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.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Israeli Armour neutralised by modern anti-tank weapons: "The first major shock was when Hezbollah narrowly missed sinking an Israeli destroyer with a Chinese shore-to-sea missile. Four crew were killed in the attack."

""The main threat is the use of sophisticated anti-tank weapons against our armoured vehicles. One of the most effective is the Kornet, which was supplied by Russia to Iran and then to Hezbollah," said Lt. Col. Olivier Rafowicz."

"One member of a tank crew who had just left Lebanon said: "It's terrible. You do not fight anti-tank teams with tanks. You use infantry supported by artillery and helicopters. Wide valleys without shelter are the wrong place to use tanks."

"In addition, Israel has restricted its use of helicopters, particularly the Apache gun ships. The helicopters have been used to hit coastal targets, but not in the inland valleys and hills for fear of Hezbollah anti-aircraft weapons."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peres: 15 Isrealis a day will be killed in war: "Peres, now deputy Prime Minister, told Yediot Ahronoth, Israel's best-selling daily newspaper, that Israel was likely to suffer 15 deaths a day if it continued its ground war."

"Dawn broke to reveal tanks were being crippled within sight of the border town of Metulla. Shoulder-launched Hezbollah missiles sent tank crews sprinting for safety while other vehicles laid down smoke to cover their escape."

Its a tremendous effort that Hezbollah is putting up. The US and France will likely come up with a face-saving Resolution for Israel to claim 'victory' in the war, but how can it be other than a disaster for them? In reality, a severe check has been delivered. Israel can no longer attack with impunity Lebanon or even the Palestinians.

Retroactive War Crime Protection Proposed: "The Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal."

Changing the law against torture to prevent prosecutions for torture is evidence of guilt, is it not? Where is the shame and outrage. Does PM Howard still support the Bush Administration?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israeli PM Olmert hits back at Europe: "'Where do they get the right to preach to Israel?' he was quoted as saying in an interview published by Welt Am Sonntag. 'European countries attacked Kosovo and killed 10,000 civilians. Ten thousand and none of those countries had to suffer from a single rocket before that.'"

10,000 is a higher figure than I can recall seeing previously, but the point is valid. The US and the Western power through the barbaric Kosovo attack significantly damaged if not destroyed international law. Consequences must follow. It will be a long and hard road to rebuild international law. Bush and Blair might be compared to Mussolini. With his invasion of Ethiopia the League of Nations was virtually destroyed and 'rule of the jungle' came back in.

A trump card in the nuclear power play: "Flannery concludes his book by arguing that 'there is no need to wait for government action' - voluntary action by well-meaning consumers is the only way to save the planet.... This is music to the Government's ears. The assignment of individual responsibility is consistent with the economic rationalist view of the world, which wants everything left to the market, even when the market manifestly fails.... It is obvious why a government that wants to do nothing finds such an approach appealing: it can pretend to be concerned while protecting powerful business interests."

It would be hard to imagine anything more mindnumbingly irresponsible than this, or anything more downright stupid as this cargo-cult 'market provides' ideology.

Let's be under no illusions: in the face of this global catastrophe, we find our governments and major political parties (not to mention media and intellectuals) effectively owned and controlled by corporate interests whose goal is short term profit under the banner of an ideology which says 'market provides, get govt out of the way.'

And as if collective action and individual political activism was not an expression of 'personal responsibility' towards the problem.

Gerard Henderson 'evenhandedly' defends Israel and blames Hezbollah: Henderson is not a journalist or even a commentator, he is a propagandist for modern state corporate rule, ie neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism.

Like the rest of us, a tool like Henderson would not be informed as to which country is going to be attacked next, and when, but he knows that when the attack goes in, his job is to propagandise for it. This made for some hard going over the blatantly unacceptable and disastrous Iraq war, but undeterred, he soldiers on v Lebanon. Take this latest piece, which is phrased as an attack on the Hiroshima Day peace rally.

A Disciplined Hezbollah Surprises Israel With Its Training, Tactics and Weapons: Interesting article describes Hezbollah training, tactics and equipment, and helps explain their remarkable success. All so ominous for Israel.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Poll: Half of U.S. still believes Iraq had WMD: "The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.

"Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that a full 50 percent of U.S. respondents — up from 36 percent last year — said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, an attack whose stated purpose was elimination of supposed WMD. Other polls also have found an enduring American faith in the WMD story."

There has hardly ever been a bigger official lie than this rubbish about the 'weapons of mass destruction'. Chomsky & Herman have been proven correct. The corporate media system is a propaganda tool - it leads the public believe lies and nonsense, ie what the rulers want the public to believe. In this sense it is comparable to Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda or Stalin's 'Factory of Lies.' But all too many people in Western countries have either not perceived this as yet, or find the very idea incredible.

Juan Cole discusses Peak Oil and the Lebanon war: "I floated the fungibility [market access] of petroleum as a reason for which the Iraq War could not be only about oil".

And then in the very next paragraph Cole says:

"In a worst case scenario, Washington would like to retain the option of military action against Iran, so as to gain access to its resources and deny them to rivals."

This is self-contradictory. Its not about access, its about control. The US seeks a 'strategic veto' over other industrial powers. Japan and Europe will be obliged to align their policies with the US (if not become client states) if the US has 'control' over energy reserves.

This is the 'hegemonic' argument Chomsky has been making for years. I dont see why it should not be adopted or indeed regarded as other than obvious.

Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia are the key regimes one wants as clients. Other regimes such as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and even as far away as Cyprus, Greece, Italy etc are also strategically important in terms of geopolitical control.

The US obviously lusts to convert Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran into client states. It has NOTHING to do with democracy (or WMDs, or 'terror'). These regimes represent an inherent threat to US hegemony. So does Iraq and if the US is forced to retreat from Iraq it would represent a stunning imperial defeat in the most crucial region of the world.

As for war (or empire for that matter) 'not making any sense', that is the nature of the beast. It is destructive, dangerous and can precipitate a catastrophe.

Ayn Rand and the teenage worldview: Digby and commenters have some incisive insights into Randism. Its tripe but they get 'em young.

LEBANON: Israeli terrorism: "Three days after Israel’s “justice” minister, Haim Ramon, told Israeli Army Radio on July 27 that “everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist”"

This is the sort to thing that needs to be thoroughly documented, and then followed up. I mean date, time, name of program; transcript and audio if possible. And then the Minister and Government questioned about the statement.

Could he really have said such a thing? You know what that means? What they do to 'terrorists'? This means that the Israeli Government is openly proclaiming its intention to either kill or ethnically cleanse the entire population - men, women, children, old, sick, disabled. A major war crime.

Some say the Israeli plan is to ethnically cleanse southern Lebanon, colonise it with Jews, and annex it to Israel. This cant be, surely?

The Hiroshima Myth and the real reason the bomb was dropped: Basically it was a massive warcrime. The bomb(s) was dropped simply to demonstrate the US's power and ruthlessness and to intimidate the Soviet Union and anyone else watching. "We've got a big bomb and we're gonna drop it on a whole city. And if you didnt get the message the first time we're gonna do it again. Got that?"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Achcar: Israeli-lebanon war: "The Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) is a shadow of its former self, of what it used to be in the 70s and 80s. It was one of the most important Communist Parties in the Arab world, relative to the size of the country, and one of the major actors in the civil war of 1975-1990. The LCP was the first to launch attacks against the Israeli occupation in 1982, after the invasion settled down, in the name of the 'national resistance'. Only later were the 'Islamic resistance' and Hizbollah launched. Hizbollah dealt with the LCP as a rival since the latter's main social base was among Shiites and in southern Lebanon, that is among Hisbollah's target constituency. Hizbollah built itself partially through fighting the LCP over this constituency and managed to prevail. In that, it was greatly helped by Iranian backing and by the fact that it played on the dominant ideological trend in the region that was in favour of Islamic fundamentalism since the 1970s, whereas the LCP lacked political boldness and was deeply affected by the unfolding crisis of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s the LCP itself went into deep crisis, splitting and fragmenting. What remains is not completely invisible, but it is no longer in a position to play an important role -- unfortunately, as it is the major left-wing grouping in the country. Hence, Lebanon is no exception to the general rule in the area: the historical failure of nationalist forces and the failure of the left have created a vacuum that has been filled by Islamic fundamentalists."

"This question [Israeli vulnerability] relates to a point long made by Jewish critics of Zionism. Far from becoming the sanctuary for the Jews of the world that the Zionists promised, Israel is more and more turning into a deadly trap for its Jewish inhabitants. The old warning by anti-Zionist Jews is getting more and more relevant because of the evolution in destructive techniques and weaponry. Israel is exposing its own population to huge risks. Israel's ruthless, barbaric way of dealing with the Palestinians and the Lebanese feeds hatred against it in the whole area. This will certainly result in many people wanting to inflict on the Israelis the most painful damage possible, compared to which Hizbollah's Katyusha rockets might look quite benign. It takes some 50 Hizbollah rockets to kill one Israeli on average in the ongoing confrontation. But what if devices could be made to inflict mass destruction on Israel? That is what Israel is inciting against itself."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

RIAA Goes after LimeWire: "It was bound to happen. I mean, look at the people they have sued (from Wiki): The RIAA has been criticised in the media after they subpoenaed Gertrude Walton, an 83-year-old grandmother who had died in December of 2004 [23]. Mrs. Walton stood accused of swapping rock, pop and rap songs. The RIAA in 2003 attempted to sue Sarah Seabury Ward, a 66 year-old sculptor residing in Boston, Massachusetts. They alleged that she shared more than 2,000 songs illegally. The RIAA dropped the suit when it was discovered that she was a computer novice. The case was dismissed, but without prejudice. The RIAA has also been criticised for bringing lawsuits against children, such as 12 year old Brianna LaHara in 2003 [24]. The RIAA also attempted to sue Candy Chan of Michigan, for the alleged actions of her daughter, 13 year old Brittany Chan. The court dismissed Priority Records v. Chan [25] because it was ruled that the mother could not be sued for the alleged infringements of her daughter. [26] When the court ruled in favor of the mother, dismissing the case, the RIAA proceeded to sue her child. However, prosecuting a minor is more difficult, and many previous adult defendants have said that the P2P software installation and copyright infringement was done without their knowledge by one of their children. And on a related note: The RIAA's recent targeting of students has generated controversy as well. An April 4th story in the MIT campus newspaper The Tech indicates that an RIAA representative stated to Cassi Hunt, an alleged file-sharer, that previously, 'the RIAA has been known to suggest that students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements.'[27] Is that PATHETIC or what?! RIAA/MPAA needs to die. The world would be a better place."

Pape: Clue for Bush and the 'why do they hate us' crowd: "In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

"What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hezbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force."

Why do they hate us? The dumbest question from the dumbest President ever. They are resisting occupation and foreign oppression. This is also another clue for PM Howard who appeared genuinely surprised and angered at a suggestion that Hizbullah be delisted as a terrorist organisation: it is an indigenous resistance movement. You might do the same if it was your country, little johnny.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ilan Pappe on the dark tragedy of Zionism and Occupation: "I believe what Israel is doing will destroy the Jewish people in the near or distant future as well. Even with 250 nuclear weapons and the support of the world’s only superpower. For the sake of Jews and Arabs, the world has to play a role in dismantling apartheid. The world has to help. And the only way short of violence, which I am against, is pressure."

Rolling Stone : THE LOW POST: Why the Democrats Are Still Doomed Matt Taibi musters some fine rhetoric with which to savage the Democrat party

Stop For The Sake Of Stopping: "I couldn't believe it when George Bush, talking about Israel's attack on Lebanon, said he was against 'stopping for the sake of stopping.'"

These are so tiresome, these sourceless and referenceless commondreams.org articles, modelled presumably on the 'op-ed' tradition in American newspaper journalism.

As if anybody could seriously be 'surprised' at bush's attitude. It is the US that vetoed a UN Security Council resolution of 13 July calling for an immediate ceasefire, and then proceeded to re-supply the Israeli airforce their depleted bombs and fuel, in addition to already being the single biggest US recipient of diplomatic, financial and weapons aid. What does that tell you?

The official US policy is 'sustainable ceasefire' (unrestricted warfare).

Critics of government policy must express the reality and document it: that is, deconstruct the lies and document the reality. Instead of the miserable kissinger alternative of 'formulating what people think'.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Qana bomb made in the US: "It has been revealed that the bombs used in the attacks Israel launched on the southern Lebanese village of Qana were produced by the US. At least 60 civilians, most of whom were children had been killed in the attack.... the bombs used in the attacks were laser-controlled BSU 37/B bunker busters manufactured by the US.... The same type bomb had been used in last week’s attack that killed four UN observers. The Bush administration had shipped 2.5 tons, 100 GBU-28 “bunker busters” to the region after the operation began on 12 July."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Brent Scowcroft endorses two-state solution: Scowcroft's plan is a variant on the fundamentals of the two-state solution which has been available for a long time now, as far back as 1971 and Sadat's original peace offer: Withdrawal of Jewish soldiers and settlers behind the 1967 Green line; minor and mutually agreed border modifications; a practical resolution of the refugee problem.

This solution is available for adoption by the US or Israel anytime they wish, for the moment. The US evidently prefers Israel as the 'cop on the beat', the 'Israeli Sparta', the 'militarised dependency.' And Israel, it seems, lacks all sense of danger and security, and believes in the unreconstructed folly of Zionism and the hubristic madness of permanent regional hegemony. US interest in the region runs out with the oil in 30-40 years tops, maybe much sooner, especially if it suffers a defeat in Iraq. Israel's interest is to negotiate a comprehensive peace from a position of strength, and that means NOW. There will come a time (perhaps fairly soon) when the tide finally turns and the Arabs will no longer be prepared to concede as much as they might now.

Tehran editorial: UN Security Council or U.S. Security Council?: "China and Russia made a major concession to the United States in UN Resolution 1696. A day before the adoption of the resolution, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said Moscow opposed any deadline, sanctions, or threats against Iran. China had adopted similar stances. The resolution implies that these powers made a backdoor deal, a fact which Iranian officials should take into consideration."

"Even if the international community accepts that the Security Council adopted the resolution to maintain world peace and security, how can it accept its shameful silence over the massacre of the Lebanese and Palestinian children by Israel?

"There is one likely answer. In the eyes of the Security Council, the regime that is free to produce nuclear weapons is also free to butcher hundreds of defenseless women and children. The Security Council, which has kept mum about the massacre of defenseless children in Qana, Lebanon but has passed a resolution against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program within the framework of international law, is not the Security Council, it is the Insecurity Council! It is not the UN Security Council, rather it is the U.S. Security Council."

"From the legal point of view, it is not acceptable that in the second paragraph of the resolution, the Security Council states that it “Reaffirms its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and recalls the right of states party, in conformity with Articles I and II of that treaty, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination”, and deprives a country of its right while it has not violated the NPT.The resolution is proof that the five major nuclear powers are using international bodies as tools to impose their demands on Iran."

So Iran continues its battle (virtually alone) against White Western hegemony. Iranian President Ahmadinejad launches into some blunt criticism: "'The United States and Britain are responsible for Israel's killing of civilians in Lebanon and should not be trusted with seats on the U.N. Security Council'.... Iran regularly blames Britain, as a creator of Israel, and the United States, as the state that bankrolls and protects it, for deaths in conflicts in the Middle East. "They are not competent to be members of the Security Council or to have the power of veto ... They are criminals and should be put on trial," Ahmadinejad told a crowd in the northeastern town of Bojnurd.... Ahmadinejad accused Israeli forces of being part of a British and U.S. plan to recreate a colonial Middle East."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bakhtiari addresses the Australian Senate Committee: A few of the interesting points made in this testimony:

Peak oil is here: "Over the next 14 years present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32 per cent, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020."

What to do: "Every preparative step taken today will prove far cheaper than any step taken tomorrow."

Anti-science attitude of the ruling elite: "Maybe one explanation could be that they are interested parties and we are disinterested parties."

The importance of gas: "Fortunately, Australia has an enormous amount of gas, and I believe this is going to become very handy."

"Senator MILNE— Australia, as you know, has just signed up to long-term gas exports to China at a fixed price. Given what you have just said, that looks like an increasingly bad deal.

"Dr Samsam Bakhtiari—At a fixed price?

"Senator MILNE—That is what I said. Yes, I can see that you are not impressed by the brilliance of that and neither are we."

Transport Fuel Efficiency: "the future is to rails because rails are the most fuel efficient system.... At tonne kilometres per litre of fuel, aeroplanes are between two and three, cars are between 10 and 22, trucks are between 65 and 85 and trains are around 320.... Aeroplanes will be the first casualty in the system. They are already making losses. I do not know how they can carry on because the jet fuel is directly proportional to the increases in crude oil."

ie, rail is four and a half times more efficient that trucks, 21 times more efficient than cars and up to 160 times more efficient that air. Shipping is more fuel efficient still.

So we have a Federal Government that invades Iraq, sells gas at a low fixed price to China, and says it will be an energy superpower by mining and selling uranium and taking back the waste. And a State Government that refuses to build rail and light rail networks and builds no end of motorways. Could it get any more irresponsible?

Remembering Hiroshima: A horrifying warcrime. This article traces the genesis of the myth that it was necessary to 'save millions of American boys'.

Torvalds rejects GPLv3: "Torvalds ' who insists on calling his software 'open' to make a distinction from, and avoid association with, 'free software' advocates ' said the discussions of GPLv3 have not allowed for real opposition. He also criticized an earlier version of the GPLv3, calling it a 'crusade.'"

Plainly Torvalds doesnt care about 'free software' or the GPL. In which case he simply doesnt get it. Its not about Torvalds, 'Linux' or 'open' software, its about freedom, Stallman and the GPL.

There are some harsh comments about Torvalds on Slashdot, perhaps not unjustified:

"Linus' problem is that he never really agreed with these ideals [freedom]. He originally licensed Linux as free for non-commerical use, but then released it under the GPL as a result of pressure from the community. Linus calls himself a pragmatist, which is a polite way of saying socially short-sighted.... Linus' view is the equivalent of saying 'Why should we want to outlaw slavery? I'm not a slave.'"

"Linus is becoming less and less relevant as time goes by."

"It makes me sad to see Linus' mind rotting like this but I can't support that attitude in any way."

"Clearly Linus has sold out.... He doesn't care, all the evidence suggests that Linus became a whore turning tricks for corporate masters a long time ago. This public outcry against pro-consumer/modder yet anti-profiteer clauses of the GPLv3 can only be the result of payoffs from corporate masters. It isn't really suprising that Linus has sold out, who knows, maybe any of us would do it in his position. But there is no reason the community has to support him in this."

There seems to be an interminable debate among software developers between the free software advocates (Stallman & co) and those who 'dont get it' (Torvalds & co). Stallman needs political support.

It seems people should stop going to Torvalds for philosophical comment, and also stop calling it 'Linux'. Call it unix or ubuntu and be done with it. Torvalds is a programmer, not a leader.