Warmwell's Article of the Day - Archive
September 27th 2005 ~"This is a very dangerous situation," he said, "a very threatening situation." New York Times "the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal warned the Bush administration of increasing violence and polarization in Iraq. Elections alone, he warned, will not pull Iraq together and the common designation of Sunnis as Baathist criminals does little to improve the situation...He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message "to everyone who will listen" in the Bush administration...."
September 26 2005 ~ "something of a crisis for democracy" Tony Benn says we are no longer represented, merely "managed" He talks about the Labour Party Conference today and his concern about what has happened to democracy. He can be heard again on the Today Programme.
"....Labour Party Conference diary from the Independent
As far as Globalisation is concerned, I think the big issue with a lot of manufacturers is "Is there an industrial policy in Britain or not?".
On Europe, of course, overwhelmingly now, the Party takes the view that the French and the Dutch took, that the Constitution was wrong, and of course, finally, the War.
In the case of the War there is just no support now. Ken Clarke, a candidate for the Tory leadership, said the arguments for the war were "bogus", Menzies Campbell, speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference said that we should withdraw, and the United States' support for the war is now 44% so you can't use the old argument that this is anti-American. And I think that will be a focus..
...a great deal of frustration because the Conference feels it is totally ignored - constituency parties find candidates are imposed - Parliament sidestepped, the Cabinet is told what's decided, and I think a lot of people in the country - and this will be shared at conference- feel they are managed and not represented and this is really something of a crisis for democracy. There is a wider gap between government and governed than I have known in my lifetime and it is not apathy; people are angry. They are not consulted and they do not believe what they are told and these gaps have got to be filled by more democracy in the Labour Party."
September 26 2005 ~ "How can you establish a free media in such fear and anarchy?" Guardian
".... far from being immune, the Iraqis are the ones getting killed.
Iraqi journalists, like local journalists all over the world, don't have the luxury of leaving the country every few weeks at the end of their stint. The few who do get to leave the country end up like refugees, drinking heavily in London pubs before being dragged back into the inferno.
The idea of independent Iraqi journalism is being killed only two years after it was born, a little of it dying with each of these brave 37 people. Iraqi journalists are being killed by the Americans, the insurgents, the militias and the police. They are often intimidated and threatened by anyone who doesn't like their coverage. ..."
September 26 2005 ~ Informed Comment " Those wingnuts who circulate the talking points about all the good things happening in Iraq should add, ' Becoming more and more like a bad noire film, resembling in some ways the endlessly diverting "Oceans 11" movies. '
September 25 2005 ~ Withdrawal "not an event but a process"says Reid Observer
"... Britain has already privately informed Japan - which also has troops in Iraq - of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.However, the BBC today says " The government dismisses press reports British troops will start pulling out of Iraq next May..." and attempts to pour cold water on the Observer scoop
The increasingly rapid pace of planning for British military disengagement has been revealed on the eve of the Labour Party conference, which will see renewed demands for a deadline for withdrawal. It is hoped that a clearer strategy on Iraq will quieten critics who say that the government will not be able to 'move on' until Blair quits. Yesterday, about 10,000 people demonstrated against the army's continued presence in the country.
....John Reid, insisted that the agreement being drawn up with Iraqi officials was contingent on the continuing political process, although he said he was still optimistic British troops would begin returning home by early summer....." read in full
".....article in The Observer claims ministers had privately told Japan of plans to start bringing forces home.And as for the US, Informed Comment quotes a reader, Jonny Bakho, who says,
The Ministry of Defence said troops will stay until "the job is done" and the military pull-out would occur at different times across the country.
A spokesman said a handover would not happen until the Iraqi Government could "take over counter terrorism".
He rejected claims that Japan - which also has soldiers in Iraq - had been given a private indication of an exit date from southern Iraq....." Read in full
"....Apparently (he never discusses details), Mr Bush believes US troops will still be in Iraq 10 years from now in permanent bases we are constructing in Iraq. Mr Bush has NO intention of calling for a "withdrawal on a short timetable of almost all US and Coalition ground troops from Iraq" as you suggest. Unfortunately, most Americans do not realize that Bush has no plan to leave Iraq this because the press rarely/never mentions it. Even IF Mr Bush were to take the extreme position of "bring them home now", it would take a year to bring about the orderly withdrawal of US troops....."
September 25 2005 ~ Anti-war Marches Over 100,000 protesters rallied in Washington, DC, against the Iraq War on Saturday. Protests were also held in London, San Francisco and other cities.
September 25 2005 ~ Booker's Notebook
"At the Lib Dem conference, Peter Arnold, the leader of Newcastle city council, lashed out at the unelected North-East Assembly as "boring, invisible, a waste of time and money". Unsurprisingly, irate voices in the North-East were soon asking why Mr Arnold still allows such a pointless body to operate rent-free from his council's Guildhall, when such prestigious premises could be leased out for up to #200,000 a year.
There is a curious echo here of what is going on in the South-East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) under its new "chair", Cllr Keith Mitchell, the leader of Oxfordshire county council......"
September 24 2005 ~ Anti-war March in London Up to 100,000 people are expected to march through central London today, demanding that British troops be withdrawn from Iraq. Organisers of the demonstration, taking place on the eve of the Labour Party annual conference, hope to exploit the strong anti-war feelings of two years ago. See below
September 24 2005 ~ Rita may reduce coverage of the huge anti-war demonstration in Washington All the same, organizers of today's anti-war protest predict about 100,000 people will crowd the Ellipse near the White House for a rally and march.
Independent "A former American soldier who served in Iraq and filed for conscientious objector status has given an extraordinary insight into the war's dehumanising effects - an insight that helps explain why the British and American public has turned sharply against the occupation. On the eve of large anti-war demonstrations in Washington and London, Hart Viges has told how indiscriminate fire from US troops is likely to have killed an untold number of Iraqi civilians. Mr Viges, 29, said he was still haunted by the memories of what he experienced and urged President George Bush to withdraw US troops from Iraq. "I don't know how many innocents I killed with my mortar rounds," Mr Viges, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, said during a presentation this week at American University in Washington. "In Baghdad, I had days that I don't want to remember. I try to forget," he added...
Other Iraq articles in the Independent today(Open in new window)
- Two years on, protesters back on the streets of the capital
- 'What good will it do to cry?': wives left behind by the new tour of duty
- On the march again
- Hawks who've had second thoughts...
- Hart Viges: 'You can't wash your hands when they're covered in blood'
- Robert Fisk: When nature and man conspire to expose the lies of the powerful, the truth will out
- Leading article: One by one, the certainties about Iraq are revealed as illusions
September 24 2005 ~ 15 years for having instructions on firing a mortar and a terrorism codeIndependent "although there was no direct link between Andrew Rowe and a particular terrorist act, possession of those items together with other evidence was sufficient for a jury to conclude that he had them for the purpose of terrorism."
September 23 2005 ~ Iraq "a desperate situation...we need a thorough reappraisal" " I'm putting forward some constructive suggestions" says Michael Howard on the Today Programme. Coming immediately after the authoritive voice of former defence chief, Lord Bramall, Mr Howard's voice held that careful pomposity of politicians completely out of their depth. Lord Bramall, on the other hand, referred to Simon Jenkins' article with approval and he evidently shares its concern. Listen Again
Professor Juan Cole, who knows the reality and complexity of the situation rather better than our politicians, says today, If Sistani is openly supporting Iran's nuclear program and denouncing the US as 'arrogant", this is a new development that will be most unwelcome to Washington
" An envoy of Sistani recently met with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Iran's clerical Expediency Council and a candidate in last June's presidential election. Rafsanjani praised the new Iraqi constitution.
Assuming that IRNA got it right, the following quote is breathtaking: ' Concerning the western countries trouble making for Iran in its peaceful nuclear energy program, Ayatollah Sistani's envoy said, " the arrogant powers do not want a powerful and free Iran to emerge as a pattern for the whole Islamic world." '
The Americans have for some time claimed Sistani as a "moderate" and even though he would not meet with them, have assumed that his vision of the future of Iraq is broadly complementary to their own. If Sistani is openly supporting Iran's nuclear program and denouncing the US as 'arrogant", this is a new development that will be most unwelcome to Washington.
September 22 2005 ~ Uzbechistan, our "ally in the war on terror", holds a show trial; one after another, each of the accused confessed -
The Guardian yesterday: " Western aid groups and journalists, including the BBC, helped Islamists in a bid to overthrow the Uzbek government.... The claim was part of an attempt to portray the massacre in the eastern town of Andijan, in which witnesses have said at least 500 protesters were gunned down by Uzbek troops on or after May 13 this year, as a foreign-assisted coup aimed at forming an Islamic caliphate....The defendants, all well-dressed and fed, rose inside a large metal cage, to declare their guilt, on all charges. .."There isn't much current reporting of any of this. Nothing on Google News today.Perhaps it is because journalists know that nothing is going to be done and arousing unease and guilty shame in people is not popular. Karimov makes Stalin, Saddam and Mugabe look quite genial - but fighters for freedom and democracy in Uzbechistan are to be left to their fate, it seems. Uzbechistan is still regarded as a useful ally for Mr Bush and Mr Blair. In August, the Washington Post remarked that
Russian news source "the first trial of participants of the Andijan events will take about a month. The remaining 106 people facing similar charges will probably be tried in groups as well. The authorities may extend the process for a whole year"
Russian news enews.ferghana.ru slipped into its report that
"...Several dozen hand-picked journalists, some of them representing foreign media outlets, were admitted into the courtroom. No human rights activists were present. The day before, many of them had been detained on the street in front of the Supreme Court, loaded into buses, and driven away. Their colleagues say that some human rights activists were placed under house arrest and others confined in mental hospitals..."
Last May, Jonathan Freedland wrote that "Uzbekistan holds up to 6,000 political prisoners; independent economic activity has been crushed; religious practice is severely restricted; there is no free press; and the internet is censored." One Guardian report of the May uprising in which Uzbek troops killed 500 unarmed people quoted an eye-witness from a human rights group who said of the massacre
"... The scariest thing was that if someone was lying down in the road shot in the arm or leg, the soldiers would make shots to their head."When Jack Straw protested the authorities denied the massacre:
"From where has Jack Straw learned that law enforcement had 'opened fire on demonstrators' if that did not take place at all."http://www.khaleejtimes.com
"A report by the Human Rights Watch, released just ahead of the Tashkent trial, has disclosed that following the Andijan protests in May, the government unleashed a ferocious crackdown across the country rounding up scores of political activists and those who tried to expose the government brutality. The widely respected rights agency says the crackdown included widespread arrests, persecution and harassment directed at witnesses, survivors, human rights defenders, journalists and political workers. No wonder those put on trial in Tashkent have quickly owned up their crimes."
"Pentagon references to the thuggish Uzbek leader as a "valuable partner" and an "ally in the war on terror" didn't exactly contribute to the promotion of democracy in the region."
September 22 2005 ~ Basra - While the BBC says that "The UK defence secretary and Iraqi prime minister deny violence in Basra has strained relations..." reports in the papers do not seem to support such a view: "Continued anger on the streets of Basra as marchers denounce 'British aggression' " says the Guardian
"Hundreds of policemen and civilians marched in Basra yesterday denouncing "British aggression" ...
.. a senior aide to Mr Sadr, Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, said: "The media and the British are not reflecting a true version events, which is that the people of Basra, including members of the al-Mahdi army, came to the support of the Iraqi police who were under attack by the British for trying to do their jobs. The real problem here is of Iraqi sovereignty. We may have it in name but we won't see it in reality until the occupation forces leave. That is the only message that Moqtada is giving."
He said a few days earlier thousands of Mahdi members had provided security for a huge Shia pilgrimage to the holy city of Kerbala. "Was that reported?" he asked...."
Professor Cole comments,
"The British seem to be facing increasing risks of danger from Shiite militias in Basra. In particular, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, a small group in Basra though more popular in East Baghdad, is suspected of setting roadside bombs to hit British patrols. The British attack on the jail, however, may well have played into Sadr's hands, making him a heroic figure to nationalist Shiites in Basra who previously had taken little interest in his puritanical movement..."Independent Charles Kennedy says Mr Blair is in denial about Iraq and that he will step up his demand for a timetable for withdrawing UK troops Guardian
: "The government must confront the fact that the presence of British and American forces in Iraq is a part of the problem. After this week's events in Basra we cannot sustain the myth that Iraqis see coalition troops as liberators. What they see is an occupation."Independent "Labour party leaders are seeking to stop grassroots activists who are hoping to use the memory of Robin Cook at next week's annual party conference to embarrass Tony Blair about the upsurge in violence in Iraq..
"....The Prime Minister has warned a private meeting of Labour's ruling national executive that he does not want the conference to be overshadowed by Iraq.....
"Iraq is a bigger disaster than Vietnam and Tony Blair should resign, former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said yesterday. The Suez crisis "was modest in comparison", said the Conservative leadership contender, who opposed the invasion." Independent
September 22 2005 ~ Menezes shooting - Ian Blair : "We allowed, or we didn't contradict sufficiently, the stuff about Mr Menezes vaulting the barrier. I don't think we did enough." The comments followed a speech yesterday in which he suggested that soldiers could be recruited by police forces on a temporary basis to boost the number of firearms officers. Guardian See also Telegraph 'Judge Dredd' powers for police urged Rick Naylor, the president of the Police Superintendents' Association, said: "We police with consent and part of that is because the public see us as being approachable. If the public fear us more because of increased powers that approachability will be damaged."
September 22 2005 ~Ukraine - parliamentary commission found unanimously that Mr Kuchma and his closest aides were behind abduction of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Independent "..... Mr Gongadze's decapitated body was found in a forest outside Kiev two weeks after he was abducted in September 2000 while investigating allegations of corruption at the heart of Mr Kuchma's government. .... had been beaten, strangled and burnt. Three former policemen are in custody in connection with the murder and have apparently confessed....those who ordered his killing have not been named or prosecuted. The parliamentary commission said it had found unanimously that Mr Kuchma and his closest aides were behind Mr Gongadze's abduction..."
September 21 2005 ~ To say we must stay in Iraq to save it from chaos is a lie Simon Jenkins:
"........The 150,000 foreign troops on Iraqi soil are overwhelmingly committed to self-protection. They do not do law and order any more. Power is finding its new locus, in the mafias, sheikhdoms, militias and warlords that flourish amid anarchy. Where there is no security, the gunman is always king.
The alleged reason for occupying Iraq was to build security and democracy. We have dismantled the first and failed to construct the second. Iraq is a fiasco without parallel in recent British policy. Now we are told that we must "stay the course" or worse will befall. This is code for ministers refusing to admit a mistake and hoping someone else will after they are gone....." Read in full
September 21 2005 ~New Terrorism bill Guardian
"in an emergency debate, the Liberal Democrats voted to oppose what they see as illiberal proposals in the new terrorism bill.
The party's conference unanimously backed a motion urging Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to oppose key aspects of the legislation.
These included extending the time that suspects can be detained without charge, proscribing political groups and allowing extradition to countries where torture and other human rights abuses occur."
September 21 2005 ~ "...blind faith in the efficacy of military force..." Michael T. Klare in this article at TomDispatch clearly shows how Washington's belief that it could finance its war and occupation through sales of Iraqi petroleum was doomed from the start
".... Lacking sufficient troops to protect the oil facilities and all the other infrastructure in Baghdad and other key cities, the military chose to protect the oil alone -- allowing desperate and rapacious Iraqis to go a rampage of looting that fatally undermined the authority of the military occupation and the U.S.-backed interim government. To make matters worse, the very visible American emphasis on protecting oil facilities while ignoring other infrastructure gave the distinct -- and not completely inaccurate --impression that the United States had invaded Iraq less to liberate it from a tyrannical regime than to steal, or at least control, its oil. .....
......Despite the debacle of Iraq, most senior policymakers appear to retain their blind faith in the efficacy of military force as a tool for securing access to foreign sources of petroleum. This, as Iraq makes painfully clear, is delusional. ...."
September 20 2005 ~ Update. Juan Cole on the complicated situation in Basra
".....the Sadrist crowd tried to storm the jail where the two British special forces operatives were being held by the provincial government. The Shiite crowds appear to have intended to hold them as hostages to be traded for Fartusi et al.
It was at that point that the British tanks rolled against the jail.
In freeing the two Britons, they inadvertently let 150 other prisoners escape, presumably some of them involved in the guerrilla movement. Two Iraqis were killed in related violence.
Then crowds attacked British military vehicles, setting 2 afire with Molotov cocktails.
The entire episode reeks of "dual sovereignty," in which there are two distinct sources of government authority. Social historian Charles Tilly says that dual sovereignty signals a revolutionary situation...." Informed Comment
September 20 2005 ~ Independent The British Army 'used tanks and helicopters to storm jail and free captured troops' after the city exploded into bloody violence over the alleged killing of an Iraqi policeman by a British soldier. (Why were the two "soldiers" in arab dress and what were they doing 'under cover' with arms and explosives as they were reported to have been carrying in the car?) Channel 4 says "....British troops in Iraq are on high alert as a backlash over the dramatic rescue of two soldiers threatens to escalate."
September 20 2005 ~Outpouring of relief cash raises fear of corruption and cronyism Independent
"...... Bush administration critics expressing the fear that the Gulf coast, like Iraq, could become another grand experiment in neoconservative ideology..." Read in fullMeanwhile, Reuters reports that
"President Bush has named his domestic security adviser to lead an internal White House inquiry into the administration's performance in handling Hurricane Katrina."In a news conference, Cindy Sheehan said
"One of the bogus reasons that George Bush gives for this invasion (and) occupation of Iraq is to make America safer -- and Katrina exposed that clearly he has made America more vulnerable through his policies in Iraq," ReutersSir Menzies Campbell has called for an end to the US and UK "occupation" of Iraq at the Lib Dem conference. BBC
September 20 2005 ~ German result and the EU. EUreferendum:
"...the political situation is set to remain unstable for some time. No one leader will have a clear mandate for reform, and neither will the be able to provide leadership for the rest of Europe. And with Chirac very much a lame canard, there looks to be a power vacuum right at the heart of the project. With two key issues - the Turkish accession negotiations and the EU budget - claiming attention, and many more besides including the failed constitution, the "colleagues" more than anyone wanted a clear result. What they got is paralysis - the worst of all possible outcomes not least because, when there is a power vacuum at the heart of a system, it can be filled in unfortunate and unpredictable ways."
September 19 2005 ~ BBC "Church of England bishops have suggested Christian leaders apologise to Muslim leaders for the war in Iraq. .... a "long litany of errors" ...there needs to be a degree of public recognition of the West's responsibility for the present situation.....
....It also says the war appeared to be "as much for reasons of American national interest as it was for the well-being of the Iraqi people".
September 19 2005 ~ "possibly one of the largest thefts in history" Patrick Cockburn in the Independent reports on this story today: " One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history .. leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons. The money, intended to train and equip an Iraqi army capable of bringing security to a country shattered by the US-led invasion and prolonged rebellion, was instead siphoned abroad in cash and has disappeared. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history," Ali Allawi, Iraq's Finance Minister..." (Read in full)
Informed Comment Between one and two billion dollars were embezzled from the Iraqi ministry of defense under Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan.
".... Americans should be outraged at this news, which has now been reported twice by fine journalists in Iraq, but which has not become an issue in American politics. The embezzlement at the ministry of defense left the Iraqi military poorly equipped......The scale of it matches Saddam's kickbacks in the oil for food scandal, but the US journalists who were so outraged at the former don't seem to have the time of day for the embezzlement story."
September 18 2005 ~ "Put that light out! Now Prescott plans to send in the 'energy police' to make us go green" Melissa Kite writing in the Sunday Telegraph
'Energy wardens' will police homes and offices to ensure that they do not waste gas and electricity under a radical plan being considered by John Prescott....It seems that the worst case scenarios of peak oil are at last disturbing even the UK government. However, as we have seen so often before with foot and mouth and "terrorism", it prefers to rush in with punitive measures and threatening legislation instead of trusting the good will and good sense of its responsible population to understand the real nature of the problem.
...." rapidly decreasing our dependency on oil and gas imports is a national imperative," the study says. It calls for a range of action at grassroots level for Britain to "secure its home front".
Last year the then Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt's department was pictured with its lights blazing all night after she announced a drive to encourage householders to save #1 billion a year by switching off theirs. .....Earlier this year householders were warned that they faced a #1,000 fine for failing to recycle rubbish...."
September 17 2005 ~
".... The notion that you can make the world a better place by making it illegal to say nasty and dangerous things has the intellectual sloppiness, the headline-seeking shallowness, the philosophical carelessness and the creepy mix of the sinister with the sanctimonious, that marks it out as absolutely characteristic of our Prime Ministers mind..." The TimesThank goodness that Matthew Parris is one of thosre readable columnists still prepared to spell out the idiocy at the dark heart and woolly mind of the present government.
September 16 2005 ~ Independent "A coalition of artists, musicians and writers have joined anti-war campaigners to make a collective appeal to Tony Blair to pull British troops out of Iraq by the end of the year....
"Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Eno told The Independent: "We are saying that the war is a disaster and has failed in every way and is continuing to fail. Personally I'm saying I do not want to be associated with a bunch of red necks with big guns and small minds. People who were perhaps agnostic about the war have become much more sceptical about it. I want to say to Mr Blair that he would not be that badly off if he admitted he had made the wrong decision." Ms (Julie) Christie added: "What we are doing is encouraging the growth of terrorism, despite Tony Blair's vociferous denials...."September 16 2005 ~ Channel 4's Jon Snow wrote yesterday, "Coincidence? You decide":
"Just as the prime minister is trying to cajole UN members to support HIS concept of what terrorism is all about, Britain arrests and starts to try to deport seven suspects back to Algeria; and at exactly the same time, Home Secretary Charles Clarke announces yet another raft of anti-terror laws. Coincidence? You decide..."September 16 2005 ~ Tests proving the absence of ricin in the men's flat was not given to the police for 51 days. The Independent today tells us -
".... Tests demonstrating that no ricin was found at a flat linked to a gang suspected of planning a poison attack on the London Underground in January 2003 were not disclosed to police and ministers by officials at Porton Down.
... A spokeswoman for the Defence Science and Technological Laboratory (DSTL)... said that because of a "breakdown in communication" this information was not passed to the police for another 51 days.
On 3 February 2003 Tony Blair told the House of Commons that the "ricin terror plot" was "powerful evidence of the continuing terrorist threat". Two days later Colin Powell used the ricin evidence in a speech to the UN Security Council in which he warned of the danger of terror cells spreading from Iraq to Britain.
In April this year eight men, all immigrants, were cleared of involvement in the alleged ricin plot. Four were tried and found not guilty and a further four were acquitted after the prosecution offered no evidence against them..." Read in full
September 16, 2005 ~ " they were branded as terrorists before a jury acquitted them" The Times - Men cleared of poison plot are among suspects
"......It is thought that the seven Algerians rounded up in raids yesterday include some of the men acquitted this year of involvement in a plot to poison Londoners with ricin. ...... Officials refused to detail the security threat posed by the seven, or to reveal their names. ..."With really unparalleled nerve, Mr Clarke talked of "...individuals who are going about... trying to threaten the civil liberties of this country .." The Times says:
"Some of the seven are known to have recently lodged new asylum claims, saying that they faced being killed or tortured if they were sent back to Algeria because they were branded as terrorists during their Old Bailey trial before a jury acquitted them in April.September 16, 2005~ Hopeful words from Kofi Annan BBC "In a BBC interview, Kofi Annan identified increasing influence from the grassroots as a future trend. The secretary general also warned about the limits of powers, and cautioned about acting "as if one is omnipotent"
Exactly 3 years ago the Sunday Herald's Neil Mackay reported "Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President" and quoted Tam Dalyell:
'This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.'
"the destruction of democracy - a long-term project."John Pilger, who never makes for easy reading but whose grasp and decency can't be denied, writes in the New Statesman about "the filter through which most people get their serious news", about Jose Padilla and about the brief glimpse Katrina's havoc has given us into "The Facade" - the huge gulf between the America of real life and the America that "spawned the greed of corporatism and invented public relations as a means of social control".
On Jose Padilla:
"...an alleged witness to an alleged "plot" inmate of Guantanamo Bay, allowing the US military to hold him without charge, indefinitely. Even though there is no case against him, the Supreme Court is unlikely to overturn this travesty, which means the end of the Bill of Rights and of the "very core of liberty... freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive", as an American jurist once famously wrote.He writes that Bush's and Blair's assaults on our most basic freedoms, such as habeas corpus, are rarely reported and that for those behind the Facade " the destruction of democracy has been a long-term project."
This was hardly news in Britain, just as Lord Hoffmann's remarks passed most of us by. A Law Lord, he said that Blair's plans to gut our own basic rights were a greater threat than terrorism. Indefinite imprisonment for those innocent before the law and the intimidation of a minority community and of dissenters - these are the goals of Blair's "necessary measures", borrowed from Bush.
Who challenges him? His Downing Street press conference is an august sheep pen, the baa-ing barely audible...."
the world's richest oil company, ExxonMobil (will) make 30 billion dollars in profits this year, having received a huge slice of the 14.5 billion dollars in "tax breaks" which Bush's new energy bill guarantees his elite cronies. In his two elections, Bush has received most of his "corporate contributions" - the euphemism for bribes totalling 61.5 million dollars - from oil and gas companies. ... read in full
Article of the week ~ Mobilising people power.... Michael Moore's letter. While some of us are wringing our hands wondering how on earth - when so much of our money for the tsunami victims seems simply to have vanished - we can help the Katrina victims, Michael Moore has been mobilising people power not just across America but everywhere. The letter is inspiring and horrifying by turns. But it is certainly the article of the week. And it also tells us how we can help. :
"....I hooked up with the Vietnam veterans and Iraqi war vets (Veterans for Peace) who were organizing a guerilla, grass-roots relief effort. ........... Your response to my appeal has been nothing short of miraculous. And it has saved many, many lives. ............ Often our volunteers are the first relief any of these people have seen. They have no food, water or electricity. People die every day. There are no TV cameras recording this. They have started to report the spin and PR put out by the White House, the happy news that often isn't true ("Everyone gets 2,000 dollars!").Read in full
The truth is that there are dead bodies everywhere and no one is picking them up. My crew reports that in most areas there is no FEMA presence, and very little Red Cross. It's been over two weeks since the hurricane and there is simply not much being done. At this point, would you call this situation incompetence or a purposeful refusal to get real help down there? ...."
OpEd Washington Post - End of the Bush Era ".....The source of Bush's political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush's calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans..."
"......Once upon a time, some of us dreamed that the internet and the blogging revolution could play a positive part in growing civil liberties there. In the end, the repressive apparatus of the state trumped all that. "http://www.juancole.com/2005/09/no-comments-raed-in-sad-sign-of-times.html
Passing the Buck...
Article of the Day September 13 2005 Warmwell's Blog ".......The history of Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans is already being rewritten. The UK foot and mouth disaster, while it resulted in unnecessary and distressing slaughter, did not cause the loss of human life - except the suicides (and the number 60 has been quoted) of those who were in despair - but there are similarities..... This is not a frivolous analogy. ...." Read in full
Archive of Article of the Day
Booker's Notebook this week (Sept 11)
".. EU leaders also pledged their support for Beijing's "one China" policy, by which it claims the right to assert its sovereignty over Taiwan, if necessary by military means. This is, of course, potentially one of the most explosive flashpoints in world politics, since the US is committed to Taiwan's support. .. ..."
Nola.com(new window) has the latest news from New Orleans
".....While national media outlets suggested the worst of the troubles were over, local reports from bloggers showed the reverse: stranded, sick and starving, the victims of hurricane Katrina were waiting for help that never came.... 'Incredibly, much of this information is available through nola.com.....a resource many of the media are utilizing, yet [it] remains unreported. The television broadcasts refer to none of this....." Channel 4 blog page
Articles of the Day Sept 12 2005 - "Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. ... Extract from report on truthout.org (new window)
....Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees.
As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons....
...one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations."
If Blackwater's reputation and record in Iraq are any indication of the kind of "services" the company offers, the people of New Orleans have much to fear." truthout.org (new window)
Interview with columnist James Carroll - Tom Dispatch"........Within days of the attacks of September 11, 2001, he became perhaps our most passionate -- and prophetic -- columnist in the mainstream media. His columns continue to appear, now every Monday, in the Boston Globe.
... We've created for ourselves the disaster an enemy might have liked to create for us..... We've sacrificed democratic values. What accounts for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? What accounts for the abandonment of basic American principles of how you treat accused people? We've abandoned this fundamental tenet of American democracy ourselves! We didn't need an invading force to take away this one chief pillar of the Constitution. We took it down ourselves...."
Update Sept 11. Ebay has sent to all bidders an email to say that the item "has been removed by eBay for violating of one or more of our policies. Any offers or bids placed on this listing are now null and void..."
The Ebay item from the young doctor who was less than polite to Mr Cheney and whose wife gave birth after the hurricane had destroyed much of their home and possessions - "DVD of me saying "GO **** YOURSELF" to DICK CHENEY" had been viewed over 8500 times by the time it was removed by Ebay. He was hoping to "..raise some money to replace the many things we lost" After he had calmly walked back to the wreck of his house, he was handcuffed and questioned.
Sunday's Headline news
The head of MI5 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said the world had changed and a debate was needed. She warns that civil liberties may have to be eroded to protect people from "terrorist attacks". See BBC See also the report of Sir John Steven's book, serialised in (not surprisingly) The News of the World: "The fact that nothing untoward did happen was again a tribute to our intelligence gathering and the precautions we took." BBC
Bush bungled Katrina crisis, say Britons 86% of people said his handling of the crisis was bad or very bad, while 70% said he was a generally incompetent president. Sunday Times
Labour has been accused of altering by stealth the rules over political donations, which would let it solicit gifts behind closed doors. here
"Tony Blair plans to hand David Blunkett a sensational comeback - by re-appointing him as Home Secretary..." Sunday Telegraph. Ex-Met police chief's claim: 'Liar Blunkett tried to stab me in back' Independent on Sunday
John Humphrys is demanding compensation from the firm that "publicised" his comments. here
Tony Blair is under intense pressure to explain his links with a City financier whose company has earned millions of pounds from government contracts. here
Articles of the Day September 11 2005 ~ Bush, Annan: we blame the men at the top at our perilSimon Jenkins in the Times
"......We have become lazy participants in subsidiary democracy, local, regional, even national. We look only to some man at the top and saddle him with duties beyond his capacity to deliver. Annan could not bring Saddam to heel. Bush could not guard the New Orleans levees. The EU cannot inspect every cucumber and count every bra. (For that matter, Tony Blair cannot stop-watch every surgery and monitor every mosque.) Top-down authority can posture and we can blame it when things go wrong. We can have Hayeks plebiscitary dictatorship. But it is not self-government.
The real danger in demanding ever higher and stronger leadership is that one day we might get it..." (read in full)
"... in New Orleans, as in Baghdad, the White House seems to be fatally detached from reality"Patrick Cockburn in the Independent
".......Like most journalists in Baghdad I keep a television on with the sound off in the corner of my hotel room. When I see out of the corner of my eye menacing-looking American soldiers with guns cocked hammering on the door of a house I suspect it it something to do with Iraq and turn the sound up.How the New Orleans relief effort was hampered and stymied - some alarming facts Extract:
Not any more. Since the levees broke in New Orleans images of the disaster there look very like scenes I have got used to in Baghdad. The helicopters overhead, the deployment of great military force with uncertain purpose, the endless press conferences by politicians, officials and soldiers.
Most glaring are the parallels between the way the US administration behaved in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and their reaction to the devastating results of Hurricane Katrina. In both cases there was the same lack of preparation. Reports on the inadequacy of the levees in New Orleans were disregarded. Before the war the State Department prepared voluminous studies on what the US should do in Iraq after the war only to see its work contemptuously ignored by the Pentagon...
....Again and again in New Orleans, as in Baghdad, the White House seems to be fatally detached from reality. In both places there is an inability to take on board bad news" More
".. American politicians and bureaucrats neither know life without the basics nor talk to those who do, which is why they failed to respond coherently to the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Katrina. Airlifting bottled water ought to have been FEMA's first priority. Refugee centers ought to have featured rows of portable showers. It is inexcusable that hospitals weren't outfitted with backup generators and fuel reserves to run them. Police, firefighters and other first-responders ought to be equipped with satellite phones powered by disposable batteries.....It only took a few days for New Orleans to descend into anarchy, for the survivors of Katrina to lose hope, for disgusted Americans to conclude that their leaders are too staggeringly stupid, incompetent and uncaring to protect them from bad weather, much less a terrorist attack."
"...In the new New Orleans, there are no constitutional rights. Not only are soldiers allowed to break down doors (as they do in Iraq) in violation of the Fourth Amendment and even shoot to kill if they believe they are threatened (as soldiers in Iraq shoot to kill grandmothers and kids at Israeli-styled checkpoints), now the Second Amendment no longer exists..."
Article of the Day Sept 10 2005 ~ The Astrodome volunteer Radio Station was Blocked
Joel Johnson on Wired News
"....Wednesday morning, things looked good for KAMP. They had the equipment. They had the licenses. They had the content ready to begin broadcasting. They hoped to install their transmitters in the Astrodome that evening, then begin broadcasting at 9 a.m. the next day. .......See also transcript of Meet the Press in which Aaron Broussard, president of the Jefferson Parish district of New Orleans - exhausted and tearful - refutes the interviewer's suggestion (by such suggestions the smears and innuendo begin) that ".. the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?" -
But at 4:30 in the afternoon, KAMP received word that their request had been denied. RW Royall Jr., the incident commander of the Joint Information Center -- the group temporarily governing the operations of the Astrodome campus -- told KAMP they could not install their equipment. They had been officially, finally denied. .....Royal claimed the Astrodome was not able to provide power to KAMP's low-power FM transmitter. When KAMP offered to bring in enough batteries to power the equipment off the Astrodome's grid, they were still denied. ....
"Last week you could just go right inside (the Astrodome)," said one volunteer who declined to be named. "We should have just set up then and gotten permission later." ............." (more)
Its not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area.... We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." ...New York Times OpEd today
"...... The media will be tempted to revert to he-said-she-said stories rather than damning factual accounts. The effort to shift blame to state and local officials is under way. Smear campaigns against critics will start soon, if they haven't already. And raw political power will be used to block any independent investigation.(in full)
Will this be enough to let the administration get away with another failure? Let's hope not: if the administration isn't held accountable for what just happened, it will keep repeating its mistakes. Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff will receive presidential medals, and the next disaster will be even worse. "
Article of the Day September 9 ~ Bearing down on New Orleans. The president of the Jefferson Parish district of New Orleans - exhausted and tearful -spoke in a MSNBC radio interview on September 5,
"FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives. We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA."See transcript of Meet the Press in which Aaron Broussard refutes the interviewer's suggestion that ".. the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?"
Its not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area.... We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." ...New Orleans becomes a war zone. A dress rehearsal for martial law? Bill Van Auken's article even goes so far as to suggest that the delay was to allow for the rehearsal of certain contingency plans
"........Nearly 65,000 US military personnel are now deployed in disaster area, transforming the devastated port city into a war zone. Squads of combat-equipped troops toting assault rifles and columns of humvees with gunners at the ready crisscross its flooded streets. Soldiers with bayonets mounted have begun house-to-house canvassing of the city to enforce the complete removal of its civilian population...."(Readers of this website will not miss the parallels with the response of the "authorities" in the UK in recent times. We noted yesterday the BBC report "Evacuation 'not disease driven' Why remove from the city everyone, even those who are safe and have suffered enough? Why is the language so military and so reminiscent of Iraq? "Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau We waited until we had enough force in place to do an overwhelming force...We took the time to build the right force. They are bearing down on New Orleans. )
September 9 2005 ~ Oil Prices. The knock-on effects of galloping oil prices are perhaps with the advent of the #1 a litre fuel price, beginning to dawn on people in the UK. When raw materials, food and products can no longer be transported in the way we have got used to in the globalised world it is evident that there will be mass job losses and shortages. Providing food, warmth and water is going to become the most important thing - and service industry, it must be said, isn't a whole lot of good in this area. Recently, a DEFRA official scoffed that the UK is in a "post agricultural age". His contempt for farming and local food production may well have been badly timed.
The US Falls Church News Press article (extract below) is worth reading in full for its explanation of the impact of US borrowing from IEA members' strategic reserves as well as its own.
".....OPEC has no spare production capacity ....This time, there is no sign of our Saudi friends coming to the rescue as in past oil crises. ....(Iran has offered to send 20m barrels of crude oil to the US to help with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina.)
Already, European editorial writers and columnists are starting to grumble. They raise the specter of Americans in Hummers, gobbling up Europe 's heating oil for next winter. The head of the IEA warned that there will be a worldwide energy crisis if the US tries to replace its missing oil production and gasoline refining by outbidding everyone else on the world market..... For the United States , borrowing our way out of the current predicament without any serious conservation measures (such as a 55 mph speed limit or rationing) certainly can't last long.
Several years ago Kenneth Deffeyes, one of the leading peak oil theorists, facetiously selected Thanksgiving 2005 as the exact date the world would reach Hubbert's peak. You know, it is starting to look as if he just might be right."
Katrina ~"Morticians prep for 40,000 bodies" (Worldnet Daily) "Part of the challenge for officials will be identifying bodies that have been decomposing for days.
"I ain't got the stomach for it, even after what I saw in Iraq," said Brooks, referring to the freezer where bodies sat decomposing. "In Iraq, it's one-on-one. It's war. It's fair. Here, it's just crazy. It's anarchy. When you get down to killing and raping people in the streets for food and water and this is America. This is just 300 miles south of where I live."Independent "Even when the bodies are recovered, experts say it will be far harder to identify them than at the World Trade Center, because they are decomposing rapidly in the heat. Although a government exercise last year predicted the course of the disaster, Mr Bush drastically cut back spending on city defences. Work on strengthening vital levees needed to keep out flood water stopped for the first time in 37 years."
The Coordination Action website on FMD and CSF (new page), has up to date news and readers' forum on foot and mouth and CSF. Please see front page comment
A summary of today's news from Google
Article of the Day, September 8 2005 ~ Michael Ancram in the Times
"........ . We must wake up to the half-truths and deceptions of spin that have poisoned the well of public integrity. We must wake up to the growing power of private money to buy government favours; to the gamey whiff of corruption at the very heart of this Government itself; to the dangerous politicisation of our once proudly independent civil service. We must wake up to this brave new Labour world where criticism is met with character assassination and moral blackmail. All this is profoundly wrong and we should say so.
Nor should we stay silent when political correctness gnaws away at so many of the freedoms that we cherish not least the freedom of speech...." Read in full
"The malice lies in the allegation"Roy Hattersley in the Times says
". ....The malice lies in the allegation. Humphrys is the one survivor of the most inglorious episode in the BBCs recent history the grovelling apology for the suggestion that the Government had sexed up its report on the threat from Saddam Hussein and the consequent removal of the chairman and director-general. Someone, somewhere wants to make a clean sweep. Strange though it may seem, Humphrys is an easy target. He is not a man who inspires sympathy. But he is the sort of journalist who is essential to a free society. The Chairman of the BBC must know that to be true. He should not waste his time on a speech of no consequence....."
September 8 2005 ~ Humphrys spoke the truth: that's why Labour got itself in a spin
Boris Johnson in the Telegraph
"You know I sometimes wonder what kind of country we really are. We think of ourselves as a happy jabbering bazaar of free speech. Yet when a notoriously cantankerous broadcaster utters the round unvarnished truth, he receives a rebuke from the top of the BBC that is so sinister, and so plainly the result of internal wrangling, that it can have been inspired only by the Labour Government itself...
.... a former Downing Street spin-doctor is now trying, with the assistance of various toadying journalists, to bully Humphrys: because he dared to speak the truth about Campbell, lies and the WMD, and I would be astonished if this was not being done with Labour collusion.
It infuriates me that Humphrys has been "rebuked", in this pompous way, because there are countries all over the world where the sound of Lillibullero still means liberty, and people who still believe in the absolute ability of the BBC to give the world the truth...." Read in full
September 6/7 2005 ~ Tim Allan, Mr Blair's former adviser has been described as the "baby-faced assassin". He is a former Blair press adviser in Downing Street, is now a boss of Murdoch's BSkyB. As Snowmail puts it this evening -
"the BBC Today presenter John Humphrys has been censured by his bosses for using inappropriate remarks about the government and its key advisers in a recent speech on the corporate circuit.The Telegraph today says ".......The Times has long faced embarrassing accusations of being slavishly pro-Labour. That embarrassment was compounded yesterday after Mark Rayner, who runs Richmond Events, the company that organised the corporate event at which Humphrys spoke, said the only existing video of the speech had been given to Mr Allan. He accused Mr Allan, who now runs his own PR company, of reneging on a commitment he gave to use the video "exclusively and confidentially" to confirm a remark by Humphrys about politicians that had been included in a Richmond Events brochure. ..." Read in full
The director-general said that whilst Mr Humphrys did not damage the overall reputation of what he called BBC "impartiality", some of his remarks were injudicious. But what of the dirty tricks allegations that Tony Blair's adviser Tim Allan leaked the speech with malicious intent to destabilise the corporation?"
The Telegraph also asked for readers' comments. See also Channel 4 transcript of Tim Allan interview in which the language he chooses (" I make no apology .... Humphrys should not be allowed to do this in future..... he's box office, that's why his agent touts him around and gets him money.... you can't just go slagging off every single member of the government and saying that they're all terrible..he's learnt his lesson ...") says much about him.
September 4/5 2005 ~ "We came, we saw, we ruined Iraq to stay will wound it more" Simon Jenkins in the Times ".......More than two years of chaos, killing and fraud have seen the American reconstruction of Baghdad hardly begin. It is too unsafe. The city has yet to recover from the unbelievable mistake of the Americans and British bombing all the government infrastructure so as to cause shock and awe, and then disbanding the police and the army and stopping their pensions........Since 1815 and the battle of New Orleans, Louisiana has not been Britains concern. Baghdad is. We are party to the destruction of a city and the dismembering of its country amid growing insecurity. The greatest arrogance of all is that we can somehow do more good than harm by staying....." Read in full
September 4/5 2005 ~ ".....Though he apparently felt it would be a breach of taste to walk upon the flood waters, Bush dispensed compassionate-conservative comfort and valuable down-home advice to a couple of women in Biloxi, Mississippi. "He kissed both women on their heads and walked with his arms around them, telling them they could get help from the Salvation Army." He expressed understanding of their plight and told them to "hang in there". Bush also rejected suggestions that the USA cannot afford to continue colonising Iraq while cleaning up after Katrina. "We've got plenty of resources to do both," he said, meanwhile urging people to make charitable donations to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. ..."
A blog well worth reading is Philip Challinor's - aka "The Curmudgeon Proudly Spreading Horror and Nastiness" and this entry Wind in the South
September 4 2005 ~Informed Comment " In April of 2003 the US military stood by and allowed Baghdad to be looted. Not only were private establishments emptied, but all the major ministries (except the Ministry of Petroleum) were looted and burned. When Iraqis complained to the new occupation authority, the GI's informed them that stopping the looting was "not the mission." The documents from the Baath Foreign Ministry that might have shed light on the dealings of Reagan, Bush senior, Schultz and Rumsfeld with Saddam Hussein before 1990 were helpfully burned. The modern history of Iraq, including cabinet meetings from the 1930s and 1940s, mostly went up in smoke (it would be as though the US National Archives for every administration since Roosevelt was burned, along with all microfilm copies). The Iraq Museum, a key repository for ancient Iraqi civilization and the history of humankind, was looted of dozens of major pieces and thousands of lesser ones.
The widespread looting and the breakdown of order started Iraq on its descent into chaos.
What was the response of the man responsible for one of the most damaging debacles in the history of modern Iraq? Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said,
"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," Rumsfeld said . . . Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. "Stuff happens," Rumsfeld said.
In late summer of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina recast New Orleans as a latter-day Atlantis, displacing a million persons and reducing hundreds of thousands to dire poverty, a wave of looting broke out in the city. Some legal scholars argued that where people felt their lives were in danger because of a natural disaster, they actually had the right to take food, medicine and water--and other materials necessary to their survival-- from abandoned stores.
So the Bush administration treated Louisiana's Walmart managers the same way it treated Iraqi property holders, right? After all, "stuff happens," right? Free people are free to make errors and commit crimes in times of crisis, correct?
......" Read in full
September 4 2005 ~ Another attempt to silence John Humphrys?
A disgraceful article appeared in the Times on Saturday with the headline Radio's king of rude launches another salvo at Labour 'liars'. "King of Rude" is nonsense and the whole article, written by Tom Baldwin and Andrew Pierce, is a crude smear. And who "leaked" the video of a speech, not intended for public ears, to the Times? Why is that nauseating article written in such tones of outrage? Who is the "source close to the BBC Governors"? One also close to Qinetic perhaps. The article concludes,Channel 4 news "Six days on and finally the government has called in the military to take over New Orleans. President Bush has promised 17,000 extra troops will arrive in the city in days. But only now - as the relief effort gathers pace - has the true scale of death and suffering in these waters become apparent...."
"a source close to the BBC Governors said that Humphrys had gone too far, adding: On Hutton, he is wrong on substance. There have to be guidelines about what BBC presenters can speak about. He certainly needs to be rebuked or more. .."Or more? The various members of government whom he challenges so well would evidently like to see John Humphrys replaced. They are hardly likely to embrace his view that:
If we were not prepared to take on a very, very powerful government, there would be no point in the BBC existing that is ultimately what the BBC is for.Yes. The Today Programme provides the Opposition missing elsewhere and often brings a smile of relief to those of us sickened by high handed arrogance and ignorance. Who can forget Mr Blair's incoherent attempts at justification last September? The BBC says that Michael Grade has "ordered an investigation" and a transcript. What nonsense it all is. Thank all the gods for the grasp and grit of John Humphrys. He may be arrogant and outspoken - but we need him desperately. Of course the sycophants and the dark cabal want him silenced.. He is the voice gently and humorously reminding us that the Emperor has no clothes on.
September 3 2005 ~ From the Wilderness.com "....As many as twenty offshore rigs have now been confirmed as adrift, capsized, listing or sunk. Each rig may have as many as eight wells. Wheres the money coming from to replace them? How long will that take? Bottom line: my assessment is that New Orleans is never going to be rebuilt and that US domestic oil production will never again reach pre-Katrina levels. The infrastructure is gone, the people are gone, and the US economy will be on life support very, very quickly...." Peak Oil News
September 2 2005 ~ Michael Moore has written to the president.....
" Dear Mr. Bush:Read in full
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag. ....."
(The BBC reports that troops have been given a shoot-to-kill policy to quell lawlessness in New Orleans, where desperation is growing. ITN reports that stranded survivors of Hurricane Katrina are beginning to die in the aftermath..) The Guardian on Friday afternoon paints a very grim picture - but at least "thousands of National Guardsmen with food, water and weapons" are now arriving.
August 30 2005 ~ On Hurricane Katrina, sensational comment by Michael C Ruppert. From the Wilderness
"........... I'm going out on a short, sturdy limb here. Oil prices will break the $80 mark within a week. That could turn out to have been an understatement.It will be interesting to see if he is right. Reports today tend to suggest things could have been a great deal worse. Even so, the BBC estimates are that total damages may be as much as $25bn (#14bn).
Katrina's landfall on August 29, 2005 may well be remembered as the beginning of the collapse of the American Empire. It could also be remembered by future generations as the day that Mother Earth declared full-scale war on the human race. - MCR]..."
August 28 2005 ~ "We have listened and we have learned" said Mr Blair. If only that were true. Precious little learning from mistakes seems to happen in the world of politics - a world that impinges so disastrously on our own. The revelations in the Observer today (Aug 28) that the government neither listened nor learned from a letter from the Foreign Office sent in 2004 emphasises this. ....
Article of the Day, Thursday 25th August 2005 ~ ~ Frank Dobson in the Independent: We need the truth about de Menezes' death now The police, the IPCC and the Home Secretary should publish the basic facts.... Two Brazilian government officials are in this country to try to find out how our counter-terrorism police came to shoot dead a Brazilian citizen who wasn't a terrorist. It's not the plain awful fact of the shooting that brings them here - it's the misleading explanations for what happened that were put about and which officialdom left uncorrected for three weeks..... Not getting the truth out has harmed public trust in the police, embarrassed Britain's friends abroad, and delighted our enemies.
We must not let things drag on until Christmas.."
Article of the Day, Wednesday 24th August 2005 ~ ~ No Proof Found of Iran Arms Program Washington Post "Traces of bomb-grade uranium found two years ago in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment and are not evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, a group of U.S. government experts and other international scientists has determined.
"The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions," said a senior official who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.....
......The IAEA had put together the group of experts in an effort to foster cooperation but also to eliminate the possibility that its findings would be challenged by the White House, officials said. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the White House rejected IAEA findings that cast doubt on U.S. assertions about then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's arsenal. The IAEA findings turned out to be correct, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq."
Article of the Day, Tuesday 23rd August 2005 ~ ~"The rule of law is no longer operating in Iraq" "..and no pretence of constitutional procedure is being striven for." Juan Cole (new window) knows rather more about the situation in Iraq than John Reid.
Contrast his informed daily comment with the sound bites of our Defence Secretary whose irritation with John Humphrys was particularly evident on August 12 2005 : "....since you invited me on to discuss the Iraqis success and attempts to build their own democratic Constitution perhaps we should pay some attention to the democratically elected Iraqi politicians... "
Back in the real world, Prof Cole today: "... In essence, the prime minister and president have made a sort of coup, simply disregarding the interim constitution. Given the acquiescence of parliament and the absence of a supreme court (which should have been appointed by now but was not, also unconstitutionally), there is no check or balance that could question the writ of the executive. ......... I have a sinking feeling that rigid interpretations of Islamic canon law may end up trumping some of the beautiful human rights otherwise promised." and "all of Iraq's petroleum production was knocked out on Monday."
Article of the Day, Monday 22nd August 2005 ~ ~ The killing that shamed justice Leader - New Statesman ".... the manner in which false information gained currency. No one with an interest in accountable, democratic government can be comfortable with what occurred. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, referred in a press conference to suspicions aroused by the clothing and behaviour of Jean Charles de Menezes. There seems to be no doubt that some of his subordinates then supplied journalists with considerably more information that tended to mitigate the shooting - much of it, it now seems, just as inaccurate.
We need to be told at some stage how this happened, who was responsible and what they have to say for themselves. Journalists and editors, too, should be asking themselves questions: if they had been more scrupulous about identifying their sources of information from the outset, would the public have swallowed so many falsehoods? ... The tendency of ministers in recent weeks has been to treat the judgement of the police and security services as if it were beyond debate...." Read in full See also the Times today No one woke Met chief to tell him his team had killed the wrong man and also has a timetable showing the order of events on July 22/23.
Article of the Day, unday Aug 21 2005 ~ ~ Army risks losing its reputation, warns general Maj Gen Graeme Lamb: 'If trust is lost the road back will be blocked' Sunday Telegraph ".....in danger of losing its reputation as a "highly respected British institution" because it is being forced to recruit soldiers from a "morally corrupt and dysfunctional" society .... not educated in and able to recognise self-discipline"...his comments.... reflect concern among senior officers....that the military's reputation is being eroded by allegations of abuse in Iraq, bullying and sex scandals and the deaths of recruits at Deepcut ..."
And Max Hastings' Opinion column: "....Gen Lamb's remarkably forthright speech........It is very difficult to recruit an army capable of doing its historic business in war - that of killing and being killed - from men and women who are universally civilised. ...
.. ...Teachers often assert that, in a few daily hours at school, they cannot imbue pupils with standards utterly lacking at home. Likewise,.... the Army, which is expected in a few months to transform young animals - and the worst products of the inner cities are no more - into honourable warriors.
............we might ask whether as a society we still deserve the profound virtues of the British Army, if we allow it to become sole scapegoat for vices that are as much ours as its own. If we wish this great institution to survive and prosper, it needs our support and that of the Government which sends it so often to fight, yet treats it so scurvily." Read articles in full
Article of the Day, Aug 20 2005 ~ ~ Extract from Friday's Snowmail (on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and the sidelining of Mo Mowlam.)
Professor Juan Cole's respected daily Informed Comment is occasionally both colloquial and quotable in tone - a shock that serves only to emphasise the gravity and rigorous detail of most of its authorial voice. As here, a postscript to Saturday's Sistani Opposes Ceding Kirkuk to Kurdistan Sadrists Demonstrate against Federalism :
"US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's apparent belief that Iran might be helping the radical Sunni fundamentalists in Iraq to kill Shiites is frankly nuts. But if there is anything more nuts, it is Iranian Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei's counter-charge that the US military is secretly blowing things up in Iraq and blaming insurgents, so as to create a pretext to stay in Iraq.
Hey, Ali, the US Department of Defense doesn't want to have to keep 138,000 troops in Iraq. They only probably want to keep a division there (say 20,000 men). So they aren't blowing up all those bombs (including the ones that kill US troops) so that they have to remain overstretched and suffering in Iraq!
And, Don, radical Khomeinist Shiites don't give bombs to radical Salafi Sunnis to use on Iraqi Shiites.
Jehosaphat, can we live in the real world here, folks? It's like the inmates run the asylum." (More)
Articles of the Day, Aug 18 2005 ~ ~ The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes Craig Murray reacts to the latest revelations about the probable murder of Jean Charles de Menezes
".... it would still be murder even if Mr Menezes was indeed a terrorist. That was unequivocally established by the Death on the Rock case, where the European Court ruled that it was illegal to assassinate IRA terrorists in cold blood in Gibraltar, whether or not they were engaged in a bombing operation.Marie Woolf in the Independent : ID cards could be used for mass surveillance system "....The Home Office said the police would only check a person against the National Identity Register to investigate a specific crime."
The government are acutely aware of that precedent. That is why the lies about his bizarre behaviour were so quickly concocted, and assiduously spread. They did so with the help of a compliant media establishment that repeated these lies ad nauseam to an excited public. .."
Article of the Day, Aug 17 2005 ~ ~ Channel 4 video report.."utterly at odds with accounts at the time" Leaked IPCC papers and photos about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, What emerges is that no one was able to give a positive ID that he was the suspected terrorist, Hussein Osman
"...They had made an assumption at some point - and that carried on.... the process just took over.....Gold Command gave clearance to firearms officers that they could kill him....... He was was not wearing a heavy jacket, he was behaving normally, he did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper..he wasn't runnng away, merely quickening his pace to catch a train.....de Menezes was sitting down ...according to one particular statement one officer grabs him round the arms and around the torso and another officer shoots him .. ...". (warning - in this disturbing report, there is a particularly graphic image of the dead electrician. See also ITN News.)
Article of the Day, Aug 16 2005 ~ ~ It's Torture for Tony Simon Jenkins (and see latest Blog )
Footnote on the Greek air crash: ".....Eleni Michozalis, whose goddaughter Antonia died in the crash with her husband and their children, aged 12, 10 and 6, said: "Where are the EU's regulatory powers?" "They make us wash our hands before we go into the slaughter house to kill the chickens. They minutely regulate the way we drive on the roads ... But why did they allow this plane to fly? The pilots couldn't do anything. The airline killed everyone." Independent
Article of the Day, Aug 15 2005 ~ ~ Stephen Glover on The Press Independent "....several weeks ago David Hill, holidaying Mr Blair consider himself in a category of his own, particularly since his ill-conceived policies in Iraq have increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks in Britain? Why should he be allowed to exempt himself from the consequences of his own actions?....The media could have ignored Mr Hill's request. The Sun has very nearly done so. Hasn't the rest of the press been rather too docile? At the very least there should have been a debate about the rights and wrongs of not revealing the Prime Minister's whereabouts....."
(warmwell note: Mr Blair is in Barbados, as anyone - terrorist or not - can find out by running a simple Google search and he is probably in Cliff Richards' villa there.)
Articles of the Day, Aug 14 2005 ~ ~ Is it right to expect parliament to approve a constitution it has barely read, which is highly controversial, without time for study and debate? Isn't that making parliament a mere rubber stamp? The deadline is a US political issue, not an imperative of Iraqi politics. Informed Comment
No 10 refuses to reveal Iraq war e-mailsAugust 14 2005 - Sunday Times Senior government sources suspect that the e-mails contain a summary of the arguments that No 10 was privately making to Goldsmith .... read in full and see warmwell pages on
Lord Goldsmith and the Downing Street Memos
Friday 12 August 2005: UK Defence Secretary , John Reid, on the Today Programme (warmwell transcript) says that the situation in Iraq is cause for celebration. Extract:
John Humphrys: Aren't you overstating what has been achieved? Isn't it the reality that Iraq is in a state of chaos?Read in full Then read
Dr John Reid : Oh my God, I'm not overstating what has been achieved, John..."
John Humphrys: And the Americans aren't killing Iraqis?
Dr John Reid: They are killing terrorists, yes. .
Article of the Day, Aug 13 2005 ~ ~ "How can the US ever win, when Iraqi children die like this?" in this harrowing everyday story from Baghdad Robert Fisk describes how a second grade boy lay crushed under an American vehicle that rammed a house at 3 in the morning. The family angrily refused compensation
"......one of Yassin's brothers says that he took a photograph of the dead boy as he lay on the ground, a picture taken on his mobile phone, and he printed a picture of it and when the Americans returned on the second day they asked to see it.
"They asked me why I had taken the picture and I said it was so people here could see what the Americans had done to my brother. They asked if they could borrow it and bring it back. I gave it to them but they didn't bring it back. But I still kept the image on my mobile and I was able to print another."
And suddenly it is in my hands, an obscene and terrible snapshot of Yassin's head crushed flat as if an elephant had stood upon it, blood pouring from what had been the back of his brains.
"So now, you see," the brother explains, "the people can still see what the Americans have done." ..." read in full
Article of the Day, Aug 12 2005 ~ ~ My sadness at the privatisation of Iraq
Michael Meacher in today's Times - Almost no contracts have gone to UK companies, apart from one for the Baghdad sewage system -"..... But democracy was always only an after-thought, and anyway never really on offer in the first place. Before the US proconsul Paul Bremer left Baghdad, he enacted 100 orders as chief of the occupation authority in Iraq. Perhaps the most infamous was Order 39 which decreed that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatised, that foreign companies could have complete control of Iraqi banks, factories and mines, and that these companies could transfer all of their profits out of Iraq. The reconstruction of the country amounts in effect to wholesale privatisation of the economy and is little short of economic colonisation. ..." Read in full
Channel 4 News update Aug 11: " ...The Home Secretary, who is still technically on holiday, decided to detain ten people today pending their deportation. All are foreigners, but he won't say who they are or whether they are the same people who were until recently locked up in Belmarsh without trial. But it is widely thought, and a few nods and winks today seemed to confirm this, that one of them is the Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada - who was suspected of being a key Al Qaeda figure by the security services both here and in Madrid.
So they will all be sent back to countries like Jordan, Algeria and Lebanon with questionable or down right dodgy human rights records. This is because yesterday the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan under which they agree to treat anyone handed to them in line with "international standards" of human rights.
But what about those from other countries like Algeria where no deal has been done yet? Will the British courts accept that they can be held in detention while memorandums of understanding are still being negotiated? Would Britain be any safer with these people deported? Did any of them have anything to do with the July attacks? Or is this the action of a government desperate to be seen to be doing something?"
As so often, one feels gratitude to Channel 4 for asking these questions
Article of the Day, Aug 11 2005 ~ ~ Guilty! Senior judges accuse politicians over terror laws Senior judges have accused politicians of seeking to subvert the rule of law in attempts to impose tough new anti-terror measures Independent " Britain's most eminent judges have warned politicians that they will fight any move to undermine their independence, after being accused of thwarting moves to fight terrorism. In a stark warning, the country's senior legal figures warned of a backlash from the courts - and declared that diluting the powers of the judiciary will undermine the basis of democracy...."
Article of the Day, Aug 10 2005 ~ Blears, Blunkett and Prescott. While the cat's away (and won't come back for the funeral) . See the Scotsman on all the posturing. Meanwhile, Michael Howard sees fit to warn judges to "stop thwarting the will of MPs and play a full part in the fight against terrorism." Telegraph
Article of the Day, Aug 9 2005 ~ Tens of thousands of people from around the world gathered in Hiroshima yesterday to renew calls for the abolition of nuclear arms on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Independent "....... Tadatoshi Akiba, the Mayor of Hiroshima, told the gathering that the five established nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China - as well as India, Pakistan and North Korea were "jeopardising human survival". The members of the "nuclear club" were "ignoring the majority voices of the people and governments of the world", he said...."
Article of the Day, Aug 8 2005 ~ The Times (alone it seems) reports briefly on the fact that 6 protesters against the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act in Parliament Square were arrested yesterday. The Act bans demonstrations within half a mile from Parliament unless they have been "sanctioned by police".
Anyone who thinks this is all perfectly all right, British, and reasonable might perhaps like to read an account of a similar protest, also apparently ignored by the mainstream media, that took place at the beginning of August; The Thick Blue Line (new window) is blogging at its liveliest, funniest and angriest.
(And here too there were 6 arrests. "..... whilst we were conveying our disgust at the way that 5 fully grown male officers were dragging a peaceful lady to their van. I overheard one officer say that "we've got 3" when asked how many arrests they had made, followed by "we need 6" ...... When asked for the name of the Police station that the "perpetrators" had been taken to, the police gave 3 different names...") Article of the Day, Aug 7 2005 ~ ~ Robin Cook has died on holiday in Scotland. "....It was his grindstone-sharp wit, his incredible intellect and his towering oratory that distinguished him from the herd of suits, not his individualist look resignation as Leader of the House of Commons on the eve of the Iraq war elevated him to the ranks of those for whom statues are cast and earned him a reputation as the greatest parliamentarian of his generation " Sunday Herald
(Here is the resignation speech that drew such applause in March 2003)
Article of the Day, Aug 6 2005 ~ UK govt gets its own intranet - The new GSi will provide its Government employee users with different levels of access to confidential material. "...The first phase has put into place direct connections between GSi and other government and inter-government bodies, allowing communications to bypass the public Internet..."
(warmwell note: The internet was too useful not to be used before a government intranet could be put in place. This looks set to remove from the public gaze much open and transparent information. One wonders what it has cost. Since 2001, for example, the Department of Work and Pensions alone has spent around #4.25 billion (billion, sic) on various IT projects. Then last November, it lost 80 per cent of its 100,000 PCs following a "routine software upgrade".... .")
Article of the Day, Aug 5 2005 ~ - Jamail Dahl's email from Iraq Aug 5. Extract following Mr Bush's assertion We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. : " a corporal in the Marines.
."....I see this guy in the most prestigious office in the world, and this guy says bring it on. A guy who aint never been shot at, never seen anyone suffering, saying bring it on? He gets to act like a cowboy in a western movieits sickening to me.."....Harvey Tharp sitting with us served in Kirkuk. His position of being in charge of some reconstruction projects in northern Iraq allowed him to form many close friendships with Iraqissomething that prompts him to ask me to tell more people of the generous culture of the Iraqi people. His friendships apparently brought the war much closer to home for him....
." I told my commander I couldnt take part in this. I would have been sent into Fallujah, and he was going to order me in to do my job. I also chose not to go back because the dropping of bombs in urban areas like Fallujah are a violation of the laws of warfare because of the near certainty of collateral damage. For me, seeing the full humanity of Iraqis made me realize I couldnt participate in these operations.Tharp goes on to say that he believes there are still Vietnam vets who think that that was a necessary war and adds,
I think its because that keeps the demons at bay for them to believe it is justifiedthis is their coping mechanism. We, as Americans, have to face the total obvious truth that this was all because of a lie.....
Article of the Day, Aug 5 2005 ~ - Capacity Crowds at Downing Street Forums Call for Impeachment Capacity Crowds at Downing Street Forums Call for Impeachment San Francisco Bay View, News Analysis, David Swanson, Aug 05, 2005 "... Congresswoman Barbara Lee and 29 co-sponsors are backing a Resolution of Inquiry which, if passed, will require the White House and the State Department to transmit all information relating to communication with officials of the United Kingdom between January 1, 2002, and October 16, 2002, relating to the policy of the United States with respect to Iraq.
Article of the Day, Aug 3 2005 ~ -King Fahd's death To read the media reports one would not think that, as Robert Baer wrote in this extraordinary article in 2003, that "Saudi Arabia today is a mess, and it is our mess." The Fall of the House of Saud is is a fascinating article that deserves to be read carefully and in full.
Gilbert and Sullivan on the subject of Mr Clarke's ID cards and the very model of a modern Minister ....Do visit the website. I loved the dapper piano-playing dog, the all-singing dancing cast - and especially the words. More