Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hunter S Thompson RIP: Kingdom of Fear : Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century: "See you tomorrow, folks. You haven't heard the last of me. I am the one who speaks for the spirit of freedom and decency in you. Shit. Somebody has to do it.

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world- a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us... No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.

"Well, shit on that dumbness. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today- and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever.

"Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill "gooks". They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character.

"They are racists and hate mongers among us-they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Media complicity in war crimes: "Stupidity, outrage, vanity, cruelty, iniquity, bad faith, falsehood - we fail to see the whole array when it is facing in the same direction as we." (Jean Rostand)

"Article six of the Nuremberg Tribunal ... states:

"Leaders, organisers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes (crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity) are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such a plan."

"Put crudely, the impoverished people of Iraq do not matter to the top 5% of the British population who own 45% of the nation's wealth and who run the country. Elite journalists are very much members of this 5% club. And so they take for granted that 'democracy' for Iraqis means the freedom to make 'reasonable' choices as defined by the people who matter. To do otherwise is not to express democratic freedom of choice, it is to invite bombing and invasion. The disregard for the people of Iraq - as clearly evidenced by long-standing Western support for Saddam Hussein, and by the genocidal sanctions imposed from 1990 to 2003 - makes the sudden determination to bring them 'liberty' and 'democracy' very hard to swallow."

"Leyne added that bringing the Sunnis into the political process might not stop the suicide bombers, but it could split the insurgency and drain popular support. Nowhere in Newsnight's review of the election results was there mention of whether the political process might help lessen the far worse violence committed against Iraqis by the US-UK "coalition". Last year, a report in The Lancet found that eighty-four per cent of an excess 100,000 Iraqi deaths since the invasion had been caused by the actions of "coalition" forces, with 95 per cent of those deaths due to air strikes and artillery.

"Newsnight also failed to mention the prospects for alleviating the "coalition's" criminal mismanagement of its already illegal occupation. A 2004 post-war nutritional assessment carried out by UNICEF in Baghdad found that acute child malnutrition or wasting had nearly doubled from four per cent in 2003, to almost eight per cent. UNICEF also report that the under-5 infant mortality for 2003 was 110,000 in occupied Iraq, 292,000 in occupied Afghanistan, as compared to 1,000 in the invading and occupying country Australia (countries that have populations of 25, 24 and 20 million, respectively)."

"In the autumn of 1999 US Vice President Dick Cheney - then CEO of Halliburton - said:

"Oil companies are expected to keep developing enough oil to offset oil depletion and also to meet new demand... So where is this oil going to come from?... The Middle East with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies."

"Reviewing these comments, Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, notes that it will be entirely obvious to future historians that oil was a key factor in the decision to invade Iraq: "They will point to growing US dependence on foreign oil, the competition with China, India, and others for a world oil supply with terminal illness, and the fact that (as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has put it) Iraq 'swims on a sea of oil.' It will all seem so obvious as to provoke little more than a yawn."

""The success of the election does not absolve Britain and the United States from their duty as guardians of democracy. That role has historically been the destiny of the English-speaking peoples." At a stroke Britain and the United States are transformed from illegal invaders on utterly false pretexts, the killers of more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, into "guardians of democracy".

"Alas, one group of people rejects the Telegraph's view: the Iraqis themselves. A recent US-run poll of Baghdadis showed that one per cent agreed that the goal of the invasion was to bring democracy to Iraq. Five per cent thought the goal was to help Iraqis. The majority assumed the US wants to control Iraq's resources and to use its new bases there to control the region. Demonstrating insight far beyond the capacity of most Western journalists, Baghdadis felt that the US did want 'democracy', but not one that would allow Iraqis to run their lives "without US pressure and influence."

"All of this will indeed one day be obvious. But not now, for we live in a time when the conforming influence of concentrated political and economic power has devastated the media's capacity for honest and rational thought. As long as journalists continue to submit to this oppression of the human spirit, they will continue to be complicit in the gravest imaginable crimes against humanity."

Barsamian: Media Censorship: "The New York Times, this great liberal newspaper, had 70 editorials between September 11, 2001 and the attack on Iraq, March 20, 2003. In not one of those editorials was the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Tribunal, or any aspect of international law ever mentioned. Now, those guys know that these things exist, and that’s a perfect example of censorship by omission. And so if you were reading the New York Times over that period, during the buildup to the war, you would not have had the sense that the United States was planning on doing something that was a gross violation of international law, and national law for that matter."

"In Ben Bagdikian’s Media Monopoly in 1983, he said there were 50 corporations that control most of the media. Then it became 28, then 23, then 14. Then 10. Then, in his latest book, it’s down to 5. 5 corporations control the media. And by the media, I don’t just mean TV. I mean Hollywood movies, radio, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, books, books on tapes, CDs. 5 corporations."

"There are instances we know of where the Pentagon generated video news reports and then gave them to various TV stations. This is spoon-fed propaganda coming straight from the Pentagon and being broadcast as news. Yes, there’s supposed to be a difference, but that difference is increasingly blurred. There’s a dependency relationship between corporate media journalists and state power. They depend on government for news, for information, for favors, for all kinds of perks. Thomas Friedman boasted that he used to play golf with the Secretary of State James Baker. Brit Hume said he played tennis with Colin Powell. If, on the other hand, you’re a working journalist, and let’s say, you’re assigned to the White House—and you ask challenging questions. Pretty soon, you’re not going to get called on at these press conferences. Pretty soon when you request a meeting with the Deputy Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, your phone calls aren’t returned. In other words, you’re being blacklisted. Your editor is flummoxed because he needs stories from people in power—they depend on people in power for information.... You risk your career when you go up against power. I remember Erwin Knoll used to be the editor of the Progressive Magazine. He died a few years ago. He told me once that, when he was a reporter in Washington—he asked Lyndon Johnson a very challenging question. Johnson kind of brushed him off, and after that, Knoll got the cold shoulder from the White House."

"The electronic media is actually licensed by the federal government, by the Federal Communications Commission. So here’s another area where there’s this relationship. The airwaves belong to the people of the United States; they constitute—probably, it’s hard to measure—the most valuable physical resource in the United States. You can’t grab the airwaves. You can’t put up your finger right now and touch them. But the airways are part of the patrimony of the people of the United States. And what has the FCC done over many years? It has given away this valuable resource, and we don’t even get anything for it. They don’t even pay for the right to propagandize—we pay for the right to receive propaganda. All this despite that the Federal Communications Commission enabling legislation specifically says that the airwaves belong to the people."

"Commercials. They have moved way to the right, in terms of their programming. PBS, for instance, which I call the Petroleum Broadcasting Service. So much of its revenue comes Exxon Mobil, and Chevron-Texaco. NPR has become a mere shadow of its former self. I mean—and I don’t want to overstate it, since it was never spectacular—in its early days, it still had some cojones, it still had some sense of rebelliousness. It’s been largely tamed now."

This is why it has been such a mistake for SBS in Australia to accept advertising. It is still the best news source of all the TV stations, but will be inevitably 'tamed'.

Proportional Representation (Hare-Clark) Analysis of the 2001 Polls for the 40th Australian House of Representatives: This is a link to a detailed analysis of the actual 2001 Federal election result under the existing single-member electorate system and what the result would have been had the Hare-Clark system been in use instead.

Careful consideration of this information shows the serious (and quite typical) flaws of the single-member system, and how much better and fairer the result would be under Hare-Clark. For example, the Liberal/National coalition gained only 43.01% of first preference results, yet they gained 54.67% seats in the House. In South Australia, the coalition won 45.9% of the first preference votes, and yet gained 75% of the seats. In Queensland, Labor won 35% of the first preference votes, but only 26% of the seats.

Brits, Yanks, Asleep as Ancient Liberties Fade: "Now, they [British and American people] mostly watch the mindless Reality TV shows or their favorite pro sports events and let the repulsive Neocons and George W. Bush, and his “poodle,” UK’s PM Tony Blair, run their warmongering agendas. Incidentally, where is the national interest in fighting a war in the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, Big Oil and the Military-Industrial Complex?

"In the past, if a Brit or Yank were jailed without due process of law, their antagonist would passionately be reminded of historic Runnymede, the Magna Charta, the majestic Common Law, William Blackstone’s brilliant Commentaries, Natural Law and of the supremacy of their Constitutions.... They have always expected the worst from their governments, since they knew human nature is flawed, with a tendency, unless checked, to abuse political power.

"And yet today, law after draconian law, has been placed on the statutory books in both countries that rip the revered “Rights of Englishmen,” the cherished U.S. Constitution, and the hallowed Bill of Rights to shreds. In the U.S., it’s the dreaded USA Patriot Act and related devices, the domestic intelligence agencies created after 9/11, and also the fact that preventive detention is now the law of the land, that are doing the foul deed. (7) And in Queen Elizabeth’s shaky Realm, it’s their “Prevention of Terrorism” law that is the main culprit.... Brits and Yanks have hardly said a word in response to these outrages. Now, this is a revealing fact about the true state of both of these once-spirited peoples."

"The sages insist that, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” In 2005, in the UK and in America, unfortunately, that price hasn’t been paid. And as a result, our ancient liberties and freedoms are fading as never before in our respective histories. In the meantime, the War Parties of both countries are engaged in bloody conflicts that are unjust and immoral and in the interests only of the powerful Wire Pullers (read New World Order) behind the scenes.... Only an awakened citizenry can remedy this alarming situation, which can only get worse unless all people of conscience in the UK and America take effective action to bring it immediately to an end. Remember, we, as a collective, are the root source of the power of our governments. They are merely our agents. And that we, the people, have the right and the solemn duty, when circumstances compel us to do so, to take that power back!"

It is truly remarkable how governments have introduced the methods of tyranny and authoritarianism - official lies, torture, represssion, aggressive war - to so little objection from the citizenry of the Anglo-saxon countries (including Australia).

Why Are We Welcoming This Torturer?: "George Bush is this week having an extravagantly orchestrated series of meetings with Europe's leaders, designed to show a united front for the creation of democracy around the world. Tony Blair talks of our 'shared values'. No one mentions the word that makes this show a mockery: torture. It is now undeniable that the US administration, at the highest levels, is responsible for the torture that has been routine not only, as seen round the world in iconic photographs, at Abu Ghraib, but at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. Meanwhile, in prisons in Egypt, Jordan and Syria (and no doubt others we do not know about), Muslim men have been tortured by electric shocks to the genitals, by being kept in water, by being threatened with death - after being flown to those countries by the CIA for that very purpose.

"How can it be that not one mainstream public figure in Europe has denounced these appalling practices and declared that, in view of all we now know of cells, cages, underground bunkers, solitary confinement, sodomy and threatened sodomy, beatings, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, mock executions and kidnapping, President Bush and his officials are not welcome? Perhaps it's not surprising given the British army's own dismal record in southern Iraq. Why has no public figure had the honesty to admit that the democracy and freedom promised for the Middle East are fake and mask US plans to leave Washington dominant in the area? And why does no one say publicly that what is really happening in the 'war on terror' is a war on Muslims that is creating a far more dangerous world for all?"

"The lack of moral courage that prevents our leaders, religious as well as political, from speaking out against all this is deeply disturbing. Either they choose not to know or, by not speaking out, they tacitly condone it."

The 'war on terra' is in reality a war against Muslims for control of the oil. It is a grim foretaste of what is to come as energy reserves deplete around the world and the environment and economy collapses. The unfortunate record of state action throughout history clearly indicates that war and violence ('war abroad and repression at home') will be the most likely response. The people of the world must rise against their own governments to change this and plan a transition to a sustainable society that does not sacrifice human rights nor the hard won achievements of liberal and social democracy.

Friday, February 18, 2005

NZ Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons Full Speech: “Picnic for the Planet 2005”: "This speech by Jeanette Fitzsimmons, co-leader of the New Zealand nation Greens Party, is surely the most forceful and clear description of Peak Oil given by any politician anywhere in the world to date. (Not I suppose that there is much competition yet.) She says 'the end of cheap oil is coming towards us with the force of a tsunami and New Zealand is not ready.' Acknowledging Peak Oil seems difficult for any politician, even Greens party members accross the world, because it means acknowledging and challenging some the most fundamental economic doctrines and modern cultural assumptions of perpetual growth, while making it very difficult to promise a better, or at least more convenient, world."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

World Tribunal on Iraq: Media Held Guilty of Deception: "A peoples tribunal has held much of Western media guilty of inciting violence and deceiving people in its reporting of Iraq."

"The informal panel of WTI judges accused the United States and the British governments of impeding journalists in performing their task, and intentionally producing lies and misinformation. The panel accused western corporate media of filtering and suppressing information, and of marginalising and endangering independent journalists. More journalists were killed in a 14-month period in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam war."

""This is not simply an exercise to denounce the mainstream media for their bias and incompetence," said Dr. Tony Alessandrini, a human rights activist who has published several articles on the U.S. colonisation of Iraq. "These denunciations have been going on for months. Here in Rome, we must go further.." Alessandrini, who helped organised the WTI added, "What we are being asked to consider is not simply media bias, but rather the active complicity of media in crimes that have been committed and are being committed on a daily basis against the people in Iraq.""

""This is about condemning journalistic complicity of war crimes," said Dr. Miller, who is also co-editor of Spinwatch, a group that monitors public relations and propaganda. Miller said the Pentagon "does not recognise the concept of independent journalists, because they are providers of unfriendly information", and that mainstream media in the United States and in Britain was "complicit in furthering the selling of the invasion, and ongoing occupation. All studies conducted on mainstream media show dominance by government policies, and wartime coverage of TV news in the UK was generally sympathetic to the government's case.." "

An Anti-Democracy Foreign Policy: Guatemala: "Unfortunately, the CIA “success” in Iran, which produced the CIA’s ouster of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, bred a CIA “success” in another part of the world, Latin America. One year after the 1953 coup in Iran, the CIA did it again, this time in Guatemala, where U.S. officials feared the communist threat even more than they did in Iran.

"This time, the target was the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, a self-avowed socialist whose domestic policies were in fact modeled after the socialist New Deal policies of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

"Arbenz’s socialist mindset had driven him to adopt an “agrarian reform plan,” a type of land-distribution scheme that unfortunately is all too common in Latin America. The plan entailed the confiscation of a portion of land owned by a major U.S. corporation operating in Guatemala at that time, United Fruit, and its redistribution to Guatemalan peasants. While the plan was an almost perfect embodiment of the socialist concept of taking property from the rich to give to the poor, in actuality it was no different in principle from the wealth-redistribution revolution that FDR’s welfare-state concept brought to America, whereby the primary purpose of the federal government became taxing the income of the rich in order to redistribute the money to the needy (or, in reality, to the politically privileged)."

The author here cannot perceive that the god- or nature-given land and natural resources of Guatemala (or any country) belong to the people of that country, not foreign corporations, or foreign (or domestic) elites. Land reform is an inevitable and necessary process when the concentration of land ownership has reached manifestly unjust as well as politically and economically unsustainable levels. The opposition to this process (as here in Gautemala and elsewhere) speaks for itself. And the description of the 'needy' as the 'politically privileged' is comical. Land, wealth, guns, death squads and immunity demonstrate where the real political privilege exists.

"Consequently, flush with the “success” of its coup in Iran the year before, in 1954 the CIA secretly organized and engineered a military coup in Guatemala that ousted the democratically elected Arbenz from power. Schlesinger and Kinzer write:

"'The United States organized, financed, and equipped the invasion forces. U.S. personnel flew the rebel aircraft and filled the airways with bogus transmissions suggesting a much larger force had invaded. Unrelenting U.S. diplomatic and political pressure encouraged treason and demoralized supporters. CIA assets in the officer corps and the administration worked actively to undermine President Arbenz's authority and block efforts to move against the rebels.'

"Unaware that the CIA was orchestrating the military coup against him, throughout the crisis Arbenz turned to the U.S. government for help, innocently placing his faith in a government that was purportedly committed to advancing democracy. On Sunday, June 27, 1954, democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz was ousted from office and fled Guatemala. The CIA replaced him with an unelected Guatemalan military dictator, Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, whom the CIA designated the “Liberator” of the Guatemalan people.

"Canceling the presidential election scheduled for 1955 and continuing “emergency” suspension of civil liberties, including freedom of the press, Castillo Armas retained the unwavering support of the U.S. government. A year after taking office, he visited Washington, where he was warmly greeted by Vice President Richard Nixon and, not surprisingly given that he was a military man, was accorded the privilege of reviewing a U.S. military honor guard with Nixon at his side. Nixon visted Guatemala in 1955, declaring that “this is the first instance in history were a Communist government has been replaced by a free one.” "

It is a great crime that the United States has perpetrated here, a crime that is the very negation of democracy in the most violent and horrific manner possible. And yet too often it does not occur to people to cease taking official statements at face value and pay attention only to the facts.

" "The [Historical Clarification Commission], which was headed by a German lawyer, Christian Tomuschat, estimated that the conflict had caused more than 200,000 deaths, and blamed the military for 93 percent of them. In a speech presenting the report, Mr. Tomuschat said that while he and his fellow commissioners knew when they began their work more or less what had happened during the conflict, “no one of us could have imagined the dimensions of this tragedy, not even the Guatemalan commissioners who had lived through the experience directly.”

" “It is with profound sadness that the commission learned of the extreme cruelty with which many of the violations were committed, of the large number of girls and boys who were victims of violent cruelty and murder, and of the special brutality directed against women, especially against Mayan women, who were tortured, raped and murdered,” Mr. Tomuschat said. “State security forces blindly pursued the anti-Communist struggle without respect for any legal principles or the most elemental ethical and religious values.” "

" 'A deep-seated culture of violence has taken root in Guatemala. Military regimes, army units and police squads have set an awful example, teaching entire generations that terror and murder are appropriate ways to achieve both political and personal ends. For their crimes they have enjoyed nearly complete immunity, as the police and judicial systems exist to serve the unjust ruling order....

" '[With the signing of the 1996 peace accord] a long and bleak winter has ended in the supposed land of eternal spring, and that is a genuine cause for rejoicing. The terms of public debate have shifted dramatically, with even many conservatives openly accepting the need for change in terms that would have been considered subversive only a few years ago. Now begins the long task of rebuilding a shattered land, not simply politically and economically but also morally. It will take all the efforts of the long-suffering Guatemalan people, and all the help the outside world can give them, to consolidate the great victory they have won and finally drive a stake through the heart of darkness that terrorized them for so many years.' "

Paul Norton argues that some social commentators who have changed from the left to the right of politics occupy a precarious ideological: "One of the curious features of public intellectual life in the English-speaking world is that many leading voices of the Right began their political and intellectual engagement on the Left. David Horowitz in the US and Paul Johnson in the UK are perhaps the two best known, but Australia seems particularly generously endowed with this type. Names like Padraic P. McGuinness, Keith Windschuttle, Piers Akerman, Ross Terrill, Bob Catley, Bettina Arndt, Michael Thompson, Christopher Pearson, Michael Duffy and Max Teichmann come readily to mind."

"The modern ex-leftist gang lacks even the saving grace of novelty. Early in the Cold War a group of communist literati, who had reacted to the horrors of Stalinism by becoming anti-communists, released a collection of confessional essays titled The God That Failed. This book was incisively reviewed by maverick Marxist Isaac Deutscher in his essay "The Ex-Communists' Conscience". Deutscher's analysis will surprise nobody who has read this far:

"As a rule the intellectual ex-communist ceases to oppose capitalism. Often he (sic) rallies to its defence, and he brings to this job the lack of scruple, the narrow-mindedness, the disregard for truth, and the intense hatred with which stalinism has imbued him. He remains a sectarian. He is an inverted stalinist. He continues to see the world in white and black, but now the colours are differently distributed. . . he denounces even the mildest brand of the 'welfare state' as 'legislative bolshevism'. . . Having once been caught by the 'greatest illusion', he is now obsessed by the greatest disillusionment of our time. (Deutscher, 1957 in Mills, 1963:346)

"And, as Deutscher showed, the ex-communists of the 1950s were themselves repeating the history of those liberal European intellectuals of the late 18th and early 19th century who had initially welcomed the French Revolution, but were driven by Jacobin excesses to become embittered, tragicomic opponents not just of the Revolution, but of liberalism in general, and of the entire project of democratic modernity. Thus the liberal pro-Jacobin English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge became a reactionary member of the House of Commons who opposed each and every democratic reform, and in his most memorable moment denounced as "the strongest instance of legislative jacobinism" a bill for – wait for it - the prevention of cruelty to animals!

"That's something to bear in mind the next time Paddy McGuinness compares the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission to the KGB - or, indeed, when one of his Quadrant contributors denounces sympathy for stolen Aboriginal children as a case of succumbing to "the Jacobin temptation"."

Tim Flannery argues that the prospect of a sustainablke future for Australia requires a population policy: "Despite its relative stability, this ancient Australia was no paradise. Its soils were by far the poorest and most fragile of any continent, its rainfall the most variable, and its rivers the most ephemeral. It was a harsh land for any creature that demanded much from it, and as a result, energy efficiency is the hallmark of Australia’s plants, animals and human cultures.

"Our European heritage left us appallingly equipped to survive, long-term, in this country. For a start it left many colonial Australians unable to see the subtle beauty and biological richness of the land, and what they could not understand they strove to destroy as alien and useless. For most of the past two centuries we have believed that we could remake the continent in the image of Europe – turn the rivers inland and force the truculent soils to yield. We even knowingly introduced pests – from starlings to foxes and rabbits – in our efforts to transform this vast Austral realm into a second England. Much of this terrible history reads as a rush towards ‘development’, which was then – and often still is – just a soft word for the destruction of Australia’s resource base.

"That arrogant colonial vision left a fearful legacy, for it actually made people feel virtuous while they dealt the land the most terrible blows. Already one of every 10 of Australia’s unique mammals is extinct, and almost everywhere – even in our national parks – biodiversity is declining. Australia’s soils are still being mined – salination will destroy the majority of Western Australia’s wheat belt in our lifetime if nothing is done – while our rivers are in great peril and sustainable fisheries everywhere have collapsed. It is the bitter harvest of all of this that we are reaping so abundantly today."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Biodiesel Group: "Spark-ignition engines that run on gasoline are generally about 40% less efficient than diesel engines."

Based on this figure, a key component of the solution to the energy crisis is a transition from petrol-engined to diesel-engined vehicles. In Australia the price of diesel fuel is roughly 10c/litre more than petrol. One might ask the question why it should not be the other way around, or at least the same price as diesel.

"Enough [algae-derived] biodiesel to replace all petroleum transportation fuels [of the US] could be grown in 15,000 square miles - far less than the 450 million acres currently used for crop farming in the US, and the over 500 million acres used as grazing land for farm animals."

No such biodiesel from algae production exists yet, it is a question of time and scale (assuming the viability of algae-derived biodiesel is proven). Can we produce enough alternative fuel in time to replace the petroleum we are soon to lose?

The Pentagon's 'NATO Option': Terrorists, criminals and murderers: "It was called “the strategy of tension” and it was carried out by members of secret stay-behind armies organized by NATO and funded by the CIA in Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and other European countries. The strategy apparently involved supplying right-wing terrorists with explosives to carry out terrorist acts which were then blamed on left-wing groups to keep them out of power."

"NATO’s reaction to Andreotti’s revelation was first denial, then stone-walling, and finally a closed-doors admission to the ambassadors of the European countries. Since then, although a former CIA director William Colby has confirmed the creation of the stay-behind command centers and networks, NATO itself has withheld details. Asked about Gladio in Italy in 1990, former CIA director Stanford Turner angrily ripped off his microphone and shouted: "I said, no questions about Gladio!""

"As one of Gladio’s operatives said, “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”"

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Oil Crisis Downunder: "While Australia’s natural resource-based economy has enjoyed tremendous growth along with the rebound in commodity prices worldwide, the country’s oil production continues to decline at a staggering pace. The country’s production peaked at 805,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in 2000 and only averaged 490,000 bopd in the first 10 months of 2004."

"Exploration for oil began early, with a reported small discovery being made in 1900. (It should be noted that the Australian Commonwealth was formed in 1901.) As many as 157 wildcat wells were drilled onshore by 1930 despite very little encouragement. A new chapter opened in the 1960’s when important discoveries were made in a tertiary basin in the Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania and on Barrow Island off Western Australia. The three largest fields were Kingfish (1967) with 1,200 million barrels (Mb), Halibut (1967) with 850 Mb and Mackerel (1969) with 450 Mb Australia’s oil production struggles can be traced back to 1967, the year which marked the peak year of oil discovery for Australia. (Source: APSO) More recent exploration efforts have focused on the NW Shelf of Australia and several onshore basins but results have been mixed.

"A total of 4,200 wildcats have been drilled so far. Peak exploration was in 1985 when 184 wildcats were drilled. The number has since declined to about 80, and is expected to continue to do so as the list of viable prospects dwindles. (Source: ibid) While there is hope that recent initiatives by the government will increase exploration spending, especially on country’s NW Shelf, there have been few discoveries of significant size to indicate that oil production can stabilize at current levels, much less increase.... Once the country achieved peak oil production, however it did not decline gradually as one might expect, production fell off a cliff. How did this happen? Shouldn’t production have declined more gradually according to Hubbert’s Peak theory?"

"[Australia's] steep decline curve is an excellent example of what can happen when advanced extraction technologies are applied to a very mature reserve base. While Australia and Oman are two well documented examples of production dropping quickly after peaking, I believe there are other countries that are likely to follow suit. If one of these countries happens to be Saudi Arabia, Russia or a major Middle Eastern exporter, the world will experience rapidly escalating oil prices."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Zunes: A Critique of the Most Misleading Statements in the Foreign Policy Segments of President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union Address: "While Bush is the first president to so explicitly call for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, there are serious questions as to what kind of “state” he has in mind. He has refused to endorse the Geneva Initiative, the model peace agreement signed in December 2003 by leading Israeli and Palestinian moderates which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces and colonists from lands seized in the 1967 (with minor and reciprocal border adjustments), a shared co-capital in Jerusalem, strict security guarantees for Israel, and no mass return of Palestinian refugees into Israel. Instead, President Bush has endorsed the Sharon Plan, which – while calling for the withdrawal of Israel’s illegal settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip – allows Israel to annex the vast majority of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and surrounding Palestinian lands, leaving the Palestinians with only a series of small non-contiguous cantons surrounded by Israel. Israel would control the air space, water resources, and the movement of people and goods within the archipelago of Palestinian territory as well as between this Palestinian territory and neighboring Egypt and Jordan. In short, the “Palestinian state” that Bush envisions appears to bear a far closer resemblance to the infamous Bantustans of apartheid South Africa than a viable independent country."

"Despite the many problems and limitations of the January 30 Iraqi election, it was indeed a remarkable testament of the Iraqi people’s desire for self-determination and for accountable government. However, little credit should be given to President Bush. It should be remembered that Bush administration, during most of the first year of the U.S. occupation, strongly opposed holding direct elections. Initially, the United States supported the installation of Ahmed Chalabi or some other compliant exile as leader of Iraq. Then, U.S. officials tried to keep their viceroy Paul Bremer in power indefinitely. Next, the Bush administration pushed for a caucus system where appointees of American appointees would choose the new government. It was only after Ayatollah Sistani brought hundreds of thousands of Shiites out onto the streets in January 2004 demanding direct elections did President Bush give in, but – instead of going ahead with the poll in May as proposed – he postponed it until the following January after the security situation had deteriorated so badly that most of the large and important Sunni Arab minority was unable or unwilling to participate."

Apocalypse Now: How Mankind is Sleepwalking to the End of the Earth: "Future historians, looking back from a much hotter and less hospitable world, are likely to play special attention to the first few weeks of 2005. As they puzzle over how a whole generation could have sleepwalked into disaster - destroying the climate that has allowed human civilization to flourish over the past 11,000 years - they may well identify the past weeks as the time when the last alarms sounded."

"The conference formally concluded that climate change was "already occurring" and that "in many cases the risks are more serious than previously thought".... glaciers are shrinking around the world. Arctic sea ice has lost almost half its thickness in recent decades. Natural disasters are increasing rapidly around the world. Those caused by the weather - such as droughts, storms, and floods - are rising three times faster than those - such as earthquakes - that are not.... the West Antarctic ice sheet is beginning to melt, threatening eventually to raise sea levels by 15ft: 90 per cent of the world's people live near current sea levels."

"Professor Mike Schlesinger, of the University of Illinois, reported that the shutdown of the Gulf Stream, once seen as a "low probability event", was now 45 per cent likely this century, and 70 per cent probable by 2200. If it comes sooner rather than later it will be catastrophic for Britain and northern Europe, giving us a climate like Labrador (which shares our latitude) even as the rest of the world heats up: if it comes later it could be beneficial, moderating the worst of the warming."

"The experts at Exeter were virtually unanimous about the danger, mirroring the attitude of the climate science community as a whole: humanity is to blame."

"Now a new scientific consensus is emerging - that the warming must be kept below an average increase of two degrees centigrade if catastrophe is to be avoided. This almost certainly involves keeping concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change, below 400 parts per million. Unfortunately we are almost there, with concentrations exceeding 370ppm and rising, but experts at the conference concluded that we could go briefly above the danger level so long as we brought it down rapidly afterwards. They added that this would involve the world reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 - and rich countries cutting theirs by 30 per cent by 2020."

"The big question is whether governments will act. President Bush's opposition to international action remains the greatest obstacle.... And our children and grandchildren will wonder - as we do in surveying, for example, the drift into the First World War - "how on earth could they be so blind?""