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Saturday, February 22, 2003

One minute to midnight, and the deadly Baghdad canyons wait - smh.com.au
The Iraqi capital will be hard to defend. But in war few cities of this size have been captured without a bruising battle and a body count for the invaders that challenges public opinion and political will at home.
Historically, the casualty rate in the capture of major cities has been as high as 40 to 50 per cent. Even when the US plays urban-conflict war games, the death toll invariably is more than 10 per cent.


I am getting a real bad feeling the assault on Baghdad could be a modern-day battle of Stalingrad. Brought to you live on Al-Jazeera.



The rogue next door - smh.com.au
"The Chinese Government will stick to negotiating a settlement, but will not compromise on its goal of a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, Xu says. "Just because you don't see much [Chinese pressure on North Korea], it doesn't mean we are not doing anything," he says. "It means we are not advertising it, so the DPRK can still have some face left."


Sydney Morning Herald's Hamish McDonald dares to go where Yank journalists fear to tred -- the China-DPRK border -- and samples some tasty dog soup to prove it.



Howard is losing the war - theage.com.au
Only 18 months ago, the Prime Minister and everybody else in his Government were encouraging Australians to see Iraqis who tried to come here by boat as fakes - queue jumpers who were trying to buy their way into our country at the expense of genuine refugees. Back then, there was no attempt to make the horrors that some Iraqis were fleeing a topline issue. Iraqis trying to get here were a problem, people deserving of, at best, being returned to their last stop-off point in Indonesia, or, at worst, indefinite incarceration at a detention centre.


Carney skewers John Howard's warped sense of morality quite nicely. Now, the Iraqis are fleeing for their lives, and we must support the noble Iraqi dissident exiles - and the children of those exiles -- we have even now perhaps locked away in Woomera or Port Hedland in our "5 Star Detention Centres".


Friday, February 21, 2003

Saul Alinsky, the father of community organising in America, once said that the price of a successful attack by the activist is a plan for the inevitable counter-attack.

This is never more true than today, as Howard made clear yesterday with his comments about peace activists unintentionally emboldening Saddam by frustrating war plans (a rare admission, too, by the way, which belies Shrub's casual dismissal of the marchers).

Now is the time for all antiwar activists everywhere to show the world that we, not the forces of reaction, have creative ideas rooted in nonviolence which can disarm a planet on the verge of suicide.

The distributed power and collective intelligence of the many, not the hierarchical ant-like army mind being pushed by Rummy, Wolfowitz etc, is the only hope we now have left to bring about an emergence into a new order of being which can effectively stop war and the ecological holocaust now ravaging the earth.




CBS News | Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage' | February 20, 2003 22:02:10 So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage."

Garbage in, garbage out.



Australians: guilty of neglect - smh.com.au "Australians don't care as much about the environment as they once did, with water use and energy consumption increasing dramatically, and agriculture degrading soil and water quality."

I think we've gotten just a bit too relaxed and comfortable since 1996.



"The Other War Room" by Joshua Green Bush's principal pollster, Jan van Lohuizen, and his focus-group guru, Fred Steeper, are the best-kept secrets in Washington. Both are respected but low-key, proficient but tight-lipped, and, unlike such larger-than-life Clinton pollsters as Dick Morris and Mark Penn, happy to remain anonymous.

They toil in the background, poll-testing the words and phrases the president uses to sell his policies to an often-skeptical public; they're the Bush administration's Cinderella. "In terms of the modern presidency," says Ron Faucheux, editor of Campaigns & Elections, "van Lohuizen is the lowest-profile pollster we've ever had."


Shrub decides the hard right agenda, then uses focus groups to help him massage the message.



Dean wins a pension for life - theage.com.au Former Liberal shadow treasurer Robert Dean has been awarded a parliamentary pension for the rest of his life - believed to be about $57,000 a year - after a confidential meeting of senior Victorian MPs yesterday.

The decision means Dr Dean, 50, will receive more than $1 million in taxpayer funds if he lives to 70.


This is wrong on so many levels. Especially when he doesn't even qualify for the pension.



Thursday, February 20, 2003

The World Today - 20/2/2003: Anger and support for PMs description of peace protesters "JOHN HOWARD: On the, on the moral question, I don't think it is all in the way that you put it. There's nothing in my reading of Christian ethics that, that says there, there aren't circumstances in which the "just war" theory might apply."

True enough, though many theologians consider that because modern warfare is a far cry from warfare in the late Middle Ages, Just War Theory cannot be applicable. He continues...

I think, I think there are circumstances, well, I, I've heard some very eminent Christian theologians argue them and I'm thinking most particularly of the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. I'm not saying he's agreeing with me on this, but he's, he's, he asserts the existence of the "just war" theory. And I think there are plenty of people who will argue that.

Get to the point, man.

"There's a question of whether that applies in these circumstances. That's the point. But what I'm saying is, you can't say that there are never circumstances in which military action is justified. I mean, surely military action was justified in World War II. Surely military action was justified to defend this country against the, the imminent Japanese invasion."

Say wha? Saddam is a modern Hirohito? Just shut up, Prime Minister.



The Courier Mail: Arsenal hidden on ships of death [20feb03] "THREE cargo ships plying the world's oceans could be carrying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."

MSNBC reporter via Dave Farber's list says U.S. intelligence officials deny any such ship! Don't you just love the yellow journalism Mr Murdoch's Organ trots out during wartime?



Star Telegram | 02/16/2003 | Midwinter madness "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." Dwight David Eisenhower, April 16, 1953



Tim Blair "ANGELA BELL posts a compelling piece about her history of depression and associated disorders, and her increased anxiety following Sunday's peace march in Sydney. I'll excerpt a small part, but you should read the whole thing:

A large part of my mental illness has been fear of the collective..."


Tim, for god's sake, she's agoraphobic. Of course she doesn't like crowds at a peace march. She probably doesn't like to visit malls, either.



Labor and the Quiet Americans - theage.com.au "The reason for this can be seen in Hawke's own astute judgement of the labour attaches. In December 1969, Lindahl attended a church meeting where Hawke spoke passionately about the "holocaust in Vietnam".

"Afterwards, Lindahl reported, Hawke came and sat with him, and asked, "Did I hit you too hard on Vietnam?" Lindahl replied, "I know you can hit harder." After a beer and more discussion together, Lindahl reported: "(Hawke) puffed on his newly acquired cigar with a great deal of self-satisfaction. This very confident young man appears to be the master of his own destiny."


This article about the CIA keeping tabs on the Australian Labor movement reminds me...I saw a picture of Hawky the other day yukking it up with Jiang Zemin, the "Butcher of Tianamen" he shed alligator tears over back in 1989.



Golden Sacks and Kin face Big Lawsuit over Stock Fraud "At this point the investment banks have to think seriously about settling," said Adam Pritchard, a securities law professor at the University of Michigan. "If they lose (at trial) damages could be in the billions."

While everybody is focused on Iraq, we are letting some big fish slip past, aren't we?



World Tribune.com: U.S. loses patience as ships near Turkey can't unload troops "The United States has thousands of troops on ships waiting outside of Turkish ports and Ankara won't come to a decision," a Western diplomatic source said. "This situation is quickly coming to a head. It's a matter of hours and days."

"If parliament doesn't pass the proposal, we will review our relations and they could suffer enormous damage," the Ankara-based Hurriyet daily quoted a U.S. official in Washington as saying. "We wouldn't forget such a thing."


More salubrious lessons from the Rummy's Matchbook School of International Diplomacy.




Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US plan for new nuclear arsenal "It is impossible to overstate the challenge these plans pose to the comprehensive test ban treaty, the existing nuclear test moratorium, and US compliance with article six of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty," Mr Mello said.



Allies shadowing mystery Iraqi ships American and British military forces are believed to be reluctant to stop and search the vessels for fear that any intervention might result in them being scuttled. If they were carrying chemical and biological weapons, or fissile nuclear material, and they were to be sunk at sea, the environmental damage could be catastrophic.

Except that they don't exist (scroll up)



BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Anti-Muslim shift in Australia In a survey of more than 5,000 Australians, researchers found that while there is persistent intolerance directed at aboriginal and Jewish Australians, anti-Muslim sentiment is also very strong.



Team Pineapple Hello , Peter Beattie's priority for February and March is telling the people of Queensland about the Government's achievements.

Shouldn't it be governing the state, rather than telling us how he plans to govern the state?



Canada Says Will Not Join Solo U.S. Attack on Iraq Canada toughened its line on the Iraq crisis on Tuesday, saying it had no intention of contributing to a possible U.S.-led attack that had not been blessed by the United Nations (news - web sites) Security Council.

It's official - Howard is more pro-USA than Canada.


theage.com.au - The Age If Australia goes to war, who would you prefer as leader?
John Howard - 30%
Simon Crean - 16%
Peter Costello - 4%
Jenny Macklin - 3%
Bob Brown - 25%
None of the above - 20%





Total Votes: 1958

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Joint Centre of Bioethics - Addressing ethical issues urgently needed for emerging new scientific revolution With scientists and activist groups on a collision course over the rapidly emerging field of nanotechnology, experts at one of the world's leading medical ethics think tank warn that the coming confrontation could derail the first major scientific revolution of the 21st Century.


Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Supporters desert Aznar as Spaniards reject conflict Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, was coming to terms yesterday with the fact that his unswerving support for George Bush on Iraq had inflicted heavy political damage that could cost his conservative People's party its hold on power.
Ministers admitted that the government's position was "causing significant electoral damage" and Mr Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, was quoted as saying his party was going through "one of the worst moments in its history".




PM 'frightened' of public opinion: Greens - theage.com.au The Howard government rejected a plebiscite on the issue of Iraq because it was frightened of public opinion, Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said today.


Mentalspace Perth is a small, apathetic place. To get 20 000 people to turn out at the start of a campaign is no mean feat. Anti-war sentiment runs deep, and both the Coalition and Labor should pay close attention.


AM - 18/2/2003: Downers Sum of all Fears ALEXANDER DOWNER: I think he is a horrific man, a man who is responsible for the deaths of around two million people.

People have different views about this. In my heart, I can't walk away from that, I can't think that doesn't matter.

For me as an individual, just as a South Australian, as a boy from the Adelaide Hills, I think that's an absolutely terrible thing.


Who says it doesn't matter, Mr Downer? Is that why you protested Saddam so vigorously when you had the chance?


AM - 18/2/2003: Downers Sum of all Fears In a speech to the Sydney Institute last night - the title of which echoed the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of All Fears - Mr Downer put the government's position with an emotional and moral dimension, as he restated Australia's arguments about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

Except his is actually silent on WMD possessed by the U.S. and its allies.


Tim Blair From here on, the Left will slide. More sour milk, anyone?
The Australian: Greens move on cluster bombs [February 18, 2003] THE Australian Greens will try to get the Senate to condemn cluster bombs, which they say will indiscriminately kill and maim Iraqi civilians.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today foreshadowed a Senate motion calling on the Government to condemn munitions that target civilians and endorse the International Red Cross's call for a moratorium on cluster bombs.




Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | David Ramsbotham: The military argument against attacking Iraq When Israel knocked out Iraq's nuclear installations in 1981, acting in pre-emptive self-defence after receiving clear intelligence warnings, it was roundly condemned by Margaret Thatcher: "Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law."


War Planners Begin to Speak of War's Risks According to his aides, President Bush has to prepare the country for what one senior official calls "the very real possibility that this will not look like Afghanistan," a military victory that came with greater speed than any had predicted, and with fewer casualties.
Philadelphia Daily News | 02/11/2003 | 2 ex-narcs, transferred by Pa. after whistle-blowing, awarded $1.5M Two state narcotics agents who claimed they had been improperly transferred after complaining that the feds had allowed a CIA-backed drug dealer slip away have finally cleared their names. (thanks BRAD!)


A world away, Iraqis are torn over their tortured land - smh.com.au Mr Abood, however, says the world has plenty of options other than war. "America could activate UN Resolution 686, which calls for the protection of the Iraqi people from the Hussein regime.

"They could lift the sanctions against the Iraqi people, they could take Saddam to the international court of law ... and in that way isolate the regime and free the Iraqi people, but America doesn't want to do that because it wants to control the oil."



There is a third way on Iraq: let's give containment a chance - theage.com.au There are problems with all these solutions, including containment. If Saddam allows the inspectors to do their job only when he has a huge US invasion force on his borders, that makes containment expensive as a long-term solution - and who would pay the bill?
The Courier Mail: Kyoto stance 'costing nation' [17feb03] Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and South Australian Premier Mike Rann also called for Australia to sign but Queensland Premier Peter Beattie broke ranks with his fellow Labor leaders.

The Big Pineapple says welcome to the Big Smoke.


The Courier Mail: Doubters can wait for election: PM [18feb03] "If the public at the next election doesn't like the job I've done, they'll throw me out."

Ominous news for Treasurer Costello, methinks.


Opportunist bin Laden is waiting: ASIO head - smh.com.au Mr Dennis Richardson, Director-General Security, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation at day one of two of the Homeland Security Conference in Canberra.

Ugh. That nasty "Homeland Security" phrase is creeping into Australian society as well.


Amazon.com: Books: Spider's Web: The Secret History of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq

Monday, February 17, 2003

Tim Blair MEMO TO "MONTOMAN": When planning to send dumb and abusive anonymous messages it's a good idea to first send a test message to yourself. That way you'd discover that your real name is revealed in the "from" line. How's work going at the ABC, Monto? Say hi to John Birmingham for me.

Man I can't wait to read that John Birmingham book on Tim Blair.


Birds show origins of speech Parrots, hummingbirds and songbirds – which are able to learn complex, repetitive songs – have provided scientists with a unique insight into the origins of syntax, the rules that govern human speech.




Australia's War Position Threatens Regional Stability: Expert "Australia must accept that an attack on Iraq by Western forces will be interpreted by fundamentalist forces in Indonesia as an attack on Islam."

"A war on Iraq will add to the instability of our region and Australians will have to accept that reality."


Not when we have Commander Rummy and Howard to protect us from these Islamofacists.



Go Asia Pacific Breaking News Asia - Internet activist sentenced to seven years in prison in China China has sentenced an Internet activist to seven years in prison for publishing articles critical of the Chinese government.

State media has confirmed the sentence of Tao Haidong, 45, who human rights groups describe as the latest victim of an ongoing crackdown on free expression on the web.

The US-based Human Rights in China had reported that Tao was missing for several months, before it was learned he was tried in a Urumqi court in the western Xinjiang region on January 8 over opinions posted online.


Didn't hear any complaints from Shrub or Howard over this either.



AlterNet: Report From New York As a result, in an exhilarating expression of the anti-war movement's profound decentralization and spontaneity, peaceful demonstrators filled the streets, marching in whatever direction they could. It was the best anti-war protest yet, everyone agreed. Who needed to stand still in the cold and listen to the (at least 30) boring speeches, when so much of the city was one enormous, intoxicating, unpredictable protest march?

Here in Brisbane, thousands couldn't even get close enough to hear any speeches at all. Schweet.



Antiwar Marches Reveal Gulf Between Leaders and People "A great moral choice has been put before us by the people on the march yesterday," John Reid, the Labor Party chairman, said on a Sunday morning talk show. "Let's face that moral choice. It is not a choice between peace and war. It is a choice between doing something and not doing anything."

No, it isn't.

"If you take the view that we should not do anything, you too have a moral responsibility, because by doing that you are sustaining the status quo under which there are people being murdered, tortured and dying and starving."

Who is taking that view, precisely?



The Australian: Triads sink hooks into Reef fish [February 17, 2003] THE Great Barrier Reef's commercial fishing industry is being infiltrated by Asian criminal syndicates and outlaw bikie gangs, according to intelligence provided to Queensland police.

The Australian has been told that as many as seven commercial fishing licences have been purchased by frontmen for the Triads in the past year.


And how, pray tell, did the Big Pineapple allow this to happen? More importantly, what is being done about it?



Can Howard's 'peace mission' stand against rising tide of anxiety and hostility? - theage.com.au Before the last Blix report was handed down, Howard said its delivery would be "a very important event in this unfolding issue". When it came, he was almost dismissive. "I don't think in the end it adds anything much."




Sunday, February 16, 2003

Yahoo! News - Iraq Said to Plan Strategy of Delay and Urban Battle "To impede American and allied forces, Saddam Hussein's administration has developed plans to blow up dams, destroy bridges and ignite its oil fields, American defense officials say."

Yes, the scorched earth policy.

"They say Iraq may also deny food to Iraqi civilians in the southern parts of the country to try to create a crisis that would saddle advancing allied forces with the responsibility of caring for millions of desperate Iraqi civilians."

How is Saddam supposed to get food trucks into the territories he has already lost?



New Scientist "Buildings of the future could be "clothed" in a flexible, power-generating material that looks like denim. The Canadian company developing the material says it can be draped over just about any shape - greatly expanding the number of places where solar power can be generated."

Like my denim-covered ass?



Cosgrove backs right to avoid civilians - smh.com.au Long experience has taught Australian forces that Americans are far more gung-ho in their approach, more willing to risk lives and placing far more faith in raw firepower than patient and careful planning to minimise risks to human life.


In New York, Thousands Protest a War Against Iraq (washingtonpost.com) Citing security concerns, Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to grant the protesters a permit to march from the United Nations to a site eight blocks away, and city lawyers fended off court challenges to his decision last week.

But the mayor's strategy had unintended consequences today, as tens of thousands of people organized de facto marches that forced police to close streets at a moment's notice.



Australian premier: U.S. more important than U.N. for our security Gen. Peter Cosgrove said Saddam Hussein was likely to position his forces behind civilians, using them as human shields.

But he said he would personally support any soldier who refused to fire on a non-military target, the Sun Herald newspaper reported.



InstaPundit.Com Notably absent from the Knoxville protest: pictures of Che Guevara, signs proclaiming support for communism, and anti-Bush slogans. Also, there were no guys on stilts.
Anti-war marches rattle US, Britain Rattled by an outpouring of anti-war sentiment, the United States and Britain have begun reworking a draft resolution to authorise force against Saddam Hussein.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the final product may be a softer text that does not explicitly call for war.


Doesn't matter - Bush says he doesn't need it. But this might offer acceptable cover for Blair and Howard, who do need it.


Tim Blair And the "the really fearsome thing" according to Mike, is that "this US Administration is evidently eager for the collapse of the authority of the United Nations." Picture children all over the planet weeping at the prospect of no more UN. Life won't be worth living.

True Parents shall lead the way, eh Tim?
Smart Mobs - The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold Rafe Needleman describes the work of a company called Dust, Inc., and the implications of that work. Dust designs increasingly small computers, called motes, which are deployed in "swarms" or mesh networks, effective not individually but through their networked interactions.
Sydney walks in numbers too big to ignore - smh.com.au It's now hard to see Labor finding a way to support the war if the UN doesn't endorse George Bush's war - even if only one country exercises its veto. Simon Crean wasn't scheduled to speak at any march this weekend, but it looks like the 150,000 people marching in Melbourne on Friday night changed his mind. This weekend could be one of those "turning points", where suddenly the earth moves, the mood shifts, and politics is transformed in an instant.
Antiwar Rallies Draw Millions Around World "I don't demonstrate against the USA.," said Soeren Juergens, 58, a ship engineer from Hamburg, Germany, who lived in Oakland for several years. "I have friends in the USA. But Mr. Bush is isolating the USA from Europe, not vice versa. Don't get me wrong: I don't support a dictatorship like Saddam's regime, but to just drop a bomb on it is like opening a Pandora's box. This is pure imperialism, even for such an old and conservative guy like me."
News Britain's two most spectacular corals are declining in the least likely place – England's only marine nature reserve.
News Tony Blair has blocked plans to produce a fifth of Britain's electricity from renewable sources, in revenge for his failure to push through a programme of new nuclear power stations.
The Observer | International | US to punish German 'treachery' The plan - discussed by Pentagon officials and military chiefs last week on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - is designed 'to harm' the German economy to make an example of the country for what US hawks see as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's 'treachery'.
PM returns to face Australia's biggest ever anti-war protests Up to a quarter of a million demonstrators jammed the centre of Sydney on Sunday in the biggest of a series of nationwide rallies as part of a co-ordinated weekend of global protest.
News Which unelected strutting popinjay is the more dangerous? Regime change in Washington might save the world.
Professor Richard Dawkins, 61, Evolutionary Biologist
The Consortium From his wheelchair, Kovic had struggled to make that case. "I want the American people to know what the general hid from the American public during the Gulf War," Kovic said. "They hid the casualties. They hid the horror. They hid the violence. We don't need any more violence in our country. We need leaders who represent cooperation. We need leadership that represents peace. We need leaders that understand the tragedy of using violence in solving our problems. We have enough violence in this country."

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