Saturday, March 01, 2003

CEO Howard Jonas on a roll as White House hawks scuttle China-linked telecom deal

Looks like Reagan-era Masters of War are still winning the day, while helping a few friends along the way.

On Friday a secretive, multiagency grouping in the U.S. government called the Committee on Foreign Investments would probe into a deal by China's richest man, Li Ka-shing, to purchase one of the largest failed U.S. telecom companies, Global Crossing Ltd. for a bargain-basement price.

The Committee, established by former U.S. President Gerald Ford’s Decree in May 1975, is one of the most high powered of such charted national security groups.

The Committee’s very existence seems to be closely intertwined with the U.S. government’s ability to spy using national telecommunications networks. Also in May 1975, Project Shamrock , the precursor to today’s widely discussed Echelon system, was shut down in the wake of Watergate and Congressional criticism of what one high-ranking Congressman called "probably the largest government interception programme affecting Americans ever undertaken".

Since 1945, America’s telecom companies provided active assistance to U.S. intelligence agencies, dutifully copying and handing over 150,000 telegrams each day for analysis by the CIA, NSA and FBI.

Until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1973, Shamrock’s sister project, Project Minaret provided the watch lists to the telcos, targeting specific U.S. citizens including U.S. dissidents such as Martin Luther King Jr., Joan Baez, Jane Fonda, Dr Benjamin Spock and other antiwar activists for electronic snooping.

When Ford signed his decree establishing the Committee, the U.S. intelligence community was desperate to ensure that the spying tools and methods of the National Security Agency would never be open to direct foreign scrutiny or interdiction. It seems these concerns are still paramount today:

Though Global Crossing carries only a small amount of U.S. government traffic, military and security officials are concerned about the ability of the Chinese government or related companies to tap into those lines for spying or stealing U.S. corporate trade secrets, people close to the matter said.

The real worry for the Committee, of course, is that the Chinese government could interfere with Washington’s own wiretaps. Mr Li is the bete noir of Washington hawks, who often point out his close links to the Chinese People's Army and the fact that Hutchinson Whampoa "controls both ends of the Panama Canal".

What most concerns some officials, however, is the possibility that foreign ownership could impair the U.S. government's ability to lay wiretaps and other electronic surveillance.

Exon-Florio power gives the U.S. President to right to block any sale of a U.S. company to a foreign company on unspecified grounds of national security.

Last exercised by Bush Senior in February 1990 against another Chinese company which bought a domestic aircraft parts company in Seattle, Exon-Florio permanently protects the massive U.S. arms industry from foreign control – and shelters many other high technology companies from competition with more nimble and aggressive overseas players.

Exon-Florio was the final hurdle Li Ka-shing had to clear before he could pocket Global Crossing’s huge fibre optic network around the world.

The rare decision to evoke the Committee’s Exon-Florio powers prompted Ka-shing’s chosen vehicles, Hutchinson Whampoa and Singapore-based STT Telemedia, to immediately back off, saying they would restructure the deal to calm Washington’s growing fear of Chinese influence in the high tech sector.

Hawks to the Rescue

What’s even more interesting is the last-minute intervention by a group of Washington warmongers under the rubric of IDT Telecom – one of the biggest beneficiaries of last week’s new F.C.C. regulations protecting telco incumbents.

IDT Telecom, one of America's largest CLECs (competitive local exchange) discounters, lobbied the Committee on Foreign Investments hard and even went to court on Thursday to stop the sale on national security grounds (they lost).

Old rightwing warhead and former Rep. Jack Kemp is the latest addition to a growing cadre of prominent business leaders and political figures joining IDT's various Boards of Directors.

Last year, for example, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was appointed to the Board of IDT Telecom, as was Paul Reichman , once the wealthiest Jewish real estate magnate in the world until the Canary Wharf project in London went bankrupt in the early 1990s.

Former Las Vegas Casino boss U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV) is also there, as are William F. Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, former Cheney defence advisor and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William A. Owens (ret.), and soft money king Meyer A. Berman, founder of M.A. Berman Co.

Bill Owens also serves on the board of Brisbane, Australia based war industries startup Metalstorm as well as Teledesic, the teetering $US9 billion “broadband in the sky in the sweet bye and bye” project that has sucked up hundreds of millions in Middle Eastern private venture capital funds as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Cellular celebrity Craig McCaw, Owens and Co. are now hawking Teledesic around the world as a global “anti-terrorist” and emergency communications system, without much apparent luck.

IDT's tirelessly self-promoting chairman, Howard Jonas -- whose gems of wisdom are gathered in his autobiography "On a Roll" -- told a court in the U.S. this week that the deal would compromise national security -- a view the government apparently shares.

Jonas, who says he battles an imaginary giant he calls the "Megalith" every day to spur himself to further wealth, fits right in to the current Washington paranoia. Battle with Megalith saw Jonas acquiring the assets of failed carriers Teligent and Winstar Communications last year. Winstar was the failed telecom arm of California energy trader Williams Energy Trading.

In a midnight bid for Winstar, IDT doled out a mere $US42 million for a network that cost $US5 billion to create. "This is an incredible deal. It might not top the Dutch settlers buying the Island of Manhattan for twenty four dollars, but it comes pretty close," Jonas said at the time.

And if Jonas can take advantage of the Exon-Florio provision to pull an end run on the Chinese at the finish line while waving the flag, he’ll be the Bushista’s national hero too.

Friday, February 28, 2003

"Deeply interesting to our national character"

>> They say that we're a bully, and we're only in it for oil. Well, guess what? Those were the exact same arguments in 1991.

A prowar blogger, Evan Coyne Maloney made that point in a recent email. My reply...

One point about the U.S. as bully: these arguments go back way further than 1991.

Ask any native American if the U.S. government, historically, has been a bully to people whom are perceived to be in the way of what the U.S. wants. Where I come from, the U.S. government ordered the natives off their land when gold was discovered, making them march from Eastern Tennessee to Oklahoma.

Ask them if the U.S. isn't historically only too willing to lie, cheat and steal. Andrew Jackson even defied the U.S. constitutionin his eagerness to fight a racist, colonial war against the native owners of land and gold the whites coveted.

Many Americans seek to deny their own history -- their dozens of military interventions, all around the globe, often in support of extremely dubious dictators.

This history is a matter of public record. The rest of the world, safely away from Karl Rove's memetic soup kitchen, is keenly aware of this public record.

As for Bush Jr's new wonder-working power in the Middle East, Jackson's 1829-1836 messages to Congress on the Indian Removals is enlightening.

"Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies."
President Andrew Jackson, First Address to Congress, 1829

"Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people."
President Andrew Jackson, Second Address to Congress, 1830

"After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions, and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary."
President Andrew Jackson, Third Address to Congress, 1831

"My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear."
President Andrew Jackson, Fourth Address to Congress, 1832

"It is pleasing to reflect that results so beneficial, not only to the States immediately concerned, but to the harmony of the Union, will have been accomplished by measures equally advantageous to the Indians. What the native savages become when surrounded by a dense population and by mixing with the whites may be seen in the miserable remnants of a few Eastern tribes, deprived of political and civil rights, forbidden to make contracts, and subjected to guardians, dragging out a wretched existence, without excitement, without hope, and almost without thought."

President Andrew Jackson, Fifth Address to Congress , 1833

"I regret that the Cherokees east of the Mississippi have not yet determined as a community to remove. How long the personal causes which have heretofore retarded that ultimately inevitable measure will continue to operate I am unable to conjecture. It is certain, however, that delay will bring with it accumulated evils which will render their condition more and more unpleasant. The experience of every year adds to the conviction that emigration, and that alone, can preserve from destruction the remnant of the tribes yet living amongst us."
President Andrew Jackson, Sixth Address to Congress , 1834

"The extraordinary receipts from the sales of the public lands invite you to consider what improvements the land system, and particularly the condition of the General Land Office, may require. At the time this institution was organized, near a quarter century ago, it would probably have been thought extravagant to anticipate for this period such an addition to its business as has been produced by the vast increase of those sales during the past and present years. It may also be observed that since the year 1812 the land offices and surveying districts have been greatly multiplied, and that numerous legislative enactments from year to year since that time have imposed a great amount of new and additional duties upon that office, while the want of a timely application of force commensurate with the care and labor required has caused the increasing embarrassment of accumulated arrears in the different branches of the establishment."
President Andrew Jackson, Seventh Address to Congress, 1835

"The national policy, founded alike in interest and in humanity, so long and so steadily pursued by this Government for the removal of the Indian tribes originally settled on this side of the Mississippi to the West of that river, may be said to have been consummated by the conclusion of the late treaty with the Cherokees."
Andrew Jackson, Eighth Address to Congress, 1836

It should be noted that Andrew Jackson wasn't just "in it for the gold" - national security and the national interest were key considerations, as well as U.S. manifest destiny.

That Wacky Wolfowitz

In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq.

He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it.

"I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

A Beard of Robots

Swarming robots that can act in concert and mimic the behavior of bees have netted James McLurkin, a 30-year-old doctoral candidate in computer science, the annual Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

McLurkin's robots are programmed to cluster, disperse, follow one another and orbit, similar to the way bees work together in a hive. Equipped with sensors and radio equipment, the robots are capable of detecting environmental stimuli and of contacting the rest of the group, which can then collectively accomplish a preprogrammed task.

Which is more than can be said for Team Bush at the moment.

The Defector's Secrets

Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.

Why Star Wars is Bad for Australia

Encourages new nuclear arms race in region. 80 percent of SMH readers are opposed. May never work. Violates key arms control treaties. Stinky whiff of scientific fraud at MIT (one for you journos and bloggers to chase up). Rummy wants to suspend U.S. law which forbids buying multi-billion dollar weapons systems that don't work (scroll down).

Essential nuclear First Strike toolkit. Easily spoofed. Expensive. Makes Australia a target for other's MIRV nuclear warheads. Howard and Hill are for it.

Any other reasons required?

If it became a universal, global shield that could also shoot down incoming asteroids it would have more merit, but Howard has cut that sensible astronomical early warning comet survey, leaving the whole southern hemisphere virtually unscanned, except for the tireless work of a few volunteers.

We need Perestroika in the United States of America

adnan is on the spot with a great Gorby quote:

"It might be that some politicians deliberately want to cross the boundary after which the whole world would become de-stabilized, in order to then establish a new world order, based not on international laws but on force.

Yes, a new world order is acutely needed. But it seems that the US administration believes that this world order should be the prerogative of the US, so that the interests of this country would be of a priority, whereas the interests of all other countries would be ignored...

I would like to remind the present US president of a conclusion made by his predecessor in 1963, when John Kennedy said: 'if you think that the future world will be Pax Americana, you are wrong. Either there would be a world for all, or there would be no world at all'."

Gorbachev suggested to look for the causes of the present crisis not in Iraq, but in the situation that has developed in the US itself. He said:

"There would be no change in politics unless the US starts to contemplate its own model of economical and social development and unless it makes an effort to look at the world with more realism. In other words, what is needed is a profound perestroika of the US itself."

Tim Blair Takes on the Mahatma

Our Tim, like John Wojdylo has a real bee in his bonnet over Gandhi and the whole idea of fighting fire with water (along with the judicious use of controlled backburning) .

JOHN HAWKINS refutes the Top Ten most annoying anti-war slogans -- but ignores my personal favourite: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

It's a one-eyeball deal, people. Eye, singular. Maybe this slogan would be acceptable if it was rewritten as "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world with depth-perception issues", or "Until you remove all of your opponent's eyes, he can still see you, so make a good job of it", but as it stands this slogan is a crude and deliberate lie. No wonder people are disillusioned.

I mess with your shit. You take my eye. I then take your eye, for taking my eye. Then you take my remaining eye. Then my brother takes your remaining eye. Then your brother takes my brother's eye.

Or, as Gandhi said, "Only the nectar of love can stop hate."

Justice and the Middle East

Well let me state the bleeding obvious -- there will not be peace until both sides perceive that justice has been done. Highly charged religious perceptions are intimately involved.

First of all, as an American-Australian, the uncanny call for a pogrom that started this fascinating thread on lgf is just creepy. We in America think we left that shit behind long ago, buddy, and you better pack up your gear and go back to where you come from. See, to call for a pogrom is cheap justice.

I am a buddhist, so I am not biased for or against the claims to divinity and the possession of truth either side might have, nor their demonisation of their racially identical opponent.

So what is justice? ? What justice do the Jews require? Is it the seizure of the Temple Mount and the East Jerusalem area, as Sharon's coalition partners say? Americans and many other Israelis (an active, voting majority I hope) are not cool with that, I wouldn't think. Unless your name is Irving Moskowitz.

What about the Palestinians? What is their claim to Justice?

Some of the more extreme voices in this debate are just doing what Bin Laden did -- denying the humanity of the "enemy" because of their felt indignity, their felt lack of justice as they watch their shops and homes being bulldozed into the ground in turn justifies mass murder.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Roh Moo Hyun Becomes South Korea's New President
Our chosen candidate Roh Moo Hyun is now President Roh Moo Hyun. His election has shown that a poor honest person can become the president of the Republic. His is a proverbial case of 'rags to riches'. We wish him the best and hope that he will carry out his election pledges without getting corrupted in the process.
Five years ago, another candidate, Kim Dae Jung, was sworn into the Blue House. He touted people's government and clean administration. During his term, more pro-democracy activists were jailed than in the days of military dictators. Two of his sons were convicted of taking bribes. His Nobel-winning summit with Kim Jong-il may have been bought with Hyundai funds. We hope that President Roh won't get corrupted with power.

His name is vaguely pronounced like "No More Human"
Eugene Carroll Jr., 79; Admiral Urged Nuclear Disarmament
Eugene J. Carroll Jr., a Navy rear admiral who in retirement became an aggressive and vocal advocate of global nuclear disarmament, has died. He was 79.

Carroll died Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after a heart attack.

Vale, Admiral Caroll.
The Courier Mail: Ratings suffer as ABC changes 612 presenters [26feb03]
The audience share on Susan Mitchell's old morning slot on 612, now with Stateline presenter Kirsten MacGregor, dropped by 2.1 per cent.

Susan Mitchell was considered too "lefty" by some in the Brisbane office of the ABC...but now they must regret dumpstering her late last year.
ABC News - 26/02/03 : Aust has a stake in 'Star Wars': report
Senator Hill has flagged Australia's growing interest in United States anti-missile programs.

He says North Korea's effort to get long-range missiles is a potential threat.

"We don't believe they've tested a missile that would reach Australia at this time. But we certainly believe they have missile programs underway which would have that range," he said.

Wonder if this means stationing U.S. warheads on Australian soil?
Iraq War Cost Could Soar, Pentagon Says
The Pentagon has begun telling the White House and Congress that defeating Iraq and occupying the country for six months could cost as much as $85 billion, according to sources — considerably more than what senior administration officials have been saying in public.

Combined with aid for regional allies such as Turkey, the price tag for the conflict could top the $100-billion mark, twice the war costs cited just last month by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and an amount that the White House dismissed as outlandish last fall.

And the price tag is likely to rise further. $2000 toilets, anyone?

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

U.S. Warns France in Struggle Over Iraq (washingtonpost.com)
"I hope there won't be a veto because a veto would be very unfriendly and we would not look favorably on that," he told LCI television, according to a French translation of his remarks in English.

The tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru is completely cut off from the outside world, its isolation so complete that no one knows who is running the country.

Foreign Policy In Focus | Global Affairs Commentary | South Korea Joins the Axis of Independence
Roh Moo Hyun, the incoming South Korean president, is part of a trend that raises the hackles of the Bush administration. America now has another outspoken and uncowed "ally." Roh joins an axis of independence that includes France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder. With friends like these, the Bush team laments, who needs an axis of evil? What's bad for Bush, however, is a boon for the rest of the world and particularly for the Korean peninsula. Roh Moo Hyun is the world's best hope for avoiding war in East Asia.

Bush Next War - North Korea: A Korean War Scenario
After Kim's initial missile and artillery attacks, several thousand suicide squads would spring into action at the same time and attack targets in Japan and in the United States. Kim's air force and navy will be tasked to transport the kamikaze squads to their destinations. It is possible that many of them are already in place. The suicide squads are trained to attack nuclear facilities, dams, chemical plants and storage tanks, oil depots, power stations, gas pipelines, bridges, tunnels and so on. Their mission is to cause as many casualties among the civilian populace. A dozen or so suicide terrorists were responsible for the 9.11 that killed 3,000 or so people - now imagine 100,000 suicide terrorists attacking several thousand targets at the same time!

The world's worst nightmare -- coming soon?
Kurds brace for Turks | csmonitor.com
As Mr. Talabani's comments suggest, Kurds recognize that they can do little militarily against Turkey, a NATO power whose forces are vastly superior to those of the Kurds. That is why some Kurds are considering nonviolent resistance against a Turkish presence.
As Sideek observes, "We cannot stop Turkey with guns; we don't have the capacity. The only way we can stop them is by using our bodies and we will do it if necessary."

Jose Ramos Horta: War for Peace? It Worked in My Country
I agree that the Bush administration must give more time to the weapons inspectors to fulfill their mandate. The United States is an unchallenged world power and will survive its enemies. It can afford to be a little more patient.

Tim Blair neatly snips the bits about how the U.S. needs to let the inspections continue and the U.N. processes be allowed to work, backed by the threat of force - Horta actually does not support the U.S. "invade now" view at all, but the position of France.

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea
North Korea is known to operate five concentration camps now, accommodating a total of over 200,000. Once condemned as political criminals in the North, not only they themselves, but also their families are incarcerated in concentration camps without trial. With all contacts with the outside world cut off, they are subject to control in the supply of food and daily necessaries, marriage and childbirth, let alone undergoing serious violations of human rights.

Why the people's instinct can be wrong - smh.com.au
The position of the committed pacifist, on the other hand, is an excuse for the status quo. It contradicts itself because it excuses violence in the past. For example, Mohandas Ghandi's support for Palestine was an excuse for the violent conquest of the land by Arabs a century or more before. As I explained in Saddam's Desire for Genocide, Ghandi's philosophy excuses empire-building and genocide. When the Jews were faced with extermination by the Nazis, Ghandi advised them to turn the other cheek and thereby preserve their righteousness.

This man knows nothing of Gandhi. Can't even spell his name properly. Why does Margo keep giving him oxygen?

Clue on Orwell
I read an article this morning that quotes Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism", and the quote seems pertinent here:

"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts... Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by "our" side... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

He was primarily concerned with English Communists shortly after WWII, but his description of "Nationalists" gels perfectly with todays neo-conservatives.

Gareth Parker: Bob Brown's rubbery commitment to human rights

More stupidity from the Aussie warblogger crowd.

WHICH Australian politician said this in 1991:

We are in the disgusting position of sitting on our hands while these people [the Kurds] are absolutely slaughtered -- the least we can do is get our prime minister to speak up and put the full weight of this country towards the protection of these innocents.

A hint: He is the same politician who said this in 2002:

"The UN should say no [to a war] and so should we. There's no logic to this."

The 1991 quote was part of Bob Brown's speech to the Tasmanian parliament when he rose to the following motion:
The House calls on the prime minister, Bob Hawke, to act immediately, to put pressure on Australia's allies to intervene in Iraq and stop the slaughter of the Kurds and establish their right to self-determination.

So what has changed in the past 12 years to diminish Senator Brown's commitment to human rights and self-determination?
(The excerpts from Bob Brown's 1991 speech and the motion he rose to come from Matt Price's column in today's Sunday Times -- not available online --"Spare us those plebiscite pencils").

The U.S. has done a deal and sold the Kurds out already, duh. Just like Henry K. did, and Bush did...

Tim Blair
DAVID MARR'S Media Watch usually generates about 1,800 Vc-i* of pure suck per 15 minute broadcast. But last night's episode produced nearly three times that amount -- close to an entire metric Sandler.

Tim can see the mote in Media Watch's eye, but not the Moonie in the Washington Times.
The Atlantic | March 2003 | Caring for Your Introvert | Rauch

Jonathan Rauch thinks we introverts are politically browbeaten by our more gregarious cousins, the extroverts.

Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" (He is also supposed to have said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it." The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

Isn't this -- the fear that the colonialist, artificial boundaries of Iraq, imposed by the West on the Middle East in such a way that people like the Kurds and Palestinians remain seemingly permanently disenfranchised and unfree?

The big reason why Bush Sr. didn't take down Saddam the first time was because it was not in the self interest of the USA. That's why they can continue to blithly deny the human rights of Kurds.

Why warbloggers aplenty can continue to callously ignore them in analysis.

As for the Arab "Street" and the removal of Saddam --

The neighbouring states of Iraq (ie Saudia Arabia, Jordan)nominally allies of the U.S.A., believed such a move would also be highly destablising to their own regimes, by encouraging wahabbists of the extremist variety to exploit the chaos and fog of war to accomplish similiar to them in a no-holds bar war that starts with Iraq and finishes in Riyad and East Jerusalem.

Indeed, this is the advice of the pro-arabists inside the CIA, who continually have been at War under Shrub with the pro Israeli "dual loyalties" crowd in the Pentagon -- you know, the people who plan to trigger the return of Jebus. They explicity do not want a peaceful settlement with anyone.
Holy Shite
The US State Department has confirmed that North Korea fired an anti-ship cruise missile into the Sea of Japan on Monday, apparently as part of winter training exercises. The missile launch has added to tensions in the region, after international concern that North Korea may be developing nuclear weapons. Pyongyang says its nuclear activities are currently restricted to peaceful purposes. The incident came as US Secretary of State Colin Powell and other foreign dignitaries arrived in neighbouring South Korea for the inauguration of President Roh Moo-Hyun. Mr. Roh, who succeeds President Kim Dae-Jung, took the oath of office at a ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday, just hours after the missile test. Mr. Roh has said he will maintain his predecessor's policy of dialogue with the North in an effort to preserve peace on the Korean peninsula.

Kirkuk History
3- The Eternal Fire in the area called (Baba-Gurgur) there is what is called (Eternal Fire) where the fire from the earth is burning without stop day and night.

Nobody knows when this fire started, but we know it is mentioned in the inscribed records of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians.

So much oil, so close to the soft, sandy surface is bubbles up and catches fire....schweet, schweet crude oil...Texas tea...
Brendan O'Neill saves us from the war bloggers
Blogs very rarely generate original content; rather they exist in a parasitical relationship with the content generated by Big Media outlets.

and this:

How else would bloggers be the first to report news of an invasion? Certainly there is no suggestion that any of them will actually go to Iraq to report from the ground.

I understand many of the human shields are connected to web cams etc. There are also bloggers in Baghdad.

For all its occasional wit and the useful links it provides, blogging is generally little more than a subjective spouting match, where bloggers spill forth their views on everything, anything and often nothing. But there is more to reporting, particularly war reporting, than instant reaction.

Reportage involves rising above your immediate concerns, weighing up the facts, and attempting to say something more measured and insightful - sometimes even truthful and profound.

By contrast, blogging creates a white noise of personal prejudice - and the last thing we need in war time, when information is already restricted or censured, is prejudice dressed up as a new radical outlet for information.

I think groups of bloggers can create a lot of white noise: witness the circle jerk over at lgf. The best of bloggers do what reporters mostly do now anyway -- get the wire copy and try to put some other context around events.
The Australian: Mahathir blames West for terror [February 25, 2003]
"If the innocent people who died in the attack on Afghanistan, and those who have been dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq, are considered collaterals, are not the 3000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals, whose deaths are necessary for the operations to succeed?"

This is indeed a clash of civilizations: Southern redneck christian soldiers and the bankers who hold Turkey's feet over the fire vs. dusky defenders of Allah.
Divided Turkish Cabinet Endorses Plan on U.S. Troops
"An important section of the cabinet was not satisfied by the developments, but at the end of the discussions it was decided to send the resolution to parliament," a cabinet spokesman, Abdullatif Sener, told reporters. "We hope that when parliament puts the proposal on its agenda for debate, the agreement with the U.S. will have been completed."

Why does the Turkish Parliament get to vote on whether to join the coalition of the billing, and Australians do not? Is Turkey more democratic than Australia?
Australia baulks at US plans for a postwar Iraq - smh.com.au
The Pentagon hopes that the Australian Government will make a greater contribution to postwar Iraq than the small humanitarian effort so far discussed. However, the Prime Minister, John Howard, is resisting efforts to draw Australia into it.

Here is said plan, from the Wolf's own mouth:

"If the president orders military action, the Department of Defense is prepared to support any military contingency and humanitarian relief during combat and to support reconstruction after combat," he said, citing several ways the military will aid in each phase of the agency's six goals. Collins said that during the reconstruction effort, DoD is ready to support NGOs and other agencies, but most importantly "to help prepare the Iraqis for self- government.
The United States wants to return Iraq to the Iraqi people -- both Abrams and Collins emphasized that bottom line, as many in the White House and Pentagon have over the past month.

For instance, "It is a war to liberate perhaps the most talented population in the Arab world, people who I think are ready to build a society and a government that could become a model for the future for others," Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Feb. 16 in British Broadcasting Corp. interviews.

During a Feb. 23 "town hall" meeting in Dearborn, Mich., a city with a large Iraqi-American population, Wolfowitz said
the U.S. aim for Iraq is to "Stay as long as necessary and leave as soon as possible." The key for getting out
quickly, he said, is to allow the "Iraqis to come together quickly."

In other words, after the contracts for new construction have been signed off with the Pentagon "transition team", lead by a lawyer who seems to believe imprisoned U.S. citizens have "no rights" under international or domestic law. In other words, just another fascist.

Saddam challenges Bush to TV debate - smh.com.au
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has challenged President George W Bush to a live, international television debate about the war on Iraq, CBS News reported today.

If they attend public school, there's a good chance the answer is pizza -- or chicken nuggets, or a cheeseburger. In a nation of foodies, school lunch generally remains a bastion of processed, full-fat meat and cheese. On some days, school lunch is no healthier than what is sold at a fast-food chain -- and in some cases, that's exactly what it is.

In short: Obesity isn't a sign of gluttony and plutocracy anymore, the way it was back in the days of William Howard Taft.

Increasingly, it's a sign of hunger and dire malnutrition. It's getting worse -- and will be far worse still if House Republicans like Bob Goodlatte have their way.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Missile Defense Waiver Sought
Last year, to help achieve that goal, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave the Missile Defense Agency unprecedented managerial autonomy and removed procurement procedures that were intended to ensure new weapons programs remain on track and within budget.

Administration officials believe the unusual measures are necessary because of a growing missile threat from rogue countries such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

But critics maintain the new independence and secrecy of what has become a vastly expanded missile defense program increases the chance that the Pentagon will spend tens of billions of dollars on an antimissile system that doesn't work.

IsraelVotes | Demo | Political Parties and Platforms | National Religious Party (NRP)
Jerusalem is the spiritual and political capital of the State of Israel. The National Religious Party opposes any division of the city as well as Palestinian or international sovereignty over the Temple Mount or other areas.

Welcome to the Apocalypse.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK unveils plans for greener energy
Sceptics expect ministers will almost certainly leave some options open on nuclear power, with one analyst telling BBC News Online the document would be a "fudge".

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Nauru loses contact with the world
The tiny Pacific island of Nauru has spent weeks completely cut off from the outside world after its telecommunications network collapsed.

The island has also begun interning asylum seekers while their applications to live in Australia are processed, in return for aid from Canberra.

However this appears to have gone badly wrong.

Late last year, Australian immigration officials admitted that the asylum seekers, mainly Iraqis, had been running their own detention centre since officials abandoned the site following a riot.

"Effectively you could call it a self-managed centre," a senior Australian immigration official told an inquiry.

The Australian media has gone to sleep over these, the refugees of the Tampa.

Holy Howard's Hole. These refugees, mostly Afgan minorities and Iraqis fleeing Saddam, were plucked out of sea by the crew of the Norwegian cargo ship Tampa in 2001. Howard sent the military to repell the ship from Australia's landmass, in the process securing his reelection.

He then cut an illegal deal with Nauru to house the men, women and children, costing Australia hundreds of millions and severely denting our international reputation. Truly a moral pgymy, Howard's lying to Parliament about how some of these asylum seekers threw their own children overboard, will be regarded as one of the most shameful, immoral acts in Australian political history.

How the Protesters Mobilized
But the Internet has become more than a mere organizing tool; it has changed protests in a more fundamental way, by allowing mobilization to emerge from free-wheeling amorphous groups, rather than top-down hierarchical ones.

The Courier Mail: Pro-war lobby gathers force [24feb03]
Meanwhile, Americans rallied around Mr Bush as thousands in Florida marched in support of US troops preparing for a possible war against Iraq.
About 2000 people turned out in Orlando to hear songs and speeches, including the Gettysburg Address, and another 1000 prayed and marched in Pensacola.

The day's events began in Miami with the Tribute to the Military 5K Run.
Anger against last week's anti-war protests, which drew hundreds of thousands worldwide, was apparent in the speakers' words and attendees' signs. Echoing a slogan from the 1960s, one placard read: "America – Love It or Leave It".

C'mon prowar foks. Where is this "silent majority"?
Iraqi Kurds Eager To Return Home Refugee Flood Could Put U.S. in Bind
"We will oppose any Turkish military intervention," Hoshyar Zebari, foreign relations chief of the Kurdistan Democratic Party., told a press conference. "No one should see us as bluffing on this issue. Any intervention under whatever pretext will lead to clashes."

Latif Rashid, a spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, added that "all the Iraqi parties were dismayed," by the Turkish plan.

A reader writes :

A bit further to this. The US has insisted that if Turkish forces move further into Iraq
in order to "help" with the US war effort, then the Kurdish militias are to lay down their arms. The PUK leadership (which more or less controls the eastern half of Kurdistan in Iraq) has said that would be unlikely to happen. Turkish forces have been in the border areas of the Kurtdish areas of Iraq for some years now, ostensibly to control the movement of PKK insurgents.

Even more info is here: Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Debunking the myths of war - theage.com.au
In its contemporary reincarnation, the Churchillian myth has become extremely dangerous. It is, in my view, time that the story was relegated from the status of myth to the realm of mere history.

Mike Moore thanks France
"One of the best definitions of an ally, of a friend, is that your friend is the one who can tell you when you're wrong," he said.
"So thank you for showing us the way, for standing up and for something very important... I want to let you know that there are tens of millions of Americans who feel the same way."

Actor George Clooney Frustrated by U.S. War Drive (washingtonpost.com)
"You can't beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead you create an entire generation of people revenge-seeking," Clooney said in the ARD television program "Beckmann."

Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Courier Mail: Human shields willing to die [22feb03]
"I personally believe now more and more that our presence here will have an effect, because I think that as the folk back home see specific sites being protected and they will be more and more horrified about the prospect of their armies dropping bombs on us," Mr Letts said.
Mr Letts, 52, drove one of the two double-decker buses into Baghdad earlier this week.
He says the volunteer human shields intend to put themselves on camera and televise their position on the Internet.
"If the coalition are throwing bombs at these plants . . . and we fail to protect them by our actions so far, we will put webs and camcorders into plants with the people so that the destruction they have wrought on citizens going about their normal business will be shown to mass populations at home.
"I think politically it would be very very dangerous for very much of that to go on."

In These Times | A Moment of Peace
We spoke in Times Square, surrounded by mayhem, but with the same computerized headline crawling every two minutes around the building above all the while: rattled by worldwide groundswell of anti-war sentiment, u.s. and britain to redraft u.n. resolution on iraq. If there was ever immediate gratification for a protest, this was it.

These events reflect something very strange, and very important, about the current historical moment. Globalization—the real globalization of democracy that the movement has been calling for since Seattle in 1999—is actually beginning to emerge.

Greece reported setting up U.S.-Iraq meeting
"Next Wednesday in Athens Anthony Zinni, President George Bush's personal representative, will meet two Iraqi army generals from Baghdad in a rare meeting between the two countries," the newspaper said in its front-page story.

Looks like it is coming down to this one meeting. General Zinni is on the record as saying that war with Iraq would be a bad idea, so this will be interesting.
Swiss business: news from swissinfo
Rumsfeld’s position at ABB could prove embarrassing for the Bush administration since while he was a director he was also active on issues of weapons proliferation, chairing the 1998 congressional Ballistic Missile Threat commission.

The commission suggested the Clinton-era deal with Pyongyang gave too much away because “North Korea maintains an active weapons of mass destruction programme, including a nuclear weapons programme”.

Neocons on the Nose in N.S.W.
The Sun-Herald/Taverner poll conducted on Thursday and Friday found on primary votes Labor leads the Liberals 45 per cent to 36 per cent, with the Greens on 11 per cent, One Nation 2 per cent, Democrats 1 per cent, Independents 3 per cent and 2 per cent undecided.

Eleven percent for the Greens. Wow, that means the ALP and the Greens + Australian Democrats (ie the more progressive side of politics down under) are together pulling around 70 percent of the vote
Tim Blair
SANDRA KANCK, leader of the South Australian Democrats, has embraced Stephen Pelletiere's line on the gassing of Kurds at Halabja. She's read his twisted words into the SA Parliamentary record:

....accusing him (Saddam) of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct because, as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq but Halabja is not one of them.

Tim Blair brushed me off when I challenged him with this CIA pro-Saddam counterspin from the 1980s. Now maybe he will remove the sneer and have a closer look at the facts.

Here's the full dope:

Re: Halabja


From: Glen Rangwala
Subject: Re: Halabja
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2002 00:36:03 +0000 (GMT)


Dear Mark

I've refrained from posting to the list before on this issue, out of concern that it will provoke a more substantial (and to my mind, fruitless) discussion. No doubt someone will come back at this with further, tortuous explications in an attempt to demonstrate that it really was the Iranians that did it. But nevertheless, since you ask, and in an attempt to correct some of the misinterpretations put around previously, here goes.

The source for most of these "exposes" of Halabja was a report entitled 'Iraqi power and US security in the Middle East' by Stephen Pelletiere (trained in politics, also claims Iran was behind the 1991 intifada in
Southern Iraq), ret. Colonel Douglas V. Johnson (trained in strategic studies) and Leif Rosenberger (trained in economics). It was published by the US Army War College - not usually a source that campaigners take as
providing the gospel truth. I mention the authors' academic background only in order to point out that none of them (to my knowledge) are trained in chemistry or medical diagnostics. As far as I'm aware, the IHT
piece of 1990 was just referring to this study (though I haven't seen that article directly).

Contrary to the claim made in one of the authors cited by Ghazwan it cannot be said that this book "examined very closely the behaviour of the Iraqi army during the hostilities with Iran". Indeed, it only makes brief mention of Halabja, and then only assertively (no evidence is offered). On page 52 of the book it is simply written:

"In March 1988, the Kurds at Halabjah were bombarded with chemical weapons, producing a great many deaths. Photographs of the Kurdish victims were widely disseminated in the international media. Iraq was blamed for the Halabjah attack, even though it was subsequently brought out that Iran too had used chemicals in this operation, and it seemed likely that it was the Iranian bombardment that had actually killed the Kurds."

That's it, the basis of much of the claims that have been circulating on casi-discuss for the last few years.

So why did these authors take this line? Well, the focus of their study is not on Halabja, human rights in Iraq or international welfare, but is indicated by the title of the study, "US security in the Middle East".
Straight after making their claim on Halabja, the authors detail what they mean by "US security in the Middle East":

"As a result of the outcome of the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq is now the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf, an area in which we have vital interests. To maintain an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Gulf to the
West, we need to develop good working relations with all of the Gulf states, and particularly with Iraq, the strongest." (p.53)

This is two sentences after their take on Halabja. Human rights organisations' attempts to penalise Iraq are "without sufficient thought for the adverse diplomatic effects" (p.53). Again, p.57: "under pressure
from the Iraqis, all the Arab states of the Gulf - with the possible exception of Oman - would tacitly support a move to withdraw US privilieges in the Gulf" - and so Iraq needs to be kept on side, lest "US privileges" be withdrawn.

OK, that's the ad hominem attack as such. Turning to the actual arguments themselves, Douglas Johnson has explained them in a little more detail in personal correspondence with a colleague of mine. The sole evidential material provided is that the photos of Kurdish victims showed blue discoloration of extremities, and this was an indication of use of a cyanide compound, most probably hydrogen cyanide or its derivatives
("blood gas"); since it was claimed that Iraq did not make use of hydrogen cyanide, someone else must have done it. Therefore (the argument goes), it must have been Iran.

This is coupled with a claim that since Halabja was only recently captured by the Iranian-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, there was probably an Iranian mix-up and the Iranians ended up bombing their own side.

The problems with this argument are numerous. Most obviously, why on earthwould Iran bomb a town so extensively whose inhabitants were among the core supporters of their ally, the PUK? The argument of "fog of war" fails to hold, even if the Iranian air force had thought that Iraqi troops were still present in Halabja.

Even that seems unlikely: the PUK captured Halabja on 15 March 1988. They were accompanied by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who coordinated PUK actions. The town was fully under PUK/Iranian control 4 hours after they entered the town. The eyewitness testimony collected by
Physicians for Human Rights and by British filmmaker Gwynne Roberts, who was in Halabja & captured the attack and aftermath on film, confirms this: the PUK controlled all exits to the town, and were preventing civilians from leaving as they thought that the Iraqis would not spread their artillery bombardment of surrounding areas to the centre of the town if it was fully inhabited (human shields). I find it hard to believe that
with Iranian troops in the town for 36 hours before the chemical weapons attacks, the field commanders still thought that Iraqi forces were still in possession of the town.

The actual attack began at nightfall on the 16th, when 8 aircraft dropped chemical bombs; they were followed throughout the night by 14 aircraft sorties, with 7 to 8 planes in each group. Intermittent bombardment
continued until the 18th (some reports say the morning of the 19th). If the Johnson et al argument is to be believed, Iranians were bombing their own elite units and key supporters for 48 hours, even though news reports were already circulating about the defeat of Iraqi troops on the 15th.

Regarding the nature of the CWs used - the crucial element in Johnson's analysis - the most detail survey of the medical effects was done by Professor Christine Gosden, a medical geneticist from Liverpool Uni, who
has (I think) done the only survey into the long-term effects of the CW attack (obvious access problems until recently). From looking at the health problems of those who were victims of the attacks on Halabja, her
results show that mustard gas, sarin, tabun and VX were used in the attack.

Prior UN investigations had catalogued Iraqi use of Tabun and mustard gas from 1983, but ongoing into the later stages of the war (see in particular the specialist report of the UN Sec-Gen of 26/3/84, and the UN expert
commission report on use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war doc no. S/18852 of 1988). Iraqi use of sarin and VX has been widely asserted (the former, by the Physicians for Human seems quite clear that all the chemical agents that Gosden traces the use of at Halabja had been used previously by Iraq.

By contrast, I have seen no reliable analysis of Iranian use of either Tabun or Hydrogen Cyanide - Dr Johnson doesn't tell us that he has any such evidence either: all he says is that there was no previous use of
cyanide from the Iraqi side, and infers from this that it must have been the Iranians. By contrast, the presence of cyanide which Dr Johnson claims (but is still disputed; the claim stems primarily from Iranian autopsies on victims I believe, but are not independently confirmed) is perfectly explicable in terms of Iraqi use of Tabun. Gosden says:

"The Halabja attack involved multiple chemical agents -- including mustard gas, and the nerve agents SARIN, TABUN and VX. Some sources report that cyanide was also used. It may be that an impure form of TABUN, which has a cyanide residue, released the cyanide compound."

(http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1998_hr/s980422-cg.htm; reposted in
a better format at: http://www.chem-bio.com/resource/gosden.html)

The only credible report that Johnson himself cites in his defence, a PhD from Syracuse University in 1993 - rather than supporting Johnson's case - shows that the decomposition of the chemical agent, Tabun (which Iraq did use) produces a cyanide compound. Iraq didn't need to use hydrogen cyanide directly in order to produce blue discoloration around mouths. Its established repertoire of chemicals did that as well.

This interpretation has also been supported by the Jean Pascal Zanders, Project Leader of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's Chemical and Biological Warfare Project, who conducted
interviews with victims of Halabja brought to Brussels for treatment. Zanders argues that direct use of hydrogen cyanide at Halabja was unlikely. Hydrogen cyanide is itself highly volatile. It must be
delivered on the target in huge quantities to be effective and its effects are gone in a matter of seconds. The heat in Halabja would have rendered this even more problematic. Furthermore, the flashpoint of hydrogen
cyanide is very low which means that it easily explodes. So at least some bombs or containers with the agent, if that was the method of delivery, would have exploded upon impact. There are no reports of any such
explosions (unlike the many accounts of French drums filled with hydrogen cyanide exploding in mid-air or upon impact when lobbed towards the German trenches in WWI).

Finally, there is no evidence of Iranian use of hydrogen cyanide either. Iran has submitted its declarations on past CW programmes to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international
body overseeing the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. International inspectors have verified these declarations, including those regarding former CW production facilities. Zanders mentions that Iran only had pilot plant-scale CW production facilities towards the end of and just after the war. He argues that Iran does not in retrospect appear to have had the capability to mount a major CW attack. This is consistent with UN reports of the time (including the 1988 report referred to above) which found no evidence of large scale Iranian use (it is probable, though, that there were small trial uses by Iran in 1987).

So, in summary, either the atrocity at Halabja was carried out by the Iraqi military against their enemies - with a set of chemical warfare agents that they had a record of use prior to Halabja, and with a proven reputation for using chemical weapons in large amounts against civilians (the mustard gas attacks on Majnun island in September 1984 are estimated to have killed 40,000 people) - or by the Iranians, against
their own allies and soldiers in an attack using chemicals that there's no evidence that they ever have had. If you still choose to believe the latter, you should be aware that the only original report I know of that supports your position is primarily concerned with maintaining friendly relations with Iraq for oil and geostrategic reasons, and shows little understanding of the nature of the chemical agents used in the war.

I hope this is useful.

Best regards

On Mon, 7 Jan 2002 mark44@myrealbox.com wrote:

> At the time, the Kurds and human rights groups said that it was
> Iraq. The UK & US governments were directly and indirectly
> blaming Iran and shifting the blame away from Iraq. Again at the
> time, I took this to be 'proof' of Iraq's guilt as the US/UK were
> strongly supporting SH.
> It would be interesting to know the truth rather than the US/UK spin
> and misinformation from the time.
> Mark Parkinson
> Bodmin
> Cornwall
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
> For removal from list, email soc-casi-discuss-request@lists.cam.ac.uk
> CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.

Glen Rangwala

Faculty of Social and Political Sciences
Free School Lane
Tel: 44 (0)7930 627944
Fax: 44 (0)7092 330826

Yahoo! News - Agencies Warn of Lone Terrorists
The officials said a war would inflame anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world, adding to a litany of causes that have stoked hatred of the United States. One of the main issues expressed by many Arabs is their belief that the United States has supported Israel in its effort to put down the Palestinian intifada, or uprising. And some people may decide to strike against American targets almost on the spur of the moment, officials warned.

The "lone wolf", acting independently, is the new threat. That most of this activity is occurring in the White Supremacist movement, who also hates Jews, seems to be of little concern to the media, or to Shrub, since he politically benefits from such Klan-like groupings and people who are their fellow travellers.

The Observer | International | US considers intervention in Colombia
The United States is considering direct military intervention in Colombia for the first time following the murder of an American and the kidnapping of three others, all suspected CIA agents.

The US embassy in Colombia has recommended Washington make a 'major response' to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels responsible, and American officials have confirmed that military action is being considered to recover the men from the dense jungles of the southern province of Caqueta.

The U.S. must be facing a coke shortage.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Iraqis will not be pawns in Bush and Blair's war game
This in no way bestows legitimacy on its objectives and methods, and its policies are rejected by most Iraqis and others in the region. Indeed, the main historical opposition to the Ba'ath regime - including various strands of the left, the Arab nationalist parties, the Communist party, the Islamic Da'wa party, the Islamic party (the Muslim Brotherhood) and others - has rejected war and US patronage over Iraqi politics. The prevalent Iraqi opinion is that a US attack on Iraq would be a disaster, not a liberation, and Blair's belated concern for Iraqis is unwelcome.

Never mind. The Pollyannas of the Australian Liberal Party and U.S. Southern Republican hicks in league with extremist Zionist casino kingpins have sorted out the problems of Iraqis already.

Be alert, not alarmed folks. Nothing to see here, go on about your consuming.

It's Back
I mentioned that I barely know Paul Wolfowitz, which is true. But I do admire him enormously, not only because he is both a genuine scholar and an effective policy practitioner, not only because he has been right on most of the major issues during his career, but because he is now the focus of world anti-Semitism. He carries the burden of their hatred, which emanates not only from the Arab world and France, but from some people in our own country, which I had so long underestimated.

Brooks sees anti-semitism. I see rabid Zionism, making Wolfowitz, Frum et al. fair game over the divided loyalties question.

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Winds of change herald Blair's "Green Monday"
Campaigning NGOs have claimed that rather than a coherent and properly joined-up Climate Change Programme, what we have at the moment is a ragbag of disconnected and compromised policy interventions. They have therefore set all sorts of critical 'success criteria' for the Energy White Paper. Will it position the UK once and for all on a genuinely sustainable, low-carbon energy path? Will it (at last!) get real about renewable energy, given that we lag so far behind many of our European competitors in this area, despite having some of the best renewable energy resources anywhere in the world?

Will it positively incentivise energy suppliers to put energy efficiency at the heart of their commercial strategies, rather than treating it as some dowdy poor relation that only gets her charitable look-in when all else fails? And will it avoid the nuclear trap, resisting the unhelpful blandishments of the Government's own chief scientist and other 'independent' advisers that the only way to keep the lights on and simultaneously reduce CO 2 emissions is to build dozens of new nuclear reactors?

Focus groups show war with Iraq is far more acceptable to people with a slight coating of green rhetoric on energy -- hence Shrub's State of the Union appeal for "Freedom Fuel" -- another way to gift the car industry with nice little $US 1.2 billion sop.

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Blair in 'prickly' meeting at the Vatican
A Vatican statement after the meeting said the Pope 'reiterated the need for all parties to the Iraqi crisis to collaborate with the United Nations and use the resources offered by international law to avoid the tragedy of a war which according to many people is still avoidable'.
Blair made no official comment after the meeting. Downing Street's silence on the visit has outstripped even the Vatican, notorious for sealing its best secrets within the Vatican City.

Looks like Blair's "Holier than the Pope" routine has fallen, predicatably, flat on its face.

Oil Prices: How Big a Threat? (Hint: Watch the $40 Mark)

With one eye on Iraq and the memory of Kuwait's fiery oil wells still burning bright in their memories, some economists say the U.S. is set up for an energy crisis of historic proportions.

Economists are watching crude-oil prices -- which recently topped $37 a barrel, their highest level in more than two years -- with much hand-wringing.

"Whenever we've seen oil prices approach $40 a barrel and stay there a couple of months, we have had a very high risk of a new recession. The $37 is definitely raising eyebrows," says Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute in New York. "It's not so much the number, it's whether it persists at those levels. If oil approaches $40 and stays there for two months, the risk of GDP being negative is high."

That overused word of late, "uncertainty," permeates talk of how action in the Middle East may affect oil supply and prices. During the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein's retreating troops set the country's wells ablaze, making more than one billion barrels of oil go poof.

Even Americans who aren't glued to CNN as events unfold in Iraq can't escape geopolitical issues. It's common knowledge that higher oil prices act like an additional tax on consumer spending -- put simply, when that whole $20 bill goes to fill 'er up, there's nothing left over to spend on beef jerky or a six pack of Schlitz at the Kwik-E-Mart. Gas prices are currently at $1.66 and rising, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration..

Increased heating-oil prices also take a bite out of household budgets, and in the densely populated Northeast, this winter has been bone-chilling (in case you're a stickler for numbers, January here in the New York area was 32% colder than last year, the EIA says).

None of this is good news considering that the American economy has relied entirely on the consumer to keep it limping along the past year; businesses are still mostly in bunker mode, awaiting better earnings visibility. Should consumer dollars suddenly start to dry up, it would be dire for the economy.

Meanwhile, a nasty confluence of events has some who watch oil markets predicting supply disruptions much like those in the 1970s.

Besides the expected war in Iraq, a strike in Venezuela -- the world's fifth-largest exporter of oil -- has capped supply. Economists point out that U.S. dependency on foreign oil is near an all-time high, and inventories are near record lows.

According to Dr. A.F. Alhajji, an assistant professor of economics at Ohio Northern University with a Ph.D. in petroleum economics, U.S. dependence on oil imports is currently about 53%; thirty years ago, only 35% of oil used here was imported.

In addition, there's just not as much out there.

The current world excess petroleum capacity is the lowest in thirty years, excluding 1991, when Iraq and Kuwaiti capacity were taken off the market because of the Gulf War, says Dr. Alhajji, who is also a contributing editor for World Oil magazine.

He compares the current situation to 1979, when the Iranian revolution took 5.6 million barrels of oil off the market every day for six months (the largest supply disruption ever), and 1973, when the Arab-Israeli War diverted more than four million barrels a day. The Gulf War also diverted more than four million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency.

"The probability of getting into an energy crisis has never been higher," says Dr. Alhajji. "Both those years were followed by recessions, but those years the energy crisis happened after periods of economic growth. This is the first time we are having an energy crisis when the economy is down. No one in the government or private sector knows what to do."


Hubbert's Peak of Oil is just around the corner, folks. Get ready for it now.

It's time for Barak to rally supporters (July 14, 2000)
Right-wing opponents of the peace process that began at Oslo seven years ago have switched tactics after their early attacks on Israeli leaders led to charges of interference in that country's politics. More recently they've been wrapping themselves in the American flag and peddling the line that the peace process is damaging to U.S. national interests.

The pro war people are far, far better organised and funded than the pro peace people. But we have the momentum.

Irving Moskowitz: Extremist Enemy of Peace in Israel
This stamplike city, the smallest in California, is nine-tenths of a square mile and is bounded by the 605 Freeway and a drainage ditch. It is a poor place; the population of about 15,000 has an average yearly income of less than $10,000. The mayor lives in a trailer and the burned-out bulbs in the neon sign on the bingo hall leave lighted letters -- B and O -- that only hint of what is there. But it is this sagging bingo hall that holds one of the deepest intrigues in the state. Few among the working-class players who gamble away their nickels and quarters and dollars here in what is billed as the "fastest game in town" suspect where their money goes. The games' profits go to building Israeli developments on Arab land that Israel occupied during the 1967 war and then incorporated within Jerusalem's boundaries.

The New York Times dissects part of the scary saga of the "Amazing Doctor Irving" -- the millionaire who could yet usher in the Apocalypse with the profits he rips out of Latinos in Los Angeles. His foundation also apparently supports the rapidly pro-nuclear weapons, rabidly pro Sharon line taken by people like Eliot Abrams and other White House nasties.

Iraq Pins Hopes on Antiwar Mood at U.N. and in Streets Around the World

"Clearly the object of the U.S. administration is to adopt a resolution that authorizes military aggression against Iraq," Muhammad Mehdi Saleh, the Iraqi trade minister, said at a news conference this week.

"This will meet a very hard position from other countries," he said. "The United States will not have support, due to the fact that those demonstrations took place, even in the United States and Britain."

The Peace movement is in solidarity with the innocent men, women and children of Iraq who are most likely to bear the brunt of the suffering, as always. People such as Muhammad Mehdi Saleh need to realise that the millions who marched in the West are now talking directly to the Iraqi people, not to the Saddam regime.

Saddam can ennoble himself best among peace loving people by renouncing war, by giving up his weapons of mass destruction, not to George W. Bush at the point of gun, but to Hans Blix. By doing so, he will "heap coals of fiery love" on Shrub's fast greying temples, and strike a mighty blow for Islam at the same time. I think this is what Allah wants -- a jihad without violence, a spiritual jihad against the Empire.

We in the western peace movement will then do our part to ensure that justice is done by all parties -- including those that gave Saddam his weapons of mass destruction, and supported his years of ruthless brutality and war against his brothers and sisters in Iran, Kuwait, the Marsh Arabs, the Shi'ite minority and the Kurdish peoples.

From Protest to Resistance.
Australian Christian Peace Activist Ciaron O'Reilly's email from his Prison Cell in Dublin, Ireland.

We have had the events of the past few daze beamed to us in prison through the questionable prism of Rupert Murdock’s Sky and Fox networks. This dodgy diet has been supplemented by steady support of hope and resistance for peace. the pluralism of the million plus London peace march-cultures, ages, faith, styles, humour-was a joy to behold, even through the medium of the Skyline feed. The march in Dublin surpassed all expectations-100,000 strong. Congradulations to all those who made these manifestations.

The next day the U.S administration had not missed a war drum beat. National Security honcho Condoleeza Rice laid out the game plan, U.S. troop deployments to Turkey escalated with out Turkey's permission, the N.A.T.O. hiccup being cured by George Robertson. The British Labour administration spinning like crazy-Blair playing the hurt victim, John Reed playing the tough cop, no apologies, power on. The Irish government falls back on the only damage control tactic they know-keep your head down, ass covered and mouth shut.

If truth be told,

What put the issue of Irish complicity in this U.S. war on the front burner was largely a number of solo efforts (Tim's planespotting, Eosin’s one man/one spray can/one barrister engagement of a Hercules and an Irish High Court, Mary’s spontaneous disarmament of a U.S. navy plane) and a couple of fragile collective efforts (the 4-week Shannon Peace Camp and us the "Pit Stop Ploughshares" lightening striking twice on the very same/recently repaired/security guaranteed U.S. navy plane).

This is not to ignore the grassroots education and rallying work by S.W.P/I.A.W.M/Grassroots Network/W.S.M/Local peace groups-but it was really these acts of direct nonviolence resistance that took the game to the government.

Surprise, surprise-none of these resisters were allowed to address the crowd at Saturdays rally in Dublin. The specter’s platform was grid locked by opportunists, careerists, church and political bureaucrats desperately attempting to lead/hijack the movement. We have created the space for these bureaucrats to operate, colonize the space and sell us out. The scripture (John 10: 12) refers to these folks as the "Hirelings”, their job is to control and manage dissent-channel it, contain it and kill it on behalf of the wolf.

The demonisation of our Ploughshares community by the state and attempted marginalisation of imprisoned resisters by the movement bureaucrats is a result of us breaking a "gentleman’s agreement” between the state and these "legitimate voices of dissent”. The Irish state decrees that” you can have your protests as long as we can have our war!”

When we disarmed the U.S. navy plane at Shannon we moved from protest to resistance, breaking this agreement. The response (as predicted in mark13: 9) was arrest, criminalisation, prison, lies, slander, troop deployment, Air Rianta civil injunction, denunciation of friends, warm friends cooling and apparently censorship from the platform at Saturday's Dublin peace rally.

This isn’t a whinge, it's a political analysis of the dynamics between the state-radicals-moderates/liberal........just the way it is/has always been, acknowledge it, shed false expectations of solidarity from such quarters, celebrate the solidarity flowing our way form decent folks who see the war as something to resist rather than some kind of marketing opportunity...and move on! Move on to what? Solidarity and resistance!

We must not be seduced into slumber by the self-congratulatory rhetoric of those who wish to contain our movement...with nonviolent resistance the movement must always maintain the initiative. As a movement we must move rapidly from protest to nonviolent resistance joining 2,000 folks in England who have signed a "Pledge of Resistance" committed to direct action, the leader of the British Railway Union suggesting a general strike, the Austrian closure of borders to U.S. troop deployment, 3 Dominican nuns Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson who in October disarmed a Minuteman III nuclear missile silo in Colorado, the Australian navy personnel sent home for refusing anthrax injections, Barbara Smadema who last week disabled 3 satellite dishes at a N.A.T.O. airbase in the southern Netherlands........The hits keep coming.

This war against the Iraqi people and for Iraqi resources has spanned over two decades from sponsoring Sadam to the -91 Gulf massacre to 13 years of sanctions to present U.S. plans to invade, conquer and occupy. It has a cost over two million Iraqi lives. We are 2 weeks out from a major escalation of this war by the most dangerous U.S. administration in history. When questioned about our brothers and sisters who have travelled to Iraq to stand in nonviolent solidarity, a U.S. state department. bureaucrat responded "You might as well ask me why moths fly in to a flame !"They will be slain along with the Iraqis.

Two weeks out from this major military escalation we must directly resist U.S. troop and munition movements through Ireland. We should be doing this or offering proactive, practical solidarity to those who step forward to resist

March 1st at Shannon Airport.

Much Peace

Ciaron O Reilly

I believe and trust Ciaron would say the same thing about Iraqi dissidents within Iraq, tortured by the regime. Some of these brave men and women from Iraq -- whom Howard sees as "queue jumpers" unless their paperwork is in order when they flee for their lives -- have supported his symbolic digging up of Shannon Airport tarmac.

Most Iraqis outside Iraq want to see Saddam put on trial for his crimes, not given safe exile as Rummy has said he would do as his final attempt to "appease" of the dictator. It was a "fair trade", he added. Where's the morality in that?

One more sell-out. From one amoralist to the other.

"And into plowshares, turn your swords, nations shall make war no more" -- this is the biblical injunction Ciaron's mob try to live out. Justice is a hard matter. Impartial justice separates the sheep from the goats, and starts at home, with one's own self-examination.

Howard's phone number becomes front-page news - smh.com.au
With Mr Howard having accused the peace marches of "giving comfort" to Saddam Hussein, The Chaser co-editor Charles Firth hailed his story as "a victory for the Australian people".

He said: "People have suggested that what we did was an invasion of the Prime Minister's privacy but let's face it, this is nothing more than a slight inconvenience to him. We strongly believe an invasion of Iraq is a bigger invasion of people's privacy."

Has the Firth Factor gone too far this time? The line is now disconnected, btw.

The Privatization of Perle
Richard Perle, Chairman of the American Enterprise Institute’s Defense Policy Board and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, debate military action in Iraq.

Atrios is on the spot.
Warnings unheeded - NASA engineer - smh.com.au
A NASA safety engineer warned days before Columbia broke apart that he feared the shuttle was at risk of a devastating breach near its left wheel, and he suggested people in the US space agency weren't adequately considering the threat.
"We can't imagine why getting information is being treated like the plague," the engineer wrote in one of a number of emails released today that describe concerns about Columbia's safety in the days before its break-up.

Let's call it....the Shrub syndrome.

NSW Election 2003 - smh.com.au
The NSW Greens were yesterday expected to tell the Carr Government the policy commitments the party wants in return for valuable Green preferences in marginal seats.

The whole election in N.S.W. (where Sydney is located) next month is shaping up as a referendum on the war.

Bush Family Betrays Kurdish State -- Yet Again
In the latest buildup to war, the Kurds took comfort from their special status as the only Iraqi opposition group to control a territory, to possess a significant population and to have a substantial military force.

But Turkish consent to the deployment of American troops for a northern front is considered an important element in American planning. In addition to billions in cash, Turkey has demanded ironclad assurance that there will not be a separate Kurdish state.

The Fruit does not fall far from the Tree. Or, the Shrub stands even lower than the Bush, when it comes to the Kurdish people.

So much for "I know better than the Pope, war is the moral option" school of thought.

The Condi cum queen and Powell are just as amoral as Henry Super K.

Photos show 65,000 at peak of S.F. rally / Aerial study casts doubt on estimates of 200,000
A survey using sophisticated aerial photography of Sunday's anti-war march and rally in San Francisco has produced results that indicate a far smaller crowd than the 200,000 protesters estimated by police and event organizers.

The results of the independent survey, commissioned by The Chronicle and SFGate.com, cast doubt on traditional counting methods and contradict the crowd estimate of 200,000, which was reported in this newspaper and news media around the world. Crowd size in a demonstration is important because organizers tend to use it as evidence of support for their cause.

The warbloggers at lgf are all over this one. My opinion is that at 65,000, that would still be a pretty big peace march, considering that Stalingrad on the Tigris has yet to occur and the U.S.A. is the most pro-war nation on the planet right now.

In the end, it is the quality of the support that is most important, and in this respect the quality was very high indeed, with many middle class professionals, veterans and elderly people marching for the first time in the lives. I would say, however, that this support is still quite soft and could collapse in any direction depending upon events over the next two months or so.

NEWS.scotsman.com - International - Millions worth of diamonds stolen
The Diamond Centre, at the heart of Antwerp’s historic gem district, has surveillance cameras everywhere and requires special passes to get in. The room where the vaults are located is even better protected, with round-the-clock guards standing by.
Since there is no sign of a break-in at the entrance or in the cellar, police suspect an inside job.

Mossad, anyone? Let the conspiracies theories begin! Here's some more grist for the mill:

The Guardian's story from the 19th
BBC story from the 18th
BBC followup from the 19th
The AP story that most newspapers carried
The Straits Times reports that the diamondsare almost entirely untrackable

Also, an article on the botched Millenium Star robbery back in 2000

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?