Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Other Items

The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.
New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.
Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period.

The above is from Edmund L. Andrews' "U.S. Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies" in this morning's New York Times and begs the question: "Would corporate welfare by any other name be more outrageous?"

On the outrage issue, Mia notes Lila Rajiva's "The Axis of Child Abusers" (CounterPunch):

A video shown on BBC TV on February 11, 2006 shows British soldiers savagely beating and kicking unarmed Iraqi teenagers in an army compound. Officials at the Ministry of Defense are said to have investigated and established beyond doubt the authenticity of the video.
Shot secretly "for fun" as a home movie from a rooftop in Basra in southern Iraq by a corporal and shown to friends at a home base in Europe, it was given to the News of the World later by an anonymous whistle blower. The footage shows soldiers pulling four Iraqi boys in their early teens into their army base after a riot and beating them with batons, then punching and kicking them repeatedly on the body and head and between the legs. Within the space of one minute, some 42 blows are rained on the four teens whom the whistle blower said “were just kids” who did not even have on shoes.
One soldier can also be seen kicking a dead Iraqi in the face. The unidentified cameraman can be heard laughing and urging his colleagues on with vulgarities. (1)
This, mind you, is kinder gentler Britain, whose exemplary interaction with the locals at Basra was held up as a model for American forces. The new video shows this up for the nonsense it is; the Brits on tape are every bit as gung--ho and turned--on torturers of detainees as the soldiers at Abu Ghraib were.
And underage detainees at that. Nothing new there either, of course. Despite all the breast--beating, the fact remains that the two worst crimes coming out of the prison scandal (assuming one can make a hierarchy of these things) -- the abuse of children and the complicity of medical personnel -- have yet to be given anything like serious examination by the fourth estate here.

Rod passes on a scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

* A historic debate between Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Foreign Minister of Israel, author of "Scars of War, Wounds of Peace," and leading Israel critic Professor Norman Finkelstein, author of "Beyond Chutzpah"

And that's it for this morning. This post has been lost and what I've recreated is about half of what it was. Problems with Blogger/Blogspot yet again. We'll pick up some more items in the DN! entry later today. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.