UK Military Test Flying Israeli Drone Over Wales

Before the ash of doom cleared the flight schedules the ‘Watchkeeper‘ drone was successfully test flown on Wedenesday over Welsh skies (ht2 Mike)-

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new “Watchkeeper” drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales’ French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit – thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales’ I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

So I guess there’s still a ways to go on BDS where the MOD are involved…(it’s almost as if the military and the UK government are not at the forefront of human rights, quick someone call the Decents and alert their superior moral senses, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan may possibly not be about building creches). The base for this testing is the UAV centre at ParcAberporth (& Google map). Of course the skilled jobs are trumpeted and with little choice the fact it is making a living out of death does not get a look in, you can’t pay a mortgage with good intentions, thus capitalism marches on with its evil flying robots of death. Protests in 2004 against the site of course fell on deaf ears when corporate profit and political influence peddling in the war-on-terro era trumps all notions of…well morality-

“We are very unhappy at the proposal and we know many local people are also concerned about it,” said Rod Stallard, vice-chairman of CND Cymru yesterday. “It’s been stated by the US Navy that this type of aircraft will have an armed offence capability by 2015. We don’t think Wales should be used as the site for producing such an offensive weapon. To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines. It’s not for rural Wales, or for anywhere else.”

Local resident Keith Haworth said there were a number of questions about the project that needed to be answered.

He added, “Wales may want to be seen as the new Celtic Tiger, but is investment in remote-controlled weapons delivery technology the face a peace-orientated nation wishes to present to the world?”

ParcAberporth was created under the auspice of the legendarily corrupt patronage machine/quango the Welsh Development Agency  which is now simply the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Economy and Transport and the privatised Qinetiq, which was sold off cheap to the Empire’s corporate war machine. Rod Stallard had it right ‘To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines.’ Thankfully we have an election now where we can vote and change all that… oh I am funny.

In Speaking, To Listen

Or- Too Long for Twitter again. So to this absolute must read, and I mean that, you must read it, there will be a written test and all those failing will be barred from the interwebs for a week! Yes, I have that power… A progressive left blog from Pakistan who say this about themselves-

We call for a Pakistan grounded in principles of justice and fairness which includes a commitment to federalism and respect for the rights of provinces, and of minorities as equal citizens of the state. This requires that there be no discrimination on the basis of sex/gender, class, province/ethnicity, religion/sect, or sexual orientation. This is only possible if and when there is a clear separation between religion and state, when there are strong independent democratic institutions such as the judiciary and media , when the army’s role is confined to defence and when it is under the complete control of a civilian government which truly represents the people of Pakistan, and when there is a genuine effort to improve people’s quality of life through the provision of universal adult literacy, universal healthcare, and people-centered development.

Writes on the Sahgal/Amnesty affair, an excerpt but again, this is a must read!-

The larger issue, however, is this: why do our so-called allies constantly demand that we articulate our disavowal of the Taliban? Do they perhaps believe that in some deep dark religious corner of our lefty Pakistani hearts, we nurture a secret love for the ruthless brutish bearded circus called the Taliban?  Why are we being constantly asked to prove our bona fides as secularists and as humanists (in the sense that we believe in the dignity of *all* humanity)?  And that too by those who appear to have little qualms about retracting dignity from a man whose words and appearance unsettle us but who has done nothing – in terms of his actions – but run a girls’ school in Afghanistan and, now, defend the rights of precisely those that the American empire has reduced to ‘bare life.’ [1]  Does the problem lie in the fact that he “has championed the rights of jailed Al-Qaeda members and hate preachers…” as the Sunday Times puts it? But isn’t the selective granting of rights precisely what the Left is critical of in general?  Or is it that he stated in his memoirs that the Taliban were “better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past twenty-five years.” Yes, these views are abhorrent, but by no means unique. I heard much the same thing from the Afghans I met when I traveled to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border town of Chaman (in Balochistan) over a month ago.  These were Afghans who all hated the Taliban now (among them were ex-Taliban fighters).  To them, the Taliban had seemed like an answer to the corruption, chaos and random murders that had afflicted Afghanistan for decades when they first rose to power. They left when they realized that this was not the case or that the price they were being asked to pay was too high.

MORE

It’s ok, I’ll wait until you’ve clicked over and read it all, tum ti tum, doobie doo, ooh is that a cobweb in that corner….hmmm…mmmm…mmmm, um chocolate croissant…mm…hmuph….mm, ggr…. slurp, crumbs….nice glass of water…ahhh. Ok good, excellent wasn’t it? Now in what you might call related affairs-

Daily Beast Female Elites Denounce Global Human Rights Violations While Ignoring U.S. Crimes- Promising solutions for international women’s rights problems, the Daily Beast’s ‘Women in the World’ conference ended up supporting the status quo for US foreign policy.

Eikenberry was not the only spouse of a major player in current U.S. military misadventures to speak at the conference. “Morning Joe” host Mike Brezenski interviewed Cherie Blair, “Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women,” who also happens to be married to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, our great ally in invading Iraq on false pretenses. (Another infamous Iraq war cheerleader, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, was a featured lunchtime speaker.)

Taken as a whole, the Women in the World conference was itself, ironically, a microcosm of the systemic reasons women are in dire straights across the globe. Just as its most high-profile featured speakers have been inextricably linked to war crimes and deadly foreign policy, its corporate sponsors have been inextricably linked to the suffering of women — from the victimization of women in oil-rich nations (sponsored by Exxon), predatory lenders and families losing their homes (sponsored by Bank of America) and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, even as corporate bonuses are doled out (sponsored by Goldman Sachs). The aggressively pro-market message of much of the weekend — empowering women through entrepreneurship — made it clear that the “solutions” for women in the world are more neo-liberal economic policies and unchallenged U.S. military dominance.

Another good read that requires thinking about the entitlements and privileges of the Anglosphere elite (ht’s2 Earwicga who also is now contributing to Pickled Politics). A shiny world view that is helped by ignoring the domestic abuses-

A group of detainees who claim they suffered ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ while at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre are suing the Home Office. The 11 women have employed Leigh Day & Co solicitors to seek damages from the government and Serco, the private security company which runs the Clapham detention centre. The women, who are still detained and are on hunger strike, allege that their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and their rights not to be tortured, suffer inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment were all breached by employees of Serco.

Medialens continues the exposure of the execution of men, women & child civilians by NATO forces. Another role of media is to not report the successes of citizen direct action against the war machinery, lest the masses get ideas to do take our responsibility for war crimes (our tax money, our govts, our families feeding the recruiters targets) and reject it with activism-

Three activists from Swords into Ploughshares have been found NOT GUILTY of all charges laid against them in a New Zealand court for their action breaking into the Waihopai spybase in Blenheim in April 2008, and deflating one of the two domes covering the satellite dishes which capture intelligence data.

The jury heard that the Waihopai Echelon spy base is New Zealand’s largest contribution to the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The ongoing war has resulted in horrific war crimes, including more than one million dead Iraqi civilians, torture, and permanent poisoning of parts of Iraq by the use of depleted uranium munitions.

The jury also heard evidence from a former British Echelon intelligence analyst, Katherine Gunn. She blew the whistle on secret Echelon spying operations when she was instructed by the US National Security Agency to spy on United Nations Security Council members leading up to the US invasion in 2003.

“Evidence presented in the court confirmed that the ongoing war in Iraq is illegal, and causing massive human suffering”, said Adrian. “As an outcome of this trial, we hope that New Zealanders will insist on an enquiry into the activities of the spy base and its links to US-led illegal wars”.

Father Peter, Sam and Adrian expressed gratitude for all the support they have received from family, friends and the New Zealand public.

Anniversaries – Happy St. Pat’s especially to all LGBTQ people (I’d like to think I’m saucy enough to figure in there somewhere), fuck bigots who make parades their private reich. Bad anniversaries- 1000 Days of the siege of Gaza, and a story about the difficulties and resourcefulness needed to get a laptop into Gaza. Andy Worthington on Vindictive judge gives Muslims prison sentences for Gaza protest.

Also the Swiss Banks, y’know those secretive Nazi moolah hiding, global tax evading troughs of evil are so sure of banks supremacy (and to be honest, they are probably right on that) they propose a global flat tax at rates they will set! Also at the excellent Richard Murphy’s blog- How Lehman fiddled the books and a great new acronym-

Prem Sikka– Accountants disarm journalists, critics, regulators and the general public by claiming that the accounts are fairly presented in accordance with some generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), but the Lehman report shows that they are based in carefully rejigged accounting practices (CRAP).

And finally this great meme, the theme for your blog, as I am also slowly getting the stuff together for Ten Percent to go to its own hosts and thus be free of accidental or otherwise WordPress bans this could be an ongoing process to find the definitive theme together with votes and prizes possibly. More on that soon…

Not Quite Short Enough To Go On Twitter

Which may or may not be a regular posting type thingy, anyways…

I do wonder if the vitriol against Kucinich by Kos & co. was also indulged in to distract from the Afghanistan debate, this being the good Obama war etc.

Questions from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities in regard to the triple suicide of the Serykh family-

1. What level of cooperation does the YMCA afford to the UKBA enforcement removal team seeking to remove asylum seekers from the YMCA flats?

2. How much money does the YMCA receive per asylum seeker for its UKBA contract at the Red Road flats?

3. We suspect many asylum seekers are being driven to desperation by the combination of inhumane practices being perpetrated by the UKBA and the YMCA to the point they have said firsthand that they fully understand why the Serkhi family threw themselves from the 15th floor of one of your flats. Will the YMCA be evicting any more asylum seekers during this troubled time at the Red Road when so many people are in the depths of despair and hopelessness?

Joe Glenton was sentenced to 9 months, please show your support by writing to him-

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton
Military Corrective Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Camp
Colchester CO2 9NU, UK
Email:
defendjoeglenton@gmail.com

Nick Clegg leader of the LibDems decides outflanking to the Right is a good progressive idea with his praise for Thacther and savage cuts, so no big surprise neoliberalism retains its hold on all 3 parties leadership…was that the sound of thousands of voters now binning ideas they were entertaining of voting for them (ht2 LC)-

Not only does the Lib Dem leader say he’ll end the structural deficit with 100 percent spending cuts (not the 20 percent tax rises, 80 percent cuts combo that the Tories advocate), but he even heaps praise in Lady Thatcher. More, he describes her as something of an inspiration: just as she took on vested interests in the 1980s, so he will take on the banks now.

He equates unions with banks, no really, he does! Which means to wee Nick he thinks millions of working people working together to improve their lives and raise themselves out of poverty and oppression is comparable to bankers destroying society with their gambling and greed. Bless his little middle class socks. Wanker.

Richard Murphy daily uncovers evidence of the Class War waged by Capital, today’s little wheeze-

Finance chiefs at two of the UK’s most powerful companies have called for corporation tax to be slashed to 15% in what would represent one of the most sweeping changes to the UK tax system since VAT was introduced 30 years ago.

How do I know 15% corporation tax is the aim of the Oxford Centre? because Chris Wales – who was instrumental in setting it up – told me that was the case, in person when I was at Oxford two or three years ago before Prof Mike Devereux, the head of the centre, contrary to all UK academic ethics, withdrew my invitation to all events there.

And let’s be clear what this call is. It’s another blatant attempt at re-engineering the social structure of the UK so that the rich get richer and the rest fall further behind.

Glaxo and Vodafone and their friends at Oxford want to increase the gap between rich and poor in this country. It’s the only explanation for their proposal there is.

So in the absence of any politician’s standing up to corporations Defend The Welfare State which among full union support is also supported by the British Medical Association, good to see medical opinion recognises the threat to human wellbeing that neoliberal dogma represents. This also important because global capital has conspired with far right tories to bring the Tea Party astro turf corporate lobby to the UK.

Since 1948, Britain has supported the idea that state pensions, health care, education and other public services are best provided by society as whole. But this idea is now under threat.

  • The state pension is totally inadequate, leaving at least 1 in 4 older people to live in poverty
  • 7m households have a child living in poverty and existing benefits provide a very limited safety net
  • Unemployment now stands at over 2m and workfare offers no solution
  • 10m adults are disabled and face huge barriers to escaping financial hardship
  • The NHS is slowly being privatised behind a smokescreen of choice and competition, and patients are suffering as a result
  • Our public services are now facing massive cuts and further privatisation

The welfare state and public services are an essential part of any civilised society – pooling the risk across the population and providing support and services to us all.

Whoever wins the next general election will be looking at the welfare state and public services as a way of cutting public expenditure. This demonstration must therefore send a clear message to all the political parties that the majority of people do not want to see further cuts and privatisation.

Defending the Welfare State & Public Services

March & Rally
Sat 10 April 2010
Assemble 12 noon for 1pm
Temple Place, Embankment
Rally 2pm
Trafalgar Square
Speakers, Music & Entertainment

Also sign the petition here.

Burmese Dictatorship Ban Suu Kyi From ‘Elections’

Laws drawn up by the Burmese junta will prohibit detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from taking part in a controversial election due to be held later this year. If her party wants to participate in the poll it may even have to formally expel her. The so-called Political Parties Registration Law, published today in state-run newspapers in Burma, prohibits anyone convicted by a court from joining a party and participating in the polls. Ms Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years either in jail or else under house arrest, was last summer convicted of violating the terms of her detention after an uninvited American swam across a lake to her house. In what was widely seen as a staged trial and conviction, her detention was extended until November and many analysts believe the junta will hold the election in October.

May 7 is the deadline for Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to finally decide whether it will continue to exist as a legal party after twenty years of unsuccessful struggle against the military dictatorship. “We have to expel our own leader from the party or face dissolution of the party after May 7,” said Nyan Win, who is both party spokesman and the lawyer representing detained party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thus the junta have barred the leader of the party that won the real and open election in 1990, try and act surprised, disgusting business as usual from Than Shwe.

Sales Conference…

I do enjoy it when people who call the rational (albeit ruthlessly criminal) business motivations that play a part in warfare as ‘conspiracy theories’ as if all human history didn’t contain repeated evidence of the venal motivations behind various conflicts. They may not be the prime reason, or even in the top three but no aggressive war was ever engaged in without regard to the potential treasure the blood would obtain. I suppose they think that was the bad brutal unevolved past and we would never be so unenlightened now, bless ’em. And arguing over what was the prime reason (especially in the war on terror theatre where almost no one can agree what the reasons really are) is a bit of an angels dancing on the head of a pin exercise, surely we can agree that the motivations were not those of a good faith engagement with the human rights of everyone concerned and war inevitably is a generator of atrocity (again that seems to a contentious issue for those who think humanity has left its dark past behind and war will follow laws and troops really are free to refuse illegal orders). I think there are various reasons for Afghan war, an outraged Empire, the need to move a population into a war mindset with an easy victory that also meant assets could begin to be deployed for the big push on Iraq (and having a client state on another border with Iran, certainly the neocons/zionist axis are always keen on anything that does that or projects US, and therefore to their thinking Israeli, sphere of influence across the Middle East), disgust at the Taliban that in their uninformed romanticism thought the Norther Alliance were ‘good guys’ and even some actual good faith belief that even though Bush came to power in a coup this invasion would bring a better govt to Afghanistan and better human rights. Anyways, as I say there are many factors few of which however are particularly noble and when you come to the actual decision makers, I would say none. So now Karzai is trying to promote the treasure aspect, it does not mean the invasion was simply about this, but it does mean those who reject rational capital interests as playing any part should maybe pack it in, get a subscription to the Disney channel and enjoy that fictional children’s world which will not challenge their shiny worldview unduly.

RAWA:-

KABUL — Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries, is sitting on mineral and petroleum reserves worth an estimated one trillion dollars, President Hamid Karzai said Sunday. The war-ravaged nation could become one of the richest in the world if helped to tap its geological deposits, Karzai told reporters. “I have very good news for Afghans,” Karzai said. “The initial figures we have obtained show that our mineral deposits are worth a thousand billion dollars — not a thousand million dollars but a thousand billion,” he said.

He based his assertion, he said, on a survey being carried out by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), due to be completed in “a couple of months”. The USGS, the US government’s scientific agency, has been working on the 17-million dollar survey for a number of years, Karzai said.

While Afghanistan is not renowned as a resource-rich country, it has a wide range of deposits, including copper, iron ore, gold and chromite, as well as natural gas, oil and precious and semi-precious stones. Little has been exploited because the country has been mired in conflict for 30 years, and is embroiled in a vicious insurgency by Islamist rebels led by the Taliban.

More than 100,000 foreign troops under US and NATO command are battling the insurgents, with another 40,000 due for deployment this year. China and India have bid for contracts to develop mines, with the Chinese winning a copper contract. An iron ore contract is due to be awarded later this year.

In 2007, China’s state-owned metals giant Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) signed a three-billion-dollar contract to develop the Aynak copper mine — one of the world’s biggest — over the next 30 years. First discovered in 1974, the site, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Kabul in Logar, is estimated to contain 11.3 million tonnes of copper.

The Hajigak iron ore mine in Bamiyan province, north of Kabul, is currently under tender, with one Chinese and half a dozen Indian firms bidding. The contract is for exploitation of almost two billion tonnes of high-grade ore, involving processing, smelting, steel production and electricity production.

Aid?

Photo BBC

When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail

We Are Being Lied To About Haiti To Justify The Militarised Response

Both the US and UN have terrible histories in Haiti, they are approaching this, with the US leading as a security issue and corporate media are following, but even then when you read carefully they fail to substantiate the chaos/looting meme beyond violent police reactions, that is very familiar if you cast your mind back to post Katrina coverage. Real grassroots efforts by relief workers without an agenda paint a very different picture-

In today’s earliest hours, Dr. Evan Lyon recounted his reactions to PIH staff in Boston. He spent his first twelve hours in Port-au-Prince driving around the city identifying places in need so that PIH could pursue a more decentralized approach to emergency medical care delivery today. He and other PIH leadership forged important relationships with the hospital administration at the University Hospital (HUEH) where PIH has partnered with the Ministry of Health to pursue a fully coordinated approach to restoring of services for the thousands of patients awaiting care there. And together with the PIH logistics team and Dr. Joia Mukherjee, he helped evacuate four of the most in need patients and a guardian from Port-au-Prince to Philadelphia for urgent care. We hope his words will give you all who are supporting this relief effort a small window into what it is like to be in Port-au-Prince now.

Sent on January 17, 2010, 3:34AM by Dr. Evan Lyon of PIH

can’t get through much now but beyond the horror, one very striking reality is that things are totally peaceful. we circulated in PAP in the middle of everything until just now. everywhere. no UN. no police. no US marines and no violence or chaos or anything. just people helping each other. drove past the main central park in PAP where at least 50K people must be sleeping and it was almost silent.

people cooking, talking, some singing and crying. people are kind, calm, generous to us and others. even with hundreds lying on the ground, open fractures, massive injuries of all kinds.

there are few dead bodies on the street. stench is everywhere. the city is changed forever.

we had a late day opportunity to evacuate 4 patients to the US. these may be the first haitian nationals allowed to leave for the US. but martinique has taken over 200. the DR has taken many many more. so we circulated in PAP looking for urgent cases. found hundreds but picked up the 4 to get out, hopefully to philadelphia. open fractures, gangrene, one 4 year old boy with a leg broken in 3 places, a minor head wound, and now 4 days of sleeping outside with IV fluid and maybe some pain meds. probably none.

at the airport, we drove onto the tarmac to meet the air ambulance. surrounded by marines and UN, massive weapons. a humvee with a gunner turret at the top drove by. the noise from the large transport planes was deafening. us citizens and haitian american citizens leaving by the hundreds on US planes. and our small team of haitian and american docs evacuating a drop in the bucket. my ears are still ringing from the noise of it all.

in contrast, port au prince is silent. no current. no car traffic. people sleeping in the streets but little else. beside the impossible weight and tragedy of this city completely devastated, one lasting impression was the stillness of the city. in shock, tragically sad, but quiet. so good to get away from the airport.

sleeping tonight in the house of a dear PIH friend and doctor. attending to neighbors here and able to rest. safety and the work is with our sisters and brothers in this beautiful, proud, and strong nation.

the safest and best way to be here and help is with our colleagues and friends. wonderful to be in the city, away from the airplanes, and working shoulder to shoulder with people we know and love and will continue work with to mourn, assist, and rebuild this special country.


in the photo you see the first time operating of any kind possible at the main general and academic center.

for press / outreach strategy, we might highlight the generosity and getting it done kindness of the air ambulance team. they also left us all the supplies they had on board – water, meds, IV material, blankets, food.

goodnight everyone. love. evan.

Donate to PIH here.

(Ht2 Qlipoth & Jay)

Posted in Media, Militarism. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Peace & Arms Deals- ‘the IDF’s qualitative edge’

While Clinton creates another piece of theatre in the ongoing fictitious peace process… what are these self declared peace seeking Nobeled saints actually talking about-

The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF’s qualitative edge over Arab armies, according to senior officials in the Obama administration and Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to the U.S. in September for a rushed meeting in which it was agreed that the two allies would discuss how to resolve the problems regarding this issue.

U.S. National Security Adviser General James Jones is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday for what is likely to be talks on the issue of the IDF’s qualitative edge. Senior sources in the current U.S. administration, and senior officials at the foreign and defense ministries in Israel, have suggested that during the last year of the Bush administration the U.S. sold advanced military equipment to moderate Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Americans justified the arms sales with the need to bolster these countries against the perceived threat posed by Iran.

In an address before the National Jewish Democratic Council, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, commented on the matter. “We discovered that the qualitative edge of the IDF has been eroded,” Oren said. “We came to the Obama administration and said: ‘Listen, we have a problem.'”

According to Oren the response of the Obama administration was positive and immediate. “They said they are going to deal with this matter and ensure that the qualitative edge of the IDF is preserved,” he said. “Since then we have embarked on a dialogue [on preserving the IDF’s qualitative edge].”

The arms transfers that were particularly disturbing for Israel were of advanced air and naval systems. For example, the U.S. sold Saudi Arabia advanced F-15 fighter-bombers, similar to the ones it sold Israel. According to Israeli assessments, following the U.S. sales to the Saudi kingdom, the Saudi Air Force is currently in possession of 200-250 aircraft of this type.

In addition, the U.S. sold Saudi Arabia and other Arab states satellite-guided and laser-guided “smart bombs” for their fighter aircraft, as well as advanced anti-ship missiles and electronic suites for aircraft, all similar to the equipment in the IDF.

Toward the end of the Bush term in office, the defense establishment recommended to the political leadership to raise the issue with the incoming U.S. administration. Defense establishment officials warned that the U.S. is arming countries in the moderate Arab camp in “a way that erodes the qualitative edge of the IDF, especially in the air.”

In recent months officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began quiet exchanges with their U.S. counterparts on ways of retaining the IDF’s balance of arms. The negotiations are held at the highest levels, with the White House and the Pentagon.

In September, for example, a day before the start of the United Nations General Assembly conference in New York, Barak traveled to Washington and the purpose of his meetings there were kept under wraps. At the time, the defense minister’s office announced that Barak had met with Jones and other senior administration officials in order to discuss the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

In subsequent talks between the Obama administration and Israel, Israeli officials have stressed that the arms provided with the aim of bolstering moderate Arab states against Iran could be directed in the future against Israel. A number of meetings have taken place since, in an effort to “assess the damage” and find ways of securing the IDF’s qualitative edge. Last week, Haaretz reported that the Obama administration will sell advanced weapons systems to Arab states.

According to the weekly Jewish publication Forward, as a result of Israeli concerns the Obama administration intends to make changes to deals that the Bush administration signed with Arab states and are currently being implemented.

So further confirmation of the legal requirement the US imposed on itself to maintain Israel’s military superiority (22 USC Sec. 2776) and a rather predictable glimpse of the Bush regime’s fondness for money and aggression towards Iran, which apparently meant to the entitled Zionists superior arms sales were insufficiently centred on Israel even if they liked the Iran bashing (but it seems that is their gig and they do not trust Arabs to do it even if the neocons attempts to divide and conquer Shia and Sunni worked), so they whine and Obama promises to do better. Y’konw, the guy with the peace prize. That would be two sides of the peace talks promising to ensure the third party and all others in the region are militarily weak. Yes of course they seek peace, isn’t that what they said? And politician’s would never lie. Which is also perhaps why when the IAEA was ‘concerned’ over Israel’s rogue nukes, it was reported virtually nowhere and aid convoys can be delayed and attacked. Our country along with the US, Israel and Egypt are conspiring to besiege Gaza, which is also not a very peace seeking thing to do. And dutifully our media tell us about the peace process as if bullies’ conditions for submission are such a great deal.

Imperial Hope

Via Otto @ IKN, Council on Hemispheric Affairs:- Unsettling Revelations Regarding U.S. Lease of Colombian Military Bases

It emphasizes the “opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America” against threats not only from drug trafficking and guerrilla movements, but also from “anti-U.S. governments” in the region.

…Palanquero is already Colombia’s largest military base and one of the most advanced in Latin America. Leasing this Colombian facility would provide the U.S. Air Force with “access to the entire continent.” According to the budget justification, the planned structural and operational improvements are intended to “leverage existing infrastructure to the maximum extent possible, improve the U.S. ability to respond rapidly to crisis, and assure regional access and presence at minimum cost.” The upgrade is also intended to “increase [the U.S. Air Force’s] capability to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).” Within this budget justification, stated interests in counternarcotic and counterinsurgency operations within Colombia are sidelined in favor of promoting strategic military and security throughout the hemisphere.

The Change and Hope of the Empire is to reverse the Bush regimes lacklustre attention deficit on Latin America and a return to…well let’s just say senior Democrats are probably making sure torture equipment is fully represented in their stock portfolios, after all the Attorney General when a highly paid corporate lawyer chose to represent Chiquita to reduce its exposure to punishment from guilt for involvement with terrorism is now overseeing the trial Inquisition of a man water boarded 183 times. And that’s domestically so once out of the glare of domestic media and voters, SOA/WHINSEC graduates will ensure Uribe clings on to power and offers other lucky countries the chance to also enjoy a return to death squads and torture dungeons or as Wall Street will term it- investment opportunities!

Well They Gave It To Kissinger…

And Peres, so…seems the contemporary criteria is the ability to look statesmanlike and peaceful while bloodily expanding your empire, guess the Nobel committee realise the value of powerful friends (and this nuclear disarmament is bullshit, they want to dump their old stock -they cost too much and are redundant- as the Cold War is really done, while at the same time Brand Disarmament is used to deny other nations a defensive deterrent from attacks, if it was serious they’d begin with their own nuclear strategy and eliminate all their warheads, we can drop Trident and everyone stop covering for Israel. We really need to disarm from nukes but until certain nations can be relied on not to invade other countries/territories or stage coups in them it’s the usual dominant powers making rules for others they never lived by and still refuse to.)

Arms & Bribes

In 2006, Tony Blair’s government shut down inquiries into the sale of Tornado warplanes to the Saudi royal family, a deal which had lasted 20 years and grossed £43bn in revenue for BAE.

Allegations emerged that £1bn and a personal Airbus jet had been transferred to Prince Bandar, son of the Saudi crown prince. Another £1bn had been moved to Swiss accounts linked to prominent Saudis.

BAE are finally about to get prosecuted, if the UK government doesn’t step in and protect the crooks again (that being all of them), however our Stateside cousins might want to ask the Pentagon about this deal-

A U.S. unit of BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) has won a Pentagon contract worth up to $313.3 million for gunner restraints, vehicular safety belt kits and accessories for the Army and Marine Corps, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

Being as-

BAE had its fingers on $8 billion of the Pentagon’s cash mountain last year; the British arms dealer ranks sixth among US defence contractors, the only significant foreign firm, the only one trusted enough to get juicy, sensitive projects.

It is not entirely bluster, when BAE threatens the British Government that unless it is treated better it might move its headquarters to the US.

But a conviction for bribery could ruin everything for BAE because the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is on the warpath against cheating, bribing foreigners.

Yet the Pentagon see fit to continue doing business with BAE, a firm who (along with Barclays bank) once fiddled an aid agreement with Tanzania to take debt relief and education funding to instead buy a totally pointless military radar system, aided and abetted by…Tony Blair. I suppose for BAE it might be hard to know who to bribe right now, New Labour as they can spike the prosecution, the Tories as they can once in power, or the Pentagon so they can move to the US with its military spending that outstrips, er all of planet Earth combined. Or maybe all three to be safe and when/if Tony swindles becoming EU president expect a lot of reasons why NATO needs to have wars and thus new equipment, oh except that part is already going on.

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A Nation Under House Arrest

The Field

The Honduran coup regime’s 26-hour martial curfew upon the entire country effectively places 7.5 million Honduran citizens – men, women, children and elders – under house arrest. They are prohibited from going to work, to the store, or to walk down the street to visit a neighbor. Anybody on the street is subject to arrest, for violation of the curfew.

But…

Meanwhile, at least two popular barrios in and around Tegucigalpa have defied, en masse, the curfew order and chased National Police out of their communities: El Pedregal and Colonia Kennedy. They’ve erected barricades and declared the coup regime and its security forces non grata.

It also seems Micheletti has realised invading the Brazilian embassy is not such a good- act of war- type idea. Hilariously he talks of democracy in the Washington Post (the increasingly go-to-place for tyrants and elite criminals to sell their faeces masquerading as thought) even as a normally supine press ridicule him and Micheletti also encourages others to stage their own coups, clearly not getting the whole contradiction in terms thing. But what he is clear on is- violence, he loves it-

“Early this morning, military forces attacked those of us outside the Brazilian embassy. There are no words to describe the brutality of the attack,” reported a member of the group Feminists in Resistance. “They chased us, threw bombs, beat us, and now are hunting down everyone who took refuge in the surrounding area.”

The women say there are 65 members of their group “under siege,” hiding in houses as military squads search the neighborhood.

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Why Jim Webb Was In Burma

Reagan appointee (and now conservative Dem and occasional screenwriter whose ‘Rules of Engagement’ was described as “probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood“) the former Marine has gotten Yettaw out, but really the US agenda is …democracyChina.

He is a critic of US sanctions on Burma, Webb in his opening remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Maritime & Sovereignty Disputes in Asia said-

At the pinnacle of this issue is China’s growing military, diplomatic and economic power, not only in the region but world-wide.  China’s evolution has changed the regional economic balance, and has enabled China to expand its political influence.  Across the East Asian mainland, from Burma to Vietnam, we have heard statements of concern about the impact of China’s reach.

As the United States continues its attempt to isolate Burma due to the human rights policies of its military regime, China’s influence has grown exponentially, including the recent announcement of a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline project that would enable the Chinese to offload oil obtained in the Persian Gulf and pump it to Yunnan Province, without having to transit the choke point of the Strait of Malacca.

As a maritime nation, the United States should maintain the quality and strength of its seapower—if not improve it.  The recent trajectory of American seapower is not encouraging.  When I first joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, there were 931 combatants in the U.S. Navy.  When I served as Secretary of the Navy in 1988, this battle force numbered 569 ships.  At present, the U.S. Navy has 284 deployable battle force ships, with 42 percent of them underway today.   Although the quality of China’s 241 ships cannot match that of the United States’, that quality gap is closing.

If the United States is to remain an Asian nation, and a maritime nation, our nation’s leaders have a choice to make.  Our diplomatic corps and our military—and especially our Navy—must have the resources necessary to protect U.S. interests and the interests of our allies.  Smart power must be reinforced by military might.

The US is an Asian nation? Imperial entitlement much? I would like to hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s side of the meeting with Webb, but y’know she’s a prisoner of a military dictatorship so that’s not so easy. That’s kind of the point, Jimbo.

Would Obama Have Supported Pinochet?

Honduras, from the Quixote Center (ht2 Otto)-

In Tegucigalpa, the Teachers University resembles a military base. Large numbers of people remain detained and missing. The use of 1980’s torture centers as detention sites raises concerns that people are being tortured. COMAL and COPINH report that members of their organizations are missing and fear they may be disappeared.

There is more detailed witness testimony from the assault on the university here. Predictably the regime are claiming to have found a bomb making facility, ie. they are establishing the rationale for targeting any and all opposition, (Old School?)

the police are now claiming that the National Pedagogical University stored, and the UNAH produced, bombs, producing rows of devices lined up for photo opportunities as “evidence”. The highly-respected sociologist, Julieta Castellanos, rector of UNAH, denies this in an article published in La Tribuna. Ironically, her main argument that the charges of bomb-making were inaccurate comes from the fact that the laboratories are unusable, never having been repaired after an explosion during the course of use. As anyone who has visited UNAH knows, it suffers from an entirely unmaintained set of facilities. Now they also have to contend with police rumor-mongering which, in the present atmosphere, could set up conditions for militarization as has already taken place in the Pedagogica, which trains the teachers who work in Honduras’ under-funded, challenged schools.

The most disturbing stories, besides the violent beatings which were commonplace yesterday, were the reports that many people are being taken to places like the Cuartel General de Las Cabañas, an infamous torture center from the 70’s and 80’s.  It leaves the feeling that the military is stuck 25 years back in history; that they believe that they can continue to act with the same kind of impunity that they enjoyed back when.  Others were allegedly taken to another death squad outpost in the Colonia 21 de Octubre.  We were told by a credible source that the person in charge of that house of horrors, Commissioner Madrid, as a way of threatening his own mother, had a casket delivered to her house.   Even members of the Honduran Congress were not exempted from the violence.  Marvin Ponce, a Congressman from the left wing UD party was brutally beaten in front of the Congress, is in the hospital with multiple injuries, and reportedly will have surgery today on his arm which was broken by state forces.

please call the U.S. State Department (202-647-4000) and Ambassador Llorens 011-504-236-9320 ext. # 4268 and demand that the U.S:

  • Publically denounce the extreme and widespread violations of human rights on the part of the coup government.
  • Publically state that it will not recognize elections sponsored by the coup regime.
  • Revoke U.S. tourist visas and freeze bank accounts of those involved in the coup.
  • Cut off all U.S. economic assistance for the coup regime in Honduras.

The situation is deteriorating, powerful people with close relationships to the current Whitehouse are acting on behalf of the coup government in Washington. Citizens of the United States can make their government end their tolerance/support of the coup regime.

Send a message to your representative by clicking here.

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Honduran Coup Leaders Contracting Israeli Special Forces

A good example of how the web networks and spreads information, I read Borev, posted about it, IKN included me in a post and in that round up was also Machetera with an interview with René Andrés Pavón, President of the Honduran Human Rights Commission (CODEH) by Dick Emanuelsson, excerpt-

Dick Emanuelsson (DE): Yesterday CODEH put out a news release denouncing a variety of things, among them that Micheletti’s de facto government has contracted with Israeli commandos or people to train the Honduran military/police forces. What we know from the civil war in Colombia is that these commandos have also been advising the Colombian military forces. What are the Israelis doing here?

Andrés Pavón (AP): Until now what we know is that their mission is to prepare the Armed Forces and the police to aggressively and violently dissuade the demonstrations, by committing crimes of a selective nature in order to build fear, staged terror, and achieve a dismantling of the resistance. Other actions they are undertaking involve certain employees of private security firms putting on police uniforms and acting aggressively against the demonstrators. The police have already sort of been trained to dissuade demonstrations and are a bit fearful about attacking the demonstrators so that it’s as if a bit of their human rights training lingers. On the other hand, the security guards are being paid double and their immunity is guaranteed. These are the practices that they are developing, using the experience of the conflict in Palestine and after having put into practice some of these actions in Colombia.

More including audio @Machetera

In a way it’s touching, militarists becoming like one big global happy family, anywhere where there’s a population to oppress they’ll heed the call. Just shine the ‘counter insurgency’ signal in the sky and they respond, all cattle prods, sniper rifles and war/rape stories. And y’know, collect a nice sack of cash, life is good when you get paid for doing what you love.