July 31, 2004

Bring On November 2nd

It's interesting how public opinion seems to be slowly swinging against Bush (although that may just be a reflection of the media/blogs/etc I read). Anyway, remembering how gung-ho most of the world was when the USA invaded Iraq, how angry people got at anti-war demonstrators (got my share of rude emails, but they seem to have died off) and now...

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they
fight you, then you win."

~Mahatma Gandhi.
Interesting Iraqi Soldier's Blog

"Since I've been here they've constantly asked me to re-enlist, and every time I tell them 'No way-Jose.' ... They have all sorts of crazy re-enlistment plans going on now, one of them is extending for another one year tour out here with the guys that are replacing us. You get an extra tax free grand a month if you do. I told em I wouldn't do another year here for an extra 30 grand a month, tax free. They asked me, well what plans do you have when you get out of the Army? Do you know how hard it is finding a job now? I honestly have no idea what the fuck I'm going to do when I get out, but one of my favorite movies is Taxi Driver with Deniro, so I told em I thought about maybe being a cab driver in NYC..."

The blog is called MY WAR and it has a HUGE legal disclaimer!
Kerry's Acceptance Speech

William Saletan obviously enjoyed John Kerry's acceptance speech:

"First Kerry released the outrage at America's disrepute around the world. Recalling his boyhood days in West Berlin, he said, 'I saw the gratitude of people toward the United States. - I am determined now to restore that pride to all who look to America.'
Explosion of applause.

He released the outrage at the debunked and shifting rationales for the Iraq war. America must be "true to our ideals," he said. "And that starts by telling the truth to the American people."


He released the outrage at abuses of executive power. "I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to write our environmental laws," he said. "And I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution.'


He released the outrage at corporate scandal. "Next January," he said, "Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle class to succeed Dick Cheney as vice president."


He released the outrage at the overextension of the American military, its people, and their families. "We will end the backdoor draft of the National Guard and reservists," he said.


He released the outrage at the hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending in Iraq. "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," he said.


He released the outrage at the president's attempt to end local disputes about marriage by amending the Constitution. "Let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States," said Kerry.


He released the outrage at the partisan use of God's name. "I don't want to claim that God is on our side," said Kerry. "As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."


Kerry's Vietnam biography was central to the speech not as a sword but as a shield. It entitled him—and through him, every critic of Bush's foreign policy who has felt too intimidated to speak out—to repudiate the administration. "That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head," said Kerry. "It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men that I served with and friends I grew up with. … That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology. It doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people."

Massive explosion."
Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

How can you demand that other nations curtail their nuclear weapons programs if you are not prepared to do so yourself? Such a stance indicates that you think you are morally capable of handling nuclear weapons, but others are not. In other words, you think are better than them. Even if you do invade sovereign countries on false pretexts, even if your troops do sodomize prisoners in contravention of the Geneva convention, etc etc...

U.S. Shifts Stance on Nuclear Treaty: "

"In a significant shift in U.S. policy, the Bush administration announced this week that it will oppose provisions for inspections and verification as part of an international treaty that would ban production of nuclear weapons materials.

For several years the United States and other nations have pursued the treaty, which would ban new production by any state of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons. At an arms-control meeting this week in Geneva, the Bush administration told other nations it still supported a treaty, but not verification.

Administration officials, who have showed skepticism in the past about the effectiveness of international weapons inspections, said they made the decision after concluding that such a system would cost too much, would require overly intrusive inspections and would not guarantee compliance with the treaty. They declined, however, to explain in detail how they believed U.S. security would be harmed by creating a plan to monitor the treaty. "
USA Loses Another Diplomatic Battle

Reuters.com reports that NATO countries have clinched a deal to start training Iraqi security forces "after a clash between Washington and Paris over whether the trainers should come under U.S.-led coalition command was shelved. "

France objected to placing the NATO forces under a US commander, fearing the NATO troops would become a de-facto part of the Iraqi invasion force. Unable to pressure France or other countries, the USA agreed to defer this decision to a later date so that the deal would not collapse.

This is what happens when you lose credibility and alienate former friends: nobody wants to play with you.
"Deficits Don't Matter" - Dick Cheney

"US President George W Bush's administration has forecast a record $US445-billion ($A639 billion) budget deficit in 2003-04... The shortfall for the fiscal year ending September 30 represented a massive deterioration from a gap of $US375 billion (about $A540 billion) in 2002-03... It was equal to 3.8 per cent of total economic output."

Story here.

July 30, 2004

Ironic, n'est-ce pas?

Here's a thought. Dick Cheney is fighting a lawsuit, arguing that Halliburton was not in breach of sanctions when - while he was CEO - one of it's subsidiaries traded with Iran.

At the same time, US officials are trying to deport former
Chess Champ Bobby Fischer because of a 1992 match in Yugoslavia. U.S. officials say Fischer's $3 million prize money was earned in violation of U.S. and U.N. bans on doing business there.
Ronald Regan's son tees off:

"George W. Bush and his administration have taken 'normal' mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on...

During his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Bush pledged a more "humble" foreign policy. "I would take the use of force very seriously," he said. "I would be guarded in my approach." Other countries would resent us "if we're an arrogant nation." He sniffed at the notion of "nation building." "Our military is meant to fight and win wars. . . . And when it gets overextended, morale drops." International cooperation and consensus building would be the cornerstone of a Bush administration's approach to the larger world...

As Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, and his onetime "terror czar," Richard A. Clarke, have made clear, the president, with the enthusiastic encouragement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, was contemplating action against Iraq from day one. "From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out," O'Neill said. All they needed was an excuse...

The Bush administration no doubt had its real reasons for invading and occupying Iraq. They've simply chosen not to share them with the American public. They sought justification for ignoring the Geneva Convention and other statutes prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners but were loath to acknowledge as much. They may have ideas worth discussing, but they don't welcome the rest of us in the conversation. They don't trust us because they don't dare expose their true agendas to the light of day.

... this administration seems to lie reflexively, as if it were simply the easiest option for busy folks with a lot on their minds. While the big lies are more damning and of immeasurably greater import to the nation, it is the small, unnecessary prevarications that may be diagnostic. Who lies when they don't have to? When the simple truth, though perhaps embarrassing in the short run, is nevertheless in one's long-term self-interest? Why would a president whose calling card is his alleged rock-solid integrity waste his chief asset for penny-ante stakes? Habit, perhaps. Or an inability to admit even small mistakes.

... But image is everything in this White House, and the image of George Bush as a noble and infallible warrior in the service of his nation must be fanatically maintained, because behind the image lies . . . nothing? As Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has pointed out, Bush has "never fully inhabited" the presidency. Bush apologists can smilingly excuse his malopropisms and vagueness as the plainspokenness of a man of action, but watching Bush flounder when attempting to communicate extemporaneously, one is left with the impression that he is ineloquent not because he can't speak but because he doesn't bother to think."

From Ron Reagan, The Case Against George W. Bush.
More Bad Bush Intelligence In Castro Speech

Unbelievable. This is like Powell's presentation to the UN all over again... How stupid are these people? Or how stupid do they think we are?

The Smirking Chimp reveals that the Fidel Castro sex tourism quote that Bush recently used in a speech (see my post below) was lifted from a 2001 essay written by then Dartmouth University undergraduate Charles Trumbull. Sadly, the student made up the quote.

Bush said:
"The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here's how he bragged about the industry. This is his quote: 'Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.'

The actual quotation from Castro's 1992 speech:
'There are hookers, but prostitution is not allowed in our country. There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist. Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the lowest number of AIDS cases.'

As the Smirking Chimp blog points out, "Castro admitted that prostitution does exist in Cuba, as it does here, but tried to defuse the matter by pointing to the country's high health and education standards. This is hardly 'welcoming sex tourism' as Bush claims."
UK report warns of Iraq, Afghanistan deterioration

"The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee says Afghanistan is 'in danger of implosion' and Iraq is 'a battleground for Al Qaeda'.

The highly critical report outlines a series of failures that have cost coalition opportunities in Iraq. It says the United Kingdom's credibility has been damaged by the inability to provide basic services, such as electricity and water. The British MPs also say they are concerned there is a cover up of key intelligence and prisoner abuse."

Story from ABC News Online. The report seems to conclude that sending more troops is the best solution to all these problems.
US Police Already Abusing Patriot Act Powers

"A government scientist finishing a candy bar on her way into a subway station where eating is prohibited was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours by transit police. Stephanie Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when an officer warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can... "

Story here.
Lie, Retreat, Repeat...

"Sometimes, for reasons no one asks and nobody tells, border guards don't bother to stamp a passport upon entry from abroad. It's happened several times to me at JFK in New York.
Failing to stamp passports is commonplace. Yet the Bush Administration, operating on the assumption that most Americans don't know that, is floating the possibility of war against Iran based on that innocuous practice...

Should Bush remain in office this November and the "we invaded the wrong Ira-" argument catch fire among a complacent and compliant media, we may be fighting a third unwinnable war against a Muslim state a year from now...

Iran doesn't stamp Saudi passports for good reason: the Saudi government, dominated by Wahhabi Sunni extremists, despises Shia Iran. Viewing Shiites as pseudo-Islamic heretics more contemptible than infidels, the Saudi regime takes a dim view of those who travel to Iran--a fact that Iranian customs takes into account when welcoming Saudi visitors so they don't get into trouble back home...

The big reason to doubt an Iran-Al Qaeda connection is historical. In one of many events unknown to most Americans, Taliban forces under Mullah Mohammad Omar seized the Iranian consulate at Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998. After the Afghans murdered ten Iranian diplomats and one journalist there, Iran massed troops on the border and threatened war against Afghanistan. (The crisis passed when the Taliban apologized and turned over the bodies.)

To say the least, it's extremely unlikely that Iran would have formed a cozy alliance with Mullah Omar's bosom buddies in Al Qaeda just two years later in 2000, as the Bushies now claim..."

Ted Rall's weekly column is (nearly!) always worth reading.
USA's Crumbling, Totally Un-Democratic Coalition of the Unwilling

Colin Powell is in Eastern Europe pressuring governments not to pull their troops out of Iraq. But most citizens in the coalition countries do not support continued deployment:

'I don't know anyone who thinks that the Hungarian troops should stay there,' said Laszlo Komjati, a 27-year-old Hungarian. 'The whole thing is a mess, and we've already lost one soldier. I think we should bring the guys home as soon as possible.'

"All Albanians support U.S. policy, but I don't think the people support sending our troops there," said Petrit Molla, a mechanic in Albania, which has 71 non-combat soldiers in Iraq.

"What emotions I have every time I turn on the TV," said Dragna Baron, 60, a librarian in Romania, which has about 730 soldiers in Iraq. "They should come home — it's too risky."

Jan Kavan, a former Czech foreign minister and former president of the U.N. General Assembly who is now an influential lawmaker, said he thinks his nation's 98 troops should come home as scheduled by Dec. 31 without an extension of their mandate:

"I accept the existence of the `coalition of the willing,' but I firmly believe the best way for the international community to ensure international peace and stability in Iraq would be to move ahead in a uniform fashion on the basis of a U.N. mandate."

Quotes from Yahoo! News.
US Army Now Training For Home Invasions

"A door bursts open and four soldiers dash into the room blasting enemy targets... "

Story here.
Welcome To The Cage

"LADIES AND gentlemen, please remove your shoes for inspection.' The command booms out over the thousands of people queued up on Causeway Street, waiting to enter the FleetCenter for the first session of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

'Ladies and gentlemen, please be prepared to present your dental records.'

Vermin Supreme, long-time political-protest gadfly, pauses for a moment, then brings the bullhorn back to his lips.

'Please be prepared for a full-body-cavity rectal search. Remember, it is in the name of national security, and is part of your Patriot Act...'"

The Boston Phoenix reports from the Convention.
Another Day, Another Bombing

Yet another US airstike on a house in Falluja - no word yet on casualties. No doubt Al Jazeera or somebody will be first to report the citizens killed this time, since US troops are still afraid to enter the city on foot. Then the US will accuse Al Jazeera or whoever of propaganda, as usual.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police say they have arrested 270 "terrorists". The interim Iraqi Interior Minister goes so far as to say, "I can confirm that 90 per cent of those who carried out suicide operations are not Iraqis."

So not only have they arrested these people, they have also tried and presumably convicted them. Amazing. The media should be more careful about how they report such blatant propaganda.
Confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

There has been a big kerfuffle in Margot Kingston's Web Diary because, following the UN Vote on Israel's illegal barrier which Australia bizzarely supports, Margot dared to write:

"The fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia."

The SMH editor was swamped with letters calling for Margot's resignation. Margot replied, somewhat tongue in cheek:

"I thought it was well known that in the US no politician wanting re-election would speak out about the excesses of current Israeli policy. I thought the relentless intimidation of the media by Australia's AIJAC was commonly accepted. Clearly neither of these suppositions were true. My apologies. "

A Jewish Australian friend tried to explain the backlash to Margo:

"Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Jews are rich. Not all Jews have political clout. If fact, most do not. And the interests of all Jews are not covered by the activities of those Jews who DO have money and political power. So when my cousin gets killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and I demand some action to prevent this happening, and Ariel Sharon decides that that action will take the form of a wall (which I personally think is discraceful), I get really angry when 'you' tell me that instead of taking action to stop my other loved ones being killed, I have to right to self defence because I have the money and standing to get whet I want anyway."

Margot has a long discussion/exploration of the whole debate here.

Personally I am still confused. Maybe she should have said "exerts an extraordinarily huge amount of influence over" rather than "controls" politics and media, which implies total control? But people must be able to debate such issues rationally without being accused of anti-Semitism at every step.
How Strong Do We Look Now?

Juan Cole rips into Dick Cheney's continued lies:

"Reuters reports, "Cheney said Americans were safer and he stood by prewar characterizations of Iraq as a threat despite the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and new warnings by Cheney and other administration officials that another major terrorist attack may be coming."

Iraq was not a threat to the United States. Period. Let me repeat the statistics as of the late 1990s:

U.S. population: 295 million
Iraq population: 24 million

U.S. per capita annual income: $37,600
Iraq per capita annual income: $700

U.S. nuclear warheads: 10,455
Iraq nuclear warheads: 0

U.S. tons of lethal chemical weapons (1997): 31,496
Iraq tons of lethal chemical weapons (1997): 0

While a small terrorist organization could hit the U.S. because it has no return address, a major state could not hope to avoid retribution and therefore would be deterred. Cheney knows that Ba'athist Iraq posed no threat to the U.S. He is simply lying. I was always careful not to accuse him of lying before the war because who knows what is in someone else's mind? Maybe he believed his own bullsh*t. But there is no longer any doubt that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, no active nuclear weapons program, no ability to deliver anything lethal to the U.S. homeland, and no operational cooperation with al-Qaeda. These things are not matters of opinion. They are indisputable. Ipso facto, if an intelligent person continues to allege them, he is prevaricating..."

July 29, 2004

Gandhi Jnr. Makes An On-screen Debut!

On a more personal note, my beautiful wife is 12 weeks pregnant and today we saw our first ultrasound. The little one was waving his/her hand at us and kicking his/her legs very happily! A wonderful, magical moment...

We gotta make this a good world, people.
Washington Post has an interesting article about bloggers at the Democratic Convention, sort of journalists writing about bloggers writing about journalists...

The Wall Street Journal also discusses the bloggers, pointing out that they "will be dwarfed by an estimated 15,000 accredited journalists from traditional outlets."

For a list of "accredited" bloggers, click here.

Alternet says reporters desperate for stories swamped the bloggers and "swarmed around their startled quarry, interrupting conversations to ask the same question – how do you plan to cover the convention?"

Pretty funny.
More Mike Moore

AlterNet has posted a copy of Michael Moore's Speech in Cambridge, Mass. It's kinda rambling (as you would expect) but makes some very thought-provoking points (as you would also expect). Here are some selected excerpts:

"You can't compare this election to any election before September 11, 2001.

That day and since that day has made average Americans more aware of what's going on in the world. They want to know more about what's going on in the world. They talk politics now. We all know this. Right? At work, you go in the bar, people are talking about politics. Anywhere you go, people talk politics. It's cool now to talk about politics. Right? It's uncool if you don't know what's going on in the world. It's uncool to be apathetic. Now that has not been the case for most of our lives...

I believe we'll have the largest percentage of people voting in our lifetime come November 2!

... we have our conventional wisdom and our conventional wisdom tells us that the paradigm that we have been following over the last 20 years is the one we must follow and that's the one we are worried about. Thank you. It doesn't hurt to report the truth. It's ok. You know. I was on a, one of those morning talk shows and after we went to commercial, the person who was interviewing me said you know, you are right, I mean when the war started, it was very difficult here to book the people we wanted to book, ask the questions we wanted to ask. In fact, I got a memo about my tone of voice. And apparently the brass had received a call from the Dick Cheney's office is what – and said that he didn't like my tone of voice. And I got a memo on it to watch my tone of voice. Well you've got to tell that story! You've got to tell that story. I can't. Well why? They can't fire you.

You are like one of the most well-known people in America. And, you know, you've got to tell this story. If you don't tell it, I'm going to wait like maybe another week. What's today? Within the week, I will put this on my web site. I'll tell the whole story and I'll name who said it...

... it took a Canadian journalist to write that perhaps one of the problems that Mr. Moore had with Disney is the fact that the Saudi world family owns almost 17% of Euro-Disney. And that in 1994, Prince Walid, one of the richest men in the world, and a member of the Saudi Royal Family, wrote Michael Eisner and Disney a check for over $300 million to bail out Euro-Disney. And the people that helped put the thing together to bring the two together was a company called the Carlyle group.

... George W. Bush has gone from being the compassionate conservative to the anti-conservative. He doesn't really believe in conservative values. And we need to do that. But here's my plea to the Democrats and to Mr. Kerry. You will not win this election by being weak kneed and wimpy and wishy-washy and lacking the courage of your convictions. The only way this is going to happen is if you stand up forthrightly and say what you believe and push for the liberal progressive agenda that the majority of America already agrees with. If you move to the right, thinking that's how you are going to pick up a few extra votes from that very small sliver of likely voters who haven't made up their mind yet, if you give up the very principles and things that the people in this room and those delegates believe in, to get those few votes over there, you will encourage millions to stay home.

... I went to one of these meeting of ACT, I forget what it stands for. America coming together, one, two, and they put up on the screen a map of Cleveland, Ohio and they showed a precinct in Cleveland that was 96% African American. 96%. Total vote are turnout in 2000, 13%. You can't get more base of the Democratic Party than African Americans and if you don't have a message that will inspire them to come out on Election Day and tells them with no B.S. and shows them how their life will be better, we will not win this election...."
Bush's Economic Lies

"'Our economy since last summer has been growing at the fastest rate in 20 years' said President Bush in a speech last week...

Is it true? Well if you pick the right three quarters -- the first quarter of this year and the second half of last year, to be exact -- it is technically true... But why take 9 months? If we look at the last year, it's not any record at all. Similarly for the last two years.

Bush also bragged about the 1.5 million jobs created since last August. This impressive-sounding number also depends on a careful selection of time period. If we look at Mr. Bush's whole presidential term, the economy is still down more than a million jobs. Even the 1.5 million jobs created during Mr. Bush's selected ten months are a weak performance, barely enough to keep pace with the growth of the labor force.

The economy from here on will have to do better than even Mr. Bush's "brag period," just for him to avoid the record achievement of being the first president since the Great Depression to preside over a net loss of jobs for the country.

Perhaps the worst part of the "job-loss" recovery for most people has been that real wages -- adjusted for inflation -- have actually fallen over the last year. This means that most Americans are literally not getting anything out of our "record" growth.

The Bush administration does have some real 20-year record-breaking numbers but they are not the kind that it would like to advertise. Here's the gold medal: our Federal budget deficit of $639 billion for 2004 is 5.6 percent of GDP, the highest since 1983, and second highest since World War II. Of course this figure from the Congressional Budget Office counts the borrowing from the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds -- which any good accountant would tell you should be counted, because it will have to be paid back. "

Full story at Common Dreams: George W. Bush's Record-Breaking Economy.
Neo-cons Dont Want Europe To Negotiate Peace With Iran

Britain, France and Germany are meeting with Iranian officials in an effort to persuade Tehran to end activities that Washington and the Europeans believe are aimed at producing nuclear weapons. But the Bush neo-cons don't want them to make a deal.

"What we've been telling the EU three is to hold firm and not cut any deals with the Iranians," an un-named "senior US official" told Reuters.

Seems like Bush & Co would like to have this issue grabbing headlines in the UN Security Council in the run-up to the elections.
Is Bush Taking Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior?

According to Capitol Hill Blue:

"President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia...

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

... Veteran White House watchers say the ability to control information about Bush’s health, either physical or mental, is similar to Ronald Reagan’s second term when aides managed to conceal the President’s increasing memory lapses that signaled the onslaught of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It also brings back memories of Richard Nixon’s final days when the soon-to-resign President wondered the halls and talked to portraits of former Presidents. The stories didn’t emerge until after Nixon left office. "
Let's Make Money Out Of Methane, Pardners!

John Howard awakes today to find that his most persistent wet dream has finally become a reality. On a day when crude oil prices hit a 20-year high, the United States says it is joining with Australia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Britain and Ukraine to develop the methane market.

Under the plan, "methane emissions would be harvested by industrial nations and sold to poorer countries". Somehow, according to US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, purchasing this methane is supposed to "benefit the economies of developing nations across the world."

Methane harvesting supports the existing oil cartels because it relies on continued exploitation of fossil fuels. Howard and others have long campaigned for this option rather than spending money on alternative energy options.

Let's have a quick look at some track records here:

Since the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard came to power in 1996, it has cut major energy research initiatives into renewable technologies and energy efficiency. In 1997 the Energy Research and Development Corporation was abolished, while in 2002 an application to renew funding for the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy was rejected.

Funding for the Australian Greenhouse Office, once the government’s flagship program, has recently been wound back, and the agency has been directed to abandon work on carbon trading initiatives. A month ago, a review of mandatory renewable energy targets balked at increasing the goal beyond the current two percent of energy to be generated from renewables by 2020.

While government policy and funding support for renewable energy and energy efficiency has been scaled back, the fossil fuel industry preferred option - including methane harvesting - has been embraced with enthusiasm. Howard, who considers Australia's largest producer of methane a personal friend, refuses to sign the Kyoto treaty.

Despite a 2000 election campaign pledge, the Bush administration has also opposed restrictions of carbon dioxide emissions, the industrial gas most cited by scientists for warming the atmosphere like a greenhouse. Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative actually pollutes the skies. Bush withdrew the USA from the Kyoto treaty.
Bob Brown on Michael Moore

Australia's Bob Brown, leader of the rapidly growing Greens, reviews Fahrenheit 9/11:

"Bush's moment of truth came when he sat reading My Pet Goat to schoolchildren while the twin towers burned. Where was the maturity, intelligence and action to be expected of the most powerful human being on the planet in such a moment of peril? What do his defenders make of the gormless failure of the Commander-in-Chief to take immediate command in the crisis?

The office of the president is held in great respect by Americans. Maybe Moore's film is doing so well in cinemas because he shows how the office, not Bush, has been betrayed. Bush has purloined the office for himself and his rich cronies while poor Americans are sidelined, sent to the Iraq frontline or, worst of all, brought home secretly in body bags...

The problem for Moore's critics is Bush, not Moore. The documentary is successful not because Moore nails the President but because the President nails himself. No Bush absurdities, no Moore Palme d'Or...

Fahrenheit 9/11 has a signal scene in which Bush regales wealthy Republican donors with a toast to "the haves and have-mores". This, in a nation with 30 million people too poor to access hospital care. It is an unforgettable scene where Bush exhibits his unfitness as president of a great nation, let alone as world leader.

One is left wondering how else the US might be. What if the President, instead of spending $60 billion extra per annum on armaments for Iraq, had set up a new Marshall Plan to feed, clothe and ensure schools for the world's 1 billion citizens living in abject poverty?"
Army of None?

The US Army needs to recruit 80,000 new soldiers next year, but coming up with a work-able advertising campaign could be a problem when the dominant images of the war are burning Humvees.
Medecins Sans Frontiers Pulls Out of Afghanistan

"The aid agency has been in Afghanistan since 1980 - through the Soviet occupation, the mujahideen resistance, the Taliban's rule and the US-led war to end it.

Today, however, MSF announced the 'heartbreaking' decision to pull out of Afghanistan, only the second time the agency has been forced to abandon a country (the first was North Korea). The agency's 80 international staff will leave by the end of August. Its 1,400 local staff will lose their jobs. "

MSF says the US-backed Kabul puppet government "lacks the will" to investigate a recent attack on MSF staff, leaving the agency accused of political partisanship and therefore unable to continue their work in the country.

More at the Guardian.
Karpinski Laughed At Prisoner Abuse

In a videotaped deposition from Iraq, Saddam "Sam" Saleh Aboud, a former detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison. During one session, said he saw Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski when his hood was removed during a torture session. Aboud identified Karpinski from a photo.

"He was adamant that there was an occasion when he was being tortured, in Tier 1A, when she was present and watching and laughing as he was being tortured," his lawyer said.

Aboud also alleges that he was forced to witness the rape of a female prisoner.

Karpinski, who has been suspended, still denies knowing about the abuses and has not been directly implicated till now.
112 Dead Iraqis In One Day Is No Big News

At least 68 Iraqis were killed in a Baquba suicide bombing, with another 42 dead in fighting in south-central Iraq. It barely made the news. This is the Iraqis' problem now, we are told.

Interestingly, CNN.com doesn't even bother trying to guess at how many of the dead were pro-US "good guys". At least, faced with sustained violence across Iraq, they are now sensibly using the word "insurgents" rather than "terrorists".

On the same day, the number of US dead in Iraq rose to a grim 911.

July 28, 2004

"Bin Laden Dead" - the ultimate Bush Election Headline?

According to the very conspiracy theory Website Prison Planet, "Madeleine Albright recently told Fox News that Bush already has bin Laden and is waiting to roll him at a politically expedient time. Understand that when she said this she was stern faced, she wasn't joking."

It is a little strange how Bush & Co have stopped talking about Bin Laden, isn't it? The link above has some thought-provoking facts (which may or may not be true: YOU do the research!).
Another Cry From The Wilderness

"I wish I could be a super spy or agent or something so I could go around the world killing all of the jackasses. First I would kill Osama Bin Laden, then Ariel Sharon, and then G.W. Bush. Then, so I don't have to hear about it anymore, I would string up Saddam Hussien. Why is it that most of the most prominent people in the world are prominent because of the fact they are the biggest jackassess in the world. Dick Cheney is possibly the biggest of all, because he refuses join the rest of us in the rest of the world. The whole administration thinks that if you just ignore the facts, they will go away, and if you keep telling the same lies over and over, they will become true.

I hate what this country has become. When will someone who puts the country's interests first stand up and run this place instead of trying to run the entire world and make it conform to what they think is right.

American "democracy" has become bullshit, right along with American "freedom". The only one's with choice or freedom are the ones with power, and the only ones in power are the ones with money, and the only ones with money are the assholes who would pawn their own grandmother if they thought she would bring a profit.

And the sad part is that the people who are supposed to be in charge are too stupid to understand what is going on in the government, or the world. The ones in charge are the simple, working man. The voting citizen. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE CORRUPTION PEOPLE!!!! "

Another random voice from Grouphug.
Who Really Controls the USA and How Do They Do It?

Since G.W. Bush became Pre... No, I can't say it. Since G.W. Bush took over the Oval Office, a lot of stuff that would previously have been considered reckless "conspiracy theory" has merited more than a second glance. Yale's secretive Skull and Bones club is the most obvious example, particularly as John Kerry is also a member.

Now UnderReported.com has an amazing expose of the Bohemian Club, a similarly secretive group with very powerful members meeting once a year to perform bizarre rituals. The list of known members and guests over the years makes an interesting read:

Gerald R. Ford, Henry A. Kissenger, Casper Weinberger, Art Linkletter, Bing Cosby, John Diebold, the consultant [presumably of Diebold Voting Machines]; Edgar F. Kaiser Sr. of Kaiser Industries; Richard Cooley, former president of Wells Fargo Bank; Allan Sproul, former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Emmet Solomon, former president of the Crocker-Citizens National Bank, and Louis B. Lundborg, retired chairman of the Bank of America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, before he was president; Robert F. Kennedy, when he was Attorney General; Arnold Palmer, the golfer; Nelson A. Rockefeller; former Chief Justice Earl Warren; David Sarnoff, former chairman of RCA; Herman Wouk, the writer; Dr. Wernher von Braun of the space program; Neil Armstrong, an astronaut, Richard M. Nixon, who is a club member, former Defense Secretary Harold Brown.

[...] Senator Charles Percy, Republican of Illinois, William Buckley, Bing Crosby, Phil Harris and William Randolph Hearst Jr. belong, as do the presidents of the Wells Fargo Banks, the First National Bank of Chicago, the Sourthern Pacific Railway, the Los Angeles Times, Pacific Gas and Electric, Levi Strauss, Stanford University and the University of California, among others.

Full story here, with excerpts from various reports.

Update: Seems Richard Nixon once famously described the gathering as "the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine." More at Prison Planet.

Reuters reports on another $500 million contract for Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown Root (KBR). Did I mention that Bush's grandfather was associated with Brown Brothers Harriman? Notice the "Brown" in both company names? Same family, same sleazy connection to the Walkers and Bushes.
Saving Iraq from "Terrorists"? US Army says "They can have it"

Knight Ridder reports that "U.S. officials have all but given up on plans to install a democratic government in the city [Ramadi], and are hoping instead that Islamic extremists and other insurgent groups don't overrun the province in the same way that they've seized the region's most infamous town, Fallujah.

''The only way to stomp out the insurgency of the mind,' [Capt. Joe Jasper, a spokesman for the 1st Brigade] said, 'would be to kill the entire population'. Pointing to a neighborhood outside the town of Habbaniyah, between Fallujah and Ramadi, he said, 'We've lost a lot of Marines there and we don't ever go in anymore. If they want it that bad, they can have it.' And then to a spot on the western edge of Fallujah: 'We find that if we don't go there, they won't shoot us.''"
The Australian Becomes The American Becomes The Israeli Zionist

The Murdoch-owned (ahem!) "Australian" newspaper's lead story today shows how segements of the media (and politics) in this country are being controlled by the same oil-hungry cabal that brought Bush to power.

The corrupt Howard government would prefer East Timor to survive on Aid programs rather than have access to oil reserves within its own waters. Latham promises to review the strong-arm deal which the East Timorese have been pressured to accept. How can this possibly be "threatening the tiny country's economic future"? The whole premise of the article is a lie.

Equally disgraceful, in the same paper today, is Janet Albrechtson's "Danger Zone" article. The very idea that the UN has an "anti-Israel bias" is ridiculous. To further say that the UN "has a long history of legitimising terrorism" is the ugliest form of hysterical Zionism.

I no longer read the Murdoch press. I just monitor it. If their journalists had an integrity at all they would resign in protest.

"The Australian"? Not likely! The paper should be called "The Bush-Murdoch-Sharon Daily Propagandist".

Utterly disgusting. Please send a letter to tell the editors at The Australian know what you think of such crap.
Iraq's Contrasting Realities

Despite the puppet government and continued bloody insurgency, there's no doubt that things are slowly changing in Iraq. For one thing, US troops that used to aggressively patrol the streets are now hiding in mosques:

The aggressive patrols that marked the Marines' arrival this spring were met with frenzied and bloody insurgent attacks, leading to some of the heaviest U.S. losses of the Iraq war — 31 dead and more than 200 wounded. Since the patrols have given way to the more modulated "outposting" strategy, however, U.S. deaths have dropped dramatically.

The dumb US troops, not realising this "modulated strategy" is just part of the political game back home, actually think that hiding from the "terrorists" is a cunning plan:

"When you walk on the streets, they can hide in every nook and cranny and you can never find them until they start shooting," said Marine Cpl. Glenn Hamby, 26, who heads Squad 3 of G Company. "Here, they have to come right to us."

But unfortunately...
The insurgents know exactly where the Marines are and regard the posts as prime targets. Four Marines were killed last month when their post was overrun in the early-morning darkness. Stunning images of the sniper team's dead and bloodied bodies sprawled on a rooftop were captured on videotape and broadcast worldwide."

Here's a few other interesting stories. First of all, (a sign of the coming wave of US "culture"?) Baghdad has a new Reality TV Show.

"The idea is simple: Take Iraqi families whose houses were destroyed. Rebuild their houses, filling them with new goods, all donated by viewers who respond to the message flashed at the end of the show. (Donations count as zakat, the one-fifth of yearly income all Muslims must give to charity.)...

"The main point isn't to rebuild the house, but to show the change in the psychology of the family during the rebuilding," says Ali Hanoon, the show's director. "The rebuilding has a psychological effect on the families - their memories, their lives, are in these walls."

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, "a host of scam artists now circulate Baghdad pretending to collect "donations" for the families!"

Elsewhere in Iraq, grieving families are watching closely as test cases accusing British troops of "war crimes" reach the UK's High Court. Lawyers accuse the troops of unlawfully killing civilians and beating and torturing prisoners:

"Soldiers played cruel "games" with prisoners, forcing them to recite lists of English or Dutch footballers and beating them if they failed... another "game" favoured by British troops involved a group of soldiers surrounding a prisoner and taking turns to see how hard they could kick-box him.

"The idea seemed to be to splat [the prisoner] against the wall if at all possible," he said. "These cases raise absolutely fundamental issues of human rights and international law."

"If these abuses go unchecked, if there is no accountability, then that completely undermines the rule of law."

Let's see if the "higher-ups" face some accountability this time. Not likely, of course, from what we've seen, but one dares hope that the British High Court is not quite so politically corrupted as the US Supreme Court.
The "worst of the worst" are not all that bad

More good news today, with four Frenchmen released from Guantanamo Bay after 30 months in detention without charge or trial. The case illustrates the differences between the USA's hysterical anti-terror agenda and the deliberate, considered battle against terror in countries like France, where domestic terrorism has been a fact of life for some time.

Some of those being released are already wanted in France in connection with terrorism investigations led by anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere. Under French anti-terror laws, the returning citizens can be held for questioning for 96 hours, then they must be charged or released. For any ignorant Bush supporters, this is called "due process" and it has been safeguarding democracy for centuries.

The release of the Frenchmen prompted the BBC to look at what has happened to a few other detainees who have been released. Remember that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and many others publicly pre-judged these people as "bad guys" and even "the worst of the worst."

"The US has "transferred for continued detention" seven Russians, four Saudis and one Spaniard:

- all seven Russians were released without trial at the end of June after four months in custody

- it is unclear what, if any, legal action has been taken against the four Saudis since their repatriation in May 2003

- the Spanish authorities released Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed on bail on 13 July after four and a half months in custody, pending a possible trial on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation. Bail was granted in view of Mr Ahmed's experiences in US custody

In March five of nine Britons held at Guantanamo were flown back to the UK. A day later they the British authorities released them without charge. "

July 27, 2004

Bush, Castro and Sex Tourism

In a speech in Tampa on July 16, Bush accused Cuban President Fidel Castro of welcoming sex tourism, as he courted Cuban-American voters in Florida, a pivotal state in November's election. The sex allegations follow a recent toughening of anti-Cuban US laws.

Castro rejected the accusations as "lies and slanders." He says Bush is exhibiting "strange behavior and bellicosity."

'Let's hope, in Cuba's case, God does not instruct Mr. Bush to attack our country,' Castro said. 'He had better check on any divine belligerent order by consulting the Pope.'

Cuba's communist government was born of a revolution against a corrupt U.S.-backed dictatorship that allowed Mafia-run gaming and prostitution to thrive in Havana in the 1950's. Prostitution was banned, but returned during the severe economic crisis Cuba has undergone since the collapse of Soviet communism. Oh, and years of stifling US sanctions, of course.

More on this story at Reuters.com

I think this story above is interesting because it's impossible to think about Bush's presidency for too long without reflecting on the failing value system that allowed it to happen. I mean, people voted for Bush knowing he didn't have the experience for the job, or else they didn't even bother voting, the Supreme Court let themselves be bought out, everyone in Congress authorized the invasion of Iraq, the media buy and sell the lies...

Most people would agree that people in today's world do not have the same strong value and moral convictions that our grandparents had. This applies particularly to politicians, business people and the wealthy in general. As a society, we now seem to accept that lack of values and even use it to condone our own behaviour.

"Yeah, maybe I did swindle that guy on a used car, but look at Enron!"

If the underlying causes of terrorism are poverty, inequality and corrupt governments, the underlying reasons why Bush came to power and got away with so much are not all that dissimilar: we allow people in other countries to suffer poverty and abusive regimes, shrugging it off as "not my problem." Perhaps the day will come when we have a value system that does not allow us to ignore their plight so easily.

In our grandparents' day, remember, they could not see this suffering on TV every night or learn more about it on the Internet. What's our excuse?
This is Where Hypocrisy Gets You:

"The US has granted 'protected status' under the Geneva Conventions to 3,800 members of an Iranian opposition group interned in Iraq. This meant that People's Mujahideen's fighters were not considered belligerents during the Iraq war, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said. But the new status did not affect the US view that the group was a terrorist organisation, Mr Ereli said. "

Story here: BBC NEWS.

"Along the entire block facing the Fleet Center, was a 12-foot high solid-chain-link fence, and to greet the march, was a triple phalanx of starship troopers, along with secret service agents, and sharpshooters above, on a catwalk, armed with tear gas and automatic rifles. "
'It's The War, Stupid!'

'I'm here because I'm against the war,' said Frank Lavine, an 80-year-old World War II veteran from Boston, who also fought with a Palestinian brigade against the British in 1947. 'Because war is a racket.'

CBS reports on the Democratic Convention.
War? What War?

"Paul Bremer, the former U.S. administrator, has packed up his trademark boots and gone home. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy chief of military operations in Iraq, and Dan Senor, the former U.S. main spokesman in Iraq, no longer grace our television screens. And the controversial John Negroponte, who is now running the show out of the largest U.S. embassy in the world, is rarely seen or heard.

In other words, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has officially gone underground. The Bush administration is indeed putting an 'Iraqi face' on the occupation by keeping its operations outside the media spotlight. Since the White House can't come up with a strategy to actually get out of Iraq, it is now hoping that voters will simply forget we're over there..."

Nevertheless, US soldiers have been dying at the rate of two per day for the past month - a rate even greater than the bloody month before the "handover."

More at AlterNet: An Occupation by Any Other Name
Australian Supreme Court Judge Resigns In Disgust

"Justice John Dowd is reportedly quitting the Supreme Court bench, citing personal attacks by the prime minister and NSW premier...

Justice Dowd blamed Prime Minister John Howard and NSW Premier Bob Carr's attacks on his stance against anti-terror legislation for his resignation.

In November 2002, as chairman of the International Commission of Jurists, he told a Senate inquiry "it is patently clear" that proposed anti-terrorism legislation "is aimed at Muslims"."

More here: Dowd to quit Supreme Court
Bill Moyers says George W. Bush and Tom DeLay are "conspiring to let the ban on killer assault weapons expire. Bush says he doesn't like all that loaded hardware lying around, but it's up to the House of Representatives to vote. The aptly named Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader, on the other hand, says - wink, wink - he can't let a vote happen because Bush hasn't asked him to."

Moyers also notes "there was to be a Congressional hearing last week into the safety of anti-depressant medicine. It seems some pharmaceutical companies are suspected of keeping secret the bad news about their products. The hearing was abruptly cancelled when word spread that the committee chairman is under consideration for a big-paying job representing – are you ready for this? – the biotech and pharmaceutical industries."
ABC News reports that "the Spanish Government has summoned the Australian ambassador in Madrid to protest against comments by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer."
"The ongoing WMD debate, the endless reports churned out by the US Senate, Britain's Lord Butler and Australia's Philip Flood, are a distraction from the central issue that the coalition of the willing waged an unjustified war. Instead of piles of WMDs, we have disinformation pouring from the mouths of presidents, prime ministers, defence secretaries, foreign ministers and anyone else who could climb on the bandwagon. "

Phillip Adams in The Australian
"'I'm the commander--see, I don't have to explain -- I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.' (Washington Post, 11-19-2002)

'This would be much easier if this were a dictatorship, as long as I was the dictator' (Business Week OnLine, 7-30-01; Newsday, 12-18-00),

'I just don't understand how poor people think' (NY Times, 8-26-03)

And of course, 'There ought to be limits to freedom.' Quotes courtesty of The Smirking Chimp.
Iraq veteran says "'We shot a man with his hands up. We even shot women and children.'"
A study by the college of economics at Baghdad University has found that the unemployment rate in Iraq is 70%.
The number of Americans under the control of the criminal justice system grew by 130,700 last year to reach a new high of nearly 6.9 million. This is about 3.2 percent of the adult population in the United States.
Conflict of Interests?

"Two senior United States trade negotiators who sealed the trade deal with Australia have accepted plum jobs representing US medical and drug companies.

Ralph Ives was promoted in April to assistant US trade representative for pharmaceutical policy after leading the trade negotiations with Australia. Next month he becomes vice-president for global strategy at AdvaMed, an industry group that says its members produce half of the world's medical technology products.

Claude Burcky, who was Mr Ives's head negotiator for intellectual property trade issues, is now director of global government affairs at the pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories. "

More at SMH: Plum jobs for US trade deal advisers
Is a Vote for Kerry a Vote for Peace?

It's time John Kerry properly distanced himself from the so-called "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive invasion and the whole neo-conservative agenda for US Empire.

I have been willing to give Kerry the benefit of the doubt, assuming his lack of pronouncements on the subject was just clever politics: better to take a centrist stance than a far-left stance when Bush is so far way out in right field. But now I am not so sure.

The SMH says "a lot of people in the US are opposed to the war in Iraq, and they want to vote for a party that will bring the troops home. The Democratic Party has not promised to do that, which is why many protesters have gathered in Boston."

Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo says the Democratic party isn't interested in antiwar protests:

"Their candidate is for the war: he voted for it (but not to fund it), he wants to expand it (by sending in at least 40,000 more American troops), and his only argument with the Bush administration is over which direction to escalate. The Bushies want to invade Iran, and perhaps Syria, while the Kerry-ites are straining at the leash to go after Saudi Arabia, as evidenced by Kerry's pronouncements and the Democratic party platform, which threaten to impose draconian sanctions on the Kingdom.

Rand Beers, Kerry's foreign policy chief, is a longtime veteran of the national security bureaucracy, having served under the last four presidents in some capacity or other, including Special Assistant to the President for Combating Terrorism, under George W. Bush."

Raimondo points out that Kerry himself did "questionable things" while on active service in Vietnam, while Beers has stirred up the anti-terrorist hysteria by bizzarely linking Colombian FARC rebels with Al-Quaeda.

"We are in for a very bad time, and there isn't any way out of it," Raimondo concludes. "The electoral system is rigged against the expression of antiwar sentiment through any "legitimate" channels, and, thanks to Congress, our rights to assemble, to organize, and to protest the actions of our government, without being harassed, spied on, and otherwise intimidated into silence, have been signed away.

I'm afraid that we're just going to have to grit our teeth, endure the next few months as best we can, and wait out the partisan static until the air clears after November. Then we can face what has to be faced and move forward from there."
Australian Defence Force Censors Fahrenheit 9/11 :

"The Australian Defence Force stands accused of censorship after it banned the showing of the inflammatory anti-war blockbuster Fahrenheit 9/11 on military bases, despite requests direct to the distributor from serving personnel."

The local distributor's managing director said the soldier who requested the film was disgusted by the ban:

"This guy said everybody on the base was talking about the film and they want to see it. He also said it was the first time that anything had been censored. He is disgusted. We are appalled and surprised."

July 26, 2004

Bush's Oil Buddies In Africa

Couldn't help noticing Bush's face on a 60 Minutes TV segment last night. The story was about Exxon's dodgy oil deals with Equatorial Guinea and Bush was doing the touch-feely thing with his old buddy, Ken Lay.

Oil reserves were discovered off the coast of Equatorial Guinea ten years ago. ExxonMobil struck the first production deal, offering the locals just 12% of revenues in return for drilling rights. The country was so desperately poor that they took the deal.

While President Obiang is now a welcome guest in Washington DC, where he owns three mansions, his people remain dirt poor. Obiang's family cartel controls the oil. Political opponents are jailed. The ruling family control what media exists. In fact, a radio announcer recently told listeners that their president is "none other than God. "

60 minutes say "federal investigators have reportedly been looking into American oil companies and their real estate dealings in Equatorial Guinea -- to determine whether they improperly benefitied President Obiang. Sources close to the investigation are examining whether the oil companies paid prices so far above market value that they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."
Oz Citizens Against Pollies

Adelaide magistrate Brian Deegan, whose son Joshua was killed in the October 2002 Bali bombings, will resign from his position on Friday to run against Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer at the federal election.

Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, is already being challenged by former ONA whistleblower Andrew Wilkie.

Should be an interesting election (due by the end of the year).
Rock The Bush

The Smirking Chimp reports that "Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and a deep roster of other rock stars will unite for politically minded concerts this fall that will give voice to dissatisfaction with the Bush administration."

The all-star rock shows are expected to begin in October and may include veteran political singer Bob Dylan, among many others.
US Moderates Are So Outraged, They've Started Their Own Website!

"The 2004 Presidential election isn't about Democrats vs. Republicans, liberals vs. conservatives, or 'blue states' vs. 'red states.' This election is about Americans coming together to restore the basic American values and principles that the Bush administration has neglected. Republican Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana put it best when he reminded President Bush that 'this isn't a monarchy.'"

Check out their site - outragedmoderates.org - particularly the Download For Democracy section, which offers a fast, free, and easy way to access over 600 US government documents.
Democrat Convention Protest Zone Worse Than An Internment Camp

"The federal judge who heard a challenge to the demonstration zone by protest groups on July 22d stated in open court, 'I, at first, thought before taking the view [of the site] that the characterizations of the space as being like an internment camp were litigation hyperbole. I now believe that it's an understatement. One cannot conceive of what other elements you would put in place to make a space more of an affront to the idea of free expression ...' Despite that, the judge denied the groups' challenge to the conditions..."

t r u t h o u t - Police Cage Free Speech in Boston
Why Are Anti-Bush NY Protests Being Routed to WTC?

"The mayor loves the war because Bush loves it. He says he follows Bush so the Republicans send funds to New York. They don't send the city the right time. They do pretend that they are going to let Bloomberg into their parlor. They'll come into his parlor to take home money. And he does what they want. He has his police order the protest to go on the West Side Highway and then down to Chambers Street for a rally that is as close to the World Trade Center as you can get. The Republicans planned to hold the convention here in New York to bring back Bush's great moment: Up there atop a wrecked fire engine with a retired firefighter who was presented in a hero's pose. What a president! 'Bring 'em on.' It fooled most of the country. Then his campaign against terrorists turned into a disaster in Iraq, and the Trade Center, under examination, became an absolute failure.

But if you can put a lot of protesting Democrats near the Trade Center, this stone conservative, religious right-wing George Bush and his people can point to the crowd and say, 'Sure, look at them, no decent American would be in a demonstration at this spot. These people say the world is not safer since we captured Saddam Hussein. That's un-American. Of course it is safer. The only thing that has happened is a bunch of soldiers being killed every day. I will show you how indecent they are: They hold up signs asking me where is bin Laden.'

This suspicion alone should cause the hundreds of thousands to rail and refuse to follow the parade route because it is the work of dictatorship. The marchers need neither permit nor official route designed to ruin them. Once past Madison Square Garden, they can just go for a walk in the park on a Sunday..."

New York City: In 1773, they risked lives to speak out.
Australia's Reputation Keeps Sinking Lower

The leaders of The Philippines and Spain have rejected Australian government criticism that their decisions to pull out of Iraq have encouraged the terrorists.

The Phillipines government suggests Australia is being "narrow minded" and says we should look at the real reasons behind the growing anti-US insurgency.

Spain's foreign affairs spokesman pointed out that "in Spain we have spent years fighting terror and have lost so many citizens doing so". Furthermore, the decision to withdraw was an electoral promise based on "the firm belief that from the beginning this was an unjust and illegal war".

"It was the Spanish people who decided at the polls to withdraw our soldiers."

Ah, yes, truth, logic and democratic accountability. I vaguely remember such things in Australia...

The truth is, the War In Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism and Australia has no good reason for staying there.
Viva El Ted!

Bill Berkowitz takes a look at America's angriest cartoonist:

'In an age where prisoners are mistreated at home and tortured abroad, where civilians are killed indiscriminately in the name of a permanent war against terrorism, and where administration utterances make used car salesmen look like principled truth-tellers, the boundaries of what passes "civilized" political debate must be challenged. And that's what Rall does.

Let's give him the "last word": "Cartooning won't change the world," he writes, "but that's no reason not to try."'
Reds Under The Bed, Arabs in The Toilet

I would love to get 100 times the current traffic to this site, if only to feel that my efforts to help get rid of Bush were bearing fruit and the #$%& really is on the way out. Sometimes it's even tempting to make up a good story... "Bush Commits Suicide: Final Note Begs Forgiveness"? Well, it would get noticed wouldn't it?

Maybe that's what happened here:

It started as a routine flight from Detroit to LA. But what followed would plunge the US into another 9/11 panic...

July 25, 2004

Bush Administration's Credit Rejected???

Above: Would You Buy A Fleet of Helicopters From This Man?

This little gem of a story perfectly sums up so many things that are wrong with the Bush administration and Australia's overly cosy relationship with these rogue, money-grabbing fools... even if it is just satire! Full story at The Onion: Rumsfeld Humiliated As U.S. Credit Card Rejected.

July 24, 2004

Doonsebury is moving from Rupert Murdoch to Bill O'Reilly.

Ted Rall wonders why the USA hasn't gone in to Sudan yet.

And the Guardian has a new World News Guide that's worth checking out (unless you like Bush, in which case you'd better stick to right-wing domestic US news sites).

Also check out a few new Blog links on the left panel.
Is This Proof?

Wierd. The BBC reports that Bush's 1972 National Guard payroll records - which, we were recently told, had decomposed on old microfilm - have now been found. And guess what? They still don't prove whether or not he served his time with the Guard.

Now isn't that wierd? I mean, if he did the time, wouldn't his pay records prove it? If they don't prove it, doesn't that prove that he never did the time?

Call me old-fashioned, but I remember a time when such objective logic had some universal value.
"Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood."

- Mahatma Gandhi "
Another Whitewash Report, this time from the US Army

The Washington Post says the US Army's own report into the torture and abuse of prisoners is "implausible and unacceptable. If the reputation and integrity of the Army are to be restored, some other authority will need to do better. "

It says the Army report falls back on the same argument "offered up by the Pentagon ever since the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison were published: that the crimes did not result from Army policy and were not the fault of senior commanders but were 'unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals.'

This conclusion is contradicted by the independent investigations and reports of the International Committee of the Red Cross, by an earlier Army investigation undertaken before the scandal became public, and by testimony given to Congress. Oddly, it doesn't even square with some of the findings buried in the inspector general's own report... "

Nobody is responsible, nobody is accountable, nobody never knew nothing.
A Crisis Of Government

We are not suffering from a crisis of intelligence, we are suffering a crisis of government. Lest we forget, millions around the world protested before the war that the intelligence was being manipulated and the invasion was not justified. Howard, Bush and Blair have now wasted months of time and millions of dollars on enquiries that were always too narrowly focussed to allocate blame.

The fact is that Australia and Britain would never have gone to war if the Bush administration had not heavily pressured our governments (and others) to do so. Bush's neo-conservative cabal was pressuring US intelligence to find links between Saddam and 9/11 within hours of the attacks. They even set up a secretive Office of Special Plans to cherry-pick intelligence to justify the invasion. For over a decade, these people have been calling for increased US military intervention around the globe, with the ultimate aim of an unchallengeable US Empire. That, in the final analysis, is why Australia went to war: because Howard deemed our allegiance to the rogue US White House more important than our commitments to the UN, to the truth or to human decency.

Long-established international treaties and alliances now lie in tatters, militant Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise around the world, over 15,000 Iraqis are dead with many more injured or made homeless. Australia's proud reputation has been dragged through the mud.

Refusing to hold anyone else accountable, John Howard says if Australians are looking for someone to blame, we can blame him. Well, Mister Howard, I am looking for someone to blame.

Apologise now and resign.
Where's The Spine, Boys?

Alan Ramsey is an angry (grumpy?) old wordsmith of Australian journalism. Every now and again he really nails it:

"Ever since the Government's great lie of going to war to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction fell to ashes, 'terrorists' and the 'war on terrorism' are a convenient catch-all responsible for any and all repercussions of Washington's appalling misjudgements and Australia's quite craven subservience to US policy."

Ramsay bemoans the Opposition's lukewarm diffidence, particularly on last week's UN vote against Israel (Labout would have abstained, not voted Yes - see below) and criticism of the Phillipines for withdrawing troops. He notes our flab-faced Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's response:

"The best way to deal with terrorists is to explain to those terrorists they can never win. The Filipinos unfortunately have given in to the terrorists. No terrorist will succeed with Australia in taking our people hostage and blackmailing the Australian Government and the Australian people into caving in."

"Really?" says Ramsay. "He should pray he never has to regret his boast."
Softening Up Joe Wilson

Joe Wilson says a smear campaign against him is gathering steam.

And the totally unreliable Washington Times is quoting "US officials ... speaking on condition of anonymity" who say Valerie Plame's identity had already been exposed to Russian and Cuban agents before Novak's column was published. Still doesn't make it right, but if it's true it could be the legal hook Bush & Co are looking for to get them off criminal charges.

These latest rumours follow hazy suggestions that the Niger claims could be true after all. But as Wilson points out:

"The attacks against me should not obscure the facts. The day after my article in the Times appeared in July 2003, the president's spokesman acknowledged that 'the 16 words did not merit inclusion in the State of the Union address.'

... it is the Bush administration, not Joe Wilson, who spoke the words that have cost us more than 900 lives and billions of dollars and have left our international reputation in tatters. "

Somebody in the White House is softening up the crash zone very carefully. At least it's a sign that they are taking this thing seriously.

July 23, 2004

Former Spanish PM paid $2 million for US Medal

Reputable Spanish broadcaster Channel SER claims former Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar paid $2 million to a lobbyist group of Washington lawyers in return for a US Congressional gold medal. A former minister recognised the existence of such a contract but denies public funds were used.
All We Have To Do Is Change Everything

AlterNet has an interview with the author of The New Radicalism:

"The fragile legitimacy of the US government and global corporate capitalism is at an all-time low - it's crumbling. This is all cause for confidence and hope... The scale of the global crisis requires new strategies to make deep changes and replace the old institutions...

There is an opportunity to launch radical ideas and stories and further discredit those being told by a system in crisis. There is an opportunity is build strong cross movement working relationships and to become a stronger counterforce to Bush that can continue as a counterforce to Kerry, if he gets in. "
Reports in USA, Britain and Australia ALL SUCK

Reactions to 9/11 report

'The commission decided unanimity was more important than controversy. They did a very workmanlike Washington report.'

- Richard Clarke, former White House security expert

"The report being released today by this so-called independent commission cannot possibly be deemed definitive or authoritative as an account for the events of 11 September - not by any stretch of the imagination."

- Kyle Hence, 9/11 Citizens Watch

Meanwhile in Australia, Andrew Wilkie, the senior analyst with the Office of National Assessment who quit in March last year and went to the media, claiming intelligence on Iraq's WMD programs did not justify going to war, said:

"Sooner or later someone has got to stand up in this country and admit they got it wrong, starting with the prime minister and the foreign minister and sooner or later we have got to say yeah there was a serious intelligence failure... Mr Flood is a decent man but he is a stakeholder as a former head of one of the intelligence agencies. His terms of reference were much too narrow. The much more important thing to look at now is the government's relationship with the agencies."

As for the Butler and Hutton reports in the UK... what a load of rubbish!
9/11 Report fails to blame the "Axis of liars":

"Bush did not want to create the commission (why not?), but he caved in to the demands of the families. He did not want to fully fund the commission but he caved in to the demands of the families. He refused to allow Condoleezza Rice, his national security advisor, to testify, but he caved in when the families demanded it.
Bush refused for a time to hand over some relevant documents, and he refused to appear before the commission (President Clinton did, with no qualms). He agreed to only after four conditions were met:
? That his testimony would not be under oath
? That he would only appear if he could have Dick Cheney with him (I guess to answer the questions)
? That it would not be open to the public
? That there would be no recording of any of it.
And to top it all, Republicans put a 'fix' in the law that prevented the commission from apportioning blame for 9/11.
Did any of the ten commission members make an issue of this Nixon-style stonewalling by Bush? If they did, it was a whisper."

July 22, 2004

Have You Seen This Man?

Do you know who this guy is? Listen, I've been blogging against Bush for over a year and I just realised I don't even know what this guy looks like. How is that even possible? This man runs the USA. He is "Bush's Brain" - Karl Rove.

Rove first met Bush Jnr in 1973. In 1980, Rove was the first person Bush hired for his Presidential campaign. Bush calls him both "boy genius" and "turd blossom". When Bush moved into the White House, Rove took Hillary Clinton's old office. John DiIulio, a former presidential adviser, said after resigning in 2001:

"Karl is enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political adviser post near the Oval Office... Little happens on any issue without Karl's OK, and often he supplies such policy substance as the administration puts out."

Why isn't the media demanding lengthy and detailed interviews with this man? Why isn't Bush being pressured about Rove's role in determining policy?

Rove is a dirty campaigner. In the 2000 Republican primaries, he was widely believed to have been behind the smear campaign against John McCain. Way back in 1970, he handed out leaflets for free beer, food and girls with the date and venue of a Democratic opponent's rally. That's just the top of the bag of dirty tricks that has seen Rove rise to the peak of political power. For a closer look at Karl Rove, read this story in the Guardian, or this profile at Famous Texans.

Rove is a very dangerous man who embodies most of what is wrong with politics today.
New Book Exposes Halliburton, Cheney

The BBC has exerpts from a new book, the The Halliburton Agenda:

"The Logcap contract pulled KBR out of its late 1980s doldrums and boosted the bottom line of Halliburton throughout the 1990s. It is, effectively, a blank cheque from the government. The contractor makes its money from a built-in profit percentage, anywhere from 1% to 9%, depending on various incentive clauses. When your profit is a percentage of the cost, the more you spend, the more you make.

... Before the ink was dry on the first Logcap contract, the US army was deployed to Somalia in December 1992 as part of Operation Restore Hope. KBR employees were there before the army even arrived, and they were the last to leave. The firm made $109.7m in Somalia. In August 1994, they earned $6.3m from Operation Support Hope in Rwanda. In September of that same year, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti netted the company $150m. And in October 1994, Operation Vigilant Warrior made them another $5m...

The army's growing dependency on the company hit home when, in 1997, KBR lost the Logcap contract in a competitive rebid to rival Dyncorp. The army found it impossible to remove Brown & Root from their work in the Balkans - by far the most lucrative part of the contract - and so carved out the work in that theatre to keep it with KBR. In 2001, the company won the Logcap contract again, this time for twice the normal term length: 10 years. "

Oooh, this stuff is complex and twisty and greasy and disgusting! Especially because the Bush-Walker clan has direct and long-standing ties to KBR!
BBC NEWS: US admits 'bounty hunter' contact

"The US military has admitted it detained an Afghan man handed over by a US citizen accused of running a freelance counter-terrorism operation. A military spokesman said the prisoner was handed over by the American, Jonathan K Idema, in May. A BBC correspondent in Kabul says that the disclosure is embarrassing for the US, which said it had had no links with the alleged American mercenary. "

Ted Rall picks up on the Jack Idema story (below) with some personal experience, having met Idema in 2001:

"You'd see them speeding around in SUVs with tinted windows and sipping tea with Afghan warlords and commanders, barrel-chested men in their thirties and forties with short-cropped hair and accents from the South and Midwest. Ask them who they were or what they were up to and you'd get a broad, insolent grin. 'Just visiting,' one such goon replied. 'Didn't you hear? Afghanistan's open for tourism!' He carried enough guns and ammo to take out a large Colorado high school. Who were these guys?"

More at Ted Rall.
Frightened Iraqis Flee Samarra

Up top 40 percent of Samarra's population has fled the city fearing a U.S. offensive like that launched on Falluja in April. Iraqi media have also reported the collapse of basic services.

'At the present time we're basically providing security on the perimeter,' said a US military official. 'The situation in the city itself is a bit tenuous, so we are maintaining security from the outside.'

Yeah, roger that... More from Reuters.
Philippine Pride

"WHAT do Australian Prime Minister John Howard and American President George W. Bush have in common? They have criticized the Philippines but their criticism is based on policies increasingly rejected by their own people... The Philippine pullout is not a betrayal of American policy. Rather, it is the bitter fruit of American policy...

In truth, the Philippine government has embraced its own people, something beyond the ken of leaders such as Howard and Bush, and even Blair, who are famously contemptuous of public opinion at home. Blair, Bush and Howard ... suffer from the myopia of dictators while still being subject to being turned out of office by their own people.

The Philippines can at least say that it was willing, as the Spaniards were willing, to pay the price of democracy. Which is: to listen to the people; to obey the injunction that public office requires listening to the public; and living up to the higher considerations that are supposed to motivate democracies.

A country that looks after its own, and which can turn its back on a policy proven to be based on the deception and fraud of allies, is a country much more qualified to engage in an honorable relationship with other nations. "

More here.
How To Invade Iran

Step One: Set up a puppet regime in Iraq and arm them

Bush approves arms sales to Iraq:

"'I hereby find that the furnishing of defence articles and services to Iraq will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace,' Mr Bush said in a memorandum for US Secretary of State Colin Powell. "

Step Two: Puppet Regime Initiates Hostilities
"Iraq threatened military retaliation against Iran yesterday, accusing its former foe of backing terrorists who have begun to focus their campaign of violence on the interim government itself."
Step Three: USA "Dragged Into" The Conflict
Bigger breasts, nose jobs, liposuction offered as perk to US soldiers.
Bush Gives Protesters The Finger

"A few police cars, followed by a van or two, drove by. Then, a Bush/Cheney bus passed, followed by a second one going slower. At the front of this second bus was The W himself, waving cheerily at his supporters on the other side of the highway. Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger.

Read that last sentence again. I got flipped off by George W. Bush."

jiveturky: The single greatest event of my life.

This follow's yesterday's news than Bush's 22-year-old daughter Jenna poked her tongue out at reporters, and last week's news that Cheney told a Democrat senator to "F%$k himself". Must be a heck of a lot of fun on the Bush/Cheney bus!

This Could Be Big...

On the opening day of his trial in Kabul, Jonathan 'Jack' Idema, a retired Special Forces soldier, says his actions were condoned and co-ordinated with the Pentagon and Donald Rumsfeld:

"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did; they supported what we did. We have extensive evidence of that. We're prepared to show e-mails and correspondence and tape-recorded conversations... We were in contact directly with Donald Rumsfeld's office."

Idema and two others were running a vigilante operation in Afghanistan. Police who arrested them found 8 Agfhani prisoners, some hanging by their feet. It is likely Idema and his colleagues were chasing the USA's $25 million bounty posted for Osama Bin Laden.

The UK Telegraph has the story.

July 21, 2004

Unfair and Unbalanced

As Robert Greenwald's film "Outfoxed" generates controversy and acclaim, the Independent Media Institute and MoveOn.org have filed a legal challenge to the "Fair and Balanced" trademark held by Rupert Murdoch's partisan Fox News network.

Wes Boyd of MoveOn.org announced the move to a crwod of more than 30,000 people (plus Web watchers) at organized "house parties" across the USA:

"Fox News... is Enemy #1 in the undermining of democracy - they're partisan, they're bullies, they lie, they'll do anything for a buck, they don't even know what journalism is, and then they claim to be 'Fair and Balanced.' So we're going after Fox. This is just the beginning of a campaign to rebrand Fox 'Unfair and Unbalanced,' so that people know what they're watching. This campaign is a warning to any other media outlets, if they're thinking that the Fox model is something to copy. It isn't. Try journalism instead. Try serving the public interest."
Bush's Legacy: 1,000 Dead US Soldiers

"I'm an editor at a group of private newspapers that serve the military community. We publish Army Times, Air Force Times, Marine Corps Times and Navy Times. We're the largest non-government source of news about the military for the military...

There are many in the military deeply unhappy with the way the war in Iraq is going... President Bush has promised to keep 138,000 American troops in Iraq for some unknown time. This is straining the American armed forces, some would say to the breaking point.

We are pulling troops out of Korea to send to Iraq. We've called back to active duty soldiers who'd thought they'd finished their service. We even shipped out soldiers from the ceremonial "Old Guard." These are soldiers whose last duty was guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It would be like the British sending Beefeaters to Iraq...

This week we reached a grim milestone - the 1,000th American death supporting combat operations in the wake of 9/11.

The men and women who built this well-crafted war machine feel like the mechanic at the Maserati shop. He watches a rich owner drive his $250,000 high performance car flat out for months without changing the oil.

Driven that hard even a Maserati will break. "

Read the full story: The power of the armed forces.


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