30 Apr 2008

Quote Of The Day

Lord Nicholas Stern:
"It's really nice to be outside of politics so you can refer to people like John Howard as appalling."

Back On TV: Howard's Old Ethanol Mate

Remember Dick Honan, the Manildra CEO who in 2003 secured government subsidies for ethanol production after donating more than $300,000 to the Liberal Party? Alan Ramsey called it "the ultimate in old-fashioned driveway service: $30.86 million of public money in 16 months".

Although Howard initially denied meeting Honan, it was later revealed that the pair had at least seven face-to-face meetings.

Despite the scandal, however, the ethanol subsidies remained in place. Cars started sporting ETH-NOL bumper stickers and the stigma attached to the word disappeared as the need for alternative fuel sources became clearer. There was limited opposition to mandatory ethanol blending, and even many die-hard Greens were on board for the ride.

In 2006, Howard government introduced legislation that compensated producers for a 38.14c-a-litre excise on ethanol. Now the whole program is under review. But don't expect a big slap-down for Dick Honan:
In recent years, Manildra has been far more even-handed, and in 2006-07 Mr Honan gave $347,000 to Labor and $244,000 to the Coalition.
There are many problems associated with Ethanol as an alternative fuel source, but the major one today is that when farmers stop growing food to produce ethanol, it drives up the cost of food. But the CEO of the Dalby Bio Refinery, a man with the unfortunate name of Kevin Andrews, is having none of that:
"The price of rice has doubled in recent weeks and not one drop of alcohol for biofuels has come from rice."
Of course, the price of rice has doubled because land is being farmed for other purposes, and because the price of other staple foods has doubled, sparking riots in many parts of the world. So why are these big Aussie refiners still being disingenuous?
The push for agrofuels is driven by the same vested interests that have pushed fossil fuel addiction — and now seek to increasingly replace fossil fuels with biofuels without altering the highly unjust and unsustainable global system that got us into this mess in the first place.
The solution to this mess is second generation biofuels, biofuels produced from non-arable land, and other alternative energy sources. If we approach this problem energetically, scientifically and morally, we can simultaneously help solve our global warming predicament. The moment is now!

Faith, Money, Greed, Bubbles, Karma and Despair

The Reuters headline says it all: "Fed tone may send food and gasoline prices higher". See? It's not the economic realities that drive the interest rate cut, it's the tone of those who deliver it that's the problem. Talk about shooting the messenger.
The increases in food and fuel costs have triggered protests around the globe.

"There had been so much hope that they would say something that would give us some sort of indication that they were done with this insanity," said Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover.
So what do US fund managers like Peter Beutel do in this climate of fear and uncertainty? Do they tuck their heads in and promise to take a more responsible stance in future deals? No, they look for a new opportunity to exploit. And the new buzzwords are "Emerging Markets" even though analysts admit such investments are already over-priced:
"This bubble, like all bubbles, will not be justified by long-term value but at least will be one of the least flaky bubble cases ever," Grantham, chairman of fund manager GMO, wrote in a note to clients.

"Perhaps once in a career any self respecting strategist, even a one trick "mean reversion" one like GMO, should have a go at predicting a major divergence, a true bubble. And this is ours."
And when that bubble pops, it will be all the Fed's fault too.

Wanker Of The Day

Former Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Dibb is obviously worried about cuts to his old Department's budget. He says Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith is being "complacent" about national security in "our part of the world":
Some of the world's major concentrations of military power and potential hot spots are in Asia: for example on the Korean peninsula, across the Taiwan Straits and between India and Pakistan.
But are Korea, Taiwan, India and Pakistan really "our" part of the world? Does Australia really need to get involved in these countries' problems, assuming they ever do flare up into war?
The region now spends more than $285 billion a year on defence (more than NATO, excluding the US) with China alone accounting for $128 billion of this amount (next come Japan with $43 billion, South Korea with $26 billion and India with $24 billion).
Yes but US military spending dwarfs all that, and Australia is right up there (particularly on a per capita basis).
At least one former defence minister, Kim Beazley, thinks a regional arms race is taking place.
Well, he would, wouldn't he? Beazley is just another of the military spending racketeer mobsters in Canberra. And these guys are terrified that Australians might start to realise that the biggest threat to our national security is actually our own aggression towards others.
In the forthcoming Defence white paper it is important that we do not allow our advanced conventional war-fighting capabilities to be sacrificed on the altar of the trendy, so-called new security agenda.
In other words, we need to keep pretending that Indonesia might invade us any day, that China might nuke Darwin next Friday, and that tanks, aircraft, ships and guns are the way to defeat the threat of terrorism. What a load of bollocks.

Pack it in, Paul, and get a real job.

29 Apr 2008

My Life As A "23 Year Old Student Activist"

I mean what sort of loser even reads Mike Whitney:
Yesterday, when Wright took the podium at the National Press Club, he knew he'd be taken to task no matter what he said. He knew that every word he uttered would be twisted by the media to make him look like a hate-monger, or worse, a racist. But Wright faced his critics with dignity and delivered another barnburner. By the end of the speech, everyone in attendance was on their feet applauding wildly for the man the corporate media has chosen to destroy.
You can watch the full video of Wright's speech here (not the edited FOX version) and make up your own mind about whether the man is insane, or just speaking the truth that people in power (and others) don't want to hear.

It's a pity Obama didn't stick with Wright: he would have lost the Dem nomination, of course, but he could have taken a big slice of the Party out the door with him, maybe joined up with Al Gore, and launched a successful White House bid as an independent.

But like Atrios says today:
This election is going to be much much stupider than the last time. Last time much of the stupid was at least nominally about serious issues, this time it's just all about the stupid.
Sometimes life's like that, isn't it?

Who Are We? Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?

Elizabeth Farrelly asks the question:
If you were writing the screenplay Australia, we'd be just at the point, about one-third the way in, where the desire line splits. Where Luke Skywalker must decide whether to stay with his childless rels or follow his dream. Where Simba must choose between running away and confronting his destiny. Where the main character - Australia - must face its defining dilemma. What dilemma, where? What's to decide when it seems we might be the only country unaffected by the coming recession? Where's the problem in that?
She could be talking about War Crimes, our continued support of the criminals in Washington, or a host of other important issues. But she's talking specifically about fossil fuels:
Our future wealth, so gleefully proclaimed, depends on selling fossil fuels - oil, gas, coal - to as many people as possible as hard and as long as possible. But our future survival depends on reducing global use of these same fuels, as much as possible, immediately.

... [W]e - on this vast sunny, wind-washed island, abounding with next-century's energy sources, with the necessary space, stability and nous - we also have a responsibility to make it happen. This is our destiny path, as inconvenient as destiny generally is. More exciting than the other but also more testing, it may be our last chance to really stand for something, and it leads - if we have the bottle for it - to the light on the hill.
I have often thought that Australia is in a unique position to take the lead on a host of big 21st Century issues, given our wealth, geography and ethnic mix. Think immigration, defence, education, health, research... In the end, it's our own human greed, fear and other failings that hold us back.

Farrelly mentions the thorny issue of a Bill Of Rights, which would certainly complicate further immoral government decision-making on our behalf. Jack Waterford at The Canberra Times today also considers the issue:
I have myself been sceptical of the need. But I am changing my mind again, because our politicians are not showing themselves great instinctive protectors of rights, just when they are needed. Certainly not Carr or Hatzistergos. Or previously John Howard and Philip Ruddock, in actions scarcely criticised by those who have now succeeded them. And not only over terrorism and refugee issues but also in developing or exploiting moral panic about the state of crime or vice.

The risks are being aggravated by the ever-outreaching power of executive government, by the supine position into which legislatures have been put by modern executives, and by the coordination of incumbency and spin to overwhelm popular criticism. It's not parliamentary rule we ought to fear, but increasingly arbitrary and unaccountable rule by executive government...

The fiction ought to be that power comes from the people, and that the powers of government, at whatever level, or in whatever branch, are only those they have been given... It is a fiction, because in history, particularly British history, the rights of which we boast were ones seized from kings, occasionally by beheading them.
Yes, but that's because the kings seized them from US in the first place! Our human power as individuals, or united as a group, is a God-given right. As Nelson Mandela once said:
"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, fabulous, gorgeous, talented? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You're playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that's within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we automatically give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others."

Dilbert For President

Tony Abbott reckons Rudd "runs a serious risk of becoming Barack Obama without the cadences". Does Rupert hand out brownie points every time someone bitch-slaps Obama these days?

And why is the Mad Monk getting air-time in the Orifice today, rather than his usual Fairfax press hole? Is it because he is now an irrelevant has-been?

Anyway, Tony's still angry about lots of things. He obviously didn't enjoy Rudd's "bland" address to the Sydney Institute:
John Howard would never have served up such flapdoodle and rightly would have been crucified if he had.
Jesus Christ, Tony! Get a grip, mate. You're the only one who ever got a hard-on watching Howard.

Here's the Mad Monk's stunning conclusion:
If the Government wins a second term, expect a 2012 handover to Julia Gillard, who will then have to decide which inquiry recommendations to implement.
Anybody wanna put money on that one? Anyone...? How about all you Liberals who lost money Costello? Nah...?

What a wanker. But Abbott is outdone in the Murdoch meejah today by the WSJ's Brett Stephens (reprinted in the OO), who insists that Afghanistan is going great guns, despite all the death, poverty, drugs and violence:
Afghanistan has 34 provinces. Twenty-nine of them are more or less at peace, more or less better off than they were six years ago, and more or less governed by someone their own people can live with.
Talk about yer "measurable goals"! Stephens' clear message is that you just cannot trust the media: "things really are getting better in Afghanistan, even if the headlines suggest otherwise". You just gotta have faith, bro'!

Stephens evidently has lots of faith. He also insists that the USA is not in decline. Not financially, not militarily in Iraq, and not even as a global "brand":
[E]ach of these assumptions collapses on a moment's inspection.
Yep, "a moment's inspection" is all you need, as Stephens throws around some big "back-of-the-envelope" numbers (from Josef Joffe's 2006 book "Überpower") and concludes the US economy is really going great guns (anyone wanna put money on that?). The same goes for US Defence Department spending, which implicitly means that the War In Iraq is going great too. Whoo hoo! I can feel the power!
Finally there is the issue of our allegedly squandered prestige in the world. There is no doubt America's "popularity," as measured by various global opinion surveys, has fallen in recent years. What's striking, however, is how little of this has mattered in terms of the domestic political choices of other countries or the consequences for the U.S.
So, OK, yes, US global prestige IS on the decline - it just doesn't matter. Because US billionaires like Rupert Murdoch still have lots and lots of money to pay wankers and fools like this.

28 Apr 2008


Thanks to an anonymous reader for the following email:

Your repeated demands for accountability are not likely to see much response until the next election comes into play. Across government departments, new Rudd appointees are warehousing evidence that may incriminate former Howard ministers (or themselves?) but nothing is going to be announced in a hurry.

DFAT staffers assume there is an office in Canberra where party apparatchiks are trawling the details, looking for ammunition they can use without burning their fingers. As you noted on Iraq, Rudd is walking a thin line: he doesn't want full-scale investigations on multiple fronts in the public eye, where who knows what might come out. Besides, as Tony Kevin recently noted in newmatilda.com, there is a lot of bureaucratic push-back going on.

Expect to see limited inquiries launched prior to the next election, with limited news leaks (just enough to damage the Coalition and win another three years. Don't expect significant change of government direction: inquiries will wind up without major charges, just some serious embarrassment to the old guard.

Don't expect significant shift on the US alliance either: a change in Washington will not change much of substance here. Budget and trade are the big priorities. Plus ca change...

Regards etc.

Here's a link to the article by Tony Kevin in New Matilda which my source references:
To be a good international citizen and actively committed UN member has returned as a major aim of Australian foreign policy.

But are sections of the Australian foreign policy and national security bureaucracies still living, by force of habit, in a world mainly defined by fear?...

Does Prime Minister Rudd want to turn the new orthodoxy around, to restore the kind of capable and often inspired professional foreign policy style that Australia enjoyed before 1996? Or have he and his ministers become so used to national security agencies' dominance of Australia's foreign policy, that they can't see how stultifying narrow and vision-limiting it is?

These questions are still unanswered. On border security, the war in Afghanistan, Defence strategic doctrine, regional and domestic counter-terrorism, South Pacific pol-mil interventionism, we still inhabit the politics of fear. It seems odd that while we are still in so many ways living in that world, Rudd seriously thinks we could be elected to a seat in the UN Security Council in 2012. He will be pushing uphill, I fear, unless he can bring about real cultural change at home.

World Government, Anyone?

You too can become a World Citizen.

As founder Garry Davis says (click the audio):
"We are not FOR World Peace - we are already AT World Peace."
Davis is a former WWII bomber who renounced his American citizenship in Paris in 1948 to become a "citizen of the world." He founded the International Registry of World Citizens in Paris in January, 1949, with support from writers Albert Camus and André Gide and the Abbé Pierre.

For an 87-year-old, Davis also has a pretty witty blog:
Hello. (Yawning) What's up Garry? This is a helluva time to call.
But Madame, you practically ran on the 3 am call.
All right, all right! So what's so important it disturbs my sleep?
Well, Madame President, I thought you should be the first to know.
Know what? This better be good.
The World Parliament in Tasmania just passed a resolution outlawing war ten minutes ago.

The Zionist Love-Fest Continues

Australia's out-going governor-general Michael Jefferey attended the opening of a war monument in Israel yesterday. The Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba is a gift from the Pratt Foundation:
Asked at the end of the military ceremony how he felt, Richard Pratt - who had been thanked many times over by many people - told The Jerusalem Post that he was flattered.

"Why do you feel flattered? You paid for it," he was asked.

"Yes," replied Pratt, "but you pay for a lot of things, and people don't always remember to say thank you."
Ungrateful bastards! Not like Israeli president Shimon Peres, who praised Australia, "which despite not having fought a war on its own territory, had taken on the responsibility of caring for other people's security and independence without asking for anything in return". Oi! Oi! Oi Vay!
Jefferey also appreciated that four Jewish National Fund forests bear the names of Australian leaders. Three are named for former prime ministers Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke and John Howard, and one for former governor-general Sir Zelman Cowan.
Let's not forget that Hawkey was just one of many politicians on Richard Pratt's payroll. And now Pratt, who forfeited less than one percent of his $5.3 billion fortune when convicted of price-fixing, is paying John Howard for speeches:
Markson, the author of Show Me the Money, would not divulge how much money the Pratts had to show Howard for his speaking fee. "That's all confidential. Sorry," he said.
It is NOT anti-Semitic to note that Richard Pratt (born Przecicki) is Jewish. It is NOT anti-Semitic to note that militant Zionists like Rupert Murdoch and Sam Lipski, the CEO of the Pratt Foundation, have a strangle-hold on the Australian media.

But maybe all that helps explain why the Australian media don't want to talk about War Crimes, and why critics like me get "we know where you live" home visits from Israeli agents.

UPDATE: Of course it's not all one-way traffic in the Australian media. Via outstanding Aussie journo-blogger Antony Loewenstein, this SMH story by Peter Manning is a welcome departure from the norm:
... And in Pappe's latest book, The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2006), he draws from the archives of David Ben-Gurion, Haganah and Irgun papers and other sources to reveal how deliberate and articulated was the famous Plan Dalet of March 10, 1948 - the plan by Jewish leaders to ethnically cleanse Arab cities (like Haifa and Jaffa) and villages getting in the way of the creation of the Jewish state.

The result was a series of massacres during April and May 1948, the most important in Deir Yassin on April 9. Jewish soldiers burst into the village and sprayed it with gunfire. Those not dead were gathered together and shot. A number of the women were allegedly raped and then shot. Ninety-three villagers were reported to have died.

The Herald of April 10, 12, and 13, 1948, reported the horror as "Jewish terrorism"...

Jewish Australians were made to feel, once again, acknowledged and proud by their federal Christian leaders on March 12. Arab and Palestinian Australians, also damaged by their history, were left feeling outsiders, abandoned, in exile, just as a new government arrived so full of hope and promise.

It would be good if Rudd in May could redress the balance.

27 Apr 2008

A National Hero

China Daily covers the torch relay in Japan:
I could spot no Tibetan on the pro-separatist side, which comprised a purely Japanese-speaking community. Aside from the "snow-lion" flags, there were a lot of Japanese right-wing flags and anti-China slogans.

When a Chinese youth with a five-star red flag mark painted on his cheek passed by the anti-Chinese protestors, several of them screamed and pounced on the lad, covering him with fists and kicks.

My first reaction was a shout of "Tamu!" (No!) And I tried to stop them. But they continued kicking the young man before the police came.

The Chinese young man never hit back. "Be restrained", I heard him shouting to his friends. "We must be civilized!"

He kept standing despite the beating, and was never subdued...

I unbuttoned my overcoat and bore the slogan printed on my T-shirt, which says: "Defend the Olympic Torch!" I strolled in front of the pro-secessionists, and the police quickly drew me away.

Amid the applause of my own people, I returned to the Chinese arrays. Tears rolled down as I saw the five-star red flags in our ranks.

Going through all this, I am convinced that I am on the side of justice.

Tom the Dancing Bug

Just remember: we're still (always) the good guys.

Time To Get Out Of Afghanistan

It appears [ now confirmed: see below] another Australian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, where things have long been going from bad to worse.

The Reuters photo above shows Afghan troops racing from a Kabul parade ground yesterday when the Taliban launched a brazen attack: bullets struck the back of a stage where Karzai was standing with the British and US envoys.

Juan Cole has video and reminds us that the Central Asia gas fields explain Bushco's interest in Afghanistan.

Ironically, Karzai just called on Coalition troops to stop arresting Taliban insurgents:
'We have to make sure that when a Talib comes to Afghanistan ... he is safe from arrest by the coalition.'
Karzai is facing re-election and this time he cannot win by pushing the Western propaganda line. Like Iraq, this war is over: our governments and media elites just haven't admitted it yet.

UPDATE: Yer military language:
"He died during the conduct of a patrol which was engaged by Taliban extremists in Oruzgan province approximately 25km to the south-east of Tarin Kowt. The engagement in which he died was characterised by a heavy exchange of small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Four other soldiers were wounded by small arms fire in the same action."
Jason Marks, aged 27, from Broken Hill and Yeppoon, leaves behind a grieving wife and two small children.

From Wikipedia:
Tarin Kowt is the capital of Oruzgan (also written "Uruzgan") province in southern Afghanistan. It is a small and dusty town of about 10,000 people, with some 200 small shops in the city's bazaar. There are no medium- or large-scale economic enterprises in the city. The provincial governor, currently Asadullah Hamdam, lives and works in a compound adjacent to the bazaar. There is also a population of about 2000 Arabs mainly of Iraqi origin in the town.
Just a little visual reminder of why Aussie troops are (still) over there:

LATER: Kevin Rudd explains why we still in Afghanistan:
" We are there because a failed state was giving open succour and support to a global terrorist organisation - al-Qaeda - which then attacked our ally the United States on September 11, 2001, and in the process murdered 3,000 people. Nothing has changed since then."
We have been there for six years. If it's true that "nothing has changed" then we should be asking "Why not?". But things actually have changed: the Taliban has been routed from government, the US has installed a former Unocal oil executive as a puppet president, the people of Afghanistan have realised that Western governments are totally indifferent to their poverty-stricken plight, and now we come full circle: the Taliban are resurgent, and what has all our blood and money brought us? Nothing.

Rudd says Australian commitment "is not a blank cheque and it will be subject to rolling review." Roll on the reviews, please.

Murdoch Supports Israeli Genocide

Another utterly disgraceful editorial in the Opposition Orifice today. It takes a cold, cruel heart to blame Hamas for fuel and food shortages in the Gaza Strip. 650,000 people are going hungry. Israel has ignored a Hamas ceasefire offer. This is part of an international media blitz by the Israeli government.

Meanwhile the OO's Greg Sheridan quotes a warmongering fool from yet another US right-wing think-tank with warm approval.

And Fairfax keeps tabs on Murdoch's empire building.

23 Apr 2008

Meanwhile In BushWorld

Former President Jimmy Carter says Condi Rice is lying, as Walmart starts rationing food.

But for the inside story, go to antiwar.com's blog:
Israeli sources have indicated to him that the recent leak to the FBI about the new-old Israeli spy case came from inside the Israeli government toward the end of thwarting Ehud Olmert, Dick Cheney and the War Party’s plans to expand the Middle Eastern slaughter to Iran – and that there are more spies to be revealed...

The leak of the information at the present time is believed to be linked to proposed closed congressional hearings at the end of this month in which the White House had planned to use several Israeli intelligence officers to provide evidence on the alleged Syrian nuclear program that was bombed on September 6, 2007. It is now unlikely that Israeli intelligence officers will allow themselves to be questioned because they would almost certainly be asked about Israeli spying on the US. Vice President Dick Cheney and Olmert had apparently planned on using the congressional briefings as a launch pad to intensify diplomatic and military pressure against both Syria and Iran. It is believed that the “doves” in the Olmert administration who leaked the information are seeking to make a military confrontation more difficult and are hoping that negotiations, particularly with Syria, will instead take place.

Democracy Torched In Canberra

So now we know who really runs this country. Beijing has wiped its arse with the thin fabric of Australian democracy. Kevin Rudd promised that Chinese security officials would not run with the Olympic torch in Canberra, but they ran anyway.

The Chinese government and the International Olympic Organisation simply ignored our Prime Minister, and the Australian people, and did what they wanted. They used our nation's capital - including Parliament House, a symbol of our free democracy, which went into lock-down - as a scenic backdrop for their global propaganda exercise.

Now the Chinese state media has the story and pictures they craved:
THE 15th leg of the global Olympic flame journey was completed in Canberra this noon as scheduled without major disruptions...

During the torch relay, tens of thousands of spectators, many of them enthusiastic Chinese expatriates and students, had lined both sides of the streets, waited hours and followed the torch bearers along the route, chanting support for the Beijing Olympics.

Before the cauldron was extinguished, local and international dignitaries had praised the relay as successful and wonderful.

High security profile was in place to prevent major disruptions, with some 1,000 security personnel deployed to safeguard the historical event for Australia.
That's it. Mission accomplished.

Kevin Rudd is supposedly big on symbolism. So take a good look at this, Kev: enraged protestors clashing along Anzac Parade; Chinese government supporters jumping the Australian War Memorial's barricades to intimidate Tibetan demonstrators; hate-filled rival groups screaming at each other in Reconciliation Square; and the words 'Free Tibet' written across the sky, by a pilot whose plane was hired by the Greens' Senator Bob Brown.

And then the coup de grace:
Final relay runner retired Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, flanked by dozens of police, took the torch to the finish line in Commonwealth Park and lit the community cauldron, which quickly went out.
The Chinese government shipped over 100 bus loads of "One China" supporters into Canberra, taking organisers by surprise with over 15,000 Beijing activists. One bemused resident said it was a case of "spot the Aussie." The pro-China demonstrators assaulted people and tore down pro-Tibet banners.
In one incident, an Australian couple waving a Tibetan flag were mobbed by dozens of Chinese activists on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

The Chinese grabbed the flag, threw it off the bridge and began punching the man and woman, aged in their 20s. No police were around.
Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred said it was just like "taunting ... at a friendly football game". Sure, except the relatives and friends of one side lie dead or in prison.

As I predicted exactly one month ago, the torch relay has now become a Human Rights relay. But let's not forget who is behind all this:
Each of the 12 partners paid more than $US60 million ($63 million) in a four-year deal. From 2001 to 2004, sponsors contributed 39 per cent of the IOC's revenue, $US1.5 billion. Activists believe their protests are having an effect. The torch relay's angry reception has discomforted sponsors Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung.
Remember that nobody even wanted to host the Olympic Games until a few years ago, when governments suddenly realised you could make a buck out of it. The IOC’s decision to give the games to Beijing, and Beijing’s desire for them, is a sad reflection of how much globalised Big Business now controls our governments, or works with them for mutual profit at the people's expense, even in Communist China.

And the genuine zeal with which many decent Chinese people support their government's lies should be a major warning to us all about the dangers of monopolised media.

Not to mention yer culture wars:
Pro-China demonstrator Jeff Li yelled at the pro-Tibetan supporters: "The Dalai Lama is a hypocrite, a liar, an ugly man... These people are idiots, they know nothing about China's history."


The Australian Tibet Council was heavily involved in protests and should have more news on their website soon.

FreeTibet.org has lots of information and links, including video of torch relay protests around the globe.

John Quiggan on nationalism.

Jeremy Searslinks to the official Chinese government site: lots of happy faces.

In case you missed it: Bush Versus Confucius.


ACT government spokesman Jeremy Lasek in The Age: "The most important thing is the flame was never in danger, from start to finish."

Ted Quinlan, the chief organizer of the Australia relay leg, in a weak AP story:
"We didn't expect this reaction from the Chinese community which is obviously a well-coordinated plan to take the day by weight of numbers."
From the same story:
Security had been boosted — officials say the expense doubled in recent weeks to $1.9 million — along a route that had been shortened. But it still threaded along a 10-mile path past Parliament House and within 200 yards of the Chinese Embassy.

"We are determined that this torch will run its full route," Police Chief Mike Phelan told reporters Wednesday.

He said three Chinese torch officials allowed near the flame have no security role.
So what were they doing? Just showing their enthusiastic support, like all the other Chinese government stooges?

Another AFP story:
Australian police and the blue-and-white tracksuit-clad Chinese escorts physically played out a long running dispute over who was in charge of security.

On several occasions, Australian police pulled one of the Chinese escorts back from alongside the runner carrying the torch, until they appeared to reach a compromise as the relay continued on its 16-kilometre (10-mile) route, television footage showed.
Crikey! reports "rows and rows of empty seats":
"Crowds were kept fifty-odd metres away behind barricades... The occasional individual who advanced into the students clutching a Free Tibet placard was met with what appeared to be a prepared tactic of being surrounded by large Chinese flags... You don’t have to go to China to see Chinese nationalism at work. Our capital city will do just fine.
Murdoch media update, with number of buses revised down from "over 100" to "up to 80":
Television footage showed an AFP officer shunting a Chinese flame attendant off to the side after the official intervened to relight the Olympic flame. The incident was the first evidence that the Chinese may have exceeded their relay role...

The incident between the AFP officer and the attendant occurred after the flame had crossed Lake Burley Griffin, where it was greeted by former Olympic rower Megan Marcks.

But when the torch went out, Chinese flame attendants intervened as expected to relight the flame.
SMH on "torch thugs". There are plenty of reports about incidents like this in the above links:
Alistair Paterson, 52, from Lake George outside Canberra, said he was standing with his seven-year-old daughter on Limestone Avenue with an older couple, their teenage son and two other young women when they were attacked by a group of about 50 people draped in Chinese flags.

Mr Paterson said he was holding a "Free Tibet" banner and the older couple also had a pro-Tibet placard, which angered the group as it ran along the crowd side of the barrier.

"I got a flying kick in the leg, another bloke was hit in the head with a stick with a Chinese flag attached to it and our banners were torn down," Mr Paterson said.

"When I looked around there were three or four guys who I can only assume were Chinese who wanted to fight me.

"This gang of thugs rolled right through us and we had kids with us. My daughter was still shaking an hour later and is very quiet even now.

"I don't normally get angry but I am so angry right now."

Mr Paterson said he had wanted to show his daughter the meaning of peaceful demonstration.
Dare we hope that the AFP will be using closed circuit video tape evidence to round up those responsible, and revoke Chinese student visas where necessary? Will Mr Rudd ask the Chinese Embassy for a full explanation of these events? Will he explain to ordinary Australians why Chinese officials ignored his decision?

LATE UPDATE: The official narrative:
Mr Phelan has rejected claims there was tension between AFP officers and the Chinese flame attendants.

"In the beginning there was a slight communication misunderstanding but as you saw it was quickly sorted out," he said.
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along quietly now...


ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says any Australian ambassador would probably do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
Mr Stanhope says he is aware of contact between the embassy and Chinese organisations but does not know the degree of resourcing or support provided by the embassy...

"Just imagine if this had been the Australian torch relay in some other foreign capital," he said.

"I'm sure the Australian residents in that particular country at the time would have flocked and would have perhaps expected or anticipated some support from their embassy, so I think it's a quite reasonable thing to do."
More here.

Really? So we would all be OK with Aussie citizens beating up (for example) pro-Aboriginal demonstrators, destroying their flags, intimidating them into silence, spitting on them...? Really???

We Aussies would all be OK with our government co-ordinating a mass rally of intimidation in support of business and government propaganda objectives, which can best be described, under the circumstances, as "fascist"?

Now Stanthorpe is asking who is going to pay for the added security. Maybe he should sent the police overtime bill to the Chinese Embassy, or to the IOC?


The story nobody wants to touch:
A final press conference descended into farce when Australian and Chinese officials argued over exactly what the Chinese guards would do.

Beijing spokesman Qu Yingpu said the attendants - branded thugs for their heavy-handed tactics - would take matters into their own hands if a torchbearer was threatened. He said the guards would "use their bodies to form a kind of defence for the torch bearer".

They were "trained security personnel with the ability to cover and evacuate the torch bearer in the case of an emergency", Mr Qu said as he read from the BOCOG relay manual.

"Flame attendants are deployed alongside and behind the torchbearer to respond to any immediate threat against the flame or the torchbearer."

The threat raises the prospect of Australian police arresting and imprisoning the Chinese guards in what would be a diplomatic flashpoint.

The remarks derailed attempts by ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and his police chief to persuade the public local authorities were in control of the event.

They were seen by Australian relay organisers as a deliberate act of provocation by the Chinese, who have been told for months that they would not be allowed to have a security role.

It is believed the BOCOG document also contains clauses, not read out by Mr Qu, stating that any security activity by the flame attendants would have to be at the behest of local authorities.

A clearly furious Mr Stanhope, sitting metres from Mr Qu, said there were "communication issues" about the Chinese guards' role.

"The written remarks that were just referred to come from an earlier document in relation to the torch relay, which has not been accepted by the ACT Government," he said.

"They are not enforced by the Commonwealth or ACT Policing.

"We do have some issues around communications issues but the point that has been made on a number of occasions . . . is that all security will be handled by ACT Policing.

"That remains the case."

Mr Stanhope confirmed police had instructions to arrest Chinese attendants if they tried to take a policing role.

The fresh row came after Mr Stanhope wrote a letter to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai on Monday, in which he reiterated the guards had to butt out of relay security.

He phoned him again yesterday with the same message, after Mr Zhang said on Tuesday that the guards could "use their bodies" to protect the flame.

And after yesterday's disastrous press conference, government insiders said Mr Stanhope ordered police to "read the riot act" in a personal briefing to the flame attendants last night.
In other words, the Chinese officials and their ambassador simply ignored our government. Not good enough, Kev. What are you going to do about it?

Friends Like These

From Jacob Hornberger:
Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa may not be long for this world, both in a political sense and in genuine life-or-death sense. He recently fired his defense minister, army chief of intelligence, and commanders of the army, air force, and joint chiefs.

Why might those firings cost Correa his job or even his life? Because the reason he fired them was that Ecuador’s intelligence systems were “totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA.” As other rulers around the world, including democratically elected ones, have learned the hard way, bucking the CIA is a real no-no that sometimes leads to coups and assassinations.

What’s the CIA doing infiltrating Ecuador’s military intelligence systems? Good question! Maybe it’s because the CIA still fears the threat of communism. Don’t forget that that was the apparent rationale for the U.S. government’s support of Operation Condor, the campaign of assassination and torture co-sponsored by the brutal regimes in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru during the 1970s. Don’t forget also that many of the brutal military personnel in those regimes received their training at the U.S. Army’s infamous School of the Americas, famous for, among other things, its torture manuals.

To make matters worse for Correa, he promises to throw the U.S. military out of his country when the U.S. government’s lease at its base in Manta expires in 2009. The U.S. government spent $60 million to build the base in 1999, securing a 10-year lease that provided no rent to be paid to Ecuador.

So, why does the U.S. military have a $60 million military base in Ecuador? The base is part of the U.S. government’s much-vaunted 30-year-old war on drugs, one of the U.S. Empire’s never-ending wars around the world. The base houses Awacs surveillance planes whose purported mission is to search for international drug smugglers.

What irked President Correa is that apparently his CIA-infested intelligence services fed classified information to Colombian officials that led to a Colombian military attack on a Colombian rebel camp that was located inside Ecuador. One big problem was that when Correa’s intelligence services leaked the information to Colombia, they left Correa (their boss) out of the loop.

The final nail in Correa’s coffin might be the fact that he is an ally of Venezuela’s Marxist president Hugo Chavez, who himself is a likely target of CIA ouster or assassination.

The good news for Americans in all this is that the Ecuadorian people are doing their best to rid their country of the CIA and the U.S. military. Maybe the Ecuadorans will start a trend in which all other countries will do the same. While it would obviously be best if the American people were to dismantle their government’s overseas empire themselves, having foreigners do it instead by throwing the CIA and the Pentagon out of their countries would be just as effective and beneficial — to both the United States and the people of the world.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
More from the Guardian:
Just a few days before, it was reported that Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, who as the foreign minister of Sandinista Nicaragua during the 1980s was one of the era's most virulently anti-American figures, will be the next president of the United Nations General Assembly. Under other circumstances, Washington might well have launched a full-scale campaign to block his candidacy.

This is a radical departure from more than a century of US policy toward Latin America. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed that policy in 1904, in his succinct "corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine. Its essence was an assertion that the US had assumed "an international police power" and would intervene in any Latin American country that engaged in "chronic wrongdoing" or failed to meet its "obligations".

In the decades that followed, the United States sponsored dictatorships from Cuba to Brazil, deposed governments from Chile to Guatemala, landed Marines on shores from Panama to Haiti, and thwarted the election of independent-minded leaders from Guyana to the Dominican Republic. Generations of Latin Americans grew up understanding that any challenge to US hegemony in the hemisphere would be crushed swiftly and with all necessary violence.

22 Apr 2008


I got a visit from an Israeli government agent last night. The bastard ignored the intercom, slipped through the security gate, and came right up to my front door while my wife and kids were eating dinner. He was just a scrawny, drug-addled messenger. I told him to piss off.

Sure it sounds ridiculous, but that's how these things go sometimes, isn't it?

Odd that Tim Blair was taking a shot at me on the same day. Has my little blog created another disturbance in The Force or something?

Was it my talk of Rupert's Zionist Crusade? The repeated calls for a Royal Commission into our role in the illegal invasion of Iraq (I note Blair's minions have been desperately clicking the "traiter" option on my blog poll, which was previously running at about 70% in favour)? Or maybe it was that Op-Ed I submitted to a major national newspaper?

Or maybe it was my oft-repeated suggestion that Mossad knew about the 9-11 attacks. Hey, I'm only repeating what FOX NEWS said!

It's ironic that even Al Quaeda today is desperately trying to argue against that same "Conspiracy Theory":
One questioner asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor. "The purpose of this lie is clear — (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said.

"Iran's aim here is also clear — to cover up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq," he added. Iran cooperated with the United States in the 2001 U.S. assault on Afghanistan that toppled al-Qaida's allies, the Taliban.
If the enemy of my enemy is really my friend, then things are a lot more complicated than they seem.

(Of course Juan Cole pointed out this Bush-Iran convergence last week, US intelligence agents have already admitted that secret talks with Iran have been going on for 5 years, and now even the New York Times is writing stories about it. So what was all that talk about bombing Iran? Just another Cheney ruse to drive up the cost of oil? Is Hillary in on the game?)

Stay tuned. And don't believe the hype.

This Is Excellent News

... for John McCain:
Mrs. Clinton faces major challenges going forward: her campaign is essentially out of money, with unpaid bills piling up...

But she quickly put out a call for supporters to donate to her campaign, noting that “we can only keep winning if we can keep competing with an opponent who outspends us so massively.” She urged viewers to visit her Web site and “show your support.”
Within a few hours she raised over $2.5 million. The nightmare continues.

UPDATE: A good response:
Senator Obama said November's election was about not just defeating the Republicans, but about what kind of Democratic Party might win power...

"We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, and act, and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, and the threat of terrorism to scare up votes," he said...

Still attacking Senator Clinton, Senator Obama said "you can't be the champion of working Americans if you're funded by the lobbyists who drown out their voices".

"We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions and tell everyone exactly what they want to hear. Or we can be the party that doesn't just focus on how to win but why we should."

In Case You Missed It

Why I (Still) Hate John Howard.

Selling Out Australia

Rudd is making it easier for big foreign corporations like Wal-Mart to buy Australian land. This is supposedly going to "increase competition and drive down food prices". Oh really?

Now, I'll be the first to admit that local giants Woolworths and Coles desperately need some competition: they don't even bother slapping discount stickers on their filthy, out-of-date fruit and veges any more. But this is definitely not the answer.

When the time comes for a referendum on ending our ties to the British monarchy, will one of the alternatives on offer be "Join The United States Of America"?

Who Is Accountable?

Mike Whitney:
When George W. Bush took office in 2000, oil was $28 per barrel, the euro was $.87 on the dollar, gold was $274 per ounce, and the national debt was $5.9 trillion. Today, oil is a record $114 per barrel, the euro is nudging $1.60 on the dollar, gold is $945 per ounce, and the National Debt is $9 trillion. The country is presently engaged in a $2 trillion war in Iraq with no end in sight. The federal government has expanded over 30% under Bush. Wages for working people have stagnated, unemployment has risen, 47 million Americans are without health care, and the economy is slipping into recession. By every objective standard, the country is worse off today than when Bush first took office.
Just don't tell the kids. They wouldn't understand:
Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900... Eleven percent thought that Dwight Eisenhower was the president forced from office by the Watergate scandal. Another 11 percent thought it was Harry Truman.
Who's George Bush anyway?

First We Take Manhattan...

News Corp closes in on another NYC asset:
For Murdoch, gaining Newsday would allow News Corp to greatly pare down persistent losses at the New York Post, partly by combining back-office and production operations...

Any deal for Newsday would be sure to face close regulatory scrutiny since Murdoch's News Corp already owns the New York Post, the [Wall Street] Journal and two New York-area television stations.
Don't worry, I'm sure the Bush administration would never let him get away with it. Right?

UPDATE: So much for all that talk about the new Murdoch WSJ maintaining it's independence:
"It was reassuring that he was there because he was not a News Corp. guy," Yount said Tuesday... Yount did not place much faith in its having an impact on Brauchli's replacement. He said no one should expect anything other than a Rupert Murdoch selection: "I don't think anyone seriously believes that Rupert was not going to run Dow Jones and run the Wall Street Journal. Anyone who thinks there was any chance that this would not happen is mistaken."

21 Apr 2008

Vote Mickey Mouse Or Die!

In Zimbabwe, voters face a clear choice: Mugabe or Death! Now Hillary Clinton is offering voters the same choice, with adverts featuring Osama Bin Laden. Seriously.

Even hard-core Democrats are sick of Clinton's damaging campaign, and any talk of a Dream Team ticket is long gone. Josh Marshall says it's sad too see how low the Clintons have sunk. Michael Moore says the latest debate was the final straw. He is now endorsing Obama:
I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting...

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country.
So what will Mike Moore and other caring Dems do if Hillary's fear machine works (again)? Coincidentally, I just posted this comment over at WP's blog:
From an international p.o.v., if the Dems cannot beat McCain they should all just disband the party and walk away from politics for good. OTOH we foreigners thought the same thing about Dubya... especially the second time... and his "unelectable" former CIA Dad... and Ronnie Hollywood Raygun... (sigh) ...

It might be best if the USA just elected Mickey Mouse as President For Life, and we all just pretend he is real, and Dick Cheney's friends in the Military-Industrial Complex work with the neo-Fascists at Disney Studios to make Mickey say whatever they want said.

Anyone who says "Mickey is not real" will be imprisoned. But when Mickey declares war on Iran, Syria and Jordon simultaneously, nobody will be able to criticize the wisdom of his decision (after all, he is not real - d'uh).

All press conference questions will need to be scripted, so the animators have time to create a response. The State of the Union address will become an animation tour de force, featuring Donald Duck (Rumsfeld's voice), Goofy (GWB), Uncle Scrooge (Cheney), and other loveable characters like Shrek (Powell) and Cinderella (Condi).

VOTE #1 Mickey Mouse GOP 08!

And '12, '16, '20, .... Yay! MICKEY GOP CLUB FOREVER!

NB: US soldiers abroad will wear Mickey Mouse ears on their helmets to make them easily distinguishable from the Bad Guys. It will look great on TV, trust me!
UPDATE: Now Clinton says she would bring Republicans into her cabinet. This looks to me like a desperate, all-out attempt to:

(a) win the nomination, or
(b) permanently fracture the Dems, or
(c) both the above.

You can begin to imagine Hillary losing to Obama then calling for her supporters to get behind McCain.

If Hillary wins, a lot of Obama supporters will quit the party. If she loses, and then Obama loses, she will blame Obama's supporters for the loss (and claim she would have won). I know this is desperation stuff but what Hillary is doing is not easily repairable: she is damaging the Party for her own purposes.

"So what?" you say. The problem I have with that scenario is that Obama doesn't even represent the leftwing grassroots activists in a way that (say) Howard "Yeearrgghh!" Dean once did. If Hillary splits the Dems like this, she is really only taking a big slice out of the Dem's left wing and dumping it on the roadside. Maybe those bitter losers might end up (ruefully) supporting outcasts like Kucinich, Gravel, and Ron Paul. But as a serious political force, in the short term, they would become irrelevant. That ensures that Big Business regains control of the White House, which seems to be all that really matters to Clinton right now.

Vivan Las Americas!

People have been literally dancing in the streets to celebrate the defeat of the Colorado Party, a "bureaucratic apparatus" which allowed the US-backed military to rule Paraguay for over 60 years. Here's how a US State Department official describes the result:
"We have dropped the ball yet again in Latin America, and Chavez, flush with oil money, has picked it up," said the official.
No, you idiot, Chavez hasn't picked it up - the people of Paraguay have. And it's not your ball to hold, it's theirs!

I remember walking the streets of Asuncion one night back in the 1980s. It seemed like there was a beautiful young prostitute standing in nearly every doorway. It was sad. That was towards the end of General Stroessner's 35-year dictatorship. In neighboring Chile, a young girl said she wanted to marry me because I bought her friends a hamburger - they were all just desperate to escape from Pinochet. In Argentina, I was arrested by a policeman at three in the morning. Luckily, he was just fishing for a bribe: the world was just beginning to ask what happened to the thousands who simply "disappeared" from that country's streets.

This is why they hate you, America. And until you change the way you think and act on the world stage, they will continue to hate you. And all your Hollywood movies will not stop it.

PS: I wonder if Bush will now think of selling his 99,000 acres of Paraguayan land?

Nobody Likes A Loser

Good call:
As a liberal voter in QLD i can see the similaraities between nelson and flegg. He does nothing but bore me and bring down the dwindling reputation of the coalition.
Ah! I love the smell of defeat in the evening...

The AngloSphere: Parallel Political Universes

I'm always amazed at how often a Big New Idea in politics just happens to be simultaneously canvassed in Washington, London and Canberra.

Today Kevin Rudd is reviewing the Australian tax system and contemplating raising the GST from 10% in the next budget. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown is facing another revolt over his government's plans to abolish the 10% lower tax bracket in the coming budget:
The 22% tax rate is coming down to 20%, and the 10% tax rate for lower earners is being abolished altogether - forcing more than five million workers up into the 20% tax bracket.
And look what's suddenly being discussed on FOX News and the Wall Street Journal:
Gigot: But on that point, the optional flat tax does seam to be at least a big step in the direction of tax reform - fundamental tax reform, which is a big idea. And of course would be something he [McCain] could run on as a reformer and not just somebody representing the status quo.

How would that work, John, the optional flat tax?

Fund: Well, it's been done in various other places, including Hong Kong, which as you know is economically booming. What it basically says is, you agree to give up all deductions, and you get a flat rate, 15%.

Gigot: Presumably lower rate.

Fund: Right, much lower rate. And you basically solve the paperwork problems. You don't spend time worrying about keeping records on every little bit...
Is this just a frenzied, borg-like, panic response to the latest global financial problems? Or do the backroom guys in the USA, UK and Australia actively collaborate on co-ordinating their governments' Budget strategies every year?

What about other issues like foreign policy? How much is being decided in secret by unelected global elites?

Prison State

Who knew?
The US has the world's largest penal population with some 10 per cent of the adult population behind bars.
Can you believe that? One in ten US adults is in jail! That's just absurd. No, it's worse that absurd - it's criminal! How do you boast of having a functioning Democracy when one in ten adults is in jail?

UPDATE: Proving that even anal-retentive pond scum have their uses, Tim Blair picks up the AFP error:
The actual figure is closer to one per cent.
The USA does still have by far the highest incarceration rate in the world, of course, and it has been growing rapidly, particularly for blacks:
Nearly 4.7 per cent of African-American men are behind bars in the United States. That percentage grows to nearly 12 per cent for black men aged 25 to 29-years-old.
That is still an absolute disgrace. The latest US figures are over one percent, with around one in 30 either in jail, on parole or on bail. The cost to government is over $55 billion per year.

NB: I assume it was my criticisms over at BlairBolt Watch that got Timmeh keeping an eye on me. Is he scared?

UPDATE 2: This story has been picked up at BlairBoltWatch and I have posted two opening comments:

Look on the bright side - Timmeh linked to a story about prison guards opening fire on a race riot which erupted after neo-Nazis celebrated Hitler’s birthday, and he never even mentioned any of those pet topics. That must have taken a lot of self-restraint.

Maybe he is learning?

Or maybe I just don’t hear dog whistles when they are pitched that high.
And still in moderation:
Actually, I am rather curious about how Timmeh came upon this little story...

He links to the AFP story, exposes their error, and then writes: "UPDATE. A lefty fell for it."

The link goes to my blog. Now, let's ignore for a moment how you can "fall for" an error which was neither a trick nor a joke. I read this AFP story earlier today and wrote a quick, outraged blog post about it. If I'd had more time I might have realized the journalistic error, but I didn't - my bad, I readily admit.

But there's Timmeh waiting to pounce on my mistake. I challenge his minions to look through my blog and find any other such glaring factual (factual!) errors. I'll wager they are few and far between.

So here's what I'm thinking: Timmeh noticed my criticisms of him and Big Rupe here, at blairboltwatch, and elsewhere, and has been keeping an eye on my blog, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. But he does it in his own clever, snarky way, pretending that he found the story himself, and THEN noticed my link. Vengeance accomplished?

Alternatively, it's possible that Tim's real target was YOUR ABC, which carried the story which I originally linked to (now updated to fix the error, I notice). Maybe Blair is monitoring ABC News to gather more "evidence" of perceived leftwing anti-US bias? That would explain why his post links to the original AFP story, which he would have had to track down to check that it was an AFP error, not an ABC one.

Hey BTW, anyone wanna buy a painting?

Military Madness

How's this for an offer you can't refuse:
Last year the US Army granted waivers to allow 511 convicted criminals to join up, almost double the number from the year before.

Almost 250 Army and Marine recruits had convictions for burglary while 130 had been charged with drug offences, excluding marijuana.

There were also a handful of waivers given for those convicted of rape and sexual assault, along with terrorist threats, including bomb threats.
More here:
The felons accepted into the army and marines included ... two convicted of indecent behaviour with a child [and] 19 arsonists.
So we have known terrorists fighting the (ahem) "war" on terror, convicted rapists, paedophiles and arsonists roaming the streets of Falluja, and drug addicts in control of Afghanistan's poppy fields. Lovely stuff.

How did it come to this? Just ask the criminals in charge, and the fools who elected them.

As Juan Cole said:
It is an index of the despotism to which the United States has fallen victim that we must hope for other, more civilized countries, to try our war criminals. Why can't public officials be prosecuted for violating the Bill of Rights' guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment? Why can't an International Military Tribunal be set up as at Nuremberg?
But it's not just Uncle Sam, is it?

Aussie SAS troops drew first blood in Iraq, Aussie officials were present in torture sessions, Aussie lawyers, politicians, media and military voices loudly supported the US re-interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, the Howard government silenced dissenting opinions in the intelligence community, we have backed US War Crimes to the hilt (including the claimed right to further “pre-emptive” wars and the habitual targeting of civilian areas)…

And to all intents and purposes, given the continuing official silence on these issues, we remain beholden to the US neocon vision. We still pretend the invasion was legal!

How do we "move on" with these horrendously important issues unresolved?

20 Apr 2008

Barry O'Bomber

When I saw this BBC story about how Obama's old classmates used to call him "Barry", I thought that might be a nice antidote to the poisonous US media attacks on his name.
"At that time, here in Indonesia, all the parents pushed their kids: 'You have to become a doctor' or 'You have to become an engineer'," she told me. "But he wrote that he'd like to be a president. So we thought, 'Oh in your dreams!'"

Well, a lot has changed since those days. Barry, as he was known then, is now campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for exactly that job.
During high school the name further evolved into Barry O'Bomber - because he had a great jump shot:
Back then, Obama never went anywhere without his basketball, a ball given to him by his absent father...

His old coach remembers the last time he saw Obama in person a few years ago. He says he didn't want to bother the newly famous politician so he stayed off to the side.

"Part way through his speech," McLachlin said, "he kind of caught my eye in the back of the chapel and said, 'Coach Mac, how you doing? You know I used to play basketball here you guys and I really wasn't as good as I thought I was. Was I coach?' and we sort of laughed about it."
The "bomber" nickname might actually help him win votes off McCain. Let's just hope Obama doesn't live up to the moniker if and when he gets the keys to the White House.

Tired Of Life

It's hard to take the official military figures on suicide seriously, but there are evidently a lot of them.

Sergeant Lianne Ingle met a young soldier in a Townsville club early last year. He told her he wanted to kill himself:
She said she remembered striking up a conversation by telling the man he reminded her of singer Nick Cave, but that she had never been a fan of Cave's because his morose music made her feel like "topping herself."
About eight months later - three days after his 19th birthday - Ashley Baker locked himself inside a toilet cubicle at a defence base in Dili and apparently shot himself three times.

You have to wonder what drives these kids into the Army in the first place, don't you?

I asked my 11-year-old boy about anti-Emo graffiti the other day:
"What are Emos?" I asked him.
"Slash-your-wrists," he replied with evident contempt.
In the Welsh town of Bridgend, Sean Rees, a "happy-go-lucky" 19-year-old, killed himself yesterday after a night out with friends.
He is believed to be the 19th person under the age of 27 to have reportedly killed themselves in the Bridgend area since the start of last year.
A local councillor complained:
"We keep on asking why these young people are dying but we are not getting any answers."
Is this the temper of the times? Or have things ever been thus?

In ancient Egypt, somebody once wrote a text which has survived till this day:
I opened my mouth to my soul, that I might answer what it had said: "This is too much for me today..."

My soul opened its mouth to me that it might answer what I had said: "If you think of burial, it is a sad matter... Listen to me; behold, it is good for men to hear. Follow the happy day and forget care..."

I opened my mouth to my soul that I might answer what it had said: ... "To whom can I speak today? Hearts are rapacious and everyone takes his neighbour's goods. Gentleness has perished and the violent man has come down on everyone.

To whom can I speak today? Men are contented with evil and goodness is neglected everywhere.

To whom can I speak today? He who should enrage a man by his ill deeds, he makes everyone laugh by his wicked wrongdoing.

To whom can I speak today? Men plunder and every man robs his neighbour.

To whom can I speak today? The wrongdoer is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to act is become an enemy.

To whom can I speak today? None remember the past...

Death is in my sight today
Like the smell of myrrh,
Like sitting under an awning on a windy day.

Death is in my sight today
Like the perfume of lotuses,
Like sitting on the shore of the Land of Drunkenness..."

What my soul said to me: "Cast complaint upon the peg, my comrade and brother; make offering on the brazier and cleave to life, according as I have said. Desire me here, thrust the West aside, but desire that you may attain the West when your body goes to earth, that I may alight after you are weary; then will we make an abode together."
NB: As the sun sets in the West, so the ancient Egyptians believed that their souls too would migrate to The West after death.

Murdoch's Next War Looms

Rupert's Zionist Crusade continues apace. Newsweek has a 5-page story on Murdoch's looming "war" with the New York Times (which they suggest New York billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg will soon buy, now that he's given up on the GOP nomination).
Along with much of the rest of old media, the Times has been losing advertising dollars to the Internet hand over fist, though its Web site is a big hit with readers.
Of course it didn't help that NYT put all their best columnists behind a propaganda firewall for a few years. It didn't help that they never really opoligized for Judith WMD Miller. It doesn't help that they continue to operate as GOP shills, promoting an economic agenda that is hastening their own collapse...
Late last week its parent company reported a first-quarter loss of $335,000; the Times's own business section said it was "one of the worst periods the company and the newspaper industry have seen." Advertising, its lifeblood, fell almost 11 percent, "the sharpest drop in memory," the Times wrote.
Murdoch buying the WSJ and then delivering the killer blow to the Old Gray Lady - who could have imagined it eh? And of course the editorial influence at the WSJ is already well underway:
Rather than entrust the job of all this to subordinates, Murdoch has been devoting half his time since acquiring Dow Jones to reshaping the paper. He has become a regular and jarring presence in the Journal newsroom: ever since he appeared unannounced on Easter — to, as he puts it, "set an example" — top editors have been dragging themselves into the Journal's headquarters across from Ground Zero on Sundays. "What sets Rupert apart is that after he's made a major acquisition, he goes in and works it and gets it running the way he wants it to, and then leaves managers in place," says Arthur Siskind, senior adviser to Murdoch.
For example, here's how Murdoch handled the recent sex scandal involving Eliot Spitzer:
As the story was breaking online at NewYorkTimes.com, Murdoch was stuck on his crippled jet in a hangar at a private airport in Palm Beach, Fla. With his wife, Wendi, looking on, Murdoch frantically worked the phones, bombarding New York Post editor Col Allan and Fox News chief Roger Ailes. "I couldn't believe it," Murdoch said later of Spitzer's scandalous predicament. "Naturally, I was on the phone: 'What do you know, and how are you going to treat the story?' " Murdoch was so caught up in the moment that he even sketched a mock layout of how the story might appear in The Wall Street Journal.
But of course his editors are like, totally independent:
The Times, like numerous other media outlets, has been critical of Murdoch for allegedly using his media properties to pursue personal business and political ends—a contention that Murdoch vehemently rejects. "I've never, ever done that," he says angrily. "I challenge anyone to show that I did."
Murdoch insists he only pulled the BBC World News out of his Star TV coverage in China for "purely financial reasons" and not to curry favour with Beijing's mandarins. But like one exec says:
"It's never a good time to have to confront someone like Murdoch, who doesn't care about making money on a particular product."
It's not about the money. It's about the massive doses of endless self-adulation that go with such sheer, unrestrained power.

Um... What About Iraq, Kevin?

Surprise? No mention of the Iraq War in any of the 2020 Summit news items, and the initial report (pdf) only talks of our need to succeed in a global ‘war for talent’. It would appear that this critically important issue was not even discussed, despite the fact that the Security discussions included people like Peter Cosgrove.

Instead, our "best and brightest" just skirted the issue. The group discussing AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE SECURITY AND PROSPERITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING REGION AND WORLD made three top recommendations including this:
"To foster a reputation as an effective global citizen, including through making an active and innovative contribution to the resolution of global challenges."
That sort of language is obviously open to any kind of interpretation you want to imagine, particularly in the current Orwellian climate. The devil, of course, is in the details, which include a desire to:
"Reaffirm our commitment to working in international institutions and to the international rule of law."
Well, that sounds good. So will we now confirm our commitment to the Geneva Convention by admitting our culpability in War Crimes, handing those responsible over to the International Criminal Court, and holding a Royal Commission to uncover any relevant evidence?

How do we build a bright future for our children when we are still militarily and politically bogged down in this tragic foreign policy debacle? How do we move on as a country when we refuse to even acknowledge our lingering present, let alone our recent past?

Half the planet now view us as US lackeys and war criminals. A million Iraqis are dead.

We cannot ignore this - we need a Royal Commission into our country's role.