October 29, 2003

Oil Wars Are Not Inevitable

The Economist magazine this month has two good articles (here and here) looking at world oil production in relation to Iraq. The following text is a condensed version.

"This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Arab oil embargo. Western countries are no less in thrall to Middle Eastern oil than they were then.

"... America's Congress is in the final stages of intense negotiation over a huge energy bill that is based on the administration's notion that there is a serious energy-supply crisis. The bill is expected to be passed by Congress any day now. “It's becoming very clear to the country”, George Bush has said, “that demand is outstripping supply.”

"... It is Saudi Arabia's willingness to be the swing producer that now insures the world's economy against oil shocks. As long as there is a stable government in Riyadh, the West can probably be confident that the enlightened self-interest of the Saudis will coincide with the interests of western gas guzzlers.

"Alas, the stability of the Saudi regime is far from guaranteed. The pro-American, ruling family is deeply unpopular with fundamentalists in the country, and there is no clear successor to the current de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah. As even the Saudis now grudgingly concede, home-grown terrorists regularly carry out attacks in the country. And if a radical like the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden were ever to topple the royal family, the world could well be hit by another energy shock. (NB: this is GW's real definition of a "terrorist")

“THE Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” So says Sheikh Zaki Yamani, a Saudi Arabian who served as his country's oil minister three decades ago.

"... A generation after the (OPEC) embargo began, the facts seem plain: the world remains addicted to Middle Eastern oil (see article). So why is Sheikh Yamani predicting the end of the Oil Age? Because he believes that something fundamental has shifted since that first oil shock—and, sadly for countries like Saudi Arabia, he is quite right.

"Hydrogen fuel cells and other ways of storing and distributing energy are no longer a distant dream but a foreseeable reality. Switching to these new methods will not be easy, or all that cheap, especially in transport, but with the right policies it can be made both possible and economically advantageous. Unfortunately, many of the rich world's governments—and above all the government of America, the world's biggest oil consumer—are reluctant to adopt the measures that would speed the day when the Saudis' worst fears come true.

"... It all sounds very fine. What then is the best way to speed things up? Unfortunately, not through the approach currently advocated by President George Bush and America's Congress, which this week has been haggling over a new energy bill. America's leaders are still concerning themselves almost exclusively with increasing the supply of oil, rather than with curbing the demand for it while increasing the supply of alternatives.

"By introducing a small but steadily rising tax on petrol, America would do far more to encourage innovation and improve energy security than all the drilling in Alaska's wilderness. Crucially, this need not be, and should not be, a matter of raising taxes in the aggregate. The proceeds from a gasoline tax ought to be used to finance cuts in other taxes—this, surely, is the way to present them to a sceptical electorate.

"Judging by the debate going on in Washington, a policy of this kind is a distant prospect. That is a great shame. Still, the pace of innovation already under way means that Sheikh Yamani's erstwhile colleagues in the oil cartel might themselves be wise to invest some of their money in the alternatives. One day, these new energy technologies will toss the OPEC cartel in the dustbin of history. It cannot happen soon enough."

(copyright the Economist)
Bizzaro Busho

Forget about drawing parallels with Nazi Germany. As Newsweek reports, George W. Bush is now living in a parallel universe.

“The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become,” El Busho said on Monday, “because they can’t stand the thought of a free society.”

Remember why those Al-Quaeda terrorists hit the World Trade Centre? It wasn't because they grew up in a repressed Saudi environment where the USA was aiding and abetting their tyrannical leaders for the sake of safe access to oil. It was because they "can't stand freedom".

Bush says the violence in Iraq is "leveling.” That implies that the current, escalated level of violence is going to be maintained for some time.

“What the terrorists would like is for people to focus only on the conditions which create fear, and that is the death and the toll being taken.”

In other words, anyone who criticizes the US adventure in Iraq - or even describes the violence, misery and carnage - is assisting the terrorists.

When asked how he will defend his policies at the next election, Bush replied:

“The world is more peaceful and free under my leadership.”

If US voters buy that line, they can all go live with Bush in his parallel universe. Just get him the hell out of MY universe.
Three Threes Of Iraq:

Let's start with three Bush lies:

1. We will capture Saddam Hussein, alive or dead.
2. We will find WMDs.
3. The Iraqis will greet us as liberators.

Secondly, who are the Iraqis that are still shooting bombs all over Baghdad?

1. Former Ba'athist Party members, with or without Saddam and other senior members, who are just doing what they always did: intimidating the people to maintain power by force.

2. Islamic fundamentalists, including foreigners and growing bands of local recruits like "Mohammed's Army."

3. Conservative locals, predominantly Sunni tribesmen, increasingly angry at disrespectful behavior by US troops.

Thirdly, what can the USA do now?

1. Hand over Iraq to the international community. This means abandoning a major military "foothold" in the Middle East and relinquishing control of Iraqi oil. Don't wait for it to happen under Bush's administration.

2. Hang in there and tough it out. But US troops are fatigued, reserve forces are depleted, the death toll keeps climbing and there is increasing domestic resistance to the Iraqi "quagmire". Something will have to give and soon.

3. Hand over power to the Iraqi Governing Council. But these squabbling puppets still cannot agree on anything of substance, they still need to build an infrastructure that includes armed forces, border controls, police and other public services. Handing control to them and pulling back forces now would likely trigger a civil war involving the three aggressive elements above. If the chosen puppets could not maintain themselves in power, this would also lead to the US losing whatever military and financial gains they sought in Iraq.

October 28, 2003

Dark Dreams

I am always very sceptical about conspiracy theories, but the Bush Administration keeps confirming all the darkest dreams of conspiracy theorists around the planet.

One story I have always steered away from is the claim that Bush insiders KNEW that 9/11 was about to happen and yet they did nothing (or worse yet, they planned it themsleves). As you can learn by reading up on the Project For A New American Century, neo-conservatives who had been planning US imperialism before 9/11had actually hypothesized about the potential benefits of "another Pearl Harbour" to galvanize public opinion behind their objectives.

Now, the chairman of a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks says that the White House is withholding important documents from the panel and that he is prepared to subpoena the documents if they are not turned over within weeks. The requested documents include intelligence briefs that reached the President in the weeks and days prior to the 9/11 attacks.

"These are documents that only two or three people would normally have access to," the commissioner said. "To make those available to an outside group is something that no other president has done in our history.

"But I've argued very strongly with the White House that we are unique, that we are not the Congress, that these arguments about presidential privilege do not apply in the case of our commission," he said.

"Anything that has to do with 9/11, we have to see it — anything. There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered."

Posturing For Effect

In Donald Rumsfeld's recent leaked Pentagon memo, there was a call for "bolder" measures to transform the US military and intelligence services for the 21st Century. Now we discover just how "bold" Rumsfeld wants these moves to be: the US is planning so-called "mini-nukes".

How can nuclear weapons be effective against a man on a plane with a box-cutter knife, or a woman on a bus with bombs strapped to her hips? Once again, the neo-cons are using terrorism as a pretext for increased war-mongering. I wonder who owns shares in the companies that will develop the new mini-nukes?

"This is extremely serious," said Arjun Makhijani, the president of the Washington-based Institute of Energy and Environmental Research, which has produced a study of the Bush administration's developing nuclear weapons strategy. "The appeal to deterrence is a smokescreen. The desire is to develop nuclear weapons that can actually be used. The United States is in danger of being at the leading edge of proliferation."

October 23, 2003

Bush In Oz

OK. I wasn't going to write about W's visit to my home country because it is obviously just one big carefully-controlled PR exercise and the more media coverage it gets, the more successful it is. But now I am just pissed off (yet again).

Protestors are kept not only out of sight but also out of hearing range. No open questions from journalists are scheduled. For the first time in memory, the public is banned from Australia's Parliament House. The media reports what it feels obliged to report - the preparations, the landing, the speech, the departure. Gullible idiots suck it up.

As W himself once joked:

"You can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool some of the people all of the time. And they are the one's you've got to focus on!"

This is what I will remember of Bush's visit to my country's shores: on the night of his arrival, Australian Defence Force jets zig-zagged across the Canberra skies, causing dogs to howl incessantly and keeping half the population awake all night.

These people preach peace, democracy and freedom. But Bush's visit is a denial of all these values. It is instead a triumph of global capitalist control.

Bush made his predictable speech, praising Australia's participation in the "war" and further raising our profile as a terrorist target. His speech included the usual condemnation of those who oppose his fanatical opportunism:

"Who can possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power?"

Obviously, anyone who opposes Bush, Blair and Howard wishes that Saddam was still in power. Obviously, we all wish he was continuing to assist - or, err... beginning to assist? - terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsts! Obviously, we all wish the UN was still lamely scratching around in the desert for WMDs, instead of being glad that US forces are now scratching around in the desert for WMDs.

When the speech was over, El Busho attended a barbeque at Australian PM John Howard's official residence. The guests dined on shrimps and scallops, beef fillet and lamb cutlet and macadamia pavlova roulade with passion fruit ice cream.

Then it was time to get back on the presidential plane, Air Force One, the namesake of the idealistic and simplistic Hollywood movie which may have actually inspired all this madness.

P.S. unlike a certain 3-year-old girl, Bush was certainly not frisked at the airport.
Have you ever heard of Tajikistan, Kyrgistan and Uzbequistan?

If not, you had better get out your atlas and read up. These former Soviet republics are now the new frontier for the oil barons, but Russia is not going to give up on their old territories that easily. With Bush & Co grabbing Iraq and looking to expand their sphere of influence, the Russians are digging in.
Bits And Pieces:

Bush ignores Canadian PM. After three years in power, Bush has yet to meet one-to-one with Canada's French-speaking PM Jean Chretien. Even on a mutual trip to the APEC meeting in Bangkok, Bush could not find time for an "aside". Well, Jean, if yer not fer us yer agin us! But how do you pretend to control your borders when your only two neighbours are both highly sceptical about your "war on terrorism", George?

Rumsfeld is the Pointy-Haired Boss. But who is the leaker in the White House? While Bush & Co push news positives, somebody has leaked a Rumsfeld memo which asks:

"Is the U.S. winning or losing the global war on terrorism?"

And, mangling the English language in ways his own boss would enjoy:

"Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get?' "

Meanwhile, Cheney quotes a recent poll in Iraq to justify US policy, but the figures are not really as he paints them.

October 22, 2003

Culturally Insensitive

Are USAmericans* the most culturally insensitive and/or ignorant people on the planet? If sometimes seems so.

In Baghdad today, a US soldier sparked riots by pulling a Muslim woman's Koran (the Islamic equivalent of the Bible) from her purse and throwing it on the ground. In Islam, it is effrontery enough to search a woman's bag, but it is sacrilege to throw a Koran on the ground like that. Religious Muslims believe you shouldn't even TOUCH the Koran without a ritual cleansing rite beforehand.

Does anybody even teach US soldiers this stuff? Maybe they just forget it in the desert heat, sweating in their bullet-proof vests, performing jobs for which they were never trained, beseiged by crowds of resentful locals. The soldiers cannot even understand the local language, let alone the customs and the religion. Many of them are under 21 years of age. They often come from impoverished backgrounds and they are all the sad product of the US education system. Many are contemplating, if not committing, suicide. It's hard to blame them. But who put them there?

Let's take another look at culturally insensitive comments by US Army Lt. General William Boykin, a deputy undersecretary of defense. Aside from his hard-line Christian views, Boykin offered this gem:

"The majority of Americans did not vote for him (W. Bush). Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

The comment must have greatly please Karl Rove, the man who actually did put Bush in the White House.

Bush has carefully cultivated religious zealots, lacing his speeches with terms which only his target audience would recognise (e.g. "miracle-working powers", a fundamental Baptist term).

The White House claims the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq do not equate to a religious war. Yet many Muslims around the world fervently disagree. And why wouldn't they? Just consider the evidence of religious zealotry that they see every day in US-dominated news (the following stories are a quick grab from Google News right now):

- Currently the Supreme Court is debating whether schoolchildren should use the phrase "under God" (which was only added during the Red Scare of the 1950s) while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

- Jeb Bush, W's brother and the Governor of Florida who ensured W won the last election, has ordered Florida hospital staff to force-feed a braindeed patient rather than let her die. The case sets new legal precedents.

- W's Republican predecessor, former movie star Ronald Reagan, has filmed a to-be-screened interview with wife Nancy in which his response to AIDS is: "They that live in sin shall die in sin." Tell that to all the innocent children who are HIV-positive, Ronnie.

Like it or not, the US occupation of Iraq is looking more and more like the early stages of a religious war and the White House is doing little to discourage it. No wonder 30 US soldiers have not turned up for their flights back to Baghdad. They could easily be dead next week and US television would not even be allowed to show their flag-draped coffins coming home.

*I hate calling US citizens "Americans" because it disenfranchises the millions of "Americans" who inhabit the two continents between Alaska and Patagonia.

October 21, 2003

More news on the dangers of electronic voting:

THE UK Independent takes a closer look at the Georgia state elections. These were the first elections to use the new voting machines. Pollsters, analysts and voters alike were shocked when the results registered a totally unexpected 16 point swing to the Republicans.

Wired picks up the story. A former employee of Diebold, the company that makes the machines, claims that the company installed patches on its machines before the state's 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials.

"Right now you can open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That includes the audit log," wrote Ken Clark, an employee of Diebold Election Systems, in an October 2001 e-mail.

That's right, the underlying software is based on Microsoft Access. Hello?!?! Security? Microsoft? Nobody in the IT world would seriously trust any MS-based product to handle such a critical security product.

Diebold has now taken legal action to close down BlackBoxVoting.com, a website that campaigns to expose the inherent dangers of electronic voting. It's the third time Diebold has pressured the website to close down, each time citing email spam as the reason. You can still read about BlackBoxVoting.com at this link:

The Inevitable Decline Of Empire

We live such short lives. Around 80 years, if we are very lucky. In our lives, what shall we see?

In THIS lifetime, we may be about to see the end of the United States as a dominating global power. If the neo-cons' reckless crusade for oil was the beginning of the end, the trigger may come when Russia starts using the euro instead of the dollar for its oil pricing.

"We do not rule out that it is possible," says Vladimir Putin. "That would be interesting for our European partners."

More than half of Russia's oil trade is with Europe. Other oil exporters who would be quick to follow the switch to the euro include Iran and Venezuela. Given the speed with which Iraqis - including the hand-picked Governing Council - are turning against their American oppressors, it is even conceivable that Iraq would follow soon after (assuming the US ever relinquishes power).

According to the Moscow Times, the move could be "catastrophic" for the United States:

"Dollar-based global oil trade now gives the United States carte blanche to print dollars without sparking inflation -- to fund huge expenses on wars, military build-ups, and consumer spending, as well as cut taxes and run up huge trade deficits.

"Almost two-thirds of the world's currency reserves are kept in dollars, since oil importers pay in dollars and oil exporters keep their reserves in the currency they are paid in. This effectively provides the U.S. economy with an interest-free loan, as these dollars can be invested back into the U.S. economy with zero currency risk."

As the Black Commentator website notes, this shift in global forces was predicted by many when Bush began pulling down the pillars of post-WWII world order.  It is the logical result of, and answer to, the president’s 2002 ultimatum, “either you are with us, or against us.”

As Lutz Kleveman, author of The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia writes:

"Bush has used his massive military build-up in Central Asia to seal the cold war victory against Russia, to contain Chinese influence and to tighten the noose around Iran. Most importantly, however, Washington - supported by the Blair government - is exploiting the "war on terror" to further American oil interests in the Caspian region. But this geopolitical gamble involving thuggish dictators and corrupt Saudi oil sheiks is only likely to produce more terrorists."

Putin may be bluffing and just trying to get some leverage for Russian influence in Iraq and OPEC, not to mention Europe. But the big question on many analysts mind is - "why not?" Why not switch to the euro?

Interestingly, Saddam Hussein began trading Iraqi oil in euros in November 2000.

For another look at an empire in decline, George Monbiot looks at the increase of outsourced telesales jobs in India. Monbiot argues that "the jobs Britain stole from the Asian subcontinent 200 years ago are now being returned."

What we are also seeing, in our lifetimes, is the collapse of the global ecosystem. But that's another story...

October 17, 2003

Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat

Reuters reports that Bill Clinton warned President George W. Bush before he left office in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was the biggest security threat the United States faced.

Clinton said he discussed security issues with Bush in his "exit interview," a formal and often candid meeting between a sitting president and the president-elect.

"In his campaign, Bush had said he thought the biggest security issue was Iraq and a national missile defence," Clinton said. "I told him that in my opinion, the biggest security problem was Osama bin Laden."

"I would have started with India and Pakistan, then North Korea, and then Iraq after that. I thought Iraq was a lower order problem than al Qaeda."

Time magazine reported last year that a plan for the United States to launch attacks against the al-Qaeda network languished for eight months because of the change in presidents and was approved only a week before the September 11 attacks. But the White House disputed the report, which appeared to suggest that the Bush administration might not have done all it could to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
Does Anybody Out There Even Care?

Lately there hardly seems to be any reason for writing this Blog. You read the news and every day it is full of atrocities... Why should you read about it here, when you can just click through Google News or your local paper and see 1,000 reasons to get rid of Bush every day.

At the end of the year 2000, I wondered if the 20th Century would be remembered as a century of wars. I dared to hope that the 21st Century would be more enlightened and that wars would become a thing of the past. Sadly, no sane, intelligent and well-informed person on the planet could truly believe that the world today is heading in that direction.

Instead, we are assaulted by madness on all sides, often from the very people we elected to bring us peace and prosperity. George W. Bush campaigned on the promise that he would be "a uniter, not a divider". Tony Blair promised "ethical government". John Howard's campaign motto was "relaxed and comfortable". How united, how ethical, how relaxed and comfortable are we now, boys?

Many people are now so uncomfortable that they do not want to read the news any more. Or if they do, they do not want to face the uncomfortable conclusions that the stories present: that the USA, Britain and Australia were mislead into war, that our leaders lied to us and continue to lie to us, that multinational corporate interests now dictate international policy and that government accountability has been reduced to "spin".

International alliances and treaties that have provided stability for the past 50 years are broken. The fanatical vision of religious wars between Muslims, Jews and Christians - the number one rallying call of Islamic extremists and terrorists - is now being echoed by US politicians, US army generals and US puppets.

Is this the world we want to live in?

October 14, 2003

Now this is strange.

Just as George W. Bush gets set for a polls-boosting PR trip around Asia, Phillipine officials claim to have killed a major terrorist in a shootout at a roadblock in Mindinao. Officials say Fathur Rohman Al-Gohzi was killed when the car he was travelling in was stopped by police and the car's occupants opened fire. But local residents and even police officers claim there was no sign of a shoot-out.

Rumours have been circulating for weeks that Al-Gohzi had been captured by a group who were negotiating his hand-over. The government had posted a 10 million peso (US$183,000) dead or alive reward for al-Ghozi, who was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment last December but then - very embarrassingly for the government - walked out of a jail in July.

"We don't consider any connection between the slaying of al-Ghozi and Bush. This is a routine operation," said Philippine police chief Hermogenes Ebdane. But then Ebdane said a group of civilians would receive the reward money.

Now here's my question: why would civilians receive reward money if the car was stopped at a routine roadblock?
In the Middle East, a Peace Plan Blossoms From Nowhere:

After two years of secret negotiations, Israeli opposition members have forged a draft peace accord with prominent Palestinian representatives. It will be signed in Switzerland in two weeks time. Media reports suggest the Palestinians will concede refugees' right of return while Israel will withdraw to 1967 borders, with some exchange of territory.

Naturally, resident Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has denounced the plan. Short-term politics is the curse of the modern world.

In Britain, Blair Takes Another Head-shot:

The Hutton enquiy has been recalled for a final day to take evidence from MoD head Sir Kevin Tebbit, who said Tony Blair chaired the meeting which decided to reveal the name of Dr David Kelly. This is surely enough reason for Blair to resign. It's a pity. Having lived in the UK under Thatcher and Major, I can assure you that Blair was a decent, forward-thinking leader... until he sided with Bush against Iraq.

In The USA, Powell is Still Pushing For a New UN Resolution:

The latest draft being circulated "fixes a date for Iraqis to set a schedule for writing a constitution and holding elections". Now what the #$%* does that mean? It means they set a date to set a date. What the #$%* is that worth to anyone??? Lets hope the UN tells Powell and Bush where to stick their pathetic attempts at face- and money-saving resolutions.

October 13, 2003

Now This Really Pisses Me Off:

"US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops."

Riverbend, a girl blogger from Baghdad with a marvellous turn of prose, vividly describes the culural significance of palm trees and other trees that can create delightful oases in the desert. She reminds us that Saddam was strongly criticized by the USA for destroying ancient marshlands to root out opponents.

"They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they were cutting down the trees," said one man.

Do these STUPID troops have any idea of the value of the vegetation they are destroying, of the hatred their actions will undoubtedly engender, or the sheer hypocrisy of their jazz-accompanied destructiveness?

Another Bad News Day

This is the world that George Bush created. I open my newspaper today and read about another explosion in the centre of Baghdad, this time killing at least 7 people.

I read that up to 1500 Palestinians have been made homeless by the latest Israeli raid on the West Bank. The Israelis are now planning pre-emptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Moscow has reiterated its intent to use pre-emptive military strikes, including "wars increasingly motivated as much by economics or the interests of what it termed big transnational companies as by national security."

Can you imagine such a statement from the Kremlin barely causing a ripple when Clinton was president? But how can Bush criticise the Russians, or the Israelis for that matter, without drawing attention to the fact that the invasion of Iraq was for purely commercial purposes? We are headed towards an Orwellian state of endless war, motivated by economics and fuelled, as Orwell predicted, by keeping the public in a state of perpetual fear.

Still perhaps there is hope for us all. A seemingly dead man was brought back to life after being doused with cold water as part of his funeral ceremonies. Anti-war activists should take heart: Bush and Blair continue to be punished at the polls. Latest results show the woeful UK Conservatives overtaking Blair, while half the USA want Bush removed.
Good News On Iraq? Not.

As part of the Bush Administration's new drive to generate some good news about Iraq, newspapers across the USA have been encouraged to print positive letters from US soldiers. Aside from the fact that all such letters must pass through military censors, there is another problem: editors are discovering that the letters are identical!

Soldiers contacted by The Olympian newspaper said they did not write the letters and in many cases did not even sign them. One proud father contacted his son to congratulate him on getting such a fine letter published in the local rag - "What letter?" the son replied.

October 12, 2003

Hunting For Bad Guys

The Bush Administration on finding Osama Bin Laden:
“We're going to hunt them down one at a time…it doesn't matter where they hide, as we work with our friends we will find them and bring them to justice.”
- George W. Bush, 11/22/02

The Bush Administration on finding Saddam Hussein in the Mideast:
"We are continuing the pursuit and it's a matter of time before [Saddam] is found and brought to justice.”
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 9/17/03

The Bush Administration on finding the leaker in the close confines of the White House:
“ I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. I don't have any idea.”
- George W. Bush, 10/7/03

October 11, 2003

Powell On The Up

Well blow me down and clamp my butt to a WMD! Colin Powell has a sense of humour! Who would have guessed (after all, he IS ex-military). No doubt Powell is enjoying all the recent negative press reports of his arch-nemesis Donald "Ducky" Rumsfeld.

When asked if Washington would withdraw its agonising efforts to encourage a new UN proposal on Iraq, Powell played with the press reporters in a positively jovial fashion:

"I'm not thinking of pulling it at the moment, but I might by Monday."

"But I'm not thinking of pulling it, not at all, not at all."

"Did you hear that? Not at all, yet."


October 08, 2003

Rumsfeld To Be Sacrificed?

There are signs that El Busho is waking up to the fact that his neo-con colleagues are to blame for most of his current woes. Bush very publicly endorsed Condoleeza Rice's new Washington-based "Iraqi Stabilization Group", but Rumsfeld says he wan't even told about it.

Typically, Bush faltered as he announced the new move:

"Condi's job, and Condi's team is going to make sure that the efforts are... continue to be co-ordinated."

Typically, Rumsfeld went straight into attack mode, arranging interviews with four European news organisations including the Financial Times. Rumsfeld says he wasn't even advised of the changes before they were announced on television and through a confidential White House memo. He argues that the changes do not amount to a substantial shift in policy and he challenges Rice to make the memo public if she wants to wrest power away from him.

The FT claims that Rumsfeld seemed "perturbed" that Ms Rice had drawn attention to the memo by "backgrounding" the media.

"I don't know quite what the purpose of the backgrounding was . . . she gave a background, she said what she said, and the way I read the memorandum is that it is basically what the responsibility of the NSC is and always has been, which is what's been going on," he said.

When pressed by reporters, Rumsfeld lost it: "I said I don't know. Isn't that clear? You don't understand English? I was not there for the backgrounding."

Could it be that Bush already knows full well who leaked the name of Wilson's wife? Is he preparing to dump the failed neo-cons from his re-election bid? Is this the end of Rumsfeld? Or is Bush too weak and STUPID to stand up to the men who installed him in the Oval Office?

Rice originally told the NY Times that Rumsfeld was involved in the re-organisation. So did White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who earlier said that that Rumsfeld was "very involved" in the changes. A few hours later and McClellan was back-pedalling furiously: "I received some bad information about that."

Rumsfeld has no doubt been feeling the pressure from recent events in Iraq. But now he has made a BIG mistake by going public with his greivances. Still, what would you expect from an arrogant man like that? If it is indeed time to write a political obituary for "Rummy", the Guardian has made an entertaining start.
Hypocrites and Parasites

Jesus said: "You have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you that whomsoever hitteth you on one cheek, you should turn to him the other cheek also."

Middle East violence can been seen very much as a case of "an eye for an eye". The problem is, the eyes usually belong to small children and innocent civilians, rather than soldiers, terrorists and politicians.

Every Israeli attack is touted as "retaliation" for the latest suicide bombing. The media is always strongly encouraged to link the two stories. The latest Israeli attack, violating the Syrian border for the first time in 40 years, was defended as retaliation for a suicide bombing which killed 19 Israelis a few days earlier. Now we wait for the Arab response, which will no doubt be another bus or cafe full of innocent civilians.

As everybody knows, the only way to end such a cycle of violence is to agree a ceasefire and then hammer out an agreement that is acceptable to both sides. This has actually been done many times already (usually whenever a new US President is elected). So why don't these cease-fires hold?

Consider this. Nelson Mandela, perhaps the most highly respected human on the planet, was once a terrorist. He was jailed for 27 years for leading the African National Congress, which operated at that time as a terrorist organisation. The ANC had close links with rogue states like Libya and Cuba. Mandela openly advocated violence as the only viable means of overthrowing the apartheid South African government. He claimed that the blacks in South Africa had been reduced to such a state that violence was their only remaining form of protest (Mahatma Gandhi might have had something to say about that!). But if the Bush Administration had been in power at the time, Mandela's sorry ass would have been hauled off to Guantanamo Bay and he would never have been heard from again.

What is the difference between how blacks were treated in apartheid South Africa and how Palestinians are now being treated in Israel? The Israeli government is even building a massive concrete wall to segregate Jewish and Palestinian zones. Didn't Hitler do that?

There are good people living in Israel who do not support their government's endless aggression. They believe Arabs and Jews can live together in peace and they support the establishment of a Palestinian State. It's time their voices were heard. Only the Bush White House has the power to make this happen and they can only do it by withdrawing all support for Sharon's government and demanding his resignation.

Don't wait for it to happen. The Israeli strike against Syria is the next logical stage in the neo-cons' crusade for control of the Middle East. If the Syrians retaliate, we whack 'em. If the Iranians poke their noses in, we whack 'em. No one can stop us. We do as we please. We are making history, brothers! We are building a brave new world...

October 07, 2003

Crisis in the White House

America is getting poorer. Census figures, released a week ago, show that 1.7 million more people have dropped below the poverty line over the past year. Nearly 34.6 million Americans are living in poverty. The middle classes and the Midwest - people like Prentice and places like Ohio - have suffered badly. Income levels for the middle class have dipped 1.1 per cent, after rising throughout the 1990s. At the same time, Bush's tax cuts have turned a budget surplus into a predicted deficit of $480 billion for next year. The cumulative deficit over the next decade is now expected to hit a staggering $1.4 trillion.

This is the so-called 'jobless recovery'. Although many economic indicators reveal an improvement, heaving the country out of the after-effects of recession, they fail to create enough employment.

The bare statistics are shocking; employment growth is the lowest for any recovery period since labour statistics were first kept in 1939. More than three million jobs have been lost since Bush took power in 2001, a record not seen since the days of President Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression.

The Observer
Michael Moore's 7 Questions for George W. Bush

1. Is it true that the Bin Ladens have had business relations with you and your family off and on for the past 25 years?

2. What is the 'special relationship' between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family?

3. Who attacked the US on September 11 - a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friend, Saudi Arabia?

4. Why did you allow a private Saudi jet to fly around the US in the days after September 11 and pick up members of the Bin Laden family and fly them out of the country without a proper investigation by the FBI?

5. Why are you protecting the Second Amendment rights of potential terrorists?

6. Were you aware that, while you were governor of Texas, the Taliban travelled to Texas to meet with your oil and gas company friends?

7. What exactly was that look on your face in the Florida classroom on the morning of September 11 when your chief of staff told you, 'America is under attack'?

Read more in this Guardian special.

October 06, 2003

Schwarzennegger To Terminate $9 billion Lawsuit

California's two biggest problems, debt and electricity, are more closely connected that you might think.

Last year, Cruz Bustamante, the Lieutenant Governor of California and a leading contender for the Governor's job, filed a private lawsuit against the California energy giants under California's "Unfair Business Practices Act." The case includes allegations of fraudulent reporting of sales transactions, megawatt "laundering," fake power delivery scheduling and conspiracy. If successful, the litigation (now underway in an LA courtroom) would make the power companies return $9 billion to California electricity and gas customers.

The existing Gray Davis Administration is simultaneously demanding that George Bush's energy regulators order the $9 billion refund. But there is not much chance of those demands being met - the head of Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a man who was nominated by Enron energy chief Kenneth Lay.

According to a new article on Alternet, the Bush commissioners expect the case against the energy companies to be proven. So, rather than wait for a $9 billion repayment order, they want to charge the energy companies with conspiracy but offer them, behind closed doors, deals in which they have to pay only 2 cents on each dollar they filched. The problem is, only the Californian governor has the power to make such a settlement. Hence the need for a new governor...

The Alternet article claims that Schwarzennegger launched his gubernatorial bid after meeting with Kenneth Lay and convicted stock swindler Mike Milken on May 17, 2001, at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles.
Corporate Control

George W. Bush is the first Oval Office incumbent to hold a business degree. His administration has been accused of running the USA like a corporation, to the detriment of US citizens. This capitalist ideology is nowhere more evident than the war on Iraq, where companies like Halliburton and WorldCom are reaping rewards for their political "donations".

For example, David Kay, the man in charge of the search for WMDs, was vice-president of a major US defence contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The company leads a $650m contract for various services and support for the US army in Iraq (this is why Bush repeatedly claims there is no need for more troops - the neo-cons just keep hiring more out-sourcing companies to do the work... and paying them a fortune). No wonder Bush didn't want UN weapons inspectors back in the country.

In most developed Western countries, there is supposed to be a clear distinction between Church and State. There should also be a clear distinction between State and Industry. The Bush administration embodies a dangerous conflict of interests that ultimately threatens the very principles and institutions that it claims to support.

How can a government simultaneously satisfy rampant corporate greed and provide for the real needs of its citizens? "Trickle-down economics" has become an excuse for daylight robbery. Bush is bankrupting the State, transferring trillions of dollars to corporate coffers while health and education needs are neglected.

According to George A. Akerlof, 2001 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics:

"This is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history. It has engaged in extraordinarily irresponsible policies not only in foreign and economic but also in social and environmental policy. This is not normal government policy. …this is a form of looting."

October 05, 2003

CIA Setup?

So here's the story. Apparently, some Polish troops found some anti-aircraft missiles in Iraq which appeared to be manufactured in France and had the year "2003" stamped on them. This would indicate, presumably, that the missiles were made this year and sold to Iraq in violation of UN conventions.

You can imaging the righteous indignation of US forces and politicians who have taken a hammering from the French in the last year. US sources quickly spread the story to a range of media outlets.

French President Chirac angrily denies the implicit assumptions. He says France has not produced such weapons since 1993, so any "2003" markings would be bogus.

It's kind of funny. The French, the British and the US are the world's greatest weapons salesmen. Their arms industries have competed to sell weapons to many corrupt and dangerous regimes over the past fifty years. If truth be told, all are tarred with the same war-mongering brush.

So is this a "smoking gun" that will shoot down French moral superiority in Iraq? Not likely. You see, the Polish troops who claim to have discovered the missiles also say that they destroyed the weapons on site. Now why would they do that?
US Accountability? We Don't Talk About That.

Four months ago, the UN Security Council ordered an independent board to monitor U.S. spending of Iraq's oil revenues. Diplomats are now blaming the US for delaying the creation of the board in order to maintain US control without international accountability.

Although Iraq oil production has been lower than the neo-cons hoped, Reuters reports that "there is at least $1 billion in the fund, transferred from the oil-for-food program. U.S. officials would not provide an overall figure."

Meanwhile, in the latest clash on the streets of Baghdad, the US military reported two American soldiers had been wounded in the clash, but could not confirm the toll among Iraqis.

"We don't take Iraqi casualties," said a spokeswoman who asked not to be named.

Since before the start of the Iraq war, there has been a concerted effort to ignore the Iraqi dead. Even now, the Western media focusses on the daily death toll of US soldiers while ignoring civilian deaths.

The mantra was established by General Tommy Franks of US Central Command: "We don’t do body counts.”

October 03, 2003

The Real Reason Why Bush Went To War In Iraq

According to a new Swedish study, world oil and gas supplies are heading for a "production crunch" sometime between 2010 and 2020. This is the point when supply will no longer be able to meet demand. The study claims that global reserves are 80 per cent smaller than had previously been thought.

Dr James McKenzie, senior assistant on the climate change programme at the World Resources Institute in Washington, said: "We won't run out of oil - but what will happen is that production will decline, and that's when all hell will break loose... That's why we went to war in Iraq."

The Gulf countries, including Iraq, only produce about 25 per cent of the world's oil at the moment, but they hold 65 per cent of the world's oil reserves.
George W. Bush's Next Speech to the UN

"Being American has meant never having to say 'you're sorry. We've long been powerful enough to do as we please. But a great country must learn from its mistakes. And we are brave enough to admit that we made a mistake in Iraq.

"The invasion was the result of a terrible error in judgment. We relied on intelligence that convinced us that Saddam Hussein represented a grave threat to the security of the world, but that information turned out to be out-of-date. Experts warned us that Iraq might fall apart after we deposed its tyrant, but we were in denial, dismissing our critics as partisan foes. We convinced ourselves that liberation would naturally yield to democracy. We were wrong. Instead, it created a power vacuum. Worst of all, in our rush to protect our own nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, we jeopardized the most important principle of international security, that of freedom from unprovoked attacks, respect for self-determination and national sovereignty.

"On behalf of my Administration and the people of the United States, I am truly sorry. If I could go back to March of this year, I would. I wish I could bring back the 300 American servicemen and the thousands of Iraqis who died as the result of our horrible mistake. But what's done is done. No one can change history.

"As a Christian, however, I believe that one is required to make penance for his sins. That means asking forgiveness for what one has done wrong--while doing as much as one can to reverse the damage one has caused. I have given serious consideration to what the United States should do to make penance for its war against Iraq.

"First, we must rebuild Iraq's economy and provide real security so that its people can rebuild their society and take control of their own destiny. Unfortunately, our occupation force is composed of the same American soldiers who killed and maimed innocent Iraqis during the invasion, and whose swaggering presence continues to provoke anger. 'We should have been culturally sensitive,' a Special Forces officer admitted to Time magazine. 'We should never have gone into people's houses. Saddam's soldiers never went into houses. We don't understand how things work around here.' It's too late to make a good first impression. Not only do the Iraqi people resent our soldiers, they've become the targets of Islamist extremists from other countries. The longer they stay, the worse things will become--for them, for us, for the people of Iraq. Should the international community agree, we propose the withdrawal of every last American soldier from Iraq. They should be replaced by 400,000 U.N. peacekeepers--ideally led by those from Arabic-speaking countries--to police the streets. We ask for no control and no input in this operation. Send us the bill. We'll pay whatever it costs, for as long as it takes.

"Second, we will compensate whatever Iraqi government ultimately emerges from the U.N. mandate for the damage we've caused to infrastructure and public buildings. U.S. companies will be prohibited from doing business in Iraq.

"Third, we will issue generous compensation packages to the families of individuals who died or otherwise suffered injury at the hands of U.S. forces. We know that it won't bring back loved ones, but it's a gesture of our true regret.

"Finally, those who wage war before attempting to resolve conflicts through diplomatic means must face personal responsibility for their actions. Therefore, I will immediately turn myself, my vice president, the officials of my cabinet and certain members of Congress over to the international tribunal at The Hague for prosecution for war crimes in connection with our illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. In accordance with this decision, I hereby resign the office of President of the United States, and respectfully await instructions from Secretary Annan as to where to present myself for surrender.

"May God bless you, and may He forgive me and my country."

(courtesy of new White House speech-writer Ted Rall)
Bad Intentions Are Not Good Enough

US inspector David Kay has finally revealed the findings of his Iraq Survey Group's $300 million search for WMDs in Iraq. The result? Orwellian thought-crime.

"We have not found at this point actual weapons... At this point, we have found substantial evidence of an intent of senior level Iraqi officials, including Saddam, to continue production at some future point in time of weapons of mass destruction"

So now we have gone from the deadly and imminent threat of WMDs to "programs" for WMDs to "intent" to produce WMDs. Kay's team is requesting a further $600 million to continue their operation.

The BBC also quotes Kay as saying: "We are actively engaged in searching for such weapons based on information being supplied to Iraqis."

TO? To Iraqis? One hopes that is a typographical error (blame the BBC?).

"It's not clear that it (the intelligence) was off by a little bit or a mile at this stage. That's yet to be seen," says Donald Rumsfeld. "If it is off by a lot that will be unfortunate, and then we'll know that."

Rumsfeld did not say whether or not he would resign if no evidence is found.

Kay says his team is scouring the desert sands with metal detectors and warns the public to expect further surprises. It seems likely that Kay's team will only find WMDs once Baghdad airport becomes safe enough for the CIA to transport dangerous chemicals into Iraq without the potential disaster of a well-aimed "Ba'athist" surface-to-air missile. But Bush's team will have to mend some fences with the CIA first...

Of course Saddam was a bad guy, I am not disputing that. If he tricked the USA into believing he had WMDs, they should just 'fess up and say "OK, he got us. Our intelligence sucked."

But then the CIA will say that even if some of the intelligence did suck, it was the political manipulation of the intelligence that really sucked bit time.

October 02, 2003

Sheer Hypocrisy

Just as Tony Blair's UK cabinet tried to dismiss whistle-blower David Kelly as a small-time clerk and "Walter Mitty type", just as Australian PM John Howard's colleagues continue to dismiss former ONA operative and whistle-blower Andrew Wilkie as "unreliable... flaky and irrational", the Bush White House has tried to dismiss whistle-blower Joe Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame (see yesterday's blog entry if you don't know the story), as an inconsequential "analyst".

Plame was much more than that. As www.truthout.org reports, Plame was "an operative running a network dedicated to tracking any person or nation that might try to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists."

Even Novak confirmed that in his column: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

Did you hear that? Weapons of Mass Destruction. WMDs.

Ray McGovern, a senior CIA analyst for 27-years, confirms that Plame was "a deep cover operative running a network of informants on what is supposedly this administration's first-priority issue: Weapons of mass destruction."

"These kinds of networks take ten years to develop," says McGovern. "The reason why they operate under deep cover is that the only people who have access to the kind of data we need cannot be associated in any way with the American intelligence community. Our operatives live a lie to maintain these networks, and do so out of patriotism. When they get blown, the operatives themselves are in physical danger. The people they recruit are also in physical danger, because foreign intelligence services can make the connections and find them."

In other words, the world is a considerably more dangerous place because of Plame's outing.

The corrupt and illegal Bush White House administration used WMDs as justification for an illegal pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. They used WMDs as justification for draconian attacks on civil liberties. They used WMDs as justification for trashing long-standing international alliances and treaties. Now they have INCREASED the risk of WMDs out of sheer personal vindictiveness because one man dared to criticize their blatant lies.

The hypocrisy is enough to make you choke.

US citizens must demand a full and independent inquiry. A whitewash by Ashcroft will not do. As the NY Times reports, Karl Rove was a paid consultant to three of Mr. Ashcroft's senatorial campaigns.

To quote El Busho's dad:

"Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
-- George Herbert Walker Bush, 1999

Impeach Bush now!

October 01, 2003

Who fingered Joe Wilson's wife?

Who was behind the White House leak that is now the subject of a Justice Dept investigation? According to James Moore, co-author of a book called "Bush's Brain", nothing ever comes out of the White House without the prior approval of Bush's machiavellian top advisor, Karl Rove.

"Rove is probably the most powerful unelected person in American history," says Moore. "He is co-president of the United States, just as he was co-candidate for that office and co-governor of Texas. "

Rove has a long and close association with Robert Novak, the reporter who leaked the CIA agent's name. He also has a fiery temper and a penchant for vindictiveness.

The Houston Chronicle reports that "in 1992, Rove was fired as a consultant for the Bush-Quayle Texas campaign, after officials suspected that he was the source for a column by Novak and Roland Evans that portrayed the Texas presidential operation as in disarray. Rove was accused of making up the story because of a feud with the campaign's chairman..."

As Moore says, "the circumstantial evidence is already in. And it points at Karl Rove. "

Will this be enough to nail Bush? Probably not. The investigation is led by Bush's civil-rights-destroying buddy and former GOP senator John Ashcroft. It looks like a repeat of the UK Hutton enquiry, which was set up with a narrow focus designed to ignore the real issues.

But Bush's '04 election campaign is looking extraordinarily complicated already. I wonder what Bush thinks of his genius advisor Rove today (he calls Karl his "turd blossom")? Get ready for a VERY dirty campaign, folks...


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