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More than 100 private security companies in Iraq: undermining mission, behaving like trigger-happy cowboys

Posted by gasweek on 17 October, 2007

According to United States Defence Department figures, there were more than 100 private security companies operating in Iraq, with more than 180,000 personnel, reported The Advertiser (11/10/2007, p. 13).

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2604 | Leave a Comment »

Spot iron ore $US110 a tonne compared with the Australian contract price of $US52 a tonne; crude oil continues to trade above $US80 a barrel: analysts predict contract price rises up to 40pc for iron ore in 2008-09

Posted by gasweek on 11 October, 2007

Spot iron ore [Indian spot at port India, free on board] was trading at more than $US110 a tonne, compared with the Australian contract price of $US52 a tonne, according to Stephen Wyatt in Shanghai, writing in The Australian Financial Review, (8/10/2007, p. 23).

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Posted in oil, Price, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Attorney-General employs “extremely heavy-handed piece of legislation” meant for international spies, huge taxpayers’ funds in bid to persecute peace protesters, Dems Senator says

Posted by gasweek on 11 October, 2007

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett (Queensland) told the Senate on 20 September 2007 it was wrong for the Government to use the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act, intended for application toward international spies, against non-violent protesters who had entered the Pine Gap facility.

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Posted in Defence, Security, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Mercenary Blackwater USA guards earn $US1,222 ($1,370) a day – six to nine times more than a regular US Army sergeant

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

Their mission was to protect “packages”, US diplomats and other high-ranking officials in Iraq. Blackwater USA — which has pocketed more than $US1 billion from US taxpayers since 2001 and pays armed guards $US1222 ($1370) a day — six to nine times more than a regular US Army sergeant.

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Iraq orders $US100 mil­lion ($112 million) worth of light military equipment from China

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

News of the Iraqi arms deal – in which it would order $US100 mil­lion ($112 million) worth of light military equipment from China – came as Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the top US commander for day-to-day op­erations in Iraq, said he expected a US presence would be re­quired for “at least three to five more years” and would involve 25,000 to 50,000 troops, depend­ing on security conditions, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (5/10/2007, p.9).

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Posted in China, Iraq, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Erik Prince, commander of the world’s most powerful private army – Blackwater; and how wars can make private companies very rich, very quickly

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

At 38, Erik Prince was in effect the commander of the world’s most powerful private army. He looks like Hollywood’s take on a soldier, even in civilian dress. His straight blond hair is cut army-short, with just a little length in the neat fringe. He is tanned, fit and good-looking, with sharp blue eyes and the bearing of a man in uniform.

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Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Security, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Dems Senator airs concerns after Attorney-General invokes Cold War era legislation – for first time ever – to charge “non-violent protesters” at Pine Gap demo

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett (Queensland) told the Senate that the Attorney-General use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act to charge protesters represented an unecessary “sledgehammer approach”, after Liberal MP Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration, tabled a statement on the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, on behalf of the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson.

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Posted in Australia, Defence, Security, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

You’ve got no mail: AOL blocks emails containing references to petition circulating in opposition to changes in AOL’s email service

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

According to John Davidson in The Australian Financial Review (9/10/2007, p.30) last year AOL blocked emails that contained references to a petition that was circulating in opposition to changes in AOL’s email service. (AOL said it was a “glitch”).

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Posted in Security, Unknowns, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Indefinite detention on undisclosed grounds is “the stuff of nightmares”, British judge says: US Supremem court may decide whether “war on terror” is a real war

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

The Pentagon has said it hopes eventually to put up to 80 detainees on trial for war crimes by special military commissions. Even if acquitted, they may still be held as enemy combatants for the rest of the “war”, reported The Economist (6/10/2007, p.61).

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Posted in Defence, Security, UK, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

US dollar drops below Canadian dollar; low-value dollar makes long term Treasury bonds less attractive

Posted by gasweek on 5 October, 2007

The US dollar dropped below the Canadian dollar last week and was barely hanging on to parity now, reported David Cho in The Sydney Morning Herald (27/9/2007, p. 27). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Canada, Finance, Gas, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Echoes of Eisenhower in new ‘security-industrial complex’: weak Western leaders fuelling paranoia

Posted by gasweek on 5 October, 2007

Commentators have ascribed the chaotically belligerent aftermath of 11 Sep­tember to weak Western leaders crav­ing popularity in the glamour of war, wrote Simon Jenkins in The Sydney Morning Herald (20/9/2007, p.13). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Defense, Gas, UK, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Oil giants awash with cash; billions spent in share buyback programs: Chevron $US15bn over three years, Exxon $US16bn in six months, BP $15.5bn in a year

Posted by gasweek on 4 October, 2007

According to Ed Crooks in London, Chevron, the second largest US oil company, was to spend $US15 billion ($17.1 billion) on its own shares within the next three years, extending a $US5 billion a year program that began in 2005, reported The Australian (28/9/2007, p. 29).

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Posted in US, Volume 2602 | Leave a Comment »

Oil price: Goldman Sachs JBWere predicts multi-year, three-phase, forecast “super-spike” band from $US 105 a barrel to $US 135 a barrel

Posted by gasweek on 3 October, 2007

Goldman Sachs JBWere said that recent rises in the oil price were the second phase of a multi-year, three-phase “super-spike” era, underpinned by the struggle of oil suppliers to catch up with growth in demand, reported The Australian Financial Review, (24/9/2007, p. 25).

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Posted in Australia, oil, Price, US, Volume 2602 | Leave a Comment »

First Aus export of biodiesel leaves for Asia, US: green alternative the ‘way of the future’, says Natural Fuels chair

Posted by gasweek on 3 October, 2007

Australia’s first export shipment of biodiesel has been loaded on a freighter bound for Asia and the US, as former Liberal leader and company director John Hewson described the green alternative as the way of the future, reported The Australian Financial Review (3/8/2007, p.17).

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Posted in Biofuels, US, Volume 2602 | Leave a Comment »

Nuclear weapon states renewing and modernising their nuclear arsenals; why is it so hard to co-operate for peace?, asks Hans Blix

Posted by gasweek on 2 October, 2007

By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, US confidence and trust in international negotiations, particularly dealing with disarmament issues, was at a record low, according to Hans Blix, former UN chief weapons inspector, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (28/8/2007, p.13).

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Posted in US, Volume 2602 | Leave a Comment »

Troubling questions surround 9/11 events: lengthy list of inconsistencies, non-sequiturs, technicalities and legal challenges remain unanswered

Posted by gasweek on 2 October, 2007

Robert Fisk is reported in The Australian (27/8/2007, p. 17) as writing in The Independent in Britain: “Each time I lecture abroad on the Middle East, there is always someone in the audience whom I call the ‘raver’. His – or her – question goes like this. ‘Why, if you believe you’re a free journalist, don’t you report what you really know about 9/11? Why don’t you tell the truth that the Bush administration (or the CIA or Mossad, you name it) blew up the twin towers? Why don’t you reveal the secrets behind 9/11?'”

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Posted in Afghanistan, Defense, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Security, Unknowns, US, Volume 2602 | Leave a Comment »

US suspends all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq after law-immune US-paid mercenaries kill 20 Iraqis: Iraq’s Ministry of Defence confirms deaths

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The US has suspended all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the US Embassy’s security provider Blackwater USA, reported The Mercury (20/9/2007, p. 20). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Defense, Iraq, Liquids, Middle East, oil, Policy, Security, US, Volume 2601 | Leave a Comment »

Iran unveils new home-grown fighter jet: “Our forces like a thunderbolt will blind the eyes of the enemies of our land”

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

Iran has unveiled a new home-grown fighter jet amid growing tensions with the United States, and said the plane could “blind the eyes” of its enemies, reported The Canberra Times (22/9/2007, p.15). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Defense, Iran, Middle East, Policy, US, Volume 2601 | Leave a Comment »

“The Iraq war is largely about oil”, says ex-US Fed Reserve chair, Alan Greenspan

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

 Former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan created another Iraq-related crisis for the Bush Administration, alleging in his new memoir that “the Iraq war is largely about oil”, reported The Canberra Times (18/9/2007, p.7).

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Posted in Iraq, Liquids, Middle East, oil, Policy, US, Volume 2601 | Leave a Comment »

Stricken US credit markets shut down; six year war in Iraq could cost US taxpayers $US1 – $US2 trillion

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The Iraq war will cost US taxpayers dearly for some time to come while the cash reserves of high-growth Asia are rising. According to Glenda Korporaal, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, (19/9/2007, p.48) China had emerged as a world capital exporter, a force that can be expected to becoming increasingly powerful as the country looks to spend its $US1.2 bil­lion in foreign exchange reserves and hold the lid on its appreciating currency. By the end of 2006, more than 5000 Chinese “investment entities” had estab­lished almost 10,000 companies abroad in 172 countries and regions offshore.

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Posted in China, Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Very dangerous situation for the dollar: escape from the US dollar currency up; fall to $US1.50 against the euro by the first quarter of 2008 possible

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The escape from the US dollar had begin. Kuwait became the first of the oil sheikdoms to break its dollar peg in May, a move that has begun to rein in rampant money supply growth. A fall in the dollar to $US1.50 against the euro is not out of the question at all by the first quarter of 2008. According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, (22/9/2007, p.44), said Saudi Arabia had refused – for the first time – to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve, signalling that the Gulf kingdom was preparing to break the dol­lar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East”.

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Posted in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, US | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi judge Abdul Sattar Ghafour Bairaqdar, from the Supreme Judiciary Council, says Blackwater mercenaries should face trial: US obfuscation, ahead

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

A top judge also said Blackwater could face trial over Sun­day’s incident in Baghdad, which left 10 people dead and was branded a “criminal” act by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (19/9/2007, p.11).

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Tehran has plan to attack Israel, if Israel bombs Iran: warns: don’t make “a silly mistake”

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

A senior Iranian military offic­ial has warned that Tehran has prepared a plan to attack Israel if Israel bombs Iran, reported Nazila Fathi in Tehran in The Age (21/9/2007, p.11). “We have drawn up a plan to strike back at Israel with our bombers if this regime possibly makes a silly mistake,” General Mohammad Alavi, the deputy commander of Iran’s air force, said.

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Posted in France, Iran, Israel, US | Leave a Comment »

Contempt towards the US – 6 out of 10 Australians see American influence negatively

Posted by gasweek on 21 September, 2007

Derision or hostility towards the US, spurred by opposition to the Iraq war and resentment, real or imagined, of America’s economic and cultural dominance, continues to spread, widening the disconnect between our political leaders and the electorate, wrote Barry Hing in The Australian (27/8/2007, p. 16). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Gas, Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

New APEC security pact grants Australia preferential access to top-secret US weaponry: but 75per cent think APEC, was overkill

Posted by gasweek on 20 September, 2007

US president George Bush will unveil a new security pact in Sydney this week, granting Australia preferential access to top-secret US military technology and enhancing co-operation on defence and counter-terrorism. With polling showing almost three-quarters of NSW residents believe the $300 million APEC bill is a waste of money. Prime Minister John Howard urged people to be more positive. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Defense, Security, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

America and Iran play rivals for mastery of the post-Saddam Gulf; leaders of both countries ratchet up rhetoric

Posted by gasweek on 20 September, 2007

America and Iran have come to see each other as rivals for mastery of the post-Saddam Gulf. American relations with Iran appear to be going from bad to worse. The two countries are used to trading insults, but they have now become explosive. The more George Bush flounders in Iraq, the greater his temptation to blame Iran. On 28 August he called Iran the world’s leading supporter of terrorism, claiming that its nuclear programme had put the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” and authorised his commanders to confront Iran’s “murderous activities”, reported The Economist, (12/9/2007, p.14).

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Posted in Defense, Iran, Iraq, Security, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Los Angeles Times labels APEC a “festival of fakery” and anti-Kyoto grandstanding

Posted by gasweek on 18 September, 2007

John Howard may have talked up his Sydney Declaration but a leading US newspaper has attacked the APEC climate change plan as “vague” and “useless for anything but padding a fading prime minister’s environmental resume,” reported The Australian (10/9/2007, p.9).

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Posted in China, NSW, Policy, Public Opinion, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi parliament yet to pass legislation on US oil revenue sharing that gives global oil companies control over Iraq’s oil reserves

Posted by gasweek on 18 September, 2007

Iraqi oil exports were down to less than half the $55 billion that they were worth in 1980 said Senator Lyn Allison (Victoria—Leader of the Australian Democrats). “The invasion has created large numbers of Shia and Sunni jihadists that probably did not need any assistance from Iran”.

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Posted in Iraq, Middle East, oil, Price, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

15 September: oil up $US11 a barrel, or 16 per cent, over past 3 weeks as US hurricane season meets OPEC constraints

Posted by gasweek on 17 September, 2007

According to Stephen Wyatt, crude oil futures rose US18¢ to settle at a record $US80.09 a barrel in New York on Thursday night after Hurricane Humberto caused a blackout at a refinery in Texas. A major supply disruption could quickly trigger prices through $US100 a barrel. After all, in inflation-adjusted price terms, that is where they were in early 1980 during the Iran-Iraq War. The oil price has risen $US11 a barrel, or 16 per cent, over the past three weeks and 60 per cent so far this year. But in Asian trading on Friday it dipped below $US80 to fetch $US79.47c a barrel, reported Wyatt in The Australian Financial Review, (15/9/2007, p. 47).

Hurricane season in the USA: hurricane season in the US means an increased likelihood of production disruptions in the oil-critical Gulf of Mexico, while instability in the Middle East — the petrol station of the world — is a constant threat to global crude oil supplies.

OPEC action on 1 November: At the same time, non-OPEC oil production continues to disappoint and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ recently announced output increase of 500,000 barrels a day, effective from November 1, is seen by analysts as far from sufficient to rebalance the market

The Australian Financial Review, 15/9/2007, p. 47

Posted in US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

13 September: Hurricane Humberto heads towards Louisiana from southeast coast of Texas

Posted by gasweek on 17 September, 2007

13 September 2007: Hurri­cane Humberto blasted across the southeast Texas coast, packing winds as strong as 135km/h, reported The Courier Mail (14/9/2007, p. 26).

Hurricane may spawn tornadoes: The US National Hurri­cane Centre said the category one storm was moving towards Louisiana after slamming ashore on the southeast coast of Texas. Just hours earlier, Humberto had grown from a tropical storm to the third hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic season as it swirled over the Gulf of Mexico. The season’s two other hurricanes mushroomed into maximum category five storms before hitting Mexico and Central America. The latest storm may trigger tornadoes in Texas and Louisiana.

The Courier Mail, 14/9/2007, p. 26

Posted in US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »