Tuesday, June 22, 2010

U.N. to remove Taliban from blacklist: Karzai

(Reuters) - The United Nations has agreed to remove Taliban members who renounce ties to al Qaeda from a U.N. blacklist on a "gradual" basis, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said on Tuesday.

Senior diplomats from the 15-nation U.N. Security Council were in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, following a call for a review of the names of Taliban figures on its sanction list at a peace conference in Kabul earlier this month.

"The president asked the U.N. delegates to remove Taliban members from their blacklist and the delegates agreed to do so gradually and provided the members had no links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups," Karzai's palace said in a statement.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 freezes assets and limits travel of senior figures linked to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, but recent Afghan efforts to engage some insurgents in diplomacy have raised doubts about who should be on the list.

At least five of those named on the 137-name list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan held a three day peace "jirga," or conference, in a bid to find a national consensus on ways to end a violent insurgency that has dragged on for almost nine years.

A statement summarizing the June 2-4 meeting of 1,600 tribal and religious leaders in Kabul urged the Afghan government and foreign powers to "take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed from the consolidated blacklist."

So, let me get this right.  There are peace council members that are all citizens of Afghanistan that will hold a meeting on whether or not the Taliban are going to be peaceful. 


Where are the international IMPARTIAL mediators that will hold peace negotiations with all the parties within Afghanistan?

Peace council members to be impartial: Kashaf
Rahmatullah Afghan - Jun 15, 2010 - 13:34
KABUL (PAN): Members of the high council which will mediate between Hamid Karzai's government and the Taliban will be impartial and acceptable to both sides, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief of the peace jirga, Qayamuddin Kashaf, told Pajhwok Afghan News the council would be established soon and that it would have provincial offices.
The 1,600-member jirga which took place on June 2-4 stressed that negotiations with the Taliban and other militant groups were the only solution for lasting peace, calling on the Taliban to lay down their arms and stop "killing your brothers".
On his visit to the southern province of Kandahar on Sunday, Karzai promised he would form the high council as soon as possible.
The Afghan president met Monday with the leadership of the peace jirga and heads of the gathering's 28 committees. Based upon their suggestions, a 16-article declaration was drawn up which included establishing a high council for peace to open negotiations with armed opposition groups.
Without mentioning a time-frame, Kashaf said the council would start working soon.


Karzai issued fresh warning on cabinet

Abasin Zaheer - Jun 21, 2010 - 12:46

KABUL (PAN): Setting a Wednesday deadline for President Hamid Karzai to introduce his remaining cabinet picks, the Wolesi Jirga on Monday warned it would stop debating bills if the introduction was further delayed.
 The Jirga's annual vacations, starting June 5, have been postponed till the introduction of the rest of the ministers by the president.

However, the speaker Younus Qanuni told the meeting on Monday that they could not postpone their vacations for a long period.

He said he had talked to the president about the introduction of the ministers this morning and the president assured him that the ministers would be introduced till Wednesday.

He said the jirga would take a decision if the ministers were not introduced by Wednesday. His decision was approved by the ministers as well.

Under the Afghan Constitution, the working period of the Wolesi Jirga would be nine months in a year. However, the jirga could increase the period if it likes so.

Some members insisted the vacations should be postponed till the introduction of the rest of the ministers. Attaullah Ludin, from Nangarhar, said they could not wait further for the introduction of the ministers.

Fourteen members of the cabinet had been approved by the jirga, with remaining nine yet to get the trust vote.


Danish PM vows continued help for Helmand
Zainullah Stanikzai - Jun 21, 2010 - 19:29
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen on Sunday arrived in Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand province, where he met with troops from his country and local Afghan officials.
After meeting the governor, Gulab Mangal, the two officials addressed a joint press conference at the office of the Danish provincial reconstruction team.
Rasmussen said his brief visit to the province was aimed at assessing the security situation and discussing the ongoing development schemes with provincial officials.
He said he was satisfied with the security in Lashkargah.
"Our assistance is not only confined to security in Helmand. We will continue to support the civil sector, more importantly education and reconstruction of Helmand," he said.
Denmark had pledged to reconstruct a power station in Greshk district and a road connecting the district to Lashkargah two years ago, but so far, the work has not been completed.
Although Denmark is a small country, it had given a lot of aid to the province for improvement of security and the implementation of reconstruction projects, Mangal said.
Over the past two years, Denmark had assisted with education and other projects in Greshk, the governor said.
Around 750 Danish soldiers are serving under NATO's command in Helmand. So far 33 Danish soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.


UN report on Afghan police opposed
Lalit K Jha - Jun 18, 2010 - 20:11

WASHINGTON (PAN): Afghanistan has strongly objected to a UN report that places the country's police among a list of organisations which recruit children as soldiers and subject them to sexual harassment.

"Such a listing undermines the good work being done by the Afghan National Police in protecting the people and maintaining the law and order," the Afghan ambassador to the United Nations told a special debate of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict.

In its report on Children and Armed Conflict submitted to the Security Council, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, listed six organisations from Afghanistan that recruit or use children, kill or maim children and or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in situations of armed conflict. These are Afghan National Police, Haqqani network, Hezb-i-Islami, Jamat Sunat al-Dawa Salafia, Taliban forces and Tora Bora Front.

My government is disturbed by the decision of enlisting the Afghan National Police Force in the Annex of the present report, Tanin said as he talked about the steps taken by the Karzai administration to address the particular needs of children in armed conflict....


Turkey donates $3 million to ANA
Pajhwok Report - Jun 15, 2010 - 18:00
KABUL (PAN): The Turkish Armed Forces has donated more than $3 million in weapons and equipment to the Afghan National Army at a ceremony at Camp Dogan in Kabul.

The donation included mortars, machine guns, boots and travel bags as well as sewing machines, the Turkish army said in a statement on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Baz Muhammed Javhari, ANA deputy minister for logistic affairs, thanked the Turkish Armed Forces for the contribution and expressed his desire for the friendship between the two nations to continue.

Since 2003, Turkey has donated more than $71 million in weapons and equipment to the ANA. In addition, Turkish military personnel have trained more than 1,200 ANA soldiers, according to Col. Can Bolat, Turkey's military attach to Afghanistan.


The tribes in Afghanistan are using the Taliban to blackmail their government? 


I guess if villagers use the right words, such as rape and sexual abuse of women and children they can intimidate nearly anyone. 

I see. 

No trials for these grievances? 


So, the 'charged' police officers are simply fired.  No charges, no trials, no jail, just fired.  I see.

Barakzai tribesmen demand removal of police chief
Ahmad Umeed Khpalwak - Jun 15, 2010 - 22:41
TIRINKOT (PAN): Nearly 200 residents of central Uruzgan province demonstrated in the provincial capital on Tuesday, demanding the removal of the provincial police chief who they said was discriminating between two tribes.
Police chief, Brig. Gen. Juma Gul Himmat, had dismissed police at four check-posts in an area populated by the Barakzai tribe, protesters said.
"Even though we supported President Hamid Karzai against Taliban insurgents, today the police of our tribe have been disarmed," a tribal elder, Mirakhan, said.
"I am an official policeman, but still the police chief disarmed me," another protester, Attiqullah, said.
The police chief and his associates took all items and money from the checkpoints, he said.
The protesters threatened to allow the Taliban to openly operate in their village if officials did not remove the police chief.
Another tribal elder, Abdul Khaliq, said, the police chief was trying to fuel a dispute between Barakzai and Popalzai tribes. "The police chief handed the police checkpoints to the Popalzai tribe, so we are supposed to fight against them," he said.
But Himmat, the police chief, rejected the accusations and said he had dismissed police at the four checkpoints on the orders of the Ministry of Interior.
He said the fired police men had violated human rights by sexually abusing a woman.
"I don't support a particular tribe and neither is tribal discrimination involved in this issue as there are still Barakzai in five police checkpoints," he added


It would be unfortunate if General McCrystal left his command in Afghanistan. I believe he is a good man. Joe Biden isn't Dick Cheney if that was the 'measure' for Veeps. Thank God he isn't Cheney.

But, the military will be the military and they measure leadership differently.  They put their lives on the line and that gives them moral authority to pass judgement. 

It is unfortunate the dynamics of Afghanistan has been so blastedly disgusting after nearly a decade of neglect by the previous Executive Branch.

But, there are issues of sorts with the esteem General McCrystal holds his Commander and Chief.  I don't know why exactly, but, I believe it has a lot to do with NATO and their focus of Afghanistan.

There have been comments made in Europe by the General at times that are a bit out of line with the current methodology of this White House and it may be out of step with the State Department's efforts as well.  But, they are 'soldiers comments' and show a more aggressive approach to the combat theater.  Sometimes, to allow such 'dissonance' is simply respect for the 'four stripes' on the General's sleeve.

It would have been better if this General and this President were able to speak 'on message' to achieve the goals of the best outcomes in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan and its Poppy Economy has to be an irritant to General McCrystal, but, in his judgement to rattle that apart in order to achieve some idea of 'moral content' to that country would be to cause greater gaps in loyalties to the current government by citizens and place soldiers in greater danger.

The 'side effect' may be an Afghan soldier sadly unable to protect Afghanistan due to substance abuse.

Permitting a Poppy Economy is Anti-American and in some corners of the military and possibly the administration that may be ridiculed.  We don't know if General McCrystal and his staff have been putting up with 'sore comments' either.  It could be there are many 'aggravations' to the comments by General McCrystal's staff and him as well.  It seems completely obvious the 'culture' currently at work within and about the Afghanistan War isn't good for anyone.  Unfortunately, it might be enough to destroy the relationship between the General and the President.

General McCrystal is a remarkable military officer.  It might be the hubris has taken on a life of its own.  The question is, will the President find any prolonged 'difference' between the two more than he is willing to tolerate.  It might be that General McCrystal might see it the same way.

What does anyone expect it is Louisiana where they put oil ahead of citizens. Corruption rules.

Ships and drilling rigs surround the Discoverer Enterprise as it continues to recover oil from the Deepwater Horizon drill site in the Gulf of Mexico on June 15, 2010. (Xinhua/U.S. Coast Guard/Bob Laura)

The Plutocracy must be served.  Judge Feldman ruled knowing the Executive Branch would appeal the decision.

His operative words were "explicitly justify."  It is corruption.  Feldman  doesn't read the newspapers or watch the news?  He doesn't know what is going on?  No, sure he does, but, he is going to make the Executive Branch of the USA 'dance on the head of a pin' with the verbiage of the moritorium. 

..."We will immediately appeal to the 5th Circuit," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "The president strongly believes, as the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice argued yesterday, that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened…potentially puts the safety of those on the rigs and safety of the environment in the gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now."...

The argument that employment is being lost and oil companies are losing income is completely irrelevant.  BP is liable for all those losses.  All of them, including the losses of other oil companies.  This is ridiculous and outrageous.  There are eleven people dead and those deaths mean absolutely nothing to Feldman.  To Feldman this is all a game of who types better and more explicitly.

It's Louisiana, where corruption is a way of life.

President Obama did what was correct to protect lives and secure the understanding of what occurred. 

You know, the petroleum industry is required to drill a relief well at the same time they are drilling the main well.  Why?  Because the North Atlantic has FREQUENT fires on their rigs.  FREQUENT.  By that MEASURE  ALONE, the Petroleum Industry is putting lives at risk.  Their neglegence in this instance is OBVIOUS and yet a Louisiana District Judge has no backbone to stand up to them.

The worst oil disaster in the North Seas was the Piper Alpha which was operated by Occidental Petroleum.  The disaster occurred in 1988 after the platform began to pump methane in greater quantities than oil.  There were 167 human lives lost with a financial loss of $3.4 billion, without the gushing oil.

There is a very long history of explosions and deaths of people working the rigs.  BP has an abysmal safety record.  It is a fact.  These explosions happen frequently enough to say the Petroleum Industry does not care or do they even want to care about what ACTUALLY occurs when these rigs explode WHEN there is HIGH  METHANE content from the drilling. 

For a USA Judge to simply dismiss the Executive Branch concerns regarding poor safety track records and eleven deaths while an entire coastline becomes economically handicapped for decades to come, in my opinion is gross malpractice by Feldman.

Another Example:

BP's Disaster: No Surprise to Folks in the Know

Andrew B. Wilson: Anyone Who Understood the Corporate Culture Could See This Coming a Million Miles Away

...Only it wasn’t an explosion. A gas line had ruptured-allowing thousands of pounds of pressurized gas to escape at supersonic velocity. That caused a thunderous sonic boom. Debris from the burst pipe and its cladding rained down, adding to the impression that “an artillery shell had just hit the platform.” The escaping gas quickly formed a huge and potentially lethal cloud around the rig. Now the threat of an actual explosion was very real. The smallest spark would detonate more than a ton of methane gas.
No one died or was even hurt that day on Forties Alpha, thanks in part to high winds that helped to disperse the gas after about 20 minutes of extreme danger to the platform and its crew of 180 people. But Houston, the number two in command aboard Forties Alpha, knew full well what could have happened. “Unlike a similar incident on the ill-fated Piper Alpha platform,” he observes, referring to an earlier accident in the North Sea, “the gas did not ignite, so what could have been a major disaster for myself and everyone else on board was averted by sheer luck.”...


Immediately after the Deepwater Horizon blew up, there was another platform in Venezuelan waters that was pumping nothing but methane and it exploded and sunk as well.  The Petroleum Industry is out of control.  The disaster of the BP rig is the event to stop the clock on 'luck' in order to come to understand the devastating consequences of poor insight and management by these companies.  Feldman is completely "W"rong.  He removed the purpose of the moritorium and sought to place Executive Authority as a 'volley' to the order.  It is pure unadulterated corruption.

Feldman's words are hideous in their content as well.

...Judge Martin Feldman called the Deepwater Horizon spill "an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster."...

He tries to cover up his 'bate and switch' routine by appearing to understand the 'human tragedy' better than anyone else.  Please, this is such garbage, the ruling belongs in the nearest land fill.

Rig: ODECO Ocean Odyssey Semi-Sub

Date: 22 September 1988

Location: Shearwater Field, Block 22, UK Continental Shelf

Operator: Arco (now a subsidiary of BP)

...At around 1130 hours, a rapid rise in casing pressure was seen, with substantial mud returns and the presence of gas vapour at the rotary table. With the bit at 13200 feet, the circulating pressure was not great enough to prevent a gas influx into the well and the well began to flow. The control room operator was then alerted to a gas kick and all rig crew were ordered to lifeboat stations as a precautionary measure. At around 1255 hours, the first explosion occurred and the four remaining crew on the drillfloor evacuated to lifeboats. The well was not shut in completely with the lower rams. At around 1305 hours, catastrophic choke hose failure caused by the uncontrolled flow of aggressive fluids through the choke hose led to the release of large quantities of gas and caused fires both on the rig and on the surface of the sea beneath the rig....


September 14, 2005 12:00 AM (Published in the July 2005 issue)


DATE: MARCH 23, 2005

...As workers restarted a component of the unit, abnormal pressure built up in the production tower, and so three relief valves opened to allow highly volatile gasoline components to escape to the 10 x 20-ft. "blowdown" drum. But so much fuel flooded into the drum that its capacity was rapidly exceeded. Liquid and vapor shot straight up the 113-ft. vent stack, into the open air.
Witnesses saw a cloud of vaporizing fuel geyser out of the stack and cascade to the ground. One person reported hearing a desperate call crackle over a handheld radio. "What is this? Stop all hot work! Stop all hot work!"
But too much equipment was running to shut it all down. As vapors were sucked into its engine, an idling pickup at the base of the tower began to rev up, according to witnesses. A worker raced to turn it off, but he was too late. Somewhere in the cloud of fumes, perhaps in the truck's engine, a spark touched off the gas and ignited a firestorm....

Texas City knows industrial facilities and their dangers. Often referred to as "Toxic City," it is home to four chemical plants and three refineries. The sprawling BP complex, built in 1934, is the third largest of 149 petroleum refineries nationwide. At night it glows like a forested landscape of steel Christmas trees, strung with flickering safety lights. Since records were kept in 1971, there have been at least nine other accidents at the refinery that injured or killed workers, but the explosion on March 23 was by far the most destructive....


Fifth anniversary of BP Texas refinery explosion-have we learnt any lessons?

By Sam
Mar 24, 2010

Mar 24, 2010- Five years ago, terrible explosions rocked BP’s Texas refinery complex that resulted in several fatalities and injuries. The question that is now being raised is, whether any lessons were learned from this by manufacturing companies in general and hydrocarbon processing companies in particular? Apparently not many, as evidenced by the several accidents that took place in refineries and chemical complexes after this accident....

...The CSB issues the following statement from CSB Chairman John Bresland:

Five years ago today, at about 1:20 p.m., a series of explosions rocked the BP Texas City refinery during the restart of a hydrocarbon isomerization unit.

Fifteen workers were killed and 170 others were injured. Many of the victims were working in or around work trailers located near an atmospheric vent stack. The explosions occurred when a distillation tower flooded with hydrocarbons and was over- pressurized, causing a geyser-like release from the vent stack. The hydrocarbons found an ignition source and exploded.

I urge everyone in the oil refining industry to take a moment today and think about that tragic loss of life and the severity of so many injuries which continue to afflict workers five years later.
Today would be an appropriate time for company management to pause and personally pledge to do everything in their power to prevent this kind of catastrophic accident from happening at their refineries. And in my view it would also be appropriate for BP to recommit to safety in a way that builds on the steps it has taken in the aftermath of the Texas City tragedy.

In the CSB’s final investigation report issued two years after the accident, we found organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation. It was the most comprehensive and detailed investigation the CSB has ever done. Our investigation team turned up extensive evidence showing a catastrophe waiting to happen. that cost-cutting had affected safety programs and critical maintenance; production pressures resulted in costly mistakes made by workers likely fatigued by working long hours; internal audits and safety studies brought problems to the attention of BP’s board in London, but they were not sufficiently acted upon. Yet the company was proud of its record on personnel safety.

I urge everyone involved in operations and safety programs at refineries to take time to visit the CSB’s BP investigation web page, review the key findings in the report, and ask “Is any of this happening at my facility?” I also recommend taking a lunch hour to view with your colleagues the CSB Safety Video “Anatomy of a Disaster”, an extensive examination – with computer animation – of the factors that caused the BP tragedy.


The point is, the Petroleum Industry does not care, nor do they want to care.  They make so much money that fines and bad publicity means nothing to them.  The only entity standing the way of citizens' deaths and this industry is the government and Feldman is a prime example of corruption at the core of the power of industries that are allowed to control economic dynamics.  Money is truely more important than human life and this is more proof of it. 

Feldman is well bought and paid for whether it is 'stupid ideology' over economics or some 'moronic idea' that the President is supposed to have the power to protect citizens over their right to work.  That is an oxymoron considering Louisiana is a 'will to work state' whereby employees have to rights anyway.  The entire situation is pure corruption from top to bottom and it is CULTURAL CORRUPTION at its worst.

"Cultural Corruption" is what Republicans rely on to achieve elections and re-elections. 

BP Faces Record Fine for ’05 Refinery Explosion

Published: October 30, 2009

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the largest fine in its history on Friday, $87 million in penalties against the oil giant BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Tex. refinery....

$87 million in fines is just a 'speed bump' in the bonus scale to any CEO.  It means absolutely nothing to the Petroleum Industry or their stockholders.
THINK  GREEN, THINK  LOCAL  and save your lives.  It is up to us !!!!