Saturday, April 30, 2005

Finkelstein 'Ambushes' Alan Dershowitz: "The brazenness! But it's not just brazenness, it's brazenness because they think they're teflon. He figures that with his credential, and the fact that everybody's terrified of answering him back, he thinks he can get away with anything. Yes, there's a certain amount of brazenness, there's a large amount of arrogance. But there's also a desperation, because he has to invent things. He has to fabricate because the reality is so completely at odds with his claims to being just. The reality is so overwhelmingly on the side of those who are looking for a decent resolution of the conflict. We have the information, we have truth, we can win. I am absolutely certain of that."

Finkelstein argues in relation to Dershowitz's 'book' "The Case for Israel" that 1. the book is plaigiarised from Joan Peters, another hoax and piece of rubbish that was previously exposed by Finkelstein; 2. Dershowitz didn't actually write his 'book'; 3. Dershowitz hasn't even read his own 'book'.

Amazing stuff. One day the US propaganda system will come down, hard and fast.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Far-right group muscles onto peak oil issue: "I went up to Nick Griffin [British National Party leader], confirmed his identity and then asked why he was here amongst all these left-wingers. His measured answer was that though Peak Oil received minimal coverage in their manifesto, they see it as a long-term issue which may well make its way up to the top of their policy list. What an irony, I thought to myself. Not even the Green Party in Britain has put Peak Oil on their election agenda, but the far right BNP may beat them to it."

We have already seen how the governments of Bush, Blair and Howard have responded to the energy crisis by a distinct drift to proto-fascist policies, including international lawlessness, aggressive warfare, internal repression, torture, concentration camps and racial vilification. There can hardly be any doubt that preserving the values of liberal and social democracy will be as big a challenge as the transition itself to a sustainable economy using renewable energy.

American Taliban on the march: "Bad news: deaths from cervical cancer are on the increase.

"Good news: there's a new vaccine that stops the virus that causes the cancer.

"Unfortunate news: the virus in question, human papilloma virus (HPV), is sexually transmitted.

"Obvious news: you simply have to vaccinate girls before they become sexually active.

"Unbelievable news: 'religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters.' Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group says, 'Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex.' So stopping a generation of women from getting cervical cancer is a big no-no, but insisting that a feeding tube be provided to a woman who has been dead for fifteen years is the work of angels. That's some culture of life you've got going there, guys."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blair the appeaser: "Tony Blair has been the worst prime minister since Neville Chamberlain, a figure with whom he shares a number of significant characteristics. Chamberlain was a supremely confident and arrogant politician, an excellent speaker and a deeply religious man with a hotline to God. He had an unassailable majority in parliament, was popular in the country and presided over a cabinet stuffed with nonentities."

"Blair has followed in his footsteps, and is destined for the same place in history's hall of infamy. Like Chamberlain, he is an arrogant and God-fuelled appeaser, the unseemly ally of an unbridled country that presents a global threat similar to Germany in the 1930s.

"Instead of seeking a grand alliance to confront this new danger - "a coalition of the unwilling" that would include the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese - Blair has sided with the evil empire. He has taken up a role as its principal cheerleader, obliging Britain to become a participant in its wars of aggression. Today's Labour party has been a supine collaborator in this policy of appeasement, just like the Tory party in the 1930s. Blair's war party must be defeated at the polls."

"The most popular slogan at the moment is "Blair must go".... It clearly has majority support in the country. Blair is a war criminal who should be locked up behind bars without a vote, not standing for election."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Gallipoli and Anzac day an antiwar memorial, not a war memorial: "While praising the Anzacs as 'the bravest of the brave', [New Zealand Defence Force chief, Vice-Marshal Bruce Ferguson] said 'there was no glory 90 years ago'- only a tragic slaughter of young men on all sides. With Prince Charles sitting opposite him, the vice-marshal labelled the Gallipoli campaign as 'joint warfare at its worst, at least on the British side ... There was inspired leadership at the lower levels and gross incompetence at the senior levels.'

"The effect, he said, was to forge a lasting bond between Australians and New Zealanders, as 'side by side they grew critical of the high command and the British strategy'. At Gallipoli, 'We learnt to shake off the shackles of colonial dependency - we learnt we must stand for what we believe in.' The New Zealand defence chief said that even now armies heeded the lesson of the Dardanelles campaign. 'No commander today will risk young lives so needlessly.

"'None of us can ever conceive what a hell on earth this place was for eight months.' He said we must never forget that the Turks, 'who were defending their homeland', lost 87,000 lives. Vice-Marshal Ferguson's speech underlined the remarkable nature of Anzac Day: 17,000 people, most of them young Australians, gathered at Gallipoli yesterday to remember not a triumph, but a defeat.

"The [Anzac Day] commemoration has no parallel anywhere, said Duncan Anderson, a historian at Britain's Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, who visited Gallipoli last week."

The Anzac Gallipoli disaster was a pointless slaughter of colonial cannon fodder for Imperialist and militarist purposes, as well as an unprovoked invasion of a country and people against which we had no cause of animosity. But it has left its mark on Australia. No longer could any Australian government ever send its young people on such a folly again. During the First World War two hotly contested referenda to introduce conscription to keep up the numbers of the fodder were defeated. During the Second World War the government insisted (over Churchill's objections) on bringing the troops home for the defence of Australia. And even today the unrepentent Royalist, Imperialist and Colonialist Prime Minister John Howard is starkly limited in his ability to send cannon fodder abroad for imperialist wars. Although of course they should never have taken part in the war whatsoever, the troops in Iraq are a token force in number, and the country would not stand for heavy casualties.

Howard's presence at the Gallipoli ceremony was a painful incongruity. Perhaps no member of the executive government or the high military command (above the rank of those that served and died at Gallipoli) should be present at such events. The commemorative event is for the people, to remember the dead, their skill and bravery, and the ultimate futility of it; and to recall how the Empire and the Government, and the State and military power is the cause.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Housing bubble peaking worldwide: "The great American housing bubble, like its obese counterparts in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Australia, is a classical zero-sum game. Without generating an atom of new wealth, land inflation ruthlessly redistributes wealth from asset-seekers to asset-holders, reinforcing divisions within as well as between social classes. A young schoolteacher in San Diego who rents an apartment, for example, now faces an annual housing cost ($24,000 for a two-bedroom in a central area) equivalent to two-thirds of her income. Conversely, an older school bus-driver who owns a modest home in the same neighborhood may have 'earned' almost as much from housing inflation as from his unionized job.

"The current housing bubble is the bastard offspring of the stock-market bubble of the mid-1990s. Housing prices, especially on the West Coast and in the East's Bos-Wash corridor, began to rocket in the second half of 1995 as dot-com profits were ploughed into real estate. The boom has been sustained by sensationally low mortgage rates, thanks principally to the willingness of China to buy vast amounts of U.S. Treasury bonds despite their low or negative yields. Beijing has been willing to subsidize American mortgage borrowers as the price for keeping the door open to Chinese exports.

"In a bubble city like San Diego, for instance, less than 15% of the population earns enough to finance the cost of a median-value new home."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Final Empire - how empire destroys ecology: land monopoly and 'cash crops': "The story of El Salvador is of native tribes who lived stably with their habitat, the forests and other ecosystems of the isthmus. The events since that time have been created by the far different culture of empire, which invaded, to extort valuables from the area. The pattern displayed has been consistent since empire culture began. The industrial revolution and markets have added a few new wrinkles. The pattern is that of a small powerful elite taking land and labor from the colony for free or at very low price. The extorted valuables are then exported in exchange for currency that supports the elite of the colony who, in return, keep the native populations in control. This is the classic picture of third world colonies and is the picture of El Salvador. This pattern has persisted in El Salvador and is largely the reason for its environmental destruction."

"These three countries, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Ethiopia, with their varying histories and varying types of impact from civilization characterize the periphery of what we may term the industrial empire.... This is the beginning of the end for the Final Empire of civilization."

"Possibly the most important source of life on this planet is the thin film of topsoil.... The soil depth and its richness are a basic standard of health of the living planet. As a general statement we may say that when soil is lost, imbalance and injury to the planet’s life occurs. In the geologic time-span of the planet’s life, this is a swift progression toward death. Even if only one per cent of the soil is lost per thousand years, eventually the planet dies. If one per cent is gained, then the living wealth, the richness, of the planet increases. The central fact must be held in mind of how slowly soil builds up. Soil scientists estimate that three hundred to one thousand years are required for the build up of each inch of topsoil."

"The climax system then is a basic standard of health of the living earth, its dynamic equilibrium state. The climax system is the system that produces the greatest photosynthetic production. Anything that detracts from this detracts from the health of the ecosystem. Climax ecosystems are the most productive because they are the most diverse.... [The earth's] vegetative cover maintains the soil and in optimal, balanced health, this cover is the natural climax ecosystem.... the principle of soil says that if the humans cannot maintain the soil of the planet, they cannot live here.

"In 1988, the annual soil loss due to erosion was twenty-five billion tons and rising rapidly. Erosion means that soil moves off the land. An equally serious injury is that the soil’s fertility is exhausted in place. Soil exhaustion is happening in almost all places where civilization has spread. This is a literal killing of the planet by exhausting its fund of organic fertility that supports other biological life. Fact: since civilization invaded the Great Plains of North America one-half of the topsoil there has disappeared."

Green Car Congress: A site brimful of news on everything to do with conservation and sustainability in motor transport: fuel efficiency, hybrids, biofuel, hydrogen etc etc. One wonders however whether it is not all 30-40 years too late, and whether motoring has much of a future at all.

New Zealand Greens leader Jeanette Fitzsimons: Delay Steals our Only Chance: "Solar, wind and biomass are our best hope, as the Greens have been saying for decades, and we should get on with it. Biomass, however, has to compete for land with food production. Of course, the market will sort that out - fuel for people with cars will be more profitable to grow than food for the poor, who will go without both cars and food.

"Whether we can make the transition to a world much less reliant on oil and survive with some kind of civilisation depends on both time and political will. If we really have got 30 years, as the Government thinks, we could plan a reasonable future provided we start right now. But there is no sign that anyone other than the Greens wants to start right now.

"If the petroleum geologists such as Collin Campbell, who have spent their lives in the oil exploration industry, and the energy bankers and financial analysts such as Matthew Simmons and all their colleagues in the Association for the Study of Peak Oil are right, we have much less time - probably less than 10 years, maybe less than five.

"If we believe them, with all their expertise, and they are wrong, all we lose is the cost of making the changes a few years too soon. If they are right and we ignore them, delay steals our only chance."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Boy Soldiers: "Colin Hadley spends most of his days after school skateboarding or playing Halo II on his new X-Box with friends. He sleeps until noon or later on weekends and rarely, if ever, does any schoolwork outside the classroom, where he pulls down solid C's and a few D's - just enough to get by. He's the typical 15-year-old American boy: cocksure in demeanor, certain the world revolves around him, and confident that life is going to serve him well.

"And he's the new 'target of interest' for U.S. military recruiters who've begun signing up boys as young as 14 for military service, which they will be required to begin when they turn 18. 'It's a sweet deal,' says Hadley, who boasts that he bought his X-Box with the enlistment bonus he received after signing up last month. 'I don't have to do hardly anything for three years, but they're paying me now.'"

"Once these kids sign up under this program, they are committed to serving in a combat zone and face strict punishment if they refuse duty when they come of age. If any refuse to show up for duty they will be charged with desertion in a time of war and be subject to military court martial, which, theoretically at least, could result in the death penalty."