The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both - Vaclav Havel
Monday, October 31, 2005
Ordering Pizza in a Database State...
Don't you just love pizza? Well, I do. Ordering it by phone however, was never all that much fun to begin with. But in the Orwellian database state which Britain is heading towards, things could get a lot worse...
After Ahmadinejad's shocking "wipe Israel off the map" gaffe and no retraction or apology, Tehran now says it's never contemplated using violence against Israel. Well, at least that's a little reassuring. But the damage to Iran's international reputation has been done and may yet have more consequences.
Iran's foreign ministry said Tehran respected the UN charter and had never used or threatened to use force.
But it also rejected a UN Security Council statement condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his remarks.
The comments were seen by the outside world as a threat and the reaction from Iran is an effort to calm the outcry, says the BBC's Tehran correspondent.
The BBC's Frances Harrison says this is the closest Iran has come to saying it will not attack Israel.
Cheney's Top Aide Indicted For Perjury, Lying, Obstruction of Justice, Rove Still Under Investigation...
So, just one indictment so far, Scooter Libby...
The indictment charged Mr. Libby with one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of making false statements to F.B.I. investigators and two counts of lying to the grand jury. It presented Mr. Libby as a deceptive witness who lied repeatedly and provided fictitious accounts to the grand jury about his dealings with reporters. But it did not charge him with the actual leaking of a C.I.A. officer's name.
Ken Sanders is a lawyer and writer in Tucson, Arizona and he's had enough of the Bushco administration. So much so he's quitting. Here's his letter of resignation:
To Whom It May Concern:
I hereby resign my position as a silent accomplice to your perpetration of and involvement in bullying, rape, and murder. I will no longer sit dumbly by while you, purporting to be my government, fabricate and manipulate evidence in order to engage in illegal wars of aggression. I refuse to any longer tacitly support your policies of torture, abuse, extraordinary rendition, and "disappearing." I resign from aiding and abetting your hypocritical regime that preaches democracy abroad while subverting it at home.
I've had enough. Enough of ignoring that intelligence was fixed around policy, rather than the other way around. Enough of your fifteen-year-old policy of regime change, justified by fabricated fears of weapons of mass destruction, weapons you knew were destroyed long ago. Enough of your deliberate smearing and denigration of individuals and international bodies who dared challenge the lies and disinformation tarted up as truth. Enough of your representatives who, not wanting to appear unpatriotic, and more concerned with job security than principles, authorized a dim-witted megalomaniac to use whatever means necessary to finish a job his daddy was unwilling to complete.
I've had enough of your self-congratulations for bringing "free" elections to autocracies you helped create, while your own elections are stained with fraud, won through theft, and far from free. Enough of the hostility toward theocracies abroad as you cultivate one at home, replacing science with dogma, facts with faith, and some bastardized version of Christ for the Constitution. Enough of your feel-good lies about a government of, by, and for the people, while you openly and unabashedly change the tax and bankruptcy codes to the people's detriment, but to the corporations' benefit. Enough of your evisceration of social welfare programs while you fatten up the industries of weapons, war, and death. Enough of your mythical land of opportunity that's kept closed to most, particularly those born poor, black, or brown.
But instead the Tehran hard-liners are confirming their position and continue to play into the hands of their enemies, in particular Israel, the US and the UK. The latter two will have no problem now in selling the use of military action to their populations.
It's rather hard to believe that in today's world one nation can still call for the destruction of another and believe they can get away with it.
Tehran is now clearly putting itself, as well as the entire region, in great danger.
The "Season of Merriment and Melody" has traditionally been a great personal cause to stick my head in the oven, rather than the turkey. But this year I might actually have something to look forward to: the possible indictments of half of Bushco, following Plamegate.
Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's opens his mouth and puts his foot in it. His call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has drawn widespread condemnation from Israel, Europe and North America.
Frankly, I despair. What is it with conservatives and bellicosity? Why do these two really seem to go so well together, almost like a set? Ahmadinejad has just gone and given almost anyone in the world a major reason to suspect Iran really is up to no good at all, putting his own beloved country and people in the firing line of Israel, the US, the UK and most of Europe.
On winning the election Ahmadinejad commented:
This is a great honour. But even greater is the honour to serve this nation, as mayor, president or road sweeper [my emphasis]. It is no different. The greatest honour is to be certain that one is serving the great people of Iran.
This is how you pay the people of Iran back, Mahmoud? By putting them at such risk? By further jeopardising Iran's legitimate desire to deploy a civilian nuclear program? By making Iran's government look like a more advanced version of the Taliban, an ultra-conservative theocracy? By fuelling Western neo-conservative "thinker's" misheld beliefs that Islam is out to destroy Western society and its way of life? Well, thanks a bunch: you've just single-handedly made the world a more dangerous place: welcome to that gallery that includes Bush and Co, Blair and the other warmongers.
Hopefully, the moderates in Iran will be able to persuade the government to make an unreserved apology for this foreign policy gaffe, possibly even remove this incompetent from power. You never know, he might make a good road sweeper...
Saddam Hussein was always in the US's pockets and Iraq an American ally, right up to the invasion of Kuwait. The US and the West in general supplied the regime with weapons, including precursors for chemical and biological weapons, as well as parts for a nuclear reactor (in Osirak, destroyed in 1981 by an Israeli air strike). (photo above: Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein)
The main motive for supporting the Baath regime from the American perspective was that a strong, US-allied Iraq would provide a firewall against the Islamic Revolution regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Ironically, the emergence of the Islamic Revolution, whose slogan "Death to America" was practically a state endorsed mantra, came about when the Iranians finally rid themselves of the US backed, brutal, puppet regime of Shah Resa Pahlevi, in 1979.
Whatever anyone says about the importance of Saddam's trial, it was always going to be a show trial, unfortunately not one that will give the Iraqi people what they need to move on: justice. That's quite tragic in itself.
But watching the first images of the opening of the trial, I couldn't help but smile and perhaps making a little light of this "case" with its foregone conclusion is the best we can do. I mean, he doesn't even want to acknowledge his own identity, nor the court's legitimacy.
So, it wouldn't be such a stretch of the imagination if the ex-dictator decided to play rock, paper, scissors in front of the international cameras.
Georgeous George, as he's referred to by some, the anti-war MP who was kicked out of the Labour Party and successfully set up his own party, may yet be charged with perjury after his rebuttal of allegations of profiteering in the US Senate last May:
Now they say fresh evidence links him and his estranged wife to Iraq's oil-for-food programme. Mr Galloway and his wife both deny the allegations.
The US Senate committee claims to have found £85,000 in Iraqi oil money in the bank account of his estranged wife Dr Armineh Abu-Zayyad.
The senate committee's new report accuses Mr Galloway of personally soliciting and being granted eight oil allocations totalling 23 million barrels from the Hussein government between 1999 and 2003.
The committee alleges that at least £252,000 was funnelled to the Mariam Appeal through several allocations.
Mr Galloway, who has denied all suggestions he profited from [?] told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The specific allegation against me is that I lied under oath in front of a senate committee.
Mr Galloway, characteristically, isn't phased:
"In this case the remedy is clear - they must charge me with perjury and I am ready to fly to the US today, if necessary, to face such a charge because it is simply false."
And let's not forget that the MP has been previously cleared from such allegations:
In December, Mr Galloway won £150,000 in libel damages from the Daily Telegraph over its separate claims he had received money from Saddam's regime. The paper is currently awaiting the result of its appeal against that ruling.
The US death toll in Iraq is now rapidly approaching 2,000. Ever wondered what 2,000 looks like? Whether you're pro-war or against it there's a must-see flash animation trying to illustrate how you should imagine the 2,000 casualties. And it falls miserably short of it's target. But it's agitprop at it's best...
Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.
The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.
It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.
The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country.
The results come as it was disclosed yesterday that Lt Col Nick Henderson, the commanding officer of the Coldstream Guards in Basra, in charge of security for the region, has resigned from the Army. He recently voiced concerns over a lack of armoured vehicles for his men, another of whom was killed in a bomb attack in Basra last week.
The secret poll appears to contradict claims made by Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, who only days ago congratulated British soldiers for "supporting the Iraqi people in building a new and better Iraq".
Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow defence minister, said last night that the poll clearly showed a complete failure of Government policy.
He said: "This clearly states that the Government's hearts-and-minds policy has been disastrous. The coalition is now part of the problem and not the solution.
"I am not advocating a pull-out but if British soldiers are putting their lives on the line for a cause which is not supported by the Iraqi people then we have to ask the question, 'what are we doing there?' "
Bizarre how someone like Andrew Robathan can see how the coalition is part of the problem, yet doesn't advocate pulling out. Wake up, Sir...
In New Labour's Britain, the obsession with political correctness, accountability and covering one's backside reaches unprecedented heights every day. From the Daily Mail, via Jultra:
When Mary Magilton told police a hit-and-run driver was fat, she didn't think she was being rude.
To her mind, it was merely an accurate description of the woman who had run into her on the pavement before driving off.
But to the police officer interviewing the mother of three about her traumatic experience, "fat" represented inappropriate language. And she astonished Mrs Magilton by giving her a ticking-off for using the word.
Staff in the officer's force, Greater Manchester Police, have to abide by a 16-page document listing words and phrases which they should avoid so as not to cause offence, with suggested alternatives.
Terms such as policeman and spokesman are described as sexist while phrases such as "accident blackspot" and "a black look" are deemed negative.
Dear me, and here was this undersigned still in the belief that in the Blighted Kingdom catching crims was still, somehow, a Policeman's (ooops... Police officer's) main task.
Now, I'm not opposed at all to the Police minding their language a little, in fact I'm all for it. But does the kind of situations and "countermeasures" described above make this country in any way better? Nope...Safer? Nope... Fairer? Nope... What then? Well it should be the laughing stock of Europe, which by now must really think we've lost our sense of humour, as well as the plot along the way...
Well, it was to be expected: the first unscrupulous quacks to try and cash in on the avian flu hysteria have arrived via spam. My inbox this morning proudly announced that at http://www.killerflu.net/, April Kelley is offering an eBook (The Avian Flu (H5N1) Prevent and Treat eBook, via ClickBank) that promises to keep you safe and sound when the Big One touches down. Well, to be fair it only claims that:
This unique eBook will help increase your chances of surviving a Pandemic.
At least April's got the decency (well, legal duty I suppose) to state quite clearly (I quote):
NOTE: I do not represent a Doctor nor am I a Doctor and do not claim to be one!
Now, generally speaking I hate to trample on someone else's attempt to make a living but I also hate people who try and make money from other people's irrational fears and by invoking "natural, alternative" methods that will "boost your immune system" and other blatant nonsense. Elsewhere the author states: "I wrote this eBook to help others and I priced it so that everyone can afford it!" Yes, you're such a Good Samaritan...
Research shows that if you are deficient in Selenium that you may be at more risk of dying from this deadly flu virus?
This is patent nonsense. Alternativos drag Selenium into whatever serves them, yet Selenium's role in the human metabolism is negligible.
There is a Doctor that has done extensive research on a common household product that can be used to stop 80% of Flu viruses, find out in the eBook what this product is!
There is a Doctor... If stopping "80% of Flu viruses" could be stopped by a common household product, don't you think we'd all know about it already?
Flu viruses can not thrive in heat; they love cold damp environments; so avoid the chills!
Bullshit: viruses are quite insensitive to temperatures, within reason. Unless you want to try and survive in temperatures that will definitely damage your health, turning up the thermostat isn't going to make a jot of difference.
If your child becomes ill do not give your child Aspirin; this may cause the Reye's Syndrome in conjunction with the Flu Virus!
There's a kernel of truth in this because Reye's Syndrome is thought (there's no certainty on this matter) to be linked both to aspirin and to viral infections, but the statement is an oversimplification at best.
Should you or should you not clean out your ears, find out NOW?!
Yes, to clean or not to clean: that's the question...
If you become sick AVOID: MOST Fruit juices, Chocolate, Sugar and Processed Foods!
Quackery of the purest, unadulterated kind. There's no scientific basis for believing certain foods need to be avoided when you contract the flu.
Take this Natural Antiviral Agent, that may increase your chances of survival!
Note the careful use of "may", rather than the more determined "should" or even "will"... That statement is so undetermined that it's always true.
What did many of the survivors of the 1918 Pandemic have in common; THIS COULD HELP YOU; find out now!
What role does Protein play in this deadly Flu Virus and how can it help you!! What type of juice can make flu viruses inactive....
Again, the role of certain foodstuffs in resisting/surviving the flu is largely unknown and likely to be quite negligible.
Did you know that there is a at home test kit that can detect the flu (H5N1) virus let us tell you where to get it!
This may well be true although I couldn't find any references to it. I believe it's always better to rely on a qualified Doctor's diagnosis.
What Foods may help your immune system?? What Antiviral at-home Recipe do we suggest trying...
Foods that help your immune system, Anti-viral at-home recipes... Be very careful not to depend on these completely unproven methods.
Did you know that if you are pregnant you are more at risk to become vulnerable to the bird flu virus?
This is almost certainly nothing more than scaremongering of the sort that are the raison d'être of eBooks like this one.
Who am I? Not a Doctor either, I'll gladly concede that. I'm merely another potential victim of the flu who likes to do his own home research of available information sources. That's all. So don't take my word for it either.
There's nothing particularly new in this article but it sums up pretty much how much of Middle America is feeling about its own nation. The main source of amazement to me is that this kind of critical thought (of a British ally! Our brothers in arms!) managed to find its way into the Mirror.
Following a story by our well-coiffed media attack-poodles, ABC News, it would appear that to combat the stress resulting from trying to turn the rest of the world into an extension of America's Religious Right bampots, many of these evangelists are turning to... porn... for a little light relief.
It's becoming such a scourge, according to xxxchurch.com that there's actually a business opportunity in combating the sinning, ejaculating pastors and their triple X pastimes.
Dr Nile Gardiner: a British defector in Washington
Few people rile me as much as neocon media poodle Dr Nile Gardiner, which the BBC's Newsnight feel they must occasionally honour with a satellite link, whenever there's the need to show the posh-sounding side of the ultra-right of US politics.
I do believe Jeremy Paxman last Wednesday did it somewhat tongue in cheek, when Nile was invited to rather sheepishly defend the possibility of bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities to further the War on Terror. I can't find a BBC link to Nile's shaking ramblings but to me, he appeared genuinely afraid of what he was saying himself. Gardiner is one of those media string puppets who almost makes Bush sound like a hare-Krishna chanting peacenik... An armchair general of the most bellicose type...
Dr Nile Gardiner, who's got a PhD in British Imperial History (whoopeee!!!), was a former foreign policy adviser to Maggy Thatcher but obviously still far too much of a leftie for this side of the pond. So he defected to the ultra-right and joined the Heritage Foundation as a Lomas Fellow in Anglo-American studies.
Well, we're all mightily glad over here that this piece of well-polished trailer trash has left these isles, as we're not having a great shortage of zealots who're most willing to sacrifice everything Britain stands for, to promote a "war on terror" that's failing on all fronts and is risking to send the world into the kind of pandemonium that right-wing airheads describe as "the clash of civilisations".
And in 2005, our power poodle is firmly in favour of Britain's continued presence in Iraq, no matter what. From his piece "The Case Against British Withdrawal from Iraq":
The Undermining of British Power. Retreat is not a word that figures prominently in British military vocabulary, and Britain has an unrivalled record of military success over the past 300 years. A British withdrawal, even for political and strategic rather than military reasons, would prove damaging to Britain’s prestige and standing and force a negative revaluation of Britain’s role in the world.
Obviously, what the British people think about all this has got nothing to do with anything. Well, Blair, Straw et al certainly don't take the plebs into account...
It's hard to see what exactly drives people like Dr Nile Gardiner. Is it plain stupidity? A long list of academic achievements has never been a guarantee for intelligent thinking or critical analysis, that's for sure.
Or is it plain cynicism of the kind "one man's death is another man's bread"? Sure, wimps like Nile Gardiner will never contemplate taking part in the fighting himself, in the US they've got an under-privileged class of mercenaries-under-economical-duress for that purpose anyway. Although sending Nile to Iraq to fight a few insurgents could be beneficial: looking like a sperm cell with glasses could just cause a few fatalities by death by unstoppable laughter...
No, I suspect it's a bit of both: Dr Gardiner is one of those neocons who have dug a hole for themselves and now... just keeps digging, at everybody's expense...
As an irrepressible media whore, Nile nonetheless continues to make a dangerous contribution to the war on terror by making the world a far more dangerous place, see his "media appearances" on this page.
Dr Nile Gardiner, in the name of peace, we beg you, please sign up to the US military and go on a tour of duty in Iraq. Go on, show us your bottle, it might just shut you up terminally...
While here in Europe Cindy Sheehan is understandably far less well known than in the US, news of her plight and campaign have of course also reached us. In my case in particular via the blogosphere, that modern day jungle drum capable of reaching the furthest corners of the Globe so quickly.
My first overwhelming consternation was caused by the amount of vitriolic "commentary" Sheehan received from the most unlikely quarter: other moms and pops that've lost sons and daughters in Iraq. Out there in America there are those who, completely clueless as to why the Slit Eyed Chimp in the White House went to war in Iraq, now feel proud to have the mangled remains of their offspring returned to them in a star-spangled box. In the name of Honour... Valour... Freedom... These people cannot accept that the horrific sacrifice they and their kid(s) have made (or are about to make) was made completely for the wrong reasons, but, understandably, they try to make sense of it all by means of ill-advised justifications provided by their devious Dear Leader.
And so, even I, for a brief moment thought that this woman, dubbed "Al Sindi" by some of her more arduous detractors, might indeed have lost the plot herself.
JF: Many war supporters have furiously denied any link between our foreign policy and the risk soldiers are at in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tony Blair has denied any link between foreign policy and the summer bombings over in London. What do you see?
CS: I think that US foreign policy is totally responsible for 9/11, as well as the recent bombings in London. Our policies of killing innocent Iraqis; Afghanis; supporting the occupation of Palestine; our permanent bases in Saudi Arabia; our presence in Lebanon; our support of the Shah; supporting Saddam and giving him the WMDs used on his own people. I think this sort of behavior drives hatred toward the US. This is just all my opinion, of course. I am not a politician or a military strategist. I am just a citizen voicing my opinions.
Hell, she's even honest and decent enough to state that that's just her opinion... Just like it's only mine too...
The West's impotent position on Iran's nuclear program would really be downright farcical, if it wasn't so duplicitous and out-and-out dangerous.
As a paid up member of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Iran has the right to use nuclear technology for civilian power production. The fact that the Iranians, rather tongue in cheek, claim to have no designs for developing the Bomb, can only make a sensible person smile.
In the Middle East region there is so far only one state that possesses a sizeable nuclear arsenal: Israel is generally estimated to be the sixth largest nuclear arms player in the world and has also far more extensive delivery technology than recently signed up members to the nuclear club like India or Pakistan.
Israel never signed up to the NPT and if it wasn't for Mordecai Vanunu the world might never have known about the goings-on at Dimona.
Israel has the nuclear capacity and future motive to reduce any Middle East nation, including Iran, to a pile of radioactive, smouldering waste.
To prevent this from happening the US is already preparing to invade Iran, or at least bomb their nuclear facilities. Or make them leave the NPT so Iran can at least be dragged in front of the UN Security Council. The Israelis must be having a ball of a time...
Nearly three and a half years into their illegitimate detention at Guantánamo, some 30 "illegal combatants" have started to protest the conditions in which they are held by going on hunger strike. The protest started at August 8. Twenty or so are now being force fed by means of needle feeding through the arm or nose.
It's likely the hunger strikers are also being forcibly held down or sedated to achieve the goal of force feeding, as removing a feeding tube would otherwise be easy to do by any determined striker.
Some are already comparing this hunger strike with Bobby Sands' actions, who together with nine other IRA prisoners starved himself to death during a protest over their prisoner status. But the comparison is flawed: firstly the IRA cadres had been given a fair trial and secondly their plight was widely publicised in the British media.
In contrast, the Guantánamo tragedy is largely a forgotten one and a cause only a few Westerners feel the slightest bit of sympathy for. After all, "these detainees are terrorists, right?" Wrong, they aren't guilty of anything until a trial in a valid court of law proves their involvement in terrorist acts or other crimes. And it appears likely that these "terrorist suspects" have nothing to do with 9/11 whatsoever.
Frankly, America's treatment of these suspected terrorists defies belief and is instigated by those claiming to want to "spread freedom and democracy" to the world. Some democracy... Is it any wonder that in certain circles of the blogosphere the USA of is now considered the "New Evil Empire", even the "Fourth Reich"?
When will the American public stand up and let their voice be heard against this crime against humanity that is being committed in their name?
According to recently published estimates some 90,000 5.56 mm bullets have been fired at the 20,000 or so Iraqi insurgents, totalling 1.8 billion rounds. I believe these include only American rounds, not British fire.
You'd expect most of them to be dead some, well 45,000 times over but it doesn't appear that way.
Someone must be making a handsome buck from all this war fever. We're all glad to know this "war on terror" is working at least for the privileged...
Once again the terrorists have struck and once again in Bali, almost three years after the first bombing raid killed 202.
Who or what exactly they were trying to target remains somewhat unclear at this point in time but it's likely to be Western tourists and the Balinese tourism industry, which will suffer serious economic damage: prices for holiday packages to Bali have just come down by 50% or more.
No doubt a statement from al-Qaeda or an affiliated group will soon follow and no doubt this statement will be largely ignored by Western media and Western leaders, as well as being dismissed as "extremist Islamic propaganda", as they have done consistently in the past.
Those entrenched in their "Muslims are out to destroy us, that's why they're doing these nasty things to us" mantra will call for even stronger measures of counter-terrorism, for stepping up the pace of the "war on terror". But upping the ante in a war that simply cannot be won is foolhardy and downright dangerous and those who wish to do so should bear in mind they too will have blood on their hands when the next round of bombs goes off.
Of course the terrorists cannot win their war either but in spite of this we've had quite a few terrorist atrocities since 9/11: Istanbul, Madrid, Bali, 7/7 and... Bali. This war on terror clearly isn't working. And for every terrorist we stop in his tracks, gets killed or blows himself up, two more are only too ready to take his place. Against such determination no army or contingent of security measures can be effective.
The stalemate that is ensuing will ultimately cost many more lives, on both sides of the conflict, than the running total so far.