Thursday, June 30, 2005

Arundhati Roy: World Tribunal on Iraq: "Let me say categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which international institutions were used to force a country to disarm and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of weapons than has ever been used in the history of war."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Defeat Bred in Deceit: "'Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.' - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"When Bush decided, prior to Sept. 11, to attack Iraq, he committed himself to lies and deceit. As his British co-conspirators realized, only victory could save them from the consequences.... The Bush administration has squandered America's diplomatic, economic, and military power and is heading for defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East. Bush's invasion of Iraq is fast becoming one of the greatest strategic blunders in history."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Mike Steketee: Fixing this absurd system should be mandatory: "HAVING been denied political asylum, Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin, together with his wife and six-year-old daughter, should be picked up immediately and put into a detention centre. With the customary efficiency of the Immigration Department, the Refugee Review Tribunal and the courts, it should then take only a few years to determine whether they are refugees. In the meantime, they would be safe from Chinese goons.

"Only joking. Chen's case highlights the absurdity of a system that discriminates between refugees according to how they arrive in this country. Those who carry a visa and apply within 45 days to stay as refugees can live in the community on bridging visas that entitle them to work, Medicare benefits and, in some cases, welfare. These claims are running at 3000 to 3500 a year. In a typical year, fewer than 15 per cent are successful. Those who are become permanent refugees with the full rights of Australian residents and access to English-language classes and job placement services.

"By contrast, those who come by boat are locked up, mostly behind razor wire in remote camps. They have no entitlements other than being allowed to lodge an application for refugee status. Of the 9160 who did so between July 1999 and June 2002, 8260 were assessed as refugees; 90 per cent compared with the 15 per cent who come by air."

The assault on boatpeople (the nonsensical mandatory detention and 'pacific solution' policies) is racist and political in origin. Howard's strategy has been to recognise the existence of racist sentiment in Australia (as plainly demonstrated by Hanson and her 1m votes) and deliberately manoeuvre to ultimately pick up that vote. This has been the basic approach through the whole of his 9 years of government, and the secret of his lasting success. At the same time a number of people in the political establishment have either failed to admit that the racist sentiment exists or naively expected Howard to distance himself from it, instead of exploiting it in the most calculated and skilled manner possible.

The approach to racism (or nationalism, sexism, fundamentalism, homophobia etc) has to be the same as ever: expose and condemn it, both as irrational and inhumane in itself; and as a tool of ruling elites used to divide the public from their genuine interests.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Senator Andrew Bartlett on Downer and 'Communist Tyranny': "The attempt by a senior Chinese Consular official to seek asylum has rightly attracted a lot of interest in Australia (you can read some statements made by the Australian Democrats by clicking here, here and here.) But I found it particularly absurd that Alexander Downer had a column in The Australian this week attacking the Labor Party of the 1950s for being 'too accommodating to communist tyranny' just days after his officials turned away a senior Chinese Consular official seeking asylum from the Chinese communist government. The wilful blindness of the current Australian Government over the last decade in ignoring and appeasing the tyranny of the Chinese government has been just as hypocritical, mealy-mouthed and complicit as the left-wing deniers of communist atrocities of the 50s and 60s.

"For Alexander Downer, the Foreign Minister who has presided over nearly ten years of appeasement of human rights abuses by Chinese dictatorships (not to mention other countries with an appalling human rights record like Burma), to try to lecture about alleged isolationism and appeasement by John Curtin – a Prime Minister who worried and worked himself right into his grave out of his concern for Australians during wartime – is simply breath-taking."

Amnesty International state that in China "Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported in a wide variety of state institutions despite the introduction of several new regulations aimed at curbing the practice. Common methods included kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms, shackling in painful positions, and sleep and food deprivation. Political interference in the rule of law, restricted access to the outside world for detainees, and a failure to establish effective mechanisms for complaint and investigation continued to be key factors allowing the practice to flourish.

"The authorities officially announced an intention to reform “Re-education through Labour”, a system of administrative detention used to detain hundreds of thousands of people for up to four years without charge or trial. However, the exact nature and scope of reform remained unclear.

"People accused of political or criminal offences continued to be denied due process. Detainees’ access to lawyers and family members continued to be severely restricted and trials fell far short of international fair trial standards. Those charged with offences related to “state secrets” or “terrorism” had their legal rights restricted and were tried in camera."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

How Bob Somerby got to channel Socrates: "Plato described [Socrates] in the Seventh Letter as "without question, the most upright man then living." ... In 399, an Athenian jury condemned Socrates to death on charges of impiety and subverting the young. Again to quote Plato, in the Seventh Letter: "When I saw all this, and other things as bad, I was disgusted and drew back from the wickedness of the times..."

"There is one key point I should make crystal clear before beginning my account of The Greek’s detailed findings. At the time The Great Greek was channeled back to D.C., he had never even heard of a professional press corps. In his own day, of course, there were sophists and poets; and winded harriers would occasionally pound their way from the coast; but there was no institution expressly devoted to discussing the day’s crucial happenings. It intrigued him to think that a group of trained specialists might be devoted to crafting a great public discourse. Instantly it leaped to his mind, he’d later tell me: Perhaps this “press corps” could serve as a “guardian” class--could serve as a brilliantly-trained, skillful cohort that could rein in the murderous work of the sophists. For the very first time in his greatest of lives, he began to imagine that democracy might work--dared to dream the public discourse could be wrestled away from those who lived to distort and mislead us!

"I shuddered to think what The Great Greek would find when he began to read actual work of the press corps."

And thus began the Daily Howler.

Administration's offenses impeachable - Robert Shatterley on the Downing st memo: "So we got aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds imported from Niger, biological weapons labs in weather trucks, fear and trembling, the phony ultimatums to Saddam Hussein to turn over the weapons he didn't have and thus couldn't. We got the call to arms, the stifling of dissent, the parade of retired generals strategizing on the 'news' shows, with us or against us, flags in the lapel, a craven media afraid to look for a truth that might disturb their corporate owners who would profit from the war. Shock and Awe. Fallujah. Abu Ghraib.

"It was all a lie. Many of us have said for a long time it was a lie. But here it is in black and white: Lies from a president who has taken a sacred trust to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

"So, what does it mean? It means that our president and all of his administration are war criminals. It's as simple as that. They lied to the American people, have killed and injured and traumatized thousands of American men and women doing their patriotic duty, killed at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians, destroyed Iraq's infrastructure and poisoned its environment, squandered billions and billions of our tax dollars, made a mockery of American integrity in the world, changed the course of history, tortured Iraqi prisoners, and bound us intractably to an insane situation that they have no idea how to fix because they had no plan, but greed and empire, in the first place.

"What does it mean? It means that everyone in this administration should be impeached. It means that our Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and our Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud should call for immediate impeachment. They were lied to by their president, voted for war, and are thus complicit in the multiply betrayals of the American people unless they stand up now for the truth.

"Richard Nixon was impeached for a cover-up of a two-bit break-in. William Cohen, a young Maine Republican, played an important role for the prosecution in those proceedings. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex with an intern. Now we have the irrefutable evidence that George W. Bush lied about the reasons for taking the United States to war. The intelligence wasn't flawed. The weapons weren't hidden. Our elected leaders were lying."

Orcinus on the classic nature of fascism/racism: "nothing makes me angrier than seeing working-class people suffer, as they seem to do in places like Idaho, where the right has been in control for decades now. The most disturbing feature of this is the way it is self-inflicted; conservatives wrap themselves in these people's 'values' in a way that convinces them they're operating on behalf of their best interests, when policy after policy demonstrates exactly the opposite.

"To me, the real slap in the face is seeing the good will of working-class people being used, manipulated cynically for alterior purposes: for profit, for political gain, for spreading divisiveness and ill will. Xenophobia (racial, religious, and otherwise) has been fanned for generations to make scapegoats to cover the real root of the problems that plague the working class -- namely, economics and class.

"Working-class whites are in this fight not against other races, but with working-class blacks and Asians and Latinos. Jews, Muslims, and gay people aren't their enemies. Their real enemies are the snakes who come hissing lies into their ears to make them blame their black and Jewish and gay neighbors for what's wrong with the world. I've seen the havoc these snakes can wreak among families and communities, and it can be devastating.

"The right of the past two decades, as a clear tool of the wealthy class, has been about widening those divisions, in a kind of divide-and-conquer strategy that, sadly, has succeeded too well. And now the real extremists of the right are pouncing, eager to take the reins as so-called 'mainstream conservatives' relinquish them.

"We're being warned that immigration is going to be Republicans' big re-election issue in 2006, which means we're going to be seeing a lot more of this. A lot more Nazis coming out of the woodwork, emboldened by the realization of their longtime hopes and dreams. They see the political momentum heading their way -- and so far, they may be right."

Orcinus' racist commenter 'Border Ruffian' in comments quotes Kunstler and the coming chaos of peak oil. This is the second occasion I have seen racists clearly positioning themselves to exploit the energy crisis. These people are almost ahead of the Greens on this issue, not to mention the mainstream media and the major parties. Scum like Howard and the Liberal brownshirts will have to be dealt with first, and firmly, before knuckling down to a committed fight in favour of tolerance and multiculturalism as we move to a sustainable society based on renewable energy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Car bombings, Iraq's time bomb: Michael Schwartz analyses the insurgents' evolving strategy, especially the relentless carbombings and the effect this is having on the occupation and on Sunni-Shiite relations.

A 'civil war' is and always has been in the interests of the occupiers. Divide and rule. They pick the side they want to support and back them to win, which then becomes dependent on the colonial power. One might have thought that the Sunnis would have been the obvious choice as a local ruling elite, but the US has put itself in a situation where it is backing the Shiites.