Saturday, March 22, 2003

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Unscathed locals sense hope
But on the streets of Baghdad, small signs of confidence emerged, reflecting the belief that this time the Americans might show mercy to cilvilians, unlike the confrontation over Kuwait in 1991. That war opened with attacks on Iraqi power stations and water treatment centres, plunging Baghdad into darkness during a bombardment that dragged on for more than 40 days, and inflicting a blow on its infrastructure from which the city has never recovered.
"This war looks different. When you have light, when you have water, when you have food, I think you feel more secure. You can feel the change," said Dhia AK al-Jaddue, a doctor in the casualty ward of al-Kindi hospital. "We expected something much more severe."

The Courier Mail: War threatens humanity: Pope [22mar03]
It was his first public comment on the US-led military attacks since the war began on Thursday.
"When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society," John Paul said. "Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men."

Neville Chamberlain: On the Nazi Invasion of Poland
Only last night the Polish Ambassador did see the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Ribbentrop. Once again he expressed to him what, indeed, the Polish Government had already said publicly, that they were willing to negotiate with Germany about their disputes on an equal basis.
What was the reply of the German Government? The reply was that without another word the German troops crossed the Polish frontier this morning at dawn and are since reported to be bombing open towns. In these circumstances there is only one course open to us.

This invasion reminds me of that fateful time, the very beginning of WW3.
AlterNet: Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War
Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush's running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contract.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Turkish troops 'enter Iraq'
Turkish troops have reportedly entered northern Iraq, despite opposition from the US.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Turkish forces had moved across the border to prevent a flood of refugees.

Iran and Syria could be next to stake their claims on Northern Iraq.
The Enemy of My Enemy of My Enemy Is My What? - What to do about the Iranian terrorist group that is helping Saddam, and helping us. By Michael Crowley
Whatever happens when American troops encounter NLA—either outside Baghdad or in northern Iraq—may offer a hint about Bush administration policy toward Iran (the third stop on the Axis of Evil Tour). If we leave the NLA brigade alone, it may signal that U.S. relations with Iran are likely to turn icy.
After the Sept. 11 attacks George W. Bush vowed that the war against terrorism "will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." At a press conference last month the Iranian foreign minister mocked this claim, saying Bush's implicit tolerance for the MEK suggests he believes there is both "good and bad terrorism." Unfortunately, the man has a point.

Russia to block UN approval for war. 22/3/2003. ABC News Online
"Without a doubt, there will be attempts to find a way to confer legitimacy on military operations or post-war reorganisation in Iraq through the UN Security Council," Mr Ivanov said.
"We, of course, will not give this military action legitimacy through the Security Council."
On Friday, Mr Ivanov said Russia and other countries would ask the United Nations to rule on whether the United States had violated international law by launching war on Iraq.
Russia, which has big economic and oil interests in Iraq, aligned itself with France and China in opposing military action to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and disarm Iraq of banned weapons that Washington says it is holding.

A view on the 22 March rally in Brisbane, Australia

About 5,000 people demonstrated in Brisbane Australia this afternoon with a serious, yet orderly rally and march that reminded me of Brisbane's protest heyday of the 1970s under Joh, who banned streemarches and copped an earful in return. The event finished up with a boogie session of 300 chanting, sitting activists and a crowd of around 1000 supporters defying police pleas to disperse.

First-- an unexpectedly large turnout, considering the PM's "don't take it out on the troops, take it out on me" speech and the fact that Australian troops are now engaged in actual combat.

Since war broke out, many have been in despair. After months of hard letter writing, organising and marching, to see the bombs start to rain down on Iraq, with no UN approval in hand, is a jolt. To come together and grieve, while the cruise missiles were on their way to Baghdad, was very good indeed.

The war is now stunning people to silence, however. Even Margo Kingston says to stay off the street, to forget about protesting against the war. My own happiness at the new hope for a democratic Iraq is tempered by knowledge that this is not really the ultimate concern of the Boy emperor.

Less than 10 percent of Aussies supported this sort of war in November, yet now Murdoch wants us to believe that prowar has soared, so now Antiwar retains a slender 4 percent lead.

On the streets, there is a definite sense, however, that Australians are coming around to support the war, but "pockets of resistance" remain pungent and energetic in their critique of the New American Century.

I, an American-Australian, was totally shocked with the depth of anger expressed by these Australians, including the former ALP Speaker of the Qld Parliament Jim Fouras. Fouras, who is a long-time state ALP warhorse, delivered a blistering attack on Bush and Howard.

I was also dismayed by the deep contempt expressed by this predominantly young, educated middle class group of Australians with President George W. Bush's performance as the unelected President of the United States. They don't seem to yet want, understand or appreciate The New American Century.

Former US State Dept offical and author William Blum told the vibed, colourful throng that there were only two superpowers...the USA and the world public opinion.

The battle the USA must now win is for the heart of public opinion, and to do that the USA must show it can, somewhere in its character, still listen to international law, give up the hubris and put away its own weapons of mass destruction.

Civilian Toll: A Moral and Legal Bog
"The Department of Defense doesn't consider it part of their essential task to account for civilian deaths, so the military system lacks empirical data about the damage. They have legal review and political sensibilities, but whether or not those translate into effective practices is another matter."

Mystery disease infects more people in Hong Kong
More than 200 people in Hong Kong have now contracted a mystery disease, and one more victim has died, officials said Saturday as health chiefs from Hong Kong and China discussed ways to cooperate in the fight against infectious illnesses.
Meanwhile, Chinese Health Minister Zhang Wenkang said Saturday there was no proof that severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, spread from the mainland to Hong Kong, despite widespread suspicions of a link.
A Chinese medical professor who visited Hong Kong in February infected six others in a hotel, and they then spread the disease in Hong Kong and several countries.
The professor got sick in China and the World Health Organization has been working to determine whether an earlier outbreak in southern Guangdong province and the latest outbreak _ which has killed 10 _ are linked.
Zhang acknowledged doctors in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, were puzzled during the outbreak described as atypical pneumonia that killed five and sickened more than 300.

This is six degrees of separation in horrible technicolour.
Civilian Toll: A Moral and Legal Bog
Scholars and military officials often split over what is the obligation of attacking forces when the commanders know those civilians are there. Schoolchildren are clearly still civilians, but what about people who volunteer to stand by a military installation to deter an attack? Human rights advocates and some legal experts, for example, say those human shields are still civilians, so the rule of proportionality applies. The military doesn't agree. "They lose that protection," said Maj. Ted Wadsworth, a spokesman for the Defense Department. "They've chosen to become combatants."

Civilian Toll: A Moral and Legal Bog
The most widely accepted rules derive from the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which govern a range of humanitarian issues arising in wartime, from aiming at civilians to the treatment of prisoners of war. In 1977, protocols were added to elaborate on the conventions, and that's where bitter disagreements have arisen, particularly with the Americans. (Although more than 150 nations have ratified the protocols, the United States has not.) And while the United States recognizes some of them as "customary international law," it has rejected others, among them how to measure the military value of a target.

Never in history has there been such an outpouring of resistance from average people all around the world before a war had even begun. Millions took a stand. This doctrine of moral and popular preemption must be sustained.
Countless nations, many of them quite impoverished, listened to the majority voices of their own citizens opposing the war. These governments opted not to take the huge sums offered to support the military effort, but instead chose to heed the sentiments of their citizens. In these contexts, this was a considerable step forward for democracy.
A first step to personal healing is to acknowledge the depth of the devastation that many of us feel. We should not pretend it does not exist.
But, we must also look forward. The energies mobilized recently must not dissipate. They should be channeled and broadened.
This is the beginning, not the end, of heightened vigilance. With war, domestic civil liberties face their greatest threat. We must not squelch the right to protest under the pressures of patriotism.
World attention has in the past months fixated on the desire for a diplomatic and United Nations solution. If we want lasting peace and security in the Middle East, if we want international law to hold any meaning, we must begin to require that UN resolutions are applied uniformly across all countries. We must begin to focus our energies in that direction.
In Iraq, we must watch to see that the promises for a truly functioning democracy are honored, that the long-term and expensive commitment for rebuilding is provided.

Archbishop Tutu must be behind the times -- US1.5 billion in contracts for "rebuilding" have already been put out to tender -- friendly US companies like Cheney's Halliburton only invited to the party.
War on Iraq - smh.com.au
Offshore oil wells seized

US Navy SEALs have seized two of Iraq's main offshore oil terminals, preventing the crews on board from detonating explosives that could have sent millions of barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, Fox News reported today.
The two oil terminals, 35km off Iraq's southern coast, were taken in a SEAL operation slightly over 24 hours ago and then were placed under the control of the US Marines.
Fox reporter Steve Centanni, who was with the Navy SEAL operation, said explosives were found on board the terminals and one section of the underwater pipeline connecting the terminals to onshore oil facilities had been booby-trapped.
The US forces took control of the terminals with hardly any opposition and the 41 Iraqi workers found on the two terminals were quickly subdued. The workers were being held by US troops, Fox reported.
The network said transmission of the report of the operation had been delayed at the request of the Pentagon.
The two terminals are one of the main locations for loading Iraqi oil into supertankers for export.

I get the eerie image not of a D-Day like assault for liberty, but the seizure of property by force - like in "theft"
War on Iraq - smh.com.au
Ms Rofe said it was difficult to leave the Hotel Palestine, which houses the office. She said flying debris, including parts of bombs and missiles, made it too dangerous to leave the building.
"We cannot move under all this bombing, glass flies everywhere," she said.
"There have been casualties but I can't tell you how many people."
Ms Rofe said she had seen ambulances carrying the injured to hospital during the night. "Many people yesterday were injured, they are in hospital being treated for very important injuries."
Most of the casualties were Iraqi women and children, she said.

War on Iraq - smh.com.au
50 dead in bombing of Basra: report

At least 50 people were killed in a coalition bombardment of the southern port of Basra today, the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera reported.
The television channel said the toll was compiled from a tour of hospitals made by its correspondent in the city.

The Smirking Chimp
He is also - most crucially - a liability as Commander-in-Chief. His cack-handed diplomacy meant that this war is being fought with a narrower coalition and more dispirited troops than if, say, Bill Clinton were still in power. Bush badly miscalculated on his strategy for wooing world opinion. As Yassir al-Askaly, an Iraqi exile friend of mine, told me yesterday: "The great mistake Bush made was to play to people's fears and not their hearts. It should not have been about terrifying Americans into supporting the war. It should have been about freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam. Thank God it will all have the same result in the end."

But these errors are the least of our worries. George Bush is a dry alcoholic: that is, he simply quit one day, without going through Alcoholics Anonymous or any similar group. All the evidence shows that dry alcoholics are at far greater risk of falling off the wagon, especially at times of stress. Anybody who has known a dry alcoholic will recognise the symptoms in George Bush: the aggression, the tetchiness, the transference of the addiction to other behaviours, such as fanatical exercise and obsessively acquiring more and more personal power.

ArabNews: ‘War Waged in a Surreal Landscape’
Information about the military campaign has been scanty, at best. The “embeds” have been kept almost totally out of the loop when it comes to details, strategies, directions, movements or even the commanding general’s general game plan.
As a result, Marines get a kick out of teasing embeds so desperate for news that they gather at the few televisions in this compound.
“Hey, embed, I thought you were supposed to be telling the news, not watching it,” a Marine lobbed at one point.

This war is illegal: Howard's last top law man - smh.com.au
Colin Powell in A Line in the Sand wrote that Resolution 678 "displayed the usual fuzziness of documents written by many hands and made it clear that the invasion was only to free Kuwait." It is now facile to assert that without the further resolution authorising the use of force, now abandoned, SCR 678 has revived (or may be regarded as continuing) as authority for the use of force at the whim of Australia as a self-appointed member of the "Coalition of the Willing". The question "Willing for What?" has its answer: Willing to act in breach of plain obligations of international law and comity between nations.

Friday, March 21, 2003

What about those violent pro-war protesters, eh?
Brown appeals for peaceful anti-war protests

Brown appeals for peaceful anti-war protests The Greens Senator, Bob Brown, has appealed to those against the war to protest peacefully.

Senator Brown says Australia is now a deeply divided nation and he hopes the war will be swift and fast and that Saddam Hussein will be removed quickly.

He has appealed for people on both sides of the debate to demonstrate peacefully after the Greens office in the New South Wales town of Goulburn was smashed in yesterday.

Senator Brown has also called on anti-war protesters to respect the
Australian flag.

"I would urge protesters not to burn the flag...it is our flag, it's the people who want peace in this country and who oppose this war's flag as much
as it is Prime Minister Howard's flag," he said.

"He has no mortgage on it. It's one of the symbols of the country and I support it being treated as such."

The Perpendicular Pronoun
The hawks of Bush II are not afraid of disorder in the pursuit of American dominance. They have no interest in any coalition — except their own. They see the international "we" as an impediment to joy — and to destiny. The Bush doctrine is animated by "the big I." That self-regarding doctrine, concocted by Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle back when W. was still merely a presidential gleam in Karl Rove's eye, preaches preventive pre-emptive preternatural pre-eminence.

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | Richard Perle: Thank God for the death of the UN
Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The "good works" part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions.
As free Iraqis document the quarter-century nightmare of Saddam's rule, let us not forget who held that the moral authority of the international community was enshrined in a plea for more time for inspectors, and who marched against "regime change". In the spirit of postwar reconciliation that diplomats are always eager to engender, we must not reconcile the timid, blighted notion that world order requires us to recoil before rogue states that terrorise their own citizens and menace ours.

ArabNews: Cruel War? No, This Is to Help You
Paradoxically, Blair’s prospect of a redeemed and happy Iraq was shared by one of its architects, TE Lawrence. In the 1920s he hoped that the infant state would progress onwards and upwards to become Britain’s first “brown dominion”, the Australia of the Middle East. But Lawrence also knew that for benevolent imperialism to work it needed civil peace. This was why he championed the use of bombers to chastize anyone who endangered the Pax Britannica in Iraq. Critics of aerial policing were appalled: How could you simultaneously claim to be the enlightened banner bearer of civilization and employ ferocious methods of coercion? The old dilemma of imperialism remains unresolved.

As attack on Iraq begins, question remains: Is it legal? | csmonitor.com
International-law experts are divided on whether Washington has the right to invade Iraq in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution specifically authorizing such an assault.

But most agree that President Bush cannot justify the war with his new doctrine of preemptive military action to forestall the threat that he says Saddam Hussein poses. Preemptive force "is extremely dangerous and flat-out illegal," says Jordan Paust, professor of international law at the University of Houston. "Implying a right to take out a regime that threatens us - that is quite threatening to the international legal order."

Today, I Weep for my Country... - smh.com.au
But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.

Senator Byrd delivers another bottler.
NSW Election 2003 - smh.com.au
A third Carr Labor government would embark on a huge shake-up of land use planning in NSW, creating a new super authority to take control of all water, rural and coastal planning and amalgamating other big departments like Transport and Planning.

Vote Green - It Works. That was the slogan I devised for the Queensland Greens Senate Campaign back in 1996. Now it's more true than ever. With the Greens polling 16 percent even a popular government Labor must court these voters strongly to survive.
Hanson to sing for her seat. 20/3/2003. ABC News Online
Pauline Hanson hits the recording studio today for a duet with a country crooner, but denies it is designed to bolster her campaign for a seat in the New South Wales upper house.
Miss Hanson will display her vocal talents when she records a duet with country music singer Brian Letton, assisted by composer and arranger Tommy Tycho.
But despite inviting the media along to capture the event, Miss Hanson claims it has nothing to do with seeking some last minute publicity ahead of Saturday's poll, saying the date was locked in long ago.
"It is a coincidence," she said.
Ms Hanson says the song is a message to the word about peace and harmony, but will not say what song it will be.

Ipswich-turned-Sylvania Waters resident Pauline "fishwrapper" Hanson croons for her supper.

Says Drudge. Iraqi deaths don't count.
FT.com / World / US
Statements by US officials have revealed the determination of the Bush administration to exert full and immediate authority over Iraq, while keeping options open in the long term.
"Iraqi democracy will have to be defined by the Iraqi people," Mr Grossman said. Answering a question, he said he hoped that one of the first decisions of a new Iraqi government would be to recognise the state of Israel.
A team of former US ambassadors and senior defence and intelligence officials are being recruited to serve as "advisers" in Iraqi ministries amid continuing debate between the Pentagon and State Department over how much autonomy to grant the interim Iraqi authority.

Reuters News Article
U.S. leaders say they are proud of the alliance they have assembled against Iraq, even in comparison with the broad alliance the United States assembled for the war to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference on Thursday: "The coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991."
But the facts put out by the administration itself suggest otherwise.
In 1991 at least 33 countries sent forces to the campaign against Iraq and 16 of those provided combat ground forces, including a large number of Arab countries.
In 2003 the only fighting forces are from the United States, Britain and Australia. Ten other countries are known to have offered small numbers of noncombat forces, mostly either medical teams and specialists in decontamination, making a comparable alliance of about 13 countries.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

United Press International: Top White House anti-terror boss resigns
The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.
Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.
Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.
"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."

War on Iraq - smh.com.au
Opposition leader Simon Crean said war with Iraq is illegal under international law, contradicting advice obtained by the Prime Minister, but said Australian troops on the ground would be immune from prosecution.

And so War begins, 1:05 PM Local Time

A sad day for all of humanity. Let's hope it is finished quickly.

BBC says cruise missile explosions sparse in Bagdhad so far -- "target of opportunity" only, according to AP wire.

CSIRO - Hendra virus
In 1994-95 a new virus appeared in Queensland, killing two humans and fifteen horses in two separate outbreaks. In January 1999, another horse, near Cairns, died of the disease.

In the Brisbane outbreak in September 1994, a total of 13 horses died of hyperacute respiratory disease with clinical signs similar to African Horse Sickness. The trainer and a stablehand suffered from respiratory disease at the same time. The stablehand recovered slowly but the trainer died despite hospitalisation.

Killer SARS virus is a relative of the new-ish Queensland Hendra Virus, a lethal Level-4 bug that requires the highest-level security procedures.

War within the war: shaping perceptions | csmonitor.com
In a new nine-country poll by the Pew Research Center in Washington, "positive" views of the US sank to 12 percent in Turkey and to 48 percent in Britain.

But the Pew survey also found something else: an open-mindedness about what good might come from disarming Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power, even in strongly antiwar countries like Germany.

"Success in these areas will go part of the way in repairing relations and addressing the very low image numbers," says Pew director Andrew Kohut, "but the way the US dealt with the UN is still going to keep the world focused on the way the US wields its power."

The challenge for people who campaigned against a war is to prepare for the next phase: ensuring there is no repeat of the Shah in Iraq and building a movement to confront Bush's unilateralist war agenda.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Hussein Rejects Ultimatum; U.S. Hones Its Plans for War
A Pentagon official said the plans included sending special units of troops and intelligence operatives into Iraq soon after the fighting began to fan out across the country and hunt for chemical and biological weapons.

The troops have been trained to handle such weapons, the official said, and the operatives were experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency equipped with sensors to detect nerve gas and other deadly agents.

They would try to find such weapons "sooner rather than later," the official said, moving quickly to suspected weapons sites, even though information about those sites is incomplete. The official likened the mission to a high-stakes scavenger hunt.

Isn't this what the Inspectors, which the US just kicked out, were doing in Iraq?
Republicans Resigned to Defeat on Alaska Wildlife Refuge Drilling Plan
A vote on the drilling plan will probably take place by Friday or early next week, and lobbying groups in favor of oil production in Alaska say they have not given up hope of achieving a slim Senate majority. But Republican officials say they are not counting on more than 48 votes for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"At this point, we don't have the 50 votes, and I don't think we're going to get them," a Republican official said. "So the Democrats will probably be able to strip it out."

A rare Democrat win in the US.
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage
South Korea, locked in a standoff with North Korea over the communist state's nuclear ambitions, backs the United States on Iraq and may offer non-combat troops, President Roh Moo-hyun's security chief said on Wednesday. On Monday, President Bush gave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave or face war. Saddam rejected the war ultimatum and vowed to defeat the U.S.-led allied troops.
"We have not yet decided on specifics, such as the dispatching of non-combat troops," national security adviser Ra Jong-yil told reporters. "But one thing that is clear is that we support what the United States is doing."

So far, Asia and Australia are most sympathetic to US war aims in Iraq.
Good Morning, Soldier, This Is Your Life (washingtonpost.com)
Irony and humor, the twin poltergeists of every Army camp, remain robust. Soldiers in the 3rd Brigade -- known as the Rakkasans -- have nicknamed an embedded French wire service photographer "Veto." A popular graffito in the outdoor toilet stalls warns, "If you'd voted for Gore, you wouldn't be here."

PM to face more protests
Mr Howard said ultimately the Iraq issue was more than just an argument over law.
"It is ultimately a question of right and wrong more than law," he said.
"Law's important but I don't argue that it's just a legal issue."

We are a nation of laws, not of men.
U.S. Calls Rejection of Exile Offer Hussein's 'Final Mistake'
In Baghdad, Mr. Hussein's elder son, Uday, said in a statement that Mr. Bush was ``unstable'' and that he ``should give up power in America with his family.''
State-run television broadcast an additional statement that ``Iraq doesn't choose its path through foreigners and doesn't choose its leaders by decree from Washington, London or Tel Aviv.'' The statement added: ``The march of struggle will continue against the American, English and Zionist aggressors.''

Protesters end Lodge stand-off. 19/3/2003. ABC News Online
Protesters end Lodge stand-off
Greenpeace protesters have ended their standoff at the Prime Minister's residence in Canberra after more than three hours.
They say they were holding the Prime Minister under house arrest.
The Greenpeace activists descended on the Lodge at 6:00am AEDT.

The War Prayer, by Mark Twain.
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Ending Inspections 'Not Reasonable,' Blix Says (washingtonpost.com)
UNITED NATIONS, March 18 -- The United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said today that it "was not reasonable" for the United States to end U.N. inspections in Iraq at a time when the regime was providing more cooperation than it has in more than a decade.
"I don't think it is reasonable to close the door on inspections after 31/2 months," Blix said in his first public appearance since 134 U.N. inspectors were evacuated from Iraq, effectively ending a 12-year effort to disarm Iraq through inspections. "I would have welcomed some more time."

Time to play the Card, Mr Bush

Earlier in the day, the Palestinian parliament rebuffed an attempt by Mr Arafat to cling to some of his powers. Instead it invested in the new prime minister what legislators described as the "real authority" demanded by Mr Bush as a condition for reigniting the peace process.
The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said he would have liked the new prime minister to have more power.
"We would have preferred to see even greater authority vested in a prime minister, but it is nevertheless a positive step," he said.
However, Britain can be expected to put pressure on the White House to follow through swiftly on Mr Bush's commitment to release the road map, crafted by the "quartet" of US, European Union, Russia and the UN ,which envisages a Palestinian state within three years.
On Friday, the US leader abandoned his recent insistence, at Israel's urging, that the plan would have to wait until after a war in Iraq. In an apparent attempt to bolster domestic political support for Tony Blair, he said the route to a Palestinian state would be released when a new Palestinian prime minister with "real authority" was confirmed in office.
Yesterday, Mr Blair told parliament that the release of the road map was imminent.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | The man who could be king
Could the man once destined to be king of Jordan end up as king of Iraq? Not if he has his way, although the idea is being touted around the Middle East. But the former Crown Prince Hassan would not reject another notion being mooted - that he should go to Baghdad as a mediator. And when he is done with that, he might be open to the idea of taking over in New York as the next secretary general of the United Nations. But the Iraqi throne? "I've lost my red carpet fever," he says, as we sit in his Amman home. His last dose of that "fever" was four years ago when his brother, King Hussein, came home to die in his capital, but only after delivering The Letter - the one sacking Hassan as crown prince, the heir to the throne.

I think he has been fingered as the New Shah -- but is he as predictable as the Shah was? The last para about the American millionaire is telling.
Experts at odds as PM releases legal advice - smh.com.au
Two Australian legal academics, Professor Hilary Charlesworth and Associate Professor Don Rothwell, said the advice to the Howard and Blair governments was flawed, because existing resolutions only authorised the use of force in the event of a further invasion by Iraq of Kuwait.
"To trace original authority for the use of force in 678 to current circumstances goes against the plain meaning of words and against the whole fabric of the UN charter," Professor Charlesworth said.
She accused the Governments' lawyers of selectively using phrases from UN resolutions to support their case.
Professor Rothwell said resolution 1441 had expressly left it to the Security Council to determine whether there had been a breach by Iraq severe enough to justify the use of force.

Reaction to war - smh.com.au
Peter Woodforde in Canberra
George Bush has implied that Iraqis who sabotage their oil wells in the face of a US invasion may be shot as war criminals, while Americans who pull more My Lais are safe from prosecution in the International Court in The Hague.
Australian soldiers certainly won't kill Iraqi "war criminal" prisoners under any circumstances, let alone at the whim of oleaginous creatures like Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld.
What is our soldiers' legal position? When they refuse, do they risk detention or execution by US forces or the English mercenaries? Let the bastards try - they won't know what hit them.
Bring the Diggers home to defend our country against our true global enemies.

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall
There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.
What he was saying there was that 1441 was not self-enforcing. Its language and what counted as an infraction was to be decided by the Security Council. This was the price we paid for getting for getting the unanimous vote.

Well, that removes 1441 as a possible basis for Howard's action. What about the ones that deal with the ceasefire from Gulf War One? Isn't 13 years too long to "resurrect" an order from the Security Council that did not authorise regime change anyway?
NEWS.com.au | Iraqis sue over first Gulf War (March 19, 2003)
SEVEN Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said.

The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick Moriau.
Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War, while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.

TAP: Vol 14, Iss. 4. Just the Beginning. Robert Dreyfuss.
For months Americans have been told that the United States is going to war against Iraq in order to disarm Saddam Hussein, remove him from power, eliminate Iraq's alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and prevent Baghdad from blackmailing its neighbors or aiding terrorist groups. But the Bush administration's hawks, especially the neoconservatives who provide the driving force for war, see the conflict with Iraq as much more than that. It is a signal event, designed to create cataclysmic shock waves throughout the region and around the world, ushering in a new era of American imperial power. It is also likely to bring the United States into conflict with several states in the Middle East. Those who think that U.S. armed forces can complete a tidy war in Iraq, without the battle spreading beyond Iraq's borders, are likely to be mistaken.

Will 'Shock and Awe' Be Sufficient?
"We can't forget that war is inherently violent, that people are going to die," Myers says. "As hard as we try, as hard as we try to limit civilian casualties and so-called collateral damage ... it will occur."

"We need to condition people that war is war," Myers concluded. "I think from Desert Storm and the Kosovo air campaigns people get the idea that this could be antiseptic."

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea
Joseph Winder, the president of the Korea Economic Institute of America, told the Chosun Ilbo Tuesday that his statements to the Korean deputy prime minister for the economy that showed up on an online news site were not the official position of the U.S. government. The Internet news site OhmyNews reported last week that Washington was evidently trying to tap Seoul’s opinion on a surprise attack on the North's main nuclear facility.
Winder said that he did mention to Kim last month that some in the Bush administration were considering a possible attack on the Yongbyon facility, but that he got the information from the news, not government officials.
In a telephone interview, Winder said that he told Kim that some in the Bush Administration were considering possible future options, including a surgical strike on the nuclear facility. He said the Korean news site was wrong in saying the U.S. government was preparing for a military strike.

Washington on Brink of a New Era
"We are in a new era and things are up for grabs," said Republican strategist William Kristol, a leader among the neoconservative foreign policy analysts whose thinking has influenced President Bush. "If you want an analogy, we are present at another creation. That is always unnerving. It is always risky, but it can't be wished away."

In unusually candid comments Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney flatly declared that the international institutions and alliances "built to deal with the conflicts of the 20th century ... may not be the right strategies and policies and institutions to deal with the kind of threat we face now."

[Roy Morgan Research] NEWS
With just over a week to go before the NSW State election, primary support for the NSW ALP has dropped by 8.5% to 42%. Support for the L-NP has fallen 1.5% to 30% (the Liberal Party down 3% to 24.5%, the National Party up 1.5% to 5.5%). However, the ALP is set to win by a landslide with the aid of preferences from the Greens and others, the Morgan Poll finds.
Support for the Greens has doubled to a record 16% (up from 3.9% at the March 1999 election). Other Parties and Independent Candidates rose 2.5% to 9.5%, One Nation 1% (up 0.5%) and the Australian Democrats 1.5% (down 1%).

[Roy Morgan Research] NEWS
If a Federal election had been held in early March, the ALP would have won on minor party preferences, the latest Morgan Poll finds. Primary support for the ALP was up 4.5% to 40.5% with the L-NP down 4.5% to 39%.
Among the minor parties, support for the Greens was a record high at 11% (up 0.5%), support for the Australian Democrats down 1% to 3.5%, One Nation unchanged at 1.5% and support for Other Parties and Independent Candidates up 0.5% to 5.5%.
On a two-party preferred basis, ALP support was up 4.5% to 53.5% and L-NP support 46.5%.


Protest early and often.

Assemble 12:30 Belmore Park (next to central station)
March via Elizabeth St to the Domain for speakers. Come early as trains will be crowded, bring water and sunscreen. A leaflet is attached, contact the coalition for more leaflets and to register for train station leafleting on (02) 9267 8122.

There will be a peace vigil at Sydney Town Hall at 5pm till 6pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week (week before 23rd March). Leaflets and posters will be available at this event.


SYDNEY: Rally 5pm, Town Hall Square the day war begins (when the bombs begin to fall, whether it is a weekday or weekend)
Come early and if you come by train use St James, Wynyard or Central because Town Hall Station will close if it becomes overcrowded. Phone (02) 9386 1240, 0418 668 098, 0409 762 081; www.nswpeace.org; Email nswpeace@hotmail.com.

PENRITH: 5pm outside Jackie Kelly's office Woodriff St Penrith, phone 0401 769 880.

MANLY: rally 5pm the Corso.

ARMIDALE: 5.30pm, in front of the Court House.

CENTRAL COAST: Should war start, rally on that day from 4pm onwards at th Terrigal Skillion, central coast people for peace.

COFFS HARBOUR: Next working day after war begins:
5.30pm Coffs Harbour Mall to walk to Luke Hartsuyker's office.

LISMORE: 5pm, Spinks Park, Molesworth Street. Phone
(02) 6622 2862.

NOWRA: There will be a rally in Harry Sawkins Park, Nowra the day after the war starts, at 5pm (probably)...details to be confirmed (email degabriele@shoal.net.au to confirm).

NEWCASTLE: 5.30pm, Civic Park. Phone 0408 443 013, (02) 4945 0002.

PORT MACQUARIE: Hastings area, Assemble at Port Macquarie Town Green at 5pm on the day that War is Announced.

TAREE: Assembly at Taree City Council in Pulteney Street at 4.30pm with candles - walk the streets of Taree CBD and end up at the front of Mark Vailes office in Victoria Street.

WOLLONGONG: 5.30pm on the day after the bombing starts, Wollongong Mall Amphitheatre. Phone (02) 4226 2010.


ADELAIDE: 5pm, Parliament House steps. Phone 0414 773 918.

BALLARAT: 5pm, Town Hall steps.

BRISBANE: 5pm, King George Square. Also noon on the following Saturday at the same place. Stop the War Coalition. Phone (07) 3716 0848, 3831 2644.

CANBERRA: noon speakout at Garema Place, Civic. 5pm, rally at the US embassy, Moonah Place, Yarralumla. Also rally at noon the following day, Garema Place, Civic. ACT Network Opposing War. Phone (02) 6247 2424, 0417 269 984, 0415 752 013.

DARWIN: 5.30pm, Raintree Park, Smith Street Mall. Phone (08) 8981 4714.

GEELONG: 5pm, Market Square. Phone (03) 5222 6900.

HOBART: 4.30pm, Franklin Square, Macquarie St. Endorsed by the Peace Coalition. Phone (03) 6234 9553, 6234 6397, 0438 691 125. Email

LAUNCESTON: 5pm, outside Museum, Wellington St (next to Paterson St TAFE), city. Ph (03) 6327 1751.

MELBOURNE: 5pm, State Library. Youth Against War rally, meet 4.30pm Federation Square & march to State Library. Day after war starts: Unionists rally 12pm at Trades Hall. Phone (03) 9659 3582. Email . Visit .

PERTH: 5pm, GPO, Forrest Place. NOWAR Alliance. Phone (08) 9218 9608, 9477 6301.

ROCKHAMPTON: 5pm, Col Brown Park, Victoria Parade, South Rockhampton. Ph 0419 029 168 or (07) 4927 7726.

The Consortium:Bush's 'Double Jeopardy' for U.S. Troops
As one savvy U.S. military strategists told us, “All those guys sitting off on battleships add to your numbers, but they don’t help you on the ground. There you’ll have about 20,000 infantrymen. They'll be outnumbered.”

The Australian: War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican [March 18, 2003]
MILITARY intervention against Iraq would be a crime against peace demanding vengeance before God, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has said.

"War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God," said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, speaking on Vatican Radio.
He stressed the deeply unjust and immoral nature of war, saying it was condemned by God because civilians were the worst sufferers.

Mr Smith, who witnessed Ms Corrie's death, said the incident began when she sat down in front of the bulldozer. He said the driver scooped her up with a pile of earth, dumped her on the ground and ran over her twice. Mr Smith said Ms Corrie was dressed in a bright orange jacket with reflective stripes. The group said in its statement: "The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her." Protesters have stopped bulldozers in the past by sitting down in front of them, Mr Smith said.

War crime, if true.
Of left and right, and Gallic gall - theage.com.au
Little wonder then the "agenda" in this instance is "hidden". It cannot be found, because it does not exist. Rightly or wrongly, the US is contemplating military action in the Gulf today because of the change in the American collective psyche that followed the suicide-homicide terrorist attacks on what the Americans term "9/11".

Gerard Henderson -- carrying the water for Wolfowitz by denying the plain evidence that countless sources could readily verify for him, should he ever care to look.
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Support for attack jumps, but opposition still in the majority
Public opinion has shifted dramatically towards military action against Iraq, with the anti-war lead in the Guardian/ICM opinion poll narrowing from 23 to only six points in the past month.
This has been accompanied by a recovery in Tony Blair's personal rating, according to results of the March survey, published today.

I predicted antiwar would collapse once Bush's path to war was known. Looks like this is happening now -- if the war is short and sweet, the trend will continue.
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Storage of army secrets to be privatised
The government is to hand over the storage of top secret military records - including those of Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten - from Whitehall to Rupert Murdoch's TNT Group as part of a new privatisation deal to release valuable land for the expansion of Heathrow airport.
The deal, which has been bitterly opposed by the local Labour MP, John McDonnell, will mean the closure of a government secure warehouse in Hayes, Middlesex, and the transfer of millions of sensitive documents to private warehouses in the Midlands.

Everything but the war
Fox network to introduce "shrapnel-cam"
Today, Rupert Murdoch announced that his Fox news network, in partnership with the US Army, would be unveiling a radical new innovation in war coverage for the coming Iraqi conflict. An extension of the conventional "bomb-cam" and "missile-cam" technologies, the "shrapnel-cam" can now provide fly-on-the-wall footage of the subsequent explosion, including penetration of human flesh.
A spokesman said "The Fox network feels this technology will add immensely to the entertainment value of the war, and boost ratings to record levels. We know the US public love explosions, and this just ups the excitement factor. Preliminary testing in Afghanistan produced some stunning footage, and we anticipate that images like this will give us the competitive edge in covering this war".

Corporate US to rebuild Iraq

Private US companies will do much of the rebuilding work in Iraq after a US-led war to oust Baghdad's government, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The plan, detailed in more than 100 pages of confidential contract documents, would sideline United Nations development agencies and other multilateral organisations that traditionally have directed reconstruction efforts in places such as Afghanistan and Kosovo, the newspaper reported.
The plan also would leave big non-governmental organisations largely in the lurch: $US1.5 billion ($A2.5 billion) in work to reconstruct Iraq is being offered to private US companies, while just $US50 million ($A83.8 million) is so far earmarked for a small number of non-profit groups such as CARE and Save the Children, the paper said.

The UN and International Law

A while ago I blogged an email I received from Moana Cole, one of the antiwar leaders in N.Z. She is now doing her Master's Degree in International Law and had some interesting things to say which are now very important to understand.

The UN Charter is very clear: no military intervention except for self defense and SC declaration. But the SC must also be accountable to international law, even if it is a political body.

This means that the UNSC must either accept the American argument or uphold its own Charter and pass a resolution against the U.S.A. and its allies for a non UN sanctioned war.The US would veto that however, showing the rest of the world that their thoughts are not worth considering. That would be a big embarassment for all those countries -- maybe too big to cop. America is counting on meek acceptance and compliance.

William Burroughs Baboon WBB says stock up on the glint tape.
It's legal, believe me - smh.com.au
When told that the British government planned to release advice from Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, he said: "I don't know what the UK will do, and we do what we normally do in relation to these things."
Here's what the government normally does in relation to legal advice on politically contentious matters. If the advice suits its argument it releases it, either in full or by showing reporters parts of the text. If the advice does not suit its case, it refuses to do so.

Large oil spill threatens Brisbane River. 18/3/2003. ABC News Online
A large oil spill is threatening to pollute the Brisbane River.
An emergency situation has been declared at the Port of Brisbane where up to 1.5 million litres of crude oil has leaked from a ruptured pipeline at the Santos terminal.

Poetic justice...
History News Network
We're taking the least favorable approach it appears -- a majority oppose war if there is no vote in the U.N. because it's like giving up on diplomacy. (No kidding.)

Not that this matters of course but it certainly is interesting, isn't it?
This war better go well. That's pretty shallow support -- damn-near non-existent in fact.

"Tzaruch shemirah Hasof bah": Christians, Jews and The New Square Fish Market

Spotted on a message board today:
>>You should be ashamed that God would think so little of humanity He would pick a carp to warn you about impending Armageddon.

I thought I would take a closer look at the Talking Carp of New York story to see why people have become so fascinated.

The story is essentially a retelling for Jews of the Christian account of the story of the Messiah, the "first coming" of the "son of man", the Chosen One of Israel.

Why, then, did is this story reach its "tipping point" so quicky, during the major Jewish Feast of Purim when Jews would normally have dismissed such a fanciful story as a joke? look at the "scene" -- richly endowed with crossover symbolism between Jews and Christians.

There are huge numbers of people around the globe constantly scanning the horizon for signs and wonders. Millions stand ready to connect any story illustrating some unusual claim to their own mental map of a looming "end of days" scenario. They can then easily finish the cycle by transmitting their new discovery of evidence to others instantaneously, thereby spreading and reinforcing the meme.

Its message is also uncomfortable, taking on the form of a parable, like those of Jesus. Parables are coded stories too dangerous to put into plain language, with profoundly subversive subtexts that need and demand to be teased out further by the listener seeking to understand them.

The Symbolic Stage:

The scene is New York City, the site many Americans see as that of the "first battle" of the apocalypse in the Middle East.

The New Square Fish Market

The Fish Market -- is the symbolic setting, the archetypal public place of conflict between human tribes and myths as well as an engine of economic cooperation between different groups. The market figures as large as the Temple in the Torah and the NT.

The Hassidics also have a folk belief that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish. So it is not surprising the story is set in a fishmonger's market.

The fishmonger, who sets out to slaughter fish each morning to sell, is the first to get the message of the coming Apocalypse from an local Hassidic sage who recently died. The man bought his Gefilte fish there, and regularly purchased portions of fish from the shop to give away to the poor.

Instead of welcoming the Fish's warnings, the Fishmonger is horrifed. He tries to kill the fish, but nearly cuts his thumb off. It is left to his Christian employee, who believes the fish to be Satanic, to hammer it to death and fillet it up for the waiting customers.

The New Square Fish Market is therefore a symbolically resonant battleground for this battle. "New Square" evokes the image of the four gospels, the "foursquare" gospel so touted by pentacostalist evangelicals. The "New" part is also relevant in this context. This, the place where Jews purchase their ritually purified fish, is also the place of a new warning. Something is happening that means we must be prepared. Christians and Jews will try to murder the source of the message or discredit it.

'It said "Tzaruch shemirah" and "Hasof bah",' he told the New York Times, 'which essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near.' The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah.

The story's rapid rise to fame is about the longing to see a new covenant, a new type of relationship between God and his chosen few about to be born into history. The appeal the story has is to premade and continually reinforced Hassidic beliefs, as well as end times bible bashers in Mississippi and Tennessee, whom I predict will read the story as one of apocalypse as well, but with entirely different implications and meanings.

The Fish, or the water-bearer, is also the ancient "warchalking" apocalyptic symbol for christ, a pictogram of a broken infinity loop scrawled outside the homes of early Christians to identify members of the movement.

They will find further fish connections in the name of the Jewish fishmonger, a Zalmen Rosen. "Zalmen" is pronounced like "Salmon" and "Rosen" means "Rose coloured. Roe is also fish eggs. Zalmen Rosen also is said to have "eleven children", a name with rich connections to both Jewish and Christian eschatology.

As I said, the story is essentially a symbolic parable for Jews of the Christian account of the story of the Messiah, the "first coming" of the "son of man", the Chosen One of Israel.

Monday, March 17, 2003

'Switch off Oscars' call - smh.com.au
'Switch off Oscars' call
March 17 2003

Anti-war protesters should boycott the Oscars telecast next week, says former 60 Minutes chief, Gerald Stone.
"The easiest way for ordinary people around the world to vote against a US-led attack against Iraq would be to refuse to tune into next week's Academy Awards," he states in a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"A massive turn-off of Oscar night - traditionally America's most widely watched program - would send the kind of message even President Bush couldn't ignore.
"Those reluctant to miss an evening of Hollywood glitz to help avert war obviously couldn't give a damn."

The Courier Mail: Crean toughens anti-war stance [17mar03]
He said Labor's promise of support in the face of an unreasonable veto had been made with two conditions – a clear link between Iraq and the September 11, 2001 attacks and evidence that Iraq posed an immediate threat. Neither of those tests have been met, Mr Crean said on Channel 9 yesterday.
"They haven't been met by the US, they haven't been met by the UN, they haven't been met by Britain.
"And, most importantly, they were not met by (Prime Minister) John Howard in his Press Club address on Thursday. "Accordingly, I'll be recommending to the Labor Caucus .next week that we drop that caveat."

Part II of "Bombing His Way Into the Jaws of Armageddon": The Divine Right of Kings and The Madness of King George - BuzzFlash Editorial
White House staffers have told journalists that Bush believes God chose him to lead the nation through its hour of darkness. Indeed, shortly after September 11th, Bush used the term Crusade to describe his war against terrorism. In a September 24, 2001, editorial, BuzzFlash.com commented: "Although the White House apologized for Bush's evocation of the 'Crusade,' the propaganda damage had already been done. If we are simultaneously trying to crush extremist Islamic terrorists while minimizing the possibility of the Middle East and parts of Islamic Asia from exploding in an armed uprising, then Bush's use of the word 'Crusade' was like tossing a match onto a tinder box when the use of a fire extinguisher should have been the rhetorical tool of the day."

Richard Perle, Ann Coulter and America's Savage Regression - BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
Ann Coulter is poised to follow her best-selling Slander with the June publication of Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. Like a rancid batch of Windsong, her February 2002 observation on leftist treason stays on one's mind. "We need to execute people like John Walker, in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too," she said. "Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors." Chances are, her book will contain more of the same. Is this simply mindless hyperbole or is it something worse?

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Drugs inquiry thrown into doubt over members' links with manufacturers
The credibility of a government inquiry intended to settle the controversy surrounding widely prescribed anti-depressant drugs was thrown into question yesterday by revelations that most of the members have shareholdings or other links to the manufacturers.
The "intensive review" of the side effects of Seroxat, Prozac and other antidepressants of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class was announced in the House of Commons by health minister Hazel Blears in December last year. It was a response to mounting concern from large numbers of patients who say they have been unable to come off Seroxat because of severe withdrawal symptoms.

Whittier Daily News
La Habra -- came under the national spotlight last week, when this newspaper reported antiwar demonstrators had destroyed a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the East Coast. Vandals destroyed 87 American flags, destroying red-white-and-blue stepping stones created by neighborhood children and replacing patriotic signs with antiwar slogans.
The story was picked up on the Drudge Report, muck-raking journalist Matt Drudge's Internet Web site, and quickly went global.
As the week ended, the fence had become a rallying point of patriotism, drawing people from all over Southern California who heard about it on the news and wanted to help restore it.
By Thursday, 200 new American flags were again flying at the site, along with new posters and pictures of Sept. 11 victims and of local soldiers and their families.

Thanks for the hard hitting investigative journalism, guys. Like, why didn't the Police stop them?
Australia's New Best Friend: Israel

Margo Kingston pointed out how Howard's firm military tilt to Israel was slyly slipped into his speech from the bunkers. Howard's tilt towards Israel comes as that country is in the throes of turning into the democratic nation state equivalent of Mini-Me, as they increase the scale of attacks on and in the civilian areas of Gaza.

Israel is, ironically, would be the most militarily willing of the Coalition of the Willing, but it is not allowed to join. Israel is the partner of whom none dares speak of its name., perhaps because no one really is in control of it except America, who writes the massive cheques required each year.

The military plans Australia now seems hell bent to follow in the Middle East were first conconcted by Richard Perle and other Bushistas for hardliner Israeli PM Netanyanhu, who rejected them as being "too radical".

The PM didn't tell us how Israeli and Australian national interests intersect or diverge in the Middle East, other than "terrorism" and "weapons of mass destruction" must be removed from the enemies' hands.

No criticism or even mild rebuke did he make to Israel's own massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, which have fueled the regional arms race the USA is now trying desperately to stop. No trenchant analysis of why Shock and Awe, Australia's preferred way to wage war with its Ally, is likely to fuel needless hatred for generations.

Like it or not, through Howard's actions, Australians are now going to be sucked deeper and deeper into this maelstrom and nightmare that is Middle Eastern politics.

American Protester Is Killed By Israeli Bulldozer in Gaza

Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- An American woman in Gaza to protest Israeli operations was killed Sunday when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer, witnesses and hospital officials said.

The incident occurred as Israel sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip, barring Palestinians from entering Israel for fear that militants are planning to launch attacks over the Jewish holiday of Purim, which starts Tuesday.

Rachel Corrie, 23, a college student from Olympia, Wash., had been trying to stop the bulldozer from tearing down a building in the Rafah refugee camp, witnesses said. She was taken to Najar hospital in Rafah, where she died, said Dr. Ali Moussa, a hospital administrator.

Greg Schnabel, 28, of Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri. Israeli almost daily has been tearing down houses of Palestinians it suspects of being connected to Islamic militant groups, saying such operations deter attacks on Israel such as suicide bombings.

"Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop," Mr. Schnabel said. "She waved for the bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled, "Stop, stop," and the bulldozer didn't stop at all. It had completely run over her and then it reversed and ran back over her."

Witnesses said Ms. Corrie was wearing a brightly colored jacket when the bulldozer hit her. She had been a student at the Evergreen State College in Olympia and would have graduated this year, Mr. Schnabel said.

Daily Kos: Comment on Blair steels himself for 2-front war
You silly hack: Of course Bush has nine votes on the Security Council!
US, UK, Spain, Bulgaria, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, O'Connor.
You didn't know they voted on the Security Council? Well, I bet you didn't know they voted in Florida either (instead of everyone else).

Hillary's NSW election special
If you need to see what's wrong with the New South Wales Liberal campaign, a quick look at the seat of Manly should help.
Last week the Manly Daily and local Chamber of Commerce hosted an election forum, where Liberal candidate Jean Hay distinguished herself by her inability to adequately answer any questions. Indeed, on three occasions her responses seemed to be more like attacks than replies.
This reached its nadir when she was questioned as to why she had referred to members of the Manly Council access committee as saboteurs when they had requested an access lift in the rebuilt Manly Oval. Instead of attempting to explain this appalling comment she instead flew off the handle accusing the questioner of forcing a "girl in a wheelchair" to ask this same question at a recent disability forum - with the implication that people with disabilities are unable to think for themselves.
Also noticeable was the appearance of many members of the right wing who remained silent throughout the night and at no stage attempted to rescue the Manly Mayor from the mire into which she was sinking.

Sewer mouth might work on the radio or in the Bull, but it doesn't play well in politics, love.
Australian IT - Ziggy to speak at Liberals' fundrasier (Wires, MARCH 06, 2003)
"He has every right to speak at such a function and I dare say, if the Socialist Left-controlled Melbourne (branch) of the ALP invited him to give a speech he'd probably go there too, and I wouldn't have any objections."

What about the Greens? Worth a shot.
Washington has signalled that it might prefer to withdraw the text altogether rather than suffer defeat in a vote. And in a remarkable shift, the US, Britain and Spain are now expected formally to state that a second resolution was never necessary under international law. They will argue that an earlier resolution is sufficient justification for war.

Bush's "whip count" to see who would "lay their cards on the table" has resulted in his comprehensive defeat in the UNSC. To say that those cards will now not be played is the equivalent of overturning the card table in a fit of childish pique.
Former top Australian diplomat speaks out in Japan Times
What the critics fail to realize is the power and mentality of the military/intelligence complexes that create these various conflicts. Armed with enormous budgets and freed from normal controls, they have become a world unto themselves. Their sole raison d'etre is finding and obliterating enemies. If enemies do not exist, they will create them. Economic motives for conquest came well down in their list of priorities. Inventing enemies is a much easier way for them to get funds and power.
Democracies are highly vulnerable to these people. Firms dependent on the military cooperate willingly. Politicians, academics, think tanks and the media can easily be bought, infiltrated, created or overwhelmed. Precisely because our societies are democratic, they can then easily be persuaded to go along with these arbiters of popular opinion. The few who try to oppose can easily be ignored or ridiculed.
Working in Canberra during the 1960s, I saw time and time again how easily these people could push through their palpably false threat-mongering that China was an aggressive monster, that the civil war in Vietnam was really a Chinese thrust into Asia, and so on.
Even worse was watching them at work under the progressive Whitlam government of the mid-1970s. Skillful use of covert information, much of it from Echelon decoding of Japanese cables, gave them credentials with an initially hostile administration.
In the space of just one year, 1975, they were able to sabotage a planned comme

Sunday, March 16, 2003

War now no better 'than terrorism' - theage.com.au
Prime Minister John Howard avoided the opportunity to prove the existence of this critical link during his National Press Club address, instead making the assertion that the evidence he has seen wouldn't stand up in a court of law. This is especially troubling. We are, after all, talking about justification for a pre-emptive attack on a sovereign state, possibly without United Nations' backing, which has the potential to kill many Australian military personnel. Our evidence needs to be good enough to satisfy a court, but more importantly the Australian people.

Fomer top Oz spook Andrew Wilkie has skewered Howard's whole causus belli in one short op-ed.
Powell furious at Rumsfeld's Europe insults - theage.com.au
"Diplomacy is slipping away and Rumsfeld needs some duct tape put over his mouth," The New York Times quoted an anonymous friend of Mr Powell's as saying.

The Duct Tape conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this revelation.
Greens' vote holds at 10 per cent - theage.com.au
Greens local government election co-ordinator Daniel Scoullar said support had carried over from the state to the local level. "I think it's interesting because it's proven that the (state election) wasn't a one-off," he said. The results showed that people were prepared to support the Greens generally, rather than basing their vote on specific issues.

"The Gulf War was a limited-objective war. If it had not been, we would be ruling Baghdad today - an unpardonable expense in terms of money, lives lost and ruined regional relationships (p217) - would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not. They still do (p 219)."

The author was a chap named Colin Powell.

Howard's call to war: Your verdict - smh.com.au
I've got a question for Mr Howard: Who does he think is worse; a dictator who tortures and kills his own people or a Prime Minister who refuses asylum to those people and sends them back to be tortured and killed? If there's a strong moral argument for regime change in Iraq, then surely there's also a strong moral argument for regime change in Australia.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - Multi-country outbreak
During the past week, WHO has received reports of more than 150 new suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an atypical pneumonia for which cause has not yet been determined. Reports to date have been received from Canada, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Early today, an ill passenger and companions who travelled from New York, United States, and who landed in Frankfurt, Germany were removed from their flight and taken to hospital isolation.
Due to the spread of SARS to several countries in a short period of time, the World Health Organization today has issued emergency guidance for travellers and airlines.
“This syndrome, SARS, is now a worldwide health threat,” said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization. “The world needs to work together to find its cause, cure the sick, and stop its spread.”

Instead, they are going to be watching CNN or Al Jazeera and girding for war.
Law Professors' Statement on Iraq
Every nation that has ever committed aggression against another claimed to be "defending" itself. The United States helped establish the United Nations precisely in order to impose the rule of law on such claims, to make it unlawful for nations to strike against others unless they were themselves under armed attack. The United States is not under armed attack by Iraq.

Ritt Goldstein: Oil War, the Smoking guns
Paradoxically, Strategic Assessment 1999 forecast it was "most likely" that America would not need to "employ military forces" to obtain energy. But the Assessment nevertheless ranks as extraordinary, doing so because it positively documents an official willingness to wage oil war, a willingness at the very highest levels of the US defense community.

Who is "Deckkers"?
News of Atta's presence in Venice during final preparations for the attack directly contradicts the FBI's official chronology of Atta's movements in the last month before Sept. 11. It also contradicts numerous statements made by the controversial Dekkers to the news media.
In sworn testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee in March 2002, Dekkers, recently charged with criminal fraud in Florida, insisted that his relationship with the terrorist ringleader had been distant, and had ended the previous December, nine months before the attack.
"On December 24th, 2000, Atta and Alshehhi rented a Warrior (N555HA) from Huffman Aviation for a flight," the Dutch national stated, telling of his last encounter with Atta.
Dekkers told the hearing about complaints from his staff that Atta and Alshehhi had behavioral problems, that they were not following instructions, and that they also had bad attitudes.
"Atta and Alshehhi returned to Huffman Aviation to make final payments on their outstanding bills. Because they were not taking any more flying lessons, they were asked to leave the facility due to their bad attitudes and not being liked by staff and clients alike. Huffman never heard about or from them again until September 11th, 2001."
Speaking with reporters, he had been more colloquial. "They did not socialize with anyone," Dekkers said three days after the attack. "They did not go to the bar with us. That Atta guy was an asshole."
The Sara

Mar. 7, 2003, 1400 PST (FTW) -Journalist Julian Darley has a very good website, www.globalpublicmedia.com, featuring video interviews with notables such as Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons. Matthew Simmons is the president of Simmons & Co. International, a company which specializes in investment banking to the energy industry. The Campbell interview1 is a very informative chat at the petroleum geologist’s home in County Cork, Ireland. It is well worth perusal. The Matthew Simmons interview2 was recorded in an office of his business suite, and is also very informative—though it is disappointing to see a person so perceptive standing firmly behind George W. Bush. However, in his interview, Matthew Simmons made two very big revelations.

I blogged this site as well. Some very thought provoking stuff *(and very scary -- those who feel a bit mentally upset at the moment should listen at own risk.)
EAWC Essay: Storytelling, the Meaning of Life, and The Epic of Gilgamesh
Yet Gilgamesh still cannot rest. He continues his journey to Utnapishtim the Faraway, the only mortal to whom the gods have given everlasting life. With Urshanabi, the ferryman, Gilgamesh crosses the waters of death. Like Siduri, Utnapishtim asks Gilgamesh, "Where are you hurrying to?" (105), and in answer to Gilgamesh's question, "How shall I find the life for which I am searching?" he says, "There is no permanence" (106). But he reveals the mystery of his own possession of everlasting life. He tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood, of the time when the gods, unable to sleep for the uproar raised by mankind, agreed to destroy mankind, and would have succeeded had not Ea, one of man's creators, instructed Utnapishtim to build a boat and "take up into [it] the seed of all living creatures" (108). The story is familiar to us not only because it anticipates Noah's story in the book of Genesis, but because it is the story of life, the story of destruction and renewal.

The Sacramento Bee -- sacbee.com -- Vandenberg Air Force Base authorizes 'deadly force' against trespassing protesters
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - Security forces at Vandenberg Air Force Base may use "deadly force" against protesters if they infiltrate the military complex if a war starts, officials said.

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