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1) Iraqi crude oil; 2) US media

Dear CASI member,

Below are two articles from the Jordan Times. The first is about Iraqi crude oil exports (available 
online till next Sunday only) and the second is an excellent opinion piece on the US media 
(available online until Friday).

Salwa de Vree,
Leiden, The Netherlands.

UN-Iraq showdown looms over oil surcharges — MEES 

NICOSIA (AFP) — A new showdown between the United Nations and Iraq over a surcharge Baghdad levies 
on crude threatens a sharp decline in the country's oil exports, the Middle East Economic Survey 
(MEES) reports. 
“The year-long standoff between the (UN) sanctions committee and Iraq is now coming to a showdown,” 
the industry newsletter says in its Monday edition. 

The Nicosia-based weekly saw “possible implications for Iraqi export volumes and world oil markets 
just at a time when OPEC and non-OPEC (producers) have decided to start cutting production by 
around two million barrels per day.” 

MEES noted that a growing conflict between the increasingly tough-minded sanctions committee and 
Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) over the 25 to 30 cents a barrel surcharge imposed 
by Baghdad had left traders and end-users reluctant to lift Iraqi crude. 
“Consequently many end-users now choose Iraqi crude as the fuel of last resort,” the Cyprus-based 
specialists said. 

“Accordingly the lifting scheduled during first-half January is at a bare minimum with only two 
ships nominated to lift Kirkuk crude and even these liftings await confirmation.” 
MEES noted three recent significant changes: 
— the sanctions committee, with US and British support, has taken over from the UN overseers the 
direct responsibility for Iraqi oil pricing and is imposing a tougher policy.
— the committee is setting higher prices for Iraqi crudes with short timeframes to minimise if not 
eradicate premiums for middlemen and cause considerable risk for end-users. 
— the committee is scrutinising the ownership, financial records and trading practices of the 
name-plate companies signing contracts with SOMO. 

The United States is by far the biggest client for Iraqi crude, importing 69.4 per cent of the 300 
million barrels exported under the 10th six-month phase of the UN oil-for-food programme. 

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan approved a $4.432 billion plan submitted by Iraq for distributing 
revenues in the 11th six-month phase which started Dec. 1, the United Nations said Friday. 

The oil-for-food programme was set up in December 1996 to soften the impact of UN sanctions imposed 
on Iraq after its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

Up to November 30, 2000, Iraq had generated nearly $50 billion in revenue from the export of 2.8 
billion barrels of oil under the programme.

US media — bad news when madmen lead the blind 
By Norman Solomon 

SAN FRANCISCO, California — The autumn started with a huge national jolt of shock, fear, grief and 
anger. Winter has begun with many worries here at home and grim satisfaction about warfare abroad. 
A line from `King Lear', early in Act 4, is hauntingly appropriate: “'Tis the time's plague when 
madmen lead the blind.” 

Shakespeare's observation fits the current era, and not only with reference to the murderous 
qualities of Osama Ben Laden and Al Qaeda network. Few media outlets — and certainly none of the 
major national brands — are willing to scrutinise the unhinged aspects of the adulated leadership 
in the White House. 
Deep introspection for any society is difficult. Precious little danger of that, in the here and 
now. After more than 100 days of big-type rhetorical questions, the media answers are largely 
self-satisfied. “Why do they hate us?” Because we're great, though sometimes clumsy on the world 
stage. “How can the violence in the Middle East be stopped?” By continuing to back Israel, no 
matter what. 
Since Sept. 11, many journalists have commented that the United States is unaccustomed to the role 
of victim. Left unsaid is how accustomed we are to being victimisers while preening ourselves as a 
nation of worldly do-gooders. The 3,000 human beings who lost their lives at the World Trade Centre 
are casting an enormous shadow — as they should. But what about the uncounted people killed, one 
way or another, by US policies? 

The list of countries that the Pentagon has attacked in recent decades is long. The list of 
governments using American-supplied weapons to repress and massacre is even longer. 
And there's quieter slaughter, on a grand scale. During every hour, more than 1,000 children in the 
world die from preventable diseases. Basic nutrition, medical care and sanitation would save their 
lives. A fraction of the Pentagon budget would suffice. 

But we still live in a society with the kind of priorities that Martin Luther King Jr. described a 
third of a century ago — spending “military funds with alacrity and generosity” but providing 
anti-poverty funds “with miserliness”. If he were alive now, his voice would still cry out against 
“the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth”. 

King would have good reason to reiterate words from his speech on April 4, 1967, when he denounced 
“capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to 
take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries”.
Today, advocates for humanitarian causes might see the United States as a place where “madmen lead 
the blind”. But that's kind of a harsh way to describe the situation. Our lack of vision is in the 
context of a media system that mostly keeps us in the dark. 

In American media's echo chamber, much of the genuine anguish from Sept. 11 has segued into a lot 
of braying about national greatness. Like many other pundits now in their glory days on cable TV 
networks, Chris Matthews knows how to dodge difficult truths. “Patriotism is more important than 
politics,” he proclaimed the other day. What “unites us” is “democracy, freedom, human rights, the 
right to pursue happiness”. 

And what about the “right to pursue happiness” for the kids dying from lack of food or clean water 
or medicine, while Matthews and thousands of other journalists fawn over the US military? 

Anyone watching TV news since early October has seen lots of idolatry lavished on the latest 
Pentagon weapons. Uncle Sam's immense military power and Washington's role as the number-one arms 
dealer on the planet add up to a colossal drain of resources — and a powerful means of enforcing 
the bonds between the US government and scores of regimes that combine repression with oligarchy, 
amid rampant poverty. 

Winners get to write history, and that starts with the news. While victory in Afghanistan gets 
presented as ample justification for going to war in the first place, the message that overwhelming 
might makes right is ever-present, even if no one quite says so out loud. And when human flesh goes 
up in flames and human bodies shatter — but not on our TV screens — did it ever really happen? 

Several decades ago, peace activist A.J. Muste observed: “The problem after a war is with the 
victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?” 

The writer's latest book is `The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media'. His syndicated column focuses 
on media and politics. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.


1 cent a minute calls anywhere in the U.S.!

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