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.