Israeli High Court of Justice against Bassam Aramin

14 October, 2009

The court does not sympathize

Nurit Peled Elhanan

On Wednesday we – members of the Combatants for Peace movement, women of Mahsom [Heb. checkpoint] Watch, members of the Forum of Bereaved Families for Peace and writer David Grossman – attended a hearing at the High Court of Justice on the matter of the closing, due to lack of evidence, of the investigatory file on the killing of ten-year-old Abir Aramin about three years ago.

The hearing, which had been scheduled for eleven o’clock and then for nine o’clock and then for ten o’clock and then for one o’clock, began at two. Journalists ran to and fro in the corridor (Who died? A little girl? Really? Excuse me, sir, did your daughter die? Yes. Then you are Bassam Aramin? No, I am Rami Elhanan. Oh, sorry. So where’s that Aramin? And who are you? We are from Mahsom Watch. From what checkpoint? What are you doing here? And who are you? I am a friend. Of those Palestinians? Yes. How come? How can it be? Can I interview you? Did you too have a daughter who died? Really? When? How? What was her name? And after all that you are on their side?) But at the end of the day no Israeli reported on what happened.

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“Royal Mail secret plot with ‘the Shareholder’ (ie. the Labour government)

17 October, 2009 — Red Postie

BBC Newsnight on Thursday revealed a leaked confidential document spilling the beans on a Royal Mail plan to impose cuts, provoke a strike and smash the union. This blows a hole in their spin over the past couple of weeks about an uncooperative union!

The document, marked ‘in strictest confidence’ and dated way back to 24 September, shows there is no deal possible, RM plans to go for nothing less than 100% of its demands, imposing cuts ‘with or without union engagement’ and making a ‘demonstration of resolve through dispute – strikes don’t work.’

Postal bosses shed crocodile tears for the cameras about how the strikes would hurt the public and lose Royal Mail business. The leaked doc showed they’re perfectly happy to let the dispute rip: ‘demonstration of commercial impact of dispute – strikes make things worse – the more we can demonstrate this to our people the better.’

And when it comes to valuing its workers, the doc states that if the CWU doesn’t agree ‘a deal on our terms’ then a ‘programme of reducing relationship with union’ (ie derecognising it) is on the cards. One tactic is to withdraw agreed facility time for union area reps and fulltime officials, to try to cripple the running of the strike.

‘A new relationship with our people is non-negotiable and will happen anyway, with or without union agreement.’

Then the real bombshell: if the CWU refuses to agree ‘we have positioned things in such a way as there is shareholder, customer and internal support for implementation of change without agreement.’ Of course the only shareholder is the Labour government! Predictably Royal Mail bosses and Labour have said they know nothing about it.

A Labour MP on Newsnight tried to distract from this by saying ‘we all, the whole public, are the shareholders’ but that’s just ridiculous. The document said ‘the shareholder’, we all know who that is! Its been clear since 2007 if not before that Labour is in cahoots with the Crozier management – after all they appointed him!

Billy Hayes gave a credible defence of why postal workers were striking, but he also tried to show Royal Mail wasn’t serious about talks because it refused ACAS or government intervention – but that should be the last thing we want, both would tilt 100% towards Royal Mail’s modernisation demands. Anyway it’s now clear they are intervening – by backing Royal Mail’s union-busting to the hilt! But most posties knew that.

The embarrassing bit was when the Newsnight presenter repeatedly asked Billy how he felt about the CWU giving £7 million since 2001 to Labour to have it plotting against it, and did he support the 98% of London postal workers who had voted to break from Labour? Labour-lovin’ Billy ducked it several times before lamely saying the party wasn’t the same as the government.

The offices were buzzing on Friday with news of this treachery from Labour, and concern as it hit home how nasty this management is willing to get. More than ever postal workers realise that our whole union is at stake, and are more determined than ever to see through the strike to defend it.

The message is loud and clear: there is no deal on the cards or help from the government – quite the opposite they are stabbing us in the back! No more delay. Let’s strike, and strike the Labour Party off our books. “

US Military Fuel Use for Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

[Editor’s comment: Billions of barrels of oil are needed to run the Empire. Although there are lots of numbers in this piece, it illustrates just how central energy is to the Empire as the billions being spent on fuel by the US as it wages war around the planet demonstrates. The author has calculated that even adding up only a small percentage of the total amount spent by the US military on fuel, it comes to $4 million a day and as he says this is only from fighting two wars and his number is “just the tip of the iceberg”.]

Sohbet Karbuz

In my two previous posts (Fuel Logistics Pain in Afghanistan and Fuel Logistics Pain in Iraq) I had come to the following conclusions:

Fuel is delivered to the US military’s forward-deployed locations

  • In Iraq via three main routes–from Kuwait in the south, Jordan in the west, and Turkey in the north; and
  • In Afghanistan via two main routes–from Central Asian states in the north and from Pakistan in the east.

Total amount of fuel delivered to US Forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq in 2008 was 21 million barrels, or 57 600 barrels per day; of which

(1) In Iraq: 17.4 million barrels or 47 600 barrels per day
(2) In Afghanistan 3.64 million barrels, or 10 000 barrels per day.

GAO gives a similar figure: ‘In 2008, more than 68 million gallons of fuel, on average, were supplied by DOD each month to support U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan’[1]. This makes 53 000 barrels per day.

Now, let me try to calculate the total amount of fuel delivered since the beginning of operations in 2001 until the end of September 2008. My rough estimate is that approximately 170 million barrels of fuel was supplied to US military in Iraq and in Afghanistan. With an average cost of $70 per barrel of jet fuel (the best proxy for JP8) over 2001-2008 period, total delivered fuel cost comes to roughly $12 billion.

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