cases of
Palestinians who lost their lives after being denied entry into Israel
for treatment.

The Amnesty report pointed out, however, that Israel had launched its
offensive on December 27 in response to rocket attacks on southern
Israeli towns by Palestinian militants. Seven Israelis were killed in
such attacks in 2008 and three after the offensive was launched.

The Gaza conflict followed an 18-month Israeli blockade of Gaza that
had brought almost all economic activities in the Palestinian
territory and stoked a growing humanitarian catastrophe.

'This latest round of bloodletting again underscored the high degree
of insecurity in the region and the failure of military forces, on
both sides, to abide by the basic requirements of distinction and
proportionality that are fundamental to the principles of
international humanitarian law,' the report said.

'It underlined also the continuing failure of the two sides, and of
the international community, to resolve the long, bitter conflict, to
bring peace, justice and security to the region, and to enable all
people in the region to live in the dignity that is their human
right,' Amnesty said.

Source URL = 
http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1479978.php/Amnesty_Israel_repeatedly_breached_laws_of_war_in_Gaza_offensive_
Friday, May 29, 2009, 08:47 AM.:
Britain: The Depth Of Corruption - By John Pilger
Category: United Kingdom | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Originally published on May 28, 2009
"Information Clearing House" -- -

The theft of public money by members of parliament, including
government ministers, has given Britons a rare glimpse inside the tent
of power and privilege. It is rare because not one political reporter
or commentator, those who fill tombstones of column inches and
dominate broadcast journalism, revealed a shred of this scandal. It
was left to a public relations man to sell the “leak”. Why?

The answer lies in a deeper corruption, which tales of tax evasion and
phantom mortgages touch upon but also conceal. Since Margaret
Thatcher, British parliamentary democracy has been progressively
destroyed as the two main parties have converged into a
single-ideology business state, each with almost identical social,
economic and foreign policies. This “project” was completed by Tony
Blair and Gordon Brown, inspired by the political monoculture of the
United States. That so many Labour and Tory politicians are now
revealed as personally crooked is no more than a metaphor for the
anti-democratic system they have forged together.

Their accomplices have been those journalists who report Parliament as
"lobby correspondents" and their editors, who have “played the game”
wilfully, and have deluded the public (and sometimes themselves) that
vital, democratic differences exist between the parties.
Media-designed opinion polls based on absurdly small samplings, along
with a tsunami of comment on personalities and their specious crises,
have reduced the “national conversation” to a series of media events,
in which the withdrawal of popular consent – as the historically low
electoral turnouts under Blair demonstrated – has been abused as
apathy.

Having fixed the boundaries of political debate and possibility,
self-important paladins, notably liberals, promoted the naked emperor
Blair and championed his “values” that would allow “the mind [to]
range in search of a better Britain”. And when the bloodstains showed,
they ran for cover. All of it had been, as Larry David once described
an erstwhile crony, “a babbling brook of bullshit”.

How contrite their former heroes now seem. On 17 May, the Leader of
the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, who is alleged to have spent
£10,000 of taxpayers’ money on “media training”, called on MPs to
“rebuild cross-party trust”. The unintended irony of her words recalls
one of her first acts as social security secretary more than a decade
ago – cutting the benefits of single mothers. This was spun and
reported as if there was a “revolt” among Labour backbenchers, which
was false. None of Blair’s new female MPs, who had been elected “to
end male-dominated, Conservative policies”, spoke up against this
attack on the poorest of poor women. All voted for it.

The same was true of the lawless attack on Iraq in 2003, behind which
the cross-party Establishment and the political media rallied. Andrew
Marr stood in Downing Street and excitedly told BBC viewers that Blair
had “said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and
that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those
points he has been proved conclusively right.” When Blair’s army
finally retreated from Basra in May, it left behind, according to
scholarly estimates, more than a million people dead, a majority of
stricken, sick children, a contaminated water supply, a crippled
energy grid and four million refugees.

As for the “celebrating” Iraqis, the vast majority, say Whitehall’s
own surveys, want the invader out. And when Blair finally departed the
House of Commons, MPs gave him a standing ovation – they who had
refused to hold a vote on his criminal invasion or even to set up an
inquiry into its lies, which almost three-quarters of the British
population wanted.

Such venality goes far beyond the greed of the uppity Hazel Blears.

“Normalising the unthinkable”, Edward Herman’s phrase from his essay
The Banality of Evil, about the division of labour in state crime, is
applicable here. On 18 May, the Guardian devoted the top of one page
to a report headlined, “Blair awarded $1m prize for international
relations work”. This prize, announced in Israel soon after the Gaza
massacre, was for his “cultural and social impact on the world”. You
looked in vain for evidence of a spoof or some recognition of the
truth. Instead, there was his “optimism about the chance of bringing
peace” and his work “designed to forge peace”.

This was the same Blair who committed the same crime – deliberately
planning the invasion of a country, “the supreme international crime”
– for which the Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was
hanged at Nuremberg after proof of his guilt was located in German
cabinet documents. Last February, Britain’s “Justice” Secretary, Jack
Straw, blocked publication of crucial cabinet minutes from March 2003
about the planning of the invasion of Iraq, even though the
Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has ordered their release.
For Blair, the unthinkable is both normalised and celebrated.

“How our corrupt MPs are playing into the hands of extremists,” said
the cover of last week’s New Statesman. But is not their support for
the epic crime in Iraq already extremism? And for the murderous
imperial adventure in Afghanistan? And for the government’s collusion
with torture?

It is as if our public language has finally become Orwellian. Using
totalitarian laws approved by a majority of MPs, the police have set
up secretive units to combat democratic dissent they call “extremism”.
Their de facto partners are “security” journalists, a recent breed of
state or “lobby” propagandist. On 9 April, the BBC’s Newsnight
programme promoted the guilt of 12 “terrorists” arrested in a
contrived media drama orchestrated by the Prime Minister himself. All
were later released without charge.

Something is changing in Britain that gives cause for optimism. The
British people have probably never been more politically aware and
prepared to clear out decrepit myths and other rubbish while stepping
angrily over the babbling brook of bullshit.

www.johnpilger.com

Friday, May 29, 2009, 08:43 AM.:
Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos 'Show Rape' - By Duncan Gardham, Security
Correspondent and Paul Cruickshank
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting
to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has
emerged.

Originally published on May 28, 2009 "The Telegraph" -- -At least one
picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner
while another is said to show a male translator raping a male
detainee.



Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners
with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.



Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing
forcibly removed to expose her breasts.



Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the
former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail
in Iraq.



Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the
factthere we re photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed
their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.



The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US
President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000
photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier
promise to allow them to be published.



Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the
President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse,
rape and every indecency.



“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a
legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only
protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British
troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.



“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my
word for it.”



In April, Mr Obama’s administration said the photographs would be
released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court
judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).



But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his
mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.



Earlier this month, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing
them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and
to put our troops in greater danger.”



It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago,
which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs,
dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and
attached to wires.



Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: “I want to emphasise
that these photos that were requested in this case are not
particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful
images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.”



The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between
2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the
individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions”
taken.



Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib,
included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the
report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements
and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”



Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US
freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which
he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be
about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered
all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the
door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing
the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and
the female soldier was taking pictures.”



The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a
civil court case in the US.



Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a
phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of
wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman’s “stick”
all of which were apparently photographed.
Thursday, May 28, 2009, 01:59 PM.:
Resource Wars - by William Tabb's
Category: Analysis | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Source URL = 
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=11&ItemID=12155

Originally published on February 19, 2007 By William Tabb



The close relation between war and natural
resources is of long standing. What else was colonial conquest about? Vast
estates held by the Dutch East India Company came under direct control
of the Crown as did the lands conquered by the British East India
Company. What was in demand in Europe dictated the commodities
produced and the natural resources that were ripped from the earth.
European violence set the terms on which resource extraction occurred.
There was no free trade for mutual benefit based on comparative
advantage. There were few constraints on the violence employed in the
extraction of resources starting with the "shock and awe" of
bombardments and fire storms of wars of conquest and followed by the
pitiless subjugation of people of color. Having defeated the locals in
battle the invaders suborned local elites and customs to extract
resources from those they had conquered.







The form of the exploitative relationships with particular colonial
and neocolonial overlords depended
in large measure on the local traditions and social structures the invaders
found. The Spanish used the Inca mita system of requisitioned labor for the
mines where the subjugated died by the thousands from brutality and, as in the
case of the vast silver mines of Potosi, by mercury poisoning. The
crushed ore was mixed with mercury and trodden by the workers with
their bare feet and then heated producing poisonous vapors. King
Leopold murdered millions in the Congo employing slavery, terror,
maiming, and mass killings because it was his view that "the colonies
should be exploited, not by the operation of a market economy, but by
state intervention and compulsory cultivation of cash crops to be sold
to and distributed by the state at controlled prices."1







The Belgians ruled through Tutsi chiefs promoting them to a superior
status over the Hutus and imposed compulsory cash crop demands through
their Tutsi intermediaries. After independence Tutsi military
dictators were left to rule. The animosities created provided the fear
and hatred which led to genocide decades after independence. In the
post-independence states without indigenous capitalism, but with only
a comprador class, control of state revenues and natural resources
were the major sources of wealth. After independence, control of the
army and the power to coerce, following the colonial model, became the
norm in many new nation states. In the struggles which broke out after
independence and frequently under Cold War pressures it was often the
most violent and ruthless elements willing to do whatever was
necessary to gain control who came out on top -especially where there
were easily exploitable resources to be appropriated and make those
commanding them rich beyond imagining. The new nation's economy
remained entwined with that of the former colonial power. More
democratically inclined indigenous leaders could be coerced and
assassinated. sponsored civil war and military coups could be employed
to maintain access on favorable terms to resources.







Resource extraction in the contemporary era continues to spur extremes
of violence and war. In a 1997 study Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner
examined the economic performance of ninety-five countries between
1970 and 1990.2 They found the higher a country's dependence on
natural resource exports the slower their economic growth rate. Paul
Collier and co-authors analyzed fifty-four large-scale civil wars that
occurred between 1965 and 1999 and found that a higher ratio of
primary commodity exports to GDP "significantly and substantially"
increases the risk of conflict.3 High levels of oil dependence
correlate especially strongly. Timber it turns out is also
"technologically suited to rebel predation," as with the Khmer Rouge.
Researchers find the phenomenon of "war booty futures" where outsiders
back rebel groups in exchange for a future share of the takings -a
prospect which features heavily in Richard K. Morgan's powerful
dystopic novel Market Forces.







It should be pointed out that when we speak of wars in the last third
of the twentieth century we are talking about civil wars. Between 1965
and 1999 if we look at those wars in which more than a thousand people
were killed a year, there were seventy-three civil wars, almost all
driven by greed to control resources -oil, diamonds, copper, cacao,
coca, and even bananas. Collier and Anke Hoeffler find countries with
one or two primary export resources have more than a one-in-five
chance of civil war in any given year.4 In countries with no such
dominant products there is a one in a hundred chance. In these civil
wars more than 90 percent of casualties are civilians. At the start of
the twentieth century war casualties were 90 percent soldiers. Such
"traditional" wars are rare today. Resource wars with their
devastating impacts on civilians have become the norm.







Indeed, the oil rich countries of Africa -Nigeria, Gabon, the Sudan,
the Congo, Equatorial Africa, and Chad -have long histories of coups,
military rule, and strongmen. Millions have died of hunger and disease
as a result of wars over oil, diamonds, copper, and other resources as
armed rebels steal, rape, and murder making life-generating economic
activity difficult if not impossible. In the Congo, one of the
resource richest countries on the planet, a half dozen countries have
armies deployed and countless rebel groups have fought to control rich
deposits of gold, diamonds, timber, copper, and valuable cobalt and
coltan in what is often referred to as "Africa's First World War."
Global Witness reports that despite being the fourth largest oil
producer in Africa, Congo Brazzaville has overseas debt of $6.4
billion as a consequence of Elf Aquitaine, the former French state oil
company's strategy of influence peddling and bribery.







In Angola, Joseph Savimbi, backed by foreign powers from the Cold war,
amassed a reported $4 billion from diamonds, ivory, and other
resources sold abroad in his decades of looting and brutality before
he was killed. In Angola a million people died in the civil war, one
child in five does not live to its fifth birthday, and 40 percent of
Angola's population has been displaced. Almost none of the income from
the state-owned oil company found its way to Angola but was instead
diverted to overseas banks. It was the wholesale looting of Angola's
oil revenues that fueled that country's vicious civil war.







Africa bleeds because of its abundant wealth. Charles Taylor
privatized the resources of Liberia by selling rights to resources to
foreign companies and pocketing the money. There is the case of Dafur
in the oil rich Sudan. There is Nigeria, exceedingly rich in oil and
corruption, where foreign aid is badly needed. The environment of the
Niger Delta is being destroyed, and people are killed by army thugs
protecting Shell oil. Equatorial Guinea is a criminalized state which
receives half a billion in oil revenues. Because of this, it ranks
sixth in the world in per capita income but third from the bottom in
the UN's human development index table. a third of the population has
been killed or driven into exile. The revenues of the Cameroon-Chad
pipeline operated by Exxon-Mobile, with additional investment from
ChevronTexaco, do not help the people of the area who remain among the
poorest of the poor as the natural wealth of their land is looted.







Wherever there are resources to be plundered we find foreign companies
ready to cooperate; often there is the World Bank to put a smiley face
on these atrocities, claiming things would be worse if they did not
supervise the corruption. The reality of
the bank's role however is quite different. Emil Salim, a former
Indonesian environment minister who led the World bank Extractions
Industries Review, has written, "The bank is a publicly supported
institution whose mandate is poverty alleviation. Not only have the
oil, gas and mining industries not helped the poorest developing
countries, they have often made them worse off."5 That is from the man
the World Bank chose to review its past practices. He points out that
scores of academic assessments as well as the bank's own reports
correlate corruption, civil war, and growing poverty with reliance on
extractive industries, comparing unfavorably with the performance of
more diversified economies.







While the cases I have mentioned focus on the relationship between
resources and war in Africa, Salim's own country is also an example of
this relationship. Indonesia can be seen as analogous to a
nineteenth-century empire. The central government exploits the
territories, especially those rich in resources, along lines similar
to what was done by the Europeans. Jakarta conducts a dirty war in
Aceh, its northern province rich in natural gas and rife with civilian
killings and disappearances. The Indonesian state has waged a campaign
of terror and near genocide in oil and natural gas rich East Timor.
Exxon-Mobil is the largest long-term investor in Indonesia. The
foreign owned gold and copper mines of Irian Jaya, where miners die
while working or are killed by security forces and the environment is
devastated making life difficult for the province's people, are an
international scandal. In West Papua logging companies with close ties
to the military have terrible reputations as well for using force
against locals as they displace tribal people from their land and
destroy the local ecosystem. The atrocities carried out by the
military and the government in pursuit of revenues from their
resources frequently require the cooperation of foreign transnationals
and are supported by World Bank project aid.







Ted Koppel, writing in
the New York Times (February 24, 2006), responded to what he described
as the Bush administration's "touchiness" about the charge that we are
in Iraq because of oil by stating the obvious, though often unsaid,
truth, "Now that's curious. Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian
Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been bedrock American
foreign policy for more than half a century." Today control over the
world's oil supply is at the forefront of Washington policy makers'
thinking, even if the president and his team deny any such intent and
talk publically of reducing dependence on Middle East oil by
three-quarters of present levels, an absurdly impossible goal.
Two-thirds of the oil in the world is in the Middle East, much of it
under Iraq and Iran, the axis of oil, the current targets of the U.S.
war on terrorism. Control of oil is integral to Washington's official
goal of world domination, a goal stated this baldly in national
security documents.







During the administration of the first President Bush, the Pentagon
under then defense secretary Dick Cheney produced a strategy paper
stating the mission of "convincing potential competitors that they
need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture
to protect their legitimate interests." The United States would defend
their interests for them and so the policy was to "discourage them
from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established
political and economic order."6 Control of the world is facilitated
through control of essential resources. By controlling the world's
energy, and in the presence of its overwhelming military superiority,
the United States is potentially able to deny the lifeblood of any
society and intimidate and coerce the world more effectively, a design
going back easily to Henry Kissinger, and earlier to the emergence of
U.S. global power at the end of the Second World War, but now carried
to new heights by the neoconservatives.







Hegemony has always been a bipartisan consensus. With regard
specifically to the Middle East we have the Carter Doctrine: "An
attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf
region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the
United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any
means necessary, including military force." Since Carter created the
Rapid Deployment Force with this intervention in mind the United
States has moved to forward positioning, the establishment of a huge
permanent military presence in the region, including a number of
multi-billion dollar bases in Iraq, huge fortified cities with all the
comforts of home, fast food places, video stores, and car rental
agencies for the soldiers who garrison the empire along "the arc of
instability." All of this takes place in territories which coincide
with the parts of the Global South where oil is found. That the
official rationale is now the war on terrorism in place of
anticommunism is secondary to the continuation of the basic policy of
world domination.







Michael Klare, author of Resource Wars and Blood for Oil, cites
British defense secretary John Reid's warning that climate change
"will make scarce resources, clean water, viable agricultural land
even scarcer" and so "make the emergence of violent conflict more
likely."7 In the United States, too, military planners and the CIA
spin out scenarios of wars for desperately needed natural resources
and the need to deal with the mass migrations of desperate people as
entire societies disintegrate. Climate change, these forecasts
suggest, will bring on new and even greater resource wars. The United
States with its overwhelming advantage in all things military is
likely to see saber rattling, shock, and awe as the best responses.
"When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail," seems the
appropriate metaphor for the petro-political situation. Some
Americans, afraid of not being able to heat their homes and fill the
tanks of their gas guzzling cars, may unthinkingly offer support for
new foreign adventures -but Iraq has shown such oil comes at a high
cost in blood and treasure.







It seems it is not all
that easy to shock, awe, invade, and occupy countries. In the spring
of 2006, 60 percent of Americans told the Gallup Poll that they did
not think it worth going to war in Iraq and 74 percent disapproved of
Bush's handling of gasoline prices. They saw neither victory nor an
easy exit and they had become suspicious that higher energy prices
seemed to accompany such adventurism. Some worried about the U.S.
balance of payments and some even knew that energy costs equaled a
third of the trade deficit. Before the war, Lawrence Lindsey, then
Bush's senior economic adviser, suggested the war would cost $200
billion. He was sacked soon thereafter by an administration that
insisted the war would cost $50–60 billion. Current estimates by Linda
Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz are in terms of trillions of
dollars.







The relationship of demand and supply of oil is complicated. It takes
up to ten years and billions of dollars to get a new field into
production. Refineries also take time to build and are hugely
expensive. The present shortage of gasoline, often seen as a
conspiracy by the oil giants, is in the main the result of rising
demand especially from China and India, and supply shocks due to
political events such as the U.S. invasion of
Iraq, and uncertainty over the Bush administration's intentions toward
Iran and perhaps other producer states. When oil prices spiked in the
1970s the supply response was so great that the price of crude
collapsed by 1986. In the 1990s demand growth was slow, no new fields
were developed to increase production levels, and even so the price
collapsed again in 1998–99. This is not to say that huge profits were
not made by the Western oil companies as well as OPEC and the banks
which recycled petro-dollars. Since then there has been little excess
capacity -in 2005 the world's excess capacity was 2–3 percent. It had
been 15 percent in 1986.







Those who would deny even the possibility of any conspiracy point out
that the international oil companies have complete control over only
7–8 percent of global crude oil and access to perhaps 20 percent of
reserves. They are therefore unlikely to have conspired to produce
today's high energy prices. This is a cyclical industry and
conjunctural events are responsible for most oil spikes. Events such
as Vice President Cheney's remarks during a visit to Lithuania in the
spring of 2006 when he criticized Russia for using oil and natural gas
as "tools of intimidation and blackmail," and the intense negotiations
to build pipelines for oil and natural gas from Kazakhstan,
Azerbaijan, or Uzbekistan without going through Iran or Russia, serve
to illustrate that global market shares for particular companies are
not the most crucial factors in
understanding oil as a weapon.







It is analysis rather than an apology for Big Oil that tells us that
the situation has changed since the end of the Second World War when
the so-called seven Sisters dominated the world oil market. Today
Exxon-Mobil produces less than 3 percent of world output and the seven
largest oil companies control less than 5 percent of world reserves.
This does not mean that Exxon-Mobil is not the world's most valuable
and most profitable company nor that the oil giants do not benefit
from high oil prices. They do however face more sophisticated national
oil companies from China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere who compete for
supply which is increasingly under the control of state-controlled
producers. The seven largest national oil companies, like Kuwait
Petroleum, Abu Dhabi National Oil, Algeria's Sonatrach, and the more
familiar Saudi Aramco, hold at least half the world's proven resources
and account for a quarter of current production.8 Like Venezuela's
national oil company, which fuels Chavez's Bolivarian revolution, they
have changed the distributional equation nationally as well as
globally.







The days of unalloyed Anglo-American petroleum dominance are gone, and
that is why the hegemonic state and its coalition partner,
no-longer-so-great Britain, are using force to reassert dominance not
through corporate control so much as state terror and coercion. While
there can be no question that the national oil companies have changed
the distribution of revenues from the grossly exploitative terms of
pre–Second World War Anglo-American total dominance, the governments
of the Middle East retain limited room to maneuver where the national
interests of the United States and its thirst for oil are concerned.
The long shadow of Washington darkens and dominates the politics of
the region. Price-supply conditions have been set in the past by Saudi
Arabia, which has acted to prevent problems for the advanced
capitalist economies. It is less certain that they can continue to do
so. It is surely in the interest of the hegemonic state and its
British ally to gain greater purchase over supply conditions through
regime change and closer working relations with new producers in the
Caspian Basin and in Africa.







As to peak oil, predictions of the end of oil have been made often in
the past and it is not clear that frightening scenarios will play out
in the short run that some
suggest. There are complex issues of geology, technology, and
prospective efficiency considerations. The accepted definition of
proven reserves includes what is known and can be exploited
economically with existing technology. Both
price and potential supply are conservatively estimated for this
purpose, although some experts suggest that producers have a strong
interest in overestimating their reserve position. Because OPEC quotas
are based on proven reserves it is in the interest of members to
greatly exaggerate their reserves so they can pump more. Such
"political barrels" are estimated to be 44 percent of the total
reserves OPEC claims. Russia's reserves are also uncertain but
probably 30–40 percent lower than officially claimed.9 Some
countries have been extracting large amounts of crude but maintaining
the same proven reserves figures. Companies too have incentive to
exaggerate their reserves. In 2006 Shell had to admit it had
overestimated its reserves by nearly a third and its stock price
promptly fell. Finally it is also the case that for the past two
decades the oil taken out of the ground has exceeded new discoveries.







However, since only a little over a third of oil in known fields can
be recovered today, technological innovation can be expected to
increase the proven reserve figure. Among the optimists, Leonardo
Maugeri wrote in Foreign Affairs, "Put simply, the world will continue
to have plenty of oil."10 In his view oil experts generally
underestimate supply and overestimate demand. Like other optimists he
believes China's demand for oil is due to extraordinary circumstances
that may not last and that demand in much of the industrialized world
appears to have reached its peak and faces long-term decline. That is
one view. Others point out that between 1992 and 2002 world oil demand
grew by 1.5 percent, by 1.9 percent in 2003, and by 3.7 percent in
2004, with China's demand increasing by 7.6 percent in 2003 and 15.8
percent in 2004. To say that it may not keep growing at this rate may
be sensible, but it will surely keep growing and it will not be alone.







Even for those as optimistic as Maugeri, the question of who controls
the oil cannot be irrelevant. The U.S. state through threat,
intimidation, and violence wants its ham fist on the spigot, allowing
it to blackmail other countries. U.S. imperialism has exerted control
over the Global South through the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO.
During the Cold War it used the threat of communist Russia and China
to keep Europe and
Japan under its "leadership." It is now attempting to use terrorism in
the same way, not altogether successfully as it is turning out since
its invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to
produce stable governments. Its actions have produced more terrorists
and alienated most of the world. Seeking control over oil for leverage
does not seem a far fetched stratagem for the oil soaked Bush-Cheney
administration.







The most effective resistance to this imperialist pattern now is
coming from Latin America where Hugo Chávez has been repeatedly
elected and won referenda because he has stood up to the United States
and used his country's oil revenues to raise living standards of the
poor of his nation. In April 2006, Petroleos de Venezuela increased
its stake in major projects to 60 percent from 40 percent as well as
increasing its royalty cut. In Bolivia Evo Morales nationalized the
energy industry, causing the United States to express disapproval
regarding Morales's "weak commitment to democracy" (echoing its charge
against Chávez). However, Bolivia's first elected indigenous
president, according to the leading polling organization in the
country, enjoyed an 80 percent approval rating in the spring of 2006
while George W. Bush's approval rating was at 33 percent among his
country's citizens. Like Chávez who had suffered at least one coup
attempt, Morales has to confront a military whose officers, trained at
the School of the Americas, are not, as the press delicately put it,
"a natural ally of Mr. Morales." Such developments in Latin America
and similar manifestations of petro-nationalism elsewhere along with
the general decline in U.S. prestige and authority in the world have
led Thomas Friedman to suggest we are now in the post-post-cold war
era in which, "U.S. power is being checked from every corner."11 The
major enemies of the United States somehow seemed to be oil producers,
a group of countries that given the current high energy prices cannot
be easily intimidated through economic sanctions or political
pressure.







To cheerleaders for U.S. imperialism it is the ineptitude of the
Bush-Cheney policies, not their goals, that receive criticism. The
critique of anti-imperialists now includes a maturing ecological
consciousness. Struggles over energy are being conceptualized more
usefully in terms of the economic system as well as energy
alternatives. Indeed there is growing awareness that the final
resource war will likely be for the planet's survival. Currently, only
1.25 percent of China's population possesses a car. If car ownership
in that country were to reach the U.S. level, and the forecasts are
that in 2031 China will have a per capita income close to that of the
United States in 2004, China would have a billion vehicles. If they
all needed to run on gasoline there is simply not enough oil and of
course the greenhouse gases produced would heat things up
distressingly. One hopes for technological breakthroughs but the
precautionary principle suggests some major changes are in order as
global energy consumption presses on available supply. A system that
privileges accumulation over sustainability, individualism over
solidarity, cannot be accepted.







The scarcity of other resources may prove serious as well. For
example, today one in four people on the planet do not have access to
safe drinking water; 12 percent of the world's population consumes 86
percent of available fresh water. With global consumption of fresh
water doubling in the next twenty years, there are all sorts of water
war scenarios. Already five million people die a year from diseases
related to contaminated water. China's rapid industrialization has
been accompanied by water contamination affecting 300 million people,
that is nearly a third of the population. Kofi Annan's Millennium
Report tells us that if present trends continue two out of three
people on the planet will live in countries considered to be "water
stressed." The World Bank projects that 40 percent of the people
living in the world of 2050 will face some form of water shortage. In
Palestine, Israel's commandeering of scarce water is a major issue and
on many other borders water conflicts are major occurrences.







The resource war against the environment will be better avoided when
we stop counting consumption of nature as income, as a free good,
while we deplete our natural capital, as Herman Daly and others have
long suggested. The past rates of accumulation of capital which are
now blithely projected forward were possible because of the
unsustainable usage of natural resources. Mainstream economists have a
great deal of responsibility for ignoring the distinction between
natural capital and humanmade capital. Fortunately many world citizens
take conservation and recycling seriously and consider a very
different set of policies essential. They are ready to challenge the
presumptions of a consumer society which has ignored the limits of the
biosphere and resource base of our planet. How we respond to these
resource pressures will determine what kind of society we shall have
and what sort of planet ours will be.







The dramatic changes which will be required raise central issues
regarding the logic of capitalism. Writing from prison in 1915 and
facing the likely prospect of the First World War, Rosa Luxemburg in
her Junius Pamphlet famously argued that humanity faced the choice
between socialism or barbarism. "We stand today," she wrote, "between
the awful proposition: either the triumph of imperialism and the
destruction of all culture, and as in ancient Rome, depopulation,
desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; or, the victory of
socialism." The ecological crisis we face and the prospect of future
resource wars make her warning all the more salient.







Notes







1.       Peter Duignan & Lewis H. Gann, The Rulers of Belgian Africa
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979), 30; also see Adam
Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company,
1998).







2.       Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner,
"Fundamental Sources of Long-Run Growth," American Economics Review,
May 1997.  3.         See Paul Collier, "Natural Resources,
Development and Conflict: Channels of causation and Policy
Interventions," World Bank, April 28, 2003.







4. 4.Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, "Greed and grievance in civil war,"
Oxford Economic Papers, October 2004.






5.       Extractive industries Review Secretariat,
http://www.eireview.org/eir/eirhome.nsf.







6.       Patrick E. Tyler, "U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No
Rivals Develop; A One-Superpower World; Pentagon's Document Outlines
Ways to Thwart Challenges to Primacy of America," New York Times,
March 8, 1992.







7.       Michael T. Klare, "The Coming
Resource Wars" March 7, 2006, http://TomPaine.com.







8.       Valerie Marcel & John V. Mitchell, Oil Titans: National Oil
Companies in the Middle East (London: Chatham House/Brookings, 2006).







9.       Nicolas Sarkis, "Addicted to
crude," Le Monde Diplomatique, May 2006, 4.







10.     Leonardo Maugeri, "Two Cheers for Expensive Oil," Foreign
Affairs (March/April 2006), 155.  11.          Thomas L. Friedman,
"The Post-Post-Cold War," New York Times, May 10, 2006.


Thursday, May 28, 2009, 09:54 AM.:
Who Will Stop the AIPAC Jews Before it is Too Late? - By Medea Benjamin
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item

Originally published on May 06, 2009

"CommonDreams" -

While I was being tackled by security guards at Washington's
Convention Center during the AIPAC conference for unfurling a banner
that asked "What about Gaza?," my heart was aching. I wasn't bothered
so much by the burly guards who were yanking my arms behind by back
and dragging me-along with 5 other CODEPINK members-out of the hall.
They were doing their job.

What made my heart ache was the hatred I felt from the AIPAC staff who
tore up the banner and slammed their hands across my mouth as I tried
to yell out: "What about Gaza? What about the children?"

"Shut the f--- up. Shut the f--- up." one staffer yelled, red-faced
and sweating as he ran beside me. "This is not the place to be saying
that shit. Get the f--- out of here."

What makes my heart ache is thinking about the traumatized children I
met on my recent trip to Gaza, and how their suffering is denied by
the 6,000 AIPAC conventioneers who are living in a bubble-a bubble
where Israel is the victim and all critics are anti-Semitic, terrorist
lovers or, as in my case, self-hating Jews.

I found it fascinating that AIPAC's executive director Howard Kohr
opened the conference admitting that there was now a huge,
international campaign against the policies of Israel. He painted a
picture of 30,000 people marching in Spain, Italian trade unionists
calling for a boycott of Israeli products, the UN Human Rights Council
passing 26 resolutions condemning Israel, an Israeli Apartheid Week
that is building a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

This global movement, he warned, emanates from the Middle East, echoes
in the halls of the United Nations and the capitals of Europe, is
voiced in meetings of international peace organizations, and is
spreading throughout the United States-from the media to town hall
meetings, from campuses to city squares. "No longer is this campaign
confined to the ravings of the political far left or far right," he
lamented, "but increasingly it is entering the American mainstream."

But Kohr failed to explain why there has been such an explosion in
this movement, even among the American Jewish community. He didn't
tell the attendees that the world was shocked and outraged by Israel's
devastating 22-day attack on Gaza that left over 1,300 people
dead-mostly women and children. He didn't mention the killing of
civilians fleeing their homes, the use of white phosphorous, the
bombing of homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, UN buildings,
factories. He didn't talk about the continuing, cruel blockade of the
Gaza Strip that is keeping desperately needed humanitarian aid from
reaching 1.5 million people and making rebuilding impossible.

There were no seminars at the conference by human rights groups like
Amnesty International that are calling for an immediate and
comprehensive suspension of arms to Israel. Instead, one after
another, U.S. elected officials eager to curry favor with AIPAC
pledged continued U.S. financial support for Israel. Senator Kerry,
despite that fact that he was one of only a handful of legislators who
visited Gaza, didn't say one word about the massive destruction he
witnessed and pledged that as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, he would do everything to ensure that the $30 billion in
military aid to Israel is "delivered in full." "America will continue
our military aid, and Israel will keep its military strength," he
insisted. Instead of calling for talks with the democratically elected
government of Hamas, Kerry said: "Hamas has already won one
election-we cannot allow them to win another." He ended his speech
shouting several times in Hebrew, "Am Yisrael Chai-Israel lives!"

Even Vice President Biden, who at least told AIPAC that Israel should
freeze new settlement activity, didn't say a word about the ongoing
humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's invasion and continued blockade
of Gaza. No U.S. officials, and there were hundreds at the conference,
dared echo the call of the United Nations or the world community to
lift the siege of Gaza.

Republican Congressman Eric Cantor was one of the most emotional
speakers, portraying Israel as the victim of an evil global movement
determined to wipe out Israel and all Jews. Evoking the "shivering,
naked victims who were herded into the gas chambers," he wondered when
it would become too late to protect Israel. "When is it too late?", he
repeated over and over.

I wonder the same thing. When is it too late, I wonder, to stop Israel
from destroying itself? When is it too late to tell AIPAC attendees
that more violence and hatred is not the answer? When is it too late
to open the hardened hearts of my people, once victims of a terrible
holocaust, to realize that by occupying Palestine we have become they
evil we deplore? When is it too late to restore meaning to the Hebrew
term "tikkun olam" by truly working to heal the world? When is it too
late for the Jews of the world to weep for the children of Gaza,
recognizing that they, too, are the children of God?

I couldn't ask my questions at AIPAC. My mouth was muzzled by the
sweaty hands of hate-filled staffers demanding that I "shut the f---
up." But despite AIPAC's massive funds and influence, I feel certain
that more and more members of the Jewish community will step forward
and refuse to be silent. I just pray it is not too late.

For information on upcoming delegations to Gaza, see
http://www.codepinkalert.org/gaza


Medea Benjamin (medea@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) is cofounder of Global
Exchange http://www.globalexchange.org and CODEPINK: Women for Peace
(www.codepinkalert.org/
Thursday, May 28, 2009, 08:10 AM.:
America's Outrageous War Economy! - By Paul B. Farrell
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Pentagon can't find $2.3 trillion, wasting trillions on 'national defense'


Originallly published on 21/08/08 -MarketWatch
- ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Yes, America's economy is a war economy.
Not a "manufacturing" economy. Not an "agricultural" economy. Nor a
"service" economy. Not even a "consumer" economy.




Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul.
So let's get honest and officially call it "America's Outrageous War
Economy." Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that's the
answer to Jim Grant's thought-provoking question last month in the
Wall Street Journal -- "Why No Outrage?"



There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war.
Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our
DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial
spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a
love affair with war. We love "America's Outrageous War Economy."

Americans passively zone out playing video war games. We nod at
90-second news clips of Afghan war casualties and collateral damage in
Georgia. We laugh at Jon Stewart's dark comedic news and Ben Stiller's
new war spoof "Tropic Thunder" ... all the while silently, by default,
we're cheering on our leaders as they
aggressively expand "America's Outrageous War Economy," a relentless
machine that needs a steady diet of war after war, feeding on itself,
consuming our values, always on the edge of self-destruction.






Why else are Americans so
eager and willing to surrender 54% of their tax dollars
to a war machine, which consumes 47% of the world's
total military budgets?




Why are there more civilian
mercenaries working for no-bid private war contractors
than the total number of enlisted military in Iraq
(180,000 to 160,000), at an added cost to taxpayers in
excess of $200 billion and climbing daily?





Why do we shake our
collective heads "yes" when our commander-in-chief
proudly tells us he is a "war president;" and his
party's presidential candidate chants "bomb, bomb, bomb
Iran," as if "war" is a celebrity hit song?





Why do our spineless
Democrats let an incompetent, blundering executive
branch hide hundreds of billions of war costs in sneaky
"supplemental appropriations" that are more crooked than
Enron's off-balance-sheet deals?





Why have Washington's 537
elected leaders turned the governance of the American
economy over to 42,000 greedy self-interest lobbyists?




And why earlier this year
did our "support-our-troops" "war president" resist a
new GI Bill because, as he said, his military might quit
and go to college rather than re-enlist in his war; now we continue
paying the Pentagon's warriors huge $100,000-plus bonuses to re-up so
they can keep expanding "America's Outrageous War Economy?" Why?
Because we secretly love war!





We've lost our moral compass:
The contrast between today's leaders and the 56 signers of
the Declaration of Independence in 1776 shocks our
conscience. Today war greed trumps morals. During the
Revolutionary War our leaders risked their lives and
fortunes; many lost both.

Today it's the opposite: Too
often our leaders' main goal is not public service but a
ticket to building a personal fortune in the new "America's
Outrageous War Economy," often by simply becoming a
high-priced lobbyist.


Ultimately, the price of our
greed may be the fulfillment of Kevin Phillips' warning in
"Wealth and Democracy:" "Most great nations, at the peak of their
economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great
cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately
burning themselves out."



'National defense' a
propaganda slogan selling a war economy?But wait,


you ask: Isn't our $1.4
trillion war budget essential for "national defense" and
"homeland security?" Don't we have to protect ourselves?


Sorry folks, but our leaders have degraded those honored principles to
advertising
slogans. They're little more than flag-waving excuses used by neocon
war hawks to disguise the buildup of private fortunes in "America's
Outrageous War Economy."



America may be a ticking
time bomb, but we are threatened more by enemies within than external
terrorists, by ideological fanatics on the left and the right. Most of
all, we are under attack by our elected
leaders who are motivated more by pure greed than ideology. They
terrorize us, brainwashing us into passively letting them steal our
money to finance "America's Outrageous War Economy," the ultimate
"black hole" of corruption and trickle-up economics.


You think I'm kidding? I'm
maybe too harsh? Sorry but others are far more brutal. Listen to the
ideologies and realities eating at America's soul.


1. Our toxic 'war within' is threatening America's soul




How powerful is the Pentagon's war machine? Trillions in dollars. But
worse yet: Their mindset is now locked deep in our DNA, in our
collective conscience, in America's soul. Our love of war is enshrined
in the writings of neocon war hawks like Norman Podoretz, who warns
the Iraq War was the launching of "World War IV: The Long Struggle
Against Islamofascism," a reminder that we could be occupying Iraq for
a hundred years. His WW IV also reminded us of the coming apocalyptic
end-of-days "war of civilizations" predicted by religious leaders in
both Christian and Islamic worlds two years ago.

In contrast, this ideology has been challenged in works like Craig
Unger's "American Armageddon: How the Delusions of the
Neoconservatives and the Christian Right Triggered the Descent of
America -- and Still Imperil Our Future."



Unfortunately, neither threat can be dismissed as "all in our minds"
nor as merely
ideological rhetoric. Trillions of tax dollars are in fact being spent
to keep the Pentagon war machine aggressively planning and expanding
wars decades in advance, including spending billions on propaganda
brainwashing naïve Americans into co-signing "America's Outrageous War
Economy." Yes, they really love war, but that "love" is toxic for
America's soul.






2. America's war economy financed on blank checks to greedy



Read Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda
Bilmes' "$3 Trillion War." They show how our government's deceitful
leaders are secretly hiding the real long-term costs of the Iraq War,
which was originally sold to the American taxpayer with a $50 billion
price tag and funded out of oil revenues.



But add in all the lifetime veterans' health benefits, equipment
placement costs, increased homeland security and interest on new
federal debt, and suddenly taxpayers got a $3 trillion war tab!

3. America's war economy has no idea where its money goes


Read Portfolio magazine's special report "The Pentagon's $1 Trillion
Problem." The
Pentagon's 2007 budget of $440 billion included $16 billion to operate
and upgrade its financial system. Unfortunately "the defense
department has spent billions to fix its antiquated financial systems
[but] still has no idea where its money goes."



And it gets worse: Back "in 2000, Defense's inspector general told
Congress that his auditors stopped counting after finding $2.3
trillion in unsupported entries." Yikes, our war machine has no
records for $2.3 trillion! How can we trust anything they say?


4. America's war economy is totally 'unmanageable'


For decades Washington has been waving that "national defense" flag,
to force the public into supporting "America's Outrageous War
Economy." Read John Alic's "Trillions for Military Technology: How the
Pentagon Innovates and Why It Costs So Much."



A former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment staffer, he
explains why weapon systems cost the Pentagon so much, "why it takes
decades to get them into production even as innovation in the civilian
economy becomes ever more frenetic and why some of those weapons don't
work very well despite expenditures of many billions of dollars," and
how "the internal politics of the armed services make weapons
acquisition almost unmanageable." Yes, the Pentagon wastes trillions
planning its wars well in advance.


Thursday, May 28, 2009, 07:23 AM.:
Islam teaches good lesson to Western financial system - by Yekaterina
Yevstigneyeva
Category: Islam | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
Originally published on 27.05.2009

Source URL = http://english.pravda.ru/business/finance/27-05-2009/107631-islam-0

Many analysts said that the Islamic financial system would suffer
least from the financial crisis. Islam bans the interest rate, which
is the basis of wealth and the source of trouble for the traditional
world of money.

The interest collection ban and complicated financial tools helped
Islamic banks avoid huge losses under the default on debts, which made
the world financial system collapse.

“Islamic largest banks enjoy a much more stable position than the
largest banks of the USA. My calculations said that the return of
sales of four largest banks of the Islamic world was twice as much as
those of five largest banks of the United States. The return of assets
and the capital of the Islamic banks turned out to be considerably
higher in comparison with US banks,” Zarina Saidova, an analyst with
Finnam Investment Company told Bigness.ru.

Equality is one of the peculiar features of the Islamic economy, which
makes it different from the Western style of the financial system. The
Islamic economy is not based on the principle of deriving as much
profit as possible. It also excludes all most popular forms of
financial speculations which are so typical of the traditional system
of economic relations.

As for mortgage services, an Islamic bank and its client agree on the
period of the loan, the outpayments and the final price of the house
before the loan is issued to the client. If the client is unable to
pay for the house, the latter will be put up for auction, and the
profit will be divided between the bank and the client. Therefore,
both the bank and the client bear responsibility for the deal.

“It is worthy of note that the debt burden of the largest Islamic
banks, just like the activity rate to attract borrowed funds, is lower
than that of American banks as of 2008. It gives Islamic banks an
advantage in terms of credit risks,” Saidova said.

All of the above-mentioned data do not mean, of course, that the
crisis has not affected the financial system of the Islamic world.
However, the Islamic economy suffered a lot less as opposed to the
West.

“The financial indexes of the Islamic banks worsened during the time
of the crisis due to the general decrease of the consumer demand and
because of massive job cuts in the companies of the world. Low crude
prices also affected the situation at this point. Many economically
developed Islamic countries are based on crude exports and therefore
depend on the fluctuations of prices on black gold,” the specialist
said.

“Nevertheless, there were no significant losses reported in their
economy. The governments of Islamic states did not have to take urgent
measures to rescue their economies. The Islamic banking sector taught
a good lesson to the Western financial system at this point,” the
expert concluded.

Bigness.ru


Thursday, May 28, 2009, 07:04 AM.:
Nuremberg Set a Valid Precedent for Trials of War-crime Suspects in
Iraq's Destruction - By Cesar Chelala
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
May 27, 2009 "Japan Times" -- -NEW YORK — The Nuremberg Principles, a
set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party
members, were developed to determine what constitutes a war crime. The
principles can also be applied today when considering the conditions
that led to the Iraq war and, in the process, to the deaths of
hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, and to the
devastation of a country's infrastructure.



In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President
George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be
prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated
international humanitarian law. The group, led by the New York-based
Center for Constitutional Rights, sent similar warnings to British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean
Chretien.



Although Washington is not part of the International Criminal Court
(ICC), U.S. officials could be prosecuted in other countries under the
Geneva Convention, says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for
Constitutional Rights. Ratner likened the situation to the attempt by
Spanish magistrate Baltazar Garzon to prosecute former Chilean
military dictator Augusto Pinochet when Pinochet was under house
arrest in London.



Both former President George W. Bush and senior officials in his
government could be tried for their responsibility for torture and
other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.



In addition, should Nuremberg principles be followed by an
investigating tribunal, former President Bush and other senior
officials in his administration could be tried for violation of
fundamental Nuremberg principles.



In 2007, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC's chief prosecutor, told The
Sunday Telegraph that he could envisage a scenario in which both
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and then President Bush faced
charges at The Hague.



Perhaps one of the most serious breaches of international law by the
Bush administration was the doctrine of "preventive war." In the case
of the Iraq war, it was carried out without authorization from the
U.N. Security Council in violation of the U.N. Charter, which forbids
armed aggression and violations of any state's sovereignty except for
immediate self-defense.



As stated in the U.S. Constitution, international treaties agreed to
by the United States are part of the "supreme law of the land."
"Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or
economic situation can justify," said Justice Jackson, the chief U.S.
prosecutor for the Nuremberg Tribunal.



Benjamin Ferencz, also a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg
Trials, declared that "a prima facie case can be made that the United
States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an
illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."



The conduct and the consequences of the Iraq war are subsumed under
"Crimes against Peace and War" of Nuremberg Principle VI, which
defines as crimes against peace "(i) Planning, preparation, initiation
or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of
international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation
in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the
acts mentioned under (i)." In the section on war crimes, Nuremberg
Principle VI includes "murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or
persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private
property."



The criminal abuse of prisoners in U.S. military prisons in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Guantanamo are clear evidence of ill- treatment and
even murder.



According to the organization Human Rights First, at least 100
detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global
"war on terror," eight of whom were tortured to death.



As for the plunder of public or private property, there is evidence
that even before the war started, members of the Bush administration
had already drawn up plans to privatize and sell Iraqi property,
particularly that related to oil.



Although there are obvious hindrances to trying a former U.S.
president and his associates, such a trial is fully justified by legal
precedents such as the Nuremberg Principles and by the extent of the
toll in human lives that the breach of international law has exacted.



Cesar Chelala, a cowinner of the Overseas Press Club of America award,
writes extensively on human rights issues.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 03:09 PM.:
Norway's Success in Socialism has me Turning Red with Envy - By Sarah Gilbert
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item


May 19, 2009 "DailyFinance" -- May 14, 2009 -- If this were the 1950s,
I'd be about to be put on every blackball list in town. Because I'm
cuckoo for those Socialist cocoa puffs after reading this piece on
Norway's success with the "cradle-to-grave welfare state."



Bring on the 12-month paid maternity leaves, the all-access-pass to
nationalized health care. Because while capitalism was showing America
who's your daddy (in our country, he who has the least morals and the
most hunger, laughs all the way to his weekend house in the Hamptons),
Norway's socialist finance minister was smugly buying our companies'
depressed stock. The country has a cushy 11% budget surplus, zero
national debt, and an economy that grew 3% last year while Uncle Sam
was dancing a jig into a 12.9% deficit, $11 trillion in debt, and the
Recession we now all know and love.



These statistics have me turning red with socialist envy.

Banks make up just two percent of the economy; drug addicts are given
government-funded fixes (with clean needles); tight oversight means no
excessive lending practices. Having recorded comfortable amounts of
income from the North Sea oil, Norway saved the money in its sovereign
wealth fund; the one that was buying U.S. stock as the markets crashed
last fall. The U.K. spent its oil money during the market's upswing.
But are our governments feeling guilty? Nope. They should be, says
Norway expert Anders Aslund, "in Norway, there is instead a sense of
virtue. If you are given a lot, you have a responsibility."



Hmm... "of whom much is given, of him much will be required," anyone?
I guess socialism and good old-school Christianity aren't that
different, after all. An economy upon whose money God's name is
printed would do well to emulate the Christ-like morals of an economy
where, on the 10-kroner coin, is the phrase Alt for Norge, meaning
Everything for Norway.



It's ironic, isn't it? That a country whose public policy loves its
sinners, cares for its indigent, and does not confuse religion and
patriotism should end up profiting while a country like ours crashes
and burns? The Norwegians are laughing. And don't make me write, "all
the way to the bank."


Instead, let's take the (obviously untrue) pious statement off our
money, put a noose on our banks, socialize our health care system and
take care of our working poor. Those who still believe socialism is
evil? Please, feel free to blackball me. I'd be happy never to work in
this town again if it would mean the U.S. would finally wake up and
smell the integrity it hasn't had for a century or more.


Give us socialism, or else, you know.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 03:05 PM.:
Israel Knows That Peace Just Doesn't Pay - By Amira Hass
Category: General | Posted by: babagrr | Add comment | Edit item
"Haaretz"
Source URL http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1084656.html

May 14, 2009 -- Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly
must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace
with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these
governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to
national interests.

Economic damage:

The security industry is an important export branch - weapons,
ammunition and refinements that are tested daily in Gaza and the West
Bank. The Oslo process - negotiations that were never meant to end -
allowed Israel to shake off its status as occupying power (obligated
to the welfare of the occupied people) and treat the Palestinian
territories as independent entities. That is, to use weapons and
ammunition at a magnitude Israel could not have otherwise used on the
Palestinians after 1967. Protecting the settlements requires constant
development of security, surveillance and deterrence equipment such as
fences, roadblocks, electronic surveillance, cameras and robots. These
are security's cutting edge in the developed world, and serve banks,
companies and luxury neighborhoods next to shantytowns and ethnic
enclaves where rebellions must be suppressed.

The collective Israeli creativity in security is fertilized by a state
of constant friction between most Israelis and a population defined as
hostile. A state of combat over a low flame, and sometimes over a high
one, brings together a variety of Israeli temperaments: rambos,
computer wizards, people with gifted hands, inventors. Under peace,
their chances of meeting would be greatly reduced.

Damage to careers:

Maintaining the occupation and a state of non-peace employs hundreds
of thousands of Israelis. Some 70,000 people work in the security
industry. Each year, tens of thousands finish their army service with
special skills or a desirable sideline. For thousands it becomes their
main career: professional soldiers, Shin Bet operatives, foreign
consultants, mercenaries, weapons dealers. Therefore peace endangers
the careers and professional futures of an important and prestigious
stratum of Israelis, a stratum that has a major influence on the
government.

Damage to quality of life:

A peace agreement would require equal distribution of water resources
throughout the country (from the river to the sea) between Jews and
Palestinians, regardless of the desalination of seawater and
water-saving techniques. Even now it's hard for Israelis to get used
to saving water because of the drought. It's not difficult to guess
how traumatic a slash in water consumption to equalize distribution
would be.

Damage to welfare:

As the past 30 years have shown, settlements flourish as the welfare
state contracts. They offer ordinary people what their salaries would
not allow them in sovereign Israel, within the borders of June 4,
1967: cheap land, large homes, benefits, subsidies, wide-open spaces,
a view, a superior road network and quality education. Even for those
Isr
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