Saturday, October 28, 2006

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006

New countries have moved ahead of some Western democracies in the fifth annual Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, issued today, while the most repressive countries are still the same ones.





The three worst violators of free expression - North Korea, bottom of the Index at 168th place, Turkmenistan (167th) and Eritrea (166th) - have clamped down further. The torture death of Turkmenistan journalist Ogulsapar Muradova shows that the country’s leader, “President-for-Life” Separmurad Nyazov, is willing to use extreme violence against those who dare to criticise him. Reporters Without Borders is also extremely concerned about a number of Eritrean journalists who have been imprisoned in secret for more than five years. The all-powerful North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, also continues to totally control the media.

Northern European countries once again come top of the Index, with no recorded censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals in Finland, Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands, which all share first place.

The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

You can read the full report and find your own countries position on the list Here

Big Brothers' data bases

Hunting Bin Laden?

By Michael Smerconish







HAVE THE BRAKES been put on the hunt for Osama bin Laden? Just back from the CENTCOM region, that is my hunch.

The effort to find bin Laden was one of the many questions I had about the war on terror as I joined a Pentagon-sponsored military immersion program called the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference...

...I want to be clear here: Nowhere did anyone ever tell me the search for bin Laden is over. But I am worried that the days of aggressively hunting him have ended. I say that based on the lack of response to my repeated questions in the context of other sensitive briefings, the fact that the CIA reportedly closed its bin Laden desk, called the Alec Station, and the agreement reached between Musharaf and tribal leaders in the Northwest part of his nation wherein he has agreed to give them continued free rein.

Read the full article Here

An interesting read that asks the poignant questions regarding the status of the hunt for Bin Laden.

HT to Nostradamnthem

The Rumsfeld Comedy Hour

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Freedom from the press

Mark Fiore is back with his latest animation.






Watch it Here

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

History repeating



I have watched a documentary about the 1956 'Suez Crisis'. The Suez Canal was in British hands when Nasser decided to take it over and nationalise it. As Nasser had recieved arms from the Soviet Union (though he was an anti-communist who had communists arrested and detained), British PM Anthony Eden claimed Nasser was a Soviet ally. For this, he used 'information' from the secret services. Information which was false. At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically, Nasser was accused by Eden of being a fascist. Eden decided to get rid of Nasser, ie. to operate a regime change in Egypt. As the US tried to appease Britain, the latter and France came to a secret agreement with Israel in Sèvres, France, that Israel would stage a fake invasion of the Sinaï, which would gave an excuse to Britain to set an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel to stop hostilities. Israel would obviously withdraw, while Egypt's Nasser could not accept the ultimatum therefore allowing Britain and France to intervene. When war broke out between Egypt, Britain and France, Eden claimed he was 'utterly convinced' of the just nature of his war. After a short and disastrous war, based on lies, Eden resigned. Does any of this sound familiar? In those days, information was far less available to the public than it is today. Today, the lies and manipulation of 'our' leaders come to light much quicker. The question I ask myself is, how much time has to pass before the truth becomes historical fact?

The demographic solution



The following extract is from an article by Meron Benvenisti in Ha'aretz. He was deputy mayor of Jerusalem and also an advocate of a binational state.

No one mentions the fact that the "demographic balance" is fundamentally fictitious. It was created through a manipulation of Jerusalem's borders in 1967, based on the principle of preserving a minimum of Arabs and a maximum of land for Jews. In the name of this principle, more and more exposed or dispensable hilltops have been annexed to the city since 1967 and anointed with the holy oil of the Eternal City.

Coup against Maliki reported in the making

Iraqi army officers are reportedly planning to stage a military coup with U.S. help to oust the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.







Cairo-based Iraqi and Arab sources said Monday several officers visited Washington recently for talks with U.S. officials on plans for replacing Maliki's administration by a "national salvation" government with the mission to re-establish security and stability in Iraq.

One Iraqi source told United Press International that the Iraqi army officers' visit to the United States was aimed at coordinating the military coup in case the efforts of Maliki's government to restore order reached a dead end.

He said among the prominent officers were the deputy chief of staff, a Muslim Shiite, the intelligence chief, a Sunni, and the commander of the air force, a Kurd. It is believed the three would constitute the nucleus of the next government after the army takes over power.

The proposed plan, according to the source, stipulates that the new Iraqi army, with the assistance of U.S. forces, will take control of power, suspend the constitution, dissolve parliament and form a new government. The military will also take direct control of the various provinces and the administration after imposing a state of emergency.

An Arab source also told UPI that certain Arab countries were informed of the plan and requested to offer their help in convincing the former leaders of the deposed Baath Party regime residing in their countries to refrain from obstructing the move and stop violence perpetrated by the party in Iraq. In return, they will be invited to participate in the government at a later stage.

Washington is becoming increasingly impatient with the failure of Maliki's government in quelling sectarian violence threatening to plunge Iraq in an all-out civil war.

Source

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

America Dying in Silence - Military Commission Act 2006

If only there were more like this

Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years.






George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’ Watch it:

Source : Think Progress

Unbelievable

Iraq : The real story

Watch this haunting observational film that explodes the myth around the claims that the Iraqis are preparing to take control of their own country.




Contains some strong language ( Flash presentation 8 min's 10 seconds )

Here

Seven in Ten Americans Favor Congressional Candidates Who Will Pursue a Major Change in Foreign Policy

Going into the November midterm elections, seven in ten Americans say they prefer Congressional candidates who will pursue a new approach to U.S. foreign policy.



A new nationwide survey finds a large and growing majority of Americans is dissatisfied with the position of the United States in the world. Most Americans believe that U.S. policies are increasing the threat of terrorist attack and decreasing goodwill toward the United States.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)/Knowledge Networks poll also finds that large majorities of Americans feel that the United States puts too much emphasis on military force and unilateral action. Most say they want their member of Congress to work to shift the emphasis of U.S. foreign policy in favor of diplomacy, multilateral cooperation, and homeland security.

They also stress the need for programs to reduce the United States’ dependence on oil. When given the opportunity to reshape the foreign policy budget, respondents redistribute spending from military programs to other methods of pursuing security.

“It is a rare year that foreign policy takes center stage in Congressional elections. Voters are calling for a sea change in U.S. foreign policy. They want less emphasis on military force, and more on soft power,” said Steven Kull, director of PIPA and editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org.

On the question of how to deal with the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, a majority of respondents disagrees with the Bush administration’s refusal to seek direct talks. Fifty-five percent say the United States should enter into talks without preconditions.

Continue reading at the Source

The Way the World Ends

With all the hype about North Korea, we're forgetting that the world is still staring down the barrels of thousands of U.S. and Russian ICBMs

by Helen Caldicott





It is difficult to underestimate the problems associated with North Korea's recent nuclear weapons test. Following a small atomic explosion in a mountainous area of North Korea of less than one kiloton -- the Hiroshima bomb was 13 kilotons -- the U.S. administration is encouraging draconian economic sanctions to be enacted against a desperately poor country where millions of people are malnourished and that will further ostracize a paranoid regime, while the rest of the world looks on with horror as the nuclear arms race threatens to spiral out of control.

While lateral proliferation is indeed an incredibly serious problem as ever-more countries prepare to enter the portals of the nuclear club, one consistent outstanding nuclear threat that continues to endanger most planetary species is ignored by the international community.

In fact, the real "rogue" nations that continue to hold the world at nuclear ransom are Russia and the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the threat of a massive nuclear attack -- whether by accident, human fallibility or malfeasance -- has increased.

Of the 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the United States and Russia possess 96 per cent of them. Of these, Russia aims most of its 8,200 strategic nuclear warheads at U.S. and Canadian targets, while the U.S. aims most of its 7,000 offensive strategic hydrogen bombs on Russian missile silos and command centres. Each of these thermonuclear warheads has roughly 20 times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to a report on nuclear weapons by the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group.

Of these 7,000 U.S. strategic weapons, 2,500 are deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly maintained on hair-trigger alert ready for immediate launching, while the U.S. also maintains some 2,688 hydrogen bombs on missiles in its 14 Trident submarines, most ready for instantaneous launching.

According to the Center for Defense Information, a group that analyzes U.S. defence policy, in the event of a suspected attack, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Command has only three minutes to decide if a nuclear attack warning is valid. He has 10 minutes to locate the president for a 30-second briefing on attack options, and the president then has three minutes to decide to launch the warheads and to consider which pre-set targeting plan to use.

Once launched, the missiles would take 10 to 30 minutes to reach their Russian targets.

An almost identical situation prevails in Russia, except unlike the combined U.S. and Canadian NORAD early-warning equipment, the Russian system is decaying rapidly, its early-warning satellites are almost non-functional and it now relies on a relatively primitive over-the-horizon radar to warn it of an imminent secret first-strike attack from the United States.

The Russian military and political leaders are suitably paranoid about this extraordinary post-Cold-War situation. So much so that in January 1995 president Boris Yeltsin came to within 10 seconds of launching his nuclear armada when the launch of a Norwegian weather satellite was misinterpreted in Moscow as a pre-emptive U.S. nuclear attack.

Most towns and cities with populations over 50,000 on the North American continent are targeted with at least one hydrogen bomb. Only 1,000 bombs exploding on 100 cities could induce nuclear winter and the end of most life on earth. There are fewer than 300 major cities in the Northern hemisphere.

Continue reading at the Source