Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ceasefire Now Demo (and Terror in the News)
I attended the demo today in Bristol calling for an immediate ceasefire over the Israel/Hezbollah/Lebanon war. It was a lively event with a good mix of people from various ages and ethnicities. It was a warm afternoon and good weather for a stroll around the city while exercising your democratic rights. I'd estimate at its height there were around two hundred people. There was also a smaller counter demo calling for support of Israel. This numbered around two people. As the march wound its way around the city centre and up Park St, this dropped to one. I had a look at the flyer the one support-Israel guy was handing out. I don't agree with the content or framing of his arguments, but I did admire him a little for coming out and having his say against such overwhelming numbers on the other march. (Mind you he did have an undercover copper shadowing him, so I guess his was pretty safe.).

Here's a few interesting links on the subject of this conflict:

Why Israel is losing

Hezbollah Against Democracy

At War with Syria and Iran: The Neo-Cons May Get Their Wish

All this comes on the heels of the deluge of terrorism news, including new security restrictions at Bristol airport – you can't take your electronic gadgets on the plane with you in hand luggage so have to put your Game Boy Advance in the hold (what! No Fire Emblem?). I am a little disappointed by the rush of the media headlong into this story. You'd think some of them would be a little more cautious about reporting the back-handed pronouncements of 'security officials' and 'police sources' as fact, after all we have been down this road before...

Remember the Ricin Plot? Headlines: 'Toxic Terror Plot' (Sunday Mirror) and 'The al-Qa'ida Plot to Poison Britain' (The Times) and so on. Reality after the facts came out? "...there was no ricin – a fact suppressed for more than two years. There was no terrorist cell, just one deluded and dangerous man who killed a police officer during a bungled immigration raid...despite more than 100 arrests and months of investigation which took detectives to 16 countries, no al-Qa’ida plot ever materialised." The Ricin non-Plot kicked off with high profile arrests on 5th January 2003 – just about the time when the plan to steamroller the public into war with Iraq had gone off the rails. A few days earlier the UN weapons inspectors declared they found nothing new to point to any WMDs. The Ricin plot was a helpful push for the pro-war agenda at the time.

But maybe I am being paranoid. This might be coincidence? Then I remember the forest gate terror raids. 250 cops doing a full-on trashing of a house in north London. They find no terrorism but do shoot one person accidentally. Again, it's hard to be get a bit skeptical about the timing. After all the raid "..was triggered by a man with an IQ of just 69 who was described as an 'utter incompetent' when he was jailed for a terror offence, it was claimed yesterday." So why go so gung-ho over that? This all kicked of at the beginning of June 2006 – and the previous month had seen some of the worst news coming out of Iraq as it slid into civil war.

But maybe I am being paranoid. This might be coincidence? But other non-events of terror include; Tanks at Heathrow (February 2003, Iraq war stared in March), Red Mercury (September 2004), the Canary Wharf plot (November 2004), the Jean Charles de Menezes debacle and more. I'm not saying that there is no threat, the 7/7 bombs show there is – and this may yet turn into something more substantial that the smoke-and-mirrors in the media to date – but that does not mean the government is not capable of duplicity and using terror to push its own agenda. The US journalist I F Stone was talking to a class of journalism students. One asked him what the most important piece of advice he could give them was. He replied with two words; "Governments lie."

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