Thursday, December 30, 2004

Residential-property prices are now falling in Britain and Australia, but have taken off in America and France: "IN THE past three years, the total value of residential property in developed economies has increased by an estimated $20 trillion, to over $60 trillion. Granted, that increase is partly explained by the decline in the dollar; still, it is double the $10 trillion by which global share values climbed in the three years to 1999. Is this the biggest financial bubble in history?

"The growing impact of housing markets on economies prompted The Economist to launch its global house-price indices in early 2002; these now cover 20 countries, using data from lending institutions, estate agents and national statistics. Our latest quarterly update shows that prices have risen over the past year by around 10% or more in 11 of the countries that we track (see table). Top of the league is South Africa, where prices surged by 35% in the year to the third quarter, pushing it into first place ahead of Hong Kong (31%)."

How the corporate right meets the challenge of blogs and the Internet: "IF OLD MEDIA--the 'legacy media' of the big papers and old networks plus the newsweeklies--was a city and not simply a set of gasping institutions, it would look like Stalingrad circa 1944. Parts of most of the virtual buildings are still standing, but the devastation is pretty complete."

"The old media went left into a deep ditch of agenda journalism, forfeiting the trust of a large portion of their audience and, in the process, opening the door to Rush Limbaugh, the second generation of radio talkers, Fox News, and, of course, the blogs."

This is the usual tactic of attacking the corporate media as being hopelessly left-wing combined with a willingness (even eagerness$$$) to accept it will be replaced by blogs and internet journalism. Hence there must be a big and well-financed push into blogging with the purpose of creating a self-reinforcing right-wing echochamber, to develop and protect the delusions of the misinformed mass supporters. The push has already shown itself to be remarkably successful. In fact it may have created a phenomenon where the public mind is split between different spheres of the internet which essentially do not communicate with each other. How to breach this communication divide? One means may be politics, where everyone is forced to address similar issues. Another may be the Chomsky approach, to force oneself (ugghhh!!!) to read it and systematically demolish it.

Sample Chapter for Deffeyes, K.S.: Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.: "In 1956, the geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s.1 Almost everyone, inside and outside the oil industry, rejected Hubbert's analysis. The controversy raged until 1970, when the U.S. production of crude oil started to fall. Hubbert was right.

"Around 1995, several analysts began applying Hubbert's method to world oil production, and most of them estimate that the peak year for world oil will be between 2004 and 2008. These analyses were reported in some of the most widely circulated sources: Nature, Science, and Scientific American. None of our political leaders seem to be paying attention. If the predictions are correct, there will be enormous effects on the world economy."

If Hubbert predicted the peak of US oil production as long ago as 1956, why did it take so long for it to be verified? If US oil production peaked in 1971, why did it take another 20 years for geologists to make a prediction of the global peak? If a prediction for a global peak was made in 1995 that the global peak was for somewhere between 2004-2008, why did no one pay any attention?

More information about the earthquake and tsunami: "Japan and the USA have a very a effective tsunami warning system in the Pacific Ocean. It is based on pressure sensors on the ocean floor. Tsunami waves are so long that they change the pressure at the seafloor whereas wind waves get smoothed out. It would be possible to set up a similar tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean - for a few $million (ie the cost of a cruise missile)! The threat in this area is well documented - STH Abstract (1999): Tsunamis along the coastlines of India.

"Whether people would heed a tsunami alarm is another matter. People have been known to flock to the coast in the USA to watch for the tsunami."

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami: "Dr.Pornthip Rojanasuand and a team of Forensic experts from the Central Forensic Institute in Bangkok are racing against time in collecting DNA/hair samples of unidentified bodies before burial or cremation. She has vowed to not let a single body be cremated or buried without proper DNA collection for further identification. The sheer number of bodies in various states of decay have made their task all but impossible. The team has issued calls for help to forensic specialists from outside the country. So far, a team of specialists from the United Kingdom has answered the call for help."

Much more news and information about the disaster and the relief effort is available at this site.

MAGINOT MINDS IN WASHINGTON GLOSS OVER THE TRUTH IN IRAQ: "'The problem in getting Iraqis to fight the insurgency may be deeper across Iraq. The military assessment now is that the U.S. miscalculated Iraqi tribal and religious loyalties and did not realize Iraqis are likely to fight only for their brethren ... So in cases like Mosul, they simply will not fight the intimidation of the insurgents, the U.S. now believes.'"

"American generals speak of a "virtual connectivity" of the insurgents never seen before, as they use the Internet to pass along techniques, tactics and advice to one another. American generals now admit that almost all of them are Iraqis; we have created the Iraqi terrorists who were not there before.... American generals now speak in interviews about the "cellular expansion" of the insurgents. They see a constant spread of new, small cells with no clear command and control links that can form quickly, exploit and sacrifice, rather than relying on hard-core or closed, secure cells and forces. The Independent newspaper in London estimates there were at least 190 suicide bombers in the last 12 months."

Susan Sontag dead at 71: This is the full text of a piece she published on 17/09/01, less than a week after the Sept 11 attacks, for which, as the King of Zembla reminds us, "she was roundly excoriated as a traitor, a moral monster, a fifth columnist, a collaborator with those who would destroy America.":

"The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

"Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.

"Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be."

US Businesses Overseas Threatened by Rising Anti-Americanism: "Brands closely identified with the U.S., such as Marlboro cigarettes, America Online (AOL), McDonald's, American Airlines, and Exxon-Mobil are particularly at risk.... One third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom said that U.S. foreign policy, particularly the "war on terror" and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest impression of the United States. Twenty percent of respondents in Europe and Canada said they consciously avoided buying U.S. products as a protest against those policies."

" "There have already been casual protest brands, such as Mecca Cola, which are primarily political," he told the weekly. "But things are now moving beyond that. For instances, German restaurants are beginning to refuse American Express cards. This is new territory."

"The latest poll found that more than two thirds of European and Canadian consumers have had a negative change in their view of the United States as a result of U.S. foreign policy over the last three years. Nearly half believe that the war in Iraq was motivated by a desire to control oil supplies, while only 15 percent believed it was related to terrorism. Nearly two thirds of European and Canadian consumers also said they believe U.S. foreign policy is guided primarily by self-interest and empire-building, while only 17 percent believe that the defense of freedom and democracy is its guiding principle."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Empires Prefer a Baby and the Cross to the Adult Jesus. From Constantine to Bush, power has needed to stifle a revolutionary message: "Every Sunday in church, Christians recite the Nicene Creed. 'Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures.' It's the official summary of the Christian faith but, astonishingly, it jumps straight from birth to death, apparently indifferent to what happened in between.

"Nicene Christianity is the religion of Christmas and Easter, the celebration of a Jesus who is either too young or too much in agony to shock us with his revolutionary rhetoric. The adult Christ who calls his followers to renounce wealth, power and violence is passed over in favor of the gurgling baby and the screaming victim. As such, Nicene Christianity is easily conscripted into a religion of convenience, with believers worshipping a gagged and glorified savior who has nothing to say about how we use our money or whether or not we go to war.... Bush may have claimed that "Jesus Christ changed my life", but Jesus doesn't seem to have changed his politics."

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"Fragging" and "Combat Refusals" in Vietnam: "When one American killed another American, usually a superior officer or an NCO, the term 'fragging' came into use. Although the term simply meant that a fragmentation grenade was used in the murder, it later became an all encompassing term for such an action. It is known that 'fraggings' did occur during Vietnam, but the precise number is uncertain. 'During the years of 1969 down to 1973, we have the rise of fragging - that is, shooting or hand-grenading your NCO or your officer who orders you out into the field,' says historian Terry Anderson of Texas A & M University. 'The US Army itself does not know exactly how many...officers were murdered. But they know at least 600 were murdered, and then they have another 1400 that died mysteriously. "

EnviroHealth: Enough Is Enough: "The spectacle of the United States single-handedly destroying the mid-December meeting in Buenos Aires on global warming offered further proof, if such were needed, that the world needs to confront this rogue state. Representatives of 200 nations had gathered to develop a plan for further reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. According to press reports, the Bush Administration's recalcitrance shocked and dismayed even longtime friends and allies like Australia."

Chomsky: Civilization Versus Barbarism?: "And in fact, it's not exactly correct that the media haven't reported the war crimes. They often report them and celebrate them. So take for example the invasion of Fallujah, which is one of the - it's a major war crime, it's very similar to the Russian destruction of Grozny 10 years earlier, a city of approximately the same size, bombed to rubble, people driven out.

"Alam: They herded all the males, I think, they didn't let them escape the corridor.

"Chomsky: Which incidentally is very much like Srebrenica - which is universally condemned as genocide -- Srebrenica was an enclave, lightly protected by UN forces, which was being used as a base for attacking nearby Serb villages. It was known that there's going to be retaliation. When there was a retaliation, it was vicious. They trucked out all the women and children, they kept the men inside, and apparently slaughtered them. The estimates are thousands of people slaughtered.

"Well, with Fallujah, the US didn't truck out the women and children, it bombed them out. There was about a month of bombing, bombed out of the city, if they could get out somehow, a couple hundred thousand people fled, or somehow got out, and as you say men were kept in and we don't know what happened after that, we don't estimate [the casualties for which we are responsible]. But what was dramatic about Fallujah was that it was not kept secret. So you could see on the front page of the New York Times, a big picture of the first major…step in the offensive, namely the capture of the Fallujah general hospital."

"That was an interesting report [interruption, door is opened, background noise continues from here on] - this Pentagon report which was sort of interesting, is virtually a repetition, almost a verbatim repetition of a report by the NSC in 1958 when President Eisenhower raised the question with his staff, why there is a campaign of hatred against us in the Arab world, and not among governments but from the people. That's Eisenhower, 1958, why is there a campaign of hatred against us in the Arab world. An answer was given in an analysis by the National Security Council in 1958: it's because there's a perception in the Arab that the United States supports brutal and repressive regimes and blocks democracy and development, and we do it because we want to get control of oil and resources - their oil. That's 1958. And they went on to say, yes the perception's accurate, and we're going to continue doing it. That's been perfectly well known for years that that was the case."

Monday, December 27, 2004

Documents prove torture authorised at highest levels of US government: "THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.... Other documents detail abuses by Marines in Iraq, including mock executions and the torture of detainees by burning and electric shock. Several dozen detainees have died in U.S. custody."

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Neocons targetting Rumsfeld?: "The big conflict during the first Bush term was of course that between Colin Powell on the one hand and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and all the neocons on the other. That conflict will soon be resolved with Powell's departure. Despite setbacks, the neocons have generally enhanced their position since the election. The key figures (Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby, Wurmser, Bolton, Abrams) retain their influence within the second tier of power. Neocon propagandists such as Bill Kristol, David Frum, and Richard Perle enjoy unbounded access to a generally deferential media; when not in government, they flash credentials as members of a handful of interconnected rightwing think tanks. Some suppose the neocons have triumphed, but that is simplistic. Much depends on the neocons' relationships to Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and new National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley."

"As Powell recedes from the scene, what is the current big conflict in the administration? It seems to be between Now or Later, and conceivably, the neocons versus Rumsfeld, among others. On the one hand the neocons relentlessly build the case for regime change in Syria and Iran.... On the other hand, pundits across the mainstream political spectrum agree that the U.S. is so badly overextended in Iraq that an invasion and occupation of a second country would now be very difficult if not impossible. Without a massive increase in the size of the military, which is half the size it was in the Vietnam era, or maybe the use of tactical nukes, it's hard to see how the neocons could pull off their plans."

"Rumsfeld probably understands that a return to the draft would be politically explosive and a conscript army unreliable. Perhaps he worries about desertion, insubordination, fragging. His own project is to further streamline the armed forces, not to staff them with resentful draftees, and it may be that he places this objective ahead of empire expansion. But there may be others in this administration, which has already so boldly assaulted civil liberties, smugly affronted science and logic, and offended the world with its brutal aggressions, who'd happily reinstate the draft if they thought it would abet their world-transforming ends.... Rumsfeld's departure might only increase neocon influence, while what today seems unthinkable becomes thinkable. Imagine the administration announcing, in the patriotic, shell-shocked atmosphere following another terrorist attack, that the nation has no choice but to reinstate conscription. Given immediately imaginable alternatives, one almost feels relieved by Bush's continuing public support for his war secretary under fire."

Eyewitness Interview: "Iraq Is An Absolute Disaster":: "n this war, like every other war I’ve been in, there’s one absolute, and that is that everyone lies. On all sides. Civil, military, the West, the Insurgents, the Jihadis, everyone is spinning the story.... There’s not a single one amongst us in Baghdad who could quibble with a skerrick or a phrase of [Farnaz's] email. And quite frankly, I was stunned by it, because, most of us have put that into print anyway. And certainly, when we avail ourselves of broader media opportunities on television and radio, we are all saying the exact same thing: Iraq is an absolute disaster. And it’s …it’s… it’s not improving. It’s deteriorating with a rapid pulse."

"They can pin as much as they like on those [Jan 30] elections. I don’t know what good it’s going to do them. I mean, I’ll tell you right now, you can set any Disneyland date you like, let’s call it January 30th. You can hold an election. It will certainly look like an election. And it will sound like an election. But, anything other than sham, you can’t hope to produce. I mean, the… the West will do it’s best to support this process, but under no circumstances can I see any election in Iraq now or anywhere near in the future that will produce anything akin to a real mandate for anyone."

Left Behind heresy: Cursed are the peacemakers: "That word -- 'peacemaker' -- practically screams Antichrist. For LaHaye and Jenkins' intended readers, it wouldn't be any clearer if Carpathia had the number '666' tattooed on his forehead and went by the nickname 'Horny Beast.' For those not initiated into the cabalistic logic of PMD prophecy freaks, this seems counter-intuitive. Peace, after all, is generally regarded by Scripture as a Good Thing. Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The Messiah is described as the 'Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6-7). Peace is often spoken of by God's angels, including the heavenly host of the Christmas story in Luke 2 (cue Linus), who sing, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

"But none of this matters to the prophecy nuts who are convinced that the Antichrist will be a man of peace. And since they believe that the most important thing for Christians to do is to be on the lookout against the Antichrist, and vigilantly opposed to his evil ways, they believe that Christians must oppose anyone who speaks of, pursues, or tries to make, peace. This is one of the most astonishing and dangerous aspects of the popularity of the End Times heresies promoted by people like LaHaye and Jenkins. It is one of this biggest reasons why this matters -- deeply, truly, seriously matters. Tens of millions of copies of the Left Behind books have been sold. That doesn't just mean that tens of millions of our fellow citizens have horrible taste in literature. It also means they are being taught to oppose -- to condemn as immoral and ungodly -- any effort that goes under the name "peacemaking.""

Friday, December 24, 2004

Iraq: First we vote then we kick you out: "There's one overarching question facing the 83 entities - nine coalition lists, 47 political parties and 27 individuals, totaling more than 5,000 candidates - now competing for the 275 seats in Iraq's interim parliament and that will be entitled to write the next Iraqi constitution. The absolute majority of Iraqis want the Americans out of their country as soon as possible. But how?

"The United Iraqi Alliance - the Shi'ite, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani-supervised electoral list (228 candidates) - has a detailed, 23-point platform. According to its main negotiator, Hussein Shahristani, the platform insists on the 'sovereignty, unity and Islamic identity' of Iraq, and most crucially includes a plan with a precise date for the end of the military occupation. Whether the Americans will accept the plan (neo-conservative dreams for the Middle East collapsing in the sand), or whether this will be enough to placate Sunni anger, no one yet knows."

Olduvai theory: "The theory is easy. It states that the life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930-2030. World energy production per capita from 1945 to 1973 grew at a breakneck speed of 3.45 %/year. Next from 1973 to the all-time peak in 1979, it slowed to a sluggish 0.64 %/year. Then suddenly —and for the first time in history — energy production per capita took a long-term decline of 0.33 %/year from 1979 to 1999. The Olduvai theory explains the 1979 peak and the subsequent decline. More to the point, it says that energy production per capita will fall to its 1930 value by 2030, thus giving Industrial Civilization a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rocket attack on base in Mosul, Iraq kills 19 US soldiers: Rummy is going to be furious. Of all the rotten luck. If only it had happened last week, some flunky with the signamatron could have stamped the letters to the families. Now Rummy is going to have to spend a whole f****** half hour personally signing each one. It could be the last straw. Rummy might prefer to resign rather than have to put up with this.

US and Torture: "A historian in the future, or a moralist, is likely to deem the Bush administration's enthusiasm for torture the most striking aspect of its war against terrorism. This started early. Proposals to authorize torture were circulating even before there was anyone to torture. Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration made it known that the United States was no longer bound by international treaties, or by American law and established U.S. military standards, concerning torture and the treatment of prisoners. By the end of 2001, the Justice Department had drafted memos on how to protect military and intelligence officers from eventual prosecution under existing U.S. law for their treatment of Afghan and other prisoners.

"In January 2002, the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales (who is soon to become attorney general), advised George W. Bush that it could be done by fiat. If the president simply declared 'detainees' in Afghanistan outside the protection of the Geneva conventions, the 1996 U.S. War Crimes Act - which carries a possible death penalty for Geneva violations - would not apply. Those who protested were ignored, though the administration declared it would abide by the 'spirit' of the conventions. Shortly afterward, the CIA asked for formal assurance that this pledge did not apply to its agents.

"In March 2003, a Defense Department legal task force concluded that the president was not bound by any international or federal law on torture. It said that as commander in chief, he had the authority 'to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.' Subsequent legal memos to civilian officials in the White House and Pentagon dwelt in morbid detail on permitted torture techniques, for practical purposes concluding that anything was permitted that did not (deliberately) kill the victim. What is this all about? The FBI, the armed forces' own legal officers, bar associations and other civil law groups have protested, as have retired intelligence officers and civilian law enforcement officials."

"The United States has never before officially practiced torture. It was not deemed necessary in order to defeat Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Its indirect costs are enormous: in their effect on the national reputation, their alienation of international opinion, and their corruption of the morale and morality of the American military and intelligence services.

"Torture doesn't even work that well. An indignant FBI witness of what has gone on at the Guantánamo prison camp says that "simple investigative techniques" could produce much information the army is trying to obtain through torture. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration is not torturing prisoners because it is useful but because of its symbolism."

Barbarism, more likely, not symbolism. The US may not have 'officially' practiced torture before, but it has had plenty of 'unofficial' practice via the CIA and other agencies. As in other matters, Bush is simply dropping the mask and openly adopting the techniques and characteristics of fascism and tyranny. It is all part of the relentless decline of the Republic and the end of liberal democracy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merger of Church and State corrupts both Church and State: "Which brings up one of the main reasons - almost always overlooked by modern-day commentators, both left and right - that the Founders and Framers were so careful to separate church and state: They didn't want religion to be corrupted by government. Many of the Founders were people of faith, and even the Deists like Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson were deeply touched by what Franklin called 'The Mystery.' And they'd seen how badly religious bodies became corrupted when churches acquired power through affiliation with or participation in government."

"Throughout most of the 1700s in Virginia, a citizen could be imprisoned for life for saying that there was no god, or that the Bible wasn't inerrant. "Little wonder," notes Cousins, "that Virginians like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison believed the situation to be intolerable.... Certainly the Founders wanted to protect government from being hijacked by the religious.... But several of them were even more concerned that the churches themselves would be corrupted by the lure of government's easy access to money and power."

"Madison even objected to government giving money to churches to care for the poor. It would be the beginning of a dangerous mixture, he believed - dangerous both to government and churches alike.... In Madison's mind, caring for the poor was a public and civic duty - a function of government - and must not be allowed to become a hole through which churches could reach and seize political power or the taxpayer's purse. Funding a church to provide for the poor would establish a "legal agency" - a legal precedent - that would break down the wall of separation the founders had put between church and state to protect Americans from religious zealots gaining political power.... But always, in Madison's mind, the biggest problem was that religion itself showed a long history of becoming corrupt when it had access to the levers of governmental power and money.... Yet now, in 2004, the religious appear to be on the verge of both corrupting government and being corrupted themselves by the power and influence government can wield."

Yukos forced by Putin to sell key asset: "The State had commandeered oil reserves of 11.63 billion barrels, or 17 per cent of Russia’s total, re-establishing control over a huge slice of an industry that is its main source of economic growth and international clout. “By doing so, the State will have restored its previous control over a big piece of an industry that is not only the most important element in the local economy, but, along with natural gas, is increasingly the modern equivalent of military might,” Christopher Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank, said.

"The auction effectively reversed the controversial privatisation deal, in which Mr Khodorkovsky bought Yukos’s oil and gas fields at way below their market value in the mid-1990s. It served as a chilling warning to Russia’s remaining oligarchs, who bought up the pillars of state industry for a song in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union."

Pew Global Survey: Additional Findings and Analyses: A Year After Iraq War: Fascinating survey results show the extent to which US credibility is broken worldwide. Some of the more interesting results: Majorities in every country except the US think the Iraq war has hurt the 'war on terrorism' rather than helped; majorities in France, Germany, Turkey, Russia and Pakistan believe British and US leaders lied about Iraqi WMDs (instead of being misled by their advisors); majorities in France, Germany, Turkey and Pakistan do not believe the US led war on terrorism is a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism; majorities in Russia, France, Germany, Pakistan and Turkey believe US motives are to control Mideast oil; France, Pakistan and Turkey believe the US aims to dominate the globe. And so on and so on.

The disastrous image of the US could be put down to a few factors: the breaking down of the propaganda machine (the internet has played a role here); the blatant nature of the Iraqi aggression combined with obvious lying; the deliberate disdain on the part of Bush for diplomacy; the ripping off of the mask by Bush and the neocons as they openly embrace goals of imperialism and domination.

Can Bush notice the Palestinian olive branch?: "The Palestine problem, a legacy of Western colonialism as virulent today as it ever was, has always been the greatest single source of anti-Western sentiment in the region.... The history of the conflict so far is one massive Zionist gain versus proportionate Palestinian loss. If the Palestinians were to secure the redress that other colonized peoples have earned, there would either be no Israel - just as there is no French Algeria - or Israel would be a binational state - like South Africa - in which it would lose its exclusively Jewish identity. But the Palestinians are not demanding that. They have formally committed themselves, via Oslo, to the loss of 78 percent of their original homeland. If there ever is a settlement, this concession, unique in the history of European decolonization, would rank as by far the greatest contribution to it. Moreover, it was under Arafat's auspices that the Palestinians made it."

Why Boycott Israel: "No matter how we define Israel, the fundamental and undisputed existence in it of a system of racial discrimination based on religious/ethnic identity is what motivates calls for South Africa-like sanctions against Israel. “Apartheid,” “Zionist settler-colonialism,” “Jewish supremacy,” ...etc. are all variations on the name of the ailment. What matters is how best to cure it.... As Etienne Balibar says, “Israel should not be allowed to instrumentalize the genocide of European Jews to put [itself] above the law of nations.” ... How can an ethno-religious supremacy that is also a colonial power ever qualify as a democracy? Israel may be a democracy for its Jewish citizens, but it is an apartheid for its Palestinian citizens, as argued earlier. New York University professor Tony Judt, for instance, calls Israel a “dysfunctional anachronism,” categorizing it among the “belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno states.”"

"Israel’s most celebrated philosopher, Asa Kasher, provided “ethical” justification for extra-judicial killings, even when a large number of innocent civilians are deliberately killed or injured in the process. Israel’s foremost military historian, Martin Van Creveld, of Hebrew University, advised the Israeli army in 2002 ... to commit swift genocide against the Palestinians, explaining that, “Perhaps 5.000 or 10.000 killed won’t be enough, and then we will have to kill more.” He concludes by saying, “it is better that there be one massive crime, after which we will exit and lock the gate behind us.” Like any proper peacenik, his ultimate objective remains to “exit” the occupied territories.

"Benny Morris has recently argued that completely emptying Palestine of its indigenous Arab inhabitants in 1948 might have led to peace in the Middle East. In response, Baruch Kimmerling, professor at Hebrew University, wrote: “Let me extend Benny Morris's logic …. If the Nazi programme for the final solution of the Jewish problem had been complete, for sure there would be peace today in Palestine.” Far from being isolated examples, such explicitly racist and criminal positions are quite popular in Israel today. They are not only condoned in universities, but highly praised."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Israelis vote with their fee t: "According to AFP, as many as 600,000 Israeli Jews have emigrated or become permanent citizens in North America, Australia or Europe since the beginning of the second intifada.This amounts to a steady monthly average stream of 12500 leaving the land of 'milk and honey' in search of greener pastures elsewhere.

"This vote of no confidence expressed by more than a million feet, representing a substantial chunk of Israeli Jews - more than 10% of the population - has become a new nightmare for the Sharon regime. Coupled with the fact that Palestinians are still denied their very basic and fundamental human rights, both in the Occupied Territories as well as in historic Palestine, demographics has turned into a new weapon of resistance."

"Some forthright commentators have offered the view that Jews are less secure in Israel than in other countries. They suggest that the racist ideological underpinning of the Jewish state - Zionism - is responsible for the instability within Israel. Their explanation is elementary material which most students of political science would understand without any difficulty: COLONIAL PROJECTS REMAIN UNSUSTAINABLE, INSECURE AND INDEFENSIBLE!

"Yet it appears that propagandists for Israel are bent on swimming against the tide of critical public opinion which is characterized by hugely popular solidarity campaigns against Israel. More important is the fact that these lobby groups, not satisfied with their dismal performance, are once again seeking to wield the axe of 'anti-semitism' to attack anti-Israeli comment. Radical efforts by Zionist groups to stem a growing body of public sympathy for Palestinian suffering at the hands of a brutal right-wing regime led by a warmonger Ariel Sharon, includes seeking international acceptance for a wider definition of 'anti-semitism', through conferences under the aegis of the United Nations.

"This is also extended by lobbyists to individual countries in Europe and the developing world. In the case of South Africa for instance, the issue of 'anti-semitism' has been raised by the Jewish Board of Deputies with President Mbeki. All these campaigns do not however detract from the fact that Israel is losing Jewish support."

Sharon will maintain roadblocks to peace: "Since the 1980s, Palestinian leaders, including Arafat, have sought only the rump 22 percent of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967 (the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab East Jerusalem). Under the 1993 Oslo Accords Palestinians recognized Israel in 78 percent of the historical Palestinian homeland and, along with the international community, naively assumed Israel would return all of the lands occupied in 1967."

Uri Avnery argues that Arafat effectively adopted this position following the 73 war, but it seems to have taken a while for it to be formally stated and adopted. The remarkable story of Palestine is that an internationally agreed political settlement has been available for at least 30 years, but it has been deliberately avoided by an endless series of crimes, evasions and breaches of international law on the part of the US and Israel, combined with a truly monumental barrage of propaganda to try and make the issue appear other than what it is.

Sham of democracy as U.S. caught in Kabul: "Afghanistan's new 'democratic' president is the world's most expensive mayor. Karzai rules only downtown Kabul, protected by 200 U.S. bodyguards, 17,000 U.S. troops and a token NATO force that includes Canadians. It costs Washington $1.6 billion US monthly to keep Karzai in power. Without the foreign troops' bayonets, Karzai's little puppet regime would quickly be swept away.

"The real power behind figurehead Karzai is the Northern Alliance, the rump of the old Afghan Communist Party, made up of Tajiks and Uzbeks. Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers almost totally ended poppy/heroin production. Today, America's Northern Alliance communist allies have restored the multibillion-dollar drug trade and are now said to control 95% of the world heroin supply. As in Indochina, the U.S. again finds itself in bed with major drug dealers while espousing a platitudinous 'war on drugs.'

"Outside Kabul, Afghanistan is a chaotic mess ruled by warlords, drug kingpins, and the Taliban, which is alive and well, waiting with legendary Pushtun patience for the U.S. to withdraw. The U.S. has stuck its head in a hornet's nest in Afghanistan. Staying on is hugely expensive and painful. But a U.S. pullout would be hailed as a triumph by anti-American forces across the Islamic world. So the U.S. is good and stuck in Afghanistan -- just what Osama bin Laden wanted."

Arafat dead and Bush re-elected: An Opportunity?: James Zogby rebuts some of the core myths of US corporate/state power in regard to Palestine: Arafat was the problem, Sharon is a man of peace, Barak offered the best deal ever and the Palestinians refused it, Palestinians need to become democratic.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

No Apology for Dissent: Truth and Cowardice: Eloquent rebuttal of the accusation that to be antiwar is to be a traitor.

Will Bush attack Syria and Iran?: "The CIA under Porter Goss has been through a Soviet-style purge and is being turned into an ersatz Office of Special Plans (OSP), which everyone remembers was a Rumsfeld-sponsored operation that specialized in fabricating false pretexts for the invasion of Iraq. The OSP was directed by neo-conservative Douglas Feith (who now wants the US to attack Iran). The new CIA is Feith's OSP on steroids. Goss' job is to make sure the CIA agrees with everything Bush and the neo-conservatives say."

"Bush and the neo-cons must implicate Syria by all means available. This week Bush warned both Syria and Iran against "meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq" - as if Baghdad was the capital of Ohio. On a more serious note, Pentagon military intelligence officials suddenly discovered a few days ago that the Iraqi resistance "is being directed to a greater degree than previously recognized from Syria" and funded by "private sources in Saudi Arabia and Europe"."

"It doesn't matter that Iran has agreed - at least temporarily - to stop enriching uranium, in exchange for security arrangements, trade, investment and support for World Trade Organization admission offered by the European "Big 3" of Germany, France and Britain. In the neo-con master plan, Iran is doomed to be "shocked and awed" by 2006. The chatter at the AEI, the PNAC and other think-tanks has been thunderous for quite some time: Iran could be bombed from American bases in Iraq, in Pakistan, or from warships in the Persian Gulf. There are no illusions about it at the European Union headquarters. According to a EU diplomat in Brussels, "This bitter controversy over the Iranian nuclear program works as a smokescreen. The neo-conservatives are obsessed with Iran as a fundamentalist Islamic regime bound on exterminating Israel." Another diplomat adds that the question is not Iran's virtual nukes, per se, but how to cripple Iran as a military power: "It's the same agenda for Israel, the Pentagon and the White House National Security Council." "

"European diplomats confirm that when they got together with their American counterparts in Washington last October to discuss Iran, there was simply nothing to discuss. Under Secretary of State John Bolton - a man who, on the record, wants the US to invade Iran - simply read aloud a text where the US refused to back any European Big 3 negotiations, and wanted Iran immediately dragged to the UN Security Council. European diplomats remain wary: "The Americans may be paralyzed at the moment - by the lack of international support and because they are trapped in Iraq. But we cannot underestimate the neo-conservatives, and especially Dick Cheney. He might end up convincing Bush of the need of a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear sites." Another diplomat adds that "the Americans complain all the time about our dialogue with the Iranians, but they are incapable of formulating an American strategy". "

"Both Iran and the EU have a tremendous stake in the success of the new round of negotiations, which started this week and will, according to European diplomats, last for many months. For Iran, a deal with the EU is a major twofold strategic victory: it amplifies the political abyss between Washington and Brussels, and from the point of view of Iranian consumers, it's good for business. For the EU, it's above all good for big business in the oil and gas industry. A who's who of European majors - Royal Dutch-Shell, Total-Fina-Elf, Agip, British Gas, Enterprise, Lasmo, Monument - already has and looks forward to expanding Iranian contracts. Not to mention the Chinese, who last month assured the Iranians in Beijing, after signing a major oil-and-gas deal, that they would block any move by the International Atomic Energy Agency to take the nuclear impasse to the UN Security Council."

"The joint negotiation with Iran has been one more indication of what these diplomats see as the EU's gradual emergence as a global political player - a historical inevitability. The EU will eventually have a collective military force - and then NATO's existence will be pointless. The EU has already questioned the neo-con equivalence of "pre-emptive war" with "just war". The EU - unlike Bush and the neo-cons - heavily supports the UN, as well as the World Court and the International Criminal Court. The EU is multilateral - a concept that is anathema for the neo-cons. Nonetheless, this all leads a diplomat to be overtly pessimistic: "Iran must prepare for an air attack from Israel and the US. This time, no one - the United Nations, the European Union, not even Britain - will be consulted." "

"Afghanistan's new democracy rests on the shoulder of the world's most expensive mayor (US$1.6 billion a month and counting), Hamid Karzai, who barely controls downtown Kabul protected by 200 American bodyguards, 17,000 American troops and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization contingent. Without all this heavy metal, Karzai would never last. The country is essentially ruled by the Tajiks and Uzbeks of the former Northern Alliance - who now control most of the world's supply of heroin - powerful regional warlords and the Taliban (in the south and southeast). So much for Afghan "democracy". "

Saturday, December 18, 2004

On Receiving Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award: "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

"Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'

"Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate."

Chomsky: Draft not likely: "The military command, and the civilian leadership, learned an important lesson in Vietnam: you can’t expect a citizen’s army to fight a vicious, brutal colonial war. Their predecessors knew that. The British, French, etc., provided the officer corps, special forces, and professional military, but relied on the Foreign Legion, Ghurkas, Indian troops, and other mercenaries. That’s standard. The US made a serious tactical error in this regard in Vietnam—though it had plenty of mercenaries too: South Korean, Thai, and others. In Iraq, the US is using what amounts to a mercenary army of the disadvantaged, and the second largest military force is the “private” companies made up of ex-military officers, South African killers, etc.

"In Vietnam, the army collapsed from within: drugs, killing officers, etc. Citizens are not trained killers, and they are not sufficiently dissociated from the civilian culture at home to fight colonial wars properly. The top brass wanted the army out, before it fell apart. And the civilian leadership agreed."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Yushchenko 'Poison Plot' Fraud: Justin Raimondo reiterates his doubts about the case, pointing out the links between Yuschenko and the Western powers. Official corruption and media lying is of such a scale that, somewhat like the 'Bulgarian plot to kill the Pope', a gigantic fraud could be perpetrated.

Investigative reporter Gary Webb dead by suicide: This article together with its links reviews the way in which the CIA has been involved in criminal drug smuggling for fifty years as a means of raising illegal funds. The opportunity to engage in such activity and to raise such funds must certainly be one of the main and enduring reasons for the phony 'war on drugs' and drug prohibition policy; and also therefore one of the main arguments in favour of drug law reform. There is no way to avoid the obvious conclusion, that the vast profits of drug smuggling repeatedly generate vast corruption in societal institutions.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Decline of Israeli Democracy
: "High Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak has just compared Israel’s current situation, in the presence of Israel’s president, to Nazi Germany. A Holocaust survivor himself, Barak said, “If it could happen in the country of Kant and Beethoven, it can happen everywhere. If we don’t defend democracy, democracy will not defend us!”"

"The changed character of the State of Israel’s political leadership goes beyond the weight of the army high command. The major role of fundamentalist religious parties on the one hand and Russian parties on the other must also be emphasized. These two political forces represent and give a voice to currents in Israeli society to which references to democracy, the rule of law, and separation of powers and civil liberties mean absolutely nothing.... Both currents share a boundless anti-Arab racism. The only difference between them is the Russians’ hatred and contempt for believers and religion. This is admittedly no small thing at a time when the religious forces are pushing to install a quasi-theocracy in place of the “Jewish democratic state.” ... Underestimating the weight of these openly undemocratic currents in the Israeli political class would be a serious mistake. Even numerically they already account for more than a fourth of the members of the Knesset and almost half the ministers in the current government. Ideologically the old “Jewish and democratic,” non-religious Zionist worldview with its liberal connotations is in full retreat""

"Many on the left are fully aware that the very existence of Israel is at stake. They are sending their children abroad, buying property in Europe, and trying to get hold of a second passport."

The occupation is ruining Israel, and as Chomsky has said, support for the occupation ('support for Israel') is in reality support for Israel's ruination. If things in Israel continue to deteriorate, Europe and the West - which promoted and encouraged the folly of Zionism and its fundamentally racist conceptions of 'removing' Jews from European countries and creating a 'Jewish State' at the expense of Arabs - have a responsibility to take back in the refugees.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

White supremacist party (mistakenly) hires black DJ for Christmas party
: "The Christmas party was held by the BNP's Central London branch at a hotel in the centre of the capital.... Official Bob Garner said: 'There was a bit of a cock-up. The chap who booked him didn't realise. The DJ sounded white on the phone.' ... Another BNP member said: "A DJ came in and, yes, he was of African origin".... "What are you supposed to do? Tell him to clear off? It was very, very embarrassing." Some members of the far right group were so outraged by the blunder they walked out of the hotel where their party was staged.... But some younger members thought it was a bit ironic and danced away the night."

Budget deficit and Dollar crisis: "A second disturbing feature of the global financial system is that it has become a giant money press as America's easy-money policy has spilled beyond its borders. Total global liquidity is growing faster in real terms than ever before. Emerging economies that try to fix their currencies against the dollar, notably in Asia, have been forced to amplify the Fed's super-loose monetary policy: when central banks buy dollars to hold down their currencies, they print local money to do so. This gush of global liquidity has not pushed up inflation. Instead it has flowed into share prices and houses around the world, inflating a series of asset-price bubbles."

When has Howard, the Treasurer Costello, or the opposition spokesperson ever tried to discuss the low interest rate and housing boom conditions in Australia in the context of the international situation, particularly global liquidity?

Rabid dogs shot in Fallujah: "The marines are not chasing down the insurgents who they defeated in a devastating assault on the city last month. Their quarry is stray animals grown fat on the flesh from corpses and who could harbor rabies."

Liberal cluelessness over Iraq sanctions: "I once was a certain type of nice American liberal. Perhaps you yourself have encountered this type. It is the type that reads the New York Times, often listens to NPR, and enthusiastically voted for Bill Clinton. The type has good intentions. The type wants the best for all. But the type has the unmatched ability to miss the WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF EVERYTHING."

The New York Review of Books: On War: "Those who carry out this killing will pay a terrible price. As the unit approaches Baghdad they become weary with the indiscriminate shooting of unarmed Iraqis, including families that drive too close to roadblocks. Wright notes that '...the enlisted Marines, tired of shooting unarmed civilians, fought to be allowed to use smoke grenades.' Many of these young men will never sleep well for the rest of their lives. Most will harbor within themselves corrosive feelings of self-loathing and regret. They will struggle with an unbridgeable alienation when they return home....

"These Marines have learned the awful truth about our civil religion. They have learned that our nation is not righteous. They have understood that there are no transcendent goals at the heart of our political process. The Sunday School God that blesses our nation above all others vanishes in war zones like Iraq. These young troops disdain the teachers, religious authorities, and government officials who feed them these lies. This is why so many combat veterans hate military shrinks and chaplains, whose task is largely to patch them up with the old clich?s and ship them back to the battlefield. It is why they feel distance and anger with those at home who drink in the dark elixir of blind patriotism, and absorb mythology about themselves and war."

"Before the cloth covered her, I saw that the girl was covered in blood. Her brother looked as though he were sleeping. But they both were dead. Their mother was there, beside herself with grief. She was the woman I had heard wailing and hitting the walls. Then almost all the onlookers around the mother, including the doctors and nurses, broke down and cried. I was overcome and went outside and sat down. I wept. The children's father was sitting a few feet away from me, disconsolately sobbing into his arms."

"We are losing the war in Iraq. There has been a steady increase in the assaults carried out by the insurgents against coalition forces. The attacks over the past year have risen from about twenty a day to approximately 120. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are tyrants to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens' expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. The tyranny Athens imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. If we do not confront our hubris and the lies told to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, we will not so much defeat dictators like Saddam Hussein as become them."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Coming of Deindustrial Society: A Practical Response: "With the coming of Peak Oil and the beginning of long-term, irreversible declines in the availability of fossil fuels (along with many other resources), modern industrial civilization faces a wrenching series of unwelcome transitions. This comes as a surprise only for those who haven't been paying attention. More than thirty years ago, the Club of Rome's epochal study The Limits to Growth pointed out that unless something was done, a global economy based on fantasies of perpetual growth would collide disastrously with the hard limits of a finite planet sometime in the early twenty-first century. The early twenty-first century is here, nothing was done, and the consequences are arriving on schedule. The road that would have brought industrial society through a transformation to sustainability turned out to be the road not taken. The question that remains is what we can do with the limited time we have left."

"There are specific practical things that can be done, right now, to deal with the hard realities of our situation. The problem is that most of them are counterintuitive, and fly in the face of very deeply rooted attitudes on all sides of the political spectrum.

"The first point that has to be grasped is that proposals for system-wide, top-down change - getting the Federal government to do something constructive about the situation, for instance - are a waste of time. That sort of change isn't going to happen. It's not simply a matter of who's currently in power, although admittedly that doesn't help. The core of the problem is that even proposing changes on a scale that would do any good would be political suicide.

"Broadly speaking, our situation is this: our society demands energy inputs on a scale, absolute and per capita, that can't possibly be maintained for more than a little while longer. Sustainable energy sources can only provide a small fraction of the energy we're used to getting from fossil fuels."

"Quite a few people nowadays are insisting that it's not true, that we can continue our present lavish, energy-wasting lifestyle indefinitely by switching from oil to some other energy source: hydrogen, biodiesel, abiotic oil, fusion power, "free energy" technology, and so on down the list of technological snake oil. Crippling issues of scale, and the massive technical problems involved in switching an oil-based civilization to some other fuel in time to make a difference, stand in the path of such projects, but those get little air time; if we want endless supplies of energy badly enough, the logic seems to be, the universe will give it to us. The problem is that the universe did give it to us - in the form of immense deposits of fossil fuels stored up over hundreds of millions of years of photosynthesis - and we wasted it. Now we're in the position of a lottery winner who's spent millions of dollars in a few short years and is running out of money. The odds of hitting another million-dollar jackpot are minute, and no amount of wishful thinking will enable us to keep up our current lifestyle by getting a job at the local hamburger joint."

Picture: Bush dons fascistic-style faux military uniform

Chomsky: Speculation on Occupation: "My guess was that the “war” would take a few days. To my surprise, it lasted much longer, so much so that in the first few weeks the mainstream press was reporting serious setbacks. After that rather surprising failure, I expected that this would be perhaps the easiest military occupation in history, and with even a minimum amount of sanity on the part of the civilian planners, it probably would have been. To my great surprise, Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz and the rest have created a huge catastrophe—one of the worst in military history, so highly knowledgeable correspondents have pointed out (for one, Patrick Cockburn, who knows the region and its history well). The Nazis had an easier time setting up client governments and domestic security forces in occupied Europe, the Russians surely did in their satellites. In fact, it is hard to think of a counterpart, particularly when the circumstances were so favorable: a country that had been driven to total ruin, virtually no external support for resistance and no counter whatsoever to the occupying army that was, furthermore, by far the most powerful military force in history and with huge resources at its command, etc. It took real genius to fail."

Jailed Palestinian leads election polls: "Nimr said the fact that Barghouti [the highest Palestinian official in Israeli custody] is in prison would not stop him from serving as president. 'He will appoint a strong prime minister and a strong vice president,' Nimr said. 'They will be visiting him from week to week to get instructions.'"

"Abbas ... enjoys the tacit support of the international community."

This means that Abbas is the US/Israeli candidate, which is probably the single biggest argument against his candidacy. It is reminiscent of Apartheid and Mandela. Barghouti's goals are the same as everyone else's - the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Occupied Territories and the creation of a Palestinian State on same territories - and all he might need to do is sit in jail until the Israeli government sees sense. Like Mandela, he could even have the option of refusing release until such time as reasonable demands are met.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Chomsky: Anarchism Interview: "Even democracy is feared. It is so deep-seated that people can’t even see it. If we take a look at the Boston Globe on July 4th - July 4 is of course Independence Day, praising independence, freedom and democracy – we find that they had an article on George Bush’s attempt to get some support in Europe, to mend fences after the conflict. They interviewed the foreign policy director of the “libertarian” Cato Institute, asking why Europeans are critical of the US. He said something like this: The problem is that Germany and France have weak governments, and if they go against the will of the population, they have to pay a political cost. This is the libertarian Cato Institute talking. The fear of democracy and hatred of it is so profound that nobody even notices it. In fact the whole fury about Old Europe and New Europe last year was very dramatic, particularly the fact that the criterion for membership in one or the other was somehow not noticed. The criterion was extremely sharp. If the government took the same position as the overwhelming majority of the population, it was bad: “Old Europe – bad guys.” If the government followed orders from Crawford, Texas and overruled an even larger majority of the population, then it was the hope of the future and democracy: Berlusconi, Aznar, and other noble figures. This was pretty uniform across the spectrum, just taken for granted. The lesson was: if you have a very strong government you don’t have to pay a political cost if you overrule the population. That’s admirable. That’s what governments are for – to overrule the population and work for the rich and powerful. It is so deep-seated that it wasn’t even seen."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Waist deep in the big sandy and the little fool (John 'Dubya' Howard) says push on: "American forces and Iraqi insurgents fought running battles in the heart of Baghdad yesterday.... The battles erupted in the Haifa Street district only three blocks from the Green Zone, where the US administration and the interim government have their headquarters. Shooting began when insurgents appeared on the streets looking for Iraqis who co-operate with US forces. The gunmen killed one man as a collaborator and then exchanged fire with US troops in armoured vehicles.

"Security in Baghdad is now so bad that when Robert Hill, the Australian Defence Minister, landed at Baghdad airport last week it was deemed too dangerous for him to travel along the airport road to Baghdad. He was unable to visit the Australian embassy."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

You Asked for my Evidence, Mr Ambassador. Here It Is: Another damning article by Naomi Klein also includes one of the classic quotes of the Iraq war: "'the hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumors about heavy casualties'"

The Role of Boycotts in the Fight for Peace: "Sporadic and spontaneous boycotts, local in form, have been taking place in cities throughout the globe. National Public Radio (U.S.) reports that thousands of Europeans, repulsed by the election of Bush, are refusing to buy American goods. One placard in a Paris window says: 'Promote peace. Don't buy American.' According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, Europe is simmering. 'You're going to see American profits disappear. American corporations are going to be in big trouble. It's going to be a mantra not to buy American. All our major manufacturers are reporting major slowdowns in Europe. You're going to see the dollar disappear.'"

Interview with Chalmers Johnson -- Part 1. An Empire of More Than 725 military: Johnson puts the total budget of US military at $750b per annum.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The 'Values' of the Millionaire Pundit Class: "Fox anchor Chris Wallace discussed his inspiring new book, Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage.... 'My—a fellow, an agent, Bill Adler, came up, called me up and said, Have you ever thought of writing a book? And I said, yes, but I never have had an idea.'

"'And [the Pullman strikers] counted, the labor people, on their friend in the White House staying out, or, if anything, caving in to their demands, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland, who, as I say, was a huge friend of labor, felt that the nation`s security was in jeopardy. And he really went against the Constitution because at the time, there was—you—presidents were not allowed to send troops into a state unless the governor asked for the troops, and Governor [John] Altgeld of Illinois didn`t want them because he was a—he favored labor. And so Cleveland went against the law, went against Altgeld, sent in federal troops, restored order. '"

Classic stuff - a clueless 'pundit' who thinks it is 'courage' for a people's leader to be a class traitor and behaves like a fascist. How detested is the modern corporate 'punditocracy'.

Evidence Gained Through Using Torture OK, US Officials Say: "Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government says.

"Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Peace?...: Address by Sydney Peace Prize winner Arundhati Roy

George Monbiot: Feeding Cars, Not People: Biofuels (unlike hydrogen cells) are shaping up as one of the few viable sources of alternative, renewable energy. And yes, as Monbiot points out, they cannot possibly replace what oil supplies now. But they could create a vast new 'cashcrop' plantation-style industry in the thirdworld jungles of the Congo, the Amazon and Borneo. The natives will starve so that firstworld automobiles can continue to roll a little bit longer.

"I know the definition of sustainable development has been changing, but I wasn't aware that it now encompasses mass starvation and the eradication of tropical forests."

Oil is used primarily for transport and agriculture. What would you do in a world without oil? Starve to death where you stand, basically.

That's pretty much the current 'plan', if you want to call it that. That's what I call 'Plan Snooze'. The other popular plan is 'Plan War': the guys with the biggest guns will grab the stuff they need and kill anyone who opposes them. 'Plan Powerdown' is the only sane approach, which is to transition to a sustainable economy which uses less energy per capita. Monbiot's article seems to me a pretty revealing indicator of the state of 'planning' in spite of the fact that we are this deep into the crisis already.

The incentive structure should be taxation on scarce resources and on polluters rather than grants or subsidies to new and renewable industries. The proceeds of such taxation need to be invested into sustainable energy and socio-economic systems. For example, instead of providing taxpayer-funded subsidies and grants to the coal industry to encourage less C02 emission, a carbon tax should be imposed which would provide a general market incentive both for alternative fuels and for reduced emissions, in addition to providing desperately need public funds for essential investments such as research or light and heavy rail.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Wrath of the Jews: "Before 1967, it didn’t fit into American strategic interests to talk about Jews or their history of oppression, particularly in the same sentence as the word “justice.” After 1967, when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and conquered the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights, the US government decided that Israel could serve as a surrogate for US interests in the Middle East. 1967 was the year when the US discovered Israel, and it was the year when the Holocaust was “remembered.” The discovery of Israel happened as selectively as the remembering of the Holocaust. The US discovered Israel as a military ally, not as a country with ordinary people, and so US aid to Israel reflected that. Most US aid to Israel, including economic aid, has been spent for expenses related to purchasing military equipment from the US. In order to justify that strategic relationship in moral terms, a new history of the Holocaust was “remembered.”"

This article suggests one of the great untold scandals of the 20th Century: that the Holocaust could only be bothered to be remembered if Israel could be a useful client of a major power.

As Israel Shahak has pointed out, it all has a terribly grim echo of the past in Eastern Europe. So long as the Jews were useful to the Tsar, they could be so used and rewarded, but what would the Tsar really care if grassroots rage led to pogroms? And even more sinisterly, what if, amongst and embittered and traumatised population, grassroots rage could be systematically exploited by cynical and ruthless politicians? One would like to think such a horror could not be replicated, but what folly is it to risk the same or something similar.

Is Syria serious about peace with Israel?: "The revival of the Syrian-Israeli track of the Middle East peace process could help deflect the intense pressure Syria is facing from the international community over its policies toward neighboring Lebanon and Iran."

This is a classic example of the kind of newspeak that Chomsky has often commented on: 'International Community' means the US (+Israel, or some other client state). The rest of the world is opposed. The reality is that according to Avnery, Syria (and the PLO) would 'sign on the spot' if offered the same terms that Sadat was offered, ie every inch of their territory. The correct narrative is that the isolated states of Israel and the US are the barriers to peace in the Middle East, in that they continually reject the terms of an acceptable peace. The motive is in Israel the Zionist madness, that they can continue indefinitely to expel or kill Arabs and colonise more Arab land; and in the US that Israel is a useful client state adjoining the world's energy reserves.

An Antiwar Veteran: "It was a pretty miserable and complicated experience, some days were more agonizing than others.... On one of my trips to drop off a detainee at the jail, the Senior Interrogator told us not to bring them in any more. ‘Just shoot them’ he said, I was stunned, I couldn’t believe he actually said it. He was not joking around, he was giving us a directive. A few days later a group of Humvees from another unit passed by one of our machine gun positions, and they had the bodies of two dead Iraqi’s strapped to their hoods like a couple of deer. One of the bodies had exposed brain matter that had begun to cook onto the hood of the vehicle, it was a gruesome, medieval display. So much of what I experienced seemed out of control, I saw so little respect for the living and almost none for the dead, and there was almost no accountability."