New Citgo Boycott?

030408citgo1e_t220.jpgIn 2006 when Hugo Chavez was acting up people across the country called for a Citgo boycott — it was half-hearted and never went very far. Now that Hugo is saber-rattling once again, dealers in Conservative areas of America might find themselves in a bind. See this story in Knoxnews.com:

George Vazquez, owner of a convenience store and gas station on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville, is among several local independent Citgo station operators who will be switching to Marathon Oil of Findlay, Ohio, in the coming weeks.

“My gas sales were down 30 percent last year,” Vazquez said. “People will come into the store and buy groceries, but they tell me they won’t buy gas from Citgo.”

The problems with Citgo increased after Chavez’s September 2006 visit to the United Nations where he referred to President Bush as “the devil.”

Is it a sign of a full fledged boycott to come? I will wait and and see since this is just one area. Besides that, there’s always the Marxist Counter-boycott to consider.
[aside: A Marxist newsletter can join Google news, but they won’t have me, now that’s frustrating.]

h/t Robert Bidinotto
Picture Credit: Michael Patrick, Knoxnews.com

Hamid Gul Lying Again

I was wondering who was behind the carefully crafted agit-prop campaign indicating that the US would be in the Frontiers with the Pakistani Army during an upcoming offensive. It turns out to be one of the original old-guard ISI liars, Hamid Gul.

You probably already know about Hamid’s biggest lie that inspired the “troofers” of America seen here, where Fisk became his facilitator almost seven years ago.

Hamid is a political operative and Islamist supporter who is prone to behind-the-scenes manipulation. He has many friends in the Jihadi camps, and his friends and followers sent their children to Lal Masjid.

By “carefully crafted” I mean that this lie takes some truth and stretches it just far enough to inflame the frontiers at a time when their government, peace, and politics are in flux. He also implicates Blackwater, a favorite target of the left in America in the hopes they will pick up the theme like they did the 9/11 truther’s crap — even after Bin Laden himself claimed the operation.

Here are the truths I know of:

  • Americans will be training Pakistan Army troops inside Pakistan, but they will be regular Marine and Army soldiers training Nato-standard material.
  • There are rumors of a Pakistan Army offensive to come against Baitullah Mehsud.
  • The recent suicide blasts demonstrate Baitullah’s and Al Qaeda’s contempt for the new government and the election outcomes in Pakistan.

Here’s the story from AKI, just remember the source is a political and intelligence operative known for lieing to aid Islamist Terror organization aims:

Karachi, 4 March (AKI) – (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) – Hundreds of US troops will be involved in military operations in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas, according to a former head of the country’s powerful intelligence agency, ISI.

“Seven hundred and fifty American commandoes will participate in upcoming military operations in the Pakistani tribal areas,” retired General Hamid Gul, former ISI director-general, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

“I confirm this to you on the basis of my information that those American commandoes will be sent [to Pakistan] through private [security] contracting firms like Blackwater and they will supervise the whole operation,” said Gul referring to Blackwater, a private security firm that has been at the centre of a controversy over private contractors in Iraq.

The firm came under scrutiny after a shootout last year in which 11 Iraqis were killed.

Gul was head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence service between 1987 and 1989 and worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

He reportedly became disillusioned with the US when it failed to follow through on Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and called on Muslims to “stand united to confront the US in its war on terror” after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

If I’m wrong, I will print the retraction, but this smells like 2-week old Fish Tikka to me.

Previous Report on the Rumors of the Offensive here.

The Singularity and the Singularity Institute

I’m posting this for my Mom, who asked about the Singularity, and what it’s all about this weekend. This is the most concise explanation that I can find, from the Singularity Institute. She’s a big Isaac Asimov fan, so grasped the concept but this gives her better explanation than I did.

Strange Goings on at Taftan Border Crossing

There have been more Taliban arrested transiting out of Pakistan into Iran this last week, and in the nearby town of Quetta a third journalist from an Urdu Daily has dissappeared.
From the Daily Times:

QUETTA: An Urdu newspaper journalist “disappeared” on Monday from the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan – the second journalist from the same paper to have gone missing in a week.

Muhammad Asif Baloch, editor of Quetta-based Daily Azadi, said Hameed Baloch’s family had said he was abducted. “No one knows about his whereabouts but one thing is certain, that he has been abducted because of his bold reporting,” he said.

The last time activity was up at Taftan the terrorist traffic was flowing the other direction — into Pakistan. Shortly after that we had Lal Masjid and more in-country terrorism than Pakistan saw the previous six years.

So this probably means at least some forces are moving out of country. I would suspect a couple of destinations – Afghanistan for the Spring offensive, or back to Iraq for a new attempt at a “Tet-style” offensive. Why go to Iran to get to Afghanistan? The direct passes that aren’t frozen closed are being watched, or they could be picking up supplies enroute.

The disappeared Journalists? Maybe they know something about who, when and where.

On the other hand, it all could be unrelated coincidence.

Taliban Destroy Second Cell Tower

Afgha.com reports a second cell tower destroyed by the Taliban in Helmand. He has some speculation about why, and I will add to it after the blockquote below:

Taliban fighters destroyed a cellular phone tower in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, making it the second time insurgents attacked a cellular tower this week. Fresh reports indicate a third tower, located in Helmand’s Sangin district, was also destroyed but officials have yet to confirm the attack.

Last Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned Afghanistan’s five major cellular carriers to stop providing service at night or face attacks by the Taliban.

The Taliban have long believed Afghanistan’s wireless phone providers allow Afghan and Coalition forces to trace phone calls made by Taliban operatives.

I would also speculate that segments of the populace don’t care much for the Taliban, and report their movements via cell phones. The “night shut down” demanded is the time the Taliban are most active, and when contraband is transported.

More from Dawn

Puppy Tooth

puppy-tooth-and-dime.jpgKasie is losing her puppy teeth, here’s one next to a dime.

Pakistan to Launch Offensive in Wake of Three Suicide Attacks?

The Taliban and Al Qaeda have made their strategy clear by three massive suicide attacks in the past four days that murdered over 85 muslims, and which maimed many others. Another attack on an army outpost also occurred and they burnt the out post down. One of the suicide attacks was on a meeting of tribal elders in which they were discussing raising a Lashkar, or tribal army, to drive foreign fighters out.

So even before the newly elected government is formed and before they have adopted any new policies the Takfirists are attacking them one side, while begging a hudna (false truce in which one side regroups) on the other.

NDTV-India reports that Pakistan is gearing up for a major offensive against the terrorists that attack inside Pakistan. They indicate Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban in South Waziristan as the target.

This is a speculative news report in which they say Pakistan’s offensive will be “US-Aided” and in which sources are not named, so this could be carefully sprinkled agitprop, since the new government has been talking about holding meetings with the Taliban in other reports. It could also be a mis-interpretation of the role the military trainers the US is sending will take.

From NDTV:

The decision to go after the militants followed a recent increase in terrorist attacks in the country.

The proposed military offensive, according to diplomatic and US sources, is aimed at curbing the growing influence of the Taliban commander linked to al-Qaida, Baitullah Mehsud, in the tribal areas, particularly Waziristan.

Reports in the US media yesterday said that Washington is sending 100 military trainers to Pakistan who may also participate in operations against the militants

Until sources are named, or other indicators appear you have to characterize this as rumor or agitprop.

UPDATE: Dawn is also reporting a new offensive coming.

Other Rumors:

The Adam Gadahn Death Rumor is now denied, but we still haven’t heard who died in the February 28th strike near Wana.

Trends and Strategies for the Election and the Future

This is going to be a rambling post full of wild-assed but informed speculation on strategic trends, challenges, and opportunities. I’m fully responsible for all of it.

I’ve got a few subjects to cover here; from politics, to war, to energy, so bear with me since you are bound to find something that interests you if you keep reading.

Internal Politics:

The rift between conservatives and McCain in some areas is obvious to all, which means that once he’s the nominee that Party Platform becomes the most important thing to keep him close to accord with the party and the populace.

I submit that we could have a big fight over this, or we could do it right. There are many areas where Conservatives and McCain both agree, I’ll work through those in a future post. Those planks need to get nailed-in now, so we can get to the gristle and map reasonable compromises and curbs on the rest. If we don’t do this relatively soon then we will lose the executive branch in 2008.

War:
Now the media can’t call Iraq lost anymore, the drumbeat has started to declare the war in Afghanistan lost. It’s a tie to Obama’s rhetoric, and it must be countered vigorously. Those bloggers who do imbeds might want to consider Afghanistan over Iraq next round. The first salvos are fired, and we are going to have an unending barrage from now until November.

Longer term we must support our allies, stand firm against terror, kill the rest of Al Qaeda, and on the political front counter the growing support for political Islamic extremism. To do that we are going to have to call groups with “ambivalent” attitudes toward terror on the carpet continuously.

Energy:

If we are just going to sign up for energy independence, burning food (ethanol), and “green energy” then we won’t be differentiated from what Obama is saying, and on top of that we will be stupid. The world needs more energy that’s cheap and clean.

The effects of high energy costs are beginning to show in our economy, and in that thinner mil plastic cup Starbuck’s now gives you. In the rest of the world it’s showing up in load-shedding, encroaching poverty, unpaid national electric bills, and soon-to-be famine.

We must move the goal posts from the tactical approach of “energy independence” to the strategic goal of Clean Energy Abundance for the world. It’s noble, it’s worth doing, and in the long term it’s something we must do. (When there are 9 billion humans on this planet in 2050 world demand for energy will approach or exceed 70 Peta-watt Hours. That’s massive need, and what better challenge for us in the dawn of this century?

It’s also a much more urgent and demonstrable problem than Global Warming. From energy comes all things.

Longer term Military Strategy:

We cannot just focus on the war on terror. Old enemies are gearing up for a space race once again, and the ramifications to the future security of our nation are tremendous. More to come on that in future posts. We have to be able to defend not just from terror and the small wars of the latter half of the twentieth century and this first part of this one, but larger scale conflicts. Europe is beginning to bubble like a cauldron, and the tea leaves say to me that there will be large scale war there withing fifty years. (It might be civil war if the EU constitution gets put through, but it’s still going to be large-scale war.)

Education Economics:
The next boom in the American economy is shaping now, it will come in the form of robotics, medical science, energy, transport, and believe it or not, agriculture. We have to invest in the future by putting more emphasis on the things of this century, and prepare our children for the future they will see. On top of those things, the computer and networking boom is going to continue to grow, and there are things we don’t even know about yet that are coming. We better get ready.

Obama’s promising vague hope, we need to counter with a vision for the future, one in which we aren’t automatically doomed and just reacting to crisis.

Flashback: Obama’s Oratorial Effects in Pakistan

EC pulls one from the archives here, and reminds us of the last time Obama spoke on Pakistan, note the names on the heads of the burning effigies, and the particularly humorous sign behind the crowd.