CONTENTS / BLOG (14), Just World Campaign

• Public Trustee has grim record. Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  Western Australia, State flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 
   The Post, Subiaco (Perth suburb), Western Australia, www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/home.shtml , letter, July 3, 2004
   SUBIACO: In its treatment of mental patient "Alice", the Public Trustee's office is running true to form (POST, 5/6 and 19/6).
   The Trustee's actions are similar to what they did to Subiaco photographer Viv James in 1984, selling some of his assets while he was unable to care for himself.
   Trustee staff gave as an excuse that Mr James had no money, but the Subiaco council welfare officer had a record of the building society passbook she had handed to Trustee staff. This fact was uncovered by the Ombudsman.
   The POST and human rights activist Brian Tennant gave good support, as did another Trustee victim, Irene Stephens, of Maylands.
   During the 1985 campaign exposing the Public Trustee's Office, it said Mr James had no books, and that no major inventories of his belongings existed.
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This series begins at: http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont.htm 
Sources JavaScript Kit and www.aftinet.org.au/campaigns/signonconfirm.html
   When these claims were disproved, the then Labor government made an ex gratia payment at the suggestion of the Public Trustee's Office.
   The investigations and joining of other victims revealed the Trustee policy of privately selling real estate. The secrecy provisions of the Act hampered investigations.
   Relatives of Mr James were traced, but none would take part in the investigations. Just what "relative" got the war medals, antique cameras, etc, was never revealed.
   The POST and Liberal Nedlands MP Sue Walker deserve public support for trying to get justice for Alice.
   Let us hope the government can keep focused this time on a genuine reform of the Public Trustee's Office, dragging it into the modern era of transparency and accountability, instead of hiding behind the 19th century's ideas of privacy and secrecy.
   Well done, POST. [Jul 3, 04]
• [How John Howard fell into 100 big banks' 1996 trap.]   

[How John Howard fell into 100 big banks’ 1996 trap.]

   The Money Trick: Creating money from nothing is a bank's best trick!  Anonymous author; pp 31-32;   Booklet published 2004
   AUSTRALIA -- … after the election.  The biggest assembly of international financiers ever held in Australia took place in June, 1996.  The new Australian Prime Minister was summoned to appear before this gathering after the assembly had spent the morning establishing their policy requirements.  Australia's best known financial journal, The Australian Financial Review (June 7, 1996) described what happened:
"… As John Howard swept into the chandeliered banquet hall to address top executives of 100 of the world's biggest banks this week, he could not have known that a trap had been laid for him.
   The bankers, the most internationally influential audience Mr. Howard has confronted since taking office, had spent half a day discussing the price they would demand from countries round the world for bankrolling them.  In an increasingly capital thirsty world international financiers, the commissars of capital, have become modern potentates with the power to dictate policy to states which have long considered themselves to be sovereign.  … By the time Mr. Howard took the lectern in Sydney, the speakers at the invitation-only International Monetary Conference had already set out a checklist of policies. 
   Most explicit was the chairman of the big US investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co, Mr. John Corzine, who was asked by the group to specify conditions for what he called "the inherently blunt process that leaves many worthy initiatives without resources .  …"
   In other words, the financiers would, from that moment, take over the financing of all major projects in Australia.  The government was there to do as it was told.  Prime Minister John Howard acquiesced.
   Despite increasing public unease, the sell-off of Australia continued.  Multinationals took over in every sector.  Giant projects such as the Alice-to-Darwin railway were undertaken by overseas corporations.
   Yet the 1915 Transcontinental Railway had been built by Australia with its own resources and finance under Australian ownership.  Railways, Telecommunications and Roads are increasingly foreign-owned.  Motorists now pay tolls on highways that they paid for out of taxes, and once owned. …

   [RECAPITULATION: … international financiers … have become modern potentates with the power to dictate policy to states which have long considered themselves to be sovereign.ENDS.]
   [ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Anonymous author, © 2004, booklet The Money Trick:  Creating money from nothing is a bank's best trick!  Veritas Publishing, Midland (Western Australia), ISBN 09587 6023-3, pp 31-32. ENDS.]
   [LINK: The above extracts from the June 7, 1996 newspaper report are shown also at: Chronology # How John Howard. ENDS.]
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont14.htm#how_john_howard
[newspaper report of June 7, 1996] [Booklet, list as early July, 2004]

• It should not happen again.
   The Post, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/009.shtml , letter from R.J. Schroeder, Lillian Street, Cottesloe, July 3, 2004
   COTTESLOE: It is refreshing to see Alice's plight has been resolved to her satisfaction with the assistance of a well-meaning real estate agency ("Alice gets new flat and kettle", POST 26/6).
   It is also interesting to note Justice Minister Michelle Roberts has no qualms about trying to score some "cheap points and make a hero of herself" in her berating of Nedlands Liberal MP Sue Walker in Parliament for going to Alice's aid.
   Ms Roberts spent time in Parliament reprimanding Ms Walker's efforts to help Alice when she should have been trying to find out why the Public Trustee and the Guardianship and Administration Board acted in the way they did - and make sure it does not happen again.
   Thank you, Caporn Young, Ms Walker and all others who helped Alice in a real way by cutting to the heart of the matter and doing something about it rather than imposing bureaucratic hurdles which in no way serve the community or the people in it. [Jul 3, 04]
• Sue Walker's a local hero.
   The Post, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/010.shtml , letter from Kevin Ballantine, Commercial Road, Shenton Park, July 3, 2004
   SHENTON PARK: Justice Minister Michelle Roberts' "threat" to Liberal Nedlands MP Sue Walker for the manner in which Ms Walker intervened in the reported "Alice" issue was surprising ("Roberts threat to Walker", POST 26/6).
   Given recent events, you would have thought Ms Roberts would reflect more on her own performance.
   And as for Ms Roberts' view that Ms Walker's intervention was to "make a hero of herself in the local newspaper", well, Michelle, Sue's been a local hero here in Shenton Park for a long time now, well at least for the past couple of years, ever since Subiaco council proposed to list thousands of heritage homes in its town planning scheme.
   Sue has been a local hero ever since she was the only politician from any party who spoke out against Subiaco's over-the-top heritage agenda.
   While I have been a Labor voter since the heady days of the Vietnam War moratorium marches and the beginnings of the 1970s environmental movements, I won't be voting Labor in the next state election.
   So, 'Chelle, keep ya hands off our Sue.
   When we needed help in Shenton Park, she was the only politician who offered a helping hand. [Jul 3, 04]
• People in glass houses...
   The Post, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/011.shtml , letter from Deann Beck, Cottesloe, (Address supplied), July 3, 2004
   COTTESLOE: Congratulations to Liberal Nedlands MP Sue Walker and the POST for highlighting the serious situation of Alice.
   Without people like you, Alice would be lying somewhere between the kerb and the oncoming traffic.
   And to Michelle Roberts, the ... ahem ... Minister for Justice ... people who live in glass houses ...
   Guess I know where my vote will go at the next election. [Jul 3, 04]
• Making a name for herself?
   The Post, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/012.shtml , letter from Chris Gudgeon, Pangbourne Street, Wembley, July 3, 2004
   WEMBLEY: Why am I not surprised that Justice Minister Michelle Roberts rebuked Liberal Nedlands Ms Sue Walker? From the reports of Alice's plight read in the POST, I thought the same.
   Had Ms Walker gone about it the best way or was she making a name for herself or making a political point?
   This would not be the first time the POST has reported statements made by her with strong political flavours.
   I think it's a shame that politicians in opposition don't behave as an opposition is supposed to: to make constructive criticism of the government's legislation. Too often we read or hear negative statements only.
   Congratulations to the real estate agents who came to Alice's rescue. It's great to know that people are out there who care. [Jul 3, 04]
• Justice Minister Roberts found wanting.
   The Post, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20040703/letters/013.shtml , letter from Jean O'Hart, Branksome Gardens, City Beach, July 3, 2004
   CITY BEACH: I wholeheartedly congratulate Liberal Nedlands MP Sue Walker on her efforts and excellent outcome for the lady who had her home sold over her head by the Public Trustee's Office.
   I condemn the smallmindedness of Justice Minister Michele Roberts for her churlish outburst in response to being found wanting.
   For two years my husband and I have been writing to government departments over an entirely different issue of hardship.
   All the replies from government members have acknowledged our plight and regretted that they were unable or unwilling to take any action on our behalf.
   My recommendation is for Mrs Roberts to return to her desk and concentrate on the issues she has at hand that are escaping for want of her attention.
   My congratulations to Ms Walker for an excellent outcome for a citizen of our community. [Jul 3, 04]  
• Guantanamo Bay imprisonment without trial 'anomaly' must end: Blair; US sent Habib to be tortured in Egypt. Britain flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Cuba flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  U.S.A. flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 
   The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, "US jail camp must end: Blair," Sydney Morning Herald and Associated Press, p 11, Wednesday, July 7, 2004
   LONDON: The United States prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an anomaly that must end, Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday.
   Mr Blair said he had asked US President George Bush to free the remaining four Britons. But Washington insisted that the British Government must guarantee they would not pose an international threat.
   "Guantanamo Bay is an anomaly that has, at some point, got to be brought to an end," Mr Blair told a committee of MPs.
   "The American response has been the same all the way through. At the end, if the trial requirements do not meet our standards, they will come back, but we also have to make sure they will not be a threat either to this country or elsewhere."
   Five other Britons who spent up to two years in the US base were released to British officials in March, and soon freed without charge.
   Mr Blair is under pressure from political opponents and many of his own Labour Party MPs to resolve the issue. Some suggest the deadlock reveals he yields little influence in Washington, despite supporting Mr Bush in Iraq.
   Yesterday, the Pakistani Government said the US had requested Mamdouh Habib, one of two Australians detained at Guantanamo Bay, be taken from Pakistan to Egypt for interrogation, where it has been claimed he was tortured.
   The admission was made by Pakistan's Interior Minister, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, to SBS's Dateline program to be shown tonight. The program also contains an interview with a former Qatari justice minister, Dr Najeeb Nauimi, who says Mr Habib was tortured and interrogated in Egypt "in a way in which a human cannot stand up," to the point where, he said, Mr Habib would admit anything.
   Tarek Dhergoul, a British man who knew Mr Habib at Guantanamo Bay and who has since been freed, told the program that: "(Habib) said something about a dog being put on him as he was naked. Cigars put out on his body, blindfolded."
   Steve Watts, a lawyer with the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York, claims the US routinely engages in a policy known as "rendition", which he describes as "state sponsored abduction".
   This is where the American authorities remove people to countries, such as Egypt, where torture is used in interrogation.
   Mr Watts claims this is what happened to Habib.
   Dateline's focus on Mr Habib begins with his capture on a bus in Pakistan in October 2001. He was also interviewed in Pakistan three times by ASIO [Australian Security Intelligence Organisation] and Australian Federal Police, which the Australian Government has confirmed. [Emphasis added]
   LOWLIGHTS:
* Questioned by Australians more than once.
* Then sent by US to Egypt for torture.
* ... dog ... put on him as he was naked. Cigars put out on his body

   [COMMENT: The claims that the US abducts people, and sends people to third countries for torture, have been made so often for years that old campaigners find it hard to believe that British PM Tony Blair and his cabinet didn't demand that the US cease this practice before joining in their joint overseas wars.
   The US offered rewards in Afghanistan for "terrorists," so some clever people just pointed at people at random, and collected the money. Two such victims were a taxidriver and his passenger. All the sophisticated tortures in the world could not get any information from them, so like hundreds of others they were released, and like others told their story to the world via the mass media. The sad thing is that the general public hardly noticed!
   Some of the US arrests have been in third countries (like Habib's), then the victims are transported to Afghanistan, then to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba!!! Evidently the US leaders want to feel that the prisoners at their illegal POW camp are somehow connected with Al Qaeda, whose last known base was Afghanistan. (The fact that the British and the US had previously financed and armed Al Qaeda is, for the present purposes, downplayed by the puppets masquerading as national leaders of the Coalition of the Willing.)
   Australian PM John Howard's sorry team couldn't be expected to understand foreign affairs, and the Labor Opposition is so bereft of talent that recent leaders have resembled an undertaker, a blimp, a wind-up toy, and a brawler. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 7, 04]
 
• Report: CIA Gave False Info on Iraq; Senate Report Says CIA Gave U.S. False Information on Iraq Weapons, Fell Victim to 'Group Think'.
   ABC News (United States), http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20040709_847.html , The Associated Press , July 9, 2004
   WASHINGTON -- The key U.S. assertions leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses, a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report asserted Friday. Intelligence analysts fell victim to "group think" assumptions that Iraq had weapons that it did not, the bipartisan report concluded. Many factors contributing to those failures are ongoing problems within the U.S. intelligence community which cannot be fixed with more money alone, it said.
   The report did not address a key allegation by Democrats: That Bush and other officials further twisted the evidence to back their calls for war against Iraq. The committee's top Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, said he was disappointed the panel did not look into what he called "exaggerated" claims of the Iraqi threat by top administration officials.
   Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who heads the committee, told reporters that assessments that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and could make a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade were wrong.
   "As the report will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence," he said. "This was a global intelligence failure."
   Rockefeller said: "Tragically, the intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."
   The report repeatedly blasts departing CIA Director George Tenet, accusing him of skewing advice to top policy-makers with the CIA's view and elbowing out dissenting views from other intelligence agencies overseen by the State or Defense departments. It faulted Tenet for not personally reviewing Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, which contained since-discredited references to Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium in Africa.
   White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush on a campaign trip Friday, said the committee's report essentially "agrees with what we have said, which is we need to take steps to continue strengthening and reforming our intelligence capabilities so we are prepared to meet the new threats that we face in this day and age."
   Tenet has resigned and leaves office Sunday.
   Bush has been agonizing over whether he will nominate a successor for Tenet before the November election. Poised to take over next week as acting director is Tenet's his deputy, John McLaughlin.
   Asked earlier this week whether he planned to wait until after the election to name Tenet's replacement, the president said: "I haven't made up my mind on the nomination process."
   Intelligence analysts worked from the assumption that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was seeking to make more, as well as trying to revive a nuclear weapons program. Instead, investigations after the Iraq invasion have shown that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons program and no biological weapons, and only small amounts of chemical weapons have been found.
   Analysts ignored or discounted conflicting information because of their assumptions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the report said.
   "This 'group think' dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs," the report concluded.
   Such assumptions also led analysts to inflate snippets of questionable information into broad declarations that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, the report said.
   For example, speculation that the presence of one specialized truck could mean an effort to transfer chemical weapons was puffed up into a conclusion that Iraq was actively making chemical weapons, the report said.
   Analysts also concluded that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program based mainly on the since-discredited claims of one Iraqi defector code-named "Curve Ball," it said. American agents did not have direct access to Curve Ball or his debriefers, but the source's information was expanded into the conclusion that Iraq had an advanced and active biological weapons program, the report said. # [Jul 9, 04]  
• Israeli barrier ruled illegal. Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Netherlands (Holland) flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   News Interactive (Australia), www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,10095854%255E401,00.html , From Stephanie van den Berg at The Hague, July 10, 2004
   THE HAGUE: The World Court today delivered a sweeping indictment of Israel's controversial barrier in the occupied West Bank, declaring it illegal and calling for parts to be torn down.
   In a ruling hailed by the Palestinians, but rejected out of hand by Israel, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said if the barrier became permanent it would be tantamount to a "de facto annexation" of occupied land.
   It called for the United Nations to act after determining that the wall, which in some areas slices West Bank villages in half, breached international law.
   The court said construction should be halted immediately and sections which encroached on Palestinian territory should be dismantled.
   The barrier infringed the rights of Palestinian residents who had seen their homes and farmland seized or destroyed, it said, and called on Israel to pay compensation for the hardship caused.
   The Palestinians wasted no time in demanding international sanctions against Israel, while veteran leader Yasser Arafat hailed the decision as a "victory for the Palestinian people".
   "We salute this decision condemning the racist wall," he said.
   But the Jewish state dismissed the court's "advisory opinion" even before it was issued and vowed that construction of the 700km network of electric fencing, barbed wire and concrete walls would carry on unimpeded.
   Israel insists the barrier is necessary to prevent Palestinian attacks, but the Palestinians denounce it as little more than a land grab aimed at pre-empting a definitive demarcation of the border of a future state.  ... (from News.com.au 10 Jul 04) [Jul 10, 04]
• Troops should stay in Iraq says Democrats.
   Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200407/s1151296.htm , 5:26pm (AEST), Sunday, July 11, 2004.
   AUSTRALIA: The Australian Democrats are calling for Australian troops to remain in Iraq at least until the country's elections are held.
   Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett says Australia's has an obligation to help rebuild peace in Iraq because of the part it played in invading it
   Mr Bartlett says while the US Senate Committee's highlighted pre-war intelligence failures, Australia now has a responsibility to the Iraqi people.
   "Everybody opposed going to war and Prime Minister Howard must bear the strongest condemnation for making that mistake but now that it's happened we must fulfil our responsibility to help rebuild that country," he said. #
   [COMMENT: The longer the "infidels" stay in "Muslim land", the more people, both foreign and Iraqi, will be killed. Mr Bartlett, like most Westerners, has no idea of how the Arab conquests were made in past ages, and cannot even begin to comprehend how evil and low Westerners appear in their eyes. Torturing prisoners isn't exactly the way to start trying to reverse those teachings! Perhaps the ADs need to subscribe to some of the better news services, and read some reformist and guerrilla authors and filmmakers. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 11, 04]

• Tailspin: Behind the Korean Airliner Tragedy (1989) (TV).
   IMDb (Earth's biggest movie database ™), www.imdb.com/ title/tt0098430 , User comment July 11, 2004
   Directed by David Darlow, Writing credit Brian Phelan. Plot Outline: Chronicle of the shooting down of a Korean passenger plane by Soviet air force on 1st September 1983. Over 280 people died in this incident. Also known as "Coded Hostile" (1989) (TV) [Jul 11, 04]
• US citizens may be denied inexpensive drug imports by Australian trade pact.
   The New York Times, "Trade Pact May Undercut Inexpensive Drug Imports," www.nytimes.com/ 2004/07/12/ politics/ 12DRUGready.html , By Elizabeth Becker and Robert Pear, July 12, 2004
   WASHINGTON, July 11: Congress is poised to approve an international trade agreement that could have the effect of thwarting a goal pursued by many lawmakers of both parties: the import of inexpensive prescription drugs to help millions of Americans without health insurance.
   The agreement, negotiated with Australia by the Bush administration, would allow pharmaceutical companies to prevent imports of drugs to the United States and also to challenge decisions by Australia about what drugs should be covered by the country's health plan, the prices paid for them and how they can be used.
   It represents the administration's model for strengthening the protection of expensive brand-name drugs in wealthy countries, where the biggest profits can be made.
   In negotiating the pact, the United States, for the first time, challenged how a foreign industrialized country operates its national health program to provide inexpensive drugs to its own citizens. Americans without insurance pay some of the world's highest prices for brand-name prescription drugs, in part because the United States does not have such a plan.
   Only in the last few weeks have lawmakers realized that the proposed Australia trade agreement the Bush administration's first free trade agreement with a developed country could have major implications for health policy and programs in the United States.
   The debate over drug imports, an issue with immense political appeal, has been raging for four years, with little reference to the arcane details of trade policy. Most trade agreements are so complex that lawmakers rarely investigate all the provisions, which typically cover such diverse areas as manufacturing, tourism, insurance, agriculture and, increasingly, pharmaceuticals.
   Bush administration officials oppose legalizing imports of inexpensive prescription drugs, citing safety concerns. Instead, with strong backing from the pharmaceutical industry, they have said they want to raise the price of drugs overseas to spread the burden of research and development that is borne disproportionately by the United States.
   Many Democrats, with the support of AARP, consumer groups and a substantial number of Republicans, are promoting legislation to lower drug costs by importing less expensive medicines from Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other countries where prices are regulated through public health programs.
   These two competing approaches represent very different ways of helping Americans who typically pay much more for brand-name prescription drugs than people in the rest of the industrialized world.
   Leaders in both houses of Congress hope to approve the free trade agreement in the next week or two. Last Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee endorsed the pact, which promises to increase American manufacturing exports by as much as $2 billion a year and preserve jobs here.
   Health advocates and officials in developing countries have intensely debated the effects of trade deals on the ability of poor nations to provide inexpensive generic drugs to their citizens, especially those with AIDS.
   But in Congress, the significance of the agreement for health policy has generally been lost in the trade debate.
   The chief sponsor of the Senate bill, Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said: "This administration opposes re-importation even to the extent of writing barriers to it into its trade agreements. I don't understand why our trade ambassador is inserting this prohibition into trade agreements before Congress settles the issue."
   Senator John McCain, an author of the drug-import bill, sees the agreement with Australia as hampering consumers' access to drugs from other countries. His spokesman said the senator worried that "it only protects powerful special interests."
   Gary C. Hufbauer, a senior analyst at the Institute for International Economics, said "the Australia free trade agreement is a skirmish in a larger war" over how to reduce the huge difference in prices paid for drugs in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world.
   Kevin Outterson, an associate law professor at West Virginia University, agreed.
   "The United States has put a marker down and is now using trade agreements to tell countries how they can reimburse their own citizens for prescription drugs," he said.
   The United States does not import any significant amount of low-cost prescription drugs from Australia, in part because federal laws effectively prohibit such imports. But a number of states are considering imports from Australia and Canada, as a way to save money, and American officials have made clear that the Australia agreement sets a precedent they hope to follow in negotiations with other countries.
   Trade experts and the pharmaceutical industry offer no assurance that drug prices will fall in the United States if they rise abroad.
   Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel's trade subcommittee, voted for the agreement, which could help industries in his state. But Mr. Levin said the trade pact would give a potent weapon to opponents of the drug-import bill, who could argue that "passing it would violate our international obligations."
   Such violations could lead to trade sanctions costing the United States and its exporters millions of dollars.
   One provision of the trade agreement with Australia protects the right of patent owners, like drug companies, to "prevent importation" of products on which they own the patents. Mr. Dorgan's bill would eliminate this right.
   The trade pact is "almost completely inconsistent with drug-import bills" that have broad support in Congress, Mr. Levin said.
   But Representative Bill Thomas, the California Republican who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said, "The only workable procedure is to write trade agreements according to current law."
   For years, drug companies have objected to Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, under which government officials decide which drugs to cover and how much to pay for them. Before the government decides whether to cover a drug, experts analyze its clinical benefits, safety and "cost-effectiveness," compared with other treatments.
   The trade pact would allow drug companies to challenge decisions on coverage and payment.
   Joseph M. Damond, an associate vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said Australia's drug benefit system amounted to an unfair trade practice.
   "The solution is to get rid of these artificial price controls in other developed countries and create real marketplace incentives for innovation," Mr. Damond said.
   While the trade pact has barely been noticed here, it has touched off an impassioned national debate in Australia, where the Parliament is also close to approving it.
   The Australian trade minister, Mark Vaile, promised that "there is nothing in the free trade agreement that would increase drug prices in Australia."
   But a recent report from a committee of the Australian Parliament saw a serious possibility that "Australians would pay more for certain medicines," and that drug companies would gain more leverage over government decisions there.
   Bush administration officials noted that the Trade Act of 2002 said its negotiators should try to eliminate price controls and other regulations that limit access to foreign markets.
   Dr. Mark B. McClellan, the former commissioner of food and drugs now in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, said last year that foreign price controls left American consumers paying most of the cost of pharmaceutical research and development, and that, he said, was unacceptable. #
   [COMMENT: Notice how there was a dispute about the import of medications to the USA -- see how Big Business hates competition, except when it suits their pocket! The elites on each side of the Pacific tell a different tale to their own citizens, pretending they will gain at the expense of outsiders. It is NOT a win-win situation -- it is a big win to Mr Greed, and a loss to Mr and Mrs Average.
   And I suppose that the great Swiss, German and British pharmaceutical companies are not still discovering new medications? The remark of Dr. McClellan bears the hallmarks of the idea that nothing is any good outside of the USA, a common misconception of many US citizens. A similar problem exists in many countries to varying degrees. That's why the Internet is so good to reveal the trickery of the elites. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 12, 04]

• Vatican sees "weighty sentence" against Israeli wall .
   Cath News, www.cathnews.com/news/407/66.php , Jul 13, 2004
   VATICAN CITY: Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls has told reporters that the International Court's condemnation of Israel's West Bank security wall is a "weighty sentence".
   But Catholic World News reports that he conceded that the court's verdict leaves the future open.
   The court said on Friday that it is against international law for Israel to build its barrier in the occupied territories and that it should be dismantled.
   "Now we must see what governments do," observed the papal spokesman.
   Following the International Court's ruling that Israel should cease construction of the wall, because the structure violated the rights of the Palestinian residents, the UN is expected to take up deliberation on the issue. The Israeli government has announced that it will not accept the court's judgment.
   Meanwhile US churches have appealed to their government to support the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on Israel's separation barrier. For nearly a year, the US churches that work together through Churches for Middle East Peace have advocated for the United States government's intervention to stop Israel's building of the barrier beyond the 1967 "green line" on occupied land in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
   Franciscan Sr Florence Deacon, director of Franciscans International (an NGO at the United Nations in New York), noted that Franciscans have had custody of Christianity's traditional Holy Land shrines for 800 years. She appreciated the Court's emphasis on the role of the United Nations in negotiating a just and lasting peace in that land sacred to all the children of Abraham.
   She said: "For the past 50 years, the United States has been a trusted friend of the state of Israel while also caring about the Palestinian people's welfare, and more recently their political rights. Our government needs to use these historic ties to push both sides toward serious negotiations without further delay."
   Pictured: Palestinian Catholic Ghassan Handal stands at the Israeli security barrier behind his family home in Bethlehem. Handal told Catholic News Service that the newly constructed wall took his family's land. The barrier was condemned by the International Court of Justice July 9. Father Shawki Baterian, an official with the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, welcomed the court's non-binding ruling, saying that the fence was "increasing hatred between Israelis and Palestinians." (CNS photo by Debbie Hill)
   SOURCE
Vatican sees "weighty sentence" against Israeli wall (Catholic World News 12/7/04)
US churches ask Bush to respect court view on Israel's separation wall (Independent Catholic News 12/7/04)
   LINKS
International Court of Justice
Christian hunger strikers welcome ruling on Israel's Separation Wall (Ekklesia 12/7/04)
The Wall and its consequences for ordinary citizens (AsiaNews 9/2/04)
Vatican cardinal condemns Israel security wall (CathNews 14/11/03) # [Jul 13, 04]
• Sovereignty, Martial Law, and Continuing Violence in the New Iraq; Fisk: ... 'the Americans must leave Iraq. They will leave Iraq and they can't leave Iraq.'.
   Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/16/1442227#transcript , Interview with ROBERT FISK*, Friday, July 16th, 2004
   BAGHDAD, Iraq: We go to Baghdad to speak with Robert Fisk, Chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent, about the continuing violence in Iraq, house raids and phone tapping, and the unelected prime minister Iyad Allawi.
_________________________________________________________________
   The new Iraq is in chaos. Since the so-called transfer of sovereignty on June 28th, over 30 people have been killed. This week alone, 22 people died in two car bombs in Baghdad. Now, the unelected Interim Prime Minister Allawi says he is going to create a new secret police force raising alarms among Iraqis who had suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein's secret police.
   The violence is continuing unabated despite the comments from the U.S. and its allies in the invasion. After Thursday's recent bombing, the London Independent's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk writes:
   "At the al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad yesterday morning, there was blood on the walls, blood on the floor, blood on the doctors, blood on the stretchers. In the dangerous oven of Baghdad, 10 more lives had just ended. So what was it Tony Blair said in the Commons yesterday afternoon? "We are not killing civilians in Iraq; terrorists are killing civilians in Iraq." So that's all right then. Question: Are Baghdad and London on the same planet?"
   * Robert Fisk, chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent.
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   AMY GOODMAN: First we go to Baghdad to independent reporter Robert Fisk. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Robert.
   ROBERT FISK: Thank you.
   AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have just been spending the last half hour talking about Fox News coverage of Iraq and other issues involving the Bush administration. But we'd like to turn to you now to talk about what is happening on the ground.
   ROBERT FISK: Well, one thing that is happening on the ground is that the reporting of Iraq has reached a point where hardly any journalists leave Baghdad and some of them don't even leave their hotels. One of the reasons why the Bush administration is getting away with so much at the moment is that the degree of anarchy, the sheer size of the area of Iraq outside government or American control is being hidden from ordinary people.
   For example, in the town of Baquba, there are now hundreds of armed men. In Ramadi and Fallujah, they're virtually people's republics in which even the Americans cannot move freely. We do not realize, though we should, the degree to which the country of Iraq is outside the control of the new American-established government of Ayad Allawi.
   You know, we promised the people here democracy and we're giving them now martial law, telephone tapping, mail opening, special raids on houses, forget about habeas corpus.
   The big problem at the moment is that the degree of violence across the country is not getting across.
   For example, when 10 people were killed and 33 wounded by a suicide bomber in the center of Baghdad, it went around the world as headlines. When 10 people were killed and 33 wounded in Kirkuk, we didn't hear about it.
   And this is a major problem. We now find ourselves restricted by the danger. Now I'm still able to move around Baghdad and I can still travel outside Baghdad. But only with days of preparation. And so what we're doing, in effect, is that we're being circumscribed in our movements, which, of course, seeks the authorities because we can't report dozens of deaths going on elsewhere in the country.
   And at the same time, the insurgency continues. Allawi who, of course, was as C.I.A. Operative and is now the interim, quote Prime Minister, unquote, made a statement in the last 24 hours saying it's going to get worse. So, we're still back in the same old Alice in Wonderland world. Everything is getting better, democracy is coming and everything is getting worse.
   AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Robert Fisk in Baghdad. Can you talk about the Al Yarmuk hospital and the time you spent there and what you saw.
   ROBERT FISK: Well, when I got there, as always after major bombings and atrocities, there was chaos, there were a large number of people believing that their families may have been wounded or killed. Of course, any family who knew that their loved ones were queuing at the gate at that moment to enter the Iraqi government compound naturally assumed the worst and rushed to the hospital. Some of the people being brought in, some of the wounded, were so badly mutilated and covered in so much blood, they were unrecognizable. One woman clearly did not at first recognize her own husband. One man came in with only a stump at the end of his arm. And I remember thinking, crazily, I saw a human hand beside one of the bombed vehicles, I wonder if it's his hand.
   That's the kind of horror that people here now face daily, and which we see at least if we go out, we see. I think that there's one thing that is very constantly seen here, which one has to say or admit, that Iraqis say they'd rather have law and democracy and they want an end to this abyss of lawlessness. Just 24 hours ago, I went to the funeral of a senior official in the Industry Ministry, a man whose job, actually, was to check the accounts to prevent fraud by the big contracting agencies who are rebuilding Iraq. He was a father of seven children. I met his youngest son and his older son. Mohammad was 11 and his eldest son Akram, was 20. And he came back home, bringing his family their breakfast, milk, cream, bread. A car with three men and one of them with a cell phone, called another vehicle, a pickup truck, which arrived with two very professional killers; two shots in the head, two shots in the stomach. The family found him lying with one leg still in his car.
   And at the funeral, and at the funeral meal afterwards, it's a tradition in the Muslim world to meet with all the family afterwards in a tent in the street outside, one of the sons said to me, you know, we would like democracy, but we've had 35 years without. And it has given freedom to thieves and murderers, not to us.
   These people want more strict laws, they want the return of capital punishment, I'm sorry to say. But that's what they say they want. It doesn't mean they want Saddam back, but that's what they say they want.
   And a measure of the lawlessness and the horror is that when they returned for the second time to the mosque to collect the coffin in which to put the body of the dead civil servant, a man called Sepal Karim, there was a bomb inside the coffin. It didn't go off. When I visited the funeral tent, they had surrounded it with vehicles because they were frightened some of them might drive a car loaded with explosives, a suicide bomber might drive into the funeral tent. That is the extent of fear and horror and danger that Iraq is going through. Though I can say you're not reading that in the American press all the time.
   AMY GOODMAN: No, we're not. What about Robert Fisk? What has happened since the so-called handover in terms of the laws that the unelected Prime Minister Allawi is implementing?
   ROBERT FISK: Well, you see, it sounds good on television if you believe in strong laws. Martial law, telephone tapping, a new Director of the Public Security, as opposed to Director of National Security, which is what it was called under Saddam.
   After the Baath party officials are coming back into interrogation service, Allawi said they are professionals. Well the only Iraqi professional interrogators were those who worked for Saddam, the ones who we're supposedly are supposed to be putting on trial someday for crimes against humanity.
   But you see, most Iraqis want to hear this. They are so fearful of the insecurity and the killings, they are so fearful of the kidnapping and rape of women, which is happening, that they want these laws. But what they're not being given is what we promised them, which is democracy.
   Now the whole issue, of course, is that nobody here actually believes the argument that Allawi is the Iraqi Prime Minister. They see him as a creature of the United States. He is a former C.I.A. Operative. He said at a press conference he's taken money in the past from 14 different intelligence agencies.
   Iraqis were not impressed when they saw the pictures of the first appearance of Saddam Hussein at a trial when the top right hand side of the screen said cleared by U.S. Military. John Negroponte of Honduras fame is not here as a routine ambassador, he's here for a purpose. And most people I talk to in the streets of Baghdad, most of my Iraqi friends say basically Allawi works for the Americans.
   It wouldn't be difficult to see how Allawi could be popular if he were to say: All American troops and all foreign troops must leave Iraq in six weeks. He'd be the most popular Prime Minister this country has ever had, he'd probably win an election. Of course, he is not going to say that. So, we come back to the same problem, which is foreign occupation. As, you know, I've said before, I think on your program, the Americans must leave Iraq. They will leave Iraq and they can't leave Iraq. And that is the equation which is torturing the country and the United States at the moment.
   AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, I want to thank you for being with us. Robert Fisk speaking to us from Baghdad, Iraq. He is long time correspondent for the "Independent" newspaper in Britain. This is Democracy Now! # (By courtesy of Michael P, by 23 July 04 e-mail) [Jul 16, 04]
• Little chance for Iraq to build democracy.
   The Power and Interest News Report (PINR), "Iraq's Transition to Dictatorship," Drafted by Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, July 20, 2004
   One of the American war aims in Iraq that probably will not be fulfilled is the establishment in that country of a stable market democracy. At present, it is impossible to predict the form or forms -- if the country splits apart -- that a future Iraqi regime will take, but it is possible to sketch some plausible scenarios.
   The obvious obstacle to democratization in Iraq is the civil disorder there, which is universally perceived and judged to be of overriding significance. It is impossible to hold credible elections in an environment of insurgency, much less to permit the exercise of civil liberties or to nurture a system of free enterprise favorable to investment. Yet concentration on the security issue in isolation from its social context attacks a symptom rather than its cause.
   Insurgencies and other kinds of extra-legal opposition do not occur unless a society is divided into groups with conflicting interests on which they are unwilling to compromise. Democracy requires a civil society whose members agree that they should all live together under a common system of rule making and enforcement, despite their differences on any number of particular issues. When such consensus is absent, groups whose aims are thwarted will not obey the rules of the game. That is the case in Iraq.
   The roots of insecurity in Iraq go back to the creation of that country out of areas populated by distinct communities with no common history and no shared vision of the future by the European colonial powers after World War I. Iraq never achieved genuine nationhood during the period of indirect British rule through the Hashemite monarchy or the era of Ba'athist rule that succeeded Iraq's anti-colonial revolution. Saddam Hussein's forceful repression of Kurdish and Shi'a rebellions spoke more to the ascendancy of communalism over civil society in Iraq than it did to his brutality. That Hussein failed to impose his view of Iraqi nationalism based on a revival of the glories of ancient Babylon indicates severe divergence in Iraqi society as much as it does his inadequacies.
   By removing the Ba'athist formula of secular nationalism, the American occupation has exposed the underlying divisions in Iraqi society between Sunni Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs. Hussein was able to suppress the incipient conflict among the three groups with a Sunni-dominated dictatorship functioning through a draconian security apparatus and deals with regional strong men representing tribal interests. As in any long lasting dictatorship, the Ba'athist regime in Iraq made enough of the population dependent on its apparatus to allow it to repress the rest. This is simply how states are held together when communalism trumps civil society - dictatorship is a symptom of social divergence, the opposite side of endemic civil disorder.
   It is unlikely that a Ba'athist regime will reappear in Iraq, but it is highly probable that some form of dictatorship will arise in the country or that it will break up into undemocratic mini-states. If Iraq remains a single state, it will either be a loose de facto confederation of boss-ruled regions or a typical Middle Eastern dictatorship like Egypt or Syria, perhaps disguised as what Fareed Zakaria calls "illiberal democracy."
   The future of Iraqi politics will in great part be determined by the fact that the major groups in Iraqi society are more interested in achieving communal aims than they are in living in a market democracy. Although it is correct that most Iraqis would prefer a democratic government, they give their communal identities a higher preference than they give an inclusive civil society, creating the conditions for dictatorship. What form authoritarianism will take in Iraq will be determined by the interplay of the country's major political forces.
Iyad Allawi and the Transitional Government
   The most likely possibility for the emergence of a standard Middle Eastern dictatorship in Iraq is the continuation of the present transitional government, with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as its strong man, after a constitution is written and elections are held. Having taken advantage of America's misplaced support of Ahmed Chalabi and having outmaneuvered United Nations envoy Lakhtar Brahimi's efforts to establish a caretaker regime of technocrats, Allawi has positioned himself as the only convincing national figure in Iraqi politics. An ex-Ba'athist, Shi'a, pro-Western secularist and leader of the Iraqi National Accord during his exile, Allawi now has at his disposal the machinery of government, which permits him to make deals and utilize state security forces. As the best that America can hope for, Allawi has the space to attempt to provide security and form a winning coalition, with covert support from the occupation.
   Allawi, who has a reputation as an authoritarian, has already instituted legislation permitting the imposition of martial law and has begun to use the security forces at his disposal to mount raids on criminals and insurgents. On July 15, he announced the formation of a General Security Directorate -- a domestic intelligence agency with policing functions -- that will serve as a base of his power if he is successful in building it up.
   Having proven himself as a successful politician by playing on the interests of the members of the former Governing Council in preserving their power, Allawi now has the opportunity to try to restore civil order. If he is even moderately successful, he will decisively gain the upper hand and will be poised to become a figure like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, consolidating a political machine dependent on his largesse, with a security apparatus to protect it that would have American aid and support in return for general compliance with American policy. It is Allawi's distance from communal politics and from Iraqi popular opinion that makes him a possible strong man. He is beholden to nothing but the deals he can make and the power that he can deploy.
   What makes Allawi's emergence as a strong man problematic is the ineffectiveness of the transitional government's security apparatus. He was able to rush into the power vacuum created by the abrupt handover of sovereignty by the occupation, but he is now faced with having to work with only limited American support. Allawi cannot identify himself too closely with the United States, which, in any case, aims to draw back from a pro-active military role. He is left with an embryonic security system and an array of leaders of diverse groups -- both within and outside the transitional government -- who have no strong bonds of loyalty to him and who will collaborate with him only as long as they perceive that their interests are being served. Allawi has yet to build his machine and he has an uphill battle ahead of him. Yet he is the only current prospect for national leadership in Iraq.
The Shi'a
   Making up sixty percent of Iraq's population, the Shi'a Arabs believe that they deserve to play the dominant role in the Iraqi regime that emerges after the transition. An oppressed majority throughout Iraq's brief history, the Shi'a are now poised to achieve their place in the sun. They are in a period of rising expectations that they will gain power that they have never had before. They have been generally compliant with the occupation and the transition process, because they expect to gain advantages for their community from it. If their expectations are thwarted, they will become militant and uncompromising, determined not to suffer a replay of the aftermath of the first Gulf War, in which the United States stood by while Saddam Hussein crushed their rebellion, which America had abetted.
   Shi'a politics runs the gamut of Islamism, from the moderate stance of the Dawa Party to Moqtada al-Sadr's confrontationalism. The failure of the occupation to eliminate al-Sadr, who had mobilized the poorest of the Shi'a community, from the political picture and the willingness of moderate Shi'a to bargain with him indicates that the moderates are using him as a warning of how the Shi'a community as a whole will respond if they are not the dominant force in a new Iraqi regime.
   Shi'a rule over a unified Iraqi state would mean the dominance of one of Iraq's communities over the others, repeating the familiar pattern of Iraqi politics with a different group in charge, deploying its own machine. Such a regime would face continuous resistance from the other two communities, forcing a choice between decentralization tending toward break up, or the imposition of a dictatorship with less flexibility than the standard Middle Eastern bureaucratic and crony model that Allawi would install.
   Due to the importance of religious leaders in the Shi'a community, a Shi'a-dominated regime would have theocratic tendencies, hindering compromise with the two Sunni groups. Shi'a ties to Iran, which sees itself as a protector of Shi'a interests in Iraq and a possible dominant influence in the country's south, also would contribute to resistance to Shi'a rule. Post-transition Iraq will almost certainly have Shi'a leadership, whether of secular or religious leanings. That leadership will have to satisfy its constituency's rising expectations of power, forcing conflict with the other two communities.
The Kurds
   Unlike the Shi'a, who expect an improved power position, the Kurds already have their place in the sun and seek to defend and hold on to what they have. Under the protection of the no-fly zone imposed by the United States after the first Gulf War, the Kurds achieved an autonomy unparalleled in their modern history, creating a mini-state controlled by their two nationalist movements, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. They now face the prospect of diminished power in a new Iraq and are determined to keep what they have won.
   With twenty percent of Iraq's population, concentrated in the country's north, the Kurds do not expect to dominate an Iraqi state. They would prefer to have their own national state, but are willing to settle for the autonomy that they currently have, which they perceive to be under attack. The failure of the Kurds to occupy either of the two major offices in the transitional government and the rejection of their demand for veto power over provisions of the planned constitution has placed them in a position of vigilant defense.
   That Kurdish interests must be reckoned with is indicated by the fact that the transitional government agreed not to apply its new security law in Kurdish areas without the consent of local authorities. Just as the Shi'a are ready to become militant and uncompromising if their aspirations are not fulfilled, the Kurds are ready to resist if their autonomy is threatened. Their nationalist movements are militarized and disciplined after decades of guerrilla war, and their bargain to share power will hold as long as the Kurdish community perceives that it is under siege. The Kurds have been more cooperative with the occupation than any other community, but that is only because their aims have been fulfilled so far. As attempts are made to force compromises on them, the Kurds are likely to be the community that resists national integration the most. Kurdish nationalism has been beaten back by force by Turkey and Iraq in the past. The same scenario is likely in the new Iraq unless the divergence in Iraqi society pulls toward a weak confederation.
The Sunni Arabs
   If the Shi'a are expansive and the Kurds are defensive, the Sunni Arabs are seeking to win back what they have lost. The dominant minority throughout Iraq's history, they are now the weakest political force, divided between tribal collaborators with the transitional government and insurgent rejectionists. The appointment of Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar to the presidency of the transitional government indicates an attempt to placate Sunni Arabs at the expense of the Kurds. Just as Saddam Hussein was constrained to rule through tribal bargains in his last years in power, the transitional government is trying to do the same.
   With twenty percent of Iraq's population, Sunni Arabs have the advantage of disproportionate representation in the professions and administrative cadres necessary to run a modern state, but their political organization is inferior to those of the other communities. The formal destruction of the Ba'ath Party has driven their potential leadership underground, which has led to the insurgency. Whereas the Shi'a and Kurds are ready to fight if their demands are not met, the Sunni Arabs are already fighting. The insurgents' aim of regaining the power that they once had is probably doomed to failure, but their guerrilla war could force concessions from a Shi'a-dominated government, further alienating the Kurds and frustrating the Shi'a public.
   The Sunni Arab collaborators with the transitional government seek the best deals that they can make to secure their regional control. The insurgents are attempting to destabilize Iraq to the point that once the United States withdraws there will be an opening for restoration of a Sunni Arab ruling class. Which way the Sunni Arabs will go depends upon what the other communities do -- how much they are willing to concede. Iraq is already in a state of limited civil war. The insurgents would welcome its spread.
The United States
   With Iraq's three communities [four, counting the Assyrian Christians] on a collision course and the only prospect for an effective state a standard Middle Eastern dictatorship, the United States has little choice but to play into the hands of Iyad Allawi. He would promise to be an Iraqi Mubarak, which would be acceptable to American interests.
   Despite its military commitment, its economic aid and its massive diplomatic presence, the United States has limited political influence in the new Iraq. Any American moves that seem to impose political solutions will impair the legitimacy of the intended beneficiaries and will threaten to set off resistance by those whom the policies would disadvantage.
   Those who believed that the transition would be the occupation under another name were mistaken. The future of Iraq is, indeed, falling into the hands of the Iraqis, and they are poised to create forms of order and disorder that were never envisioned by Pentagon planners.
   The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com . All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com . [Comment added in square brackets.] [Jul 20, 04]
• Is the US adding Arabia to its list of jobs to do? Funding for terror.
   The Weekend Australian, "Saudis quizzed on terror funds," p 3, July 24-25, 2004
   AUSTRALIA: A visiting Saudi Arabian government delegation was summoned to a meeting with senior Canberra officials this month to discuss Australia's growing concerns about the kingdom's financing of terrorism.
   The Saudi officials had been in Australia several days to meet Islamic community and business leaders before the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade learned of their whereabouts and arranged a meeting through the Saudi Arabian embassy. [...]
   ... members ... met trustees raising $2.65 million for the controversial purchase of a mosque in southwestern Sydney.
   Supporters of hardline Islamic cleric Sheikh Abdul Salam Mohammed Zoud have bought the mosque and must raise the full amount before the July 30 settlement date. [...]
   At the July 7 meeting, DFAT and Attorney-General's Department officials raised concerns about donations from Saudi Arabians reaching the hands of extremist or terrorist groups in Southeast Asia and Australia via charitable and religious welfare groups.
   The US is concerned ... funding ... siphoned off ...
   Saudi ambassador Abdulaziz Al Wasil said DFAT initiated the meeting but he denied any specific concerns were raised about money from Saudi Arabia being given to extremist or terrorist groups in the region. [...]
   "We have strict measures in place ..."
   Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said governments had not worked hard enough to stop the "continuous flow of funds" to terrorists worldwide including Australia.  ...
   [COMMENT: What on earth are potential terrorists doing in Australia? Did the electors invite them in by a referendum? The Reader's Digest had exposed the Saudi support for the extremists more than a year ago. The Saudi ambassador's response shows that he is not likely to turn a hair when spoken to by officials. Only a lecture from the Prime Minister might cause him a few minutes anxiety! The Saudi oil income is so huge that Australia's weak response to the danger would seem less irritating than an ant to an elephant! COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 24-25, 04]

• Big Business getting more ethnic and cultural diversity into USA.
   The Weekend Australian, "Green card winners," p 16, July 24-25, 2004
   WASHINGTON: Bangladesh, Nigeria, Poland and Ethiopia topped this year's US visa lottery, which granted 50,000 permanent residence visas, or green cards, allowing recipients to live and work in the US. The "diversity lottery" distributes the visas to residents of countries that have low immigration rates to the US. #
   [COMMENT: Statistics on the unemployment and trade deficit rates, as well as the environmental damage being done by the present population, evidently do not enter into the thinking of the jellybrains who pass such laws. But really, it is High Finance that wants a quarrelsome divided population so that wage rates can be pushed down. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 24-25, 04]

• Crucifixion and amputations among punishments handed out by Sudan court, as US demands Sudan stop arming and backing genocidal ethnic cleansers.
   The Weekend Australian, "Sudan tells UN to butt out of Darfur," Correspondents in New York and Paris, Reuters and AP, p 16, July 24-25, 2004
   Sudan warned the world community yesterday not to interfere in its internal affairs after British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he had not ruled out military aid to help combat the crisis in Darfur, and Washington warned of imminent sanctions.
   The US circulated a new and tougher draft UN resolution threatening sanctions against Sudan's Government if it did not prosecute Arab militia leaders in the western region accused of ethnic cleansing against black Africans in Darfur. [...]
   Asked whether it made sense to pressure Khartoum to disarm the Janjaweed militia it had armed in the first place, Mr Powell said: "Since they turned it on, they can turn it off." [...]
   ... Mr Blair said the world needed to act. [...] ... long conflict between Arab nomads and black African farmers ... ... at least 30,000 people have died in Darfur since February 2003 and more than a million have been displaced. [...]
   Seven men convicted of belonging to the Janjaweed were sentenced in a Darfur court to punishments ranging from execution and crucifixion to amputation and imprisonment, a statement from the presiding judge said yesterday.
   Police arrested 100 Janjaweed in recent clashes but a source at an international organisation said they may have been petty looters made scapegoats. # [Emphasis added]
   [COMMENT: The second paragraph's "ethnic cleansing against black Africans" is one of the few honest reports so far on the attacks by the brown-skinned Arabs against the darker-skinned Africans. The Darfur area is different to the years-long attacks to the south, now temporarily under a ceasefire. But the causes are similar -- the Arabs want the land of the indigenous blacks. Wealthy countries have been selling the arms used by the Arabs misusing Islamism against the indigenous inhabitants. (Some of the arms dealers or their puppets verbally oppose "discrimination" and attend Churches or synagogues which preach a similar dogma.) Then wellmeaning Westerners and others are asked, or their taxes are used, to send in ridiculous aid, including food -- and the hapless blacks, whose homes and farms have been destroyed, are forced into "wage slavery" or become beggars or criminals, because food is being imported from merchants of other continents. Thus their age-old "food security" is destroyed. Terror is a profitable business!
   The crucifixion and amputation penalties of the Darfur court are clearly along the lines of the Koran: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides ..." (5:33 at http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/005.qmt.html #005.033 . Notice that most times in 2004 when a hostage has been mutilated or beheaded in Iraq, some Western leader or opinion-setter says that mutilation is against the Muslim religion. Such statements are deliberately misleading.
   The last part of the last sentence shows that some international workers on the ground have woken up to the dissembling of such regimes. In the teachings such dissembling is called al-taqiyya. Other groups without such religious comfort use other ways of explaining their dishonesty. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 24-25, 04]

• Baghdad is a city that reeks with the stench of the dead. http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2004% 20opinions/August/1%20o/Baghdad%20is%20a%20city%20that%20reeks%20with%20the%20stench% 20of%20 the%20dead%20By%20Robert%20Fisk.htm ;
   The Independent (London), By Robert Fisk, Wednesday, July 28, 2004
   BAGHDAD: The smell of the dead pours into the street through the air-conditioning ducts. Hot, sweet, overwhelming. Inside the Baghdad morgue, there are so many corpses that the fridges are overflowing. The dead are on the floor. Dozens of them. Outside, in the 46C (114F) heat, Qadum Ganawi tells me how his brother Hassan was murdered.
   "He was bringing supper home for our family in Palestine Street but he never reached our home. Then we got a phone call saying we could have him back if we paid $ 50,000 pounds 27,500 . We didn't have $ 50,000. So we sold part of our home and many of our things and we borrowed $ 15,000 and we paid over the money to a man in a car who was wearing a keffiyeh scarf round his head.
   "Then we got another phone call, telling us that Hassan was at the Saidiyeh police station. He was. He was blindfolded and gagged and he had two bullets in his head. They had taken our money and then they had killed him."
   There is a wail of grief from the yard behind us where 50 people are waiting in the shade of the Baghdad mortuary wall. There are wooden coffins in the street, stacked against the wall, lying on the pavement.
   Old men - fathers and uncles - are padding them with grease-proof paper. When the bodies are released, they will be taken to the mosque in coffins and then buried in shrouds. There are a few women. Most stare at the intruding foreigner with something approaching venom. The statistics of violent death in Baghdad are now beyond shame. Almost a year ago, there were sometimes 400 violent deaths a month. This in itself was a fearful number to follow the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. But in the first 10 days of this July alone, the corpses of 215 men and women were brought to the Baghdad mortuary, almost all of them dead from gunshot wounds.
   In the second 10 days of this month, the bodies of a further 291 arrived. A total of 506 violent deaths in under three weeks in Baghdad alone. Even the Iraqi officials here shake their heads in disbelief. "New Iraq" under its new American-appointed Prime Minister is more violent than ever.
   Qadum Ganawi puts his hand on my arm. "Listen," he says. "My brother had two tiny children. One is only a year old. We have sold our house and borrowed $ 15,000. How can we ever pay this back? And we have nothing for it but the grief of losing my dear brother.
   "He was a car importer so they thought he was rich. He wasn't. And, you know, his wife is Syrian. She went to Syria for a holiday with the two babies. She is there now. She doesn't know what has happened to her husband."
   Trucks are arriving in the street beside us, a pick-up and a small lorry with corpses for autopsy. Tony Blair says it is safer here. He is wrong. Every month is a massacre in Baghdad. Thieves, rapists, looters, American troops at checkpoints and on convoys, revenge killers, insurgents, they are shooting down the people of this city faster than ever.
   One man was shot dead by a US soldier as he overtook their convoy on the way to his Baghdad wedding. We found out only because his marriage was to have been celebrated in a hotel occupied by journalists. Another death I discovered only when an old Iraqi friend called on me last week. He wanted me to help him leave Iraq. Quickly. Now.
   "I work for the Americans at the airport but I think I'm done for if I stay." Why? "Because my uncle worked at the airport for the Americans, just like me. My uncle was Abdullah Mohi. He was driving home the other night but they stopped him a hundred metres from his house. Then they took a knife and cut his throat. We found him drenched in blood at the steering wheel." Abbas looks at me with dead eyes. "Should I go to Jordan? Help me."
   At the mortuary, a big, tall man, Amr Daher, walks up to me. "They killed one of our tribal leaders from the Dulaimi tribe," he says. "This morning, right in the middle of Al-Kut Square, just a couple of hours ago." Selman Hassan Salume was driving with his two teenage sons when three gunmen came alongside in a car and shot him dead. Both his sons were wounded, one seriously.
   Hospital records tell only part of the story. In the blazing heat of an Iraqi summer, some families bury their dead without notifying the authorities. Some remain unidentified for ever, unclaimed. The Americans bring in corpses. When they do, there are no autopsies. The morticians will not say why. But the Ministry of Health has told doctors there should be no autopsies in these cases because the Americans will already have performed the operation.
   Not long ago, six corpses arrived at the Baghdad mortuary after being brought in by US forces. Three were unidentified. Three had names but their families could not be found. All had suffered, according to the American records, "traumatic wounds to the head", the normal phrase for gunshot wounds. There were no autopsies. Death is now so routine even the most tragic of deaths becomes a footnote. A US tank collides with a bus north of Baghdad. Seven civilians are killed. The Americans agree to open an investigation. It makes scarcely a paragraph in the local press. Four days ago, a US M1A1 Abrams tank crossing the motorway at Abu Ghraib collided with a car carrying two girls and their mother, all of whom were crushed to death. It did not even make the news in Baghdad.
   No wonder the occupying powers - or the "international forces" as we must now call them - steadfastly refuse to reveal the statistics of Iraqi dead, only their own Even the deaths we do know about during the past 36 hours make shocking reading. At Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, gunmen killed two Iraqi police officers travelling to their station. In Kirkuk, an Iraqi policeman, Luay Abdullah, was shot as he waited for a lift home after guarding an oil pipeline. A Kurdish woman and her two children were killed when someone sprayed their home in Kirkuk with gunfire. A Kurdish peshmerga guerrilla was murdered in a drive-by shooting.
   A former government official was killed in Baghdad. Then yesterday afternoon, a senior civil servant at the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad was shot dead. In the town of Buhriz, hours of fighting between insurgents and US troops left 15 dead, according to the Americans. All, they said, were gunmen, although it almost always transpires that civilians are among the dead in such battles.
   American documents say insurgent groups "have become more sophisticated and may be co-ordinating their anti-coalition efforts, posing an even more significant threat". There is an increase in drive-by shootings. And, a chilling remark this, for all would-be travellers in and out of Baghdad, the Americans believe "recent attacks on air assets suggest that all type of aircraft, civilian, fixed-wing and military ... are seen as potential targets of opportunity".
   So the war is getting worse. The casualties are growing by the week. And Mr Blair thinks Iraq is safer. #
* Opinion Editorials, August 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info . [Jul 28, 04]
• Slovaks protest for Swedish pastor jailed for comments on gays. Slovakia flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Sweden flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  European Union flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   Catholic World News , www.cwnews.com/ news/viewstory. cfm?recnum=31161 , Jul. 29, 2004
   BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA, Jul. 29 (LifesiteNews.com/CWN) - The recent jailing of a Swedish Pentecostal pastor for "hate speech against homosexuals" has incited a rebuke from Slovakia's ruling Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). Interior Minister Vladimir Palko took his complaint directly to Cecilia Julin, the Swedish ambassador in Slovakia. Palko told Julin that he felt compelled to voice his complaint directly to her.
   Palko called the Swedish court's decision a case in point of how "a left-wing liberal ideology was trying to introduce tyranny and misuse the EU for this purpose," according to a Slovak Spectator account.
   The KDH organized a press conference to draw attention to their party's protest of the decision, and to emphasize how important it is that Slovaks be freely able to express their views.
   Pavol Hrusovsky, KDH chairman, said that the decision to jail Green was "a breach of human rights, the right to religious freedom, and the right of expression."
   "In Europe people are starting to be jailed for saying what they think," Palko added.
   Earlier in July, Ake Green, pastor of a Swedish Pentecostal church in Kalmar, Sweden, was sentenced to one month in prison by a Swedish court, for inciting hatred against homosexuals. Green was prosecuted in January for "hate speech against homosexuals" for a sermon he preached last summer citing Biblical references to homosexuality. [Jul. 29, 04]
• Doctors and Torture in Iraq.
   The New England Journal of Medicine, "Doctors and Torture," http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/351/5/415 , by Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston,. Volume 351:415-416, Number 5, July 29, 2004
   UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.
   We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.
   A May 22 article on Abu Ghraib in The New York Times states that "much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents" and that records and statements "showed doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals." [1] According to the article, two doctors who gave a painkiller to a prisoner for a dislocated shoulder and sent him to an outside hospital recognized that the injury was caused by his arms being handcuffed and held over his head for "a long period," but they did not report any suspicions of abuse. A staff sergeant medic who had seen the prisoner in that position later told investigators that he had instructed a military policeman to free the man but that he did not do so. A nurse, when called to attend to a prisoner who was having a panic attack, saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid with sandbags over their heads but did not report it until an investigation was held several months later.
   A June 10 article in the Washington Post tells of a long-standing policy at the Guantanamo Bay facility whereby military interrogators were given access to the medical records of individual prisoners. [2] The policy was maintained despite complaints by the Red Cross that such records "are being used by interrogators to gain information in developing an interrogation plan." A civilian psychiatrist who was part of a medical review team was "disturbed" about not having been told about the practice and said that it would give interrogators "tremendous power" over prisoners.
   Other reports, though sketchier, suggest that the death certificates of prisoners who might have been killed by various forms of mistreatment have not only been delayed but may have camouflaged the fatal abuse by attributing deaths to conditions such as cardiovascular disease. [3]
   Various medical protocols -- notably, the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo in 1975 -- prohibit all three of these forms of medical complicity in torture. Moreover, the Hippocratic Oath declares, "I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing."
   To be a military physician is to be subject to potential moral conflict between commitment to the healing of individual people, on the one hand, and responsibility to the military hierarchy and the command structure, on the other. I experienced that conflict myself as an Air Force psychiatrist assigned to Japan and Korea some decades ago: I was required to decide whether to send psychologically disturbed men back to the United States, where they could best receive treatment, or to return them to their units, where they could best serve combat needs. There were, of course, other factors, such as a soldier's pride in not letting his buddies down, but for physicians this basic conflict remained.
   American doctors at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have undoubtedly been aware of their medical responsibility to document injuries and raise questions about their possible source in abuse. But those doctors and other medical personnel were part of a command structure that permitted, encouraged, and sometimes orchestrated torture to a degree that it became the norm -- with which they were expected to comply -- in the immediate prison environment.
   The doctors thus brought a medical component to what I call an "atrocity-producing situation" -- one so structured, psychologically and militarily, that ordinary people can readily engage in atrocities. Even without directly participating in the abuse, doctors may have become socialized to an environment of torture and by virtue of their medical authority helped sustain it. In studying various forms of medical abuse, I have found that the participation of doctors can confer an aura of legitimacy and can even create an illusion of therapy and healing.
   The Nazis provided the most extreme example of doctors becoming socialized to atrocity. [4] In addition to cruel medical experiments, many Nazi doctors, as part of military units, were directly involved in killing. To reach that point, they underwent a sequence of socialization: first to the medical profession, always a self-protective guild; then to the military, where they adapted to the requirements of command; and finally to camps such as Auschwitz, where adaptation included assuming leadership roles in the existing death factory. The great majority of these doctors were ordinary people who had killed no one before joining murderous Nazi institutions. They were corruptible and certainly responsible for what they did, but they became murderers mainly in atrocity-producing settings.
   When I presented my work on Nazi doctors to U.S. medical groups, I received many thoughtful responses, including expressions of concern about much less extreme situations in which American doctors might be exposed to institutional pressures to violate their medical conscience. Frequently mentioned examples were prison doctors who administered or guided others in giving lethal injections to carry out the death penalty and military doctors in Vietnam who helped soldiers to become strong enough to resume their assignments in atrocity-producing situations.
   Physicians are no more or less moral than other people. But as heirs to shamans and witch doctors, we may be seen by others -- and sometimes by ourselves -- as possessing special magic in connection with life and death. Various regimes have sought to harness that magic to their own despotic ends. Physicians have served as actual torturers in Chile and elsewhere; have surgically removed ears as punishment for desertion in Saddam Hussein's Iraq; have incarcerated political dissenters in mental hospitals, notably in the Soviet Union; have, as whites in South Africa, falsified medical reports on blacks who were tortured or killed; and have, as Americans associated with the Central Intelligence Agency, conducted harmful, sometimes fatal, experiments involving drugs and mind control.
   With the possible exception of the altering of death certificates, the recent transgressions of U.S. military doctors have apparently not been of this order. But these examples help us to recognize what doctors are capable of when placed in atrocity-producing situations. A recent statement by the Physicians for Human Rights addresses this vulnerability in declaring that "torture can also compromise the integrity of health professionals." [5]
   To understand the full scope of American torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, we need to look more closely at the behavior of doctors and other medical personnel, as well as at the pressures created by the war in Iraq that produced this behavior. It is possible that some doctors, nurses, or medics took steps, of which we are not yet aware, to oppose the torture. It is certain that many more did not. But all those involved could nonetheless reveal, in valuable medical detail, much of what actually took place. By speaking out, they would take an important step toward reclaiming their role as healers.
   References
1. Zernike K. Only a few spoke up on abuse as many soldiers stayed silent. New York Times. May 22, 2004:A1.
2. Slevin P, Stephens J. Detainees' medical files shared: Guantanamo interrogators' access criticized. Washington Post. June 10, 2004:A1.
3. Squitieri T, Moniz D. U.S. Army re-examines deaths of Iraqi prisoners. USA Today. June 28, 2004.
4. Lifton RJ. The Nazi doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.
5. Statement of Leonard Rubenstein, executive director, Physicians for Human Rights, June 2, 2004. ( Accessed July 9, 2004, at www.aclu.org/news/NewsPrint.cfm?ID=13965&c=36 .) [Jul 29, 04]
• Drug relaxation could be fatal.
   The Sunday Times, Perth, W. Australia, "Drug bust," letter by Dr P. Cranley, Leederville, p 58, August 1, 2004
   PERTH: One must wonder at the stupidity of the police, government and drug authorities, going by recently announced relaxed drug policies.
   Half a gram of heroin, percentage unspecified, is enough to overdose a dozen young children or supply 15 to 20 standard $50 hits, one of which could be fatal for a first time or early user.
   Half a gram is probably more than most small dealers would carry.
  Still, this policy is in line with marijuana policy, where two bushes can supply enough marijuana for a dealer to live in comfort.
   This Government obviously supports small business.
   [COMMENT: This is displayed in tribute to Dr Pat Cranley, for many years a supporter of traditional reform, yet an innovator in his professional medical handling of heroin addicts. Because he prescribed liquid valium capsules to heroin addicts who tried to reform, several years ago the Medical Board cancelled his licence to practice medicine. He practised in Oxford St, Leederville.
   At the time he surmised the more likely reason was that he had stood as a candidate for the Democratic Labour Party (which has since declined remarkably). Dr Cranley was reinstated after a Supreme Court action. His parents had been licensees or part owners of the Wembley Hotel for many years, which in recent years his family sold. He died in October 2004. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 1, 04]

• Can't Blair See that this Country is About to Explode? Can't Bush?. -- Saddam thought he was going to execution
   The Independent (London), By Robert Fisk, Sunday 01 August 2004
   LONDON: The Prime Minister has accused some journalists of almost wanting a disaster to happen in Iraq. Robert Fisk, who has spent the past five weeks reporting from the deteriorating and devastated country, says the disaster has already happened, over and over again.
   BAGHDAD: The war is a fraud. I'm not talking about the weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Nor the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida which didn't exist. Nor all the other lies upon which we went to war. I'm talking about the new lies.
   For just as, before the war, our governments warned us of threats that did not exist, now they hide from us the threats that do exist. Much of Iraq has fallen outside the control of America's puppet government in Baghdad but we are not told. Hundreds of attacks are made against US troops every month. But unless an American dies, we are not told. This month's death toll of Iraqis in Baghdad alone has now reached 700 - the worst month since the invasion ended. But we are not told.
   The stage management of this catastrophe in Iraq was all too evident at Saddam Hussein's "trial". Not only did the US military censor the tapes of the event. Not only did they effectively delete all sound of the 11 other defendants. But the Americans led Saddam Hussein to believe - until he reached the courtroom - that he was on his way to his execution. Indeed, when he entered the room he believed that the judge was there to condemn him to death. This, after all, was the way Saddam ran his own state security courts. No wonder he initially looked "disorientated" - CNN's helpful description - because, of course, he was meant to look that way. We had made sure of that. Which is why Saddam asked Judge Juhi: "Are you a lawyer? ... Is this a trial?" And swiftly, as he realised that this really was an initial court hearing - not a preliminary to his own hanging - he quickly adopted an attitude of belligerence.
   But don't think we're going to learn much more about Saddam's future court appearances. Salem Chalabi, the brother of convicted fraudster Ahmad and the man entrusted by the Americans with the tribunal, told the Iraqi press two weeks ago that all media would be excluded from future court hearings. And I can see why. Because if Saddam does a Milosevic, he'll want to talk about the real intelligence and military connections of his regime - which were primarily with the United States.
   Living in Iraq these past few weeks is a weird as well as dangerous experience. I drive down to Najaf. Highway 8 is one of the worst in Iraq. Westerners are murdered there. It is littered with burnt-out police vehicles and American trucks. Every police post for 70 miles has been abandoned. Yet a few hours later, I am sitting in my room in Baghdad watching Tony Blair, grinning in the House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school debating competition; so much for the Butler report.
   Indeed, watching any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars. Doesn't Blair realise that Iraq is about to implode? Doesn't Bush realise this? The American-appointed "government" controls only parts of Baghdad - and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Iyad Allawi, the "Prime Minister", is little more than mayor of Baghdad. "Some journalists," Blair announces, "almost want there to be a disaster in Iraq." He doesn't get it. The disaster exists now.
   When suicide bombers ram their cars into hundreds of recruits outside police stations, how on earth can anyone hold an election next January? Even the National Conference to appoint those who will arrange elections has been twice postponed. And looking back through my notebooks over the past five weeks, I find that not a single Iraqi, not a single American soldier I have spoken to, not a single mercenary - be he American, British or South African - believes that there will be elections in January. All said that Iraq is deteriorating by the day. And most asked why we journalists weren't saying so.
   But in Baghdad, I turn on my television and watch Bush telling his Republican supporters that Iraq is improving, that Iraqis support the "coalition", that they support their new US-manufactured government, that the "war on terror" is being won, that Americans are safer. Then I go to an internet site and watch two hooded men hacking off the head of an American in Riyadh, tearing at the vertebrae of an American in Iraq with a knife. Each day, the papers here list another construction company pulling out of the country. And I go down to visit the friendly, tragically sad staff of the Baghdad mortuary and there, each day, are dozens of those Iraqis we supposedly came to liberate, screaming and weeping and cursing as they carry their loved ones on their shoulders in cheap coffins.
   I keep re-reading Tony Blair's statement. "I remain convinced it was right to go to war. It was the most difficult decision of my life." And I cannot understand it. It may be a terrible decision to go to war. Even Chamberlain thought that; but he didn't find it a difficult decision - because, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, it was the right thing to do. And driving the streets of Baghdad now, watching the terrified American patrols, hearing yet another thunderous explosion shaking my windows and doors after dawn, I realise what all this means. Going to war in Iraq, invading Iraq last year, was the most difficult decision Blair had to take because he thought - correctly - that it might be the wrong decision. I will always remember his remark to British troops in Basra, that the sacrifice of British soldiers was not Hollywood but "real flesh and blood". Yes, it was real flesh and blood that was shed - but for weapons of mass destruction that weren't real at all.
   "Deadly force is authorised," it says on checkpoints all over Baghdad. Authorised by whom? There is no accountability. Repeatedly, on the great highways out of the city US soldiers shriek at motorists and open fire at the least suspicion. "We had some Navy Seals down at our checkpoint the other day," a 1st Cavalry sergeant says to me. "They asked if we were having any trouble. I said, yes, they've been shooting at us from a house over there. One of them asked: 'That house?' We said yes. So they have these three SUVs and a lot of weapons made of titanium and they drive off towards the house. And later they come back and say 'We've taken care of that'. And we didn't get shot at any more."
   What does this mean? The Americans are now bragging about their siege of Najaf. Lieutenant Colonel Garry Bishop of the 37th Armoured Division's 1st Battalion believes it was an "ideal" battle (even though he failed to kill or capture Muqtada Sadr whose "Mehdi army" were fighting the US forces). It was "ideal", Bishop explained, because the Americans avoided damaging the holy shrines of the Imams Ali and Hussein. What are Iraqis to make of this? What if a Muslim army occupied Kent and bombarded Canterbury and then bragged that they hadn't damaged Canterbury Cathedral? Would we be grateful?
   What, indeed, are we to make of a war which is turned into a fantasy by those who started it? As foreign workers pour out of Iraq for fear of their lives, US Secretary of State Colin Powell tells a press conference that hostage-taking is having an "effect" on reconstruction. Effect! Oil pipeline explosions are now as regular as power cuts. In parts of Baghdad now, they have only four hours of electricity a day; the streets swarm with foreign mercenaries, guns poking from windows, shouting abusively at Iraqis who don't clear the way for them. This is the "safer" Iraq which Mr Blair was boasting of the other day. What world does the British Government exist in?
   Take the Saddam trial. The entire Arab press - including the Baghdad papers - prints the judge's name. Indeed, the same judge has given interviews about his charges of murder against Muqtada Sadr. He has posed for newspaper pictures. But when I mention his name in The Independent, I was solemnly censured by the British Government's spokesman. Salem Chalabi threatened to prosecute me. So let me get this right. We illegally invade Iraq. We kill up to 11,000 Iraqis. And Mr Chalabi, appointed by the Americans, says I'm guilty of "incitement to murder". That just about says it all. #
* See: http://globalecho.org/view_article.php?aid=1030 . [Aug 1, 04]
• Militants kill Turkish hostage in Iraq.
   Information Clearing House, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6609.htm , Video: "Militants kill hostage," http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1183297/posts , 08:06:53 GMT, Mon, Aug 02, 2004
   BAGHDAD, Iraq - A video posted on the Internet shows a masked gunman pumping three bullets into a man's head in what appears to be the murder of a Turkish hostage by militants in Iraq.
WARNING
This page contains video footage and pictures of the murder of Murat Yuce from Ankara This video should only be viewed by a mature audience. Serious violence. WARNING [02 Aug, 04 ]
• Why a world trade deal is better than the FTA
   The Age, Melbourne, Australia, www.theage.com. au/articles/ 2004/08/02/ 1091432 107420.html , by Tim Colebatch, economics editor of The Age, tcolebatch@theage.com.au , August 3, 2004
   MELBOURNE: ... The big issue from here on will be market access. On "sensitive products" such as sugar, all three superpowers use quotas with such high tariffs that only massive tariff cuts could make imports competitive. And these are precisely the products for which the WTO has now promised "flexibility".
   It means the negotiating road ahead will be long and tough. We will be heading in the right direction, but with a brake on.
   I suspect we will end up with a much better deal than the US trade agreement Labor is about to endorse. [...]
Why a world trade deal is better than the FTA

   The Age, Melbourne, Australia, www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/02/1091432 107420.html , by Tim Colebatch, August 3, 2004
   The world is up and walking along the path to removing trade barriers, writes Tim Colebatch.

   MELBOURNE: We can't negotiate a genuine free trade agreement even with the United States, a close ally that claims to share the free trade faith. So what hope is there of negotiating a decent deal simultaneously with 146 other countries: rich, middling and poor, and lacking our zeal for dismantling our own trade barriers?
   To judge the agreement the World Trade Organisation adopted at the weekend as a framework for the Doha round negotiations to open up world trade, we have to accept that this is the art of the possible.
   As a framework for trade liberalisation in agriculture, it is clearly flawed. The promise of "substantial improvements in market access  . . . through deeper reductions in higher tariffs" is immediately undercut by a contrasting pledge of "flexibilities for sensitive products".
   Rice in Japan, beef in Europe, sugar in the US: they all have very high tariffs precisely because they are politically "sensitive products". So where does that leave us?
   Similar qualifications reappear throughout the road map for agriculture negotiated by Trade Minister Mark Vaile and his counterparts from the US, the European Union, Japan and Brazil, and now accepted by the WTO membership.
   What "sensitive products" mean, and how they will be treated, is all left to be thrashed out in the second half of the Doha round, beginning next month and probably lasting for several more years.
   The National Farmers Federation said it was "extremely disappointed". Labor's Stephen Conroy called it "a defeat for the Cairns Group". I beg to differ. In a negotiation of 147 countries, this was a solid achievement.
   Any framework at this stage of the negotiations is bound to have big gaps, because there is not the political will to close them. All the earlier drafts were far worse than this one. In the final two weeks of negotiations, the Australian team and its allies managed to close off every escape route except one - because without an escape route, there would be no deal.
   Apart from New Zealand and Singapore, virtually no other countries share our faith. They are happy when others reduce trade barriers, but don't want their own farmers exposed to more competition.
   Part of this reflects the political clout of sectors that benefit from high protection. But part reflects real concern at the rapid loss of small farms in countries such as France, where for centuries most people have been small farmers.
   Part reflects fears in countries such as Indonesia and India that their dirt-poor farmers could not compete with the scale, technology and subsidies that give huge competitive advantage to farmers in the West.
   And other countries know that their imports must be paid for by exports. Only Australia thinks it good economic management to run up trade deficits in 21 years out of 24 and pay for them by borrowing.
   If it's that hard to get these countries to open their markets, why bother? Because in actual and potential exports, even the US market is dwarfed by the massive size and growth opportunities of the world economy.
   In 2003-04, Australia sold $9 billion of goods to the US, and at best, modelling suggests the US trade agreement could add $2 billion a year to that. But we sold $100 billion of goods to the rest of the world, and a good outcome in the Doha round could add many billions to that.
   The US economy, like ours, has been inflated by 20 years of taking on debt, and faces a long and painful deflation ahead. The developing world will be home to most of the world's growth this century. To increase our part of it, we need a global deal to reduce trade barriers.
   Europe and Japan, facing steeply declining populations, also want access to growth markets. And they know they cannot get it without reducing the vast sums Western taxpayers and consumers spend on their farm sectors. The OECD estimates that at $A500 billion last year, or in nominal terms, more than the entire output of sub-Saharan Africa.
   But reforms are cutting that cost. In Europe, by 2013 direct subsidies to farmers as a share of output will be just half their 1994 levels. And it was the EU's backdowns in pledging to axe subsidies and drop demands for global agreements on investment, competition policy and government purchasing that allowed agreement in Geneva.
   For Australia and the developing countries, the framework agreed in Geneva was far better than that offered last year in Cancun. It focuses the WTO on its core job of opening up trade. It makes agriculture the main priority and locks in agreements to abolish export subsidies, make an immediate cut of 20 per cent in trade-distorting subsidies, and limit the scope for subsidies to be repackaged rather than reduced.
   The big issue from here on will be market access. On "sensitive products" such as sugar, all three superpowers use quotas with such high tariffs that only massive tariff cuts could make imports competitive. And these are precisely the products for which the WTO has now promised "flexibility".
   It means the negotiating road ahead will be long and tough. We will be heading in the right direction, but with a brake on.
   I suspect we will end up with a much better deal than the US trade agreement Labor is about to endorse.
* Tim Colebatch is economics editor of The Age, tcolebatch@theage.com.au # [Emphasis added]
"Why a world trade deal is better than the FTA," by Tim Colebatch, The Age, August 3, 2004,
www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/02/1091432 107420.html
Also see: http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont14.htm#worldtrade
[Aug 3, 04]
• 'Twice in a lifetime deals' - the FTA and the impact on Australia's parliament..
   On Line Opinion (Australia's e-journal of social and political debate), http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=2448 , By Daniel Flitton - posted to On Line Opinion on Thursday, August 12, 2004; previously published in The Canberra Times on August 4, 2004
   AUSTRALIA: In late 1995, just before the last political light faded out of Paul Keating's Labor Government, Australia signed what was then declared to be the most significant foreign treaty for half a century.
   The joint-security agreement with Indonesia would define Australia's regional relations for decades to come, trumpeted the accompanying, typically hyperbolic, proclamation. Finalising the compact came as a special tribute to the close personal relationship between the leaders of the two countries. Yet, as it turned out, Indonesia abandoned the treaty a mere four years later in an empty, punitive gesture after Australia led the 1999 United Nations operation into East Timor.
   Today, as another election looms, the Australian Government has again chased down a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity in foreign affairs, this time an economic treaty with the United States. Once more, the presentation is replete with grandiosity and exaggeration about its benefits. The free trade deal will undoubtedly link Australia with the world's pre-eminent economy. But just how it might "stop good men from doing nothing and allowing evil to prevail", as Trade Minister Mark Vaile put it at the elaborate signing ceremony in Washington, remains less clear.
   There is little useful comparison in the experience of the two treaties. John Howard boasts about his special relationship with President George Bush in a tone reminiscent of Keating on Indonesia's Suharto. And like Keating did, Howard portrays this agreement as his enduring legacy for the nation.
   The similarity probably ends there. In the treaty with Jakarta, a few short passages outlined a broad and vague framework, promising security cooperation and little else. The treaty with Washington, all 1100 pages of it, promises exponential growth in at least one industry: the lawyers who deal in definitions and interpretation.
   What does make an interesting contrast is the political reaction within Australia to both treaties. In 1995, Keating surprised the nation - the parliament, media commentators and the public all - with his late December announcement of the new alliance with Indonesia. "If there had been a more public process, there probably wouldn't have been a treaty," he chided those who favoured a more open discussion of the agreement's merits.
   Keating's target included then Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman, Alexander Downer. These secret negotiations, Downer said at the time, were "yet another instance of Parliament not being involved at all, the public not being informed". While the Coalition supported the treaty, Downer's colleagues were likewise muttering that in an open democracy, Australia's participation in international treaties should be subject to a public debate.
   Tim Fischer, who went on to become Trade Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, wanted the treaty to lie in Parliament for a month, lest people get "suspicious" about "secret deliberations between the Australian Government and governments in Asia".
   Such criticisms reflected a long-standing disappointment in the treaty-making process. Under the Australian Constitution, the Parliament has few powers when it comes to foreign-policy-making. Compared to the US Senate, which must ratify all foreign treaties, the Australian process is whimsical. The executive branch of government holds jealous control over the direction of Australia in the world.
   Seeking to redress this democratic deficit, John Howard promised to establish parliamentary review of any new international commitments. Once in office, he created the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). The new procedure appeared undemanding - a mandatory 15-day tabling of any treaty in Parliament, along with a "national interest" analysis in support. But it placated critics of executive secrecy.
   When championing parliamentary oversight, Howard probably had in mind limitations on the use of foreign treaties to override laws in the States. The High Court had interpreted Australia's peremptory international obligations as the basis for rulings in significant judgements, including the Tasmanian dams case.
   Howard could not have anticipated that this in-principle argument in favour of greater parliamentary scrutiny would rebound on what he now sees as his legacy.
   Which is why his latest position over the past few weeks, insisting that Mark Latham and the Labor Party "for the sake of Australia's future" immediately sign-up to the US free trade treaty, was disingenuous. As Howard implied back in 1995, Parliament should have a role in Australia's international affairs, to ensure a wide range of voices contribute to building effective foreign policy. More importantly, this review process allows the general public to contribute to what is too often seen as a remote and elite policy domain. An open analysis will inevitably take time. Given the slow lead-in for the FTA, this wait hardly seems detrimental.
   Parliamentary review is worthless if it amounts to a rubber stamp for the executive. In a study published last year in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, Ann Capling and Kim Nossal conclude that the JSCOT parliamentary oversight Howard established only amounts to "window-dressing", a tool for the Government to channel protest and deflect opposition. The Government retains strict control of the numbers and the ultimate recommendation.
   This perception is why the Senate charged a parallel committee to look into Australia's latest and greatest international treaty. And this is why Howard should not have harassed that process in a transparent attempt to stifle debate on Australia's international affairs. Instead, the Parliament has once again been marginalised.
   Article edited by John Neil. If you'd like to be a volunteer editor, too, click here.
   Daniel Flitton taught at Deakin University in Victoria from 1998 to 2003. He has recently returned from Georgetown University's Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies in Washington DC where he studied on a Fulbright award.
   Other Articles by this Author:- How much will it matter who John Kerry's running-mate is? - July 16, 2004
   Will the free-trade marriage prosper or be annulled? - May 27, 2004
   Our government needs to be more transparent with "secret" intelligence. - May 13, 2004
   It's time to trade in, and trade up, the outdated ANZUS treaty. - April 15, 2004
   How generational change can be an ultimately destructive social force. - April 1, 2004 [Aug 4, 04]
• FTA shatters old rules on culture: showbiz.
   The West Australian, p 5, Thursday, August 5, 2004
   AUSTRALIA: The entertainment industry has accused Labor and the coalition of overturning longstanding government policy keeping culture separate from trade.
   In a bid to allay fears that the United States free trade agreement could threaten Australian drama production, the Government has agreed to Labor's proposal to enshrine in law the existing requirement for 55 per cent local content in free-to-air TV programming.
   Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday he was very concerned about local content.
   "Don't anybody think I want the country swamped by American material," he said. "There's a lot of American stuff on television I don't care for at all."
   But entertainment industry representatives said the local content amendment dealt only with one of its complaints on the trade deal.
   "It's a long way from being a solution to the free trade agreement," Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance director Simon Whipp said. "There are a whole host of other things about the free trade agreement which we have expressed concern about which are not addressed by this action." At the top of the industry's list is the need to seek permission from US film and TV producers if the Government wants local content quotas for new forms of media.
   "That was the biggest concern which we took to both the Government and the Opposition and it's unfortunate that neither of them have chosen to do anything to respond to it," Mr Whipp said.
   The industry is also unhappy that the Government must consult the US before increasing the amount of money the pay TV industry must spend on Australian drama. Pay TV must spend 10 per cent of budgets for documentary, drama, arts, children's and educational formats on Australian programs.
   Australian Writers' Guild executive-director Megan Elliott said the trade deal as it stood would overturn successive Australian government policy which had always kept culture separate from trade.
   Mr Howard said the Government had agreed to Labor's local content amendment because it reaffirmed existing law. He also said that under the trade agreement the Government reserved its right to introduce local content rules for new forms of media. [Emphasis added]
   [COMMENT: Mr Howard's remarks all sound like "non-core" promises. The critics, and Mr Howard, fail to mention the "rollback" clauses and other tricks that are being worked into all these unnecessary "agreements." If the USA was not the most subsidised and protected market in the American continent, and Australia genuinely wanted free trade, the only words required in the treaty would be "Trade between the two nations shall be absolutely free." The very idea of the USA demanding that Australia change its copyright and trademark laws to suit US Big Business interests is a real attack on Australia's independence. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 5, 04]

• Free Trade deal.
   The West Australian, Letters to Editor, by various, p 18, Thursday, August 5, 2004
   WESTERN AUSTRALIA: If the free trade agreement is in the best interests of all Australians, why has it not been more readily accessible to the public? Why has there not been more public discussion about it and the benefits and disadvantages it will have? If Mark Latham scuttles this ill-conceived con he will have done a great thing for Australia.
   It is just another example of how many of our politicians have confused the word dictatorship with leadership. It is also another reminder that we should become more involved in what is going on because those we have entrusted with our futures have sadly done what is not in the best interests of their employers.
Shane Shenton, Embleton

• In the same league as the Athenians
   The free trade agreement is being sold to us partly as the pay-off for our involvement in the invasion of Iraq, and some people are saying that to reject it would insult our powerful ally, the US. It reminds me of one of the most famous military alliances in the ancient world, the Delian League.
   The Athenians convinced the smaller Greek cities in Asia Minor to deliver money into a treasury on the island of Delos to pay for a navy which the Athenians would then use to stave off the Persians. Pretty soon the treasure went straight to Athens and league members found themselves at the mercy of the Athenians.
   When some states chose to leave the league the Athenians sacked their cities and sold their people into slavery.
   Australia might be much better off keeping the Americans at arm's length.
Barry Healy, Darlington

• Big concern for grain farmers
   WA Farmers president Trevor De Landgrafft has every right to be concerned at how easily the US Congress had passed the FTA (report, 4/8). They have everything to gain.
   In George Bush's announcement that the US-Australian free trade agreement is a milestone, please read "millstone", because that is what it will become to our country, particularly our grain farmers.
   Our fragile control over genetically modified organism labelling and our GMO moratoriums held at State level will be challenged, and probably lost to bring us in line with US farmers.
   The US has harnessed the help of the World Trade Organisation to try to force Europe to take its GM grains because it is refusing them on several grounds such as health and contamination, and here we are removing many restrictions and welcoming their produce.
   WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss John Langoulant urges caution in quantifying benefits. One can only hope that caution will be adopted. There is no fair trade agreement, just an unfair one.
Janet Grogan, Joondanna

• The never-ever game continues
There will never be a GST.
They threw their babies overboard.
Saddam has weapons of mass destruction.
The price of medicines on the PBS will not rise after we sign the FTA.
Yeah, right.
J.R.Brown, Bibra Lake
[Aug 5, 04]
• US soldier gets 3 years for killing unarmed Iraqi cowherd.
   Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Schofield soldier gets 3 years for killing Iraqi citizen," See: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6639.htm , by Gregg Kakesako, gkakesako@starbulletin.com , August 5, 2004
   A Schofield Barracks soldiers was sentenced today to three years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge for shooting to death an unarmed Iraqi cowherder who was handcuffed.
   A panel of five officers and five enlisted soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, found Pfc. Edward Richmond, 20, guilty of voluntary manslaughter for shooting Muhamad Husain Kadir in the back of his head on Feb. 28 near Taal Al Jai, the Army said in a statement.
   Richmond had been charged with unpremeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life, but after 90 minutes of deliberation today the Army court martial panel reduced the verdict to voluntary manslaughter. Two hours later it returned a sentence of three years, dishonorable discharge, total forfeitures of all pay and allowances and reduction to the grade of private.
   Richmond is a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team which left Wahiawa in January for a year-long deployment to Iraq.
   One of the government's key witnesses yesterday was Sgt. Jeffrey Waruch who testified that he and Richmond had observed Kadir an hour before the shooting while a raid was being conducted in his village.
   However, Kadir did nothing suspicious and showed no signs of having a weapon.
   Waruch and Richmond were ordered via radio to detain all Iraqi males in the village.
   Waruch said that when they tried pull Kadir's hands behind his back he initially resisted.
   After Waruch flex cuffed Kadir with a "zip tie" he led the cowherder away.
   The Army statement said that Kadir stumbled after taking one or two steps and Richmond shot him in the back of the head when he was about 6 feet away.
   The Army said another government witness, who was not identified, testified that he heard Richmond ask if he could shoot the cowherder well before the radio message came to detain all males.
   A third witness, also unnamed by the Army, testified that he had previously heard Richmond talking about wanting to shoot an Iraqi.
   In his defense Richmond testified that he did not realize that the Iraqi he shot had his hands flex cuffed behind his back and that he feared the Iraqi would kill Waruch.
   However, the Army statement said, Richmond admitted that he never saw the Iraqi with any weapon, Richmond also admitted that he had requested to shoot the cowherder less than an hour before the shooting.
   After the defense rested, Waruch was asked to re-enact the shooting.
   Richmond will be transported to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and from there he will be moved to a confinement facility to carry out his sentence. He will be credited with the 47 days he was held in confinement before the court martial began on Tuesday.
   © 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://starbulletin.com [Emphasis added]
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.) # [Aug 5, 04]
Trade deal on drugs needs an honesty pill

   The West Australian, by Karen Middleton, "Canberra observed," p 22, Friday, August 6, 2004
   CANBERRA, Australia: There is now absolutely no doubt that the Australian-United States free trade agreement is great for drug manufacturers.
   After a week of parliamentary wrestling with amendments and tactics and pros and cons, everyone in Australia needs a headache pill.
   Labor has played both sides to the middle on the deal, trying to find a way to wriggle out from under its own condemnation of the agreement and keep business happy while placating its furious anti-FTA left-wing.
   It has succeeded on the politics and if the Government bows to its demands, as seems likely, it will have made a small impact on the substance too. It could have done a lot more.
   On the politics, Prime Minister John Howard is a bit stuck.
   He has already agreed to one amendment to curb the Americanisation of Australian TV.
   And thanks to the other proposal to curtail the anti-competitive activities of big pharmaceutical companies, Mr Howard is left floundering in multi-syllable language about intellectual property and patents while Labor leader Mark Latham only needs two words: cheap drugs.
   Mr Howard planned to spend the week carving up his opponent with accusations of a lack of commitment to the US and a lack of credibility.
   Suddenly, with a tricky move involving the two most populist sections of the agreement, Labor had the debate back on its turf again. But it's not off the hook on the contents.
   The text of the trade agreement -- you really can't call it a free trade agreement when it applies so many restrictions -- runs to 1100 pages and is almost impenetrable. Even on pharmaceuticals, the Labor-dominated Senate committee found there was plenty more which could work to restrict the availability of generic medicines in Australia and which Labor's amendment does not address.
   Even a previous parliamentary inquiry, dominated by coalition MPs, raised carefully worded general concerns about things which could act to freeze cheaper generics out of the market.
   Labor's Stephen Conroy, trade spokesman and Senate committee member, acknowledges his party is only tackling two of the raft of things which seem to need fixing in the agreement. He says we'll have to trust that a Labor government would fix them. Great.
   According to the committee, the agreement will ban any future move to allow parallel importing of cheap versions of the drugs. It will also restrict generic manufacturers' ability to rely on the test results of the brand-name makers, delaying their ability to produce a cheaper version, as well as restrict their ability to export.
   While other countries are moving to introduce parallel importing -- Australia already has it for books and CDs -- as a way of keeping down the cost of medicines, it seems the FTA would prevent this happening at any stage in future in relation to drugs.
   The agreement would also require the makers of generic drugs to notify the brand-name manufacturer when they are planning to introduce a cheap, generic alternative on the verge of the expiry of the brand-name patent, allowing the brand-name producer to begin court proceedings more quickly.
   There is argument between the political parties as to whether it could then use a tactic known as "evergreening", lodging a patent renewal by making only a minor adjustment to the old manufacturing process in order to keep the patent alive and the generics out.
   Mr Howard says it can't happen in Australia. Mr Latham and Senator Conroy say it already has.
   Unless you're an intellectual property lawyer, pick who you believe. Pity nobody's marketed a pill for honesty. [PICTURE: Fixers: Mark Latham and trade spokesman Stephen Conroy say there is plenty to fix in the FTA.] [Emphasis added] [Aug 6, 04]
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont14.htm#dealdrugs

   [COMMENT: It is a RESTRICTIVE Trade Agreement, as Karen Middleton has clearly seen, and honest politicians would have insisted on renaming it after the first negotiations. It is defying the World Trade Organisation, because the poorer nations had woken up to the rich nations' trickery some years ago. A genuine free trade agreement would need as few words as were put into the Australian Constitution to make trade between the Colonies/States free. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 6, 04]

• Esperanto one for the desperadoes, amigo. Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  Esperanto - Universal Helper Language flag 
   The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, by Hugh Mackay, "The Moral Maze," Saturday, August 7, 2004
   AUSTRALIA:
  
Esperanto one for the desperadoes, amigo (C) Hugh Mackay The West Australian 07 Aug 04 554 x 567

   ... My advice is to find another hobby. Esperanto is a lost cause.
-- "Esperanto one for the desperadoes, amigo," by Hugh Mackay, "The Moral Maze," moralmaze@fairfax.com.au , The West Australian, August 7, 2004

• The lies that led to war.
   Toronto Sun, www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/Columnists/Toronto/Eric_Margolis/2004/08/08/573355.html , by Eric Margolis, Sunday, August 8, 2004
   TORONTO, Canada: Welcome to the "Italian Job." In his 2003 State of the Union address, U.S. President George Bush cited British intelligence claims that Iraq had secretly imported uranium ore from Niger to make nuclear weapons. Bush's claims were based on crude forgeries, previously rejected by the CIA.
   Now, new information from European intelligence sources is detailing how the forgeries made their way from the Niger embassy in Rome to the White House. An FBI investigation of this outrageous scandal is said to be at a critical phase. In a classic example of what intelligence professionals term "disinformation," a shady Italian intermediary, "Giacomo," was told a lady at the Niger embassy had "a gift" for him.
The lies that led to war
   "Giacomo" has told The London Sunday Times he was given a sheaf of documents purporting to show Iraq had sought yellowcake uranium ore from Niger, a mineral used for nuclear fuel and weapons.
   "Giacomo" then reportedly passed them on to American agents. He says the Niger documents were given to him through SISMI, Italy's foreign intelligence service. SISMI has long been notorious for far-right leanings. Senior SISMI officers were implicated with celebrated swindler Roberto Calvi, the notorious P2 masonic lodge, and other extreme rightist groups. SISMI works hand in glove with U.S., British and other intelligence agencies.
   In the 1960s and '70s, it was revealed that SISMI carried out numerous operations for the CIA, including bugging the Vatican, the Italian president's palace, and foreign embassies. Some of its officers have been accused in the past of perjury, blackmail and political interference. Italy's civilian intelligence service, SISDE, associated with Italy's political centre-left, has long been a bitter rival of SISMI.
   In any event, although the CIA rejected the Niger file, it was taken up by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney who was urgently seeking reasons to invade Iraq. Cheney passed the now-discredited data to Bush, who used it in his January, 2003 address to the nation.
   Six months later, CIA director George Tenet admitted that the claim should never have been included in the State of the Union address. A 2002 investigation by former U.S. Ambassador to Niger, Joseph Wilson, also concluded the documents were forgeries, but he was ignored by the White House. Wilson is now being smeared by Republicans.
   Amazingly, Bush, Cheney, the neo-conservatives, and the media, all of whom kept beating the war drums over the alleged Iraqi nuclear threat, never seemed to have understood that yellowcake uranium ore is no more lethal than plain dirt. To make nuclear weapons, the ore must be laboriously enriched by gaseous separation or centrifuge. Both processes require enormous plants and huge amounts of electric power -- easily observable by satellite. Iraq had no nuclear industrial infrastructure to enrich uranium, as everyone knew. What would it do with raw ore?
   Iraq had no means to deliver nuclear warheads. The only way Iraq could get a nuclear warhead to the U.S. was by FedEx. Who was behind the Italian Job? Who knows? Likely right-wing elements within Italy's government who are ideological soulmates of Bush.
   In any event, this appears to be SISMI's contribution to the cascade of lies that led to war. In Great Britain, which also pushed the discredited Niger/uranium story, claiming it had independent confirmation from another source, MI6 provided other disinformation.
   Britain's respected Scotsman newspaper has just cited a report by investigative journalist Tom Mangold that Tony Blair's intelligence chief, John Scarlett, sent a secret message to British arms inspectors in Iraq, pressuring them to confirm 10 charges made by the British government -- which have now been disproved -- about Saddam's nefarious weapons of mass destruction. These claims were the centerpiece of a key government report on the Iraqi threat justifying war.
   All, as it turned out, were bogus. Instead of being sacked, Scarlett was recently promoted to head MI6 by Blair. Completing the farce, we now learn an astounding 15,000 tons of highly enriched uranium the U.S. sent around the world since the '50s for various research projects remain unaccounted for. It takes 10 kilos to build a basic nuclear weapon. [Emphasis added] [Aug 8, 04]
• TIME Reporter Held In Contempt In Plame Leak Case.
   The Guardian, Britain, www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4404404,00.html , By CURT ANDERSON, Monday August 9, 2004
   WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge held a reporter for Time magazine in contempt of court Monday for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of a covert CIA officer.
   In an order issued July 20 but not made public until Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ruled that Time's Matthew Cooper and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert were required to testify "regarding alleged conversations they had with a specified executive branch official."
   NBC News issued a statement saying that Russert already had been interviewed under oath by prosecutors on Saturday under an agreement to avoid a protracted court fight. The interview concerned a July 2003 phone conversation he had with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
   Time and Cooper, however, did not agree to be interviewed and intend to appeal the judge's ruling, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly. If Time loses those appeals, Cooper could be jailed under Hogan's order until he agrees to appear and the magazine could be fined $1,000 a day.
   "We are disappointed in the decision," Kelly said. "We don't think a journalist should be required to give up a confidential source. We're going to appeal it as far as it goes."
   Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News, said the network agreed that forcing reporters to testify about their sources is "contrary to the First Amendment's guarantee of a free press." Shapiro said Russert answered "only limited questions" about the conversation with Libby "without revealing any information he learned in confidence."
   The subpoenas of Russert and Cooper were issued by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, who was appointed as a special prosecutor in the leak case. Hogan denied the claims by the two journalists that they were protected by the Constitution from having to testify.
   "There have been no allegations whatsoever that this grand jury is acting in bad faith or with the purpose of harassing these two journalists," Hogan wrote in an 11-page ruling.
   The investigation concerns the leak last summer to syndicated columnist Robert Novak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Disclosure of an undercover official's identity can be a felony.
   Plame's name appeared in Novak's column on July 14 last year, about a week after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, published a newspaper opinion piece criticizing President Bush's claim in the 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from Niger.
   Wilson had been sent by the CIA to Niger to check the allegation, and he concluded it was unfounded. Novak wrote that Plame had suggested her husband for the mission, a claim Plame and Wilson have denied.
   NBC said in its statement that Russert told Fitzgerald in the interview that he did not know Plame's name or her identity as a CIA officer, and that he did not provide that information to Libby. The statement said that Libby had told the FBI about his conversation with Russert and requested that it be disclosed.
   In June, prosecutors interviewed a reporter for The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, regarding two conversations he had with Libby in July 2003. Kessler has said he told prosecutors that Libby did not mention Plame, Wilson or the CIA-backed trip to Niger and that he testified only because Libby signed a waiver releasing Kessler from any promise of confidentiality.
   A number of Bush administration officials have appeared before the grand jury or have been interviewed by prosecutors and the FBI.
   Bush himself was interviewed in the White House on June 25, and earlier this month Secretary of State Colin Powell was interviewed.
   [COMMENT: Bush, Powell and other Bush administration officials have appeared before the grand jury or have been interviewed by prosecutors and the FBI - in this case. As between the executive and its officials and TIME and its reporter, which is most likely to be lying even if brought before the grand jury ? COMMENT ENDS.]
[Aug 9, 04]
• Judge Upholds Media Subpoenas in Plame Leak Case.
   Reuters, http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/reuters20040809_281.html , By James Vicini, Aug. 9, 2004
   WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday upheld subpoenas to compel testimony of journalists at NBC News and Time magazine in a special prosecutor's probe into whether Bush administration officials illegally leaked a covert CIA officer's name to the news media.
   U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Hogan rejected requests to quash subpoenas issued to Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine on the grounds they violate the reporters' privilege under the Constitution's First Amendment.
   The subpoenas were issued by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and seek to require Russert and Cooper to appear before a federal grand jury to testify about conversations they had with an unidentified government official.
   "To be clear, this court holds that Cooper and Russert have no privilege, qualified or otherwise, excusing them from testifying before the grand jury in this matter," Hogan ruled in the 11-page opinion.
   "There have been no allegations whatsoever that this grand jury is acting in bad faith or with the purpose of harassing these two journalists," the judge wrote.
   A number of top administration officials have been questioned in the leak investigation, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
   The grand jury has been hearing testimony from administration and government officials in an attempt to establish who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media last year.
   Plame is the wife of Joe Wilson, a former ambassador who was asked by the CIA to travel to Niger in February 2002 to check reports that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from the African country.
   A newspaper columnist disclosed Plame's identity in July last year and Wilson accused the Bush administration of having leaked the information to pay him back for having publicly taken issue with the president's uranium claim.
   The White House subsequently said Bush should not have cited the claim in his 2003 State of the Union address.
   Disclosing the identity of a clandestine intelligence officer is a federal crime as is leaking classified information to the media.
   Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, was appointed by the Justice Department late last year as special prosecutor, an announcement made at the same time that Attorney General John Ashcroft stepped aside from the politically charged probe. [Aug. 9, 04 ]
• Viva Esperanto, Amiko !. Esperanto - Universal Helper Language flag 
   The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, Letter from Alan Mendelawitz, Mosman Park (e-mailed Aug 9), Aug 10, 2004.
   WESTERN AUSTRALIA: The peculiar title of Hugh Mackay's article, "Esperanto one for the desperadoes [sic], amigo" (7 Aug., 2004) says -- what? Does it imply that the designed language Esperanto is only appropriate for bandits? Is Mr Mackay merely confusing Esperanto with Spanish?  Perhaps he means that Esperanto is a Utopian dream for the weakminded?
   Mr Mackay's article is admirable when it encourages us to study each other's cultures. However, it would be a tall order if we each had to study all of the six or seven thousand living languages in order to create world peace. Language alone will not bring peace, this is obvious, but it is an important beginning.
   Contrary to Mr Mackay's misinformed implication, Esperanto does not aim "to impose one artificial language on the world." The Esperanto movement actively supports the vitality and survival of all living languages and the communities which speak them.
   Esperanto is used every minute as an auxiliary language by people from a vast range of linguistic backgrounds. Just ask Google on the internet about Esperanto and stand by for thousands of links! Mr Mackay could easily have done that before forming his opinions.
• Esperanto is for morality, amikoj !.
   The West Australian, Letter from John Massam, Greenwood, (e-mailed Aug 7), Aug 10, 2004
   WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Here are a few thoughts about Hugh Mackay's article "Esperanto is for desperadoes, amigo" in "The West Australian," Page 18, Saturday, August 7, 2004:
   The moral issue is, why should people who speak English as their "at home" language have a marvellous advantage over all the other billions in the world who have their own well-loved languages?
   Esperanto is not perfect yet, but it is far better that all our children learn it at school, ready to chat to people of other cultures in a few years, instead of the domination over others that the English language entails.
   Westerners are already hated by certain elements in the world for their domineering ways. When are they ever going to learn to give as well as grab? [Aug 10, 04]
• 'Britons' Join Al-Sadr's Army.
   The Scotsman (Scotland), "Britons Join Al-Sadr's Army," http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3324611 , By PA News Reporter, 11:36pm (UK), Tue 10 Aug 2004
   IRAQ: Two British men have joined the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in fighting coalition forces in Iraq, it has emerged.
   The two Iraqi-born men travelled to the holy Shia city of Najaf, the centre of the al-Sadr uprising, to take part in the battle against US forces besieging the city.
   The two Londoners, an uncle and nephew with just two years between them, explained their motivation to The Times.
   Interviewed by the newspaper in the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, they insisted that they were ready to die alongside their fellow Muslims in the country in which they were born.
   The elder Briton told the newspaper: "It is our country and there are invaders here. We have taken the side of Moqtada al-Sadr because we believe it is the right side."
   The tall, bearded, Arabic-speaking 23-year-old, who identified himself only by the nom de guerre Abu Hakid (Father of Fury), was asked why he came to fight. He replied: "It is evil against the angels."
   His 21-year-old nephew, using the pseudonym Abu Turab (Father of Dust) added: "Bush said you are either with us or against us. We had to decide whether to be with him or against him, so we are against him, obviously."
   Abu Hakid, who acknowledged that neither man had any military training, told the newspaper: "We went to fight last night. It was quite fun, actually." He conceded, however: "It was dangerous."
   The two said they had held off going to Iraq until after the ousting of Saddam Hussein, because fighting to protect Saddam would have been the wrong cause. "It was evil against evil, so we let them beat each other up."
   But al-Sadr's cause in seeking to expel the coalition forces from post-Saddam Iraq was just, they argued. [Emphasis added]
   [COMMENT: A "fifth column" right inside Britain, and such people go to fight in the Middle East, saying Iraq is "our country." Is further comment on past immigration and asylum policies necessary? COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 10, 04]

• Courts can hear evidence if abusers are not British: Judges in row over torture ruling.
   The Guardian, England, www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1281390,00.html , by Audrey Gillan, Thursday August 12, 2004
   LONDON: Appeal court judges yesterday defied human rights campaigners by ruling that British courts could use evidence extracted under torture, as long as British agents were not complicit in the abuse.
   In a highly controversial judgment, the second highest court in the land rejected the appeals of 10 men suspected of having links to international terrorism and currently held without charge in what activists call "Britain's Guantanamo Bay".
   The court of appeal, sitting in London, ruled that the home secretary was right to hold the men in two high-security prisons and a high-security psychiatric hospital, and that the special immigration appeal commission (Siac), which backed the internments, was justified in doing so.
   Two of the men have since returned to their countries of origin but are still appealing.
   The judgment was immediately condemned as leaving the door open for torture evidence to be used in British courts - and the detainees plan to take their appeal to the House of Lords.
   Last night Amnesty International criticised the judges for giving a "green light for torture". It said: "The rule of law and human rights have become casualties of the measures taken in the aftermath of September 11. This judgment is an aberration, morally and legally."
   The decision comes just a week after three British men formerly held in Guantanamo Bay described how after ill treatment they had confessed to meeting up with Osama bin Laden when in fact all three had alibis, confirmed by British security services, that they were in the UK at the time.
   Ellie Smith, a human rights lawyer at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said: "It is really dangerous and very worrying that any court is willing to use any evidence that has been obtained through use of torture or ill treatment."
   The decision to allow evidence from foreign torture was tantamount to contracting out the torture. "We have seen recent instances where the US forces have sent people to other countries for the purpose of extracting evidence," she added.
   The men - all of them foreign nationals and Muslim - are detained indefinitely under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 and do not know most of the evidence against them because it is kept secret in the interests of national security.
   In their appeals, they argued that to use evidence obtained by torture was "morally repugnant", adding that evidence may have been extracted from men detained in both Guantanamo Bay and Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
   Yesterday, one of the judges, Lord Justice Laws, ruled that there was no evidence to suggest the secretary of state had relied on material derived from torture or any other violation of the European convention on human rights. To suggest that it had been was "purely hypothetical". He and Lord Justice Pill said that torture evidence could be used in a British court so long as the state had not itself "procured" it or "connived" at it.
   The position facing the secretary of state on the use of such evidence was "extremely problematic". The law could not expect the secretary of state to inquire into the methods of how information was obtained. Mr Justice Laws said: "He [the home secretary] may be presented with information of great potential importance, where there is, let us say, a suspicion as to the means by which, in another jurisdiction, it has been obtained? What is he to do?"
   The judges unanimously dismissed the appeal but Lord Justice Neuberger dissented on the torture issue. He said he did not consider that a person would have a fair trial if evidence obtained through maltreatment was to be used, particularly since the person giving the statement would not be available for cross-examination.
   The majority decision was welcomed by the home secretary, David Blunkett. He said: "There has been a great deal of speculation about the cases put before Siac and whether they relied upon torture. Let me make it clear, we unreservedly condemn the use of torture and have worked hard with our international partners to eradicate this practice. However, it would be irresponsible not to take appropriate account of any information that could help protect national security and public safety."
   Gareth Peirce, solicitor for eight of the men, said: "This is a terrifying judgment. It shows we have completely lost our way in this country, morally and legally."
   Britain is a signatory to the European convention on human rights which enshrines a series of fundamental rights, including "freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment".
   Facilitating torture elsewhere is also illegal under the convention against torture to which the UK is committed.
   The lawyer for two other men, Natalia Garcia, said that human rights had become "a casualty of the so-called war on terror". She added: "We have sunk to an all-time low where a court can even contemplate that evidence obtained under torture could be admissible and where there is no attempt to provide any effective remedy against abuse of power.
   "This is injustice heaped upon injustice and we shall appeal to the House of Lords." # [Aug 12, 04]
• Australia adopts USA Big Business governance = FTA.
   John Massam, Perth, WA, Friday, August 13, 2004, to Global Trade Watch, Australia
   AUSTRALIA: As you probably already know, the Labor Party (supposedly for the workers!!), the Liberal Party (supposedly conservative!!!), and the National Party (a rural-based party!!) combined together TODAY, Friday 13 August 2004, in the Australian Senate to pass the 3rd reading of the US-Aust FTA bills. Only 10 (members of smaller parties) voted against. [Aug 13, 04]
• Australia adopts USA Big Business governance = FTA (2).
   Global Trade Watch, Australia, www.tradewatchoz.org , Michael Cebon, reply to John Massam, Sat August 14, 2004
   AUSTRALIA: Hi John,
   Yes - I saw the news. A sad day for us all. But the Howard government is negotiating many other bilateral deals with Japan, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, so there's no shortage of battles to be fought still.
Cheers, Michael Cebon, info@tradewatchoz.org , Global Trade Watch, PO Box 6014, Collingwood North, VIC 3066, Australia; Ph: 03 9853 3228, Email: info@tradewatchoz.org , Website: www.tradewatchoz.org , ABN: 64 661 487 287 [Aug 14, 04]
• One Year Later -- Power Outage Traced To Dim Bulb In White House.
   Greg Palast, Journalism and Film, http://www.GregPalast.com , ZNet, updated by Greg Palast, Saturday Aug 14, 2004
   [ Sender authorized by author to copy in full -- MP]
*Greg Palast is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin USA) and with Theo MacGregor and Jerrold Oppenheim, Democracy and Regulation, a guide to electricity deregulation published by the United Nations/Pluto Press, winner of the ACLU's 2004 Freedom of Expression Award.www.DemocracyAndRegulation.com
   One year ago today, the lights went out. Even when the Big Blackout ended, the power pirates who have us by the bulbs kept us in the dark, fibbing, fabricating and faking their way through a series of bogus excuses for a disaster created by greed overload.
   Instead of fixing the system, the fix is in. We now know that goof-ups and bone-headed moves started the power outage rolling; but it's spread, from a few tree branches out of Ohio to a third of the continent, occurred because power companies -- First Energy and Niagara-Mohawk to name two -- had slashed staffing and maintenance.
   The under-manning and the under-spending all occurred beneath the banner of "deregulation." In the bad old days of bureaucrats with thick rule books, the government told the power companies exactly how much to spend on repairs. Under "deregulation," the rules went out the windows and repair cash was carted off as special dividends to stockholders.
   I'm sitting here with Jerry Oppenheim and Theo MacGregor, two of this planet's most respected experts on electricity systems. They are just shaking their heads in disgust: nothing learned a year after the disaster. Rather, we have a blackout on reason, with "deregulation" -- the disease -- sold as the cure.
   George Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is allowing the power companies to reach into our wallets and take out more cash to add wires to the transmission system -- in effect replacing the loot these guys carted off in the last ten years of deregulation. "But that won't keep the lights on," says Oppenheim, former Assistant Attorney General in New York in charge of investigating utilities. "It's not a lack of wires or lack of power plants that caused the blackout. The Administration is adding complexity to an overly complex system all to avoid acting on the obvious conclusion: deregulation has failed."
   As long as the lights are still on, I'm reprinting the commentary I wrote one year ago on my dying laptop ...
OUTAGE TRACED TO DIM BULB IN WHITE HOUSE
   ZNet - August 14, 2003 -- I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that sent us back to the Dark Ages last week. I came up against these characters -- First Energy and the Niagara Mohawk Power Company -- some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers.
   The power outage began in First Energy's Ohio operation. This company was the model for the film, "China Syndrome." Really. Then First Energy's Pennsylvania unit fumbled the power ball. These are the very same Homer Simpsons who melted Three Mile Island.
   Next, Niagara-Mohawk blacked out and took down New York. Ni-Mo's claim to fame goes back to the 1980s. They built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to New York State's electricity ratepayers.
   To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.
   I'm not surprised that the Three Stooges of the power industry knocked their heads together and blacked us out. What's surprising is that the US media is clueless about how we ended up with Larry, Moe and Curley in control of our nation's electronic lifeline.
   Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation."
   It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make safecracking legal.
   But they dare not launch the scheme in the USA. Rather, in 1990, one devious little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas, operating under the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.
   And so began an economic disease called "regulatory reform" that spread faster than SARS. Notably, Enron rewarded Thatcher's Energy Minister, one Lord Wakeham, with a bushel of dollar bills for 'consulting' services and a seat on Enron's board of directors. The English experiment proved the viability of Enron's new industrial formula: that the enthusiasm of politicians for deregulation was in direct proportion to the payola provided by power companies.
   The power elite first moved on England because they knew Americans wouldn't swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten used to cheap power available at the flick of a switch. This was the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1933, caged the man he thought to be the last of the power pirates, Samuel Insull. Wall Street wheeler-dealer Insull created the Power Trust, and six decades before Ken Lay, faked account books and ripped off consumers. To frustrate Insull and his ilk, FR gave us the Federal Power Commission and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act which told electricity companies where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations limited charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws banned power "trading" and required companies to keep the lights on under threat of arrest -- no blackout blackmail to hike rates.
   Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators told utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along the wire and, like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure the power execs spent customers' money on parts and labor. If they didn't, we'd whack'm over the head with our thick rule books. Did we get in the way of these businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn right we did.
   Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility companies -- no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.
   But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to is departure from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16 million for the Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum they gave Democrats.
   But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices set by the feds only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe Ratepayer. For the big payday they needed deregulation at the state level. There were only two states, California and Texas, big enough and Republican enough to put the electricity market con into operation.
   California fell first. The power companies spent $39 million to defeat a 1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nader which would have blocked the de-reg scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating the campaign coffers of the state's politicians to write a lie into law: in the deregulation act's preamble, the Legislature promised that deregulation would reduce electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when in the first California city to go "lawless," San Diego, the 20% savings became a 300% jump in surcharges.
   Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the number one contributor to the George W. Bush campaigns, it was confident about the future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times 100% of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State lit. Their motto, "your money or your lights."
   Enron and its comrades played the system like a broken ATM machine, yanking out the bills. For example, in the shamelessly fixed "auctions" for electricity held by the state, Enron bid, in one instance, to supply 500 megawatts of electricity over a 15 megawatt line. That's like pouring a gallon of gasoline into a thimble-- the lines would burn up if they attempted it. Faced with blackout because of Enron's destructive bid, the state was willing to pay anything to keep the lights on.
   And the state did. According to Dr. Anjali Sheffrin, economist with the California State Independent System Operator which directs power deliveries, between May and November 2000, three power giants physically or "economically" withheld power from the state and concocted enough false bids to cost the California customers over $6.2 billion in excess charges.
   It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market.
   But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America.
   Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York where Republican Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system. And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something that must have former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in Heaven: They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders approaching $90 million.
   Is last week's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark."
   So too the free-market British buckaroos controlling Niagara Mohawk raised prices, slashed staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! -- New York joins Brazil in the Dark Ages.
   Californians have found the solution to the deregulation disaster: re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to the electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis stood alone against the bad guys without using a body double. Davis called Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" --and now he'll walk the plank for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.
   So where's the President? Just before he landed on the deck of the Abe Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing the foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for yet more electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no sense defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California.
   Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low, I suspected the truth about deregulation will never see the light -- until we change the dim bulb in the White House.
   * See Palast's reports for BBC Television and the Guardian papers of Britain at www.gregpalast.com . Interviews/reprints: Media@gregpalast.com
   * "Bush family fortunes: The best democracy money can buy" This hour long documentary follows the award-winning reporter-sleuth Greg Palast on the trail of the Bush family, from Florida election finagling, to the Saudi connection, to the Bush team's spiking the FBI investigation of the bin Laden family and the secret State Department plans for post-war Iraq. PRE-ORDER [Aug 14, 04]
• The Awful Truth.
   Michael Moore, © 1999, Film (available in video hire shops)
   UNITED STATES: "The Awful Truth" is by the guerrilla filmmaker who wrote and directed the movies Bowling for Columbine and the 2004 prize-winning Fahrenheit 9/11. He wrote Stupid White Men.
   Critiques of The Awful Truth: "Revolutionary" (Associated Press). "Moore is an American original  . . . 'The Awful Truth' is great Television, a great Video and a great DVD." (Boxoffice Magazine) Also see entry in Books. [1999; Added to webpages 15 Aug 04]
• Prime Minister had been told BEFORE the election that the illegals had NOT thrown their children overboard.
   The Australian, "Howard was told the truth," www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10456121%255E601,00.html , By Patrick Walters, National security editor, August 16, 2004
   AUSTRALIA: A central figure in the children overboard affair has broken a three-year silence, directly contradicting John Howard's election eve statements of November 2001 that children had been thrown overboard from an asylum-seeker vessel the previous month.
   Mike Scrafton, at the time senior adviser to then defence minister Peter Reith, in three telephone conversations with the Prime Minister on the evening of November 7, 2001, conveyed his view that the children overboard claim was inaccurate.
   Mr Howard, in his remarks to the National Press Club the next day and in subsequent interviews until polling day, continued to claim children had been thrown overboard - contrary to the advice provided by Mr Scrafton and air force chief Angus Houston to the Government up to November 7, the day The Australian first exposed the claims as wrong.
   The affair was a decisive factor in the November 10 election, with the Howard Government using the incident to stoke public anger against asylum-seekers and divide Labor over border protection policy.
   Mr Scrafton's exclusive letter to The Australian is the crucial missing link in establishing the extent to which the Howard Government misled the public about the children overboard affair in the 2001 election.
   Mr Scrafton, a former senior defence department bureaucrat, was gagged by cabinet from giving evidence to the 2002 Senate committee set up to inquire into the children overboard affair.
   "The question of the extent of the Prime Minister's knowledge of the false nature of the report that children were thrown overboard is a key issue in assessing the extent to which the Government as a whole wilfully misled the Australian people on the eve of a federal election," the Senate report found. "Its inability to question Mr Scrafton on the substance of his conversations with the Prime Minister therefore leaves that question unresolved in the committee's mind."
   A spokesman for Mr Howard last night declined to comment until the Prime Minister had read the letter.
   Mr Scrafton told The Australian the Government's response to last week's open letter by a group of retired senior military figures and diplomats had been the catalyst for him to break his silence.
   "The issue is not about my career. It's not about my politics. It's simply that this is a point in which good governance is in question," he said.
   "My impression of what happened was that ... the evidence they had before them was used in a way that was designed to mislead."
   In a letter published in The Australian today, Mr Scrafton recounts that on the evening of November 7, 2001, he spoke three times by mobile phone to Mr Howard about the children overboard incident.
   The conversations took place immediately after Mr Scrafton had been asked to view a videotape from HMAS Adelaide at the defence force's maritime headquarters in Sydney.
   "During the last conversation, the Prime Minister asked me how it was that he had a report from the Office of National Assessments (ONA) confirming the children overboard incident.
   "I replied that I had gained the impression that the report had as its source the public statements of the Minister for Immigration.
   "When queried by him as to how this could be, I suggested that question was best directed to Kim Jones, then the director-general ONA.
   "I understood it was a very complex issue for the Prime Minister.
   "I was surprised, however, at the unqualified use of advice that he had received some weeks before," Mr Scrafton told The Australian yesterday.
   On the following days, including his National Press Club address on November 8, Mr Howard repeatedly cited the ONA report, dated October 9, 2001, as evidence children had been thrown overboard from Siev4.
   That intelligence report, which after the election was revealed to be based only on ministers' statements, said: "Asylum-seekers wearing life jackets jumped into the sea and children were thrown in with them."
   Mr Howard said: "In my mind there is no uncertainty, because I don't disbelieve the advice I was given by Defence."
   The morning before the election, in an interview with Glenn Milne from the Seven Network's Sunrise program, Mr Howard again asserted he did not accept that no children were thrown overboard.
   "The Government's position remains that we were advised by Defence that children were thrown overboard, we made those allegations on the basis of that advice, and until I get Defence advice to the contrary I will maintain that position," Mr Howard said.
   "We were given Defence advice that children had been thrown overboard that was confirmed in writing by the Office of National Assessments."
   After an exhaustive inquiry into the children overboard affair, a Senate committee found conclusively that no children were thrown overboard from the vessel.
   Mr Scrafton says a key concern is to enable judgments that the Senate select committee on the children overboard affair could not make at the time to be finalised.
   He was gagged by a cabinet decision in 2002 from giving evidence to the committee.
   "They said this (my testimony) was the key missing piece of evidence about whether the PM in that period failed to correct the record.
   "What I want to do is complete the record."
   The Senate majority report found Mr Reith had "deceived the Australian people" during the election campaign concerning the state of the evidence for the claim that children had been thrown overboard. # [Aug 16, 04]
• A LOTE to learn. Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  Esperanto - Universal Helper Language flag 
   The West Australian, letter from Shirley Gradussov, Coolbellup, p 20, Tuesday, August 17, 2004
   PERTH: Behind those big misleading headlines on Hugh Mackay's column (7/8) you hide a deal of ignorance about Esperanto and about language translation in general.
   Esperanto is never meant to replace a person's mother tongue. It is simply the one LOTE (Language other than English) that enables sincere people to communicate with others world-wide. It could be the second language or all people of goodwill to break down barriers (ignorance, fear, hatred). Esperanto enables communication at all levels of humanity.
   You might learn a good deal, Hugh Mackay, if you were to attend the Esperanto summer school in Adelaide in January 2005. Raw beginners will be welcomed. Other levels of instruction will cater for professional writers -- even journalists. # [Aug 17, 04]
• Ratzinger asserts Vatican stand against Turkey EU membership. Vatican City flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Turkey flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  European Union flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   CathNews, www.cathnews.com/news/408/96.php , August 18, 2004
   EUROPE: Reflecting the Vatican view that Europe must fight to retain its Christian identity, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said that bringing Turkey into the European Union would put European culture at risk.
   "Europe is a cultural and not a geographical continent," he said.
   "Turkey always represented another continent throughout history, in permanent contrast with Europe," so to equate the two continents "would be a mistake," he told the magazine of the French newspaper Le Figaro  in an interview published last week.
   Turkey has been a candidate for European Union membership since 1999, but EU officials delayed negotiations to discuss its accession until more progress has been made in economic, political and human rights reforms. Whether Turkey, a mostly Muslim nation, can join accession talks is set to be decided by the 25-state European Union later this year.
   Cardinal Ratzinger, who presides over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said Europe is united by its "culture which gives it a common identity. The roots which formed ... this continent are those of Christianity."
   SOURCE
Vatican official: Adding Turkey to European Union would hurt culture (Catholic News Service 16/8/04)
   LINKS
Ratzinger says Turkey has no place in EU (Online Catholics 18/8/04)
Cardinal Ratzinger: Identifier la Turquie à l'Europe serait une erreu (Le Figaro 13/8/04)
Cardinal: No place for Turkey in EU (AlJazeera.net 11/8/04)
Catholics Criticize Cardinal's Turkey Comments (Zaman Online 14/8/04)
Vatican meddling in the EU (International Herald Tribune 16/8/04)
Vatican tries to exclude Turkey for EU's Christian Identity (Turks.us 16/8/04)
Turkey's EU membership argument (BBC 9/10/02)
European Union | Enlargement | Turkey #
  HAVE YOUR SAY   Click here   
   [COMMENT: People who LEARNT geography and history as proper separate subjects might know that Turkey's western section is "Turkey in Europe" (what was left of their European conquests) and the rest is "Turkey in Asia." They might know that both parts of the whole country were taken off a Christian empire by Turk armies centuries ago. Turkish is an Asian language. Knowledgeable people, unless in the "politically correct" mode, might have sniggered each year as the European song festivals have entries and winners from Asian countries such as Israel.
   What on earth the European Union is doing courting and being courted by Turkey is beyond comprehension. Or is it a step along the way to a world dictatorship, masquerading as a democracy? Sadly, Vatican officials seem to have a blindness in the early stages of the various monopolistic moves by Big Business, and only start a weak resistance when it is rather late in the day. Other mainstream Churches seem to remain blind during all stages of power gathering into fewer and fewer hands. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 18, 04]

• US bishop says 'no question' Darfur violence is ethnic cleansing. Sudan flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  U.S.A. flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   CathNews, www.cathnews.com/news/408/95.php , August 18, 2004
   UNITED STATES: After a visit to Sudan, the chairman of the US bishops' international policy committee has said there is "no question" that the killings in the Darfur region represent ethnic cleansing.
   Florida Bishop John Ricard told Catholic News Service that the Sudanese government is engaged in a policy "to Arabise and Islamise the population".
   "This clearly is an example of ethnic cleansing, no question," he said.
   Bishop Ricard, who met with displaced persons in Darfur during a visit to Sudan at the beginning of this month, said a small contingent of African Union troops that arrived in Darfur in the past week will do little to protect civilians from further violence.
   "The issue of persecution of these people is very real. They are still under attack by the Janjaweed militia or the government forces themselves," he said. "It's still very unsafe for them to return home."
   The bishop said that refugees have reported being attacked by government aircraft once they return to their homes, so they are forced to flee again.
   "Many of these people will surely die - children, old people - because they have nothing to go to; they have no protection," he said.
   SOURCE
Bishop says 'no question' violence in Darfur is ethnic cleansing (Catholic News Service 17/8/04)
   LINKS
US bishops up efforts for Sudan (Catholic News Agency 17/8/04)
Bishops: Darfur threat to peace in South Sudan (Aid to the Church in Need 13/8/04)
Rwandan troops sent to Darfur (Sydney Morning Herald 15/8/04)
Darfur: Conflicting reports on upcoming negotiations (Missionary Service News Agency 13/8/04)
CAFOD Sudan Emergency Appeal reaches 2 million (CAFOD 6/8/04)
Catholic Mission continues its work in Sudan (CathNews 16/8/04)
Darfur Emergency Response
Caritas Australia Sudan Crisis Appeal
  HAVE YOUR SAY   Click here   
   [COMMENT: Well, this website knew it was ethnic cleansing, without the slightest need for a trip to Sudan !!! Evidently by 1983 the Arabisation pressure in the south was so strong that a rebellion began. In the west no rebellion arose until around 2004 when the dominant Arabs tried to force Shariah law onto the people. So, it is no surprise that the Sudanese air force and army are attacking, with Arab riders on camels and horses doing the mopping up. The OAU token "peacekeeping" force is just for show, and so are the resolutions of the rest of the "world community." The aim? More cheap refugee labour to flee to the democracies, to enrich High Finance. [Aug 18, 04] COMMENT ENDS.]

• How the media are being hoodwinked.
   The Age (Melbourne), "How the media are failing us," www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/19/1092889273139.html , by Max Suich, August 20, 2004
On the eve of the election campaign, Max Suich identifies a disturbing trend in Australian journalism.
   AUSTRALIA: The conventional wisdom is that the Australian media are part of the elite, insiders who are part of the political game. Not so, judging on the evidence of the past three months. The media were spectators, and over six weeks in June and July, this passive role assisted a remarkable intervention by United States policymakers in the Australian political process.
   Radio and TV news and the news pages of our newspapers are now, mostly, an unobstructed conduit of "news events" and official statements - from both government and opposition.
   The decline of the inquiring and specialist reporter for the news pages and programs, and the rise of the "look-at-me" shock jock and columnist is the most significant recent change in Australian journalism - and it is a much greater problem for the audience than bias, which can usually be discerned and discarded.
   Since the May federal budget, the media have failed in their reporting of three important areas of policy:
  • They have left largely unscrutinised the detail of the Government's extraordinary number of electoral bribes and amount of pork-barrelling.
  • They have embraced the theory of "values politics" as exemplified by Mark Latham without examining the policy detail, if any, that lies behind the contrived photo opportunities that express these "values".
  • They have shared and indeed increased the public confusion about what the US alliance actually amounts to.
       As a direct result of this confusion our media have assisted - thoughtlessly rather than conspiratorially, I would argue - a successful American intervention to manipulate a change in Labor policy on Iraq and restore Kim Beazley to the front bench as Labor spokesman for the US alliance.
       And because in the media Latham was left looking so soft on the relationship with America, the media significantly conditioned the ALP response to the free trade agreement with the US.
       Many, even in the Labor Party, would applaud the result. But the process brings no credit to a hoodwinked media.
       A detailed analysis of this event seems useful.
       It was on June 4, Australian time, that George Bush met the press at the White House in the company of John Howard to pronounce the Latham plan to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq as "disastrous". He made no threat to the continuing strength of the US alliance.
       The following day in The Australian, political editor Dennis Shanahan reported in a news page commentary: "George Bush has made it clear Mark Latham's policy of bringing Australian troops home from Iraq by Christmas is a strategic threat to the US alliance. The prospect of Australia suffering the same severing of cordial relations that New Zealand suffered in the 1980s . . . is now on the agenda."
       Paul Kelly in the same edition wrote: "George W. Bush has put it on the line - Australia's alliance with the US will be compromised with Mark Latham in the Lodge." The Australian Financial Review headlined: "Latham row threatens alliance". In The Age, Michael Gordon reported: " . . . the outburst  . . . elevates the alliance as an Australian election issue."
       The narrative line established very quickly here was: The Threat To The Alliance. And this theme was followed by most of the press, TV and radio for some weeks.
       What gave this line real legs (and neck and shoulders) was the intervention the following week of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. His was a masterly diplomatic bait and switch.
       The ostensible issue for Armitage's statements was the Labor plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. But throughout he neatly dropped intimidating hints about the alliance with Australia - hints that the unquestioning media flick-passed through to the electorate and thus put pressure on the Labor Party.
       The news reports did not confound Armitage with any embarrassing context. It was forgotten that the alliance with the US is a two-way street for the exchange of intelligence on possible state and terrorist enemies; it provides a site for US bases in a welcoming environment. But it is not an unqualified defence guarantee of the kind the shorthand news page references to the alliance suggested and Armitage sometimes implied.
       Armitage threw out the burley on the ABC TV's Lateline on June 10, in an interview with Maxine McKew.
       The interviewer accepted the risk to the alliance - "the worst scenario would be for Australia to be, say, left out in the cold, like New Zealand", she commented.
       Armitage advised McKew: "I don't think you (Australia) can pick like an a la carte menu - 'I like the intelligence sharing but I don't like to talk about global policies' or 'I'd like a strategic relationship but I don't want to be involved with the economic'."
       This was reported in The Age as "The United States has stepped up its pressure on the Federal Opposition, raising the possibility the US might limit access to vital intelligence if a Labor government distanced itself from Washington's foreign policy." This took at face value Armitage's suggestion that the alliance was a straitjacket with no wriggle room - odd, because Armitage and his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, wriggled for a full year to try to defeat the hawks in the Bush Administration and avoid the Iraq war.
       The Australian's John Kerin reported: "The US has warned Australia's 53-year-old ANZUS alliance is on the line  . . . Richard Armitage warned . . . Australia could go the way of New Zealand, hinting it would mean the end of ANZUS if Mr Latham was elected."
       The Australian and The Age did not note, and neither did McKew follow up on, Armitage's statement in the Lateline interview that "our alliance, having existed since 1951, is huge and much bigger than any individual issue". The implications of "a la carte" were not explored. If Latham, in office, stuck to troop withdrawal, would the US feel it had no choice but to close its valuable Australian bases? Would the American modus vivendi with New Zealand (a US communications interception base has returned to NZ and there is significant intelligence sharing) be denied to Australia under a Latham government?
       The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hartcher filed from Washington for page one on June 11 a separate interview with Armitage. His report said: "The US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, has suggested that Australians imagine living without the American alliance, further increasing Bush Administration pressure on Mark Latham. Armitage told Australians: 'Now, maybe people ought to think what it would be like without this relationship with the United States. How would they fit into Asia? And how would they feel?' "
       Armitage's words neatly played on Australian fears of being left home alone in Asia.
       In the following week, the storm ebbed, the cups of tea and the Bex were passed around, though the good lie down would take another week or two.
       On June 15, The Age on page one headlined "Alliance 'will survive Latham' ". And international editor Tony Parkinson, with Mark Forbes in Canberra, wrote that "The United States would not freeze relations with an Australian Labor government if Mark Latham, as prime minister, withdrew forces from Iraq."
       By June 16, Forbes of The Age had found an Armitage speech on the State Department website and reported: "The Bush Administration has completed a backflip from its threats against the future of the Australian alliance, describing the relationship as 'sacred' and welcoming criticism of its judgement and performance in Iraq.
       "Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has told a meeting of American and Australian politicians and academics in Washington that 'we welcome debate, argument, that ultimately makes our partnership stronger and better'. The debate over participation in Iraq was not frivolous or superficial and 'we don't have to agree with one another in all instances', Mr Armitage said."
       As far I can discover, this speech and its remarkable U-turn was not attributed and reported elsewhere in Australia.
       On June 16 Paul Kelly in The Australian quoted a senior US Administration official: "The alliance with Australia is far too important for the US to freeze out the prime minister. Of course Mark Latham, if he became prime minister, would be welcomed at the White House."
       But the threat remained alive on June 19 in The Age. It reported: "John Howard last night declared Mark Latham would endanger the American alliance, in a major foreign policy speech that elevates the US relationship as an election issue."
       On July 7, Armitage, perhaps just for the sheer mischief of it, thought to rattle the cage again. "You know as well as I do the Labor Party is split on these questions" (the withdrawal of troops from Iraq), he told Australian correspondents in Washington. This was judged pretty exciting, and (the real enough) Labor split got a fine airing in most of the Australian media, though again without the significant context - Armitage himself had been at the centre of a huge split in the Bush Administration over Iraq.
       By July 12, Kim Beazley was the comeback kid.
       Latham's retreat was inevitable given his inability to distinguish to the public between his disagreement with the Bush Administration over Iraq troops commitments and his commitment to the larger alliance that represents the national interest of both countries.
       You don't have to be sympathetic to Latham's original policy of withdrawing Australian support almost completely from Iraq (I am not) to recognise that the media failed to do their job in putting the understandable comments of an embattled US Administration in to the context of the realities of the alliance and Australia's undoubted contribution to it.
       This is an unexceptional example of a larger problem in the Australian media and, in particular, in the serious press.
       Political news reporting has become little more than the official account of the interminable singles tennis match between John Howard and Mark Latham. This dull fare is sexed up with opinion articles from the tribe of staff commentators, opinion-page columnists, talk jockeys and current affairs interviewers and analysts.
       Where newspaper specialist reporters find out something, beyond the official line, they often place it in their personal columns or commentaries. Here it often fails to meet the arbitrary rules for setting the news agenda of TV news, radio and rival papers, and so, despite its importance or interest, is ignored. The result is that the simplicities of the parties' sloganeering dominates the news agenda.
       As the politicians move into a formal election campaign, it will be the objective of both the Howard Government and Latham Opposition to maintain this straitjacket on the media. The whole of their strategy is concentrated on achieving that end.
       Why the Australian media co-operate in this tennis match of the absurd will be the subject of a future report.
    * Max Suich founded The Independent Monthly and was editor-in-chief of Fairfax's Sydney and national newspapers from 1980-87.
    He will write for
    The Age on the media during the federal election campaign. [Emphasis added]
       [COMMENT: Despite his criticism, it is clear that Suich, too, unthinkingly accepts our alliance with the USA as good for Australia and cedes the Yanks the right to say we can't pick and choose parts of the alliance whereas presumably we can't tell the Yanks THEY can't pick and choose bits of an alliance with other countries such as Australia. Cheers, Dion (e-mail). [Aug 20, 04] COMMENT ENDS.]

    • The Bijlmer crash or the cover-up of a chemical inferno.
       International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), www.bandepleted uranium. org/modules.php? name=News&file= article&sid=140 , by Lizzy Bloem, August 21, 2004.
       AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Extract -- "As for the issue of the missing uranium, the Commission did establish that part of it was likely burnt in the fire. However, it accepted the view of the national health agency that the resulting DU [depleted uranium] particles were not posing much of a health risk. The Dutch government spokesman, Keverling Buisman, stated under oath that smoking one cigarette was worse than inhaling DU dust in Bosnia and Kosovo.
       The Commission's final report was a reconstruction of the disaster made with the help of perjury of police, aviation authorities and politicians, professional silence, lies, deceit, manipulation and even intimidation. In fact, prosecution for perjury has been considered by the Commission at least four times, but this was prevented by the minister of justice."
    ICBUW logo
    International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons
    www.bandepleteduranium.org
    The Bijlmer crash or the cover-up of a chemical inferno
    Posted on 21 August 2004 by ICBUW
    Ground-zero at least more than an hour after the plane crash (© Frank van den Berg) by Lizzy Bloem

    On Sunday October 4, 1992, an El Al Boeing with military cargo crashed in an apartment building in the Bijlmer neighbourhood of Amsterdam. 43 people directly lost their lives. More people have died since and many are still suffering from unidentified diseases.
       The government denies every connection with the disaster, while all of these persons have been inhaling poisonous smoke from the burning airplane and the flats. The flats contained asbestos and lots of plastics. Parts of the contents of the plane are still unknown but three of the four components of sarin nerve gas were in the cargo.
       It is known that the destroyed Boeing aircraft carried 75 tons of kerosene and 10 tons of chemicals. From the plane itself at least 152 kg of the DU counterweights is missing. Most probably, it has burnt into particles. Because of the very "sensitive" cargo, official investigations into the plane crash have been marked by secrecy, denial and misinformation.
       Since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, an agreement exist between the Netherlands and Israel. Under the agreement Israeli aircraft are granted special status at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Israel's national airline El AL, uses the airport to refuel planes coming from the US and going to Israel. Sometimes on a daily base, EL Al cargo planes land and take off, carrying munitions, military technology and other, often classified loads.
       Reconstruction of the fatal flight route above Amsterdam (Click to enlarge) One of Israel's privileges on the airport are "different procedures". The cargo of Israeli planes is only checked on paper, and most of the time the airway bills do not match the cargo. Another procedure that is different is known as "flying the El Al way". Because of fear for [? of] terrorist attacks, El Al aircraft may land and take off as they see fit. This is most probably the reason why the fatal route was above [a] residential area.
       The airport had a different landing track in mind than the pilot when he tried to return to the airport, chosing a landing track with the most unsuitable wind on the tail. The pilot may have thought he was hit by a missile and the landing track he chose was known to provide the best coverage against terrorists.
       The cause of the plane crash was a lack of maintenance on the bolts which attach the engines to the wings. These bolts had so much metal fatigue that two engines could break from one wing. The pilots lost oil pressure to serve the flaps on that side. Because the plane was unevenly loaded, with heavy cargo on one side, it rolled over.
    [continued]
    International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, August 21, 2004 [Page 1 of 7]
    http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=140
    http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont14.htm#aircrash
    Sources
       Pierre Heijboer. Doemvlucht, De verzwegen geheimen van de Bijlmerramp. Het Spectrum, 2002. ISBN: 90.274.7970.4;
    Flight of doom, The untold secrets of the Bijlmer disaster, by Pierre Heijboer, a Dutch senior journalist.
       Website of E.I.M. Steur, http://home. planet.nl/ ~steur196 , victim civilian rescue worker and independent researcher of the Bijlmer disaster.
       Henk van der Keur and E.I.M. Steur. The medical investigation into the Bijlmermeer aviation disaster and depleted uranium (Laka Foundation, 2003), www.laka.org/ teksten/Vu/ bijlmer-03.html .
       Note: For more web resources on the Bijlmer Disaster, see: Dossier Bijlmer Disaster, www.bandepleted uranium.org/ modules.php? name=Web_Links& l_op=viewlink &cid=12 . [Aug 21, 04]
    • Subtle bars to free trade.
       The Weekend Australian, www.theaustralian. news.com.au/common/ story_page/0,5744, 10509860%255E7583, 00.html , by Christopher Pearson, p 20, August 21-22, 2004
       AUSTRALIA: It would be ironic if Mark Latham's improved position in recent polls were due to his amendments to the free trade agreement's enabling legislation. For, far from enhancing the protection of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Latham's manoeuvres may well have weakened it and will at best have no effect on the prices that consumers pay.
       Considered from an American perspective, the Latham amendments either have substantive effect (as Labor claims), in which case they are contrary to the agreement, or they are (as the Coalition claims) superfluous.
       It is more likely that they are contrary to the agreement. This is because the FTA incorporates the terms of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Intellectual Property as if they were an integral part of the FTA. One of those terms -- Article 27 (1) -- precludes discriminatory treatment between different sectors. Clearly pharmaceuticals cannot be singled out for special restrictive measures.
       The second aspect of the amendments likely to cause concern is that trade agreements are negotiated on the basis of "standstill". In other words, once an agreement is reached, the parties are expected not to introduce legislation that would alter their relative positions.
       Finally, the Americans could argue that the amendments are likely to give rise to a dispute under the "reasonable benefits" clause, in the event that their drug companies are unable to realise benefits that they anticipated would flow from the agreement.
       The consequences don't look good for Labor, whether it is in Opposition or government. The Americans can respond in several ways. They could agree to implement the FTA on the basis of an exchange of letters, through which both governments resolve that the Labor amendments will in no way inhibit the right of companies to protect their intellectual property as defined in the FTA (in effect agreeing that the amendments are redundant).
       Then again, they might follow the course outlined by Glenn Milne (The Australian, August 16) and refuse to bring the FTA into force for the time being, pending further negotiations. Or, if worst came to worst, they could reserve their position by stating that the measures were likely to give rise to a dispute in the future. This might well suit the American political class, with an election impending. They could tell the US pharmaceutical companies that they were prepared to indicate that there was a dispute as soon as those companies could provide prima facie evidence of disadvantage to their position.
       In the event that there were a dispute arising out of the FTA, the Americans could quite easily widen it to cover all the measures related to the PBS. The Australian Government would then have to argue its case for the PBS in isolation, rather than in the historical context of a close relationship between the two governments and a wider agreement with multiple trade-offs. As with all litigation, the result would not be a foregone conclusion. All of this underlines the risk entailed in the crash-through-or-crash approach, not just for Latham Labor but also for the country as a whole.
       Whatever the avoidable pitfalls, negotiating the US FTA is likely to seem a cakewalk when compared with the prospect of concluding an FTA with China, although that's not to say that the game's not worth the candle.
       From a trade policy perspective, it is logical for Australia to consolidate its position with China. Quite apart from the fact Australia and China have complementary economies and China is one of our most significant markets, there is a history of closeness on trade policy issues.
       When China decided to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the WTO) in 1985, the Hawke government very sensibly arranged for some of our trade law experts to work with Chinese trade officials. They not only drafted all the instruments necessary for Chinese accession but began a process of codification of Chinese trade laws. This provided Australia with valuable insights into the way that China was moving to implement the basic elements of a market economy.
       The central problem with entering into an economic agreement with China is that it lacks the legal infrastructure that underpins a true market economy. For example, there is no fundamental legal provision that guarantees the freedom of trade and commerce between the provinces, as Section 92 of the Australian Constitution does for us. So reductions in import barriers may mean little if provincial officials decide to counteract them through local rules. Since the wealth and prestige of mandarins, particularly those remote from the main coastal cities, is likely to depend on patronage, they are reluctant to change the existing system.
       The central Government prefers to implement change through administrative directives because this consolidates the power of the Chinese Communist Party. At the same time it recognises that foreign investment will flow only to areas that have transparent, identifiable and predictable legal frameworks.
       The hope is that inland cities will follow the example of coastal centres such as Dalian, Tianjin and Qingdao, which have implemented investment frameworks offering legal protection to foreign interests.
       The trade policy basis for Australia's push to secure a trade agreement with China is difficult to discern. While Mark Vaile has talked a lot about improved market access, this is at best a refinement of the old "if only every Chinese had one pair of woollen socks we would be rich" argument of the 1970s.
       More sophisticated analysis points to the fact Australia, being one of the first to enter into such an agreement, would build on its entente cordiale with China to secure advantages over other countries, a version of the Chinese notion of Guanxi, a special relationship. From a purely commercial viewpoint, this probably makes sense.
       But the price of the special relationship may be that we'll be the first country to concede China market economy status, which in fact would accord a special status to a fairly brazen kind of interventionist mercantilism.
       In the information his department disseminates, Vaile has tended to gloss over this. The argument over the market economy' issue has been narrowed to its significance in the context of anti-dumping manoeuvres. This is an obvious concern for manufacturers and the union movement because anti-dumping action can be taken to keep out cheap Chinese imports by pricing them with reference to a third country market economy and exacting anti-dumping duties for the difference. However, it is not the main story.
       If free trade agreements are to make any sense at all, then they must be between countries that have a legal structure capable of allowing products from one country to penetrate the markets of another country on a purely commercial basis. Plainly, the Chinese economy doesn't meet this test.
       There are still hundreds of domestic laws that affect commerce and are not available, in codified form, even for Chinese nationals. So it's hard to see how China and Australia could guarantee that substantially all the trade both ways was free of duties and restrictive regulations of commerce, as required by international trade law. It's also hard to see how either country could justify a breach of its most favoured nation commitments under the WTO.
       On the other hand, Australia does have considerable influence with China and it could be deployed helping the latter build the transparent jurisprudential basis to underpin a market economy. That this would inevitably reduce the power of the Chinese Communist Party suggests just how Herculean an undertaking it might prove. [Aug 21-22, 04] [Emphasis added]
    • Former Liberal president launches anti-Howard campaign.
       Australian Broadcasting Corporation, TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT, The 7.30 Report, www.abc.net.au/ 7.30/content/ 2004/ s1184314.htm , Reporter: Heather Ewart, Aug 24, 2004
       AUSTRALIA: KERRY O'BRIEN: Though the Prime Minister is yet to announce an election date, a very personal campaign against him in his own seat of Bennelong is already off and running.
       The "Not Happy, John!" campaign led by former federal president John Valder was officially launched in Sydney today with the goal of ousting John Howard from a seat he's held with relative ease for 30 years.
       John Valder was once one of the Prime Minister's closest supporters, but claims he's now a liability because of 'children overboard' and the war in Iraq.
       Not only has the former leading Sydney stockbroker sought to rally other conservatives to his anti-Howard banner, he's also offering to help candidates opposed to the Government from other parties, including former Adelaide magistrate Brian Deegan who's running against Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in South Australia.
       Heather Ewart reports.
       HEATHER EWART: Are you into politics?
       NICK DEEGAN: Personally, no, but I think I definitely agree with a lot of issues that dad is standing for.
       HEATHER EWART: In a back room of the family home in Adelaide, Nick Deegan and his best mate rehearse for an anti-Howard rally in Sydney several days away.
       It's not their usual sort of gig, but Nick's father, Brian Deegan, has just resigned as a magistrate to run as an Independent against Foreign Minister Alexander Downer at the next election.
       The catalyst was the death of his eldest son Josh in the Bali bombing.
       BRIAN DEEGAN, FMR SA MAGISTRATE: You don't suddenly drop your career and embark on something like this, politics, because your child has been murdered.
       But what you will do is, if you believe that your other children could suffer the same fate for the same reasons, then you've got to step up and then you've got to protect them.
       (BRIAN DEEGAN TALKING TO PERSON ON STREET) I do agree with some Liberal policies but I disagree with a great deal of them. One of them are our foreign policies and I guess that's why I'm trying to make a big stand. I need your help on election day.
       HEATHER EWART: Brian Deegan is now a regular campaigner in the seat of Mayo in the Adelaide Hills.
       His aim is to oust Alexander Downer, but he says it's the push for truth and honesty in the Howard Government that motivates him.
       BRIAN DEEGAN: I have felt rather despondent at the way this Government is going. I think that it's become -- well, it's raised the depth of dishonesty to a new height. I was no longer prepared to sit back quietly and watch. [...]
       HEATHER EWART: One of his teachers is none other than former federal president of the Liberal Party, John Valder.
       Here in Sydney he's planning to kick off his own campaign to unseat the man he once so loyally supported -- John Howard.
       Do you see yourself as a traitor to the Liberal Party in any sense?
       JOHN VALDER, FMR LIBERAL PARTY PRESIDENT: No, I think those of us involved in all of this see it the other way round, that John Howard perhaps has been the traitor to the Liberal Party.
       HEATHER EWART: The campaign slogan is 'Not Happy, John' to embrace issues like "children overboard" and opposition to the war in Iraq.
       What unites this group at their first meeting is this sentiment.
       JOHN VALDER: I think John Howard is preciously close to being a liability to the Liberal Party.
       HEATHER EWART: So you want to see him gone? JOHN VALDER: Yep.
       HEATHER EWART: A date is set for the 'Not Happy, John' campaign launch.
       As the days pass and momentum builds it's agreed there'll be a rally in a local hall, smack in the middle of John Howard's electorate.
       Brian Deegan will be one of the key speakers. [...]
       HEATHER EWART: Unseating John Howard would appear a fanciful notion to more seasoned political observers. The margin in Bennelong is 7.7 per cent. It would take at least 6,000 voters to change their minds for him to lose it. Yet the 'Not Happy, John' campaign is somehow convinced their rainbow coalition is on the road to success.
       KERRY O'BRIEN: Could be a very long road.  [Emphasis added] [Aug 24, 04]
    • Six refugees leave fostering Westerner employer, some without notice.
       The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, "Albany no longer home for refugees," by Kate Gauntlett, p 14, Wednesday, August 25, 2004
       CANBERRA: The Albany business which led the community push for temporary protection visa holders to say permanently is struggling to keep them on as workers once they are allowed to call Australia home.
       Greg Cross, assistant manager at Fletcher International Abattoir, said six Afghan workers had left in recent weeks, some without warning, after being granted permanent refugee protection.
       "It's probably not what you'd expect considering that we were out there being their main supporters," Mr Cross said.
       However, he said he also understood the need for people to move on after spending up to four years in one town on a temporary visa.
       Fourteen Afghan workers who are current or former TPV holders remain at the abattoir. Of those who are left, some are believed to be travelling to Queensland, one is studying English in Perth, and some are believed to be working in South Australia.
       Mr Cross' comments came as Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone unveiled details of new rules for TPV holders.
       From Friday, about 9000 current and former TPV holders will be eligible to apply for a host of mainstream migration visas without having to leave Australia.
       Cabinet approved the changes last month after intense lobbying from coalition backbenchers, who said TPV holders were vital to regional economies.
       Since 1999, genuine asylum seekers who arrived by boat were granted TPVs for three to five years and had to apply again for permanent refugee protection once these visas expired.
       If they failed the test, they had to leave the country within 28 days and could only apply for mainstream visas from overseas.
       Under the new rules, such people are allowed to stay another 18 months in Australia while they apply for mainstream visas, which have some relaxed requirements, such as age and English-speaking ability.
       TPV holders who have worked in the country for a year, or are prepared to commit to a year's country work, are likely to qualify for a regional sponsored migration scheme visa.
       Spouse visas have also been offered to TPV holders for the first time, meaning those who marry Australians for love can stay permanently.
       Refugee advocate David Sims said about 80 TPV holders living in or near Albany had shown little interest in the new visas, with most likely to qualify for permanent refugee protection.
       Senator Vanstone acknowledged that "a very significant proportion" of the TPV holders were likely to get permanent protection.
       But she said the mainstream visas would appeal to people got temporary protection only because they fell under a tightened TPV regime which applied from September 2001.
       Shadow immigration minister Stephen Smith said the Government was trying to win over voters and had not offered any reform.
       (Picture - Easier passage: Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has announced changes to rules governing TPV holders.) # [Emphasis added]
       [COMMENT:
    1. The company head/s that had supported the well-meaning support for the refugees are, in the refugees' eyes, "kufar" or "infidels". The management ought to read about the school textbook recommendation "Burn or destroy the bastions of kufar" in the Australian Reader's Digest, "Saudi Arabia's deadly export," by Brian Eads, February 2003, pp 119-125. Extremist leaders would be having a good laugh at the Albanyites' gullibility.
    2. Funny how the Liberal and National parties' backbenchers think that the TPV holders are "vital to regional economies." If I remember rightly, the rural areas managed to survive before these immigrants came.
    3. Labor's spokesperson Stephen Smith wants MORE immigration, as does Kim Beazley. They don't really care whether these people can be recruited to extremist views when they contrast their puritanical religion with the shamelessness, drunken behaviour, and antipathy of many Australians. [COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 25, 2004]

    • Weygers still under investigation. Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  Western Australia, State flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 
       The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, p 14, Wednesday, August 25, 2004
       PERTH, Western Australia: The career of controversial civil libertarian Peter Weygers remains in doubt, four months after he was accused of sexual harassment.
       The Department of Education and Training is continuing to investigate the school psychologist, who was removed from any duties counselling children when the allegations were made at the end of April.  ... [For more, click "Weygers"]
    • Lead on Claremont killer sparks raid.
       The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, by Luke Morfesse, Sarah Roberts and Luke Eliot, Page One, Thursday, August 26, 2004
       PERTH, W. Australia: Police raided a house linked to controversial civil libertarian Peter Weygers and a Perth taxi driver yesterday armed with new information in the Claremont serial killer case.
       Macro task force detectives raided the property in Irwin Road, Embleton, about 10am and seized computers and two vehicles -- a Ford station wagon and a Toyota Hi-Lux utility.
       The Ford was used as a taxi by the cabbie at the time that two of the three victims -- Sarah Spiers and Jane Rimmer -- disappeared from Claremont. In the early stages of the eight-year-old inquiry much of the focus was on the taxi industry because Ms Spiers booked a cab before she disappeared.
       Ciara Glennon, the serial killer's third known victim, was last seen only a few hundred metres from where Ms Spiers disappeared, trying to hail a cab. [...]
       ... Det-Sgt Martin Crane ... said ... "We've seized two motor vehicles which will both be subject to forensic examination."
       The West Australian understand the taxi drive sold the house to Mr Weygers several years ago but continues to live in a transportable donga at the back. Mr Weygers' partner's son lives in the main residence.
       Mr Weygers was known to have successfully championed the cause of the cabbie who faced the permanent loss of his taxi licence several years ago after refusing a passenger a fare. [sic]
       Mr Weygers said last night that the raid was a political exercise and police were revisiting old leads.
       Sgt Crane said the raid did not involve Mr Weygers "in any shape or form".
    [Television news the same evening used the name and voice of taxidriver Steven Ross, 43] [Emphasis added] [Aug 26, 2004]
    • Now it's time for a healthy skepticism about war and more. U.S.A. flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
       The National Catholic Reporter (USA), "Now it's time for a healthy skepticism," www.natcath.com/ NCR_Online/ archives2/ 2004c/082704/ 082704v.htm , August 27, 2004
       UNITED STATES: "There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"
       Those are the words of Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks, who made the alarmingly honest disclosure to the Post's media critic Howard Kurtz.
       This is the season of mea culpa for major newspapers over their coverage -- or lack of it -- during the run-up to the war in Iraq. The New York Times made similar disclosures in a story about itself last May.
       What's going on?
       Both the Times and the Post are easy targets. They're big. They're powerful. They're supposed to be in search of the truth and on the side of all that is fair and just. We always want to think, then, that they are on our side. And we're certain they're sellouts when they aren't. We want to love them even when we feel compelled to dislike them.
       It's not easy being a newspaper.
       Perhaps it is even more difficult these days when so much that is not journalism -- or at least hasn't been traditionally -- tries to squeeze under the journalism umbrella. How many smash-mouth screaming TV show moderators characterize themselves as journalists? They mouth grand statements about fairness and objectivity yet really only sit in the bully's seat to berate the nightly parade of "guests."
       Infotainment, news items that get briefer by the month, celebrity gossip taking front-page space and the conglomerates' takeover of media of all sorts, but most notably the newspaper industry, have left us with a paucity of distinctive outlets. We get screamed at and announced to 24/7, but serious journalism that risks going against the grain or jeopardizing a certain sheen of respectability is fast becoming a rarity.
       So perhaps it is particularly alarming when two of the most respected and powerful outlets in the country admit that they simply didn't bother to ask questions or listen to dissenters or seriously consider the possibility that the Bush administration was proceeding on anything less than noble and upright terms.
       The positive in all of this, of course, is that two of the most powerful newspapers in the world acknowledged their deficiencies before the world. We only wish that other institutions, including churches in general and the Catholic church particularly, would so quickly acknowledge the error of their ways and apologize.
       It is interesting that the press -- so often maligned as slanted and conspiratorial -- is the rare undertaking that is, quite literally, an open book. Whatever a paper does or doesn't do is as evident as the black-on-white of the page itself.
       Kurtz reports an editor noting that "skeptical stories usually triggered hate mail 'questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists.' " That's a bit exaggerated, but "groupthink" as the Post's Bob Woodward put it, exerted real pressure on the newsgathering and decision making of that period. No one wanted to be perceived as weak or anti-U.S. or soft on terrorism.
       That is easy to understand. We learned, in the days following 9/11, that raising questions could generate some rather heated mail even from the limited world of NCR readership, a group that typically is more open to skepticism about government decisions regarding war making.
       That is perhaps the most disturbing realization from the newspaper confessions: that the culture's keepers of the questions abandoned the questions and too often simply took as important or indisputable what was handed out by government agencies.
       We hope the confessions have led to a firm resolve to exercise a healthy skepticism as we move into a new phase of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. President Bush and Vice President Cheney, all evidence to the contrary, continue to spin rationales about the war that have long been proven deficient. It doesn't seem to matter. Where there were no weapons of mass destruction, Cheney insists, there actually could have been and we might yet find them.
       Where there were no weapons and where the United States had imposed both sanctions and bombing overflights for more than 10 years there was still, Bush would have us believe, an imminent threat to U.S. security.
       Democratic challenger John Kerry, meanwhile, continues to contort his way through a string of disconnected rationales for and opposition to the war that remain befuddling.
       Perhaps it is time to afford not only some belated credibility but also some space to those whose voices were steamrolled on the way to war. Call back Hans Blix, the weapons inspector who said there weren't any weapons and then was unceremoniously ushered off the world stage.
       Call back U.N. humanitarian experts Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both of whom resigned, ending long and distinguished careers, because of their outrage over what was happening in Iraq in the late 1990s.
       Go back into the intelligence agencies, to those whose warnings were ignored in the run-up to war, and allow them their belated say.
       And dig further into why the media -- newspapers, certainly, but especially television -- became in so many ways uncritical cheerleaders for the Pentagon, for every weapons system paraded out by the Department of Defense and for the inevitability of war.
       Perhaps, then, we can take up the even more difficult task of facing and explaining this war's dead. Not only U.S. dead, which daily continue to mount, but Iraqi dead, disproportionately innocent citizens. Then maybe we will have reclaimed the questions, the difficult, essential and correct questions.
       If all of that is done, if the precious mandate the media have to stand in the stead of those who can't ask the questions is reclaimed, maybe six months from now no one will have to apologize for missing the point and ignoring "all this contrary stuff." [Emphasis added] [Aug 27, 04]
    • Australian national election to be Sat., Oct. 9. Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 
       Television news, Sunday, August 29, 2004
       AUSTRALIA:
       The Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, said that he would advise the Governor-General to issue papers to hold a federal election on Saturday, October 9. [Aug 29, 04]
    • How Blair Betrayed the BBC and its Director. Britain flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
       The Observer (Britain), "How Blair Betrayed Me -- And The BBC," http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,6903,1293000,00.html , by Greg Dyke (former Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation), Sunday August 29, 2004
       Greg Dyke was at the centre of a battle that pitted him against an old ally -- the Prime Minister. For the first time, he reveals the full truth about Blair, Campbell and Hutton
       BRITAIN: I first met him at a dinner party in north London around 1980. I remember the evening well, and in particular this fresh-faced young man with a very upmarket accent, which was unusual in the circles I moved in. In those days in the media, even people brought up with plums in their mouths spent most of the time pretending they did not have them. He told me he was a barrister but what he really wanted to do was 'to serve' his country. I genuinely thought he meant he wanted to join the priesthood. He explained he wanted to serve the country by becoming a Labour MP.
       As the wine flowed I explained that I didn't think his idea was a particularly good one. I think my exact words were: 'The Labour party needs another barrister like it needs a hole in the head.'
       Roll forward to May 1997. It had been a beautiful day and it was a beautiful night. My partner Sue and I were at the Royal Festival Hall in London with the great and the good to celebrate Labour's election victory. Tony Blair arrived amid huge jubilation in the early hours. This was the same man who had been my table companion nearly 20 years earlier.
       I remember the excitement of the following day as if it were yesterday. One friend said to me that Blair was the first prime minister who looked as though he might have been round Tesco's. I checked that out with Cherie later, and she laughed at the idea.
       Seven years on all that optimism has gone. Tony Blair has turned out to be just another politician and in some ways worse than those before him. They never promised us a new sort of politics. He did.
       For me, disillusionment came late. At the BBC I took no part in politics and kept my feelings about it to myself. Then came Iraq, Gilligan and Hutton, and suddenly it struck me how naive I had been.
       It is now obvious; the decision to go to war was made first, and the intelligence to support that move was discovered afterwards. One by one the reasons the prime minister gave us have been proved to be wrong. But it's even worse than that. He took us to war on the basis of intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and the 45-minute threat which, at the very least, he didn't understand and didn't question.
       The charge against Blair is damning. He was either incompetent and took Britain to war on a misunderstanding, or he lied when he told the House of Commons that he didn't know what the 45-minute claim meant. It was he who said Gilligan's reports were 'a mountain of untruth'. That wasn't the case.
       But there were 'mountains of untruth' -- the dossiers he and his colleagues in Downing Street produced to justify the war. And yet the Prime Minister has never said to the British people: 'I am sorry.' There was a moment when he could have done so, and we might have forgiven him. That moment is past.
       We were all duped. History will not be on Blair's side. It will not absolve him, but will show that the whole saga is a great political scandal. What is really frightening is that Blair still doesn't believe or understand that what he did was fundamentally wrong.
       In the five years before I joined the BBC the donations I'd made to Labour totalled 55,000 Pounds, a significant sum but nothing compared to the 1 million I'd given to charity in the same period. That's not to say there haven't been times recently when I haven't been tempted to write to the party and ask for my money back.
       And a decade ago, in a very small way, I helped Blair to become Labour leader by giving 5,000 to help him run his leadership campaign. Of course he would have become leader without my money, but I regret giving it. He's a decent man but I don't like what he has allowed to happen to our political system. I don't like 10 Downing Street's obsession with spin, and I believe he misled the nation on Iraq.
       Blair is, in electoral terms, the most successful Labour leader ever, and New Labour can claim some real achievements. And yet I suspect his legacy will be summed up in two words: Iraq and spin. The Gilligan affair was about both.
       In Alastair Campbell I believe the government had a time bomb waiting to go off. He just happened to go off in the direction of the BBC. For me to have been cowed by a bully whom the Prime Minister was clearly unable to control, would have betrayed everything I believed in.
       In my four years as director-general of the BBC it was a standing joke that I always seemed to be away when really big stories broke about the corporation. True to form, I was on holiday in the west of Ireland on 29 May 2003, the day Andrew Gilligan, the Radio 4 Today programme's defence correspondent, broadcast his story on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
       You can get a signal in that part of Ireland, but I wasn't up in time to hear the report that eight months later would lead to my exit from the BBC.
       My private view of the war was that I was marginally in favour of trying to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I regarded him as a nasty bastard whom the world could well do without. Mistakenly, as it turned out, I also thought Blair and the government knew more about Iraq's weapons than they were able to tell us.
       As director-general, however, my feelings about the war were irrelevant. The BBC's job was to be impartial and tell the story as our journalists saw it. It was certainly not to be the government's propaganda machine.
       For Campbell and his team our refusal to report what they wanted us to, in the way they wanted us to, made us a target even before the war began. It was easy to see why he was so anxious, Blair's whole future was in the balance.
       In the run-up to war, criticisms of the BBC's reporting were largely confined to complaints to Richard Sambrook, head of BBC News. I heard nothing directly from Downing Street until the week the war started, when both the chairman Gavyn Davies and I received private letters from the prime minister.
       The letter to me, sent on 19 March 2003, said that while Blair accepted it was right that 'voices of dissent' were heard, the BBC had gone too far, and he had been shocked by some of 'the editorialising' of our interviewers and reporters.
       He said:
       It seems to me there has been a real breakdown of the separation of news and comment ... I know too that Alastair had been pressing you to ensure more reference is made to reports from inside Iraq about the restrictions under which the media operate...
       Blair went on to complain that our reports were full of complaints from 'ordinary' Iraqis, but that there was no such thing in modern-day Baghdad as anyone who criticised the regime risked execution or torture. He ended by saying that he had never written to me or my predecessor in this way before, adding:
       I believe, and I am not alone in believing, that you have not got the balance right between support and dissent; between news and comment; between the voices of the Iraqi regime and the voices of Iraqi dissidents; or between the diplomatic support we have, and diplomatic opposition.
       Later, Gavyn was told by a Number 10 official that Blair had not wanted to send the letters but had been persuaded to do so by Campbell, and later regretted it.
       Gavyn and I discussed how we should respond. We agreed he should send a conciliatory reply, while one from me should be more robust, since I deeply resented this obvious attempt by Campbell to try to bully us.
       The first paragraph of my letter to Blair, sent on 21 March, said: 'First, and I do not mean to be rude, but having faced the biggest ever public demonstration in this country and the biggest ever backbench rebellion against a sitting government by its own supporters, would you not agree that your communications advisers are not best placed to advise whether or not the BBC has got the balance right between support and dissent?'
       My view was straightforward: if the government was to try to bully the BBC, I was going to fight back. Looking back, there is an argument that I should have been more circumspect, but I don't agree.
       It is quite clear now that the prime minister's Iraq policy has been disastrous for him, for the Labour Party and for Britain's reputation virtually everywhere in the world but the United States.
       From the moment my reply reached Number 10, I believe all the gloves were off. Campbell saw it as a personal rebuff: I had humiliated him. I am told by people who know him well that he now regarded the dispute as personal.
       Everything that happened later has to be put into the context of the person with whom we were dealing. Campbell, while a brilliant operator, has a classic obsessive personality, and he had decided the BBC was the enemy. From then on, if not before, I suspect he was looking for revenge.
       I received no more complaints from Blair during or after the war, but complaints from Campbell arrived on Richard Sambrook's desk with monotonous regularity, and Richard and I concluded that Campbell had become obsessed with the BBC.
       Gilligan was in Iraq for the whole of the war, and his reports were not always popular with Campbell. When the war ended and Gilligan returned, Richard told him that while some of his reporting had been very good, he often went 10 per cent too far.
       A period of relative quiet in our relationship with Downing Street followed. Then on 29 May Today ran a report by Gilligan, preceded by an unscripted 'two-way' [interview with a presenter]. The report, extensively cross-checked by Gilligan and Today's editor, Kevin Marsh, told of deep concern in the intelligence community that the Government's 2002 dossier had been 'sexed up'.
       I returned from Ireland on 30 May, and went into the office the following Monday. There was a bit of noise around about the Today story, but nothing particularly unusual.
       By then I had read an article by Gilligan in the Mail on Sunday in which he had crucially added that his source had told him the September dossier had been 'sexed up' by Campbell himself.
       The first complaint from the Number 10 communications director was sent on 6 June. His letters were often very long. He clearly suffered from verbal diarrhoea, which I always thought strange given his background as a tabloid journalist. Sometimes it was quite difficult to work out what he was actually complaining about.
       Over four pages he protested that Gilligan had failed to understand the role of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), and said we had broken our own BBC guidelines by the use of a single unattributable source.
       Sambrook replied on 11 June that the BBC had several sources who expressed concern about the way intelligence was used in the September dossier.
       A day later another letter came from Campbell, again to Richard, repeating his complaints. At my suggestion Richard offered him the chance to use the BBC's official complaints process. Campbell never replied to that invitation.
       After this spurt of letters there was complete silence from Campbell for 10 days. We all assumed the complaints had gone the way of so many others. Richard received letters like these so regularly that when he got the second letter he described it to me as 'just another Alastair rant'.
       At around this time the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee was holding hearings on the decision to go to war, and its members wanted Campbell to appear. In particular they wanted to know about the 'dodgy dossier', which Campbell's staff had taken from the internet, changed to improve the case for war and published in February 2003 as their own work.
       Putting out documents of selective information to improve the government's case was food and drink to Campbell and his Number 10 team. Whether you should be doing that as a government information organisation is debatable; whether you should be doing it when the stakes are as high as people being killed in a war is not.
       When the Prime Minister discovered the truth about how the dossier had been produced, he should have been outraged and fired Campbell. That he didn't, tells us a lot about Blair.
       To understand how all this came about, one has to understand the whole psyche of Blair's Number 10 and the enormous power wielded by Campbell. In many ways Campbell is a political genius but over seven years he turned Downing Street into a place with overtones of Nixon's White House. You were either for them or against them. And if you opposed them, you became the enemy.
       Campbell finally appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 June, and launched a full frontal verbal assault on the BBC, accusing it of lying and running an anti-war agenda. It was an unprecedented attack on the BBC's journalism by a civil servant with unprecedented powers.
       So why did Campbell do it? It looked to me as if his assault was a means of diverting attention from the 'dodgy dossier'. He decided attack was the best means of defence; and, in the short term, it worked.
       I suspect that Campbell had been wanting to 'get' the BBC for a long time. In particular he wanted to get Gilligan and Today. Campbell had told me personally how much he disliked the programme, and we knew that in particular, he disliked its main presenter, John Humphrys.
       The dislike of Gilligan went back to 2000 when the correspondent had warned that a new European law could form the basis of an EU super-state. Campbell called him 'gullible Gilligan'.
       At the select committee, Campbell personalised his attack by saying we had accused the prime minister of lying, which was completely untrue. Again, this was a typical Campbell ploy. No one had ever mentioned the prime minister, but it suited Campbell to claim that criticism of Number 10 or the government meant directly accusing the prime minister of lying. To his discredit, Blair later went along with this.
       On the day of Campbell's attack, the BBC Executive was away at a strategy conference in Witley Park in Surrey. As usual we had some bonding activity, in which executive members did silly things to make them feel more of a team.
       We were halfway through an 'It's a Knockout' competition when Sambrook took a call on his mobile phone. He told me it was from Campbell, who had gone ballistic, attacking the BBC.
       But we decided to carry on with the game, probably because my team was winning. We were still ahead until the last round when we all had to do country dancing. At that moment Alan Yentob [director of drama] came into his own, and his team won on 'artistic merit'. What a joke!
       I got home from the conference to find a fax that Campbell had sent to the office. It was clearly an attempt to be friendly, saying he had always admired me, and he 'was sorry' he had had to attack the BBC.
       I didn't believe a word of it. It was very clear to me that Campbell was not interested in a proper investigation of his complaint: he wanted a bust-up for political reasons. His fax to me looked like part of his game, and I didn't want to play along with it. I decided not to respond.
       Richard Sambrook had received another three-page letter from Campbell, demanding answers to a series of questions and a reply that day. Next day I helped draft the BBC's response.
       Replying quickly was a mistake, my mistake. We allowed ourselves to be driven by Campbell's timetable, and sent a detailed response that only upset him even more.
       He received it while he was watching the tennis at Wimbledon, and immediately drove to the studios of ITN. He demanded to be interviewed live on Channel 4 News news, and laid into the BBC once more in a quite extraordinary fashion. He had told Blair what he was doing, and the prime minister reluctantly agreed.
       Even Campbell later accepted that his behaviour had been excessive; Blair clearly had little control over him. We all thought that by then Campbell was completely out of control, and we were not alone in this. In one of a number of conversations Gavyn Davies had with the prime minister over this period, all initiated by Blair, Gavyn said he thought Campbell's behaviour was over the top. Blair replied: 'Don't we all.'
       Sue and I were at Wimbledon for the men's tennis finals on Sunday 6 July, the day before the Foreign Affairs Committee published its report. As luck would have it, Cherie Blair was sitting in front of us, so the photographers had a field day.
       I've known Cherie for 20 years; while I was on the board of Manchester United, before becoming director-general, I'd even had a call from her one Christmas, asking if I could get a discount for a Manchester United shirt. I said I could, and asked what name and number she wanted on the back. The reply came: 'Blair, number 7.' Her son, Euan, wanted David Beckham's number.
       I offered to give her the shirt but she insisted on paying. For a while I was tempted to frame the cheque she sent me, as a memento; in the end I decided the money was more important so I cashed it.
       At Wimbledon that day, Cherie said hello to Sue, and then looked straight through me as if I didn't exist. I remember thinking then how sad it was that she didn't recognise that old friendships are far more important than temporary battles. But perhaps that can't apply to people who spend their lives in politics.
       From Wimbledon I went to a BBC governors' meeting, still in my cream suit. The governors were supportive and put out a statement rejecting Campbell's claim that the BBC was anti-war.
       Next day, the committee report was published. It was a bit of a damp squib, with both sides claiming victory.
       There were two attempts to broker peace at around this time. First, Peter Mandelson rang Caroline Thomson, the BBC's director of policy and an old friend of us both. He suggested a way out; it required the BBC to accept that Gilligan's story wasn't true, while maintaining we were right to broadcast it when we did.
       We refused. Gavyn was against dealing with Mandelson at all because, he said, we couldn't be sure our discussions would stay private.
       When Caroline took the message back to Mandelson, he told her that the BBC would now have the full force of the government's public relations machine thrown at it. Nice people.
       The second approach came on the morning the select committee's report was published, when the prime minister rang Gavyn Davies in what Blair said was an attempt to calm the whole thing down. He offered the same deal as Mandelson, but Gavyn told him he couldn't agree to it because we were not prepared to withdraw the story.
       Blair said he had told Campbell to back off, and needed us to make a similar gesture. Whether the prime minister genuinely wanted to calm everything down is highly questionable. On the very day he spoke to Gavyn, we now know he spent the rest of the morning in a series of meetings, none of them minuted, deciding what should be done to exploit the fact that an official called David Kelly had come forward to say he could have been Gilligan's source. The strategy of how the government should put Kelly's name into the public agenda was devised that day at a meeting attended by the prime minister.
       At this time there were few moments of light relief, but one came when I was phoned and offered a special number plate for 250. The number was M16 WMD. I bought it with the intention of giving it to Sambrook as a Christmas present when the whole story had died away. I still have it hidden away in a cupboard.
       Neither the BBC nor the government was going to back down, nor were we going to say whether or not Kelly was our source.
       All stories die in the end because the journalists covering them and, more to the point, their editors and newsdesks get bored with them. I thought that was happening to this story when, on Friday 18 July, I took a call in the car on my way to work from Sambrook, who told me the dramatic news that Kelly was missing from home. We later heard that a body had been found. The story was back on all the front pages.
       That weekend, there were real worries inside the BBC about Andrew Gilligan's state of mind, and even fears that he might commit suicide. He was a relatively young man who lived on his own and was not known as someone with lots of friends. He was under enormous pressure. Campbell had thrown the whole PR operation of the state against him, just as Mandelson had promised, and he was being attacked by anyone and everyone. He was being blamed for Kelly's death by politicians and journalists alike. I couldn't understand why, as he'd done everything he could to keep the identity of his source confidential.
       There were two more events of note in the weeks that followed. First, I had another exchange of letters with the prime minister, with me writing to complain that one cabinet minister had briefed journalists in the days after Kelly died, saying that 'the problem with the BBC was that it had too much money and Greg Dyke' and that after Hutton the government would [...] decision being affected by any of this. He also said he was fed up with stories driven by 'anonymous sources'. But my source wasn't anonymous: I knew for a fact which cabinet minister had done the briefing.
       The second event, of course, was the resignation of Alastair Campbell. He spun himself out brilliantly, making it look as though it was his decision, but it wasn't.
       As I left home on the morning of Tuesday 27 January 2004, I had no idea that within 36 hours my career as director-general of the BBC would be over, that I would be fired by a board of governors behaving like frightened rabbits caught in car headlights.
       Hutton was to announce his findings the next day and 22 of us at the BBC were to get an advance copy. We had set aside four hours to read it; but as it turned out, we didn't need anything like as long. Halfway down page three I knew we were in trouble.
       It was on that page that Hutton explained he had decided to completely ignore the crucial question of what sort of weapons of mass destruction the Government was warning us about in the dossier. With this one inexplicable decision Hutton wiped out a critical foundation of the BBC's case.
       I tried to plough through the report but rapidly discovered it was a cut and paste job. It felt as if Hutton, late in life, had learnt how to use Microsoft Word: the report was largely made up of tracts of evidence given to the inquiry with his opinion tacked on at the end.
       I read the summary of his conclusions in total disbelief. This man was not on the same planet as the rest of us. Hadn't he listened to the evidence? Hadn't he listened to his own QC? How could he possibly have reached these conclusions?
       According to Hutton, there had been no sexing up; worse, he had found against the BBC and for the government on virtually every count.
       There are countless stories in circulation about why he behaved in the way he did, virtually all of them unprintable because of Britain's libel laws. Personally I have never been a conspiracy theorist and have difficulty believing there was some sort of sinister motive.
       Hutton clearly knew little about journalism, had spent many years living closely with the security services, and was naive about the way Blair's Downing Street operated - all of which could explain why he made the mistakes he did. He certainly had no experience of running a major public inquiry. The nearest he'd come to it before was an inquiry in Northern Ireland in relation to drainage works in a river.
       But does this explain why he did what he did? What I do know is that Philip Gould, one of the architects of New Labour and very much part of Blair's inner circle, was asked by one Labour peer before the Hutton report was published if he thought the Government faced a problem over the Kelly affair. Gould replied: 'Don't worry, we appointed the right judge.'
       Forty minutes after I started reading the report I walked into an adjoining meeting room. They tell me I said some thing like: 'Well, boys, we've been f*cked, so what are we going to do about it?' At around 2.30pm we went downstairs to see Gavyn Davies. He was with the two other governors who had been allowed to read the report in advance, Pauline Neville-Jones and the vice-chairman, Richard Ryder. Both were establishment figures, and they, too, seemed shocked. Pauline said she was horrified. Gavyn said he had been told by a close friend that from the moment this particular judge had been appointed the result was a foregone conclusion.
       By late afternoon we were joined by our legal and press teams, and had dinner together. I remember being pleased that someone had ordered something other than sandwiches. At the time I was on the Atkins diet, and January is one of the two months in the year when I don't drink alcohol, so I munched some chicken and drank my bottled water, feeling very virtuous.
       By now Gavyn had begun to talk privately about resigning. I was strongly against it, but thought it had to be his decision. I certainly had no intention of resigning. We discussed the position briefly with Ryder before he disappeared for the evening. We talked over the whole strategy with Pauline Neville-Jones later in the evening after she returned from a drinks party.
       Gavyn, Pauline, and I sat privately in a room together and weighed up the options. Our conversation then was to take on greater importance later, given what happened the following day. Gavyn said he believed it was right for him to resign because the governors had been criticised.
       I disagreed, saying that if someone had to go, then we should discuss whether it should be him or me. I didn't believe, however, that it was necessary for either of us to go.
       Since I also knew that Blair had told Gavyn in a private telephone conversation that, whatever happened, Number 10 would not be calling on either Gavyn or me to go, I believed we should all sit out the coming storm.
       Incidentally, Gavyn is convinced to this day that the Prime Minister had surmised what would be in the Hutton report a couple of months before it was published because, suddenly, the calls from Blair dried up.
       Gavyn believed that at least one resignation was essential. Once Pauline realised that he was likely to go, she turned to me and said it would be impossible for both of us to go at the same time. I agreed. Given what she was to do the following day, this was an interesting position to take.
       I said that, in those circumstances, I would need the governors to make it clear that they supported me, and she agreed with this.
       The next morning my personal assistant for the previous 16 years, Fiona Hillary, arrived back from a holiday in Cuba not knowing that our days at the BBC were numbered. By that evening she was in tears - not something I've seen during the years we've worked together. She was in a particularly difficult position: she is a close friend of Tony and Cherie Blair. Fiona's husband, Barry Cox, the deputy chairman of Channel 4, had previously been their next-door neighbour.
       I had arranged for my executive team to watch Hutton deliver his findings [on TV] in a room in Broadcasting House. Lunch was delivered and the Atkins dieters, of whom there were at least two others, were well provided for. So far Atkins had survived the crisis, and so had my abstinence from alcohol.
       I warned my team it was bad news, and on a confidential basis told them that Gavyn was seriously considering resignation. We all watched Hutton and then the statements in the House of Commons from the party leaders.
       I marvelled at how good Blair was. It is a great shame that his skills at people management and strategic leadership have never matched his skills as an orator or at public relations. If they had, he would have been a great Prime Minister.
       At 3.30pm I recorded my statement to the media. It was interpreted as a robust response, though my team had persuaded me to water some parts down. In retrospect I wish I hadn't because I believed then, as I do today, that the BBC had got the story largely right and that Downing Street's behaviour had been unacceptable. I was also convinced, as were our legal team, that Hutton had got the law wrong.
       What made me look foolish was the final paragraph of my statement, which said there would be no further comment that day. Within half an hour, Andrew Marr [BBC political editor] was back on screen saying he had it on very good authority that Gavyn Davies had resigned. Of course he only had a single unattributable source for his story, so under Hutton's rules of journalism one wonders whether he should have broadcast it.
       His source was a pretty good one, though. It was Gavyn himself. Gavyn was taking advice from his wife Sue Nye, one of Gordon Brown's inner circle. Sue was very much of the view that it is better to resign on principle than to be forced out later. Gavyn himself believed that by resigning quickly it would be contrasted with the Government's 'awful' behaviour and help turn the tables on Hutton, which in many ways it did.
       Some people believe that Gavyn's early resignation cost me my job, and that he should have done a deal with the governors that I should stay before making the resignation public. That may or may not be true, but he took his decision for the best and most honourable of reasons.
       Gavyn and I then went to a governors' meeting. We left after 40 minutes, but I expected to be called back in half an hour. As it turned out - thanks in part to the behaviour of two governors, Sarah Hogg and Pauline Neville-Jones - I never went back that evening, and will never have to go to another governors' meeting again.
       There are some upsides in the whole affair. At first, when I was told the governors wanted me out, I decided to resign. Then, at around 9pm that night, I changed my mind. I decided I wouldn't give the governors the satisfaction of getting rid of me without a fight.
       Simon Milner, the BBC secretary [for governance and accountability], looked horrified when I told him I didn't intend to resign and they would have to sack me. Richard Ryder got angry and slightly threatening, the sort of approach that, when he was [Tory] chief whip, he must have adopted almost daily.
       Later that night I talked on the phone with the three people who probably have more influence over me than anyone else. First, I reached my partner Sue. Her response was predictable: Fight the bastards, and if you get sacked, who cares?' That's my girl. She summed up the very reason why we've been together for 20 years.
       I also phoned my mentor Christopher Bland, who, as chairman of the BBC, had persuaded me to join the organisation in the first place. He agreed with Sue, and told me that I should tell them to 'f*ck off'.
       The third person was my other mentor, Melvyn Bragg, probably the cleverest person I know. He asked how I would want things to appear in six months time: that I had resigned or been sacked. answered: 'Resigned.'
       The pressures of that day finally told and I succumbed. I abandoned both the Atkins diet and abstinence from alcohol, and consumed a whole pizza and at least half a bottle of wine. I'm not sure I can ever forgive a combination of Hutton and the governors for forcing me to break my diet.
       I didn't sleep much that night, but woke up having taken a decision. I would resign, but make it very clear I had been given little option by a bunch of intransigent governors.
       So why did I choose that path? Looking back now, I am not sure. With hindsight, think I should have stayed and dared them to fire me. But at the time I felt isolated. I also felt hurt and had a deep sense of injustice. I wasn't to know then that the staff would react in the way they did and that Hutton's findings would be dismissed so quickly and comprehensively.
       What I do remember thinking was that if I was to go, I wanted to do so with some dignity.
       If the governors had only waited another day or two there would have been no need for me to leave: by then, it was Blair's people who were on the run.
       By the weekend the people at Number 10 couldn't understand what had happened. They had no concept then, and they still don't have, of how fast the Prime Minister had lost the trust of the people in Britain, of how quickly he'd gone from being seen as an honest and open man to being regarded as a public relations manipulator, a man without real principles. Iraq and spin had destroyed his reputation.
       All the morning of the day I left, people came in and out of my office, crying. Melvyn too came and was there for at least an hour, talking to me, advising me, and reassuring my staff. They loved him for showing so much care. In the end even he got upset.
       At 1.30pm, I sent an email to all the BBC staff, announcing that I was going and thanking them for their support. Then I went downstairs to the entrance of Broadcasting House, where there was a massive, totally disorganised media scrum, and announced that I was leaving.
       Meanwhile, outside Television Centre in west London and BBC offices across the country, hundreds of members of staff were taking to the streets with 'Bring Back Greg' posters and placards. Six thousand staff would eventually reply to my email, thanking me and wishing me luck. After that it was back upstairs for lots of drink and food with friends and colleagues. In my farewell speech I told them all to support Mark Byford, who was to be acting director general; he was a good bloke and had played no part in my demise.
       Oddly, it was about that time that Mark was making a terrible mistake. He had agreed to stand with Ryder while the acting chairman recorded a statement. Mark should have declined. Instead he stood by while Ryder, now the acting BBC chairman, made the most grovelling of apologies in which he said sorry for any mistake the BBC might have made, without actually defining what the mistakes were.
       The two of them looked like the leaders of an old Eastern European government: grey, boring, and frightened. Without realising it, Ryder had done enormous damage to the reputation of the BBC, and to himself.
       I have since had it confirmed by the BBC that before he made his statement, Ryder had told Number 10 both the content of it and that I was going. The BBC now says this was only a matter of courtesy, but it has serious implications for the corporation's independence. We don't know if Number 10 asked for changes. What would he have done if they had?
       This also brings into question whether or not Downing Street wanted my head. Gavyn had reached an agreement with Blair, in one of their many phone calls, that no matter what Hutton said the government would not call for either of us to go.
       When he watched Blair in the Commons, Gavyn realised the Prime Minister had gone back on his word. He told me: 'Blair skilfully piled the pressure on, and did nothing to discharge his promise of no resignations at the BBC. I assumed he had reneged.
       'Then I saw Campbell calling us liars, and demanding that heads should roll. I assumed Blair had deliberately unleashed the dogs against us and that there would be no peace with the government until we resigned or apologised.'
       I, too, had been assured by Campbell's successor, Dave Hill - a more rational and reasonable man - that when Hutton was published Number 10 would not criticise the BBC if we did not criticise them. Hill had assured me that they would be able to control Campbell: he would be back inside Number 10 for the publication of Hutton and would take orders.
       So on that Wednesday the Prime Minister could have stopped Campbell from calling for heads. He chose not to. And on the Thursday morning, when Downing Street was told what was happening at the BBC, it did nothing to prevent my 'resignation'.
       Since then, Blair has let it be known through friends that he didn't want either Gavyn or me to go, and he has even invited me to meet him informally. I refused. I no longer regard Tony Blair as someone to be trusted.
       That was about the end of it: from the most powerful media job in the UK to unemployed in just three days. I was not without blame. I had made mistakes in how we dealt with the whole affair, and I shouldn't have said I needed the governors' support to stay. I certainly should not have believed I would get it.
       The nature of my departure from the BBC hit a nerve with the public. Of course, I was helped by Campbell's performance on the day the Hutton report was published. Standing on the stairs at the Foreign Press Association, Campbell gave about as pompous a performance as it's possible to imagine.
       For a man who was known to be economical with the truth and had certainly deliberately misled the Foreign Affairs Committee, he said that the government had told the truth and that the BBC, from the chairman and director-general down, had not. He then called for heads to roll at the BBC.
       Campbell is a man who has the ability to delude himself. He didn't realise how much he was disliked and distrusted by the British public, who saw him as Blair's Svengali.  In attacking Gavyn and me he helped to put the public even further on our side.
       When asked about his response on the Today programme, I said I thought Campbell was 'remarkably graceless'. What I really felt was that he was a deranged, vindictive bastard, but I couldn't possibly say that on the radio.
       Everywhere I went people shook my hand. Two weeks after I left the BBC, I went to South Africa for a holiday. The funniest moment came when I was standing in the sea, and a large tattooed man came up to me. 'Well done, mate,' he said. 'They're all fucking bastards.' And off he wandered into the deep.
       Abridged extracts from Greg Dyke: Inside Story by Greg Dyke, to be published by Harper Collins on 20 September
    28 August 2003
       Kelly appears in front of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. At 3pm on 17 July, he leaves his home, saying he is going for a walk. He does not return home; his body is found the following day.
    15 September 2003
       Dyke gives evidence at the inquiry. He calls Alastair Campbell's attacks on the BBC 'unprecedented'. He also calls Andrew Gilligan's email leaking Kelly's name to MPs 'unacceptable'.
    Eight months of drama
    From 'sexing up' to walking out
    29 May 2003
       In a report on the Today programme, Andrew Gilligan quotes a source who claims that Downing Street had wanted the dossier to be sexed up.
    15 July 2003
       Kelly appears in front of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. At 3pm on 17 July, he leaves his home, saying that he is going for a walk. He does not return home; his body is found the following day.
    28/29 January 2004
       The Hutton Report is published. Hutton says BBC managers' failure to scrutinise their journalists' reports is 'defective' and Downing Street's complaint was not properly investigated. BBC chairman Gavyn Davies resigns. The following day, Dyke resigns.
    1 August 2003
       The Hutton inquiry begins hearing the forensic evidence. The first witnesses are called on 11 August. More than 70 witnesses are called, with many documents released on the internet site. The inquiry closes on 25 September.
    ??? 5 June 2003
       Alastair Campbell goes before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, claiming that the BBC story is completely and totally untrue. The following day, he writes to the BBC, asking for an apology. # [Links to comment and past newsitems follow]
       [COMMENT: Just a reminder: The BBC was, and is set up as an independent corporation. For many years it was the only body authorized to broadcast within Britain. It was financed by government-imposed licence fees where you were supposed to pay a set amount of money for each receiver you owned. This rule continued after the introduction of TV as a BBC monopoly.
       As a fact of life, the Post Office collected the fees, and did the policing - you would see these vans driving around with lots of antennas visible - they gave the impression they were checking out electronically which homes contained receivers in actual operation at that time, and they had the lists of who had paid the fee, and they issued citations for non-payment.
       Anyway the BBC was a hierarchical organization run by a Director-General - and by tradition the Government didn't interfere with content. At the same time the politicians, the civil service personnel and the director-general had been to the same schools and universities, belonged to the same clubs, so they were hardly antagonistic.
       Anyway, last year one of the BBC folk broadcast stuff Tony Blair didn't like based on an interview about Iraq with a fellow who committed suicide, there was a "judicial" inquiry which exonerated Tony Blair with playing with the truth in the matter, the BBC person resigned or was fired, and Greg Dyke -- the BBC's Director General -- resigned.
       Above is what Greg Dyke has to say NOW (By courtesy of Michael P) COMMENT ENDS.] [Emphasis added] [Aug 29, 04]

    • No Major Violence Reported at NYC Protests.
       Yahoo! News, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/cvn_convention_protests , By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer, 9:00 PM ET, Sun Aug 29, 2004
       NEW YORK - Bearing flag-draped boxes resembling coffins and fly-swatters with President Bush (news - web sites)'s image, more than 100,000 protesters swarmed Manhattan's streets Sunday on the eve of the Republican National Convention to demand that the president be turned out of office. Flanked by police in riot gear, the protesters moved through the fortified city, loudly and exuberantly chanting slogans such as "No more years." They accused the White House of waging an unjust war in Iraq (news - web sites), making the country poorer and undermining abortion rights.
       There were no reports of major violence and about 200 scattered arrests, most of them unconnected to the main protest.
       Police gave no official crowd estimate, though one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the crowd at 120,000; organizers claimed it was roughly 500,000. In either case, experts said it was the largest protest ever at a U.S. political convention.
       The five-hour march snaked in a circular route around midtown Manhattan, shutting down dozens of blocks and bringing out hordes of police.
       "They chose New York, where they're universally hated," said writer Laurie Russo, 41, from New York. "They should have gone somewhere they're more welcome. They exploited 9-11 by having it in New York at this time."
       In the largest set of arrests, some 50 protesters on bicycles who stopped near the parade route were carted away in an off-duty city bus. Fifteen people were arrested and two police officers were injured when someone set a paper dragon float afire near Madison Square Garden, and nine demonstrators were charged with assault after trying to stop police from arresting the culprit, authorities said.
       In a smaller protest, police used clubs briefly to disperse a handful of demonstrators holding a "kiss-in" not far from Times Square. There were no immediate details about injuries or arrests. "There's been a few minor arrests," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It has been peaceful."
       Residents leaned from windows along the demonstration route to shout their support. Scattered opposition was visible only around Madison Square Garden, where the GOP convention opens Monday. Some early convention arrivals looked across police lines, shouting at demonstrators: "Go home!"
       "I hope this shows the world that they're not alone in their hatred of George Bush (news - web sites)," said Alan Zelenki of Eugene, Ore., who planned for three months to attend this week's protests. [...]
       "Fahrenheit 9-11" director Michael Moore told demonstrators that "the majority of this country opposes the war ... The majority are here to say, `It's time to have our country back in our hands.'"
       About 300 protesters earlier were arrested, and experts said the size of Sunday's demonstration was unmatched.
       "I can't remember anything this big in history," said Sidney Tarrow, a professor of government and sociology at Cornell University. "In 1968 (at the Democratic convention in Chicago) it was much more violent and there were many fewer people."   ...
    (2 pictures)
    Associated Press reporters Tom Hays, Richard Pyle and Michael Weissenstein contributed to this report. [Aug 29, 04]
    • Anti-war protesters have 1000 reasons.
       Yahoo! News, Picture and caption, http://story.news.yahoo.com/ news?g=events/el/072604 elecprotests&a=&tmpl=sl&ns= &l=1&e=36&a=0&t=&prev=35 , 5:35 PM ET, Sun Aug 29, 2004
       NEW YORK: (Picture caption) Protesters walk down Broadway into Union Square carrying 1,000 coffins representing the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq (news - web sites ) and Afghanistan (news - web sites ), during a day long march in New York on August 29, 2004, the site of the Republican National Convention. Hundreds of arrests have already been made in the days prior to the opening of the convention, which opens tomorrow. REUTERS/Chip East [Aug 29, 04]
    • Unmasking the CIA.
       New Dawn Magazine No. 86, Australia, by John Tiffany, Sep-Oct 2004
       UNITED STATES: John Tiffany reviews the history of the controversial US spy agency [Central Intelligence Agency], documenting the crimes and crooked dealings employed over the years to fund and carry out its cloak-and-dagger operations. [Sep-Oct 2004]
    • AUSFTA - What Now? Australia flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  U.S.A. flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
       Citizens' Voice, Perth, W. Australia, http://members.iinet.net.au/~jenks/CV22.htm , September 2004
       PERTH: The Labor sellout over the AUSFTA does not end the story. The challenge is now to monitor the effect of the agreement, bearing in mind that it provides for termination by either Australia or the USA on six months' notice.
       Labor has pledged itself, if it wins government, to take a range of measures to protect the Australian people from the worst effects of its surrender.
       Contents:
    Page 1: AUSFTA - What Now?
    Page 2: Administrative details
    Page 3: AUSFTA: What Labor promises -- AFTINET.
    Page 4: Caucus decision no excuse (letter to Senator Ruth Webber from Dion Giles)
    Pages 5-6: Ecology and economy inseparable (article by Ed Deak, of Canada)
    Page 6: Trade drives appeasement of China
    Pages 7-8: Another world is inevitable (by Brian Bahnisch)
    Page 8: Street meeting targets Beazley (StopMAI Coalition and other groups)
    EU caves in to Monsanto (From Reuters report)
    The following Rich Text Format (RTF) document ought to work in any Operating System
    To print this, if you have clicked anywhere else, please click in the magazine itself before giving the Print command in the usual way [Sep 2004]
    • Graham book: Inquiry into 9/11, Saudi ties blocked.
       The Miami Herald, www.miami.com/ mld/miamiherald/ 9584265.htm?1c , By FRANK DAVIES, fdavies@herald.com , Posted on Sun, Sep. 05, 2004
       WASHINGTON - Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.
       The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers ''would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration,'' the Florida Democrat wrote.
       And in Graham's book, Intelligence Matters, obtained by The Herald Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.
       Graham also revealed that Gen. Tommy Franks told him on Feb. 19, 2002, just four months after the invasion of Afghanistan, that many important resources -- including the Predator drone aircraft crucial to the search for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders -- were being shifted to prepare for a war against Iraq.
       Graham recalled this conversation at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa with Franks, then head of Central Command, who was "looking troubled'':
       "Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan.''
       ''Excuse me?'' I asked.
       ''Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq,'' he continued.
       Graham concluded: 'Gen. Franks' mission -- which, as a good soldier, he was loyally carrying out -- was being downgraded from a war to a manhunt.''
       Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from June 2001 through the buildup to the Iraq war, voted against the war resolution in October 2002 because he saw Iraq as a diversion that would hinder the fight against al Qaeda terrorism.
       He oversaw the Sept. 11 investigation on Capitol Hill with Rep. Porter Goss, nominated last month to be the next CIA director. According to Graham, the FBI and the White House blocked efforts to investigate the extent of official Saudi connections to two hijackers.
       Graham wrote that the staff of the congressional inquiry concluded that two Saudis in the San Diego area, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan, who gave significant financial support to two hijackers, were working for the Saudi government.
       Al-Bayoumi received a monthly allowance from a contractor for Saudi Civil Aviation that jumped from $465 to $3,700 in March 2000, after he helped Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhdar -- two of the Sept. 11 hijackers -- find apartments and make contacts in San Diego, just before they began pilot training.
       When the staff tried to conduct interviews in that investigation, and with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who also helped the eventual hijackers, they were blocked by the FBI and the administration, Graham wrote.
       The administration and CIA also insisted that the details about the Saudi support network that benefited two hijackers be left out of the final congressional report, Graham complained.
       Bush had concluded that ''a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account,'' Graham wrote. "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.''
       Saudi officials have vociferously denied any ties to the hijackers or al Qaeda plots to attack the United States.
       Graham ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination and then decided not to seek reelection to the Senate this year. He has said he hopes his book will illuminate FBI and CIA failures in the war on terrorism and he also offers recommendations on ways to reform the intelligence community.
       On Iraq, Graham said the administration and CIA consistently overplayed its estimates of Saddam Hussein's threat in its public statements and declassified reports, while its secret reports contained warnings that the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was not conclusive.
       In October 2002, Tenet told Graham that ''there were 550 sites where weapons of mass destruction were either produced or stored'' in Iraq.
       ''It was, in short, a vivid and terrifying case for war. The problem was it did not accurately represent the classified estimate we had received just days earlier,'' Graham wrote. "It was two different messages, directed at two different audiences. I was outraged.''
       In his book, Graham is especially critical of the FBI for its inability to track al Qaeda operatives in the United States and blasts the CIA for "politicizing intelligence.''
       He reserves his harshest criticism for Bush.
       Graham found the president had ''an unforgivable level of intellectual -- and even common sense -- indifference'' toward analyzing the comparative threats posed by Iraq and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
       When the weapons were not found, one year after the invasion of Iraq, Bush attended a black-tie dinner in Washington, Graham recalled. Bush gave a humorous speech with slides, showing him looking under White House furniture and joking, "Nope, no WMDs there.''
       Graham wrote: "It was one of the most offensive things I have witnessed. Having recently attended the funeral of an American soldier killed in Iraq, who left behind a young wife and two preschool-age children, I found nothing funny about a deceitful justification for war.'' # [Emphasis added] (By courtesy of Stop-MAI Coalition, Perth, W. Australia) [Sep 5, 04]
    • US's part in attacks on South American democracy and Bishop Romero.
       National Catholic Reporter,, Kansas City, USA, "Holding ourselves accountable," www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/ archives2/2004c/ 091004/091004v.htm , Editorial, September 10, 2004
       UNITED STATES: Reconciliation can be difficult and dangerous work, as this week's segment in our Latin America series shows. We can only presume it would be a bit easier if all of the participants in past injustices were forced to be part of the solution.
       Unfortunately, in too many places in Latin America, the missing partner is the United States.
       Somehow, U.S. complicity in the horrors that visited that region in the decades from the 1970s through the 1990s seems always to slip beneath the radar.
       But the evidence keeps leaking out.
       Sometimes it comes, as in the case of El Salvador and Guatemala, in the form of human rights reports from the Catholic church and the United Nations. While the reports have so far failed to make much of an impression on the national conscience, they are there for the record with detailed accounts of what was done.
       Sometimes the evidence comes in the form of documents, like the transcript of a conversation former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had with Admiral César Augusto Guzzetti of Argentina, where the military was conducting what came to be known as the "dirty war" of the 1970s.
       At a New York meeting in 1976, Kissinger told Guzzetti, "I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights, but not the context. The quicker you succeed, the better."
       As Paul Jeffrey and Barbara Fraser report, Guzzetti returned home "in a state of jubilation," convinced he did not have to worry about the U.S. objections to human rights violations. Between 9,000 and 30,000 people were executed or disappeared during the next two years.
       Evidence is coming out at a trial in Fresno, Calif., that is drawing little national attention.
       The trial will determine whether Alvaro Rafael Saravia, being tried in absentia, could be held liable for the killing of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 as he celebrated Mass.
       The U.S. District Court in Fresno had not rendered a decision by our press time, but according to Associated Press reports, testimony had been gathered claiming that Saravia, who is missing but last lived in Modesto, Calif., had arranged the details of the assassination. Saravia was chief of security at the time for Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, an extreme right figure in Salvadoran politics and widely believed to have directed that country's infamous death squads.
       D'Aubuisson, who died in 1992, had studied at the then School of the Americas, a U.S. military college in Fort Benning, Ga., and publicly criticized Romero's condemnation of government violence.
       Previous investigations by human rights organizations have concluded that Saravia conspired to kill Romero. The current charges were brought by a Romero sibling, according to press reports, and were filed by the Center for Justice and Accountability.
       According to testimony from Amado Garay, Saravia's chauffeur, Garay drove the shooter to the door of the hospital chapel where Romero was saying Mass and then returned him, after he had killed Romero, to a house where Saravia was waiting and listening to news reports of Romero's death.
       If recent history is any indicator, the trial will never enter the conversation of this campaign season, it will never be allowed to challenge us and the view we have of ourselves as a benign presence wanting only the best for others.
       Why should this trial regarding an incident that happened 24 years ago be of any relevance today?
       Because as this political campaign turns increasingly on who can be the most warriorlike, on who can be the most determined to stay the belligerent course, as we bellow to the heavens about holding perpetrators of violence accountable, someone ought to be able to hold us accountable, if only for the sake of our own credibility.
       Some might suggest that such accountability is essential for sake of our national soul.
       During that nightmare period in Latin American history, when tens of thousands of civilians across the region were either disappeared or murdered, many of them after being tortured, America was deeply familiar with what was going on. We knew. We knew what governments were planning; we knew the extent of the atrocities and human rights abuses; we knew about the thousands who had been trained in our military schools. We knew.
       Some of those who knew the most have never been held accountable and continue to be rewarded with government positions. Elliott Abrams, disgraced during the Iran-contra scandal and previously assistant secretary of state for Central America in the Reagan administration, has been in decades-long denial about the human rights abuses that occurred during his tenure. In 2003, President Bush appointed him senior adviser on the Middle East.
       John Negroponte, Reagan's ambassador to Honduras, was described in a 2001 piece in the New York Review of Books, as a "great fabulist" during that period. "He saw, or professed to see, a Honduras almost Scandinavian in its tranquility, a place where there were no murderous generals, no death squads, no political prisoners, no clandestine jails or cemeteries."
       He was brought back into government from the private sector by President Bush, first as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, most recently as the ambassador to Iraq.
       So we write about reconciliation in Latin America. We write about the difficulties governments and church groups and human rights organizations face as they confront the ugliness of the past with an eye toward the future.
       We do that without adequately acknowledging, perhaps, the full disadvantage of trying to achieve reconciliation when so much of the story rests in the memories of men who have moved on, beyond those fields of torture and disappearance, to new, important roles. We also write knowing that so much of the story, the rest of the evidence, remains untold in thousands of pages filed away, somewhere, classified. [Emphasis added] [Sep 10, 04]
    • Annan Declares Iraq War Illegal, Warns Of Election Credibility.
       The Independent, Britain, news.independent.co.uk/ world/politics/story. jsp?story=562237 , By Colin Brown and Patrick Cockburn, September 16, 2004
       LONDON: Tony Blair last night suffered a fresh blow after Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, said the war in Iraq was "illegal". Speaking on the BBC World Service, Mr Annan said the war was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or with the UN Charter.
       Asked if there was legal authority for the war on Iraq, Mr Annan said: "I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the security council, with the UN charter." He also said there could not be credible elections in Iraq next January if the current unrest continued.
       His remarks are certain to provoke demands by anti-war Labour MPs at Westminster today for a statement by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith. The UN weapons inspection team, led by Hans Blix, found little evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but this is the first time that Mr Annan has been so outspoken in his criticism of the grounds for going to war.
       The Foreign Office last night sought to play down Mr Annan's comments, saying: "The Attorney General made the Government's position on the legal basis about the use of military force clear at the time." However, both Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary, and Clare Short, the ex-Secretary of State for International Development, resigned from the Cabinet over the war, challenged the legality of the war and Lord Goldsmith's ruling.
       There has been continuing doubt about the legality of the war. Ms Short has claimed that the chiefs of staff of the armed forces were reluctant to go to war until Lord Goldsmith gave a ruling on the eve of battle that there was legal justification for the war. Lord Goldsmith argued that the threat from weapons of mass destruction was one of the reasons for justifying action under UN resolution 1441.
       However, the Iraq Survey Group is expected to confirm that no evidence of WMD has been found. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the number two in the Foreign Office legal team, resigned in protest at the case for attacking Iraq in a pre-emptive strike, a week before the war began.
       It has also been claimed that the Foreign Office fears that its legal justification for the war on Iraq could be open to legal challenge as a result of the ruling in the International Court of Justice against the construction of Israel's security wall.
       Mr Annan's question over the Iraq elections could prove more damaging for the US and the UK alliance The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a private meeting of Labour MPs this week that the purpose of the attacks by insurgents in Iraq was to prevent elections taking place. He said the stakes were high because a peaceful democratic Iraq would be a model for the Middle East.
       Mr Annan said last month that UN staff returning to Iraq after two suicide bomb attacks last October would have to rely on US-led multinational forces for their protection. The small team led by Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan is due to arrive in Baghdad on 22 September with the UN election team.
       Mr Straw told the MPs attempts were made to get non-multinational force countries to provide security for the team but, apart from Canada, that was unsuccessful.
       Mr Straw said the failure to close the borders to insurgents after the war was the major failing of the post war period.
       Meanwhile, the US sought yesterday to defend the two helicopter pilots who fired seven rockets into a crowd in Baghdad on Sunday, killing 13 people and wounding 41, saying they had come under "well-aimed ground fire". This is different from the first statement by the US military claiming that they opened fire with rockets to prevent a Bradley fighting vehicle which had been hit by a bomb from being looted of arms and ammunition.
       The US account of the incident in which Mazen al-Tomeizi, a Palestinian television producer working for al-Arabiya satellite channel was killed, was contradicted by the film taken by his cameraman at the moment the rocket struck. There is no sound of firing from the crowd in the moments before the helicopters attacked.
       The US military's accounts of incidents in which it claims to have targeted insurgents but only civilians have died are frequently discredited by Arab television pictures of the incident, which US officers apparently do not watch before issuing statements.
       At the weekend the US claimed to have hit insurgents in a precision raid in Fallujah while Iraqis were watching pictures on television of an ambulance attacked from the air in which a driver, a paramedic and five patients died.
       The war in Iraq continues to intensify, with a sharp increase in the overall death rate. Three headless bodies were discovered yesterday on a road north of Baghdad and appeared from tattoos to be Iraqis whose hands were tied behind their backs. While insurgents have often beheaded foreign hostages in their fight against the government and coalition forces, it is not a tactic usually used against Iraqis.
       In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, there was an upsurge of fighting in which 10 people were killed, including two women.
       Meanwhile, the US has dashed Iraqi hopes that money would at last be invested in the country's crumbling infrastructure and no longer spent on arms and security services as under Saddam Hussein. The State Department has announced that it is switching $3.4bn of US funds from water and power projects. Most of the money will be reallocated to boosting security and oil output.
       Iraqis had expected that 18 months after the invasion they would get continuous electricity supplies. Instead, many districts in Baghdad get only 14 hours a day. Polluted water is one of the chief killers of children but even in an important city such as Basra only 18 per cent of the supply is clean.
       Marc Grossman, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, said earlier in the week that $1.8bn of the diverted money would go to recruit 35,000 Iraqi police officers, 16,000 border guards and 20 Iraqi national guard brigades.
       ©2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd. All rights reserved http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=562237 (By courtesy of Joe) [Sep 16, 04]
    • Former mayor Peter Weygers' home searched.
       94.5 fm Radio, and Television Channel 7, Perth, W. Australia, Thursday, September 16, 2004
       PERTH: The home of former Claremont mayor, Peter Weygers, was searched today, and a DNA sample was taken.
       The police said that Mr Weygers was a person of interest in the investigations into the alleged murders of young women in the Claremont area.
       It is believed that Mr Weygers, who is president of the Council for Civil Liberties in Western Australia (Inc), declined to give a DNA sample during previous investigations.
       He was brought to the house in an unmarked police car, and collapsed in the garden, but later was filmed weeding. [Sep 16, 04]
    • Weygers forced to give DNA.
       The West Australian, "Claremont killer task force raids home of civil libertarian: Weygers forced to give DNA," http://www.thewest.com.au/20040917/news/general/tw-news-general-home-sto129358.html , by Luke Morfesse, Page One, Friday, September 17, 2004
       PERTH: The hunt for the Claremont serial killer took a twist yesterday when detectives raided the home of controversial civil libertarian Peter Weygers as part of their investigation into the murders.
       Mr Weygers has been identified by detectives as a person of interest. He was held in police custody for several hours yesterday and forced to give a DNA sample before watching forensic officers search his home in Richardson Avenue, Claremont.
       In 1996, when he was mayor of Claremont, Mr Weygers was one of up to 100 people given 16-question surveys by Macro detectives. At the time a senior officer said the people who were asked to complete the questionnaire were possible suspects in the murders of Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.
       Yesterday, the Department of Education and Training confirmed it was still investigating Mr Weygers, a school psychologist, over harassment allegations made in April. A spokeswoman said Mr Weygers, who was removed from duties counselling children after the allegations, was working in a "non-school setting".
       Three weeks ago police raided an Embleton property owned by Mr Weygers and used by a taxi driver who claimed to have had Ms Spiers in his Ford cab the night before she disappeared.
       Macro task force head Det-Sgt Martin Crane said Mr Weygers had been using the Ford station wagon, which was no longer a taxi, until several weeks ago.
       "Mr Weygers is a person of interest to this investigation," he said.
       "It's a murder investigation that's unsolved after eight years and we will continue to speak to people and continue to eliminate people (from the inquiry)."
       But Mr Weygers claimed the raid was engineered by the State Government for political purposes.
       "We've been attacking Carmen Lawrence for a long, long time. They want to discredit the Council for Civil Liberties," he said.
       "This is a State decision before the election to appear tough on crime. It is the most outrageous abuse of fundamental rights."
       Mr Weygers said that after he was thrust into the Macro inquiry in 1996, then assistant commissioner and now Tourism Minister Bob Kucera assured him that he was not involved in the case at all. # [Emphasis added] [Sep 17, 04]
    • Weygers and the cabbie the odd couple in Claremont inquiry.
       The West Australian, by Torrance Mendez, p 6, Friday, September 17, 2004
       PERTH: Civil libertarian Peter Weygers and his cab driver friend are the odd couple in the Claremont serial killer investigation.
       Mr Weygers has a high IQ [intelligence quotient] and is outgoing, while the 46-year-old taxi driver is comparatively dim-witted, lives for night cabbing and lacks social graces. [...]
       ... early 1990s when the taxi driver was in trouble over a passenger complaint.
       At the time, the cab driver was living with Erica Mueller, rumoured to be a former Austrian beauty queen left disfigured and housebound by injuries from an accident.
       The couple bought an investment duplex in Carlisle. The cabbie says she paid $43,000 deposit for thier shared house in Irwin Road, while he paid $20,000.
       Ms Mueller died suddenly before Christmas 1990. The cabbie fell under police suspicion but the death was attributed to natural causes. He inherited her property.
       He says that experience left him mistrustful of police. He told Macro detectives in 1996 he drove Ms Spiers before she disappeared. He agreed to be questioned in the presence of his lawyer.
       Yet more trouble with taxi authorities followed around 2000 which eventually cost him his licence and job.
       He sold the Irwin Road house for $110,000 to Mr Weygers in 2001 to help pay legal bills, hoping to share the home with Mr Weygers's partner and her son.
       "But they didn't like my smell and reckoned I stunk the house out and they put me out the back," the cabbie said. "I didn't care. All I do is work and sleep. I eat the wrong food and f*rt a lot. They found out I was p*ssing in an esky instead of going to the toilet..." [Sep 17, 04]
    • Missing girl's dad was phoned several times in the middle of the night.
       The Weekend Australian, "Ex-mayor in calls to murdered girl's dad," by Amanda Banks, p 5, September 18-19, 2004
       PERTH, W. Australia: The father of a missing Perth woman yesterday claimed a civil libertarian at the centre of a police inquiry into the Claremont serial killings had telephoned him several times in the middle of the night.
       Don Spiers told The Weekend Australian that Peter Weygers had called him on numerous occasions to complain that he had been accused of killing Mr Spiers's 18-year-old daughter, Sarah.
       "He has rung me in the middle of the night and said: 'I have been accused of killing your daughter'," Mr Spiers said yesterday. [...]
       Mr Spiers said the calls were made in 1996, the same year Sarah went missing. Her body has never been found.
       Officers investigating the disappearance of Spiers and the murder of Ciara Glennon, 27, and Jane Rimmer, 23, raided Mr Weygers's Claremont home on Thursday and forced him to provide them with a DNA sample. [...]
       Council for Civil Liberties committee member Mary Connor told The Weekend Australian that Mr Weygers -- mayor of Claremont from 1985 to 1997 -- was upset and could not be contacted.  ... [Sep 18-19, 04]
    • Peter Weygers disappears.
       Electronic news media, Sunday, September 19, 2004
       PERTH: Mr Peter Weygers is reported as having disappeared. His friend (probably the cabdriver) was interviewed. The news media surmised he might have gone overseas. [Sep 19, 04]
    • Weygers might be still in WA.
       News media, Mon, September 20, 2004
       PERTH: Mr Peter Weygers is now reported to be staying with friends in WA. [Sep 20, 04]
    • Russia's Foray into Preemptive Warfare a New Challenge to its Security Establishment''.
       Power and Interest News Report (PINR), www.pinr.com , content@pinr.com , Drafted by Yevgeny Bendersky on September 20, 2004
       UNITED STATES: Recent pledges by Russia's senior defense ministers that the country will launch preemptive strikes against terrorist bases worldwide comes at a time of intense scrutiny and anger in the aftermath of the bloody hostage-freeing operation in Beslan, North Ossetia. The security services, lacking proper cooperation and coordination on the ground, were not able to free all the hostages, and the resulting shoot-out with the attackers left many adults, children and security personnel dead. Russia's statements about striking terrorists in any part of the world portray a new type of warfare that presents the Russian security establishment with totally new and difficult challenges.
       So far, the only country with a true capacity for preemptive strikes against terrorist bases worldwide is the United States. It operates a wide range of military bases in all parts of the world that are augmented by the presence of aircraft carrier groups in all major oceans and seas. This military infrastructure is backed by a high-tech system of "eyes and ears" on the ground, in the air and outer space -- from satellites and unmanned aircraft to various intelligence facilities capable of processing large quantities of imagery and communication from practically any part of the world. The United States expends major funds to maintain its ability to conduct preemptive style warfare, enshrined in its official 2002 National Security Strategy.
       But even for such a well-funded and high-tech effort, the results are mixed. Washington's 1998 smart weapon strike at the suspected terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan following the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania did not stop the militants from relocating their efforts to other countries, nor resulted in the actual destruction of the bases in question. One such base turned out to be a fertilizer/pharmaceutical factory, and its actual role in attacks on the U.S. was held in question.
       Washington fared much better when it went after Taliban bases and strongholds in Afghanistan following the September 2001 attacks on U.S. soil, bringing the large network of its army, navy, air force and intelligence agencies to bear on the opponent's forces. Yet, even with the ousting of the Taliban, many of its fighters have reorganized and regrouped for a new round of warfare that is being experienced by U.S. forces today. Still, preemptive warfare will continue to figure prominently in successive U.S. administrations as one of the best ways to combat worldwide terrorism.
    Russia
       Russia, on the other hand, lacks the extensive and expensive networks of bases and intelligence-deployment capabilities to actually be true to its word of going after bases "regardless of what region they are located in," according to Yury Baluevsky, Russia's chief of the general staff. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia's external military capabilities have been greatly curtailed, resulting in recalling its personnel and even closing some bases in many parts of the world. While Russian intelligence may be capable of intercepting and deciphering communication traffic between suspected militants and their bases, this effort has not been followed up by quick military action necessary to destroy the threat. The country did have limited success in preemptive strikes against the Chechen leadership in the first Chechen War of 1994-1996; indeed, Russia's missile strike killed the leader and inspiration of Chechen resistance, General Djohar Dudaev, after intercepting his cellular! phone conversation. But such successes have been few, as Russia is trying to adjust to the geopolitical reality of the new threat posed by the largely-international terrorist efforts.
       At present, Russia has a growing network of bases in its near-abroad, in Central Asian and Caucasus countries on its southern borders. Its military presence in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia, as well as Georgia, allows it to launch potential strikes at a number of countries that may have terrorist bases on their territories. Such capability will augment Central Asia's fight against its own terrorist formations, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
       But Russia has limited military reach beyond its southern rim, and military strikes against other states may invite unwelcome political stalemates. This took place recently with the Republic of Georgia's public stand against the Russian Federation on the question of Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, located to the south of Chechnya. The Russian government was convinced that Chechen rebels and terrorists who supported them were hiding out in the gorge, and repeatedly pressured Georgia to allow Russian forces to invade.
       The Georgian government rejected such proposals, instead relying on its U.S.-trained troops to conduct a sweep of the area in question. The sweep revealed no threatening presence of guerrillas, and the Russian government accused Georgia of wasting time and allowing the suspected fighters to escape. At question in this scenario was the violation of Georgia's territorial integrity and the potential military conflict that might have resulted between the two countries.
       Nor is Russia capable of containing the situation in Chechnya to the levels where military action alone should be enough to limit the rebel activity. The deadly attack on Ingushetian and Russian forces by the Chechen guerrillas this summer underscored Russian forces' inability to identify and interdict the potential threats before they materialize, a crucial factor in conducting preemptive operations. Recent attacks in Beslan once again drove home Russia's need for more capability amongst its various security forces to properly meet the new threats before they occur.
       This weakness, according to Russian military experts, stems from the unpreparedness of Russian security forces to combat new threats. Russia's special forces are still using the modus operandi of the Cold War, when they were created for counter-terrorist operations. However, the terrorist threat itself has changed drastically since that time, and the new crop of hostage-takers do not ask for financial compensation, or the ability to escape unarmed to a neutral territory.
       Throughout the Cold War, the U.S.S.R.'s special forces were trained to act after its government would undertake a major negotiation effort. At present, such conditions no longer apply. As the situation in Beslan showed, fast, coordinated, well-rehearsed action -- the opposite of what actually took place -- by the security forces was necessary to prevent the tragedy.
    Russo-Israeli Cooperation
       Russia's new orientation towards worldwide preemptive action presents new opportunities for the country to gain valuable experience in this dangerous endeavor. To that end, Moscow has recently announced anti-terrorist cooperation with Israel. Israel's long history of fighting terrorism and the extensive experience of its security forces will be of crucial importance to the beleaguered Russian security establishment. Israel will benefit from even closer cooperation with Russia on one issue that touches a raw nerve in both countries. But even this logical step towards cooperation has the potential of having only limited success, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov carefully pointed out that any Middle Eastern counter-terrorism alliance would have to include Arab countries with which Russia has already coordinated on security issues, such as Saudi Arabia and Syria.
       This presents a challenge to Russia's efforts to act preemptively against budding or mature terrorist threats. Syria, Russia's chief client state in the Middle East and a major purchaser of Russian military hardware, is itself accused by Israel and the United States of harboring and abetting terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel has never felt comfortable sharing any security information with Syria or Saudi Arabia. And while Russia's statements on cooperation are a nod to its traditional allies in the region, this geopolitical gamble might have the potential of limiting the open sharing of information amongst the countries in question, limiting the ability to act fast in case of a terrorist threat. Nor is it clear how Syria would respond to cooperating with Israel through Russian third parties on issues other than those discussed in the long Middle East Peace Process.
       President Putin, in his address to the country following the Beslan tragedy, said that "weak are beaten by the strong," acknowledging that Russia's security situation have demonstrated dangerous weakness in the face of the Chechen terrorist threat. At the same time, as Russia is not capable of interdicting threats within its own borders, it is also not capable of projecting its preemptive military forces worldwide beyond its sphere of influence in the Central Asia and the Caucasus.
       The capacity to engage terrorist threats "regardless of what region they are located in," pledged by General Baluevsky in a recent Russian-N.A.T.O. meeting, requires a major overhaul of Russia's domestic security apparatus, a task made even more difficult by the inability to properly reorient its domestic security forces towards winning the war in Chechnya. While Russia has conducted counter-terrorism training exercises with its Central Asian allies, demonstrating a multinational, high-tech, rapid-reaction effort, the difficult reality of preemptive targeting of terrorists worldwide necessitates an even greater cooperation than its carefully worded statements on working with Israel.
    Russo-American Cooperation
       Since the United States is the only country in the world that has the potential to quickly mobilize its security forces for a preemptive strike, Russia may attempt to seek greater cooperation with Washington. The workings of this relationship are already in place. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has discussed anti-terrorist operations with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Since the U.S. has also been the target of a major terrorist attack, Ivanov stated: "it was easier to find grounds for an understanding with the U.S. than with some European states."
       The United States alone maintains a major presence in all the world's hotspots, from actual military force deployment to anti-terrorist training in the Pan-Sahel states of Mali and Niger, in the failed state of Somalia, in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the towns of Iraq. If Russia is to be true to its word of "striking on bases without warning and with any means except nuclear weapons," it is very likely that it will come to target countries where the U.S. is already engaged in anti-terrorist operations. Such states may include Afghanistan, the North-West Frontier Region of Pakistan, Somalia or even the Philippines. Greater U.S.-Russian cooperation in any form -- from actual joint military strikes to training to sharing vital intelligence -- could benefit both states.
       The U.S. will gain a valuable international player with its own extensive intelligence connections, and Russia might succeed in actually targeting potential threats to its territory with an American anti-terrorist infrastructure already in place. Yet, even this possible level of cooperation carries with it certain geopolitical concerns for America's new sphere of influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The United States has actively engaged itself in Georgia, in effect propping up a regime that was hostile to Moscow in many forms since 2001. The U.S. is also involved in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and is considering opening a military base in Azerbaijan.
       Closer Russian cooperation with the U.S. security apparatus in the region may have the effect of strengthening Russia's decade-long drive for greater dominance in the above-mentioned states. Thus, while Washington is looking forward to greater anti-terrorist cooperation with Moscow, it will do so by keeping its geopolitical concerns on the forefront of any bilateral efforts.
       Of greater uncertainty is Russia's cooperation with specific Arab states while at the same time trying to extensively cooperate with Israel. This would cast its relationship with certain Middle Eastern countries in a new light, for Russia's greatest advantage in its new chapter of anti-terrorist warfare lies in close cooperation between Moscow and Jerusalem. In addition, there is an indication that Arab states may react very negatively to Russia's efforts in preemptive warfare. This February, Qatar convicted two Russian security agents of the targeted car bomb killing of a former Chechen rebel leader. In contrast, it is doubtful that Israel would try to convict Russian agents if they targeted a militant in either Gaza or the West Bank who was proven to have connections to Chechen separatists and their supporters.
    Conclusion
       Russia's statements of preemptive strikes in lieu of Beslan propel its anti-terrorist efforts on the world arena. Major questions and doubts surround Russia's actual capacity to conduct such operations, following its decade-long inability to defeat terrorist and guerrilla formations on its own territory. Yet, the new efforts on behalf of Moscow to safeguard its population against future threats -- wherever they originate -- will not be lone efforts and will open the door to greater cooperation between states that are most affected by terrorism. While Russia needs to undertake a painful reorganization of its security forces to meet new worldwide challenges, its active work with the U.S. or Israel might contribute to greater security for its territory and its citizens.
       The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com . All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com . # [Emphasis added]
       [COMMENT: First President George W. Bush, followed by Australia's John Howard, threatened pre-emptive strikes, now it is the "Russian Federation," the successor state to the Soviet and Czarist empires! But such actions were supposed to have been banned after World War I and after World War II, and international organisations were charged with the job of trying to prevent attacks, invasions and incursions! Also, there are international laws about declaring war before attacking. Hitler and the Japanese were notorious for defying these international conventions. COMMENT ENDS.] [Sep 20, 04]
    • Judge allows machete; take responsibility.
       The West Australian, Perth, W. Australia, Letter from John Massam, sent Sep 20, 2004, and published later
       PERTH: So a judge rules that carrying a machete in a backpack in the streets to a nightclub is not against the law.
       Citizens, remember that it is politicians who appoint the judges -- and you supposedly appoint the politicians.
       The elites are only as bad as citizens allow them to be. Take responsibility. [Sep 20, 04]
    • Does Federal Labor intends to end Free Speech?.
       Salt Shakers, by Peter Stokes, Thursday, September 23, 2004
       AUSTRALIA: While Victoria has shown the rest of Australia in microcosm how problematic anti-vilification legislation is, most Australians would be horrified to realise how broadly the law limits free speech.
       Federal Labor has proposed anti free-speech legislation based on race, religion and sexuality. This type of restrictive legislation will control even the basic daily conversation between two friends.
       "Imagine two people talking in a café or on a train, somebody could overhear them simply conversing about an aspect of a religion or sexuality, they can then take offence and haul them off to the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) where the onus is then on them to prove their innocence," said Peter Stokes, CEO of Christian-based ethics group Salt Shakers.
       "This is the complete reversal of our democratic Western system. Normally you're innocent till proven guilty. Labor wants to make us guilty until we can prove we're innocent," Mr Stokes said.
       ALP policy and statements by Shadow Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Senator Ludwig clearly signal Labor's intention to introduce racial, religious and sexuality 'hate', anti-discrimination and 'vilification' laws if elected to govern Australia on October 9. The Greens and Democrats have also indicated their support for this type of legislation.
       "This would impose on this nation the sort of 'thought' and 'speech' legislation currently the domain of communist countries like China and North Korea, Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and which once dominated Russia," Mr Stokes said. "We have seen the detrimental effects of these types of legislation in Victoria and NSW with cases brought by Muslims, witches and homosexuals.
       Previously issues like this have never proceeded to any form of litigation. Now people become entrenched in the quagmire of legal argument and vague definitions before tribunals and possibly even courts," he said. "This legislation only serves to create greater divisions between groups in society. What was intended for harmony is breeding great disharmony."
       South Australia's government recently rejected such legislation and has said that religious vilification legislation may not be a good idea because of what happened in Victoria.
       "Clearly this legislation is ideologically driven as they continue to totally ignore the detrimental effects to what has always been a nation priding itself on free speech."
       SALT SHAKERS Research & Information Services - a division of Salt Shakers Inc. CONTACT: Peter Stokes is available for interviews 03 9800 2855 or 0413 084 145. Media contact: Sarah Champness on 9800 2855 or 0439 615 413 [Sep 23, 04]
    • Don't let 'Pom' put you off, be proud.
       The West Australian, "Proud to be a Pom," Letter from Tony Adams, Parkwood, p 22, Tuesday, September 28, 2004
       PERTH: David Thomason (Poms deserve protection, Letters, 24/9) is getting his shorts in a twist about being called a Pom. Well, I'm a 63-year-old Pom and very proud of it.
       I have lived in Australia for nearly 25 years and I have never been called a Pom in a derogatory way, unlike seven years in New Zealand in the 1970s when people used to go around with "Bash a Pom a Day" written on their T-shirts.
       Obviously Mr Thomason has lost his thick Pommy skin he was born with to fend off the cold and has developed a lily-like covering which is easily bruised.
       Get a life, Dave, and be proud to be called a Pom.
       [COMMENT: This correspondent doesn't know that there has been violent hatred of English immigrants from some segments of the Australian population in past years. Early in the 1900s it was virulent in some workplaces, and some workers had to move to a different employer to escape it. COMMENT ENDS.] [Sep 28, 04]
    • It's not a racist slur.
       The West Australian, Letter from Peter Henwood, High Wycombe, p 22, Tuesday, September 28, 2004
       PERTH: I read David Thomason's somewhat self-righteous letter with a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
       Amusement because he clearly seems to believe that the word Pom is a racist slur and annoyance that he should seek to ascribe that feeling to all other UK nationals (apart from those to whom he refers as "some naive UK people").
       The term Pom has been in use for nearly two centuries and could now almost be regarded as a generic term.
       Heaven protect us from those whose minds are distorted enough to detect racial undertones in nicknames and who seek to legislate against their use. [Sep 28, 04]
    • Bank debt creation makes economic strain.  "Open letter to Dr Sharman Stone."     
    Bank debt creation makes economic strain
       Numurkah Leader (northern Victoria, Australia) leader2 § mcmedia com au" (refer http://au.think-of. com/Detailed/ 14317.html ) , "Open letter to Dr Sharman Stone," Advertisement by Jeff Davy, Katunga (Victoria, Australia), p 8, Wednesday, September 29, 2004
       VICTORIA, Australia:  WHAT is the current rural debt?  What is the current foreign debt? And where does money come from?  Those were the three questions I asked you and the other candidates at the recent meet the candidates meeting organised in Numurkah by the VFF [Victorian Farmers' Federatoion].
       The first question no one answered, the second question Diane Teasdale and Rob Bryant answered.
       You made a statement that the government had paid off some foreign debt saving taxpayers $5 billion a year in interest re-payments.
       Which in fact comes out of the pockets of hard working Australian men and women trying to support families.
       The third question you didn't answer, nor did Norm Kelly, Monica Morgan and Janine Maddill, however, Monica Morgan did say that if I had that information she would be prepared to listen.  Rob Bryant and Diane Teasdale did answer the last question.
       During the great depression, with untold suffering and hardship in the western world, which saw runs on banks, massive unemployment, civil unrest, long queues to places of employment and soup kitchens, the Scullin Government abandoned the gold standard on December 17, 1929.
       Then with the worsening international economic depression, Britain was forced to abandon the gold standard on September 21, 1931.
       America abandoned it on April 19, 1933.
       The gold standard was abandoned for one reason, there wasn't enough money in the economy to run the economy.
       Enter one bright economist - John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946).  Keynes was born at Cambridge, educated at Eton College and the University of Cambridge.
       He wrote such books as Indian currency and finance 1913, The Economic Consequences of the Peace 1919, Treatise on Probability 1921, A Treatise on Money 1930 and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money 1936.
       This book provided a theoretical defence for programs that were already being tried in Great Britain and in the United States by Franklin Roosevelt.  Keynes also wrote How To Pay For War 1940.
       In 1942 he was made a baron, 1944 he headed the British delegation to the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, the Bretton Woods Conference where he promoted the establishment of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund.
       Keynesian economics is what the Western world's governments base their economic systems upon - boom bust inflation.  And that is driven by one thing.
       As in Australia and in most modern economies of the world, ALL money is created as a debt of the banking system with interest bearing to the banking system.  That's what Keynesian economics is, creating debt.  And putting us further into debt.  That is, as individuals, local government, state government, federal government.
       When a bank receives deposits, it keeps 25 percent in reserves and lends 75 percent.  The amount lent becomes a new deposit at another bank.
       The next bank in the sequence keeps 25 percent and lends 75 percent and the process continues until the banking system has created enough deposits to eliminate its excess reserves for every $100,000 at reserves.  Creates $400,000 at deposits but unfortunately it is all debt and that is why the whole Western world is going further into debt.
    			Reserves	Loans	Deposit
    Deposit $100,000
    Reserves $25,000  Loan $75,000	25,000	75,000	100,000
    Deposit $75,000
    Reserves $18,750  Loan $56,250	43,750	131,250	175,000
    Deposit $56,250
    Reserves $14,060  Loan $42,190	57,810	173,440	231,250
    Deposit $42,190
    Reserves $10,550  Loan $31,640	68,360	215,630	271,440
    
    Until it becomes 		100,000	300,000	400,000
    	
       So, from $100,000 of money, $300,000 is created by banks out of nothing.  That is $400,000 of debt.
       That's how banks create money out of nothing.  Politicians allow it through silence and inaction and bankers perpetrate it on unsuspecting public.
       It is immoral, unfair, unjust and nothing more than a contrived way of obtaining people's property, business, farms or any other endeavour that they try to go into.  Some businesses will survive but most will fail.
       Sixty percent of small businesses fail and for politicians to stand by and watch their constituents, the people who elect them, pay them and hope that they will look after their interests and put their trust in them for them to stand back and do nothing about a sick contrived banking system only shows what politicians really are.
       This is what debt finance has done to rural Australia.
       Work it out for yourself.
       In 1960, Australia had 290,000 primary producers with a net rural debt of $77 million.
       By 1970, there were 250,000 primary producers with net debt of $1224 million.
       In 1985, the primary producers were reduced to 170,000 carrying between them a debt of over $6000 million.  By 1988, farmer numbers had dropped below 150,000 while their debt had spiralled to around $8000 million and in 1990, $11 billion debt.  And in 2002, $26 billion debt.
       Rural Australia now pays $2 billion a year in interest and repayments.  So much for golden soil and wealth for toil.
       And that was before the worst drought in 100 years.
       Are we as a nation under debt finance headed for economic collapse?  Will John Howard pull us out of it?
       Work it out for yourself.
    Hawke/Keating 1985/86		Howard/Costello 1997/98
    Net external debt
    % to GDP 32%				% to GDP 43%
    Net external liabilities
    % to GDP 40%				% to GDP 62%
    	
       Australian Financial Review reported on January 27, 1998 'Foreign investment portfolio in Australia 1996/97 was $481.9 billion with a further $80 billion of privatisation projects in Australia should be strongly supported by foreign investors over the remainder of the decade.
       Thanks to a lower Australian dollar and the continuing turmoil in Asia, a new report has found, 'the report by investment bank J.P.Morgan found that Australia ranked second in the world in 1997 for privatisation activity boasting projects valued at $15 billion and beaten only by Brazil'.
       J.P.Morgan's figures didn't include the $14.3 billion sale of one third of Telstra by the Federal Government.
       Argentina is facing a compulsory 30 percent devaluation of the peso after defaulting on its $140 billion US dollars national debt thanks to the International Monetary Fund which has eliminated the savings of most of its people.  And you think that's bad.
       A bank's poverty policy (The Age, November 25, 1991), "thirteen million children a year die of hunger and disease of poverty.  To stand by and do nothing when the world has the resources to feed them could be a crime of genocide, Mrs Justice Elizabeth Evatt told a recent conference of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign."
       The world is doing something isn't it?  What about the billions of dollars of aid the West has poured into third world countries over the years?  Last year alone the developed world gave the developing countries US$50 billion in aid.
       It took back US$93 billion in debt repayments and unequal trade deals.  While rich countries plead compassion fatigue; the world's poor last year gave US$43 billion to the world's rich.
       The article further quotes Mr Kamal Malthotra, the director of overseas programs for Community Aid Abroad saying, "because the bank's major shareholder is the United States, it is accused of echoing US policies and being little more than a debt collector for American banks".
       At best, World Bank and [the] International Monetary Fund would have to be seen as something to be very suspicious of if it was set up to alleviate world poverty when in fact it causes it.
       What's that got to do with Australia? In the words of Ernest Roedeck AM, Paper Australia in a changing world, "if we continue to import more than we export, we will become poverty stricken and beholden to our creditors.
       Then the international monetary fund will come in and run the economy in the interest of our creditors and not in that of the Australian people."
       Access Economics was tipping the politically sensitive foreign debt will rise from $330 billion to $474 billion in one financial year ending 2001/02. Our children will inherit a debt of $24,000 per capita.
       The current foreign debt for 2003 is $597 billion, now a debt of 30,000 per capita.
       But debt finance doesn't affect you! You just go right back to sleep while our politicians sell our country out to international bankers.
       Not so, say the politicians. Well, who holds the mortgage on the foreign debt? International bankers can even manipulate how much foreign debt a country has by manipulating its currency up or down.
       Are we in trouble? Work it out for yourself.
       Australia's foreign debt in 1982 was $39 billion, in 2002 it was $330 billion and 2003, $597 billion.
       But some people still think that debt doesn't affect them.
       This is a question that every Australian should ask of his or her representative or make the statement "no sovereign government representing a sovereign people should have a government debt".
       For the smug self-centred people who think that Keynesian debt financial system won't affect them.  I'm sorry, it's already affecting you and it affects you through higher local government rates and levies, higher state government taxes and levies, and higher federal government taxes, levies, rates and under Keynesian debt finance governments will always have to raise taxation for local, state and federal government to pay for services, water, roads, hospitals, aged care, public transport.
       Look at what we've lost in Numurkah and district over the last 25 years. Court house, State Rivers and Water Supply depot and office, trains system to Melbourne, Lands Department, state electricity system office and depot, Grain Elevators Board depot, State Bank, and last but not least, Numurkah Shire Council - all of these were driven out by the one thing, Keynesian debt finance.
       We have to become more efficient.
       We've just become the highest taxed group of Australians in Australia's history with a $4.6 billion budget surplus.
       The average Australian worker now pays $6500 a year in indirect levies and taxes or works 96 days a year to pay tax. 99.9% of the population doesn't know where money comes from.
       They either don't know or don't care or are just plain too stupid to understand. Which one are you?
       In my next letter I will explain the principles of Douglas social credit, Clifford H Douglas (1879 - 1952).
       Born in England, Douglas was a civil engineer, a man versed in mathematics and mathematical formulae.
       He was the first person to see the flaw in the money system that Keynes was promoting and he did a world lecture tour at that time.
       He toured England, Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand.  He came to Australia in 1936 and he warned back then that under Keynes debt finance "that at some time into the future under ever increasing taxation, ever increasing government debt, ever increasing personal debt, ever increasing cost of production, that maybe 60, 70 or 80 years time, not only would there be a 'debt crisis', but it was inevitable that it would get progressively worse to the point where society will slowly collapse into a state of total chaos and suffering under the extreme financial pressures".
       We are seeing the start of it now through a hospital system that can't, cope where doctors and nurses are pushed to the limit just to carry out everyday chores, through the record breakdown of marriages, increase in alcoholism and violence, record bankruptcies, record suicides, youth included, record homelessness, degradation of the environment and river systems.
       Farmers have been pushed to use large volumes of irrigation water to increase production just to remain viable.
       And who now are about to have the rug pulled out from underneath them if 1500gl of water is returned to the Murray River environmental flows?  It is pointless to talk about sustainable agriculture and sustainable environments when the production system is distorted by an unsustainable banking and money system.
       Sooner of later, even Dumb and Dumber will wake up to the flaw in the money system.
       The Reserve Bank's own official figures once showed that there was only $15.201 billion in currency in Australia, yet there was $333.730 billion of credit collateralised to the banks.
       How can you pay off $333.730 billion of debt with $15.201billion of money, I would like someone to tell me!
       Perhaps we could ask the man responsible for monetary policy in Australia.  The treasurer, he seems to think he knows the answers to everything, but I don't think he could answer that one.
       For every $1 of credit, there is $22 of debt. How can you pay that off?  Not only is it a mathematical impossibility to pay off debt, it is also a physical impossibility that is the flaw in the money system, the money con, the money trick.
       Australia's money supply has increased $100 million dollars every 24 hours since the coalition government gained office.  And banks make $27 million profit every 24 hours.
       The banking and money system is nothing more than a corrupt, contrived, immoral, unfair and unjust way of obtaining people's property.
       Sooner or later, there is going to be a lot of angry people around when they realise that they have lost their farm or their business, or their home or their family through the breakdown of their marriage but I guess that's nothing to the people who could see no way out under the crippling burden of debt but to take their lives and leave behind their families to suffer a life of guilt and not knowing why.
       1. What is the answer?  Create a Commonwealth Rural Bank with long term, low interest fixed rates for all primary producers, rural business, rural councils and shires to be able to borrow money at between that of our trading competitors, Japan at zero percent, America at base rate of 1.5 percent and Britain at three percent which equals two percent, to cope with seasonal fluctuations and conditions such as drought, floods, bushfires and storm damage to crops.
       2. Have a three-year debt moratorium with no interest and no principal repayments.
       If you fix the banking-money system, then all the economic, social and environmental problems will begin to fall into line.
       Allow it to continue and as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, rural Australia will be headed for economic collapse.
       Money is only a medium of exchange, not a commodity. #
    http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/cont14.htm#bank_debt_creation
    [Sep 29, 04]

    • Operation American Repression?.
    An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration's conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty -- if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years.
       Salon, http://fairuse.1accesshost.com/news2/salon37.htm , By Eric Boehlert, Sept. 29, 2004
       UNITED STATES: An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are bought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.
       The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled "Why We Cannot Win" [ www.lewrockwell. com/orig5/ lorentz1. html ] and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site LewRockwell.com. Written by Al Lorentz, [ alorentz@truevine.net ] a non-commissioned officer from Texas with nearly 20 years in the Army who is serving in Iraq, the essay offers a bleak assessment of America's chances for success in Iraq.
       "I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality," wrote Lorentz, who gives four key reasons for the likely failure: a refusal to deal with reality, not understanding what motivates the enemy, an overabundance of guerrilla fighters, and the enemy's shorter line of supplies and communication.
       Lorentz's essay contains no classified information but does include a starkly critical evaluation of how the Bush administration has conducted the war. "Instead of addressing the reasons why the locals are becoming angry and discontented, we allow politicians in Washington DC to give us pat and convenient reasons that are devoid of any semblance of reality," Lorentz wrote. "It is tragic, indeed criminal, that our elected public servants would so willingly sacrifice our nation's prestige and honor as well as the blood and treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional."
       The essay prompted a swift response from Lorentz's commanders. In an e-mail this week to Salon, Lorentz, declining to comment further on his piece, noted, "Because of my article, I am under investigation at this time for very serious charges which carry up to a 20-year prison sentence." According to Lorentz, the investigation is looking into whether his writing constituted a disloyalty crime under both federal statute (Title 18, Section 2388, of the U.S. Code) and Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
       According to the UCMJ, examples of punishable statements by military personnel "include praising the enemy, attacking the war aims of the United States, or denouncing our form of government with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection among members of the armed services. A declaration of personal belief can amount to a disloyal statement if it disavows allegiance owed to the United States by the declarant. The disloyalty involved for this offense must be to the United States as a political entity and not merely to a department or other agency that is a part of its administration."
       Under UCMJ guidelines, the maximum punishment in the event of a conviction would be a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for three years.
       Prosecutions are rare, however, says Grant Lattin, a military lawyer and retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, because members of the military "have the constitutional right to express their opinions pertaining to the issues before the public. Short of there being classified material and security issues, people can write letters about military subjects. If you look at the Army Times, you'll see letters from people on active duty complaining about this and that."
       For instance, in September 2003, Tim Predmore, an active-duty soldier with the 101st Airborne Division, based in northern Iraq, wrote a scathing letter to his hometown newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois. "For the past six months, I have been participating in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom," Predmore's letter began. "From the moment the first shot was fired in this so-called war of liberation and freedom, hypocrisy reigned," he continued, labeling the war "the ultimate atrocity" before concluding, "I can no longer justify my service on the basis of what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies."
       Going beyond the UCMJ and prosecuting disloyalty as a federal crime is "extraordinarily rare," Lattin says, noting that the last published case was in 1970, in U.S. vs. William Harvey. Under Title 18, Section 2388, it's a crime, punishable up to 20 years in prison, "when the United States is at war, [and a person] willfully causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or willfully obstructs the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or the United States."
       In the Harvey case, a Vietnam-era soldier was accused of making disloyal statements by urging a fellow soldier not to fight in Vietnam. "Why should the black man go to Vietnam and fight the white man's war and then come back and have to fight the white man," Harvey told the soldier, adding that he "was not going to fight in Vietnam and neither should [you]." The case was brought before the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, which noted "the language of the comments were on the line between rhetoric and disloyalty," as well as the fact that "disagreement with, or objection to, a policy of the Government is not necessarily indicative of disloyalty to the United States." The court alternately upheld and reversed portions of Harvey's conviction for disloyalty.
       As for Lorentz's case, Lattin, who served as a Marine judge advocate, says it's not uncommon for commanders to threaten soldiers with legal action in order to make a point: "If they know there's an offense for a disloyal statement, I wouldn't be surprised if he said, 'Knock it off.'" Lattin doubts that in the end Lorentz will face prosecution for his writings. "After this gets to lawyers and prosecutors who think about the consequences and the First Amendment, I don't think this will go anywhere."
       About the writer: Eric Boehlert is a senior writer at Salon. [Sep. 29, 04]
    • Backing for Al Lorentz, who posted realistic Iraq outlook.
       E-mail sent to Al Lorentz, "Delighted with article," Sep 30, 2004
       EARTH: Dear Al, Well done for www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/lorentz1.html
       When I saw that the Brits and the Yanks allowed looting during those first few days, and read that some Yank leaders took some Iraq notables on a tour and offered them ham sandwiches (forbidden to Muslims, not just to Jews), I knew that the ignorance of the elites in Britain and the USA was profound, criminally profound.
       You can't get respect from people who had been living under a puritanical religion and a tough dictatorship by allowing disorder and looting. My religion isn't as puritanical, but if that happened in Australia, I would despise the conquering forces. About half a day of driving off the potential looters with gunfire (1. Two warning shots, 2. Third shot to wound if defied) would have put a stop to it, and won the respect of the gun-happy locals.
       One of the US elite said early on that he hoped after the invasion the Iraqis would become just like Americans. Well, he wanted them to become CONSUMERS. But he didn't mean the sort of "consumers" their leaders have been -- weapons consumers. Other members of the elites of the world had sold Saddam's dictatorships so much armaments (including 1990s [1980s was meant] sales of diseases and poisons) that the guerrillas will be able to fight on for years and years. There are some groups opposing the Arms Trade on the Internet -- www.caat.org.uk and www.flora.org/ coat/appeal are just two I quickly found, plus groups like Amnesty and Oxfam constantly remind everyone.
       All the Coalition of the Willing, plus many of the "unwilling" nations, have been selling arms to anyone who can produce the money, no questions asked, for years. Even if a nation has regulations, the business firms will sell to a supposed ally or safe nation, which then onsells to the rebels or the dictatorships that have been banned from buying the arms.
       As your article states, killing in Iraq doesn't change the situation, but the civilian deaths only add to the hatred, so they want to follow their teachings of "cut garments of fire" for the infidels www.usc.edu/dept/ MSA/quran/022. qmt.html and "strike off the heads" of the infidels www.jihadwatch. org/dhimmiwatch/a rchives/002440.php
       Don't reply. I will understand. I just hope that the thought police don't come nosing around here! [Sep 30, 04]
    ANCHOR LIST (After reading an article, use Browser's "Back" button to return to Anchor List)
    Air crash = "The Bijlmer crash or the cover-up of a chemical inferno," International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), by Lizzy Bloem. AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Extract -- "As for the issue of the missing uranium, the Commission did establish that part of it was likely burnt in the fire. However, ... particles were not posing much of a health risk. ... In fact, prosecution for perjury has been considered by the Commission at least four times, but this was prevented by the minister of justice." August 21, 2004
    Bank debt creation makes economic strain.  "Open letter to Dr Sharman Stone."&nsp; NUMURKAH, Victoria, Australia.  Advertisement by Jeff Davy, September 29, 2004
    CIA false = CIA Gave False Info on Iraq; Senate Report Says CIA Gave U.S. False Information on Iraq Weapons, Fell Victim to 'Group Think'. UNITED STATES, ABC News (United States), http://abcnews.go.com/ wire/Politics/ ap2004 0709_847. html , WASHINGTON (AP), July 9, 2004
    Deal Drugs = "Trade deal on drugs needs an honesty pill," The West Australian, by Karen Middleton, "Canberra observed," p 22, Friday. CANBERRA, Australia: There is now absolutely no doubt that the Australian-United States free trade agreement is great for drug manufacturers. Labor is only tackling two of the raft of things which seem to need fixing in the agreement. The agreement will ban any future move to allow parallel importing of cheap versions of the drugs, and the "evergreening" of patents is already taking place to prevent competition. August 6, 2004
    Guantanamo = Guantanamo Bay imprisonment without trial 'anomaly' must end: Blair; US sent Habib to be tortured in Egypt. The West Australian, "US jail camp must end: Blair," LONDON (SMH and AP), July 7, 2004
    [How John Howard fell into 100 big banks' 1996 trap.] AUSTRALIA: World bankers told Prime Minister John Howard that they would dictate financial policies, a newspaper reported on June 7, 1996, and politicians have continued to allow them to do so. Booklet, 2004
    Israeli barrier = "Israeli barrier ruled illegal," News Interactive (Australia), www.news.com.au/ common/story_page/ 0,4057,10095854% 255E401,00.html , From Stephanie van den Berg, THE HAGUE, July 10, 2004
    World Trade = "Why a world trade deal is better than the FTA,". The Age, www.theage.com.au/ articles/2004/08/02/ 1091432107420. html , by Tim Colebatch, August 3, 2004. MELBOURNE: The world is up and walking along the path to removing trade barriers, writes Tim Colebatch. But powerful trade groups are heavily protecting items like rice, beef and sugar, and Australian negotiators haven't protected Australian growers. Australia has already dismantled its protections in a world that is not doing so.
    MOTTO: "Expect no gratitude, and you won't be disappointed." -- JCM
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