Cost of the War in Iraq
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Thursday, December 16, 2004

During a 2 day visit to Cuba, president Chavez of Venezuela and President Castro of Cuba signed copies of an agreement they call the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) which arranges for cooperation and bilateral relations in general and for a free trade area, which is the antithesis of the US sponsored Latin American Free Trade Zone (FTAA). The treaty is named in honour of Simon Bolivar and the word ALBA in Spanish means “dawn”. The signing took place in the Karl Marx Theatre on the 10th Anniversary of Chavez’ first visit to Cuba.

The intention is to eliminate trade barriers and tax obstacles, provide incentives for investment, increase banking relations and tourism cooperation. Initially Venezuela has promised financing for Cuban industrial and infrastructure projects, while Cuba agreed to pay a minimum price of $27 per barrel of Venezuelan oil, which they are currently importing at the rate of 53,000 bpd.
“The FTAA is dead”, said Chavez.

President Castro, 78 (who is recovering from a broken knee and arm from a fall in October), decorated Chávez with the Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes , he quoted de Céspedes, known as the father of the nation who, in reference to the great country of Bolívar remarked: “Venezuela, which opened the way of independence to Spanish America and traveled it gloriously until Ayacucho, is our illustrious teacher of freedom.”

Cuba suffers from regular power shortages, with output said to be as low as 50% of demand. In May Cuba's main oil-fuelled power plant in Matanzas province, took months to repair and frequent blackouts occur. Basic Industry Minister Marcos Portal Leon was sacked on October 14 and replaced by Yadira Garcia, amid a paralysing energy shortage and controversial decisions about the nickel industry. The ministry handles power generation, oil, nickel, rubber and pharmaceuticals.

Cuba has had enormous energy problems since collapse of the Soviet bloc, which once provided subsidised food and fuel and now they cannot complete the Soviet-technology nuclear reactor planned for Juragua.

Cuba's oil-burning electricity generating plants need Venezuelan oil because Cuba’s crude, which is high in sulfur, requires costly cleaning.

The U.S. State Department is reported in the Washington Times on Wednesday it was "troubled" by Venezuela's economic pact with Cuba. "We are troubled that a country with a democratic tradition like Venezuela would want to strengthen its ties to the only undemocratic regime and closed economy in the hemisphere," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The increasing ties between Chavez and Castro are a response to the threat they see from Bush’s US where before the election the US stepped up the propagandist TV Marti by overflying Cuba. The failed coup against Chavez 2 years ago is considered throughout Latin America to have been masterminded and planned by Washington.

This is one more step in the Anti-American Alliance Castro and Chavez have attempted to bring about since their 2000 sweep through OPEC nations which resulted in the denomination of oil sales from Saddam’s Iraq into the UN Oil for Food program in dollars, just as president Bush was sworn in as President.

The decline of the dollar and the rise in the international oil price and the steady and inexorable acceptance of the Euro, combined with the continuing US Trade deficit reflect the consequences of their actions.

It remains to be seen how “troubled” Washington is. It would not be surprising if, as in the ambiguous phraseology of UN resolutions, there will be “serious consequences”.
Granma/ Cuba report

  100,000 JDAM's and a 25% Dividend Boost

Dec. 10, 2004 – The Boeing Company delivered the 100,000 th tail kit on December 2 for the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon to the U.S. Military at its weapons facility near St. Louis.

USAF. Air Force Major General Robert Chedister, commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., was full of praise for the St. Charles, Mo., based team where the JDAM tail kit is made.

The JDAM tail kits were first produced in 1998, and provide a "near precision capability to Mk 80 series bombs (which range in size from 500 - 2,000 lbs) through GPS satellite-aided navigation". 900 kits a year were made but since 9/11 production has been ramped up to 3,000 tail kits per month. These kits are fitted to free fall bombs and have been used extensively in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The "warfighter"is provided with an autonomous (i.e fire and forget) , all-weather, near-precision bombing capability.

At $20,000 a pop , the USAF is the biggest customer, taking over half production the US Navy have had over 37,000 delivered. remaining production is delivered to " seven international customers." and the company are " pursuing opportunities throughout the world. "

The company say the smallest 500-pound variant is the newest member of the JDAM "family".The inhabitants of Iraq and Afghanistan have frequently been receiving vists from this latest member of the family.

On September 1oth, 2003 at the Utah Test & Training Range, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.the USAF completed their first 80 guided weapon flight test demonstration of the MK-82 500-pound JDAM from a B-2A bomber based at Edwards AFB, Calif., flew to the test site and released the 80 weapons in a single 22-second pass. The B2 bombers are of course stationed at Diego Garcia the illegally held Indian Ocean territory island which the UK lease to the US.

Major William Power, 419th Flight Test Squadron B-2A project pilot. is reported in company press releases, “Dropping 80 JDAM MK-82s in less than 30 seconds, with each attacking their own individual targets, is truly revolutionary.” he went on to say “Placing maximum steel on the target is what we get paid to do as Air Force bomber pilots and that happened today in a big way,”

The good news is of course that the company were able to announce yesterday that company’s Board of Directors approved a 25 %increase in the company’s quarterly dividend. It is the second dividend increase announced in 2004 for shareholders of the world’s largest aerospace company.

  I love the smell of Type 44 incendiaries in the morning

In March / April 2003 as Marines fought north to Baghdad USAF jets killed Iraqi troops with incendiary bombs close to bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris River on the road from Numaniyah . The explosions created massive fireballs. Col. Randolph Alles Commander Marine Air Group 11 based at Miramar Marine Air Station was reported In the San Diego Union-Tribune later to say ;

"We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches, unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video. “, he added with all the bravura of a screen general , "There were Iraqi soldiers there. It's no great way to die,". Maj. Gen. Jim Amos commanded Marine jet and helicopter units involved in the Iraq invasion and leads the Miramar-based 3rd Marine Air Wing who were directly responsible for the incendiary bombing.

Although called “napalm” the military distinguish these Type 44 bombs as incendiaries. Unlike the napalm used in Vietnam which used gasoline and benzene, the Type 44 firebombs made at the Federal Rock Island Arsenal IL. use kerosene-based jet fuel, which has a smaller concentration of benzene than gasoline. The Pentagon says that the national stockpile of napalm canisters, which had been in storage near Camp Pendleton at the Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station, were destroyed in April 2001.

On the first day of the invasion from Kuwait journalists reported the use of napalm at Safwan Hill, much later Marine spokesman Col. Michael Daily acknowledged that firebombs were dropped near Safwan Hill. This was the sensitive spokesman who explained the difference between the two weapons as the modern firebomb is a less harmful mixture than Vietnam War-era napalm.

"This additive has significantly less of an impact on the environment," quoted Col. Michael Daily, in an e-mailed information sheet provided by the Pentagon.

A 1980 UN convention banned the use against civilian targets (but not military) of napalm, largely as a result of press photographs of a fleeing, naked, Vietnamese child. It is mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to skin as it burns. The US, which did not sign the 1980 treaty, is one of the few countries that makes use of the weapon.

Now Al Jazeera report that bodies which appear to have been burnt have been found in the ruins of Fallujah. So far there has been no comment from the Pentagon or the White House. On November 27th in the UK Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon said: "I am calling on Mr Blair to make an emergency statement to the Commons to explain why this is happening. It begs the question: 'Did we know about this hideous weapon's use in Iraq?'"

To date Mr Blair remains silent on the subject of Fallujah. Napalm… the use of Saddam’s General’s to revive the Iraqi Army….. and a great deal else that is happening in Iraq.




December 2004 / March 2005 /

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