Saturday, October 09, 2004

Election Results

A bad day for elections


Afghanistan's first democratic election has been thrown into confusion after it was announced that most presidential candidates were boycotting it.

The move follows claims of widespread voting irregularities.

A victory for fear and greed

Australia gives a big thumbs up to lying without accountability, needless, unjustified war and death,to the imprisonment of children, the destruction of Australia's unique, irreplaceable ecology, and to kissing George Bush's arse.

How shameful and how undignified.

How selfish and myopic.

How depressing.

How easily people can be bought. Theres a word for that.

Winning already

The BBC reports that:

Mr Howard voted on Saturday in the Sydney suburb of Bennelong, where he faced a handful of demonstrators shouting "Liar, liar"....

Mr Latham also voted in Sydney, and he won a meat tray in local raffle while on the way to vote.

And now we wait

Its make your mind up time in Australia. I'm not making any predictions, I'm just hoping that enough Australians don't think bribes compensate for lies.

Bush's 22 most ridiculous statements

So hard to choose....

1. I tried diplomacy.

2. Saddam Hussein was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies (What WMDs??)

3. "He [Allawi] talked about the fact that Iraqis love to be free." ( Free of life, limb, their families, their jobs, hospitals etc etc)

4. I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals, saying: "Do you have what you need in this war? Do you have what it takes?" I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops, as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them do we have the right plan with the right troop level? And they looked me in the eye and said, yes, sir, Mr. President. (Big Fat Lie)

5. I hear there's rumors on the Internets

6. Tell Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone. (Oct4th o4: Poland said that it aims to withdraw all of its 2,500 troops from Iraq)

7. I know that there's people working overtime ( Under new rules issued by the Bush administration, many workers might not be paid extra for the overtime hours they work. Congress passed legislation to change the rules to protect overtime pay, but President Bush has threatened to veto that legislation.)

When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.

9. And my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada; it might be from a Third World. (stop the Intergalactic drug trade!)

10. Uh, let me see where to start here. First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all. And that's saying something in that bunch. You might say that took a lot of hard work.

11. We have a deficit because this country went into a recession. You might remember the stock market started to decline dramatically six months before I came to office (Economists say the recession began in March 2001)

We've got to pay our troops more.(The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq; Injured Troops Pay Cut In Half)

13. We've got battling green eyeshades (Whaaa?)

14. My time up yet? (Hell yes)

15. We've got an aggressive brown-field program to refurbish inner-city sore spots

16. I proposed to the United States Congress a Clear Skies initiative ("...why is the Administration bragging about a plan that will actually result in more pollution than if we simply enforced the existing Clean Air Act?")

17. What happens in those forests because of lousy federal policy, is they grow to be, they, they are, they're not harvested.

18. I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land. The quality of the air is cleaner since I've been the president. Fewer water complaints since I've been the president. (Groups file suit over water-pollution permitting program; America's Waters at Risk; How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts)

19. I truly believe that's the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard of living that we're accustomed to...

20. You can save tax free. You get a catastrophic plan to help you own it.

21. let me incense you to go on the government.

22. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're all - you know, it doesn't say that

Friday, October 08, 2004

TV station reports that Bush has been elected President

Scary Stuff from Boing Boing.

They have a screen shot from WBAY TV which says

At this hour, President Bush has won re-election as president by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin in the popular vote nationwide. Ralph Nader has 1 percent of the vote nationwide. That's with 51 percent of the precincts reporting.

The story came from AP who are saying it was a "test article. A test article?? Testing what?

Go and have a look.

FBI seizes Indymedia servers in US & UK

More bad news for democracy. Reports are coming in from here, here and here :

The FBI issued a subpoena to Rackspace (an Internet Service Provider with offices in the US and London) to physically remove an Indymedia server located in London.

The servers hosted numerous local IMCs: the global indymedia site, Belgian and African IMCs, Palestine, UK, Germany, and Brasil. Many are still not back up.

Micah of the global imc-tech collective said, "We suspect it has to do with an FBI request that we take down a post on the Nantes IMC that had a photo of some undercover Swiss police. They claimed there was threats and personal information, but there was nothing of the sort. The undercover police that were photographed on the page were photographing protesters. Rackspace is a US company, but have colocation in the UK where these servers are (err, were) located. So this is about Swiss police, on a French site, on a server in England, taken away by American federal police... can I be the first to say WTF?!"

The last few months have seen numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government. In August the Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the NYC IMC before the RNC, last month the FCC shut down comunity radio stations around the US including in Pittsburgh, and now the FBI is shutting down IMCs around the world.

Weezil has the most coherent analysis of the situation I've come across so far


...Surely, this seizure will not keep Indymedia sites from publishing anything- the sites doubtlessly will be reconstructed and put back online, but the fact that the US FBI can execute a seizure outside of the USA is big news.

The US Secret Service is now not only just engaged with protecting the president. They are directly involved with political suppression as evidenced by their confinement of protesters at presidential appearances to 'free-speech zones' which are well away from Bush's view. Now they're taking their fascist act to the net as they did before the RNC convention and along with the FBI, they're doing it worldwide.

Australian national sovereignty worries, anyone?

Thursday, October 07, 2004


US prosecutors are alleging that Australian Gitmo inmate Mamdouh Habib trained the 9/11 hijackers in martial arts.

Just one tiny problem - Habib's lawyer Stephen Hopper points out that Habib only has a yellow belt in Karate, and would have to have had some pretty impressive super powers to remotely train terrorists from a home in suburban Australia.

When asked where he thought the allegations had come from Hopper said:

Oh well, while Mamdouh Habib was being electrocuted and having his fingernails ripped out they put these things to him and he agreed, as one would if you want to have torture stopped.

I haven't seen a government response to this yet. If I see Howard trying to use this patent nonsense to further his self-serving campaign to terrorise the Australian people I will really lose it. Surely this is too stupid an allegation - but then I thought that about the 'babies overboard' epic lie. Sadly some people don't have the sense they were born with. Any excuse to hate is ok by them no matter how ridiculous the charges. There is probably a whole horde of them right now just waiting for an opportunity to run around with their pitchforks.

Ex Pat Aussies backing Labor

Completely Biased provides a little ray of sunshine in the form of the exit polls from Australian ex-pats voting in London.

More Australian Media Angst

Robert Corr reports that Fairfax's Melbourne newspaper The Age has been instructed by Sydney headquarters that they will, against the wishes of The Age's editorial staff, be backing Howard. The Age has a left leaning readership, but the time has clearly passed when the corporate controllers of Fairfax gave a stuff about that.

The coverage, especially of world news has been really abysmal in The Age's sister paper the Sydney Morning Herald of late. For instance, the Bush Kerry debate: whilst the left were delirious with joy at the total trouncing Kerry gave Bush the Herald ran with the headline "No Knockout blow in first face off

Little wonder that so many Australians are oblivious to the greater ramifications of their vote in the elections that are just a couple of days away. The Australian media, with the exception of SBS are doing nothing to set things in their global context.

I would usually launch into an angry rant about now, but I'm too depressed.

Read the whole sorry story at Robert's site Kick & Scream

Say no to the FTA

Courtesy of Counter Spin
comes this link to No to the US-Australia FTA! The agreement which many argue will make Australia 'an appendage of the United States':

The Australian Government has concluded a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the USA that undermines fundamental social, cultural, environmental and democratic protections which we all enjoy. It gives US corporations new rights to challenge our laws, and unprecedented influence on everything from how much we pay for medicines to our quarantine regulations. It has been negotiated with almost no democratic input, and will be almost irreversible once in effect.

The site details the many negative effects this agreement will have for Australia.

Say goodbye to reasonably priced medicines, Australian content on TV, quarantine protections, the farming industry, environmental protections, manufacturing jobs and Australian run public services or visit the website and find out how to fight back.

US Military targets 'radical populism' in Latin America

A Center for International Policy report draws attention to the fact that the US have massively increased their training of South American troops - by over 50% in the year 2002-2003. US Southern Command 's Commander Gen. James Hill is now invoking "radical populism" (ie: citizens electing leaders that the US doesn't like) as a major threat to the region. The report suggests that the US are increasingly blurring the lines between civilian and military prerogatives in Latin America.

An extract:

Compared with civilian government agencies, the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom) has a growing and disproportionate role in U.S.-Latin American relations. Between August 2002 and July 2004, Southcom Commander Gen. James Hill made 78 trips to Latin America, a record unlikely matched by any State Department official.[2] In her 2003 book The Mission, Washington Post reporter Dana Priest claims that Southcom has more people working on Latin America—about 1,100—than most key civilian federal agencies combined, including the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury, as well as the office of the Secretary of Defense.[3]

The Southern Command’s leading role in the region has important policy implications. In his annual “Posture Statement” testimony given before Congress in early 2004, Gen. Hill presented a list of emerging threats in Latin America that went well beyond the military’s normal purview, identifying “radical populism” and street gangs as major new threats facing the hemisphere.[4] When challenged that these “emerging threats” deserve a civilian, not military response, Southcom’s Washington liaison office replied that the commander raised these issues because he sees himself as the lead “watchdog” on regional developments and believes it to be his role to help policymakers identify potential problems in the region.[5]

Southcom and Defense Department personnel are now publicly describing “radical populism” and gangs as disturbing trends, and their focus on these issues suggests they see a role for themselves, or their uniformed colleagues in the hemisphere, in countering them. Yet social problems should not be defined as emerging military threats; doing so risks justifying a military response. Policymakers must recall the fundamental differences between a police force—a body designed to protect a population through minimal use of force—and a military, which aims to defeat an enemy through use of force. Using the wrong tool for the job, as happens when military personnel are sent into cities to fight common criminals, carries strong risks for human and civil rights. Brazil has already moved its military into anti-gang efforts, and Guatemala and Honduras have established joint military-police patrols. Instead of encouraging military assumption of policing roles, the United States should support police reform and the strengthening of civilian institutions so that they are better able to confront the internal security challenges at hand

The identification of “radical populism” as a threat is particularly disturbing. As policymakers currently conceive it, the term appears to be directed at political leaders and social movements that espouse economic and social policies that might make some U.S. policymakers uneasy, but which are far from threats requiring a military response.

Full Report

Paradise Cleansed

In an article at Common Dreams John Pilger reveals the story of how British and American administrations secretly conspired to steal an Island from its inhabitants and displace its population, and how Tony Blair is compounding the crime by quashing the Diego Garcians' high court victory in 2000 which ruled that their expulsion was illegal.

There are times when one tragedy, one crime tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us to understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments lie. To understand the catastrophe of Iraq, and all the other Iraqs along imperial history's trail of blood and tears, one need look no further than Diego Garcia.

The story of Diego Garcia is shocking, almost incredible. A British colony lying midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean, the island is one of 64 unique coral islands that form the Chagos Archipelago, a phenomenon of natural beauty, and once of peace. Newsreaders refer to it in passing: "American B-52 and Stealth bombers last night took off from the uninhabited British island of Diego Garcia to bomb Iraq (or Afghanistan)." It is the word "uninhabited" that turns the key on the horror of what was done there. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Defense in London produced this epic lie: "There is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation."

Diego Garcia was first settled in the late 18th century. At least 2,000 people lived there: a gentle creole nation with thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a prison, a railway, docks, a copra plantation. Watching a film shot by missionaries in the 1960s, I can understand why every Chagos islander I have met calls it paradise; there is a grainy sequence where the islanders' beloved dogs are swimming in the sheltered, palm-fringed lagoon, catching fish.

All this began to end when an American rear-admiral stepped ashore in 1961 and Diego Garcia was marked as the site of what is today one of the biggest American bases in the world. There are now more than 2,000 troops, anchorage for 30 warships, a nuclear dump, a satellite spy station, shopping malls, bars and a golf course. "Camp Justice" the Americans call it.

During the 1960s, in high secrecy, the Labour government of Harold Wilson conspired with two American administrations to "sweep" and "sanitize" the islands: the words used in American documents. Files found in the National Archives in Washington and the Public Record Office in London provide an astonishing narrative of official lying all too familiar to those who have chronicled the lies over Iraq.

To get rid of the population, the Foreign Office invented the fiction that the islanders were merely transient contract workers who could be "returned" to Mauritius, 1,000 miles away. In fact, many islanders traced their ancestry back five generations, as their cemeteries bore witness. The aim, wrote a Foreign Office official in January 1966, "is to convert all the existing residents ... into short-term, temporary residents."

What the files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality. In August 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks that will remain ours. There will be no indigenous population except seagulls." At the end of this is a handwritten note by DH Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill: "Along with the Birds go some Tarzans or Men Fridays ..." Under the heading, "Maintaining the fiction", another official urges his colleagues to reclassify the islanders as "a floating population" and to "make up the rules as we go along".

There is not a word of concern for their victims. Only one official appeared to worry about being caught, writing that it was "fairly unsatisfactory" that "we propose to certify the people, more or less fraudulently, as belonging somewhere else". The documents leave no doubt that the cover-up was approved by the prime minister and at least three cabinet ministers.

Full Story

We saw no WMD - No 10 labelled us 'naive dupes'

By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad

7 October 2004

The Independent

In the tense countdown to war, with highly charged, passionate debate raging, Tony Blair produced his famous dossier on the imminent threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - justification for the invasion.

On the day the dossier appeared, 24 September 2002, I was among a group of British journalists taken by the Iraqi regime to some of the sites named as production centres for chemical and biological weapons. We reported we had seen nothing overtly suspicious, stressing the caveat that not having scientific knowledge, ours was a superficial judgement.

We were, said Downing Street officials, "naive dupes" who had fallen for the regime's guile, indeed our newspapers were irresponsible for printing such propaganda. The British government then made public satellite photographs which claimed to show the Iraqis were engaged in secretly reconstructing the Osirak nuclear complex, now renamed al-Tuwaitha.

We have now found out, of course, that the highly alarmist allegations made in the dossier, and a second one produced just before the war, were false.

Full Story

The Decline and Fall of the ABC

The ABC is Australia’s only source of news and current affairs which is independent of government and commercial interests. With media ownership concentrated in the hands of a few powerful interests, this role is vital to the future of our democracy.

So say defenders of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This role is indeed vital to the future of our Democracy. But how independent is the ABC these days? The Australian public expect neutrality from the ABC and is under the impression that they get it. This makes the ABC's betrayal of its ethical standards and apparent breach of its code of practice (see previous post) a heinous betrayal of its audience's trust.

The Republican advert masquerading as a news item in the ABC's political news feed is not the only instance of political bias at the ABC in recent months.

The ABC, taking a leaf out of US station NBC's book recently declined to allow two seperate documentary film makers from using excerpts from its programmes that in one case exposed a right wing lie from former defence minister Peter Reith and in the other cast Immigration minister (of the time) Phillip Ruddock in an unflattering light.

Ironically it was the ABC programme MediaWatch that exposed this scandal. Its good to know that there is a small corner of the ABC that is still upholding its claim to political and commercial neutrality, but for how much longer?

Here is the transcript from the MediaWatch programme:

Political archives and ABC integrity :: 23/08/2004

We work for the ABC and a few weeks ago we took our organisation to task for refusing to sell a documentary maker footage like this –

I have not seen it myself and apparently the quality of it is not very good and its infra red or something, but I am told that someone has looked at it and it is an absolute fact, children were thrown into the water.
-Peter Reith on ABC Radio 774,
10 October 2001
-Watch Video »

According to Robyn Watts - the ABC's director of enterprises - Peter Reith himself had to OK the use of that footage, because the documentary maker was producing

…a political statement …
Robyn Watts to Media Watch,
30 July 2004
Read Robyn Watts letter

In fact, a documentary about
Australia's treatment of refugees called Punished not Protected made by Judy Rymer.

Robyn reassured us the ABC's refusal to sell Rymer footage was a very unusual case. A one off - but that's not quite right.

After our earlier reports on this scandal, Liam Ward - also making a documentary on refugees - told Media Watch he'd wanted to buy this audio grab from the ABC.

Damien Carrick: So we're talking about people who will receive ongoing rolling temporary visas who will never normalise their status here in Australia, will never be able to have family join them out here. That's going to mean a permanent population of people who are second class citizens.

Philip Ruddock: It might well do that.

Damien Carrick: But Minister, we're making, as you say, second-class citizens out of these people.

Philip Ruddock: That's right.

Damien Carrick: That's out of people who are bona fide refugees, even under the very proscribed system which you're allowing them.

Philip Ruddock: That's right.
-The Law Report, Radio National,
2 October 2001

Ward rang the ABC the week before Easter and then sent emails on the 8th, 13th and 14th of April, spelling out his request for the tape with increasing urgency.

Sorry to sound pushy, I'm just feeling the deadline looming.
I really appreciate any help you might be able to offer…
-Liam Ward email to ABC tape sales,
14 April 2004

The ABC replied that his request was under review, so he phoned to find out what was happening.

According to Ward, an ABC staffer told him he wouldn't be getting the audio.

I asked why not, and he dodged about, almost as if he didn’t want to answer.
Finally I asked “is it some kind of legal thing?”
He answered with “that’s the one.”
Liam Ward email to Media Watch,
28 July 2004

Ward's half hour documentary "Refugee - a recipe in six steps" tells the story of his friend "Ali's" escape from Taliban
Afghanistan to Australia. It's a film that promotes a cause - that makes a political statement.

When are we getting our freedom you know? How long for is this detention?
Always we are asking about our visa and DIMIA they are saying “Your visa has begun process, process, process. F**k this process”
-Refugee – A Recipe in Six Steps
-Watch Video »

Ten days ago we wrote to Robyn Watts asking why the ABC didn't supply audio of Philip Ruddock to Liam Ward.

She replied –

The ABC has no record of refusing to license the audio excerpt from Radio National’s Law Report to Mr Ward.

The ABC did receive the request from Mr Ward, however, as he was not clear about what usage rights he required …the matter was referred to ABC Legal for opinion as to which license agreement should be used.
Robyn Watts letter to Media Watch, 13 August 2004
Read letter

We postponed our story to investigate further and lodged an FOI application for the ABC's files.

Last week we received a second letter from Robyn Watts.

You are entitled to seek access to the file under freedom of information provisions…
However, I do wish to add to the answer I provided you regarding this matter on 13 August.
The staff member who upwardly referred this request did so on the basis of his concerns in relation to clause 2.2 of ABC Enterprises Licensing Terms and Conditions.
Robyn Watts letter to Media Watch, 18 August 2004
Read letter

Just a reminder - clause 2.2 is the ABC's new rule giving politicians a veto over the use of ABC material in cause related programs.

This makes her first reply look rather misleading.

Robyn's second letter continued –

When ABC Enterprises Policy Manager reviewed the request he did not consider that clause 2.2 applied at all. He referred the request to ABC Legal because of licensing issues…as I stated in my earlier letter.
Robyn Watts letter to Media Watch,
18 August 2004

By the time it was referred to the lawyers, Ward's deadline had expired and he'd been told he wouldn't get the audio.

Though Robyn Watts insists-

… at no point was Mr Ward refused licensing…It is regrettable that he did not receive a formal reply to his request…Should he contact the ABC, the material would be licensed without qualification.
Robyn Watts letter to Media Watch,
18 August 2004

And so it should be. But why not licence material for Judy Rymer's “Punished Not Protected” which was made with the same political purpose?

Robyn Watt has insisted she refused to sell ABC content to Rymer

…to protect the editorial integrity of the program material.
Robyn Watts letter to Media Watch, 23 August 2004
Read letter

We've been at this for a month now and we still can't get anyone to tell us how requiring, say, Peter Reith's OK to sell footage of himself, does anything but undermine the editorial integrity of the ABC.

Managing director Russell Balding backed
Watts in this letter to ABC journalists:

The overarching consideration in this instance was to protect the integrity of the ABC and its reputation as an impartial and independent public broadcaster...
I do not think it is appropriate for the ABC to officially license its content so that it may be used politically.
-Russell Balding memo to ABC News and Current Affairs staff, 9 August 2004
Read memo

Russell you've got it wrong.
This new policy of introducing politics into commercial decision making doesn't protect the ABC's editorial integrity or its independence.

ABC staff is nervous, the film industry's up in arms and what's more, Russell, it's costing the ABC money.

Disgusted by the ABC

At the top of our Political News RSS feed from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this morning is a link which reads:

'ADV: Build a Better America with the RNC' (Screw them, I'm not linking it).

If you click the link it takes you to an RNC site:

The ABC is the Australian equivalent of the BBC. Why the hell is a supposedly neutral Australian
Company running American republican ads? At the very top of the News Items too. The only clue that it is an advert is ADV at the beginning of it. In all other respects it is masquerading as a news item. This is the first advert I have seen on their (or any) News RSS feed.

We Sent them the following E-mail:

Why is the ABC running political ads for the US republican party on your Political News RSS feed? I am totally disgusted. Aren't you supposed to be neutral? This is the first advert I have ever seen on yours or any RSS feed. It is at the very top of the feed. If you click it takes you to a republican party donation site. Readers of my website expect reliable NEWS not American party political advertising masquerading as news. If you don't uphold standards in broadcasting in this country who will? I have expressed my disgust on my website and will spend the rest of the day spreading word in the media and in the blogosphere about your appalling breach in ethics.
We also sent this to MediaWatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and to the Australian Broadcasting Standards Authority:

This morning, at the very top of the ABC's political News feed on our website was the following link:

ADV: Build a Better America with the RNC

If you click it takes you to a US republican party donation site. This is the first piece of advertising I have ever seen on any news feed; it is even worse that it is a political advert and completely appaling that it is the ABC's feed. People expect neutral and reliable reporting from the ABC. It is a requirement of them and is in the code of practice.

The only clue that it is an advert is the ADV at the beginning, easily overlooked by readers who are not expecting the feed to be contaminated by politically biased advertising. In all other respects it is masquerading as a news item.

I find this absolutely disgusting. If the ABC doesn't uphold ethical standards in the Australian media who will? What really offends is the fact that there is a widespread expectation of neutrality from the ABC and this constitutes a real betrayal of that expectation.

Gail Thomas

The ABC's Code of Practice says:

The ABC's place in the broadcasting system is distinctive because of its Charter, which gives the Corporation unique responsibilities, and because of other provisions under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act, 1983, which give the Corporation particular responsibilities, for example, the provision of an independent news service.

On another page of their site they boast:

Bias Not an Issue For ABC

A recent Newspoll survey* of community attitudes to the ABC continues to confirm that the Australian public overwhelming believe that the ABC is `balanced and even-handed' in its reporting of news and current affairs. Recent monitoring of ABC output by Rehame in the lead up to the Federal Election also supports the ABC's standing as an independent and impartial public broadcaster.

This is the public expectation, which makes their breach of ethics even more appalling.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Government terrorist warnings boost President Bush's approval ratings, a Cornell sociologist finds

Courtesy of Cursor (who credit Kevin Drum)

From Cornell News:

ITHACA, N.Y. -- When the federal government issues a terrorist warning, presidential approval ratings jump, a Cornell University sociologist finds. Interestingly, terrorist warnings also boost support for the president on issues that are largely irrelevant to terrorism, such as his handling of the economy.

Robb Willer, assistant director of the Sociology and Small Groups Laboratory at Cornell and a doctoral candidate in sociology who expects his Ph.D. in May 2005, tracked the 26 times that a federal government agency reported an increased threat of terrorist activity in the United States between February 2001 and May 2004. He also tracked the 131 Gallup Polls that were conducted during the same period. He then conducted several time-series and regression analyses on the relationship between government-issued terror warnings and Gallup Poll data on approval ratings of President George W. Bush.

"Results showed that terror warnings increased presidential approval ratings consistently," says Willer. "They also increased support for Bush's handling of the economy. The findings, however, were inconclusive as to how long this halo effect lasts."

Full Story

How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind

Meet the new Emmanuel Goldstein, especially if Osama is the October surprise.

The Telegraph:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq.

Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem.

US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear".

"We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

Full Story

Take them out, dude: pilots toast hit on Iraqi 'civilians'

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

06 October 2004

The Independent:

The Pentagon said yesterday it was investigating cockpit video footage that shows American pilots attacking and killing a group of apparently unarmed Iraqi civilians.

The 30-second clip shows the pilot targeting the group of people in a street in the city of Fallujah and asking his mission controllers whether he should "take them out". He is told to do so and, shortly afterwards, the footage shows a huge explosion where the people were. A second voice can be heard on the clip saying: "Oh, dude."

The existence of the video, taken last April inside the cockpit of a US F-16 fighter has been known for some time, though last night's broadcast by Channel 4 News is believed to be the first time a mainstream broadcaster has shown the footage.

At no point during the exchange between the pilot and controllers does anyone ask whether the Iraqis are armed or posing a threat. Critics say it proves war crimes are being committed.

Tapping into the Zeitgeist

Whilst TV entertainment is still reflecting the surveillance culture we have become, the theatre is starting to embrace uncertainty:

The dice man rolls into town

Radiohead join Merce Cunningham in a game of chance at the Barbican

By Ed Caesar

05 October 2004

The Independent

A 40-minute "experience" by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Radiohead and the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, Side Splits is entirely predicated on an afternoon roll of the die. This act of chance determines how the performance will unfold each day: with two choices for each of the categories, there are 32 possible combinations of costumes, lighting, choreography, music and decor. Even in rehearsals, the company has yet to cover them all.

"It all starts with movement, of course," says the 85-year-old choreographer Cunningham. "We have to do the roll of the die in the afternoon, so the dancers can rehearse." Just before the performance, the audience are shown a video recording of the die roll on a screen, so the aud-ience can collaborate in the organised chaos they are about to witness. One detects a certain glee in the octogenarian's voice as he details the frenetic activity of a performance day, which comes as no surprise when you learn that he is still personally choreographing after 50 years with his own company.

The Side Splits project, though, was only conceived as a result of the most unlikely of artistic collaborations at its heart: Radiohead were introduced to the dance company, and, intrigued by the possibilities on offer, asked if they could bring in the youngsters of Sigur Ros. "[Sigur Ros] looked like high-school kids," says Cunning- ham, "but the bands got along so well." In fact, it was the bands who decided upon the eventual format for the show: two 20-minute "sets" by each of the bands, played in whatever order the die decreed.

Although there is a certain wilful abandon to Cunningham's neatly constructed wheel of fortune, one senses an artistic imperative lurking behind it. "Things can change, one way or another - that's important. I don't want to explore what I know - working with chance allows you to explore something else. What appears impossible, even if you can't eventually do it, allows you to see something you haven't seen before." Indeed, if one looks at the choreo- grapher's work over the past 20 years, especially the work with the composer John Cage, there has been a conscious effort to eschew narrative and focus on the beauty of the movement. Side Splits, the great man suggests, is a natural development of that work with Cage.

Global audiences, too, have responded positively, with the New York run receiving glowing reviews. "You have to rethink the work every time - I hope it gives the performance a freshness," says Cunningham. And it is not just this project that the company are reworking: Cunningham is also starting a dance project based on an art-video recording. To hear him talk about future projects is to gain an insight into what it means to fully commit one's life to art.

At the Barbican over the next few nights, audiences will view the fruit of that commitment, as well as participating in one of the most innovative dance events of recent years.

US 'bugged' France's Chirac calls

The BBC:

A book published in France says the US regularly monitored French President Jacques Chirac's phone calls.

The book, which charts the breakdown of the leaders' relationship in the run-up to the Iraq war, says several sources reported the surveillance.

The US told a senior French military official the French-US relationship at a personal level was "irreparable".

The book, Chirac contre Bush - l'autre guerre (Chirac versus Bush - the other war), comes out on Wednesday.

Full Story

Obscene Phone Calls

Not content with employing his son's company to send out right-wing Spam E-mails, John Howard is now making nuisance phone calls.

Howard's shock announcement: Goodbye Earthlings!

Signs of the Times

The Freeway blogger has declared October 13th National Freeway Free Speech Day:

On October 13th, hundreds of activists nationwide will post signs critical of the Bush Administration on area freeways, reaching millions of voters in states from Maine to California. The Freeway Blogger has posted more than 2000 such signs over the last year.

In addition to coordinating activists, we will launch a nationwide media campaign to promote the fact that hundreds (if not thousands) of these signs are going up across America on the same day, and to highlight this newest, and oldest, form of civic dialog. We anticipate wide-spread news coverage about this powerful grassroots effort.

Join up! It could be your last chance to exercise your freedom of speech so why not do the moment justice and make A BIG STATEMENT.

The Bigger Picture

This year, a vote for John Howard is a vote for George W. Bush. Gandhi at Bush Out explains why.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The View from the Ground

Baghdad Burning on the recent bombings in Iraq (extract):

One wonders who is behind the explosions and the car bombs. Bin Laden? Zarqawi? Possibly... but it's just too easy. It's too perfect. Bin Laden hit the WTC and Afghanistan was attacked. Iraq was occupied. At first, any explosion or attack on troops was quickly blamed on "loyalists" and "Baathists" and EVERYTHING was being coordinated by Saddam. As soon as he was caught, it became the work of "Islamic extremists" and Al-Qaida and Zarqawi suddenly made his debut. One wonders who it will be after it is discovered that Zarqawi has been dead for several months or that he never even existed. Whoever it is, you can bet his name will be three syllables or less because that is Bush's limit.

Farewell Scott Muni!

I almost shed a tear. It still may come. I grew up believing that rock radio was founded by Scott Muni. I'll stick with that belief. Hear you on the other side one day mate. I wonder what era you'll broadcast as there. We'll have to wait and see. Please visit his web page and leave your thoughts. There are some clips to relive the voice.
Our thoughts are with his family and those of us left behind without his voice and love of real music. WNEW NYC ROCK RADIO. I Miss it still.
Jon Fox
Rolling Stone

Moonies knee-deep in faith-based funds

SF Gate Via AMERICAblog:

President Bush has some new troops in his crusade to promote "healthy marriage" and teen celibacy with federal funds -- followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial Korean evangelist and self-proclaimed new world messiah.

At least four longtime operatives of Moon's Unification Church are on the federal payroll or getting government grants in the administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative and other "faith-based" programs.

Full Story

Howard confirms protestors accusations

More Troubles for Diebold

New York Times
Oct 4, 2004

Diebold, the much-criticized electronic voting machine company, got another black eye last week. A federal court in California ruled that it had violated federal law when it falsely charged two students with violating its copyrights by posting critical information about its voting machines on the Internet. The case raises more questions about Diebold's honesty and its commitment to transparency.

The story began early last year when someone - it is unclear who - posted internal Diebold e-mail messages on the Internet that discussed flaws in the company's electronic voting machines. Two students from Swarthmore College then posted those messages on various Web sites. Diebold sent out a flurry of cease-and-desist letters claiming that the postings violated its copyrights. The students sued, charging that Diebold knowingly misrepresented its rights under copyright law.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California agreed. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal to send a cease-and-desist letter while knowing that the claim of copyright infringement is false. The court held that Diebold knew that its e-mail messages "discussing possible technical problems" with its voting machines were not copyrighted, but went ahead anyway.

This is the second recent setback to Diebold's already troubled reputation. Last month, California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, joined a false-claims suit against Diebold charging it with lying to the state about the security of its voting systems. Now, a federal court has ruled that Diebold made knowing misrepresentations to get damaging information about its machines' security off the Internet.

Diebold has a great deal to do to make its work transparent and its company trustworthy if it wants to remain in the elections business.

Mamdouh Habib

Obsidian Wings note that Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib has been in US captivity for three years today. He has not yet been charged with anything.

Blogging from the Frontline...

Check out Fight to Survive

Thom Hartmann on Bush's Big Lie

Common Dreams

Re Kerry's 'global test' remark:

Perhaps the real reason Bush is willing to lie about Kerry's comments is because Bush himself has failed the moral and legal test that has guided nations in times of war since the beginning of civilization. And, in doing so intentionally, Bush committed a crime against both the American people and against the world community.

In giving the President the authority to use force against Iraq - the fateful authorization that Kerry voted for - Congress laid out with absolute clarity the test Bush would have to pass before he could wage war against Iraq.

"In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force," the congressional resolution states, "the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that:

"(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

"(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Bush claimed to have passed the test, submitting over his signature, on March 18, 2003, a letter to Congress in which he wrote,

"Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

"(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

"(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Both were clear lies, and he knew it at the time. Bush betrayed our trust, and the trust of the international community.

...Commentators in the media, noting Bush's distortion of Kerry's words, and how that distortion is now being used so aggressively in Bush campaign ads, glibly quote prizefighter Jack Dempsey's famous line, "The best defense is a good offense."

But the quote more likely on the minds of Bush and his handlers comes from the last leader of a major industrial power who led his nation to war on a pretense based in lies.

"Thus we may explain the fact that since 1918 the men who have held the reins of government adopted an entirely negative attitude towards foreign affairs and the business of the State," noted Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. This was possible, he said, because at least a third of "the masses of our people, whose sheepish docility corresponds to their want of intelligence...just submit to it because they are too stupid to understand."

Confident that a cowed media won't call him on it, and that with enough fog about "French permission" that the American people won't remember Kerry's actual words or the text of Bush's war letter to Congress, the Bush campaign continues their Big Lie strategy...

Full Story

PM defends deal with Family First

The Age via Completely Biased

Prime Minister John Howard today defended the coalition's preference deal with the Family First Party.

In a deal negotiated by Mr Howard, the socially conservative Family First, which has close links to the Assemblies of God church, will preference the coalition in 109 House of Representatives seats.

Mr Howard said he had agreed with a Family First request to introduce family impact statements in cabinet submissions.

"I had some discussions and I indicated a willingness to, for example, have something that we effectively have now and that is a family impact statement in each cabinet submission," he told the Nine network.

But Mr Howard said he had not agreed to change the government's policies on issues such as stem cell research and abortion.

"I indicated that on issues of substance, abortion and so forth, the position stated on behalf of the government would remain," he said.

Mr Howard said he would rather give preferences to Family First than to the Australian Greens.

"I would rather give my preferences to a party like that than I would to the Greens who are in favour of abolishing the private health insurance rebate, are in favour of massive tax increases, have a very permissive attitude towards drug use, are inherently hostile towards the American alliance," he said.

Full Story

Monday, October 04, 2004

Questions Remain on U.S. Missile Defense


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The military is in the final stages of readying its national ballistic missile defense system, with officials predicting it will be activated before year's end. But several questions remain, including how well the experimental missile interceptors work.

The Pentagon maintains that any defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) is better than none. Critics contend the Bush administration is vastly overselling an expensive, unproven defense system.

There has been an expectation that the administration will shortly declare that the missile defense system is operational and on alert. Military officials said they know of no specific plans for such an announcement.

Such an announcement would have political and strategic value for the administration.

To those who believe it will work, activating the system would fulfill a pledge by President Bush to have an operational missile defense system by the end of 2004. Such an announcement would also have greater value if it came before the Nov. 2 elections.

Bush has promoted the system while campaigning for re-election.

``We want to continue to perfect this system, so we say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world: you fire; we're going to shoot it down,'' he said in a stop at Ridley Park, Penn., on Aug. 17.

Military officials are less sanguine, stressing that the initial system will be modest and limited in capability, but will improve over time.

Critics of the system, such as Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's former chief of testing, say Bush is wrong.

``Of course we don't have any capability to do that,'' he said. ``For the president to sort of dare them (to fire missiles) is really misleading and even reckless.''

Full Story

Govt wanted SPP to sue us: Greenpeace

Greenpeace said the federal government had tried to use taxpayers' money to gag it, offering a $36 million annual grant to an oil company if it took legal action against the group.

The Howard government was forced to respond to Greenpeace's claim, backed by a departmental email the environmental group obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

The email sparked a call for a Senate inquiry and claims the government had been caught out heavying groups which opposed the government's views.

The document referred to a 2002 cabinet decision to provide Southern Pacific Petroleum (SPP) with the subsidy if the company agreed to sue Greenpeace.

Full Story

The bogus war on terror and the real reserve currency war.

If the US's efforts against the war on terror seem inadequate or misplaced it is because there is no war on terror. The real war is not only about securing US oil supplies, but also about who gets to be the reserve currency. This is a war the US may not be able to win.

Following on from the New Statesman article I pointed to the other day, I am coming across more and more stories about countries who may be planning to drop the dollar as their oil trading currency. As the New Statesman put it:

...Rejection of the dollar is increasingly being used as an act of political aggression, and nowhere more acutely than in oil-producing countries. The trailblazer was none other than Saddam Hussein who, in 2000, announced that Iraq would henceforth make all its oil trades in euros, a decision that conspiracy theorists - and not a few eminent Middle Eastern experts - say triggered the US invasion.

The article explains that this would have a devastating effect on the US Economy at a time when it is very vulnerable.

Venezuela, another country that has been on the receiving end of US political interference, mooted the idea of switching its oil deals to the Euro in March 2001. Russia has been considering it too.

A Feb 2004 article at EU Business says:

"With all this talking, the euro makes slowly and surreptitiously its way in the price fixing mechanism," an analyst at the Dresdner-Kleinwort-Wasserstein brokerage firm in London said.

"What's more, Russia, one of OPEC's competitors, has been threatening for several months now to switch its oil market to euros", the source said.

The question has now built into a behind-the-scenes battle of minds at OPEC, which groups Algeria, Kuwait, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Libya, Nigeria Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Post-war Iraq remains outside of the cartel's quota system, which has currently fixed the group's output at 24.5 million barrels per day.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nouaimi, whose country is considered the cartel's heavyweight, OPEC Secretary General Purnomo Yusgiantoro of Indonesia and Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil have ruled out switching to the euro.

Their OPEC partners, however, are not as categorical.

"If the dollar/euro value remains the same in 2004 as in 2003, prices will climb to unrealistic levels," said Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, acting deputy for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company.

A trader at the Rothschild bank in London added: "Trading in petrol involves enormous sums of money. If the dollar loses its role as a currency of reference, the United States, the world's largest oil importer, will no longer be able to have outside countries finance its abyssal trade deficit."

Vladimir Putin intervened when a Russian Oil Company was about to do a deal with an American company in 2003 - Times Online reported (September 04):

...languishing in a Russian jail where he has been for nearly a year is Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This time last year, Mr Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia, working as the chief executive of Yukos, the country’s biggest oil company, preparing it for a mooted takeover by ExxonMobil or another American company....

Mr Khodorkovsky, (is) seen as being punished for daring to challenge President Putin politically...

...Already Mr Putin is taking direct command of Russia’s oil output. Last week he reassured other European leaders that all Russia’s (ostensibly privately owned) oil companies "without exception" would "continue to increase the extraction of oil and they will increase their deliveries to the global market". Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroder thanked President Putin for the promise, saying: "Otherwise we would certainly have worries that the world economy could suffer."

In January 2003
(two months before the invasion) Russia who opposed the US invasion of Iraq, had struck an oil deal with Saddam Hussein.

In October 2003 Russia had talks with Germany. Global Policy Online reported:

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday Russia could switch its trade in oil from dollars to euros, a move that could have far-reaching repercussions for the global balance of power -- potentially hurting the U.S. dollar and economy and providing a massive boost to the euro zone. "We do not rule out that it is possible. That would be interesting for our European partners," Putin said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the Urals town of Yekaterinburg, where the two leaders conducted two-day talks. "But this does not depend solely on us. We do not want to hurt prices on the market," he said. "Putin's putting a big card on the table," said Youssef Ibrahim, managing director of the Strategic Energy Investment Group in Dubai and a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, an influential body of leading world thinkers thought to help set the United States' foreign policy agenda. "In the context of what is happening worldwide, this statement is very important," he said.

Putin's words come in the wake of a protracted drive by the EU to attract more countries' trade and currency reserves into euros, in a bid to chip away at U.S. hegemony over the global economy and money supply. A move by Russia, as the world's second largest oil exporter, to trade oil in euros, could provoke a chain reaction among other oil producers currently mulling a switch and would further boost the euro's gradually growing share of global currency reserves. That would be a huge boon to the euro zone economy and potentially catastrophic for the United States. Dollar-based global oil trade now gives the United States carte blanche to print dollars without sparking inflation -- to fund huge expenses on wars, military build-ups, and consumer spending, as well as cut taxes and run up huge trade deficits.

Almost two-thirds of the world's currency reserves are kept in dollars, since oil importers pay in dollars and oil exporters keep their reserves in the currency they are paid in. This effectively provides the U.S. economy with an interest-free loan, as these dollars can be invested back into the U.S. economy with zero currency risk. If a Russian move to the euro were to prompt other oil producers to do the same, it could be a "catastrophe" for the United States, Ibrahim said. "There are already a number of countries within OPEC that would prefer to trade in euros." Iran, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has also openly mulled a move into euros.

Perhaps things have got to the point where Bush's out of control spending has become a bigger liability to the countries that are floating the US economy than the danger of incurring US wrath. At the same time the EU has overtaken the US in GDP:

The European Union has grown to become the third-largest governing institution in the world. Though its land mass is half the size of the continental United States, its $10.5-trillion (U.S.) gross domestic product now eclipses the U.S. GDP, making it the world's largest economy. The EU is already the world's leading exporter and largest internal trading market. Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European; only 50 are U.S. companies.
The EU seems to be trying to gain currency ascendancy by negotiation and the US is trying to retain it by force. If the Euro becomes the reserve currency, Europe would inherit the economic safety net that the US currently enjoys and the US economy would crash. This would be compounded by the fact that Europe would have done so without the considerable expense the US's militaristic stance is incurring. The Middle East could be seen as both the scapegoat for and the battleground of a covert struggle between the two.

Is this a no win situation for the US? They are stuck in a downward spiral wherein the more aggressively they attempt to retain their currency advantage, the more money they spend, the bigger the deficit gets, the more of a liability they become to countries floating the US Economy giving them more incentive to drop the dollar. By not adopting the Euro, Blair might be backing the wrong horse.

It has been suggested (I am reserving judgement) that the US and the UK were behind the massacre in Beslan in an attempt to destabilise Putin. VHeadline reports:

The group that massacred 170 children and 130 adults in Beslan led by CIA operative Shamil Basayev, took their orders from abroad ... there is no question this is an extension of Anglo-American foreign policy to dismember Russia as we predicted 12 years ago.

Russia has retaliated by demanding that Akhmad Zakayew, now being given sanctuary in London and Ilyas Akhmadov now residing in the US, be turned over to Russia for planning and conducting the Beslan massacre.

In fact, Ilyas Akhmadov has political asylum in the US and receives a Reagan-Fascell monthly stipend, medical insurance and an office, from which he engages in political circles and informs the media.

The Fascell Foundation is funded by Congress through the US State Department. Their actions show they not only want to dismember Russia but they want to use the instability they have caused to access oil in the Caspian region and in the process control Georgia and Azerbaijan ... if you remember in the late 1980s, the revolt against the Soviet Union began in Azerbaijan.

Thus, we believe the UK and US want to drive Russia out of the Caspian and Caucasus regions effectively neutering the country. The Beslan event has driven a wedge between Ossetians, Ingushis and Chechens, which will set the Caucasus aflame.

The article goes on to suggest that the US and the UK:

are very fearful as a retaliatory measure that Russia will accept euros for their oil ... which Saddam Hussein did and for that and other reasons he was deposed. This, of course, would destroy the dollar as a reserve currency.

Once Russia moves to the euro, and we believe they will after Beslan, Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia will follow.

China has been increasing its oil deals with South American countries including Venezuela. Russia has also been in talks with China:

over the potential £17 billion disposal of Yuganskneftegaz – a division of the previously privatised Yukos which accounts for 60 per cent of its oil production.
The more oil producing countries diversify their trading partners the less eggs they need to have in the US currency basket.

In this light Bush's hostility towards foreign powers can be seen in a context bigger than mere global disapproval of US militarism.

Oil producing countries began openly discussing the possibility of adopting the Euro after Bush and his US oil company cronies took power, but before 9/11. Conspiracy theorists might suggest that 9/11 has provided the Bush regime with a number of convenient justifications.

They include the justification for aggression towards oil producing countries that were or might be intending to switch to the Euro. It justified US aggression towards Afghanistan, where the US have done what they set out to do: Install
Hamid Karzai a former top adviser to Unocal and revive the CentGas pipeline construction project thus securing Afghan oil supplies for the US. Osama bin Laden was merely an excuse to do this and, at least for the time being the mission has been accomplished, hence the withdrawl of US troops and their reassignment to Iraq. A green party article in 2002 noted that:

Karzai worked with Zalmay Khalilzad on the pipeline deal. Khalilzad is now President Bush's Special National Security Assistant and presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan. The Bush White House does not mention Karzai's and Khalilzad's ties to Unocal and the pipeline. Greens also note that Enron conducted the feasability study for the pipeline, and that Halliburton, at which Vice President Cheney served as CEO, will be a major benefactor from the pipeline deal.

In December 2003 Bush appointed James Baker as his personal envoy in Iraq. Baker's law firm also represents BP's oil interests in Afghanistan. International Action Organisation commented:

This appointment is especially interesting given Baker's oil interests: Baker is Senior partner at Baker Botts LLP, which is heavily invested in Middle East oil (View More Information ), and he sits on the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (Azerbaijan & the Caspian Sea are estimated to be the largest untapped oil supplies outside of the Middle East). With Iraq in his pocket, Baker III will be in a position to influence over 70% of the world's oil supplies.

America is the world's biggest oil junkie consuming 25% of the world's annual supplies whilst representing only 4% of the world's population. Its own supplies are dwindling and would run out within the next 15 years if the US had to rely solely on them. This habit has been at the expense of other countries because of the dollar being the reserve currency. This is now under threat. Without this advantage the US could not afford to support its consumption. Like any junkie America needs to become the dealer if it wants to support its habit. It is no coincidence that the countries considering the Euro are the same countries that are on the receiving end of US aggression. In seeking a militaristic solution to the problem the neocons may have sounded the death knell for the US economy.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Kost-U Nothing! CIA appointee's five fingered discount

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 3, 2004

Michael V. Kostiw, chosen by CIA Director Porter J. Goss to be the agency's new executive director, resigned under pressure from the CIA more than 20 years ago, according to past and current agency officials...

...In late 1981, after he had been a case officer for 10 years, Kostiw was caught shoplifting in Langley, sources said. During a subsequent CIA polygraph test, Kostiw's responses to questions about the incident led agency officials to place him on administrative leave for several weeks, according to four sources who were familiar with the past events but who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.

While on leave, Kostiw told friends he decided to resign. Agency officials at the time arranged for misdemeanor theft charges to be dropped and the police record expunged in return for his resignation and his agreement to get counseling, one former official said.

Full Story

What are Words Worth?

Blogshares, the fantasy blog trading game has gotten me thinking: If words were a commodity how would the market be looking?

Going Up
Words experiencing an upsurge in interest:


Maxed Out
Words and phrases that have reached saturation point:

Talking Points

Words that have lost their essential meaning or become redundant:


Wake Up and Smell the Fascism

14 identifying characteristics of fascism by Dr Lawrence Britt, courtesy of The Sideshow.

I'm always gratified to find expert opinion supporting my rantings. Its a weird and unpleasant experience to see the establishment become despotic and moderate opinions suddenly reclassified as extreme and dangerous. Equally disturbing is the support of the leaders of my own two countries (Australia and the UK), seemingly hell bent on defying the opinions of their citizens and pretending that nothing untoward is going on. If Bush is able to continue with his rampant nationalism (check out Orwell's definition) we will be the next countries to lose our democracy.

Bush appealing to lowest common denominator

Bush continued with his xenophobic theme yesterday telling audiences:

"Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions, ..."When our country is in danger, the president's job is not to take an international poll. The president's job is to defend America. I'll continue to work every day with our friends and allies for the sake of freedom and peace. But our national security decisions will be made in the Oval Office, not in foreign capitals."

This may be confusing to the previously mentioned Fox viewers who are laboring under the misapprehension that the world supported the US invasion of Iraq.

Since Bush's concept of national security consists of invading countries that are no threat to America, torturing people whilst declaring themselves above International law, destroying the environment, trying to interfere in the politics of countries like Venezuela and supporting and arming regimes that are occupying other peoples countries and terrorising and killing their citizens I think we are entitiled to an opinion, but I expect I just hate their freedom.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I just can't get over how similar this rhetoric is to the last leader who scorned world opinion and didn't forget Poland.

Shameless Fox just can't stop lying

Less than 48 hours since they were last caught with their pants down, Fox are at it again. It really is a compulsion with these people. This time they are attempting to persuade their nit-witted audience that republican funded parody group "Communists for Kerry" are a real organisation. AMERICAblog has the story and the screenshots.

Any self-respecting viewer would be insulted by Fox's lack of respect for their intelligence. Sadly Fox viewers don't have two brain cells to rub together. In fact an Independent study found that 80% of Fox viewers held one of the following misperceptions:

A disturbingly high number of them believed all three lies


Did Bush have an earpiece?

Photo from Blue Lemur. Is this evidence of an earpiece, evidence that Bush is a glove puppet and Rove has a remote controlled hand, or perhaps the Neocons have attempted to give Bush a spine transplant? Blue Lemur suggest this may explain Bush's saying "let me finish" when nobody we could hear was interrupting him.

Sidney Blumenthal on Bush's debate performance

Sidney Blumenthal
Saturday October 2, 2004
The Guardian

After months of flawless execution in a well-orchestrated campaign, President Bush had to stand alone in an unpredictable debate. He had travelled the country, appearing before adoring pre-selected crowds, delivered a carefully crafted acceptance speech before his convention, and approved tens of millions of dollars in TV commercials to belittle his opponent. In the lead, Bush believed he had only to assert his superiority to end the contest once and for all.

But onstage the president ran out of talking points. Unable to explain the logic for his policies, or think on his feet, he was thrown back on the raw elements of his personality and leadership style.

Every time he was confronted with ambivalence, his impulse was to sweep it aside. He claimed he must be followed because he is the leader. Fate, in the form of September 11, had placed authority in his hands as a man of destiny. Scepticism, pragmatism and empiricism are enemies. Absolute faith prevails over open-ended reason, subjectivity over fact. Belief in belief is the ultimate sacrament of his political legitimacy.

In the split TV screen, how Bush felt was written all over his face. His grimaces exposed his irritation and anger at being challenged. Lacking intellectual stamina and repeating points as though on a feedback loop, he tried to close argument by assertion. With no one interrupting him, he protested, "Let me finish" - a phrase he occasionally deploys to great effect before the cowed White House press corps.

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