Archive for June, 2006

Bachelet Resists Calls to Spend Chile’s Copper Profits on Poor

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

…Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago Nobel laureate in economics whose ideas were a backdrop for Chile’s economic transformation, says Bachelet is right to avoid a spike in spending as the copper price rises.

Friedman: Cut Taxes

“The temptation when you get all of this money is to try to use it to increase government,” Friedman, 93, says. That temptation, he adds, should be resisted. He recommends that the copper surplus be used to reduce taxes. And in the long run, he says, Chile’s government should get out of the copper business by selling Codelco. The government has no plan to sell the company.

Yeah you don’t want ‘big government’ fixing schools or anything crazy like that. Privatize. Sell off your government to the highest bidder…well, not necessarily the highest, just the best connected…it’s the American way.

Three Days in Rome?

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

On December 21, 2001, military officials and intelligence operatives from three nations, the United States, Italy, and Iran, made their separate ways to a commercial building set anonymously amid the shops, cafes, and fountains of Rome’s bustling Piazza di Spagna, and disappeared inside. Among the tourists enjoying the famous Spanish Steps, and the Romans going about their Christmas shopping in the boutiques nearby, few would have had reason to wonder what was going on in the building, which held an unmarked office provided by the Italian military intelligence organization Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare (SISMI). Nor would passers-by have likely recognized among the men two Pentagon officials and key figures in the post-9/11 push to redraw the political map of the Middle East. Rome’s centro storico, locus of a few millennia of international intrigue, was the perfect setting for the business at hand.

Though little-known outside the Beltway, the Pentagon officials, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, were at the height of their powers among a small, tight-knit coterie of Washington Iran hawks determined, in the wake of 9/11, to push for regime change not just in Kabul and Baghdad, but in Tehran as well. Farsi speakers both, they had become increasingly influential as advisers to top Pentagon officials consumed with planning a response to the terror attacks. Franklin was the Iran desk officer in a Pentagon policy office that would eventually include the Office of Special Plans, an alternative intelligence shop that became closely allied with Ahmed Chalabi and his band of Iraqi exile informants. Joining the pair in Rome was Michael Ledeen, a neoconservative historian and activist who is among the most impassioned advocates for overthrowing the Iranian regime.

Iranian Leader: U.S. Nuke Talks Not Needed

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that Iran does not need negotiations with the United States over its nuclear program, apparently seeking to reassure hard-liners the country will not cave in as it considers a key Western incentives package.

Khamenei, who has the final word on all state matters, did not give his position on the proposals aimed at persuading Iran to impose a long-term moratorium on enriching uranium.

I was wondering how the US and their Iranian shills were going to weasel out of the prospect of a peaceful solution…

Insurgents offer to end attacks for ’08 U.S. exit

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered an immediate halt to all attacks, including those on American troops, if the United States agrees to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years, insurgent and government officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Withdrawal is the centerpiece of a set of demands from the groups, which operate north of Baghdad in the heavily Sunni Arab provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala. Although much of the fighting has been to the west, those provinces are increasingly violent and attacks there have crippled oil and commerce routes.

Aw come on. 11 groups in two provinces alone, and not even where the worst has been taking place. Who are these people?

1.3m people displaced in Iraq

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Baghdad – The number of displaced people in Iraq has swelled by 150 000 since the bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in February pushed the country to the brink of civil war, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) put the number of displaced higher than the 130 386 estimate of registered internal refugees given by the ministry of displacement and migration on Monday.

“It is estimated that 1.3 million individuals are displaced inside Iraq, nearly five percent of the country’s total population,” said a UNAMI statement.

Religious groups work to hurry apocalypse

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon. With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood, Calif., to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission – to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus’ message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. Ahmadinejad, defiantly pursuing a nuclear option, has suggested that the elimination of Israel would herald the return of a 9th-century Muslim cleric known as the Mahdi, the 12th Imam. He hopes to welcome that messiah to Tehran within two years.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam’s holiest shrines. Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple – along with two 6-ton marble cornerstones for its foundation.

47,600 workers take buyouts at GM and Delphi

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

DETROIT Nearly 48,000 union workers at General Motors and a former division, Delphi, have accepted early retirement or buyout offers, the companies said.

At GM, about 35,000 workers will leave by the end of the year, the automaker said Monday.

The number, representing nearly a third of GM’s 113,000 hourly workers, is significantly higher than the company had expected. As a result, GM, which intends to close 12 plants by 2008 to pare costs and become more competitive, will reach its goal of eliminating 30,000 jobs two years ahead of schedule, the chief executive, Rick Wagoner, said.

Great. Congrats.

Half of global car exhaust produced by US vehicles

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Americans represent 5% of the world’s population but drive almost a third of its cars, which in turn account for nearly half the carbon dioxide pumped out of exhaust pipes into the atmosphere each year, according to a report.

US cars play a disproportionate role in global warming because they are less fuel efficient than passenger vehicles used elsewhere in the world, emitting 15% more carbon dioxide, and because they are driven further across America’s wide open spaces, said the report by the Environmental Defence watchdog group.

The Wall Street Journal’s Chavez Commentary

Monday, June 26th, 2006

You won’t find commentary and language any more hostile to Hugo Chavez than on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Their June 23 piece by Mary Anastasia O’Grady in the Americas column is a clear, jaw-dropping example. It’s practically blood-curdling in its vitriol which calls Hugo Chavez a threat to world peace. The sad part of it is Journal readers believe this stuff and are likely to support any US government efforts to remove the “threat.”

The O’Grady article is about the elections scheduled to take place in the fall for five non-permanent UN Security Council seats to be held in 2007. One of them will be for the Latin American seat now held by Argentina. The two countries vying to fill the opening are Guatemala and Venezuela, and the other countries in the region will vote on which one will get it. You won’t have to think long to guess the one the US supports – its Guatemalan ally, of course. And why not. For over 50 years its succession of military and civilian governments have all followed the dictates of their dominant northern neighbor. In so doing, they all managed to achieve one of the world’s worst human rights records that hasn’t abated even after the 1996 Peace Accords were signed ending a brutal 36 year conflict. Although the country today is nominally a democratic republic, it continues to abuse its people according to documented reports by Amnesty International.

Cell phone signals excite brain, study finds

Monday, June 26th, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cell phone emissions excite the part of the brain cortex nearest to the phone, but it is not clear if these effects are harmful, Italian researchers reported on Monday.

…more than 500 million use a type that emits electromagnetic fields known as Global System for Mobile communications or GSM radio phones. Their possible effects on the brain are controversial and not well understood.