Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  Drive By Diplomacy

Hey life is hectic for the violin playing virtuoso. 1 day to see the Mehicans in Mehico. Now whirling like a Dervish through the Mid East, Far East - Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Korea and then back.. "In an effort to repair the damage, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is traveling through East Asia this weekend trying to get the six-nation talks back on track." says the Daily Kos.

Moving targets are that much harder to hit.

Monday, March 21, 2005
  GM makes you sick

“Detroit catches a cold the US gets pneumonia”. GM common stock today trades at 35% of it’s Jan 1 2000 value, over at Dearborn ,Ford suffer even more, their stock has sunk to 25% of it’s millenial value.

The Asian cuckoos in the nest have prospered, Honda ? up 155% in the same period, Nissan ? 190% and Toyota, GM’s major rival in the US home market 97%.

Wall Street scribes sneer that GM , Ford are welfare / pension businesses with a car plant attached – the lap dog media have an unholy alliance with the Detroit car makers that stifles criticism , shared by the Unions - It takes a lot of outside agitation before safety, legislative or environmental stories see the light of day.

Faced with slumping sales and market share, CEO of GM, Rick Wagoner reporting disastrous Q1 2005 figures this week said: "We have had an incentive-driven strategy that has been quite effective. That effectiveness has eased off. [Now] there will be more focus on value.” This is Detroit easyspeak for , “Well we’ve tried giving away the product, now we are going to spend more money on advertising”. A sure sign that if management ever understood the problems they long ago ran out of solutions.

GM's flagship Chevrolet Silverado pick-up slipped by 1.4 per cent in the first two months of this year. By contrast, sales of Nissan's new Titan made in Canton, Mississippi, soared by 55 per cent and Toyota's Tundra made in Princeton, Indiana, rose by almost a third. Honda made their first motorbike in the US in Ohio 25 years ago and now have 12 North American plants. This year they launch the brand new Ridgeline truck made in Alliston, Ontario .

So you have some money to invest, do you stick it in GM whose shares dropped 14% yesterday to $29 Mkt Cap $16.4 Bn or boost Milwaukee economy and stick it in Harley Davidson stock with Mkt Cap $17.7 BN - or go buy an Electraglide in Blue - priceless ?

The results for 1st Qtr of 2005 announced this week don’t encourage anyone to advise the widows and orphans to invest in GM. Warren Buffet certainly won’t be – at any price. They will lose $1.50 a share in 05 Q1 and "maybe" earn $1 a share this fiscal year 2005 against a recent January forecast of $ 4/5 a share.

GM's sales are off 6.3%, profits 37% and market share below 25% for the first time since the 1930’s. Sports Utility Vehicles ( SUV ) sales dropped 37 % in Q4 2004. meanwhile Toyota's US market share remorselessly rose from 12.1 to 13.1 % in 1st 2

Moody's Credit rating of Baa2, puts GM just two notches above junk status.

Standard & Poor's Rating Services "negative" from "stable." GM's BBB rating, one step above junk status,

Rumour says GM may get help from Washington reduce health-care costs, which are expected to top $5.6 billion this year, up from $5.2 billion last – adding $1,500 to the ticket price of every vehicle they sell. GM has 430,000 North American retirees, 2 1/2 times its active workforce,

Demand is dead. GM’s North American production is down in Q1 2005 to 1.18 million vehicles, down 12 % year on year.
GM, has $116 Bn of Bonds, the extra yield investors demand to hold GM's 6.875 recent note maturing in 2011 over U.S. Treasuries has widened this week about 60 basis points to 3.85 percentage points.
U.S. crude oil futures ended at a new record price after the government reported a larger-than-expected drop in gasoline supplies last week. West Texas light for April delivery settled at $56.46, gaining $1.41, after soaring to an intraday peak of $56.50.

So what have GM been doing to increase fuel efficiency ? Well fleet performance of GM cars has gone from 27.8 miles per US gallon to 28.8 mpg in the last 5 years and for light trucks 20.7 mpg to 21.2 (which includes a notional “E35credit” for ethanol) says the Company 2004 Corporate Responsibility report. It explains …”since 1990, new vehicle fuel economy has been relatively constant as consumers, reflecting increased disposable income and relatively low fuel prices, have not emphasized vehicles with high fuel economy”.

That’s it folks, it’s down to the consumers, faced with refinery shutdowns, declining oil resource, increasing oil imports from less stable political zones we did nothing, the dollar dives, the imports soar …and do you know, it’s the consumers fault… those wacky guys over at Toyota with their hybrids (sales over 500,000 worldwide as they lead the technology)…and customer queues sneaking round the block, well, maybe they just got lucky.

GM has too many mouths to feed, too many brands / divisions and no vision. No hybrid vehicles just more gas guzzlers - the world has changed and they didn't see it, not only hi and rising gas prices but steel and oil based plastics etc., - so says Rick we’ll spend more on advertsing.

If you think GM is sick, if you think Ford is sick, look at Boeing, their stock dropped 3% when Continental (with unions rejecting apay cut deal) threatened dropping orders for the Dreamliner 787, their trump card in the sales battle with Airbus. The composite contruction Dreamliner with a rudder made in China, fuselage and wing bases in Japan, nose cone in Everett California, de-icing kit made in the UK is a throw in the last chance saloon for a company who chucked out their CEO last week for romancing in the office.

US manufacturing industry has failed to understand and react to a rapidly changing world. Emboldened by the strident, pre-emptive, transformational world of the Bush imperialist gang, exporting by force of arms and bribery their distorted vision of democracy, their own has been disembowelled.

Black Monday II coming soon at a Stock Market near you. 

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 /

Powered by Blogger