Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Liberating America From Israel
"Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express this conclusion publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe the catastrophe could have been prevented if any U.S. president during the past 35 years had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war."

The Super Rich Are Out of Sight

"To grasp the true extent of wealth and income inequality in the United States, we should stop treating the "top quintile"--the upper-middle class--as the "richest" cohort in the country. But to do that, we need to look beyond the Census Bureau's cooked statistics. We need to catch sight of that tiny, stratospheric apex that owns most of the world."

Heroin drug deaths fall
"In 2000, the death toll reached about 1000 but Mr Trimingham said it had since fallen to about 300, although police had told him that the decline appeared to be largely because of a drop in the amount of heroin reaching Australia." "The way we treat people in jail with drug problems is awful, and 80 per cent of people in prison have drug problems," Mr Trimingham said.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Shahak and Jewish fundamentalism
"Those people, especially Germans, who were silent and did not condemn Nazi ideology before Hitler came to power are also, at least in a moral sense, guilty for the terrible consequences that followed. Similarly, those who are silent and do not condemn Jewish Nazism, as exemplified by the ideologies of Goldstein and Ginsburgh, especially if they are Jews, are guilty of the terrible consequences that may yet develop as a result of their silence."

Chomsky on anti-war movement
"The more protest there is the more tightening there's going to be, that's routine. When the Vietnam War protests really began to build up, so did the repression. I was very close to a long jail sentence myself and it was stopped by the Tet Offensive. After the Tet Offensive, the establishment turned against the war and they called off the trials. Right now a lot of people could end up in Guantanamo Bay and people are aware of it. If there's protest in a country then there's going to be repression. Can they get away with it? - it depends a lot on the reaction. In the early 50s in the US, there was what was called Macarthyism and the only reason it succeeded was that there was no resistance to it. When they tried the same thing in the 60s it instantly collapsed because people simply laughed at it so they couldn't do it. Even a dictatorship can't do everything it wants. It's got to have some degree of popular support. And in a more democratic country, there's a very fragile power system. There's nothing secret about this, it's history. The question in all of these things is how much popular resistance there's going to be."

Chomsky: Human Rights Week 2002
"Turkey and Colombia share other common features. Each has several million people violently displaced; 2.7 million by now in Colombia, increasing at the rate of 1000 a day, according to the latest reports of the leading human rights organization. These are the numbers internally displaced, not counting those who have fled elsewhere. And Colombia, like Turkey, provides a model of courageous resistance that should be observed with shame and humility by privileged Westerners -- particularly those who labor to suppress the continuing atrocities and terror for which we bear responsibility, to efface the disgraceful record of the past, and to erect firm barriers against the threat of exposure of crimes that the general population would not tolerate, were the barriers to be breached."

Shifting tactics in Chechnya
"In the past the Kremlin has produced little evidence to buttress claims of large-scale outside involvement in Chechnya's rebel movement, but even experts sympathetic to the Chechen cause warn that a decade of sometimes indiscriminate warfare and harsh Russian repression have radicalized a younger generation of Chechens and left them receptive to extreme ideas and brutal tactics."

Suppressed UK Report: GM Crops are Breeding with Plants in the Wild
"The report concludes that the research "indicates that commercial-scale releases of GM oil seed rape in future could pollinate other crops and wild turnip''. Other studies from elsewhere in the world have shown that interbreeding occurs, and English Nature, the Government's wildlife watchdog, has said super weeds will "inevitably'' emerge in Britain if GM crops are grown commercially."

Vow to hunt man behind death voyage - smh.com.au
"[Former diplomat Tony] Kevin has questioned why Mr Quassey was arrested but not charged with murder after the 353 asylum seekers drowned when the unseaworthy SIEV-X sank off Indonesia on October 19 last year. He has suggested that the sinking may be linked to the involvement of the Australian Federal Police with the Indonesian authorities in disrupting boat people movements."
Characteristically, the smh headline reflects the government spin on the issue, but the real story is also covered.

Massive US buildup continues, inspectors find no arms, Sharon leaks date of war
"As a massive US military buildup continued in the Gulf, UN weapons inspectors in their second month in Iraq conceded they had found no evidence of the weapons of mass destruction Washington and Britain claim exist... A British tabloid meanwhile claimed in its Sunday edition it had information a US-led war on Iraq would start on February 21 "at midnight". The Sunday Express said the date and time - not specifying which time zone - was given by Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a telephone call over Christmas."

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Human Rights Groups Say Techniques Could Be Torture
"A leading human rights group said yesterday that the CIA's method of interrogating al Qaeda detainees could constitute torture and result in the prosecution of U.S. officials by courts around the world."

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Media schedules war for prime time
"Another London-based journalist, John Pilger, is even more disparaging. Interviewed by the Progressive, he argues: "Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoes of what Orwell called the official truth. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as functionaries, not journalists."

Aust Govt Terrorism propaganda campaign
$15m of Australian taxpayer money is to be wasted on the govt propaganda line that we are being attacked because they "hate our freedoms" and increased militarism and authoritarianism is the necessary response. War abroad and repression at home.

Voiceover by Steve Liebmann includes the following:

"Terrorism has changed the world and Australia is not immune but the way of life we value so highly must go on.... Be alert but not alarmed, together let's look out for Australia. If you see anything suspicious call 1800 123 400."

It is suspicious to me that Australia is to attack Iraq "pre-emptively", and generally place itself right alongside the Imperialist policies of the United States, thus increasing our risk of exposure to terrorist attacks. The government also wants to increase the secret police powers of ASIO restricting Australian civil liberties, one of the firm bases of our Australian way of life. Should I call the number to report my suspicions?

Friday, December 27, 2002

Short Chomsky Interview
"QUESTION: After releasing your book 9-11, many reporters have said that you are anti-American. Others even suggest that you should pack up and move to another country since you believe America to be a leading terrorist state. How do you respond to such remarks?

"CHOMSKY: The concept "anti-American" is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as "anti-Soviet." That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt."

Low-Income Buyers Get Homes, Thanks to Bay Area Land Trusts
"Nonprofit land trusts buy land and either build new homes or fix up old ones. They then sell the homes to people whose incomes typically are below average, but retain the land to guard against escalating property costs. Buyers like Simpson agree to a limited profit when they sell, keeping the homes affordable for future buyers.

"All the work that went into making it affordable doesn't disappear just as soon as someone decides to sell it," Winters said. "The whole idea is to take real estate out of the speculative market. Housing and land are basic human rights."

The cause of high "home" prices is high land pricers. Land value taxation helps keep land prices down, thus making housing affordable at the same time as generating public revenue.

Sing, Dance, Rejoice—Corporate Personhood Is Doomed
"Orthodoxy has it the Supreme Court decided in 1886, in a case called Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad, that corporations were indeed legal persons. I express that view myself, in a recent book. So do many others. So do many law schools. We are all wrong. Mr. Hartmann undertook instead a conscientious search. He finally found the contemporary casebook, published in 1886, blew the dust away, and read Santa Clara County in the original, so to speak. Nowhere in the formal, written decision of the Court did he find corporate personhood mentioned. Not a word. The Supreme Court did NOT establish corporate personhood in Santa Clara County."

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Noam Chomsky... and anarchist philosophers.. samplers... : Palestine Indymedia

"All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons."

The Sick Mind of David Horowitz
"WITHOUT QUESTION, the most devious, the most dishonest and -- in this hour of his nation?s grave crisis ? the most treacherous intellect in America belongs to MIT professor Noam Chomsky. On the 150 campuses that have mounted "teach-ins" and rallies against America?s right to defend herself; on the streets of Genoa and Seattle where "anti-globalist" anarchists have attacked the symbols of markets and world trade; among the demonstrators at Vieques who wish to deny our military its training grounds; and wherever young people manifest an otherwise incomprehensible rage against their country, the inspirer of their loathing and the instructor of their hate is most likely this man. There are many who ask how it is possible that our most privileged and educated youth should come to despise their own nation ? a free, open, democratic society ? and to do so with such ferocious passion. They ask how it is possible for American youth to even consider lending comfort and aid to the Osama bin Ladens and the Saddam Husseins (and the Communists before them)."

Comment: Horowitz's hatespeech against Chomsky contains the absurd view that to criticise the foreign policy of the United States is to despise their own nation, to lend support to Saddam, Bin Laden and communists. Horowitz lists some of the usual encomiums for Chomsky (including Bono's apt "Rebel without a pause") but omits by personal favourite: "Not to have read Chomsky is to court genuine ignorance." (source?)

Uganda: MPs Want Land Tax
"THE natural resources committee of Parliament has recommended that all the land in the country be titled and land tax payable by landowners introduced by the Government."

The Scotsman - Land prices to crash, say experts
"The legislation will give crofting communities the right to force landowners to sell, even if they don?t want to. The price of any land bought under the compulsory purchase plans will be set by an independent valuer, with the community able to access money from the Scottish Land Fund to complete the purchase. Two weeks ago, it emerged that the crofting community on the 52,000-acre Galson estate on Lewis is preparing to buy the area from the Graham family as soon as the Land Reform Bill is made law, although the landlords do not want to sell."

Land values on the rise in Tamworth
"The figures have been released by the Valuer-General's Department, which says there are more than 14,500 properties in Tamworth worth a total of $822 million"

Iowa Land Values propped up by Government payments
"A recent USDA study found that farm program payments are responsible for one-fourth to one-third of the value of land in Iowa... In the late 1980s, 75 percent of land purchases were by existing farmers. Investors accounted for less than 20 percent. This year, 58 percent land buyers were existing farmers, and 37 percent were investors. New farmer purchases were at 2 percent, a fairly consistent number. Increasing land values are a two-edged sword. For people who own land, it's great. For people who rent land, it's a bad thing."

A Vote For Mitzna Is A Vote For Sharon
"Just over a month ago, Mitzna appeared to offer a new hope to Israeli politics. He was even perceived by some as the potential Israeli de Gaulle. Throughout the years of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Israeli political system has managed to generate only two alternatives: eternal negotiations while preserving the occupation and expanding settlements - the Oslo model of the Labor party, or slow elimination of the Palestinian people - Sharon?s model. The hope that many (including myself (1)) attached to Mitzna was that a third alternative is possible as well, following the model of the end of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon - an immediate withdrawal from the territories that most Israelis are willing to evacuate (all of Gaza and about 90% of the West Bank), and the opening of serious negotiations over the rest. But by now, it is obvious that a vote for Mitzna is a vote for Sharon. Sharon and Ben-Eliezer are already planning the next unity government."

Comment: This is another illustration of the characteristic failure of democracy in the modern world. A politician's great fear is that of being in the minority, but it is only by starting from the minority that real leadership can ever be shown.

US Defence Strategy: 'Resource security', ie Oil grab.
"Publications of the US Army War College and the army General and Command Staff College argued that, when it came to oil and gas, "where US business goes, US national interests follow". They highlighted the energy wealth of Central Asia and its importance to America's "security". Oil and gas were on the military's agenda.

"Cutting to the crux of present-day issues, a spring 2001 article by Jeffrey Record in the War College's journal, Parameters, argued the legitimacy of "shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices". Mr Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee (and an apparent favourite of the Council on Foreign Relations), also advocated the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict. Mr Record explicitly urged painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilising public support for a conflict."

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The coming decline of oil
"Amongst the billions of words brought forth by the climate debate over the past years, remarkably few have touched on an issue that ticks behind it like an unexploded time-bomb. This is the probability that world oil production will reach a peak sometime during this decade and then start to fall, never to rise again."

Hubbert Peak of Oil Production
Resource site examining projections for the depletion of the world's oil reserves. Production of oil in millions of barrels per day is expected to peak in about the year 2010 and then commence a steady and irreversible decline. Middle East Gulf region (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi) contains about half of world remaining reserves.

Letter from Iraq
"My friends, this is the Vietnam of this generation. What we are doing here is an unspeakable evil. I'm sure God will forgive us, but-if we don't do all that we know how to do to stop this war and end these sanctions, will we be able to forgive ourselves?"

Detailed critique of Barak's "generous offer myth" by Uri Avnery
"According to Morris, [Barak] charged Arafat with 'lacking the character or will' to make a historic compromise, as did the late Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat in 1977-1979, when he made peace with Israel. Barak would have been well advised to drop this comparison. Sadat got all his territory back, to the very last centimeter. Arafat would have easily agreed to the same terms - as would have Assad.

"In a recent biography of Barak, entitled "Hara-kiri", Raviv Drucker, a reporter for the army radio station, gives a detailed, thoroughly researched account of Barak's reign. The overall picture is of a severely disturbed human being, whose mindset and emotional limitations have caused him to fail in so many of his relationships and endeavors. According to this account, his failure to establish contact with Arafat was no different from his failure in his dealings with everybody else, including his closest assistants.

"My own theory - which, of course, cannot be proved is that on assuming power, Barak believed that he had the right formula for ending the historic conflict. Knowing absolutely nothing about the Palestinians, indeed, never having had a serious discussion with Palestinians, he believed that if he offered them a state, they would accept all his conditions and gratefully kiss his hands. When this did not happen, he was furious and accused them of all possible crimes. The prejudices and stereotypes, born of 120 years of conflict and which exist in the conscious or unconscious mind of almost every Israeli, came to the fore and determined his reactions.

"At Camp David he got to the point were the real terms of the solution became apparent to him. These conflicted with all his traditional Zionist convictions, causing a severe case of cognitive dissonance. Consequently, like a person looking into an abyss, he drew back in panic at the last moment. This is the cause of his "freaking out" incident in Camp David. This is also the reason for his calling off the Taba talks unilaterally, on the eve of the final breakthrough."

Urgent Warning: Text of Israeli academe petition - The Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against humanity
"The following is a petition which is getting organized by members of the Israeli academe.? I think it speaks for itself.? While not condoning inhuman crimes cynically perpetrated by extremist Palestinians against civilians in Israel in the name of so-called freedom fighting, the official response of the current Israeli government often becomes a version of State Terrorism, and rather than directed at stopping the circle of bloodshed seems intent on increasing it for reasons mentioned in the petition below.? It is not easy for an Israeli to sign this text.? If we did, it is to raise our voice and your conscience to help stopping this snowball process leading the whole area into the abyss of senseless violence."

Prevent mass expulsion of Palestinians under cover of war with Iraq
"The Bush administration should seek to deter mass expulsions by publicly warning the Israeli government NOT TO ENGAGE IN "TRANSFERS"-MASS EXPULSION-OF PALESTINIANS DURING A U.S. WAR ON IRAQ."

This is yet another CLEAR WARNING about what is possible in the near future. Members of government, of the media, of public life who do not join in this warning before it is too late make a mockery of their supposed commitment to "Western, democratic, humane" values and must share responsibility for the crime should it occur.

US and Israeli academics publish "urgent letter" against Palestinian ethnic cleansing
"We, members and friends of Israeli academe, are horrified by U.S. buildup of aggression toward Iraq and by the Israeli political leadership's enthusiastic support for it," the Israelis wrote. "We are deeply worried by indications that the `fog of war' could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing," the Israelis added.

"The U.S. letter echoes that urgency. "We join with our Israeli colleagues in calling for vigilance as events unfold in Israel and the occupied territories," the letter said. "With an average of more than $10 million per day of American tax dollars going to Israel, we believe Americans cannot remain silent while crimes as abhorrent as ethnic cleansing are being openly advocated."

Global Warming Evidence Mounts; Flurry of Reports Show a Withering Ice Cap
"From the tropics to the poles, evidence is growing stronger than ever that Earth's climate is warming dangerously."

US Peace Activists take position in Baghdad ahead of war
"Saddam Hussein doesn't know me, and I'm not here to support him," says Boardman, one of several dozen foreign peace activists conducting a vigil in the cold Iraq night air. "I'm here to stand with the Iraqi people, who are suffering from U.S. policies that I think are completely wrong."

Frace and Russia at UN turn against Baghdad "Both countries seem nervous about the economic consequences if the US and Britain go it alone and then do a deal on oil with a new regime. The French President, Jacques Chirac, is coming under increasing pressure from business and military leaders and the army, navy and air force have been told to review their capabilities.

"On the Russian side, a marked hardening of attitudes by Moscow in the past two weeks is believed to have contributed to an Iraqi decision to cancel a $US3.7 billion ($6.5 billion) drilling contract with the Moscow company Lukoil."

Monday, December 23, 2002

America Tore Out 8000 Pages of Iraq Dossier
"THE United States edited out more than 8000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitized version to the 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations security council. The full extent of Washington's complete control over who sees what in the crucial Iraqi dossier calls into question the allegations made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that 'omissions' in the document constituted a 'material breach' of the latest UN resolution on Iraq.

"Last week, Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan accepted that it was 'unfortunate' that his organization had allowed the US to take the only complete dossier and edit it. He admitted 'the approach and style were wrong' and Norway, a member of the security council, says it is being treated like a 'second-class country'.

"Although Powell called the Iraqi dossier a 'catalogue of recycled information and flagrant omissions', the non-permanent members of the security council will have no way of testing the US claims for themselves. This will be crucial if the US and the UK go back to the security council seeking explicit authorization for war on Iraq if breaches of resolution 1441 are confirmed when the weapons inspectors -- this weekend investigating 10 sites in Iraq, including an oil refinery south of Baghdad -- deliver their report to the UN next month."

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Bin Laden and Saddam
"The Soviets were driven from Afghanistan and handed a major defeat. However, the war also brought together, armed, trained, and strengthened anti-Western Islamist forces across the region. Among them was Osama bin Laden, who came from a wealthy Saudi family closely connected to the Saudi royal family. The defeat of the Soviets emboldened these fundamentalist forces. But at the same time, they found they were no longer needed by the U.S. Events soon led to bin Laden's transformation from a CIA asset to a U.S. enemy.

"When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden offered to organize new groups of Islamic fighters against Saddam Hussein's secular regime. This bitter animosity between bin Laden and Hussein is ignored by U.S. officials, who instead have continually tried to claim some Iraq/al-Qaida "link" to justify another war against Saddam. Bin Laden and his followers were shocked and outraged when the U.S. and the Saudis rejected their offer to fight Iraq. Their anger grew when 500,000 U.S. and allied troops were deployed on Saudi soil. They saw this as "infidels" defiling holy territory.

"Bin Laden and other Islamic fundamentalists felt that the U.S. now sought to dominate Muslim lands. They accused the Saudi royal family of complicity in the transgressions committed by the U.S. troops on Saudi soil. They turned their "jihad" on the U.S. and its allies, including the Saudi royalty."

Washington people: Iraq War 80-90% certain
"As a low, dishonest year nears its end, the online magazine Slate is running a daily Saddameter, complete with witty commentary, assessing the chances of a war with Iraq. In the past week it has shot up from just over 50% to 67%. Yet I don't know anyone in Washington who hasn't felt for some time that the odds were more like 80-90%."

Comment on Kissinger Machinations in the 70s
"In late December 1973, there had been a meeting of Arab oil ministers in Kuwait at which they had reached a decision that lifting of the oil embargo should be accomplished in stages directly linked to commensurate steps toward "full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242," which called for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands in exchange for full Arab acceptance of Israel. Kissinger was furious, seeing this as another instance of intolerable Arab "blackmail." A month of nasty bickering ensued, with Kissinger growing increasingly intemperate."

Strongly Worded Mirror Editorial: Bush's Race to War Puts World At Risk
"Mr Bush and the warmongers in his cabinet want a war against Saddam Hussein. They say they must stop him because he has weapons of mass destruction. But only one leader has weapons of mass destruction and plans to use them. His name is George W Bush and it is he who must be stopped."

UN Weapons Inspectors Turn Fire on Britain and US
"George Bush was under intense pressure yesterday to give UN weapons inspectors intelligence data that the US saysthat Iraq is lying when it claims to have given up its weapons of mass destruction. Hours before Mr Bush was to meet the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and senior Russian and European representatives, Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, delivered a stinging attack on the US and Britain, accusing them of failing to co-operate with his team. If the UK and the US are convinced and they say they have evidence, then one would expect they would be able to tell us where is this stuff," Mr Blix said. Asked if he was getting enough co-operation frrom Western intelligence agencies, he said: "Not yet. We get some, but we don't get all we need."

The background to the issue of the Weapons Inspectors is that it is a charade and diplomatic fig-leaf intended to conceal the real determination of the US to attack Iraq regardless.

US Vetoes Resolution Against Israel on UN Killings
"The United States vetoed a Syrian-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for the recent killings of a Briton and two Palestinians working for the United Nations in the West Bank and Gaza. Twelve council members, including Britain, voted in favor and Bulgaria and Cameroon abstained late on Friday."

"The United States, which has vetoed some 30 Middle East resolutions since 1972, last used its veto power in December 2001 to kill a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... Palestinian envoy Nasser al-Kidwa told the council he could not understand the U.S. veto "but we note that the United States is biased toward Israel."

Let us hope the Palestinian leaderhip understands the US and the vetoes and policies sometime before the Palestinians are finally annihilated.

US Builds Up Gulf Force and Bush Postpones Africa Trip
"The United States announced it was virtually doubling its military strength in the Gulf as President George W. Bush said Iraq's weapons declaration was "not encouraging" for those seeking to avoid conflict."

"The United States and Britain have declared Iraq in "material breach" of its United Nations obligations because of omissions in its weapons declaration."

"The Times newspaper of London said Britain would seek UN approval for war on Iraq in a second resolution at the end of January if arms inspections showed Saddam was in breach of UN Security Council resolution 1441."

Iraq meanwhile urged the United Nations to stand up to US and British "deceit".

"Iraq's ruling Baath Party daily Ath-Thawra said the other "members of the UN Security Council ... should shoulder their legal and moral responsibilities and take a responsible stance against the injustice, the aggressions and threats aimed at Iraq. The issue is not weapons of mass destruction or the return of the (UN weapons) inspections ... it is finding a pretext to attack Iraq," it said."

Jewish Professors Keep Divestment Drive Alive
"The national movement to pressure universities to pull their investments from Israel has been battered this year by critics who call it divisive and anti-Semitic. But it has shown remarkable staying power in large part because of an unusual group of supporters: Jewish professors."

Drug Industry Poised to Reap Political Dividends
"Few industries campaigned harder than pharmaceutical manufacturers to elect Republicans to the new Congress, and few industries are better positioned to reap the rewards of the election returns, analysts said Thursday."

US Wrecks Cheap Drugs Deal
"Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, last night blocked a global deal to provide cheap drugs to poor countries, following intense lobbying of the White House by America's pharmaceutical giants. Faced with furious opposition from all the other 140 members of the World Trade Organization, the US refused to relax global patent laws which keep the price of drugs beyond reach of most developing countries."

The drugs industry is another rent-seeking monopoly based on government-created patents and copyrights.

Friday, December 20, 2002

US faults Iraqi dossier: Arab Reaction
"Syria said it was boycotting the Security Council talks on the Iraqi declaration in protest at receiving an edited, 3,500-page copy. It said it wanted the full version that was given to the five permanent Council members.

"Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Baghdad would ?make clarifications? if necessary on its arms dossier. ?I can reassure you the report is complete,? he told French RFI radio in a recorded interview through an interpreter. ?If need be, Iraq is ready to make clarifications. Iraq has no arms of mass destruction. I think the United States is well placed to know this in the first place but the United States is looking for a pretext for an attack,? he said. Every people and every nation has the right to defend itself through all possible means, Ramadan warned."

Iraq in "material breach", alleges US
"Take one piece of "missing" material as an example - 1.5 tons of VX nerve agent. The British and US governments say that this has not been accounted for. But according to a report in January 1999 by the previous UN weapons inspection group Unscom, the Iraqis said that they had destroyed the VX by dumping it and UN scientists found traces at the site."

Journalists are Under Fire for Telling the Truth
"In Canada, the situation is even worse. Canwest, owned by Israel Asper, owns over 130 newspapers in Canada, including 14 city dailies and one of the country's largest papers, the National Post. His "journalists" have attacked colleagues who have deviated from Mr Asper's pro-Israel editorials. As Index on Censorship reported, Bill Marsden, an investigative reporter for the Montreal Gazette has been monitoring Canwest's interference with its own papers. "They do not want any criticism of Israel," he wrote. "We do not run in our newspaper op-ed pieces that express criticism of Israel and what it is doing in the Middle East..."

The public must learn to simply stop reading or consuming the mass media and corporate media, except with a view to critiquing it. Alternative media of every kind, from club and association newsletters to independent websites, need to be developed and accessed.

Leaked Report Says German and US Firms Supplied Arms to Saddam
"Iraq's 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that supported Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, a German newspaper said yesterday."

The US claimed the report needed to be censored before being passed to the security council because it might contain information on how to build weapons of mass destruction. Did they mean the names and addresses of Western firms that will sell you the necessary equipment?

Northhampton, MA passes strongly worded resolution against USA Patriot Act
Possibly the beginning of a tren pitting local and State governments against the power of the Federal Government.

USA Patriot Act Revolt: Cities Say No to Federal Snooping
"Fearing that the Patriot Act will curtail Americans' civil rights, municipalities across the country are passing resolutions to repudiate the legislation and protect their residents from a perceived abuse of authority by the federal government. On Tuesday, Oakland became the 20th municipality to pass a resolution barring its employees -- from police officer to librarian -- from collaborating with federal officials who may try to use their new power to investigate city residents."

War looms as US declares Iraq breach
"Iraq is in "material breach" of a UN disarmament resolution, Secretary of State Colin Powell declared in a finding that could set the United States on a course toward possible war with President Saddam Hussein early next year. Baghdad's arms declaration "totally fails" to meet a UN Security council resolution calling for an accurate, full and complete inventory of weapons, Powell told a news conference at the State Department."

Powell's statement can hardly come as a surprise as the US has consistently signalled it wants to make war against Iraq regardless. Independent analysis of both any alleged "material breach" and the appropriate response to such a breach is needed. It is for the UN security council as a whole to declare a "material breach".

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Poll: Most Americans Unconvinced on Iraq War
"Despite a concerted effort by the Bush administration, more than two-thirds of Americans believe the president has failed to make the case that a war with Iraq is justified, according to a Los Angeles Times poll. The overwhelming majority of respondents -- 90% -- said they do not doubt that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction. But in the absence of new evidence from U.N. inspectors, 72% of respondents, including 60% of Republicans, said the president has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq."

'War on Terror' Infringing Human Rights, UNHCR Says
"The U.N.'s human rights chief said Tuesday that the U.S.-led "war on terror" was hurting human rights and exacerbating prejudices around the world. "The war on terrorism has had some damaging effects, I would suggest, on human rights standards across the world," United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights Sergio Vieira de Mello told a news conference in Helsinki. Governments across the globe have invoked the "war on terror," announced by President Bush after Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, to justify activities that de Mello said are damaging human rights in the industrialized and developing worlds."

Repression of women in "liberated" Afghanistan
"Even women travelling in taxis have been arrested for being alone with a man, and sometimes taken to a hospital to determine if they have had sex recently. And if they are single, whether they are virgins. Girls deemed improperly veiled have been beaten.

"The US-led coalition justified the war against the Taliban in part by promising that it would liberate Afghanistan's women," Ms Coursen-Neff said. "In fact, by supporting repressive warlords, the international community has broken that promise and forsaken women's rights."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The Dishonest Case for War on Iraq
"There is no case for a war on Iraq. It has not threatened to attack the US or Europe. It is not connected to al-Qa'ida. There is no evidence that it has new weapons of mass destruction, or that it possesses the means of delivering them."

As Bush, Blair and Howard continue the drumbeat for war against Iraq, analysis such as this make a mockery of the "dossiers" and "war on terrorism" rhetoric.

United for Peace: A Decade of US War on Iraq
"THE 1991 Gulf War against Iraq wasn?t really a war at all. It was a one-sided slaughter in a country that was no match for the massive armed might of the U.S. military and its many allies."

A Call for a New, Democratic US Foreign Policy
"We do not believe that the goal of the approaching war against Iraq is to bring democracy to the Iraqis, nor that it will produce this result. Instead, the Bush Administration?s aim is to expand and solidify U.S. predominance in the Middle East, at the cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives if necessary. This war is about U.S. political, military and economic power, about seizing control of oilfields and about strengthening the United States as the enforcer of an inhumane global status quo. That is why we are opposed to war against Iraq, whether waged unilaterally by Washington or by the UN Security Council, unaccountable to the UN General Assembly and bullied and bribed into endorsing the war."

Did Saddam's Army Test Poison Gas on Missing 5,000?
"Why didn't Tony Blair and George Bush mention Saddam Hussein's most terrible war crime? Why, in all their "dossiers", did they not refer to the 5,000 young men and women who were held at detention centers when their families - of Iranian origin - were hurled over the border to Iran just before President Saddam invaded Iran in 1980?

"Could it be because these 5,000 young men and women were used for experiments in gas and biological warfare agents whose ingredients were originally supplied by the United States?"

No signs of nuclear, chemical weapons in Iraq: IAEA chief
"UN arms inspectors are making good progress in Iraq and have so far found no evidence of nuclear or chemical weapons production there, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei... He stressed that the IAEA had so far found no evidence to support allegations that Iraq is producing nuclear or chemical weapons."

Britain finds big gaps in Iraq's arms dossier
"London: Officials analysing Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration are "very disappointed" at its contents, saying it has big gaps that may cost Iraq the chance to avoid war, the Financial Times reported yesterday."
Comment: As Britain has declared its intention to join the US in an attack on regard regardless of inspections, their statements cannot be regarded as objective. Independent analysis is needed.

Gerard Henderson's "Analysis" of Carmen Lawrence and the Left
"For over a century now there has been a division on the Left of politics between those who adopt a "here-I-stand" philosophy while arguing for the implementation of undiluted principle and those who recognise that policy is achieved only by incremental change and, consequently, recognise the inevitability of compromise."
Comment: A questionable statement. Leaving aside Henderson's waffling on "compromise and the left", the approach for reformers has to be: Articulate the underlying principles and reforms needed; support the incremental achievement and implementation of reform.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Detailed 2002 report including recommendations on Australia's "Pacific Solution" Asylum Seeker policy.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Chomsky: Water is as important as oil
"This is what in the 19th century used to be called the "Great Game." In those days it was mainly a conflict between the Russian Empire and the British Empire, which were both expanding into that area. There was a lot of fighting over Afghanistan about that. Now it's taking on a new form, the major concern now being energy resources and other material resources in the region. China doesn't like what the US is doing, it's right on their borders, Russia doesn't like it, its on their borders. They've regarded it as their sphere of influence. Iran certainly doesn't like it. In fact, what drives it has nothing to do with terrorism. What drives it is control over resources, and that's important. It's not just oil. For example, another major resource, which people don't pay enough attention to, is water. That may turn out to be as important or more important than oil in the coming years."

Finkelstein: Whither The Peace Process?
"I think we are headed now towards a catastrophe, unless by some miracle the United States is held back from inflicting yet another devastation on Iraq. I think there is a real danger that the Palestinians will suffer; they will be dealt a devastating blow equivalent to, if not worse than what happened in 1948."

The American Administration Is A Bloodthirsty Wild Animal
"I found that to emerge from a personal nightmare was to enter an infinitely more pervasive public nightmare - the nightmare of American hysteria, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and belligerence; the most powerful nation the world has ever known effectively waging war against the rest of the world. "If you are not with us, you are against us," President George W. Bush has said. He has also said: "We will not allow the world's worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders." Quite right. Look in the mirror, chum. That's you."

IPA Press Release: Iraqi Documents and U.S. Response "Virtually everything the Bush administration does is calculated and much is based on lies and half truths. The administration repeated over and over that there was a meeting between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi official. There is no evidence for this, but according to a poll by the Council on Foreign Relations, a majority of Americans still think this is true...."

Wood Royal commission and a killer heroin batch
"The Wood Royal Commission is to be accused of causing the deaths of drug addicts, who were allegedly supplied with heroin that was too strong to take, it can be revealed today. A number of fatal drug overdoses occurred during a sting operation designed to snare corrupt police, according to new evidence to be heard by a parliamentary inquiry into crime."
Drug law reform, anyone?

Transcript: Muslim Cleric Abu Bakar warns Australia about Iraq, Bush, Palestine, Preemptive strikes
"About Australia, in general, I think its fine. Australian people, God willing, have no problem with Islam. However, usually, Australian leaders do influence their people a lot to make enemy of Islam, especially the incumbent Prime Minister. Moreover, the incumbent Prime Minister John Howard is the ally of George W. Bush the worst and most evil president in the world. John Howard is his ally. Because lately he has this crazy idea regarding what you asked me about.

"So, if John Howards stance is followed by people of Australia, so you have to know, that there will be war in the world and God willing Australia will be destroyed instantly due to the crazy idea of its Prime Minister."
Comment: The Howard government is demanding more powers for the secret police, eroding freedoms in the process. But why should we give them more powers when they are seemingly unable to comprehend what is published in daily newspapers? Australia has been warned again and again and again about its policies making itself a target for terrorist attacks, and yet the government has done nothing in response.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Supreme Court ruling of the 19th and the power of US corporations
"As the father of the Constitution, President James Madison, wrote, "There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by... corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses."

Comment: The "accumulation of property" into fewer and fewer hands, whether these be corporations, churches, families, individuals, warlords etc, is a recurring problem in all societies. Direct taxation (ie, land value taxation) goes to the heart of these problems, although land reform, death duties, dissolutions and revolutions are also responses that occur repeatedly.

US actors oppose war on Iraq
"We support rigorous U.N. weapons inspections to assure Iraq's effective disarmament," Farrell said, reading from the letter. "However, a pre-emptive military invasion of Iraq will ... increase human suffering, arouse animosity toward our country, increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world. It will make us less, not more, secure."

Unfortunately, the protest was not reported by the US media.

"Maybe the celebs, so used to getting attention, thought that their star power would win them media play. After all, think of all the hours of airtime and rivers of ink devoted lately to Winona Ryder's shoplifting dramas, Michael Jackson's spider bites, Paula Poundstone's child custody battles, Whitney Houston's drug woes and Mariah Carey's mental health problems. Then there's how, when stars have shows or CDs to sell, they get all the face time their synergistic media corporate masters would like, complete with fawning interviews and puffy hour-long biographies."

Pilger: America's Bid For Global Dominance
"The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the "new Pearl Harbor", described as "the opportunity of ages". The extremists who have since exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and "think-tanks" were established to avenge the American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the cold war."

Syrian President Assad Offers Gloomy Prognosis That War with Iraq will Create Fertile Soil for Terrorism
"Countries would be partitioned, he says. There would be floods of refugees. Economies would grind to a halt. Foreign investment and trade would dry up. Poverty would deepen. The consequences are not going to be contained within Iraq, he says. The entire region will enter into the unknown. Far from eliminating the threat, the war would merely create fertile soil for terrorism. But Mr Assad believes war is inevitable. The Americans have made up their mind. Despite the UN resolutions and the fact that the inspectors are there, they are all the time announcing that they want to launch a strike against Iraq, he says."

US Peace Activists Visit Baghdad to Protest War Talk
"Peace activists must defy US government prohibitions against Americans traveling to Iraq; the United States has no diplomatic relations with Baghdad. Each member of the group who enters Iraq could face up to 12 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine. Yet the members of the group of Catholic nuns, priests, and lay workers who hail from California to Illinois to Massachusetts say they feel compelled to make the visit to Iraq because of their deep-seated belief in peace rather than war."

Iraqi Declaration of Weapons Includes U.S. Firms That Aided Iraqis
"Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs lists American companies that provided materials used by Baghdad to develop chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s, according to a senior Iraqi official. The public release of such a list could prove embarrassing for the United States and highlight the extent to which the Reagan and first Bush administrations supported Iraq in its eight-year war with neighboring Iran in the 1980s. U.S. military and financial assistance to Iraq continued until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990."

Remarkably, "the United States received the sole copy of the dossier and supporting material that was intended for the council....the other 10 rotating council members will get edited copies of the dossier." The stated reason is that the documents may contain information about the manufacture of WMDs. How credible is this?

US Press Mollycoddles Kissinger
"If Bill Clinton were selected to lead a commission examining teenage delinquency, how many times would he be asked if his Oval Office antics rendered him less-than-suitable for the position?"

No such tough questions for Kissinger, however, like the following which could never be asked:

"Doctor Kissinger, you are one of the most notorious practitioners of clandestine warfare and secret government in United States history. You oversaw a covert -- and arguably illegal -- bombing campaign in Cambodia that killed hundreds of thousands, and you have opposed disclosure of information related to government misdeeds. Is that a liability or asset in your new post as head of the independent 9/11 commission?"

Howard, Crean fail to agree on terrorism laws
Comment: While both sides posture before the public on who is more committed to stronger secret police powers, neither will take genuine steps to combat terrorism and reduce the exposure of Australians to risk. Foreign policy in regard to the Middle East urgently needs to be changed and clarified. The first step is to withdraw from the American attack on Iraq and withdraw with apology the foolish remarks on Australia's "first strike" policy.

Friday, December 13, 2002

U.N. Workers Petition Israel: Stop "Beating and Killing" Us
"You might think that such a strongly-worded statement sent by more than five-dozen United Nations workers to the "Middle East's only democracy" would be highly newsworthy. Apparently not. Among the very few media outlets to cover it were Reuters, the BBC, the Independent (London), Ha'aretz (Jerusalem), and the Jerusalem Post. Notice that all these sources are British or Israeli. Not one American media outlet has covered the story."

IMF Demands Privatization of Nicaruaguan Water
"The Fund attached conditions to a loan to Nicaragua... demanding that it privatize its vital water resources, despite domestic legislation suspending all water privatization plans. The Nicaragua water facilities include the country's major hydroelectric dams and state-owned Hidrogesa."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Indonesian Muslim leader warns against working with Kopassus
"One of Indonesia's most influential moderate Muslim leaders has criticised the Australian Government's flirtation with the idea of working with the Indonesian special forces unit, Kopassus, to combat terrorism.

"Many Kopassus soldiers have been involved with violence and torturing of pro-democracy activists," he said."

Given that state terrorism as practiced by the likes of Kopassus is one of the fundamental causes of discontent feeding into terrorism in the muslim world, such a move is counterproductive to say the least.

Analyst: Attacking Iraq may raise terrorism risks for Australia
"Addressing a parliamentary committee, Clive Williams, of the Australian National University, said the risk of attacks on Australian missions overseas was far greater than the threat posed here.

"Any support for a war in Iraq would add to the anti-Australian sentiment among Muslim extremists and increase the risk of attack both here and abroad."

Monday, December 09, 2002

Hard choice for anti-Bushies: Green or Democrat?
"Each Nader person has to decide for himself or herself which course is better for 2004: supporting Nader again or converging with Democratic progressives in the Democratic primaries. There are no guarantees. Both courses have grave inherent risks. The first runs the high risk of electing Bush; the second, of ending up with yet another corporate puppet as the Democratic nominee."

The situation in the United States illustrates the importance of electoral reform. Australians do not face any such a hard choice because we have preferential voting (known as 'instant run-off' in the US). However Australia does have single-member electorates, a serious issue because it means that the Greens (or any 'minor' party) even with a million or more votes could still get zero representation in the house, while a major party (either Labor or coalition) will win a parliamentary majority with a minority of votes. This type of distortion/manipulation/gerrymander occurs every election. The best and most complete answer is Hare-Clark or Quota-Preferential Proportional Representation for all representative bodies.

The most important thing however for the Greens is to retain the conviction that speaking the truth is the answer. Whether in parliament or out of it, in govenment or coalition or out of it, whether any listeners or none at all, addressing the ideas and values that are of concern is the most important thing. Representative democracy has failed becaue the 'leaders' say not what needs to be said but what is calculated will win office.

The Need to Organise
"The Cheney/Bush administration has done us a favor by taking off the masks. It does not bother to hide its contempt or disguise its motives. Calvinist morality for the masses and yachts for the powerful. IN THIS COUNTRY, once upon a time, there was a great radical tradition. John Leonard has written about it a lot. He quotes the writer Harvey Swados, who has one character say, "One way or another, we tried to keep an idea alive. There weren't enough of us, there never are. We were ridiculously wrong about a lot of things but who wasn't? And what idea did they keep alive, the others?"

Republican Robo-Candidate Campaigning
Will the Democrats ever free themselves of all that corporate money and wake up?, asks Ralph Nader. But a more serious question might be, would it be possible at this late stage for the Democrats to exist without relying on corporate money?

Howard Government based on lies - Phil Noyce
"We know that the Howard Government were re-elected because of their lies over the Tampa. And we know that was exploiting fear of outsiders in the wake of 9/11, particularly fear of Muslims. So their hold on power is based on a lie, which is based on an exploitation of race hatred. They are not the legitimate government because of that lie."

US forces are set for war
"The United States will soon have enough tanks, warships, aircraft, bombs and troops in the Persian Gulf region to enable it to begin an attack against Iraq some time next month, military officials say. About 60,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, as well as about 200 warplanes, are in or near the region. The army alone has 9000 soldiers, 24 Apache helicopter gunships and heavy equipment for two armoured brigades in Kuwait. Equipment for a third brigade is steadily arriving on ships usually based in the Indian Ocean, and some material will be stored at a new $US200million ($360million) logistics base, Camp Arifjan, south of Kuwait City.

"By late this week four aircraft carriers will be poised to strike Iraq on short notice, with a fifth in South-East Asia ready to steam to the Gulf in a crisis. Two carriers, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, are heading home, but the navy will keep their crews together about two weeks longer than the usual 30 days after arrival in case they are ordered back to the Gulf."

Rift between US and UNMOVIC over Iraq WMD
"The US and the UK... continue to insist they have 'solid evidence' that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction. It is an insistence that is exacerbating the already fraught relationship between the Bush administration and the UN's chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. The past seven days have seen an increasingly tense series of exchanges with the chief inspector and the main cheerleaders among the Bush administration hawks who have heckled Blix and his team from the sidelines on an almost daily basis, insisting, not least, that he use his powers to remove Iraqi scientists and their families from the country for interview by US officials.

"By Friday that heckling had began to irritate Blix, who delivered a series of rebukes to the Washington hawks. 'We are not going to abduct anyone,' he said on Friday after meeting the Security Council. 'The UN is not a defection agency.' Blix's irritation has not been limited to the issue of defections. He has complained sharply too that if the US has evidence that Iraq retains weapons of mass destruction then it should share it with the UN's inspectors so that they can investigate."

Downer's Lies and Iraq
Its unlikely the public would support the Government's policies on Iraq if they knew what was really going on, especially the incredibly cruel sanctions policy or the unjustified war on Iraq which will only increase the risk to Australians. Its necessary therefore for the government to mislead, deceive and sometimes outright lie. Downer's interview on Meet the Press interview is an example. Consider the following:

"There is no doubt, though, on the basis of information provided by the Americans and the British that Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction capability and of course, they didn't destroy all of their capabilities in 1998 when the UN last left. So you have both intelligence and that indication of the presence of weapons of mass destruction capabilities in Iraq."

If there is "intelligence" showing the presence of WMD in Iraq, that should be shared with UNMOVIC, as has been requested by UNMOVIC, not to mention the Australian people. According to Scott Ritter Iraq has been 90-95% disarmed.

"UNSCOM, the predecessor to UNMOVIC, completed its work, was expelled, rather, from Iraq, it hadn't completed its work." This is a lie. UNSCOM was withdrawn, not expelled.

"Saddam Hussein, as has been demonstrated on many occasions, has supported terrorist organisations, particularly in the Middle East... There are clearly al-Qa'ida people present within Iraq. There's been plenty of evidence of that and much discussion about that."

Lets see the evidence then, Mr Downer. The US has been desperately trying to make the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but nothing has surfaced. Bin Laden and Saddam are bitter enemies. It is not in Iraq or Saddam's interest to launch al Qaeda style attacks against the US, anymore than it would be in his interest to have launched WMDs against the US (if he had them).

"But there is the other point and I've been saying all year, this is the one I think people do have to reflect on - Iraq does have a weapons of mass destruction capability"

This prejudges and in fact makes irrelevant UNMOVIC's investigation. Where are the WMDs and where is the threat to Iraq's neighbours, Mr Downer? Not to mention the threat to Australia.

"The whole of the onus is now on him. Security Council Resolution 1441 and its predecessors are perfectly clear. These are chapter 7 resolutions. He has an obligation to disarm. If he disarms, if he eliminates any weapons of mass destruction capability and long-range missile capability that he might have, then he doesn't have to worry. But if he doesn't, he will then invite military action against him."

Regardless of what UNMOVIC reports, regardless of the failure of the US/UK/Australia to present evidence of Iraq's WMD, it has been repeatedly signalled that the US will attack anyway, because they say he has WMDs. That is enough, just because we say so. But what if that is a lie?

On being asked whether he has seen the evidence of the US/UK, Downer says "Obviously, we don't know. We haven't been told. We're not aware of that." This appears to contradict what he said earlier in the interview, that "on the basis of information provided by US/UK". But most likely this statement of ignorance is true. Downer does not see fit to ask or insist on receiving this information before committing to support for the war.

"We have an alliance relationship with the US which is of mutual benefit. We do have the security of always knowing that the United States would be prepared to assist us if we ever got into any difficulties."

This is a foolishness that senior Australian officials can hardly rid themselves of. The US looks after its own interests. Assistance to Australia (or anybody) is viewed only through the prism of US interests. The basic lie in the whole interview is that Iraq is to be attacked because it has WMDs and links to terrorism. Iraq is to be attacked because it has the world's second largest oil reserves. The interviewer is unable to raise this basic issue.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Interview With Tanya Reinhart
Israel/Palestine: How To End The War Of 1948

Global Survey: Why Dont they Like US?
"Since 2000, favorability ratings for the U.S. have fallen in 19 of the 27 countries where trend benchmarks are available. While criticism of America is on the rise, however, a reserve of goodwill toward the United States still remains. The Pew Global Attitudes survey finds that the U.S. and its citizens continue to be rated positively by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries in which the question was asked. True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today?s areas of greatest conflict."

"Not many people buy Dubya's claims about the threat posed by Iraq. Many of those polled -- 76 percent of Russians; 75 percent of the French; 54 percent of Germans; and 44 percent of the British -- think that the war is nothing more than an oil grab. In contrast, just 22 percent of Americans see U.S. policy toward Iraq as motivated by oil interests."

With Runners And Whispers, Al-Qai'da Outfoxes US Forces
"United States forces have not only failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden while they are preparing for war in Iraq: they are finding it almost impossible to crack the al-Qa'ida network because Bin Laden's men have resorted to primitive methods of communication that cut individual members of al-Qa'ida off from all information."

Interview with Dennis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations
"500,000 extra children have died... under Iraqi sanctions."

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Piger: Lies, Damned Lies, And Terror Warnings
"A recent comprehensive investigation by an American academic, Professor Joy Gordon, has revealed that the United States has placed "on hold" more than $5billion worth of humanitarian goods that should have gone to Iraq. All the goods were approved by the UN and financed from the sale of Iraqi oil. They include flour, medicines, medical equipment, milk production equipment, fire-fighting equipment, water tankers. "Over the last three years," wrote Professor Gordon, "I have acquired many of the key confidential UN documents concerning the administration of Iraqi sanctions. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively throughout the last decade to purposefully minimise the humanitarian goods that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread epidemics."

Kissinger's Back
"Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes. Kissinger has been accused, with cause, of engaging in war crimes of his own. Moreover, he has been a poster-child for the worst excesses of secret government and secret warfare."

Land Jobbing on the Moon has already started
"The 1979 United Nations Moon Treaty declared Earth's satellite part of the Common Heritage of Mankind, exploitable only for the mutual benefit of all nations. But the U.S and the Soviet Union never signed on. America refused because of "the conquistador mind-set," says William Hartmann, author of the current theory of the moon's origin and an astronomer at Tucson's Planetary Science Institute. "Basically [failing to ratify the treaty], says that the rest of the world is up for grabs and is populated by a bunch of ignorant peasants, and since we are the most noble, advanced and moral people, it is our duty to God and country to grab as much as we can for ourselves."

Noam Chomsky Analyzes the Bushies
"On human behavior, it's not hard to figure out what's going on. Unless you're an unusually saintly figure, you've done things in your life that you knew were wrong. Maybe when you were 7 years old you took a toy from your younger brother, and when he ran crying to your mother, you told her - believing every word - that it was really yours, and he'd taken it from you, and he didn't want it anyway, etc. Did you tell yourself that you're stronger than he is so you could take it and get away with it?

"It's the same when you're running a country in the world. It's interesting to read the archives of Nazi Germany, fascist Japan, the Soviet Union. The leaders are acting from the highest imaginable motives, and probably believed it. It is remarkably easy to come to believe what it is convenient to believe. That's the secret of being a responsible intellectual, someone who serves power abjectly while believing oneself to be an independent thinker."

Howard Government using immoral methods to set up unions
"And so to Parliament. On Thursday the Opposition spokesman on legal and workplace matters, Robert McClelland, asked Abbott about why the Government had decided to grant indemnity to these two men after they had been found by a judge to be liars. Minister, can you explain how taking the unprecedented step of paying almost $100,000 of taxpayers' money for fabricated evidence ... is consistent with your notion of the rule of law?" he asked."

Carmen Lawrence quits Shadow Cabinet
"It is not uncommon in my experience in shadow cabinet for policies to be discussed first of all with an eye on what public reaction is likely to be, rather than what is good policy, and I don't believe we can continue in that direction," she told the nation.

Reserve Bank warning to property investors
"These developments, if fully understood by investors, should make them very cautious," [Reserve Bank chief Macfarlane] said. He said the risks posed by the current property boom were greater than in the 1970s and 1980s. Money for investment is more freely available this time and investors are more highly "geared", with borrowings in many cases around 100 per cent of the value of investment properties. Developers had also shifted the risk to investors by selling units "off the plan", with deposits taken well in advance of building commencing. Mr Macfarlane said many people on modest incomes had been drawn into the investment property market and some would suffer in the wake of the lingering housing boom.

Hizbullah denies any links with al Qaeda
"Hizbullah on Friday denied Israeli claims that al-Qaeda members had infiltrated Lebanon and were cooperating with the Shiite group. "Al-Qaeda has no presence in Lebanon and there is no relationship between Hizbullah and al-Qaeda," the Lebanese movement said in a statement. The denial was issued a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged that al-Qaeda members had infiltrated the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon and were working to target Israel. Hizbullah warned that "such statements issued by Sharon and Israeli officials hide aggressive intentions against Lebanon and increase our strength and determination to our rightful commitment in defending our people, land and dignity."

Inspectors Angered by US Claims Over Iraqi Weapons
"Demetrius Perricos, the Greek head of the team searching Iraq for chemical and biological weapons, strongly rejected American attempts to dictate the pace and style of inspections. Frustrated White House officials had marked the end of the first week of the new inspection regime, which has uncovered next to nothing, by calling for more intrusive inspections. But Mr Perricos retorted: ?The people who sent us here are the international community, the United Nations. We?re not serving the US. We?re not serving the UK. We?re not serving any individual nation.? Breaching protocol, which dictates that UN officials should remain non-political, he also challenged the Bush Administration to share its intelligence if it wanted the inspectors to uncover banned weapons."

Labor MP Carmen Lawrence: Why I resigned from the frontbench
"Consider the issue of refugees. The party is making a mistake by playing on John Howard's terms. We're allowing the Prime Minister to define territory and the arguments. Now I don't share the view that Howard's some kind of political genius - clearly he's not; the times just suit him. And he is vulnerable. But as long as Labor tries to argue the case on Howard's territory, then he's the one dictating terms about the political contest and how it's played out. After all, Labor played along before the last elections with the moral panic surrounding the boatpeople instead of getting out there and persuading Australians to a different point of view.

"On Iraq, I've spoken strongly against Labor support for any war there. Labor is not speaking sufficiently clearly against the possibility that we would sign up with President George W. Bush in some form of unilateral action against Iraq. We seem prepared to accept as law horrifying prospects such as killing 50,000 people in Iraq, which is a possible scenario."

There must be dozens or scores of Labor MPs across the country but Lawrence is the ONLY one (correct me if I'm mistaken) who has voiced concern about the government's policies on the War against Arabs for the Oil, and the refugees and terrorism resulting therefrom, however timidly she does so. And for her troubles she gets lined up by the Labor party machine (including Premiers Carr and Beattie) as if they sought to terminate permanently her political career. As Lawrence says, Howard is not a political genius, the times (including the Labor times) just suit him.

Lawrence also remarks: "The Greens arent the solution." No party is the solution. The public through their self-education and activism is the solution. But the Greens and other progressive parties (Labor?) by facilitating and channelling the popular will can play their part. A handful of Greens deserve support for expressing what dozens of Labor MPs cannot.

Choice of Kissinger Discredits 9/11 Probe
"His hostility toward the checks and balances of the American system and his consistent endorsement of secret government and secret war make him profoundly unsuited to head a commission on 9/11 at such a sensitive juncture in American history."

Land Tax on Principal residences in NSW
"The law specifies that no land tax is due on someone's main home unless the land is worth more than $1.68 million as of January 1, 2003. But tax is due on weekenders or investment properties if the land is worth $261,000 or more. Tax ris charged at 1.7 per cent a year on the amount above the threshold. In 2001 about 15 per cent of the 1547 objections to land tax assessments related to disputes over principal place of residence."

The principle of land value taxation is sound. Ideally, it should be imposed (preferably at state or local government level) at an ad valorem rate on all sites with no exemptions or thresholds. These only provide opportunity for dispute, evasion, and further erosion of the basic priniple.

Lawrence move dismays ALP
"There were a lot of us who thought we were maybe on the back foot when Paul Keating was defending her for a year and maybe we could have had another course, and a lot of people gave her loyalty,"

"Tasmanian ALP backbencher Dick Adams told ABC Radio."She doesn't seem to be able to think that the party was owed anything."

In the gangster mentality of the ALP (as unashamedly reported by the mass media) 'loyalty' is regarded as the chief virtue of an ALP member. That is, assuming that the completely gutless stance of the ALP on the issues of the day (war, immigration) would actually deliver them any success, which it hasnt so far, as Carmen Lawrence has dared to point out.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Opinion piece on New Zealand's role in the "War on Terror"
"When the trumpets sound again for the war against terror, New Zealand should ignore them. Why? Because President Bush's conventional territorial war will not defeat the sneaky malevolence of Islamist terrorists, from al Qaeda or wherever else. If Afghanistan is any guide, this war will flatten much of Iraq and leave it in ruins - a gift to Islamist propagandists throughout the Muslim world, making a bad scene worse.

"Why else? Because American nervousness about incurring casualties means this war could easily end in a cock-up like Gulf War I. Because, as the Bali bombing showed, our involvement would increase the risk of a terror attack in New Zealand, for no corresponding increase in our overall security."

Al Qaeda Internet message threatens new attack for end of Ramadan
"You did not understand the reasons for the raids of Washington and New York," said the statement attributed to al Qaeda. "Oh American people, you are the victim of your leaders, but you are also a partner in the war on us. The gift for the holiday is on its way."

This (unauthenticated, and largely unreported) statement might be interpreted as a warning of a terrorist attack at the end of Ramadan, ie 5/6 Dec, but for maximum impact, a strike on America, Americans, or American interests after the attack on Iraq has started would be logical.

Mullah Omar letter blasting U.S.
"America practices and supports terrorism and it is using the fight against terrorism as an excuse for war against Iraq," said the letter. "America and its allies did not reap anything from the attack on Afghanistan except destruction and ruin and the enmity of weakened countries," Omar said in the latest letter. "Afghanistan today is more chaotic than before," he added. Omar in September vowed that his group would not rest until it ousted U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

The Real Battle at Comdex: Intellectual Property vs. Internet Protocol
"[Barlow] also lamented the industry's success at lobbying both Congress and the largest technology manufacturers to not only require digital rights management (DRM) but to embed DRM schemes in future equipment--including PCs and their operating systems. He said both Intel and Microsoft are already moving ahead with exactly those plans, with or without regulatory encouragement. "I see them changing the matrix of the Internet to a model that's based on surveillance and control. That is in the long term advantage of those who want to control and surveil." He also expressed some disappointment that his own originally optimistic views about the ungovernable nature of cyberspace have failed to prevail against an industry that's hellbent to regulate it."

The New York Review of Books: Israelis & Palestinians: What Went Wrong?
This article reads plausibly but one wonders at the truth of so many statements of the Zionist narrative. Leaving aside the failure to mention the crucial fact of US military, economic and diplomatic aid, the following statements might raise eyebrows:

ELON: The establishment of Israel was widely recognized at the time as perhaps the inevitable, even legitimate, result of a war that the Jews had neither started nor provoked; above all it was seen as a legitimate haven for Holocaust survivors and DPs who, in most cases, refused to go back to Poland or Germany. Having been rejected in their former homelands, many of them wanted to go to Israel and only to Israel.

CHOMSKY (Fateful Triangle): As for the wretched survivors of Hilter's holocaust themselves, it is likely that many - perhaps most - would have chosen to come to the United States had this opportunity been offered, but the Zionist movement, including American Zionists, preferred that they settle in a Jewish state... Roosevelt's advisor Morris Ernst wrote in 1948 of his shock at the refusal of American Jewish leaders to consider the possibility of giving "these beaten people of Europe a choice" to go to the US or Palestine.

ALON: The 1967 war was the great watershed. It interrupted a decade of gradual détente between Israel and Egypt... Israel was at first praised in the West for scoring a spectacular victory in a war largely provoked by the bizarre miscalculations of the Egyptian and Syrian rulers.

CHOMSKY: The former Commander of the Air Force... stated there was "no threat of destruction" but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could "exist according to the scale, spirit and quality she now embodies." Menachem Begin had the following remarks to make: "In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

ALON: The truth was that despite the "Three No's" of Khartoum, (no Arab recognition, negotiation or peace with Israel), direct negotiations with Jordan began soon after the Six-Day War, by 1970 with King Hussein himself. Even while Golda Meir was publicly lamenting, "If the Arabs would only sit down with us at a table like decent human beings and talk!," her representatives were secretly meeting the King. (Alon makes no mention whatever of Sadat's peace offer of 1971, apparently this has been erased from history).

CHOMSKY: After Nasser's death, the new President Sadat moved at once to implement peace with Israel. In February 1971, he offered Israel a full peace treaty on the pre-June 67 borders.... This offer caused much distress in Israel (it caused "panic" in the words of the well-known Israeli writer Amos Elon)"

Well, well, now wouldnt this make you laugh. Is this the same Amos Elon whose article we now are examining? The credibility of writers like Elon and the Zionist narrative in general is shot to pieces, but how many readers of the New York review of books would realise that?

Continuing with Chomsky: "Apparently under Kissinger's influence, the Nixon Administration decided to suspend State Department efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement in accordance with the international consensus and the explicit proposals of Egypt. An envoy was sent to a conference of US Ambassadors in the mideast... to a man the US ambassadors replied that if the countries in the Mideast concluded that the process itself had ended, there would be a disastrous war. Sadat also repeatedly warned that he would be forced to resort to war if his efforts at a peaceful settlement were rebuffed. Nahum Goldman observed that Sadat has conducted a daring policy by declaring himself ready to recognise Israel, and that if he cannot show results, the army will be compelled to launch a war."

ALON: As a result, on both sides now, the extremists are dominant: in Israel and Palestine they veto all progress toward peace.

Me: As indicated above, according to Chomsky's narrative, it is the US, beginning with the Kissinger regime and sustained since then up to the present day, that vetoes all progress towards the internationally accepted political settlement, ie a two state solution based on the (1967) green line. Alon's article can only be regarded as propaganda and disinformation which serves to obscure this central fact. Of course, as some people maintain, Chomsky could be "biased" and "lying", but it doesnt seem that way to me. Rather it seems that virtually the entire mainstream of the Zionist/Israeli/US narrative is "biased and lying" and Chomsky is nearly alone in telling the truth. How can you lie about a basic historical fact like Sadat's 1971 peace offer? Of course you cant, especially when you yourself are on record (as Alon is) as writing about it at the time it occurred. But what you can do is put it in Orwell's famous "Memory Hole". Then it simply disappears from history, and people consuming news and media today would never know about it...

PM John Howard on Preemptive strikes by Australia and changing the UN charter
"REPORTER: Now, you've been arguing for a new approach to pre-emptive defence, you want the UN to change its charter, I think. Does that mean that you ... if you knew that, say, JI people in another neighbouring country were planning an attack on Australia that you would be prepared to act?

"HOWARD: Oh yes, I think any Australian Prime Minister would. I mean, it stands to reason that if you believed that somebody was going to launch an attack against your country, either of a conventional kind or of a terrorist kind, and you had a capacity to stop it and there was no alternative other than to use that capacity then of course you would have to use it."

John Howard is a clown who can hardly be taken seriously. Presumably this statement, along with so much else of his appalling racist, nationalist and militarist posturing, in intended only for domestic consumption. The option of "preemptive military strikes" belongs either to military superpowers who do not fear retaliation or madmen who wish to start wars. Which of these, pray tell Mr Howard, is Australia?

The suggestion floated by Howard and Defence Minister Hill of altering the UN charter to allow preemptive strikes also defies credulity. For an arrogant hyperpower like the US such an idea makes some sense. Everybody else, including Australia, would be expected to support the concept of collective security and national sovereignty as embodied in the UN charter. Possibly Mr Howard and Mr Hill, deluded by their relationship with the US and the UK, echo these ideas with some seriousness, but reality must set in sooner rather than later.

Howard's approach in general to terrorism and international affairs demonstrates how much a white colonial subject he really is and how real the need is for Australia to definitively cut the apron strings with the UK and the US and connect with our own region. Abolishing the monarchy, withdrawing from the ANZUS treaty, closing American bases, banning nuclear weapons in the region and seeking security by working with our Asian neighbours under the umbrella of the the UN charter instead of relying on sheer US military dominance are the decisive steps.

Australia could be working with its Oceanic and ASEAN neighbours to develop a South East Asian/Oceanic union on the model of the European community. A few decades ago the Europeans were at each other's throats in the most vicious wars in human history. Now they are at peace and united. How much vision does it really take to see that as the future instead of the unreconstructed racism, imperialism, militarism, neo-colonialism and hegemonism as effectively practiced by the US, the UK and Australia? John Howard: barbed wire, concentration camps, racism, SAS troops, and "preemptive strikes".

The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism
The writer of this article discredits his most important points against American Imperialism by insisting on spending most of his time labouring an improbable and unnecessary assumption, that the World Trade Centre demolition was in fact planned by the Bush Administration. High level plots and conspiracies are possible (the Kirov murder is perhaps the most outstanding example), but Ockham's razor applies. There is sufficient motive and resentment amongst Arab Muslims regarding the situation in Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to consider the making of such an attack, as everyone should appreciate by now. As for the organisation and planning of it, it is a remarkable feat although Bin Laden himself, in a cave in Afghanistan, may not have been directly involved in that planning.

John Pilger: Blair has made Britain a Target (2001)
"Tony Blair is endangering the people of this country as well as Britons abroad. His willingness to join Bush's "crusade" and use military force will neither avenge nor bring justice to nor honour the memory of the ordinary people who died so terribly in America last week because this will almost certainly lead to a gratuitous slaughter of more innocents in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere. It also risks nurturing a new generation of suicidal killers. Two years ago, Denis Halliday, the assistant secretary general of the United Nations who resigned over the Anglo-American-imposed embargo of Iraq, told me: "We are likely to see the emergence of those who may well regard Saddam Hussein as too moderate and too willing to listen to the west. Such is the desperation of people whose children are dying in their thousands and who are bombed almost every day by American and British planes." "

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The Freenet Project
"Freenet is not a quick and easy way to swap pictures or MP3s. It requires investments from the user, but the rewards are much greater than with a quick-and-dirty peer-to-peer network like Napster. There is the same difference between Freenet and Napster as between Jabber and AIM: one is a technology platform built on solid ground while the other is just a product. Hopefully as time pass, the situation should improve and simpler applications should appear. World domination is planned for 2007, two years later than Linux."

Malaysia: Reject First Strike doctrine
"Veteran Malaysian opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said today the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should collectively reject the pre-emptive strike doctrine adopted by US President George W Bush after the September 11 attacks and now being echoed by Howard."

Lim, in a statement, called the doctrine "a most dangerous form of state terrorism as it would make a nonsense of the UN Charter ... With such an idea, the line between self-defence and aggression becomes hopelessly blurred."

Australian Pre-emptive strike overseas 'would be act of war'
"Malaysia and Indonesia have warned that any pre-emptive strike by Australian forces against terrorists on their soil would be an act of war."

CHOMSKY on method: Violence or Non-Violence?
"The next question that arises has to do with the methods of struggle to achieve such ends. Here the primary question is whether these methods should be violent or non-violent. Here we have to distinguish two kinds of questions: moral questions and tactical questions. With regard to the moral questions, my own personal view is that a very heavy burden of proof is required for anyone who advocates or undertakes the use of violence. In my view that burden of proof can very rarely be met. Non-violent protest is more appropriate morally, and tactically as well. However, there is a fundamental principle of non-violence: "you do not preach non-violence unless you are willing to stand alongside to the people who are suffering the repression." Otherwise, you can?t give that advice. I'm not in a position to stand next to the people who are suffering repression, so I can only express my opinion, but not give advice."

First strike could strand troops: defence expert
The practicalities of Prime Minister John Howard's first-strike policy against terrorists have been questioned by a leading defence analyst, Michael O'Connor from the Australian Association.

Barak's Legacy: The Myth of the "Generous Offer"
"Many American and Israeli officials who were present during the Camp David summit have worked long and hard to debunk this version of events yet Barak' s version still holds sway. But many are coming to see Barak as a politician who plays on the worst fears of his constituency simply to present his own failures in a more favorable light. Barak's offer, in fact, proposed a Palestinian state that would have been fractured by Israeli settlement blocs and bypass roads that would have made life for Palestinians extremely difficult. It gave Palestinians no common border with any Arab state, very limited sovereignty in Jerusalem and equally limited control of the scant but crucial water resources of the West Bank. And, perhaps most important of all, this offer was presented to Arafat as a "take it or leave it" proposal, as both Barak and Clinton made it clear that Israel would go no further than this offer. In addition, because Barak built even more settlements than his right-wing predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, it was even more difficult for Arafat to accept his "generous offer." "

5 reasons to stop US military aid to Israel

Israel's Choice: Annexation, Withdrawal or Expulsion
"Jerusalem: Returning to Israel after an extended absence can be a disturbing experience. On the way back from the airport to my Jerusalem apartment, I noticed new posters tacked onto utility poles and bridges along the highway. They read: Transfer= Peace and Security. The meaning was unambiguous: Israel must expel the 3 million Palestinians living in the occupied territories--and perhaps even its own Palestinian citizens--in order to achieve peace and security.

"While racist slogans have become pervasive in Israel, it was this particular message--the notion of expulsion as a political solution--that unhinged me. One does not need to be a Holocaust survivor to recognize the phrase's lethal implications."

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Material Breach: US Crimes in Iraq
"D-Day of December 8th quietly approaches - the day Iraq must provide the UN Security Council with a complete accounting of its weapons programs, plus its civilian chemical/biological/nuclear production and research activities. Even though UN weapons inspectors have criticized the December 8th deadline as unrealizable, the consequences for missing it will be catastrophic: Iraq will be in "material breach" of UN resolution 1441, and therefore subject to swift and decisive military action.

"But at this point, UN 1441 seems little more than a whitewash pretext for a US-led attack on Iraq. With US warplanes patrolling Iraq's no-fly zone, bombing raids against Iraq ongoing, multiple aircraft carriers on alert and 60,000 US troops currently in or around the Persian Gulf, it's clear the war has already begun, "material breach" or not. When it's convenient for the Bush administration, Iraq will be found to have violated some aspect of the UN resolution, and the current buildup and covert military activity will explode into an all-out attack."