Thursday, July 31, 2003

"New Europe" support for neocons fading amid terrroism fears: "Public support for Poland's role in Iraq appeared to be eroding, with a poll published Monday showing more than half of those surveyed disapproved of sending troops. A growing number of Poles also feared that Polish participation could lead to attacks at home. Against the backdrop of daily attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, 68 percent said they feared Poland would become a target if the government sends troops as planned to command a stabilization zone, the independent CBOS polling agency said. That was up a full 15 percent from a survey in June."

Ian Clarke on music "piracy": "In the longer term, however, I think it is inevitable that communication technology will reduce and eventually eliminate the role of those that profit from their monopoly over the physical distribution of music CDs. That isn't something anyone except the members of the RIAA should worry about--certainly not the artists, and certainly not the general public. Rather, this is a perfect example of capitalism in action. Just as the motor car replaced the horse and cart, so will the Internet replace most of the roles performed by today's recording industry."

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

US Veterans and Families say: Bring them home now!: "Our mission is to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations."

Letter from Iraq: "We have been hit 18 of the last 19 days. I feel like I am at Da Nang or Phu Bai. It just sucks. Luckily, 'only' about 45 people have been hurt. Yeah, a lot, but considering how many they lob in here, that is not too bad. It is wearing on me along with the constant oppressive heat, no sleep, no food (yeah, they shut off our food resupply without any warning, things are getting slim, we are fine but it is not a good feeling to have so little spare food and water) and spending every night and day now trying to dodge mortars. More than half a month under siege and luckily we are all still safe."

Greeks accuse Blair of war crimes in Iraq - Athens lawyers' Hague case names PM, Straw and Hoon: "Tony Blair and other British ministers are accused of crimes against humanity in prosecuting the war against Iraq in a case lodged with the international criminal court by Greek lawyers yesterday. The Athens Bar Association accuses the government of breaching almost every international treaty and the entire spectrum of human rights in the 47-page complaint. 'The repeated, blatant violations by the United States and Britain of the stipulations of the four 1949 Geneva conventions, the 1954 convention of the Hague as well as the charter of the international criminal court, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,' the lawyers said in a statement."

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Idled Iraqis Cry Foul Over Firings: "Bremer decided to purge every Baathist who had risen above ordinary membership to any of four higher ranks in the rigidly vertical party structure. It is not clear how many people were affected, but at least 20,000 teachers, engineers, technicians, managers and other professionals lost their jobs and pensions; some affected Baathists say the number is much higher. The majority were division-level Baathists, one rung above simple membership, who had relatively little power and were often promoted merely for attending rallies or performing well at work."

"In the past month, several official-looking forms have been circulating in the capital that promise job reinstatement to Baathists who renounce the party and are found "fit" to return to work. Some have been handed out in batches by U.S. soldiers outside American bases; others have been given to departing employees by their bosses; still others appear to be forgeries.

"One evening last week, for example, more than 300 fired teachers, policemen and engineers lined up outside a U.S. compound, where soldiers passed out forms in English titled "Agreement to Disavow Party Affiliation." They required the petitioner to renounce all ties to Baathism and to pledge to help U.S. authorities "build a new government." They bore the signature of one Lester M. McFarland.... In an interview later in the week, an adviser to Bremer confirmed that requirement and said he had never heard of McFarland. "There are many fictitious documents floating around," said the aide, Drew Erdmann. "This has been extremely difficult for people, and it's terrible to see others preying on them, but I see documents every day with names like L. Buell Brimmer." A handful of exemptions have been granted, he said, but the decree is "very clear. They must be authorized by L. Paul Bremer."

Incredible stories of incompetence in Iraq: "That professor I spoke to, the one doing intelligence for Bremer, I told him that I had spoken to countless Iraqis and all of them felt this chaos was happening on purpose," said Evans. "He basically said this was true, that chaos was good, and out of chaos comes order. So what the Iraqis were saying - that this madness was all on purpose - this intelligence guy didn't discredit. He said, 'If you keep them hungry, they'll do anything for us.'"

"I met the man who was hired to create a new civil government in Baghdad, to bring Baghdad back to order," said Evans. "His name was Gerald Lawson. I asked him what his background was that allowed him to get this job. He said he was in the Atlanta Police for 30 years. I asked how this gave him the ability to create a stable, civil government. He said he was a manager. I asked him what he knew about Iraqis. He knew nothing, and didn't care to know anything. He didn't know their history, their government, didn't speak a word of Arabic and didn't care to learn. This guy doesn't work for the American government, doesn't work for the State Department, and doesn't work for the CPA. He works for a corporation created by ex-Generals. Their job is to create the new Iraqi government structure."

"We met the man whose job is to make sure the hospitals have what they need," said Evans. "He is a veterinarian. We met a British guy who showed up at the Compound gates one day and said he was a volunteer who wanted to help. The next day he was named the head of rubbish control in Baghdad, which is a huge problem there because there is garbage all over the street. I asked him what he had been doing with his time. He said he'd been hanging out at Odai's palace playing with the lions and the cheetahs. I met the guy in charge of designing the airport, where major jumbo jets are supposed to land. He had never designed an airport before."

"Remember," said Evans, "that the first thing America did was to fire 80,000 police officers. These guys weren't associated with the Hussein regime. That's like connecting a cop in LA to the Bush administration. All the people I've talked to over there, the ambassadors and others, said they warned Bremer not to do that. The cops knew who the criminals were, and 80,000 cops are gone. So now there are these little mafias that run neighborhoods. With no other work and no way to survive, people are going to become criminals. The borders are wide open - we didn't even get stopped when we came in - so everything is just flowing into Iraq."

"A friend of mine's husband is an ambassador," said Evans. "I asked him if this was normal operating procedure. He said that, basically, no one will work on this Iraq project who has any respect for their work or career, because it is so clearly a farce. He said that later we will go in after these guys have blown it, but right now with Bremer there it is a farce. Even the press is over there are just shaking their heads and asking, can anyone fail so badly? Can anybody make so many mistakes? You can't imagine they can be so dumb."

Us Troops Turn Botched Saddam Raid Into A Massacre: "Obsessed with capturing Saddam Hussein, American soldiers turned a botched raid on a house in the Mansur district of Baghdad yesterday into a bloodbath, opening fire on scores of Iraqi civilians in a crowded street and killing up to 11, including two children, their mother and crippled father. At least one civilian car caught fire, cremating its occupants. The vehicle carrying the two children and their mother and father was riddled by bullets as it approached a razor-wired checkpoint outside the house.

"Amid the fury generated among the largely middle-class residents of Mansur - by ghastly coincidence, the killings were scarcely 40 metres from the houses in which 16 civilians died when the Americans tried to kill Saddam towards the end of the war in April - whatever political advantages were gained by the killing of Saddam's sons have been squandered. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital, which received four of the dead, turned on me angrily last night, shouting: 'If an American came to my emergency room, maybe I would kill him.'"

"Two civilians, both believed to have been driving with their families, were brought to the Yarmouk, one with abdominal wounds and the other with "his brain outside of his head", according to another doctor. At the scene of the killings, there was pandemonium. While US troops were loading the bullet-shattered cars on trucks - and trying to stop cameramen filming the carnage - crowds screamed abuse at them. One American soldier a few feet from me climbed into the seat of his Humvee, threw his helmet on the floor of the vehicle and shouted: "Shit! Shit!""

Are Neocons cooking their own goose?: "Worse, in terms of credibility, is the advice provided by Michael Ledeen, a former U.S. national security official and key neocon strategist. Author of a 1999 book entitled 'Machiavelli on Modern Leadership,' and a more recent publication, 'The War Against the Terror Masters,' he is quite comfortable advising that 'lying is central to the survival of nations and to the success of great enterprises, because if our enemies can count on the reliability of everything you say, your vulnerability is enormously increased.'"

Iraq Shiite cleric vows to oust U.S.: "'Tens of thousands have volunteered and many of them said they wanted arms, I said 'No, I don't want you to be armed now.' We shall only use peaceful means.' ... To thunderous chants of 'Muqtada' and 'Allahu Akbar,' or 'God is great,' he accused the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq of detaining four to five Shiite clerics every week and of storming religious schools belonging to the al-Hawza al-Ilmiyah, the Shiites' ancient seminary in Najaf. He said such actions and the establishment of what he called the U.S.-led Iraqi army constitute crossing 'red lines' and were unacceptable. 'We have only one demand and that is for them to withdraw from Iraq,' said al-Sadr, who is believed to be 30."

US provides major funding for torture: "Despite an abysmal human rights record and corrupt government, [Uzbekistan] received $500 million in US funding last year - $79 million specifically earmarked for 'torture as a routine investigative technique.' Its proximity to Afghanistan and expanding US military presence guarantee ever more funding to back the savage Uzbek government, step up repression and no doubt create the kind of Islamic fundamentalism the US should be fighting in the first place."

Mortgages soak up 40% of first home buyers' pay: "First home buyers in Sydney are being forced to fork out a record 40.6 per cent of average incomes to pay for a typical mortgage, as spiralling home prices make gaining a foothold in the city's booming property market more difficult than ever. Home loans ate up more average household income in the three months to June than in late 1989, when interest rates reached 17 per cent, a Commonwealth Bank-Housing Industry Association report shows."

"In 1989, when interest rates soared to 17 per cent and higher, the monthly loan repayment needed on the typical first home loan reached 35 per cent of average household income. A year ago this proportion was 33 per cent. The number of first home buyers, as a proportion of all home buyers in Sydney, had slumped to an all-time low of 13 per cent, down from about 25 per cent two years ago"

What comes after a land boom? A bust and recession. The only question is when the bust hits and how severe the recession will be. According to the George/Hoyt/Harrison 18-year cycle of land values, we still have fully four years to reach the peak, but one wonders how long the current boom can really be sustained. The increasing involvement of "investors" in the market is a worrying sign of a speculative boom.

The only way to contain land booms and make land more affordable iis by appropriating a greater proportion of the site rent as public revenue, however this analysis cannot even be discussed in the mainstream let alone proposed or implemented. Note the constant falsehood that "house prices" or "bricks and mortar" are rising. It is land prices and nothing else.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Saddam sons' bodies displayed: "Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam Hussein's two sons, suffered more than 20 bullet wounds each in their final stand against American forces, US military pathologists said... The pathologists said that Uday most likely died from a blow to the head while Qusay had two bullet wounds to his head. But there was no sign that either of them had committed suicide, they added."

If they were killed by TOW anti-tank missiles or a blow to the head, then how did they come to have more than 20 bullet wounds each?

Debate over the release of photos and videos of the Hussein corpses: The debate is skewed, and does not address the fundamentals. The issue is, whether the deaths of the brothers is confirmed; and the manner and circumstances of their deaths. To this end access to the corpses by independent journalists and forensic examiners is to be encouraged, at length and in as much detail as is required. The general publication, however, of autopsy, morgue and other such photos is another matter. Is that necessary, or is it gangland style triumphalism?

In the case of a conventional murder, in the interests of justice the public authorities and the public itself in open court is entitled to all the evidence and facts surrounding the case. But in the interests of good taste, is it necessary that gory morgue photos of the deceased be published in the daily newspapers? What would the relatives think of that, whether the person killed be innocent or criminals? What does it say about the mentality of those who are the killers?

It is clear the decision to publish the photos was made at a high level and implemented throughout the media system.

Warning of toxic aftermath from uranium munitions: "The American use of depleted uranium munitions in both Persian Gulf wars has unleashed a toxic disaster that will eclipse the Agent Orange tragedy of the Vietnam War, [said] a former top Army official, former Maj. Douglas Rokke, who was director of the Army's depleted uranium project,"

Mission impossible for the Afghan army: "The newly-established Afghan National Army (ANA) launched on Tuesday its first military operation called Warrior Sweep. The ongoing operation against the regrouped Taliban/al-Qaeda terrorist forces serves as a real test for the ANA's military capability. However, given its apparent weaknesses, its predictable poor performance in a bloody war of attrition may well damage its shaky structure, along with the residual credibility of its political master, the administration of President Hamid Karzai. "

Sunday, July 27, 2003

The killing of Uday and Qusay: "Both the means by which Hussein’s sons were liquidated and the manner in which the killings were greeted by the American government and media speak volumes about the nature of the US intervention in Iraq and the character of the American political establishment. On the plane of morality, there exist no fundamental differences between the personnel of the Hussein regime and the Bush administration. The latter operates in every sphere with unashamed lawlessness and violence. If there is a difference in the degree of brutality against its own citizens, the “restraint” exercised by the Bush forces is a matter of circumstance rather than moral superiority over the killers and torturers of the ousted Iraqi regime. "

"The assault had the character of a gangland slaying, the vengeful wiping out of the cornered leadership of one gang by a more powerful and better-armed outfit. An unnamed senior US military official in Iraq spoke like a Mafia don, telling the UPI: “This is a very beneficial hit. They cannot feel anything other than doom, since if we can take down these guys, we can take down anybody.”

"The exultation of US and British officials and the media over the killings in Mosul—which included the death of the 14-year-old son of Qusay Hussein, Mustapha—can only arouse revulsion. The pleasure that these circles take in bloodletting and violence has a pathological character... The American media was both jubilant and bloodthirsty. "

"The notion that the murders in Mosul will halt Iraqi resistance to the US colonial occupation of that country is wishful thinking of the most politically blinkered variety. The American government and media establishment apparently believes its own propaganda that the only opposition to the US presence is being offered by “holdouts” of the old regime, “terrorists” and “criminals.” These people are so blind to social and political reality and so distant from the Iraqi people that they cannot conceive of popular resistance that rejects both the Ba’athist regime and foreign imperialist tyranny."

"More fundamentally, the capture of Uday and Qusay Hussein presented politically troublesome problems. Putting the two former officials on trial would have inevitably raised the issue of the entirely lawless character of the war and occupation... Qusay would have known, for instance, ‘whether they had chemical weapons, how many they had, and where they were deployed.’ ... Obviously, by taking the decision to murder Qusay, the US government and military expressed their total lack of interest in the existence of WMD and, in effect, acknowledged that such deadly and dangerous weapons do not exist. "

"The bloodlust and lawlessness of the present-day political establishment is placed in sharp relief by comparing its campaign of political assassination in Iraq with the attitude of the US to the treatment of fascist mass murderers captured at the end of World War II. Less than sixty years ago, Washington opposed the summary execution of the leaders of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan—who had committed crimes on a far more massive scale than any carried out by the regime of Saddam Hussein—and insisted they be placed on public trial and accorded all of the legal privileges of due process."

One has to wonder whether the killing of the sons and the gruesome public exhibition by photo and video of the corpses is a political mistake - but a frightening mistake.

US military difficulties in Afghanistan: unwinnable war?: "He talks about the landscape itself, with its countless outcroppings and caves and desiccated gulches, so hard to navigate, so easy to hide in... And without the help of the people, Langton adds, the beaming from all the satellites and unmanned planes in the sky can be futile. The jagged terrain creates blind spots, and what the high-tech systems can photograph they can't interpret... Afghanistan, he says, has a level of complexity that is almost unfathomable...

"Across Afghanistan, the work of humint, as the Army calls human intelligence, has been badly frustrated. Christopher Langton, a retired British colonel and military attache in Central Asia, now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, speaks of the attempts to befriend and the attempts to pay. The paying hasn't bought much in the way of trustworthy information, and a psychological operations officer on Vigilant Guardian tells me that the Army has mostly abandoned it. The befriending hasn't worked well either, because, Langton says, the Americans have failed to capture the virtual territory, the territory of the mind of the population. The troops on missions like Parker's, operations that set out from American bases every two weeks or so, should pick up the kinds of details that form the foundation of military intelligence. But the troops are handicapped, Langton explains, because the people sense a shortsighted American involvement, a powerful wish to be gone. The Afghans feel that the Taliban, with Al Qaeda behind it, could take hold again in the country as soon as the Americans go home. For the villagers, survival when that happens could depend on keeping their mouths shut now. "

Why werent Uday and Qusay taken alive?: "Who beside the sons might have better information about the one HVT that really matters, Saddam? “The whole operation was a cockup,” said a British intelligence officer. “There was no need to go after four lightly armed men with such overwhelming firepower. They would have been much more useful alive.” "

Calls to scrap negative gearing to slow property boom: "While a switch in investment priorities in the wake of the 1990s sharemarket collapse has played a part in the residential boom, there is little doubt that it has been lubricated by negative gearing, the first-home owner's grant, interest rates at 30-year lows, new banking products tailored to investors, such as the split loan, and, since mid-2001, the Howard Government's reduction of capital gains tax on year-old investments."

The "property boom" is in reality a "land boom", ie an escalation in the capitalized value of privately retained site rent. Calls to end negative gearing and other tax concessions undoubtedly have merit, but the only real long term solution to increasing land prices and social inequality is to redirect site rent into the public treasury. For home sites, this can be achieved in a practical way by reducing state and federal grants to local governments and requiring them to finance themselves through reliance on land value rating. This will have incidental benefits of making local government self funding and self reliant, and thus furthering the necessary steps towards devolution of power and genuine grassroots democracy.

Drifting Into A Nuclear War: "Nuclear bombs are likely to be used before the end of the decade if the United States doesn't do more to stop their spread, a group that advises Senate Democrats said Wednesday. One key step would be to begin direct talks with North Korea to negotiate an end to its nuclear program, said the National Security Advisory Group, which includes former top officials of the Clinton administration. "

"Caveat Pre-emptor" - let the preemptor beware, with Joel Beinin, Ivan Eland, and Edward Olsen: Informative review, from a paleocon perspective, of US policy in the Middle East, illustrating the gradual shift to direct military control, and the agenda of the neocons for world domination, a project it is predicted will fail. The key advantage of the paleocons is that an anti-imperial perspective shields them from the standard propaganda and disinformation of the establishment.

Friday, July 25, 2003

1981 Chomsky article on the Faurisson affair: The effect of this article is to illustrate Chomsky's integrity and at the same time pass a withering critique of the French "intelligentsia", or at least sections of it which surrounded this affair. Truth and integrity is rare while lies, manipulations, imbecility and propaganda is common. The totalitarian mentality is deeply ingrained throughout much of society.

Computer Voting Is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say: "The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said yesterday. "We found some stunning, stunning flaws, said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University""

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Bush's Nose is Growing; Nobody Cares: "It has been exactly one week since the Washington Post ran a page one story quoting U.S. President George W. Bush as saying that the reason the U.S., 'along with other nations,'' invaded Iraq was because its brutal vicious dictator would not permit any weapons inspections.

"Here is the quote, from Bush's news conference with U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, which CNN ran live last Monday. (The italicized emphasis is mine.) Asked about those infamous 16 words in his State of the Union Address about Iraq shopping in Niger for yellowcake uranium, the leader of the free world replied: 'The larger point is and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power ...'"

That would be a great clip to run repeatedly on prime time TV news around the world, it should be run until a correction is forced from the President. If the President is a moron and unfit for office then he should be exposed as such, until he proves otherwise or is hounded from office. But of course the media covers for Bush.

However, I think most people believe Bush is a kind of idiot, a bit like Ronald Reagan, and therefore extraordinary statements such as the above are more or less ignored. The systemic pattern of Administration lying, however, is another matter.

Pentagon Investigates 7 Suspected Suicides in Iraq: "Overall, the military has not released an official count of possible suicides under investigation, and the total could be higher than seven, given a number of unexplained deaths included in the Pentagon's casualty statistics. The military has reported nine cases of accidental death that could include suicides, most of which were from 'noncombat weapons discharges.' In 12 other cases, the cause of death has been officially listed as 'other' and described only as 'noncombat injuries.'"

Poll shows many Germans see U.S. behind Sept 11: "Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington... It also said 68 percent of all Germans felt the media had not reported the full truth behind the attacks, in which some 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. After the September 11 attacks, there was an outpouring of sympathy from Germans for the United States. Despite misgivings, Germany joined a military campaign against the al Qaeda network that Washington blamed for the attacks."

"Asked whether they believed that the U.S. government could have ordered the September 11 attacks itself, 31 percent of those surveyed under the age of 30 in the poll answered "yes", while 19 percent overall gave the same answer. Die Zeit said widespread disbelief about the reasons given by the United States for going to war in Iraq and suspicion about media coverage of the conflict had fostered a climate in which conspiracy theories flourished. "The news is controlled," 17-year old Kenny Donaubaur was quoted as saying. "You could see that in the Iraq war. It doesn't seem to me thet you get the full truth."

Remarkable results which vividly demonstrate the incompetence of the US Administration. Worldwide sympathy over the Sept 11 attacks has been utterly squandered. Not merely incompetent, but mad, arrogant, uncaring.

Had the US taken a different path than the military one and built and sustained a global coalition to fight terrorism by political and police means its stature would have been enhanced probably to new highs. Its awesome military is more powerful in the not being used. In Afghanistan, one would have to wonder whether international presssure led by the US would have been able to achieve as much by way of arrests and shutdown of training camps as they have been able to achieve by military invasion. The the President's stature would have been enhanced had his military threatened war but if in the end he refrained.

US ponders non-aggression deal North Korea: "The United States may give Pyongyang a formal guarantee that it will not invade North Korea, as part of a reported new attempt to defuse the crisis over the communist state's nuclear arms program... The prospect of a guarantee that the US will not launch an attack on North Korea was said to have been discussed with the Chinese envoy, Dai Bingguo, in talks in Washington last week... Washington will want plenty in return for a deal, having consistently maintained it would not reward North Korea for what it calls bad behaviour. It is likely to want a verifiable dismantling of the nuclear program as a prerequisite step - something Pyongyang has previously refused."

This is another way of saying that US threats either to invade, attack, or overthrow the regime is the genesis of the current crisis. Talk about "bad behaviour." The demand that North Korea should disarm, however, is likely to be resisted. As the NK regime has previously explicitly stated based on the Iraq experience, disamament and weapons inspectors do not stop war, rather they spark it. All countries in the region, including Australia, should apply maximum pressure to the US to undertake not to invade or attack North Korea.

Poll says Jewish settlers will leave if paid: "Seventy-four per cent of Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be willing to leave their homes in return for compensation from the Israeli government as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday.... The Israeli group Peace Now interviewed 1,100 settlers by telephone and found also that 44 per cent think the Palestinians deserve a state."

The attitude of the US is crucial. If the US suspended funding for military and settlement activity and instead conditioned or redirected it to a political solution, the prospects for a genuine two state solution based on the Green line 1967 borders are real.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

White House Threatens Veto on Media-Ownership Cap: An indication of how the state sector is aligned with media monopoly and cannot have enough of it.

Wolfowitz in Baghdad: foreigners should stop interfering in Iraq: "'I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,' said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials." A measure of the strength and depth of the US propaganda system would be the lack of awareness of the ironic nature of this statement. For those who are not in the grip of delusions its a measure of the colossal hypocrisy of the US.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Plan for Sydney Inner West Monster Councils: "Cr Bonanno, an ALP councillor, said yesterday smaller councils should not have been allowed to exist for as long as they have in the inner west... Greens upper house MP and Marrickville councillor, Sylvia Hale, said the proposal was motivated by the prospect of building ALP representation in the region. "There is absolutely no evidence that large councils are more efficient councils . . . They are less democratic," she said."

Whatever merit there may be in the amalgamation (or breakup) of local councils, democracy requires that it not be done without approval in a referendum by all residents.

Office of Special Plans: amateur spies who pushed for war: "According to former Bush officials, all defence and intelligence sources, senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency. The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

"The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight... As he prepares for re-election, Mr Bush may opt to tough it out, rather than acknowledge the severity of the problem by firing loyalists. But in that case, it will inevitably be harder to re-establish confidence in the intelligence on which the White House is basing its decisions, and the world's sole superpower risks stumbling onwards half-blind, unable to distinguish real threats from phantoms."

Monday, July 21, 2003

Chomsky: Western State Terrorism: "There are two ways to approach the study of terrorism. One may adopt a literal approach, taking the topic seriously, or a propagandistic approach, construing the concept of terrorism as a weapon to be exploited in the service of some system of power. In each case it is clear how to proceed. Pursuing the literal approach, we begin by determining what constitutes terrorism. We then seek instances of the phenomenon -- concentrating on the major examples, if we are serious -- and try to determine causes and remedies. The propagandistic approach dictates a different course. We begin with the thesis that terrorism is the responsibility of some officially designated enemy. We then designate terrorist acts as 'terrorist' just in the cases where they can be attributed (whether plausibly or not) to the required source; otherwise they are to be ignored, suppressed, or termed 'retaliation' or 'self-defence.'

"It comes as no surprise that the propagandistic approach is adopted by governments generally, and by their instruments in totalitarian states. More interesting is the fact that the same is largely true of the media and scholarship in the Western industrial democracies, as has been documented in extensive detail."

No return for David Hicks: "The Federal Government will not bring alleged al-Qaeda terrorist David Hicks back to Australia to face charges despite the United States military opening the way for his return."

Not only will John Howard not demand the repatriation of Hicks from the Gauntanamo bay concentration camp and kangaroo court, he wont even take him if he is offered! This shows as much as anything how committed Howard really is to the anti-democratic neo-conservative agenda.

Why did Baghdad fall without a fight?: Suggestive (but somewhat conspiratorial) Kagarlitsky article makes the case that the Baghdad ruling elite have been acting according to plan in the fight with the vastly superior US military. At any rate it seems clear that the former Baath party, republican guard, and Iraqi army is the natural agent for the US, and it does surprise me they have not acted more promptly to re-employ them. Surely 100,000 or so former Republican guard or Army personnel would be cheaper than US soldiers and in fact the only viable alternative.

Mysterious Diseases Haunt U.S. Troops In Iraq: "U.S. officials did not come up with an explanation for the symptoms, which NATO experts tend to believe result from direct exposure to powerful nuclear radiations of the sophisticated B-2 bombs used in the war on Iraq, particularly in striking Iraqi Republican Guards forces who deployed to defend the vicinity of Baghdad airport. The military source stressed that the shrouds of secrecy imposed by American officials on the issue were prompted by fears of creating waves of panic and anger among the troops, particularly after announcements that American troops would remain in Iraq indefinitely. He asserted that NATO experts measured levels of radioactive pollution in Iraq and confirmed there were levels of radioactive pollution with destructive impacts on man and environment that may lead to risks suffered by generations to come.

"On April 25, the British Observer quoted military sources as affirming that depleted uranium shells and bombs used by U.S. and British troops during Iraq invasion were five times more than the number used during 1991 Gulf war. The Pentagon had admitted shelling Iraq with about 350 tons of depleted uranium in 1991, aggravating cancerous tumors cases among Iraqis."

Jose Ramos-Horta backs away from reported support for US Iraq war: "First of all, let me say that my article in The New York Times was totally misinterpreted. If anyone would bother to read it from the beginning to the end, he would see that it says that the US as unchallenged superpower should allow more time for inspectors on the ground in Iraq to do their job and for the Secretary General of the United Nations to try to negotiate departure of Saddam Hussein. What I said exactly and what was used against me was: : “Sometimes in the history the use of force is necessary.” "

Dr Kelly was "hung out to dry" by MoD, says friend: The poor man volunteered the information to his bosses at the MoD that he had been talking to journalists but expected he would remain anonymous. However, in an unusual move the MoD effectively released his name to the press and basically "hung him out to dry", with no support or advice on how to cope with the exposure. Apparently this extremely uncomfortable position led to his suicide.

History Forgave Churchill Why Not Blair And Bush?: "On July 17, 2003, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. House and Senate. The subject of WMD, of course, was on the front burner. 'If we are wrong, then we will have destroyed a threat that was at its least responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering,' Blair said. 'I am confident history will forgive.' Blair's confidence is justified. History has forgiven U.K. leaders for plenty"

U.S. Attacked Iraqi Defenses Starting in 2002: "The strikes, which were conducted from mid-2002 into the first few months of 2003, were justified publicly at the time as a reaction to Iraqi violations of a no-flight zone that the United States and Britain established in southern Iraq. But Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, said the attacks also laid the foundations for the military campaign against the Baghdad government. Indeed, one reason it was possible for the allies to begin the ground campaign to topple Mr. Hussein without preceding it with an extensive array of airstrikes was that 606 bombs had been dropped on 391 carefully selected targets under the plan, General Moseley said."

Bush Ready to Wreck Ozone Layer Treaty - US Slips in Demand to Drop Ban on Harmful Pesticide: "President George Bush is targeting the international treaty to save the ozone layer which protects all life on earth from deadly radiation... New US demands - tabled at a little-noticed meeting in Montreal earlier this month - threaten to unravel one of the greatest environmental success stories of the past few decades, causing millions of deaths from cancer."

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Erlich: Targeting North Korea Long article on the genesis of the Korean crisis, which points out what is essentially forbidden to be mentioned in the mainstream media, that the provocations of the US throughout are responsible for the current risk of nuclear war. The article in fact retails an astonishing plan of aggression and war by the Clinton administration (not to mention the Bush gang) and the issue has to be whether this version is based on the facts. As Chomsky says, "hegemony is more important than survival", and the public needs to comprehend this insane reality lest they suffer the consequences.

Jail plan for flag-burners: This is straight fascism, imported direct from America. $11,000 fines or even prison terms for burning a piece of cloth or plastic that could even be the property of the person who burns it.

British defence industry may be collapsed into complete American control: Britain again faces the fundamental strategic choice: America or Europe? The author states baldly that "The object of American foreign and defence policy is to sustain US hegemony." This is hard to understand for people who believe the propaganda that the US objective is "freedom and democracy" but an obvious and fundamental consideration for serious observers, including the British establishment as it considers its long term strategic position.

Turkey: Power struggle between government and army: "On March 1, the parliament had decided that no American troops taking part in the Iraq war were to be stationed in Turkey. Wolfowitz declared: “For one reason or another they have not played the leading role on this issue that we would have expected of them.” He then went one step further: “In my opinion, it is especially appropriate with regard to their system when the military says it is in Turkish interests to support the US in its efforts.” The Turkish military has carried out a total of four putsches against the government over the last 40 years."

Will the U.N. Bail Out Bush?: "To save his administration, Bush must now essentially abandon the aggressive unilateralism that has dominated his foreign policy since even before Sep. 11, 2001; ask forgiveness from U.S. allies who refused to join his ”coalition of the willing” into Iraq; and return to the United Nations Security Council for a new resolution that will give the world body control over the occupation... [Advisors'] message: ”The United States cannot by itself afford the burdens -- either economically or politically -- of occupying Iraq. We need help, and lots of it, even though we know that we will have to give up control to get it”... The question is what will be the U.N.'s price for bailing the administration out, and will Bush be willing to pay it?"

"A source, a source, my kingdom for a source, said Blair and his people.": No doubt its becoming a Shakespearean tragedy. Blair looked positively shell shocked at his press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi in Tokyo, where he had to face such questions as "do you have blood on your hands? and do you think you should resign?" The look on Blair's face over the death of Dr David Kelly had nothing to do with grief or sympathy. Perhaps we are reaching another tragic moment when Blair will have to sit down with his family and advise them of the dreadful news that he may have to leave office?

German hospital full of US soldiers from Iraq: 48 patients a day: "Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is receiving more than twice the number of patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom that it did during the major combat phase of the war. An average of 48 patients a day were being treated last week, compared with 22 patients a day in March"

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Seymour Hersh on the Syrian attack: Investigative article on the bungled June 18 US attack on the border with Syria which killed as many as 80 people. Little reporting has been done on this incident and Syria's reaction has been muted to say the least in response to a murderous attack violating its territorial sovereignty. Syria, which has since Sept 11 attempted to position itself as an ally with the US in the war on terror by providing invaluable intelligence, has been practically forced to back away. The US policy of making war against anyone it characterizes as a "rogue state" is directly at odds with the cooperation needed to fight international terrorism.

Top UK WMD advisor found dead: Apparent suicide. Damaging for Blair as it is implied that the dead man may have been set up by the Blair government as the fall guy for leaks when he probably was not the leaker. update: the BBC has confirmed Dr Kelly was the source for its contentious report.

Chomsky interview: "In fact, fundamentalist Islam has been, to a significant extent, supported and initiated by outside forces. It was often a weapon against secular forces. I mean, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the goal, quite explicitly, was to undermine the secular, nationalist PLO, which was pressing hard for negotiations over the Occupied Territories, and Israel didn't want that. So, Israel succeeded in undermining the secular PLO for a while, but ended up with Hezbollah on their hands. Something of the same sort happened in the Occupied Territories. The religious elements, which ended up being Hamas, were actually supported by Israel in opposition to the secular nationalists... Fundamentalist Christianity in the US is a serious danger, but there are broader implications. "

The high price of loyalty: David Jenkins argues that if the US goes to war against either North Korea or China, Australia would also go to war, and probably be alone in the world in doing so - "not even Tony Blair" would join in. Australia is placed in this situation by our outdated "alliance" with the US.

Friday, July 18, 2003

The sinking of SIEV-X: Article by Tony Kevin on what appears to be a crime and scandal of major proportions, which also reveals the mentality of our government leaders. The tragedy shows the real consequences of exploiting racism and xenophobia for political purposes.

"There is now on Marg Hutton's scrupulously accurate website a huge amount of factual information and analysis of the whole SIEV-X-related history, before during and after the sinking, that seen as a whole in my view admits of only one reasonable explanation: that Australian authorities trained, funded, and equipped selected Indonesian police teams, which then engaged in semi-clandestine people smuggling disruption activities using phoney people smugglers like Kevin Enniss and Abu Quassey, under which these 353 asylum-seekers drowned. The deterrent message was thereby sent, and the boat people voyages stopped. The people smugglers have disappeared... So we go on fighting to alert Australian society to the truth of how 421 people were made to board SIEV-X at gunpoint and sent out to sea to drown... The official cover-up is stunningly wide-ranging. It involves many government agencies."

Outrage at US plan to mortgage Iraqi oil: "Reports suggest that $30 billion of loans will be backed by Iraq's reserves, the second biggest in the world. Anne Pettifor, head of the Jubilee Plus debt relief campaign, said 'It is outrageous that the poor people of Iraq will be lumbered with billions of dollars of debt that will be used to boost the share prices of Wall Street financiers and US construction giants.' She warned against the coalition 'using the instrument of debt to control Iraq', after it leaves. Such a motive was behind the way Germany was treated after 1918, provoking resentment that eventually encouraged the rise of Adolf Hitler."

Britain has lost its independent nuclear deterrent: British cruise and submarine missiles cannot be aimed or fired without US support and permission. Also, Britain cannot fight a war without US permission.

Iraq II: COALITION DEATHS: Website giving updated figures and breakdown on coalition deaths (all causes) in Iraq. The rate of death during the war was 7 per day; from April 9 to May 1, one per day; from May 2 till today, 1.25 per day.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Brian Harradine: The voice of reason on media laws: Harradine's Senate remarks on media concentration as he led successful opposition to the Howard government's moves for greater concentration.

Australian crimes against humanity - treatment of asylum seekers: Julian Burnside speech exposes the calculated callousness and racism of the Howard government on this issue.

SuSE Linux wins big Munich desktop contract from Windows: "The German city of Munich was balking at a $36.6 million proposal from Microsoft to upgrade 14,000 desktop PCs to the latest versions of Windows and Office. Instead, Munich -- Germany's third-largest city and a technology hub for Central Europe -- was leaning toward a switch to Linux, the upstart computer operating system whose open-source code is continually improved by volunteer programmers worldwide."

Galloway's Revenge: Political Death of a Usurper: "An Unwinnable War in Iraq and the Deceit That Led to it Have Destroyed the Credibility of the Prime Minister

"Now does he feel/ his secret murders sticking on his hands;/ now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach;/ those he commands move only in command,/ nothing in love: now does he feel his title/ hang loose about him, like a giant's robe/ upon a dwarfish thief."

"Thus Angus spoke of the Scottish usurper Macbeth, whose ambition led him deep into a river of blood. Less poetically, Clare Short, Mo Mowlem and Robin Cook are saying much the same of their former cabinet colleague. I predicted before the war that Iraq would be the political death of Tony Blair, and it is now almost Shakespearean how the pain from his self-inflicted wounds is written across his face. It is as if he is physically diminishing before our eyes as his authority bleeds into the sands of Iraq."

Iraq and al-Qaeda - Bush's other lie: Review by Jim Lobe of Administration efforts from day one (9/11) to manufacture evidence or belief that Saddam was connected to 9/11 and hence should be taken out. Perhaps the most remarkable feature is the role of the corporate media, which helped produce a situation where a majority of Americans believed Iraq was involved in 9/11 despite the emptiness of the claim.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Germany: No Nato troops in Iraq without UN: "A day after the U.S. Congress requested their president to seek NATO help in stabilizing Iraq, German politicians across the political spectrum set conditions. 'We can only discuss such thing if there is a demand by the United Nations,' said Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in a television interview Friday evening. The Social Democratic chancellor got not only support from within his government coalition, but from opposition politicians as well. "

"The Americans have borne the brunt of the casualties. Every day, new reports come out of attacks against U.S. soldiers... If reports are to be believed, the morale among the 146,000 soldiers currently stationed there is plunging. Costs are slowly getting out of control as well. American taxpayers are having to spend $3.9 billion a month to support the thousands of troops and equipment stationed in Iraq."

Teacher's Anti-War Playing Cards Flying Off Bookstore Shelves: Instant collectors item.

Burchill: WMD spin shows what leaders will do to take people to war: "Like lawyers, Bush, Blair and Howard have highlighted material that suits their case. Like the Gulf of Tonkin lie in 1964 and the baby incubator fabrication in 1990, the weapons of mass destruction fiasco is a reminder of the lengths Western governments will go to in order to incite their populations to war."

In Rebuff to U.S., India Says It Won't Send Troops to Iraq: "To send troops now — without knowing what they will be called on to do, how long they will have to stay, and when and how their task will be completed — would be to push many of them to a pointless death," [Prem Shankar] wrote. "Iraq has not been liberated, but invaded and occupied," he continued. "The Iraqis know it, resent it and are preparing to resist it. If India sends its troops to Iraq now it will be as part of an occupation force. Stabilization will mean oppression."

"Public opinion is sharply critical of the war," said Praful Bidwai, a prominent journalist. "It just doesn't make sense for Indian soldiers to be basically used as cannon fodder when the U.S. is getting bogged down and taking casualties."

Are combat deaths in Iraq being disguised as 'accidents'? "Initially, a press release from Coffin's unit stated he died after his vehicle swerved to avoid a civilian vehicle. But a report from the U.S. Central Command issued a day before said a member of Coffin's unit was killed July 1 when his convoy was hit by "an improvised explosive device." That report did not name Coffin, but he was the only member of his unit to die that day."

"The case raises a very troubling question, which is, are combat deaths being disguised as accidents . . . so it would appear less harm is being caused by the Iraqi resistance than is the case?" asked Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine. Allen said that although he does not dispute that accidents happen, it seems that there are "an awful lot of accidents."

Drifting to Nuclear war over Korea: "A former United States defence secretary warned yesterday that North Korea and the US were drifting towards nuclear war as China intervened in an urgent effort to defuse the crisis. William Perry, defence secretary to Bill Clinton, said "time is running out" and "each month the problem gets more dangerous". "I think we are losing control of the situation," he told The Washington Post. "The nuclear program now under way in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities."

"Mr Howard added: "I don't think North Korea has any functioning weaponry, if I can put it that way, that's capable of delivering it." - another rather breathtaking comment from Howard, given the stakes, the crisis, and the comment as above by the former US Defence Secretary. Perhaps North Korea has the weaponry, perhaps it doesnt. We couldnt rely on Howard for accurate information about that issue. We do know for a fact that North Korea has nuclear facilities and has tested a missile with a range that exceeds Tokyo. If North Korean missiles can reach the US mainland, they can reach Northern Australia. One would think that the crisis should be treated with the seriousness it deserves, instead of the grossly irresponsible uncritical endorsement of current US policy, which can only be described as reckless folly.

Kevin Rudd also appeared on the TV, discounting the remarks and credibility of North Korea's "unofficial spokesman". Yes, Myung-Chol does make a strange impression, and his credibility needs to be examined, but that should not be taken as an opportunity to disregard the seriousness of the issues raised. The whole US/Korean affair strikes me as something which people are unable to grasp with the seriousness it deserves.

Lee Rhiannon MLC - Australian Greens Political Donations Project: The data is compiled from returns to the AEC but it appears that Lee Rhiannon's office is the only body attempting to combine and analyse data on an issue fundamental for the future of democracy. Where are the academics? Where are the journalists? Some of the most interesting results so far are that while the NSW ALP received over $5m from unions in the period 1998-2001, about 75% of its total donations came from other sources.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

20 Lies About the War: Falsehoods Ranging from Exaggeration to Plain Untruth Were Used to Make the Case for War. More Lies are Being Used in the Aftermath. by Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker

US army morale slipping in Baghdad: Killings not investigated; soldiers getting pregnant to get back home; soldiers selling handguns to Iraqis; psychological breakdown; prostitution becoming established.

Pentagon comes up with a provocative plan to face down North Korea: "Within the past two months, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has ordered U.S. military commanders to devise a new war plan for a possible conflict with North Korea. Elements of the draft, known as Operations Plan 5030, are so aggressive that they could provoke a war, some senior Bush administration officials tell U.S. News.... administration insiders, who are critical of the plan, say it blurs the line between war and peace. The plan would give commanders in the region authority to conduct maneuvers--before a war has started--to drain North Korea's limited resources, strain its military, and perhaps sow enough confusion that North Korean generals might turn against the country's leader, Kim Jong Il... Some officials believe the draft plan amounts to a strategy to topple Kim's regime by destabilizing its military forces... Some administration officials and military experts say they consider these tactics dangerously provocative."

Intelligence Unglued, by Veteran Intelligence Professionals: Intriquing analysis of the intelligence failure over Iraq recommends to Bush the dismissal of Cheney, the re-admission of the UN inspectors to Iraq, and the establishment of an inquiry into the affair headed by Brent Scowcroft.

Bogus from the Beginning, by Justin Raimondo: This article is something of a classic by Raimondo. A strong piece on the appalling lies of the neocons over both Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its links with Al-Qaeda is followed somewhat incongrously by a note defending Sen. Joe McCarthy. Such are the strange convolutions of 'paleocons'.

Fraser attacks Howard's subservience to US: "There is only one country on which Australians can rely absolutely. That is Australia itself. That capacity should never be prejudiced or diminished by other relationships. Great powers have a history of pursuing their own interests to the exclusion even of the interests of states that have been close friends and allies. The war on Iraq has arguably made the pursuit of the war on terrorism more difficult. The US has dissipated the friendship generated in September 2001. We have made ourselves the closest of allies in this war on terrorism and have supported strategies which make its achievement more difficult. America's enemies will unnecessarily become Australia's enemies...

"I have a living memory of what is, for many, history... Were it not for Pearl Harbour, America would probably have stood aloof [from WW11]... If America could not see the way its interests coincided with the interests of Britain at that time, until it was forced by Japan's actions, how can we believe that the US will see its interests coincide with ours? I do not believe that America, however benign (sic) the exercise of its current power, would necessarily use that power for Australia's protection. It has, in fact, become a fundamentalist regime believing fervently that what it judges to be right, is in fact right, and that others do not have anything much worthwhile to contribute. Such an America will not make friends... Do we really serve Australia's interests by such uncritical support and by such an apparent loss of our own sense of purpose and independence?"

Such a straightforward argument, and another sign of the eclipse of the Labor party that they are unable to articulate anything comparable.

N Korean warns Australia could face nuclear strike: "Australian could face a nuclear attack from North Korea if it got involved in an international force to stop ships carrying weapons of mass destruction, an unofficial spokesman for the North Korean government has warned. Australia has agreed to take part in maritime exercises which may lead to the establishment of an international operation to stop the weapons trade by counties such as North Korea."

It wouldnt be often that Australia has been threatened with nuclear attack. Where is the concern about current government policy? North Korea has made it clear it is responding to the threats and pressure from the belligerent US administration: especially in its previous statement that weapons inspectors, instead of preventing war, rather spark it; and in its rush to develop an effective deterrent. To some extent a nuclear holocaust is in fact unthinkable, but the criminal folly of current policy is breathtaking.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Fraser: PM's department must have known Iraq evidence was false: "Mr Fraser said if anyone in the prime minister's department knew the evidence had been discredited, they had an obligation to pass the information on to Mr Howard. "If somebody was alerted and thought it better to let it lie, they should be sacked," Mr Fraser told the John Laws radio program. "The real question is how is it conceivable that in an allegedly efficient democratic system, this critical bit of information doesn't get to the prime minister, when I would believe his department also had to know... Mr Fraser said in the modern public service, it was possible public servants were too scared to pass on information their ministers might not want to hear. "I do think it's believable that in these days his (Mr Howard's) department kept that information from him.""

It is very much in keeping with the Howard character that he would arrange things such that he does not know what would either now or in the future be embarrassing for him to know. Nevertheless it is a strange and questionable system of administration that the head of government would be deliberately kept in the dark regarding crucial intelligence information. The tricks and devices of Howard (and Bush & Blair) are as nought anyway: it doesn't matter whether he is lying, ignorant, deluded, deceived, uninformed, or stupid. The information was wrong, the decision was wrong, the war was wrong and immoral. The heads of those responsible - whether they be intelligence, staffers, or ministerial (including the Prime Minister) - should roll.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Edwards: The 'Nut' Theory Of Dissident Journalism: Illuminating discussion of the Iraqi sanctions issue and its reporting in the West. Pits Chomsky, Pilger, von Sponeck and Halliday against corporate hacks with predictable and amusing results. Vital for people who ask questions such as the following: "If what you say is true and credible experts have been saying for a long time that Iraq has no significant WMD capability, how can it be that I didn't see this possibility mentioned anywhere in the media before the war?" (Friend to Media Lens Editors, The Giddy Bridge public house, Southampton, May 17, 2003)"

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Road Map, by Edward Herman: "There are three words or phrases that are not permissible in the U.S. mainstream media in application to the Israel-Palestine conflict: racism, ethnic cleansing and international law. This follows from the deep, deep bias of the media favoring Israel and hostile to the Palestinians... Lies regarding the official enemy; lies-by-silence on the racism of the beloved client, is standard mainstream media policy... In fact, Israeli policy in expropriations, demolitions and removal provides a perfect model of ethnic cleansing-but the phrase is never applied to the Israeli case by U.S. reporters, pundits and editorial writers. The direct lie in the one case, lie-by-silence in the other, is absolutely standard media procedure."

Happy Birthday, America That I Love: Warblogging piece on the Fourth of July: so much more the real America and the real Americans than the virtual fascists who have gained control of the US Federal Government.

Lawyers Furious as US Builds Death Chambers: "LAWYERS expressed outrage yesterday at plans to put al-Qaeda suspects, including two Britons and an Australian, on military trial in Guantanamo Bay. They would effectively be tried by a “kangaroo court”, stripped of all basic rights of due process that would be afforded in criminal courts in Britain or America, they said... Matthias Kelly, QC, chairman of the Bar of England and Wales, said that the proposed trials were “totally illegitimate and a violation of every rule in international law”. He said: “The construction of execution chambers makes virtually every lawyer in the Western world extremely angry. The idea that there is an artificial creation or enclave which, according to the Americans, is beyond the purview of all recognised systems of law is repugnant.”

The construction of these camps and death chambers and the creation of the military tribunals is a critical indicator of the direction of US policy. The question is whether the population of the camps and the number of 'trials' and executions increases or decreases. The battle is joined between the flag waving 'patriots' and the defenders of civil liberties.

Force down jets, board ships, says US, Australia: "Australian and United States officials meeting in Brisbane next week will discuss an aggressive military operation to force down aircraft and board ships suspected of carrying prohibited weapons from North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya... But the proposals being pushed by Australia and the US are expected to raise difficult questions of international law and could provoke a military confrontation with countries like North Korea."

Howard of course can only be expected to endorse whatever the US comes up with, no matter how extreme, but Australia must wonder whether a policy of piracy and confrontation with North Korea is in the genuine national security interests of Australia and our region. There is a surreal element to the North Korean crisis: this country has repeatedly threatened war and a nuclear attack against the United States itself if attacked, and yet the policy of confrontation continues as if it was all some kind of joke.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

A Green Party "Safe States" Strategy: Ted Glick provides an excellent solution to the Green Party's dilemma of whether or not to run a Presidential candidate in the 2004 election: They should run, but only be on the ballot in 'safe States' where the Green vote will not deliver ultimate victory to Bush.

U.S. Case Against Iran’s Nuclear Program Should Be Viewed With Severe Skepticism: This article makes the counter-intuitive point that an Iranian nuclear power program is economically logical for the oil-rich nation. Administration assertions about a weapons program have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Pilger on Blair's lies and Britain's export of WMDS: "Blair's festival of lies has shocked some people: those who still believe that their elected representatives tell the truth. Perhaps they are prepared to tolerate some "fudge", but not deliberate lies, especially those, such as Blair's, that lead to the criminal killing of thousands of people. Is he unusual? The great American muckraker I F Stone said: "All governments are liars and nothing they say should be believed." To which the great Irish muckraker Claud Cockburn added: "Never believe anything until it is officially denied."

Blair is a kind of fast-talking conman: a compulsive liar and proven war criminal.

The perils of our US alliance: Scott Burchill asks whether Austalia's policy of unquestioning alignment with Washington is genuinely in our interests.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Even Ross Gittins warning about property boom: "Make a note of the date - July 2003. Why? Because as late in the piece as this, a bank as big as Westpac is still distributing advertising brochures asking, Why stop at one investment property? It's an act that, in his former life, Westpac boss David Morgan, PhD would have called "a courageous decision, minister"."

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Straw rules out any British attack against Iran: "Britain's foreign secretary said Monday there are no circumstances under which his nation would agree to an attack against Iran, which is under pressure to allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities."

The question for the "pre-emptive" hard-hitting "deputy sheriff" of the Asia-Pacific region must also be: will Australia rule out under any circumstances participation in an attack on Iran?

Iraq: Now everyone needs food aid: "The war in Iraq has made the entire population of 27 million dependent on food aid, leaders of aid programmes say. Before the war that the U.S. and Britain launched March 20 to remove the Saddam Hussein regime, 60 percent of the population had depended entirely on food aid. ”Today, the lives of 100 percent of the Iraqi population, 27 million people, depend on the provision of monthly food rations,” UNICEF chief representative in Iraq Carel de Roy told IPS in a phone interview."