Friday, March 31, 2006

Chomsky discusses the Israel Lobby: Chomsky reiterates his long held view that the US Israeli lobby, while it exists, is not as important in determining US policy as strategic and hegemonic considerations, or "strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage", as he puts it.

Blankfort, however, makes the argument that 'Chomsky is soft on Israel.'

Avnery on the Israeli election: "The main result of these elections is that the hold of the nationalistic-religious bloc, which has dominated Israel for more than a generation, has been broken... This is a turning point. The dream of a Greater Israel, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, is dead.

"Significantly, the "National Union", the party that is completely identified with the settlers, has won only 9 seats - more or less like last time. After all the heart-rending drama of the destruction of the Gaza settlements, the settlers remain as unpopular as ever. They have lost the decisive battle for public opinion."

"For those who are interested: the fascist group that called for my murder as part of their election program has failed to attain the 2% necessary to gain entry into the Knesset. But, of course, an assassin does not need 2% to follow such a call. (I would like to use this occasion to express my heartfelt thanks to all those around the world who expressed their solidarity.)"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Interview with US Sargeant Major Haney: "Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward."

Ogg Vorbis audio format as a replacement for mp3: "Vorbis was started following a September 1998 letter from Fraunhofer Gesellschaft announcing plans to charge licensing fees for the MP3 format.... Vorbis is considered to be one of the highest quality audio codecs in use today. For many applications, Vorbis has clear advantages over other modern codecs, in that it is patent-free, and therefore free to use, implement, or modify as one sees fit, yet produces smaller files than most other codecs at equivalent quality."

Tim Tyler, prisoner of the drug war: "In 1992, my brother, my best friend, Tim, was sentenced to 2 life sentences without parole, under federal law for selling LSD. He is nonviolent (doesn't even eat meat), didn't have or use weapons, and was just a 'Deadhead' following the Grateful Dead shows. He has been in jail since he was 23."

"He had a public pretender, and they told him if he plead guilty, he would get maybe 20 years, so he plead guilty and they gave him double life, no parole. They "enhanced" his sentence using his priors in which adjudications were withheld. They were supposed to tell him that it was a minimum mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole before he plead guilty, but they did not."

The US Gulag Prison System - the shame of the nation and crime against humanity : SF Indymedia: "Today the US shamelessly has more people behind bars than any other nation including China with over 4 times our population.... Arnold J. Toynbee ... said: "America is today the leader of a world-wide anti-revolutionary movement in the defence of vested interests.""

Sunday, March 26, 2006

WaPo Chat With Chomsky: "Lancaster, U.K: What do you feel are the limits to 'free speech' given the arguments recently over racial hatred and religious intolerance?

Noam Chomsky: My feeling is that the Supreme Court reached a reasonable standard of protection of speech in the 1960s, a standard higher than any other country in the world, to my knowledge. In brief, speech should be protected up to participation in imminent criminal action. So if you and I go into a store to rob it, and I say 'shoot,' that's not protected. Like all judicial decisions and legislation, this leaves plenty of gray areas, including many of great significance that are rarely discussed: advocacy of imminent war crimes, such as aggression, for example. I think we would all agree that such speech should be protected, despite the often horrific consequences, but it's worth noting that that stretches the doctrine to its limits.

Wellfleet, Mass.: Mr. Chomsky:

Many fear the country is moving towards a "police state" where the Executive acts according to its desires, without constraint. What possibilities do you see, if any, for the trend towards consolidation of power in the Executive to be thwarted?

Noam Chomsky: The concerns are justified. Thus in this morning's press it was reported that after signing the new version of the Patriot Act with grandiose flourishes, President Bush quietly issued a "signing statement" that exempted him from its requirement to notify Congress of FBI actions that go beyond court authorizaton. That is yet another brazen affirmation of executive power. There are many others. There is little doubt that this administration is at an extreme in seeking to establish a powerful state executive, free from interference by Congress or public awareness of its actions. The justification is the "war on terror," but that can hardly be taken seriously. Terror is doubtless a very serious threat, but it is all to easy to demonstrate that it does not rank high in administration priorities.

Though the concerns are valid, we should not exaggerate. The public is not likely to give up the achievements of centuries of struggle easily."

Apache's Greg Stein says commercial software's days are numbered: "'As the [open-source] stack grows and grows and takes over more areas, there's less money available in packaged products,' Stein said. 'All of your software [will be] free. It means that over time, you aren't going to be paying for software anymore' but will instead pay for assistance with it. The shift could take an estimated five to 10 years, he said. 'The notion of [a] packaged product is really going to kind of go away,' Stein said."

Given that the cost of OpenOffice is zero, one would think that it's default installation everywhere was a no-brainer. If there are some things it cant do, that would be a case for the purchase of a limited number of specialist proprietary applications.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

US finally swinging back to support Sunni domination in Iraq?: "Sunni Arab leaders Adnan Dulaimi and Salih Mutlak have begun speaking of a convergence of interests between them and the United States. Al-Hayat say its sources tell it that the US now feels that aligning with the Sunni Arabs against the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance is a way of offsetting Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. "

"Like many Iraqi and Arab observers, Muqtada was shocked when US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said last week that the US military would not intervene in an Iraqi civil war, leaving that to Iraqi forces.

"' "May God damn you," Sadr said of Rumsfeld. "You said in the past that civil war would break out if you were to withdraw, and now you say that in case of civil war you won't interfere." '"

A cynic would point out that Saddam is still alive and could be pulled out of prison and installed as 'President of Iraq.'

The strange state of American politics: "What more can one say about a political party whose politicians want to censure a President in their own party for his role in a sex scandal, while fearfully refusing to censure a President in the other party for breaking the law -- repeatedly, deliberately and proudly -- while spying on American citizens?"

The Campaign to Pacify Sunni Iraq: Michael Schwarz summarises the state of the guerilla war.

Cockburn: Did Milosevic or His Accusers "Cheat Justice"? The Show Trial That Went Wrong

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hawks Prevail In Preventing U.S. Troop Withdrawal: "We may never know who blew up the shrine and, with it, the prospects for troop withdrawals. It is assumed that the villains were either deranged Sunnis acting on their own, or al-Zarqawi cadres intent on civil war.

"There is another perspective for close observers of dirty wars, the possibility that the bombing was planned and handled by elements of Western counter-terrorism forces. Similar tactics were employed by British agents during the long conflict in Northern Ireland, and heavily-armed British commandos disguised as Arabs were captured in Basra just last year. One of the oldest imperial strategems is to divide and conquer, incite sectarian divisions, and justify military occupation to keep the natives from killing each other. This is precisely the justification for continued war that is heard from those who have admitted the original invasion was a “mistake.”"

Ever since the invasion of 2003 Iraq has been plagued by a devastating series of car and truck bombs, in a country which had not had a single car bombing in its history. Who on earth has been doing this and who is the beneficiary?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Nuclear Power is Dead: "Last year's energy bill provided some pretty eye-popping incentives designed to make nuclear energy competitive including 80 percent loan guarantees, $2 billion of public insurance against legal or regulatory delays, an additional 1.8 cent/kWh in operating subsidies, payment for late acceptance for hazardous waste, capping liability for mishaps, free offsite security and another $1.3 billion tax break for decommissioning funds. Under that bill all risk is absorbed by tax payers and the promoters don’t even have to invest very much of their own money. With all this going for nuclear power plants, you would think that nuclear energy would be a market winner."

That would be the 'level playing field' 'free market' 'competitive system.' Without corporate welfare, nuclear power cannot survive. Its promoters are corporate tools. In one of the links to this article, it is shown that windpower is cheaper than gas-fuelled power.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush Nukes Legal and Ethical Constraints: "Eye-Ran. That's what the Americans call Iran — pronounced Ee-Ra'an. This is a minor matter, compared to how the U.S. is bullying Iran over its nuclear program, even while rewarding India for committing worse transgressions of international nuclear rules.

"All nation-states operate in their own interests, of course. But American disregard for the law, and the moral and political inconsistency of its foreign policy, has hit a new low under George W. Bush."

The U.S. Role in Iraq’s Sectarian Violence: Stephen Zunes shows how the US first tried to install leaders in Iraq and then in response to massive demonstrations were forced to hold elections which were dominated by Shiites. Also how the dismissal of the Baath party and Iraq Army left a vacuum leading to the rise of sectarianism and the dissolution of Iraq.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Former Iranian president attacks Ahmadinejad over Holocaust -- Middle East Times: "'We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don't forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German national socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews,' the cleric said in comments carried in the Iranian press on Wednesday.

"The Holocaust, he asserted, should be recognized 'even if this historical reality has been misused and there is enormous pressure on the Palestinian people'. Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by insisting that the Holocaust - the killing of an estimated 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II in death camps and elsewhere - was a myth used to justify the creation of Israel. He has also said that the Jewish state 'must be wiped off the map' or moved as far away as Alaska - comments that have provoked anger in the West and even condemnation from the UN Security Council.

"Ahmadinejad's violent rhetoric has also served to increase tensions over Iran's atomic energy drive, seen in the West as a mask for weapons development. Khatami served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005, and attempted to open up Iran to the West and initiate a 'dialogue among civilizations' - in stark contrast to the ultraconservative agenda of Ahmadinejad.

"The mild-mannered former president, who has shied away from the political limelight since leaving office, also asserted Muslims were not out to persecute Jews. 'The persecution of Jews, just like Nazism, is a Western phenomenon. In the east, we have always lived side by side with them. And we follow a religion that states that the death of an innocent person is the death of all of humanity,' Khatami said. He also argued that it was of little importance 'whether the number killed [during the Holocaust] was high or not' - but at the same time went on to accuse Israel's leaders as being 'victims of fascism and practicing fascist policies today'.

"Ahmadinejad also came under attack from the prominent and centrist Shargh newspaper, which complained that 'the Holocaust has, as wished for by the president, become a topic of our foreign policy'. 'The Jewish question was never a problem for Iran or Islam, and is a Christian-European problem,' the paper argued. 'Don't we have enough with the nuclear question, human rights, free elections and political in-fighting, so do we need to add another problem to that?' it said, saying that Iran would be better off 'thinking of the creation of a Palestinian state rather than the destruction of Israel'."

Opposition to Iraq War Reaches 55% in Australia

Polling Data

Do you support or oppose Australia’s involvement in Iraq?

Support: 38%

Oppose: 55%

Do you support or oppose Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan?

Support: 45%

Oppose: 48%

Support for this stupid war has always been hard to drum up, all the more remarkable, therefore, that both major parties do support it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ubuntu - Killer App for Linux It was Unix and then became GNU - for Gnu's not Unix. Ok try again. Then we had Linux - unknown pronunciation, misleading egotism, clueless philosophy but very cute penguin.

Ubuntu is 'humanity to others' or 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. It puts the focus back on the principles of freedom and free software, sidestepping that tedious 'open source' corporate sales pitch.

Free download or free CDs - posted free to your door. It 'just works' out of the box. Even the linmodem works, with a little help from the folks at .

Ubuntu - killer marketing and killer app.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

John Zogby: On a New Poll Of U.S. Soldiers During Their Service in Iraq: "85% [of US troops in Iraq] said the U.S. mission is 'to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks,' while 77% said they believe the main or a major reason for the war was 'to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.'"

Cannon fodder - the poor deluded fools. They have been lied to and they do not realise, even today. Saddam had no part in 9/11; there were no links between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

There was appparently no question on whether the US invaded Iraq for reasons of oil or hegemony.

However, it is interesting to note that "72% of American troops in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year ... 29% thought the U.S. should pull its troops immediately."

Peter Singer: Against Holocaust denial, use arguments not laws: "The timing of Austria's conviction and imprisonment of David Irving for denying the Holocaust could not have been worse. Coming after the deaths of at least 30 people during protests in Arab and Muslim countries against the Danish cartoons ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, the Irving verdict made a mockery of the claim that in democratic countries freedom of expression is a basic right.

"We cannot consistently hold that cartoonists have a right to mock religious figures, but that it should be a criminal offense to deny the existence of the Holocaust. I believe that we should stand behind freedom of speech. And that means that David Irving should be freed."

"Laws against incitement to racial, religious, or ethnic hatred, in circumstances where that incitement is intended to - or can reasonably be foreseen to - lead to violence or other criminal acts, are different, and are compatible with maintaining freedom to express any views at all. Only when David Irving has been freed will it be possible for Europeans to turn to the Islamic protesters and say: "We apply the principle of freedom of expression even-handedly, whether it offends Muslims, Christians, Jews, or anyone else.""