July 31, 2003

El Busho Accepts The Blame... but only for the Niger Nukes Fiasco

Great news. In a recent TV interview, the Generallisimo Supremo of the USA has finally accepted personal responsibility "for everything I say, of course, absolutely." So how long will it take him to resign?

Maybe it is just a ploy to take the heat off Condoleeza Rice, who also says she "feels responsibility" (she doesn't TAKE or ACCEPT responsibility) for the President's lies.

Could it be that the Bush Boys have realised that admitting their stupid errors is the only way to make the constant criticism stop? Not quite...

"We gathered a lot of intelligence," Bush said. "That intelligence was good, sound intelligence..."

No it wasn't. It was crap intelligence. Either it was crap intelligence, or else the entire Bush administration has been lying through their cakeholes for the past two years. Or both.

Bush rejected the UN process because their inspectors could not find nuclear or biological weapons and the other Security Council members were unwilling to invade a sovereign country without such tangible proof that Saddam was violating UN resolutions. Now, after months in control of Iraq, he is pleading for more time just to prove that Saddam had a "program". The irony is only surpassed by the sheer, bloody-minded hypocrisy.

This is Bush's response to a reporter who asked if alleged links between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime "were ... exaggerated to justify the war":

Bush: "Remember I just said we've been there for 90 days since the cessation of military operations. Now, I know in our world, where news comes and goes and there's a kind of instant-instant news and you must have done this ... there's a level of frustration by some in the media -- I'm not suggesting you're frustrated. You don't look frustrated to me at all."

Are we supposed to laugh at that? Or cry? Remember, this man is probably the most powerful individual in the history of the universe. Think about that.

The Bushies are going a long way towards proving the old joke that "American Intelligence" is an oxymoron. After loud protests from their Australian partners in crime, they embarrassingly withdrew claims that Australia was an Al Quaeda target. Phew, at least the Australian tourism industry is safe again.

Yet why should the US withdraw such a claim? Of course Australia is a target. So is Britain. So is Poland, and anyone else who supports the US drive towards global imperialism. It's just not acceptable to SAY IT. When did Truth become a problem?

In the same TV interview, another brave reporter confronted El Busho: "There's a sense in this country, and a feeling around the world, that the U.S. has lost credibility by building the case for Iraq upon sometimes flimsy, or, some people have complained, non-existent evidence. And I'm just wondering why, sir, why did you choose to take the world to war in that way."

Bush: "You know, look, in my line of work, it's always best to produce results, and I understand that ... for a while the questions were: Could you conceivably achieve a military victory in Iraq, you know, the dust storms have slowed you down. And I was a patient man because I realized that we would be successful in achieving our military objectives.

"Now, of course, the question is, you know: Will Iraq ever be free and will it be peaceful? And I believe it will.

"I remind some of my friends that it took awhile to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution."

When the reporter started to say something, Bush chided him. "Let me finish for a minute, John, please. I'm just getting warmed up. I'm kind of finding my feet."

Sorry, George. You've been the top dog for long enough. If you are still "finding your feet" it means you are not the man for the job. Resign or be impeached.
Be scared. Be very scared. But not too scared.

Australians awoke this morning to find that the US government has issued a new terrorist alert that specifically mentions Australia as not just a likely target of Al Qaeda activity, but also a likely departure point for Al Qaeda operatives planning terrorism attacks abroad.

Baby-faced Foreign Minister Alex Downer and Tourism Minister Joe Hockey quickly lined up breakfast TV slots to assure Australians that the US information was incorrect. Australia was a safe place to live and travel, they said, and nobody should be cancelling their holidays on the basis of the US information.

"Travel is safe," said Mr Hockey. "It's essentially a very pleasant experience for most people."

The US Department of Homeland Security is now revising the warnings. A spokesman says they did not realise the language they used would cause confusion in Australia. Australia's top spy, ASIO head Dennis Richardson says it was "probably an honest bureacratic mistake,"

Well, that's crap. Either Australia is safe or it isn't. Either you have clear warnings of a terrorism attack, or you don't. Either you come clean with your information, or you shut up.

Sorry, boys, but you can't have it both ways...

July 30, 2003

How cool is this?

My blog just showed up on the Blogger homepage! That's in spite of the fact that I have done absolutely nothing to promote the site, aside from a few angry emails to politicians and like-minded sites (this site is driven by pure, mad, angry frustration at the world we are creating).

If you like the site and want to provide some encouragement, please email me with your comments. I would love to know who is out there reading this stuff. Peace, love and happiness to all - let's make this world whatever we want it to be!
Has the USA become a religion?

As George Monbiot writes in the Guardian:

'What is lacking in the Pentagon and the White House is not intelligence (or not, at any rate, of the kind we are considering here), but receptivity. Theirs is not a failure of information, but a failure of ideology...

'The flag has become as sacred as the Bible; the name of the nation as holy as the name of God. The presidency is turning into a priesthood.

'So those who question George Bush's foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or "anti-Americans". Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: "to defend ... the hopes of all mankind", and woe betide those who hope for something other than the American way of life. '

July 29, 2003

How Stupid Can You Get?

Having cashed in politically on the fear engendered by 9/11, Bush and his mates are now looking to cash in financially on the grotesque Orwellian state of perpetual war that they have created.

Admiral John Poindexter, who retired in disgrace after the 1980s Reagan Iran-Contra scandal, was resurrected post-9/11 (like many Bush Snr buddies) to lead "Terrorism Information Awareness" program. Given that there seems to be very little good information available on terrrrrsm in the USA lately, Poindexter and his pals have come up with an absolutely brilliant new initiative.

When you want to know what's going to happen on the Stock Market, you go down to the exchange and you watch the figures, right? You look for patterns and sudden shifts that indicate that somebody somewhere knows something you dont. Why not do the same thing with terrrrrsm?

Their new initiative is called the "Policy Analysis Market." You can bet on whether or not Yassar Arafat will be assasinated, whether North Korea will be invaded, wether Saddam will be captured... you get the idea.

Brilliant. Just @#$%ing brilliant.

July 28, 2003

Let's Blame The Coloured People!

Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice have undoubtedly worked hard to reach their positions of prominence within the Bush administration. But it looks like they are going to end up as Dubya's scapegoats, a situation which could set race relations and Equal Opportunity employment programs in the US back 15 years.

Powell's reputation has suffered irrepairable damage since he stood in front of the United Nations and presented a case for war that was mostly based on an outdated and discredited university research paper. How embarrassment! Maybe Powell should have run for President himself, when he had the chance, instead of taking orders from a dim-witted Son Of an A#$*&le.

But Rice - who told CNN on September 8th that "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" - now looks set to take the big heat. She was the first administration official to point the finger at CIA Director George Tenet. Her underling, Stephen J. Hadley, then tried to blame himself for failing to remember CIA warnings. But now all the fingers are pointing at "Condi".

In reference to a National Intelligence Estimate report that she may never have even read, Rice said: "Now, if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president, to the vice president, or to me." She could almost have gotten away with that, except that someone within the Bush administration cleared release of an NIE report which states that the government was "lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program." Bush insiders are now making it known that they blame Rice for failing to cover the Residential ass.

How bad is Condi, really? Is she truly incompetent, or is she just B.A.D? Maybe both, judging by this telling quote from a July 11th briefing:

"I'm going to be very clear, all right? The president's speech -- that sentence (i.e. the "sixteen words" on Niger nukes) was changed, right? And with the change in that sentence, the speech was cleared. Now, again, if the agency (i.e. the CIA who she was trying to blame) had wanted that sentence out, it would have gone. And the agency did not say that they wanted that speech out -- that sentence out of the speech. They cleared the speech. Now, the State of the Union is a big speech, a lot of things happen. I'm really not blaming anybody for what happened..."

As the increasingly wonderful Washington Post reports, "Three days later, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Rice told him she was not referring to the State of the Union address, as she had indicated, but to Bush's October speech. That explanation, however, had a flaw: The sentence was removed from the October speech, not cleared."

The question is, will Rice now take the blame for Generallisimo El Busho, or will she talk? It is hard to believe she concocted all these smokescreens unless it was on the orders - or at least the very strong encouragement - of her boss. "Lissen now, Condee, we wanna get all the dirt we can on this Saddam guy, y'unnerstand? Are you with us or agin' us?"

C'mon, Condi, for the sake of all the people who once believed in you - SPILL THE BEANS!!!

July 27, 2003

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is running full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers challenging the honesty of the Bush administration's case for waging war in Iraq. The ads quote lies from Bush administration officials since before the war and link to a We Deserve the Truth website that urges Americans to lobby for action in Congress.

Hungarian-born Soros, 72, emigrated to the United States from Britain in 1956 and built a fortune as a financier. He is founder of a network of philanthropic organisations active in more than 50 countries that focus on education, public health, human rights and economic reform.

July 25, 2003

Credibility Problem

Donald Rumsfeld's decision to release photos of the blodies corpses of Uday and Qusay Saddam (Rumsfeld is happy to take responsibility for this decision) highlights the problem of credibility which coud come to plague the Iraqi invaders. Having lied about WMDs and a host of other issues, their word is no longer accepted at face value.

Of course, this is just part of the long history of US lies - most Arabs did not believe fellow Arabs were responsible for 9/11, remember? Most Latin Americans are deeply distrustful of their northern neighbour. Remember who put Pinochet in power, attempted a coup in Venezuela, etc etc...?

So who says the lies about WMDs do not matter? Two thirds of Australians believe their government misled them into war (i.e. lied), yet PM John Howard maintains a strong lead in the opinion polls, as does Bush. They may feel that this proves people do not care about their lies. But it does matter, because it means people simply cannot ever believe what their government tells them.

Sure, people expect to take politicians' words with a pinch of salt. But these guys have used their lies to trash valued international conventions like Geneva, Kyoto, and the International Criminal Court. They used lies to launch a new policy of pre-emptive invasions, an incredibly dangerous precedent. If they get away with it, they will continue lying. It matters.

Consider this, for example. Did BBC informant Dr David Kelly really commit suicide, or was he murdered? According to the UK Independent newspaper, "Dr Kelly had close links to the espionage services" including assisting with Iraq-related interrogation of M16 prisoners.

US Vice President Cheney, perhaps trying to deflect attention from new reports of pre-9/11 intelligence failures, says failure to invade Iraq would have been "irresponsible" because "the safety of the American people was at stake." He backs up this claim with quotes from intelligence sources, conveniently ignoring passages in the same reports which say, for example, that it would have taken Saddam a decade to build a nuclear weapon. And - lest anyone forget - there were already UN Weapons Inspectors in Iraq for months before the US invaded. In other words, the situation was under control. Cheney also repeated claims that Saddam was trying to cultivate ties with terrorist groups, yet this has also not been proved. So... it's just another lie.

July 23, 2003

Another One Bites The Dust...

Another US official has taken the blame for El Busho's "Niger Nukes" faux-pas. Bush's deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley (what the heck is the J. for?) says he saw CIA warnings against using the claims, but "forgot". Hadley had even received a phone call from CIA director George Tenet (who already tried to take the blame for this) on the same issue. He still forgot to drop the references, even though he was drafting the State Of The Union address.

Hadley says national security adviser Condoleeza Rice (who should have resigned when she threatened to a year ago, before she abandoned all pretence of integrity) was not made aware of the doubts but "feels personal responsibility as well."

This is obviously a crock of good old fashioned faeces. The State Of the Union address is very carefully crafted and reviewed. It is - in a normal year - probably THE major Presidential speech. It would have been reviewed and approved by a whole swathe of Bush insiders.

Tenet tried to take the blame earlier, saying that if someone in his department had made a mistake, he as director would take responsibility. It was a clumsy attempt to protect El Busho, and it didn't wash. So where does the buck stop now?

Hadley is not resigning. Why not? He screwed up big time and - unless El Busho knew what was going on - he embarrassed his Generallisimo big time. Or if Condoleeza is Hadley's boss, why doesn't she resign? She could then write a best-selling insider account of what is really going on in the White House these days. Hey, if she spilled the beans on the administration, maybe they would even give her a pardon?!?

And how about this for an enigmatic final word from Hadley: "There is always the likelihood we will find additional information."

July 20, 2003

Media Focus?

The death of British scientist David Kelly is going to have far-reaching repercussions. By throwing a spotlight on the very public "BBC versus Blair administration" debate, it goes to the heart of the broader "media versus government" debate that is at the centre of the Iraq war.

The BBC has of late shown admirable moral clarity in a world where Truth is just one more expendable commodity. If the media's job is to report the truth, the BBC has been one of the few major outlets that has not wavered in the face of increased commercial and political pressure. This is largely a result of the protection afforded by it's public charter.

But if the media's job is to tell the Truth, is it necessarily a politician's duty to lie? If so, what does that say about the society in which we live?

On a similar line of thought, US soldiers in Iraq have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of the Bush administration. A few soldiers - who had been involved in some of the most dangerous and key missions in the invasion - have gone on record with public criticism of Rumsfield, Bush and others. In response, their already twice-extended tours of duty have been extended even further. Soldiers are suddenly extremely reluctant to go "on the record" with the media.

July 18, 2003

Trial By Idiot

George Bush has already decided that the two Britons who have been incarcerated without trial or lawyer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are guilty.

"The only thing we know for certain is that these are bad people."

Fortunately for those who questions Bush's intelligence, he also claims:

"I understand the issue."

When everything is as simple as Good Guys versus the Bad Guys, I guess it is easy enough to understand. What chance to these guys have of a fair trial if the Supreme Leader of the country that tries them has already publicly proclaimed their guilt?

George Bush is the most woeful symptom of the failure of the US Education System.

July 17, 2003

REVEALED - the inside story on the Office Of Special Powers...

In the aftermath of 9/11, an agency, known as the Office of Special Plans (OSP) was set up by the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The agency was stacked with un-elected, un-qualified, temporary "consultants". They including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing thinktanks in the US capital. Few had experience in intelligence.

Led by hawks like Cheney, Gingrich and Wolfowitz, the OSP picked and chose the intelligence they wanted, ignoring or completely by-passing the CIA, FBI and others. They also had direct links with Israel's Likud party, bypassing Mossad intelligence. At one stage there was over a hundred of them.

"They surveyed data and picked out what they liked," said Gregory Thielmann, a senior official in the state department's intelligence bureau until his retirement in September. "The whole thing was bizarre."

As US Congress holds closed-doors discussions of intelligence failures, the UK Guardian newspaper provides this in-depth look at the workings of the OSP. The damning conclusion:

"The world's sole superpower risks stumbling onwards half-blind, unable to distinguish real threats from phantoms."
Letter from a young soldier in Iraq

07/04/03: From a soldier's father:

"My son is in the U.S.Army and currently stationed in Baghdad. I hear from him every three or four days....

At first he was saying: "I wonder why we are not doing this or that to help make life better for our soldiers?"

Then he started to wonder why we were not doing more to help the Iraqi people who are suffering under terrible conditions. Not enough water or food, no electricity most of the time, a terrible shortage of medical supplies and medical staff, basically they are living like animals.

Then he started to worry about the safety of our troops in the area. He says they are sitting ducks and easy targets for Iraqi people bent upon gaining revenge for slain family members and by those who hold the U.S. responsible for the terrible conditions they find themselves in.

Yesterday he had a different message altogether....

"Get us out of here now! There is nothing we can do to pacify the Iraqi people except get out of their country and allow them to restore order in whatever way THEY wish."

And, allow me to give you his remarks when he was informed of President Bush's brash remarks saying "Bring them on." He said:

"Myself and every last man in my unit are deeply offended that our President would make such a statement inviting us to be attacked. President Bush has lost the respect of every soldier I have spoken to because of his speaking those irresponsible words. Those words spread like wild-fire amoung the troops.

We are here because he ordered us to be here and now for him to make such a ridiculous statement inviting violence towards us causes us to lose respect for him and his judgement. We are learning that we never should have come here in the first place. Believe me Dad, there is a completely different attitude now. The fact that the President gave rich people a tax cut and didn't do anything for military families is hurtful. Where there was once pride and satisfaction in defeating an enemy there is now regret and shame. God Bless America.

Your loving Son...

July 16, 2003

The Washington Post reveals the reason why Bush used the Niger claims in his State Of The Union speech: it seems all his other cited evidence had dried up. The article lists a bunch of claims made by Bush and his Boyz over the previous year and shows how these had all been discredited.

Where did the Niger claims come from? According to a media report cited in the Hindu newspaper, a low-paid African diplomat working in Niger's Embassy in Rome forged the documents as a way to make a quick buck out of Italian intelligence!
Does anybody remember why we went to war? The US Resident certainly doesn't seem to. El Busho is now claiming that he went to war because Saddam had "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." This is in spite of the fact that UN Weapons Inspectors were forced to flee Iraq because the US and Britain claimed they were being ineffective. Ironic that the people who denied the inspectors' pleas for "more time" are now asking the public for more time.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to pursue the original source of claims that Iraq purchased nuclear material from Niger. It seems Bush was relying on the CIA, who were relying on British Intelligence, who may have been relying on Italian Intelligence, who may or may not have originally got the story from French Intelligence. Aha! Now we can blame the French again! White House insiders claim the Brits still stand by their claims, while the Brits say they cannot dismiss the claims as they have no idea where they came from!

July 14, 2003

Tony Blair will not - as previously planned - be receiveing the Congressional Medal of Honour when he meets El Busho this week. The current political situation makes the award far too embarrassing and would provoke increased outrage on both sides of the Atlantic, just when they are hoping public outrage will subside quietly.

In Australia, former UN chief Iraqi Weapons Inspector Richard Butler says Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Defence Minister Robert Hill have all mislead the Australian Parliament, and should resign:

"Ministers are responsible for what they say to the Parliament. Having mislead the Parliament and the people on these matters they should, if they're prepared to accept our system of Government, offer their resignations."

In the UK, former Blair Cabinet MP Clare Short has repeated her call for Tony Blair to resign:

"I think it would be in the interests of Tony Blair himself and his legacy of the Labour Party, and actually of the country, if he would think of making a voluntary departure and we could have an elegant handover and Labour could renew itself in power," Ms Short said.

In the US, intelligence officials are now warning that North Korea has 200 nuclear missiles aimed at Japan. The problem is, who can believe them?

July 13, 2003

During the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, a psychologist visited Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering in his prison cell and commented: "I do not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction."

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

July 12, 2003

I recently heard George W's team labelled a "faith-based administration". It is a good description of their headstrong attitudes, their inability to admit error, their simplistic reading of events and their overly public expressions of religious devotion.

Bush again invoked the Almighty while pledging AIDS support in Africa: "I believe God has called us into action." This is the same "God" who Bush claims urged him to smite Saddam, so he smote him.

Back on home soil, Democrat front-runner Howard Dean summed up the current mess of lies:

"This is a serious credibility problem," he said, "and it's a lot deeper than just the Iraq-Niger deal, it has to do with assertions by the secretary of defense that he knew where weapons were that turned out not to be there, it has to do with assertions by the vice president there was a nuclear program that turned out not to exist, and assertions made by the president himself, not just about the acquisition of uranium, but also about the ability of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] to use chemical weapons on the United States. We need a full-blown public investigation."

While Australians believe this is all sounding like "Children Overboard" II, Dean is already comparing it to Watergate and says Bush is already starting to "throw people over the side" before his ship of state sinks.
The drip becomes a steady trickle...

Yesterday the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) joined the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs in admitting it had doubts about the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq. Amazingly, all three agencies claim they did not inform the government of their concerns.

The same thing is happening in the US, where CIA is taking the blame for false intelligence, allowing Bush to say he was not informed.

In London, Blair remains under pressure for 'overselling' the Iraq threat. Remember how he sent tanks to surround Heathrow airport, just days after London's largest ever protest?

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that US troops are pulling out of Falluja, a town where anti-American sentiment has already lead to several fatalities.

Also interesting: Bush and Blair are to hold talks next week in Washington. Time to round up the wagons, boys...

July 11, 2003

The Worm Turns

As pressure builds on his co-conspirators, Bush and Blair, Australian PM John Howard is finally beginning to feel the heat over the Iraq deception. Howard now stands accused of misleading parliament, but the Australian intelligence agencies seem surprisingly willing to take a fall for him. The problem is, the story just does not make sense.

The Office of National Assessments (ONA) has confirmed it withheld American doubts about Iraq's nuclear aspirations from Mr Howard ahead of the Iraq war. Australian intelligence say they also did not inform Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of their doubts.

Former intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie, whose resignation in the lead-up to the war was heavily reported, says Mr Howard's claim that he was not informed "reeks of dishonesty".

"I just find that story unbelievable," he says. "This was either a terrible act of dishonesty or it was a monumental blunder, a blunder so serious that it calls into question our whole intelligence relationship with the US and Australia's intelligence processes."

How could Howard not have been aware of these issues? Mr Wilkie's reasons for resigning - he loudly proclaimed that the "evidence" was flimsy- should certainly have been enough to alert him, and he should have been urgently pursuing the truth not only through Australian agencies but also through his British and US contacts.

If Mr Howard really was NOT informed, we can surely expect him to launch a very serious, wide-ranging and urgent investigation into the failures of his intelligence agencies. If the Prime Minister of Australia took our country to war because he was not sufficiently informed of the facts, that is indeed an astonishing failure of intelligence. Or, more likely, an astonishing, desperate lie.

Mr Howard says he did not set out to deliberately mislead the Australian people. He says he retains enormous faith in the Australian intelligence services. He says "people make mistakes".

Hardly the sort of reaction one would expect from a man who had been so embarrassingly mislead, is it?

July 09, 2003

A top US "spy catcher", Paul Redmond, was recently brought out of retirement by George W. and tasked with a secret investigation into Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Specifically, he was asked to investigate whether - and how - these evil-doers had obtained top-secret US computer software called "Promis", which would have enabled them to pinpoint every move in the US military's global manhunts.

The SUNDAY EXPRESS claimed this weekend that Mr. Redmond has suddenly and mysteriously resigned. Details are sketchy, but it appears that Mr Redmond's conclusions could have been very embarrassing for George Bush Snr. Saddam and Osama may have obtained the software from the Russians, who obtained it from a rogue US spy. This could be the link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda that the US has been desperate to prove, but if the trail leads back to El Busho Snr, chances are the truth will remain a secret.
Us and Them

Americans worship success.

Australians worship the status quo.

The "American Dream" has always been the story of an impoverished foreigner who comes to the land of opportunity and makes it rich.

The "Australian Dream" has always been to own your own house. This means you are set for life: you might still have to work, but you won't have to worry too much about paying the bills. It is a modest dream. Those who want more than their own square acre of paradise are regarded with universal suspiscion.

Anyone who makes it to the big-time in America is universally respected. Their foibles and misdemeanors are tolerated by the general public (witness the Kennedy family, celebrities like Michael Jackson and even resurrected politicians like Richard Nixon).

Anyone who makes it big in Australia is prone to the "Tall Poppy Syndrome", whereby they are considered fair game for criticism from all and sundry. While this very public process of hacking down the "tall poppies" is frequently unfair, if not totally unwarranted, there is little sympathy for the victims, whose bank accounts tend to survive intact (witness Paul Hogan, Greg Norman and our recently resigned Governor General).

Americans take pride in working hard. Their greatest heroes are businessmen and political figures.

Australians take pride in their capacity for leisure. Our greatest heroes are athletes.

Given all this, is it likely that little Australia will follow the last remaining Superpower down the road to capitalist corporate consummation?

George Monbiot, author of The Age of Consent, claims "Our task is not to overthrow globalisation but to capture it and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution."

Sounds good to me.

Meanwhile, George Bush's election campaign is expected to generate around three times the money that will be available to his Democrat opponent. Add to that the huge influence of lobbying corporate institutions like GM and Verizon, (see this Washington Monthly article, Welcome to the Machine) and the battle for control of the free world begins to look decidedly one-sided.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer says that "I think that the amount of money that candidates raise in our democracy is a reflection of the amount of support they have around the country."

Not really. It depends on whether the people who support you are rich or poor,powerful or disenfrachised. Democracy, which is supposed to symbolize equality for all, is based on the principle of one vote for each person. If my rich supporters let me launch a media campaign that drowns out your candidate's message, the basic principles of fairness and equality become clouded.

The media is the key player. Is it possible for the media to remain non-partisan when so much money and so many deals hinge on media-generated public perception? Consider this example from the New Zealand Herald:

Two reporters for an American television station were working on a story critical of the giant chemical firm Monsanto. They were asked by their bosses to soften their report. They refused and were fired. The station had recently been bought by a company owned by Rupert Murdoch. Defending their firing of the reporters, the station executives explained: "We paid $3 billion for these stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is."

Enough said.
The Real Reasons For War

Assuming that the real reason for the Iraqi invasion was OIL, what does that mean for our future?

It is interesting to compare this Sydney Morning Herald article about John Howard's vision for Australia with this article by sociology professor Charles Derber, author of the recently published People Before Profit: The New Globalization in an Age of Terror, Big Money and Economic Crisis.

July 07, 2003

Is the time of reckoning nigh?

As US politicians continue to debate how the lies on Iraq should be dealt with, British PM Tony Blair now appears irreveribly committed to a spiralling nose dive.

Blair says the BBC allegations against him are 'about as serious an attack on my integrity as there could possibly be'. But now the head of M16 has come out in support of the BBC. The UK government seem to be raising the ante in an increasingly desperate attempt to make the BBC back down, but the BBC are staying true to their line (God bless 'em!). The sad thing is, Tony Blair was doing a pretty good job until W. Bush came along with his war stories....

Meanwhile, in the far-flung British colony of Australia (still under the royal command of Her Maj), John Howard spent the day defending himself against revelations that US intelligence had informed his government that their justifications for war against Iraq were not credible.

"I am still very strong in my belief that Australia did the right thing," Mr Howard says. Well, that is debateable, but did you, John Winston Howard, (not Australia, since 80% of Australians opposed the war) do the right thing in the right way? It's a good thing to rid the world of despots, but destroying noble international institutions and legal milestones like the Geneva Convention along the way is just not the way to do it.

Also today:

- US warplanes locked thier weapons on Indonesian fighter planes.

- oil-producing, US-coup-surviving, Latin American Venezuela has refused to sign an agreement with the United States which grants US citizens immunity from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Along with Kyoto, this was one of the first international structures which the Bush boys attempted to destroy.

- British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been told to either plead guilty or face the death penalty.

July 05, 2003

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier... just so long as I'm the dicatator." - GW Bush 12/18/2000
Bush avoids protestors by addressing troops on July 4. The Anti-Bush protestors mysteriously disappear from Associated Press reports.

Berlusconi claims he did not apologise, he just expressed regret at being misunderstood for what he still claims was irony. According to this Guardian report, Berlusconi is - and has been ever since his political emergence in 1994 - the most dangerous political figure in Europe.

July 04, 2003


The U.S. has slapped sanctions on a Chinese company and extended existing sanctions on several other Chinese and North Korean firms for selling sensitive arms technology to Iran.

Meanwhile British Ministers are backing a 20-fold rise in arms sales to Indonesia (a quote from this story: "exports approved for Colombia included toxic chemical precursors, technology for the production of toxins,...."). While it offers lip-service support to Bush's fictional "War On Terror", Indonesia is violently suppressing a number of separatist movements including Aceh and West Papua.

Further to the Media Wars:

1. Just five corporations rule the broadcasters in the United States. In Australia Rupert Murdoch controls 70 percent of the media.

2. US reporter Robert Fisk says the story in Iraq most correspondents chose not to report was the ”bomb now, die later” policy through use of depleted uranium. Since the Gulf war of 1991 the number of cancer patients had risen, and ”strange vegetables” had begun to appear on the market. The distortions were most likely to have been caused by use of depleted uranium.

3. Many more people have died so far in the war against terrorism than on September 11 2001. Twenty thousand people have died in the Afghanistan war alone, seven times more than died on September 11.

4. The U.S. administration has set up a committee for press censorship in Iraq. The Iraqi press can publish anything to remind people about the terror of Saddam, but they are not allowed to write freely about current events.

5. Reasons for optimism? ”There is a movement of resistance globally from the landless peoples movement in Brazil to the huge anti-war movement,” says Australian freelance journalist John Pilger. ”Nothing like this has ever happened before in my lifetime.” Pilger says the superpower in Washington is being challenged by the other superpower - the superpower of public opinion.
The Boys Who Cried Wolf

The problem with lying, as I explain to my young nephews, is that once you lose somebody's trust it is very hard to regain it.

US military intelligence now say they have no evidence to confirm their earlier claim that a deadly explosion in the Iraqi town of Fallujah earlier this week was the result of an accident in a bomb-making class.

John Howard said it was important for Australia to join the Iraqi invasion because failure to do so would set a dangerous precedent for North Korea. But rather than cowering in fear of a US invasion, North Korea has responded by more vigorously publicising their nuclear weapons programme. Last week US intelligence released details of what it says is a new nuclear weapons site in North Korea, yet the South Koreans themselves are saying that this latest intelligence is not reliable.

July 03, 2003

So WHOSE side is God on?

US Republican have always had strong support form their far-right Christian supporters. But this interesting article shows that Democrats can aslo claim divine support for their political agendas, if they are so inclined. For anyone who knows US politics, this is quite a major development.
BBC Responds To Government Attack

Further to the BBC stories below, the BBC today released a comprehensive response to government claims that their reported relied on a "single source" before accusing Labour MP Alistair Campbell of "sexing up" a pre-war dossier. A source (presumably the same fellow - Blair is making this more embarrassing for his boys) has now leaked a document detailing the exact changes that were solicited by Mr. Campbell.
Big Bullies

On a day when George Bush recklessly invited Iraqi insurgents to "BRING IT ON," Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi verbally attacked a German member of the European Parliament, saying that he would make an excellent leader of a Nazi concentration camp.

The incident is exacerbated by the fact that Singor Berlusconi's government, which has been closely aligned with the Bush administration, has just taken over the rotating leadership of the European Union for the next six months. Furthermore, media baron Mr. Berlusconi is aggressively pushing a new immunity law in Italy that would ensure the collapse of his current trial in Milan on bribery charges.

The German legislator raised his concerns on this issue before being attacked. Several European legislators at the meeting were holding placards such as: "Nobody is above the law" and "No Godfather for Europe."

"Mr. Schulz," Mr. Berlusconi said, cocking his head to one side and smiling, "I know there is a man in Italy producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would like to suggest you for the role of leader. You would be perfect."

July 01, 2003

Collective Insanity?

Sometimes I wonder if September 11 inflicted massive psychological trauma on the entire population of the United States. If this were the case, you could expect a process involving mass grieving, followed by anger... but will there finally be a time of acceptance and moving on? It seems we are still very much bogged down in the "Anger" phase.

How long can this warlike mentality endure before the people say "Enough!"? Does America really need guided bombs that fall from space and huge hypersonic drones capable of taking off from a conventional military runway and striking targets 9,000 nautical miles distant in less than two hours, able to carry a payload of up to 12,000 lbs and fly at speeds of up to 10 times the speed of sound?

Is that the world we want to create?

Is that the world we want to bequeath to our children?

IT is interesting to examine a June 26, 2003 White House transcript of a Condoleeza Rice speech:

"... This confluence of common interests and common values creates a historic opportunity to break the destructive pattern of great power rivalry that has bedeviled the world since rise of the nation state in the 17th century. This is, in fact, more than an opportunity. It is an obligation.

Instead of repeating the historic pattern in which great power rivalry exacerbates local conflicts, great power cooperation can now solve conflicts.

In recent months some have questioned whether this is possible -- or even desirable. Some argue that Europe and America are more divided by differing worldviews than we are united by common values. More troubling, some have spoken admiringly -- almost nostalgically -- of "multipolarity," as if it were a good thing, to be desired for its own sake.

The reality is that "multi-polarity" was never a unifying idea, or a vision. It was a necessary evil that sustained the absence of war but it did not promote the triumph of peace. Mulit-polarity is a theory of rivalry; of competing interests -- and at its worst -- competing values.

We have tried this before. It led to the Great War -- which cascaded into the Good War, which gave way to the Cold War. Today this theory of rivalry threatens to divert us from meeting the great tasks before us.

Why would anyone who shares the values of freedom seek to put a check on those values? Democratic institutions themselves are a check on the excesses of power. Why should we seek to divide our capacities for good, when they can be so much more effective united? Only the enemies of freedom would cheer this division."

Where does that leave every freedom-loving individual who is NOT on the US electoral role? Where is OUR freedom?

This is not peace. This is not freedom. This is not justice. This is an Orwellian state of perpetual war.

Am I being too pessimistic for you? OK, how about this positive article from Greenpeace, who are encouraging Iraqis to swap their stolen radioactive water barrels for clean, new ones? Interestingly, the new barrels cost $15 but the occupying powers are only offering $3 to buy the old ones, so many Iraqis are forced to take a long-term health risk. Maybe if the barrels were full of oil...???

Meanwhile, El Busho today scooped up another $3 million for his re-election campaign.
On a Lighter Note...

This is a great mix of sound-bites.
Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who has been the focus of Blair government attacks of BBC political bias, is now threatening to sue Blair MP Alastair Campbell for slander.

Campbell accused the BBC of relying on a single, un-named source before repeatedly broadcasting allegations that the "45-minute threats'' posed by Saddam Hussein had been "sexed up" by the UK government. While an "investigation is under way, allegedly at the behest of Number 10, to hunt down Mr Gilligan's source," the BBC is supposedly going to reveal more information to support their story "in the next 48 hours".

It is a dangerous game in which somebody - the BBC or Blair - is likely to suffer considerable damage.

Meanwhile the BBC is coming under further fire for it's coverage of the Iraqi war (BRITISH Army Colonel has branded US Marines in Iraq as "idiots" and "stupid") and a controversial documentary on Israel's nuclear arsenal.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Democrats are being a bit more hesitant. Presidential hopefuls are holding back from full-on assaults on El Busho, fearing that the sudden discovery of a few WMDs will make them look like a pack of jackasses. On the other hand, many observers would say their mute obsequience over the past year already makes them look worse than that.
There is a lot of talk about the growing number of US casualties is Iraq. As a committed pacifist, however, I do not think there is any such thing as an "innocent soldier". If you voluntarily join the ranks of an invading army, you accept your share of responsibility for that army's actions. My sympathy lies with the growing number of innocent Iraqi civilians who are still being killed in the cross-fire or as a result of absurd "accidents".

TIME magazine this week examines the growing political pressure on El Busho to find WMDs and clean up the Iraqi mess.


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