Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Germany issues CIA arrest orders

Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 suspected CIA agents over the alleged kidnapping of one of its citizens. Munich prosecutors confirmed that the warrants were linked to the case of Khaled al-Masri, a German national of Lebanese descent.

Mr Masri says he was seized in Macedonia, flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan and mistreated there. He says he was released in Albania five months later when the Americans realised they had the wrong man.

Mr Masri says his case is an example of the US policy of "extraordinary rendition" a practice whereby the US government flies foreign terror suspects to third countries without judicial process for interrogation or detention.

Prosecutors in Munich said in a statement that the city's court had issued the warrants on suspicion of abduction and grievous bodily harm.

Source and further reading Here

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

State of denial


I believe the Tory leader, David Cameron is right to say, that the BNP preys on people who are disillusioned by mainstream politicians, and, that in that sense hardline islamists are the mirror image of the BNP. Why, though, does he chose to concentrate on multiculturalism as a cause of radicalisation, rather than the government's foreign policy embodied by its terrorist actions in muslim and arab lands? Why indeed is multiculturalism nowadays seen by most mainstream politicians as the culprit?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The World's 4th Largest Military Power

Jefferson is turning in his grave and Eisenhower's ghost is saying "I told you so." A look behind the Blackwater mercenaries.
Part 1

Part 2

And what are these guys doing meddling in social issues in the U.S.? Chilling.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's not as bad as they say... if you're in the Green Zone

Oh if I only had a nickel for everyone who ever said something along the lines of "I know someone who's brother is in Iraq and he says his brother says that things are not as bad as the media portrays." It isn't that bad... in the "Green Zone."

China admits to climate failings

China is failing to make progress on improving and protecting the environment, according to a new Chinese government report.
The research ranks China among the world's worst nations - a position unchanged since 2004.

After the US, China produces the most greenhouse gases in the world. The Chinese report, prepared by academics and government experts, ranked the country 100th out of 118 countries surveyed.

Read the full article at the Source

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Terror vs. terror

I've just heard the best summarisation of the so-called war on terror. In a programme about the use of Agent Orange a US Vietnam veteran who has been going back to Vietnam for the past ten years tells how after September 11th 2001 many Vietnamese approached him, hands on their hearts. He says they were expressing their sorrow for "what happened to 3000 of us. We have never said sorry to what we did to 3 million of them".

Blame the china

Daily Show host Jon Stewart takes a look at Dick Cheney's Interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Palestine is Still the Issue

A good myth-blowing documentary shedding some light on the situation in the Occupied Territories.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

A video with a short interview of John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

Monday, January 22, 2007

To Wear Another Man's Shoes

Many of you will already have seen this, but it is worth posting.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

King of Opposite Land

Mark Fiore's new animation.


Over 34,000 civilians killed in Iraq in 2006

From the UN News Centre:

Nearly 6,400 Iraqi civilians were killed in the November-December period, slightly less than in the preceding two months, as rampant and indiscriminate killings, sectarian violence, extra-judicial executions – and impunity for the perpetrators – continued virtually unchecked, according to the latest United Nations rights report released today.

It puts the total civilian casualty figure for the year 2006 at 34,452 dead and 36,685 injured. Asked why the UN death toll for the year was about three times higher than that reported by the Iraqi Government, a spokesman in New York said the UN figures were based on those provided by the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute and the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

“An unprecedented number of execution-style killings have taken place in Baghdad and other parts of the country, whereby bodies were routinely found dumped in the streets, in rivers and in mass graves – most bearing signs of torture with their hands and feet bound, and some were beheaded,” the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) human rights report for the period says of “the modus operandi” of both Sunni and Shiite groups.

Without significant progress on the rule of law sectarian violence will continue indefinitely “and eventually spiral out of control,” thwarting efforts by the Government in the political, security or economic spheres, according to the report, which stresses the urgent need to fight impunity and seek accountability for crimes.

In virtually every sphere, and building on earlier reports, the latest study amounts to a litany of abuses ranging from attacks on women, minorities and professional groups to forced displacements, to the activities of the police and security forces and the United States-led Multi-National Force (MNF-I).

According to information made available to UNAMI, 6,376 civilians were killed in the two month period – 3,462 for November and 2,914 for December – compared with 7,054 for the previous two months, when October’s toll reached a new high of 3,709. Despite the “slight reduction… it is evident however that violence has not been contained,” the report warns.

It notes that law enforcement agencies do not provide effective protection. Increasingly militias and criminal gangs act in collusion with, or have infiltrated the security forces, while operations by security and military forces, including MNF-I, continue to result in growing numbers of individuals detained and without access to judicial oversight.

“Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population,” the report says, citing use of facilities protected by the Geneva Conventions, such as hospitals and schools, as military bases, allegations that MNF-I snipers killed 13 civilians in one week in Ramadi, and lack of access to basic services, such as health and education, affecting a larger percentage of the population.

The report reiterates previous calls to security and military forces to respect fully international law and to refrain from any excessive use of force.

It notes that since the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samarra in February, some 471,000 people have been forcibly displaced. It calls the situation in Baghdad “notably grave,” with insurgents including foreign terrorist groups remaining particularly active.

“No religious and ethnic groups, including women and children, have been spared from the widespread cycle of violence which creates panic and disrupts the daily life of many Iraqi families, prompting parents to stop sending their children to school and severely limiting normal movement around the capital and outside,” the report says, also citing a “dramatic increase” in abductions in recent months.

It notes a rapid erosion of women’s rights in the central and southern regions. “Women are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, arbitrarily imposed morality codes,” it says, with cases of young women abducted by armed militia and found days later sexually abused, tortured and murdered.

“Female corpses are usually abandoned at the morgue and remain unclaimed for fear of damaging the family honour,” it adds. “More than 140 bodies were unclaimed and buried in Najaf by the morgue during the reporting period.” In a suspected honour crime case, a secondary school student was publicly hanged in east Baghdad by armed militia and her brother shot dead when he tried to rescue her.

In the north it cites “honour killings” with 239 reportedly women burning themselves in accidents or suicide attempts the first eight months of 2006. “Most victims of suspected honour crimes suffer horrific injuries which are unlikely to have been accidentally caused whilst cooking or refuelling oil heaters,” it says.

Attacks have also continued or escalated against minorities such as Christians, homosexuals, and the thousands of Palestinian refugees who are seen as having supported the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein.

“Killings, threats, intimidations, and kidnappings are becoming the norm for Palestinians in Iraq. Many of these actions are reportedly carried out by the militias wearing police or special forces uniform. Most of the victims are found dead or simply disappear,” the report says.

“The ability of new security plans to effect real change in Iraq will depend on a comprehensive reform program that can strengthen the rule of law and deliver justice for all Iraqis,” it stresses.

“It is essential that the State and the Government of Iraq are seen as united in their efforts to contain and eventually eradicate sectarian violence, to ensure the rule of law and, through that, remove the popular basis of support for the perpetrators of this violence.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Pirates and Emperors

Click on the picture to see a well-done video inspired by Noam Chomsky's Priates and Emperors.

When light shines into even the darkest corners...

Hat tip to One Good Move and Unclaimed Territory.

From Unclaimed Territory, words by conservative
Rod Dreher:
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.

I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thoughts on Bush's "Plan" for Iraq

I thought it might be time to make a few observations about the speech our "president" made the other night. By now you've probably all had time to hear all the talking heads on radio and TV, and noted that only those who are 'administration spokespersons' or fascist apologists are supporting this smoke screen. But those conversations seem to me to jump about, no one has taken it paragraph by paragraph to dissect. I will. And in case you want to actually read the speech, it's here at the Whitehouse website. There are also some supporting documents there.

Continue reading here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Good Things

I often hear the complaint among war supporters that the media is not showing "the good things" the U.S. is doing in Iraq. Perhaps this is one of "the good things"?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Just When You Can't Imagine the Next Problem....

Bush decides that if he wants to read your mail, that's OK. This from the New York Daily News:

"President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it."

What next? They can read your mail, they can listen to your phone calls, they can read your e-mail, they can detain you in secret locations, can detain you indefinitely without evidence or ever filing charges, can torture you until you're incompetent (see the latest Jose Padilla news), and can confiscate everything you own on allegations without proof. They can declare Martial Law to quell 'civil unrest or riots' - which would be any attempt at overthrowing the power of the administration. They've even claimed to have the power to halt elections in case of emergency - and we all know that 'an emergency' is defined by the president saying we have one - so no 'right' to vote unless they decide to let you.

Hell, what's next is whatever is left. And that's a good question - WHAT IS LEFT for these bastard traitors to undermine and take away from US citizens? (And believe me, if it happens here, all of Europe will follow quickly. The rest of the world is pretty much there already.) At the moment I can't think of anything as important as what's already taken away. So help me out folks, what is going to go next?

Poor Ford is Dead, A Candle Lights His Head,

His fingernails have never been so clean, and you know the rest of the song. (If not, check out the musical Oklahoma.) And he was universally talked about as the guy who was never elected to either the Vice President or President positions, yet held both. He was widely credited with being all about doing the right thing. And he was also universally hailed as the guy who pardoned Nixon to (and I quote) "heal America".

Well, he may well have been all about 'doing the right thing'. Intentions are difficult to discern, and when he was president I was too busy to pay attention. Full time school, full time factory job, two small kids, and a very beligerent wife. I couldn't have been less bothered with a president who wasn't being an obvious problem. So I'll buy the "Mr. Decency" label for him.

But 'healed the nation'? As you might guess, I have different opinion. Sure, maybe he thought pardoning Nixon and saving the country from dragging a president thru multiple court cases would be a healing thing. But I think it was a big, BIG mistake. And I'm going to explain why.

Thirty or so years ago we had a president who tried to take over the nation by what may well have been criminal means. But he definitely tried to take over the country, whether for political means or because he was an out of control megalomaniac, or for some other reason. (By take over, I mean tried to run the nation without any controls on his behavior, and in any way he saw fit.) Instead of letting this guy be tried and found innocent or guilty as it may have been, Mr. Ford pardoned him to save the country the pain of the trials. So in essence, President Ford took a mortal gash to the nation and stitched it shut to stop the bleeding, but he didn't clean out the wound. The result is that we had a national wound that has festered for nearly 30 years, and resulted in an abcess called the Bush Administration.

How can I make this assertion? Well we went FROM BAD (Nixon, then) TO WORSE (Bush, now). We went from a president who tried to take over the nation by throwing his weight around and using questionably and probably illegal means in his attempt, to one who now is trying to and succeeding in taking over the nation as a dictatorship by undermining the very foundations of our democracy, and doing it by the most egregious assertions of power and legal declarations of rights restrictions for citizens. What we have now is an administration toxic to the foundations of democracy, to the foundations of our nation, to the rule of law, and to any citizens' sense of freedom. This administration may very well kill the nation before we can undo the damage.

What is the connection? Well, try Cheney and Rumsfeld, both of whom Ford inherited from Nixon. And if my memory serves me still, many of the old grey haired neo-con nazi types in the Bush administration served Nixon as young men as well. These germs sat in the bottom of the wound Ford stitched shut, and bloated themselves with hatred and treasonous plans, and apparently infected a good number of other germs around them with their toxic production.

So my hypothesis is that if Ford had not pardoned Nixon, if he had let the guy be dragged through the mud and the blood, and let him be convicted, we would not be where we are today - in danger of losing all of our liberties, of losing our most basic freedoms. Perhaps had Nixon been convicted of 'high crimes and misdemeanors', even if he had been pardoned from jail after, maybe, just maybe, Cheney and Rumsfeld would have felt the consequences of attempting treason from within were too high, and might have found other careers, or at least have changed directions.

OK, open for discussion.