Archive for category Venezuela

dibs on resources in the Western hemisphere

1. Venezuela awards 2 blocks in massive oil region: India, Malaysia, Chevron (US), Japan, Spain

Venezuela assigned the rights to exploit the Carabobo 1 block to a consortium that included Repsol, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp., Oil India Ltd. and Indian Oil Corp. and Malaysia’s Petronas, while another block, Carabobo 3, was awarded to a consortium led by Chevron and that also included Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and Inpex Corp. and Venezuela’s Suelopetrol

…In both blocks, the winning consortium will have a 40 percent stake and the remaining 60 percent stake will be held by Venezuelan state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela. According to official Venezuelan figures, the blocks have the potential to produce a combined total of at least 800,000 barrels of crude per day by 2016 and will require $30 billion in investment.

“This is something historic,” President Hugo Chavez said of the auction. “It is extremely important” and is the product of “a transparent bidding process” that began on Oct. 30, 2008, with the participation of 19 foreign companies….He also stressed the importance of foreign investment in developing the potential of that region, which the U.S. Geological Survey recently said is the world’s largest petroleum reserve with more than 500 billion barels of recoverable crude.

more @ tribune

2. India moving faster to tie up mineral supplies

Thus the Indian government is reportedly moving to fast track deals to secure future supplies for its ever-growing industrial base. According to a report in today’s Hindustan Times The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has decided that the country’s state-owned corporations need to be supported in aggressively pursuing the acquisition of strategic mineral resources through a dedicated fund - and it has set a 30-day deadline for such plans to be in place. According to Hindustan Times, an unnamed  senior government official  told it “The PMO has asked the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission to work out the size and structure of the dedicated fund in 30 days.”

…The significance of the Indian move should not be underestimated. Indian growth is currently matching that of China and with the two Asian potential megapowers with enormous populations taking ever increasing volumes of raw materials from the global supply, the pressure on resources can only increase dramatically.

According to the report, India is also beginning to try and use diplomatic pressures to help secure supplies with the External Affairs Ministry tasked with a strategy to help acquire them, particularly in Africa which is seen as key area of potential supply with resources frequently directly controlled by government.

more @ mineweb

3. Brazil finds more oil, shallow water, low hanging fruit

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras said Thursday that it has found oil at a well located in shallow waters of the Campos Basin. The find was made in waters just 200 meters (655 feet) deep and is near massive deposits in deeper areas of Campos, which is located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state and is the basin where 80 percent of Brazil’s oil is extracted. Petrobras said the 4-PM-53 well contains an estimated 25 million barrels of recoverable heavy oil and is just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the Pampo field, which is currently being developed.

…Petrobras, Brazil’s largest corporation and one of the world’s fastest-growing oil companies, produces an average of 2.5 million barrels of oil and natural gas equivalent in Brazil and abroad. An integrated energy company and a global leader in deepwater oil exploration and production, Petrobras operates in 27 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. Shares of the company trade on the Sao Paulo, New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires stock exchanges, but the Brazilian government retains control through a golden share. EFE

more @ tribune

4. Cuba, Russia confirm “strategic” nature of their relationship

HAVANA – The Russian and Cuban foreign minister emphasized on Thursday the “enormous potential” and the “strategic” nature of relations between their two countries. Sergei Lavrov arrived in Cuba for a three-day visit and presided at a meeting with Bruno Rodriguez, after which they signed three accords.

…Lavrov said that the relationship had transformed itself into a “truly strategic association” and confirmed to the Cuban government Moscow’s “unchanging” stance against the economic embargo the United States has maintained against the communist-ruled island since 1962.

…Besides the foreign minister, the Russian delegation to the fair includes Culture Minister Alexandr Avdeev and more than 200 publishers, writers, artists, officials, translators and journalists. Lavrov’s trip to Havana continues the frequent visits made by top Russian government officials to Cuba in the last two years, including those by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who has traveled to the island on at least five occasions. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev traveled to Cuba in 2008 and Cuba’s president, Gen. Raul Castro, returned the visit in 2009. EFE

more @ tribune

diplomacy: a poke in the eye, a wink across the room…

1. Moscow wants answers from US on Romania missile shield plan as US does what looks like a work-around

Moscow is waiting for clarification from the United States over its plans to deploy missile defense elements in Romania, the Russian foreign minister said Friday. Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Thursday his country had approved a U.S. plan to deploy interceptor missiles as part of a missile shield to protect Europe.

“We expect the United States to provide an exhaustive explanation, taking into account the fact that the Black Sea regime is regulated by the Montreux Convention,” Sergei Lavrov said. He said Russia acted on the assumption that “there is an agreement between the two presidents on the joint study of common threats, with the participation of the European Union.” “When we understand that we have a common understanding of possible threats, it will be possible to say what measures could be taken in response,” the minister said.

A U.S. State Department official said the facilities were due to become operational by 2015 and were aimed at defending against “current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran.” U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped plans last year for Poland and the Czech Republic to host missile shield elements to counter possible strikes from Iran. The plans had infuriated Russia.

Washington then announced a new scheme for a more flexible system, with a combination of land- and sea-based interceptors, to be deployed in Central Europe by 2015. U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden visited Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic last October to promote the new missile shield plan. Warsaw and Prague have already expressed their support for the revamped U.S. strategy.

BERLIN, February 5 (RIA Novosti)

2. US determined to park missiles as close to Russia as possible

Russia is very close. There are about 500 kilometers between Romania and Russia’s major naval base in Sevastopol. Russia’s southern areas are close too. Even if the missile base is not going to be a threat to Russia, as the Romanian president said, Russia is not thrilled about such a neighborhood.

Romania was prepared to provide its territory for the missile defense system several years ago. In 2005, Romania was mentioned as a location for CIA’s secret prisons. President Basescu did not feel shy to call the United States Romania’s main strategic partner.

One has to give Basescu credit for his determination as a politician. Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007 despite such deviations from the rules as an extremely low living standard.

The deployment of US military objects in Romania will not improve security in the region, but US and Romanian officials do not seem to care much about it.

more @ pravda

3. Saakashvili attacked on all fronts

The authorities’ opponents say that Saakashvili is losing not only Europe’s support but the support of the blessed West as well. First, there appeared information about the Georgian president being abandoned by his American advisor Daniel Kunin. The press service, however, denied the fact. As was stated by Press Speaker Manana Mandzhgaladze, the information does not quadrate to facts. For instance, one of these days, the All News Georgian edition has published an article titled: “Saakashvili may be seriously concerned about his political future”.

The newspaper pays attention to the fact that the general attitude of the most foreign media towards the Georgian president who had been treated as a golden boy in Washington has switched to negative. “There are many articles saying that Georgia has got an image of an unstable country because of Saakashvili’s policy, which prevents the inflow of considerable investments to Georgia”, - the periodical reports.

The foreign friends seemed to forget to invite the Caucasian democrat to the Munich conference on safety policy that will be held on February 5-7. The oppositional Georgian media noticed mockingly that this fact confirmed Mikhail Nikolaevitch being in disfavor of his friends and partners. The press service asserts that he does not come to Munich because of being too busy. The official authorities did not make any comments as to the fact that leader of the oppositional Alliance for Georgia Irakliy Alasania has been officially invited to Munich to represent Georgia this year.

more @ georgia times

3. Daniel Kunin interview from August 2008 w/ telegraph uk

Meanwhile, Mr Kunin has been working hard to keep himself below the radar. This is his first interview. One of the reasons for this secrecy may be that until March this year he was being paid by USAID (the US government’s development arm). Mr Kunin insists that he was a consultant paid by the US, not an employee - and therefore not beholden in any way - but as the calls on his mobile phone suggest, clearly this is the man that provides the link with America.

If Mr Saakashivili is winning the propaganda war against the Kremlin, Daniel Kunin is his general, tutoring him on his press appearances, advising on strategy and trying to spin the criticism that the Georgian administration is receiving of both breath-taking naivety and recklessness in baiting the bear of Russia. But did the confidence in his pro-West PR campaign create so much confidence that it caused Mr Saakashvili to over-reach himself, over-estimating the support he would get from the West, and thus causing his downfall?

“It wasn’t a case of over-estimating ourselves, but a case of under-estimating Russia,” he says. “There is a tendency to blame victim. Saying that it was Saakashvili’s gamble is a convenient way of ducking the issues, and not accepting responsibility for what they have to do.”

So is there any advice he regrets having given? “None at all,” says Mr. Kunin unrepentantly.

more @ telegraph

4. India breaks the ice, calls Pak for talks. the game seems to have changed a bit.

New Delhi In an incremental step aimed at restoring some official-level conversation on terrorism and a range of issues affecting bilateral ties, India has invited the Pakistan Foreign Secretary for talks to New Delhi.

While modalities will be worked out after a response from Islamabad, sources said the Indian side was hoping for a meeting this month.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there were signals emanating from India that it was willing to hold bilateral talks….Sources said the government is moving cautiously this time given the political backlash after the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement which sought to delink the dialogue process from terrorism directed at India from Pakistan soil. This time the government is keen to make the point that the core focus at the talks will be on cross-border terrorism. At the same time, the discussions will look at other “peace and stability” issues….This dialogue also has a bearing on larger issues related to developments in the broader AfPak region. With its overtures drawing no answer from New Delhi, Islamabad had begun to take a more combative approach against involving India in any regional discussion on the future of Afghanistan. It was at Pakistan’s instance that India was not involved in the Turkey-sponsored regional meeting. The US too has been indicating to India that starting a conversation was better than having no interaction at all.

more @ express india

5. more regime change efforts

CARACAS (Venezuela) - VENEZUELA accused the United States on Thursday of portraying President Hugo Chavez’s government as thuggish in an effort to entice the opposition to try to topple the socialist leader.

Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, took issue with an intelligence report presented to US senators earlier this week that described Mr Chavez as an autocratic leader who uses repression to stifle dissent.

In a letter sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mr Alvarez rebuked the findings of the report, saying it ‘is full of politically motivated and cynical accusations’. Mr Alvarez called it part of a US campaign ‘to criminalise our government and encourage groups within Venezuela’s opposition to seek anti-democratic paths to take power’.

US officials have repeatedly denied they would support any attempt to unseat Mr Chavez through anti-democratic means, and Venezuela’s opposition leaders insist they want to remove the former paratrooper at the polls.

Mr Chavez vehemently rejects allegations that his government has sought to silence criticism, including using trumped up criminal charges to imprison or intimidate outspoken political adversaries. — AP

source: straits times

6. Dora Akunyili, Nigerian Information Minister, tells fellow ministers to stop lying about Yar’Adua

The cabinet must stop lying to Nigerians about President Yar’Adua’s illness and face up to the reality that he is no longer able to perform his duties; information minister Dora Akunyili bluntly admonished fellow ministers yesterday.

At the regular weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation, Mrs Akunyili stunned her colleagues by presenting a memo in which she challenged them to tell Nigerians the truth about the president’s health and stop deceiving the people.

According to our sources, Mrs Akunyili had wanted to submit the memo through the cabinet office but was worried that the office might sit on the memo so she took it to the Council meeting to distribute.

NEXT however learnt that as soon as she began to do that, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation stood up to challenge her. He said what she was doing was irregular and she should have passed it through the cabinet office. Both the Minister of Water Resources, Ruma Sayyadi and his colleague in charge of transportation Diezani Allison-Madueke also supported Mr. Aondoakaa that she should follow procedures.

At this point, a perplexed Akunyili looked up to the Vice President for support but Mr. Jonathan told her to withdraw the memo and pass it through the requisite channels. With no support from her colleagues, Mrs Akunyili left the meeting and Mr. Yayale went around collecting all copies of the memo. Inevitably, the meeting which ended in less than two hours, discussed only one memo before it dispersed, without considering even the customary approval of contracts.

In a surprising twist, many of the ministers went to meet her and praised her candour after the meeting.

more @ next

going missing

Those conspiracy theorists…

You see, this is why people stick with trusted news sources, like ABC news. ABC news brings this disturbing report that some Haitian children have gone missing from hospitals. UNICEF suspects these children may have been fed into an international trafficking ring.

United Nations officials say children have gone missing from hospitals in Haiti since the devastating January 12 earthquake, raising fears of trafficking for adoption abroad. “We have documented around 15 cases of children disappearing from hospitals and not with their own family at the time,” said UNICEF adviser Jean Luc Legrand. “UNICEF has been working in Haiti for many years and we knew the problem with the trade of children in Haiti that existed already beforehand.

“Unfortunately, many of these trade networks have links with the international adoption market.”

An ADOPTION ring! That’s right. Orphaned children might be smuggled out of desperate, ravaged Haiti to be given loving homes with white people. Of course that doesn’t quite explain why the children disappear from hospitals, does it.

Here’s the little faux-outrage politically correct bullshit argument that I’m sure somebody somewhere will go running with: This is outrageous. Surely in every single instance, the people must have only the purest of intentions. But that does not mean they can take these poor children away without following the legal procedures. Even if they only want to save them.

And here is the matching argument for the other foot: This is outrageous. Why should these children be left to die for lack of care and good homes when wonderful people can take them out of that hell right now and give them wonderful homes? Leave these good people alone they are only trying to help.

That controversy oughta keep a few people busy for a while…

The agency said it had warned countries during the past week not to step up adoptions from Haiti in the immediate wake of the quake. However several are fast-tracking adoption procedures already under way, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. Mr Legrand said the situation was similar to the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia five years ago.

Trafficking networks were springing into action immediately after the disaster and taking advantage of the weakness of local authorities and relief coordination “to kidnap children and get them out of the country”. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said child enslavement and trafficking in Haiti was “an existing problem and could easily emerge as a serious issue over the coming weeks and months”.

The UN mission in Haiti has stepped up surveillance of roads, UNICEF officials said. Mr Legrand said there was separate but only anecdotal evidence of people taking children by road to the neighbouring Dominican Republic and loading children on to planes. “We have seen over the past years many children being taken out of the country without any legal procedure,” he said. “This is going on. This is happening now. We are starting to have the first evidence of that, this is unquestionable.”

He was unable to give details on the 15 missing children or their condition or clearly connect the anecdotal observations in Haiti’s chaos with trafficking.

The cases were documented by social workers and by partner non-governmental organisations working for UNICEF in hospitals.

Do you see that trafficking networks are….well….good? Or at least not all bad? They spring into action immediately and take advantage of the weakness of local authorities to kidnap children and get them out of the country. See? It’s “nuanced.”

But of course, we can take our sharp little stick and poke around that trafficking idea and ask some more pertinent questions, like: what other rings might be operating in the chaos in Haiti — aside from the fairy tale adoption rings of people who only ever have the best intentions?

Sex trafficking? Human slaves? Organ trafficking? You know, it’s kind of funny that Mr. Legrand would say: “This is going on. This is happening now. We are starting to have the first evidence of that, this is unquestionable.”

Because, to be honest, the authorities have known about these problems for years.

And they also know about the international pedophile rings.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch upon the organ trafficking angle.

But ABC News doesn’t do conspiracy theories.

and so it would be very rude of me indeed to cast an aspersion on this whole haiti roadside hospital narrative and ask just how the sam hill did the israelis, out of all the people in the world who have converged on the little island, how exactly did the israelis manage to get their hospital equipment set up? i thought there were some bottlenecks but i guess they have connections. lucky huh? and what exactly do they do in the mash field hospital with all the little orphaned children? does anyone oversee anything going on or would that be rude? would that insinuate that maybe, you know, given the circumstances of the israeli organ stealing that has happened in the past with disadvantaged populations that maybe our israeli bestest friends could use some chaperones around the destitute orphans of haiti, lest their little kidneys go missing?

iran is not the isolated country

1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.

source: naharnet

note that Erdogan is also in Abu Dhabi, and this links back to the assassination in Cyprus: here and here — Lieberman again

2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete

“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.  The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.

more @ iloubnan

3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Relations between Tehran and Damascus are invulnerable to third party interference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated on Monday .

“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed.  Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.

Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential

Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia.  “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states.  The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.

more @ fars

TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.

more @ fars

Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious

TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

more @ fars

4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.

5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Akio Shirota stressed Iran’s key role in the restoration of security and tranquility in the region.

isn’t that convenient

1. (random) terrorist group (conveniently) claims responsibility for Iranian scientist attack

TEHRAN, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — A terrorist group named “Iran Royal Association” took responsibility for Tuesday’s fatal bombing attack on an Iranian nuclear physicist, local Iran Daily reported Wednesday.  The Iran Royal Association, a group seeking to reestablish the Pahlavi reign in Iran, announced Tuesday in a statement that its ” Tondar Commandos” were behind the assassination of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a particle physics professor in Tehran University, according to the report.   The website of the group said it had previously threatened Ali-Mohammadi with death.  The Iran Royal Association, headed by Foroud Fouladvand, was also responsible for a deadly bombing in the tourist city of Shiraz in April 2008, during which 13 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

more @ chinaview

2. Iran: we had information Israel, US intended to attack — US says that’s absurd, Israel has no comment

Iran received information days ago that Israeli and U.S. intelligence intended to carry out terrorist acts in Tehran, the country’s parliament speaker said on Wednesday, one day after the assassination of a university scientist.  Washington has rejected Iran’s allegations of U.S. involvement in Tuesday’s bombing that killed professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi near his home in the Iranian capital as absurd. Israel has not commented on the incident.

Iran’s influential parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, said a U.S.-based pro-monarchy group had claimed responsibility for the attack, adding it was controlled by the CIA. Iran’s Fars News Agency on Tuesday said such an exile group had claimed the bombing in a statement, without saying how it obtained it. “An American-based monarchy group…claimed responsibility for this terrorist act,” Larijani said, the state broadcaster reported. “Maybe the CIA and the Zionist regime [Israel] thought they can mislead us with such an absurd statement.” “We had clear information several days ago that the intelligence apparatus of the Zionist regime and the CIA wanted to implement terrorist acts in Tehran,” he said.  Using such a “rootless group” as a cover was a new “disgrace” for U.S. President Barack Obama, Larijani said. “Why do you host this terrorist group in America?” he asked. Israel refused Tuesday to react to Iranian accusations that it or the United States was behind a mysterious explosion that killed an Iranian nuclear physicist in Tehran Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Ali Mohammadi was involved in a regional research project that also involved Israeli scientists. The project, called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME, is based in Jordan and operates under United Nations auspices. Iranian and foreign scientists told the Washington Post the project has applications in industry, medicine, nanotechnology and other fields unrelated to nuclear power. Palestinians also participate in the project, whose last meeting was held in November in Jordan. An Israeli scientist present at the meeting told the Washington Post that he talked to Ali Mohammadi during an informal group meeting. “We did not discuss politics or nuclear issues, as our project is not connected to nuclear physics,” Rabinovici told the paper. An Iranian scientist involved in the project denied that there had been any direct meetings between his delegation and the Israelis. “They are present in the same room, but there are no direct meetings,” Javad Rahighi, a nuclear researcher, told the Washington Post. “We are all shocked,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine anybody wanting to kill him. He was a scientist, nothing more.”


3. now that he’s dead (convenient)…hey didn’t that CIA bomber also have something to do with the Madrid bombs???

MADRID - WESTERN intelligence services are investigating whether a Jordanian who blew himself up in Afghanistan, killing seven CIA agents, had a role in the deadly 2004 Madrid train bombings, a Spanish news report said on Tuesday. ‘Western secret services are investigating whether this terrorist is the author of the claim of responsibility that arrived at the Spanish newspaper ABC a few days after these attacks,’ news radio Cadena Ser reported. In several letters posted on jihadist websites, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, writing under the pseudonym Abu Dujana Al Khorasani, hailed the Madrid bombings, as well as the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and those on July 7, 2005 in London, it said. A total of 192 people were killed and more than 1,800 injured in the March 11, 2004 bombings of commuter trains in the Spanish capital. Responsibility was claimed by Islamic militants who said they acted on behalf of Al-Qaeda to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq, sent by then Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in support of the US invasion. Three days after the attacks, Aznar’s conservative Popular Party was defeated in a general election by Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who made good on a campaign pledge to withdraw the Spanish contingent.

Cadena Ser said ‘various data’ lead Western intelligence services to believe Balawi was behind the letter to ABC. These include the fact that it was signed by Abu Dujana, Balawi’s pseudonym, and that the Al-Qaeda claim of responsibility for his suicide attack had the ’same characteristics’ and was signed by ‘by the same suicide group’. — AFP

source: straits times

4. terrorists seek to enter the US via Canada, conveniently the government is on extended holiday there

OTTAWA - PRIME Minister Stephen Harper held talks with national security advisers after reports surfaced that would-be attackers were seeking to enter the United States via Canada, broadcaster CTV said on Tuesday.  Mr Harper’s office said he was briefed overnight by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. According to CTV, the government asked Canadian airlines and airports on Saturday to remain vigilant and adhere to tough new passenger screening rules adopted after a failed Christmas Day attack on a US jet. Transport Minister John Baird said on Tuesday the government had received ‘two or three pieces’ of threat information since a young Nigerian tried to set off a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last month. CTV said British and US intelligence reports suggested 20 Yemeni-trained ‘terrorists’ were trying to get into Canada and then travel to the United States. Separately, Canadian intelligence officials had evidence that another group was also trying to enter Canada, the broadcaster said. — AFP

source: straits times

also see: PM holds meeting after potential terror threat

and Leaderless Canada, Israeli security services, and the Olympics

The questions many Canadian’s have asked: Why did Prime Minister Harper prorogue the government, until after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? I had some question myself about this mysterious move on the PM’s part in this post Dec 30/09. One possible concern, and there were so many of them, is the potential for a false flag.

5. up next: al qaeda in Palestine — according to WINEP!! (super convenient) — hey i bet first al qaeda will penetrate the palestinian camps in lebanon…yeah that’s the ticket…those camps are a “time bomb”

Militant Islamist groups in Gaza seeking an alliance with Al Qaeda may be planning to carry out a large-scale attack in order to boost their credentials, warns a report released today by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). “Al Qaeda-inspired groups in Gaza ‘think big’ and are regularly plotting large-scale attacks,” says the report, coauthored by a former deputy director of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service. It also quotes an anonymous member of one of these groups as saying his operatives are “waiting to carry out a big jihadist operation dedicated to Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.”

read more @ mother jones

6. Iraqi security forces do a sweep of the city, clear out a lot of explosives. will that prevent the next blast however? you have to wonder, if they clean up the place and another blast occurs, well where the fuck do the explosives come from???? those terrorists are always so wily (convenient) it’s like they have an inside track ya know?

BAGHDAD, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Iraqi security forces detained 25 insurgent suspects and seized explosives and mortar bombs during massive operations in Baghdad early on Tuesday, a military spokesman said.    Qassim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command, said in a statement that his troops confiscated 200 kg of C4 explosives, 200 kg of TNT, 60 mortar rounds and some 250 litre of ammonium nitrate which is used for making bombs during the search operations conducted early Tuesday morning.    The troops also arrested 25 people suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in Baghdad, Atta said….The source could not give the reason behind such sudden and wide-ranging operations, but said they are possibly based on tip-off on bomb attacks in the capital.

more @ chinaview

7. Chavez is crazy, man, i mean come on. nobody listens to that guy he’s a total whack-job. i mean just because they have problems in venezuela (convenient!) that doesn’t mean we would take advantage of the situation, come on… (wink wink wink wink)

WASHINGTON: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is making “baseless” accusations of a US military plot to distract Venezuelans from real troubles at home, such as a currency devaluation, a top Pentagon official told Reuters. Chavez, who on Friday announced a devaluation that could fan inflation, said the same day he had scrambled two F-16 jets to intercept a US military plane that twice entered Venezuelan skies. Frank Mora, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the “baseless” and “unfounded” accusations — which the United States had immediately denied — were part of a pattern by Chavez.

“The more that President Chavez is confronted with domestic challenges, the more his rhetoric heats up,” Mora said in an interview from his Pentagon office on Monday. Mora said he found it “interesting that he made this unfounded accusation … at the same time he was announcing a major currency devaluation,” adding repeated devaluations can lead to a potential scarcity of goods. “It is, in my view, a diversion of attention away from a particularly domestic challenge — and trying to scapegoat the issue by once again accusing the United States government.”

read more @ arab news

venezuela resists destabilization

1. Venezuela to deploy tanks on Colombian border

Mexico, Jan 11 (RIA Novosti) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced plans for the deployment of new Russian-made tanks and combat helicopters on the border with Colombia. Ties between Venezuela and Colombia deteriorated last August after Washington signed a deal with Bogota allowing US forces to run anti-drug operations from Colombian bases. Chavez has criticised the deal and called for the Venezuelan people and army to prepare for a war. …Between 2005 and 2007, Moscow and Caracas signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles. Venezuelan military already has nearly 200 tanks, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, while Colombia has no tank units.

source: venezuela news

2. Venezuelans clamor to buy goods after devaluation

The firebrand leftist leader announced Friday that non-essential imports would be subjected to an exchange rate of 4.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar, a doubling from 2.15 per U.S. dollar today… The higher exchange rate will apply to items such as automobiles, telecommunications, tobacco, beverages, chemicals, petrochemicals and electronics.

read more @ taiwan news

3. Venezuela at risk of power-system collapse

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela is at risk of a devastating power collapse as drought pushes water levels precariously low behind the country’s biggest hydroelectric dam, posing a serious political threat for President Hugo Chávez.

Chávez on Friday said his government is determined to keep Guri Dam’s reservoir from falling to a critical level where the turbines start to fail in the next several months. He has also imposed rationing measures that include penalty fees for energy overuse, shorter workdays for many public employees and reduced hours for shopping malls.

The entire South American country of 28 million people depends to a large degree on the massive Guri Dam, which holds back the Caroni River in southeastern Bolivar state. It supplies 73 percent of the country’s electricity by feeding the massive Guri hydroelectric plant — the world’s third-largest in power output — along with two other, smaller plants.

Chávez said the water level at the dam is now about 33 feet below where it was last year, and if it falls 82 feet more before the dry season ends, “we would be at a standstill.” Chávez said that would force the government to suspend the generation of about 5,000 megawatts of power — causing blackouts for large swaths of Venezuela.

read more @ seattle times

al qaeda…in your HEMISPHERE

Two lawmakers say Venezuela belongs on that damn list immediately, if not sooner, citing “overwhelming” evidence.

In separate statements, Florida’s Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen cited, among other reasons, the relationship between Caracas and the Islamic regime in Iran and with the FARC rebels in Colombia, both considered by the United States as entities that sponsor global terrorism.

Mack, who represents a district in Fort Myers, said that “the evidence that links Venezuela with some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations is overwhelming.” He cited the refusal of the government of President Hugo Chávez to implement in Venezuelan airports the measures demanded by the Transportation Security Administration.

OK, to be clear, the “overwhelming” evidence that links Venezuela to “some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations” is: refusing to implement measures demanded by the TSA in Venezuelan airports. Yeah, um, FAIL with the overwhelming evidence, Mr. Mack.

Oh but that’s not all. There’s more forward “linkage:”

He also said that evidence exists that agents from FARC, Hamas and Hezbollah “operate with few restrictions in Venezuela” and that many of those agents use Venezuelan passports to travel abroad.“There is no doubt that the potential threat to [U.S.] security from Venezuela is extremely high,” Mack stated, at the same time he demanded that the Obama administration include Venezuela on the list of terrorist-sponsoring nations “without delay.”This is not the first time that Mack has promoted this type of initiative. On Oct. 28, 2009, he introduced a resolution in Congress, together with his fellow congressman from Florida Ron Klein, to include Venezuela on the list of terrorism sponsors. That proposal had gone nowhere, until now.

Now that “everything’s changed.” (again)

For her part, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen cited DEA reports that demonstrate a Venezuelan connection in a new alliance formed between the FARC and al Qaeda, in which the oil producing nation plays the part of a “massive airport for the use of the traffickers.”

“It is no surprise that Hugo Chávez allows Venezuela to serve as a massive airport for the use of traffickers. In fact the DEA has said that all the planes captured in West Africa left from Venezuela,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

She explained that the recent arrest of three African agents of al Qaeda after a drug smuggling operation showed a new panorama of cooperation between Islamic extremist groups and those of South American narco-guerrillas.

Ros-Lehtinen may have been citing Jay Bergman, DEA director for the Andean region of South America.

“As suggested by the recent arrest of three alleged al Qaeda operatives, the expansion of cocaine trafficking through West Africa has provided the venue for an unholy alliance between South American narco-terrorists and Islamic extremists,” Bergman said in an interview over the weekend.

To reach the U.S. market, Colombian smugglers are meanwhile being driven to use disposable, fiberglass submarines. The homemade craft are constructed in the mangroves of Colombia’s Pacific coast, used to carry drugs to Mexico for transshipment to the United States, then sunk.

“All of the aircraft seizures that have been made in West Africa, and we’ve made about a half a dozen of them, had departed from Venezuela. If you look at the range and refueling requirements, that’s the place you have to fly from,” he said. “Geography is the key reason why Venezuela has become a springboard location,” Bergman added.

Well, I can agree that geography is always a key reason behind any hot spot in the world. Either there’s something buried in the ground, or something that can be hidden in the ground, or something that can be grown in the ground, or something that can be passed over the ground. Usually called simply “natural resources.”

The Israelis have been all over Columbia for a long time.

Israel is now Colombia’s top weapons supplier, with the bulk of the armaments being used against FARC and another leftist group, the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army or ELN). Israeli weaponry includes drones, light arms and ammunition, surveillance and communication systems and specialized bombs capable of destroying coca fields.

The irony is that Colombia’s armed forces occasionally clash with right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartel gunmen trained in the late 1980s by rogue Israeli mercenaries, one of whom was detained in Russia earlier this week on an Interpol warrant.

The news throws a most unwelcome spotlight on the Colombian government’s efforts to avail itself of Israeli expertise. In 1987, right-wing paramilitaries hired Israeli former Lieutenant Colonel reservist Yair Klein and members of his private “security” company Hod He’hanitin (Spearhead Ltd.) as advisors on the country’s leftist insurgency with tacit approval from the government of President Virgilio Barco Vargas.

Over the next two years, Klein and his personnel trained right-wing vigilante paramilitaries belonging to affluent landowners, who would eventually become the nucleus of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC.) AUC quickly moved beyond its original intent of providing protection to wealthy landowners to becoming deeply involved in drug trafficking, and had support from elements in the army and the police, and Klein apparently shifted to providing expertise to the drug traffickers as well.

Chavez has called Columbia the “Israel of Latin America” as reported a year ago today in Haaretz, in response to a cross-border raid. (

Venezeuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered tanks and thousands of troops on Sunday to the border with Colombia, accusing it of pushing South America to the brink of war and likening it to Israel for its U.S.-backed attacks on militants.“The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America,” an agitated Chavez said, reiterating his criticism of the Israel Defense Forces’ strikes on Palestinian militants….Correa said the rebels were bombed and massacred as they slept, using precision technology. He said Colombia violated Ecuador’s airspace when it bombed the rebel camp, which the Colombian military said was located 1.8 kilometers from the border.

So all this hysteria all of a sudden over Venezuela seems a bit disingenuous. What are we to just accept the word of Jay Bergman at the DEA? Sometimes I think these people imagine they have credibility just because they work at a letter agency and collect a nice paycheck. Let’s not forget that Headley was a DEA informant, too, as well as working for the CIA. And the CIA knows all about al Qaeda, so the linkages work both ways now, don’t they.

Hot on the heels of Bergman’s weekend interview, a FARC rebel suspected of kidnapping and murdering (by decapitation) a provincial governor was arrested. As if to underscore what thugs are FARC. But from the comments in the second link:

I’m a Colombian, living in Venezuela. Uribe and all of the Colombian Government is tied to the paramilitaries, which are behind most of the drugs and crime. They go around pinning everything on the FARC. The paracos even dress up like FARC to commit crimes.

All of this fits into a much larger narrative, described here:

The coming to power in Venezuela, of President Hugo Chávez on February 2, 1999 coincided with a traumatic event for the U.S. military: the closure of its main military installation in the region, the Howard base, located in Panama, closed under Torrijos-Carter (1977). In its place, the Pentagon selected four locations to control the region: Manta in Ecuador, Comalapa in El Salvador and the islands of Aruba and Curaçao (Netherlands sovereignty).

…After the attacks of 11 September 2001, the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defined a new military doctrine to meet the threat of “international terrorism”. It modified their external deployment strategy, based on the existence of huge bases equipped with numerous staff. He decided to replace these megabases by a much larger number of Foreign Operating Locations (FOL, Operational Site prepositions) and Cooperative Security Locations (CSL, Shared Web Security) with little military personnel, but equipped with ultramodern technologies of detection.

…In Latin America, the redeployment of bases allowed the Manta (Ecuador) to collaborate in the failed coup of 11 April 2002 against President Chavez. Thereafter, a media campaign run by Washington began to spread false information about the alleged presence there of cells of organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and even Al Qaeda.

Under the pretext of monitoring such movements, and in retaliation against the government in Caracas that ended in May 2004, a half century of U.S. military presence in Venezuela, the Pentagon extends the use of its military bases on the islands of Aruba and Curaçao, located very near the Venezuelan coast, which have recently been increased by visits of U.S. warships.

This has been denounced by President Chavez recently: “It is good that Europe knows that the American empire is arming to the teeth, with the islands of Aruba and Curacao filled with warplanes and warships . (…) I am accusing the Kingdom of the Netherlands to be laying next to the U.S. empire, an aggression against Venezuela “(1).

…Thus, Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution are surrounded by no less than thirteen U.S. bases located in Colombia, Panama, Aruba and Curacao, as well as aircraft carriers and warships of the Fourth Fleet. President Obama seems to have left hands free to the Pentagon. All are predicting an imminent assault. “Will the people consent to a new crime committed against democracy in Latin America?

UPDATE 1: To wit:

CARACAS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that he had ordered F-16 jets to intercept a U.S. military plane that twice violated Venezuelan airspace earlier in the day. Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Chavez said that the U.S. plane, based on the Netherlands’ Curacao island in the Caribbean, intruded into Venezuelan airspace twice, the first for 15 minutes and the second 19 minutes. The F-16s escorted the U.S. plane out, he added. However, the U.S. military denied that any of its planes entered Venezuelan airspace on Friday.

“As a matter of policy we do not fly over a nation’s air space without prior consent and coordination,” the U.S. Southern Command, which is in charge of U.S. military activities in the hemisphere, said in a statement. “We operate with the utmost respect for the sovereignty of the nations in our hemisphere. Last month, Chavez accused the United States of flying an unmanned spy plane into Venezuela’s airspace and vowed to shoot down any similar aircraft in the future. Venezuela suspended diplomatic ties with Colombia in July in response to a U.S.-Colombian military base deal, saying it would pave the way for the United States to invade Venezuela. Both Washington and Bogota denied the allegation.

UPDATE 2: They’re also working this from the other end. David Johnson, assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs to visit Lebanon in the next few days, etc.