Friday, December 11, 2009

War is big business

Anthony DiPaola and Maher Chmaytelli (Bloomberg News) report Shell Oil (Royal Dutch Shell) has been given the power "to develop the 12.6 billion barrels of oil reserves in Iraq's Majnoon field" beating out China National Petroleum Corporation and Total. Al Jazeera explains it's a joint-contract, a joint-'win' for Shell and Petronas Oil of Malasyia whicl CNPC has been given the power to develop the Halfaya oilfield. Missy Ryan and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) add, "Despite the anticipation, no one bid for one of the supergiants, the 8.1-billion barrel East Baghdad field, part of which lies under the sprawling Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital. Baghdad is still wracked by periodic bombings and oil executives considered it unsafe to invest in the field." Hassan Hafidh (Dow Jones) notes that another round of bidding takes place today. Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) reports that the Kurds are concerned the bidding has been rushed and that the issues of the hydrocarbon laws (never passed) and the disputed territories (oil-rich Kirkuk) should have been resoloved first. The KRG's Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, states, "Anything that is rushed in this manner is not in the interests of Iraq. It's rushed for political purposes." War is big business, just ask Barack.


Turning to Princess Tiny Meat and his 'war is peace.' For audio, see KPFA's KPFA's Flashpoints Radio from last night where Dennis Bernstein discussed the news with Jody Williams and Kathy Kelly. "I guess it's confusing for young people," observes Dennis Bernstein. Try for everyone. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan was in Oslo and she spoke. From her website, here's the opening of her speech:

Hello friends! I have three words for the Nobel committee and for my president: 'how dare you!'
How dare the committee give the Peace Prize (which will be known from here forward as the ´Peace Prize´) to Obama and how dare he accept it?
How dare the committee legitimize the war crimes and other crimes of the Bush regime by rewarding Obama for continuing them?
The committee said that Obama ordered the closure of Guantanamo prison, while it remains open and the torture policies have been broadened and expanded to Bagram in Afghanistan!
How dare they award the 'Peace Prize'to a man who they say wants to reduce nuclear arms, but is waging a terrifying nuclear war in the Middle East by using weapons coated with depleted uranium that is causing a sharp rise in cancers and birth defects there?
How dare they award the prize to a man who they claim exemplifies American Values when those values are war, torture, environmental degradation, and drone bombing abroad and environmental and economic ruin at home?
This 'Peace Prize'to Obama was nothing but a slap in the face to people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, North Korea, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela and anywhere that Obama´s boot of Empire is crushing or threatening to crush.
This 'Peace Prize' is a slap in the fact to parents like myself whose child has been killed in the Bush/Obama wars, now approved of by 'Peace committees.'
This award was a slap in the face to us--we who have been sacrificing and struggling for true peace for years.

Ammar Abu Arqoub offers "Alfred Nobel Is Turning Over In His Grave!" (CounterCurrents):

President Barack Obama disappointed the Nobel Peace Prize givers on Thursday. Instead of talking about peace and forgiveness, the man of peace delivered a war speech in which he borrowed quotes from the so-called just war theory in order to justify the current US warfare.
"So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace" Obama said.
In fact, the very nature of the pacifism theory, which supposed to be adopted by the Norwegian Nobel Peace committee, adopts nonviolence struggle and rejects the just war tradition as whole and it dismisses any attempt to justify the war morally.
Still, however, the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan do not fulfill some of the basic criteria of just war theory like having right intention, using proportional force and the use of force as a last resort. It is very known by now that the war on Iraq did not have right intention as it has hidden agenda and the issue of weapons of mass destruction was fabricated. Moreover, the US violated the international law and used force against Iraq in the time when there was intense diplomatic efforts to avoid the war which means the resort to war cannot be justified. Apart from that, the US troops used "nonproportional" force and banned weapons like white phosphorous in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing mass killing of civilians and huge devastations.

Via Information Clearing House, The New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan offers:

So Obama has accepted his prize this afternoon, in Oslo. Since I last blogged on Barack and the Nobel [above], the US president has decided to heed the advice of his generals and send 30,000 extra troops to fight and die in the valleys and mountains of the Hindu Kush. The Times headline says it all: "Barack Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize with stern defence of war". How absurd. And depressing. The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner had to start his speech by acknowledging the controversy over the choice of a wartime president for the prize. When Henry Kissinger was awarded the prize in 1973, Tom Lehrer remarked: "It was at that moment that satire died...There was nothing more to say after that." Touché.

Back to Flashpoints, from Dennis' conversation with Kathy Kelly.

Dennis Bernstein: One more question I wanted to ask you. Barack Obama has turned to use Iraq as an example of an effective, successful war -- withdrawing to the country side -- as the model for Afghanistan, Pakistan. What goes through your mind when you hear that?

Kathy Kelly: I do think it's an obscenity, Dennis, to say to people in Iraq that we achieved a success in their country. We've devastated Iraqi society. What have they got? They don't have hospitals, they don't have schools, they don't have a middle class, they don't have electricity in many areas, they don't have much of a future for their children in terms of jobs and employment. Five million people have left the country. Families have been bereaved, millions have lost their lives in the combination of economic sanctions and the war. What have they got? They've got a 'surge'! I mean, you know, do we just say that they're 'lucky'? That the corruption is so high that we've basically been paying people not to attack the United States troops and are we to say that's a successful template that we're going to impose on Afghanistan? Are they then, the poorest country in the world, to be delighted that we've come over to give them bereavement, destruction, bloodshed and a quagmire of our troops being there? As a continuation of war, endless war, who benefits? I think we have to look at the security contractors, Kellogg Brown & Root, Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy and of course the big, the big weapon makers. These are the ones who are the beneficiaries of this war. But let's not act as though we're doing something kindly and humane for the poorest people in the world.

Meanwhile independent journalist David Bacon explores working conditions in the US in

Ana Contreras would have been a competitor for the national tai kwon do championship team this year. She's 14. For six years she's gone to practice instead of birthday parties, giving up the friendships most teenagers live for. Then two months ago disaster struck. Her mother Dolores lost her job. The money for classes was gone, and not just that.
"I only bought clothes for her once a year, when my tax refund check came," Dolores Contreras explains. "Now she needs shoes, and I had to tell her we didn't have any money. I stopped the cable and the internet she needs for school. When my cell phone contract is up next month, I'll stop that too. I've never had enough money for a car, and now we've gone three months without paying the light bill."
Contreras shares her misery with eighteen hundred other families. All lost their jobs when their employer, American Apparel, fired them for lacking immigration status. {Her name was changed for this article.] She still has her letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), handed her two months ago by the company lawyer. It says the documents she provided when she was hired are no good, and without work authorization, her work life is over.
Of course, it's not really over. Contreras still has to keep working if she and her daughter are to eat and pay rent. So instead of a job that barely paid her bills, she had to find another one that won't even do that.
Contreras is a skilled sewing machine operator. She came to the U.S. thirteen years ago, after working many years in the garment factories of Tehuacan, Puebla. There companies like Levis make so many pairs of stonewashed jeans that the town's water has turned blue. In Los Angeles, Contreras hoped to find the money to send home for her sister's weekly dialysis treatments, and to pay the living and school expenses for four other siblings. For five years she moved from shop to shop. Like most garment workers, she didn't get paid for overtime, her paychecks were often short, and sometimes her employer disappeared overnight, owing weeks in back pay.

If that link doesn't work, try this one. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

TV notes. Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings), NOW on PBS asks: "Why are we sending thousands of military personnel to Guam?"

Over the next five years, as many as 30,000 servicemembers and their families will descend on the small island of Guam, nearly tripling its presence there. It's part of a larger agreement that the U.S. signed with Japan to realign American forces in the Pacific, but how will this multi-billion dollar move impact the lives and lifestyle of Guam's nearly 180,000 residents? On Friday, December 11 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW on PBS travels to the U.S. territory of Guam to find out whether their environment and infrastructure can support such a large
and quick infusion of people, and why the buildup is vital to our national security.

This Sunday the History Channel airs The People Speak, Anthony Arnove notes it's "the long awaited documentary film inspired by Howard Zinn's books A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States." It airs Sunday, December 13th at 8:00pm EST and 7:00 Central (8:00pm Pacific as well):

Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, the documentary feature film THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice.

Narrated by acclaimed historian Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People's History, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.

THE PEOPLE SPEAK is produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove, and Howard Zinn, co-directed by Moore, Arnove and Zinn, and features dramatic and musical performances by Allison Moorer, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, David Strathairn, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Martín Espada, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O'Malley, Morgan Freeman, Q'orianka Kilcher, Reg E. Cathey, Rich Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Staceyann Chin, and Viggo Mortensen.

Monday December 14th, ABC airs Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home for Christmas (8:00 to 9:00 pm EST, first hour of prime time). Academy Award and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson's guest for her special is Michael Buble. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the roundtable are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times), Eamon Javers (Politico) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Kim Campbell, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

President Obama
In his first extensive interview since his speech announcing his troop build-up in Afghanistan, President Obama talks about his plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the economy and the creation of jobs and reacts to the breach in security at last week's White House state dinner. Steve Kroft reports.

Growing Body Parts
Morley Safer reports on the emerging technology of growing body parts from human cells taken directly from patients, providing new hope for amputees and patients on organ-transplant lists. | Watch Video

Ricky Gervais
Lesley Stahl profiles the man who created the hit television program "The Office," which has opened other doors to the stage and screen for the British comedian. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

On most NPR stations today, The Diane Rehm Show begins airing at 10:00 am EST (and streaming live online). The first hour is the domestic news roundup and the panel is Jeanne Cummings (Politico), Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal) and David Welna (NPR). The second hour is the international roundup and the panel is Bryan Bender (Boston Globe), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers).

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