What Will Obama Do With KBR?

The Military's Expanding Waistline: What Will Obama Do With KBR?
by Pratap Chatterjee
President Obama will almost certainly touch down in Baghdad and Kabul in Air Force One sometime in the coming year to meet his counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will just as certainly pay a visit to a U.S. military base or two. Should he stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight chow with the troops, he will no less certainly choose from a menu prepared by migrant Asian workers under contract to Houston-based KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.

If Barack Obama takes the Rhino Runner armor-plated bus from Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone, or travels by Catfish Air's Blackhawk helicopters (the way mere mortals like diplomats and journalists do), instead of by presidential chopper, he will be assigned a seat by U.S. civilian workers easily identified by the red KBR lanyards they wear around their necks.

Even if Obama gets the ultra-red carpet treatment, he will still tread on walkways and enter buildings that have been constructed over the last six years by an army of some 50,000 workers in the employ of KBR. And should Obama chose to order the troops in Iraq home tomorrow, he will effectively sign a blank check for billions of dollars in withdrawal logistics contracts that will largely be carried out by a company once overseen by Dick Cheney.

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Obama Launches Afghan Surge

Operation Uptick: Obama Launches Afghan Surge
by Chris Floyd   
And so it begins: the great Obama "surge" in Afghanistan. Before withdrawing a single soldier from Iraq, Barack Obama is throwing 17,500 more troops into the boiling Afghan cauldron. The deployment is the first installment of what Obama aides affirm could be a much larger escalation down the road: as soon as the vaunted "strategic review" of Afghan policy – led by hawks like Joe Biden, Richard Holbrook and General David "Pre-President" Petraeus – is completed.

Most of the new troops are apparently going to be sent on a fool's errand to eradicate the only means of support of poor Afghans: the opium crop. Previous such efforts by American forces and their allies have produced nothing but more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.
And whatever the mission, increased troop levels and military action have led invariably to steep rises in civilian casualties – which, in turn, produce more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.

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Obama Batting for Bush: Belaying Subpoenas to Miers, Bolten and Rove

Obama Working to Strike a Deal Over Bush Advisers' Testimony
by Jason Leopold   
Hoping for a negotiated settlement, Barack Obama’s Justice Department has requested a two-week delay in a court deadline regarding enforcement of congressional subpoenas demanding the testimony of two Bush administration officials.

The Justice Department was scheduled to file a federal appeals court legal brief on the dispute by Wednesday, but instead sought a delay until March 4 because “negotiations are ongoing” between Congress and lawyers for former White House counsel Harriet Miers and ex-chief of staff Josh Bolten.

Democrats in Congress have been seeking testimony from Miers and Bolten about the Bush administration’s firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. To stymie the investigation, President George W. Bush barred the witnesses from cooperating and asserted a broad claim of executive privilege.
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Pakistan: Playing with Fire

Destabilizing Pakistan, America Plays with Fire
by Tom Burghardt
With the Obama administration preparing a major military escalation across South Asia, the corrupt ruling elites perched in their palaces in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi have demonstrated their contempt for the Pakistani people.
Unable, and unwilling, to solve the deep-seated structural problems facing their nation--unemployment, lack of security, rampant crime and corruption, the lack of public education, the absence of health care, free expression and the right to be left alone to live in peace--like the Musharraf clique, the Zardari administration has cut a deal with the imperialist overlords who now threaten destruction on a planetary scale.
Caught between the jihadi Frankenstein and the American Draculas waiting in the wings, it is the people of South Asia who will pay a steep price as the Pentagon and their corporatist masters seek a "solution" to what Washington insiders have dubbed the "Af-Pak" problem.
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Minister: Time for Wild Fish Councils on the "Farms"

Local Salmon Management: How it Could Work
by Alexandra Morton
Dear Honourable Minister Shea: I am hoping the Fisheries and Oceans Canada will embrace the concept of the aquaculture industry as a fishery and take concrete steps to bring it in line with other Canadian fisheries.

According to Judge Hinkson net-pen salmon rearing is not legally "farming" but rather a fishery, because these artificial salmon populations occupy space otherwise utilized by wild fish and the ocean passes through the facilities. Thus wild fish enter the pens and waste leaves the pens. As such this fishery must be regulated similar to the other fisheries where issues such as by-catch are addressed.

Science can be an awkward tool, but even if you do not accept some of the sea lice science and its prediction of decline of wild salmon that migrate through the aquaculture fisheries, you could look at your department's own enumeration numbers and the global response to marine aquaculture.  I think that it is only reasonable to say there are serious problems that need concrete solutions. The time for splitting hairs is long past. We are in crisis here.
The DNA our salmon need to survive is running out.
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"We Come In Peace. We Will Not Be Stopped"

Gaza Convoy - A Movement Of The Streets: "We Come In Peace. We Will Not Be Stopped"
by George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley
A convoy of more than 110 vehicles has snaked its way out of London for Gaza to deliver more than £1m worth of aid, including ambulances and a fire engine.
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Machiavelli And The Press Complaints Commission

PUTTING OUT THE PEOPLE'S EYES - Machiavelli And The Press Complaints Commission
by Media Lens
Last week, the Media Standards Trust (MST), an independent charity, published a report assessing the British media's capacity to regulate itself under the leadership of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The MST report found that the current system is neither independent nor effective. Martin Moore, director of the MST comments:

"The current system is paid for by the newspaper industry, its rules are written by working newspaper editors, and almost half the Commission itself is made up of newspaper and magazine editors. [...] "You would be forgiven, as a member of the public, for thinking that the system was geared more towards protecting the interests of the press than the public." (Moore, 'A More Accountable Press - Part 1: The Need for Reform,' Media Standards Trust, February 9, 2009;)

The results of the PCC's work speak for themselves: if a member of the public makes a complaint against the press, he or she has about a 250:1 chance of getting an adjudication in his or her favour. Moore describes these as "pretty terrible odds".
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Burning Questions: What Does Economic "Recovery" Mean?

Burning Questions: What Does Economic "Recovery" Mean on an Extreme Weather Planet?
by Tom Engelhardt
It turns out that you don't want to be a former city dweller in rural parts of southernmost Australia, a stalk of wheat in China or Iraq, a soybean in Argentina, an almond or grape in northern California, a cow in Texas, or almost anything in parts of east Africa right now. Let me explain.

As anyone who has turned on the prime-time TV news these last weeks knows, southeastern Australia has been burning up. It's already dry climate has been growing ever hotter. "The great drying," Australian environmental scientist Tim Flannery calls it.
At its epicenter, Melbourne recorded its hottest day ever this month at a sweltering 115.5 degrees, while temperatures soared even higher in the surrounding countryside. After more than a decade of drought, followed by the lowest rainfall on record, the eucalyptus forests are now burning. To be exact, they are now pouring vast quantities of stored carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas considered largely responsible for global warming, into the atmosphere.
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War on Greed: Kings of the Bailout Scam

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?
What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket? That's the amount of extra cash each and every Burger King employee in America would have received last year if Goldman Sachs (one of the fast-food chain's largest owners) had shared its bailout billions with rank-and-file workers. Instead, Goldman Sachs squandered 6.5 billion of our taxpayer dollars on bonuses for their financial staff.
These were some of the highest bonuses on Wall Street! Meanwhile, Burger King workers earn wages averaging just $14,000 a year -- well below the federal poverty line for a family of three.
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Yoo's Values and Your Rights

Jurists: War on Terror Tactics Have Undermined Basic Values
by Scott Horton
At a press conference in Geneva yesterday the International Commission of Jurists released the results of its three-year study of new policies adopted by the United States, Britain, and other nations to address the war on terror. The Washington Post reports:

“We have been shocked by the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world,” said Arthur Chaskalson, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, in a statement announcing results of a 3-year study of counter-terrorism measures since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights,” said Chaskalson, a former chief justice of South Africa.
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Spy Chief: We Have Seen the Future of Terror...and It's YOU!

Bad News From America’s Top Spy
by Chris Hedges
We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgänger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork.
Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington’s new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.
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Island Timberlands and the Massacre of Vancouver Island's Remnant Old Growth Forest

Save Our Forests
by Richard Boyce
This Island in the middle of Englishman River is just 1km upstream from the Upper Falls and is adjacent to the boundary of the Provincial Park. 5 minutes with several people on the island February 12, 2009 as ISLAND TIMBERLANDS prepares to Heli-log this old growth forest. Brookfield Asset Management owns 51% of this Vancouver Island logging company while the remaining 49% shares are owned by the BC Liberal Government as part of the employees pension funds.
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