Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Downward Spiral of the War on(of) Terror

I guess you will have heard the news of the murder of Benazir Bhutto. It is a sad day but, unfortunately, just one more unravelling part of the war of terror. The U$/UK administrations, flush with military power and dreaming of a neo-liberal compliant Middle East have set about doing everthing they could to make a bad situation worse. The War of Terror is a monumental cock-up of conspiratorial levels:

Pakistan: "The Pakistani authorities are blaming Muslim militants for the assassination. That is possible, but everyone in Pakistan remembers that it was the military intelligence, or Inter-Services Intelligence, that promoted Muslim militancy in the two decades before September 11 as a wedge against India in Afghanistan and Kashmir."

Afghanistan: "The Americans have a way of painting this black and white," said one European official. "For them it's like a cowboy film - you're either a good guy or a bad guy. But anyone with any experience in this country knows it's not that simple."

Somalia: The Islamic Courts Union driven from power a year ago by Western-backed troops is regrouping and planning a large-scale attack and the government can do little to stop it...

Palestine: "Are you wondering about the Annapolis meeting that will open this week? Will the meeting exceed the low expectations that now embrace it? The confab has already been downgraded from a 'conference' to just a 'meeting.'"

Iraq I: "The rate of attacks in Iraq (for all types) has stabilized at the levels of 2004/2005, which were prior to the bombing of Askariya. During this earlier period, Iraq's open source insurgency was highly decentralized. A good way to quantify this is through the analysis of Oxford's Neil Johnson, who plotted the number of attacks against casualties per attack. He found that the equilibrium point for Iraq's conflict (as well as the long running war in Colombia) was a power law with a coefficient of 2.5 . A conflict with a coefficient of 2.5 looks more like intensive terrorism than conventional warfare. It is also likely, given Colombia's experience, a level sustainable over decades of conflict."

Iraq II: Myth: The Sunni Arab "Awakening Councils," who are on the US payroll, are reconciling with the Shiite government of PM Nuri al-Maliki even as they take on al-Qaeda remnants. Fact: In interviews with the Western press, Awakening Council tribesmen often speak of attacking the Shiites after they have polished off al-Qaeda.

Still, one bright spot, one the Native American nations is planning to go independent of the US; reminds me of what Ward Churchill said, that for the whole planet to survive we need to first end the US occupation of America.

PS. Bristol Indymedia has a review of 2007 online....

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Iraqi Resistance on YouTube

There is a good report from Aljazeera on the Iraqi resistance groups who are not al-Qaeda. The report contains lots of very staged footage, but makes some good points about the nature of these groups. Firstly the staged video shows a pretty good degree of media sophistication and secondly the report highlights how these groups recruit people - via the US abuse of detainees; a vicious circle.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Split in the BNP?

Looks like the skull-duggery that defines the far-right is being turned in upon themselves...

Open rebellion is being threatened against the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, from dozens of senior activists. The party has retaliated by expelling two senior members, who it accuses of plotting a coup. BNP officials Sadie Graham and Kenny Smith were kicked out after they were critical of Mr Griffin's style. They have now set up a rival faction, supported by up to 60 senior members. The BNP leadership denies it is split. The row centres on the activities of Ms Graham, the BNP's former group development officer, and Mr Smith, former head of administration. They were accused of "gross misconduct" after it came to light the party said that they were masterminding a blog site critical of Mr Griffin and demanding the sacking of senior officials Mark Collett and Dave Hannam.

also see:

Bunch of bone-heads.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bali's Hot Air & Cold Hope

Now its all over, time for reflection. Yes the spin-fest that was the Bali United Nations Climate Change Conference has ended with very little to show. Waste of time and carbon. A guess what Neo-Labour did? Yes the war-mongering, big-brother, big-business, hypocritical, shit-pant Labour Party sold us down the river...again;

EU sources told The Independent on Sunday that Britain had unilaterally helped the US to get the figure relegated to a footnote after a telephone call from the White House to Downing Street, but Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, denied that the Government had strayed from the united European position.

On the subject, this well reasoned video (unless your climate-crank or in serious denial, that is) is doing the rounds (I've seen it on Bristol Indymedia & Charlie Bolton's Southville blog)

But Paul Kingsnorth puts it better than I ever could...

You might be expecting me to be furious about the outcome of the latest climate change shindig in Bali. Furious about the whole thing, perhaps: 15,000 people fly to this sunny little island from all corners of the world, emitting as much carbon dioxide to do so as Mali emits in a year. They spend a week yakking about the biggest threat to the world since humanity walked on all fours; they get right down to the wire; then they announce ... a 'breakthrough!'..And the plan is ... well, the plan is to agree that at some stage in the future we will set some targets to slightly reduce our emissions at some stage after that, if at all possible...Still, I am not depressed. Why? Because I have given up expecting better. I am cultivating an almost Buddhist detachment....What will save us? Who knows if we even need 'saving'? I know it's Christmas, but we don't have to think like fundamentalist Christians all the time - don't have to keep worrying that apocalypse is around the corner. Even if it is, there's nothing Gordon Brown and Greenpeace can do about it. What will save us? Digging our garden, being in love, writing poems, standing up for our inevitable place, belonging, fighting off the encroachment of corporate culture, walking in the woods, knowing who we are, grounding ourselves - and not believing the talk of those who expect the suits and the bankers and the big-picture thinkers to get us out of what they so long ago dragged us into. This system has its own momentum now. This tide will not turn until it is ready. And us? We have to ride it. And you know what - I am beginning to believe that we can.

This is akin to Derrick Jensen's POV too:

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth...To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems—you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself—and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

Time to have a re-think, I think...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Caught in the Crossfire

Finally got round to listening to the Arnolfini Journalism 2007, by Andrew Gilligan, and it is a good listen and well worth the effort. Sample quote;

Over the question of Iraq, the most serious question you could possible imagine, the coming of our troops to war against a country that had offered no provocation to us; nearly all the democratic institutions that were supposed to protect us, failed. The civil service in the person of John Scarlet of the joint intelligence committee became Alistair Campbell's co-conspirator. Parliament, in the form of the Foreign Affairs Committee became more concerned with humiliating David Kelly than getting to the bottom of the dossier business and the Judiciary, in the form of Lord Hutton, well I just don't know what happened to Lord Hutton. Not only did the institutions fail; they have failed to acknowledge that their failures and they continue to present that all is well.

Another point he raises is what he calls 'anti-jounralists' or PR people, whos job is to obfuscate and manipulate the news agenda. Link to the MP3 is here.

(PS, on the subject of Iraq & David Kelly - also check out the lecture on the death of David Kelly by the Lib Dem MP Norman Baker)

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Failure of the Democrats

In the U$A, the Democrats, despite riding a tide of popular anti-war sentiment, are as lame as Bu$h: too cosy with the corporate lobby, too cowed by the corporate media - but most importantly - don't want to face the reality the the right don't take prisoners, they don't give ground and don't give a shit for anything except winning (link);

[Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and sort-of current leader of the Democrats] appears to have thought that [the Republicans] had mostly turned against the war in their hearts, and would become allies of the Democrats in ending it....But for all the Caesar-like power that Bush claims for his imperial executive, he could not have steam-rollered the country into war if he had not had enablers in the then Republican-controlled Congress...That might help explain why Pelosi did not initially believe that her Republican colleagues could possibly be so short-sighted or venal as to actively support the war.

But you just have to contrast the way that the Republicans took power in the House in 1994 with a disciplined plan that shifted resources radically to the Right and took no hostages among their foes. They even dared impeach (in the lesser sense) a very popular Democratic president, as a way of making sure Al Gore never became his successor. In other words, they came to town as ravenous as a horde of marauding Mongols and as mean as a canyon full of rattlesnakes....And now a year after the Dems took the House back for the first time in 12 years, the Democratic Speaker suddenly realizes that she is facing a phalanx of determined warmongers.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Iraq: It's Sadr Time

So the shootings are down - lots of people suspect this is because the Sadrists are (sort of) holding back; but for how long?

"There is just bound to be another war as long as the occupation remains. Our main enemy is America."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Global Warming Nutters

Like to Dodo, you'd think, because most of us have moved-on, that the global warming-deniers had gone away, but no, in a new book called 'Scared to Death' two prominent deniers try to point to sun as the issue but in a cutting review, Robin McKie takes the book apart;

First cut:

"..astronomers have known for years that temperatures are rising on our sister planets but have failed to pass on the news, we are told. This is a cosmic conspiracy - for if Jupiter and Triton are heating up, then the cause cannot be human....So forget carbon emissions. Blame rising solar radiation for all global warming....The authors outline six sources and then wrap up their argument with quotes from a scientist whose solar research they clearly feel is unimpeachable. First, those sources: items from ABC News, USA Today, National Geographic, an MIT press release and links to websites of Nasa and a media group, None is a primary source. All are interpretations, by others, of astronomical research"

So the reviewer get a primary source;

Oxford's Prof Peter Read, who has worked on several robot missions to Mars. 'Take the melting of the ice cap on Mars's south pole. There is no evidence of warming happening elsewhere on the planet. The effect is most probably some local climatic phenomenon. So is the solar system in the grip of global warming? No, it isn't.'

But shockingly, the central claims of the book are based on an interview with Cambridge astrophysicist Nigel Weiss in Canada's Financial Post - that never happened!

Except that Weiss never said any such thing. He never even gave an interview to the Post, which long ago posted a retraction and an apology, under legal threat from Weiss who was infuriated such claims had been falsely attributed to him. 'I don't believe solar radiation is the main cause of global warming and I never said so to the Post, as the authors of this book would have discovered if they had asked me,' says Weiss.

Ooops! Final cut:

They accuse other journalists of 'unthinking credulity' but commit egregious errors that would shame a junior reporter...Then there is this year's Royal Society report by physicists Mike Lockwood and Claus Frohlich, who surveyed radiation records for the past 40 years and who concluded, unambiguously, 'that the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability'. Incredibly, this is dismissed by the authors because of its careful selection of evidence!

Suffice to say, it's not on my Christmas list.
An Iraq Update

You may have noticed that there have been a steady trickle of 'good' news from Iraq - not good in the sense it is now all the Land-of-Milk-&-Honey but good in the sense that less people are being brutally murdered that the most recent high. Does this mean we have 'turned a corner' and victory is in sight? I don't see how...the first sign that things are far from good the all the 'surprise' visits. 'Surprise' is a good word as in surprise party, but what they mean here is that the government does not announce in advance that they plan to visit the country as is the normal diplomatic protocol. This is because the place is still so violent that to announce in advance that you are going to be there is to invite an attack. IMHO If Brown and Bu$h can't announce in advance their schedule, then it's not classified as safe. The war-mongers behind the Iraq war got a huge shock back in 2003 when Neo-Con Wolfowitz was nearly hit in a rocket attack. Seems to me that after that all the visits became 'surprise' or 'unannounced'. So where is the war now? Juan Cole is not optimistic:

Guerrillas differ from conventional armies in that they typically avoid direct, conventional engagements on the battlefield. They melt away before a conventional army's advance, and then reemerge to engage in sniping, sneak attacks, and bombings from an unexpected quarter. The advantage of Fred Kagan's troop escalation or "surge" is that it allowed a tamping down of violence in Baghdad through a US campaign to disarm the Sunni Arabs there. There were two disadvantages of it. First, it allowed the Shiite militias to take advantage of the disarming of many Sunni Arabs, and to ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from the capital during the past six months. As a result, Baghdad is virtually a Shiite city now, like Isfahan or Shiraz. Second, the Sunni guerrillas melted away in West Baghdad, either laying low or relocating to other provinces, so that the violence was displaced to the provinces. Very likely when the extra US troops are removed, the guerrillas will reemerge in the capital, though their loss of so many Sunni neighborhoods to the ethnic cleansing may put them at a disadvantage now.

While helena Cobban seem the groundwork being laid for a withdraw:

If Petraeus is to have any hope of executing an orderly or near-orderly drawdown of US forces from Iraq, he will need forces in both the Sunni and Shiite community who are prepared to (a) cooperate somewhat with each other, and (b) gain substantial control over most of the Arab-majority parts of the country, so that the US troop drawdown is not a rout-- and to prevent as much as possible the direct military intervention of Iraq's neighbors in the country as the drawdown occurs.

Which just reminds me of the ignominious British retreat withdrawal from Basra, a low-key claim of (a very pyrrhic) victory and hope nobody notices the rampant violence and fighting because it is too dangerous for reporters.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Couple of Links

One from 'The God Delusion' while Islam is in the news;

We are ex-Muslims. Some of us were born and raised in Islam and some of us had converted to Islam at some moment in our lives. We were taught never to question the truth of Islam and to believe in Allah and his messenger with blind faith. We were told that Allah would forgive all sins but the sin of disbelief (Quran 4:48 and 4:116). But we committed the ultimate sin of thinking and questioned the belief that was imposed on us and we came to realize that far from being a religion of truth, Islam is a hoax, it is hallucination of a sick mind and nothing but lies and deceits.

And from The Bristol Blogger who is on a roll with the local Neo-Labour party and some dodgy money;

It seems that the Bristol Labour Group - an unincorporated association [the Bristol Labour Group] registered at the Council House - made two donations amounting to exactly £10,000 to the Bristol North West Constituency Labour Party this year....As an unincorporated association, the Bristol Labour Group - which presumably consists of Bristol’s Labour councillors - does not have to present any public accounts. We therefore have no way of knowing the origin of this £10,000. Hardly the best example of Helen’s Holland’s new “open and transparent” regime is it?...You also have to wonder how this £10,000 cash donation is being accounted for and by who? The paper trail so far leads directly to a publicly owned office staffed by public servants....Gotcha! Yesterday we mentioned a city council officer - Roger Livingston - who works for ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ in an office at the Council House where tens of thousands of pounds worth of apparently anonymous donations to the Labour Party are being administrated...And what a revelation it is! Despite clear rules forbidding Roger, as a council officer, from engaging in any party political activity whatsoever, it appears that part of his job is to make, er… Party political enquiries regarding members of the public that contact Bristol Labour councillors!

While on the subject of Neo-Labour, the book is utterly (and rightly) scathing of Tony Blair and Neo-Labour's policy of 'City Academy' where for around 10% (or less) of the costs, private institution can get control of a school and warp it to their agenda, for example by promoting creationism.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Xmas - A Time for No God

I have just finished reading the controversial Richard Dawkins's 'The God Delusion' - and its a fantastic read. It is very polemic, full-on and cuts no corners in its assault on organised religion. He presents the argument as to why there is almost certainly no god, how religion may have evolved within humanity and examines morality and its roots within humanity, scripture (he says anyone promoting the bible as a source of moral guidance has clearly not read it cover to cover!) and life. I was reading this as the whole furore over the teacher in Sudan who named the toy bear 'Mohammed' and found her self the victim of calls for her execution for it. Crazy - as the book said!

You can see Dawkins in Lynchburg VA, USA reading from and answering questions on 'The God Delusion' Part 1 and 2.

You may also have read that Turkey is considering whether or not to prosecute the books local publisher! Crazy and making the books point clear!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Iraq: Reality Behind the Spin

Iraq has dropped from the news somewhat recently following a spin-campaign by the Bu$h administration to (again) say how Iraq had 'turned the corner';

Rocket and mortar attacks in Iraq are reported to have fallen to their lowest levels for nearly two years. The US military said such attacks in October fell to 369, half the level during October 2006. This is the third month running of reduced rocket fire Mortar and rocket attacks in Baghdad showed a similar pattern, falling to 53 in October from more than 200 in June.

So we are to believe that its all going great. But I personally doubt that this is the case. When you read between the lines of the few reports that come out of Iraq outside the Green Zone it all seems far from improving and instead, that the seeds of further destruction are being laid;

Meet Abu Abed: the US's new ally against al-Qaida...The Americans pay him $400 (£200) a month for each fighter he provides, he said, and he had 600 registered. His men are awed by his courage, his piety and his neurotic rages....When we arrived at the house where the alleged al-Qaida commander was hiding, Bakr [one of Abu Abed's gunmen] was already in action. He was dragging a plump man into a car, grabbing his neck with one hand and his BKC machine gun with the other. The horrified man begged them not to take him. "By Allah, I didn't say Qaida is better than you, you are our brothers, just let me go!" A gunman kicked the man and pushed him into a car. The suspect's brother, still in his pyjamas, pleaded, and women in nightgowns stood in the street wailing and begging the gunmen to release him...Abu Abed, screaming and pointing his gun, charged at the crowd. "Qaida is better than me? I will show you!"

Great tactic
, replacing one group of psychopathic thugs for another. That what is being called 'progress' in Iraq. Meanwhile in Basra, things are also nothing like the 'democratic' lace UK soldiers have supposedly fought for;

To reach Basra airport, the last remaining British base in Iraq, you have to pass through a series of Iraqi and British checkpoints. I took an official taxi, one that is permitted to drive into the airport. At a British checkpoint, a young soldier with sandy hair and a dirty flak jacket stuck his head through the window and said: "Badges."

The driver handed over his ID badge and I gave him my passport. He handed the passport back and kept the driver's badge. "Money," he said to the driver.

"Me no money," the driver said in broken English, forcing a big smile on to his face. "Money, moneeeyyy," said the soldier. He pointed at the driver's shirt pocket. "Me no money ... me badge please," the driver said, laughing.

"You give money, I give you badge," said the soldier. "Camera, camera," said driver, pointing at the nearby British watchtower. "Money, money," repeated the soldier.

The driver handed the soldier a 5,000 Iraqi dinar note, worth around £1.50.

The soldier tucked it in his pocket and said: "No, I want that." He pointed at a red 25,000 note in the driver's hand. The driver insisted, "No." After a bit of haggling, he was handed the badge.

"Fuck you, British," the driver said as he sped off.

Wicked plan, sting the taxi drivers for £1.50 - that'll help the War of Terror progress and 'turn the corner'. And finally, the price women continue to pay and pay in the global War of Terror;

Khalaff told the BBC this week that 42 women had been killed in Basra between July and September as part of a campaign by religious extremists elements carrying out a campaign of violence and intimidation against women.

Great - they could meet up and chat with the Saudi's and exchange tips on terrorising women.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Maori Resistance and the War of Terror

I read an article in the Guardian recently about a group of Maori's who were arrested under a giant terrorist sweep:

Sixteen people are on trial in Auckland district court following the raids, the culmination of a year-long police undercover operation that involved up to 300 officers and was centred on the isolated North Island hamlet of Ruatoki, gateway to the Urewera mountains that are home to the fiercely independent Tuhoe tribe. The raids followed sightings of "armed men in camouflage and balaclavas moving through forests carrying heavy packs and firearms". There are unconfirmed claims that among the weapons seized was a napalm bomb, or perhaps some molotov cocktails, and rumours that the prime minister, Helen Clark, may have been a target

It all sounds very dramatic and seems to follow the pattern of similar UK raids that were all hype and no substance; the duff Forest Gate raid the so-called ricin plot and so on - the War of Terror gone mad (or exploited for political reasons). Thanks to Indymedia New Zealand we are able to find out loads more about this case and how it has panned out, and yes, so far the 'terrorism' looks like all smoke and mirrors:

At a press conference broadcast live on radio new zealand, solicitor-general David Collins has announced his decision denying a police request to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. This means that none of the 17 people arrested in so-called "terror raids" will be charged under the terrorism act. The solicitor general had access to police evidence which has not been made public. Although he stated that the police had 'acted properly' in their investigation, he denied the request to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

The War of Terror has always had a duplicitous and insidious hidden agenda of geo-strategic control and this is now becoming increasingly clear - it is a War on Democracy, for example we see Musharraf in Pakistan, our ally, arresting democracy supporters under the guise of 'combating extremism', given the billions of dollars he receives in military aid, his move could not have happened without some form of complicity.

PS. Its remembrance day and a couple of links of note:


Monday, November 05, 2007

I SHIT YOU NOT! The U$ is Funding Violent Al Qaeda-Linked Groups to Contain Iran

OK, I'm a fairly obsessive Iraq-watcher, even I was gob-smacked by this one and think it should be front page news:

The US is Funding Violent Al Qaeda-Linked Groups to Contain Iran

"In Lebanon, the Administration has co-perated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda...."We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture."

Now if the news had come from some nutty conspiracy theorist, you could ignore it, but it comes from Seymour Hersh - one of the most respected and decorated investigative journalists in the world today.

War on Terror? Nope - just a War of Terror.

Dawkins Smashed Religion

Richard Dawkins hammers at the idea the religion begets morality:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

From the Gestapo to Guantanamo

A double whammy for Guantanamo. First we find out that the techniques used at Guantanamo were developed by the Nazi's, now we find out from an insider that the whole system is corrupt and rotten (surprise, surprise!):

"It's a kangaroo court system and completely corrupt..Stalin had show trials, but at Guantanamo they are not even show trials because it all takes place in secret."

However we must remember that event though it might be against international law, that most of the people held there have had no due-process and that there is no evidence that would stand in a normal court of law against almost all of the people held there - this is part of the strategy of the 'war of terror' - they plan to take our rights away before the terrorists do - that way the terrorists don't win.

Stay up-to-date with events there are:

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Role of Violence

Its the big thing that polarises political debates, the role of violence in political change. I have seen the debate go on and on. However, which is disturbing is the tendency of mainstream history to airbrush out certain types of violence, as can be seen in the Guardian today. Before we get into this point, lets start with what we mean by violence - Derrick Jensen writes that the difficult thing about violence is that we have but one word for many things. He writes that we have to use the same word for a mother bear defending her cubs from attack as a rapist; both are forms of violence. I agree; there are degrees of physical action are are distinct. So damage to property is not the same thing as damage to living things. Self-defence is not the same thing as starting a fight.

Once we have finished defining it we then need to recognise it. For example, today the Guardian had a bit piece on the Putney Debates:

By summer 1647, the Roundheads were winning the English civil war. At Marston Moor and Naseby, Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army had crushed the Cavaliers and King Charles I himself was now in custody. But among the victorious soldiers there was a gnawing fear that parliament and the army generals (or "grandees") were preparing to sell them out. Some MPs, fearing the religious militancy of the army and keen for a settlement with the king, wanted to cut soldiers' pay, disband regiments, refuse indemnity for war damage and pack them off to Ireland...Their grievances were taken up by Leveller agitators within the army rank and file. The Levellers ("who declared that all degrees of men should be levelled, and an equality should be established", according to critics) put forward a postwar manifesto entitled the Agreement of the People....It urged religious toleration ("The ways of God's worship are not at all entrusted by us to any human power"); a general amnesty and an end to conscription; a system of laws that must be "no respecter of persons but apply equally to everyone: there must be no discrimination on grounds of tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth or place"; regular, two-yearly parliaments and an equal distribution of MPs' seats by number of inhabitants. At its heart was a profound belief in human liberty and a conviction that politicians were as dangerous as princes when it came to undermining personal freedom. It was the people who were sovereign.

What the piece does not say is why these people were listened to - I would say because they were an army. What I think was missing is the very fact that ordinary people were able to push for such a radical agenda - because they had power, as Ian Bone noted in his book Bash the Rich:

Cromwell and Fairfax are increasingly exasperated by the leveller's demands for equality – not apparently made with any reference to religion, Christ, or god, as was the custom.
“By what right or power do you make these demands?” Inquires Fairfax. After a pause the reply came.
“By the power of the sword, Master Fairfax, by the power of the sword.” Whoops! Jesus Christ! What did he fucking say? Stick that up your warty old nose master Master Cromwell!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Christopher Hitchens's War

There is an interesting article in Vanity Fair about a solider who was killed by an I.E.D. in Iraq. The pro-war writer, Christopher Hitchens, later discovered that his pro-war articles helped persuade the dead man to enlist:

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.? Over-dramatizing myself a bit in the angst of the moment, I found I was thinking of William Butler Yeats, who was chilled to discover that the Irish rebels of 1916 had gone to their deaths quoting his play Cathleen ni Houlihan.

Now there is food for thought on why this man decided to join the army and fight in Iraq. This is his (not Hitchens's) words:

Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).… Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics.

In the article while Hitchens's clearly feels angst and grief over what happens, he does seem to me to try to wriggle off the hook of guilt:

In his brilliant book What Is History?, Professor E. H. Carr asked about ultimate causation. Take the case of a man who drinks a bit too much, gets behind the wheel of a car with defective brakes, drives it round a blind corner, and hits another man, who is crossing the road to buy cigarettes. Who is the one responsible? The man who had one drink too many, the lax inspector of brakes, the local authorities who didn't straighten out a dangerous bend, or the smoker who chose to dash across the road to satisfy his bad habit? So, was Mark Daily killed by the Ba'thist and bin Ladenist riffraff who place bombs where they will do the most harm? Or by the Rumsfeld doctrine, which sent American soldiers to Iraq in insufficient numbers and with inadequate equipment? Or by the Bush administration, which thought Iraq would be easily pacified? Or by the previous Bush administration, which left Saddam Hussein in power in 1991 and fatally postponed the time of reckoning?

And wriggle off the hook as to what his 'just war' has become;

"I have grown coarsened and sickened by the degeneration of the struggle: by the sordid news of corruption and brutality (Mark Daily [the dead solider] told his father how dismayed he was by the failure of leadership at Abu Ghraib) and by the paltry politicians in Washington and Baghdad who squabble for precedence while lifeblood is spent and spilled by young people whose boots they are not fit to clean."

But what dismays me for the the liberal (and not so liberal) hawks is they never seem to reflect on their own naivety: How else could it have turned out? The people who helped death squads, people who were 'too busy' to fight in Vietnam, people who wanted to bomb a TV station. How else could it have ended?

Nor is there any repentance for the scale of death they helped unleash. While the death of this solider is a tragedy for his family, and I would not wish death on any family - he is just one of the million people this war has now killed. A million. Where is his eulogy for the other 999,999?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Peak Oil: Output peaked in 2006

Yet another study is here to show that our oil use is going to decline - like it or not. This one is more interesting in that it is based on actual production rates and not estimated reserves (as most government's estimates are) which make it a more reliable guide as it less subject to political pressure. For example OPEC countries have their production quota based on their estimated reserves, thus they often over-estimate the reserves so they can pump more oil onto the market. The price of oil also back the findings of this research, at the end of September 2003, oil was around $25 per barrel and it is now at $80+ per barrel and shows no sign of dropping back to its 'normal' market price. Here's what the report says:

The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: "Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society."

What is also important is, for all those backing nuclear as an option, how much Uranium is left;

It also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.

It's time to re-think society, me thinks....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Murdoch & the Eu Referendum

You might have seen all the coverage of the papers pushing for a referendum on the EU treaty. Recently The Sun newspaper (owned by Murdoch) indicated to Brown that it may ditch support for him because he wont allow a referendum on the EU treaty;

"The Sun's campaign [for a referendum], which I think is fun and ingenious, is no secret, nor are [Sun associate editor] Trevor Kavanagh's heartfelt feelings about surrendering more sovereignty. So Brown has to know that one of the factors, maybe the factor, that the Sun will consider [when it comes to an endorsement] is his position on the referendum."

Be under no illusion why the Sun and Murdoch are going for a referendum not out of patriotism but because of business interests;

But what has Mr. Murdoch got against the euro? Brussels-bashing has always made good copy for his papers. But more seriously, the coming of the euro is part of a process involving the centralisation of economic power and decision-making in pan-European bodies. And if you were a media magnate with global interests, would you want to see the rise of an increasingly powerful pan-European regulator, with uncongenial ideas about "local content" requirement and cross-media ownership?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

GoatLab Radio - Oct '07

GoatLab Radio is back!!! this month with Parasite and special guest DJ/Rupture (Soot / Shockout)


1. Modeselektor - 2000007 ft. TCC (BPitch Control)
2. Cauto - Untitled (Dutty Artz -
3. Electromeca - 202 (Death$ucker)
4. DJ/Rupture & Andy Moor - live in France
5. Milanese - Mr Bad News [Clark remix] (Planet Mu)
6. DJ/Rupture & Shadetek - Reef w/ Anakissed reading the Rubaiyyat
7. Dexplicit - Good For Me
8. Maga Bo -Nqayi ft. Teba (Soot)
9. Glowstyx - Heels of steel (Cock Rock Disco)
10. Patric C (The VIP) - Let There Be House (Death$ucker / Cock Rock Disco)
11. The Bug - Skeng ft. Killa P & Flow Dan (Hyperdub)
12. Influx - Still (Sapho)

Download the show!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Set Power Free

There is the well known phrase, 'knowledge is power' and I believe it is true. There are many sh*t things going on all over the world, many causes that need fighting. But how is it when around 1 billion people on the planet starve, around 1 billion suffer from disorders of over-eating. This is a wrong balance. Global warming threatens our (and many other species) existence and our political leaders argue over who stole whos policies. Why do we not react en-mass? I believe the key is knowledge. To me this means media activism is vital. I'm reading Ursula Le Guin's collected Earthsea trilogy and there is a phrase in the book that states this better than I ever will:

"...need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge."

With that in mind, a couple of local media project I think deserve support:

Gagged! - The Gwent based news project. They are having a benefit on the 3rd November.

The Bath Bomb - "Bath's Radicalest Tabloid!" a great new newsheet onto it's third issue.

And, of course, Bristol Indymedia and Bristle - not to mention all the bloggers out there! (see links bar on the right!).

Monday, October 08, 2007

News of Note

A couple of interesting news articles;

Cuba's communist block-by-block democracy - not true democracy, but is it really any worse than the rich-donor funded, elected-dictatorship we have?

And (more) shady goings-on in the war of terror:

"When someone works in the finance department of the military in Afghanistan, and they say they’ve discovered some things and made some enemies because of it, and when they say 'if anything happens to me, make sure it’s investigated,' and then that person is shot in the head within a secure military base, and this is being reported by CBS, I think we have a case that needs investigation."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Iraq War is Over!

Yes people, it's all over. The evil-doers are dead;

"..last week [the Pentagon] released figures to USA Today on how many insurgents U.S. forces have supposedly killed since the invasion of Iraq ended: 18,832 since June 2003; 4,882 'militants' so far in 2007 alone.....As the USA Today report points out, last year Centcom Commander John Abizaid had suggested that the forces of the Sunni insurgency numbered in the 10,000-20,000 range. If the released figures are accurate, nearly 25%-50% of that number must have been killed this year. (Who knows how many were wounded.) Add in suspected Sunni insurgents and terrorists incarcerated in American prisons in Iraq only in the "surge" months of 2007 -- another 8,000 or so -- and it suddenly looks as if something close to the full insurgency has essentially been turned into a ghost resistance between January and September of this year.

The U$ also says;

"Our troops have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January of this year."

Now given that Al-Qaeda of Mesopotamia only has about 1,500 fighters - that must mean its all over?

Or somebody is telling porky-pies.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Iraq Jigsaw

The pieces are all coming together now. A recently published transcript of a discussion between Jose Maria Aznar and Bu$h shows how this belligerent, arrogant war criminal thinks - and backs up the real reason for the war - oil.

Bu$h shows that getting rid of Saddam is not enough when they talk about an offer for him to flee into exile. Now nobody in their right mind would like to see a mass murderer like Saddam let off the noose, but given the alternative involves the death of a lot of people (a million so far) - what would you pick? This is the dicussion about that point;

'Aznar: Is it certain that any possibility exists that Saddam Hussein will go into exile?

Bush: The possibility exists, including that he will be assassinated.

Aznar: Exile with a guarantee?

Bush: No guarantee! He is a thug, a terrorist, a war criminal.

So one way to avoid war is lost because Bu$h says so. I beleive that the reason that he cannot accept this is that it would not leave U$ troops on the ground in Iraq, and without that, they do not control the oil. There is no solution he can accept that does not put him and his cronies in control of Iraqi oil. He is gambling with the lives of millions of people. If this is shocking, you can see how he does it again later on in the discussion;

Aznar: I’m not asking that you have endless patience. Simply that everything is done to [have maximum international support].

Bush: Countries like Mexico, Chile, Angola, and Cameroon should know that what’s at stake is the security of the United States . . . [Chilean President Ricardo] Lagos should know that the Free Trade Accord with Chile is awaiting Senate confirmation and a negative attitude about this could put ratification in danger. Angola is receiving Millennium Account funds [to help alleviate poverty] and that could be jeopardized also if he’s not supportive…

Aznar: Tony [Blair] wants to wait until March 14.

Bush: I prefer the 10th. This is like a good cop, bad cop routine. I don’t care if I’m the bad cop and he’s the good cop.

He does not care if he has to withdraw money given to help some of the poorest people on the planet in Angola to boost support for his murderous war. Bu$h is not the bad cop, he's a war criminal as is Bliar for supporting him.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Word of the Day: Denialism


Denialism describes the position of governments, business groups, interest groups, or individuals who reject propositions that are strongly supported by scientific or historical evidence and seek to influence policy processes and outcomes accordingly.[1] The term has been used in relation to 'holocaust denial', 'AIDS reappraisal', and 'climate change denial' and the creation-evolution controversy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mercenary Firm to be Banned From Iraq

Following a shootout in which at least eight civilians died, mercenary firm Blackwater USA run by Republican billionaire donor Erik Prince, will be banned from Iraq. Blackwater has come in for a lot of flack, so I went to thier website to see their side of the story; guess what their 'Media' link says?

Service Unavailable

I hope so.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Iraq: It WAS All About Oil

Confirmed, by a member of the political elite, what we all knew - that the Iraq war was about oil. Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve spells it out;

"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil..."

This when American's are protesting the war and Bu$h confirms the ongoing occupation of Iraq and the terrorists agree as letter written by senior al-Qaeda operative Atiyah Abd al-Rahman states that "prolonging the war is in our interest."

Makes you think;

"The big bankers of the world, who practise the terrorism of money, are more powerful than kings and field marshals, even more than the Pope of Rome himself. They never dirty their hands. They kill no-one: they limit themselves to applauding the show."
Eduardo Galeano

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Green Reality

A good article in the Guardian about the reality of what needs to be done to stop climate change - and it is way more than turning the lights off and switching things off from stand-by;

Lest you think I am being harsh, look at this from a different point of view. Imagine that someone came up with a brilliant new campaign against smoking. It would show graphic images of people dying of lung cancer followed by the punchline: "It's easy to be healthy - smoke one less cigarette a month."

We know without a moment's reflection that this campaign would fail. The target is so ludicrous, and the disconnection between the images and the message is so great, that most smokers would just laugh it off.

So why then do well-intentioned schools, councils and green groups - and let's face it, Live Earth was an eight-hour tip-fest - persist in promoting such ineffectual actions?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Evening Post's Wrong Headed Drugs Ranting

There was a big two page spread in the Evening Post recently given over to the question of if the Bristol Drugs Project and its aim to set up a 'Shooting Gallery' in Bristol for addicts to use. This is not an unusual project and there have many many similar project in the UK and world wide. What was depressing to read alongside this was the Post's editorial with their emotive language and ramblings on the evils of drugs. It was rubbish and unhelpful hyperbole from a newspaper with a right-wing ideological stance. It was also wrong on a number of counts. It advocated a tougher line on dugs – tougher penalties for dealing etc – the usual right-wing rant;

"So what should we make of the suggestion for a so called 'shooting gallery' - a place where drug addicts can inject their poison overlooked by people who can help them if something goes wrong."

Now I'm no bleeding-heart-liberal on this issue – I live in St.Pauls, so see the results of drug addiction every day, have family who have been impacted by addiction – I am well aware of its problems, so when I read the post's resistance to the 'Shooting Gallery' on the grounds that;

"Those who work with drug-users say it is better than leaving addicts to inject themselves in squalid alleys, public toilets or or under flyovers. But what of the rest of us who surely have no contact with drug users? Surly man will view this proposal as a vision from hell, a place where, effectively, society is turning a blind eye to an illegal practice that endangers life?...Some may even say that such an establishment could be an encouragement to them to continue using drugs."

It makes me angry. This kind of sub-'reefer-madness' view of drug policy is wrong headed and dangerous. The Post are living in a dreamworld if they think that drug policy should be dictated by those who 'have no contact with drug users' – perhaps that is the problem, the way we live our lives is hostage to the views of newspaper editors in their plush homes in affluent areas who have no idea of reality. To them the 'message we send' via policy matters more than the practicality. Well here is where I stand – I am sick of seeing the problems created by drugs, I want something to be done that WORKS. We have been pushing prohibition for over 50 years and drugs are easier and cheaper than ever before. Don't take may word for it, ask the people on the frontline. Here is what the Colombian Vice President had to say;

"After a five-year frontal attack against drug trafficking, the results aren't the most successful or the ones we hoped the end of the day, the benchmark is whether the street price of cocaine in New York, London or Madrid rises or the quality falls. So far, we haven't found any statistics that bear this out."

Now this is a country who benefits via the millions of dollars pumped into the military to fight the 'War on Drugs' and if they are saying it is not working – what would? How bad is it really? We have troops on the ground in Afghanistan and has this impacted the supply of drugs (Bliar gave this as one of the reasons to intervene there) – not a bit. Here's Steve Rolles of the Bristol based Transform Drug Policy Foundation;

“This week's alarming UN reports on the Afghan opium crop, showing that it now accounts for over 93% of global illicit production, prompted much debate. A Guardian leader (The drugs don't work, August 27) acknowledged the futility of eradication efforts...The government has spent billions trying achieve this through supply-side enforcement and coerced treatment. And yet UK heroin use rose from 1997 to 2001 before stabilising at its current historic high.”

The war on drugs was lost a long, long time ago. For a newspaper that claims to be the 'voice of the city' pushing the same tired old line is doing us, especially those of us who live the areas most effected by drug abuse, a massive disservice. I'd like to end on a quote;

"So, what can you say about a policy that has cost about a trillion dollars, resulted in the deaths of numerous law enforcement officers, and countless citizens? I say it has failed. I also say that it is time for the Congress of the United States to acknowledge that the war on drugs is a disaster and to bring it to a swift halt."

Who wrote that? A hippy pot-smoker, an ivory tower professor? No, a cop wrote it. He's part of LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – a US based group of former and serving police types, and if the Post's comment writers did some real journalism they might learn a thing or two beyond wrong-headed hyperbole.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Surge has Failed

Yes folks, the much vaunted surge has failed. It was predicted that it would, it has but nobody wants to admit it. This is a disaster of unmitigated human, environmental and financial proportions and the Neo-labour party, Tory and political class in the U$ and the corporate media are pretty much to blame. They are trying to spin all sorts of things as the golden-boy of the hour, General David Petraeus takes to the stand to testify how well things are going.

It gets off to a...prescient...start when the General forgets to take the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. When a observer points this out, he's kicked out of the meeting. The General says;

"The military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met..."

And so on. Yesterday columnist Paul Krugman noted;

Here's what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress next week: he'll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq - as long as you don't count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head....First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and police records suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks.

Remember the famous quote on civilian casualties by General Tommy Franks; "We don't do body counts..." Well now they need to back their arguments for the surge, it seems they do. But they only do body counts that suit them;

"But an official in the ministry who spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release numbers said those numbers were heavily manipulated. The official said 1,980 Iraqis had been killed in July and that violent deaths soared in August, to 2,890..."

And former Marine, weapons inspector and Republican Scott Ritter is even more scathing about the so-called 'surge';

Nearly 4 1/2 years following President Bush's ill-fated (and illegal) decision to invade and occupy Iraq, few people in a position to influence policy formulation and implementation in America have actually grasped the horrible truth about what has transpired, and what is transpiring, in Mesopotamia today. As the United States places the finishing touches on Fortress America, the new half-billion-dollar Embassy complex in the heart of the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, and more troops pour into mega-bases throughout Iraq, the reality (and futility) of permanent occupation has yet to sink in. What could be going through the minds of those members of Congress who keep signing blank checks for the president? Is there no oversight of how and why this money is spent? How can someone fund permanent infrastructure one day, then speak of the need to get out of Iraq the next?....

In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the "Petraeus Report" will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq. Once again, Americans will be searching for a solution to a problem they have yet to properly define.

And do you know how much the war in Iraq is going to cost once Bu$h pushes though a bid for more funding? $3 billion.

That's not $3 billion in total - its PER WEEK!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Target Iran!

The drum beat of war is banging again, this time for Iran:


Speaking at a meeting sponsored by the journal National Interest, edited by Irving Kristol, father of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol Debate stated: US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,”


"My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way: They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

I have reported on proposed timetables for a strike on Iran, and am not convinced they will - but my recent postings by the nutters in and connected to the Bu$h possie has scared me - they are f**king craZZZy.

Meanwhile, Cholera has broken out in Iraq.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

SWRDA's Greenwash

A gushing article about the boom in the regions airport entitled 'Region's Airport Extend their Reach' in the Business magazine Link, Summer '07;

“Business is booming at South West airports. Hardly a week goes by without the announcement of a new link with a destination somewhere in Europe.”

However we all know that that party pooper, Mr. Climate Change is about so they take pains to reassure us it is being considered;

“Of course the whole issue of air transport and its impact on the environment is very much under the microscope at the moment. Exactly how this affects the South the subject of ongoing debate by the South West Regional Development Agency...” The article then goes on to quote a lengthy passage by Malcolm Bell, the boss of Tourism South West, “What has gone wrong at the moment, however, is that air travel us considered bad and bus an train wonderful. That's a simplistic approach that requires caution – for example, the environmental impact of somebody who files into the South West, hires an ecologically acceptable car and walks for five days on Dartmoor will be very different to the person who motors down from Swindon and drives around the area all day before returning home.”

Let look at the figures: Swindon to Bovey Tracey 218 KM, then drives around all day, say another 50 KM per day for 5 days then 218 KM back, total of 636 @ 30 MPG gives 0.24 tones of CO2. OK?

Now, The drive from Bristol Airport to Bovey Tracy (128 KM) and our visitor walks around Dartmoor, then back, total of 256 KM @ 60 MPG gives 0.04 tonnes of CO2, now in criticizing simplistic comparisons Mr. Bell is a little simplistic himself in not giving us enough information to compare his key comparison – where has the visitor flown from? If we look at where Bristol Airport serves, you get a different picture, if the flight is not that far away, say Brussels then you get an additional 0.14 tonnes of CO2, total 0.18 so its marginally better, but the comparison falls away as the list of destinations the airport servers is examined; say Berlin (0.26 tonnes CO2, total 0.3 tonnes CO2). New York (1.5 tonnes of CO2, total 1.54) – In short it is an unrealistic picture that only stands up under very tight circumstances – and this trite, simplistic comparison is being used to attack simplistic comparisons. Urrk! In short, it's rubbish. Greenwash. The article has more greenwash too, gushing support for Bristol Airport where the objections of residents and campaigners are 'answered' by the fact that the airport is going to, “...include a decked car-park with green roof to minimise visual impact...” Oh and a couple of wind turbines and bio-mass generator – but they also plan to up passenger numbers to 9 million – but the article does not attempt to balance the CO2 cost of these.

With this in mind, here is some sage advice on how to people often react to climate change;

“- 'It is not really happening – get over it': This view values the risks of damage from climate change at zero. For now, at least, this view is not supported by most scientific opinion and, indeed, increasingly not by both wider expert, popular and political opinion

- 'It is happening but we can ignore it and carry on as we are': When/if its effects become important, we can deal with it as best we can at the time. Markets and other incentives will adjust and growth will be refocused. Rationally, this approach is saying that the value of our current lifestyle exceeds the value of the environmental damage we may be producing over any foreseeable time frame and, unless this inequality is reversed, there is no present need to act.”

Both a good points and sum up the attitude to airports – and both points are published in the Third Quarter: August 2006 Economics Review Issue 5 – published by SWRDA. Maybe they should read their own reports before backing the expansion of airports?
Iran: Don't Get Fooled Again

Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is pushing for war with Iran in the same way it did with Iraq. This great video by Robert Greenwald (director of Outfoxed) shows the warmongering news footage of Iraq 2003 with Iran 2007;

Monday, August 20, 2007

'Do you think it is winnable?'

An interesting article on Afghanistan that makes it pretty clear that UK/NATO or U$ forces are not winning there at all:

As usual, the conversation turned towards the same simple question. 'Do you think it is winnable?', the British commanders, officers and soldiers of Helmand would ask. It was a tough call....The obstacles were piled high. Progress, by comparison, seemed stunted. Few who asked seemed sure of success. Some sensed it was possible, others wondered at what cost. One officer simply exhaled sharply and gazed at his desert combat boots.

Sounds like a 'no' then? It is also clear that Iraq is part of the problem:

Overstretching the few soldiers available in Helmand increases the risk of the enemy moving back into areas once occupied by British forces, a politically untenable scenario. As usual, the central dilemma boils down to a lack of manpower where it matters, with the British still immersed in Iraq.

Hey, but we've can't back out of Iraq, after all the order to invade came from none other than God - and who are we to dispute HIS DIVINE WILL? The most poignant bit in the article is this:

Lying in the shallow trench before dawn, it was difficult not to contemplate how this war might end. The ditch was an old Soviet relic from when the Russian army withdrew from Helmand, a province where the mujahideen were never conquered.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

In and Out of YouTube

A few weeks ago the Observer published a list of choice picks from YouTube charting some of the history of pop;

Want to see Iggy's 'crowd walk'? A teenage Van Morrison? Since the creation of YouTube, rare footage of your pop idols is just a click away...On YouTube pop is not a neat and tidy form that can be arranged into historical segments but a gloriously random, fragmented, elusive entity. And it is all the more exciting for that.

Cool. Now I'd like to add my own list...

Big Black - "jordan, minnesota" (live)
A band that blew me away when I first heard them. At that point I thought Ned's Atomic Dustbin was radical music. Big Black was a wake-up call to a wider, more experimental, darker, more subversive and exciting world. One of the comments on the page says it all, “Today's rock music has no relevance once you listen to this.”

Mudhoney - In 'N' Out Of Grace (live)
While Nirvana were the band from the grunge scene that really made it, I was – for my sins – a grunge kid before the scene broke into the mainstream and the anthem then was Mudhoney's 'Touch Me I'm Sick' – but for my money, this is their best track and it's best heard live with the distortion and noise that defined grunge.

Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia
An amazing punk band that made catchy, almost poppy, punk-rock without compromising the message one inch. Video show Jello's mad-ball green gloves. Love DK.

Berlin Riot 1999 (Atari Teenage Riot LIVE)
ATR were the band that introduced me to breakcore and I would suggest, a hugely influential band on lots of producers of breakcore. This video is a real punk-rock ironic moment – ATR on a float bashing out tracks like 'Revolution Action' and 'Start the Riot' when a riot starts! It's less 'I predict a riot' and more 'I'm in the middle of a fucking riot!' The German riot cops wear green overalls, so they look for like the military attempting a coup than protect and serve.

Venetian Snares - Szamar Madar
I love this video and I love this track. The best representation of breakcore in a music video I have scene, it captures the music perfecly and IMHO its a million miles better that 99% of the pop-video dross that the industry churns out day-after-day.

What's yours?
Righteous Fascism

Following on from my last post about the nutty apocalyptic Christians hijacking foreign policy in the US. Now it gets scarier – in an essay entitled 'Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy', author Philip Atkinson points out what Bu$h should have gone to sort the problems in Iraq;

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

So it's the cowardly US voters who messed Iraq up. So what now? Helpfully Atkinson suggests a new course of action Bu$h and Co. might take, you might call it a 'home surge';

As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy....However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow. When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended...If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies....He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Glad that's cleared up then. This 'essay' was published online by the group Family Security Matters, a conservative front group. When people began to express predictable outrage at this piece, they pulled it from the website (but the Google cache remained!). Before we think this group are just fringe nutters, they are only a couple of degrees of separation from our own politicians;

Family Security Matters
's board has a retired general, Paul E. Vallely on it. He is also a Senior Military Analyst at Fox News - owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has both the Neo-Labour party and Conservative Party baying for his favour.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Climate Victory

The climate protesters have, IMHO, achieved a huge victory already. Even before any protest started, BAA's attempt to stifle democratic protest with the injunction was a major PR blunder. I saw the boss of Heathrow look like a petulant child on the news for refusing the debate with a representative from climate camp. Then the climate camp got the jump on the cops setting up in a field they did not have permission for two days before planned - by the time the cops arrived it was too late. Then the spate of direct action and protests which has seen Heathrow, Department For Transport, XL Airways, Biggin Hill and Farnborough Airport and Bristol Airport all targeted.

Hat's off to 'em all – the protesters have done a fantastic job in the face of massive police, state and corporate repression.

Stay informed:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Iraq in Numbers: The Death Toll Tops 1 Million

Estimated number of Iraqi deaths from the invasion of 2003 through June 2007, (assuming the Lancet study's median figure of 655,000 deaths was accurate): 1,000,985

1 in every 20 dollars gathered by the U$ government is now being spend on Iraq.

Number of robots to be on the ground in Iraq by end of 2007: 1000.

It's a clusterfuck, people.

Friday, August 10, 2007

God vs. God (vs.the World)

Radical Islam is fighting a religious war, they say, to defend Islam. Now it has been much reported that Bush believes in Jesus and God talks to him and told him to invade Iraq. Indeed he originally called the War of Terror a 'Crusade' until his PR people told him that was a bad word for it. Then you have god nutters like Lt.Gen. William G. Boykin who thinks God appointed Bush;

"You must recognize that we as Americans saw a miracle unfold with the election of George W. Bush...Whether you voted for him or not is irrelevant. The fact is he is there today, not only to lead America, but to lead the world, and that is what he is doing..."

Leading us to where? God's Bush plan seems to involve a lot of killing. (Perhaps God had invested in BAE Systems?)

Now the US military and State seems to be riddled with nutters like Boykin who are intent on bringing Jesus into the fray. You can see the chilling video of it here. It is also hypocritical as serving soldiers are not supposed to use their position to endorse other positions, for example serving marines who attended an anti-war rally in uniform have been prosecuted;

A report released publicly on Thursday by the Defense Department's (DOD) inspector general has found high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standing military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty....Over the past few years, the military has set its sights on prosecuting Iraq war veterans who have completed active duty, soured on the war and participated in antiwar protests while wearing their uniforms. Recently, the US Marine Corps prosecuted Cpl. Adam Kokesh and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, both of whom were photographed marching in an antiwar protest while wearing their uniforms in what the Marine Corps says was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military prosecutors vigorously sought to have both men dishonorably discharged. However, it appears unlikely the military will apply the same standard to the Air Force and Army officers who the inspector general said violated the same code of conduct Kokesh and Madden were found to have broken, according to the disciplinary recommendations of the report.

As if that was not enough - now we have Operation Straight Up (OSU);

"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."...But behind OSU's anodyne promises of wholesome fun for military families, the organization promotes an apocalyptic brand of evangelical Christianity to active duty US soldiers serving in Muslim-dominated regions of the Middle East. Displayed prominently on the "What We Believe" section of OSU's website is a passage from the Book of Revelations (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15) that has become the bedrock of the Christian right's End Times theology: "The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

And they are going to give US troops a free computer game! Cool!

OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. ...The Left Behind videogame is a real-time strategy game that makes players commanders of a virtual evangelical army in a post-apocalyptic landscape that looks strikingly like New York City after 9/11. With tanks, helicopters and a fearsome arsenal of automatic weapons at their disposal, Left Behind players wage a violent war against United Nations-like peacekeepers who, according to LaHaye's interpretation of Revelation, represent the armies of the Antichrist. Each time a Left Behind player kills a UN soldier, their virtual character exclaims, "Praise the Lord!" To win the game, players must kill or convert all the non-believers left behind after the rapture.

(Still, one cool thing about the game is that players also have the option of reversing roles and commanding the forces of the Antichrist.)

So Bliar and his accomplices in the media and political elite have not only got us into an unwinable genocidal war, but some of our 'allies' think they are fighting a crusade and believe the end of the world is nigh. And they have nukes.

If global warming does not get us, the insane Christians will.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!

Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! is the name of a 1985 album by the thrash band Megadeth, and it's also what popped into my head when I heard about the rise in profits of Fliton based BAE systems on the news today. BAE's announcement has the double-speak phrase 'high tempo' to describe what has caused the rise in income;

"The UK's largest defence firm, BAE made a pre-tax profit of £657m ($1.4bn), compared with £378m a year earlier. BAE said the 'high tempo' of UK and US military operations was increasing demand for land systems to support armed forces overseas. BAE, which is facing an anti-corruption probe by US authorities, saw its half-year revenues rise by 10%."

'High tempo' is another ways of saying that there is more violence, more killing, more bombs and bullets being shot - and more of all this mean more money. Money we pay for though our and US taxes and in subsidies to the war industries in general. In non-business terms this means;

"Deaths directly and indirectly attributable to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have neared one million people, a body count higher than the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan combined, according to a new report released by Just Foreign Policy."

Thankfully some people have the moral courage to stand up to the global killing industry.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Religion - In Perspective.

One of the best rants I have heard in ages about religion. Funny and important!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fascist Russia

There is another victim of fascist Russia, this time an eco-protestor;

Ilya Borodaenko you will never be forgotten RIP. This just shows how important it is to do something, fight back, do what you can, for the animals, the environment or each other.

Yesterday, a group of Russian nazi's launched an unprovoked attack on a completely non-violent anti-nuclear eco-camp in Angarsk in Siberia. The campers knew of the attack in advance, and so posted people to try and guard the entrances over night whilst the rest slept. But when the Nazi's arrived, early in the morning of the 21st July, they completely outnumbered and overwhelmed the people at the entrances, and attacked the rest of the campers, in their sleep with iron bars, knives, and air guns, and set tents on fire.

A 21 year old guy named Ilya Borodaenko, was the first guy to greet the Nazi's. He was brutally beaten, and later died in hospital. One of the activists suffered serious head fracturing, another had both their legs broken, and nine others are also seriously injured.

Below is the website of the organisers of the camp:

Ilya Borodaenko r.i.p.

From a statement by the organisers of the camp:

"...we will forget nothing and we won't forgive Ilya Borodaenko's death to his murderers (irrespective of successes or failures of the official repressive system investigating the crime). We won't stop activity of our environmental protest camp, we won't stop our struggle against fascist plague and nuclear mafia, against authoritative ideas and racist dregs, against all that destroys both the nature and human life and dignity. Today we grieve. Tomorrow we will continue our struggle."

For more info, see:


Please repost

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lies, Lies, Lies Video

Another great video - this time it shows the lies of the U$ politicians over the war in Iraq. At the end there is some great footage of the same politicians getting angry responses from the public - something you don't often see in the news media!

Link to YouTube page is here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Draft College Republicans

A great video! The same people who advocate fighting on the front lines of the war of terror do not want to be the same people to have to do it. Nice. Worth watching:

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called "war on terror" as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Repulicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. "Medical reasons." "It's not for me." These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them "over there." Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP's next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Local Flooding, Global Warming

Two friends of mine, who were due to spend a couple of days in London returned from Bristol Temple Meads Station a couple of hours later, their travel plans in ruins due to the flooding. Another friend has just spent hours on the roads, most of it trapped in the chaos that is the M5. The news from the Glade festival (where lots of Bristolian's have gone) is also bleak with the closure of the Overkill stage and problems for other parts of the event. (The organisers are hoping to re-open the stage) This following the weather assault on Glastonbury and Ashton Court and weeks of weird and erratic weather. Mother nature truly is a powerful force, and she dominates the headlines of todays papers. I guess this does lead to the question of global warming – is this weather linked? The bastion of business values, the FT suggests so;

Erratic weather has been held up as evidence of global warming. Growing incidence of floods is meanwhile changing attitudes to property in low-lying areas. An estate agent’s blurb promising “river views” is only alluring so long as the homebuyer’s chances of seeing the river lapping around his three-piece suite are low. Planning authorities are starting to take a more critical view of developments that increase flooding risk by building on fields.

In it's own coded language I would suggest the FT is hedging its bets that, yes, the erratic weather and global warming are linked – else why else would planning rules need to be re-visited unless the weather was changing? They are not the only media outlet to consider the weather as a portent of things to come, the Times ran a piece entitled 'Ten predictions about climate change that have come true' while the Scotsman's farming writer, in a piece entitled 'How my scepticism on global warming took a real battering' noted at the end of June;

“Good riddance to flaming June and welcome to what we hope might just be a more pleasant July. I have to admit to a degree of scepticism on global warming, but those doubts are now increasingly in reverse gear. April was just about as wonderful as anyone, especially farmers, could wish, then along came May which was strictly average, but June proved to be a real horror.”

As we now know, July was not the respite that this writer was hoping for - far from it. It would seem to me that the climate-skeptic view has been dealt a double whammy, first by the flooding and the evidence of our every-day lives and second by the scientific research demolishing their favorite 'solar warming' theory, the final volley of which was a reply by Professor Mike Lockwood;

"Because I am a solar physicist, it would make me very happy indeed were the sun to be the cause of current climate change, partly because it would make my studies more relevant and important but mainly because I understand that solar activity will almost certainly decline in years to come. This would mean that the greatest threat to mankind's continued prosperity and wellbeing, namely climate change, would also decline. Sadly for me, and for all of us, you cannot wish or spin away a scientific reality."
(original article, reply and counter reply)

At a climate protest some years ago I listened to a Young Republican, who, as part of a group of 20 or so zealot students who had flown over to tour European protests to rubbish the Kyoto agreement. He outlined the climate-septic view of the worse case scenario, “You know of the chaos of the European economies after the second world war?” He asked us, we nodded yes, “If you implement Kyoto then that chaos would be like a picnic, it would be like a worse version of the great depression – any of you have a job?” He asked the five or so listeners, all of us responded that we did, “Well if you sign this, you can kiss that goodbye.”

Now while the science behind global warming is not 100% (more like 95%), the science of the septic is even shakier – so which view would you rather hedge your bets with – that by trying to save energy and reduce consumption we may trigger a huge economic depression, or the worse case predictions of the 'global warming is real' view; we risk the lives a millions of people, the destruction of hundreds of species and eco-systems and much more. I know where I hedge my bets.

It is time to bury the sceptic view - they had ther chance, failed and it was drowned in the 'summer' of '07 - now to the important question - what are we going to do about it?