Friday, August 29, 2003

The death of China's rivers - fascinating series of articles by Jasper Becker detail China's environmental catastrophe: "China at the dawn of history was much warmer and wetter than it is today, with elephants, rhinoceroses and crocodiles living north of the Yangtze River. Five or six thousand years of cutting forests and draining marshes have changed the climate to the point where the landscape has been devastated. China has the highest ratio of actual to potential desertified land in the world, according to the World Bank."

China awakens to its devastated environment: "The CCP is now embarking on major dam projects whose purpose is simply to trap sediment. The Xiaolangdi Dam across the Yellow River, with a $1 billion World Bank loan, is one example. Another is the 220-meter-high Xiluodu Dam across the Golden Sands River. It is designed to cut by a third the silt that will otherwise accumulate in the Three Gorges Dam reservoir... Within 20 years, the Xiaolangdi Dam, for which nearly 400,000 people had to be moved, will probably be useless, as the reservoir behind it will have silted up entirely. None of the dams built in the Mao era along the Huai River have lasted more than 20 years before needing extensive and costly renovation. The Three Gorges Dam, which is supposed to have a 70-year life, is not likely to turn out to be any different."

Needed: an Inquiry into a Slaughter: "The Hutton inquiry into the circumstances of Dr David Kelly's death has its memorable moments, too. The warning of Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, not to 'claim that we have evidence that [Saddam] is a threat', points directly to Blair's lying. However, that was exceptional. What is emerging is a pattern of protecting Blair, who is being subtly spun as a restraining influence, a peacemaker, even a guardian of Dr Kelly. A criminal abuse of power is not on any charge sheet: it is not within Hutton's brief, yet the British people and the memory of the thousands of innocent lives cut short in Iraq deserve nothing less.

"Credible research shows that up to 10,000 civilians were killed in the attack on Iraq, together with perhaps 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, many of them teenage conscripts. A slaughter. These people were killed by weapons designed to reduce human beings to charcoal or to shred them. The British Army littered urban areas with cluster bombs, while the Americans did the same and in greater quantity, adding uranium-coated munitions, whose radiation poison is ingested with the desert dust.

"In my experience, the unseen deaths are far more numerous. Today, malnourished children are dying from thirst and gastroenteritis because the world's biggest military machine, including the British, fails to restore power and clean running water as its most basic obligations require. This carnage, wrought in an unprovoked illegal assault on a sovereign country, is a crime by any measure of international law: be it the United Nations Charter or the Geneva conventions. The "supreme international crime", the Nuremberg judges decided, was that of unprovoked aggression, because it contains "the accumulated evil" of all war crimes. Blair has committed this crime. He shares responsibility for causing violent death and suffering on a vast scale, which the web of deceit spun by his courtiers has failed to justify."

Deception: Iraq War Quagmire: "The Washington Post published an exhaustive analysis based on interviews with U.S. analysts and policy-makers inside and outside of government, that reveals a consistent pattern of distorted intelligence. White House officials, “in public and behind the scenes, made allegations depicting Iraq’s nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support,” reporters Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus wrote. “The possibility of a nuclear-armed Iraq loomed large in the Bush administration’s efforts to convince the American public of the need for a pre-emptive strike.”

"Earlier, in the New Yorker, reporter Seymour Hersh shot down the White House claim that dictator Saddam Hussein had attempted to order uranium from Africa. Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency told Hersh the documents about nuclear material from Niger were crude fakes that could have been easily exposed by a high school kid using Google. A new book, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq, by Sheldon Rampton and John Strauber, contends that the president’s team systematically exaggerated allegations to mislead Americans into thinking that Iraq was connected to 9/11, and that it was preparing to give horror weapons to terrorists to use on Americans."

These are the issues that Blair should be forced to address, not the circus of the Hutton inquiry. But of course it was Blair who initiated the inquiry, so naturally he will prefer it be on ground of his choosing. Parliamentary government is nobbled when the executive controls a majority of the house.

No sexing up, insists Blair: "Tony Blair yesterday faced the more immediate charge that he had "sexed up" the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. "This was an absolutely fundamental charge," the Prime Minister told the Hutton inquiry. "This was an allegation that we had behaved in a way which . . . if true would have merited my resignation."

Blair's resignation or dismissal is certainly merited, but I find it hard to believe that he would resign on principle. He will only resign if forced. It seems to me that Blair targeted the BBC and Gilligan's report because of a calculation that that particular article would be vulnerable to a counterattack. But one particular article does not deserve such attention. It is not a particularly important one either. There must be at least a 100 or more other articles (see this blog) which taken together succeed in demolishing the case for war as a pretext of lies. Blair may be able to score some points against the BBC and Gilligan but he is swimming against the tide of history which will certainly judge the war to be a US-inspired act of aggression on a pretext of lies.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The ABC of journalistic precision: Jack Robertson gleefully joins Kerry O'Brien in skewering Abbott over the Hanson slush fund affair. Margo's webdiary and commentary on Hanson has been the best I have seen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Mumbai: Terror's Frankenstein on the loose: "This episode duly confirms that the decisive factor that makes South Asia so dangerous is the fact that, bearing all the aforementioned factors in mind, the terrorists, Pakistan, and India constantly act in reckless and provocative ways in order to stimulate or make the most of a crisis. [the author might have included here the US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq as 'reckless and provocative acts to make the most of a crisis']... Hence it would not take relatively much to destabilize Pakistan, a nuclear state, and unseat its government, or at least this is what the fanatics believe. The crisis the terrorists and their supporters hope to provoke aims to bring about precisely the kind of outcome the world most fears, a general Indo-Pakistani war and/or general crisis in Pakistan... the most urgent lesson is that India and Pakistan must not give the terrorists the war that they want."

Wind Power Success Story: "While petroleum prices were convulsing in response to war and labor strife, and nuclear plants were stoking controversy in the Middle East and Asia, wind turbines were quietly becoming the fastest-growing energy source in the world. They now provide more than 31 000 MW of power, a total that has swelled by almost 30 percent in scarcely a year's time and that keeps more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year. Wind power's ascendance has been so stunning that advocates are now rallying around an idea that would have seemed preposterous just a couple of years ago: that the wind could supply 12 percent of the world's electrical demand by 2020. "

How Does the War Party Get Away with It?, by Robert Higgs: "If you see someone shuffling along the street, eyes downcast, a pained expression on his face, you may have stumbled upon a member of the Peace Party. Once again, this party's cause has gone down to defeat, and its members are shaking their heads sadly, wondering why."

Australia's leadership choices in the 'War on Terror': Jack Robertson contrasts the response to the UN Baghdad bombing of the Australian parliament (weak as it is) with the appalling and frightening response of the News Ltd organisation. It seems that the Greens Bob Brown and the Democrats Andrew Bartlett were the only MPs with the courage to tell the truth, that the UN bombing would not have occurred had the aggression and invasion of Iraq not gone ahead. And for this they are singled out by the repugnant News Ltd organisation which prefers an apocalyptic vision of endless violent conflict combined with a flat refusal to admit that terrorism could be in response to violence inflicted.

ElBaradei: U.S. Should Set Nuclear Disarm Example: "The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog called on the United States Tuesday to set an example to the rest of the world by cutting its nuclear arsenal and halting research programs."

Marching Toward Apocalypse, by Marko Beljac: "Consider a key planning document drawn up by United States Strategic Command, a Clinton-era document mind you, which oversees America's vast nuclear weapons arsenal. This document states, 'because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the US may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool headed. The fact that some elements may appear to be potentially 'out of control' can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing doubts within the minds of an adversary's decision makers. This essential sense of fear is the working force of deterrence. That the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries.'"

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

John Gatto - The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile: "In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, 'We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes.'"

More amazing material here which must be co-related with the corruption of economics in response to George and the perversion of journalism and public information dating from the First World War era.

Decaying and dangerous, the legacy of a flawed nuclear vision: "Sellafield's building B277 is one of the UK's most hazardous radioactive sites."

Korea talks: Another act about to unfold: "The US insistence that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program 'fully, verifiably, and irreversibly' in advance of dialogue (or rewards) 'is little short of demanding that the DPRK surrender to it', proclaims the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, demanding 'confirmation that the US has dropped its hostile policy' as a precondition to progress. To demonstrate its 'fundamental switchover', Washington must conclude 'a legally binding non-aggression treaty and establish diplomatic relations' and promise not to 'obstruct [North Korea's] economic cooperation' with other countries."

How can Washington credibly demand the nuclear disarmament of other countries when it has violated the NPT itself and threatened those same countries with war? The hypocrisy and double standards of Washington's stance may tend to pass unremarked in much of the West but as Richard Butler has pointed out in his book Fatal Choice is does not go unnoticed in the rest of the world. Butler discovered he had no real answer to people from India or Pakistan who put the question that if Western powers have nuclear weapons for defence or deterrence then why can not we? The NPT included a provision that not only would non-nuclear powers not go nuclear, but also that the nuclear powers would take positive steps to disarmament. The non-delivery of the second part has finally ruined the treaty and led to the inevitable spread of weapons, a process which has been accelerated by the US doctrine of preventive war and open threats to a number of specific countries. Without excusing the erratic and dangerous policies of the North Korean government, the US and other nuclear powers must also have their policies subject to review and criticism if they can be shown to increase the risk of war and proliferation.

Interview with Taliban fighter: "Across a broad swath of Afghanistan in the south and southeast Taliban-led guerrilla operations are the order of the day. Their attacks initially targeted US bases and convoys, but now the Afghan administration is in the firing line. The reason for this is to frighten as many local Afghans as possible into laying down their weapons, thereby leaving the battlefield clear for Taliban militia to take on US-led forces in the rugged mountainous terrain of the region.

"This target has already very much been achieved in the southern Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan, including Zabul and Hilmand, beside Urugzan, which is nearing the point where the US-backed Afghan administration will be forced to flee. "

Weapons search a joke - evidence destroyed by looters: "On April 8, they say, the buildings were occupied by soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry Division. For two weeks, the Iraqi scientists and administrators showed up for work but, according to several I have spoken to, no one from the coalition interviewed them or tried to take control of the archive.

"Rather, these staff members have told me, after occupying the facility for two weeks, the American soldiers simply withdrew. Soon after, looters entered the facility and ransacked it. Overnight, every computer was stolen, disks and video records were destroyed, and the carefully organized documents were ripped from their binders and either burned or scattered about. According to the former brigadier general, who went back to the building after the mob had gone, some Iraqi scientists did their best to recover and reconstitute what they could, but for the vast majority of the archive the damage was irreversible."

Abbott set up slush fund to ruin Hanson: "One of the Howard Government's most senior ministers last night revealed he raised nearly $100,000 to lay the groundwork for Pauline Hanson's prosecution for electoral fraud."

Howard's attack dog Abbott has acted to destroy Pauline Hanson and One Nation and yet Howard himself is the biggest benificiary of the One Nation movement. This as much as anything is an indication of Howard's mastery of race politics at the moment. It is however a high wire act which depends on the public not cottoning on. For example, the brutal action against boat people such as those on the Tampa only kept out some several hundred people of middle eastern race, and yet immigration policy in the same period admitted over 60,000 Asians per year. We need to remember that Hanson's hysterics about being "swamped by Asians" is a core part of her appeal.

GEORGIST MAYORS, by Mason Gaffney: "San Francisco was levelled and burned in 1906; Taylor took office shortly thereafter, and San Francisco was renewed in a short time. With buildings gone, and most taxes based on property, and a Georgist mayor, what do you suppose the City used for its tax base? Could that explain the instant recovery? O, Historians, please get busy, before I have to scoop you.

"Is it just a coincidence that Vancouver and San Francisco are two of the most livable and beautiful cities in the world? Not likely, but that only begins the story. Many, many cities got Georgist fever in this era, from coast to coast and, to some degree, around the world. It was the Golden Age of U.S. and Canadian cities, 1890-1930."

Unearned increments and reality in California’s recall election by Mason Gaffney, August 24, 2003

“Insights,” a regular column for publication in Groundswell, September 2003

California homeowners are wallowing in unearned increments beyond the dreams of avarice, while its governments are courting bankruptcy. Warren Buffett dared point this out, and overnight changed from the Oracle of Omaha into the Numbskull of Nebraska because he does not understand the “reality of California politics,” the oxymoron du jour.

Most candidates for Governor fled like startled deer. Buffett’s sponsor, well-tailored Mr. Muscles, recalled meeting a tearful widow who said she would have been taxed out of her home were it not for Prop 13. Poor thing, her home had risen in value. No one asked her name, or whether she knew what she was talking about, or had her claims audited - being a tearful widow “on a fixed income” insulates one from reality checks. The press chimed in with pix of poster oldsters, gazing from their multi-million dollar perches over the blue Pacific, fretting about Buffett’s solecism and its possible effect on them, never mind anyone else.

Fact is, unearned increments ARE income, at the time they accrue. Illiquid? They are better than cash income because you can turn them into cash by borrowing on them, and pay no income tax on the cash. If you have trouble with that, the tax man himself will arrange it for you by placing a tax lien on your appreciated home, rather than foreclose and evict you. This helps explain why we never actually see one of these evicted widows suffering from unearned increments - they are maudlin figments for mythmakers. The evictees we do see are renters who couldn’t pay, and had no equity to mortgage. Who cries for them?

Several rich candidates would pay more under a revived property tax than they pay in income taxes. Mr. Muscles, like previous Hollywood idols, gets most of his income as land appreciation. This income is not taxable unless he sells, and not then if he hires good lawyers, which of course he does, to play his cards right. Arianna Huffington lives in a $7 million home, but reports little net taxable income. Warren Buffett himself, like the owners of so much California land, resides and reports his income out of state. These facts should tell us something about who pays most of the property tax, but no candidate is inferring principles from mere facts.

Governor Gray Davis, supposedly fighting to close a deficit, chimed in endorsing Prop 13, citing the mythical widow again to explain why non-residential property, about 2/3 of the tax base, should enjoy low rates. Faced with a negative poll, he backed right down from his “land tax on wheels,” the higher vehicle registration fee. No one has said a word about a severance tax on oil and gas, although California is the only major producing state without one. No one has crusaded for a severance tax on water withdrawals, although it would solve both our revenue and water crises in one stroke. No one has said word one about taxing the taboo lands used for golfing, timber, or farming.

Only Cruz Bustamante has proposed any specifics. He would begin dismantling Prop 13 - still not menacing the mythical widow - by raising assessments on industrial/commercial property. A whispering campaign right off has it that Bustamante is leading an Hispanic conspiracy to take over the southwest and turn “white, European” Americans into a minority to kick around. We observe mixed marriages on every hand, and Spain is still European, but this is California, where “reality” means mythology. May Warren Buffett continue to get in our faces with facts.

Monday, August 25, 2003

U.S. wants more Australian troops in Iraq: Report: "Australia is resisting U.S. requests for a fresh contribution of troops to Iraq, as the security situation deteriorates, a newspaper reported today. The Australian reported unnamed Australian sources said U.S. officials were raising the issue of a peacekeeping contribution through informal channels but no formal appeal had been made."

There must be a public declaration from the Prime Minister and Government of Australia that there will be no commitment of Australian forces to an occupation of Iraq, at least without a UN authorisation of the reconstruction of the country.

The Philosophers of Chaos Reap a Whirlwind: "[Neoconservatives] believe that the United States has a real mission, to destroy the forces of unrighteousness. They also believe - and this is their great illusion - that such destruction will free the natural forces of freedom and democracy. In this, they are influenced by the Trotskyist version of Marxist millenarianism that was the intellectual seedbed of the neoconservative movement. But their idea is also very American, as they are credulous followers of Woodrow Wilson, a sentimental utopian who really believed that he had been sent by God to lead mankind to a better world. They resemble Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, who in 1997 expressed astonishment at the gangster capitalism that had emerged in the former Soviet Union, and which still exists. He said he had assumed that dismantling communism would 'automatically establish a free-market entrepreneurial system.'"

China Wary of Weapons Searches of NK ships by US: "China had enacted a series of laws designed to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, referring to North Korea, said 'we do not make exceptions.' However, he said his government was uncomfortable with the Proliferation Security Initiative because, in addition to other things, the techniques that might be used to board ships and inspect cargo could prompt a military confrontation. North Korea has warned that it would view any such behavior as an act of war."

US Mired in a Mess of Its Own Making: "First, President George W. Bush, VP Dick Cheney and a coterie of neo-conservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle misled Americans into an unprovoked, unnecessary war by claiming Iraq was about to attack the U.S. with nuclear and biowarfare weapons. This was a grotesque lie that anyone with knowledge of strategic weapons knew was arrant nonsense, but few had the courage or honesty to refute. Next, the White House gravely misread the strategic situation by swallowing neo-con assurances the 'liberation' of Iraq would be a cakewalk and oil bonanza."

Former UN Chief: Bomb was Payback for Collusion with US: "THE reason the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad were bombed is because the UN has been taken over by the US and turned into a 'dark joke' and a 'malignant force', according to one of the UN's most internationally respected former leaders, Denis Halliday"

"The West sees the UN as a benign organization, but the sad reality in much of the world is that the UN is not seen as benign," said Halliday, who was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. "The UN Security Council has been taken over and corrupted by the US and UK, particularly with regard to Iraq, Palestine and Israel. "In Iraq, the UN imposed sustained sanctions that probably killed up to one million people. Children were dying of malnutrition and water-borne diseases. The US and UK bombed the infrastructure in 1991, destroying power, water and sewage systems against the Geneva Convention. It was a great crime against Iraq. "Thirteen years of sanctions made it impossible for Iraq to repair the damage. That is why we have such tremendous resentment and anger against the UN in Iraq."

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Corporate media bias in Palestine Reporting: "When the two Palestinian suicide bombers each killed an Israeli civilian along with themselves on August 12, U.S. news outlets immediately depicted the attacks as an apparent resurgence in Mideast violence. 'Summer truce shattered in Israel,' announced CBS (8/12/03), while NBC (8/12/03) reported that 'the attacks broke more than a month of relative silence.' The Los Angeles Times (8/13/03) wrote that the bombings 'broke a six-week stretch during which the people of this war-weary land had enjoyed relative quiet.'

"During this six-week period of 'relative quiet,' however, some 17 Palestinians were killed and at least 59 injured by Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The dead included Mahmoud Kabaha, a four-year-old boy, who was sitting in the back seat of a jeep with his family at a checkpoint when an Israeli soldier shot him dead-- in a spray of bullets that the army simply called an 'accidental burst of gunfire' (Associated Press, 7/25/03). Virtually none of the major U.S. news reports on the August 12 bombings alluded to the Palestinian death toll in this period, leaving out a key piece of the story: For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the violence had never ceased; while the Israeli attacks had decreased, there had never been anything like an Israeli cease-fire."

Francis Fukuyama speaks: "The United States invaded Iraq in March for one overriding purpose: to uphold the global nonproliferation regime and to prevent weapons of mass destruction from getting into the hands of aggressive powers or terrorists. This motive was a rational and important one, in ways not acknowledged by critics of the war."

Fukuyama's work The End of History was a silly thesis which would have made a lot more sense if it incorporated and sublated the georgist/geonomic contribution but at least it contained some sort of informed discussion of Hegel and Nietzsche. Unfortunately things seems to have gone markedly backwards since then as he has come out as a raving neoconservative. Any sane observer would doubt that the above was the "overriding purpose" of the US invasion just as they might conclude that US policy has acted materially to increase the risk of both proliferation of WMDs and of international terrorism, especially the kind emanating from the Middle East which seems to have been on a lot of people's minds lately.

A Price Too High: "How long is it going to take for us to recognize that the war we so foolishly started in Iraq is a fiasco - tragic, deeply dehumanizing and ultimately unwinnable? How much time and how much money and how many wasted lives is it going to take?"

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Iraq a theatre for terrorists, says France: "In New York, France's envoy to the UN, Michel Duclos, told the Security Council that Iraq had become a 'theatre for terrorists' since the war. He said the transition to democracy should have been managed by the Iraqis with the assistance of the UN, rather than by the US. 'Only the United Nations has the impartiality and expertise to ensure this process.'

"Germany and Russia agreed that the UN would be reluctant to endorse a multinational force unless it was also involved in the reconstruction of Iraq. But the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who visited the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, gave no hint that the US was prepared to give up any authority. The US is pushing for a new UN resolution that would effectively endorse the presence of international troops in Iraq. It hopes that nations such as India and Turkey would then be willing to help the US keep the peace."

The Baghdad UN bombing was a savage strike against not only the UN but the US itself. Its evident purpose was to isolate the US in Iraq. To get out of this mess Bush would probably have to sack Rumsfeld and seek broad UN sanction for the Occupation and Reconstruction of Iraq, with a substantial pullout of US troops. But Bush probably cannot contemplate a climbdown of this magnitude. He can only hang on and hope, and risk defeat at the next election.

Intelligence officer pins Iraq weapons 'lies' to PM's office: "The Federal Government lied and fabricated evidence about Iraq's weapons and terrorist links to justify going to war, a former top intelligence analyst said yesterday.

"Andrew Wilkie, a former senior analyst in the Office of National Assessments (ONA), said the Government had deceived the public before the Iraq war, exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein by ignoring vital qualifications placed on intelligence about his arms programs. And he said the deception took place in the office of the Prime Minister, John Howard."

Who Are The Extremists?: "The other day I sat with Dennis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and the UN in New York. Halliday was the senior UN official in Iraq in the mid-1990s, who resigned rather than administer the blockade. 'These sanctions,' he said, 'represented ongoing warfare against the people of Iraq. They became, in my view, genocidal in their impact over the years, and the Security Council maintained them, despite its full knowledge of their impact, particularly on the children of Iraq.

"'We disregarded our own charter, international law, and we probably killed over a million people. 'It's a tragedy that will not be forgotten... I'm confident that the Iraqis will throw out the occupying forces. I don't know how long it will take, but they'll throw them out based on a nationalistic drive."

Hanson gaoled: Too severe on stupidity: "There is infinite poetic justice in Pauline Hanson being banged away for three years in Wacol. There goes the political illiterate who stumped the country demanding harsher penalties for criminals, the xenophobe who howled for those diseased Asian queue-jumpers to be flung behind the razor wire, the fishwife who ranted against unmarried mothers, the racist harridan who hollered for Aboriginal kids to be jailed for stealing a can of Coke. Now see how you like it, honey. Especially when you meet up in the showers with some of those you were so eager to trample in your floodlit, headlining way to the top."

Tony Abbott's dirty Hanson trick - and he lied about it, of course: "As you read Howard's blather on Hanson today (PM labels Hanson's jail sentence 'severe'), bear in mind that his close mate and political hatchet man Tony Abbott - the bloke who hand-picked the appalling David Oldfield to work in his Canberra office - was involved in destroying One Nation. Last night's Johnathan Harley Lateline report Hanson's fall the result of long campaign is instructive. Abbott got disaffected One Nation member Terry Sharples a barrister with close Liberal Party connections to mount a civil case against the registration of One Nation and promised Sharples he'd help fund the case. He denied this on the record to Four Corners. When confronted with a document proving his lie, he said misleading the ABC was not as bad as misleading Palriament. We know from the last couple of weeks that misleading parliament is cool these days"

Howard: In Hanson's shadow: "Howard has constructed a formidable constituency of conservative belief on social issues while maintaining an essentially liberal economic policy agenda. As a consequence he has remade Australian politics without reneging on economic changes that were a significant factor in the sense of powerlessness and insecurity that gave rise to Hansonism."

This is the ideology of fascism: act to support large corporate and private interests, but retain popular control by focussing the resentments of the population on minorities and foreigners. Or in the anarchist formula, racism and nationalism are tools used by ruling elites to divide the working class ('ordinary people'). Howard is a sort of contemporary master of this. Howard didn't invent racism and nationalism, anymore than Hanson or Hitler did. And racism did not and will not end with the suicide of Hitler, the gaoling of Hanson, or the defeat of Howard. Racism and nationalism are always available as political tools, which must be continuously opposed by exposure and condemnation. This is where Keating and Labor's 'elites' have failed: there had been a complacent assumption that the good fight against racism has been essentially won and we can now enjoy the benefits. Hanson/Howard is a sharp lesson that this is not so and the fight has to be carried forward day by day.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Stratfor Report: Military Doctrine, Guerrilla Warfare and Counter-Insurgency: "The dilemma facing the United States in Iraq is to surgically remove the guerrilla force from the population without generating a political backlash that will fuel a long-term insurgency regardless of levels of attrition. This is much easier to say than to do. The heart of the matter is intelligence -- to deny the guerrillas intelligence about U.S. operations while gathering massive intelligence about the guerrillas. The only way to win the war is to reverse, at the earliest possible phase, the intelligence equation. The guerrillas must be confused and blinded; the Americans must maintain transparency of the guerrillas. That is clearly what the U.S. now is attempting to do. It is limiting its search and seize operations while massively increasing its intelligence capabilities. This is happening both in terms of human intelligence and technical means of intelligence. It is unclear whether this will work."

US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is a dream come true for Bin Ladin and other jihadis: "The targeting of the UN is attributed by jihadi sources to the following objectives:
# To eliminate Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN special representative, who was viewed by the foreign jihadi and local resistance elements as a nominee of the United States, and whose selection for this job was allegedly imposed by the US on the UN secretary general.
# To retaliate against the UN for its endorsement of the interim Governing Council of Iraqis chosen by the United States. These Iraqis are viewed as US quislings.
# To warn other nations not to send their troops to Iraq to help out the US occupying forces even under a UN mandate.

"The jihadi and other resistance elements have been saying that just as the jihad of the 1980s in Afghanistan brought about the collapse of one superpower (the Soviet Union), the present jihad in Iraq, which, according to them, is being waged in tandem with that in Afghanistan, will bring about the end of the other superpower (the United States). They claim to have already trapped the US troops in Iraq and do not want any other nation to come to the rescue of the Americans, as they want to bleed them to death."

Blair's Lies and Dancing to US tune: "In 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, Blair had next to nothing to say about a threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), or about an urgent need to respond to such a threat. In October 2001, for example, Blair's official spokesman dismissed suggestions that splits were developing between the US and the UK over whether military action should be extended from Afghanistan to Iraq: 'Such an extension was being proposed only by 'fringe voices' in the US', Blair's spokesman was reported as saying... Later that month, when asked if there would be a "wider war" against Iraq after the attack on Afghanistan, Blair answered that this would depend on proof of Iraqi complicity in the September 11 attacks: "I think what people need before we take action against anyone is evidence." "

"Then, in December 2001, the press began reporting that the US had made the decision to attack Iraq... "

"If we are able to face up to the obvious facts, then some very simple and very ugly conclusions simply have to be drawn: the Bush administration decided, for political not security reasons, to invade and occupy Iraq using a non-existent threat as a pretext. Blair, for his own political reasons, decided to go along with Bush. Both governments then set out to deceive their people using a "serious and current" threat that did not exist in order to generate the necessary support for war... War was not necessary; a political solution could have been reached. British troops did not need to die. American troops did not need to die. Iraqi troops and civilians did not need to die. Journalists did not need to die. Iraq did not need to be subjected to yet another shattering military assault, to political turmoil, guerrilla warfare, chaos and looting. Iraq did not need to be subjected to further bombardment by cluster bombs and depleted uranium. If Tony Blair and George W. Bush are not guilty of war crimes, who is?"

"All of this is now in the public domain. So what conclusions have the media drawn in response? ... [Independent article] is surely an attempt at black humour instead of a forthright demand for the resignation of Blair and his close aides on the grounds that they are responsible for mass death based on mass deception. Instead, the Independent's editors continue:

"It is relatively simple to identify the principal loser: the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon. Of course Mr Hoon has yet to present his side of the story. But it is difficult to see how he can reasonably justify his decision to overrule the strong advice of his permanent secretary, Kevin Tebbit, that Dr Kelly should not be made to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee as well as the Intelligence and Security Committee."

"In other words, because the Hutton inquiry was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of one man, the fact that the inquiry has helped confirm that the government has killed and mutilated tens of thousands of men, women and children in Iraq in an illegal war based on completely fraudulent pretexts, is somehow not the prime issue of concern."

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Reporters sans frontières calls for inquiry into killing of journalist in Iraq: "In a letter today to US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Reporters Without Borders said it was 'appalled and shocked' by the fatal shooting of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana by a US soldier yesterday in Iraq. The press freedom organisation called for an immediate enquiry that would be 'honest, rapid and designed to shed full light on this tragedy, not whitewash the US army.'

"Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said that US troops had committed many blunders during the war in Iraq 'but none has been the subject of an investigation worthy of the name.' The Pentagon's so-called enquiry into the shelling of the Palestine Hotel on 8 April, of which only the unconvincing conclusions have been made public, 'shamelessly exonerates the US army,' he said."

State-sponsored lies: "To justify a preventive war that the United Nations and global public opinion did not want, a machine for propaganda and mystification (organised by the doctrinaire sect around George Bush) produced state-sponsored lies ... with a determination characteristic of the worst regimes of the 20th century... Bush and his entourage have deceived Americans and world public opinion. As Professor Paul Krugman says, their lies are "the worst scandal in American political history, worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra.""

The WMD fiasco was a catastrophic lie which has destroyed the credibility of the Anglo-saxon governments (US/UK/Aus) and of their intelligence agencies, which will take years to overcome and which will probably require a thoroughgoing public inquiry and the removal from office of the responsible political and intelligence leaders from all three countries. It is no light matter either, as the threat of both international terrorism and of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is real, while at the same time the war on Iraq has increased, not decreased, the risk to us all from these two problems and their possible coming together.

Israeli apartheid law targets 'mixed' families: "More than 20,000 Arab families face the agonizing choice of breaking up or leaving Israel after passage of a law banning Palestinian spouses of Israelis from obtaining citizenship or residence permits. "

Taliban strike back with deadly assaults: "The Taliban have hit back in Afghanistan with two assaults involving hundreds of anti-government fighters, officials said. At least 25 people were killed in the attacks on two police stations within hours of each other in the south-east."

FAIR: Bush Uranium Lie Is Tip of the Iceberg: "Five months later, the truthfulness of one claim in George W. Bush's State of the Union address has become the focus of growing media scrutiny. The attention media are paying to this single assertion should be part of a larger journalistic inquiry into other misstatements and exaggerations that have been made by the Bush administration about Iraq."

Another 9/11 style attack considered likely: "The London-based World Markets Research Center ranked Colombia, Israel, Pakistan, the United States and the Philippines, in descending order, as the five countries most likely to be targeted in a terrorist attack in the next year... "Another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack in the United States is highly likely," the report states. "Networks of militant Islamist groups are less extensive in the U.S. than they are in Western Europe, but U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacerbated anti-U.S. sentiment." In terms of motivation, Dunn said, "The United States, as a global superpower, is considered a legitimate, high-profile target.""

Al-Qaeda singles out Australia: "The al-Qaeda terrorist network has singled out Australia for mention while claiming responsibility for last week's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta", while at the same time US warns of new terror attacks. Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says "the war in Iraq had failed to reduce the threat. The war against terrorism, against al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah in South-East Asia is of fundamental national security significance to Australia in a way in which the war in Iraq was not". This is the nearest that Labor can come to an outright denunciation of the attack on Iraq as an illegal war of aggression based on a pretext of lies which will recruit many more new terrorists and places Australia and Australians directly at risk. Australia is sleepwalking into the terrorist quagmire of the US' making and one wonders how many more attacks there has to be before policy is fundamentally reviewed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Jemaah Islamiya: Down but not out: "With the recent capture of Hambali, the terrorist mastermind who allegedly plotted the Bali bombings, the noose on Jemaah Islamiya (JI) has further tightened. Yet as long as the reasons that drive Muslim extremists to reject legitimate political remedies and turn to violence remain unclear, authorities are doomed merely to scratch the surface of the problem."

- the latter point is so fundamental as to be practically obvious, but precisely what neither the Howard government nor the Crean opposition will address.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Case Against the Generals: US Now Home to Hundreds of Accused War Criminals and Torturers from All Over Latin America: "Florida, California and a handful of other states are home to hundreds of accused war criminals and torturers from all over Latin America, according to Amnesty International, a human rights group. Other suspected human rights abusers have made their way to the United States from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, Somalia, Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, sometimes settling in the same communities as their victims. (Torture treatment centers and refugee groups claim there are roughly 500,000 torture survivors nationwide, with an estimated 40,000 in the Washington area.)"

Eno: Lessons in How to Lie About Iraq: "When I first visited Russia, in 1986, I made friends with a musician whose father had been Brezhnev's personal doctor. One day we were talking about life during 'the period of stagnation' - the Brezhnev era. 'It must have been strange being so completely immersed in propaganda,' I said. 'Ah, but there is the difference. We knew it was propaganda,' replied Sacha.

"That is the difference. Russian propaganda was so obvious that most Russians were able to ignore it. They took it for granted that the government operated in its own interests and any message coming from it was probably slanted - and they discounted it. In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective. Its greatest triumph is that we generally don't notice it - or laugh at the notion it even exists."

WHY DO WE HAVE A WAR ON DRUGS ANYWAY BY SAM SMITH: "Far more serious, however, is the role that illegal corruption plays. If one is to believe the media and scholars, it would appear that the drug industry - by UN estimate a $400 billion global business - is the only commercial sector in the country that doesn't buy politicians. In other words, the drug trade is the only honest trade when it comes to politics. Of course this is nonsense, but try to find the news story that even raises the possibility that some, if not many, of our politicians are beneficiaries of the drug trade either directly or through well laundered sources... The war on drugs is, in fact, a war to sustain the drug industry and its collateral beneficiaries. America's drug czar is also the country's biggest drug lord, because without his phony battle, the artificial economy of prohibition would collapse and with it the industry he falsely claims to be fighting."

Lockerbie 'a business deal': "A British member of parliament, long sceptical about Libya's involvement in the 1998 Lockerbie bombing, said on Saturday the fact that Tripoli had accepted responsibility for the attack still did not mean it was guilty. MP Tam Dalyell said in an interview with the BBC the Libyans had this week accepted responsibility for the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie purely because they were 'desperate to get back into the international trading circuit'." 'It is just a business deal,' Dalyell said."

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Lockerbie brother: 'I don't want £6m, I want the truth': "Like many other relatives of those who died, he maintains that the truth about Pan Am Flight 103 is still shrouded in mystery and called on the Government to hold a full public inquiry. There is a strong suspicion among British relatives that the deal was brokered to allow Libya back into the international community and open its markets to Western companies. Colonel Muammar Gadaffi's government has stipulated that the rest of the compensation will be paid when the US lifts its own sanctions and Libya is taken off its list of terror states."

Libya's guilt over the Lockerbie bombing is official US policy and accepted media truth but suspicion has existed for years that Iran, not Libya, was responsible. The alternative version of the Lockerbie bombing is this: Iran funded and ordered the attack in retaliation for the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a US warship. Iran was quickly identified as the likely suspect. However, a few months later Saddam invaded Kuwait and suddenly the Iranian connection was dropped in favour of a coalition against Iraq. Libya was substituted as the culprit, a frame-up which has stuck and been driven home to a court verdict more than 10 years later, where Libya virtually admits guilt in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. It can't be known for certain that Iran was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, but if it was, what does that say about the integrity of the international system, of law and courts, of the media, of government and intelligence agencies? People put their trust in "Western values" and "Western institutions".

Foreign investment in Karzai's Afghanistan less than during Taliban era: "Since the 'end' of the war in Afghanistan, no major foreign equity investment in either the goods or the resources-producing sectors has been made"

Stallman on free and non-free software: "A non-free program is a predatory social system that keeps people in a state of domination and division, and uses the spoils to dominate more. It may seem like a profitable option to become one of the emperor's lieutenants, but ultimately the ethical thing to do is to resist the system and put an end to it."

Thought Control: David Cromwell discusses thought control in democratic countries, where it is needed more than in authoritarian countries because forcible repression of dissent is not allowed. This point is all but inconceivable to the Western mind which has been brought up to believe that propaganda and thought control is only something done by Goebbels, the Soviets or Big Brother.

How Labour has subverted British Intelligence: Nigel West says that the lesson of the Hutton inquiry is that the government is using the intelligence services for political purposes, and that this Soviet approach is making us a less secure people. All part of what seems a relentless process of politicization (or corruption) of the public service.

California recall election: "In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, [Schwarzenegger advisor] Mr Buffett hinted that California's property taxes - severely limited by the 1978 Proposition 13 - were too low. Economists say higher property taxes could stabilise state finances, but political pundits see such a move as politically dangerous because it could cause a voter backlash against Republican Schwarzenegger. A spokesman said the actor was a strong supporter of Proposition 13."

Electricity Industry Trapped by a Theory: "In the search for the source of Thursday's blackout, the underlying cause has been all but ignored: deregulation... Deregulation has failed on all these grounds. Yet it has few critics. Evidently, even calamities like the Enron scandal and now the most serious blackout in American history are not enough to shake faith in the theory."

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Herman: Rogues Have No Right To Self-defense: "The view that U.S. targets have no right to defend themselves from a U.S. threat or actual attack goes back a long way. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, when the United States was regularly intervening in its backyard to discipline the unruly natives, those who objected and fought against the Marines were always designated "

Afghan resistance takes shape: "Notwithstanding the changing of the guard in Kabul, which sees the North Atlantic Treaty Organization taking over command of the International Security Assistance Force, the resistance network that covers large swathes of the country is firmly in place.

"This consists of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan, the Taliban and fighters of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front grouped under the banner of the Saiful Muslemeen (the Sword of Muslims). Previously restricted to the countryside and attacks on foreign soldiers, the resistance has now targeted cities. "

August Marks Another Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Japan, the Ultimate Act of Terrorism: "The true motive for using this ultimate weapon of mass destruction was suppressed even longer. The official truth was that the bomb was dropped to speed the surrender of Japan and save Allied lives. Today, as the public becomes more attuned to the scale of government deception, this was probably the biggest lie of all. As the historian Gar Alperovitz, among others, has documented, US political and military leaders, knowing that Japan's surrender was already under way, believed the atomic bombing was militarily unnecessary. In 1946 the US Strategic Bombing Survey confirmed this. None of this was shared with the public, nor the belief in Washington that the atomic bomb 'experiment' in Japan, as President Truman put it, would demonstrate US primacy to the Russians."

Philippine rebel soldiers claim Philippine Government Bombing its Own People for Dollars: "The soldiers claim that:

· Senior military officials, in collusion with the Arroyo regime, carried out last March's bombing of the airport in the southern city of Davao, as well as several other attacks. Thirty-eight people were killed in the bombings. The leader of the mutiny, Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, claims to have 'hundreds' of witnesses who can testify to the plot.

· The army has fueled terrorism in Mindanao by selling weapons and ammunition to the very rebel forces the young soldiers were sent to fight."

Power Outage Traced To Dim Bulb In White House : Massive US power failure attributed to privatization and deregulation.

Iraqis Offer Tips to US on How to Beat the Heat during power blackout: "Here are some tips from the streets of Baghdad:

- SLEEP ON THE ROOF. Without power - and hence without air conditioning - Iraqis have taken to climbing up stairs in the hot nights. Some install metal bed frames on rooftops, while others simply stretch out on thin mattresses. 'It's cooler there,' said Hadia Zeydan Khalaf, 38.

- SIT IN THE SHADE. Many Iraqis head outside when the power's off. 'We sit in the shade,' said George Ruweid, 27, playing cards with friends on the sidewalk. Of the U.S. blackout, he said: 'I hope it lasts for 20 years. Let them feel our suffering.'

- CALL IN THE IRAQIS. Some suggested the Americans ask the Iraqis how to get the power going again. 'Let them take experts from Iraq,' said Alaa Hussein, 32, waiting in a long line for gas because there was no electricity for the pumps. 'Our experts have a lot of experience in these matters.'"

Yugoslavia, Iraq: A pattern of aggression: "In Yugoslavia, as in Iraq, the ultimate goal of the aggressor nations was regime change. In Iraq, the justification for aggression was the possession of weapons of mass destruction; in Yugoslavia, it was the prevention of a humanitarian crisis and genocide in Kosovo. In both cases, the evidence for such accusations has been lacking: but while this is now widely accepted in relation to Iraq, the same is not true of Yugoslavia.

"In retrospect, it has become ever clearer that the justification for war was the result of a calculated provocation - and manipulation of the legitimate grievances of the Kosovan Albanians - in an already tense situation within the Yugoslav republic of Serbia. The constitutional status of Kosovo had been long contested and the case for greater Kosovan Albanian self-government had been peacefully championed by the Kosovan politician, Ibrahim Rugova."

Arrest may end up breaking JI's hold on Asia: "The arrest of Hambali may end up shattering Jemaah Islamiah, the organisation blamed for several terrorist attacks in South-East Asia, including the Bali bombings. 'I think it's an extremely important arrest,' said Sidney Jones, the Indonesia director for the International Crisis Group and an expert on JI. 'This man has the knowledge and expertise in the JI network to break it all open. The problem is, will he do that?'"

Its such a shame, therefore, that this good policing and intelligence work is being undermined by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which most analysts believe is a gift for Osama Bin Laden and will send thousands of recruits into terrorist cells.

Land boom in regional areas as well as big cities: "Mr Edwards said Sydney's price boom is subsiding but the shock waves are still rippling across the state. "The Sydney market is very clearly turning down," he said. But he predicted there would not be a market bust - except for people buying off the plan for inner-city apartments."

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Robert Fisk - America Increasing Pressure on Al-Jazeera TV: "Only a day after US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed that the Arabic Al-Jazeera television channel was “inciting violence” and “endangering the lives of American troops” in Iraq, the station’s Baghdad bureau chief has written a scathing reply to the American administration, complaining that in the past month the station’s offices and staff in Iraq “have been subject to strafing by gunfire, death threats, confiscation of news material, and multiple detentions and arrests, all carried out by US soldiers...”"

William Blum: Myth and Denial in the War on Terrorism: "It dies hard. It dies very hard. The notion that terrorist acts against the United States can be explained by envy and irrational hatred, and not by what the United States does in and to the world -- i.e., US foreign policy -- is alive and well... Thus it was that Afghanistan and Iraq were bombed and invaded with seemingly little concern in Washington that this could well create many new anti-American terrorists. And indeed, since the first strike on Afghanistan there have been literally scores of terrorist attacks against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, about a dozen in Pakistan alone: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States, the latest being the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy."

Taliban/al-Qaida Afghanistan strategy: Destabilize and prevail: "If one can put the strategy of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in a nutshell, it can be described as destabilize and prevail. It may sound simple, but it is potent in the sense that as long as that terrorist group succeeds in destabilizing the government of interim President Hamid Karzai, it can not only create sentiments of defeat and dejection among representatives and supporters of the current government, but also sustain a sense of high hope and optimism among its own supporters that their victory is only around the corner. "

China is Losing the War on Advancing Deserts: "China is now at war. Its territory is being claimed not by invading armies but by expanding deserts. Old deserts are advancing and new ones are forming, forcing Beijing to fight on several fronts. And, worse, the growing deserts are gaining momentum, occupying an ever-larger piece of China's territory each year. Desert expansion has accelerated with each successive decade since 1950. China's Environmental Protection Agency reports that from 1994 to 1999 the Gobi Desert expanded by 52,400 square kilometers"

California Recall: The Coup Inside a Circus: "For we must never forget or discount these simple and apparent facts: The HardRight is profoundly anti-democratic. According to demagogues such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, liberals and Democrats are not merely The Loyal Opposition to be defeated in fair and honest political debates and elections. Instead, they say, liberals and Democrats are 'traitors' deserving elimination... These are the politics of fascism, and we are moving relentlessly in that dreadful direction."

Democrats to introduce Open Source bill next week: "The Australian Democrats will introduce a bill in the Senate next week, seeking to require all agencies governed by it to procure and use open source software in preference to proprietary software, wherever practicable... Senator Greig said he expected the Greens to support any such move"

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

US abandoning Karzai and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan: Ramtanu Maitra makes the argument that as the US invasion of Afghanistan fails (or has already failed) the US will switch its support from Hamid Karzai and the Northern Alliance to a Pakistan/ISI-backed Taliban takeover of the country. Accepting this reality is probably in the strategic interests of the US but it will sit awkwardly with the Western public if they find the Taliban back in power again. Perhaps the Taliban needs to be renamed and the whole matter dropped in the memory hole.

Expanding Settlements Invade Palestinian Lands: "According to the Israeli nonprofit Peace Now, since the Bush administration's "road map" to peace was launched, twenty two outposts have been dismantled, but an equal number of new ones built. And just after his White House visit, Sharon's government announced plans to build new settlement housing in Gaza... A battle is being fought in the West Bank for every tree and hill, and Palestinian farmers are losing badly."

Now They Tell Us: Privatization Is No Panacea: Privatization may have run its course, as even the World Bank is forced to admit.

Privatized US military fails to show up in battle zone: "The problem is that it's not the high-tech army taking care of those living conditions, but private industry on contract. For over a decade, the military has been shifting its supply and support personnel into combat jobs and hiring defense contractors to do the rest. And the process has accelerated under Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. And despite the alleged wonders of private enterprise, those companies have left soldiers in filth, heat, and garbage. While soldiers can be ordered into combat zones, civilians cannot. So U.S. troops in Iraq have had to suffer through months of unnecessarily poor living conditions because contractors hired by the Army for logistics support plain failed to show up. Even mail delivery – turned over to management by civilian contractors -- fell weeks behind."

Logistical breakdowns in Iraq: "In short, the logistical mess in Iraq isn't an isolated case of poor planning and mismanagement: it's telling us what's wrong with our current philosophy of government."

ASIO chief warns Australians are targets for terrorist attacks: "the director general of ASIO, Dennis Richardson, said that Australia's 'close alliance' with the US has contributed to it being a target for terrorists. And it was 'only a matter of time' before there was a 'catastrophic' - chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear - terrorist attack.

"Mr Richardson made the comments at an off-the-record briefing to the annual conference of the Pacific Area Newspaper Publisher's Association last week, but decided to make his remarks public yesterday. He told the conference 'there is a genuine concern that a catastrophic attack is a certainty and only a matter of time - a point on which I am inclined to agree'. 'The fact that we are in close alliance with the US and the fact that we were early and actively engaged in the war on terrorism does contribute to us being a target,' he said."

The 'close alliance' in the 'war on terrorism' includes the illegal and immoral attack on Iraq partly based on the wholly false pretext of links to al-Qaida. Australia's genuine security interest dictate that it not be involved in such wars. Howard likes the photo opportunity of hugging Bali survivors and clapping on the back the heroes of our foreign wars, but what responsibility will he take for the next terrorist attack when he has been warned again and again at all levels that Australian policy is increasing the risk of terrorist attacks against Australia?

The US is starting a nuclear fight that will be hard to stop: "The curious thing about this exchange is not so much its intensity as its timing. [US Undersecretary of State] Bolton went nuclear, verbally speaking, only hours before North Korea finally acceded to longstanding US demands for multilateral talks on its nuclear arms ambitions. South Korean officials were relieved that the North had not used Bolton's broadside as an excuse for further prevarication. But like the rest of us, they were left wondering whether Bolton had launched a deliberate pre-emptive strike against the nascent diplomatic process.

"This raises a key question, as America's twin confrontations with North Korea and Iran over nuclear arms accelerate towards a crunch in the next few weeks. In a nutshell, peaceful, internationally supportable, diplomatic solutions to both disputes are available. Their outlines may be clearly discerned; the mechanisms by which they can be achieved are more or less in place. But does the US actually want to cut a deal?"

A key question for the Australian government: does it support peaceful, international diplomatic solutions to the Iran and North Korea issues, or will it support the United States no matter what, even if that means provoking a war?

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Chomsky: Preventive War 'the Supreme Crime.' Iraq: invasion that will live in infamy: "SEPTEMBER 2002 was marked by three events of considerable importance, closely related. The United States, the most powerful state in history, announced a new national security strategy asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently. Any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the US reigns supreme. At the same time, the war drums began to beat to mobilise the population for an invasion of Iraq. And the campaign opened for the mid-term congressional elections, which would determine whether the administration would be able to carry forward its radical international and domestic agenda."

"As the US invaded Iraq, the historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote that Bush's grand strategy was "alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at the time of Pearl Harbor, on a date which, as an earlier American president [Franklin D Roosevelt] said it would, lives in infamy". It was no surprise, added Schlesinger, that "the global wave of sympathy that engulfed the US after 9/11 has given way to a global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism" and the belief that Bush was "a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein"

Taliban capture Zabul province in Afghanistan: "Zabul is of strategic and military importance for a number of reasons. First, taking Zabul cuts off U.S. troops stationed to the south in Kandahar from the bulk of U.S. troops located to the north toward Kabul. Second, given that Helmand and Oruzgan provinces to the north of Zabul already are Taliban strongholds, the group can better try to isolate U.S. and local provincial troops in Kandahar and eventually attempt to retake Kandahar as well. Third, controlling Zabul gives the Taliban a way to cut lines of logistics, troop supply and communication between U.S. and coalition troops in Kandahar and in Paktika and Paktia provinces to the east and along the border with Pakistan."

'Liberal' talkradio set to challenge right-wing ranting on US AM radio: "From the advent of Limbaugh in the late 1980s to today, however, nearly all of that talk radio programming has been of the right-wing variety. Limbaugh's success spawned an entire industry of Rush-wannabees and Rush clones, even shifting long-time non-political talk hosts into making right-wing proclamations in order to retain market share. The industry discovered right-wing talk radio, found it profitable, and thought that conservative talk was the only kind of talk that could work on the AM dial."

Monday, August 11, 2003

Uri Avnery: Bush, Blair and Intelligence Snafus: "The intelligence services do indeed look for facts, but mostly for the facts that suit their political bosses. They submit reports to governments, but woe betide the service chief whose report does not suit their agenda. In short, there is hardly an intelligence report that is not trimmed to suit the powers that be, that does not twist the facts or is not an outright lie. That explains the successive failures of the intelligence agencies in almost all countries and in almost all"

"Every intelligence chief has a political boss--a President, Prime Minister, Secretary of Defense, Home Secretary. His career depends on the boss, and so do the chances of advancement of his underlings. When the boss appoints the service chiefs, he chooses people who are close to his political agenda. In time, the whole intelligence service becomes an apparatus for supplying the boss with the information he wants to hear and suppressing less agreeable information. That is true not only in dictatorships like those of Stalin, Hitler and Saddam, but also in most democratic regimes. The successful intelligence chief is an acrobat who walks between the raindrops and knows how to adapt the intelligence data to the interests of the political leadership."

Wisdom here from Avnery but I think he is not appreciating how the uproar over the WMD lie in the Anglo-Saxon world in fact represents the serious disquiet in upper levels of the coporate/political elite about the risks and dangers of neo-conservative policy. If not for that disquiet, the matter could simply be dropped in the memory hole as has happened so often before.

An interview with Michael Walzer: "My critique of French and German policy doesn't have much to do with just war theory. It is a much more general moral/political critique, having to do with hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than with injustice. France and Germany did not refuse to fight or wrongly resist a just war; they refused to provide what was in their power to provide: a serious alternative to an unjust war. I continue to believe, even at this late date, that had France and Germany (and Russia too) been willing to support, and had the UN Security Council been willing to authorise, a strongly coercive containment regime for Iraq, the war would have been, first, unnecessary, and second, politically impossible for the American government to fight."

This bizarre argument represents the utter decline of official "socialism" and the way in which marxism has been co-opted to the neo-conservative cause. It seems to be an even more widespread phenomenon than we had previously imagined. It is becoming clear that Lyndon Larouche is the "highest stage of Marxism". Naturally it makes you wonder whether La Rouche is still alive or whether he has not enthusiastically joined the neocon cause, a logical development for him if he is still up to it.

The propaganda is quite detached from any genuine popular cause and operates as a machine in the ether, but a machine that is dying and on its last legs, surely. Its only use is as a prop for western "sophisticates" who imagine they can discuss "left and right" but as that is finally exposed nothing remains.

Uri Avnery: The Prisoner of Ramallah: Arafat at 74: Review of Arafat's career as he hits 74. Generally positive, Avnery does not discuss some of the main criticisms of Arafat, such as that he has presided over a corrupt, authoritarian Palestinian Authority; and that he has failed to initiate a Palestinian solidarity organisation in the USA, when even North Korea has done so.

Guantanamo bay: Ends Do Not Justify Means: Warblogger discusses the Mike Hawash case and indicates how Guantanomo bay and the loss of civil rights can effect any person who suddenly finds themselves in custody. Mike Hawash may be guilty, but what if he isnt? He's been put away for a long time because of a fear that if he didnt confess he could be put away forever or even executed.

Rush Limbaugh attacks Arnold, makes him sound like a real leader: "'He has told the press he is 'very liberal' about social programs, supports abortion and homosexual adoption, and advocates 'sensible gun controls.' His entree into politics last year was a proposition Democrats endorsed because it raised state spending for what amounted to state babysitting - before-school and after-school programs that cost the state up to $455 million a year. He has complained openly about the party's conservatism.... Talk magazine described him as 'impatient' with the religious right....

"[H]e expressed disgust with the Republicans who impeached Clinton. 'That was another thing I will never forgive the Republican Party for,' he said. 'We spent one year wasting time because there was a human failure. I was ashamed to call myself a Republican during that period.''"

What a surprise. It will be interesting to see therefore whether the hard right Republicans will flatten Arnold's candidacy or whether he represents a seachange in the party.

Another interview with historian Emmanuel Todd: "Europe still does not have a common foreign policy. Until now it has always been in America's retinue. Now the Germans have reclaimed their foreign policy, and one cannot overestimate the strategic and symbolic dimensions of this. In conjunction with France, there is a core of political renewal independent of the US, and with mass popular support. Spain, Britain, Italy and the east Europeans represent the 'old' Europe, since they have not yet achieved autonomy."

Todd, however, has an unusual take on terrorism: that it is 'demographic' in origin. Its relation to US policy is not admitted.

A historian credited with predicting the downfall of the Soviet Union in the 1970s now says that the US has been on its way out for the last decade: Interesting argument by Emmanuel Todd that the American empire is already in decline even as its military is at its highest point ever. The statement however, that the empire was a "good superpower" or "benevolent empire" seems foolish: one has to remind oneself of the casualties of this or any empire, and they are many.

Robert Manne argues for adverstising for ABC: "A few years ago SBS introduced between-program advertising. This has interfered neither with the content of SBS news and current affairs nor with the enjoyment of its viewers, who do not endure the crass interruption of programs taken for granted by commercial TV. With a revised charter, requiring the ABC to maintain its independence from both government and business, and with a truly independent board, I do not see why between-program advertising need compromise in any way any activity of the ABC."

Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent have shown shown clearly how paid advertising ["the second filter"] corrupts and ruins news reporting. Public broadcasters should be publicly funded and not receive any paid advertising. It is true that SBS news is better than the ABC, far better, but the introduction of paid advertising is a grave error. In fact it surprises me that the Howard government has not pushed for paid advertising at the ABC from the beginning: that is the best and most effective way to permanently compromise public broadcasting and align the corporation with elite corporate/political interests. The hamfisted attempts by Minister Alston to attack the ABC suggests he knows what his job is but does not know how to go about it.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Americans Pay Price for Speaking Out: "Zinni: 'I've been told I will never be used by the White House again.'"

Pentagon admits: Iraqi Trailers Said to Make Hydrogen, Not Biological Arms: "Engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have come to believe that the most likely use for two mysterious trailers found in Iraq was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons rather than to make biological weapons, government officials say."

We all already knew that the trailers were to produce hydrogen, but this high level admission is another crushing blow to the credibility of the Bush administration and the neo-conservative cabal, comparable to the exposure of the Niger uranium lie. The fact that an exposure and admission such as this achieves mainstream corparate media coverage is also significant. It has been said that Nixon's crimes would never have been checked except that important elements of the US corporate and political elite became concerned he was dangerous and off the rails, and I believe a similar problem is now confronting the extremist Bush administration.

Imperial Rules Compared: "America's imperial incursion into Asia has begun in those very countries where British expansionism broke down: Afghanistan and Iraq. The British fought a number of wars in Afghanistan, suffering but a single serious military defeat. True, that defeat was devastating. During the war of 1839-42, the British garrison was obliterated by local tribes after abandoning Kabul and setting out for the safety of India. Only one British soldier reached his destination. British military superiority did not produce the desired results. Her Majesty's forces easily occupied major cities and routed the native armies only to discover that they controlled nothing but the ground they were standing on."

Bush administration agonizes over whether to accept from Iran top captured Al-Qaeda operatives: "According to a series of leaks by US officials, Iran has offered to hand over, if not directly to Washington then to friendly allies, three senior al-Qaeda leaders and might provide another three top terrorist suspects that Washington believes are being held by Tehran. But its price - for the US military to shut down permanently the operations of an Iraq-based Iranian rebel group that is on the State Department's official terrorism list - might be too high for some hardliners, centered in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, who led the charge for war in Iraq."

Reject Nomination of Bush and Blair for Nobel Prize Petition: Harald T. Nesvik, a Right-wing Norwegian Member of Parliament, has nominated U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize for their "decisive action against terrorism". Sign this petition to tell you agree on rejecting Bush and Blair from Nobel Prize Nomination.

US sets up Concentration Camps in Baghdad: "In recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital... On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba... Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again... The response from impassive American sentries is to point to a sign, scrawled in red felt-tip pen on a piece of cardboard hanging on the barbed wire, which says: “No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave.” "

Saturday, August 09, 2003

News Limited's Greg Sheridan: WMD doubts are ludicrous: "THE US has material in its possession in Iraq which, if it checks out, will be conclusive evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs. The evidence that Hussein had WMD programs is so overwhelming, he can barely understand how it is doubted."

Frightful propaganda from Sheridan. Not to mention the little phrase "if it checks out", he has performed a switch (or in fact retailed the official line) that we are looking for programs. Readers will need to remind themselves that the war was sold on the basis of weapons, not programs. That is one that Bush/Blair/Howard/Murdoch would like to see in the Memory Hole, no doubt.

History on our side? - eloquent anti-war piece by Craig Barnes takes the longer view: "The 30 million people who were on the streets on February 15, 2003, were out there because the culture of war has been having a hard time controlling the masses. We came close, for the first time in history, to a global uprising. Thirty million people have never been in the streets at any time in the human experience, and they were there because of what they know, because in our life time the propaganda is wearing very thin."

Howard talks death penalty: "The Prime Minister told Melbourne radio that while he did not personally support capital punishment for pragmatic reasons, there were a lot of people close to him who were in favour of it. 'I know lots of Australians who believe that a death penalty is appropriate and they are not barbaric, they're not insensitive, they're not vindictive, they're not vengeful, they're people who believe that if you take another's life deliberately then justice requires that your life be taken.'"

This is classic Howard, reminiscent of his non-leadership on issues such as racism, Hanson, Muslim veils, refugees etc. Howard says he doesnt support the death penalty but I dont believe Howard cares about anything except dividing the community in ways which may be politically beneficial to him. In terms of protecting the country's values, Howard would have to be one of the weakest Prime Ministers we have ever had.

First home loan buyers reach record low - as low as 10 or 11% in Sydney: "The housing affordability crisis is deepening, with new figures revealing the proportion of first home buyers at a record low, despite mortgage borrowing scaling new heights. The proportion of first home buyers taking out loans in June slumped to an all-time low of 13.9 per cent, from 25.8 per cent two years ago. The proportion in NSW fell to 12.7 per cent and a Housing Industry Association economist, Caroline Lemezina, estimates the proportion in Sydney has slumped to just 10 or 11 per cent."

Friday, August 08, 2003

Global oil crisis - Hubbert peak: "Capitalism has developed, and our population has grown from one to six billion by drawing down a massive natural gift of energy in the form of cheap crude oil. It's half gone. Since the mid 1990s Petroleum geologists have known that global oil production would peak in the first decade of the 21st century and decline forever thereafter. "

"Colin Campbell predicted the impending production peak to the British House of Commons in 1999. "Discovery (of new oil reserves) peaked in the 1960s. We now find one barrel for every four we consume… No one can dispute that you have to find oil before you can produce it. The curve of discovery clearly has eventually to control the curve of production that follows it after a time lag."

"According to Walter Yongquist, "The most significant trend in the US oil industry has been the decline in the amount of energy recovered compared to energy expended. In 1916, the rate was 28 to 1, a very handsome energy return. Today the rate is 2 to 1, and dropping." By 2005, it will cost a barrel of oil energy to extract a barrel in the USA, and American domestic oil production will no longer be profitable."

US Troops in Iraq Are Sitting Ducks, by Justin Raimondo: "Those connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda we heard so much about in the period leading up to the invasion turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Osama bin Laden surely didn't have an Iraqi presence before the war, but he sure as heck does now.

"In this ironic sense, then, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was perfectly correct the other day when he averred that 'Iraq is the central battle in the war on terror.' Seen from Osama bin Laden's perspective, it is. What Wolfowitz neglected to mention, however, is that the terrorists have gained a foothold in Iraq thanks to the U.S. "

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Iraq invasion violated international law: Blix - War on Iraq: "'I cannot see that the action, in the way it was justified, was compatible with the UN Charter,' Blix said, adding that it had undermined the Security Council's authority. Blix questioned whether Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to his neighbours and to the United States. He said the administration of US President George W Bush must have had other reasons to invade besides 'the officially pronounced purpose to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction.'"

Vic Greens set to complete Linux switch by year-end: "Victorian Greens convener Adrian Whitehead said the idea of moving to an open source set-up had been born about 18 months ago when the party was looking at an expansion in its membership and administration needs after the Federal election of 2001... As the party had no idea how to begin the process, it approached ComputerBank, a national initiative set up to supply free Linux systems to low income individuals, community groups and disadvantaged schools, and asked the group for ideas.

"The trial then began about a year ago with Whitehead himself being the first guinea pig. "This led to changing my machine to a Debian KDE Linux box to trial the system for 12 months. During this period we looked at issues of training, programs, combatibilty, ease of set up, internal support, security, stability and user acceptance," he said. "The second phase consisted of putting Linux on other boxes. We decided to install Red Hat Linux on a box with increased RAM and use the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) thin client to run Linux on other machines. This minimised installation and maintence effort. Our choice of Red Hat was simply based on familarity of the installer and desktop interface design.""

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Margo Kingston - webdiary: "If Baer is right here, the quality media allowed itself to be used by Iraqi dissidents to bolster the case for war. Here's where it's vital that sources are checked and not reported as fact until checks have been made. This basic journalistic duty seems to have almost disappeared in some quarters, and at times is not even being fulfilled in the quality media. The media has been TOO TRUSTING, not too skeptical. In Australia, we now know that we should not have trusted the government's word on children overboard. We should not have reported the claim as fact, and we should have focused from the very beginning on the lack of supporting evidence for it."

In some ways Margo is a good journalist and her webdiary is in fact the only corporate funded journalistic weblog that I look at, the best part of the SMH and nearly as good as the alternative internet. But this statement betrays a kind of naivete, as if she has never heard of Chomsky or read Manufacturing Consent. Or perhaps her critical remarks are deliberately crafted to be able to reach the typical readership of the SMH.

John Pilger: The War On Truth: "The director of Le Monde Diplomatique, Ignacio Ramonet, summed this up well: "To justify a preventive war that the United Nations and global public opinion did not want, a machine for propaganda and mystification, organised by the doctrinaire sect around George Bush, produced state-sponsored lies with a determination characteristic of the worst regimes of the 20th century."

"The Blair government's attacks on the BBC make sense as part of this. They are not only a distraction from Blair's criminal association with the Bush gang, though for a less than obvious reason. As the astute American media commentator Danny Schechter points out, the BBC's revenues have grown to $5.6bn; more Americans watch the BBC in America than watch BBC1 in Britain; and what Murdoch and the other ascendant TV conglomerates have long wanted is the BBC "checked, broken up, even privatised...All this money and power will likely become the target for Blair government regulators and the merry men of Ofcom, who want to contain public enterprises and serve those avaricious private businesses who would love to slice off some of the BBC's market share." As if on cue, Tessa Jowell, the British Culture Secretary, questioned the renewal of the BBC's charter. The irony of this, says Schechter, is that the BBC was always solidly pro-war."

Iraq isn't working: Robert Fisk reports from Baghdad

We were war victims too, Germans insist: 15 million ethnic Germans were expelled from East Prussia, Sudentenland, Pomerania, Silesia and other lands towards the end and shortly after World War 11. This process claimed the lives of 2 million of them and included the two worst maritime disasters in history, each of them far worse than better known disasters such as the Titanic.

U.S., N. Korea to Meet 1-on-1: "North Korea formally announced Friday it had agreed to the multiparty talks, confirming reports Thursday in Moscow and Washington. But a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry also emphasized the bilateral session. A spokesman said, 'Some time ago, the U.S. informed the DPRK [North Korea] through a third party that the DPRK-U.S. bilateral talks may be held within the framework of multilateral talks.'"

USA: State of Decline: "California's slide into irresponsibility, in which politicians refuse to acknowledge any connection between the government services the public demands and the taxes that pay for those services, is being replicated all across America.... The key factor in rising California spending has been the effort to rebuild a crippled education system. Proposition 13, the 1978 cap on property taxes, led to a progressive starvation of California's once-lauded public schools. By 1994, the state had the largest class sizes in the nation; its reading scores were on a par with Mississippi's. the people now running the country are every bit as irresponsible as those blocking a serious response to California's crisis. And sooner or later that irresponsibility will have the usual consequences. California, here we come."

Property taxation is the only realistic basis for local and state revenue. But the fundamental dogma of neo-classical economics, that capital and labor are the only two factors of production, means that the merit of land value taxation cannot be seen.

America silences Niger leaders in Iraq nuclear row: "America has warned the Niger government to keep out of the row over claims that Saddam Hussein sought to buy uranium for his nuclear weapons programme from the impoverished West African state... American officials denied that there had been any attempt to "gag" the Niger government. The Niamey official, however, said that there was "a clear attempt to stop any more embarrassing stories coming out of Niger". He said that Washington's warning was likely to be heeded. "Mr Cohen did not spell it out but everybody in Niger knows what the consequences of upsetting America or Britain would be. We are the world's second-poorest country and we depend on international aid to survive.""

Report: Iraq Conflict May Have Driven Muslims into Arms of al-Qa'ida': "The war to topple Saddam Hussein may have damaged the campaign against international terrorism by driving Muslims into the arms of al-Qa'ida, an all-party committee of MPs said yesterday. The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee said al-Qa'ida remained a 'significant threat' to Britain, after hearing that the terrorist network may still have the loyalty of more than 17,000 militants in up to 60 countries. In a report that raises questions about an important part of the justification for war, MPs said the campaign in Iraq might have 'enhanced the appeal of al-Qa'ida to Muslims living in the Gulf region and elsewhere'."

Now that's a resounding success for Bush/Blair/Howard and their "war on terror". Howard in particular should be confronted with reports such as these and forced to answer them, but the opposition is so incredibly weak they cannot see a gift.

MI6 chief to quit after split on Iraq: "Britain's top spymaster has decided to retire early, dealing a damaging new blow to the Government's credibility over its presentation of intelligence on Iraq. Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, is thought to be dismayed by the visible rift between his organisation and Downing Street."

"Retired and serving MI6 officers have told The Observer that they favour an internal candidate - someone who would be seen as a standard-bearer for the freedom from political interference the service has traditionally sworn to uphold. But Whitehall sources say Tony Blair is seriously considering John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee - viewed by some professionals as 'fatally tainted' because he endorsed the claim in the Government's dossier last September that Saddam could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes. Scarlett was a trusted member of Blair's inner circle throughout the Iraq crisis, and has now become a personal friend."