This video from the USA is called 60 Afghan Civilians Killed As War Intensifies.
From the Canadian Press:
November 15, 2010 – 12:32 a.m.
Canadian Helicopters foresees strong revenues from Afghanistan contracts
By Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Canadian Helicopters Income Fund expects the ramp up of U.S. military contracts in Afghanistan will strengthen its revenues in the coming quarters and offset normal seasonal domestic weakness.
“The likelihood we are projecting of greater revenues than previous years over the next two quarters in spite of normal domestic seasonal fluctuations is grounded in very solid expectations,” CEO Don Wall said Monday during a conference call.
The Montreal-based transportation fund’s optimism flows from its third contract with the United States Transportation Command and the renewal of two earlier deals.
The Oct. 1 contract would generate more than US$360 million if all options are exercised and hours flown by June 2016 and be the largest since the company’s initial public offering in 2005.
It will use two heavy-lift Sikorsky S61 and four Bell 212 medium helicopters for the contract. Five of the aircraft will be acquired.
The contracts to carry goods and passengers to forward military operating locations in war-torn Afghanistan should ramp up in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 and more than offset two large unrenewed contracts.
Ontario air ambulance service Ornge recently decided against exercising its option to extend a services agreement beyond the end date in 2012.
The United States Transportation Command also didn’t renew a North Warning System operation and maintenance contract.
“Notwithstanding the setbacks we experienced in 2010…we believe our overall results and prospects firmly demonstrate the flexibility of our assets and the resiliency of our business model,” Wall told analysts.
Canadian Helicopters (TSX:CHL.UN) said its quarterly revenues were stable but its profit fell 13 per cent due to higher maintenance costs and the need to hire additional crew for work in Afghanistan.
The fund’s net income before non-controlling interest dropped to $14.4 million or $1.10 per unit, down from $16.5 million, or $1.26 per unit, in the third quarter of 2009.
Revenue was almost unchanged at $54.8 million, down from $54.9 million a year earlier, as the loss of U.S. contracts was partially offset from by additional aircraft contracted in Afghanistan.
Canadian Helicopters says its domestic revenue benefited from greater activity in the mining sector, mainly in Eastern Canada.
It ended the quarter with $31.2 million of cash and cash equivalents, up from $19.2 million at the end of the previous quarter and unused debt facilities totalling $55 million.
Canadian Helicopters is the largest helicopter transportation services company operating in Canada and one of the largest in the world, serving primarily the resource industries.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its units fell eight cents to $14.60 in midday trading.
NATO summit in Portugal: here.
Anti-war protest in London as Nato leaders hold war talks: here.
On Afghanistan, we’re getting propaganda
Globe and Mail Update
Published Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 6:06AM EST
Last updated Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 10:07AM EST
Last December, when President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, he made no mention of 2014 as the end-date for the mission. Instead, to mollify an anti-war base that presumably did not believe his campaign rhetoric about Afghanistan being the “good war,” July 2011 was the President’s target date for at least the beginning of the end: “After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home,” he stated boldly at West Point.
That date must have been music to the ears of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who – referring to the parliamentary resolution – rode a similar end-date through the 2008 election campaign. A month after Mr. Obama spoke at West Point, Mr. Harper stated in an interview that all Canadian troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011, with the exception of the odd guard at the embassy.
Mr. Harper’s problem began in July, when General David Petraeus agreed to save the President’s face by assuming command in Afghanistan and, in the process, exacted his pound of flesh. Shortly thereafter, the end date of 2014 for the mission entered the scene at a UN-sponsored security conference. By early Fall, it began to show up in statements from NATO. Now, it’s the only date you hear coming from Washington – accompanied by considerable propaganda about how the situation on the ground is improving.
As of last week, it was also the date that began to drive Canadian policy. The reason is simple. Mr. Harper was faced with an unenviable choice: if he kept his word to Canadians, he’d be out of sync with the U.S. and with NATO. That outcome was unacceptable to Mr. Harper – as it was to Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae.
We still don’t know whether any of these gentlemen has bought the NATO and U.S. line about progress on the ground. Or whether the flip-flop is simply about keeping our heads high at NATO and, more important, our relationship with the U.S. intact.
To avoid having to come clean on this issue, Mr. Harper wants to dispense with a parliamentary debate – even though it contradicts his past statements on the need for parliamentary backing for the mission. With a divided caucus, the Liberals have an even greater incentive to avoid a vote in the House of Commons.
If the vacuum continues, it will continue to be filled by U.S./NATO propaganda.
Kowtowing to the Pentagon
Woodward’s new book suggests Obama is too easily led astray
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
By Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Obama’s Wars,” presents what may be unique insights into the Afghanistan war, the way President Barack Obama’s government functions and the Obama presidency in general.
It is necessary for people interested in U.S. foreign policy to read Mr. Woodward’s books. Everyone in Washington involved in foreign affairs does. Not to have done so is an admission of non-relevance.
The provocative — if not truly useful — aspect of Mr. Woodward’s books is that they purport to present a true insider’s view of what goes on in Washington, including in the White House, where the highest level of people who govern us meet in SCIFs to discuss SIPs. (SCIF stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, which Mr. Woodward says is a “secure area or isolated room in a building designed to prevent surveillance during sensitive discussions.” SIPs are Strategic Implementation Plans, the sort of things that get discussed in SCIFs.)
Trendy acronyms for verisimilitude are one feature of Mr. Woodward’s writing. Another is purportedly verbatim conversations between, for example, Vice President Joe Biden and Pakistan President Asef Ali Zardari. Mr. Woodward clearly wasn’t there, but he says he gets them from participants, or people who had been told them by participants, or from participants’ notes, or whatever. Maybe. But once one is engrossed in his books it is easy to forget the possibly dubious parentage of some of these accounts.
All of that said, as a sort of warning label, it is undeniable that “Obama’s Wars” is interesting reading.
Three subjects dominate this book. The first is the Afghanistan war. As Mr. Woodward takes the reader through the tortuous discussions that went into the determination of the administration’s policy, one also learns a lot about the situation in both Afghanistan and closely related Pakistan. The picture includes the situation on the ground and the cast of characters — the tribes and factions and personalities.
I learned that my own impression, after having watched events evolve in Afghanistan over the past nine years — that it wasn’t worth more than what the United States had done in the beginning — was shared by a number of senior American leaders. By early 2002 we had chased the Taliban out of power, and al-Qaida, which the Taliban had hosted, had fled Afghanistan. We should have wrapped it up at that point and left, spreading the word to the Afghans that if they ever let al-Qaida or anyone else intending us ill to set up there again, we would incinerate them and their guests.
The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan — called AfPak, which sounds like something I want is wrapped in — Richard C. Holbrooke, expressed his opinion of one of the plans succinctly — and correctly: “It can’t work.”
Mr. Obama himself clearly stated U.S. interests there at one point: “This needs to be a plan about how we’re going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan,” he said, according to Mr. Woodward.
So we should get out. Mr. Obama has the beginning of U.S. troop withdrawal scheduled for July 2011, although a whole collection of officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, are eagerly spreading the word that the United States will have troops in Afghanistan until at least 2014. These presumably are people who have a political, professional or financial reason for wanting to see some of the 100,000 U.S. troops now there stay as long as possible.
A second interesting theme of Mr. Woodward’s book is the light that he purports to shed on rivalries among senior officials.
Governance in Washington at any time, under any administration, Republican or Democrat, is always a mix of structural and personal competition. The Defense Department, uniformed and civilian, always wants more money. The people to whom it answers — the president, vice president and theoretically the national security adviser — have to be constantly on alert not to get bulldozed by the giant Pentagon, with its inexhaustible appetite and lines to Congress. (Those lines are reinforced by billions of dollars in defense contracts, which are dispensed in the constituencies of members of Congress and from which the lobbyists for the companies concerned contribute to the members’ political campaigns.)
Questions in Mr. Woodward’s book, and in actual power transactions in Washington, frequently come down to, “Who is in that job — for example, the director of national intelligence? Can I bring him down and win the day for my argument?”
The persons and the argumentation frequently end up with crossed wires. Mr. Biden at one point basically takes on the house, most of whom favored an option he disagreed with, in front of Mr. Obama. From beginning to end, what should be discussions of what is in America’s best interests become, instead, arguments among rivals for the president’s ear and Washington power.
The third issue that runs through the book, although unstated, probably because Mr. Woodward hopes that the meeting he had with Mr. Obama for the book was not his last, is what kind of president Mr. Obama is, in terms of decisiveness, authority and operating style.
Mr. Obama took a while to consider what America should do in Afghanistan. He was somewhat professorial about it, calling on all parties to give their opinions. He took a long time, or, one could say, plenty of time. He did things like go to Dover, Del., to spend time with families as the bodies of their fallen soldiers arrived there.
On the other hand, I carried away the impression that, to some extent, Mr. Obama is a prisoner of the U.S. military in terms of decision-making. Whether it is calculation for the 2012 presidential campaign, or cognitive confusion, or simply a feeling that the Pentagon and its dependents are too much to take on, I have the strong feeling that he is not yet independent of them in weighing America’s interests across the board and making decisions on that basis.
Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (email@example.com, 412 263-1976).
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