Friday, February 28, 2003

Chomksy on the anti-war movement: opposition is unprecedented
'There's never been a time that I can think of when there's been such massive opposition to a war before it was even started. And the closer you get to the region, the higher the opposition appears to be. In Turkey, polls indicated close to 90% opposition, in Europe it's quite substantial, and in the United States the figures you see in polls, however, are quite misleading because there's another factor that isn't considered that differentiates the United States from the rest of the world. This is the only country where Saddam Hussein is not only reviled and despised but also feared, so since September polls have shown that something like 60-70% of the population literally think that Saddam Hussein is an imminent threat to their survival.

'Now there's no objective reason why the US should be more frightened of Saddam than say the Kuwaitis, but there is a reason - namely that since September there's been a drumbeat of propaganda trying to bludgeon people into the belief that not only is Saddam a terrible person but in fact he's going to come after us tomorrow unless we stop him today. And that reaches people. So if you want to understand the actual opposition to the war in the US you have to extract that factor. The factor of completely irrational fear created by massive propaganda, and if you did I think you'd find it's much like everywhere else.'

30 Critics state case against the war
Opponents of the war including Fisk, Pinter, Chomsky, Benn and many others summarise the case against: why war, why now?

Washington's Folly: Winning a War and Losing the World
'Despite having declared a policy of preemptive war, and saying that he was free to strike Iraq as he wished, ignoring international legality, President George W. Bush seems to have been convinced by Secretary of State Colin Powell that he would do better to have allies and a veneer of international approval. The administration seems not to have understood, however, that there was no point in going to the UN Security Council if the United States intended to ignore other opinions and only wanted endorsement for what it had already said it intended to do.

'The trip to the United Nations thus simply provided time for mobilization of diplomatic and popular opposition to U.S. plans. The result has weakened the administration's domestic as well as international positions. The incompetence of all this is what surprises. Never before has the Iraqi despot had so many governments trying to prevent an attack on him. Never before has opinion in the liberal democracies been so alienated from the United States. The president and his men have put their own team in a hole so deep that when Washington does go to war against Iraq, as it soon will, it is unlikely to have any major allies left other than the governments of Britain, Spain and Poland.'

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Governments versus Peoples
Excellent speech delivered by Scott Burchill at the anti-war meeting Melbourne Town Hall 25/2. Emphasises the hypocrisy of the Western elites over Saddam and human rights, and the remarkable fact (attributed to the Internet) that the public is not buying the pro-war arguments as put by Government and corporate media, eg News Ltd.

Georgist Economics Articles
A collection of a half dozen or so articles advocating the continuing relevance of Georgist economics.

Iraq Attack not yet legal, says expert
More expert testimony that neither Resolution 1441 nor the US/UK draft 'second resolution' authorises war against Iraq, and that therefore any attack by Australia or other countries will be contrary to international law. Furthermore, any Australian involvement in such an illegal attack could leave Australian military and politicians liable to prosecution in the International Criminal Court.

'The definition of war crimes in international law included causing "excessive civilian damage that's disproportionate to the military objective". "What's excessive? What's disproportionate? These are matters for judgement, but it would seem to me that [with] estimates of a quarter of a million dead ... it's not difficult to say that is excessive civilian damage in light of the military objective of disarming Iraq." '

One wonders whether sanctimonious Tony Blair or Honest Little Deputy Johnny Howard who was filmed dropping to his knees in a London church ceremony for the victims of the Bali bombing have properly comprehended what it means to inflict a "quarter of a million dead" in an unnecessary and illegal war of mass death and destruction. Perhaps a spot in a war crimes trial in the exalted company of Hermann Goering, Adolf Eichmann and Slobodan Milosevic will assist their reflections.

It looks increasingly like the Bush Administration's "Mein Kampf" diplomatic and political strategy (ie, openly announce and publish your rejection of treaties and international law and move to dominate the whole world by military force) is turning into a godawful train wreck. Blair and Howard, who couldnt be more servile or obsequious to anything Washington proposes, are simply being hung out to dry. Blair in particular runs a serious risk of having his political career brutally terminated on the altar of the 'alliance' with the United States. It is a salutary lesson for any other politicians who continue to maintain illusions.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

NSW Opposition leader Brogden denies plan to abolish land tax
"The NSW opposition denied a report it promised to abolish land tax, but said it would be a key issue for review if it won government. A community newspaper reported Opposition Leader John Brogden committing a coalition government to removing land tax, a promise NSW Treasurer Michael Egan said would cost $1 billion a year.

"Until now, Mr Brogden has been stating that his sole land tax policy was the abolition of the premium property tax, the tax paid by people whose home has a land value of $1.68 million or more," Mr Egan said. But opposition treasury spokesman George Souris said the coalition only intended to abolish the premium property tax."

2% Land tax implemented in Free State municipal area
"The average farmer will have to pay R30 000 in land tax per year. Farmers in the Nketoane municipal area in the eastern Free State are angry about what they call the unfair implementation of land tax in the area. The municipality seems to be the only one in the country, which has imposed a 2% land tax. The new Legislation on Property Tariffs will only be implemented in July next year.

"The Nketoane local authority consists of 320 farms, translating into a land tax of R9 million per year. The average farmer will have to pay R30 000 per year. This is above levies that also have to be paid to district municipalities. Farmers are up in arms. "It is inhuman to think that both levies and land tax need to be paid. The land tax is almost 20 times more than the levies. It is ridiculous," says Borrie Erasmus, the spokesperson for the Local Government Free State Agriculture."

The media always reports the essential reform of the land tax in a negative fashion. And at the same time you can never find an economist to explain and defend the system. And that is because the economics profession is bought and sold by the rent-taking class a long time ago, just as the US media and Congress are bought by corporations long ago.

Victorian Retailers will not be made to pay land tax, landholders must pay
This article is not exactly a model of clarity but I gather that legislation is to be introduced which prohibits landholders from passing on land tax to tenants. That, of course, is entirely appropriate. Land tax should always be paid by the landholder, terms or agreements which require the tenant to pay the land tax should be disallowed as an ideologically and politically motivated absurdity.

Showdown Coming In Mexico Over Privatization
"Resistance to privatization has often been fierce. Soldiers had to occupy the port of Veracruz at gunpoint in order to privatize it and fire its workforce. Mexico City's bus drivers fought the selloff of the Route-100 company for three years, including one in which their union leaders were imprisoned. Wildcat strikes hit the railfroads when they were sold to Grupo Mexico, and copper miners fought a valiant battle against job reductions when the Cananea mine was bought by the same owners in the late 1990s.

"While these resistance efforts were defeated, one of the government's most important privatization schemes has consistently been held at bay - the selloff of the electrical system. Controversy over the rapid growth of private power generation in Mexico boiled over this year, as President Vicente Fox introduced legislation to privatize the industry. A former CocaCola executive, Fox is allied with the industrialists of Monterrey and their US energy partners. His proposals carry the blessing of the World Bank and the IMF, who have been mandating the privatization of Mexican industries for over a dozen years."

North Korean crisis: Sunshine, Containment, War
Analysis of the Korean crisis criticises the dangerous 'ultimatum diplomacy' of imperial Washington which could lead to war, the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, or possibly the social and political collapse of North Korea. South Korea's policy of peace, negotiation, cooperation and 'sunshine' raises the prospect of peaceful reunification.

Fisk: CNN Censored
Article describes new 'script approval' military censorship system for CNN. Early examples in Palestine discussed. Reporters items could not go to air if they did not include Israeli army response. Therefore, the IDF could kill any story simply by declining to give a response.

43 Law experts warn: 'Coalition of the Killing' are war criminals, crimes against humanity
"International law recognises two bases for the use of force. The first, enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, allows force to be used in self-defence. The attack must be actual or imminent. The second basis is when the UN Security Council authorises the use of force as a collective response to the use or threat of force. However, the Security Council is bound by the terms of the UN Charter and can authorise the use of force only if there is evidence that there is an actual threat to the peace (in this case, by Iraq) and that this threat cannot be averted by any means short of force (such as negotiation and further weapons inspections).

"Members of the "coalition of the willing", including Australia, have not yet presented any persuasive arguments that an invasion of Iraq can be justified at international law... The weak and ambiguous evidence presented to the international community by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to justify a pre-emptive strike underlines the practical danger of a doctrine of pre-emption. A principle of pre-emption would allow particular national agendas to completely destroy the system of collective security contained in Chapter Seven of the UN Charter and return us to the pre-1945 era, where might equalled right. Ironically, the same principle would justify Iraq now launching pre-emptive attacks on members of the coalition because it could validly argue that it feared attack."

Bush, Blair, Howard, Hill and Downer say repeatedly that they already have authorisation for an attack from Resolution 1441 but they have nothing of the sort. Nor is their draft 'second resolution' anything like authorisation for war against Iraq. Moreover, their diplomacy is so bad that they have only succeeded in demonstrating to the whole world that UN authorisation for war is precisely what they do not have. And if their 'second resolution' fails to pass, the point will be driven home. A warning over a possible prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity should be prepared and personally delivered to all those leaders whose countries have signed onto the International Court of Justice, ie to Britain and Australia.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Text of memorandum submitted to UN by France, Russia, Germany - Feb. 24, 2003
"While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field."

"To render possible a peaceful solution inspections should be given the necessary time and resources. However, they cannot continue indefinitely. Iraq must disarm. Its full and active co-operation is necessary. This must include the provision of all the additional and specific information on issues raised by the inspectors as well as compliance with their requests, as expressed in particular in [chief inspector Hans] Blix's letter of February 21st 2003. The combination of a clear program of action, reinforced inspections, a clear timeline and the military build-up provide a realistic means to reunite the Security Council and to exert maximum pressure on Iraq."

This memorandum calling for inspections to continue at least another four months is a direct challenge to the American/British drive to war, however at the same time it is an eminently reasonable and sensible disarmament proposal, which would likely attract the support of nearly the whole world barring the US,UK, and Australia and a handful of other war supporters. PM Howard and Opposition leader Crean should both be challenged to support this proposal.

Malaysian PM Mahathir attacks US over war on Iraq at NAM summit
This was a remarkable speech at a remarkable event. The non aligned movement consists of over 100 countries representing half the world's population. 50 heads of state or heads of government were in attendance at this meeting, including Thabo Mbeki, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Fidel Castro, Pervez Musharraf, Hamid Karzai and many many others. Mahathir pulled no punches in attacking the warmongering, colonialism, racism, arrogance, double standards and greed of the West and in particular the US, without mentioning them by name.

Pilger: A People Betrayed
"Denis Halliday is a courtly Irishman who spent 34 years with the UN, latterly as Assistant Secretary-General. When he resigned in 1998 as the UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq in protest at the effects of the embargo on the civilian population, it was, he wrote, "because the policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple as that ... Five thousand children are dying every month ... I don't want to administer a programme that results in figures like these."

"Since I met Halliday, I have been struck by the principle behind his carefully chosen, uncompromising words. "I had been instructed," he said, "to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults. We all know that the regime - Saddam Hussein - is not paying the price for economic sanctions; on the contrary, he has been strengthened by them. It is the little people who are losing their children or their parents for lack of untreated water. What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. History will slaughter those responsible."

Pilger's article describes the almost unbelievable reality of the Gulf war, depleted uranium and the sanctions policy - something new in its sustained cruelty and destructiveness. History will indeed slaughter those responsible.

Both the Military and the Spooks are Opposed to War on Iraq
"Why now? The question is of course being asked by those opposed to a war against Iraq, and those who have not made up their minds. But it has also been asked by one of the most senior Whitehall officials at the center of the fight against terrorism. The message was clear: the threat posed by Islamist extremists is much greater than that posed by Saddam Hussein. And it will get worse when the US and Britain attack Iraq. Tony Blair may not want to admit it, but this is the common view throughout the higher reaches of government. As a leaked secret document from the defense intelligence staff puts it: "Al-Qaida will take advantage of the situation for its own aims but it will not be acting as a proxy group on behalf of the Iraqi regime." Osama bin Laden must be praying for a US assault on Iraq.

"Do we help or hinder the essential struggle against terrorism by attacking Iraq?" asks the former Conservative foreign minister, Lord Hurd. "Would we thus turn the Middle East into a set of friendly democratic capitalist societies ready to make peace with Israel, or into a region of sullen humiliation, a fertile and almost inexhaustible recruiting ground for further terrorists for whom Britain is a main target?" He poses the rhetorical questions in the latest journal of the Royal United Services Institute. Blair says "now" because George Bush says so. Put it another way, had Washington decided to continue with a policy of containment, Blair would have followed suit. This, too, is the common view in Whitehall. It helps explain the government's problem in justifying a war." Howard of course has the same problem.

France, Germany reject US draft resolution and will propose their own
"France and Germany remained determined to seek a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis despite a US-proposed second UN resolution to allow the use of force against Baghdad, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today. "We do not see any reason to modify our position after learning of the draft resolution," he told a joint news conference with French President Jacques Chirac after the two held a dinner meeting.

"We believe that a peaceful disarmament of Iraq is possible on the basis of the existing resolution, 1441," Schroeder said. Chirac said he had "exactly the same" opinion as Schroeder, and said "a majority of the UN Security Council is opposed to a second resolution" to allow the use of force to disarm Iraq. France, backed by Russia, China and Germany, was to put a counter memorandum calling for strengthened inspections of Iraq's arsenal.

"France has said it plans to present a memorandum on expanding weapons inspections in Iraq at the Council meeting, due to start at 3.30pm (0730 Tuesday AEDT). The apparent counter to the US move will be co-signed by Russia and Germany."

Typically, the Herald headline has completely failed to convey the drama of this report, that France, Russia, Germany and China are apparently going to directly confront the US by rejecting their draft second resolution and proposing their own resolution extending the inspections. This should be front page banner headlines.

U.S. on Diplomatic Warpath over Second Resolution
"Senior U.S. officials have been quietly dispatched in recent days to the capitals of key Security Council countries where they are warning leaders to vote with the United States on Iraq or risk "paying a heavy price."

"They actually told us: 'any country that doesn't go along with us will be paying a very heavy price,' " said one Mexican diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Since both Germany and Syria have said they would not support the resolution, and Pakistan is almost certain to abstain, the United States must convince the African trio [Angola, Guinea and Cameroon] as well as Chile and Mexico to cast 'yes' votes. Otherwise, the resolution will fail [it needs 9 votes to pass].

"Complicating matters however is a back-room deal Mexico cut with Chile in which the two Spanish-speaking countries agreed to cast abstentions if the five powers on the council — The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — failed to reach a compromise on Iraq.

"France is also doing its share of counterlobbying, trying to keep countries that have pushed for continued weapons inspections from moving over to the U.S. position. Paris' key sphere of influence is in Africa, where it was once a colonial power. At an African summit last week in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac said to have found unanimous support among African leaders that weapons inspections, not war, are the best way to disarm Iraq."

Full text of the US/UK draft 'second resolution'
"The security council...Decides that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441 (2002), Decides to remain seized of the matter."

'Decides to remain seized of the matter'? In no way does this authorise war. This strikes me as a remarkably soft resolution, a sign of the desperation of the UK in particular to get something, anything passed by the Security Council. It is so unremarkable that it will indeed prove difficult for members to vote against it or to veto it. However they could (and should) abstain, in order to deny the US and the UK the legitimacy of the UN that they desperately seek.

UN resolution will fail: Woolcott
"There was a minimal prospect that a second United Nations Security Council resolution would clearly authorise war on Iraq, former Australian ambassador to the UN Richard Woolcott said. Mr Woolcott said he did not believe the proposed second UN resolution against Iraq, foreshadowed at the weekend by US, would give a clear go ahead to the US."

The US/UK are now unlikely to seek clear authorisation for war from a UN resolution because of the risk that it would be vetoed or voted down. But Tony Blair (and John Howard) desperately need a 'second' resolution, any resolution, so that they can say to their domestic populations that they have their 'second resolution'. People will object that the wording of the second resolution does not authorise war but it will be enough to base a propaganda barrage upon. For this reason it is best that the 'second resolution', whatever it is, is voted down. Deny them any legitimacy at all, or any opportunity to manufacture legitimacy, that is the relevancy of the UN at the present time.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Human shields arrive in Baghdad
"There's something very serious happening here - groups of peace idealists from around the world, Australians included, are setting up as human shields at power stations and water-treatment plants they believe will be targeted by the United States in the coming war."

Saddam's troops face a stark choice: join the allies or die
"United States and British war planners are convinced most Iraqi troops will not fight, and believe the war will be won relatively quickly with minimal casualties - possibly on both sides."

Wishful thinking? Famous last words? The balance of forces is so greatly in favour of the US, and the tyranny no doubt so disliked, it is a 'reasonable' assumption that the 'coalition of the killing' will suffer few casualties of its own. But the very enormity of US force and its domestic political imperative to win quickly and decisively with few casualties means that they will unleash a massive barrage, everything that they have got, up to and possibly including nuclear weapons. In these circumstances it is hard to conceive of 'minimal' casualties among the Iraqis. The great unknown is whether the Iraqi army and people will resist, especially in Baghdad. If they do, casualties could be enormously increased.

Woolcott warns against Australian isolation and 'myths' justifying the war
"The chances of the United Nations Security Council passing a resolution explicitly authorising an attack on Iraq were minimal"

"In a stinging criticism, Mr Woolcott debunked five "myths" which, he said, the Government relied on to support its position on Iraq. The first was that Iraq presented a threat to Australia's interests. It had been "perfectly well contained" for more than a decade and, if it presented a threat to anyone, it was not Australia. Second, that failure to agree to war would render the UN irrelevant. In fact, the Security Council had been hamstrung by superpower rivalries for most of its history and, before Iraq, a number of nations, particularly Israel, had got away with being "serial resolution defiers".

"The third myth, Mr Woolcott said, was that Australia's deployment of troops was not a
commitment to war. This was a deception of the people by the Federal Government, more serious than that of the "children-overboard" affair. The fourth government-sponsored myth was that Australia enjoyed the broad support of the world. The fifth was that going to war against Iraq was in Australia's national interest."

US and Britain Pound Iraqi Defenses in Massive Escalation of Airstrikes
"Targets have included surface-to-air batteries as well as an anti-ship missile launcher which was considered a threat to the growing concentration of naval vessels in the Gulf. In the past two weeks there have been at least three strikes in the same area on Ababil-100 mobile missile batteries.

"Attacks on such battlefield weapons, rare until recently, are part of a semi-secret air campaign, conducted under cover of the no-fly patrols, which has intensified sharply since the beginning of the year. Allied aircraft have gone into action over Iraq almost every day. By the end of this month the number of missions is likely to overtake the 78 flown during the whole of 2002. While the number of attacks and the targets are known, important information is almost always kept back, including the number and type of aircraft deployed, the weapons used and the success or otherwise of each attack."

This escalation of illegal air attacks undoubtedly represents the beginning of the war and deserves to be front page news, however that is not likely as the fearsome charade of weapons inspectors and UN Security Council resolutions has to run its course. The war party is repeatedly calling on the UN to be 'relevant' but the real relevance that the UN has had throughout this crisis consists in exposing for public view and condemnation the aggressive intentions of the Bush administration. This is a vital contribution and must be sustained for as long as possible, all the way through to voting down or vetoing if necessary whatever 'second resolution' the US/UK come up with. However, at this stage it looks like most of the work has been done. The weekend of 14/15/16 February is the contribution that the UN has made, with the French Foreign Minister earning rare applause in the Security Council for his speech against war combined with the truly massive and miraculously well timed public demonstrations against the war.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Ha'aretz article on why Turkey is balking over Iraq war
"In addition to the money factor, Washington and Ankara also disagree on the question of what will happen in Iraq. Turkey has said that it will not place its forces under American command, something the United States is demanding out of concern that Turkey may try to conquer parts of northern Iraq or conduct an independent military maneuver against the Kurds to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdish state.

"The Kurds have already threatened not to let the Turkish army on their territory, and this back-and-forth between Turkey and the Kurds is becoming a real threat to the ability of American forces to conduct a northern front unimpeded."

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Iraqi Kurds fear Turk invasion
"In 1998, a Turkish parliamentary commission reported that government forces had destroyed more than 3,000 Kurdish villages, depriving 380,000 of their homes. All told, as many as 1.5 million villagers in southeastern Turkey were driven from their homes and more than 30,000 people killed."

"Thousands of [Turkish] troops are massed on the border and others are manning posts inside Iraq to provide, the Turks say, humanitarian assistance to the flood of refugees a war is likely to create. If a Newsweek report earlier this weeks was correct, the Turkish army is planning to penetrate some 250 kilometers (150 miles) into northern Iraq, halfway to Baghdad, with up to 80,000 troops."

"The Turks refused to place their troops under foreign command and the United States has agreed that a Turkish general will command them. The two forces are reportedly to coordinate at centers at the U.S. Central Command headquarters in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar and the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The United States will take control of [oil-rich] Kirkuk and Mosul, not the Turks and certainly not the Kurds."

Avnery: Phony reasons for war
"Saddam Hussein is a cruel dictator, but the idea that he might be connected with Osama bin Laden is ridiculous. Sadam heads the Iraqi section of al-Baath, a very secular party. Bin Laden is an Islamic Fundamentalist, and al-Kaida aims at the destruction of all secular regimes in our region. The official who invented this particular lie is either an ignoramus or a cynic who believes that one can fool all the people at least some of the time.

"As for weapons of mass destruction: the USA supported Saddam when he used deadly poison gas against the Iranians (and their Kurdish allies in Iraq). At the time, America was interested in stopping the Iranians. Today there are chemical and biological weapons in most of the countries of this region, including Egypt, Syria and Israel, and one of them has nuclear arms. As for democracy: Americans don't give a damn. Some of their best friends in the Islamic world are dictators, some more, some less cruel then Saddam."

Global pandemic fear as chicken flu kills man
"Flu viruses change slightly every year. Every few decades, though, they mutate dramatically, producing a significantly different strain to which humans are more vulnerable. A virus that jumped from animals to humans would produce a significant mutation... But there were fears at the time that, if the virus cross-bred with a milder flu that did move from person to person, it could produce a dangerous strain that would move rapidly around the world."

Ebola virus may take to the air
"Sanders stresses that his discovery does not prove that birds are the natural reservoir for Ebola. But it makes them more plausible hosts. The prospect of migratory birds carrying Ebola has obvious health implications. Some scientists already worry that Ebola could mutate and become airborne. Recent outbreaks have suggested it can evolve on its own. All the Ebola subtypes have shown the ability to be spread through airborne particles under research conditions. One strand, Ebola-Reston, may have been transmitted from monkey to monkey through the air in a Virginia science lab. So far there have been no similar transmissions involving humans."

Iraqis will Not Be Pawns
"Having failed to convince the British people that war is justified, Tony Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing them. He tells us there will be innocent civilian casualties, but that more will die if he and Bush do not go to war. Which dossier is he reading from?"

"the main historical opposition to the Ba'ath regime - including various strands of the left, the Arab nationalist parties, the Communist party, the Islamic Da'wa party, the Islamic party (the Muslim Brotherhood) and others - has rejected war and US patronage over Iraqi politics. The prevalent Iraqi opinion is that a US attack on Iraq would be a disaster, not a liberation, and Blair's belated concern for Iraqis is unwelcome."

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences
"This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation."

American politicians from both major parties are a sorry lot (Australian politicians are not far behind), beholden to their corporate backers, actively working against the interests of their own people, with little to say that anybody would stop to listen for. But this speech by Sen Byrd is an exception, eloquently stating the concerns that many people must have even in the upper levels of the American system.

Privatization of Oil Suggested for Iraq
"A State Department advisory panel of Iraqi petroleum experts has concluded that Iraq's state-owned industry would benefit from privatization -- a provocative idea in a region that evicted foreign oil companies three decades ago."

Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage'
"In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors - or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel - is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms."

Full U.S. Control Planned for Iraq
"The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be named American civilian who would direct the reconstruction of the country and the creation of a "representative" Iraqi government, according to a now-finalized blueprint described by U.S. officials and other sources."

Bryan Kavanagh: A New Economic Depression
"This paper puts the case that Henry George provided the explanation for economic depressions before Kondratieff demonstrated their approximate periodicity. It further argues that Australia, rich in the relevant real estate data, may be taken as a proxy for other industrialised nations in testing the current longwave cycle."

The paper includes Bryan's graphs showing the real estate cycle over the last 30 years and the relationship of property volatility to the economy.

Land values cycle and economic performance: inverse relationship
"I have long agreed with agree with Henry George's theoretical tenet about the real estate's inverse cyclical relationship with national economic performance. In fact, we think the link is provable."

Friday, February 21, 2003

US Lobbyist Helped Draft Eastern Europeans' Iraq Statement
"A former Pentagon official helped draft a controversial statement by 10 Central and Eastern European nations this month that supports the United States in its stand-off with Iraq. In an interview, Bruce Jackson, a former US Defense Department official who heads a Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, said that he was among those who helped initiate the statement supporting the US stance"

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Turkey Throws Iraq Invasion Plans Into Doubt
"Turkey threw the northern thrust of a planned two-pronged invasion of Iraq into doubt on Wednesday when it put off a decision on whether to allow American troops onto its soil...

"Secretary of State Colin Powell told Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul "that's all you're going to get," according to a U.S. official... Officials in Washington said the U.S. offer of $6 billion in grants and up to $20 billion in loan guarantees was final. Turkey has demanded more than $30 billion, U.S. sources say."

Statement by the President Briefly Stooping to Address Global Anti-Freedom Traitors and Their Girlish 60's Peace Chanting - WHITEHOUSE.ORG
"THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Normally, I'd greet you glasses-wearing press nerds and squatty dykes with a sneer and a convoluted non sequitur wrapped in a down-home, poll-friendly malapropism, but today I'm super-jazzed to see you bleeding heart scribbling whores whose corporate bosses voted for yours truly."

Wargames - gulf war 2
Computer simulation predicts American victory, but with unpleasant consequences afterwards. Essential analysis, and good fun too!

Gabriel Kolko: The Crisis in NATO
"Eastern European nations may say what Washington wishes today, but economically they are far more dependent on Germany and those allied with it. When the 15 nations in European Union met on February 17 their statement on Iraq was far closer to the German-French position than the American, reflecting the antiwar nations' economic clout as well as the response of some prowar political leaders to the massive antiwar demonstrations that took place the preceding weekend in Italy, Spain, Britain and the rest of Europe.

"There is every likelihood that the U.S. will emerge from this crisis in NATO more belligerent, and more isolated and detested, than ever. NATO will then go the way of SEATO and all of the other defunct American alliances. The reality is that the world is increasingly multipolar, economically and technologically, and that the U.S.' desire to maintain absolute military superiority over the world is a chimera. The U.S. has no alternative but to accept the world as it is, or prepare for doomsday."

In Kolko's analysis the American 'Project for a New American Century' - world domination achieved by unilateral military superiority - is doomed before it even starts. The French veto (if it comes) of the US/UK Iraq war resolution will be an historic turning point, symbolising the emergence of Europe as a genuine rival to the United States and the simultaneous defeat of American hegemonic ambitions almost as soon as they have been announced. The Iraq/Arab war, if it is launched as still seems likely, could be such a mess it will be America's final imperial adventure, ending after years of savage killing in a humiliating total defeat, just like Vietnam.

Interview with Cuban VP Raul Alarcon on Bush's War on Terrorism
"RICARDO ALARCON: Terrorism is a real problem that has to be effectively answered and the American strategy since 9/11 is not eliminating terrorism. It's waging war and killing people. Maybe among some of those killed from the bombs were terrorists, but it's simply false to pretend that by promoting more violence and disseminating violence all over the world you are really attacking the sources of violence and terrorism. It's a real tragedy."

"Terrorism and violence, crimes against Cuba, have been part and parcel of U.S. policy for almost half a century. Now, unfortunately, Americans have learned for the first time what terrorism is, organized and promoted from abroad. We condemn that. There's no justification for 9/11. But the only honest, effective answer would be to have a U.S. policy that instead of promoting war, instead of tolerating and promoting terrorism right now against Cuba, that actually and consistently opposes all forms and manifestations of terrorism from any where in the world, including the U.S. territory."

Iraq - Scheduling War
"From what can now be determined, it appears that President Bush finally made a decision on which of these invasion plans to follow in late August or very early in September.? Possibly fearing the political fallout of a battlefield disaster, should a lightly-equipped U.S. invasion force confront heavily-armed Iraqi forces, Bush selected the more conservative plan favored by Tommy Franks.? At that point, the countdown to war began in earnest as preparations got underway for the deployment of some 200,000 U.S. combat troops to the Middle East.

"But no matter how eager the chickenhawks were to go to war, it is not possible to move 200,000 troops and all their equipment to a battlefield 8,000 miles away overnight.? It takes time: six months at a minimum.? So, when President Bush gave the go ahead in late August, the earliest starting time for the initial attack automatically became late February or early March of 2003, some two to three weeks from now.? So, since, early September, everyone in the know in Washington has been aware that the war will break out sometime around March 1st, give or take a few days."

Israel: Threats of forced mass expulsion
"The real problem is that Israelis do not view the suicide bombings as part of the Palestinian struggle to end Israel's occupation, nor do they see them as revenge for the aggressive tactics of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). (According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, military action has caused more than 2,000 Palestinian casualties, at least 1,500 of them civilian.) Israelis see the attacks as proof that the Palestinians are determined to destroy the state of Israel, and to kill Jews because they are Jews. In this climate the expulsion of the Palestinians is touted as a security measure, a humane response to an intractable problem. The Israeli authorities are doing nothing to check the momentum of such plans.

"Which populations will be "transferred" remains deliberately unclear: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank? Those in the refugee camps? Or all Palestinians between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, including Israel's Arab citizens?... All Palestinians, whether Israeli Arabs or those in the West Bank or Gaza, remember the 1948 expulsion and unceasingly vow: "This time we won't let them drive us out." The Palestinians are well aware of the danger, though their legal expertise and their links to the international community on both sides of the Green Line separating Israel from the occupied territories provide some protection."

Turkey balking at US war plans despite $26b bribe
"In the face of widespread public opposition, the Islamic-leaning Turkish government has been balking and insists that Washington pony up billions in economic assistance in return for access. U.S. presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters Wednesday that "there's not a lot of time left" for discussion with the Turks, who have demanded significantly more than the $26-billion (U.S.) in grants and loan guarantees Washington has put on the table."

Rumsfeld won't rule out nuclear bomb against Iraq
"Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to rule out the US use of nuclear weapons in a possible war with Iraq, while a leading senator told him such a move would trigger "a near-total breakdown" in American relations with the rest of the world."

Destructive Fishing Causing Ocean Crisis
"In recent decades the impact of commercial fishing on ocean ecosystems has dramatically increased, and we are confronted with the unprecedented reality that we are rapidly depleting the oceans' resources," states the letter printed in the "New York Times." "The oceans, once mistakenly thought to be inexhaustible, clearly are not."

"The letter points out that more than 70 percent of global fish populations are now considered overfished or on the brink of being overfished, according to United Nations figures. Not just fish are at risk: "indiscriminate commercial fishing practices wastefully harm and kill millions of non-targeted animals per year, causing unsustainable mortality to sea turtles, sea birds, bluefin tuna, swordfish and sharks," the letter states."

New Zealand PM Helen Clark - Iraq crisis could jeopardise global agendas
"Should there be war in Iraq, my government fears for the widespread resentment that would provoke in the Middle East against Western nations, for the likely stimulus terrorist organisations would gain from that resentment, and for the high human costs a war would have," she said. "All diplomatic means to contain Iraq have to be preferable to that."

"It is not helped that crises like that affecting Israel and Palestine have been left to fester for so long, and have created a climate of extremism in the Middle East, directed at the West which is held responsible for the stalemate."

The position of Helen Clark and the New Zealand government is far more sensible than that of either the Australian government or opposition, but the statement on Palestine does not go far enough. It is beyond time that a more detailed exposition of the nature of the problem, the solution, and the obstacles to that solution is given on a regular basis to the public. In other words, it needs to be firmly stated that it is not 'the West' that is held responsible for the stalemate, it is the United States; and the 'festering' of the crisis simply means the continued support by the US for the Israeli Occupation. If this is not clearly stated, then the PM's otherwise worthy words are merely code or even obfuscation which fails in the essential task of informing and mobilising the public.

US Plan for New Nuclear Arsenal
"The Bush administration is planning a secret meeting in August to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini-nukes", "bunker-busters" and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents, according to a leaked Pentagon document. The leaked preparations for the meeting are the clearest sign yet that the administration is determined to overhaul its nuclear arsenal so that it could be used as part of the new "Bush doctrine" of pre-emption, to strike the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons of rogue states.

"The starting point for the January discussion was Mr Rumsfeld's nuclear posture review (NPR), a policy paper published last year that identified Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya as potential targets for US nuclear weapons. According to the Pentagon minutes, the August meeting in Strategic Command's bunker headquarters would discuss how to make weapons to match the new policy. A "future arsenal panel" would consider: "What are the warhead characteristics and advanced concepts we will need in the post-NPR environment?" The panel would also contemplate the "requirements for low-yield weapons, EPWs [earth-penetrating weapons], enhanced radiation weapons, agent defeat weapons".

Attack on North out of the question, Roh tells US
"The split between South Korea and the United States over how to deal with North Korea widened yesterday, when the incoming South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, declared his strong opposition to a military attack on the communist state. "I oppose even considering an armed attack on North Korea at this stage because that can provoke a war which would have serious consequences," Mr Roh told a group of business leaders in Seoul.

"We have never had a difference of opinion with the United States on an international level. But we have one now on how we plan to counter North Korea." Despite pushing for a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear arms program and arguing it has no plans to attack North Korea, the US also maintains that "all options remain on the table" - including a military strike."

New Yorkers right to march compromised
"The most the mayor would allow was a rally at the plaza in front of the UN for 10,000 participants. The overflow was herded into "pens" that the police constructed for miles down the center of First Avenue. Once a demonstrator entered his assigned pen, he wasn't allowed to fraternize with people in other pens. While others marched with dignity throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were kept behind barricades.

"The Constitution is especially concerned with the threat of political suppression. During the 1960s, federal judges were tireless in striking down the countless pretexts used by Southern cities to suppress civil rights marches against segregation. But the federal courts failed to rise to the occasion this time around. When the march organizers went to court, federal judges rubber-stamped the pretexts advanced by the Bloomberg administration... events in New York should caution us about the frightening ease with which our most precious liberties can disappear."

NZ ambassador tells UN unilateral attack on Iraq not justified
"New Zealand's belief that a unilateral attack on Iraq is not justified has been reiterated to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this morning (NZ time). New Zealand's ambassador to the United Nations, Don McKay, told the assembly during an open debate that while the Government recognised the UN Security Council must be able to authorise force, it did not believe such action was yet justified.

"The New Zealand Government has a very strong preference for a diplomatic solution to this crisis," Mr McKay said. "We place considerable weight on the inspection and disarmament process. We believe it should run its course. We do not support military action against Iraq without a mandate from the Security Council, and we do not believe the council would be justified in giving that mandate at this time."

Pakistan factor vital to post-Iraq war calculations
"When the National Security Council does the worst-case analysis for a United States attack on Iraq, what do its members tell themselves about Pakistan? You know, the world's second-biggest Muslim country, the one with the nuclear weapons? Do they ever worry that the backlash against an American invasion of Iraq might include the overthrow of Pakistan's pro-Western ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, by Islamist officers in his own armed forces? Or are they so high on hubris and self-righteousness that they don't even consider that possibility?"

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Chomsky on the "international community"
"One such term is ?the international community.? The literal sense is reasonably clear; the U.N. General Assembly, or a substantial majority of it, is a fair first approximation. But the term is regularly used in a technical sense to describe the United States joined by some allies and clients. (Henceforth, I will use the term ?Intcom,? in this technical sense.) Accordingly, it is a logical impossibility for the United States to defy the international community. These conventions are illustrated well enough by cases of current concern."

Daniel Ellsberg on working for the executive branch
"I was the first Rand researcher who did work directly for the president's assistant for national security. I did staff work for Kissinger on Vietnam in the very beginning of the administration. No Rand person had done that before. And that was very prestigious and very exciting. Many, many people inside and out of the executive branch think that the opportunity to work in the executive branch is the highest calling that an American can have. You're working on national security matters above all. You're working for the national security in the most powerful, effective way that you could possibly have. Nothing that you could do, write articles, write books, work for a congressman, be a congressman, none of that could compare with possibly informing and influencing the president. And that was true whether or not you had voted for that president or worked for his party. There was only one president at a time and the chance, whatever party he was, the chance to have some useful influence in informing him or shaping his policy seemed the most important thing you could do."

"And second, the aura of the president, the idea of identifying with him and working for him and being a presidents' man, a kind of feudal relationship, chivalric relationship, knights of the round table working for that king -- that suddenly lost its aura. I no longer wanted to be a president's man. The idea of life outside the executive, I think, suddenly had a possibility for me, or alternatively, it looked just as good or better than working for a president. And I don't think I've ever had a colleague who has ever reached that point in their lives. They can't imagine life outside the executive branch as being better. When their party gets out of office or if they're fired or if they move out for higher money or whatever, they nevertheless spend their lives waiting for the phone call, to be called back and give advice. No matter how painful the break was with the earlier president, they're ready to go back there. It's their highest calling, actually. Self esteem, prestige, excitement, importance, and a sense of serving the country. That somehow was burned out of me by reading this 7,000-page record. And that made it possible for me to imagine doing something that I think very few of my colleagues have ever been able to imagine. And that was, doing something that would forever prevent me from working for any president again. No executive branch official would ever or could ever hire me again after I had done this. Now that would apply to quite a range of activities, all of which are ruled out for most officials or former officials. They just cannot conceive of doing that. They can conceive of leaving a particular president. They can't conceive of doing something that would keep future presidents from relying on them or trusting them or calling them in again."

Chomsky Interview on Iraq regime change
"No one has a right [to enforce regime change], and if you don't have a right, you don't have a responsibility. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of regimes that need to be changed, and Saddam Hussein's is one. But there's a long list. For example, let's take the United States -- a great deal of the world regards the US as a "menace to itself and the world." I'm quoting a senior member of the Carnegie Foundation writing in a mainstream British newspaper.

"Incidentally, there's nothing new about regime change. That's an old, old policy. Just last October there was a commemoration of the Cuban missile crisis. Arthur Schlesinger who attended the high level meetings in Havana pointed out accurately that it was the most dangerous moment in the history of the world -- so that was not a minor event. But where did it come from? It grew out of an effort at regime change.

"The US was committed to overthrowing the government of Cuba, first by terrorism; when that didn't work, then by invasion; and when that didn't work, more terrorism, which led up to the missile crisis and practically destroyed the world. That's a dramatic case, but there are many others like it. Efforts at regime change are an old story."

Chomsky also argues in this November 2002 interview that no one will stand up to the US and that the UN Security Council has zero relevance. But somewhat to everybody's surprise, including no doubt the surprise and dismay of the Bush administration itself, this has not quite proved to be the case. A combination of the brutal nakedness of the proposed US aggression, genuine concern about the risks and dangers of such an attack, and immense popular resistance to the war means France and Germany are (temporarily) standing up to the US and the Security Council has become relevent, although it has always been (and remains) unlikely that the aggression could ever be actually stopped.

Chomsky on chances of antiwar movement
"The probability of success of the antiwar campaign depends crucially on the base of its popular support... Let's make a comparison with other antiwar campaigns in the past: compared with the Vietnam War movement... The war in Vietnam started in 1962, publicly, with a public attack on South Vietnam - air force, chemical warfare, concentration camps, the whole business. No protest... the protest that did build up four or five years later was mostly about the bombing of the North, which was terrible, but was a sideshow. The main attack was against South Vietnam and there was never any serious protest against that. Here you've got massive protest before war's even started. It's just phenomenal. Of course, I am not sure whether we will actually be able to stop the war -- the timing is really short. But we can make it costly, and that is important. Even if we don't succeed in stopping the war it is important that the warmongers know it will be costly for them so that perhaps we may succeed in stopping the next one."

Mainstream Media | War-makers, Bribees, And Poodles Versus Democracy
"Four-fifths of the U.S. public believe Saddam was involved in acts of terrorism against the United States (according to a December 2002 Tribune/WGN-TV poll), and a majority today fear him and think that this regional bully, who has been almost entirely disarmed and who the Bush gang is toying with like a Bengal tiger might play with a malnourished mouse, actually poses a military threat to the pitiful giant. This is the ultimate propaganda system at work.

"But despite these irrational and manipulated fears, almost a third of the public (29 percent) remains opposed to the war and a solid majority (59 to 37 percent in a recent NYT/CBS poll) favors giving the UN and inspections more time."

ArabNews: Chirac Outburst an Error
"The French position on Iraq is not only 100 percent right, it is clearly in tune with European public opinion; the demonstrations across Europe last Saturday prove that. It is quite understandable then that Chirac and his government should feel exasperated with other European governments who do not see the issue as they do. But bullying is not going to win converts. What makes his outburst even less comprehensible is that Eastern European support for US is hardly of major importance in the first place. If, apart from the UK and Australia, the only support that George Bush can find is from places such as Latvia and Slovakia, his case is not exactly strengthened.

"With Europe so divided on Iraq, what is needed is calm, intelligent diplomacy to convince those who would support Bush's war that such adventurism is dangerous. What is not needed is petulance and threats from the very man whose job it is. President Chirac may be frustrated that he is not getting his way with other European leaders, but that is neither reason nor excuse for such bad behavior. He should have known better than to make the same foolish mistake as George Bush, to try and crack the whip and force everyone into line. It was a blunder. All he has done is infuriate the Central and East Europeans, making them and the existing members of the EU who support the Bush line even more determined to stick to it.

"It is not the Eastern Europeans who have missed an opportunity to keep silent; rather it is Chirac. France has earned itself the respect of much of the world because of its stand against the US over Iraq. This is not the time to throw it away. The cause is far too important."

Kurdish leaders enraged by 'undemocratic' American plan to occupy Iraq
"The destabilising impact of the impending war is already being felt in the mountains of northern Iraq. Turkey has demanded that its troops be allowed to take over a swath of territory along the border inside Iraq. The ostensible reason is to prevent a flood of Kurdish refugees trying to flee into Turkey, but the Kurdish parties say they are quite capable of doing this themselves. They say the Turkish demand, to which they suspect the US has agreed in return for the use of Turkish military facilities, is the first step in a Turkish plan to advance into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds fear that a US-led war against President Saddam might be the occasion for a Turkish effort to end the de facto independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds for more than a decade. One Kurdish leader said: "Turkey has made up its mind that it will intervene in northern Iraq in order to destroy us."

French Public demands veto of US war resolution
"A public opinion poll published on Monday has 81 per cent of the French saying that if the United States ever introduces a pro-war resolution before the UN Security Council , France should definitely make use of its veto, and not simply abstain as President Jacques Chirac has suggested he might do.

"In the words of Jean-Luc Parodi, a public opinion specialist, "not only is a traditional form of (French) anti-Americanism, that has long been absent, seeing a resurgence among a minority of the French, the way, moreover, that the United States has handled the crisis has brought about new opposition (to the US) among the French."

"He goes on to quote respondents to the poll who noted that "it's not up to the Americans to tell the world what to do," that "the US is undertaking a war which concerns them but not us," and that "the Americans should be told they are not the masters of the world."

"Meanwhile, on Sunday French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, said "a second Security Council resolution that we understand is being prepared by the United States is completely unnecessary at this stage."

The Friendly French Resistance
"French diplomacy made an important contribution to drafting U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 adopted last November 8, calling for fresh U.N. inspections to make sure Iraq is rid of all weapons of mass destruction. The resolution was ambiguous enough to be seen merely as a method to justify war, as there were countless possibilities to declare non-compliance and no clear definition of compliance.

"Perhaps, if the Iraqis had been less cooperative, the United States less arrogant, and public opinion more indifferent, France would have accepted a U.S. declaration of non-compliance and gone along with war, even reluctantly. That is what the United States expected. Instead, France has insisted that disarming Iraq is the real goal -- taking Resolution 1441 literally. The Bush administration, whose real goal all along was regime change, not mere disarmament, feels betrayed. However, France, like the hero who discovers his unexpected valor in the heat of crisis, has been taking its role more and more seriously. The brutal contempt of the Bush team has had an impact."

Call to ban bombs that lie in wait for children
"The Greens' Senator Kerry Nettle, flanked by leaders of the Uniting Church, said yesterday that the use of more than 14million cluster bombs in the 1991 Gulf War put the lie to the argument by pro-war advocates that an attack on Iraq would be in the humanitarian interests of the Iraqi people.

"Cluster bombs, which have a high failure rate, are part of the conventional weaponry of the United States and Britain. Two years after the 1991 war in Iraq unexploded cluster bombs had been responsible for killing 1600 civilians and injuring 2500 others. Sixty per cent of victims were children under 15."

Analysis: He who controls Iraq, controls the Middle East
"Nor is Iraqi oil the only commodity at stake in this resource-rich country. In addition to its central location in the middle of the richest oil-producing region in the world, Iraq controls the water which is vital to the future development of the entire Middle East. The Tigris and the Euphrates provide a flow of water essential to the nations of the Arabian peninsula and south-west Asia. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, even Israel, Yemen, Oman and Iran all are in need of what these mighty rivers supply. Long term, water is more important to the region than even oil."

The Weapon We Gave Iraq
"Iraqi researchers say that the epicenter ("Ground Zero") for DU effects is around the city of Basra, in southern Iraq. It was here, in 1991, that U.S. and coalition jets ravaged the retreating Iraqi army, leaving behind the smoldering hulks of thousands of vehicles. The U.S. and British air forces expended an estimated 300 tonnes of depleted-uranium ammunition in and around this area; it has since been dubbed the "Highway of Death."

"The preponderance of birth defects among children born in the Basra region over the past decade defies explanation. Birth-deformity cases in other parts of Iraq are often traced to Basra. Geneticist Selma Taher, part of an Iraqi research team studying this phenomenon, discovered that three babies born with a similar congenital anomaly in the village of Dholuiya, about 700 kilometers from Basra, were fathered by men who served in the same regiment on the Highway of Death."

UN resolution to give Saddam last, last chance
"The second resolution on Iraq, which diplomats are referring to as "Iraq's last, last chance" to disarm, is expected to be presented tomorrow. It states that Iraq is in "material breach" of resolution 1441, which gave Iraq a "last chance" to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.

"The second resolution also reminds Iraq that the consequences of remaining in material breach are serious. Essentially, this means that Saddam must immediately disarm, or go into exile, or else the US will lead a military attack on his country.

"US officials do not doubt that the second resolution will be passed, despite the French President, Jacques Chirac, saying this week that his country was not yet ready to vote for it."

More Than One Million Young Children At Risk in Iraq Invasion
"Some 30 percent of all Iraqi children under five, or more than 1.2 million children, "would be at risk of death from malnutrition" in the event of a United States-led invasion of Iraq, according to a confidential United Nations document obtained by two anti-war groups and released Monday.

"The document, which was drafted January 7 by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), also finds that less than 40 percent of Iraq's entire population may have access to water if a military attack caused nationwide disruption.

"The report stresses that the collapse of essential services--virtually all controlled by the government of President Saddam Hussein --could lead to a "humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN agencies and other aid organizations." It noted an estimate from the UN's World Food Programme that some 10 million people would be "highly food insecure, displaced or directly affected by military action."

"In addition, up to 1.45 million people seeking refuge may try to flee Iraq if war breaks out, while the number of people in Iraq who are displaced from their homes, currently one million, may increase twofold. More than five million highly vulnerable children, pregnant women or new mothers would also be at greatest risk, according to the report, while 18 million people may need access to treated water."

Someone needs to corner Tony Blair and John Howard with this information and ask them whether they think it would be "worth it" just to "disarm Iraq" of the few (if any) WMDs possessed by Saddam.

Chirac says he will oppose second UN resolution
"Mr Chirac insisted that a second UN resolution authorising war against Iraq planned by the US and Britain remained unnecessary and would be vetoed by France. "There is no need for a second resolution today, which France would have no choice but to oppose," Mr Chirac said."

This is the first definite statement I have heard from Chirac that he will actually 'oppose' (ie, veto) a second resolution authorising war. Of course the Herald headline phrases the story in terms of its opposite, "EU agrees to use force as a last resort". The real story should be a banner headline, "France will Veto second resolution", complete with comment that it would be a historic act, the first time France has used a veto in the Security Council since 1956; and analysis on the political implications of such a veto for the United States, Tony Blair and John Howard; and discussion on the likelihood of such a significant veto actually being delivered and whether Russia and China would also join the veto. It is also worthy of comment, investigation and analysis as to whether the massive worldwide antiwar protests over the weekend have been the final factor which induced Chirac to definitely come out in opposition.

U.S. War on Iraq to Create More bin Laden Recruits
"America's incorrect policy and its double standards in the region have made people like bin Laden preserve their popularity and become a hero especially among the youth in the Islamic states," Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said this week.

"One alarming factor is that anti-Americanism is growing even among the traditionally pro-Western Arab middle and upper class. "There doesn't seem to be a middle ground in the Middle East now. People who are Western-educated with liberal values and sympathetic to the West are now hostile. Their position has been undermined by U.S. policy," one diplomat said.

"Arab politicians and academics have deep suspicion about U.S. intentions. They say Israel and its hawkish American allies, many of whom hold top jobs in the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush, are trying to get America to destroy Israel's enemies and control oil in the Gulf."

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Blair may have to face ICC if he attacks Iraq
"There is a 100 percent certainty that Blair will be investigated by the ICC for war crimes if he attacks Iraq," said Phil Shiner of the Public Interest Lawyers firm in Birmingham... Nicholas Grief of Bournemouth University, who specialises in international law, said November's U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 on Iraq did not authorise the use of force."

Australian PM Howard could and should also be called to account by the ICC if he participates in illegal wars and war crimes, such as an unprovoked and unauthorised attack on Iraq. Bush will be immune because, for obvious reasons, the US has consistently failed to sign on to the ICC treaty.

ForeheADS branded with logos for money
This sounds like a joke but the alarming thing is it could be real. What next, plastic surgery to make your face look like a corporate logo?

PROPAGANDA SYSTEM NUMBER ONE: From Diem and Arbenz to Milosevic
"The way in which the mainstream media have handled the turning of Milosevic over to the Hague Tribunal once again reinforces my belief that the United States is not only number one in military power but also in the effectiveness of its propaganda system, which is vastly superior to any past or present state-managed system.

"The main characteristic of the U.S. model is that, while offering diversity on many subjects, on core issues--like "free trade" and the need for a huge "defense" establishment--and on the occasions when the corporate and political establishment needs their service- -as in legitimating George W. Bush's presidency in the wake of an electoral coup d'etat, or supporting the "sanctions of mass destruction" on Iraq--the media can be relied on to expound and propagandize what would be called a "party line" if done in China. They do sometimes depart from the official position as regards tactics, arguing, for example, that the government is not attacking the enemy with sufficient ferocity (Iraq and Yugoslavia), or that the cost of the enterprise is perhaps excessive (the Vietnam war, from 1968), but that the enemy is truly evil and the national cause meritorious is never debatable. The debates over tactics helpfully obscure the agreement on ends.

"A further important feature of the U.S. system is that this propaganda service is provided without government censorship or coercion, by self-censorship alone, with the truth of the propaganda line internalized by the numerous media participants. This internalization of belief makes it possible for media personnel to be enthusiastic spokespersons in pushing the party line, thereby giving it a naturalness that is lacking in crude systems of government-enforced propaganda."

All The News Fit To Print: New York Times, by Edward S. Herman
The New York Times and the American corporate media network generally is an awesome propaganda outlet, that completely overshadows Soviet Pravda or anything used by Goebbels. Herman and Chomsky, however, in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, have put a bomb under this system and it is in slow motion collapse. The worldwide anti-Iraq war movement is one of the clearest and most telling signs of the failure and limitations of corporate propaganda. Once the system is explained and exposed, then, rather like seeing the cat, the insight is unforgettable, and an attitude of rising anger and disgust accompanies every further view of the system. Like Edward Said and doubtless many others, I can now almost no longer bear to read or view the productions of this propaganda system.

Final Solution in the Occupied Territories
"Years ago many of us wondered how things that were obviously "beyond belief" could be made to seem normal by the intellectual culture and mainstream media. Deborah Lipstadt, in a book entitled Beyond Belief, which dealt with the Holocaust and its treatment in the West, showed how easily the media could do this by pushing horrendous reports to the back pages, by ignoring other reports, and by episodic treatment without editorial support or indignation.

"In a monstrous historical irony, we can see today that neither the Israelis nor the West in general have learned any lesson from the Holocaust, except on how to make acceptable and normalize policies that are "beyond belief" but which they now pursue. Here are the heirs and survivors of a people that had been subjected to the truest Holocaust in modern times, virtually modelling themselves after their former killers, edging closer and closer to a "final solution" of the problem posed by "grasshoppers" (Shamir), "cockroachs" (Eitan), "beasts walking on two legs" (Begin), and "lice" (Ben-Eliezer) in the Occupied Territories, as they resist being pushed off of their land by a "chosen people" seeking what the Nazis called "Lebensraum."

Google buys publisher of Blogger
"Internet search company Google Inc. has agreed to acquire Pyra Labs, the handful of Web developers who helped jump-start the personal publishing phenomenon known as blogging, Pyra's founder said Sunday."

It took me about 5 minutes to realise what an indispensable tool blog software like blogger is, a feeling similar to the discovery of email, news or the web itself. Blogging and surfing blogs virtually supersede listserv, usenet and homepages. Blogging can, I believe, change if not revolutionize journalism and the way in which information is collected and distributed, all for the better. The Internet and the web has always had the potential to smash corporate media and the propaganda system: blogging is one of the final pieces in this essential task. EOF, and we're done.

What Do the Imperial Mafia Really Want?
"Which is the more remarkable -- that the United States can openly announce to the world its determination to invade a sovereign nation and overthrow its government in the absence of any attack or threat of attack from the intended target? Or that for an entire year the world has been striving to figure out what the superpower's real intentions are?

"There are of course those who accept at face value Washington's stated motivations of "liberating" the people of Iraq from a dictatorship and bestowing upon them a full measure of democracy, freedom and other eternal joys fit for American schoolbooks. In light of a century of well-documented US foreign policy which reveals a virtually complete absence of such motivations, along with repeated opposite consequences, we can dispense with this attempt by Washington to win hearts and mindless."

A People's Led Globalization Emerges
"The size of the week-end's demonstrations show that George W. Bush's attempts to cloak American aggression in a suit of concern for terrorism and/or weapons of mass destruction has utterly failed. The politics of the demonstrations put the blame for war right where it belongs on the shoulders of George W. Bush and Tony Blair."

"The main danger to anti-war action now is if the U.S. and Britain, through bribes and bullying, manage to broker a deal at the U.N. Security Council. If the U.N. approves an attack on Iraq, it may narrow the base of the movement. There is also, of course, the possibility that U.S. covert action will attempt to manufacture another horrifying incident as they did with the bogus story of Iraqi soldiers killing babies in incubators during the last Gulf War. Given the level of awareness today, it is unlikely they could get away with it."

Terror War - The Blood
"For many of us [supporting an attack on Iraq]," wrote Aarono-vitch, "this has become the most difficult and painful judgement to make." Painful? What pain will he feel? Pain is what the children on the dirt floor felt. Pain is what dying Iraqi infants, who are denied painkillers by the Anglo-American blockade, feel. Ask Denis Halliday, the former UN assistant secretary general and UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, who watched them die and demanded that the embargo's enforcers, such as Blair, join him and hear the children's screams.

"Who among the "liberals" who say their motive for backing Bush and Blair is to "liberate" the Iraqi people has spoken out against this medieval siege that has "liberated" hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from life? Their specious compassion is like that of the man who stands besides a torturer, reassuring the victim that his ordeal will end if he accepts the torturer's terms."

Bush Dumping Democracy for Iraq
"Iraq's democratic opposition parties are meeting this week in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to finalise plans for a transitional government. But their vision of a post-Saddam administration is deeply at odds with proposals set out last week by President George Bush's special envoy to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad - and apparently endorsed by the Foreign Office. Under the plan a US military governor would rule post-war Iraq for up to a year. The infrastructure of Saddam's ruling Baath party would remain largely intact, with the top two officials in each Iraqi ministry replaced by US military officers."

US to punish German 'treachery'
"America is to punish Germany for leading international opposition to a war against Iraq. The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial co-operation between the two countries - moves that could cost the Germans billions of euros.

"The plan - discussed by Pentagon officials and military chiefs last week on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - is designed 'to harm' the German economy to make an example of the country for what US hawks see as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's 'treachery'. The hawks believe that making an example of Germany will force other countries heavily dependent on US trade to think twice about standing up to America in future."

Opportunist bin Laden is waiting: ASIO head
"Australia's security intelligence chief, Dennis Richardson, has warned that a war against Iraq, with or without the backing of the United Nations, "may well" influence the timing of a new wave of terrorist attacks.

"Mr Richardson, the director of ASIO, told industry leaders in Sydney that Osama bin Laden - "forever the opportunist" - would also try to exploit contemporary "issues and events for his own propaganda purposes, in the hope that it will feed him more recruits".

Monday, February 17, 2003

Tony Blair: Get rid of Saddam
"[Mr Blair said] Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity. It is leaving him there that is inhumane."

This is a virtual admission that the object of the war is not to "disarm Iraq" but to overthrow the regime, or 'regime change' as the Americans call it. Of course we all know that that is the object, in addition to occupying the country, taking control of the oil fields and establishing American bases in the region.

Pinter: Bush knows what he is doing, does Blair?
"The fact is that Mr Bush and his gang do know what they're doing and Blair, unless he really is the deluded idiot he often appears to be, also knows what they're doing. Bush and company are determined, quite simply, to control the world and the world's resources. And they don't give a damn how many people they murder on the way. And Blair goes along with it."

Millions Give Dramatic Rebuff to US War Plans
An estimated 2 million in London, 3 million in Rome, 1 million in Madrid! A phenomenon, incredible numbers, a protest so great it could even stop the war.

Sydney protest biggest ever
"The centre of Sydney came to a standstill yesterday when more than 250,000 people crammed into Hyde Park and the surrounding streets to protest against the looming war with Iraq.

"The peace rally, thought to be the biggest in the country's history - police put the crowd at more than 200,000, while organisers put it at about 300,000 - took the total number of Australians who have marched since Friday to more than 500,000."

According to organisers, the Canberra rally on Saturday, which I attended, had 15,800 marchers, the biggest march ever in that city.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Israeli Tank Destroyed in Gaza strip
"The blast destroyed the Magach 7 tank as it crawled atop a sand berm separating this sprawling Palestinian town from the desert strip that surrounds the nearby Jewish settlement of Dugit. It was the fourth Israeli tank to be destroyed in the Gaza Strip in the past year and the first time an entire crew has been killed, Almog said. Seven soldiers have died in three previous attacks on the larger and more heavily armored Merkava tanks."

Ramsay Clark: 'People should be outraged'
"The Arab world was divided long ago by Europeans in ways that make it difficult for Arabs to organise and achieve unity, sovereignty and independence. That division is used to break them -- they are set against each other. At the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war, one of the great tragedies of our time, [Henry] Kissinger said, "I hope they kill each other." What he meant is our real policy: that they kill each other. The new fear is Muslim peoples. So if you get them to fight each other, you can step back and you can get the pipelines and you can get the wealth and you can pick up the jewellery off the bodies."

Researcher estimates 200,000 Iraqi dead in Gulf War 1.
"Daponte, a Middle East analyst, was assigned to come up with an estimate. She estimated that a total of 158,000 Iraqis were killed, with only 40,000 of them being soldiers in battle. The far greater death toll came afterward; Daponte estimated that 70,000 Iraqis died through easily preventable diseases that were suddenly made lingering and lethal by the bombing by the United States and its allies of water and power supplies, sewage systems, and roads."

Said: A monument to hypocrisy
"So ineffective are the Arab regimes today that they don't dare state any of these things publicly. Many of them need US economic aid. Many of them fear their own people and need US support to prop up their regimes. Many of them could be accused of some of the same crimes against humanity. So they say nothing, and just hope and pray that the war will pass, while in the end keeping them in power as they are. But it is also a great and noble fact that for the first time since World War Two there are mass protests against the war taking place before rather than during the war itself. This is unprecedented and should become the central political fact of the new, globalised era into which our world has been thrust by the US and its super-power status.

"Our job as Arabs is to link our opposition to US action in Iraq to our support for human rights in Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Kurdistan and everywhere in the Arab world -- and also ask others to force the same linkage on everyone, Arab, American, African, European, Australian and Asian. These are world issues, human issues, not simply strategic matters for the United States or the other major powers."

On the bombing: "If anything like this is going to be visited on any population on earth it would be a criminal act, and its perpetrators and planners war criminals according to the Nuremberg Laws that the US itself was crucial in formulating."

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Blix: No WMDs found in Iraq
"Hans Blix, the UN's chief inspector, presented a crucial report to the UN Security Council yesterday, saying his teams have not found any weapons of mass destruction. Blix's counterpart, nuclear chief Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, similarly told the Security Council that inspectors had found no evidence Iraq had resumed its nuclear weapons program. Blix expressed concern that Iraq has still not accounted for many banned arms, but said disarmament can be achieved."

Three giant water corporations gaining control
"The growth of three private water utility companies in the past 10 years raises fears that mankind may be losing control of its most vital resource to a handful of monopolistic corporations.

"The private companies are increasingly running up against strong opposition because of the vital nature of water itself and the politics that swirl around it. The most famous example of this is the privatisation in Cochabamba, Bolivia. After Aguas del Tunari, a consortium jointly owned by Bechtel and United Utilities, took control of the city's waterworks in 1999 without any contract bidding, the company announced water rate increases of up to 150 per cent. Manager Geoffrey Thorpe threatened to cut off people's water if they did not pay.

"The contract gave the company control over groundwater and allowed it to close down people's private wells unless they paid Aguas del Tunari for the water. Union leader Oscar Olivera said: "They wanted to privatise the rain." When protests erupted throughout the city of 450,000 in 2000, police and army troops were called in. They killed two people. The government reacted by cancelling the concession. Although the World Bank's external affairs officer for Latin America, Christopher Neal, told ICIJ the bank is not ideological about privatisation, the investigation showed that privatisation is a hallmark of many loan projects."

The Water Barons
"The explosive growth of three private water utility companies in the last 10 years raises fears that mankind may be losing control of its most vital resource to a handful of monopolistic corporations. In Europe and North America, analysts predict that within the next 15 years these companies will control 65 percent to 75 percent of what are now public waterworks. The companies have worked closely with the World Bank and other international financial institutions to gain a foothold on every continent. They aggressively lobby for legislation and trade laws to force cities to privatize their water and set the agenda for debate on solutions to the world?s increasing water scarcity. The companies argue they are more efficient and cheaper than public utilities. Critics say they are predatory capitalists that ultimately plan to control the world?s water resources and drive up prices even as the gap between rich and poor widens. The fear is that accountability will vanish, and the world will lose control of its source of life."

It needs to be stated emphatically that the water resources of every country, just like any natural resources, are the common property of the people of that country, and any arrangement which effectively places ownership of such resources in some minority or corporation, whether local or foreign, is fundamentally illegitimate and unacceptable.

Friday, February 14, 2003

CIA Head Predicts Nuclear Race
"CIA Director George J. Tenet warned yesterday that the "desire for nuclear weapons is on the upsurge" among small countries, confronting the world with a new nuclear arms race that threatens to dismantle more than three decades of nonproliferation efforts. Over the past 12 months, Tenet said, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Libya have all moved to obtain equipment to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials and the ability to deliver them as nuclear bombs."

Bush's policy is mad but it is based on the premiss that hegemony is more important than survival.

US to retain Baath party in power
"This formula sounds to some Iraqi opposition leaders as though much of Iraq's existing power structure, dominated by Hussein's ruling Baath Party, will maintain its role. "Power is being handed, essentially on a platter, to the second echelon of the Baath Party and the [Iraqi] Army officer corps," says Kanan Makiya, an adviser to Mr. Chalabi who discussed postwar Iraq with President Bush on Jan. 10. "It's going to have the opposite effect to what US wants it to have," he adds."

A Sunni junta or tyrant "just like Saddam, but who follows orders" has always been the preferred US type of government in Iraq. The US could not allow a Shiite majority government as it would be naturally aligned with Iran, nor could it allow the break up of the country into several parts. This is the reason why Saddam was left in power after the First Gulf War.

Blix Expected to Report Iraq Not Complying
"The U.S. has already concluded that Germany and Syria will probably vote against any new U.S. resolution declaring Iraq in final material breach and condoning the use of force. But Washington is still counting on Powell to persuade France, Russia and China to at least abstain rather than use their vetoes. A resolution would then probably pass by a narrow margin, U.S. officials say."

US Offers Incentives for Backing on Iraq
"Determined to ensure broad support for an attack on Baghdad, the United States has been offering incentives around the world, from increased arms sales to Iraq's neighbors to a diplomatic nod for Russia's crackdown on Chechen separatists -- moves that some analysts here and in the Middle East contend could damage long-term US interests.

"During the Gulf War in 1991, the United States gave similar payoffs to countries that backed the US-led coalition taking part in Operation Desert Storm. But this time, according to specialists close to the negotiations, foreign leaders have increased their asking price significantly because they must show their citizens, who are overwhelmingly opposed to a war in Iraq, that there are benefits to supporting the United States against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein."

10 Million Join World Protest
"Up to 10 million people on five continents are expected to demonstrate against the probable war in Iraq on Saturday, in some of the largest peace marches ever known. Yesterday, up to 400 cities in 60 countries, from Antarctica to Pacific islands, confirmed that peace rallies, vigils and marches would take place. Of all major countries, only China is absent from the growing list which includes more than 300 cities in Europe and north America, 50 in Asia and Latin America, 10 in Africa and 20 in Australia and Oceania. Many countries will witness the largest demonstrations against war they have ever seen."

Handful of sales causing upset for law of the land
"Few values are made with any actual inspection of the property. Historically values have not been an issue, but since 1997 rampant increases have been progressively rolled out by the Valuer General."

The Herald's own pages record with glee the boom in what they call "house prices" over recent years, but once it is a question of the site rent due to the public, suddenly it is all bashful and shy over the rises. One of the advantages of LVT is that valuations do not require inspections. Inspections are required to value impovements however, which is why this is much more difficult than valuing land. The High Court ruling could potentially complicate the valuer's task.

"The High Court found that concentration on the sale of scarce vacant blocks in Hunters Hill produced abnormally high valuations for typical home owners."

This is an argument that demands to be challenged.

"Many locations around NSW suffer the same scant sales situation. The Government's land sales database recorded just 9300 land sales in the 12 months leading up to its latest release of land valuations."

Sales of land, especially vacant land, are the key evidence used for establishing values. The Herald report does not say whether the 9300 sales are all the sales of land that occurred in NSW, or all the sales of vacant land.