Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Schiavo Republicans and American Taliban: Religious nutjobs and pseudo-fascists who think they can raise a vegetable from the bed by trashing the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

daddy-killer Delay and aborter-deserter Dubya.

Congress deliberately failed to mandate the tube be reinserted. Predictably, the Courts failed to order. 'Cruel hoax.' Thus the base was excited about sending in the goons.

Jeb sent them in. Florida judge ordered all sheriffs to obey the court. Showdown. Jeb goons retire.

Bareknuckle fight.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Jim Henley on Alan 'Fingernail' Dershowitz: "The absolute gob-stopper, as I think they say on his side of the pond, is this quote from Alan Dershowitz:

"'When you torture somebody to death … everybody would acknowledge that’s torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody’s fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage - is that torture?'

"Let me respond as clearly and calmly as I can to this one. Let me, as it were, be the kind of blogger my dog thinks I am.


The 'fingernail' technique was, IIRC, favoured by the Gestapo. Must have been where ol' Fingernail got the idea.

Dershowitz was nailed a long time ago by Chomsky (Fateful Triangle, 83, I think - check source). Chommers remarked something like he was 'the first Western intellectual since WW11 to publicly advocate the use of torture as a method of administration.' Look how far we've come... When people say shit - especially evil, Nazi shit - never make the mistake of failing to notice.

Friday, March 18, 2005

MY GOD: Arthur Silber discusses a few examples of the truly frightening and disturbing callousness and hatespeech that passes for conservative political 'discourse' in the US today.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Map of Middle East Gulf oil: A couple of maps showing the the great lakes of oil stretching from the United Arab Emirates up through Saudi Arabia to north of Mosul in Iraq. This totals at least 60% of the world's known recoverable reserves.

A few interesting features: there is practically nothing west of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is all stacked close to the Persian Gulf. If you draw an elongated ellipse stretching from the Gulf through Mesopotamia you practically capture it all. There is next to nothing in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, or south in Oman. Iran's share is all concentrated in the extreme south and east of the country, bordering Iraq and the Gulf.

The corrupt puppet emirates of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Emirates etc are already dominated by the US. If necessary (for example in the event of the collapse of the Saudi regime) it would be a simple matter to occupy the oilfields, effectively abandoning the western side of the Arabian peninsula, including the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. But the Persian Gulf, ie Iran, a hostile power (in addition to containing significant underwater reserves) strategically dominates the whole area.

One can see the great temptation that is in front of the US Imperialists/neoconservatives. If the Iranian regime could be overthrown, the US would directly dominate the entirety of Middle East Gulf reserves. The US has the military power, and if it does not act soon, Iran is likely to develop a nuclear deterrent. In spite of the great risks of war and of uncontrollable and spreading insurgency, how can they resist the temptation to act, now or never? It is a decisive moment, or will be in about June, according to accounts. That's when the Iranian reactor is scheduled to be completed, and an attack after that time could spread radiation everywhere.

If the US could succeed in dominating the Persian Gulf, it would have the economies of the industrialised (Europe, Japan) and industrialising (China, India) countries at its mercy, particularly as oil depletes and the magnitude of the energy and economic crisis begins to hit home to the world's population. Thus Iran is a 'frontline state' in a new cold war of containment against an expansionist superpower, the US. Europe, Russia, India, China - in fact practically the entire world - can be expected to attempt to block or stop the US attack on Iran. A great crisis is brewing in the northern summer this year, just as coincidentally the world peak of oil production arrives.

If the US does act, it will have to act decisively. It wont be enough to bomb some nuclear sites - that's unlikely to achieve anything. The US will have to stop at nothing less than regime overthrow and installation of a client state in Iran. An Israeli/US attack on Iran therefore should be interpreted not as a goal in itself, but the beginning of a sequence of events which might include of necessity conscription, Homeland dictatorship, and invasion.

Revealed: Israel plans strike on Iranian nuclear plant: "ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme. The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave “initial authorisation” for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert.... The plans have been discussed with American officials who are said to have indicated provisionally that they would not stand in Israel’s way if all international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed."

This report says "Although publicly committed to the diplomatic effort, Israeli officials say the “point of no return” will come later this year when they calculate Iran will be in a position to start processing uranium. They say Ariel Sharon’s inner cabinet has decided to act alone if the impasse has not been broken. “If all efforts to persuade Iran to drop its plans to produce nuclear weapons should fail, the US administration will authorise Israel to attack,” said one Israeli security source."

Ritter: Bush has signed off on Iran attack: "Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

"On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

"The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%."

"On Tuesday, (22/2) George W. Bush said the idea that the U.S. is planning to attack Iran is "simply ridiculous" -- but then added that "all options are on the table.""

Friday, March 11, 2005

Horrifying warcrime: 1945 Tokyo Firebombing: "Japan prepares to mark the 60th anniversary this week of the March 9-10, 1945, air raid that killed an estimated 100,000 people in a single night of fire.... The Tokyo firebombing has long been overshadowed by the U.S. atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which preceded the Japanese surrender that ended World War II the following August. But the burning of the capital, which resulted in more immediate deaths than either of the nuclear bombings, stands as a horrifying landmark in the history of warfare on noncombatants.

"More than 300 B-29 'Superfortress' bombers dropped nearly a half-million M-69 incendiary cylinders over Tokyo that night and early morning, destroying some 16 square miles of the city. The attack, coming a month after a similar raid on Dresden, Germany, brought the mass incineration of civilians to a new level in a conflict already characterized by unprecedented bloodshed."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Senator Byrd is Correct to Equate Bush With Hitler: "The U.S. Senate's senior Constitutional scholar has correctly equated Bush with Hitler, and the usual attack dogs are howling. But they are wrong, and Americans must now face the harsh realities of an increasingly fascist and totalitarian GOP.... Byrd said Bush's moves to destroy time-honored Senate rules parallel Hitler's ramming fascist legislation through his gutted Reichstag. "Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality," said Byrd. "He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.""

"Masquerading as "free market/small government" advocates, GOP conservatives -- like Hitler's Nazis -- promote an all-powerful central government run by and for the corporations that sponsor them while crushing individual rights and liberties. While Bush advocates for "democracy" overseas, the GOP is crushing it at home. These judicial nominees mean to further solidify Republican control of the court system, which they have added to their grip on the Executive, both houses of Congress and the media. The GOP is also gutting safeguards within the FBI and CIA, turning them into a personal police force that could parallel Hitler's Gestapo."

"Bush is now operating a classic concentration camp in Guantanamo. This infamous holding center operates entirely outside the rule of law, with prisoners held without charge, without evidence, without access to attorneys, family or the outside world. At Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere -- including the US "civilian" prison system -- the door has been opened onto the Nazi world of officially sanctioned torture and systematic human degradation. The new Attorney General of the United States has explicitly endorsed their use. Despite some phony genuflections to the contrary, Bush has renounced the Geneva Accords and has clearly stamped this most notorious Nazi trademark on a party also in love with the death penalty.

"Bush now holds some 2.2 million prisoners in the US gulag, the world's biggest prison population since the Nazis both by absolute number and by percentage of population. At least 800,000 Americans are held for victimless "drug" crimes, including marijuana. Thousands die each year from torture, rape, suicide and treatable disease. The system is designed to remove from the political process and, in many cases, exterminate people of color, alternative life style and political dissidence. Is this worthy of the Nazi label?

"Fascism has long been clearly and simply defined as corporate control of the state, with strong totalitarian, militaristic, anti-feminist and anti-gay characteristics. Both Mussolini's Fascist's and Hitler's Nazis used acts of terror and alleged terror to grab absolute power. Ranting at Bolshevism as the GOP now does against Islam, the Nazis used the burning of the Reichstag much as the GOP has capitalized on the terror attacks of September 11."

The 'demographic problem' in the 'Jewish state': "In view of the fact that a greying Jewish-Israeli population has a birth rate of about 2 children per family, while the Palestinian birth rate in an overwhelmingly young population averages about 4 children for Arabs in Israel proper, about 5 children in the West Bank, and 6+ children in the Gaza Strip - the trend is undeniable. EI's analysis notes that, "Israeli demographers have long predicted that in the next several years, Palestinians would once again become a majority in all of historic Palestine, with the risk that Israel would begin to be viewed as an apartheid state where an empowered minority rules over an effectively disenfranchised majority".

"In fact, right-wing Israeli demographer Arnon Sofer contended in December 2003 that there was already a non-Jewish majority (soon to be an outright Arab majority) in Israel and the Occupied Territories. And now the U.S. State Department apparently agrees with that assessment."

Meanwhile, "An article calling for the castration of Israeli Arabs as a means of fighting terrorism was published last week in the leading Israeli-Russian daily Novosti. The article, called 'How To Force Them To Leave' and written by Marian Belenki, one of the paper's prominent journalists, said that the threat of castration may be strong enough to encourage the Arabs to leave the country.

"The author also proposed that the Chinese method for lowering birth rates be implemented in Israel for the Arab population in order to lower their birth rates. According to this method, people who have more than one child are deprived of various benefits, lose their jobs, and are under threat of exile. Cash prizes for young men who voluntarily agree to the castration will also be provided, according to the proposed method.... what is even more surprising than the fact that the piece got published, is that the paper did not receive any responses from readers or public representatives of the Russian community. It should be noted that the paper is one of two leading dailies of the Russian community in Israel."

You couldn't make this stuff up. It sounds like something out of The Onion, but its all for real.

John 'Bonkers' Bolton gets job as US Ambassador to UN: "Bolton was extremely hostile to the creation of the International Criminal Court, and Lobe notes that Powell let Bolton sign the formal notification to Kofi Annan that the U.S. was pulling out. According to Lobe, Bolton told The Wall Street Journal that was 'the happiest moment of my government service.' Bolton is particularly ill equipped to be US ambassador to the United Nations because he's on record as saying 'there's no such thing as the United Nations' and that 'it wouldn't make a bit of difference' if the UN building 'lost 10 stories.'"

This is going to go down a treat in diplomatic circles. As if Bush in Europe wasnt embarassing and ridiculous enough, the civilised part of the world is going to have to put up with a certified nutjub 'representing' the United States.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

POISONOUS LEGACY: Flash presentation on DU.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Heinberg: Onward to Iran: "Third reason for the US to invade Iran arises from long-term American geopolitical strategy: Iran is one of the few important oil exporters without a US military presence (others include Russia and Venezuela). Further, Iran is strategically located between Afghanistan and Iraq, bridging the Middle East and Central Asia, and its control is thus essential for US domination of those oil-rich regions."

Heinberg might also have mentioned that the coastline of Iran completely dominates the whole of the Persian gulf including the Straits of Hormuz. Strategically, it is highly desirable to secure this vulnerability.

"With the approach of Peak Oil, the world has entered the end-game phase of the industrial interval. If the US does not gain a stranglehold on world resource streams, then China - now the world's main consumer of steel, grain, meat, and coal - will do so. Already China is gaining long-term oil contracts in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria; the Chinese are even seeking a sizeable portion of Canadian oil production, and have actually attempted to buy an American oil company (Unocal). While on the surface the US and China are politely trading (Americans buy cheap Chinese goods, the Chinese invest their earnings in US Treasury Bills in order to enable Americans to afford even more Chinese imports), beneath the surface both are angling for a superior position as the final game begins. If the US merely stands by, its economy will be destroyed when China eventually sells off its dollar holdings, and America will land on the ash heap of failed empires. The latter's only hope of continued glory is to play its remaining strong card - its spectacularly lethal weapons of mass death - in an effort to maintain control of global resource flows."

Chomsky argues that the US will not attack Iran, more-or-less because it would be crazy to do so. Heinberg argues that it would be crazy, but the US must do so and do so soon, or else lose the strategic game to China. An attack could proceed like this: the US/Israel launches an airstrike against Iran; Iran retaliates by attacking US bases and ships with missiles; the US does whatever it takes, including invasion, to overthrow the Iranian regime and install a friendly client, just like in Iraq.

But it is so risky that even the neo-crazies must have butterflies in the stomach before they push the Bush-puppet out to make the announcement.

Juan Cole on ending terrorism: "You want to end terrorism? End unjust military occupations. By all means have Syria conduct an orderly withdrawal from Lebanon if that is what the Lebanese public wants. But Israel needs to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria, as well. The Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank must be ended. The Russian scorched earth policy in Chechnya needs to stop. Some just disposition of the Kashmir issue must be attained, and Indian enormities against Kashmiri Muslims must stop. The US needs to conduct an orderly and complete withdrawal from Iraq. And when all these military occupations end, there is some hope for a vast decrease in terrorism. People need a sense of autonomy and dignity, and occupation produces helplessness and humiliation. Humiliation is what causes terrorism."

Juan Cole adds his voice to the overwhelming chorus debunking the 'they hate our freedoms' theory of terrorism and pointing to the obvious. The case is so strong the fact that any of the public believe the government is an indication of the power of propaganda, the compliance of the political elite and the corporate media, and the willingness of the public to believe official statements for no other reason than that they have been made by officials or leaders. The 'big lie'. Our leaders wouldn't lie to us, would they?

Bush Accused of 'Fiddling While World Burns' by Ignoring Climate Change: "One of Britain's most eminent scientists has attacked President Bush for acting like a latter-day Nero who fiddles while the world burns because of global warming.

"Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society and former chief scientific adviser to the Government, said the Bush administration must accept the case has been made about the link between man-made pollution and climate change. Continuing to deny the impact of human activities on the environment may ultimately have catastrophic consequences for everyone on the planet, he said."

The way the Bush administration has been captured by the fossil fuel industry is nowhere better illustrated than by this anti-scientific attitude over such a crucial global issue. Described by Chomsky as a 'sort of Enron administration', it is as corrupt and depraved as can be.

"Lord May accused the Daily Mail of waging an undeclared propaganda war against the science of climate change. He accused the newspaper of misleading its readers with a misinformed campaign.

""It appears to be conducting an undeclared campaign to deny the potential threat from climate change - in the past 15 months the Daily Mail, which attracts six million readers every day, has published six opinion pieces, including four from its science editor, that have used misleading arguments against the scientific evidence on climate change," Lord May said. "It brings to mind the ill-fated and disreputable campaign by The Sunday Times during the early 1990s to deny that HIV causes Aids. It seems that some parts of the media have not learnt the lessons of that unfortunate campaign.""

""Nuclear power has to be considered as a viable alternative to fossil fuel that can generate sufficient power without adding to greenhouse gases. It has to be part of tomorrow's future. I've every sympathy with the attitude that sees it through the emotional haze of a mushroom cloud, and terrorism makes it even more problematic, but you can't approach the things in emotional ways. There are real problems with nuclear but it's hard to see it's not part of the mid-term solution, ultimately one hopes one can move beyond it. We've got to investigate it now because we're on the verge of losing a generation of competence in the area.""

Nuclear energy is expensive, poisonous, non-renewable and not the answer. Uranium is a limited resource and is also expected to deplete this century. We do not 'hope' that we can move beyond it, we have no choice. The focus must be on renewable energy.

Summit May Favor Tackling Causes of Terrorism Over Military Response: "Governments afflicted by extremist violence must address its causes if they hope to defeat it, not just strike back as the United States has done, say experts who will take part in a world conference on terrorism in Madrid this week."

Yet another blow to the credibility of the US 'war on terra'. Of course, it is not a 'war on terror', it is a war against the Arabs for control of the world's remaining oil reserves, two-thirds of which are concentrated in the Middle East Gulf region. Terrorism must be combated by police and intelligence work, and by policy change to address the legitimate grievances of people which feed and sustain terrorist action.

The sad history of humanity indicates that militarism and authoritarianism are all too likely as responses to the global crisis of sustainability. There is another way, but the people will themselves have to take it, against the inclinations of their own governments and other power structures. And that way is to begin a switch to renewable energy and sustainable economies, without sacrificing the hard won values of liberal democracy (including civil liberties and the rule of law) and social democracy (including the welfare state and social and economic justice).

The epic lies and crimes of the Anglo-Saxon democracies also vividly illustrate another old truth, that Power cannot be trusted and must be checked. Part of this is devolving as much of government and public services as is practicable to regional and local government; and people must learn to take responsibility for their own communities.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Gradual disintegration, not sudden collapse?: "Like modern industrial society, the Maya built their civilization on a nonrenewable resource base. In their case it was the fertility of fragile tropical soils, which couldn't support intensive corn farming forever. On that shaky foundation they built an extraordinary civilization with fine art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, and a calendar more accurate than the one we use today. None of that counted when the crops began to fail. Mayan civilization disintegrated, cities were abandoned to the jungle, and the population of the Mayan heartland dropped by 90%.

"The parallels go deeper, for the Maya had other options. They could have switched from corn to more sustainable crops such as ramon nuts, or borrowed intensive wetland farming methods from their neighbors to the north. Neither of these happened, because corn farming was central to Maya political ideology. The power of the ahauob or 'divine lords' who ruled Maya city-states depended on control of the corn crop, so switching crops or farming systems was unthinkable. Instead, Maya elites responded to crisis by launching wars to seize fields and corn from other city-states, making their decline and fall far more brutal than it had to be.

"Even so, the Maya decline wasn't a fast process. Maya cities weren't abandoned overnight, as archeologists of two generations ago mistakenly thought, but went under in a 'rolling collapse' spread across a century and a half from 750 to 900. Outside the Maya heartland, the process took even longer. Chichen Itza far to the north still flourished long after cities such as Tikal and Bonampak were overgrown ruins, and Mayan city-states on a small scale survived in corners of the Yucatan right up to the Spanish conquest."