Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Double Down

Generals wary of troop 'surge':
Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, said Tuesday he believes the chances that adding 20,000 or so U.S. troops for several months would stabilize Baghdad are "slim and none."

Little George Bush, representing America, is a Big Player in the Big Game at the Main Table, secretly aided by a crack team of cardcounting neocons headed by Big Dick Cheney.

But after a few lucky wins (assisted by pop's connections to some crooks in the House) Little George's big pile of chips is starting to diminish, and he is sweating and moving in his chair, as the other more or less openly hostile players look on. The dealer has been sending aces and tens everywhere, except to Little George, and he needs one bad, almost as bad as he needs that drink.

"Dont worry", signals Cheney, "I've been counting cards and there's one more ace in the shoe." So Little George, cussing out and snarling, pushing out of his mind the wife back home, the House, the Senate, the Troops, the GOP and those shady foreigners he owes a lot of money too, pushes in a whole half of his remaining chips, and then doubles down on an eight. "Failure is not an option", he says to himself with a hint of desperation he can no longer conceal , "this is an ace strategery for victory, I know it".

But Cheney miscalculated. There are no more aces in the shoe. And even if there were, this is not exactly the right time to bet up and double down. Bush is bust, and so is America.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Interview with Flynt Everett, former member of the National Security Council:

We [US] haven’t been hit because the Jihadists themselves have decided that, at this point in their strategy, they don’t think it is advantageous for them to strike at the United States. They would rather focus on going after our allies in the region and in Europe, and then they would come back at us. I think we are not really doing well in the war on terror.

EurasiaNet: What you just said about Jihadist strategy, is it speculation, or is your opinion based on hard intelligence?
Leverett: No, this is the internet age. All kinds of documents… are available on the internet and other places. This is a major theme of the Jihadist discourse -- that they don’t want to go after the United States right now.

This is a rare reference to 'jihadist discourse', in spite of its obvious importance. I'm an Australian, I'm a citizen, I'm a target of these murderous extremists. What is the level of risk that I currently face? I deserve to know. Does the media, academia, the defence force, the intelligence agencies, the parliament, the government, have any assessment about these matters? Do they even read 'jihadist discourse'?

At this point I am guessing, but perhaps the failure of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is in effect serving to increase the security of persons such as myself. The humiliation of the United States in Iraq, combined with the target-rich environment in Iraq of US personnel may be sufficient to satisfy the jihadist impulse for revenge for the time being.

Certainly it is obvious that the aggression against Iraq has only increased the risk of attack against Western targets.

I think this administration is dysfunctional in some unique ways. There can be splits in any administration; it certainly isn’t unique to this one. But the level of division within this administration is more profound, and what’s more, there isn’t any real inclination to resolve the divisions to produce coherent policy.

Everett is here referring to the fundamental characteristic of the Bush Administration, its capture by Cheney and the neoconservatives. They are a driving force who attempt to cut off options for Bush who appears to be a complete tool (unfortunately, as his weeping father might feel).

I think the grand bargain is the only way to forestall Iran’s nuclearization. Given the potential consequences of Iranian nuclearization, why should the United States not do that? It is so manifestly in our interest to do it that not doing it is the strategic equivalent of medical malpractice. It is a real failure of leadership by the United States.

Everett is suggesting (same as the ISG) that negotiations and concessions to Iran could produce satisfactory results for the US. But again Cheney is working day and night to block that option. Instead of diplomacy, softpower and hegemony, Cheney and the neocons' concept of empire is brute force. People are either under attack or under threat of attack. You never 'negotiate with enemies'. This is a frankly stupid and disastrous concept of power and empire. But the neocons are relatively inexperienced in the game and perhaps could hardly be expected to be other than foolish and hubristic. Let's hope China and India have greater wisdom as they gain the power in the 21st Century.

I agree that a military strike by the United States is a bad idea. But at some point, probably in the next 12 months, the president’s current efforts in the Security Council will have played out. What we would get out of UN is certainly not going to be enough to leverage the Iranians to stop their nuclear program. At that point, this president would face a very stark, binary choice. He could either stand by and let Iran continue to cross significant thresholds in the development of its nuclear capability, or he could order military strikes to try to delay that development. I think that, with this president, when he is faced with that choice, the chances that he might take the military option are not trivial. It is a real risk. It is not going to happen tomorrow, or next week. We would be still working on the diplomatic route. But a year or so from now when the diplomacy has failed, the risks of a military strike are not trivial.

Everett is making the argument better than nearly anyone that Cheney and the neocons are and have been systematically cutting off the tool/fool Bush's options in favour of war and thus it becomes a possibility in spite of the fact that war with Iran is almost universally regarded as more disastrous than the failed and disastrous Iraq war.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Labor’s climate change plan meaningless without a coal moratorium

"Premier Morris Iemma has wedged himself with his statement that climate change is a key issue in this campaign, while at the same time overseeing the biggest expansion of the coal industry ever witnessed in NSW," Ms Rhiannon said.

"The 22 new coal projects proposed for NSW would have a combined capacity of 56.9 million tonnes of coal a year. This would result in the emission of 136.56 million tones of carbon dioxide every year.

"The Stern Review put a social cost on every tonne of carbon of $85. Applying this formula, the new proposals alone would have a social cost of over $11.5 billion.

"The Greens would prefer to work with Labor to tackle climate change. But if Premier Iemma and Planning Minister Sartor are not going to stop the Anvil Hill coal mine and the other new coal projects we will make coal an election issue.

"Coal is the elephant in the room. The NSW government is busy ignoring the major contribution that coal combustion makes to climate change.

"Talking about climate change without mentioning coal is like talking about obesity without mentioning junk food.

"The Greens Climate Futures Bill will place a moratorium on new coal projects. It will direct the NSW government to provide a transition package of retraining and jobs for coal communities, and to fast track the development of a renewable energy industry in NSW."

The Iemma Government's response indicates what could unfortunately be the reality of Government response to global warming: namely to admit the problem but fail to address it effectively because it is contrary to corporate interests to which the Government is beholden.

The debate has reached the point at which the scientific consensus on global warming, can no longer be denied, but not yet the point where Governments are obliged to take truly effective action. Yet time is running out, we have about a decade in which to take action lest the problem runaway from us.

The Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997, and therefore it has taken a decade for Governments such as John Howard's to even recognise the reality of the crisis. Will it take the only remaining decade before such Governments realise that action must be taken as well?

Governments and leaders have to speak honestly to industry and the public in relation to this crisis. The coal industry is killing the planet, and emissions have to be cut by 80% by the year 2050. The sooner some frank talking and serious policy initiatives are embraced the easier it will be to face the real problem.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is Labor's policy on nuclear power?

Beazley and Rudd must declare nuclear stance before leadership ballot

"Labor's position on expanding uranium mining, uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel leasing and taking back the nuclear waste is two-faced, the Australian Greens said today."

"Labor's duplicity on this issue was demonstrated when ALP senators failed to support the Greens when we called for the rejection of uranium enrichment, nuclear waste dumps and nuclear reactors in the Senate this week."

"Australians deserve an answer from both leadership candidates to these questions:
- Do they support expanded uranium mining?
- Do they support uranium enrichment in Australia?
- Do they support nuclear fuel leasing and taking back the waste?
- Do they support high-level nuclear waste dumps in Australia?
- Do they support nuclear reactors for power generation?"

Instead of 'horserace' reporting on the Beazley/Rudd issue (or indeed, the Beazley/Howard or Howard/Costello question), what is the policy position held by each of these?

A strong argument can be made against nuclear energy, namely that it is costly, toxic, weaponistic, non-renewable and not the answer.

The policy of the Australian Greens and the NSW Greens at least is clear: opposition to the entire nuclear cycle in Australia, and a focus instead on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coup against Maliki reported in the making: Maliki and the Iraqi government would be replaced by an army junta or dictator who would better follow US orders.

Covert operations, they aint what the used to be, are they? Now discussed in the pages of major newspapers and bloggers all over the world. Anyone can chip their two cents into the plot.

The mean part of me wants the US to go ahead with this coup. The country is in ruins and heading for dismemberment, with the 'government' having virtually no authority. But despite efforts by the US to install puppets like Chalabi or Allawi, and in large part because of the determination of Sistani and the Shiites, the Iraqi government, such as it is, is in fact 'democratic', with elections, a parliament, a constitution and ministries.

If this was swept away in a US-orchestrated coup, probably futile anyway, the last shreds of US credibility would be gone with it. Weapons of mass destruction? Nothing. Links to al-Qaeda? Zilch. Democracy? Abolished. Stay the course, Dubya, Mission Accomplished, bring 'em on, don't cut and run, finish the job.

Billmon also posts on what a dumb idea a coup would be and the seeming obliviousness of the US ruling elite to the further damage to their shattered credibility.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hezbollah: "We would now dare say the obvious - if and when such an attack [on Iran] comes, the United States will be defeated.

"The victory of Hezbollah in its recent conflict with Israel is far more significant than many analysts in the United States and Europe realize. The Hezbollah victory reverses the tide of 1967 - a shattering defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan that shifted the region's political plates, putting in place regimes that were bent on recasting their own foreign policy to reflect Israeli and US power. That power now has been sullied and reversed, and a new leadership is emerging in the region."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New Lancet Survey: Massive Death toll in Iraq following invasion: They are now calculating 655,000 'excess deaths' - 500 per day.

The dismal reality is that the US/UK/Aus war and occupation is worse than Saddam's regime - Saddam's regime under sanctions, that is. But what could one expect from the 'supreme crime' of aggressive war? That is why it is called the supreme crime.

Hopefully this incident will put an end to the concept of 'humanitarian war', or 'war for democracy', one of the most cynical ideas ever inflicted on the population by the decadent, corrupt and violent Anglo-saxon 'democratic' governments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Levy: The mystery of America: "Rice has been [to Israel several] times in the course of a year and a half, and what has come of it? Has anyone asked her about this? Does she ask herself?

"It is hard to understand how the secretary of state allows herself to be so humiliated. It is even harder to understand how the superpower she represents allows itself to act in such a hollow and useless way. The mystery of America remains unsolved: How is it that the United States is doing nothing to advance a solution to the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict in our world? How is it that the world's only superpower, which has the power to quickly facilitate a solution, does not lift a finger to promote it?"

One could say about Rice/Bush/Cheney that they are corrupt, ignorant, incompetent etc. But US policy is disgraceful, inhumane and dangerous. Why do they do it? There are two usual explanations: the Israel lobby, and regional hegemony. Neither (or both) seem wholly satisfactory. It is folly.

North Korea detonates nuclear device: This is an outrage! - President Bush will have to respond forcefully, probably by attacking Iran. After all, he attacked Iraq when Bin Ladin struck from Afghanistan, didn't he?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Terrorism and Fascism on the rise in the UK: Intimidation, hatespeech and violence. One wonders whether Mr Blair is paying attention to the inherent 'threat to our values.'

Friday, October 06, 2006

London August Terror Bomb plot a hoax: Another article questioning this plot. Naturally this has the most serious implications. It would appear to be the case under late Western democracy that many fundamental institutions have been politicised and corrupted. Not only the Government, but also the intelligence agencies, the Defence Force, the police, the bureacracy, the corporate media cannot or ought not be trusted. The judiciary and the scientific community in the form of the university system is under sustained attack as well by a right wing that is unprincipled and unscrupulous - just a mechanical reflection of power and wealth in the political and societal spheres.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Soviet Generals: NATO will rout from Afghanistan: "British troops will be forced to flee Afghanistan, say former Soviet commanders who oversaw Moscow's disastrous campaign against the mujahideen in the 1980s.

"In a withering assessment of the "hopeless" campaign being waged there, they have told The Sunday Telegraph that mounting casualties will drive out Britain and its Nato allies. Chillingly, General Ruslan Aushev, who was injured during fighting with Mujahideen rebels, predicted: "You will flee from there.""

"Aushev believed that the Americans were attempting to pave the way for a quiet exit by asking for more soldiers from allies such as Britain and Poland. "The Americans can't have another Vietnam, so they are saving face. They will say, 'We did not withdraw; it was the Australians, the British who withdrew'."

Iraq at the Gates of Hell: Tom Engelhardt compiles various facts and figures, wear and tear on military equipment, financial cost, murder and torture of Baghdadis etc in an attempt to describe the current disastrous state of the Iraq war.

Particularly interesting are polls showing big majorities of Iraqis want US and foreign troops to leave immediately, and even bigger majorities showing Iraqis believe the US is setting up permanent military bases. They've got the story right there, and its nothing to do with 'terror' or 'democracy'.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Iraq War Causes Massive Increase in Terrorism

So much for the phony 'war on terror'.... The graph says it all but you can read Larry Johnson's article also. "No reasonable person can possibly deny that our intervention in Iraq has been an enormous stimulus to terrorist activity worldwide. Efforts by John McCain and others [John Howard?] to discount the significance of that factor by pointing out that the attacks on 9/11 occurred before our overthrow of Saddam Hussein is as trivial and irrelevant as they are disingenuous."

Torture and permanent detention without trial legalised in the United States

Argues Glenn Greenwald: "There really is no other way to put it. Issues of torture to the side (a grotesque qualification, I know), we are legalizing tyranny in the United States. Period."

"I fully understand, but ultimately disagree with, the viewpoint, well-argued by Hunter and others, that this bill constitutes merely another step on a path we've long been on, rather than a fundamental and wholly new level of tyranny.... There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest."

The question has been asked, what did Bush do to break John McCain that a North Vietnamese prison did not?

Along with the doctrine of 'preemptive war' and permanent military domination as openly posted on the official Whitehouse website, this is a shameful thing which will take a long time for the United States to ever live down.

* One might think that under the US Constitution, it would be impossible to 'legalise' such things, but the US Supreme Court is one vote away from the 'Unitary Executive' - the US version of the 'Fuhrer Principle', that anything is legal if the President does it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Flying Saucers and the Decline of the Left: Alexander Cockburn makes fun again of the 9-11 conspiracy nuts. Fanciful speculations in which great meaning or emotion is invested. What a waste. There's so much reality to learn about.

It's a bit like the Reichstag fire: to this day historians are not sure whodunnit. It could have been the Nazis, or maybe not. What difference does it make? The significance of the event is more in the way it was exploited by the Government of the day rather than in the detail of the event itself. Same with 9-11, except there's no doubt the hijackers were Arabs.

Public Daily Briefing: Bush-Cheney Determined to Strike in Iran

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bush-Cheney since they came to power have wanted to conduct attacks in Iran.

We are picking up immense amounts of chatter about a possible war against Iran. All the lights are blinking red.

As Col. Sam Gardiner has been quoted: "When I discuss the possibility of an American military strike on Iran with my European friends, they invariably point out that an armed confrontation does not make sense -- that it would be unlikely to yield any of the results that American policymakers do want, and that it would be highly likely to yield results that they do not. I tell them they cannot understand U.S. policy if they insist on passing options through that filter. The "making sense" filter was not applied over the past four years for Iraq, and it is unlikely to be applied in evaluating whether to attack Iran."

Dave Lindorff: Report on strike group heading for the Gulf (21/9/6)

Time: What War with Iran would look like (17/9/6)


Billmon: War with Iran could be just the beginning. (21/9/6)

Lindorff: Bush and Iran - 26/9/6

SusanUnPC: October Surprise? (22/9/6)

Raw Story: Senior Pentagon Planning moves to second stage for Iran strike

Chris Hedges: Bush’s Nuclear Apocalypse

Chossudovsky: War Preparations in the Middle East and Central Asia: Good on basic analysis and the citizen's duty in this crisis.

Moves toward War with Iran: William Polk rates an attack on Iran as a 90% chance before the end of Bush's term. He quotes one source as saying that "conversations with senior officials in the Pentagon and the White House had convinced him that the decision for war had already been made." No one supports the attack, not even the British. (Little Johnny Howard isnt mentioned.)

U.S. rabbis list support for Israel as No. 1 High Holiday focus: "Seventy-two percent of rabbis surveyed said they are talking about the Jewish state."

Have they no shame? It's rather an odd phenomenon, a bit like Christians going to Church to hear the Priest sermonise on 'support for South Africa, the White state.' Hopefully someone would stand up and say, excuse me Father, shouldnt we be supporting an end to discrimination against coloured people, allowing them to be full and equal citizens of the country?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Iran linked to Lockerbie bomb: This story, that it was Iran, not Libya's Gaddafi, that was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, has been around for a long time. If true, it means the Libyans were framed and the UK Justice process is a corrupt charade. Unfortunately, such things are possible. Back in the day, Gaddafi was the 'new Hitler.' It will be interesting to observe whether the charge is revived in the media system ahead of the planned war on Iran. Somebody once said 'the struggle against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.' Most people would not remember Lockerbie, much less who was responsible. If history were rewritten to put Iran in the frame, would anybody notice?

Jewish rabbi calls for extermination of all Palestinian males: "A Jewish rabbi living in the West Bank has called on the Israeli government to use their troops to kill all Palestinian males more than 13 years old in a bid to end Palestinian presence on this earth.

"Extremist rabbi Yousef Falay, who dwells at the Yitzhar settlement on illegally seized Palestinian land in the northern part of the West Bank, wrote an article in a Zionist magazine under the title "Ways of War", in which he called for the killing of all Palestinian males refusing to flee their country, describing his idea as the practical way to ensure the non-existence of the Palestinian race.

"We have to make sure that no Palestinian individual remains under our occupation. If they (Palestinians) escape then it is good; but if anyone of them remains, then he should be exterminated", the fanatic rabbi added in his article."

"The Kach movement recognizes the 'transfer' of 750,000 Palestinians that took place in 1948 in order for the state of Israel to be created on their land, but argues on their website that this 'transfer' was incomplete, and that all Palestinians must be sent away, or killed, in order for Israel to remain a 'Jewish state'.... The idea of extermination of Palestinians, or their 'transfer' into other countries, is not only a view held by extremists on the fringes of society. Prominent Israeli politicians have also made calls for a 'transfer', or ethnic cleansing, based on race."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Iraq war among history's 'dumbest'

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq was among the "dumbest moves of all time" that ranks with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia, billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner said Tuesday."

I think he is exaggerating a little bit here. The actual Barbarossa moment (still to come) is when Bush attacks Iran....

But the realisation is dawning widely that the Iraq war is a disaster with immense strategic significance. If the US is ultimately ejected from Iraq, which looks more and more likely, its hegemonic ambitions in the region and globally are essentially defeated.

'War on Terror' failing

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat: "A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

This can be added to a seemingly endless series of expert reports pointing out the obvious that (predictably) the 'war on terror' is generating more terrorism. In fact of course, the 'war on terror' is an utter fraud, which is why the term should not be used (except for the purpose of deconstructing it). The reality is a classic imperialist/colonialist war against the Middle East for the overall strategic purpose of controlling the world's energy reserves. At present Afghanistan and Iraq have been attacked and occupied; Lebanon has been attacked; and Syria and especially Iran are in the firing line.

The Anglo-saxons governments maintain that they are attacking us because they 'hate our freedoms'. In reality, they are attacking us because we are killing and repressing them. It is a classic asymmetric (guerilla) war of resistance against imperial repression and occupation. The Anglo-saxon official line is transparently false, and is nothing other than the Nazi technique of the Big Lie: if the lie is big enough, and told confidently and frequently enough, people will not believe that their own Governments could be so corrupt as to tell such massive lies, and thus assume that it must be true.

Nevertheless it is an insult to the intelligence as well as a warcrime and crime against humanity; and Bush, Blair and Howard have earned the lasting contempt of all decent people. Liars, criminals - and in view of the immense strategic failure of the Iraq invasion - idiots.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ahmadinejad, Chavez denounce Bush at UN General Assembly

"The Security Council must be overhauled because the current structure allows some “hegemonic powers” to impose their policies on others, undermining its credibility and fostering global mistrust, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United Nations General Assembly."

"“It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in an address to world leaders gathered for the Assembly’s annual general debate. He accused the United States and the United Kingdom, which are both permanent members of the Council, of being able to commit “aggression, occupation and violation of international law” with impunity.

"“Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened?” he asked. The Iranian President cited several examples of what he said were situations where “nations are not equal in exercising their rights recognized by international law. Enjoying these rights is dependent on the whim of certain major powers.”

"He listed Iran’s nuclear activities, which he described as “transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors”; the recent conflict between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah in Lebanon; the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory; and the continuing violence and presence of foreign troops in Iraq. “In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfil its responsibilities?”

"Mr. Ahmadinejad called for the General Assembly, “as the highest organ of the UN,” to lead the task of reforming the UN system as a whole and the Security Council in particular. In the interim, he said, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Africa should each have a permanent, veto-wielding representative on the Council. “The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.”"

Sensible remarks that undoubtedly most world leaders would agree with. There is nothing that Bush can do to counter this, the man is just an embarassment for the United States, and a danger to the world.

Venuzuelan President Hugo Chavez also addressed the Assembly in similar terms, remarkably enough brandishing a copy of Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival in the process, which promptly shot to number one (from 26,000!) on the bestseller lists.

"The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads," Chavez said.

"I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

"They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons. What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy.

"What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?

"The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I'm quoting, "Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom."

"Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother -- he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there's an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over. And people are standing up."

This is open, public ridicule of an Emperor who has no clothes, in the heart of the Great City of the Empire itself. No wonder 'Bonkers' Bolton wanted to blow off the top ten stories of the UN building.

Chavez entertained the General Assembly by remarking as he took the stand that "The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house. "And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] "And it smells of sulfur still today.

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world."

You could tell Bush was offended by Chavez calling him the devil, because his tail stopped wagging. But seriously, when pressed for comment, "I won't dignitify Chavez with an response," President Bush fumed. "I'm very busy right now trying to unite Congress behind my torture plan." hat tip: Big Gav.

We've already seen how British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been found to have the Mark of the Beast on his forehead. Where does our own little Johnny Howard stand in relation to these epochal events? John W Howard he likes to style himself, the W standing it is said for Winston, as in Churchill. But when the laughter dies down, we must remember that W also stand for 'Dubya' - the Beast. Howard has the Mark, no question.

UPDATE: More from the article linked above: "Hegemony or Survival dislodged the earlier number one by New York Times columnist Frank Rich The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina. "I hate the guy. Forget about geopolitics," Mr Rich joked overnight speaking on US television, when asked about being bumped from the top book sales spot.

"Mr Chomsky, 77, told to the New York Times last week that he would be "happy to meet" Mr Chavez. A linguistics scholar and longtime critic of US foreign policy, he told the daily he is "quite interested" in Mr Chavez's policies and finds many of his views "quite constructive."

There are some good reviews of Hegemony or Survival on the Amazon site as well as the usual ignorant, hateful, deranged attacks that people make on Chomsky. I agree with the main reviewer that the book gets a star knocked off for being a bit of a rehash and also as compared to some of Chomsky's very best and most important works such as Manufacturing Consent, the work in question does not merit five stars - but as the reviewer rightly said "to suggest that Chomsky is ever anything less than four stars is to betray one's ignorance and bias." The book in question is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of the planet.

Chomsky seems to evoke emotional reactions in some readers (and non-readers). For people new to him I would urge that it is important his books be read carefully, in full, including the notes, and that the content of his argument be properly understood before formulating an opinion. It can be seen on the Amazon site that certain misrepresentations or misunderstandings about Chomsky are repeated over and over again by 'critics', but if you have any knowledge of the subject at all these errors are quite obvious and have been refuted by Chomsky and others time and again.

For example, its said that Chomsky 'hates America and supports tyranny'. No, he despises all tyranny, and loves the freedom and prosperity of America, but as a true patriot criticises his country where it has done wrong. Or, it is said that he is totally negative but has nothing constructive to propose. Again, for those with any knowledge of the matter, he is full of positive suggestions, which basically fall along the lines of the country living up to its professed beliefs in freedom, democracy and human rights and thus ending involvement in crimes, violations and abuses.

Royal Society Tells Exxon: Stop Funding Climate Change Denial: Misled by Governments and corporations, there are still many people who are unaware that there is a scientific consensus on the subject of global warming, ie, there is no serious doubt in the scientific community that global warming is occurring, and that it is caused by human activity. In years to come people will surely look back in anger and amazement at the disinformation spread by governments, political figures, corporations and media institutions and personnel about this crucial matter. For what? What was the motive? Simply, short term corporate profit, political and personal advantage and an unwillingness to think of the future.

In fact the corruption of democracy and its institutions is far more serious than many people realise, although with the Big Lies about Iraq, 'terror' etc it is increasingly obvious.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Norman Solomon on the debacle of the Iraq war: and how the corporate media, seemingly undeterred, is going through all the motions of preparation for a war on Iran.

Eric Margolis discusses how badly the forgotten war in Afghanistan is going. The imperial powers look to be headed for inevitable defeat there as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Christopher Tolkien to publish JRR Tolkien's The Children of Hurin: As one of those who thinks the Silmarillion is Tolkien's best work, it is a shame that his publisher made him write another 'kids book' (LOTR) rather than work on expanding and polishing the Silmarillion epic as he ought to have done. So one looks forward with interest to this new work and hopefully there will be more such.

The Mark of the Beast: "Observers at the TUC conference were startled to spot a giant W etched on [Blair's] skin. To some the wrinkle may be a sign that in troubled times the PM is growing ever closer to George W Bush and becoming Tony Dubya Blair.

"But docs blame serious stress, which restricts blood flow to the skin causing it to wrinkle in that particular shape. Dr Patrick Bowler, head of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors, said: "My advice is resign tomorrow."

History will show that Blair was a remarkably successful, popular and unbeatable politician whose career and reputation were destroyed by the Iraq war. Why did he do it?

The conventional explanation is that Blair is not very bright, and could not make independent strategic assessments (at this late stage he even backed the Lebanon war!); that he was targeted by Washington with calculated flattery that he could not resist; that he had delusions about his own personal role with Bush and Washington; that he worshipped power above all, and the greatest power the most; that Britain's role as the US 'lieutenant, the fashionable word is partner' rendered it more difficult to chart an independent course. But now we know the real reason and all is explained.... he is a minion of Mephistopheles.

A visit to an exorcist or simply Repentence might do the trick, or if there is no hope for him then he needs be cast down from on high to the lowest places. Now we need to inspect urgently John 'Dubya' Howard's forehead to see if he has also got the Mark of the Beast....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pressures mount on Bush to bomb Iran: "The Iran problem is causing particular concern because it raises fundamental questions about the continued validity of the security doctrine Israel has forged over the past half century. A central plank of this doctrine is that, to be safe, Israel must dominate the region militarily and be stronger than any possible Arab or Muslim coalition." Five million people are going to retain permanent military supremacy over 300 million Arabs or one billion Muslims? This is nuts - a project doomed to fail. Its a matter of time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The cruelty of denial: Robert Manne savages Andrew Bolt over the stolen children issue. Bolt demonstrates a contempt and indifference for compassion, humanity, fact and truth that is shocking. This new breed of journalists - the Bolts, Devines, Akermans, Hendersons, Windschuttles and the like - are nothing but blatant propagandists for an ugly and ascendent right.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wikipedia: Biggest Bubble in History: Or so the Economist has described the worldwide housing bubble.

This is a lengthy Wikipedia article on the housing bubble with lots of links and references. As can be seen from the graph, the peaks are roughly 18 years apart. Unfortunately there is no mention of the George/Hoyt/Harrison theory of the business cycle, which once again one would think is getting confirmation. As a result there is no discussion of land value trends generally, which is the underlying phenomenon. It seems unlikely that residential land values would soar heroically while industrial and commmercial remained stationary. But the focus for years now has been on the 'housing bubble' as if that were the case. [Update: there's a broken link to an article by Fred Foldvary.]

There is also no discussion of the Australian bubble, which has been as pronounced as anywhere.

If we follow past trends, we will be in for a terrific global recession following such a massive land boom, which could coincide with the bankruptcy of the US treasury and defeat of the US army in Mesopotamia...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Stingrays can kill: 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin has been killed by a stingray. A Herald article illustrates the impact this news has had on the public.

In Australia the public had been a little underwhelmed - an Aussie ocker, ho hum. But the interview with Andrew Denton showed Irwin's personality. There is a transcript of the interview but it is no substitute for the video. Irwin was larger than life, and played it up a bit. He took his animals, his family and his business seriously, but not himself. It makes for an iconic Australian character, a real larrikin. His message was to relocate crocodiles, rather than to shoot them; to save wildlife, rather than kill it. It's a good message.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Great Equalizer: Lessons From Iraq and Lebanon: Gabriel Kolko reflects on the consequences of easily and cheaply available missiles and nuclear weapons. Its a changed world.

"American experts believe that the Iranians compelled [Hezbollah] to keep in reserve the far more powerful and longer range cruise missiles they already possess. Iran itself possesses large quantities of these missiles and American experts believe they may very well be capable of destroying aircraft carrier battle groups. All attempts to devise defenses against these rockets, even the most primitive, have been expensive failures, and anti-missile technology everywhere has remained, after decades of effort and billions of dollars, unreliable."

"The U.S. war in Iraq is a political disaster against the guerrillas -- a half trillion dollars spent there and in Afghanistan have left America on the verge of defeat in both places. The "shock and awe" military strategy has utterly failed save to produce contracts for weapons makers -- indeed, it has also contributed heavily to de facto U.S. economic bankruptcy.

"The Bush Administration has deeply alienated more of America's nominal allies than any government in modern times. The Iraq war and subsequent conflict in Lebanon have left its Middle East policy in shambles and made Iranian strategic predominance even more likely, all of which was predicted before the Iraq invasion. Its coalitions, as Thomas Ricks shows in his wordy but utterly convincing and critical book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, are finished. Its sublime confidence and reliance on the power of its awesome weaponry is a crucial cause of its failure, although we cannot minimize its preemptory hubris and nationalist myopia. The United States, whose costliest political and military adventures since 1950 have ended in failure, now must face the fact that the technology for confronting its power is rapidly becoming widespread and cheap. It is within the reach of not merely states but of relatively small groups of people. Destructive power is now virtually "democratized.""

Perhaps Mr Howard might be asked to comment on the contention that the 'coalition with the US' is finished, and why that is so? Or if is is not finished, does it go all the way to Iran?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad did not say the Holocaust was a myth or call for the annihilation of Israel: Mistranslations have been repeatedly circulated in the corporate media, obviously in order to raise the possibility of war with Iran. Its remarkable the extent to which this propaganda is circulated and the complacency with which it is regarded. Most sane people agree that a war on Iran would be a bigger disaster than the Iraq war.

However, former CIA analyst Ray Close makes an argument that in spite of the obvious and great dangers, Bush will be driven to attack Iran before the end of his term.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Noam Chomsky: You ask the questions: Interesting chat where Chomsky gives concise answers to various questions from around the globe. Predictably, a couple of doofus ask about Faurisson and Pol Pot.

"Do you regret mocking the accounts of refugees fleeing Pol Pot's Cambodia? LIJIA FREEMAN, NEW YORK

"CHOMSKY: The closest approximation to this ludicrous charge is that Edward Herman and I cited the best-informed sources then available on Cambodia, State Department intelligence and François Ponchaud, who made the familiar point that testimony of refugees must be treated with caution. I certainly do not regret that. The record of deceit on this topic is huge. It has all been refuted, point by point, many times. This is one illustration of an interesting feature of intellectual culture. Periodically, there are atrocities that we can blame on official enemies - what Herman calls "nefarious atrocities", unlike those for which we share responsibility and can therefore easily mitigate or terminate. The latter are regularly downplayed or suppressed. The nefarious atrocities regularly elicit religious fervour, dramatic posturing, baseless claims to inflate them as much as possible - and fury if anyone does not blindly join the parade, but seeks to determine the truth, cites the most reputable authorities, and exposes the innumerable fabrications. The common reaction to such treachery is an impressive torrent of deceit. There is an instructive record, quite well documented in many cases. The reasons are not hard to explain. The topic should be pursued systematically, but that is unlikely, obviously."

The idea that Chomsky supports Pol Pot, or Mao or Stalin is transparently ludicrous, but a massive effort has gone on for decades now to attempt to pin this charge on him. Its a minor tragedy therefore that people have been misled and dont realise that Chomsky is a friend of the people.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

ESR Says Linux Followers Should Compromise: "There's no window that will close in 2008. Linux is unstoppable.

- It's growing exponentially
- The applications are becoming compelling
- It's growth is down-turn immune
- Can't be stopped with money

"Linux is growing exponentially, not just the user base, but applications. As the market has proven many times, it's the applications that count in the end."

"The standard killers that cool technologies face in trying to overturn an entrenched dominate player don't apply to Linux. Microsoft can't buy Linux out. They can't sue Linux to death. They can't under-cut prices and force Linux into bankruptcy."

Free Software and Richard Stallman's Free Software Movement is a genuine global phenomenon. It is the best example I can think of of the unambiguous success of more or less pure communist and anarchist principles.

'From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.' It would be hard to imagine a purer example. Every individual can take from the project whatever he needs (eg, an operating system or applications), completely free of any charge, obligation or control; and each individual can contribute whatever he desires, including no contribution.

It is also more or less pure anarchism: there is no centralised or heirachical control of any kind; or inherent controlling mechanism by which any person or organisation could impose control over the whole. The entire massive project operates on a purely voluntary 'ad-hoc' basis.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Uri Avnery: The occupation is ruining the army: "A PERSONAL flashback: in the middle of the 1948 war I had an unpleasant experience. After a day of heavy fighting, I was sleeping soundly in a field near the Arab village Suafir (now Sapir). All around me were sleeping the other soldiers of my company, Samson's Foxes. Suddenly I was woken up by a tremendous explosion. An Egyptian plane had dropped a bomb on us. Killed: none. Wounded: 1.

"How's that? Very simple: we were all lying in our personal foxholes, which we had dug, in spite of our fatigue, before going to sleep. It was self-evident to us that when we arrived anywhere, the first thing to do was dig in. Sometimes we changed locations three times a day, and every time we dug foxholes. We knew that our lives depended on it.

"Not anymore. In one of the most deadly incidents in the Second Lebanon War, 12 members of a company were killed by a rocket near Kfar Giladi, while sitting around in an open field. The soldiers later complained that they had not been led to a shelter. Have today's soldiers never heard of a foxhole? Have they been issued with personal shovels at all?

"Inside Lebanon, why did the soldiers congregate in the rooms of houses, where they were hit by anti-tank missiles, instead of digging foxholes?

"It seems that the army has been weaned from this practice. No wonder: an army that is dealing with "terrorists" in the West Bank and Gaza does not need to take any special precautions. After all, no air force drops bombs on them, no artillery shells them. They need no special protection."

A relation of mine who fought in the 9th AIF Division called it a 'slit trench' - a ubiquitous feature of army life. It only needed to be a few inches deep, just so that when you lay in it your body was below or level with the ground. This would make you essentially immune to any bomb or artillery shell except a direct hit on you personally or in your trench (unlikely). But if you are above ground, then you are obviously vulnerable to shrapnel which blasts sideways from the point of the explosion.

Biblical sexism: Interesting argument that biblical texts were altered to diminish the role of women in the early church.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Windpower alone, in theory, could cut emissions dramatically: "Approximately three-fourths of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal, oil, or natural gas. Accordingly, switching that same portion of U.S. electricity generation to nonpolluting sources such as wind turbines, while simultaneously ensuring that our ever-expanding arrays of lights, computers, and appliances are increasingly energy efficient, would eliminate 38 percent of the country's CO2 emissions and bring us halfway to the goal of cutting emissions by 75 percent.

"To achieve that power switch entirely through wind power, I calculate, would require 400,000 windmills rated at 2.5 megawatts each. To be sure, this is a hypothetical figure, since it ignores such real-world issues as limits on power transmission and the intermittency of wind, but it's a useful benchmark just the same."

"An industry rule of thumb is that to maintain adequate exposure to the wind, each big turbine needs space around it of about 60 acres. Since 640 acres make a square mile, those 400,000 turbines would need 37,500 square miles, or roughly all the land in Indiana or Maine.

"On the other hand, the land actually occupied by the turbines—their "footprint"—would be far, far smaller. For example, each 3.6-megawatt Cape Wind turbine proposed for Nantucket Sound will rest on a platform roughly 22 feet in diameter, implying a surface area of 380 square feet—the size of a typical one-bedroom apartment in New York City. Scaling that up by 400,000 suggests that just six square miles of land—less than the area of a single big Wyoming strip mine—could house the bases for all of the windmills needed to banish coal, oil, and gas from the U.S. electricity sector."

If we could just banish the influence of the fossil fuel lobby and short term corporate profit from political processes the solutions are in sight....

Big Gav has another good long post on energy and politics. Be sure to check it out and visit Gav's site regularly.

UPDATE: Tom Gray in comments endorses the argument in the above post and provides links to some interesting sites.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Heavy criticism of Israel that seems to be more common on the web: "Is it possible that this perverse combination of a persecution complex and a superiority complex, all based on the idea of a ‘Jewish race’, is behind the peculiar attitude of world Jewry towards Israel and the violent racism of the Jewish state? Does the evil in Israel and its supporters come out of a culturally transmitted series of ideas that come out of Judaism itself? That’s the kind of big crackpot theory I normally don’t put much truck in, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the actions of Israel and its Jewish apologists without some cultural/religious root causes."

What Xymphora is looking for here is probably Israel Shahak's "Jewish History, Jewish Religion: the Weight of Three Thousand Years", which can be found online at:

An alternative, anti-zionist view of Judaism, which might be called 'Reformed' or 'Authentic' Judaism, can be found here:

I agree that both Zionism and the current policies of the Israeli government can be strongly criticised, but I would caution that Xymphora could be more restrained in the remarks on Jews and Israelis. What we have seen is a great tragedy, which is almost on the point of repeating itself.

Iranian President Opens Up: Interview is almost as interesting for the foolish performance of Mike Wallace as it is for the Iranian President's comments.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Anti-Empire Report: William Blum also expresses scepticism about the London 'terror bomb plot' and discusses some other, similar incidents.

HL Mencken made the memorable remark: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed--and hence clamorous to be led to safety--by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

When first encountered, this remark might be regarded as a witty quip with a grain of truth, but of course not to be taken literally. However, with a bit more experience, one begins to wonder. Look at the scares of our times: the Great Red scare, the McCarthyite witchhunt, the Vietnam domino madness, the phony 'war on terra' - not to mention the drug war, the 'rising tide of crime', the threat of the boat people etc. We are looking at a regular method of government, systematically pursued again and again.

When Bush, Blair and Howard launched their 'war on terror' following 9/11 (enthusiastically embraced by all the usual culprits such as Peter Costello as a 'long war' or '50 year war') they were not breaking new ground or acting unusually. The invasion of Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11); the attack on civil liberties; the frightening of the population; the big lies about 'why they hate us'; the attack on Islamic civilisation; the denial that Western interest in the Gulf had anything to do with oil: - all simply part of a systematic method of governance. Perhaps its been an unpleasant surprise what a disaster the invasion of Iraq has proved to be (a bit like Crassus invading Mesopotamia?) but otherwise the whole thing is nothing but business-as-usual from a well-tested playbook.

"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." - HL Mencken

Poll: Iraqi attitudes to US: "The percentage of Iraqis who said they would not want to have Americans as neighbors rose from 87 percent in 2004 to 90 percent in 2006. When asked what they thought were the three main reasons why the United States invaded Iraq, 76 percent gave 'to control Iraqi oil' as their first choice."

No, that could not be, surely? The US is in Iraq to find the weapons of mass destruction, or get Saddam for 9/11, or build democracy, isnt it? That is what our leaders told us. Pm Howard told us the weapons were the 'single reason' for the war. Resign, Prime Minister. Your position is totally discredited. The war is a disaster.

Every day he remains in office now the Prime Minister has to live a lie: Iraq was attacked because of the weapons, oil had nothing to do with it, what we have done is moral and legal, terrorist attacks are because they 'hate our freedoms' not because of our wars and occupations of their lands.

"In 2004, 27 percent of the 2,325 Iraqi adults surveyed strongly agreed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. In 2006, 41 percent of 2,701 adults surveyed strongly agreed."

Hezbollah: Barbarous terrorists?: "When the police van arrived and the six who were to die stepped out, a tremendous and awful cry arose from the crowd. The six young men walked firmly to the iron posts, and as their hands were tied behind the shafts they held their bare heads upright, one or two with closed eyes, the others staring over the line of the buildings and the crowd into the lowering clouds . . . There was the jarring, metallic noise of rifle bolts and then the sharp report. The six young men slid slowly to their knees, their heads falling to one side. An officer ran with frantic haste from one to the other, giving the coup de grâce with a revolver, and one of the victims was seen to work his mouth as though trying to say something to the executioner. As the last shot was fired, the terrible, savage cry rose again from the crowd. Mothers with babies rushed forward to look on the bodies at close range, and small boys ran from one to the other spitting upon the bodies. The crowd dispersed, men and women laughing and shouting at one another. Barbarous?"

"Barak abandoned Lebanon two months ahead of schedule, suddenly and without advance warning, on 23 May 2000. His SLA clients and other Lebanese who had worked for the occupation over the previous 22 years were caught off guard. A few escaped into Israel, but most remained. UN personnel made urgent appeals for help to avert a massacre by Hizbullah. Hizbullah went in, but nothing happened.

"‘It is no secret that some young combatants, as well as some of the region’s citizens, had a desire for vengeance – especially those who were aware of what collaborators and their families had inflicted on the mujahedin and their next of kin across the occupied villages,’ Qassem wrote in Hizbullah: The Story from Within. ‘Resistance leadership issued a strict warning forbidding any such action and vowing to discipline those who took it whatever the justifications.’ Hizbullah captured Israeli weapons, which it is now using against Israel, and turned over SLA militiamen to the government without murdering any of them. Barbarous?"

"Naim Qassem called the liberation of south Lebanon ‘the grandest and most important victory over Israel since it commenced its occupation [of Palestine] fifty years before – a liberation that was achieved at the hands of the weakest of nations, of a resistance operating through the most modest of means, not at the hands of armies with powerful military arsenals.’ But what impressed most Lebanese as much as Hizbullah’s victory over Israel was its refusal to murder collaborators – a triumph over the tribalism that has plagued and divided Lebanese society since its founding. Christians I knew in the Lebanese army admitted that their own side would have committed atrocities."

Jon Benet Ramsay and Abeer al-Janabi: "Overseas readers who don't watch US-based cable news may not know that there is a news blackout on the 24 hours news stations, which have shown endless hours of useless speculation on a ten year old small town murder case. Why the cable news channels in the US behave in this stupid and lemming-like fashion no doubt has to do with the severe discipline of the advertising market and its dependence on ratings. I.e., news has to generate 20 percent profits, which it cannot do, and so lurid infotainment is substituted. It is also possible that they are deliberately attempting to turn American gray matter into mush so as to ensure that nobody on this continent notices what is really going on around them."

"But although I mind this pollution of the air waves with something that is not, whatever it is, news, the main thing I mind is the racism.

"The case of Abeer al-Janabi, the little fourteen-year old Iraqi girl who was allegedly raped and killed after being stalked by a US serviceman would never be given the wall to wall coverage treatment. That is frankly because the victim was not a blonde, blue-eyed American, but a black-eyed, brunette Iraqi."

The view from the Gulf: The US cannot lead the world anymore: "The Israeli war against Lebanon has destroyed the last vestige of honour that the US could use to justify its hegemony."

"It acted in favour of the aggressor leaving the victim to face its deadly fate. Who can trust the US not to repeat the same scenario on a larger scale? The facts that have emerged in the current war should prompt the world to unite in its search for a different system in order to stop the irresponsible management of world crises that threaten to destroy human civilisation.

"The conclusion from the four-week-old war against Lebanon is that the US would have defended the Lebanese had Syria assaulted them, but Israel can create havoc in the country and destroy the nation with full backing from the US. This morally ill and unjust attitude by a superpower should have no place in the world of the 21st century."

"No one can believe how the US administration has inflicted such a degree of damage to its own image while claiming to work on winning the hearts and minds of people in the region. The damage that has wrecked the US image around the world by way of the US administration is more damaging than the work of any of its enemies or the efforts invested by all of its enemies."

"Apart from crippling the United Nations Security Council from making what has been always an obvious and automatic choice against conflicts in the world (an immediate ceasefire) the US has supplied Israel with all its military needs to kill children and women.

"The Qana and Al Qaa massacres were just examples of how precise and intelligent the war machine of the US in Israelis hands can be. This happened in front of TV cameras and was transmitted live all over the world.

"In addition to helping the defence forces, the US administration has also decided to give the aggressor ample time to finish the job and prevented any political solution to the crisis."

"The US could have supplied Israel with the weapons and the intelligence it needed while allowing the Security Council to call for a ceasefire."

This is a good point. The Bush Administration's arrogance and hubris leads it to neglect diplomacy and appearances, devastating the credibility of the US in the process. In one sense this is a good thing in that the 'veil has been removed'.

An example of this was when an Israeli minister announced publicly at a certain point that the US had 'given Israel a green light.' If the US knew what it was about, it would have jumped hard on this statement and said publicly it wanted a ceasefire. The US could also have publicly supported a ceasefire but privately assured Israel it could continue with the attack and secretly resupplied the IDF with depleted bombs and fuel. Naturally all the odium of conducting the war and being in defiance of the 'international community' would attach even more so to Israel, but as Israel is a client state, the US could hardly mind that and even prefer it if the US can maintain an image as an 'honest broker'. But Bush, Cheney and the neocons are too arrogant and perhaps too stupid to practice this kind of duplicity of which previous US administrations have been past masters.

"The world is going through times similar to those that resulted in the dissolving of the League of Nations (1919-1945) because of its failure to stop the Second World War."

"The world's major powers other than the US, including the EU, Russia, China, Japan and Canada should sit and discuss the security in the world and how war crimes have actually surged since the US launched its war against terrorism. The rational world's leaders must come up with a better formula to manage human societies instead of leaving them at the mercy of the US and its Jezebel state of Israel."

This is exactly what is needed to try and rescue the United Nations and International Law, but by definition it involves a sustained confrontation with the US, which none of the powers have an appetite for. Nevertheless the citizens of the world must clamour that their governments act.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Larry Johnson: Uncomfortable Truths about Israel: "We are faced with the spectacle of Hizbullah acting with statesmanship and restraint while the Israelis destroy their credibility among the international community."

One commenter links to 'Jews against Zionism', who maintain that Zionism is contrary to Judaism (this contrasts with Shahak's view that Zionism is a revival of Medieval Judaism). Shahak would probably argue this is a 'revisionist' version of what Judaism really was. Regardless of whether it is more accurately designated 'authentic' or 'reformed' Judaism, obviously it is superior to chauvinist forms.

There is some harsh criticism of the anti-semitism and nazi collaboration of some Zionists. The true and full story of this has probably never been told.

Jonathon Wallace article on Israel: The perspective of an American jew who can see what is happening. It's odd that so many, a majority presumably, cannot.

7 Facts You Might Not Know about the Iraq War: Michael Schwarz summarises (with links) the disastrous state of Iraq. As Chomsky says, the US has created an unparalleled disaster in that country.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Levy: What the right has to offer: "The Israeli right has no solutions. For the long term, there are only two real possibilities: transfer, or an end to the occupation."

"Returning territory as part of an agreement is not acceptable to the right. Annexing the territories is not an option because even the right realizes that means the state becomes binational, which the right does not want. What remains? To wait. For what exactly? For the Palestinians to be a majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River? And then what? The Arab countries equip themselves with more advanced weaponry and ultimately with nuclear bombs? And then what?"

"There is no Israeli consensus about what to do about that except for continuing to arm, which is nothing more than a false formula, as the latest war proved.

"Time only increases the dangers faced by Israel, which is walking down the rightist path to an abyss. In effect, it has never really tried any other path. It has never tried to truly end the occupation. The Oslo Accords were never properly implemented, and in any case, were not enough to end the occupation; Ehud Barak offered what he offered, but never actually implemented anything; the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, while continuing to keep it under siege, did not end its occupation."

"It is amazing to see how a failed and dangerous approach, which only makes things worse for Israel, wins increasing popularity after a war that proved just how ineffective that approach has become."

It is amazing, and depressing, how a right wing approach of violence and authoritarianism can always muster so much support, while a left wing approach of peace and justice is so much marginalised.

Evangelical Michael Gerson on Bush's 'Noble Cause' - war with Iran: "As long as the Middle East remains a bitter and backward mess, America will not be secure....[the vision is of] a reformed Middle East that joins the world instead of resenting and assaulting it."

This sort of stuff would make more sense if the terms were reversed: "As long as America remains a bitter and backward mess, the Middle East will not be secure... [the vision is of] a reformed America that joins the world instead of resenting and assaulting it."

Housing crash puts sellers in debt crisis: "A THREE-BEDROOM brick-veneer house in St Clair sold for just $260,000 at the weekend - down about 42 per cent from its last sale at $450,000 in 2003 in a further sign of the depressed state of the Sydney property market.

"Only one person bid on the house in the city's west. The mortgagee sale was forced after the owners could not meet the interest payments on the $405,000 they borrowed to buy the house at the peak of the market.

"Auction clearance rates are hovering around 48 per cent since the recent interest rate rise, but plummeting property prices have meant many vendors are confronting negative equity, where they owe more on the property than it is worth. The Herald checked 16 properties in south-western and western suburbs listed at the weekend and found 60 per cent had prices or had attracted offers at a discount to their last sale price."

"Increasing petrol prices appear to be compounding the impact of repeated interest rate rises on properties in Sydney's outlying suburbs by driving prices down. Lethbridge Park, near Penrith, recorded the second highest fall, when a townhouse that sold for $257,000 in 2003 was resold by mortgagees for $156,500, reflecting a roughly 40 per cent fall.

"At Heckenberg, a four-bedroom house that sold for $330,000 in 2003 resold at $255,000 in another mortgagee sale. Four of the seven registered buyers put in bids before the Adaminaby Street house sold at an approximate 22 per cent discount to the property-boom price. "There are some people around Liverpool who think that prices have further to fall, but I couldn't imagine this type of house will fetch less in six months' time," said its selling agent, Ray Dimarco."

"At Parramatta, mortagees accepted $541,500 for an unrenovated house that fetched $736,000 in 2003 when it was sold as a deceased estate. The bank lent $580,000 on its 2003 sale. Even the inner-suburban areas are showing signs of depressed prices. In Lilyfield a four-bedroom house on 607 square metres last sold at $1,355,000 unrenovated in boom-time 2003 It attracted a $1,179,000 top bid after its recent renovation by its owner-builder. Two registered bidders competed at the on-site auction but the property was passed in well short of the owner's expectations. The freestanding house now has a $1.35 million asking price.

"Given it has been 16 years since the last recession, long-time estate agents fear the fate of a generation of owners who had not experienced having a loan when times were tough. Mr Beatty said: "There was a wave of people punting on the expectation of constant price rises until well into 2004, even after the three interest rate rises of late 2003. There has been significant price deflation and many now have negative equity in their homes.

""There are some sad stories. But we have to show the sellers the comparable sales and say honestly this is where the market is realistically at.""

Its begun. That's a crash, not a downturn. No one is going to sell in this market, except those that are forced. The peak of land values has come a couple of years too early according to the Georg/Hoyt/Harrison 18-year cycle, but it looks very much like a classic land boom and bust, of the kind we've been having in Australia since 1836.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Badtux the Snarky Penguin: Israel as a concentration camp for Jews: This thesis ties in to some extent with Shahak's view that Zionism is an attempt to re-impose the ghetto on the jewish population.

SPI Died for Your Sins Essay on the glory days and curious disappearance of 'wargaming.' "Strategy and Tactics" considered the highpoint.

Armed and Dangerous: Eric Raymond is some kind of identity in the 'open source' movement, but he is also a completely deranged fascist/imperialist. Take the following for example:

"I am irresistibly reminded of a piece of cynical wisdom from the mouth of the mad Roman emperor Caligula, born of experience in dealing with the barbarians of his day: Oderint, dum metuant: “Let them hate, so long as they fear”."

A famous quote indeed, practically the essence of fascist imperialism, of which the Romans were the one true and only. One wonders why he would want to quote it, however. What next? Is Raymond going to express a desire that thousands of 'Islamofascists' be crucified along Pennsylvania Avenue?

More Raymond:

"Maybe you think you can intimidate me, or that threats like this will stop other bloggers from speaking the truth about your barbaric mass-murdering death-cult. Well, screw you and the camel you rode in. I will not be silenced, and we will not be silenced. All you do with terroristic threats is to demonstrate your evil nature, confirm our resolve to resist you, and speed the day when your diseased ideology will be wiped from the face of the Earth."

This is a guy that needs to sign up. There's plenty of 'cultists' to kill over there in Iraq, sorry Lebanon, sorry Iran.

Cthulhu Can Eat Me: Scott Westerfeld makes a strong argument that Pluto is in fact not a planet and will have to be correspondingly demoted. Cthulhu however will get his revenge...

How Washington Goaded Israel to Invade Lebanon: Stephen Zunes argues the war on Lebanon was thoroughly planned in advance by Israel in conjunction with the US. Bush even reportedly pushed Israel to expand the war and attack Syria, but that was too much for the Israelis who said 'nuts'. The Israeli defeat is thus a disaster for the US as well as Israel. US policy in the Middle East is badly foundering. The most feared outcome, a Shiite crescent from Iran to Lebanon, hostile to the US, looks more and more likely.

"Not only have a growing number of Israelis acknowledged that the war has been a disaster for Israel, there is growing recognition of U.S. responsibility for getting them into that mess. A July 23 article in Haaretz about an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv noted how “this was a distinctly anti-American protest” that included “chants of ‘We will not die and kill in the service of the United States,’ and slogans condemning President George W. Bush.”"

"One of the more unsettling aspects of the broad support in Washington for the use of Israel as U.S. proxy in the Middle East is how closely it corresponds to historic anti-Semitism. In past centuries, the ruling elite of European countries would, in return for granting limited religious and cultural autonomy, established certain individuals in the Jewish community as the visible agents of the oppressive social order, such as tax collectors and moneylenders. When the population threatened to rise up against the ruling elite, the rulers could then blame the Jews, channeling the wrath of an exploited people against convenient scapegoats. The resulting pogroms and waves of repression took place throughout the Jewish Diaspora."

This summarises the argument of Shahak in his book 'Jewish Religion'. Zionism and Israel have put millions of Jews in a dangerous position as Imperialist agents, hated by the masses. Its a tragic irony that this should be repeated. Should the Emperor (Tsar, US) fall, pogroms or even in certain circumstances a Holocaust could be unleashed. And yet Zionists aggressively argue that Israel is in response to the Holocaust and cast as anti-semites anyone who points out the folly and danger of this policy....

Interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: Nasrallah demonstrates his sophistication by appealing, as an Islamist leader, to world socialists for solidarity in the anti-imperialist struggle.

UPDATE: This interview is denounced as a fake.

Australia's involvement in Vietnam began with a lie: "The Vietnamese request for assistance was simply contrived."

Not to mention that the Vietnamese 'government' was an Imperialist puppet.

"In the 1960's, a conservative political hegemony existed in this country. And we were led by fools. The Vietnamese War was manipulated by conservative politicians for the best part of a decade to divide and rule."

"The nonsense of the domino theory was holy writ and conservative appeals to fear and xenophobia were rewarded briefly at the ballot box, at the expense of the national interest."

"Serious or critical discussion of what was really occurring in Indochina was often drowned out by allegations that dissenting voices were either "treasonous" or "communist". By all means let's be fair and balanced in the treatment of the nation's history.

"Australian kids deserve nothing less in our schools. But a white blindfold, involving a dismissal of past conservative preparedness to manipulate the bravery of Australian soldiers for short term electoral gain, is no substitute for honest reflection."

Its an unfortunate fact of political life that war is beneficial for the political leadership. The Vietnam war is comparable in so many ways to the Iraq debacle. History should of course be accurately told on this question, and the current line needs to be ruthlessly deconstructed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Timing is Political: Craig Murray articulates further scepticism over the 'terror bomb plot'. Whilst on the one hand the risk of terrorist attack has been significantly increased by the aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon; at the same time the credibility of the Anglo-saxon governments and their agencies has been destroyed by these aggressions and the lies and false pretexts under which they have been perpetrated. The public can therefore hardly know the true status of these alleged plots.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lebanon: The 33-Day War and UNSC Resolution 1701: Achcar summarises the goals and outcome of he war: "The Israeli offensive was a total and blatant failure."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Noam Chomsky on the Lebanon war: "The 'real issue' that is being ignored is the systematic destruction of any prospects for a viable Palestinian existence as Israel annexes valuable land and major resources (water particularly), leaving the shrinking territories assigned to Palestinians as unviable cantons, largely separated from one another and from whatever little bit of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians, and completely imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan valley (and of course controls air space, etc.)."

"The paired events, a day apart, demonstrate with bitter clarity that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping was cynical fraud. They reveal that by Western moral standards, kidnapping of civilians is just fine if it is done by "our side," but capture of a soldier on "our side" a day later is a despicable crime that requires severe punishment of the population. As Gideon Levy accurately wrote in Ha'aretz, the IDF kidnapping of civilians the day before the capture of Cpl. Shalit strips away any "legitimate basis for the IDF's operation," and, we may add, any legitimate basis for support for these operations."

These juxtapositions are characteristic points, but who can deny the validity of them? More Chomsky:

"Virtually all informed observers agree that a fair and equitable resolution of the plight of the Palestinians would considerably weaken the anger and hatred towards Israel and the US in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Such an agreement is surely within reach, if the US and Israel depart from their long-standing rejectionism. Before they were called off prematurely by Ehud Barak, the Taba negotiations of January 2001 were coming close to a viable settlement, carried forward by subseqnent negotiations, most prominently the Geneva Accord released on December 2002, which received strong international support but was dismissed by the US and rejected by Israel. One can raise various criticisms of these proposals, but they are at least a basis, perhaps a solid basis, for progress towards peaceful settlement ­ if the US and Israel sharply reverse their rejectionist policies."

A political settlement of the Arab-Israeli is still possible, along the lines of the two state solution. But, tragically, Israel appears committed to attempting to wipe this solution out, and annex as much land as possible. This unreconstructed expansionist Zionism will likely ruin the State of Israel in the end.

"In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding issues with the US, including nuclear issues and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The offer was made by the moderate Khatami government, with the support of the hard-line "supreme leader" Ayatollah Khamenei. The Bush administration response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer.

"In June 2006, Khamenei issued an official declaration stating that Iran agrees with the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine, meaning that it accepts the 2002 Arab League call for full normalization of relations with Israel in a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. The timing suggests that this might have been a reprimand to his subordinate Ahmadenijad, whose inflammatory statements are given wide publicity in the West, unlike the far more important declaration by his superior Khamenei. Just a few days ago, former Iranian diplomat Saddagh Kharazzi "reaffirmed that Iran would back a two-state solution if the Palestinians accepted" (Financial Times, July 26, 2006). Of course, the PLO has officially backed a two-state solution for many years, and backed the 2002 Arab League proposal. Hamas has also indicated its willingness to negotiate a two-state settlement, as is surely well-known in Israel. Kharazzi is reported to be the author of the 2003 proposal of Khatami and Khamanei.

"The US and Israel do not want to hear any of this. They prefer to hear that Iran "is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state" (Jerusalem correspondent Charles Radin, Boston Globe, 2 August), the standard and more convenient story.

"They also do not want to hear that Iran appears to be the only country to have accepted the proposal by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei that all weapons-usable fissile materials be placed under international control, a step towards a verifiable Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), as mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1993. ElBaradei's proposal, if implemented, would not only end the Iranian nuclear crisis but would also deal with a vastly more serious crisis: the growing threat of nuclear war, which leads prominent strategic analysts to warn of "apocalypse soon" (Robert McNamara) if policies continue on their current course."

"The US and Israel are stirring up popular forces that are very ominous, and which will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of realization of Palestinian national rights, and destroying Lebanon. It should also be recognized that Washington's primary concern, as in the past, is not Israel and Lebanon, but the vast energy resources of the Middle East, recognized 60 years ago to be a "stupendous source of strategic power" and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history." We can expect, with confidence, that the US will continue to do what it can to control this unparalleled source of strategic power."

As they say, go read the whole thing. This is a particularly good interview. Chomsky has always been very strong on Israel. What a pity Israelis and jews generally seem to take no notice.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Israeli army chief under attack over share sell-off: "Halutz went to his bank branch and sold shares worth 120,000 shekels ($27,460) three hours after the soldiers were seized by the Lebanese guerrilla group on July 12.

"Key share indexes in Israel fell around 12 percent at the outset of fighting between Israeli forces and Hizbollah after the abduction. Share prices gradually recovered and now stand slightly below pre-war levels.

"It is true that I sold the portfolio on July 12 but it is impossible to link that to the war. At the time, I did not expect or think there would be a war," [Halutz] said, according to Maariv."

He did not think there would be a war? How credible is that? According to Hersh and others, the war was pre-planned in advance, and co-ordinated with the US, and could not be any other way.

Craig Murray: The UK Terror plot: What's Really Going On?: "None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

"In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

"What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.

"Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth."

I havent been paying too much attention to the 'terror bomb plot'. I tend to take the view that the credibility of the Anglo-saxon governments and their defence departments, intelligence agencies and police departments has been destroyed by Saddam's non-existent 'weapons of mass destruction' and the phony 'war on terror.' Nothing they say can be believed - everything has to be independently verified.

Maybe Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction but he certainly seems to have achieved the annihilation of Western credibility.

The risk of further terrorist attacks has been increased by the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, but this incident seemed to coincide with the Lebanon war. The political advantage of terror and 'another 9/11' is all too obvious.

Why Israel lost the war in Lebanon - by Uri Avnery: Uri draws the inevitable conclusion: 'There is no military solution!'

Syria, Iran hail Hezbollah 'victory': "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Hezbollah's 'victory' in the recent war with Israel has destroyed US plans to reshape the Middle East.

"Iran's President has also praised Hezbollah's resistance to Israel during a month-long conflict in Lebanon, saying the United States and Britain should pay compensation for war damage.

"Syria, a key Hezbollah ally, wants the Lebanon war to lead to a comprehensive peace settlement that addresses what it regards as the root of instability - Israeli occupation of Arab land, including the Syrian Golan Heights.

"Mr Assad has also aimed sharp criticism at Israel and says peace in the Middle East will remain elusive for the foreseeable future.

"'Their 'New Middle East', based on subjugation and humiliation, and denial of rights and identity, has turned into an illusion,' Mr Assad said in reference to the US's goal of helping to shape what it calls a new, democratic Middle East. It is evident that after six years of this [US] administration that there is no peace and there will be none in the foreseeable future.'

"Mr Assad, 40, who is shaped by his late father's lifetime of struggle against Israel, says the Jewish state must return Arab land it has occupied since 1967, or face more insecurity. 'The Israeli leadership ... is in front of an historic crossroads. Either it moves toward peace and gives back rights or face constant instability until an (Arab) generation comes and puts an end to the issue,' he said."

I'm no fan of the Assad dictatorship, or any dictatorship, but as is so often the case, countries under the gun can speak with more integrity and credibility than the heads of government of the arrogant, hubristic, disgraced and discredited Western imperialist powers.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PM's response to Peak Oil: Billion dollar giveaway: The central proposal is to subsidise the conversion of cars to LPG, and subsidies petrol stations of make ethanol blends (E10) available, but not to mandate ethanol.

I suppose the temptation to give money away is irresistible when it is not your money and it makes you look good for a day, but one wonders whether this is an appropriate allocation of public funds, or a politically motivated giveaway. What is needed as a matter of the highest urgency is energy conservation, renewable energy and investment in public transport, particularly rail.

In recent testimony before the Australian Senate, Dr Bakhtiari warned that peak oil at 81 million barrels per day was upon us now, with production expected to fall to around 55mbpd by 2020. This obviously has profound implications for the price of liquid fuels and the future of automobile transport. Has Mr Howard considered this at all? Or does he simply not have any correct information about the subject, just like how he (apparently) had no correct information about the state of Saddam's weapons and the decision to go to war.

Whether government advisors fail utterly in their role, or the Prime Minister more or less instructs them not to inform him of certain matters, or the Prime Minister simply tells falsehoods - it would be hard to imagine a person more unfit for the responsibility of government who cannot comprehend and act upon an accurate assessment of fundamentally important matters such as war and energy.

Dr Bakhtiari also expressed surprise at the long term gas deals Australia has signed with China. Its been said the price is around 5c a litre - a giveaway of staggering proportions, and yet Mr Howard boasts he is making Australia into an 'energy superpower'.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Seymour Hersh on the Lebanon war: Hersh's argument is that the attack was preplanned by the US and Israel, essentially as a prelude to a possible attack on Iran. There were two main objectives: to eliminate the Hezbollah rocket threat to Israel (which might expect to be activated in the event of a war against Iran); and to test the ability of the airforce to destroy underground bunkers. The failure of the war makes the attack on Iran somewhat less likely. In all the circumstances, therefore, the region and the world might be grateful for the surprising resistance that Hezbollah has put up.