Posted tagged ‘UK’

Israeli Embassy In London Faces Mass Demonstrations

December 29, 2008

(New York) Today protesters have gathered near the Israeli embassy to protest the recent military incursions into Gaza. We have clips from YouTube filmed by protesters outside of the embassy. The protesters were not allowed close to the embassy as they were held back by the London Metropolitan Police.

These protests follow reports stating that the embassy had received a white powder filled envelope which turned out to be a false alarm. Stay tuned for more updates.


US To Increase Troop Presence In Afghanistan

December 20, 2008
U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

(New York) – In Kabul Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen announced a planned increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

“Some 20 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don’t have an exact number,” He was quoted as saying.

This would double the amount of American troops in the country. Currently there are 31,000 US troops in the country. NATO is contributing 51,000 soldiers to the mission in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). However included in that number are 14,000 American soldiers.

General David McKiernan who is in charge of the ISAF has continually requested more troops to help combat a resurgent Taliban. Admiral Mullen said the American troops would be sent to Southern Afghanistan to assist Canadian and Dutch troops which have shouldered most of the burden in fighting the Taliban.

Secretary of State Gates recently announced the deployment of another brigade to arrive early next year. The annoucment of troops while not unexpected comes on the heels of an announcement from the British government stating their intentions to send more troops to Afghanistan.

It seems the plan would be to help build infrastructure and increase security on the local level while the Taliban is held at bay by the new forces.

British To Withdraw From Iraq

December 10, 2008
British troops in Basra

British troops in Basra

According to the latest BBC reports UK forces are scheduled to leave Iraq early next year. They are reporting the troops are scheduled to begin leaving in March of 2009.

Most British soldiers are in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Currently the UK has 4,100 of the few Non-American coalition troops left in Iraq. This would make Romania the next largest contributor of soldiers to the occupation in Iraq with around 500 troops.

This news follows the Iraqi governments decision to force US troops to pull out of the cities by mid 2009 and to withdraw completely by December 2011.

Many inside the Department of Defence in the UK are saying the troops could be moved over to help fight the Taliban. Soldiers, helicopters and other equipment are needed urgently to keep the Taliban from regaining land.

Oil’s Well that Ends Well

June 9, 2008

President Bush, The Democratic Congress, The Saudis… what do they all have in common?

They’ve all tried to lower gasoline prices, and they’ve all failed… so far. Yes the Saudis are attempting to lower oil prices, why? Well when you think about it, if oil is so expensive no one wants to buy it, then it’s bad for business, I doubt many would lose sleep over the poor Saudis suffering a bit. Well recently they’ve called for talks saying that the current price of oil is unjustified.

The price of oil fell $4.19 to $134.35 today on the NYSE. Now you want to know what that means for you. Not much really unless you process and refine crude oil, you want to know how much gasoline costs. Well the price of gasoline doesn’t directly correlate with the price of oil. It will rise when oil rises, but usually after some time, it will also drop accordingly.

For every 30 dollars that the price of a barrel of oil goes up, add a dollar to the number at the pump. Just know that for the time being the price of gasoline shows no signs of dropping under $4.00 a gallon nationally. I know I personally pay around $4.21 for gasoline here in New York City.

There have even been talks about $5.00 a gallon gasoline soon, they aren’t too far off. In San Diego gas is around $4.50 a gallon, and we all know gasoline prices go up in the winter when most of that crude oil is used for heating.

In the near future we’ll be paying $6-$7 per gallon, so if you own an SUV I really hope you can sell it, or that lease is about to expire. Now is the time to buy a hybrid, to change your driving habits, and to even… dare I say it? Take public transportation, *gasp* even walking *oh no!*

Less than 10 years ago gas was 1.20 a gallon. Gas has passed an average of $4.00 a gallon nationally. You think your wallet is hurting? In the UK they’re paying £1.14 per liter, or $8.56 per gallon. In Norway, they’re shelling out $10.37 per gallon.

If you want some relief head to Turkmenistan which just guaranteed gas, water, electricity, and salt for the citizens of Turkmenistan until 2030.

I’m walking everywhere I can, and if I can’t walk I’ll bike. The MTA is number 3 on the list, followed by the car. What are you doing to save money on gasoline?

Afghanistan… the forgotten war

June 6, 2008

For those of you who forgot, we are still at war in Afghanistan. Now in its 6th year 443 brave Americans have lost their lives in this war according to the latest AP figures.

Lately U.S. Marines have been fighting an upsurge in violence from the Taliban. They entered the Helmand province for the first time in years. Now the Marines aren’t alone in their fight, they’re joined by the ISA. 53,000 troops from different countries make up the ISAF or International Security Assistance Force which is in charge of Afghanistan. The ISAF has 1/3 the number of foreign troops in Iraq, yet Afghanistan is 50 percent larger and has 4 million more people.

Just to give you an idea of what these men and women have to go through. Some of these Marines are in the 4th week of what was supposed to be a 3 to 5 day campaign. These men are living off the land with no running water or no electricity as they fight Taliban soldiers who are reinforced and replaced as they cross over from Pakistan.

These are the same soldiers who when they come home are at times denied medical treatment. Soldiers who give everything to their country and get very little in return.

It’s not just American soldiers who are short changed. Recently UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been under fire from his own Generals. In an article from the London Times General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army compared the payment of his soldiers to traffic police in London.

It turns out that the traffic police or police constables have a starting salary of £21,009. Which at the current exchange rate comes out to $10,500 a year. The average soldier makes £16,227 which comes out to about $8,000 a year. Now considering the job, you have to realize that these brave soldiers are underpaid.

Do you really think someone who is handing out tickets in London should get paid more than someone who is fighting Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan for this 30th day in a row without running water and electricity? Now I know the police constables probably do a heck of a job, but lets be realistic.

Gordon Brown replied “We will do everything in our power in the years to come to recognize the great individual contribution that is made by all the members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.”

Now American troops in Afghanistan have been ignored as much as British troops. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have nothing in their websites about Afghanistan. I believe it truly has been forgotten, for all of the talk he does about Iraq he is eerily silent about Afghanistan and NATO. I do commend Barack Obama for saying that he will withdraw troops from Iraq and place some of those troops in Afghanistan in order to relieve the soldiers who have fought much longer than they were expecting to.

Today I just ask you that when you hear people arguing about Iraq and what to do, just say “Hey what about Afghanistan?” Don’t forget the brave soldiers there, don’t forget their sacrifice, don’t’ forget the war.

Chris Puntarelli, reporting for St. John’s College Democrats.