BLOG (18), 2006 AD, Just World Campaign

• [Policies of 'pro-family' politicians expanding under-class – Stratton]

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   The Sunday Times Magazine (Perth, W. Australia), sattlerd@sundaytimes.newsltd.com.au ; Part of the article "The next big thing; WA in 2006," (pp 8-11), by Peter Caruso, on pages 10-11, January 1, 2006
   PERTH: For an insight into popular culture trends that are likely to influence our lives, Curtin University's Professor Jon Stratton says 2006 will be the year of communication and mobility, with more affordable prices for mobile phones that combine MP3, camera and internet. [...]
   Professor Stratton says we will start to see alternative-fuel vehicles on the road (such as Toyota's Prius hybrid car) and more two-door cars. [...]
   From a broader social perspective Professor Stratton is concerned by changes to social welfare and workplace laws that are making life more difficult for a population increasingly made up of part-time and casual workers, single people, single parents and couples without children or one child.
   "The family structure is changing dramatically. Politicians want a return to the traditional family, but the policy changes they make are creating an under-class," he says.
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   "What worries me is the extension in the size of this underclass. The US has a large underclass and these changes are taking us that way."
   Professor Station also expects a mass of baby boomers will enter retirement this year with less money than they thought they would have. "As a consequence many will not be able to have the retirement they expected. Many of them are about to get a big shock." [with pic of Prof. Stratton] [Jan 1, 2006]

• Churchill plan to put Hitler in electric chair

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   The West Australian, p 13, Monday, January 2, 2006
   LONDON: British wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill planned to execute Adolf Hitler in the electric chair if the Nazi leader fell into Allied hands.
   Cabinet documents released for the first time yesterday chart Cabinet discussions from 1942-45 over how to deal with senior Nazis if they were caught.
   Churchill opposed Allied plans for war crimes trials and wanted summarily to execute leading nazi figures, including Hitler whom he regarded as "the mainspring of evil" and a "gangster".
   They show Churchill to be a ruthless commander prepared to override moral and legal considerations to defeat Germany and willing, against the advice of Cabinet ministers, to "wipe out" defenceless German villages in retaliation for nazi atrocities in Czechoslovakia.
   He also was willing to "bump off" Himmler and shoot German prisoners of war if Germany shot British PoWs.
   The disclosures are in shorthand in notebooks kept by Britain's wartime Deputy Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook.
   The electric chair was never used in Britain before the final abolition of the death penalty in 1965.
   The papers reveal that the plight of Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East was discussed often.
   On December 14, 1942, Churchill asked Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden whether reports about "the wholesale massacre of Jews" by "electrical methods" were true. Eden said: "Jews were being withdrawn from Norway and sent to Poland, for some such purposes evidently". However, he could not confirm the method of killing.
   Churchill seemed to have been more concerned with the fate of "Poles, not Jews" as the war drew to a close. On March 28, 1945, he said: "Actually we have a very small Jewish population compared with other countries. I'm only concerned with Poles - and Poles who have really fought."
   Other papers show that Churchill favoured letting Indian independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned while India was under threat of invasion by the Japanese. Gandhi was held in the Aga Khan's palace in August 1942 after speaking out against India's involvement in the fight against nazi Germany and demanding civil disobedience.
   After much discussion, ministers decided in January 1943 that although they could not publicly give in to a hunger strike, they would be willing to release Gandhi on compassionate grounds if he seemed likely to die. Churchill said: "I would keep him there (in prison) and let him do as he likes." # [Jan 2, 06]

• De Gaulle faced arrest

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   The West Australian, p 13, Monday, January 2, 2006
   LONDON: Sir Winston Churchill was prepared to have World War II Free French leader Charles de Gaulle arrested if he tried to leave Britain.
   Cabinet documents reveal the animosity between the pair, both revered in then: homelands as heroes. Describing the French leader as having "insensate ambition", Churchill also said De Gaulle was a barrier to "trustworthy" relations between the two countries.
   In March 1943 when his request to visit Free French troops was turned down, the general, who had fled to Britain in 1940 after the German invasion, complained that he was being treated as a prisoner of war.
   Churchill's response was that the Frenchman must be told "bluntly" to do as he was told. "And arrest him if he tries to leave, e.g. by French destroyer. Security measures should be laid on to prevent that," Churchill said, according to notes taken by Deputy Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook.
   Churchill feared that De Gaulle's visit would jeopardise discussions between the United States and rival French leader Gen. Henri Giraud. # [Jan 2, 06]

• [Israel preparing to use nuclear weapons against Iran - Mordechai Vanunu.]

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   Voyenny Parad, No. 4, 2005 (original Russian), "Interview with Mordechai Vanunu: Israel preparing to use nuclear weapons against Iran," by courtesy of GlobalResearch.ca , Global Research Feature Article, January 2, 2006
   Each and every nuclear bomb is a Holocaust in itself. It can kill, devastate cities, destroy entire peoples.
   The first rumors of Israel working on its own nuclear bomb arose back in the mid-1950s, when the Jewish state's scientific institutions started serious nuclear physics research.
   But only in 1986 did the rest of the world find out the real scale of Israel's work on nuclear weapons, thanks to Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu.
   With the assistance of Irish journalists Sean O'Carroll and Maria Escribano, we have managed to interview Israel's most prominent dissident. Mordechai Vanunu told us about the threat of a nuclear catastrophe hanging over the Middle East.
   Question: You say that Israel already has nuclear weapons. Iran is on its way to acquiring them. And these two countries regularly exchange threats about bombing each other. How likely is a nuclear conflict in the Middle East?
   Mordechai Vanunu: All I can say is this: the Israeli government is preparing to use nuclear weapons in its next war with the Islamic world.
   Here where I live, people often talk of the Holocaust. But each and every nuclear bomb is a Holocaust in itself. It can kill, devastate cities, destroy entire peoples.
   The Israeli Defense Ministry has long had a nuclear arsenal. Israeli intelligence tried to keep the existence of this arsenal secret from the outside world, but fortunately did not succeed.
   Nevertheless, they are still trying to silence me - even now, after seventeen-and-a-half years in prison.
   Question: Do you know how many nuclear bombs Israel has?
   Mordechai Vanunu: When I worked at Dimona, nuclear materials were already being produced there - plutonium, lithium, tritium, and others. Enough to make ten nuclear bombs per year. In other words, starting from 1985, Israel has over 200 nuclear warheads by now.
   Question: Why did you decide to speak out in 1986?
   Mordechai Vanunu: I simply could not help it. Incidentally, now the Western countries, including the US, that condemn Iran for its intention to destroy Israel should condemn themselves first of all. It were they that gave nuclear technologies to the Israelis and helped them to build the center in Dimona where the atomic bomb was created, although the Israeli government did not recognize this fact. [...]
   Question: Israel and Iran are on the threshold of nuclear confrontation now. Is nuclear apocalypse inevitable in Middle East?
   Mordechai Vanunu: No doubt, the main reason for this confrontation is the Palestinian problem. For many decades Palestinians have been living in occupation like in prison. They will never stop fighting and sacrificing their lives for the sake of liberation.
   Question: But this is not a justification for terrorism and statements similar to those made by the President of Iran when he promised to "wipe Israel off the map"?
   Mordechai Vanunu: Killing Palestinians, including civilians - demolishing their houses and pushing people into ghettoes - isn't that terrorism?
   Translated by Pavel Pushkin, Defense and Security (Russia)
   Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
   The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles in their entirety, or any portions thereof, on community internet sites, as long as the text & title are not modified. The source must be acknowledged and an active URL hyperlink address to the original CRG article must be indicated. The author's copyright note must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com
   www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.
   © Copyright , Voyenny Parad, No. 4, 2005 (original Russian), 2006
   [COMMENT: Voyenny Parad seems to be a periodical of a military supply company, seemingly linked to the Security apparatus of the Russian government. Russia's president Putin is a former secret policeman. Elements of the Russian ruling classes have links to Zionist Israel, whereas other elements still dream of seizing more oil-rich areas, and seizing all-weather seaports. Conclusion: Exercise caution when pondering the above newsitem. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 2, 06]

• [Indian Catholics including pastor and two nuns attacked by Hindu extremists in pre-Christmas season]

 
   Religion Today Summaries, "Indian Catholics Attacked on Way to Christmas Mass," www.crosswalk mail.com/ omuuxov_ fagvvax. html , Compass Direct, January 2, 2006
   INDIA: Hindu extremists launched two attacks on Catholics in the northern state of Rajasthan during the week before Christmas.
   On Saturday (December 24), nine members of the Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked four Catholics, including a priest, as they traveled by jeep to a Christmas mass that night in a village in Banswara district.
   Pulling them from the jeep, the extremists stripped them down to their underwear and beat them until they were unconscious.
   The victims lay on the road for four hours before they were discovered.
   In separate incidents, two nuns were attacked as they waited at a bus stop and a statue of the Virgin Mary was stolen. [Jan 2, 06]

• [Federal Government folly over 'Kopassus', and other comments.]

 
   On Line Opinion (Australia's free Internet journal of social and political debate), www.online opinion.com.au , January 3, 2006
   Now for some new media thinking, please. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4001 , Media - Natasha Cica - posted 3/1/2006
   How ABA tried to hang Kerry Packer. Media - David Flint - posted 3/1/2006
   Let's talk about happiness ... and sex. Humour & Satire - James McConvill - posted 3/1/2006
   Federal Government folly over 'Kopassus'. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3964 , International - Gary Brown - posted 3/1/2006
   Anecdotal evidence points to relief for MS sufferers. Health - Cris Kerr - posted 3/1/2006
   Helping others to help ourselves. International - Tim O'Connor - posted 30/12/2005
   'No win, no fee' advertising ban is ridiculous. Law & Liberties - Bruce Simmonds - posted 30/12/2005
   Yes - we will feel better if we are taxed more. It's true!. Society - Owen McShane - posted 30/12/2005
   Creation, cultural wars and campus crusade. Religion & Spirituality - Alan Matheson - posted 30/12/2005
   Enhancing shareholder value with social responsibility. Economics - Shann Turnbull - posted 30/12/2005
   An ethical and sustainable Australia makes sound business sense. Environment - Simon Divecha - posted 29/12/2005
   Clean transport fuels for Australia. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3920 , Feature - Mike Clarke - posted 29/12/2005
   Beef-up bargaining to retain fairnes for workers. Domestic Politics - Alex Collins and Christian Seibert - posted 29/12/2005
   Cross media laws - new media not quite there yet. Media - Bill Birtles - posted 29/12/2005
   Home education can help prevent bullying. Education - Susan Wight - posted 29/12/2005
   Cronulla: finger pointing not the answer. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3999 , Society - Jason Falinski - posted 28/12/2005
   Legalising abortion in Victoria. Domestic Politics - Sukrit Sabhlok - posted 28/12/2005
   The forgotten literary canon. The Arts - Cireena Simcox - posted 28/12/2005
   The art of censorship. Domestic Politics - Christopher van Opstal - posted 28/12/2005
   Book review: 'Travellers Tales' - Australians abroad confront the 'other'. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3973, The Arts - Vivienne Wynter - posted 28/12/2005
   Brisbane Institute: "Closing the space between us - the crisis in Aboriginal health and education", presented by Jeff McMullen, an award winning journalist, author and human rights activist. He has been campaigning for the last 20 years about the Indigenous health and education crisis in Australia. In 2002, he became a Director of 'Ian Thorpe's Fountain of Youth', a trust supporting research into childhood illnesses and now involved in bringing better medical care to remote aboriginal communities. Evening seminar: February 28, 2006 at 6pm sharp. Doors open at 5.30pm. Long Room, Customs House, 399 Queen Street, CBD. Cost: $22 General admission, $11 concession, free for BI sponsors/members. GST. RSVP: February 27, 2006. Tel 07 3220 2198 or rsvp@brisinst.org.au
   Happy New Year and A Big Thank You To those who've answered our appeal for support, THANKS. Particularly to our new Bronze and Silver Supporters. On Line Opinion survives on volunteers, but that doesn't mean we can survive on fresh air - we do have bills to pay. If you enjoy reading this journal (and around 125,000 individuals do each month), then please think about becoming a financial supporter. Click here and become a financial supporter so you can make sure this resource continues to provide value to everyone.
   On Line Opinion is owned and published by National Forum. Editorial Advisory Board: Brian Johns, Leonie Kramer, Michael Kelly, Peter Donoughue, Ray Evans, Michael Williams, Kathy Sullivan, Tom Worthington, Julian Cribb, Helen O'Neil, Lucy Turnbull. Graham Young, Chief Editor. [Jan 3, 06]

• [Are USA and Israel planning Nuclear War against Iran?]

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   GlobalResearch.ca (Canada), Global Research Feature Article, "Nuclear War against Iran," by Michel Chossudovsky, January 3, 2006
   The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages.
   Coalition partners, which include the US, Israel and Turkey are in "an advanced stage of readiness".
   Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack.
   Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
   In recent developments, CIA Director Porter Goss on a mission to Ankara, requested Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets." Goss reportedly asked " for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation." (DDP, 30 December 2005).
   In turn, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the green light to the Israeli Armed Forces to launch the attacks by the end of March:
   All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran.... The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran's nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or justify Israeli military action. (James Petras, Israel's War Deadline: Iran in the Crosshairs, www.global research.ca/ index.php? context=view Article&code= PET20051225 &articleId= 1635 ; Global Research, December 2005)
   The US sponsored military plan has been endorsed by NATO, although it is unclear, at this stage, as to the nature of NATO's involvement in the planned aerial attacks.
"Shock and Awe"
   The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.
   The actions announced by Israel would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately Washington will decide when to launch the military operation.
   US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack on Iran would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US "shock and awe" bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:
   American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.
   Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities ... or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq
   (See Globalsecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-strikes.htm )
   In November, US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a "global strike plan" entitled "Global Lightening". The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a "fictitious enemy".
   Following the "Global Lightening" exercise, US Strategic Command declared an advanced state of readiness (See our analysis below)
   While Asian press reports stated that the "fictitious enemy" in the Global Lightening exercise was North Korea, the timing of the exercises, suggests that they were conducted in anticipation of a planned attack on Iran.
Consensus for Nuclear War
   No dissenting political voices have emerged from within the European Union.
   There are ongoing consultations between Washington, Paris and Berlin. Contrary to the invasion of Iraq, which was opposed at the diplomatic level by France and Germany, Washington has been building "a consensus" both within the Atlantic Alliance and the UN Security Council. This consensus pertains to the conduct of a nuclear war, which could potentially affect a large part of the Middle East Central Asian region.
   Moreover, a number of frontline Arab states are now tacit partners in the US/ Israeli military project. A year ago in November 2004, Israel's top military brass met at NATO headqaurters in Brtussels with their counterparts from six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. A NATO-Israel protocol was signed. Following these meetings, joint military exercises were held off the coast of Syria involving the US, Israel and Turkey. and in February 2005, Israel participated in military exercises and "anti-terror maneuvers" together with several Arab countries.
   The media in chorus has unequivocally pointed to Iran as a "threat to World Peace".
   The antiwar movement has swallowed the media lies. The fact that the US and Israel are planning a Middle East nuclear holocaust is not part of the antiwar/ anti-globalization agenda.
   The "surgical strikes" are presented to world public opinion as a means to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
   We are told that this is not a war but a military peace-keeping operation, in the form of aerial attacks directed against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Mini-nukes: "Safe for Civilians"
   The press reports, while revealing certain features of the military agenda, largely serve to distort the broader nature of the military operation, which contemplates the preemptive use of tactical nuclear weapons.
   The war agenda is based on the Bush administration's doctrine of "preemptive" nuclear war under the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review.
   Media disinformation has been used extensively to conceal the devastating consequences of military action involving nuclear warheads against Iran. The fact that these surgical strikes would be carried out using both conventional and nuclear weapons is not an object of debate.
   According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or "low yield" "mini-nukes", with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered "safe for civilians" because the explosion is underground.
   Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of "authoritative" nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes are being presented as an instrument of peace rather than war. The low-yield nukes have now been cleared for "battlefield use", they are slated to be used in the next stage of America's "war on Terrorism" alongside conventional weapons:
   Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states.[Iran, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent. (Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News November 29, 2004)
   In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing "collateral damage". The Pentagon has intimated, in this regard, that the 'mini-nukes' (with a yield of less than 5000 tons) are harmless to civilians because the explosions 'take place under ground'. Each of these 'mini-nukes', nonetheless, constitutes - in terms of explosion and potential radioactive fallout - a significant fraction of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Estimates of yield for Nagasaki and Hiroshima indicate that they were respectively of 21000 and 15000 tons ( http://www.warbirdforum.com/hiroshim.htm )
   In other words, the low yielding mini-nukes have an explosive capacity of one third of a Hiroshima bomb.
   The earth-penetrating capability of the [nuclear] B61-11 is fairly limited, however. Tests show it penetrates only 20 feet or so into dry earth when dropped from an altitude of 40,000 feet. Even so, by burying itself into the ground before detonation, a much higher proportion of the explosion energy is transferred to ground shock compared to a surface bursts. Any attempt to use it in an urban environment, however, would result in massive civilian casualties. Even at the low end of its 0.3-300 kiloton yield range, the nuclear blast will simply blow out a huge crater of radioactive material, creating a lethal gamma-radiation field over a large area. http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001/v54n1/weapons.htm
   Gbu 28 Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28)
   The new definition of a nuclear warhead has blurred the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons:
   'It's a package (of nuclear and conventional weapons). The implication of this obviously is that nuclear weapons are being brought down from a special category of being a last resort, or sort of the ultimate weapon, to being just another tool in the toolbox,' said Kristensen. (Japan Economic News Wire, op cit)
   We are a dangerous crossroads: military planners believe their own propaganda.
   The military manuals state that this new generation of nuclear weapons are "safe" for use in the battlefield. They are no longer a weapon of last resort. There are no impediments or political obstacles to their use. In this context, Senator Edward Kennedy has accused the Bush Administration for having developed "a generation of more useable nuclear weapons."
   The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of World Peace.
   "Making the World safer" is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.
   But nuclear holocausts are not front page news! In the words of Mordechai Vanunu,
   The Israeli government is preparing to use nuclear weapons in its next war with the Islamic world. Here where I live, people often talk of the Holocaust. But each and every nuclear bomb is a Holocaust in itself. It can kill, devastate cities, destroy entire peoples. (See interview with Mordechai Vanunu, December 2005).
Space and Earth Attack Command Unit
   A preemptive nuclear attack using tactical nuclear weapons would be coordinated out of US Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska, in liaison with US and coalition command units in the Persian Gulf, the Diego Garcia military base, Israel and Turkey.
   Under its new mandate, USSTRATCOM has a responsibility for "overseeing a global strike plan" consisting of both conventional and nuclear weapons. In military jargon, it is slated to play the role of "a global integrator charged with the missions of Space Operations; Information Operations; Integrated Missile Defense; Global Command & Control; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Global Strike; and Strategic Deterrence.... "
   In January 2005, at the outset of the military build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as "the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction."
   To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created.
   JFCCSGS has the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear warheads not only against "rogue states" but also against China and Russia.
   Since November, JFCCSGS is said to be in "an advance state of readiness" following the conduct of relevant military exercises. The announcement was made in early December by U.S. Strategic Command to the effect that the command unit had achieved "an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons." The exercises conducted in November used "a fictional country believed to represent North Korea" (see David Ruppe, 2 December 2005):
   "The new unit [JFCCSGS] has 'met requirements necessary to declare an initial operational capability' as of Nov. 18. A week before this announcement, the unit finished a command-post exercise, dubbed Global Lightening, which was linked with another exercise, called Vigilant Shield, conducted by the North American Aerospace Defend Command, or NORAD, in charge of missile defense for North America.
   'After assuming several new missions in 2002, U.S. Strategic Command was reorganized to create better cooperation and cross-functional awareness,' said Navy Capt. James Graybeal, a chief spokesperson for STRATCOM. 'By May of this year, the JFCCSGS has published a concept of operations and began to develop its day-to-day operational requirements and integrated planning process.'
   'The command's performance during Global Lightning demonstrated its preparedness to execute its mission of proving integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of STRATCOM,' he added without elaborating about 'new missions' of the new command unit that has around 250 personnel.
   Nuclear specialists and governmental sources pointed out that one of its main missions would be to implement the 2001 nuclear strategy that includes an option of preemptive nuclear attacks on 'rogue states' with WMDs. (Japanese Economic Newswire, 30 December 2005)
CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022
   JFCCSGS is in an advanced state of readiness to trigger nuclear attacks directed against Iran or North Korea.
   The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as "an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,' (Ibid).
   CONPLAN 8022 is 'the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.'
   'It's specifically focused on these new types of threats - Iran, North Korea - proliferators and potentially terrorists too,' he said. 'There's nothing that says that they can't use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.'(According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit)
   The mission of JFCCSGS is to implement CONPLAN 8022, in other words to trigger a nuclear war with Iran.
   The Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush would instruct the Secretary of Defense, who would then instruct the Joint Chiefs of staff to activate CONPLAN 8022.
   CONPLAN is distinct from other military operations. it does not contemplate the deployment of ground troops.
   CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no "boots on the ground." The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces - air, ground, sea - and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations.... The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.) (William Arkin, Washington Post, May 2005)
The Role of Israel
   Since late 2004, Israel has been stockpiling US made conventional and nuclear weapons systems in anticipation of an attack on Iran. This stockpiling which is financed by US military aid was largely completed in June 2005. Israel has taken delivery from the US of several thousand "smart air launched weapons" including some 500 'bunker-buster bombs, which can also be used to deliver tactical nuclear bombs.
   The B61-11 is the "nuclear version" of the "conventional" BLU 113, can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb. (See Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO112C.html , see also http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=jf03norris ) .
   Moreover, reported in late 2003, Israeli Dolphin-class submarines equipped with US Harpoon missiles armed with nuclear warheads are now aimed at Iran. (See Gordon Thomas, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/THO311A.html )
Late April 2005. Sale of deadly military hardware to Israel. GBU-28 Buster Bunker Bombs:
   Coinciding with Putin's visit to Israel, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (Department of Defense) announced the sale of an additional 100 bunker-buster bombs produced by Lockheed Martin to Israel. This decision was viewed by the US media as "a warning to Iran about its nuclear ambitions."
   The sale pertains to the larger and more sophisticated "Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) BLU-113 Penetrator" (including the WGU-36A/B guidance control unit and support equipment). The GBU-28 is described as "a special weapon for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground. The fact of the matter is that the GBU-28 is among the World's most deadly "conventional" weapons used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, capable of causing thousands of civilian deaths through massive explosions.
   The Israeli Air Force are slated to use the GBU-28s on their F-15 aircraft.
   (See text of DSCA news release at http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2005/Israel_05-10_corrected.pdf
Extension of the War
   Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel (CNN, 8 Feb 2005). These attacks, could also target US military facilities in Iraq and Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.
   At present there are three distinct war theaters: Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. The air strikes against Iran could contribute to unleashing a war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region.
   Moreover, the planned attack on Iran should also be understood in relation to the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, which has opened up a new space, for the deployment of Israeli forces. The participation of Turkey in the US-Israeli military operation is also a factor, following last year's agreement reached between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
   More recently, Tehran has beefed up its air defenses through the acquisition of Russian 29 Tor M-1 anti-missile systems. In October, with Moscow's collaboration, "a Russian rocket lifted an Iranian spy satellite, the Sinah-1, into orbit." (see Chris Floyd)
   The Sinah-1 is just the first of several Iranian satellites set for Russian launches in the coming months.
   Thus the Iranians will soon have a satellite network in place to give them early warning of an Israeli attack, although it will still be a pale echo of the far more powerful Israeli and American space spies that can track the slightest movement of a Tehran mullah's beard. What's more, late last month Russia signed a $1 billion contract to sell Iran an advanced defense system that can destroy guided missiles and laser-guided bombs, the Sunday Times reports. This too will be ready in the next few months. (op.cit.)
Ground War
   While a ground war is not envisaged under CONPLAN, the aerial bombings could lead through the process of escalation into a ground war.
   Iranian troops could cross the Iran-Iraq border and confront coalition forces inside Iraq. Israeli troops and/or Special Forces could enter into Lebanon and Syria.
   In recent developments, Israel plans to conduct military exercises as well as deploy Special Forces in the mountainous areas of Turkey bordering Iran and Syria with the collaboration of the Ankara government:
   Ankara and Tel Aviv have come to an agreement on allowing the Israeli army to carry out military exercises in the mountainous areas [in Turkey] that border Iran.
   [According to] ... a UAE newspaper ..., according to the agreement reached by the Joint Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Dan Halutz, and Turkish officials, Israel is to carry out various military manoeuvres in the areas that border Iran and Syria. [Punctuation as published here and throughout.] [Dan Halutz] had gone to Turkey a few days earlier.
   Citing certain sources without naming them, the UAE daily goes on to stress: The Israeli side made the request to carry out the manoeuvres because of the difficulty of passage in the mountain terrains close to Iran's borders in winter.
   The two Hakari [phonetic; not traced] and Bulo [phonetic; not traced] units are to take part in the manoeuvres that have not been scheduled yet. The units are the most important of Israel's special military units and are charged with fighting terrorism and carrying out guerrilla warfare.
   Earlier Turkey had agreed to Israeli pilots being trained in the area bordering Iran. The news [of the agreement] is released at a time when Turkish officials are trying to evade the accusation of cooperating with America in espionage operations against its neighbouring countries Syria and Iran. Since last week the Arab press has been publishing various reports about Ankara's readiness or, at least, agreement in principle to carry out negotiations about its soil and air space being used for action against Iran.
   (E'temad website, Tehran, in Persian 28 Dec 05, BBC Monitoring Services Translation)
Concluding remarks
   The implications are overwhelming.
   The so-called international community has accepted the eventuality of a nuclear holocaust.
   Those who decide have swallowed their own war propaganda.
   A political consensus has developed in Western Europe and North America regarding the aerial attacks using tactical nuclear weapons, without considering their devastating implications.
   This profit driven military adventure ultimately threatens the future of humanity.
   What is needed in the months ahead is a major thrust, nationally and internationally which breaks the conspiracy of silence, which acknowledges the dangers, which brings this war project to the forefront of political debate and media attentiion, at all levels, which confronts and requires political and military leaders to take a firm stance against the US sponsored nuclear war.
   Ultimately what is required are extensive international sanctions directed against the United States of America and Israel.
   Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller "The Globalization of Poverty " published in eleven languages. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, at www.globalresearch.ca . He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His most recent book is entitled: America's "War on Terrorism", Global Research, 2005.,
   Related article: Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=%20CH20050501&articleId=66 , by Michel Chossudovsky.
   Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
   The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles in their entirety, or any portions thereof, on community internet sites, as long as the text & title are not modified. The source must be acknowledged and an active URL hyperlink address to the original CRG article must be indicated. The author's copyright note must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com
   www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.
   To express your opinion on this article, join the discussion at Global Research's News and Discussion Forum http://globalresearch.ca.myforums.net/index.php . For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com . © Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalResearch.ca, 2006
   [COMMENT: Since this was written, Israeli PM Sharon suffered strokes, and up to January 9 was still in intensive care. Remember, the United States has been bankrolling the Israeli State since its inception. The mentality of some opinion leaders in the USA can be gauged by the statement of a television evangelist that Mr Sharon's strokes were from God, because he had withdrawn Israeli soldiers from the Gaza strip. God had given Israel ALL the land, according to the televangelist. Anyone working with a questioning brain, a good Bible Concordance and a good atlas will find that "God" is reported as having granted quite different boundaries at various times. On the other hand, some Israeli archeologists have deduced that the accounts of the kingdoms of David and Solomon were fanciful exaggerations, and that possibly the ancient Israelites and Judahites just held a few hilltop forts and nearby lands, while the various other peoples held the main cities and exercised sway over the general area. The Israelites probably had to pay rent/tribute to the original owners for much of the time. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 3, 06]

• Iraq did not try to kill us.

  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   E-mailed to: The West Australian, sent by John C. Massam, Greenwood, Wed. January 4, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: Elizabeth Stevens (Letters 4/1) defended the invasion of Iraq, and implied that Iraq had tried to "kill us."
   The 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon were carried out mainly by Saudi Arabians, we were told. The US said the suicide attacks had been organised by Al-Qaeda, whose leader is a Saudi millionaire, Osama bin Ladin.
   He had been living in Afghanistan for some time before 9/11, so the Allies joined forces with Afghan warlords there to attack his Taliban allies.
   Suddenly, President Bush, PM Blair, and PM Howard switched the attack to nearby oil-rich Iraq, which had no part in 9/11.
   The "limited view" of your 4/1 correspondent is exposed for all to see!
   Ref: The West Australian, Wednesday, January 4, 2006, p 27, "Limited view", letter from Elizabeth Stevens, Willeton, attacking the anti-war letter of Mary Jenkins, Spearwood.
   [COMMENT: Also remember that in the hours after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and an unknown destination, US President George Bush (Junior) organised special flights of more than 30 members of the Bin Ladin family OUT of the United States. This put them beyond reasonable reach of US official bodies, who might have wanted to have them on the witness stand in the various inquiries into the 9/11 murderous atrocity. Of course, there is also the question of WHY so many relatives of a known terrorist leader had been allowed into the US, and WHAT were they doing there? COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 4, 06]

• [The Quiet Death Of Freedom, By John Pilger, etc., etc.]

 
   Information Clearing House (USA), "The Quiet Death Of Freedom," by John Pilger , January 6, 2006
   The Quiet Death Of Freedom By John Pilger Bush has carried out the recommendations of a Messianic conspiracy theory called the "Project for a New American Century". Written by his ideological sponsors shortly before he came to power, it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic façade: "the cavalry on a new American frontier" guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11462.htm
   A Cult of Presidential Power The Unrestrained President By Tom Engelhardt While much has been made of feverish Christian fundamentalist support for the President, the real religious fervor in this administration has been almost singularly focused on the quite un-Christian attribute of total earthly power. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11459.htm
   The Army of Good Americans By Manuel Valenzuela One day, in the not too distant future, in the middle of the night, a knock will come at their door, it being not a dream nor a fantasy, its noise an ominous reminder of the police state now upon America, coming to serve power on those who thought they had nothing to fear by sacrificing liberty and freedom for so-called security. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11460.htm
   When Sharon Meets His Maker By Gilad Atzmon A peaceful man is on his way to meet his Creator. The Lord may ask him, just as he enters the gate of heaven, "Hey Grandpa Arik, why are your hands so red?" http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11464.htm
   Seven U.S. Soldiers Among 132 Killed In Iraq: A suicide bomb attack in the city of Ramadi killed more than 70 and wounded 65, said Mahmoud al-Dulaimi, a doctor at Ramadi's main hospital. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ANW523066.htm
   Iraqi Girl Blog: Baghdad Burning: Here we are in the first days of 2006. What does the '6' symbolize? How about- 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity? Or. 6 hours of waiting in line for gasoline that is three times as expensive as it was in 2005? Or an average of six explosions per day near our area alone? http://tinyurl.com/74tj8
   IMF Occupies Iraq, Riots Follow: Bad enough that the U.S. military is occupying Iraq. Now the IMF is occupying the country. http://progressive.org/mag_wx010306
   George Bush Might Call Me a Defeatist: I'm telling you we are not even close to winning Bush's war in Iraq. We have been in Iraq almost three years, and American troops are still in a lock down. No American trooper can take a stroll down the streets of Baghdad or any other Iraqi city. http://www.lewrockwell.com/glaser/glaser48.html
   Out of Iraq Events Planned in Over 130 Cities: Local organizations have planned over 130 Out of Iraq events around the country on or about January 7th. Most of the events are town hall forums, and several will feature members of Congress, including Bobby Scott, Diane Watson, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Bob Filner, Martin Sabo, Jim Moran, Marty Meehan, and John Murtha http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/6393
   CIA had plenty of evidence Iraq had no illegal weapons, book reveals: THE CIA had evidence from 30 Iraqi weapons scientists that Saddam Hussein had abandoned its weapons of mass destruction programs long before the US invaded, an explosive new book on America's spying operations says. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/01/04/1136050496872.html
   UK: Anger as Britain admits it was wrong to blame Iran for deaths in Iraq : MPs and soldiers' families have demanded an explanation from the Government after a U-turn over claims that Iran was complicit in the killing of British soldiers in southern Iraq. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article336567.ece
   Rice Says Patience With Iran Waning: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled Thursday that time is running out for Iran to avoid being hauled before the U.N. Security Council over its disputed nuclear program, and she denied that the threat is mere "saber rattling." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/01/05/national/w080902S64.DTL
   Michel Chossudovsky: Nuclear War against Iran: The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages. Coalition partners, which include the US, Israel and Turkey are in "an advanced stage of readiness". http://tinyurl.com/7lepw
   Bomber kills 10 in Afghanistan: A suicide attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body during a visit by the U.S. ambassador Thursday, killing 10 Afghans and wounding 50, Afghan officials said. http://tinyurl.com/bhste
   Afghanistan: The NATO Quagmire : The New York Times, in a recent article said that "Britain and the Netherlands will join Canada in assuming control in the south, along with a much smaller contingent of American support troops." This is incorrect. http://indexresearch.blogspot.com/2006/01/afghanistan-nato-quagmire.html
   Supreme Court Says U.S. Can Move Padilla : The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to let the military transfer accused "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla to Miami to face criminal charges in at least a temporary victory for the Bush administration. http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/01/04/ap2427868.html
   Pentagon loses legal round on Guantanamo names: A federal judge rejected the U.S. Defense Department's argument for not disclosing the names of detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but stopped short of ordering that the names be released. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11463.htm
   Surveillance Court Is Seeking Answers: Some judges who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday said they want to know whether warrants they signed were tainted by the NSA program. Depending on the answers, the judges said they could demand some proof that wiretap applications were not improperly obtained. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11461.htm
   Rep. Harman says reports to Congress violated law : The briefings on the program under which Americans and other people in the United States are selected for eavesdropping without court warrants were limited to the so-called Gang of Eight. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/05/MNG1LGHHF81.DTL
   Did Bush wiretap CNN's Christiane Amanpour? : New York Times reporter James Risen first broke the story two weeks ago that the National Security Agency began spying on domestic communications soon after 9/11. In a new book out Tuesday, "State of War," he says it was a lot bigger than that. http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/did-bush-wiretap-cnns-christiane.html
   Israeli election to go ahead on March 28 despite Sharon's illness : Israeli elections will be held as scheduled on March 28 despite Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke, the attorney general said Thursday. http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/060105/w010568.html
   Political Hemorrhaging : While those in the West and Israel naively labeled Sharon a new "man of peace" and fresh corruption charges surfaced, his political career was strong as ever. Major polls showed the premier was a shoe-in, but now the question becomes which direction Israel will be headed politically. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11465.htm
   Sharon: Bribery: Publish Everything: A document presented to the court indicated that police have prima facie evidence that brothers Martin and James Schlaff were involved in the transfer of $3 million to the prime minister's family, and that there is evidence showing that the money was paid as a bribe. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/666439.html
   The truth you don't hear: The on-the-ground reality of Israel's moral bankruptcy in its genocidal policies towards the Palestinians remains as clear as ever http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/771/op2.htm
   What Hillary Clinton "Doesn't Know" About Palestine: In mid-November, Hillary Clinton visited Israel and, following a meeting with Ariel Sharon, in remarks that presaged the praise being heaped on the now-comatose Sharon, began her campaign for president by praising the Israeli as a "courageous" man who had taken "an incredibly difficult" step by withdrawing from Gaza. http://www.counterpunch.com/christison01052006.html
   Fund-Raising: Take It to the (West) Bank: Money meant for the inner city went to fight the intifada. What donors to Jack Abramoff's charity didn't know. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7615249/site/newsweek/
   Abramoff says he could implicate 60 lawmakers: It is commonplace for lawmakers to solicit campaign donations from lobbyists, who routinely offer them in hopes of gaining advantage. Yet Mr. Abramoff also went far beyond routine practice by furnishing lawmakers with lavish trips, free meals and entertainment as well. http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Abramoff_says_he_could_implicate_60_0104.html
   Abramoff Lobbying Scandal: Big Timber Falls Hard: Republican Dennis Hastert, speaker of the House, yesterday shed himself of tainted campaign contributions totaling $70,000. He gave the money to an unspecified charity. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0601,ridgeway,71514,6.html
   Bush to Give Up $6,000 In Abramoff Contributions: Abramoff raised more than $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, making him an honorary Bush "Pioneer." But the campaign is giving up only $6,000, which came directly from Abramoff, his wife and one of the Indian tribes the lobbyist represented. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11468.htm
   In case you missed it: The Pimping of the Presidency : Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush http://www.texasobserver.org/showArticle_new.asp?ArticleID=13
   Branded : "I'm sorry, sir," she said. "There seems to be a problem. You've been placed on the No Fly Watch List." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11467.htm
   4-Year-Old Boy on Government 'No-Fly' List : "I don't want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma," the 4-year-old boy said, according to his mother. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060105/ap_on_re_us/terror_list_preschooler
   Greek paper prints photo of 'MI6 agent': A photograph purporting to be Britain's top MI6 agent in Greece was published today on the front page of an Athens newspaper, as controversy continues over the alleged role of British agents in the arrest and supposed abuse of a group of Pakistanis living in Athens. http://tinyurl.com/a9kaz
   DNA of 37% of black men held by police : The DNA profiles of nearly four in 10 black men in the UK are on the police's national database - compared with fewer than one in 10 white men, according to figures compiled by The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,16518,1678168,00.html
   Peru recalls ambassdor to Venezuela : The Peruvian government announced on Wednesday that it will recall its ambassador to Venezuela, in response to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's public support to Peruvian leftist presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-01/05/content_4013914.htm
   Former "Economic Hit Man" John Perkins on "The First Truly Global Empire" and its Impact on Latin America http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/03/1435206
   Australia: The Defence Materiel Organisation employees under cloud over payments to defence contractor: The Defence Watchdog has uncovered serious issues linked to an $8 million contract for army jackets. http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2006/s1542099.htm
   Reid says Chertoff should resign : U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called for the resignation of Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday, one day after the government dropped Las Vegas from a list of cities considered potential high-risk targets eligible for special anti-terrorism grants. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Jan-05-Thu-2006/news/5212776.html
   Number Of Iraqi civilians Slaughtered In America's War 100,000 + http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7170.htm
   Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered (Officially acknowledged) In Bush's War 2187 http://icasualties.org/oif/
   The War in Iraq Costs $231,575,160,866 See the cost in your community http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182
"Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people." (August 1765) John Adams [Jan 6, 06]

• Bush using a little-noticed strategy to alter the balance of power

 
   Knight Ridder Newspapers, www.realcities. com/mld/ krwashington/ 13568438.htm , By Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn, Jan. 06, 2006
   WASHINGTON - President Bush agreed with great fanfare last month to accept a ban on torture, but he later quietly reserved the right to ignore it, even as he signed it into law.
   Acting from the seclusion of his Texas ranch at the start of New Year's weekend, Bush said he would interpret the new law in keeping with his expansive view of presidential power. He did it by issuing a bill-signing statement - a little-noticed device that has become a favorite tool of presidential power in the Bush White House.
   In fact, Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions. Experts say he has been far more aggressive than any previous president in using the statements to claim sweeping executive power - and not just on national security issues.
   "It's nothing short of breath-taking," said Phillip Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University. "In every case, the White House has interpreted presidential authority as broadly as possible, interpreted legislative authority as narrowly as possible, and pre-empted the judiciary."
   Signing statements don't have the force of law, but they can influence judicial interpretations of a statute. They also send a powerful signal to executive branch agencies on how the White House wants them to implement new federal laws.
   In some cases, Bush bluntly informs Congress that he has no intention of carrying out provisions that he considers an unconstitutional encroachment on his authority.
   "They don't like some of the things Congress has done so they assert the power to ignore it," said Martin Lederman, a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. "The categorical nature of their opposition is unprecedented and alarming."
   The White House says its authority stems from the Constitution, but dissenters say that view ignores the Constitution's careful balance of powers between branches of government.
   "We know the textbook story of how government works. Essentially what this has done is attempt to upset that," said Christopher Kelley, a presidential scholar at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, who generally shares Bush's expansive view of executive authority. "These are directives to executive branch agencies saying that whenever something requires interpretation, you should interpret it the way the president wants you to."
   Other presidents have used similar tactics. For example, Jimmy Carter rebuffed congressional efforts to block his amnesty program for Vietnam-era draft dodgers. But experts say Bush has taken claims of presidential power to a whole new level.
   In the case of the torture ban, Bush said he would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president," with the goal of "protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."
   Because Bush has already claimed broad powers in the war on terror - including the right to bypass existing laws restricting domestic surveillance - legal experts and some members of Congress interpreted the statement to mean that he would ignore the torture ban if he felt it would harm national security.
   Opponents of the ban say torture should not be ruled out in a case where abusive interrogation might prevent an imminent terrorist attack.
   White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush was defending a principle, not signaling his intention to ignore the torture prohibition.
   "The president has said that we follow the law. Of course we will follow this law as well," she said.
   Some members of Congress aren't so sure.
   "He issues a signing statement that says he retains all of the inherent power that will permit him to go out and torture just the way they've gone ahead and tortured before," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "That process is an arrogance of power."
   Congress has clashed with Bush over signing statements before. In 2002, lawmakers from both parties vigorously objected when Bush offered a narrow interpretation of whistleblower protections in legislation on corporate fraud. After a series of angry letters from Congress to the White House, the administration backed down.
   But monitoring the implementation of new laws is a complicated task, especially when Bush is ambiguous about his intentions. Cooper said Bush's assertion of his constitutional authority in dealing with the torture ban is typical of his approach.
   "It doesn't explicitly say what he's going to do or not do, but it gives him the authority to do whatever he wants to do," Cooper said. "The administration has clearly concluded that the Republican-dominated Congress is not prepared to force a confrontation on a lot of these issues."
   The roots of Bush's approach go back to the Ford administration, when Dick Cheney, then serving as White House chief of staff, chafed at legislative limits placed on the executive branch in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and other abuses of power by President Nixon. Now the vice president and his top aide, David Addington, are taking the lead in trying to tip the balance of power away from Congress and back to the president.
   They may soon have an ally on the Supreme Court. As a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote a 1986 memo outlining plans for expanded use of presidential signing statements.
   Although Alito told his bosses that the aggressive use of assertive signing statements "would increase the power of the executive to shape the law," he acknowledged doubts about their legal significance.
   Reagan adopted the strategy and used signing statements to challenge 71 legislative provisions, according to Kelley's tally. President George H.W. Bush challenged 146 laws; President Clinton challenged 105. The current president has lodged more than 500 challenges so far.
   Bush and his legal advisers offer a variety of arguments to support their claims to power. In their view, the Constitution's directive that "the president shall be commander in chief" gives Bush virtually unlimited authority on issues related to national security.
   They also rely heavily on the "unitary executive" theory to resist congressional directives to federal agencies. The theory rests on the Constitution's clause that says that "executive power shall be vested in a president."
   Bush has cited the theory, which has not been fully tested in court, more than 100 times in his signing statements.
   Skeptics say the president and his advisers overlook the Constitution's checks and balances, noting that the Framers had a deep distrust of excessive executive power, having rebelled against a king. The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, and shared power over executive spending, for example.
   Lawmakers from both parties have questioned Bush's assertion of his wartime authority.
   "If you take this to its logical conclusion, because during war the commander in chief has an obligation to protect us, any statute on the books could be summarily waived," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
   "The Constitution says that if the president doesn't like it (a bill), he can veto it. And we have an opportunity to override the veto," Kennedy noted.
   Some members of Congress from both parties also question the legal authority of presidential signing statements.
   "He can say whatever he likes, I don't know if that has a whole lot of impact on the statute. Statutes are traditionally a matter of congressional intent," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
   In 2003, lawmakers tried to get a handle on Bush's use of signing statements by passing a Justice Department spending bill that required the department to inform Congress whenever the administration decided to ignore a legislative provision on constitutional grounds.
   Bush signed the bill, but issued a statement asserting his right to ignore the notification requirement. [By courtesy of Michael P.]
   [COMMENT: The sentence about signing a bill to return him to legality, and then signing a statement to ignore the bill, says it all! Is he slowly going the way that the Reich Chancellor went in the 1930s? The Congressmen, like the Reichstag members, have sold the people out, supposedly under a threat.
   Check the news. Besides the Al-Jazeera journalist gaoled by Spain, there is an Al-Jazeera cameraman held without trial at Guantanamo Bay. In addition, two separate whistleblowers who revealed illegal activities by their governments are to be tried for revealing "official secrets" or some such. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan. 06, 06]

• [Aljazeera cameraman illegally held; Robert Fisk on Sharon; etc., etc.]

 
   Information Clearing House (USA), http://snipurl.com/ayzc , January 7, 2006
   Primal smirk; The War God has his eyes on Iran - can we stop him? By ROBERT C. KOEHLER Tribune Media Services I ache with fresh hope and foreboding at this time of year. The time is ripe for an overarching vision of a world without war - a tough, smart vision that can claim headlines and hold its own with the spin machines of government. Without it, we're doomed to . . . war with Iran? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11472.htm
   Pluses And Minuses By Charley Reese Now that President Bush has launched a new propaganda campaign to convince Americans that we are winning the war in Iraq, it's a good idea to go back to the basics and look at the pluses and minuses of this war. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11470.htm
   The Army of Good Americans By Manuel Valenzuela One day, in the not too distant future, in the middle of the night, a knock will come at their door, it being not a dream nor a fantasy, its noise an ominous reminder of the police state now upon America, coming to serve power on those who thought they had nothing to fear by sacrificing liberty and freedom for so-called security. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11460.htm
   The Opposite of Good is Apathy By Cindy Sheehan If I hear one more rendition of "We Shall Overcome" and then watch the vigilers or marchers go home and turn on their TV's and crack open a brewsky content in the fact that they have done something for peace that day, I am going to scream! We can't overcome unless we take the proverbial bull by the horns and overcome! http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11476.htm
   Ariel Sharon By Robert Fisk Israel's Prime Minister was a ruthless military commander responsible for one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century, argues Robert Fisk. President George Bush acclaims Ariel Sharon as 'a man of peace', yet the blood that was shed at Sabra and Chatila remains a stain on the conscience of the Zionist nation. As Sharon lies stricken in his hospital bed, his political career over, how will history judge him? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11479.htm AND http://www.globalecho.org/view_article.php?aid=6289 (This URL by courtesy of Michael P)
   11 U.S. Troops Killed in One Day in Iraq : - The U.S. military said Friday that six more American troops died in the recent surge of violence in Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of U.S. troops slain on the same day. http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5527990,00.html
   2 Dead as hundreds protest unemployment in Iraq : The demonstration turned violent as protesters armed with sticks, stones and guns were confronted by police. http://www.wbay.com/Global/story.asp?S=4327866
   Car bomb explosions kill one Iraqi and wound up to 18: One Iraqi civilian was killed Friday and three others were wounded when a booby-trapped car went off as an Iraqi military parade passed nearby in the Zaafaranyia area , to the south of Baghdad. http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=803068
   Iraqis bury bomb dead, some Shi'ites seek revenge: Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr Brigades, the loosely organized Shi'ite militia allied to one of the country's most powerful political parties, urged calm but questioned how long political leaders could keep their angry supporters in check. http://tinyurl.com/c3o66
   Sniper shot that took out an insurgent killer from three quarters of a mile: The insurgent was one of between 55 and 65 he estimates that he has shot dead in less than five months http://tinyurl.com/cdc5p
   New Study: The Cost of The War: $1-2 trillion: Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes plan to present this week a paper estimating the cost of the Iraq War at between $1-2 trillion. This is far higher than earlier estimates of $100-200 billion. http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2006/1/5/11510/30624
   How Did the U.S. Government Annihilate $1 Trillion of American Wealth?: Ask Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and William Kristol. Ask Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney and George Bush. Ask the American Congress. They not only know how to extinguish vast amounts of American wealth, they have done it by attacking Iraq. http://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff57.html
   Wife urges release of elderly UK hostage in Iraq: The wife of a 74-year-old British hostage in Iraq called on his abductors to free him in a televised appeal on Friday, saying he was "a man of peace." http://tinyurl.com/9hurx
   In case you missed it: The Case Against This Monstrous War: It may sound like an exaggeration to say that just about every major claim made about Iraq and Saddam by the U.S. government since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has been misleading or simply false, and that the mainstream media has bought into these distortions with nary a peep of opposition http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10933.htm
   Noam Chomsky : Beyond the ballot: THE US President Bush called last month's Iraqi elections a "major milestone in the march to democracy." They are indeed a milestone - just not the kind that Washington would welcome. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11477.htm
   Sheila Samples: You can't go home again: Those of us who know that Bush is raving mad, destructively impulsive and totally incompetent suspect he was lining up former heavyweights to take the blame when the melt-down comes. The good news is this is Alexander Haig's last chance to be "in charge." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11475.htm
   Iran intelligence is not trustworthy : After recent intelligence failures over WMD, editors should be doubly wary of "leaked intelligence", its timing and the motives of those who provided the information. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11469.htm
   Iran a no-show for nuke talks?: A defiant Iran rebuffed the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday, failing to show up for a meeting to discuss Tehran's plans to move closer to uranium enrichment within days. http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus/news/ci_3376850
   Iran Refuses To Provide Details On Nuclear Plans : A diplomat accredited to the agency said the IAEA appeared resigned to not getting the details it had asked for before the Iranians start their work Jan. 9. He cited ElBaradei as saying he didn't expect the high-ranking Iranian delegation to ask for a new appointment before flying back to Tehran. http://tinyurl.com/cfjbq
   U.S. warns Iran over nuclear program: "We are moving into a period of time with Iran where I think we're going to have to, the world is going to have to make some decisions," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/news/national/010606b2_iran
   Axis of Fanatics - Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad : Using religious claims to bolster their quests for power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Netanyahu each stand to gain by pointing to the menacing fanaticism of the other. Yet many Iranians and Israelis recognize the grave dangers of such posturing. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11478.htm
   Iran briefs Syria on latest nuclear studies: Minister Mohammed Reza Bagheri said here on Thursday that he has informed the Syrian leadership of the latest developments concerning the country's nuclear studies. http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/jan/1264353.htm
   Syria: Khaddam plans to topple al-Assad: A former Syrian vice-president says he is seeking to topple the government through a popular uprising. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/806C114A-2385-4C04-B553-3FB6C6EFCFC9.htm
   US ambassador escapes Taliban suicide bomb : The US ambassador fled a central Afghan town after a Taliban suicide bomber killed 10 people and wounded 50, further stoking fears of an Iraqi influence on the escalating insurgency. http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,1284,1680422,00.html
   Afghan officials accused on drugs : The security chief at Kabul airport has accused Afghan officials of colluding with drug smugglers and ordering the release of arrested suspects. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4585188.stm
   Charles Sullivan : Peak Oil and the End of Empire : Those in power are secretly panic stricken. America's unequaled military firepower is utterly dependent on the life blood of cheap oil to keep the machinery of run- amok capitalism running. Given the atrocities that the U.S. is inflicting with impunity around the world, there will be hell to pay when that advantage is lost. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11471.htm
   US backs India's quest to acquire nuke technology: In a strong endorsement of India's quest to acquire technology and equipment to generate atomic power, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that it will have to have civilian nuclear energy and not be dependent on countries posing concerns. hhttp://tinyurl.com/ahaxe
   An Imperial President? Bush Claims Right To Ignore New Law Banning Torture: Three influential Republicans Senators are condemning President Bush for claiming he has the authority to ignore a new law banning the torture of prisoners during interrogations. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/06/1451239
   Padilla Begins Defense: Padilla was transferred to civilian custody Thursday and made his first appearance in court. He was scheduled to return Friday to enter a plea. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/05/terror/main1181844.shtml
   Guantanamo Bay force feeding raises painful memories : Former prisoners of recent British penal history recall the trauma of torture and forced feeding, now happening to Muslim hunger strikers http://tinyurl.com/affrg
   Letter from Al Jazeera Cameraman imprisoned in Guantanamo: I cannot stop asking myself this question, why do they punish me? It is becoming an obsession, but I cannot get it out of my head. All these punishments began when they put me in prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. http://tinyurl.com/7n9rh
   Arcata City Council urges Bush impeachment: A split City Council yesterday passed a resolution demanding the impeachment or resignation of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=4326198&nav=9qrx
   Jerry Texiero-Vietnam War Resister:: In its push to hold Jerry Texiero out as an example to those in today's military (to dissuade them from walking away from another of this country's unnecessary and created wars), the Marine Corps is breaking every law on the books. http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2006/01/jerry-texiero-vietnam-war-resister_05.html
   China signals reserves switch away from dollar: China indicated on Thursday it could begin to diversify its rapidly growing foreign exchange reserves away from the US dollar and government bonds - a potential shift with significant implications for global financial and commodity markets. http://news.ft.com/cms/s/f39fa8e4-7e25-11da-8ef9-0000779e2340.html
   Report: Whistle-Blower to Testify Against NSA: Former Employee Alleges Illegal Intelligence was Conducted http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11474.htm
   NSA whistleblower asks to testify: A former National Security Agency official wants to tell Congress about electronic intelligence programs that he asserts were carried out illegally by the NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20060104-114052-6606r.htm
   Congressmembers write White House to ask if reporters were bugged: The Democrats asked for information regarding whether any reporters or other members of the media have had phone calls intercepted under the NSA program. http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Congressmembers_write_White_House_ask_if_0105.html
   Bush Abruptly Ended Abramoff Investigation in 2002! : Don't forget that Jack Abramoff's own secretary, Susan Ralston, became Karl Rove's Personal Assistant, and that Abramoff said he contacted Rove personally on relieving his client Tyco from having to pay some taxes and still be able to get federal contracts. Abramoff said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" on Tyco. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/12/2/103145/544
   Molly Ivins: More Texan sleaze and stink: The DeLay Foundation for Kids was set up 18 years ago and works on behalf of foster children. But it is also a way for companies to give unregulated and undisclosed funds: It's a way for companies to get into DeLay's good graces or, as Fred Lewis from Campaign for People says, "another way for donors to get their hooks into politicians." http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/1/2006/1292
   'DeLay Inc.' Lobbying Firm Has Links to Three Capital Scandals : Representative Tom DeLay's campaign to get Republicans to dominate Washington lobbying may have worked too well for Alexander Strategy Group. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arXHk9Sp9kkM&refer=us
   Political Donations From Aabramoff: Who got what? http://tinyurl.com/ey3ej
   Ties That Bind?: The White House is moving to distance itself from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff-who raised thousands for the Bush-Cheney campaign.; Cunningscam: Much More Than Meets The Eye : Abramoff isn't the only mega-scandal that could rock Washington this year. Two powerful committee chairmen in the House could soon find themselves ensarled in the scandal that has already taken down former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. http://thinkprogress.org/2006/01/05/cunningscam-more
   In case you missed it: Legal looting: Cunningham case only hints at extent of rot http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20051208/news_lz1ed08top.html
   Close ties make Rep. Lewis, lobbyist Lowery a potent pair: From powerful positions on the House Appropriations Committee, California Rep. Jerry Lewis has greenlighted hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects for clients of one of his closest friends, lobbyist and former state Congressman Bill Lowery. http://tinyurl.com/7atfw
   Why The Patrriot Act, Redux: Fascism Is The Here And Now: "Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of the government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy." http://thepoliticaljunkies.net/Archived/Year%202005/Dec/Wk3-5/Jonas.htm
   Doug Ireland: Scandalous! A Year of Republican Treachery: You could wait for the book, or check out the darkest shadows of the past 12 months right here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11473.htm
   Medicare drug plan beset by glitches: The program, which began Sunday, shifts the administration of Medicare prescription drug coverage to private companies that are preapproved by Medicare. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/3569069.html
   Medicare Officials' Attendance at Lavish Contractor Meetings Probed: Medicare officials responsible for overseeing $300 million awarded annually to private contractors regularly attended conferences sponsored by the groups at lavish beach and mountain resorts, according to a Senate panel reviewing the contractors. http://tinyurl.com/bcoem
   IRS tracked taxpayers' political affiliation : As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5440902p-4912739c.html
   US satellites 'spying' on anti-whaling ships: Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says he is outraged at a Japanese claim that US naval intelligence is using satellites to spy on the anti-whaling activities of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200601/s1543032.htm
   Onward - Warriors of the Rainbow: http://www.gratefulchild.org/projects/gcweb/gc/html/onward/ [Jan 7, 06]

• More Revelations Of Illegal Spying By Us Government

  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   World Socialist Web Site, www.wsws.org/ articles/2006/jan 2006/nsa- j07.shtml , By Joe Kay, January 7, 2006
   UNITED STATES: Over the past week, several new reports have emerged casting additional light on the vast extent of illegal spying carried out by the US government. It is becoming increasingly clear that the government has initiated a major project to collect and database the communications of US citizens and non-citizens, including opponents of the war in Iraq and other policies of the Bush administration.
   Moves to initiate the program began before September 11, 2001. However, as with all the policies pursued by the government since then, the terrorist attacks have been used to justify the spying under the overarching pretext of the "war on terrorism."
   James Risen, one of the authors of the original New York Times article exposing a broad program of spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) without legally required court-issued warrants, has published a book entitled State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. The book elaborates on what has already become clear from Risen's own articles and other reports that have emerged in the press: that the spying program is much broader than the administration has been forced to acknowledge, and includes surveillance on purely domestic communications as well as communications entering and leaving the United States.
   Risen reports that the NSA has been able to gain access to telecommunications switches, which are routing stations run by a handful of giant companies that direct large quantities of telephone calls and e-mails. "Unknown to most Americans," Risen writes, "the NSA has extremely close relationships with both the telecommunications and computer industries, according to several government officials. Only a very few top executives in each corporation are aware of such relationships or know about the willingness of the corporations to cooperate on intelligence matters."
   These switches contain both international communications and communications entirely within the US. Because the US controls the Internet infrastructure, much of the world's e-mail traffic at some point passes through stations located within the United States. "With its direct access to the US telecommunications system, there seems to be no physical or logistical obstacle to prevent the NSA from eavesdropping on anyone in the United States that it chooses," Risen writes. The program established to allow the NSA spying is a highly secretive "special access program," with no oversight or accountability required from the NSA regarding the communications it decides to monitor and for what reason.
   Washington Post correspondent Walter Pincus reported in an article on January 1 that the NSA has been sharing the data it collects with other US agencies, including the military's new command for North America, the Northern Command (Northcom). Citing current and former administration officials, the Post reported that the agencies that may have access to the information collected by the NSA include the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security.
   According to Pincus, "At least one of those organizations, the DIA [the military intelligence arm], has used NSA information as the basis for carrying out surveillance of people in the country suspected of posing a threat, according to two sources. A DIA spokesman said the agency does not conduct such domestic surveillance but would not comment further."
   While the officials insisted that the NSA tracks only individuals with apparent links to organizations that the US government considers to be terrorist, other agencies may be using it for more general purposes, the Post reported. "What data sets are included is a policy decision [made by individual agencies] when they involve other than terrorist links," the newspaper quoted one former administration official as saying.
   The DIA databases are coordinated by Northcom, which collects information from the NSA as well as other intelligence and police agencies. According to an earlier report by Pincus, one of the databases run by the military included information on anti-war protestors. This database is shared with other organizations, including law enforcement agencies.
   This sharing of names and information within intelligence agencies is widespread. A brief report in Newsweek on May 2, 2005, which has received little attention in the media since, noted, "According to information obtained by Newsweek, since January 2004 NSA received - and fulfilled - between 3,000 and 3, 500 requests from other agencies to supply the names of US citizens and officials (and citizens of other countries that help NSA eavesdrop around the world, including Britain, Canada and Australia) that initially were deleted from raw intercept reports." In total, the news magazine reported, the number of names provided by the NSA to other agencies during this period surpassed 10,000.
   The danger that these steps pose to the democratic rights and personal freedom of the American people can hardly be overemphasized. The establishment of the Northern Command in 2002 was a critical step in the expansion of the role of the military in domestic affairs. In the summer of 2005, reports emerged of plans being developed within Northcom for the military to assume sweeping new powers, using a terrorist attack or natural catastrophe as the reason. (See "Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US")
   Any databases or lists of names, culled from searches through e-mails and telephone conversations, could form the basis for mass round-ups and arrests of anyone considered to be a threat to "national security."
   Such plans are hardly unprecedented. In the 1980s, the Regan administration worked out a procedure for mass arrests of opponents of a US invasion of Nicaragua or El Salvador. The current director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, was US ambassador to Honduras during the time, and was closely involved with US actions in Central America, including the US-financed war against the government of Nicaragua.
   Negroponte, now occupying a position tasked with coordinating the work of 15 different intelligence agencies, including the NSA and the DIA, is presumably a central figure in the coordination of the illegal spying operations currently being employed by the Bush administration.
   A central component of the administration's policy since it came to office has been to erect the foundations for what would amount to a presidential dictatorship. The same officials who developed pseudo-legal arguments to justify the spying program have argued that the president has the constitutional authority as commander in chief to detain any individual, including any US citizen, indefinitely and without charges on the grounds that he or she may be a threat to national security.
   The new NSA spying program was so blatantly in violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the NSA to obtain warrants for domestic spying from a special intelligence court, that it generated divisions within the Bush administration itself.
   A New York Times article on January 1 noted that at one point in 2004, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, then acting as attorney general while John Ashcroft was recovering from surgery, refused to give approval to some aspects of the program. Ashcroft himself apparently indicated some reservations after an emergency intervention by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, now attorney general. That Ashcroft, who was closely associated with all the attacks on democratic rights of Bush's first term, had some concerns is indicative of the extraordinary breadth of the spying program.
   The Bush administration continues to lie about the extent and purpose of the spying. In a speech on January 4 to the Heritage Foundation, Vice President Dick Cheney repeated the argument that the spying is authorized by the US Constitution and the congressional resolution passed following the attacks on September 11. He also repeated the line that the spying is necessary for the "war on terrorism" and is limited to "terrorist-linked international communications." If the surveillance had been in place prior to September 11, "we might have been able to pick up on two hijackers who subsequently flew a jet into the Pentagon," he said.
   According to the arguments of Cheney, Bush and the administration as a whole, the "war on terrorism" grants unlimited powers, and anyone who opposes these powers is aiding and abetting terrorism. The claim that if the government had these powers before September 11, it would have been able to stop the attacks is absurd on two counts. First, it is by now well documented that the FBI and CIA had information on at least some of the hijackers but did not act on this information. There is considerable evidence that points to the complicity at some level of the government itself in facilitating the attacks, which provided a pretext for a major policy shift, including the introduction of new spying powers and a vast expansion of US military action abroad, including the implementation of pre-existing plans to invade Iraq.
   Second, plans for the expansion of NSA spying powers began before September 11. Their aim is not to combat terrorism, but to monitor the activity of the American people.
   According to a January 3 report in the online magazine Slate, the NSA's attempts to gain access to telecommunications switches began months before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. "A former telecom executive told us that efforts to obtain call details go back to early 2001, predating the 9/11 attacks and the president's now celebrated secret executive order," Slate reporters Shane Harris and Tim Naftali wrote. "The source, who asked not to be identified so as not to out his former company, reports that the NSA approached US carriers and asked for their cooperation in a data-mining operation, which might eventually cull "millions' of individual calls and e-mails."
   A report written by the NSA in December 2000 for the incoming Bush administration argued that the agency had to develop new ways to exploit modern communications systems. While circumspect on specific proposals, the Transition 2001 report, made public after a Freedom of Information Act request by the non-governmental National Security Archives, called for much more expansive monitoring of telecommunications.
   The report stated that under conditions in which communications are now "mostly digital, carry billions of bits of data, and contain voice, data and multimedia...senior leadership must understand that today's and tomorrow's mission will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the "protected communications of Americans as well as targeted communications of adversaries."
   A report written somewhat earlier, in June 1999, by Lieutenant General Jim Clapper of the NSA Scientific Advisory Board, argued for similar measures. While heavily redacted, the report, also made available by the National Security Archives, called for the development of "digital network intelligence," which it defined as "the intelligence from intercepted data communications transmitted between, or resident on, networked computers." Modern communications posed the problem of "manipulating huge volumes of heterogeneous complex data," it said.
   Such large-scale data mining operations have now been implemented.
   The Democratic Party is complicit in the implementation of these broad new spying powers. Leading members of the party were informed and repeatedly briefed on the NSA program, going back to at least October 2001.
   A letter recently released by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, written on October 11, 2001, when she was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, demonstrates that the Democrats knew of the attempts to expand the powers of the NSA, even prior to an explicit and secret presidential authorization to begin the program.
   The letter was written in response to a briefing given by the head of the NSA, Michael Hayden, to the House and Senate intelligence committees. In her letter, Pelosi does not object to the new programs as such, but rather raises concerns about "whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting."
   In spite of the fact that the Democrats were informed of the illegal program, no attempt was made to inform the American people and oppose this illegal and unconstitutional violation of democratic rights. Even with the public exposure of the secret NSA program, and Bush's brazen assertion of his intention to continue its authorization, no leading Democrats have broached the possibility of impeachment. They are well aware of their own responsibility, and they have no disagreement with the administration's fundamental aim: the suppression of political opposition to the militarist and imperialist policies of the US ruling elite. [Emphasis added] [Jan 7, 06]

• [Russian mafia is in town, etc., etc.]

 
   NEWS.com.au, January 8, 2006
   AUSTRALIA, and elsewhere: Secret report: RUSSIAN MAFIA IS IN TOWN: RUSSIAN gangsters, including ex-KGB agents, have infiltrated Australia, establishing extortion, gun-running and prostitution rackets, Australian Federal Police say. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=4f-Iac4IIUQ17Cw4j88gpF~smE_nsRR
   Funeral: Moving tribute to league legend: THE children of rugby league legend Steve Rogers told movingly of his greatness as a father at his funeral yesterday. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=64-UBDhIuLmNuUJIfiNGQrcwa8XEdRR
   Pacific Highway: Truckies could pay $70 toll: TRUCKIES could pay up to $70 in tolls on the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane under plans to fast-track the final upgrade of the road. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=79-rsXHIEBm9m5jNnQmF7Xx0tADURRR
   Iraq: US woman journalist kidnapped: A US woman journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad today and her translator killed, Iraqi security sources said, in the latest hostage crisis involving Westerners in the war-torn country. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=8e-Ve8cQCnCKX_rdi_PDFvBDVfFLdRR
   ONLINE BOOST FOR FIRMS: NEARLY one in three small businesses reported a surge in online sales in the lead-up to Christmas, a new survey reveals. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=21-UPiOIjdyDulyS_voQIvhj8Rl8RRR
   Borrowers: Race to fix loans: BORROWERS are rushing to fix home-loan interest rates, fearing higher petrol prices will lead the Reserve Bank to raise official rates. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=36-wgY~IiIGfXB~ejUMxgE_Q6rM~9RR
   Investors: Shares have long-term value: IT was like a Japanese bullet train zipping past, such was the speed with which 2005 was crossed from our diaries. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=4b-k_F7IBUELWMQA9UP9a8_5F3t0sRR
   Economy: Reasons for cheer in 2006: SINCE New York's Wall Street renamed its customary December surge as the Santa Claus rally, I suppose the January sprint we saw this week counts as the Hogmanay fling. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=75-whVtIKUTMF74QEK_rEPPsvJBBRRR
   MEN NOW TARGETS OF SPIKING: AN increasing number of men are having their drinks spiked and then being mugged or sexually assaulted, NSW Police said. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=69-CY8iIoWwaIFglWPMoxEvOxcKWdRR
   Claim: School weigh-ins led to anorexia: A SCHOOL weigh-in program has been blamed for a 12-year-old Mildura girl's anorexia. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=7e-XDQeInpvFvDqTQQi6~fYwwzxU9RR
   Pubs: Drunks face zero tolerance: DRUNKS who are kicked out of pubs and clubs will be banned from other licensed premises in Victoria, under a radical plan to combat troublemakers. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=db-rm79QJEnb8jhwNJvp162wpzRyRRR
   Extortion: Gangs link to home threats: VICIOUS teen gangs extorted protection money from suburban families to stop their houses being burgled at Christmas, a Melbourne councillor has claimed. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=05-gDWLIG8L7tWJNBdfn5IGxOYub9RR
   Hole: WINDOWS FLAW PATCHED: MICROSOFT has stepped outside its "patch Tuesday" regime to release a fix for a critical Windows flaw that left systems dating back to Windows 98 vulnerable. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=2f-hYtFIqnMF05FjWDP20I38z_WrsRR
   Signed: Intel, Google in video deal: INTERNET media powerhouse Google and chipmaker Intel integrate Google's video service into Intel's new Viiv consumer platform. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=59-y52oIEnvHtskw31lpQ1W_DUYMRRR
   TV: HD bigger than colour, says Sony: SONY chief executive Howard Stringer said he expects the transition to high-definition television and video will be a watershed, surpassing even the move from black-and-white to colour TV. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=83-U~EXQYJC1Z~b8gWtu28lBwUUBRRR
   Employment: IT jobs take holiday dip: THE seasonal slowdown saw IT&T job vacancies dip 1.13 per cent, seasonally adjusted, last month, but the sector performed better than the national average of, a survey shows. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=ad-_4KAQzEZSIc0N3ZQhVDfsYpODsRR A GERMAN theatre company said overnight that it will stage a play in a Berlin brothel designed to focus attention on "what really happens" in the world of prostitution. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=01-9oQDI2jusqfl8rfvuPVpGegWY9RR
   Bracing: Claims medicine made from human bones: A POPULAR Indian yoga guru whose classes attract hundreds of thousands of morning television viewers has been accused of using human bones in his medicines, media reports said. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=55-TAoaIKJQNI4rDeFqmLt8ckaAIRRR . Copyright 2006 News Limited . [Jan 8, 06]

• [World unheeding of Congo war 3.9 m victims]

 
   Information Clearing House (USA), http://www. information clearinghouse. info/ , OR http://snipurl. com/ayzc , January 08, 2006
   Congo's 3.9 m victims: Deadliest crisis in 60 years, By David Blair "Ignorance about its scale and impact is almost universal and international engagement remains completely out of proportion to humanitarian need." The committee found that Congo's war claimed 38,000 lives every month in 2004. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11481.htm
   Video report: US air strike kills Iraqi women and children: police : "I absolutely confirm there were no terrorists in this house," police chief Colonel Sufyan Mustafa told Reuters. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11480.htm
   Civilian Killed: One civilian was killed and another wounded when U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car as it approached a checkpoint on a main road in Baiji, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ANW727000.htm
   Doctor shot by gunmen: Doctor Ali Hussein, an employee at Falluja hospital, was killed by gunmen in the city http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ANW727000.htm
   Insurgents clash with US troops in Fallujah : "A sniper opened fire at a group of US soldiers, shooting four of them in al-Wahda district in central Fallujah," a local journalist told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-01/07/content_4022682.htm
   American journalist kidnapped in Iraq: Iraqi police officials said Saturday unidentified gunmen have kidnapped an American female journalist after killing her Iraqi translator in Baghdad. http://tinyurl.com/978qy
   US generals disagree on Iraq violence: "The country's on the verge of a civil war," General Sanchez told soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq during a ceremony held in Heidelberg, Germany. http://smh.com.au/news/world/us-generals-disagree-on-iraq-violence/2006/01/07/1136609984022.html
   Karen Kwiatkowski: He-Said, He-Said, and a 2006 Prediction : The destruction of a sovereign Iraq was the primary objective of this war - and that mission has in fact been accomplished. Bush was and remains correct from the moment he famously landed on an aircraft carrier and announced, "Mission Accomplished." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-kwiatkowski/hesaid-hesaid-and-a-2_b_13373.html
   Analysis: Iraq's dark realities: While the insurgents were motivated to play the political game and stay on their best behavior, violence around Iraq abated somewhat. However, once they had concluded that they were going to be given nothing worthwhile by the new Shiite masters of the country and their Kurdish allies, they felt free to unleash all their undiminished capabilities again. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11482.htm
   US general gloomy on future for Iraq: Sectarian rivalries and inefficient Iraqi ministries could turn the Iraqi security forces into 'militias or armed gangs,' Lt. General John Vines, the senior US operational commander in Iraq, told The New York Times. http://www.forbes.com/work/feeds/afx/2006/01/06/afx2432260.html
   Bremer says US did not expect insurgency in Iraq: Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, NBC Television said on Friday. http://tinyurl.com/dhg7u
   Number of badly wounded soldiers on rise in Iraq : Military medical advances are keeping more soldiers alive in the Iraq War but also creating a growing pool of badly wounded veterans who will need expensive, long-term medical care, the U.S. secretary of Veteran Affairs said on Friday. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060107/us_nm/iraq_veterans_dc_1
   Hassan ransom payment 'blocked by Foreign Office': A MILLIONAIRE who wanted to pay a ransom for the release of Margaret Hassan, the British aid worker kidnapped in Iraq and later murdered, was allegedly intimidated into dropping his offer, writes Maurice Chittenden. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1965627,00.html
   The Whitewashing of Ariel Sharon: From the beginning to the end of his career, Sharon was a man of ruthless and often gratuitous violence. The waypoints of his career are all drenched in blood, from the massacre he directed at the village of Qibya in 1953 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11484.htm
   Audio: Eye-Witness To Sabra-Shatila Massacare: "The slaughter of unarmed children, women, the aged and the infirm was shocking. For me, I was doubly outraged that I had to discover the truth about a brave and generous people only through their deaths. Until then, I never knew Palestinian refugees existed. As a fundamentalist Christian, I had been a supporter of Israel, hated Arabs and saw the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as terrorists to be loathed and feared." http://www.inminds.co.uk/from-beirut-to-jerusalem.html
   Gordon Prather : On Another Planet : Back in October 2003, after seeing what Bush and Blair did to Iraq on the pretext of destroying Iraq's non-existent nuke programs, Iran began negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom (EU/E3) with the explicit expectation of obtaining - at a minimum - assurances from the Europeans that Bush and Blair would not do unto them what they had just done unto Iraq. http://www.antiwar.com/prather/?articleid=8357
   Them or Us: AIPAC on Trial: In August 2004, the FBI and the US Justice Department counter-intelligence bureau announced that they were investigating a top Pentagon analyst suspected of spying for Israel and handing over highly confidential documents on US policy toward Iran to AIPAC which in turn handed them over to the Israeli Embassy. http://www.counterpunch.com/petras01072006.html
   Eight security guards on border with Afghanistan killed : Assailants armed with rockets and assault rifles attacked a newly built checkpoint near the Afghan border in Pakistan before dawn today, killing all eight security forces, officials said. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/nationworld/story/5442985p-4914226c.html
   One killed in a bomb blast in eastern Afghanistan : A passerby was killed and a policeman injured on Saturday by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, changing their earlier statement that it was a suicide attack. http://dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1006128
   U.S. Still Force Feeding Forty Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Merkel criticises Guantanamo Bay : German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay "should not exist", in an interview days before she meets George W Bush. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=80316
   Bush using a little-noticed strategy to alter the balance of power: President Bush agreed with great fanfare last month to accept a ban on torture, but he later quietly reserved the right to ignore it, even as he signed it into law. http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/13568438.htm
   NSA chief not concerned by congressional inquiries: A 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, forbids domestic spying on U.S. citizens without the approval of a special court. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Bush secretly authorized the NSA to intercept communications without court approval. http://tinyurl.com/9645r
   Report disputes spy plan legality: The non-partisan research arm of Congress on Friday questioned the legal foundation of President Bush's decision to order eavesdropping on Americans without court warrants. http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/13572257.htm
   Orwell could have a case against Bush: Lawyers for the estate of George Orwell have announced their intention to sue President Bush for plagiarism. http://www.americanpolitics.com/20051220Young.html
   The lie detector you'll never know is there: THE US Department of Defense has revealed plans to develop a lie detector that can be used without the subject knowing they are being assessed. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18925335.800
   Computer chips get under skin of enthusiasts : The computer chips, which cost about $2, interact with a device installed in computers and other electronics. The chips are activated when they come within 3 inches of a so-called reader, which scans the data on the chips. The "reader" devices are available for as little as $50. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060106/tc_nm/technology_implants_dc
   DeLay's Decision Won't End GOP Troubles : Republicans worried about their party's future have succeeded in pushing embattled former Majority Leader Tom DeLay off the stage. Even so, the Republicans' election-year troubles are far from over. http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5530519,00.html
   Officials Focus on a 2nd Firm Tied to DeLay : Having secured a guilty plea from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, prosecutors are entering a new phase of the corruption investigation in Washington and are focusing on a lobbying firm that may hold the key to whether Tom DeLay or other lawmakers will face criminal charges in the case. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11483.htm
   Tyco acknowledges it was source of $1.6m pocketed by Abramoff: Tyco International, whose former CEO became a symbol of corporate corruption, acknowledged Thursday it is the Jack Abramoff client referred to as "Company A" in court documents describing the lobbyist's scheme to funnel millions of dollars in lobbying fees to himself. http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060106/NEWS0201/101060157
   New Job for Former Cheney Aide: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney until his October 28 indictment and subsequent resignation, has joined the Hudson Institute as a senior adviser, it was announced on Friday. http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=\Politics\archive\200601\POL20060106c.html
   Gentle Genocide: Why Kill All at Once?: Do it gradually, while no one is watching! http://villagevoice.com/news/0602,cartoons,71573,9.html
   Medicare Misery: The new Medicare bill is about to kick in, and what it offers to seniors isn't pretty. http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10792 [Jan 8, 06]

• Bremer says US did not expect insurgency in Iraq

 
   The Observer (London) , http://observer .guardian.co.uk/ world/story/ 0,16937,168 1748,00.html , by Paul Harris in New York, Sunday January 8, 2006
   NEW YORK: Paul Bremer, who led the US civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted that the Americans 'didn't really see' the threat coming from insurgents in the country.
   He also criticised President George Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying they had not listened to his concerns about the quality of Iraq's army, and that ultimately the White House bore responsibility for decisions that had led to the current violence.
   Bremer, interviewed by the US television network NBC before the publication this week of his book on Iraq, recounted the decision to disband the Iraqi army quickly after arriving in Baghdad, a move many experts now consider was a major mistake.
   The comments come as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visited Iraq yesterday and painted a more rosy picture of the country's future. Straw's surprise visit will see him hold talks with virtually the entire Iraqi leadership.
   Straw was bullish on the capability of Iraq's own security forces. 'There is now very great day-to-day, hour-to-hour co-operation between the coalition commanders and Iraqi commanders in very many provinces,' he told the BBC.
   But Bremer's comments will upset that optimistic picture and join a lengthening list of Iraqi hawks turned critics of policy in the country. Bremer launched his attack in an interview with the American television network NBC that is to be broadcast tonight. His attack also comes on the eve of the publication of Bremer's book on Iraq, called My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope, which is to be released tomorrow.
   In the TV interview Bremer admits the insurgency was a surprise. 'We really didn't see the insurgency coming,' he said, adding that he was worried about US plans, formulated in 2004, to begin reducing their troop numbers in favour of relying on Iraqis. He said he raised concerns with Bush and Rumsfeld, but they were ignored. 'There was a tendency by the Pentagon to exaggerate the capability of the Iraqi forces,' he said.
   Bremer's critics say that he is trying to shift the blame away from himself for the violence in Iraq. Many experts have attacked his decision to disband the Iraqi army just after the invasion was complete as one of the main factors behind the insurgency.
   However, Bremer said the ultimate responsibility for the situation in Iraq lay at the door of the White House. 'I believe I did everything I could do. ... The President, in the end, is responsible for making decisions,' he said.
   The interview comes after a bloody week in Iraq that saw more than 100 people involved in suicide bombs and 11 US soldiers killed in one day. It has also emerged that US officials are meeting with some Iraqi insurgent leaders to hold talks about them joining the country's political process.
   [COMMENT: Bremer's fond belief that the Coalition of the Killing (USA, UK, and Australia) were wrong to disband the Iraqi army is puzzling. The German, Italian, Hungarian, and Japanese armies were not allowed to keep operating at the end of World War II in 1945. No, where the Coalition went wrong was in not taking enough troops to fully occupy the country, i.e., to seal the borders by land, air and sea, to seize and hold all armaments depots (instead of just abandoning them), and to be in strong numbers in every city, town, and village. The invasion was done "on the cheap," and the Coalition leaders thought that looting was part of the "new freeedom." COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 8, 06]

• [A warlord's plan to bomb Arabic TV - the whistleblower in court!]

  United Kingdom flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Qatar flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   Reuters, "Brits face trial over 'Jazeera bombing' leak," http://go.reuters. com/newsArticle. jhtml?type=top News&storyID= 10808993& src=rss/topNews ; By Katherine Baldwin, 03:06 PM ET, Tue Jan 10, 2006
   LONDON (Reuters) - A British court on Tuesday ordered two men to face trial on charges of leaking a memo that a lawmaker said described a plan by U.S. President George W. Bush to bomb Arabic television station Al Jazeera.
   The defendants, civil servant David Keogh and Leo O'Connor, a researcher who worked for a former British lawmaker, face a preliminary hearing on January 24 on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act and their lawyers are pushing for the secret document to be disclosed.
   A British newspaper reported last year that the memo of a meeting between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004 detailed a proposal by Bush to bomb Al Jazeera but said Blair had persuaded him against the plan.
   The story was dismissed as "outlandish" by the White House and Blair denied receiving details of any U.S. proposal to bomb Al Jazeera.
   Britain's attorney general has warned media they will be breaking the law if they publish details of the document.
   British Member of Parliament Peter Kilfoyle told Reuters on Tuesday that he had been briefed on its contents by Tony Clarke, the lawmaker who employed O'Connor, after he received a copy.
   "He made me aware of the contents," said Kilfoyle. "There was a discussion about bombing Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar and also about the attack on (the Iraqi town) Falluja."
   "My understanding ... is that Blair and (former U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell were against the bombing of Al Jazeera," said Kilfoyle, who opposed Britain joining the U.S. in invading Iraq, as did other rebel Labor party members.
   Blair's spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday on Kilfoyle's remarks.
   Al Jazeera has repeatedly denied U.S. accusations it sides with insurgents in Iraq.
   In 2001, the station's Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The U.S. has denied targeting the station.
   O'Connor's lawyer Neil Clark told reporters outside Bow Street Magistrate's court on Tuesday that he had been shown the document ahead of the committal hearing but could not discuss the contents. He said it was a four-page memo marked "Secret."
   "It's what I expected having read the media," he said. "I didn't think that there was anything in there that would embarrass the British government."
   O'Connor has already indicated he will plead not guilty at the preliminary hearing on January 24.
   Keogh's lawyer Stuart Jeffery declined to comment on whether he had received the document.
   "We've still got a number of enquiries to make as to what has been revealed," he told reporters.
   Keogh also faces a second charge under secrecy laws which prohibit disclosures of information which damage the capability of the armed forces. Keogh has not indicated how he will plead. [By courtesy of Michael P]
   [COMMENT: The old book None dare call it treason would be good reading for anybody unable to work out how the "goodies" get charged for exposing the "baddies." COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 10, 06]

• NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying; Former Employee Admits to Being a Source for The New York Times

  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   ABC, www.information clearinghouse. info/article 11529.htm , By BRIAN ROSS, Jan/10/26
   UNITED STATES, "ABC" - Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.
   For 20 years, Tice worked in the shadows as he helped the United States spy on other people's conversations around the world.
   "I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations." But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the NSA in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.
   "The mentality was we need to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them," he said.
Tracking Calls
   Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.
   "If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."
   According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.
Tice Admits Being a Source for The New York Times
   President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.
   But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used.
   "That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum," Tice said.
   The same day The New York Times broke the story of the NSA eavesdropping without warrants, Tice surfaced as a whistleblower in the agency. He told ABC News that he was a source for the Times' reporters. But Tice maintains that his conscience is clear.
   "As far as I'm concerned, as long as I don't say anything that's classified, I'm not worried," he said. "We need to clean up the intelligence community. We've had abuses, and they need to be addressed."
   The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological concerns and later dismissed him. Tice calls that bunk and says that's the way the NSA deals with troublemakers and whistleblowers. Today the NSA said it had "no information to provide." [By courtesy of Information Clearing House, and Michael P.] [Jan 10, 06]

• [Televangelist Pat Robertson adds to his murder-a-president infamy by imagining that Israel has Divine connections]

  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   Ekklesia (Britain), "Israel pulls plug on televangelist's bible theme park," www.ekklesia. co.uk/content/ news_syndication/ article_060111 robertson.shtml ; Jan/11//06
   ISRAEL: Israel is pulling out of a 50 million dollar deal with US TV evangelist Pat Robertson after he said Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution.
   Tourism Ministry spokesman Ido Hartuv said Israel would not sign a contract with Mr Robertson to build a biblical theme park by the Sea of Galilee.
   Mr Robertson suggested on his TV show "The 700 Club."that the stroke was a punishment for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
   His remarks were condemned by the US government, Christians and American Jewish groups.
   Mr Robertson was leading a group of evangelical Christians hoping to build the Galilee World Heritage Park.
   The centre was expected to cover nearly 35 acres (14 hectares) north-east of the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
   It would have had a park, an auditorium, a Holy Land exhibition, outdoor amphitheatres, information centre and a media studio.
   The Israeli government had tentatively agreed to provide land and infrastructure for the centre in the hope of generating millions of dollars from tourism.
   But relations soured when Mr Robertson said God wanted Israel to be whole and undivided and had therefore punished Mr Sharon for Israel's pull-out from the Gaza Strip last year.
   "You read the Bible: This is my land, and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going to carve it up and give it away, God says no, this is mine," he said last week.
   Mr Hartuv said his government was furious with Mr Robertson's remarks.
   "We were due to sign a contract in the near future with Mr Roberson for the construction of a new Christian heritage centre in the Galilee," he told the AFP news agency.
   "We, as the State of Israel, cannot accept what he said and we will not do any business with him or with anyone else who agrees with his view."
   But Mr Hartuv insisted Israel had not rejected outright the idea of building the centre.
   "The contract is still open - just not with Mr Robertson."
   "If there are other Christian leaders, they are most welcome to sign a contract to bring Christian tourists to the state of Israel."
   Mr Robertson is no stranger to controversy.
   Christians in both the US and UK have previously criticised the religious broadcaster following his call for the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
   A leading US evangelical leader described Robertson as "a theocrat", "an embarrassment to the church", "a danger to American politics", and urged "Christian leaders of all stripes to call on Robertson not just to apologize, but to retire."
   In the UK a government minister has already called for Robertson to be banned from entering the country.
   Nigel Griffiths, the deputy leader of the House of Commons, said Pat Robertson should be barred from Britain for inciting "hate and murder". #
   [RECAPITULATION: Sharon's strokes are Divine retribution for Israel's pull-out from the Gaza strip.
   ... for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going to carve it up and give it away, God says no, this is mine
   ... his call for the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. RECAP. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: If Ariel Sharon was punished by the Heavenly Ruler, how could Palestine have been held by Rome for more than 1000 years after a liberation attempt was defeated in 135 AD?
   Why can't modern Israelis "carve it up"? Look up all the Hebrew Scripture texts on Israel's boundaries, and there are several different sizes. The original and biggest "promises" were for land from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates, which flows through modern Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. AND, there are fervent Judaists who firmly believe that area should be conquered by Israel!
   All the hot gospellers conveniently forget that the Bible shows that the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were later told that they had forfeited the promised land because of their repeated idolatry and practices of harshness to the poor. The myth of the eternal throne of David's line continues by various "nutters" and well-funded religions alike.
   Assassination of foreign leaders has been attempted by the US (and other nations) in past years. The John F. Kennedy attempts on Fidel Castro ended when he was struck down by a cowardly bullet. The US gave up for a time, but the present President, George W. Bush, cancelled the Presidential Order banning US forces from trying to assassinate foreign leaders.
   Bush prays at cabinet meetings. He, like Robertson, gives religion a bad name. Whatever god they worship, Zionist or not, count me out! - [Name withheld.] COMMENT ENDS.]
   [EVANGELIST JIM WALLIS PREVIOUSLY EXPOSED ROBERTSON: The comments on the controversial televangelist, who was forced grudgingly to back down after calling for the assassination of the President of Venezuela, have come from Sojourners editor Jim Wallis. Wallis is author of the best-seller God's Politics and a long-term critic of the religious right. He has recently called on Democrats to develop progressive policies and a positive attitude to religion.
   In the latest SojoNet column, Wallis writes: " [Pat] Robertson is known for his completely irresponsible statements - that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were due to American feminists and liberals, that true Christians could vote only for George W. Bush, that the federal judiciary is a greater threat to America than those who flew the planes into the World Trade Center Towers, and the list goes on. Robertson even took credit once for diverting a hurricane. But his latest outburst may take the cake." - Ekklesia, www.ekklesia. co.uk/content/ news_syndication/ article_050 830wallis.shtml , August 30, 2005. ENDS.] [Jan 11, 06]

• Swiss government probes leak on CIA

  - Reporters who exposed illegality might be charged! Switzerland flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   International Herald Tribune, www.iht.com/ articles/2006/01/11/ news/cia.php , By Doreen Carvajal, Wednesday, January 11, 2006
   SWITZERLAND: Swiss government and military officials are pressing two criminal investigations to track down the source of a leak to the Zurich-based tabloid SonntagsBlick of a secret document alleging the existence of clandestine CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.
   The Sunday weekly published a summary of a fax in November from Egypt's Foreign Ministry to its London embassy that alleged that the United States had held 23 Iraqi and Afghan prisoners at a base in Romania. It also made reference to similar detention centers in Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia and Ukraine.
   "The Egyptians have sources confirming the presence of secret American prisons," said the document, dated Nov. 15 and written in French to summarize the contents of the fax. "According to the embassy's own sources, 23 Iraqis and Afghans were interrogated at the Mikhail Kogalniceau base at Constanza on the Black Sea."
   The leaked fax, which was sent by satellite and intercepted by the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service, was signed by Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, according to SonntagsBlick.
   Egypt has not commented on the fax, but it quickly reignited a political fury in Europe that began last autumn with news reports about alleged CIA interrogation centers and secret flights transferring suspected terrorists for questioning. Officials in Romania and Ukraine issued denials and Swiss criminal investigations opened after the article was published Sunday. European legislators also seized on the information as evidence of dissembling by EU members.
   "This is a piece of real evidence to back up the gut instinct many of us have that the denials of complicity we are hearing from EU member and candidate states cannot be relied upon," Sarah Ludford, a British Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, said in a statement.
   The Swiss Army's chief prosecutor is investigating the editor-in-chief of SonntagsBlick, Christoph Grenacher, and two of his reporters for exposing military secrets, as well as investigating the source of the leaks. The Swiss attorney general is also investigating the issue, adding another layer to its existing investigation of CIA flights through Swiss airspace.
   The CIA's role has come under scrutiny in Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, which are examining allegations that the agency used their airspace to transport suspected terrorists.
   The United States has acknowledged flights but not the existence of prisons. A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the Swiss revelations.
   Grenacher said that before the article was published, newspaper officials met with high-ranking Swiss government officials who urged the paper to withhold the information.
   "We concluded that the discussion about so-called secret prisons is much more important than the interests of the secret service in Switzerland," Grenacher said. During those discussions, he said no one contested the authenticity of the document.
   Conceivably, the journalists could face five years in prison for revealing military secrets although no one prosecuted under the law has ever served any prison time, according to the authorities.
   Martin Immenhauser, a spokesman for the military prosecutor, said that his agency opened investigations on the request of the Swiss Army's chief. There are limits on how much information they can obtain from journalists, who have the right under Swiss law to safeguard the names of their sources, he said.
   The legitimacy of the document is still a question that will be addressed as part of the investigation, but Immenhauser added: "Nobody has told us that it's not authentic. I think you can say that it's 99 percent certain that it's authentic."
   Within Switzerland, the story has given rise to a debate about just how the newspaper got its leak, with much of the blame leaning toward the Swiss intelligence services, which include three agencies riven by infighting. Analysts said the report had polarized the country between critics of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, who view the report as vindication of American wrongdoing, and those who fear the leak has compromised Swiss security.
   Switzerland has become something of a base for investigations arising out of the issue of CIA-run prisons.
   Dick Marty, a member of the Swiss Parliament, is also heading an inquiry by the Council of Europe and still awaiting information from a Brussels-based organization called Eurocontrol, which collects data about plane take-offs and landings in European airports. The database includes all civil flights, but also military flights that cross national borders or fly into zones designated for civil flights.
   Marty is expected to present his preliminary findings at the end of the month, according to Angus MacDonald, a Council of Europe spokesman. [By courtesy of Michael P.]
   [COMMENT: Is Switzerland going to persecute and/or imprison the journalists, like Spain has done and other countries are trying to do? Is locking people up and torturing them terrorism? Is terrorism not terrorism if the person has a lighter complexion and is paid by a government led by a religious enthusisast, but it is terrorism if organised by their opponents, also spouting scriptures? COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 11, 06]

• He Broke Ranks; He Did the Right Thing; Hugh Thompson and My Lai

 
   Counter Punch, www.counter punch.org/siga l01122006.html , By CLANCY SIGAL, January 12, 2006
   There is an Ugly American, a Quiet American and then there's Hugh Thompson, the Army helicopter pilot who, with his two younger crew mates, was on a mission to draw enemy fire over the Vietnamese village of My Lai in March, 1968. Hovering over a paddy field, they watched a platoon of American soldiers led by Lt. William Calley, deliberately shoot unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mainly women and children, cowering in muddy ditches. Thompson landed his craft and appealed to the soldiers, and to Calley, to stop the killings. Calley told Thompson to mind his own business.
   Thompson took off but then one of his crew shouted that the shooting had begun again. According to his later testimony, Thompson was uncertain what to do. Americans murdering innocent bystanders was hard for him to process. But when he saw Vietnamese survivors chased by soldiers, he landed his chopper between the villagers and troopers, and ordered his crew to fire at any American soldiers shooting at civilians. Then he got on the radio and begged U.S. gunships above him to rescue those villagers he could not cram into his own craft.
   On returning to base, Thompson, almost incoherent with rage, immediately reported the massacre to superiors, who did nothing, until months later when the My Lai story leaked to the public. The eyewitness testimony of Thompson and his surviving crew member helped convict Calley at a court-martial. But when he returned to his Stateside home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Thompson received death threats and insults, while Calley was pardoned by President Nixon. Indeed, for a time, Thompson himself feared court-martial. Reluctantly, the massacre was investigated by then-major Colin Powell, of the Americal Division, who reported relations between U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese civilians as "excellent"; Powell's whitewash was the foundation of his meteoric rise through the ranks.
   Hugh Thompson died last week, age sixty two. Thirty years after My Lai, he, and his gunner Lawrence Colburn, had received the Soldiers Medal, as did the third crew member, Glenn Andreotta, who was killed in combat. "Don't do the right thing looking for a reward, because it might not come," Thompson wryly observed at the ceremony.
   Something stuck in my head when I learned of Thompson's death. "There was no thinking about it," he said before his death. "There was something that had to be done, and it had to be done fast."
   Words similar to these are often used by combat heroes to describe incredible feats of courage under fire. With one possible difference. According to the record, Thompson did have time to think about it as he took off from My Lai, hovered and tried to wrap his mind around the horror below. Then he made a conscious decision to save lives. Some of the Vietnamese he rescued, children then, are alive today.
   Ex-chief warrant officer Thompson is a member of a small, elite corps of Americans who have broken ranks and refused to run with the herd. They include Army specialist Joseph Darby, of the 372d Military Police Company, who reported on his fellow soldiers who were torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. His family has received threats to their personal safety in their Maryland hometown. And Captain Ian Fishback, the 82d Airborne West Pointer, who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried vainly for seventeen months to persuade superiors that detainee torture was a systematic, and not a 'few bad apples', problem inside the U.S. military. In frustration, he wrote to Senator McCain, which led directly to McCain's anti-torture amendment. I wouldn't want to bet on the longevity of Captain Fishback's military career.
   Thompson's death also reminded me of Captain Lawrence Rockwood, of the 10th Mountain Division. Ten years ago, Rockwood was deployed to Haiti where, against orders, he personally investigated detainee abuse at the National Penitentiary in the heart of Port au Prince. He was court-martialed for criticizing the U.S. military's refusal to intervene, and kicked out of the Army. While still on duty, he kept a photograph on his desk of a man he greatly admired. It was of Captain Hugh Thompson.
   Some of my friends get so angry at the Bush White House, and so despairing, that they slip into a mindset where Americans - the great 'Them' out there - are lumped into a solid bloc of malign ignoramuses. They forget that this country is also made up of people like Hugh Thompson, Joe Darby, Ian Fishback and Lawrence Rockwood- outside and inside the military.
   Clancy Sigal's Zone Of The Interior, is finally being published in the UK, by Pomona at £9.99.
   Sigal can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com. [Jan 12, 06]

• Can we feed ourselves in the future?

 
   The Guardian, Letter by Stop MAI WA Coalition, Secretary Mary Jenkins, (sent Jan 15) January 25, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: Short sighted policy in WA and Queensland will have dangerous repercussions for our future food supplies. Queensland no longer has a dairy industry because of 'reforms' a few years. WA also closed down many dairy farms when the State Government agreed to" free market reforms". This short sighted policy made Victoria the main supplier of milk and dairy products. This was a big mistakes that needs to be rectified ASAP before food supplies will be in crisis
   When the diesel which is used to transport milk and other food products from over East becomes unaffordable, we will have to find some way to again learn how to produce food locally. An increase in the cost to consumers will be inevitable prior to the time transportation cost will become unsustainable.
   See TheFinancial Review, page 52, Friday, Jan 13, 2006: "Trouble at the top of the Food Chain."
   In addition I was disturbed to hear that they are killing lots of chickens in SA because the bottom has fallen out of the egg and chicken market. I hope this will not be the case in WA? I believe it is quite short sighted especially at this time.
   So far there is no evidence of chicken flu in Australia. To import chickens and their food at this time will put our producers at risk. The home market should be encouraged to supply any demand locally. Any excess eggs should be dried in case there is a shortage in future, as happened in WW11. The dried eggs can also become a future contribution to starving nations.
   Consumers should buy more home reared chickens fed on local grain to ensure safe produce. However at present the consumers are not told where their food is coming from and how imported food is fed or grown. Is it safe in today's climate of animal and bird diseases overseas?
   Many of our home grown produce seem to be closing down including market gardens because of imported vegetables. If global warming comes much sooner than we expect then almost all cities will be reliant on local markets. This push by Howard to support agro businesses and large overseas food cartels is sure to backfire in the future.
   During WW11 Australia was lucky it managed to feed itself. To allow our food and animal markets to cease operation is the most irresponsible stupid idea and a big political mistake. Instead these producers should be given protection to keep them producing in times of stress. Government should look beyond the next election and insure that there is a home based food supply in future by protecting our small rural producers and helping them through difficult times. This is not a hand out but an insurance policy. It is time politicians governed for the people!
   [CONTACT: Stop MAI Coalition, PO Box 1378, Bibra Lake, WA, 6569, Australia. Meets monthly. Registered members can read StopMAI_WA archives at: http://groups. yahoo.com/group/ StopMAI_WA_ list/messages . CONTACT ENDS.] [Jan 25, 06]

• Silver Lining; Why Hamas's Victory Isn't Such A Bad Thing

 
   The New Republic Online (USA), https://ssl. tnr.com/p/ docsub.mhtml? i=w060123&s= karsh012606 , by Efraim Karsh, Only at TNR Online, Posted January 26, 2006
   PALESTINE: Hamas's apparent victory in the elections for Palestinian parliament creates a thorny dilemma for Israel, the United States, and the European Union: how to deal with a Palestinian government dominated by what all three have branded a terrorist organization.
   Yet there is a potential silver lining in this development. Not because it may transform Hamas into an ordinary political party that eschews violence and terrorism in favor of "more moderate policies," as suggested by Jimmy Carter among others, but because Hamas's win might trigger a widespread disillusionment with the mirage - created by the Oslo process - of a democratic and peace-loving Palestinian government.... (This Article is Available to Subscribers Only)
   [RECAPITULATION: ... the mirage - created by the Oslo process - of a democratic and peace-loving Palestinian government ... RECAP. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: What about that other smoke-and-mirrors belief, that the Creator of the Universe set aside Jerusalem and its surrounds for Judaists, for ever! COMMENT ENDS.] [Also listed on Submit / Subchron5.htm ] [Jan 26, 06]

• Rendition of prisoners

 
   UNITY (United Nations Association of Australia), www.unaa.org.au, No 446, January 27, 2006
   Amnesty International supports the call of Dick Marty, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur, for a full committee of inquiry, with extensive investigatory powers into the US practice of "rendition" - the unauthorised ferrying of its prisoners to countries where interrogation does not exclude torture.
   Amnesty says publication of the Council of Europe's interim report on the issue of extraordinary renditions and secret detention centres in Europe is a step towards uncovering the truth about the extent to which US agents are carrying out renditions and related practices in Europe. However it makes clear that serious questions still need to be answered by a number of European governments.
   The report recognises that there is "a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture' ". What is needed now is the cooperation of all countries to ensure that they actively look at what is happening within their territory which may facilitate torture and take appropriate action.
   "European countries have the duty to fully collaborate in the investigations of gross human rights violations committed in their own territory. Not cooperating with those investigations is tantamount to collaborating with the abuses," said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International's Senior Director of Regional Programs.
   "The allegations that secret detention centres have existed in Europe, as Dick Marty has pointed out, come from varied and credible sources. Not even the US government has denied their existence. The issue now is what will be done about it," said Claudio Cordone.
   For more information on renditions: http://amnesty- news.c.topica. com/maaeqjyabn KVdbfE1obb/ .
   [CONTACT: UNITY, www.unaa.org.au, The national publication of the United Nations Association of Australia, ISSN 1035-218X, Compiled from Federal parliamentary and other sources relevant to Australia's obligations to the United Nations. Editor: Ian Mathews Tel: (02) 6281 4025, Fax (02) 6285 2529; Post: 4 Stone Place, Garran ACT 2605, Australia; E-mail: imathews@ozemail.com.au . Earlier editions of UNity 2004-2005 are on the UNAA website: www.unaa.org.au, or e-mail the editor. CONTACT ENDS.] [Also listed on Submit / Subchron5.htm ] [Jan 27, 06]

• [60yrs after World War II, Americans finally start handing over loot Nazis stole from Jews, etc. U.S. apology in October.]

  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Hungary flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Canada flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Romania / Roumania flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Sweden flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Austria flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 
   The West Australian, "Payout from 1945 nazi 'gold train'," p 30, Wednesday, February 1, 2006
   MIAMI: The first $US4.2 million has been given to needy Holocaust survivors from the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the US seizure in 1945 of a Nazi "gold train", according to lawyers involved in the case.
   The train was loaded with valuables belonging to Hungarian Jews. The money, part of an overall $US 25.5 million ($34.05 million) settlement approved in September by a Federal judge in Miami, has been distributed to Jewish social services agencies for the benefit of Holocaust survivors in the US, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Israel, Romania and Sweden.
   The "gold train" carried jewellery, gold, artwork, Oriental rugs, china and other valuables confiscated by the nazis from Hungarian Jews during World War II.
   The train was seized by US forces in Austria after the war ended in May 1945. Some items were stolen and others were used by American officers to furnish offices and homes during the US occupation of Austria.
   The US Government apologised for those actions in October as part of the settlement.It is not known when the rest of the money will be distributed. [Feb 1, 06]

• Locking up without trial breaches Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, etc, and International Treaties and Law.

  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
   From a political observer, Perth (W. Australia), To the Governor-General of Australia, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT, 2600, February 1, 2006
LOCKING UP WITHOUT TRIAL BREACHES MAGNA CARTA, HABEAS CORPUS, etc., and INTERNATIONAL TREATIES and LAW
   In reply to my December letter regarding the Federal Government's then intention to breach the compact between the Crown and the Anglo-Celtic peoples, you wrote that it would be wrong for you to withhold consent on the anti-terrorism legislation, as you were an unelected person.
   Might I make the following comments?
   The Australian Constitution provides in an early section that there shall be a Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives. Many people try to skate over the fact that the Queen was listed as a component of the Commonwealth Parliament, but she is so described. The Queen is not an elected person, and for day-to-day operations is not thought of as being part of the Commonwealth Parliament. Yet, she is. You are her representative. You are not elected, but you represent someone who is part of the Commonwealth Parliament. Australia is a royal parliamentary democracy, not a republican democracy or any other kind of democracy. You are part of that scenario.
   Constitutional practice is fairly clear that bills have to have the Royal Assent before they become law. If all bills without exception will be given the Royal Assent by the Governor-General, why not replace the office with a rubber stamp, a machine, or a computer?
   In another section of the Constitution you will find that it is permitted for the Governor-General to refer matters to the Queen for her consent. There must have been a reason for such a provision. No precedent? Someone has to be first in any sphere of life. Dismissal? So what, if your conscience is clear. Your departure would be honourable, a welcome reversal of a previous departure.
   I don't recall any vote by electors to remove these sections of the Constitution. Commentaries in learned journals or books, or even carefully-worded Acts of Parliament, cannot really destroy the Constitution - or can they?
   The late brave Sir John Kerr broke one of the "conventions" and thus saved Australia from being ruled without the consent of Parliament. The Whitlam Ministry evidently intended to issue pseudo-money to pay the expenses of government. Sir John was correct - and the people voted that Government out. In your case, to have requested a referendum before allowing the destruction of Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest, Free Speech, a Free Press, and so on for at least 10 years, would have seemed more than reasonable to any genuinely democratic person.
   Again I say, I dissociate myself from such laws breaching historic rights and International Law. We can't beat violent terrorists who brainwash youth and torment women, and kidnap and murder, by using law-enforcement people or the military to violently seize and lock up people without recourse to lawyers and ordinary justice. We won't beat terrorism by becoming terrorists. [Feb 1, 06]
• AWB mess symbolic of a wider malaise  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

AWB mess symbolic of a wider malaise

 
   The West Australian, by Andre Malan, andre.malan@wanews.com.au , p 14, Thursday, February 2, 2006
The idea of Australia's monopoly wheat exporter, AWB, paying hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks to the regime of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, seems so preposterous that it could almost be the punchline to a joke.
   Yet an insider in the grain industry - not a person given to exaggeration - assures me that AWB's involvement in murky deals has been a big talking point in the industry for years. No one even marginally involved in the wheat trade could have failed to be aware of it, he claims.
   The Australian Wheat Board used to be a Federal Government body, but it was transformed into a private company owned by wheat farmers in 1999 and floated on the stock exchange two years later.
   The fact that it continued with dodgy deals long after they became widely known raises the questions of why it has taken so long for the scandal to break, and why the Federal Government, which must also have been aware of the talk, did not intercede a long time ago in the interests of AWB's future and Australia's trading reputation.
   It also prompts the much more serious question of whether lies and corruption are gradually becoming an acceptable part of business and politics.
   Instead of being thought of as immoral and unethical, tactics of the sort AWB is accused of resorting to have become part of the cut and thrust of trade that operators deliberately employ.
   There's certainly plenty of evidence that people in advanced Western countries have become inured to scandal and are losing their sense of outrage. If the Watergate scandal had broken in 2006 rather than in the 1970s, it would probably not have had the same impact - nor the same consequences.
   President Bill "I did not have sex with that woman" Clinton twisted the truth so often that he was no longer able to recognise it, and the Bush administration has been plagued by so many scandals that the news media have trouble keeping abreast of them.
   Two of the most frequently repeated quotes are "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" (writer Wendell Phillips) and "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" (Edmund Burke), but the public has become lazy in its vigilance and relies on politicians and the media to tell us what's wrong, and what should be done about it.
   In Australia, John Howard remains our popular and unassailable leader in spite of being the man who took cynicism to new heights by dividing political promises into "core" ones that would be kept, and "non-core" promises that it was OK to break. The distinction, of course, depended entirely on his own discretion.
   Even more shamefully, the Howard Government was never made to pay for its part of the most hideous lie in recent Australian history - allowing the electorate to believe that refugees had thrown their children overboard in an incident shortly before the 2001 election.
   If you take into account that they come from a culture where politicians distort the truth and where the national obsession seems to be to become obscenely rich, it becomes easier to see how the AWB bosses saw no harm in huge amounts of Australian money being diverted into the pockets of a murderous dictator with whom we would soon be at war.
   But the things that the AWB is accused of are not only immoral, they also turned out to be stupid. On top of AWB shareholders losing a lot of money as their shares plummet over the prospect of their company losing its monopoly rights, there is a strong prospect that some AWB executives will be charged.
   And the Howard Government is not out of it yet. This week it emerged that Australia's Ambassador in the US, Michael Thawley, lobbied US Congress to drop a probe it was conducting into the AWB's payments to Iraq in 2004. The Opposition's reasonable assumption is that the Government was attempting to cover up the scandal before the 2004 Federal election.
   [COMMENT: The theme that the public has become hardened to lies, soon forgets, and does not express more outrage nor do anything much to bring the perpetrators to justice, has been previously discussed by Phillip Adams, of The Australian. COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 2, 06]
• Bogyman ban breaks down  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

Bogyman ban breaks down

 
The Premier shows a dangerous disdain for voter views by putting Brian Burke ally Norm Malborough in Cabinet
   The West Australian, by Robert Taylor, "Inside State" columnist, p 15, Thursday, February 2, 2006
The strangest thing among many strange things in WA politics this week was the spectre of the new Premier defending one of his two new ministers - Norm Marlborough - before the Peel MLA had even been sworn into Cabinet let alone got a chance to stuff something up.
   Alan Carpenter's consistent defence against claims that Mr Marlborough is too close to former premier Brian Burke to be allowed into Cabinet has been, in the words of Pete Townshend: "We won't get fooled again."
   "It's a matter of political maturity. One of the good outcomes of today, it's related to the political maturity of Government and the Labor Party in Western Australia," said Mr Carpenter on Tuesday as Mr Marlborough stood beaming behind him.
   "The problems that beset the Labor Party that so many people want to keep talking about are a long time ago. I've moved on, we move on the rest of the State has moved on.
   "We are a mature party, a mature Government, with mature people in Government capable of making the right decisions in the best interests of the people of Western Australia."
   Mr Carpenter said Mr Marlborough understood that "there will be scrutiny" and he dismissed the possibility of Mr Marlborough providing fresh ammunition to a struggling Opposition.
   "The Liberal Party, in particular, have been making an issue of the remnants of WA Inc for a long time and they've lost government. We're in Government," he said.
  [Picture] Alan Carpenter: An early defence.  
   Which is true. Labor has won the last two elections but the electorate voted for Geoff Gallop not Alan Carpenter and one of the reasons it voted for Dr Gallop was his rigid approach to exorcising WA Inc ghosts.
   Dr Gallop was often accused of being paranoid when it came to business. There was none of the "four on the floor" entrepreneur approach about his administration.
  ‘One reason people voted for Dr Gallop was his rigid exorcising of WA Inc ghosts. ’  
   He insisted on a "process driven" government that frustrated the hell out of the Terrace but reassured the average punter that the interaction between business and government was above board.
   He famously banned ministers from contact with Mr Burke, who is not only a powerful figure in the party's factional system but earns his living as a political lobbyist for a range of commercial interests.
   He's not the only one in the field - there are a number of former politicians including Mr Burke's partner Julian Grill, Labor's John Halden and Megan Anwyl and the Liberals' Barry MacKinnon doing the same kind of work along with plenty of journalists and public relations types.
   But none of them carries the same bogyman image as Mr Burke and none has the same potential to derail the Government merely by association.
   Dr Gallop knew that and he probably also knew he couldn't stop his ministers talking to Mr Burke. But the value of the ban was in the public's perception even if the Opposition did discover the occasional contact and fly into a flap.
   Just last year, after leading Labor to a second election victory, Dr Gallop reportedly put his job on the line when caucus tried to foist Mr Marlborough on him. Caucus backed down. Clearly when it came to a choice between Dr Gallop and Mr Marlborough there was no choice.
   Mr Carpenter, who does not have the authority of an election win behind him, has decided he can live with Mr Marlborough and has settled on the "we've all moved on" argument as his first line of defence.
   The amazing thing is how quickly Dr Gallop's determination to distance Mr Burke broke down once he left the scene, with Mr Marlborough romping into Cabinet and only a handful of left-wing MPs grouped around Burke long-time adversary Jim McGinty putting up resistance.
   One Left MP claimed that the party had "taken it's eye off the ball" in electing Mr Marlborough but most just thought it was time he was finally rewarded with a Cabinet post after 20 years on the back bench.
   If that's true it displays a dangerous disdain of the public's right to get value for its money but maybe it will come in entertainment value. Here's a selection of recent Normisms from Hansard.
   On politics:
   I make it a habit to go down to Lark Hill every second Saturday morning usually from 6am to 8am. I have a talk Johnny Miller, Bobby Maumill and Lenny Pike. That is where I get all my political advice from.
   On Alannah MacTiernan
   If a C.Y. O'Connor medal were to be awarded for planning initiatives and engineering balls, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure would get it.
   On Mr Burke:
   He is like a good Samaritan; he likes picking up the waifs and strays. That is why he is a friend of mine.
   On the Opposition:
   They are like dead carcasses in the breeze, covered in blowflies. They are right on the nose, and they will continue to be on the nose until somebody cuts them down in pity.
  [Picture] Mr Malborough: Says he gets his political advice at the Lark Hill racetrack.
   [COMMENT: Robert Taylor's article, like the Andre Malan article on the previous page, shows a great deal of common sense. The Burke Government started an alliance with certain business elements, was dubbed "WA Inc" which continued under his successor/s, and it all ended in a Royal Commission, trials, and a gaol sentence or two. Unfortunately, successive governments failed to follow every suggestion of the Royal Commission to obtain more honest transparent governance. COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 2, 06]

• [Cole wheat export Inquiry needs widening, Mr Howard's mouth needs narrowing]

 
   From an informed source, E-mail to some Senators and MsHR, copy to Editor of The Australian, "Cole Inquiry needs widening, Mr Howard's mouth needs narrowing," February 3, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: Please gently advise Mr Howard to stop making comments about the Iraq wheat bribes.
   The SON of the UN Secretary-General was involved in much of the bribery and corruption, and DFAT has been falling over backwards to trade even with the Devil himself since the Departments were amalgamated, so why did Mr Howard tell television today what he did? Be kind, but firm, to Mr Howard.
   You know as well as I do that the military-industrial complex in the USA and other lands, and their allies the Oil Consortium, backed Iraq for years, only stopping when he used the arms supplied by nice people like us to grab Kuwait for its oil and gold.
   The Food for Oil programme couldn't work in a world where greed has overtaken old-fashioned morality, and where lying is taken for granted.
   Widen the terms of the Cole Inquiry, please. [Sent Feb 3, 06]

• [This strange mixed-up world]

 
   NEWSpulse from NEWS.com.au , http://email.news.com.au/ , Various articles, February 05, 2006
   Coroner: 'Romeo' slain in bizarre love tryst AT THE end of a Romeo and Juliet-style love affair, a strict Italian father is suspected of murdering his teenage daughter's fiance. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=10-YU4qI9NgJA4GH5KPf_8bEB3u7RRR
   Marching orders: ARMY CONSCRIPTS BABY A ONE-year-old baby has been called up for service by the conscription office of the Russian Army, according to local reports. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=8e-Ve8cQCnCKTTjM4WPDFvBDVfFLdRR
   Bad habit: Doctors call for fatwa on smoking A GROUP of British Muslim doctors has called on Islamic leaders to issue religious rulings against smoking as part of efforts to stamp out the habit. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=b8-smc2QQUg~0kTxIKlqs73p1NOP9RR
   New York: Gang turns puppies to mules A CREW of Colombian drug dealers turned purebred puppies into drug couriers by surgically implanting them with packets of liquid heroin, US authorities said. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=cd-VHfSQzsn3XEl9iEFjx93TI46m9RR
   War: China bans Geisha THE Chinese Government has cancelled the release of the film Memoirs of a Geisha amid speculation officials are worried that Chinese actors playing Japanese geishas would stir a backlash. http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=0c-_Y2DIc8u3vzcK6UWDEuTqkS1iRRR
   To subscribe, go to http://email.news.com.au/ct/click?q=75-whVtIKUTMcYGrj5_rEPPsvJBBRRR
   We welcome your comments at replies@help.NEWS.com.au Copyright 2003 News Limited [Feb 5, 06]
• [Forging postal ballots in Local Government, donations; real estate agent links.] [2003 Spagnolo, Kukulj] Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

Corrupt ex-mayor faces stiff penalties.

 
   The West Australian, by DAVID DARRAGH, p 9, Tuesday, February 7, 2006
  [Picture] Adam Spagnolo: Pleaded guilty.
   PERTH, W. Australia: Disgraced former Stirling mayor Adam Spagnolo faces heavy fines after pleading guilty yesterday to 13 offences, including interfering with postal votes at a local government election.
   Spagnolo pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrate's Court to three counts of procuring another to take custody of a postal vote, one count each of forging and uttering a signature of an elector and two counts of causing another person to open an envelope which contained a postal vote.
   He also admitted to six counts of failing to disclose campaign donations.
   Corruption and Crime Commission prosecutor Jocelyn Connick said Spagnolo got campaign helper Vlado Kukulj to take custody of postal votes and to forge an elector's signature on a postal vote during the 2003 City of Stirling elections.
   Spagnolo, 51, of Stirling, worked in Bayswater City Council's building department.
   He also failed to disclose campaign gifts worth $9126, as required under the Local Government Act.
   Ms Connick said the offences - with maximum penalties of $5000 or a year's jail - undermined the electoral process and she urged a big fine. The CCC's predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Commission, had bugged the City of Bayswater car which Spagnolo drove his team around in to distribute campaign material.
   During a CCC hearing, Spagnolo at first denied that he had been involved in forging or altering ballots but admitted it later when secret tape recordings of his conversations with campaign helpers were produced.
   Defence lawyer Ron Cannon asked for Spagnolo to be given spent convictions so he could work in real estate. Kukulj, a 29-year-old real estate agent, also pleaded guilty to charges of forging and uttering and local government charges of taking custody of a postal vote.
   Magistrate Frank Cullen will sentence the pair on Thursday. # [Feb 7, 06]
• [Reading soldiers' names, collecting signatures, offend against anti-terrorism law!]  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  

'What is point of new security law?'

 
   Weekly Telegraph (Britain, Australian edition), BY AMY IGGULDEN, p 2, Wed Feb 8 - Tue Feb 14, 2006
   BRITAIN: IN FIVE weeks' time, Milan Rai is to be prosecuted for organising a remembrance ceremony without a permit He was arrested at the Cenotaph in Whitehall last year with Maya Evans, a fellow anti-war campaigner, under security legislation designed to protect politicians.
   Evans has already been prosecuted, convicted and fined for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq. But Rai's criminal record has been longer coming, because his organisational role in the peaceful protest was greater, and required the attentions of the Crown Prosecution Service.
   He has been told to appear at Bow Street magistrates' court, central London, on March 16, and faces a three-month prison sentence or a fine.
   This week the campaigners said that the failure of police to arrest protesters who called for murder outside the Danish embassy in London showed serious inconsistencies in security legislation.
   Evans, 26, a vegan chef from Hastings, East Sussex, said: "I think those extremists who were inciting violence should be asked to justify their actions. But the police are left in a very awkward situation if a woman can be arrested for holding a remembrance ceremony while others are rightly allowed their freedom of speech."
  [Picture] Maya Evans: convicted  
   She said the demonstration also illustrated that the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, introduced last year, is "completely impractical".
   She added: "Part of the Act says that you must apply for permission to hold a demonstration in Westminster, yet 60 people held an unplanned demonstration when the 100th British soldier was killed in Iraq... What is the point of this legislation?"
   Rai, 40, a campaigner for the group Justice Not Vengeance, said: "There is a lot of inconsistency going on and the police are in limbo."
   Mark Wallace, a campaigner with the lobby group The Freedom Association, is less charitable. He was stopped by police under counter-terrorism laws last autumn after asking passers-by to sign a petition against ID cards.
   He was filmed and questioned under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. "It's astonishing that the police will tolerate people calling for bloodshed... while they are prepared to target someone who is just collecting signatures."
[Feb 8, 06]
• [British lord gave $1m to Liberals in Western Australia.]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

Murky queries about our political system

 
Why would a British lord want to influence an Australian election? 
   The West Australian, THE MORAL MAZE, by HUGH MACKAY, p 18, Saturday, February 11, 2006
This is a column about the dark side of politics. Oh, don't worry: it's not an attack on the Government's notorious capacity for buck-passing; not a diatribe about the lack of integrity in high places; not a lament for the passing of the Westminster system of ministerial accountability.
   No, this is about an issue that's rarely discussed - election campaign funding. The recent release of the names of donors to the parties' war chests for the 2004 Federal election raised a few eyebrows, including mine. It also raised a number of quite murky questions about the morality of our evolving political system.
   Why, for instance, did Lord Ashcroft donate $1 million to the Liberal Party's election campaign funds?
   The obvious answer is that he wanted to help ensure the Libs would win. But why would a British lord so badly want to influence the outcome of an election in another country?
 ‘Is democracy well served by the constant attendance of spin doctors upon our political leaders, so their every public utterance is carefully contrived?’ 
   Was it proper for the party to accept his money? Do we care if a foreigner injects such a vast amount of money into one of our election campaigns?
   Is there any money our political parties wouldn't take? (The Libs accept donations from tobacco companies; Labor used to, but now doesn't.) And what of the companies, foundations and individuals who generously donate to both sides of politics, sometimes in equal amounts?
   Presumably such generous corporate and private donors want to be prominently placed on the political radar screen, regardless of who wins. Or is their motive simply to keep the coffers of both major parties filled so they can run equally well-funded campaigns? Hardly: you could achieve precisely the same result by giving nothing to either side.
   Perhaps they believe a democracy is more robust if the competing parties have big money to spend on their increasingly lavish election campaigns. But how healthy is it for a modern democracy that parties must call on the skills of advertising and public relations practitioners to get their messages across?
   Is politics really just like the marketing of a brand? Is it appropriate for policy discussion to be supported (indeed swamped) by slick slogans, carefully wrought TV commercials and all the other weapons in the armoury of the commercial marketing industry?
   Is democracy well served by the constant attendance of spin doctors upon our political leaders, so their every public utterance is carefully contrived?
   Yes, it happens in most of the democracies we compare ourselves with, but how bad would it be if election campaign advertising were scrapped?
   What if politicians were simply given media time and space to present their policies and to debate them with each other, supplemented by all the activities - including brochures and posters - traditionally associated with personal campaigning in local electorates? Would we be better or worse off?
   If the absence of expensive advertising campaigns would actually improve the integrity of the electoral process, then vast amounts of money could be saved and political parties would no longer be beholden to their sponsors.
   And if huge advertising expenditure could be shown to have had little or no effect on the outcome of an election (a conclusion both sides should have come to after the 2004 result), then why not keep your money in the bank?
   But if the use of commercial advertising techniques is demonstrably effective in influencing the outcome of elections, then we are on a slippery slope in which the biggest and best advertising campaign will have the potential to win an election.
   Then, as in the US, money will become the crucial factor in political campaigning. Does that thought send a chill up your spine? moralmaze@fairfax.com.au
   [COMMENT: Yes, it does send a chill up a few spines. But, knowing the ethical side is one thing, but why hasn't someone found out WHO Lord Ashcroft is? COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 11, 06]
• [11 candidates for Victoria Park (ex Gallop seat)]  Western Australia, State flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 

Parties wrangle over heroin trials

 
   The West Australian, By SIMON PENN, p 6, Monday, February 20, 2006
  [Picture] Kick off: Liberal leader Matt Birney and Victoria Park by-election candidate Brace Stevenson yesterday.  Picture: Rod Taylor  
   PERTH: The Liberals were running a classic scaremongering campaign to win the by-election for the seat of Victoria Park by raising the issue of heroin trials, Premier Alan Carpenter said yesterday.
   Launching the campaign of Liberal candidate Bruce Stevenson, Liberal leader Matt Birney said he was concerned that Victoria Park's proximity to the city and its busy nightlife would make it a prime candidate for a heroin trial should the State Government choose to introduce one.
   Mr Carpenter said the Government would not be entering into heroin injecting trials and dismissed Mr Birney's claims as mischievous and misleading and a desperate tactic.
   As Opposition drugs spokesman in 1999, Mr Carpenter advocated a trial of safe injecting rooms and supply of heroin to addicts after reports of a trial in Switzerland.
   "I advocate that a heroin trial be held in Western Australia because I do not believe that the circumstances and results that applied in Switzerland will necessarily apply in Western Australia," Mr Carpenter told the Legislative Assembly at the time.
   "There should be a trial for the provision of heroin, under very strict circumstances, to heroin users in Western Australia. It might have a bad impact or a good impact, but we shall never know unless the Government conducts a trial."
   Mr Carpenter said yesterday that he had advocated heroin trials in 1999 when heroin-related deaths were out of control under the previous Liberal government but Labor had since had a drug summit to tackle the issue.
   "As a result of the summit, the State Government concluded that there was no need for heroin injecting rooms and that is a position I now fully endorse," he said.
   Eleven candidates are standing in the by-election on March 11 for the safe Labor seat vacated by former premier Geoff Gallop.
   Labor is fielding Ben Wyatt. Former State and Federal MP Dee Margetts is standing for the Greens and 39-year-old financial controller Sue Bateman will run for One Nation.
   Ms Bateman was forced to resign as One Nation east metropolitan regional president in September last year after The West Australian revealed she had posted 443 messages on a white supremacist website.
   Other candidates represent Family First, Christian Democratic party and Daylight Saving party. There are several Independents. [Feb 20, 06]
• Horror on our doorstep; Australia faces tough choices over the bloodshed in Indonesia's Papua province.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Indonesia flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  West Papua (independence movement) flag; http://www.labandiera.com/id-sub1.htm 

Horror on our doorstep

 
   The Courier Mail (Brisbane, Qld, Australia), www.thecourier mail.news.com. au/common/story_ page/0,5936,1828 6196%5E27197 ,00.html , by David Costello, February 27, 2006
Australia faces tough choices over the bloodshed in Indonesia's Papua province, writes David Costello
   BRISBANE: AT times, the politicians acting in this nation's interest can take it a long way from our core values. This sums up Australia's position not to seriously challenge Indonesia over its appalling treatment of indigenous Melanesians in Papua province.
   There is no doubt that crimes against humanity are being perpetrated on our doorstep. Some believe the policies the Indonesian state is pursuing, through its armed forces (TNI) and police, amount to genocide.
   A 2003 Yale Law School paper found the evidence "suggests that the Indonesian Government has committed proscribed acts with the intent to destroy the West Papuans . . . in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide".
   Jakarta took control of what was the Dutch colony of West New Guinea in 1963 and legitimised the seizure in the 1969 Act of Free Choice, in which Papuan representatives were forced at gunpoint to join Indonesia.
   Since then, the military and police have acted with impunity against the local population.
   Reports compiled by the US State Department, the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Amnesty International and Papuan rights group Els-Ham have documented arbitrary killings, rape and torture as well as forced labour and relocation.
   The Yale study claimed that Indonesian authorities destroyed the property and crops of indigenous people and excluded them from upper levels of government, business and education.
   Els-Ham says the documented death toll is more than 100,000 but many observers say it is higher.
   No one should be surprised at this catalogue of horror. It is a common pattern in "military operations" areas at the mercy of the TNI and its militia groups.
   A recent UN-sanctioned report found up to 180,000 East Timorese died as a result of the Indonesian occupation and that the military used rape and starvation as weapons. Papuan separatists took heart from the events of 1999 when East Timor chose independence in a process started by Australian diplomacy.
   But the violence unleashed by the TNI and the subsequent intervention by an Australian-led UN force has left deep scars in Canberra and Jakarta.
   Sections of Indonesia's elite worry Australia is trying to break up their country and secretly supports Papuan independence.
   That is why the Howard Government and Labor Opposition preface remarks on the area by pledging support for the territorial integrity of Indonesia.
   They say Jakarta should crack down on military excesses and follow up on the 2001 special autonomy package - even though autonomy is a sham and undermined by Jakarta's unconstitutional move to split the province. But the message from Canberra is that Papuans can forget about self-determination - or any independent investigation of human rights.
   This, the major parties believe, is not in Australia's interest. And they are correct. If our leaders were to have a collective brain meltdown and seriously press Jakarta over Papua, the regional fallout would be dramatic.
   Relations with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his government would be frozen and a bilateral security treaty, to be signed this year, aborted.
   Other Asian countries - including China - would accuse Australia of lecturing and interfering in a neighbour's internal affairs and our participation in meetings such as the Asia-Europe Summit would be at risk.
   Washington would not be impressed given that both the US and Australia are resuming links with the TNI with the aim of fighting Islamist terror groups.
   Indonesia views the acquisition of the province as one of its key achievements and has vowed never to let it go. It needs the wealth from projects such as the massive Freeport McMoRan gold and copper mine at Grasberg.
   If pushed to the wall by foreign intervention, TNI would take a terrible revenge and create a refugee crisis which would destabilise Papua New Guinea.
   But for all Australia's caution, the Papua question is erupting again thanks to the 43 asylum seekers who arrived on Cape York in January and are now on Christmas Island. Queensland lobbyists close to the refugees and their leader Herman Wainggai expect the group will get bridging visas allowing them to stay while their cases are assessed.
   Indonesia, which has asked for the return of the asylum seekers, would view such action as an acceptance of their claims of persecution. It would also fear the Papuans would use Australia as a base to further their cause. This concern is well-founded.
   Until now, Papua has been an issue for the minor parties, with Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja and Green senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle expressing concern. But after visiting Christmas Island, Queensland National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce said the Papuans' claims of religious and ethnic persecution should be assessed.
   Watching all this are pressure groups, including the Australia West Papua Association.
   Jason McCloud, a Brisbane-based AWPA spokesman, says Australia should investigate reports of atrocities and support an independent review by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
   It should also support observer status for the province at the Pacific Islands Forum.
   He says the Federal Government should acknowledge Australia's role in Papuan history, particularly its support for the flawed Act of Free Choice.
   None of this is going to become mainstream party policy any time soon. But there is a price to pay in the world arena for equivocating when civilians are being slaughtered and starved.
   Australia is likely to be judged adversely when the definitive history of this mess is written.
David Costello is The Courier Mail's foreign editor
   [COMMENT: The Courier Mail's foreign [affairs] editor David Costello, after a torrent of grovelling to the enemy, has broken Press silence over the Australia West Papua Association's call for Australia to seek Papuan participation in the Pacific Forum. - DG, Perth. COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 27, 06]
• [Classic comment on content-free school courses] 

Classic comment on OBE

 
   Community Newspapers (Suburban papers in Perth, Western Australia), COMMUNITY COMMENT segment, Letter from Bill Plowman, Salter Point, February 28, 2006
   PERTH: IT is more in sorrow than in anger that I respond to the new scientific language prompted by the Minister for Education.
   Austen, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Dickens, and Orwell will be forgotten.
   For all generations that came after them "their ideas were a father to the thought".
   Now "those with a tongue in their heads and an ear for poetry" ask: Is it a "foregone conclusion" that these works of art are no longer relevant?
   Has education in the 21st century declared "the game is up for such authors" and it's best for them to "clear out bag and baggage"?
   Primary and secondary students will henceforth be given "short shrift" by a system of education that ignored the classics.
   "As good as luck would have it" - when or if students discover these great works- they will feel their education was "without rhyme or reason."
   How long will it be before these timeless authors, whose social commentaries are as relevant today as the day they were written, disappear?
   Can we conclude that without any knowledge of these writings that will be "heard no more" will it be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing?"
   So if you cannot understand my argument and declare "it's Greek to me", like me you are quoting William Shakespeare.
* Star letter. The writer - who wins a book from The Five Mile Press - should call 6330 9100 to arrange collection of his/her prize.
   [DEFINITION: "OBE" means "Outcomes-Based Education." Evidently some curriculum degradation has occurred under that name in government primary schools, and is being extended to high schools. The letterwriter was commenting on a news report that children would be able to "pass" Year 12 English without even reading plays, poems and novels, let alone studying them as was the practice for more than a hundred years. Instead, the students might be asked to give Marxist, feminist, and racist viewpoints on a label or some wall grafitti. Year 12 is usually the university entrance examination - but universities might have to make their own arrangements in future!] [Feb 28, 06]
• [Death squads go after outspoken Iraqi academics] 

Death of a professor; There is now a systematic campaign to assassinate Iraqis who speak out against the occupation

 
   The Guardian (Britain), http://education. guardian.co.uk/ higher/comment/ story/0,,17195 08,00.html , by Haifa Zangana, London, February 28, 2006
   In a letter to a friend in Europe, Abdul Razaq al-Na'as, a Baghdad university professor in his 50s, grieved for his killed friends and colleagues. His letter concluded: "I wonder who is next!" He was. On January 28 al-Na'as drove from his office at Baghdad University. Two cars blocked his, and gunmen opened fire, killing him instantly.
   Al-Na'as is not the first academic to be killed in the mayhem of the "new Iraq". Hundreds of academics and scientists have met this fate since the March 2003 invasion. Baghdad universities alone have mourned the killing of over 80 members of staff. The minister of education stated recently that during 2005, 296 members of education staff were killed and 133 wounded.
   Not one of these crimes has been investigated by the occupation forces or the interim governments. They leave that to international humanitarian groups and anti-war organisations. Among them is the Brussels Tribunal on Iraq, which has compiled a list to persuade the UN special rapporteur on summary executions to investigate the issue; they do so with the help of Iraqi academics, who risk their lives in the process. Their research shows that the victims have been men and women from all over Iraq, from different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds. Most were vocally opposed to the occupation. For the most part, they were killed in a fashion that suggests cold-blooded assassination. No one has claimed responsibility.
   Like many Iraqis, I believe these killings are politically motivated and connected to the occupying forces' failure to gain any significant social support in the country. For the occupation's aims to be fulfilled, independent minds have to be eradicated. We feel that we are witnessing a deliberate attempt to destroy intellectual life in Iraq.
   Dr al-Na'as was a familiar face on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya TV. He had often condemned the continued presence of US-led troops in Iraq, and criticised the sectarian interim governments and their militias. His case echoes the assassination of the academic Dr Abdullateef al-Mayah. A prominent human rights campaigner and critic of the occupation, Mayah was killed only 12 hours after he had appeared on al-Jazeera denouncing the corruption of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
   Militias have replaced the disbanded Iraqi army, applying their own rule of law. Some units operate under a semblance of "legality" - the "wolf brigade", attached to the interior ministry, is infamous for its terror raids on mosques and the torture of civilians.
   Last month the journalist Abdul Hadi al-Zaidi accused the government's militias of targeting intellectuals. He is one of a group of Iraqi journalists who, in the aftermath of al-Na'as's assassination, went on strike, demanding an immediate investigation into the "systematic assassination campaign" against intellectuals opposed to the occupation.
   After the July London bombings, Tony Blair promised the British people to "bring those responsible to justice". In Iraq, the British government does exactly the opposite. The law of occupation states that: "All foreign soldiers, diplomats or contractors implicated in the killing of Iraqi civilians are immune from arrest or trial in Iraq." Both the British and US governments turn a blind eye to the systematic violations of human rights and murders committed by their clients in Iraq.
   It has become obvious that the occupation forces, with their elite troops and $6bn-a-month budget, cannot hold Iraq. The only honorable and realistic way out is genuine dialogue with the Iraqi resistance over a complete withdrawal of foreign troops and adequate reparations and debt-cancellation to rebuild the country.
   Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi-born novelist and former prisoner of Saddam's regime; a longer version of this article will appear in Not One More Death, [to be] published next month by Verso
   (By courtesy of The Guardian and StopMAI Coalition. Registered members can read StopMAI_WA archives at: http://groups. yahoo.com/group/ StopMAI_WA_ list/messages )
   [FIRST COMMENT: Seems like the Coalition of the Killing could be at work. However, there is an anti-civilisation strand in the thinking of the imams and so forth. The two great Buddhas in Afghanistan were destroyed by religious maniacs. A huge statue of the Arab chief who helped steal Iraq from its inhabitants hundreds of years ago, and founded Baghdad, was blown up in recent months. I don't know who did that.
   (It's also possible that the Golden Dome got blown up recently by the US or UK "dirty tricks" people.)
   Howard and Costello joining the backbencher in slagging bad elements in Islam was a surprise. But the two main parties have signed so many treaties tying their hands about such ideas as repatriation, and wasted so much money that should have gone on security and defence ($1m to a wheat board bribery expert, for example), that Costello's challenge to Muslims to "Conform, or leave" is as empty as their show of petulance about the Islamic Indonesian fishing invasion, now being followed by a Maoist Chinese planned fleet. The Lib-Nats have to keep up these pretences so that the grumpy old patriots will go back to sleep - or be unable to get even a person over the back fence to listen to them.
   As for the refusal to let the Singapore Airlines use Australia to take people to the USA, but approving them TAKING OVER part or all of Qantas, the mind boggles! Bring on the treason trials, a reformer of yesteryear said.
   [RECAPITULATION: The law of occupation states that: "All foreign soldiers, diplomats or contractors implicated in the killing of Iraqi civilians are immune from arrest or trial in Iraq." RECAP. ENDS.]
   [SECOND COMMENT: Is that what the electors who re-elected Bush, Blair, and Howard thought they were setting up? A 007 type "Licence to Kill"? Do Australian electors remember that the Aussie troops were going there "For months rather than years," according to John Howard?
   Riddle: How can you tell when a politician is telling a lie? Answer: See if his lips are moving. ENDS.] [Feb 28, 06]

• [London school halts the teaching of science in Turkish, avoids teaching in Somali]  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  

Enough is enough: New head at school where pupils speak 59 languages says from now on it’s


ENGLISH ONLY
   The International Express (Britain), West Australian edition, Page One, Tuesday, February 28, 2006
By Martin Evans and David Pilditch
LONDON: THE new headmistress of a school where 59 languages are spoken has ruled: "My pupils must speak English."
   In a major snub to the politically correct brigade, Joan McVittie abandoned the teaching of science lessons in foreign languages.
   The school had been praised by the Government for the controversial lessons, but teachers insisted that these were wrecking the prospects of youngsters.
   Now the return to all-English teaching has been hailed as a victory for common sense. Critics were outraged when former head teacher David Daniels ordered that Turkish children studying GCSE science at White Hart Lane School in north London should have their lessons taught in their own language.
   Plans were drawn up to extend the scheme to Somali children at the school which has 1,200 pupils who speak an extraordinary 59 languages.
   After the lessons were introduced, former Education Minister Stephen Twigg insisted it was "very much the kind of good practice we want to promote".
   But weeks after taking over as new head, Mrs McVittie, 53, has ditched the plan, which was costing the school a fortune.
   The lessons have dismally failed to improve results, and staff feared that the segregated system could lead to racial tensions. Scots-born Mrs McVittie insisted the system was harmful to integration and threatened to damage the prospects of those children taking part.
TURN TO PAGE 2
‘It is critical English is used’
   Mrs McVittie, who was head-hunted to improve performance at the school in January, said the lessons would not help young people whose future will be spent living and working in Britain.
   She told the Express: "It is absolutely critical that young people should communicate in English at school. Many of them may not be speaking English at home, but many of them were born in London. They all live in London and they will work here.
   "We need to give them the ability and the capacity to communicate in English. When these young people leave school they will be going into a very competitive market.
   "It's important for them to be proud of their ethnic origin. I'm very proud to be a Scot. People would be struggling if I spoke to them in Gaelic and they would probably feel cut out and isolated by it.
   "You can't stop young people speaking in their own languages in the playground, but we try to encourage them to speak English as much as possible around the school.
   "It can create pockets of friction and exclusion if children are speaking a particular language and others can't understand them. It can create problems.
   "Whenever I pass children speaking in the corridor I ask them to speak English, and we held an assembly where it was stressed how important it was. The reaction of the children has been very positive. They just say, 'That's fine Miss'. It's been no problem at all."
   She added: "Some of the children are newly-arrived in Britain. They are very intelligent but may have had a very limited education.
   "We encourage a buddy system where a child who speaks the same language will escort a new student around the school for a few weeks.
   "It's amazing how well it works. Some children absolutely take off within six months.
   "You end up with a group of young people who are really skilled linguists. They are good at moving from their home languages into English. It's a real bonus."
   Politicians and education experts praised Mrs McVittie for abandoning the scheme.
   Nick Seaton of pressure group Campaign for Real Education said: "If youngsters are going to come and live in Britain then they need to have a good grasp of the English language."
   Douglas Carswell, a Conservative member of the education select committee, said: "It is totally irresponsible to try to teach children in anything other than English."
   [RECAPITULATION: The school had been praised by the Government for the controversial lessons ... END.]
   [COMMENT: Yes, it's the loony-left Blair government, which believes that banning foxhunting is more important than getting correct intelligence reports about Iraq. Yes, the government which is letting the health system fall apart, while falling behind in defence preparations yet waging war overseas! Yes, the cost of translating the texts and hiring interpreters or teachers who use Turkish must be high - but the group around Blair does not count the cost, nor foresee the social and even concrete costs in the future if they couldn't understand their future workmates or employers.
   The new headmistress knows that teaching science in Turkish has not improved results. Does that mean she actually tests the children? She is certainly not "politically correct." In the PC dreamland, all inequality is due to a faulty economic and social system, so every child passes every subject, even if they don't understand them! Decay of society is assured, because these theories have held sway for years.
   Thought-provoking question: Wouldn't Esperanto be more neutral? Not so silly question: What on earth are Turks and Somalis doing in England? Isn't London overcrowded already, and aren't there other countries with similar religions and ideologies for those families to go to? The rioters recently objecting to the 2005 cartoons about Mohammed held up placards saying "Europe is the cancer, Islam is the answer," while in other countries Islamic rioters were burning, threatening and even killing. Are Europeans to be excised? COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 28, 06]

• NHS baby units beds crisis puts infants in danger

  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  
   The International Express (Britain), West Australian edition, p 15, Tuesday, February 28, 2006
   LONDON: THOUSANDS of babies and mothers-to-be are being put at risk by shortages of staff and beds in NHS neonatal units.
   Nine in 10 of the units are routinely forced to send mothers in labour and vulnerable newborns to other hospitals because they are full, a survey reveals. [...]
   And with many neonatal units consistently operating at 100 per cent capacity, doctors claim that newborns' lives are being put at risk. [...]
   ... infants admitted when intensive care units are at full capacity have a 50 per cent greater chance of dying than babies admitted at only half capacity. [...]
   The survey ... was carried out by the Liberal Democrats ... a third being under orders from trust bosses to freeze the recruitment of staff. [...]
   [COMMENT: So, Britain can afford to drop bombs that might, as collateral damage of course, kill Afghan and Iraqi babies, but is not spending enought to provide for its own babies. And this is "New Labour", not "Old Thatcher." Remember, the British birthrate is probably so low now that the native Britons will be a minority in their own homeland inside 50 years. Failing to provide safe hospitals shows a decay in social morality. The people elect the politicians who fail to spend taxes fairly. The decay in other aspects of the population's morality can be exemplified by the figure of 42 per cent of babies in Britain during 2004 were born outside marriage, according to the same issue of the same paper. (See Religion / ReligChronology) . The Australian figure is said to be about 33%. COMMENT ENDS.] [Feb 28, 06]

• Overpopulation 'is main threat to planet' 

Overpopulation ‘is main threat to planet’

 
   SPA Newsletter, www.population.org.au of Sustainable Population Australia, Page One, No. 69, March 2006.
   Climate change and global pollution cannot be adequately tackled without addressing the neglected issue of the world's booming population, according to two leading scientists. Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, and Professor John Guillebaud, who have vented their frustration at the fact that overpopulation has fallen off the agenda of the many organisations dedicated to saving the planet. The scientists said dealing with the burgeoning human population of the planet was vital if real progress was to be made on the other enormous problems facing the world. "It is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about" Professor Guillebaud said. "Unless we reduce the human population humanely through family planning, nature will do it for us through violence, epidemics or starvation."
   "Although reducing human emissions to the atmosphere is undoubtedly of critical importance, as are any and all measures to reduce the human environmental 'footprint', the truth is that the contribution of each individual cannot be reduced to zero. Only the lack of the individual can bring it down to nothing," Professor Rapley says in an article for the BBC website. "So if we believe that the size of the human 'footprint' is a serious problem - and there is much evidence for this -then a rational view would be that along with a raft of measures to reduce the footprint per person, the issue of population management must be addressed."
   Professor Rapley says the explosive growth in the human population and the concomitant effects on the environment have been largely ignored by many of those concerned with climate change. "It is a bombshell of a topic, with profound and emotive issues of ethics, morality, equity and practicability," he says. "So controversial is the subject that it has become the Cinderella of the great sustainability debate - rarely visible in public, or even in private.
   "In interdisciplinary environmental meetings, demographers and population specialists are notable by their absence," Professor Guillebaud said. "It became politically incorrect about 25 years ago to bring up family planning in discussing environmental problems." World population needed to be reduced by nearly two-thirds if climate change was to be prevented and everyone on the planet was to enjoy a lifestyle similar to that of Europeans, Professor Guillebaud said.
   "The figures demonstrate the folly of concentrating exclusively on lifestyles and technology and ignoring human numbers in our attempts to combat global warming," he said. "We need to think about climate changers - human beings and their numbers - as well as climate change." Some environmentalists have argued that is not human numbers that are important, but the relative use of natural resources and production of waste. They have suggested that the planet can sustain a population of nine billion or even more provided that everyone adopts a less energy-intensive lifestyle. But Professor Guillebaud said: "We urgently need to stabilise and reduce human numbers. There is no way that a population of nine billion - the UN's medium forecast for 2050 - can meet its energy needs without unacceptable damage to the planet and a great deal of human misery."
www.prison planet.com/ articles/january 2006/070106 overpopulation.htm [March 2006]
• [Cables start to break down Coalition wheat bribery denials.] 

I knew of Iraq rort claims: Downer

 
   The West Australian, by BEN MARTIN, Page One, Wednesday, March 1, 2006
SYDNEY: The Howard Government has admitted receiving secret warnings that AWB was paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein and instructions on how to investigate and uncover the rorts.
   But it failed to stop the sanction-busting deal under which AWB paid almost $300 million to Saddam at the same time Australia was planning to oust the dictator.
   The warnings were revealed in four diplomatic cables released yesterday by the Cole inquiry into the kickbacks scandal.
   It was also revealed yesterday that the Government's million-dollar man - former AWB chairman Trevor Flugge - was paid a $100,000 annual retainer plus $2500 a day by the AWB for consultancy work after leaving the wheat exporter.
   Mr Flugge remained vague about what he knew of the rorts, blaming his poor memory and poor attention to detail for his inability to help.
   The four previously secret cables sent between January and March 2000 show Mr Flugge was told AWB was paying kickbacks.
   They provide the earliest known documentation of how the kickback arrangement worked, detailing the mechanism by which Iraq and AWB rorted money from a United Nations account.
   They give Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials specific instructions on where to look to find proof of the rorts, warn that AWB would be unlikely to co-operate and suggest it be pressured to open its books.
   The cables contain three separate recommendations that Trade Minister Mark Vaile be told about the serious allegations.
   But it was Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer who admitted yesterday he read the cables and was satisfied with his department's actions.
   The department, which is yet to give evidence to the inquiry, is understood to have investigated the allegations and wrongly concluded they were unfounded.
   The Government managed to evade flak over a previously released department cable about bribes ...
Continued on page 8

Flugge's $1 million windfall was tax free
The cables explained
More failing memories

   [COMMENT: Come on, nobody expects Australia to pay the costs of transporting wheat INSIDE another country, especially not in an oil-producing country like Iraq. Everyone who heard of such a deal knew it was fishy. Mr Alexander Downer, Mr Mark Vaile, and some of their ministerial colleagues and the officials ought to do the honest thing, and resign, awaiting trial under Australian law. COMMENT ENDS.] [Mar 1, 06]

• ['WA Inc' ex-politician Graham Burkett imprisoned for bribery] 

Shamed former MP jailed for graft

 
   The West Australian, by ROY GIBSON, p 12, Wednesday, March 1, 2006
  [Picture] Disgraced: Former Labor MP Graham Burkett arrives at the District Court to be sentenced yesterday.  Picture: Barry Baker  
Graham Burkett will spend at least seven months behind bars after a District Court judge ruled yesterday that the former Labor MP had breached the trust placed in him by the public by using his considerable influence for monetary gain.
   Calling the 69-year-old one-time local government councillor and ministerial chief-of-staff's behaviour reprehensible, Judge Michael Muller said: "You breached a position of trust for your own selfish ends."
   The judge rejected a defence suggestion that Burkett, of City Beach, should get a suspended sentence, instead imposing an immediate jail term of 14 months. He is likely to serve seven months before being eligible for parole.
   The sentence left many of Burkett's family in tears. But Burkett seemed calm after saying earlier he was prepared for the worst.
   Burkett pleaded guilty last month to four charges of corruption relating to his work in 2004 as chief-of-staff to the Minister for Housing and Works; and three charges of failing to disclose $10,000 in gifts and failing to declare an interest in matters before the Town of Cambridge while serving as a councillor.
   The former banker was elected to Stirling City Council in the 1970s, later becoming mayor, and was MP for Scarborough from 1983-89. He resigned as a Cambridge councillor last year when the Corruption and Crime Commission exposed him.
   The corruption charges covered a period in 2004 when a company called Land Alliance paid $11,000 for Burkett's assistance with the licensing of two child-care centres. The company also paid $1000 to expedite the rezoning of a child-care centre and $2200 to hurry through the lifting of a caveat on a property.
   Judge Muller said that one point common to the charges was Burkett's dishonest misuse of his position to benefit a company with which he had a close business association without disclosing that association to the government department or local government he sought to influence.
   "The repetition of the corrupt act shows it has become part of the way you are prepared to conduct yourself to benefit yourself and Land Alliance," Judge Muller said.
   "By your conduct, you sent a clear message to Land Alliance you were prepared to peddle your considerable influence for monetary gain. As chief-of-staff to a government minister, you had a position of high responsibility and were in a position to wield considerable influence." # [Mar 1, 06]
• [Group dislike, teachings, make Iraq unlikely to settle, whether under occupation or not.]  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

Red Lines Crisscross Iraq's Political Landscape

 
   Power and Interest News Report (PINR) http://www. pinr.com , Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, March 01, 2006
   With the bombing and destruction on February 22 of the al-Askari shrine - one of the holiest sites of Shi'a Islam - and the nearly immediate retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques throughout Iraq, the military phase of the struggle over the country's political future overwhelmed and derailed its political dynamics, as the Sunni Arab bloc in Iraq's new parliament - the National Accord Front (N.A.C.) - broke off its participation in negotiations over the composition of a government to replace the outgoing transitional administration. Although a cycle of sectarian violence, marked by killings on both sides, had been building and intensifying for months, the al-Askari bombing precipitated the first open admission by Iraq's fragmented political class that the country was entering the condition of full-scale civil war.
   As PINR has consistently projected for more than two years, the deep conflicts of interest between the three major ethnic-religious groups - Shi'a Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds - would reach a critical point when the time came for the country's political forces to negotiate a permanent settlement of their differences or to move toward separation. That moment arrived with the December 15, 2005 elections for a four-year parliament, which forced the political class to confront its stark divisions in the context of having to form a government. [See: "Iraq's Election Aftermath Reveals a Failed State" http://pinr. com/ report.php? ac=view_report& report_id=420 ]
   As negotiations for a government proceeded from late December into February, it became clear that an agreement on its composition would prove to be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Each player in the process was compelled to clarify its demands, revealing profound and - according to the players - irreconcilable conflicts. Rather than signifying an interruption of the political process, the al-Askari bombing and its aftermath vividly symbolize the failure of that process.
   Behind the violence, which justifiably occupies the attention of the media and decision makers in the short term, are the persistent interests that surfaced in the negotiations as a series of non-negotiable demands by each side against the others. The phrase that dominated public discussion of the bargaining process in Iraq was "red line," meaning a limit beyond which a player would not go in making concessions to its adversaries. Rather than seeking compromise, the players engaged in drawing a crazy quilt of red lines, resulting in deadlock.
   A sign as telling as the al-Askari bombing that the political process had broken down was the decision on February 20, 2006 by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to go public with a threat to cut off aid to Iraq's security forces if the Iraqi political class did not agree to form a "national unity government" in which each sectarian and ethnic bloc had a share in power and subsumed its militia under a national army and police force.
   Asserting that the U.S. is "not going to invest the resources of the American people and build forces that are run by people who are sectarian," Khalilzad abandoned the behind-the-scenes diplomacy that had been his trademark in favor of blunt external pressure that had little credibility - an admission of frustration. As the players proceeded on a collision course, Washington's influence over the negotiations steadily diminished to the point at which it has become a bystander reduced to issuing warnings from the sidelines.
Red Lines Proliferate
   The stage was set for deadlock on February 11, when the Shi'a bloc - the United Iraqi Alliance (U.I.A.) - which has the largest number of seats in the new parliament voted 64-63 to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the transitional prime minister, as its choice for prime minister in the permanent government. The largest bloc in the new parliament, holding 130 of its 275 seats against the Sunni N.A.F.'s 55, the Kurdish Alliance's (K.A.) 53 and the secular Iraqi National List's (I.N.L.) 25, the U.I.A. has been beset by internal conflicts between its component factions that are reflected in al-Jaafari's razor-thin margin of victory.
   Al-Jaafari, who represents the Dawa Party, achieved his win with the support of anti-occupation cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose faction controls 30 of the U.I.A.'s seats. Al-Sadr's backing of al-Jaafari was based on his opposition to Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the candidate of the U.I.A.'s largest faction, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (S.C.I.R.I.). Although the preponderance of the components of the U.I.A. are based in Shi'a clerical families, those families and their followers are divided by longstanding rivalries. The winning coalition of Dawa and the Sadrists came at the price of honoring S.C.I.R.I.'s red line that it be awarded control of the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of internal security and - under the transitional government - has been in S.C.I.R.I.'s hands and has been held responsible by Sunnis for sectarian attacks on their community.
   In response to the prospect of continued S.C.I.R.I. control over the power ministries - interior and defense - N.A.F. leader Adnan al-Dulaimi drew his own red line, insisting that those portfolios be given to figures who are not identified with the Shi'a clerical establishment. Al-Dulaimi's demand was met by the leader of S.C.I.R.I.'s militia, the Badr Brigade, with the assertion that S.C.I.R.I. "will not relinquish the security portfolios."
   Building on their deadlock over the power ministries, the U.I.A. and the N.A.F. drew red lines on an array of other issues. The U.I.A. insisted that the N.A.F. condemn "terrorism" and actively oppose the Sunni-led insurgency, to which the N.A.F. replied that the U.I.A. must distinguish between terrorism against civilians and legitimate resistance against what they consider the U.S.-led occupation. The N.A.F. demanded an end to the purge of ex-Ba'ath Party members from public life, which the U.I.A. rejected. Most importantly, the N.A.F. demanded that Iraq's current constitution be modified to restrict regional self-rule and the U.I.A. insisted that the Shi'a-dominated south, with its vast oil resources, move to regularize its substantial autonomy, leaving Sunni Arabs in fear that the resource-poor center and west of Iraq, where they are concentrated, will be impoverished.
   Reinforcing the Sunni-Shi'a deadlock at the level of the political class is Sunni public opinion. A survey conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and reported in the Washington Times on February 1 found that only five percent of Sunni Arabs approved of the December 15, 2005 elections, 92 percent thought that the new government was illegitimate, and 88 percent approved of attacks on U.S. forces. Sunni Arab participation in the political process, which Washington believed would integrate the Sunni community into a nation-building project, has not had the desired effect, but has only worked to reveal the latent political confrontation.
   A little-noticed study conducted by Iraq's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and released in late January shows some of the reasons for persisting Sunni Arab disaffection. The study reported that the poverty level in Iraq has increased by 30 percent since April 2003, reaching 20 percent of the population. Two million Iraqis are having difficulty finding sufficient food and shelter, and live with an income of less than US$2 per day. The report attributed rising poverty to the "shutdown of the public sector," lack of access to education, and violence, all of which differentially affect the Sunni Arab population.
   Under the pressure of deteriorating living conditions and the resultant disaffection of public opinion from a Shi'a-Kurd dominated political process, the Sunni leadership is constrained to take a hard line, as its opponents mobilize to maintain their present advantages and accelerate their drive toward regional autonomy. As the Sunnis press their demands, the Shi'a and the Kurds dig in and resist making any concessions.
   Although the seemingly intractable conflict between Sunni and Shi'a Arabs gained the greatest attention during the negotiations, the third player in the struggle over Iraq's future - the Kurds - began to assert their own demands more forcefully and drew their own red lines. Already running the oil-rich northern provinces as a mini-state, the Kurdish Alliance, composed of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (P.D.K.) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.), had allied with the U.I.A. forces in the transitional government, but had become dissatisfied with the treatment they had received and were ready to act more independently in furthering their interests.
   The central interests of the Kurds are to maintain their effective independence and to gain control of Kirkuk and its surrounding region, which has large energy reserves and had been split off from the Kurdish provinces under Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. The Kurds complain that the transitional government, in which the Shi'a had the preponderant influence, did not facilitate the resettlement of Kurds who had been displaced from Kirkuk under Ba'athist rule, and that it failed to put into effect provisions of the Iraqi constitution and its subsidiary Law of Administration that require a census in and a referendum on the status of Kirkuk. Already in late January 2006, Governor of Kirkuk Abd al-Rahman Mustafa had threatened to suspend oil exports to the rest of Iraq if the central government did not allocate funds for taking the census and holding the referendum.
   The status of Kirkuk became an explicit "red line issue" when President of the "Kurdistan Region" Masoud Barzani declared in mid-February that the situation would have to be resolved constitutionally by the end of 2007. Accession of Kirkuk to the Kurdish mini-state is as threatening to the Sunnis economically as the normalization of a Shi'a autonomous region would be, and has the added problem that the city is multi-ethnic, with Arab, Turkomen and Christian minorities that are resistant to Kurdish hegemony.
   Barzani also drew a red line, as would be expected, around preservation of constitutional provisions guaranteeing regional autonomy. In a break with the Kurdish-Shi'a alliance, Barzani reported that in his negotiations with the U.I.A. he had insisted that the secular bloc led by former provisional Prime Minister Ayad Allawi be included in a national unity government along with the U.I.A., the N.A.F. and the K.A., which was a deal breaker for the U.I.A. due to al-Sadr's rejection of any collaboration with Allawi, who ordered the suppression of al-Sadr's rebellion against the occupation in 2004.
   Finally, Barzani demanded that the arrangement in the transitional government whereby a Kurd receives the presidency be maintained and insisted that the constitution be changed to grant the president greater powers at the expense of the prime minister. In his most revealing comment in a February 10 interview with al-Arabiya television, Barzani said that Kurdistan would secede from Iraq if a Sunni-Shi'a civil war broke out and forthrightly declared that the Kurds had a right to their own independent state, although "we are aware of the international and internal circumstances" standing in the way of one.
   It was in the face of the collapsing Iraqi political process that Khalilzad delivered his threat of an aid cut-off. He had preceded his public announcement by publishing an opinion column - "Blueprint for a National Government" - in which he laid out Washington's own red line - a national unity government. Recognizing that marginalization and isolation of the Sunni Arabs is at the core of the deadlock, Khalilzad made a scarcely veiled demand that the Kurds and the Shi'a concede to Sunni demands.
   Using hard rhetoric, Khalilzad wrote that Iraqi leaders "must" give "political minorities confidence that the majority will share power and take their legitimate concerns into account." Specifically, Khalilzad went on, the government "must" disband factional militias and the Defense and Interior Ministries have to be staffed "on the basis of competence, not ethnic or sectarian background." He warned that the Sunni-led insurgency would only be curbed if regional powers are not "allowed to dominate Iraq" and de-Ba'athification is limited to "high-ranking officials, integrating all those who did not commit crimes into mainstream society." On the root issue of regional autonomy, Khalilzad was direct: "Iraqi leaders must strike agreements that will win greater Sunni Arab support and create a near-consensus in favor of the constitution."
   Having incorporated the entire Sunni position into his list of demands, Khalilzad's blueprint met with a predictable rejectionist response from the Shi'a and Kurds who accused him of violating Iraqi sovereignty and going back on U.S. policy by attempting to dictate a resolution of the conflict. In a telling and scathing paragraph-by-paragraph critique of Khalilzad's essay, Kurdish analyst Dr. Rebwar Fatah concluded: "Khalilzad's blueprint for Iraqi national unity will be as successful as the British Iraq. The difference is that in the early 20th century, imposing superficial nation-states over ethnic and religious groups was possible by bloodshed, but in the 21st century, the mission of Iraqi national unity shall remain a myth."
Conclusion
   The moment of reckoning has arrived in post-Ba'athist Iraq and none of the major players shows a trace of the will to compromise that would be necessary to construct a genuine nation-state, in which diverse social groups have an overriding commitment to live together.
   Even if civil war is averted in the short term and a government is formed, that government will not be a genuine national-unity administration, but an arena of conflict between contending power groups. In one of the most astute observations on the situation by an Iraqi politician, Abdul-Mahdi - the S.C.I.R.I.-backed candidate in the U.I.A.'s election for the prospective prime minister - shrugged off his loss, saying that any new government would not be popular and would not be likely to serve out a four-year term.
   A weak central government, which seems to be inevitable, will be starved for funds and will have trouble enforcing security given the preponderant slide toward confederal regionalism. Ministerial portfolios will be allocated according to ethnic-religious groups, and ministries will tend to coalesce into self-enclosed fiefdoms - as they already have in the transitional government - that effectively resist coordinated direction from high political officials. With each major bloc demanding positions with real power, there will not be enough to go around and dissatisfaction will build among those who feel they have been slighted.
   Most importantly, the red lines that the contending players have drawn are not preliminary negotiating positions, but reflect deeply embedded perceptions of vital interests that are resistant to reconciliation.
   Washington has neither the trust nor the credibility nor the resources to impose its blueprint and will have to watch its efforts unravel. Fatah, the Kurdish analyst, perceptively observed that "the frustration that Khalilzad demonstrates in his article could be interpreted as some degree of a resignation." Increasingly resigned to the collapse of all its plans for Iraq, Washington has been placed in a no-win situation. It has no prospect of a graceful exit and seems fated to preside helplessly over Iraq's disintegration.
   (By courtesy of The Power and Interest News Report (PINR), which is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com. )
   [RECAPITULATION: A survey conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and reported in the Washington Times on February 1 found that only five percent of Sunni Arabs approved of the December 15, 2005 elections, 92 percent thought that the new government was illegitimate, and 88 percent approved of attacks on U.S. forces. RECAP. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: Well, those figures don't tie in with reports of high voter turnout. The reality is that it would be almost impossible to carry out a proper "random survey" in a country where lawlessness is everywhere, and many people would be frightened to give their true opinions. However, the ideology taught to Iraqis is that a theocracy ought to be set up, not a human government! COMMENT ENDS.]
   [GUIDELINE: 3:73 (or 66):- And believe no one unless he follows your Religion. Say: "True guidance is the Guidance of God" www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ quran/003. qmt.html #003.073
   33:48 (or 47):- And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and heed not their annoyances, but put thy Trust in God. For enough is God as a Disposer of affairs. www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/quran/ 033.qmt.html #033.048 .
   49:1:- O Believers! enter not upon any affair ere God and His Apostle permit you ...
   58:22:- You shall not find a people who believe in God and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to God and His Apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk
   66:2:- God hath allowed you release from your oaths. ... GUIDELINE ENDS.] [Mar 01, 06]

• D'Orazio super rip-off: He's lying, say staff  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

D’Orazio super rip-off: He’s lying, say staff

 
But Premier stands by his man, saying he believes it was all just an unfortunate mistake
   The West Australian, by GARY ADSHEAD, EXCLUSIVE, Page One, Friday, March 10, 2006
   PERTH (W.A.): The man who managed Police and Justice Minister John D'Orazio's Morley pharmacy yesterday directly contradicted the Minister's statement to Parliament about his superannuation debts, insisting he told Mr D'Orazio several months before November 2005 that staff were complaining about unpaid employer contributions.
   Mr D'Orazio told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday night that he only became "clearly aware" that staff had not received their superannuation contributions when he was selling the pharmacy in November last year.
   But Saul Sacht told The West Australian yesterday that staff complained to him before May last year about Mr D'Orazio's failure to pay their superannuation entitlements.
   "The girls, ages ago, had spoken about their super funds," Mr Sacht " said. "I mentioned to John that nothing had gone into the girls' super funds and he told me that the superannuation had all been paid. This was ages ago."
   Mr Sacht said he recalled raising the staff's concerns with Mr D'Orazio well before May 2005, which was when at least two complaints about unpaid superannuation were lodged by pharmacy assistants with the Australian Taxation Office.
  [Picture] Head to head: Hayley Sherratt and Stacy Weatherley dispute John D'Orazio's version of events over the superannuation payments affair.  Pictures: lain Gillespie/Greg Burke  
   "It was once when I spoke to John and he said it had all been taken care of," Mr Sacht repeated. "John told me it had all been paid up. I didn't handle the superannuation, he does all the pay."
   Former employee Hayley Sherratt said she had approached Mr D'Orazio before May 2005 about her superannuation. "I know for a fact that I approached him so if he can lie about it between his teeth then so be it," she said. Mr D'Orazio said he could not remember the conversation.
   "I don't remember that conversation, but I don't want to say it did or didn't happen," he said. Alan Carpenter said different versions of one event did not necessarily mean one person was lying. "I'm not saying that that young woman is lying," he said.
   The West Australian has also obtained a copy of a superannuation document and an attached note sent to Mr D'Orazio in August 2005 by a pharmacist he employed. It reads: "Dear John, please pay my super into the above fund. It has been overdue since March."
   Mr D'Orazio said he was unaware of the document when The West Australian showed it to him yesterday. But a copy of a cheque signed by Mr D'Orazio on October 6 last year, which has also been obtained by The West Australian, proves the Minister acted on the pharmacist's complaint - but paid her just $58.05.
   Since then the pharmacist, who asked to remain anonymous, has lodged a complaint with the ATO claiming she is still owed hundreds of dollars by the Minister's former business.
   Other former staff have told The West Australian they received little or no superannuation contributions during their time at Mr D'Orazio's Galleria shopping centre pharmacy and complained about it.
   One pharmacist recalled speaking to Mr D'Orazio with other staff before November last year: "We all caught him downstairs from the pharmacy and he said it's on its way."
THE SUPER AFFAIR 10, 11
   [COMMENT: Although the Government of the State of Western Australia calls itself a Labor Government, organised labour unions ought to be able to see that it is not defending the rights of working people to have their superannuation payments paid correctly. There were other newsitems on the subject. ENDS.]
   [FOLLOW-UP: After being exposed in May for driving without paying two speeding fines, and thus automatically losing his driver's licence, but still driving, Mr D'Orazio was removed from the position of Minister for Police and Justice. The West Australian of May 9, 2006 asked "Why won't the Premier just sack this man?" www.thewest. com.au/2006 0509/news/ general/tw- news-general- home-sto 134119.html , By GRAHAM MASON and BEN SPENCER. Far from being dismissed, Mr D'Orazio resigned from Cabinet, according to a page one lead in The West Australian, "D'Orazio forced to go as MPs voice disgust," By GRAHAM MASON and JESSICA STRUTT, Wednesday, May 10, 2006, pp 1, 6, 7. ENDS.] [Mar 10, 06]

• Migrant workers flooding into WA  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

Migrant workers flooding into WA

 
   The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au/200603 16/news/gen eral/tw-news- general-home- sto133694.html ; by KIM MACDONALD, Page One, Thursday, March 16, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: More than 1000 migrants are flooding into WA each week on temporary working visas under a booming skilled immigration program which unions claim is creating a slave trade that will lower wages and standards.
   The startling figures, based on statistics provided by the Department of Immigration, prompted Australia's foremost immigration expert Bob Kinnaird to demand that authorities fix the temporary work visa system, which he warned was used as a de facto means of securing permanent residency.
   Mr Kinnaird said some of the skilled migrants, most of whom were tradesmen, accepted very low pay in the hope of being sponsored by their employer for permanent residency when their four-year visa expired.
   He also warned that authorities, who are desperate to help fill the skills shortage, sometimes issued the subclass visas, known as 457 visas, to poorly qualified tradesmen.
   Figures supplied by the Department of Immigration show 5323 migrants were issued temporary working visas for WA between July 1 and December 31, 2005. Each visa holder can bring his or her family.
   Mr Kinnaird backed calls from the ACTU and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union for better policing of the wages and entry requirements in a bid to stop the trend undermining local wages and standards.
   "(Immigration Minister Amanda) Vanstone is very proud that most 457 visa holders go on to get permanent residency," Mr Kinnaird said. "She is justified to the extent that it is a good thing to be doing, but only if there is a strong 457 visa system in place which does not allow migrants to undermine Australian rates and working conditions in the hope of getting permanent residency."
   Mr Kinnaird said the Immigration Department had a duty to reveal how many 457 migrants remained in Australia, both legally and illegally, when the visa expired. The department yesterday said these figures were not readily available.
   Mr Kinnaird said failure to be open and accountable about the program created a strong risk that Australians would develop a similar attitude to people in Britain and the US, where guest workers were treated with suspicion.
   AMWU secretary Jock Ferguson accused authorities of allowing a "slave trade", with evidence some Korean welders were being underpaid by up to $800 a week.
   Allegations that some migrant workers are being exploited by unscrupulous WA employers is being investigated nationally and internationally.
   An Immigration Department spokesman denied there were any problems with the program, claiming entry was strictly controlled and site visits ensured workers were paid the agreed salary.
   "Department of Immigration officers process all applications in accordance with regulations. The department monitors all business sponsors to check that they are complying with their undertakings, including visits to approximately 25 per cent of workplaces," the spokesman said.
> SCHOOLS STRAIN 12
   [COMMENT: Work it out. The Establishment tells the public there is a skills shortage, including in the building and construction industry. 1000 additional people a week will need, if housed at Australian standards, about 175 to 200 houses or flats. This accommodation will have to be built. Where are the tradesmen (and women) to build them? Oh dear! We have a skills shortage! Let us accelerate the temporary visa programme! And, oh dear again! We have a housing / water / infrastructure shortage! And so on, ad infinitum. COMMENT ENDS.] [Mar 16, 06]

• Foreign kids put huge load on WA schools 

Foreign kids put huge load on WA schools

 
   The West Australian, by BETHANY HIATT, p 12, Thursday, March 16, 2006
   PERTH (Western Australia): Schools are under increasing pressure from the surge of non-English speaking children who are accompanying their parents to WA on working visas, Education and Training Department director-general Paul Albert warned yesterday.
   Children who arrive under visa category 457 - a temporary long-term stay visa that allows their families to live in Australia for four years - do not receive the same level of English teaching tuition and support as children of permanent immigrants.
   Mr Albert said there were usually about 50 children in WA on the 457 visa, which was manageable, but this year that had leapt to 200 and projections showed that more than 1000 such children would enrol in local schools over the next two years.
   The department had been forced to put on five extra teachers of English as a second language this year.
   "This will have an impact on our schools," Mr Albert said.
   "At the moment it's manageable but from the projections I've seen it will put more pressure on schools and we need to make sure it's properly resourced.
   "Our fear is that numbers will rise. We understand that WA will probably get another 6000 of these immigrants over the next three years."
   He said that would translate to about 1000 children, with half from English-speaking countries and the rest from India, the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Korea.
   It is understood that more than 20 Vietnamese students recently enrolled at Coolbellup Community School.
   Mr Albert said Jhe problem would affect all States, not just WA.
   The Federal Government would have to increase its funding to provide more specialist teachers and English teaching resources and improve its communication. He said he raised the issue at a meeting of directors-general.
   Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said she would push the Federal Government to provide adequate resources at a ministerial meeting in May.
   Federal Education Minister and Acting Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said WA had not yet approached her department.
  [Picture] Paul Albert: Expecting 1000 non-English-speaking schoolchildren to enrol in two years. # [Mar 16, 06]
• Perth firm probed over migrant workers racket  t-weight:bold; ">Perth firm probed over migrant workers racket 
   The West Australian, by KIM MACDONALD, p 12, Thursday, March 16, 2006
   PERTH: National and international investigations are under way into claims that an unscrupulous Perth employer is unlawfully using skilled migrants from Korea as cheap labour.
   An investigation into the employer by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea this week coincides with a one-hour documentary on the problem which aired on Seoul Broadcasting System last night.
   The documentary was based partly on claims first revealed in The West Australian that migrant workers in manufacturing industry were getting paid hundreds of dolkrs less than their Australian counterparts.
   The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union claims that although only one employer was being investigated by the Korean agency, it knew of up to seven local employers exploiting up to 200 Asian workers.
   "It is meant to be skilled migration but it has become skilled exploitation," union secretary Jock Ferguson said. "These people have come here to help us with the skills shortage and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity."
   The Korean Embassy in Canberra said it would take action to protect the expatriate workers if the allegations were found to be true.
  ‘'It was meant to be skilled migration... it is skilled exploitation.'’  
  AMWU SECRETARY JOCK FERGUSON  
   The West Australian spoke to four of the aggrieved Korean workers yesterday through an interpreter. Some claimed they were promised up to $75,000 a year to work five dayshifts weekly. In the past year they have earned less than $45,000 to work permanent nightshift. Mr Ferguson estimates they had been underpaid up to $800 a week.
   The Immigration Department is investigating several Perth employers accused of exploiting skilled migrants. # [Mar 16, 06]
• AIDS fear over skilled migrants 

AIDS fear over skilled migrants

 
   The West Australian, by KIM MACDONALD, Page One, Monday, March 20, 2006
   PERTH: The hundreds of skilled migrants moving to WA each week on temporary work visas are not being screened for deadly illnesses including HIV, although many come from AIDS hotspots in Asia and Africa.
   The revelation has sparked a call from the Public Health Association of Australia for compulsory HIV testing of the migrant workers and their families to prevent victims unwittingly passing on the virus after arriving in Australia.
   Executive director Pieta Laut said testing would help victims better manage their illness during their stay of up to four years and help maintain national public health standards.
   India and southern Africa, the second and fourth biggest pools of temporary skilled migrants to Australia, have the highest number of HIV sufferers in the world.
   Immigration Department figures show that from July to December last year, 204 skilled migrants entered WA on temporary work visas each week.
   They are allowed to bring their families with them, meaning the total number of arrivals could be as many as 1000 a week.
   Temporary visa holders and their families are sometimes tested for tuberculosis, depending on their country of origin.
   They are not tested for HIV unless they do "blood-prone" jobs, such as those who work in health areas.
   Permanent migrants are tested for both diseases.
   Ms Laut said she would not support a regime which locked out migrants with the deadly disease, claiming she wanted compulsory testing only to ensure transparency and appropriate care.
   "We are not looking at this purely in a restrictive sense, but more in how we can maintain higher levels of public health," Ms Laut said.
   "HTV is communicable but it can be modified very readily."
   But the State's foremost public health expert, Professor Charles Watson, a WA member of the PHA, said testing for HIV, which would cost $10 to $50 for each person, was not a sensible use of resources.
   "In real terms the risk is just not a significant one. Australia is more at risk from its own travellers returning from overseas than from migrant workers," said Professor Watson, Curtin University's executive dean of health services.
   WA AIDS Council executive director Trish Langdon warned testing for HIV could be unfair on migrants wanting to make a better life for their families in Australia.
   Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the decision not to test temporary migrants for HIV was based on advice from the Department of Health and Ageing.
   [RECAPITULATION: ... arrivals could be as many as 1000 a week ... RECAP. ENDS.]
   [COMMENT: That's just ONE of the Australian States. And not a referendum in sight! COMMENT ENDS.] [Mar 20, 06]

• Is America facing an economic disaster? Interview With America's Auditor -in-Chief, David Walker

 
   British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC - HARDTALK , http:// information clearinghouse. info/article 12542.htm , March 29, 2006
   The richest, most powerful nation on earth faces a fiscal "tsunami" which threatens to overwhelm Government and citizens alike. Who says so? America's auditor in chief, David Walker, whose job it is to oversee all Federal spending. He's pleading with US politicians and taxpayers to face up to the harsh economic realities that come with an ageing population and spiralling budget deficits. But is economic disaster really so close at hand? http:// information clearinghouse. info/article 12542.htm [Mar 29, 06]

• [Electoral fraud to be more difficult]

  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
   Federal Parliament, March 30, 2006
   CANBERRA: Federal Parliament is debating changes to the Electoral Act which, among other things, will cut down the ability of political manipulators to make false enrolments of non-existent "persons" between the time an election is called and the roll is closed.
   (The method has been to vote in these bogus names, because the Electoral Office staff does not have time in a few days to sort out the bogus from the genuine enrolments.
   (Later the manipulators then quietly go off the electoral roll. There is almost no way that anyone could detect who does this.
   (A speaker mentioned the Shepherdson Inquiry in Queensland, which uncovered such electoral frauding, and led to some Labor Party people being punished by the courts.) [Mar 30, 06]

• [Censorship without court or parliament.]

 
   Reporters Without Borders - Australia, "PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE HAS SPOOF WEBSITE CLOSED DOWN," www.rsf.org/ article.php3? id_article=15919 , March 30, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: Reporters Without Borders voiced shock today at the methods used by the office of Australian Prime Minister John Howard to censor parody website Johnhowardpm.org, on which political commentator Richard Neville posted a spoof speech by Howard about the presence of Australian troops in Iraq.
   The prime minister's office had the website closed down on 14 March by going to Melbourne IT, the company that administers its domain name.
   "All the world's leaders are subject to parody and the Australian prime minister should learn to live with it rather than banning it," Reporters Without Borders said. "And anyway, to close down a website, a court order should be required, not just an administrative decision. This type of censorship is unacceptable in democracy, in which website managers have the same rights as those who run traditional media."
   Aping the design of the prime minister's official website, the satirical johnhowardpm.org website carried spoof statements by Howard. A supposed fault in its registration with Melbourne IT was the grounds given for its closure. But Reporters Without Borders has verified that it was registered under the name of R. Neville and was therefore perfectly valid.
   Melbourne IT blocked the domain name in response to an e-mail request from a member of the prime minister's office. Johnhowardpm.org is now redirected to Neville's personal website on which the Iraq war spoof speech is available.
   Neville has not received any official notification of the site's closure. He angrily told Reporters Without Borders : "I think that closing down a website is like burning a newspaper, only it is done with a velvet glove. There would have been people in the street if a newspaper had been censored like this." Although the site was online for only 36 hours, it received more than 10,000 visits, he said.
   Reporters Without Borders has condemned other cases of pressure being put on domain name administrators to censor websites. Last December, the Kazakh government managed to strip British comedian Ali G. of the ability to use the .kz domain name for his website. See http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15919
   [COMMENT: The coming "fascism-nazism-communism" is obvious from this attack on free speech, and from it being made a finable offence when being asked to sign a workplace agreement to bring up any other request, even benefits under the previous award system, with the employer! COMMENT ENDS.] [Mar 30, 06]

• WTO Decision Endangers Australia's GM laws 

WTO Decision Endangers Australia’s GM laws

 
   Social Justice Monitor (Australia), News from Global Trade Watch, p 10, April 2006
A decision during February by the World Trade Organisation's Dispute Resolution panel has put in danger Australia's state laws regulating genetically modified (GM) foods
   The WTO has ruled that the "precautionary" moratoriums on GM crops in place in some European countries are illegal under the WTO's "Sanitary and Phytosanitary" (SPS) Agreement
   In 2004, the United States used the WTO to challenge the European Union's de-facto moratorium on GM crop imports. Last month, the WTO disputes panel finally produced an interim ruling, which, while dismissing most at the US's claims against the EU, found that some elements of European GM laws and regulations were "illegal".
   The WTO panel - made up of three trade lawyers meeting in total secrecy - ruled that bans on GM crops in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg were illegal as a result of the EU's obligations under the SPS Agreement. While the WTO ruling did not disallow import bans altogether, it did rule that such bans must be based on a scientific risk assessment.
   Almost every Australian state has a moratorium on some GM crops, put in place because of remaining uncertainties about how safe they are for people and the environment. Australia's bans on GM foods are based on the "Precautionary Principle" - the idea that communities should not proceed with new technologies until they know how dangerous they might be - that is, before there is complete evidence one way or the other.
   But the WTO ruling turns the precautionary principle on its head, making it illegal for governments to ban the development of a GM crop unless they have conclusive risk assessments which demonstrate the dangers of the crop 'before' it is banned.
   Although the GM bans are state-based, under WTO rules the federal government has responsibility for enforcing WTO decisions affected state or local governments. For instance, the WTO can rule against laws [of] Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg, even though it's only the EU - the umbrella body for these countries - that is a signatory to WTO rules.
   The WTO ruling gives the US ammunition to challenge Australia's state-based GM moratoriums at the WTO. Following the ruling, US officials said the finding against the EU "sends an important warning to other parts of the world - particularly nations in Africa and Asia - against following the European lead in throwing up bans or partial bans against genetically modified crops"
   Australians will now have to wait and see whether the WTO - an unelected, unaccountable body, which meets in secret and keeps almost no records of what is discussed in its meetings - will provide a forum for US corporations to force changes to Australia's GM laws.
   If you'd like more information about the WTO's ruling, you can download a detailed briefing on it from Friends of the Earth here: Global Trade Watch, PO Box 6014, Collingwood North, VIC 3066, Tel: 03 9853 3228
   - Social Justice Monitor, PO Box 73, Mt Gravatt, Qld, 4122, Australia, happijon@ optusnet. com.au . [Apr 2006 issue]

  TAKE ACTION! Ban the Terminator!  


   Social Justice Monitor (Australia), p 10, April 2006
Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile. They have been developed by the multinational seed/agrochemical industry and the United States government to prevent farmers from saving and re-planting harvested seed.
   Terminator has been universally condemned because of its serious potential impacts for farmers, indigenous peoples, food security and biodiversity. The technology has no benefits for farmers. Instead, it is designed to transfer wealth from farmers to large agribusiness by preventing farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed.
   Terminator has not yet been commercialized or field-tested but tests are currently being conducted in greenhouses in the United States. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently has a de facto moratorium on field testing and commercial use of Terminator (officially known as Genetic Use Restriction Technologies - or GURTs).
   But the de facto moratorium on Terminator technology is under threat due to the lobbying by the Australian Government. From 20th-31st March 2006, the Terminator moratorium will be up for discussion at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Brazil. In the lead up meetings, the Australian delegation played an aggressive role lobbying to undermine the defacto ban on Terminator.
   Now is the time to send a clear signal to the Australian Agriculture Minister that Australians support a ban on Terminator Technology. Send an e-mail to Peter McGauran, Australia's agriculture minister, asking him to Ban the Terminator: www.ban terminator. org/take_action/ national_ campaigns/ email_the_ australian_ government
   - Social Justice Monitor, PO Box 73, Mt Gravatt, Qld, 4122, Australia, happijon@ optusnet. com.au .
   Copy distributed for Western Australian May Day march, Sunday, May 7, 2006, by StopMAI Coalition, , 9/34 Waterloo Street, Joondanna WA 6060, D.Giles@ murdoch. edu.au
[Apr 2006 issue]

Not anti-capitalist

 
   News Weekly, www.news weekly. com.au, Melbourne (Victoria), Australia, Letter to the Editor, from Les Fern, Nightcliff, Northern Territory, p 18, April 1, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: I disagree with Greg Byrne's comments (News Weekly, March 18, 2006) on Peter Westmore's editorial, "Tide turns on global capitalism" (February 18, 2006).
   To criticise the ills of global capitalism does not therefore mean that News Weekly is "one of the most anti-capitalist publications in the country".
   I am a capitalist, but as a Christian I find it difficult to come to terms with the excesses of capitalism which cause so many problems in some of the poorer countries in the world. The editorial in question highlights this well.
   I also acknowledge and appreciate the many advantages of our free-market system which operates in a democratic society such as Australia.
   However, the late Pope John Paul II, speaking after the downfall of communism in Poland, warned that material consumerism was one of the main evils facing a secular society, and how right he was!
   My view is that News Weeky's editorial was merely a candid criticism of the downside of global capitalism, and I am thankful for being enlightened by it. [Apr 1, 06]

Kernot affair the start of the Democrats' rot

 
   News Weekly, www.news weekly. com.au, Melbourne, Australia, by John C. Massam, Greenwood, Western Australia, p 18, April 1, 2006
   AUSTRALIA: The decline of the Australian Democrats began when its leader Cheryl Kernot was a secret Labor Party supporter and was having a discreet love affair with a Labor Party minister. At the same time, Meg Lees was deputy leader.
   The Democrats' national executive, with the Kernot and Lees families having a number of votes, decided it had the power to override the members' referenda, and then expelled 13 members (10 loyalists and three anarchists) from the Western Australian division. The WA membership dropped from about 200 to about 50 after that.
   Kernot's alliance with Labor became public later. Later still, Lees and the other Democrat senators again defied the membership by voting for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
   In recent years, the rump managed to have a quarrel with the effective WA Democrat Senator Andrew Murray, who has been doing such good work on inquiries into the abuse of children in orphanages.
   It has amazed me that the Australian Democrat vote has held up as long as it has, until last week's pasting in the South Australian election.
   My sympathies to all former Democrat supporters who once believed that their party would honour its members' own referendum decision, but instead let them down. [Apr 1, 06]
• [Removal of Crown and Monarchy from W.A. laws was not put to referendum]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Western Australia, State flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn. 
   PERTH (Western Australia): for Supreme Court in Perth, April 6, 2006
PRESS RELEASE
PUBLIC NOTICE TO CONCERNED CITIZENS OF W.A.
This is part of the WA Constitution that is under question by Mr. Brian Shaw.
Brian Shaw v Bugg / Challenge Supreme Court of W.A, on Thursday April 6th, 2006 at 10.30am
Constitution Act 1889 WA
The following section (73) of the Constitution Act 1889 WA clearly shows that any Bill that effects Sections 2, 3, 4, 50, 51 and 73 Constitution Act 1889 WA is required by Section 73.2 (g) to be presented to the electorate (Referendum) prior to being given Assent in the name of the Queen, and that any Bill that contravenes this section shall be as no effect as an Act

Section 73.2 (g)
(g) the Bill has also prior to such presentation been approved by the electors in accordance with this section,

and a Bill assented to consequent upon its presentation in contravention of this subsection shall be of no effect as an Act.

The "Australia Acts Request Act 1985" and the "Australia Act 1986" both amended section 50 & 51 of the Constitution Act 1889 WA at section 14 of the named Acts,, this has never been put to the Electorate in accordance with section 73.2 (g), therefore is Ultra Vires
As it happens Mr. McGinty unlawfully removed references to the Monarch / Crown replacing them with the State by the "Acts Amendment and Repeal (Courts and Legal Practice) Act 2003 WA" without the consent of the Electorate
The above named Act was enacted on the 1st January 2004, as it follows any Act passed by parliament after such date is null and void, inclusive of the "Electoral Amendment and Repeal Act 2005" (One Value One Vote)
This type of activity has gone on in the Federal Constitution as well, and now it is up to all the Electorate to show some PEOPLE POWER and say enough is enough by attending the W.A. Supreme Court to support Brian Shaw in his attempt to charge the Attorney-General Jim McGinty with TREASON on Thursday 6th April 2006 at 10.30am
Ron McLean
President- One Nation WA Inc. office 9361.9388 or mobile 0428.712.017
   [COMMENT: Isn't this sad! Why charge only the Attorney-General the Hon. Jim McGinty with treason, when the bills were passed by the two Houses of the Western Australian Parliament, and signed by the Governor? Three judges in the Supreme Courthouse heard Mr Shaw (no lawyer for him), and two of the three barristers at the bar table. Mr Shaw said he was a farmer. He finished his address by declaring that the three judges had been illegally appointed, and he said he was subjecting them to a citizen's arrest!!! He had previously been barred from courts under a Vexatious Litigants' rule. How can you get a favourable decision from judges if you tell them they have no authority? This was quite sad. The judges reserved their decision.
   Another sad thing to note is that these changes to the WA Constitution were happily signed by the so-called "umpire," the Queen's representative, the Governor. (It's a whole lot more complicated than shown on this webpage.)
   The other side of the leaflet seemed to show that the group supporting this court action believed that somehow it would defeat the moves for One Vote One Value. (Students of history would suggest that the long difficult path from absolutism has always been an attempt to give more and more people a say in how they are governed.)
   It also claimed that a foreign power had infiltrated power positions and had seduced many of the common people. The power was Freemasonry. (But, let's face it, Freemasonry is so short of men that it is openly recruiting and showing its secret lodges, jewels, etc. on television. This hardly seems like the power that is causing the havoc this leaflet seems to see.)
   About 70 people attended (causing a move to a bigger courtroom than originally planned, provided Mr Shaw agreed not to show a film on Freemasonry). The leaflet claimed that the court case was the subject of a motion at a State Conference of the West Australian Farmers' Federation.
   Just World Campaign suggests that acting like Don Quixote, slashing about in all directions, is NOT likely to convince the judges, nor attract many thoughtful followers. COMMENT ENDS.] [for Apr 6, 06]

• AT&T Forwards ALL Internet Traffic Into NSA Says EFF  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

AT&T Forwards ALL Internet Traffic Into NSA Says EFF

 
   Liberty Forum, www.libertyforum. org/showflat.php? Cat=&Board=news _computers&Number =294544114# Post294544114 ; Source: www.linuxelectrons.com , 03:13 AM CDT, Thursday, April 06, 2006
For Education and Discussion Only. Not for Commercial Use.
   SAN FRANCISCO: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Wednesday filed the legal briefs and evidence supporting its motion for a preliminary injunction in its class-action lawsuit against AT&T. After asking EFF to hold back the documents so that it could review them, the Department of Justice consented to EFF's filing them under seal - a well-established procedure that prohibits public access and permits only the judge and the litigants to see the evidence. While not a party to the case, the government was concerned that even this procedure would not provide sufficient security and has represented to the Court that it is "presently considering whether and, if so, how it will participate in this case."
   "The evidence that we are filing supports our claim that AT&T is diverting Internet traffic into the hands of the NSA wholesale, in violation of federal wiretapping laws and the Fourth Amendment," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now." EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents.xpert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Technical Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005.
   The internal AT&T documents and portions of the supporting declarations have been submitted to the Court under a tentative seal, a procedure that allows AT&T five court days to explain to the Court why the information should be kept from the public.
   "The public deserves to know about AT&T's illegal program," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "In an abundance of caution, we are providing AT&T with an opportunity to explain itself before this material goes on the public docket, but we believe that justice will ultimately require full disclosure."
   The NSA program came to light in December, when the New York Times reported that the President had authorized the agency to intercept telephone and Internet communications inside the United States without the authorization of any court. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear that the NSA program has been intercepting and analyzing millions of Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone and Internet companies, including AT&T.
   "Mark Klein is a true American hero," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "He has bravely come forward with information critical for proving AT&T's involvement with the government's invasive surveillance program."
   In the lawsuit, EFF is representing the class of all AT&T residential customers nationwide. Working with EFF in the lawsuit are the law firms Traber & Voorhees, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP and the Law Office of Richard R. Wiebe. [Apr 6, 06]

• Suing Ma Bell to Stop NSA Wiretapping: Back to the Future?

 
   The Jurist, University of Pittsburgh, http://jurist.law. pitt.edu/forumy/ 2006/04/suing- ma-bell-to-stop- nsa-wiretapping.php , by Shayana Kadidal - (a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the lead attorneys on the Center's challenge to the NSA domestic surveillance program, Center for Constitutional Rights v.Bush), ~ April 6, 2006
JURIST Special Guest Columnist Shayana Kadidal, one of the lead attorneys on the Center for Constitutional Rights challenge to the NSA domestic surveillance program, says that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's recent suit for damages against telecommunications giant AT&T for its role in facilitating the program has suggestive parallels in two landmark eighteenth century English cases involving damages claims for impermissible searches...
   UNITED STATES: Last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation, together with one of the country's biggest class action law firms, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against AT&T for its role in carrying out the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. The suit itself alleges that the US government's so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" is in fact not focused on terrorists but rather is a "vast fishing expedition" directed at everyone in America - a data mining program using voice recognition software and the NSA's vast array of computers to scan every phone call entering or exiting the United States.
   But unlike the suit we have filed, Center for Constitutional Rights v. Bush, the named defendants in EFF's suit are not government officials.
   Instead, EFF is suing a private party - AT&T - which supposedly enthusiastically helped the government carry out this illegal surveillance. Whereas our suit asks the court to order that the program stop, EFF's also seeks damages against AT&T. And the damages are potentially enormous: the suit is a class action on behalf of the millions of AT&T subscribers, and the statute making this kind of surveillance illegal (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA) also provides for minimum damages - $100 per day per person - plus punitive damages. Because the allegation is essentially that every single AT&T international call or data transmission over the last four years was intercepted by the NSA with the active assistance of AT&T, the damages could add up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
   In searching for parallels to this wonderfully audacious suit - an attempt to stop government lawbreaking by seeking not a court order against the officials responsible but a multi-million dollar jury verdict against their private-sector co-conspirators - I find myself looking back two centuries. Very few Americans today can name one Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore? Brown v. Board?) let alone one case (People vs. Orenthal J. Simpson?) but in colonial times, most of America could name two cases decided across the Atlantic: Wilkes v. Wood (1763) and Entick v. Carrington (1765). Both dealt with issues less momentous than who would be the next president or whether public schools could continue to be segregated. Instead, they were about the far-less-sexy question of how broad a search warrant could permissibly be.
   In Wilkes - an English affair that became "the most famous case in late eighteenth-century America, period" according to one scholar - a London publisher (John Wilkes) who had mocked the King in his writings was pursued for seditious libel (basically, inciting rebellion through one's writings). A broad search warrant was issued by Secretary of State Lord Halifax - an executive officer, not an independent judge - allowing the officers complete discretion to search through Wilkes' home and all his personal papers for evidence of any crime by Wilkes or anyone else. Wilkes himself was seized, and ended up locked away in the Tower of London.
   Wilkes, eventually freed, sued for damages. He argued his own case, calling the general search warrant issued against him "a ridiculous warrant on the whole English nation." The judge, Lord Camden, agreed with him, and sent the case to a jury for a verdict. The jurors returned with an award of 1000 pounds in damages for Wilkes; he received even more from Halifax in a suit six years later. The costs to the government in Wilkes' case and related cases were said to reach as much as 100,000 pounds (roughly ten million dollars in today's terms).
   In some ways, the open-ended search warrant at issue in Wilkes' case was the NSA data mining program of its day. By banning such general warrants, Lord Camden announced a principle that the colonists would enshrine in the Fourth Amendment, which stated that "no Warrants shall issue [except] upon probable cause" (meaning, roughly, good reason to suspect criminal activity) and that warrants must describe with particularity the places to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Because the Fourth Amendment requires that a warrant must place limitations on a search, the government could never get a lawful warrant broad enough to allow it to scan every international email or listen in on every international call.
   Until EFF's filing, no one had claimed to have evidence that this was what the NSA was doing, but since colonial times everyone has known it was illegal.
   The award in Wilkes was an astronomical sum in 1763 - a veritable king's ransom - and especially shocking given that it was gifted to a spendthrift rogue like John Wilkes. Nonetheless, unlike the old lady who spilled hot McDonalds coffee on herself, both Wilkes and Lord Camden became instant heroes on both sides of the Atlantic after the judgment. Patriotic parents named their children "John Wilkes" (although that doesn't happen much anymore, for understandable reasons), and the colonists named several counties (the Wilkes Counties in Georgia and North Carolina) and towns (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Camden, New Jersey and lovely Camden, Maine) after his lordship and the plaintiff.
   Wilkes even made it back into Parliament (he'd been expelled during the seditious libel affair) and from there managed to pass into law in England protections the independent colonists built into their new Constitution: freedom from general warrants, and freedom to criticize the executive during debate in Parliament. (Parliament did so in part because of the outcome of the court cases - in stark contrast to our present situation, where Congress seems eager to snuff out the lawsuits and whitewash the NSA Program by passing a statute legalizing it.) In some sense, the biggest difference between the AT&T case now and the Wilkes case then is the fact that national security is at stake.
   John Wilkes was just a harmless clown committing lese-majeste, mocking the crown, but EFF - the critics will charge, - is seeking to expose the inner workings of a vital "terrorist surveillance program" to the world by dragging it into court.
   Indeed, EFF's recent filing was quite skeletal: it did not include "a number of internal AT&T documents" because the government claimed these documents might include classified information, and refused to allow even the court to review them under seal. But it is easy enough to figure out what the documents must reveal from reading EFF's original complaint in tandem with last Friday's filing.
   The complaint says that AT&T installed or helped the government install equipment in its main facilities that intercepts all or almost all communications that move through AT&T's circuits. The fact that EFF has moved for relief from the court tells us that they undoubtedly have proof of this. It's really a shocking revelation: somewhere within the bowels of AT&T's massive switching stations, a giant bug is delivering every phone call and email of every AT&T subscriber to the NSA. And the government desperately wants this truth hidden from the court and the American public.
   The other case well-known to the Colonists, Entick v. Carrington, decided by Lord Camden two years after Wilkes, involved similar arguments for secrecy in the face of a civil claim for damages arising out of a forcible search and seizure. As CCR's founder Arthur Kinoy put it in his oral argument to the Supreme Court in the Keith case (1972), establishing that President Nixon's warrantless domestic national security surveillance was subject to the Fourth Amendment:
   It stuns me a little bit to hear the arguments made by a representative of today's executive which were made by the representatives of George the Third in Entick against Carrington.
   This court is told, as was the British court in Entick, that courts cannot look at the reasons for the searches, that that resides in the special knowledge of the Crown. The British court was told in Entick, you must sanction this general search for - and these are the words from Entick - for reasons of state. For reasons of necessity. We cannot tell you the reasons - for they reside in the head of our executive officer, known as the secretary of state.
   These were precisely the arguments raised in Entick. Those were the arguments the Fourth Amendment was designed to eliminate.
   Then, as now, the people who opposed the claims in Entick and Wilkes labeled the plaintiffs traitors. Let's hope the judges in the AT&T case and our case don't agree. And that the regular-Joe phone subscribers who are the plaintiffs in the EFF case become (like Wilkes and Lord Camden before them) heroes too. [Apr 6, 06]

• [Selling uranium to China is like selling pig-iron to Japan]

 
   The Sunday Times , letters@sunday times.news ltd.com.au , (Perth, W. Australia), Letter to Editor from John C. Massam, Greenwood, WA, April 9, 2006.
   Those who remember that Pig-iron Bob Menzies was criticised for decades by the Communists and their allied groups in Australia, are even more frightened by the Howard Government's sale of uranium to China, another Far Eastern dictatorship. You see, the Labor Party is not objecting, leaving the criticism to the Australian Greens.
   If the Liberals, Nationals, and Labor don't know that Beijing has been persecuting Christians for decades, and the Falun Gong for years, they only have to ask and I will send them newsitems.
   Governments that torture and kill their own citizens for religious or political reasons are hardly likely to keep a treaty to use uranium for peaceful purposes.
   If they don't, what could Mr Howard, or all Australians put together, do about it? Can you impose peaceful use by warlike means? [Apr 9, 06]

• NGO lifts lid on bird 'flu con

 
   Citizens' Voice, StopMAI Coalition, http://members. iinet.net.au/ ~jenks/ CV27.html , Edited by Dion Giles, put on WWW by Brian Jenkins, April 14, 2006
   THE BURGEONING global poultry industry, not small-scale and back yard producers, is the cause of the spread of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, according to GRAIN.
   GRAIN is an international NGO which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on local knowledge and people's control over genetic resources.
   A major report with 50 references is published at www.grain.org/ briefings/? id=194 and there is a summary at www.grain. org/front/ .
   According to GRAIN, the epicentre of the spreading outbreak is the factory farms of China and Southeast Asia and - while wild birds can carry the disease, at least for short distances - its main vector is the highly self-regulated transnational poultry industry, which sends the products and waste of its farms around the world through a multitude of channels.
   When plotted, the spread of the virus follows trade transport routes, not routes flown by wild birds.
   "To make matters worse, governments and international agencies, following mistaken assumptions about how the disease spreads and amplifies, are pursuing measures to force poultry indoors and further industrialise the poultry sector. In practice, this means the end of the small-scale poultry farming that provides food and livelihoods to hundreds of millions of families across the world.", GRAIN writes.
   Bird flu has coexisted with wild birds and traditional poultry farming for centuries, and it is only since the advent of the mass production factory farms that highly pathogenic strains have been multiplying and spreading.
   Outbreaks are concentrated in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam where foreign-owned factory farm production for export has increased eight fold in the past 30 years. In China the increase has been threefold.
TNCs targeting small producers
   The transnational corporations, locked into mass production for mainly unnecessary international trade, have been promoting bird flu as a pretext for getting rid of small-scale and family production.
   "We cannot control migratory birds but we can surely work hard to close down as many backyard farms as possible," said Margaret Say, Southeast Asian director for the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. [... ] [April 2006 issue, Apr 14, 06]
• [Fighting Back Down Under, says AquaBits of U.S.A. 

AquaBits

 
   AquaBits, Various newsitems, (Northern) Spring 2006, E-mailed April 14, 2006
   In this issue:
  • Corporate Splash at 4th World Water Forum
  • CALIFORNIA: "Do as I say, not as I do..."
  • MICHIGAN: Courts limit Nestlé's right to water withdrawal
  • Follow in These Footsteps
  • We're Not Making This Up
  • Canada to Coca-Cola: "Bring It On"
  • AUSTRALIA: Fighting Back Down Under
  • Do you Bling?
  • WATER TIDBITS: The Bad, The Worse, and The Completely Ridiculous
    Corporate Splash at the 4th World Water Forum
       MEXICO CITY: Corporate sponsors were in the spotlight as usual at the tri-annual World Water Forum, which took place in Mexico City in mid-March. With private water companies under fire for a series of well-publicized failures of managing water systems around the world, many are on the retreat. But stepping up in their place are bottled water makers who say the "real money" is not in privatizing water systems, but rather, just selling water in bottles.
       Stepping up to the plate as a sponsor at the forum was Coca-Cola, maker of Dasani, and Ethos Water - a new so-called socially responsible brand of bottled water now owned by Starbucks - which promises to donate 5 cents from every sale of bottled water to "helping children and their communities get clean water." It sounds good, but they're still selling water for nearly $2 a bottle, which contributes to the whole cycle of privatized water - which is why many communities can't afford water! Note to Starbucks: Don't contribute to the problem - help us to solve the world water crisis!
    CALIFORNIA: "Do as I say, not as I do..."
       A recent article in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been using tax dollars to pay for Sparkletts water to be brought into their office. In the last two years, city officials have spent $1 million promoting the safety and top quality of the public water system in Los Angeles; at the same time, city officials spent $88,900 to purchase bottled water. Even more shocking is that the water department alone spent the most on bottled water: $31,160.
       The city of Los Angeles has been known to bottle its own municipal water and pass it out at city events to promote the quality of the water, but little do people know while they are receiving bottles of municipal water the department officials don't drink the water themselves. C'mon folks, you had to know you'd get busted for this one.
    MICHIGAN: Courts limit Nestlé's right to water withdrawal
       In 2001 the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) sued Nestlé Waters North America, the parent company of Ice Mountain, for withdrawing public water sources in Mecosta County. In 2003 Mecosta County Circuit court shut down Nestlé's wells, a decision which was quickly appealed. The Court of Appeals ruled in December that the withdrawal was excessive, but sent the case back to the lower court to set a 'reasonable use balancing' rule because Nestlé's reduced water flows had substantially harmed environment and surrounding landowners.
       MCWC appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, charging that rules on withdrawal levels sets a slippery precedent, opening the door to further export out of the Great Lakes basin. Meanwhile, the group managed to reduce Nestlé's current withdrawal from 400 gallons per minute to 218 (less during droughts and fish spawning). This limit will stand until the Supreme Court rules in the case. For more information: http://www.savemiwater.org
    Follow in These Footsteps
       Louisville, Ky.'s water utility has given away empty reusable sports bottles for eight years with the message: "If you want really great bottled water in our community, all you need is the bottle."
    We're Not Making This Up
       Move over vitamins, bottled water has a new "healthy" ingredient. A French company, Microfluid, launched "L'eau Bronzante" (Sun Water) last year, promising that if you drink its water, you can get a tan "orangey brown glow" without the risks of the sun. The company added beta-carotene and tomato extract in its water, along with a mystery ingredient that activates the skin's melanin. Microfluid says drinking its product for nine days will give you a beach-worthy glow. Yuck!
    Canada to Coca-Cola: "Bring It On"
       Ottawa is seeking to create its own bottled water industry from its municipal water. Councilor Clive Doucet is proposing that Ottawa create a brand called "Ottawa H2O." He claims that if Coca-Cola can sell municipal tap water and make a profit, then so can Ottawa. Ottawa is facing financial troubles, and is seeking new areas of revenue. Doucet thinks bottled water is the answer, claiming that if people are going to pay to drink bottled municipal water then the city might as well be the ones providing it. Hmmm, sounds like he's contributing to the problem, not helping to resolve it.
    AUSTRALIA: Fighting Back Down Under
       Australia is promoting the concept of its citizens using their own water containers filled with tap water instead of buying expensive bottled water. Not only is this much more environmentally sound but uses far less energy than bottled water manufacturing. The popularity of bottled water is rising around the world, and Australia is no exception with consumption rising 10% a year. Like other countries, Australia faces a big recycling problem: Only 35% of water bottles are recycled. Currently plastic bottles take up 38% of the total volume of waste in Australia's landfills. Let's stop this waste!
       In just five years, the United States has almost doubled its consumption of bottled water, from 4.7 billion gallons in 2000, to an estimated 7.3 billion gallons in 2005, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp.
    Do you Bling?
       Just when you think bottled water's hype can't get any more ridiculous, here comes the creator of Bling H2O, Kevin G. Boyd, who claims that his new water sensation is "pop culture in a bottle." Boyd launched Bling H2O because he says you can tell a lot about a person by the bottled water they carry, and there was no water with the caliber necessary for the Hollywood scene. Bling H2O comes in frosted glass bottles decked out in Swarovski crystals, and costs $34.95 per bottle! The water itself is nothing special - it's purified water from Dandridge, Tennessee. But it's just another way to profit from our water. Check out the over-the-top ad: www.bling h2o.com .
    WATER TIDBITS: The Bad, The Worse, and The Completely Ridiculous
       Think About This: Half of the $100 billion that consumers spend every year on bottled water could provide worldwide clean access to water.
       Can't Buy Me Love: A new company called H2Om, based in Studio City, California, is selling bottled water from Palomar Mountain that has been fortified with, according to its makers, the "vibrational energies" of love or, if you prefer, perfect health. Pullleeaazzee!
       Still Skyrocketing: Sales of bottled water in China jumped by more than 250% between 1999 and 2004. They tripled in India and almost doubled in Indonesia, according to a study by the Earth Policy Institute.
       Bottled Water for Dogs? The K9 Water Co. is now selling vitamin-enriched water for dogs at $7.50 for a four pack.
       Latest Stats: According to an article in The New York Times, 40% of bottled water actually comes from municipal tap water.
       Gas Guzzling: Making bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 US cars for a year.
       Taste Test: In honor of World Water Day on March 22, groups including Corporate Accountability International conducted taste tests of bottled water versus tap water in cities around the U.S. In San Francisco, the group held a blind taste test on the street to see if passersby could tell the difference between popular brands of bottled water and the city's own tap water. Only three out of 32 people could even identify a difference by taste. So, it's not any safer, any cleaner, and doesn't taste any better... why is it that so many people spend more money per gallon on water than gas, then? It's time to reject the marketing hype of bottled water!
       Thanks for staying active and informed! Check out our new blog for all the latest news on the issues you care about: www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blog
       AquaBits, Your Quarterly Newsletter about the Bottled Water Industry, Spring 2006
       Editor's Note: The Water for All Campaign has moved! We are now with a new non-profit organization called Food & Water Watch. Our mission is to challenge the corporate control of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
       For all the latest news about the issues you care about, check out our brand new blog! - Your Water for All Team: Wenonah, Maj, Sara,Victoria, and Jessica water@ fwwatch.org
  • [Apr 14, 06]
    • Crockery maker sheds 65 jobs in Brazil move  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Brazil flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  

    Crockery maker sheds 65 jobs in Brazil move

     
       The West Australian, by Cathy Bolt, p 4, Tuesday, April 18, 2006
       PERTH: Australia's only remaining maker of commercial crockery, Australian Fine China in Subiaco, will move its local manufacturing to Brazil next month, shedding 65 jobs.
       General manager Simon Carrel confirmed yesterday that the 84-year-old company, whose rich history included the highly collectable Wembley Ware brand, had been forced to join the exodus of Australian manufacturers to countries with cheaper labour and lower costs.
       Mr Carrel said it would continue the same range of china, including the robust cups, plates and other tableware with which it has supplied hotels and restaurants for decades. But it would be imported from Brazil where it has a joint venture with a company which has been making products for its growing export business to Europe and North America.
       "It's a decision I have tried very, very hard to avoid but factors have conspired to make it totally uneconomic," Mr Carrel said.
       "I believe the company has a great future. The only difference is we won't be making in Australia."
       About 45 staff would be kept on in a new warehouse in Kewdale and a design facility in Balcatta, he said.
       About 60 per cent of Australian Fine China's annual sales of $15 million are locally made products.
       It was to have been the first high profile occupant of a new industrial estate being developed by the Armadale Redevelopment Authority at Forrestdale in Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan's electorate. But it had abandoned negotiations for a $20 million move from its original Subiaco site, now surrounded by high density housing, because of problems with water, gas and security while the estate was developed, Mr Carrel said.
       Its decision had also been influenced by the jump in the Australian dollar in the past five years, reducing the price of competing imports.
       But the Federal Government had also "failed miserably" to provide a level playing field, with china imports from England having 5 per cent duty while Australian exports to England copped 13 per cent.
       Customs officials also did not enforce true country-of-origin branding on imports.
       Many famous English firms, including Wedgewood and Royal Doulton, were manufacturing in countries like China and Indonesia but not putting it on the underside marks of individual items.
       AFC's Brazilian-made items would be branded Australian Fine China but identified as made in Brazil. #
      [Picture] Packing up: Australian Fine China's Simon Carrel has confirmed the Brazil move.
       [RECAP.: ... Australian exports to England copped 13 per cent. DEFINITION: "copped" in that sentence means "were charged."]
       [COMMENT: Around this time, the number of carrot-growers in W.A. had dropped by a big number down to five, because of cheap vegetable imports from China and other countries. Surely a country that is not growing its own food has "lost its way." COMMENT ENDS.] [Apr 18, 06]

    • [Taxpayers lost seabed, free, to private developer] 

    Scary reality

     
       The Record (Western Australian Roman Catholic newspaper), Letter from Marie Slyth, West Perth, January 19, 2006
       PERTH: Further to the news article in The West Australian, January 14, 2006 regarding the Port Coogee private residential marina, it must be pointed out to the public that the sea-bed was not sold to Australand, the developer, but given as a gift.
       This is a scary scenario, because it opens the literal floodgates to claims by all developers and spells the beginning of real privatisation of what we all have always believed and understood to be our unrestricted access to our coastline beaches. This action signals the internal invasion of our coastline!
       Just why has the Government permitted this? And even more questionable is why would any government even contemplate permitting high-rise residential dwellings to be built on canals 380 metres out into the open ocean, when in New South Wales, the State Government has just brought in (effective from last November) new restrictions controlling high rise coastal devel-opment and is threatening to "fight them (the developers) on the beaches" in order to prevent the building of high-rise residential buildings any closer than 100 metres of the high water mark and any higher than four storeys?
       The inevitable overshadowing on beaches by high rise developments, impairment to public access and erosion of the beaches have made such restrictions imperative.
       Cockburn City's mayor's description of the stretch of land between South Fremantle and Woodman Point as being transformed into a coastal hub with 5-8 storey high-rise canal residences begs the inevitable destruction of Perth's best family swimming beach with the already described ultimate damaging consequences. #
       [COMMENT: And, if a tsunami struck such artificial canal-side homes, would the taxpayer be expected to help pay for restoration and repairs - even though the politicians gave the unsuitable location away without charge? Is it more plunder of public assets, like the pastoral leases of a century or so ago, and the Notre Dame University free grant at Alkimos by the then Lawrence State Government? COMMENT ENDS.] [Jan 19, 06]

    • [List: Guantanamo Bay Detainees]

     
       Defense Department of the USA, www.defense link.mil/ pubs/foi/ detainees/ detainee_ list.pdf , Link by e-mail of April 20, 2006
       This is a link to the newly-published list of 558 current Guantanamo detainees who have been put through some kind of "process"
       The process was described to the Senate judiciary Committee in 2005.
       The list was obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) procedures. Informed sources believe there will be other illegally held detainees, not listed here.
       [COMMENT: The first name on the list is Hicks, David Michael. He has been granted British citizenship by the courts (because of British-born parentage), but the Blair warmongers keep denying him this, in spite of court decisions.
       In spite of reports that all United Kingdom citizens have been released to the UK, the last name on the list is Martin Mubanga, of the UK. Yet, supposedly, all United Kingdom citizens were supposed to have been repatriated to the UK! Even this trickery doesn't seem to have awakened the UK leadership cabal to the chicanery of Washington and its neocons. "Birds of a feather, flock together." COMMENT ENDS.] [Apr 20, 06]

    • Britain's liberties: The great debate  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  

    Britain's liberties: The great debate

     
       The Observer (London) , http://politics. guardian.co.uk /labour/story/ 0,,1759515,00. html , by Henry Porter and Tony Blair, Sunday, April 23, 2006
       BRITAIN: Over the past few months Henry Porter has written a series of articles in The Observer criticising what he sees as a sustained government assault on fundamental freedoms. He attacked a range of measures, including legislation on identity cards, new police powers and anti-terror laws. Porter's critique has generated a huge response from the public - and now from the Prime Minister. Here, in this extraordinary email exchange, Tony Blair rejects the criticism - and announces plans to go further
       FROM: HENRY PORTER TO: TONY BLAIR Re: Liberty
    Dear Prime Minister,
       Nine years ago, as I watched you arrive at the South Bank on the night when you became Prime Minister, I would never have imagined that I'd come to view you as a serious threat to British democracy. But regrettably I have. Either by accident or design, your 'modernising' Labour government has steadily attacked our rights and freedoms, eroding the Rule of Law and profoundly altering the relationship between authority and the people.
       Successive laws passed by New Labour have pared down our liberty at an astonishing rate. The right to trial by jury, the right to silence, the right not to be punished until a court has decided that the law has been broken, the right to demonstrate and protest, the presumption of innocence, the right to private communication, the right to travel without surveillance and the details of that journey being retained - all have been curtailed by your legislation.
       While hearsay has become admissible in court, free speech is being patrolled by officious use of public order laws. In Parliament Square we now see people parading with blank placards to make the point that they are not allowed to demonstrate within one kilometre of the Square under the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA). And this in the land once called the Mother of Parliaments.
       For a democrat, this is all profoundly troubling. I hope that you believe you are acting in good faith; that you are simply motivated by the need to respond to the threats of terrorism and organised crime and the nuisance of anti-social behaviour, but I wonder if you have any idea of the cumulative effect of the 15 or so bills which have incrementally removed or compromised our liberties.
       Forgive me, Prime Minister, if I say that the country has faced far greater threats under many of your predecessors and they did not go in for this wholesale assault on the Rule of Law. One of the results of your modernising zeal is that while the state has become invisibly more authoritarian, we all to some extent have become suspects. Under the SOCPA, a person can be arrested for any offence - even dropping litter. Before charges are laid he is fingerprinted, photographed and required to provide a sample of his DNA for indefinite retention by the police database.
       That says a lot about the state's attitude to the individual's innocence before he has been tried, but even more about the state's odd sense of entitlement to the essence of each person. Defenders of this practice say it is justified if a single murderer is prosecuted. With the same reasoning you would ban the use of cars if it saved a single life claimed in road accidents.
       Reasoning is so often the problem with laws hurried through to show that the government is doing something in response to yesterday's headlines. The reasons for the ID card scheme are serially given as a means to combat terrorism, benefit fraud, illegal immigration and identity theft. You will agree the ID card could not have stopped the British bombers of 7 July last year.
       Government figures estimate benefit fraud due to identity theft at between 20-50m per annum, a fraction of the LSE's low cost estimate for the scheme of 10bn. There is no ID system in the world that cannot be breached by determined gangs. And illegal immigrants? Well, a card might make their lives more difficult but it won't stop people-smuggling.
       Set against these 'benefits' are the cost to the tax payer (how many schools or hospitals would 10bn buy?) and the implications of the total surveillance of people's lives, the details of which will be retained in the National Identity Register database for the inspection of joined-up authority. I have nothing to hide, but I fear this scheme beyond any of your measures, for it is the dream of every authoritarian government to be able to monitor its citizens around the clock.
       Just as harassment, anti-social behaviour and terrorism laws have been used to limit free speech and protest, so the ID card scheme will come to control the life of this country in ways that we can barely imagine. I conclude that this is its primary purpose and that your government has shamelessly used the fear of terrorism and the loathing of scroungers and illegal immigrants to attain this goal of total supervision.
       I could be persuaded to put a more benevolent interpretation on so much of what you have done, if it weren't for the fact that parallel to the assault on liberty has been your move against Parliament in favour of giving the Executive more arbitrary powers. You say that you respect Parliament, that you answered more questions than your predecessors and that you are the first Prime Minister to appear before a select committee, but in other ways you seem thoroughly hostile to the idea of scrutiny by elected representatives.
       The Civil Contingency Act, presented as modernising emergency powers for the age of terrorism, allows ministers in an emergency, which they only have to believe is about to occur, to make practically any provision without reference to parliament. The Inquiries Act, in effect, allows ministers to scrutinise their own behaviour, while the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill proposed an extension of law by ministerial decree. There has been a government retreat - or 'clarification' - on this. I pray it is real.
       It is possible that many of your measures have been subject to a law of unintended consequences. That is also my deepest concern. Whatever your motives today, it is clear that by ignoring the ancient traditions of the unwritten British constitution you have provided all the laws that a hard-line leader would need to drive this country into dictatorship. You have offered us a trade-off between freedom and security: I fear we will lose both. Yours sincerely, Henry Porter
       FROM: TONY BLAIR TO: HENRY PORTER Subject: Liberty
    Dear Henry Porter,
       Frankly it's difficult to know where to start, given the mishmash of misunderstanding, gross exaggeration and things that are just plain wrong. A few explanatory facts might help.
       You say I have 'pared down our liberty at an astonishing rate', then list a whole lot of fundamental rights, as if these had all been drastically curtailed. We are proposing that the right to trial by jury be changed in one set of circumstances: highly complex serious fraud cases. The reason is simple. The cases last for months, sometimes years - they are incredibly difficult for juries for time and complexity reasons; it is over 30 years since Lord Roskill recommended the change because otherwise such cases often collapse at huge expense and the guilty go free. The estimated number of cases per year is around 20, out of a total of 40,000 jury trials.
       The right to silence was already restricted by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (Sections 34-38), which enables a court, if it wishes and in certain circumstances, to draw an adverse inference from a defendant's failure to answer questions on any charge. The only change introduced by this Government was to clarify (in the light of subsequent case law) the circumstances under which inferences can be drawn from silence in cases where the charge is one of causing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. This again is in a tiny number of cases.
       You say people can only have blank placards outside Parliament and can't protest. Go and look at the placards of those camped outside Parliament - they are most certainly not blank and usually contain words not entirely favourable to your correspondent. Outside Downing Street, virtually every day there are protests of one sort or another.
       It's correct that, again in a small number of cases, we have introduced unusual restrictions to combat terrorists. There are 12 control orders in place. But we did suffer the death by terrorism of over 50 of our citizens last July. In common with virtually every major nation in the world, we are tightening our restrictions but there are, in every case, elaborate mechanisms of scrutiny and oversight.
       And, of course, the reason why even these types of restrictions can end up in our courts and be struck down, is that this Government gave British citizens for the first time ever the power to challenge Executive action or legislation, through the incorporation of the European Convention.
       We enter the realm of fantasy with your and others' strictures on the Regulatory Reform Bill. This legislation is proposed for a straight-forward reason. Much regulation becomes redundant over time. It's a real problem for business. It costs money and causes hassle, often in circumstances far removed from its original purpose. The problem is that if it is in primary legislation then only by formal Act of Parliament can it be changed. In a busy schedule where usually the legislation is very arcane, it can take years, if ever, for necessary change to occur.
       The proposal is that in circumstances closely defined and expressly where it doesn't interfere with people's basic rights, ministers can propose removing the regulation by order. But before this can actually happen, first the order is subject to public consultation; second, it is scrutinised by independent committees of both houses of parliament; third, there is then a debate before the order is passed in Parliament, which can naturally refuse to accept it. To describe this as the 'abolition of Parliamentary democracy' - as some critics have - is more than a little far-fetched.
       However, having said all of this, there is a genuine issue of contention between us. I have now read Lord Steyn's Attlee Foundation lecture. I would love to give a more considered intellectual and political response. But for these purposes let me just say: it shows how far out of touch much of the political and legal establishment is today with the reality of people's lives.
       Go and talk to people living on estates blighted by anti-social behaviour. Until the new laws allowed them to put restrictions on offenders, close down houses used for drug dealing, seize dealers' assets, disperse gangs of youths, fine vandals on the spot, the victims had nothing to protect them except the usual process of the criminal law, which was hopelessly inadequate. Recently I visited East Manchester and Camden, where, I am proud to say, Labour councillors had, with the police and local residents used the new laws to put some respect and decency back into their communities.
       When we talk of civil liberties, what about theirs, the law-abiding people; the ones who treat others with courtesy and good manners and expect the same back? Don't theirs count for anything?
       You complain of the DNA database samples being retained. Since we allowed this, over 14,000 offences have been successfully matched to over 8,000 suspects including over 100 murders and 100 rapes - and as far as I am aware, no one is on the database for dropping litter!
       You can't deal with the levels of sophistication in today's organised crime by traditional methods. That's why we are giving the new agency new powers to force suspects to disclose information, to open up their accounts; to ensure that their advisers can't conceal evidence; and to track their movements not just in Britain but abroad. But look at what these people do. They traffic in human beings, often, as I heard for myself a few weeks back, young girls sold into prostitution; they deal in drugs, with levels of violence unimaginable in the past.
       I am sorry to tell you: I want us to go further in all these areas. The alternative is that they, who do not play by our rules or any rules, get away with it.
       The issue of ID cards is a little different, because I think there are very good reasons of practicality why, in today's world, people should be able to protect their identity from fraud or abuse. The figure of 10bn for the cost is ludicrous; and in any event 70 per cent of the cost is because of the move to biometric passports, happening round the western world.
       Ultimately, for me this whole issue is not about whether we care about civil liberties, but how we care for them in the modern world. If the traditional processes were the answer to these crime and law and order problems that are an age away from Dixon of Dock Green and the stable communities of 50 years ago, then we wouldn't be having this debate. But they're not. They've failed. They are leaving the innocent unprotected and the guilty unpunished. That's why we need them changed. Yours sincerely, Tony Blair
       FROM: HENRY PORTER TO: TONY BLAIR Re: Liberty
    Dear Prime Minister,
       Thank you for a very revealing reply. My case is that your government has cumulatively attacked the Rule of Law by reducing liberties in many different areas. I believe you confirm that in a way, though you say in mitigation that the numbers of people affected by control orders and who have been tried without a jury are small. True, but a precedent has been set - people are being punished without trial. And they are not allowed to know the evidence against them, or be represented by their own legal team when it is being heard. Lord knows how all this may be abused by future governments which in terms of numbers may be rather more ambitious than yours.
       There are two other points I wish to take you up on. The first is about demonstrations in Parliament Square, which are banned without written permission under SOCPA. The only reason you see placards in Parliament Square today is because the anti-war protester Brian Haw's demonstration preceded the introduction of the act, which is not retrospective. His presence in the square is still being challenged by government lawyers. As to the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights, surely it is the case that British citizens cannot challenge such things as control orders because the courts have no power to 'strike down' measures introduced by primary legislation in a sovereign Parliament.
       The philosophical difference between us is sharp. I don't know whether Lord Steyn is out of touch, though, judging by his evident humanity, I would guess he's not as removed as you suggest. Either way, the job of the law lords is to uphold the law and see that justice is available to every citizen. Fortunately, their authority does not come from being elected. This may be irritating to the government and diminish their importance in your eyes, but part of their purpose is to be less swayed by the convulsions of public opinion than politicians are.
       In the anti-social behaviour legislation you have reacted to an outcry about delinquency - often justified - but you have produced bad law which allows gossip and rumour to be heard before the order is granted. And that hearsay may very well end with a person's imprisonment for an action which is not classed as an offence under British law.
       The broader point is that in these and other laws you have eroded the profoundly important principle of the presumption of innocence. To tamper with the Rule of Law is not the right way for a healthy democracy to meet the modern threats which you describe so vividly. Last week, Lord Steyn quoted Churchill on the dispassionate rights affecting the accused and convicted. 'These are the symbols - remarked your great predecessor - which mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are a sign and proof of the living virtue in it.' This 'stored-up strength' is what you are ignoring and harming in these laws. I worry when you say you want 'to go further in all these areas.' Can you say how?
       Finally, I don't understand the difference between caring about civil liberties and caring for them. To someone like me - a democrat above any party loyalty - the distinction is false. A nation either protects a body of civil liberties, or it doesn't. I fear that Britain is slipping into the latter category.
       FROM: TONY BLAIR TO: HENRY PORTER Subject: Liberty
    Dear Henry Porter,
       We are getting to the heart of the difference between us which, I agree, is of immense importance to the way our country is run and the values that govern it. You are right when you say we have disturbed the normal legal process with the anti-social behaviour laws. You are wrong when you say action is taken under them on the basis of 'gossip and rumour'.
       Please speak to the victims of this menace. They are people whose lives have been turned into a daily hell. Suppose they live next door to someone whose kids are out of control: who play their music loud until 2am; who vilify anyone who asks them to stop; who are often into drugs or alcohol? Or visit a park where children can't play because of needles, used condoms, and hooligans hanging around.
       It is true that, in theory, each of these acts is a crime for which the police could prosecute. In practice, they don't. It would involve in each case a disproportionate amount of time, money and commitment for what would be, for any single act, a low-level sentence. Instead, they can now use an ASBO or a parenting order or other measures that attack not an offence but behaviour that causes harm and distress to people, and impose restrictions on the person doing it, breach of which would mean they go to prison. And yes, because often these thugs terrorise those who challenge them, we allow the police to give the evidence as hearsay. But the result is that where these powers are being used, the law-abiding no longer live in fear of the lawless.
       And yes, I would go further. I would widen the police powers to seize the cash of suspected drug dealers, the cars they drive round in, and require them to prove they came by them, lawfully. I would impose restrictions on those suspected of being involved in organised crime. In fact, I would generally harry, hassle and hound them until they give up or leave the country. I would make it a presumption that those who deal in drugs to young children should go to prison; and I would make breach of a drugs treatment order an arrestable offence. But at the same time, we should increase, as we are doing, the provision and speed of drug treatment.
       The point about the Human Rights Act is that it does allow the courts to strike down the act of our 'sovereign Parliament'. The anti-terrorist legislation was struck down in precisely this way. Take asylum. We have introduced measures which... have allowed us to cut asylum claims dramatically. We are now, for the first time, removing more failed claimants than we are receiving unfounded claims. If we hadn't legislated, the impact would have been felt in deteriorating community relations and in racists exploiting the issue. The reason is that there were real abuses of the system; organised gangs behind bulk claims; shady advisers cooking up scams. If we hadn't acted, even reasonable people would have become unreasonable. Even so it remains, as we have seen, a highly charged problem.
       The same is true as we now try to deport people who are inciting hatred and fomenting extremism in the Muslim community. Again, every step will be fought over in the courts. But again, the reason we are acting is not a desire to be dictatorial but a genuine desire to protect our way of life from those who would destroy it.
       Incidentally, I would never suggest either you or Lord Steyn were anything other than humane. I respect entirely your motives. I just think the practical effect of following the course you set out is a loss of civil liberties for the majority. In fact, a better criticism of the politicians, including myself, is that we need to do more on rehabilitation for prisoners, activities for young people, and community engagement with the disaffected and alienated within our society. But that's another topic.
       FROM: HENRY PORTER TO: TONY BLAIR Re: Liberty
    Dear Prime Minister,
       On the evening of 7 July last year I was in a pub in Euston a few hundred yards from where the bus was blown up. The TV was on and you were making a speech which included this statement: 'When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated; when they seek to change our country, our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.' I admired your staunchness at the end of what must have been a draining week.
       But we have changed. The fear of terrorism has allowed you to bring in laws that a Conservative government would not have dreamed of. I understand that there is a huge constituency out there for this kind of anti-terror and also crime-busting legislation - and it won't do you any harm in the run-up to the local elections to be sounding as tough as you do in this exchange - but it is worrying that nowhere in the paragraph when you describe hounding criminals and drug dealers do you mention a court of law. I am not asking you to be weak on criminals, merely to adhere to the Rule of Law. If there is no respect for its traditions, any government may do what it likes.
       The point about anti-terrorist law is that we do have control orders and this is causing concern in Europe, as the EU report on human rights in the UK makes clear. I don't believe we should rely on Europe to define our rights but I am now certain after this correspondence that the country needs a wider debate, in which the best democratic minds assert the need for government restraint when it comes to personal freedom and the sidelining of Parliament.
       This has been highly illuminating. Thank you for responding so frankly.
       FROM: TONY BLAIR TO: HENRY PORTER Subject: Liberty
    Dear Henry Porter,
       Thank you for what you said about 7/7. Londoners responded with extraordinary unity. But that doesn't mean they didn't also want action against those who do such terrible things, precisely to protect those values we both and they share.
       The question for me is: whose civil liberties? Of course the offender has rights; but so has the victim. If the practical effect of the law is that people live in fear because the offender is unafraid of the legal process then, in the name of civil liberties, we are allowing the vulnerable, the decent, the people who show respect and expect it back, to have their essential liberties trampled on.
       This is why I say this is as much an issue of modernity as liberty. We are trying to fight 21st century crime by 19th century means. It hasn't worked. It won't work. The terrorism is different. The street crime is different.
       This new terrorism requires a separate debate. But on anti-social behaviour I agree the causes of this are very deep - to do with shifting communities, dysfunctional families, globalisation and myriad influences, not all benign, to which our young people are subject. And, at the risk of opening another front, the remedies here are quite stark too. The system intervenes once kids are off the rails. This is usually hopeless. We need intervention at an early age.
       I agree with you on one other thing. The politics of this cross left/right lines. Interestingly, in British politics today many Tories, the Lib Dems and a part of Labour (but really only a small part) would agree with you. I truly believe they are out of touch with their own voters. Anti-social behaviour is not a big issue for the Westminster village. Out in the country, it is predominant.
       People aren't naive about it. They know the old days aren't coming back. The age of deference has passed and a good thing too. But people mourn the loss of respect. That is something utterly basic to any society. They want it back; and if, in order to get it back, we have to alter our traditional way of thinking and doing, then people, and I mean wholly reasonable, moderate people, will make a very conscious decision to do just that.
       Anyway, as you say, it is an important debate and thank you for the chance of participating in it with you.
    The new laws: right move or wrong?
  • THE RIGHT -: To be tried by a jury: What happened? Abolished in cases of serious and complex fraud in 2003. Remains for all other crimes. Critics say: Judgment by one's peers is a cornerstone of British law. Labour says: Juries were baffled by complex evidence, trials were prone to collapse.
  • THE RIGHT -: To protest: What happened? Since 2005, demonstrations outside the House of Commons must be pre-notified to, and approved by, police. Critics say: It's gagging free speech: Labour says: Since August 157 demonstrations have been held.
  • THE RIGHT -: Not to be convicted on hearsay evidence: What happened? The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, targeting low level offending and intimidatory behaviour. Hearsay evidence can be submitted to get an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo). Critics say: Courts are dispensing Asbos at everything from kids wearing hoodies to a farmer whose pigs kept escaping. Breach of Asbo can attract custodial sentence even if the original behaviour couldn't. Labour says: Try living on a sink estate and you'll see why it's needed. Youth Justice Board research found most juveniles jailed for Asbo breaches had committed other serious offences.
  • THE RIGHT -: To trial: What happened? Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 the Home Secretary can undertake control orders restricting the liberty of individuals suspected of terrorist involvement - without trial. Critics say: That's internment: it never worked against the IRA. Labour says: The suicide bomber threat is different and requires a different response. Better than jailing people without trial.
  • THE RIGHT -: To freedom of movement: What happened? The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gives Cabinet ministers sweeping powers in designated emergencies including quarantine areas, restricting travel, handing control of essential industries to the army. Critics say: These are police state powers. Labour says: They'd only be used in extremis.
  • THE RIGHT -: To privacy: What happened? DNA samples taken from anyone arrested but acquitted or not prosecuted are now retained on a national database. The Identity Cards Act 2006 introduces (initially) voluntary ID cards with biometric identification. Critics say: ID cards are a Big Brother concept. Labour says: Matching crime scene samples with the database has helped solve murders and rapes. ID cards tackle identity fraud, illegal immigration and terrorism. #
  •    [COMMENT: Here is the London Observer's publication of an amazingly unparalleled (email) correspondence between a journalist and the Brit prime minister. Henry Porter is regular composer of columns for The Observer as well as being an author of "Empire State" - a novel in which he wrote about torture by US security forces.
       I don't recall having posted any of his Observer pieces to my friends - his writings just havn't resonated with me. But he's obviously pressed a British button - He's picked on the Blair regime for a series of assaults on fundamental freedoms, and - says The Observer - there's been an enormous public response - enough to stir Tony Blair into responding on behalf of his regime.
       I'd be curious to find a parallel "discussion" elsewhere - while the U$ has no shortage of reporters who criticize the U$ assault on constitutional rights, I don't see any of the corporate media cultivating such reports to the point of generating a public response, or of so exciting George Bush to the point of arguing with a particular reporter.
       So please read this exchange - yes it's specific to the UK, but you shouldn't find it difficult to ask why such an exchange doesn't happen in the U$.
       Greg Palast has remarked that the Brit Press supports writings critical government policies BECAUSE powerful Brits don't need the Press in their exercise of their power.
       But here is a sign that Tony Blair is sensistive to criticism - maybe that's a step forward. - Michael P. COMMENT ENDS.] [By courtesy of Michael P.]
       Also see: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,,1759581,00.html , Liberty and the state - a debate that had to happen, The Observer (London) Sunday April 23, 2006
       AND http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/comment/0,,1759798,00.html , Jenni Russell: Tony Blair's authoritarian populism is indefensible and dangerous.
       AND http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=612062006 , Scotsman.com News, Monday, April 24, 2006, Blair's plan to drive out criminals draws fresh fears for civil liberties [Apr 23, 06]

    • On Line Opinion

     
       On Line Opinion - Australia's free Internet journal of social and political opinion, www.onlineopinion.com.au , E-mailed April 24, 2006
    New Articles
       How to lose your job at a Saudi newspaper www.online opinion.com. au/view.asp? article=4402 ; My last provocation was to write about the atrocities Indonesia had committed during its occupation of East Timor from 1975 to 1999. International - Fawaz Turki - posted 24/4/2006
       All bets are off when a bill of rights comes in; Overseas experience offers a lesson for Australian states considering legislating for a bill of rights. Law & Liberties - James Allan - posted 24/4/2006
       Quality teaching - extending the blowtorch; To bring the reality of lifelong learning in Australia into line with discourse, the debate about teacher quality needs to be broadened. Education - Monika Kruesmann - posted 24/4/2006
       Federation in East Africa; There is a gap in Australia's foreign relations: Africa is simply not on our radar, but it should be. International - Graham Cooke - posted 24/4/2006
       The guilt trip is a fruitless journey; It's a wacky world when conversations about Indigenous justice deteriorate into navel-contemplation exercises in personal guilt. Indigenous Affairs - Graham Ring - posted 24/4/2006
       Enhancing our identity-deprived lives; Has our exasperated, impatient, characteristically nationalistic demand for social homogenisation placed the realities of cultural authenticity beyond our ethical reach? Discuss! Feature - Jane Rankin-Reid - posted 24/4/2006
       Turning a blind eye; The house is alight and the neighbours are fleeing - so does Australia ignore the plight of West Papuans? International - Susan Connelly - posted 21/4/2006
       The 'Israeli lobby' mirage; If the International - Colin Rubenstein - posted 21/4/2006
       Donor fatigue a problem for Pakistan; Did the world really care less for Pakistan earthquake victims than Boxing Day tsunami survivors? International - Natascha Hryckow - posted 21/4/2006
       Deconstructing Madonna; At 47 Madonna has created a holding pattern of youth, beauty and beats by reverting to the past. The Arts - Leanne McRae - posted 21/4/2006
       From dirt to digital; Australia has had dumb luck with resource prices booming, but what happens when they bust? Economics - Damian Jeffree - posted 21/4/2006
       Muzzling of science; If scientists publish, and their findings are unpalatable, then they may well perish. Science & Technology - Julian Cribb - posted 20/4/2006
       The ALP should take on the IR laws; Labor should be bold enough to offer Australia a better way. Domestic Politics - Grant Michelson and Mark Hearn - posted 20/4/2006
       Mutual obligation and Catholic values; Questioning the ethics and relevance of mutual obligation in public policy. Political Philosophy - Minh Nguyen - posted 20/4/2006
       Balancing the power: Queensland needs an upper house; Queensland has an 'accountability' gap, that could be solved with the reintroduction of an upper house. Domestic Politics - Nicholas Aroney and Scott Prasser - posted 20/4/2006
       Lacking in foresight; Australia should be a research and development hub for future fuel and energy technology. Nation Building - Daniel Donahoo - posted 20/4/2006
       Backdown invites more demands; The more Canberra caves in to Jakarta's demands, the more we invite danger. International - Tony Kevin - posted 19/4/2006
       Breaking-up is hard to do; Forcing couples into dispute resolution will be counterproductive: we don't need the new Family Relationship Centres Society - Arti Sharma - posted 19/4/2006
       School vouchers: choice and 'empowerment'; School vouchers can offer choice, normally the preserve of wealthy people, to everyone. Education - Corin McCarthy - posted 19/4/2006
       Israel and US interests aren't identical; Don't, whatever you do, criticise Washington's close relationship with Israel. International - Antony Loewenstein - posted 19/4/2006
       Will the Arabs dare to listen to Somaliland? Somaliland should be a shining example of progressive Arab modernism. International - Bashir Goth - posted 19/4/2006
       Too much health; Dissuading the 'worried well' from swamping our health services. Health - Tanveer Ahmed - posted 18/4/2006
       Fat ducks equal fat cows; Graziers and environmentalists in symbiotic parasitic relationship in Macquarie Marshes. Environment - Jennifer Marohasy - posted 18/4/2006
       Why Australia should pay Indigenous children to attend school; Let's open our wallets and pay Indigenous children to attend school. Education - Andrew Leigh - posted 18/4/2006
       Report card on Indigenous health: must do better; Indigenous health should be a national priority. Health - Chris Evans - posted 18/4/2006
       Musings on Easter; If we want to be Christ-like, we should make time for the saints of our era, whomever they may be. Religion & Spirituality - Irfan Yusuf - posted 18/4/2006
       Regards, Graham Young, Chief Editor
       On Line Opinion is owned and published by National Forum. Editorial Advisory Board: Brian Johns, Leonie Kramer, Michael Kelly, Peter Donoughue, Ray Evans, Michael Williams, Kathy Sullivan, Tom Worthington, Julian Cribb, Helen O'Neil, Lucy Turnbull.
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    Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, May 11 and 12.
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       Attendees should be able to articulate a vision for Australia and be interested in discussing economically, socially and culturally important issues. If this is you, or someone you know, visit www.futuresummit.org for information on how to apply for registration.
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    QUT
       The Crucible by Arthur Miller The Crucible explores the story of teenage girls in Salem who are rumoured to be witches. This production by third-year acting students will be held in the QUT Gardens Theatre. Date: April 27, 2006 - May 06, 2006. Time: 7.30pm. Location: QUT Gardens Theatre, 2 George Street, Brisbane. Cost: adults $18, concessions $14, students $12. Organisation: Creative Industries Precinct. Info: Bianca Lambert. Phone: 07 3864 3248. Email: bm.lambert@qut.edu.au. Web: http://www.ciprecinct.com.au. [Apr 24, 06]

      • Cadbury doesn't own purple, court says as it rules for Darrell Lea  

     
       The West Australian, p 14, Friday, April 28, 2006
       Multinational chocolate maker Cadbury has been told it does not "own" the colour purple, as its attempt to sue a rival was rejected by Australia's Federal Court.
       The company, which uses a dark shade of purple in its global marketing effort, launched legal action in 2003 in a bid to sue Australian-based confectioner Darrell Lea over its use of similar colours.
       Cadbury had objected to Darrell Lea's use of various shades of purple in Darrell Lea's store signage, uniforms and product packaging.
       The court will look at costs at a later date. #
       [COMMENT: So the international conglomerate Cadbury, which had previously claimed a Fremantle firm could not use the term "jug" in relation to a special handled bottle and drink, has now tied up an Australian company from 2003 until now. The unwary should also remember that Australian courts often do NOT grant all the costs to the successful defendants, so the Australian confectioner will probably end up out of pocket, too. And there are politicians who said that the Australian-US trade agreement, and other trade agreements, will be good for Australians! COMMENT ENDS.] [Apr 28, 06]
    • [43rd West Papuan is half Japanese and has visa]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Indonesia flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  West Papua (independence movement) flag; http://www.labandiera.com/id-sub1.htm  Japan flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  

    Asylum application delayed

     
       News.com.au , www.news.com. au/story/0,10117, 18986293- 29277,00.html , By Mariza Fiamengo, AAP, May 01, 2006
       AUSTRALIA: A PAPUAN man's application for asylum has been delayed by inquiries into his half-Japanese ethnicity, a court has been told.
       The 29-year-old independence activist is the only one of the 43 refugees who arrived in a traditional canoe on Cape York Peninsula in January, to have his request for asylum still to be decided.
       In an application lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court, the Papuan man's legal team accuse Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone of refusing to decide his visa claim in order "to advance diplomatic relations between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia".
       The lawyer for Ms Vanstone, Charles Gunst QC, denied the delay was caused by orders "from higher up" to stall the asylum application.
       Instead, he told the court, inquiries being made by the department about a Japanese residency visa the man had on his Indonesian passport was behind the delay.
       Mr Gunst said the man's ethnicity was half-Papuan and half-Japanese and he had lived in Japan for some years before coming to Australia.
       "So far, the evidence shows this applicant has not taken any steps whatsoever to avail himself of the apparent right he has to enter and reside in Japan," Mr Gunst told the court.
       Lawyers for the asylum seeker appeared at the court today seeking to have the matter transferred to the Australian Federal Court.
       The man's lawyer, Richard Niall, told the court his client's application for asylum had been held up unlawfully and it should be heard urgently.
       Mr Gunst accused the man's lawyers of attempting to "stampede" the court into forcing a decision to be made before all the relevant facts were known.
       Federal Magistrate Murray McInnis reserved his decision on whether to move the case to the Federal Court until later this week.
       Under immigration law the court is not allowed to identify the man.
    By courtesy of T T-S [01 May, 06]
    • Remaining West Papuan asylum seeker should be brought to Melbourne 

    Remaining West Papuan asylum seeker should be brought to Melbourne

     
       Greens Media, by Senator Kerry Nettle (New South Wales), May 1, 2006
       AUSTRALIA: Following the further delay in court today in the case of the remaining West Papuan asylum seeker on Christmas Island Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today called for him to be brought to Melbourne, while the Immigration Department and the courts decide whether he is granted a visa.
       "I understand that there is no question that this man is a genuine refugee and it is just technical issues which are being decided in his case," said Senator Nettle.
       "I met this man with the 42 other West Papuans when I visited Christmas Island in January. It is a very remote place and his isolation should end.
       "This man should be brought to Melbourne on the next flight while his case is finalised. He should be with his fellow West Papuans, not isolated on a remote island.
       "He should be able to live in the community with his fellow West Papuans and supporters until his case has been decided.
       "If the government insists on his ongoing detention, then he should still be brought to Melbourne so he can be near his friends and supporters.
       "This man's father died in an Indonesian prison after being jailed for raising the West Papuan flag and yet we continue to treat him like a criminal behind razor wire.
       [CONTACT: Max Phillips 0414 338 526 . CONTACT ENDS.] By courtesy of T T-S [May 01, 06]
    • [Turkey Refuses U.S. Request To Allow Attack On Iran From Turkish Base; and more]  Turkey flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Turkey Refuses U.S. Request To Allow Attack On Iran From Turkish Base

     
       Information Clearing House (USA), www.information clearinghouse.info , Various newsitems, E-mail, May 1, 2006
       Turkey Refuses U.S. Request To Allow Attack On Iran From Turkish Base By YNetNews Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Sunday that his country refused a request from the United States to attack Iran from its Air Force base in Incirlik, despite the U.S. offer of a nuclear reactor, according to a report in Al Biyan. http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12887.htm
       Time to shut-down the UN By Mike Whitney When the bombing begins in Iran, the UN can finally board-up its doors and send the diplomats home; there'll be no more reason to maintain the pretense. An attack on Iranian facilities will signal a period of global realignment where states either submit to the Washington axis or join the growing resistance. We are quickly moving towards Bush's dream of a world that is divided into "us against them". http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12890.htm
       Robert Fisk: Seen through a Syrian lens, 'unknown Americans' are provoking civil war in Iraq; By Robert Fisk. The Americans, my interlocutor suspected, are trying to provoke an Iraqi civil war so that Sunni Muslim insurgents spend their energies killing their Shia co-religionists rather than soldiers of the Western occupation forces. "I swear to you that we have very good information," my source says, finger stabbing the air in front of him. http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12885.htm
       Failed States; The US Has the Characteristics of A "Failed State," By Stephen Lendman. Having laid out his premises, Chomsky believes the US today exhibits the very features we cite as characteristics of "failed states" - a term we use for nations seen as potential threats to our security which may require our intervention against in self-defense. http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12889.htm
       Praying for Peace or Preying on Peace? By Rev. WILLIAM A. ALBERTS. The United Methodist Church should be bringing disciplinary action against President George Bush for war crimes. Evidence continues to mount that Bush, a United Methodist, deliberately used his religious faith to deceive the American people in the run-up to his administration's pre-meditated war against non-threatening, sanctions-weakened, defenseless Iraq. http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12891.htm
       Bombs, Drive-By Shootings Kill 9 In Iraq: Bombs and drive-by shootings Sunday killed nine people in Iraq, and the bodies of seven Iraqi men who apparently were kidnapped and tortured were found in three areas of the capital. www.wral.com/ apworldnews/ 9115265/ detail.html
       Turkish Armed Forces Strike PKK Camps in N. Iraq : The Northern Iraqi cities of Amedi and Zaho, sheltering Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) militants, were hit with mortar attacks in "Operation Crescent." www.zaman. com/?bl=nation al&alt=&hn= 32593
       Iraq Concerned Over Turkish Invasion: So far, the Turkish military was said to have penetrated 10 kilometers into Iraq in the operation against the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK www.menews line.com/stories/ 2006/april/04 _30_1.html
       Kurdistan: Dangerous Passage: Could another front be opening in the Iraq war? Over recent weeks, some 200,000 Turkish troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, have massed along the mountainous border with Iraq. Trucks passing from Turkey, ferrying the imported goods and foodstuffs that are the lifeblood of the Kurdish economy, have slowed from 1,000 a day to just a couple of hundred. http://msnbc. msn.com/id/ 12555396/ site/newsweek/
       Iran 'attacks Iraq Kurdish area': raq has accused Iranian forces of entering Iraqi territory and shelling Kurdish rebel positions in the north. Iranian troops bombed border areas near the town of Hajj Umran before crossing into Iraq, the defence ministry in Baghdad said on Sunday. http://information clearinghouse. info/article 12888.htm
       'Don't attack us or else,' Kurdish guerrillas warn Iran: Lodged in northern Iraq in an area flanked by NATO member Turkey and Washington's foe Iran, elements of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have accused Teheran of attacking their encampments. http://tinyurl. com/geu86
       Powell Says He Urged Bush to Send More Troops to Iraq : Powell, in an interview with Britain's ITV1, says he gave the advice to now-retired General Tommy Franks, who planned the Iraq invasion, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush. www.voanews. com/english/ 2006-04-30- voa11.cfm
       'I Demand a Timetable': Moqtada al-Sadr on war, peace and occupation. msnbc.msn.com/ id/12550915/ site/newsweek
       Bush Warns of 'More Days of Sacrifice': President Bush warned in his weekly radio address of tough fighting to come and "more days of sacrifice and struggle" in Iraq as April drew to a close as the deadliest month for American forces this year. www.kfmb. com/stories/ story.48464. html
       Fallout From U.S. Strikes: In a report to be posted on the IAEA's Web site this week, the agency states that about 1,000 Iraqi men, women and children in a village near the former Tuwaitha nuclear research facility are living inside an area contaminated by radioactive residue and ruin. "I can only guess that a lot of the damage at Tuwaitha was from bombing," www.msnbc. msn.com/id/ 12440710/ site/newsweek
       US urges new aid to Iraq power grid: A senior U.S. official said on Sunday Gulf Arab states and other foreigners should help Iraq build new power stations, as U.S. investment in the electricity sector winds down after three years of reconstruction aid. http://news. yahoo.com/ s/nm/200604 30/pl_nm/iraq_ electricity_dc_1
       Tens of thousands in New York march against the war in Iraq: Tens of thousands of antiwar protesters marched yesterday through Manhattan to demand an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq just hours after an American soldier died in a roadside explosion in Baghdad - the 70th US fighter killed in that country this month. http://tinyurl. com/kl2r4
       Iran: 'Maximum' Cooperation Offered To IAEA, Not Security Council : Iran says it could allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, but only if the UN Security Council returns Iran's case to the jurisdiction of the UN's nuclear watchdog. The White House has rejected the offer. www.payvand. com/news/06/ apr/1248.html
       Iran says digging in for confrontation over nuclear programme : Iran has said it was digging in for a confrontation with the West over its disputed nuclear programme, vowing that neither UN Security Council resolutions nor US military action could force a climbdown. www.channel newsasia.com/ stories/afp_ world/view/ 205823/1/.html
       'Iran will face music' says Powell: He said the Security Council was only likely to be able to agree on a "quite limited" range of such measures against the regime. http://www.itn. co.uk/news/ index_1167 108.html
       Iran says U.N. sanctions would boost oil prices even higher : The Iranian deputy oil minister said Sunday he did not believe the United Nations would impose sanctions on Iran because that would boost oil prices even higher. www.signons andiego.com/ news/world/ 20060430- 0726-iran- nuclear.html
       Iran holds the trump card in oil game : As the crisis escalates, Washington's diplomatic partners will become gravely worried about their energy supplies. http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=419464
       New oil shock ahead as $100 spike looms : The growing international crisis over Iran's nuclear programme could trigger a catastrophic oil price spike, sending crude prices over $100 a barrel, senior Wall Street analysts are warning. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1764412,00.html
       China threatens to veto sanctions against Iran : CHINA has threatened to veto any proposal to impose sanctions on Iran if it does not give up its quest for nuclear power. This will split the United Nations as it meets this week to discuss how to handle the standoff. http://tinyurl.com/kbuwd
       A reliable prophet of doom: I believe that George Bush is a prophet. But not just any old prophet. A special kind - one whose actions bring about the very things he claims will happen, albeit without any recognition of his role in causing them to occur. He is, therefore, a self-fulfilling prophet. Let me explain. http://tinyurl.com/jy5ls
       Bush praises Azerbaijan's president, despite spotty record: The meeting demonstrated the difficulty the administration faces as it seeks to maintain U.S. access to oil and gas supplies from countries that may be unstable or unreliable, often because of corruption or human-rights abuses. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002960283_azer29.html
       Thousands Protest Turkish Plans To Build Nuclear Plant : Thousands rallied in Turkey's Black Sea coastal city of Sinop on Saturday to protest government plans to build the country's first nuclear power plant there http://tinyurl.com/gusr5
       Turkey, Israel make undersea connections: Leaders in Israel and Turkey envision a network of four underwater pipelines for transporting Russian oil and natural gas, with feeder lines to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon. http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20060430-010130-7755r.htm
       Haniya: Palestinian president has the right to negotiate with any party: Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniya said on Sunday that his government will not appose any negotiations spearheaded by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas with any party, including Israel. http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=861279
       Syria begins national campaign to gather money for Palestinians: Syria began a weeklong campaign on Sunday to collect money for the Palestinians, following a visit by the Palestinian foreign minister 10 days ago. http://tinyurl.com/g8wlt
       Why are the Palestinians expected to take the blame?: How long is a sane man expected to sit on his hands while his enemy slaps him in the face? The Palestinian people have endured a prolonged aggression by a pariah state, and yet the world not only expects them to sit on their hands, the world blames them for it. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=10178
       Sudan agrees to deal on Darfur: The Sudanese government has accepted a peace deal brokered by the African Union (AU) after talks in Nigeria, but the rebels say they still have reservations over the deal. http://tinyurl.com/h55hu
       Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela Reject U.S. Trade: Bolivia's president signed a pact with Cuba and Venezuela on Saturday rejecting U.S.-backed free trade and promising a socialist version of regional commerce and cooperation. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1905711
       Bolivia Ready to Recover National Resources, Says Evo Morales: In a keynote address, the Bolivian leader noted it is important to free the country's natural resources from foreign domination, assuring that his government is organized and prepared to recover those resources from the oil companies, which have caused great damage to Bolivia. http://www.periodico26.cu/english/news_cuba/evom042906.htm
       April 1965 and the unfinished Dominican revolution : On April 28, 1965, 42,000 U.S. troops poured into the Dominican Republic to put down the beginnings of a democratic revolution in the Caribbean country. That invasion and the repression that followed continue to shape the Dominican people's struggle for true sovereignty. http://tinyurl.com/hp7h8
       Egypt extends emergency law: The Muslim Brotherhood, the strongest opposition force, said there was no justification for extending the law, which Hosni Mubarak, the president, last year promised to substitute with anti-terrorism legislation. http://tinyurl.com/kdp5b
       U.S. trying to halt suit against NSA: It's official: The Bush administration formally said Friday that it will try to halt a lawsuit that accuses AT&T of helping the National Security Agency spy on Americans illegally. http://news.com.com/2061-10789_3-6066688.html
       In leak cases, new pressure on journalists : The Bush administration is putting pressure on the press as never before, and it is operating in a judicial climate that seems increasingly receptive to constraints on journalists. http://tinyurl.com/j2wrq
       Data Show How Patriot Act Used: The FBI issued thousands of subpoenas to banks, phone companies and Internet providers last year, aggressively using a power enhanced under the Patriot Act to monitor the activities of U.S. citizens, Justice Department data released late Friday showed. http://informationclearinghouse.info/article12886.htm
       Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping: It didn't take long for the idea of forcing Internet providers to retain records of their users' activities to gain traction in the U.S. Congress. http://news. com.com/ Congress%20 may%20consider%20 mandatory%20 ISP%20snooping/ 2100-1028_3- 6066608.html? tag=nefd.top? yousayyouwant arevolution
       William Pfaff: Why Europe should reject U.S. market capitalism : In the United States, the new model of corporate business has evolved toward a form of crony capitalism, in which business and government interests are often corruptly intermingled, the system resistant to reform because of the financial dependence of both major political parties on contributed money. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/28/opinion/edpfaff.php
       Noam Chomsky: Failed States: We began by considering four critical issues that should rank high on the agenda of those concerned with the prospects for a decent future. Two of them are literally matters of survival: nuclear war and environmental disaster. http://informationclearinghouse.info/article12892.htm
       IRAQ WAR: Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America's War? As Many As 250,000 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11674.htm
       Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In Bush's War 2400 http://icasualties.org/oif/
       The War in Iraq Costs $277,147,958,701 See the cost in your community http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182
       APPOSITE QUOTATIONS: Freedom of expression is the well-spring of our civilization... The history of civilization is in considerable measure the displacement of error which once held sway as official truth by beliefs which in turn have yielded to other truths. Therefore the liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge.": Felix Frankfurter - (1882-1965) U.S. Supreme Court Justice - Source: Concurring Opinion, Dennis et al. v. U.S. (1951)
       "Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order." : Justice Robert H. Jackson - (1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice Source: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943
       He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...: Samuel Adams
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    [May 1, 06]
    • Guantanamo inmates riot  United  States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Cuba flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Guantanamo inmates riot

     
       Sunday Tasmanian, AFP, p 22, May 21, 2006
       WASHINGTON: GUANTANAMO inmates staged a fake suicide bid to lure US guards into a trap and attack them with fan blades and other improvised weapons, the commander of the US detention camp in Cuba said.
       Guards fired rubber bullets and six prisoners suffered minor injuries in what Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, called "the most violent outbreak" at the prison since it was opened in January 2002.
       The ambush was reported on the day a UN panel called on the United States to close the camp for al-Qaeda and Taliban "enemy combatants".
       Australian David Hicks has been held at the camp for more than four years since being arrested in Afghanistan. His father Terry Hicks yesterday said his son would not have been involved in the riot.
       Prison commander Harris said detainees smothered the floor with excrement and soapy water to make it slippery before guards rushed in believing they were saving a man who was seen preparing to hang himself.
       The guards were then attacked with "broken light fixtures, fan blades" and other improvised weapons, Harris said.
       The fighting lasted four to five minutes but it took about an hour to move all the prisoners and clear up the block, Harris said.
       Two real suicide bids were staged before the unrest. Harris said two inmates took an overdose of prescription drugs and were unconscious but in "stable" condition in the main hospital at the US navy base.
       Civilian lawyers who have visited the camp say there is widespread depression among the approximately 460 inmates.
       Harris said about 18 per cent of the inmates had "some form of mental issue" and between eight and 10 per cent had "serious mental issues".
       The UN Committee on Torture, in a report compiled after hearing evidence from senior US officials, yesterday called on the United States to close Guantanamo and any secret prisons it operates around the world.
       But Washington brushed aside charges that Guantanamo inmates were mistreated, insisting that interrogations carried out there were fully within US legal guidelines.
       "It is important to note that everything that is done in terms of questioning detainees is fully within the boundaries of American law," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. #
       [RECAPITULATION: The UN Committee on Torture, ... yesterday called on the United States to close Guantanamo and any secret prisons it operates around the world. But Washington brushed aside charges that Guantanamo inmates were mistreated, ... RECAP. ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: Anyone held without an ordinary trial in ordinary courts IS BEING MISTREATED. Some of those locked up there have been released without charge - even the US doesn't know why they were taken there! Read the US Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Magna Charta. COMMENT ENDS.] [May 21, 06]

    • [Chagossians, Diego Garcia people - cheated out of Eden]           

    OUT OF EDEN

     
       The Guardian (Britain), http://­politics.­guardi­an.co.uk/­foreign­affairs/­story/0,­,1785048,­00html , Monday, May 29, 2006
       The Indian Ocean paradise of Diego Garcia was once home to more than a thousand contented British subjects. In 1966, Harold Wilson's government sold it to the US in a secret, illegal deal and terrorised the population into leaving. John Pilger reports on the islanders' long battle for justice
       In long-forgotten archives in London and Mauritius is rare film of a community of contented people. The grainy, flickering images, full of movement of children playing on sandy beaches, and proud young women presenting their newborn for christening, and men setting out to fish, their dogs swimming alongside, are glimpses of a true paradise. There are thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a light railway, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty: strings of coral atolls, floating in the turquoise of the Indian Ocean.
       These were some of the 2,000 people who once lived on the Chagos archipelago, the majority on Diego Garcia, an atoll the shape of a tiny Italy, 14 miles long and six miles wide. Their ancestry went back to the 18th century, when the French brought slaves from Mozambique and Madagascar to work a coconut plantation. After Napoleon's defeat in 1815, the islands passed from French to British rule; about 20 years later, slavery was abolished.
       Chagossian society continued to grow with the arrival of indentured labourers from India in the mid-19th century. By the 20th century they had developed a distinct language that was a lilting variation of French Creole. There were now three copra factories, supplying the coconut oil that lit street lamps in London, and a coaling station for ships en route to and from Australia; by the 1960s, there were plans for tourism. The workers received a small wage or payment in kind with commodities such as rice, oil and milk. They supplemented this by fishing in the abundantly stocked coastal waters, growing tomatoes, chilli, pumpkins and aubergines, and rearing chicken and ducks. As if celebrating a perfect vision of empire in such a place, a Colonial Office film from the 1950s describes the population as "born and brought up ... in conditions most tranquil and benign". The camera pans across a laughing woman hanging out clothes to dry in a coconut grove while her children play around her. This is Charlesia Alexis.
       I met Charlesia recently, 50 years after she was filmed. She was sitting in the shade of her small, sparsely furnished house on the edge of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, more than 1,000 miles from her home. I asked her for her fondest memories of Diego Garcia. "Oh, everything!" she replied. "The sense of wellbeing is my fondest souvenir. My family could eat and drink what they liked; we never lacked for anything; we never bought anything, except clothes. Can you imagine that?"
       "Why did you leave?"
       "I left in 1967. My husband was very ill and I decided to take him to Port Louis to get the special treatment he needed. When we were ready to return, we went to Rogers & Company [they ran the boats] and asked for our tickets. They said they had instructions not to let us go back. They said Diego had been sold."
       "Sold?"
       "Yes, that's what they said. We were tricked. Looking back, the day before we left, the administrator told us to take a lot of fruit with us. They tricked us in so many ways, and when this game had run its course, they deported everyone, just like that. I was the fourth generation. Diego was my bird in the sky that was taken from me. I was sent to live in a slum, in rooms previously inhabited by goats and pigs. That's how they saw us."
       What happened in the Chagos Islands was so searing, it may seem barely credible. Indeed La Lutte, as the Chagossians call their struggle for justice and freedom, arose from a crime that allows us to glimpse how great power works behind its respectable, democratic facade and how governments justify their actions with lies.
       During the 1960s and 1970s, British governments, both Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos, a British colonial dependency, so that their homeland could be given to a foreign power, the United States, as the site for a military base. This "act of mass kidnapping", as one observer describes it, was carried out in high secrecy, along with the conspiracy that preceded it. For almost a decade, neither parliament nor the US Congress knew anything about it, and no journalist revealed it. BBC newsreaders still refer to US aircraft flying out to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq from the "uninhabited" island of Diego Garcia. Not only was the Chagossians' homeland stolen from them, but they were taken out of history. This scandal is unresolved today - even though the high court in London has twice ruled that the islanders' "wholesale removal" was an "abject legal failure".
       The year was 1961. Two men strode up the jetty on Diego Garcia, filmed by missionaries unaware of the significance of their visitors. One was Rear Admiral Grantham of the US Navy, the leader of an American advance survey team whose objective was to find an island suitable for a military base that would allow Washington to dominate the Indian Ocean and beyond. For the next three years, British and American planners and engineers inspected the Chagos group. Finally, they selected the nearby island of Aldabra.
       Their secret decision leaked out to the scientists of the Royal Society in London, who were horrified. Together with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, this formidable establishment body mounted a campaign that saw off the Ministry of Defence and Admiral Grantham. The island's precious wildlife, including the giant land tortoise and the last flightless bird, were safe. The second choice, however, was not. This was Diego Garcia which, although rich in terrestrial and marine life, was not unique enough to excite the collective indignation of naturalists.
       As for the presence of a flourishing human population, this was "not an insurmountable problem", advised the Foreign Office, for people could be "removed" and "the outside world [presented] with a scenario in which there were no permanent inhabitants on the archipelago".
       In February 1964, a secret Anglo-American conference was held in London, at which the final decision was taken. Again, parliament was not informed. The following April, Anthony Greenwood, the colonial secretary in Harold Wilson's Labour government, flew to Mauritius, then a British colony that included the Chagos Islands. Greenwood spelled out the terms for granting independence to Mauritius. Despite United Nations Resolution 1514, which held that all colonial peoples had an inalienable right to independence without conditions, Greenwood offered it with strings. Mauritius could be free as long as Britain could keep the Chagos archipelago. The bribe was a mere 3m, together with a promise to support Mauritian sugar preferences.
       Thus Charlesia's homeland was "sold". On November 8 1965, in the twilight of its colonial era, Britain created a new colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), whose principal territory was the Chagos Islands. It was a ruse of which perhaps only Britain's ancien régime was capable; for the new colony was a fake, an entity created for the sole purpose of handing it over for the use of the American military. This was made possible by using the archaic powers of the royal prerogative, a throwback to the divine right of kings.
       Although barely reported in the press, word of this manoeuvre reached the United Nations in New York, spurring the General Assembly to pass Resolution 2066, which called on the British government "to take no action which would dismember the territory of Mauritius and violate its territorial integrity". This was ignored.
       In December 1966, Lord Chalfont, a Foreign Office minister, signed a contract in Washington giving the Pentagon a 50-year "lease" on Diego Garcia with an automatic extension of 20 years. Declassified state department documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act in 2005 reveal that Washington wanted the entire population expelled; as one official put it, the islands were to be "swept" and "sanitised". This was described in a secret file as "a neat, sensible package".
       In 1974,a joint UK-US question-and-answer "official truth" primer for embassies around the world asked: "Is there a native population on the Chagos Islands?" The reply was "No." A Ministry of Defence spokesman denied this was a lie, in the process uttering perhaps the most amazing lie of all. "There is nothing in our files," he said, "about inhabitants or about an evacuation." It was not until 1975 that the US Senate revealed that the British government had been secretly "compensated" for the Chagos with a discount of $14m off the price of a Polaris nuclear submarine. This itself was illegal, as it was never submitted to Congress for approval; and the document Chalfont signed stated falsely that the US would pay no rent for acquiring "base rights". There was no mention of a population.
       Lizette Talate is also in the Colonial Office film. She was 14 years old at the time and remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, "Keep smiling, girls!" Sitting in her kitchen in Port Louis, she says, "We didn't need to be told. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego. My great-grandmother was born on Diego, and my grandmother was born there, and my mother was born there, and I was born there. I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers. That's why they couldn't legally throw us out of our own homes; they had to terrify us into leaving or force us out."
       "How did they terrify you?" I asked.
       "They tried to starve us. The food ships stopped arriving, and everything was scarce. There was no milk, no dairy products, no oil, no sugar, no salt. When they couldn't starve us out of our homes, they spread rumours that we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs."
       The Chagossians love their dogs; they are inseparable. The plan to kill all the dogs on the island - with its unsubtle implication that humans might be next - came from Sir Bruce Greatbatch, then Her Majesty's Governor of the Seychelles. "At first they tried poisoned fish balls," said Lizette. "That killed a few and left many in terrible agony. Then they paid a man to walk round with a big stick beating them to death, or trying to. Finally, American soldiers, who had already begun to arrive, gassed them, and the bodies - many still alive - were thrown on to a shelf that usually held the flesh of coconuts as it was cooked ... children listened to the howls of their pets being burned to death."
       Along with 180 others, Lizette and her family were forced on to the vessel Nordvaer, which had plied between the Chagos and Mauritius and the Seychelles, transporting copra and taking supplies back to the islands. The men were herded on to the bridge and had to stand or crouch in very rough weather; the women and children were made to sleep in the hold on a cargo of fertiliser - bird shit. People vomited and suffered diarrhoea; two women miscarried.
       "Even water was scarce," says Lizette. "What I can't forget is the fear and uncertainty for myself and my family. When we got to the Seychelles, the police were waiting for us. They marched us up the hill to a prison, where we were kept in cells until the boat was ready to take us on to Mauritius.
       "I suppose we took some hope in the promise that in Mauritius we would be granted a house, a piece of land, animals and a sum of money. We got nothing."
       The former president of Mauritius, Cassam Uteem, who has championed the Chagossians' rights, told me: "You can't imagine how bewildered and terrified they were ... These were a people who would sing their way through life; and here they were, weeping their way through life, and they are still weeping.
       "I know of one lady who lost two children within two or three months, and she wasn't able even to perform their funerals because she didn't have any money. The children were taken from the hospital straight to the cemetery. That lady is still weeping."
       Lizette is that lady. She lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged 10 months. Her husband died soon afterwards. "They died of sadness," she tells me. "It is true, because the doctor said he could not treat sadness. Lizette is a wiry, formidably intelligent woman who wears a mask of grief and determination. "I am going home," she says. "I am not to be pitied; I am fighting."
       By 1975, the Chagossians in exile began to die from their imposed poverty. Most were unemployed and penniless and either sharing a slum or sleeping rough. In a letter to an MP, a Foreign Office official wrote: "Although we have no information about deaths, some deaths are bound to have occurred in the normal course of events."
       That was a lie. The Foreign Office had sent a senior official, ARG Prosser, to investigate; he had sent back a graphically detailed report on the islanders' living conditions and advised that "something needs to be done".
       The government's response was to offer a minuscule 650,000 in compensation to the entire population. Even this did not arrive until 1978, five years after the last islander had been deported.
       In 1981, several hundred Chagossian women converged on the British High Commission in Port Louis, sat down and sang, and demanded proper compensation. Thanks to their protest, it appeared that progress was being made on compensation. On March 27 1982, a group of the most impoverished islanders accepted a "full and final" settlement of 4m [?sic] - less than half the estimated minimum that they could survive on. But on what the islanders wanted most - the right to return - there was a deafening silence.
       In the 1990s, the islanders' struggle took a dramatic turn when a treasure trove of declassified official documents was discovered in the National Archives at Kew, in London. This provided the narrative of a conspiracy between two governments to carry out, in the words of Article 7 of the statute of the international criminal court, the "deportation or forcible transfer of a population ... a crime against humanity".
       On July 28 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, TCD Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, FDW Brown, instructing him to lie to the general assembly that the Chagos Islands were "uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired them". This Brown did on November 16 1965. He also misrepresented the population as "labourers from Mauritius and the Seychelles" for whom Britain's obligations under the United Nations Charter "did not apply", and he lied that the "new administrative arrangements" had been "freely worked out with the ... elected representatives of the people concerned".
       In a secret memorandum, a Colonial Office official, KWS MacKenzie, spelt out the truth. "One of the things we would like to do in the new Territory," he wrote, "is to convert all the existing residents into short-term, temporary residents by giving them temporary immigration permits, describing them as inhabitants of Mauritius or the Seychelles."
       Reading the files, it is clear that the British government did as it was told by Washington. Mass deportation, wrote a Foreign Office official, "was made virtually a condition of the agreement [with the Americans] when we negotiated it in 1965".
       What these files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality and contempt. On August 24 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours. There will be no indigenous population except seagulls."
       At the bottom of the page is a postscript handwritten by DA Greenhill, another senior official, who became Baron Greenhill of Harrow.
       "Unfortunately," he wrote, "along with the Birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure, and who are being hopefully wished on to Mauritius etc. When this has been done, I agree we must be very tough."
       The cover-up went to the very top. On November 5 and 8 1965, the Colonial Secretary, Anthony Greenwood, wrote two secret minutes to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, in which he described the problem of a "population of 1,000 inhabitants" living in the Chagos. He urged that the Queen quickly approve the "order-in-council detaching the islands" so that the new colony could be declared and "we should be able to present the UN with a fait accompli".
       So when Wilson gave the green light to the order-in-council, he was aware he was overriding the legal and human rights of British citizens. He was stealing their country and ignoring the risks of "dumping unemployables in heavily over-populated Mauritius", as one honest Foreign Office official warned, not to mention the incalculable suffering this ensured.
       Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart, a quiet, grey-haired, grandfatherly-looking man, took charge of the deceit. Writing secretly to Wilson on July 25 1968, he proposed that the government lie to the world that there was "no indigenous population", even though he had signed a memorandum circulating in the cabinet which admitted that "there was an indigenous population and the Foreign Office knew it".
       On April 26 1969, Wilson's private secretary wrote to Stewart that the prime minister approved the "plan". Seven successive British governments have - to recall the memorable expression of a Foreign Office legal adviser in 1969 - maintained the fiction.
       In his two autobiographies, Denis Healey, who was defence secretary in the Wilson government and responsible for turning Diego Garcia over to the Pentagon, makes not a single mention of the expulsion of the population. In 2004, I asked Healey for an interview. He replied, "I fear I have no memories of the Chagos archipelago. Sorry."
       On May 6 1969, Healey's private secretary wrote to Downing Street, confirming that the Defence Secretary had read Stewart's plan and "agrees with its recommendations". Healey even queried the cost of expelling the population and sought an assurance that any "excess" above 10m would not be borne by his department.
       The "policy of concealment" (as a Foreign Office file called it) ran almost to the end of the century - until the files at Kew were cracked open. Armed with this extraordinary evidence, Richard Gifford, the tireless lawyer representing the islanders, headed for the courts. In October 2000, Lizette Talate, Charlesia Alexis and others, led by a courageous islander, Olivier Bancoult, flew to London to give evidence in a high court action that challenged the legality of their dispossession.
       The government had feared this, and, prior to the hearing, the Foreign Office mounted a disinformation campaign, led by Peter Hain. "The outer islands," Hain told the House of Commons, "have been uninhabited for 30 years, so any resettlement would present serious problems, both because of the practical feasibility and in relation to our treaty obligations."
       A "treaty" implied an agreement scrutinised by parliament. There was no treaty: only a secret, criminal deal. On November 3 2000, in the high court, Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Gibbs stunned the government.
       Citing the Magna Carta, which proscribed "Exile from the Realm" without due process, they unanimously squashed the 1965 ordinance used to deport the islanders as unlawful.
       Lizette and Charlesia at last could go home, it seemed. But the Blair government had other ideas. That afternoon, the Foreign Office published a new immigration ordinance that banned the islanders from returning to Diego Garcia. Once again, "treaty obligations" with Washington were cited.
       In 2003, the islanders were back in the high court, now seeking compensation. But this time they faced a judge who described the case as "unmeritorious" and "hopeless", and awarded the islanders not a penny - a decision "welcomed" by Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister responsible for the Chagos.
       The following year, Rammell employed the same sleight of hand that the Wilson government had used to expel the islanders in the 1960s, when he sent an order-in-council to the Queen for her rubber-stamped approval. This overturned the Chagossians' high court victory of 2000 in its entirety and and banned the islanders from ever returning home. The order-in-council appeared on a list of innocuous royal decrees, between an amendment to the royal charter of the College of Optometrists and the appointment of Her Majesty's education inspectors for Scotland. No reason was given; a privy councillor simply read out the fate of thousands of Her Majesty's most vulnerable, abused and wronged subjects.
       Richard Gifford and the islanders refused to accept this and were back in the high court last year.
       On May 11, two judges found unreservedly in their favour, describing the government's behaviour as illegal, repugnant and irrational. The government is considering an appeal, knowing that the Americans, having attacked Iraq and Afghanistan from Diego Garcia, are furious. The bombing of Iran is planned to take place from this British territory. Both governments apparently still believe they can "wear down" the islanders' resolve. They are mistaken, I can assure them.
       This is an edited extract from Freedom Next Time, by John Pilger, published by Bantam Press on June 5. #
    (By courtesy of the StopMAI Coalition WA, June 9, 2006)
       [RECAPITULATION: Citing the Magna Carta, which proscribed "Exile from the Realm" without due process, they unanimously squashed the 1965 ordinance used to deport the islanders as unlawful. Lizette and Charlesia at last could go home, it seemed. But the Blair government had other ideas. RECAP. ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: What would the people do without the British Crown to protect their liberties from illegal actions by governments? Read at http://politics. guardian.co. uk/foreign affairs/story/ 0,,1785 048,00html the remarkable story of how the British Crown protected an entire population of British subjects from wholesale expulsion from their homeland. Well might they have sung to their monarch: "Sufficient is thine arm alone and our defence is sure". What fools we would be throw away such protection.
       Oh, and the emperor is wearing such fine clothes that they are invisible to rough plebs. - Dion Giles
       PS: Looks as if republicans in the Guardian have pulled the story, scared to propagate this triumph of royal protection. Not to worry - read the above. It's long, but it is a riveting story. COMMENT ENDS.]
       [COMMENT on the COMMENT: Much of the above is ironical. ENDS.] [May 29, 06]

    • A fashionable view of Timor  East Timor flag; East Timor Action Network  Indonesia flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  United Nations flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  

    A fashionable view of Timor

     
       The West Australian, Opinion, by GERARD HENDERSON, executive director of The Sydney Institute, p 19, Tuesday, June 6, 2006
    To rephrase the cliche, it was a bit like deja vu - but for the very first time. The mini-series Answered by Fire (starring David Wenham and Julie Fortin), which concluded on ABC TV on Sunday, ran the fashionable line on East Timor. Namely, that all the violence which took place during the independence referendum in August 1999 was totally caused by Indonesia and that unnamed members of Australia's intelligence services were complicit in the destruction which occurred in East Timor some seven years ago due to their membership of a so-called Indonesia lobby.
       The scenes of circa 1999 were eerily familiar as uncontrolled groups of young men, sometimes armed with machetes, looted and torched Dili and elsewhere. Indeed the actors resembled the Dili-based players of the past few weeks - as if film had morphed into reality television. Except that, this time round, there have been fewer killings and less damage - due primarily to the rapid deployment of the Australian-led, and United Nations-sanctioned, peace maintenance force.
       Answered by Fire provided a convenient reminder of the euphoria which took place in Australia around the time of East Timor's independence, following Australia's leadership of the UN-approved Interfet force which quelled the violence and subdued the militias - some of which were backed by some members of the Indonesian defence force. Partly this was based on goodwill towards a newly independent nation. But, partly, it turned on denial. Few Australians involved in the political debate at the time were prepared to accept that, following Portugal's totally irresponsible junking of its former colony in 1974, there had been a civil war in East Timor - the consequences of which had continued to affect the society.
       Yet this had been acknowledged by Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor's Foreign Minister and Defence Minister. Writing in the Australian Financial Review on January 30, 1999, Mr Ramos Horta acknowledged that "one day the political leadership of my generation will have to answer for its actions and atone for the many senseless killings in the civil war of August 1975". The previous year Mr Ramos Horta had conceded that his group Fretilin made a "tremendous mistake" in willingly allowing itself to be portrayed "as communist". (ABC TV Four Corners, June 15,1998).
       The brutality of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor in 1975 caused understandable concern in Australia, among the Left and Right alike. However, the refusal to believe that East Timorese started killing one another, after Portugal dumped its one-time colony, created the concept of a noble, peaceful people - led by the charismatic rebel icon Xanana Gusmao - who virtually could do no wrong.
       In fact there was clan-based violence in East Timor before the Indonesian army arrived in 1975 and it has continued after the pro-Indonesian militia was dispersed by Interfet in 1999. The International Crisis Group's Sidney Jones, who has an impeccable record in opposing human rights abuses in Indonesia, commented last month that "there were differences" in East Timor "that stemmed from pro and anti-Portuguese positions going back before 1975" (ABC Radio, The World Today, May 25,2006).
      [Picture] Bad memories: The continuing violence in East Timor brings back memories of the horrors of the country's civil war of August 1975.  Picture: Associated Press  
       The current violence on the streets of Dili and elsewhere - between what have been termed the easterners and the westerners - did not suddenly emerge. Such divisions within East Timor have been in existence for generations. They were merely disguised by Portuguese colonialism and the Indonesian occupation. Their existence was denied by those who want to blame anyone but the East Timorese for that society's evident problems.
       In the April 2006 edition of The Monthly, leftist Mark Aarons essentially blames an Australian "Jakarta lobby" for Indonesia's misrule in East Timor. The entity is not defined. Yet names are named. Including such politicians as Labor's
       Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Bill Hayden and Gareth Evans (but not Paul Keating) and the coalition's Malcolm Fraser (but not John Howard) - along with several commentators, myself included (but not Paul Kelly). It was an odd selection. As it turned out, none of the names named could defend themselves since The Monthly does not run a Letters page.
       The fact is that virtually no influential politicians or commentators in Australia barracked for Indonesia's repression of East Timor. There was, however, a debate about how the interests of the East Timorese were to be best advanced following Portugal's exit from its colony, the subsequent East Timorese civil war and the Indonesian invasion.
       In July 1994, for example, I advocated that Indonesian president Suharto should step down and that East Timor should be granted wide-ranging autonomy. Yet this was sufficient for me to be branded a member of the "Jakarta lobby". The supporters of Fretilin in Australia were, and remain, uncompromising.
       East Timor would have continued as part of Indonesia were it not for the 1997 Asian economic downturn and the subsequent collapse of the Suharto regime. The Howard Government initially proposed scale autonomy for East Timor. It was the (then) Indonesian president J. B. Habibie who offered the independence option, which was taken up by an overwhelming majority of East Timorese in 1999. As Gen. Peter Cosgrove pointed out in June 2000, "the mission in East Timor was accomplished with the co-operation of the Indonesian armed forces not in spite of them, or in opposition to them".
       The unfashionable fact is that East Timor was not ready for immediate independence - which formally came into effect in 2000. The destruction which followed has now been replicated by East Timor's very own home-grown self-destruction.
       The poorly administered nation - led by the increasingly authoritarian Government headed by the marxist-inclined Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri - is all but a failed state and almost completely dependent on international peacekeepers and international aid. Australia has no option but to support East Timor. Yet it need not have come to this. #
       [RECAPITULATION: ... on January 30, 1999, Mr Ramos Horta acknowledged that "one day the political leadership of my generation will have to answer for its actions and atone for the many senseless killings in the civil war of August 1975".
       The unfashionable fact is that East Timor was not ready for immediate independence - which formally came into effect in 2000. The destruction which followed has now been replicated by East Timor's very own home-grown self-destruction. RECAP. ENDS.] [June 6, 06]

    • Pentagon plans to axe Geneva rules  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Pentagon plans to axe Geneva rules

     
       The West Australian, p 24, Tuesday, June 6, 2006
       WASHINGTON: The US Defence Department has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that bans "humiliating and degrading treatment".
       It is a step that would mark a potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.
       The decision, announced by military officials, will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. Defence officials said the State Department fiercely opposed the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and had been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider.
       For more than a year, the Pentagon has been redrawing policies on detainees and interrogation. It plans to issue a new Army Field Manual, which, with accompanying directives, represents core instructions to US soldiers worldwide.
       The development comes amid growing worldwide criticism of US detention practices and the conduct of American forces in Iraq.
      [Picture] Abuse scandal: Iraqis wait outside Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad in 2004 to get information on relatives held inside.
       A senior Defence Department official said the directive on interrogations was being rewritten to create safeguards so that detainees were treated humanely but could still be questioned effectively.
       Critics and supporters of President George Bush have debated if it is possible to prove a direct link between administration declarations that it would not be bound by the Geneva accord and events such as the abuses at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
       The detainee directive was due to be released in April with the Army Field Manual on interrogations. But objections from senators on other field manual issues forced a delay. Senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.
       For decades, it was the official policy of the US military to follow minimum standards for treating detainees as laid out in the Geneva Convention.
       But in 2002 Mr Bush suspended portions of the convention for captured al-Qaida and Taliban fighters. Among the directives being rewritten is one governing US detention operations. Military lawyers and other Defence Department officials wanted the redrawn version of the document to again embrace Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.
       That provision bans torture and cruel treatment and covers all detainees. The protections in Article 3 also prohibit humiliation - treatment that falls short of cruelty or torture.
       The Pentagon tried to satisfy some of the concerns by including some Article 3 protections but refused to embrace the Geneva standard in the directive it plans to issue.
       One Defence Department official said that Article 3 prohibitions against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" could be interpreted as banning well-honed interrogation techniques.
       For example, many intelligence soldiers consider questioning the manhood of male prisoners an effective and humane technique.
       Suggesting to a suspected insurgent that he is "not man enough" to have set an explosive will sometimes elicit a full description, soldiers say. #
    [June 6, 06]

    • [Shortage of workers, East Timor rebels, and other news.]

     
       The West Australian, Various articles, Wednesday, June 7, 2006
  • Foreign debt blows out to $493b, p 4. AUSTRALIA;
  • Latham guilty of smashing camera, p 5. SYDNEY: [Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham pleaded guilty to maliciously damaging a newsman's camera in January.] ... $6763 to pay for damage ... two-year good behaviour bond ... no criminal conviction ... recorded.
  • Migrants help limit pay claims: Vanstone, p 6. AUSTRALIA: Importing foreign labour helped prevent unions from pushing excessive wage demands amid a severe shortage of skilled workers, Imigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said yesterday. ... builder Gerry Hanssen to bring in 170 migrant workers.
  • Home loans at record as land crisis talks start, p 6. PERTH:
  • OBE waffle, p 7. [Biology] Sudents understand that a knowledge of biological concepts enables us to make decisions that influence the well-being of the biosphere and ultimately ourselves.
  • Rebel soldiers given 48 hours to put down arms, p 10. DILI:
  • Bankers who shape the planet's future, p 33. WASHINGTON: The nomination by US President George Bush of Goldman Sachs chairman and chief executive Henry Paulson to replace US Treasury Secretary John Snow has focused attention on what has become the most influential company on the planet.
  • Former executives of the global investment bank now run the White House bureaucracy ... Joshua Bolten, ... New Jersey ... Governor Jon Corzine ... New York Stock Exchange ... John Thain ... [June 7, 06]

    • [Zarqawi show death feeds ignorance, and other news.]

     
       Information Clearing House (USA), Read online at www.information clearinghouse.info/ , June 10, 2006
  • Zarqawi's end is not a famous victory, By Robert Fisk. So, it's another "mission accomplished". The man immortalised by the Americans as the most dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is killed - by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force - and Messrs Bush and Blair see fit to boast of his demise. To this have our leaders descended. And how short are our memories. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13556.htm
  • Dissecting the Zargawi Spectacle, By Danny Schechter. What a coup! What a show! And what an event for Iraqi "leaders" to show-off with terms like he has been "eliminated." Within hours, the spinmeisters were claiming a "major victory" and pronouncing another "turning point." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13557.htm
  • Impunity, By Mike Whitney. George Bush is right; Iraq is "the central battlefield in the global war on terror". Regrettably, it is United States that is the main sponsor and supporter of that terror in the form of American-trained death squads. Death squad activity in Iraq now accounts for more than 1,000 casualties per month. The Baghdad morgue has become a conveyor-belt for American-generated carnage. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13558.htm
  • War Criminal Nation, By Paul Craig Roberts. Our elected "representatives" are so in thrall to the powerful military-industrial complex that no amount of American shame, pariah status and military defeat can shut off the flow of taxpayers' funds to the merchants of death. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13554.htm
  • Troop Cuts in Iraq Won't Meet Goal This Year, Officials Say: Senior administration and military officials now acknowledge that there is little chance the United States can reach the milestone of reducing American troop levels in Iraq to 100,000 by December, a goal that earlier in the year had seemed within reach. http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/sf/nyt6_09_06.htm
  • For the women of Iraq, the war is just beginning: Across Iraq, a bloody and relentless oppression of women has taken hold. Many women had their heads shaved for refusing to wear a scarf or have been stoned in the street for wearing make-up. Others have been kidnapped and murdered for crimes that are being labelled simply as "inappropriate behaviour". http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article717570.ece
  • Zarqawi betrayed by Qaeda insider: As the U.S. commandos took up positions, Ismael said, someone from inside the house in the date grove began shooting. The Americans returned fire, Ismael said, but the gun battle did not last long. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13552.htm
  • Greg Palast: Unreported:The Zarqawi Invitation: They got him - the big, bad, beheading berserker in Iraq. But, something's gone unreported in all the glee over getting Zarqawi . who invited him into Iraq in the first place? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13555.htm
  • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: Dead Again: The reported death-and past deaths-are simply another dimension of a rather transparent psychological operations campaign run out of the Pentagon. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13553.htm
  • BBC Question Time: George Galoway on Al-Zzarqawi and the war crimes commited by Bush and Blair http://tinyurl.com/qbqzd
  • Was Al-Zarqawi death used as cover for the release of the US State Dept Human Trafficking Report 2006? The report admits that slave labor has been used by US Contractors and Sub-contractors in Iraq... indentured servitude paid for with US Tax dollars. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/
  • U.S. taxpayers financed human trafficking, report says: A State Department report cataloging human trafficking across the globe includes allegations that American taxpayers financed such abuses. http://tinyurl.com/zlp7n
  • Families of Haditha victims may have been offered money: Iraqi charges that the Marines offered hush money have also figured in a separate investigation of the shooting death of a disabled Iraqi man in the Baghdad suburb of Hamdaniyah on April 26. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/14767820.htm
  • America's Endless Race Wars and Massacres: The United States is arguably the only country on the planet whose national personality and self-image is rooted in centuries of unremitting expansion through race war punctuated by massacre. http://www.blackcommentator.com/187/187_cover_race_war_pf.html
  • UK soldiers 'killed 21 Taleban': Twenty-one Taleban fighters have been killed in a clash with British soldiers in southern Afghanistan, the BBC has been told. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5062828.stm
  • Afghan army kills 13 "suspected Taleban": Afghan troops killed 13 "suspected Taleban" rebels including two Pakistani nationals on Friday in an operation in southern Afghanistan, a commander said. http://tinyurl.com/rdew8
  • 9 killed in Afghan violence, officials say : Violence killed nine people around Afghanistan, including a regional security director and two Afghan aid workers, officials said Friday. http://tinyurl.com/m3zb8
  • Kabul should have restored to it the dignity lost over the past 25 years : We declare war. We bomb. We conquer. We then pretend to rebuild. But there is no rebuilding, just collateral damage. In Belgrade, Baghdad and Kabul, the last three cities assaulted by Britain in war, millions may be spent on aid, but buildings are left as piles of rubble. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1793476,00.html
  • Malaysia's Mahathir warns World War 4 looming: A new world war involving nuclear weapons may have already begun, Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday, warning that an attack on Iran would be disastrous. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13550.htm
  • Russia urges Israel against Iran attack: Russia sent messages to Israel through US intermediaries recently, voicing opposition to a possible military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, The Jerusalem Post has learned. http://tinyurl.com/ohq8j
  • 'Pressure on Tehran about oil not weapons' : Western pressure on Iran is driven not by concerns about weapons of mass destruction but by interest in the country's oil reserves, a senior Iranian energy official said, AFP reported. http://tinyurl.com/nhwxm
  • Hans Blix: Don't Forget Those Other 27,000 Nukes : Almost all the talk these days is about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to states like Iran and North Korea, or to terrorists. Foreign ministers meet again and again, concerned that Iran has enriched a few milligrams of uranium to a 4 percent level. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13551.htm
  • Bush Overture To Iran Splits Israel, Neocons: They argue that America's ultimate goal should be to change Tehran's theocratic regime. http://www.forward.com/main/printer-friendly.php?id=7937
  • Israel kills 9 Palestinians: Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire killed at least nine Palestinians on Friday, including six people on a crowded Gaza beach, Palestinian medics said. http://tinyurl.com/qj8ub
  • Israel Kills Palestinian Family Including 3 Children: The attack destroyed a tent and scattered body parts along the beach. A crowd flocked to the area, screaming and running around in confusion. One tearful man held the limp body of what appeared to be a girl or young woman. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13223303/
  • With a little help from the outside : Israel cannot claim the boycott weapon is illegitimate. It makes extensive use of this weapon itself, and its victims are suffering under severe conditions of deprivation, from Rafah to Jenin. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/722364.html
  • Fears of 'regime change' policy after US cancels Palestinian pay talks: The US has cancelled talks in which ministers had been expected to approve urgent measures leading to the payment of Palestinian salaries, including those of the security forces, which were frozen after a Hamas government came to power. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article753710.ece
  • U.S. warns of terror threat in China: The United States warned on Friday of a possible terrorist threat against its interests in China, especially in the three major cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK300791.htm
  • Russia Shifts Part of Its Forex Reserves from Dollars to Euros: On Thursday, June 8, Russia became the latest in the list of countries that shifted a part of its Central Bank reserves from the dollar http://www.mosnews.com/money/2006/06/09/dollarshift.shtml
  • America's robot army? Already there are killing machines operating by remote control. Soon the machines will be able to kill on their own initiative. A new warfare is on its way. http://www.newstatesman.com/200606120018
  • Canada: Suspects seem strictly second-rate? If these guys are terrorists, they aren't very good ones. At least that seems to be the picture that is slowly emerging of the 17 men and boys charged this week under Canada's anti-terror laws. http://tinyurl.com/mnkaj
  • Defeat for net neutrality backers : Some fear the decision will mean net providers start deciding on behalf of customers which websites and services they can visit and use. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5063072.stm
       This web site represents the effort of one person. I need your help to offset the costs associated with site hosting and bandwidth usage. If you find this site informative please help by clicking here http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/support.htm
       WISDOM: Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people." (August 1765) John Adams
       "Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion - and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion ... while Truth again reverts to a new minority.": - Soren Kierkegaard - (1813-1855) Danish philosopher
       "Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone.": - John Quincy Adams - (1767-1848) 6th US President
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       News Syndication You can include the headlines from this newsletter on your own website free of charge http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/syndicate.htm # [Jun 10, 06]
    NEWSLETTER
    Sustainable Population Australia Inc
    Formerly Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population
    Patrons: Professor Frank Fenner, Professor Ion Lowe, Professor Tim Flannery, Dr Mary White, Dr Paul Collins

    No. 70 June 2006
    Why conservation groups don't talk about population
    Transcribed from Radio National's Counterpoint Program Easter Monday, l7 April 2006
    with Michael Duffy interviewing SPA's Mark O'Connor.

       MD: It is curious that the environmental movement pays so little attention to the role of immigration in increasing Australia's population. Our growing population lies behind so many of the things that environmental activists do worry about, from water shortages to over development, pollution. Back in 1994 the Australian Academy of Science urged the Government to reduce annual immigration to just 50,000. Now, 12 years later immigration is well over double that and we still don't have a population policy. Would our population decline without immigration?
       MO: We are commonly told that. Peter Costello has often claimed that our population is falling or alternatively would be falling but for immigration. It's absolute nonsense! We do actually have the Australian Bureau of Statistics which logs nearly every birth and every death in Australia. Their latest figures show that last year there were about 260,000 births and half that number of deaths. Natural increase is very strong. It causes more than half our population growth.
       Births have been double deaths for a long time. It's quite interesting because demographers derive a statistic for the average number of babies a woman is having in her lifetime and that figure is below two - from which you would deduce that eventually births must fall below deaths. Yet for as long as I've been tracking it, births have been almost exactly double deaths.
      [Picture] Mark O'Connor 
       MD: What sort of contribution does immigration make?
       The proportions, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are 53% natural increase and 47% of our growth net immigration, currently about 112,000.
       MD: And that's an average over the last decade?
       No, that's the last year. If you track the figures back through time, the Hawke Government pushed immigration ever higher (with a few downward flips when they had economic problems).
       They had long debates as they tried to justify the figures because they knew that the public was very much against the high immigration. In fact one survey showed that about 4% of people thought immigration was too low and over 50% thought it was too high. Yet if you believed the Australian media you would have thought that the proportions were reversed.
       The Howard Government has been very clever about this problem. It pushed immigration still higher, but managed to create the impression that it is anti-immigration. A very good article by Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald ("Guess who's coming to live here", SMH, 20 August, 2003, Eds.) asked, "Is Howard pro-or anti-immigration?" It's a politician's dream that when you change things, instead of getting flak for changing them, you're accused of not changing them sufficiently fast. And Howard and Ruddock have created this wonderful perception - by being very tough on a certain small class of refugees - that they are anti-immigrants when in fact they are the most pro-immigration Government we've had. And paradoxically, both the public resistance to immigration and the notion that immigration is too high have actually decreased, according to the Gallop Polls. That's because people have been cleverly misled into thinking that immigration is falling or that we have an anti-immigration government.
       MD: We have about the same numbers that keep coming in? Does it matter?
       Yes. There's constant pressure from business lobbies. The Business Council is one of the most powerful lobbies for increased immigration. Of course they like what they call 'flexibility'; that they should not have to bother about visas, but bring people in as they need them for work. Increasingly we are getting people coming in on so-called 'working visas', who one knows are unlikely to leave.
       MD: With these sorts of numbers how long would it take to make a big impact on our population? For example, how long would it take for our population to double?
       Well, there's a very simple bankers rule of thumb for doubling times. You divide the rate of compound interest into 70.
    Continued on page 10
    SPA Newsletter No 70, June 2006 - 1
       [CONTACTS: SPA Newsletter, www.population.org.au of Sustainable Population Australia, info@population.org.au , PO Box 3851, Weston Creek, ACT, 2611. Tel 02 6288 6819, Fax 02 6288 7195. Radio National http://abc. net.au/rn . ENDS.] [June, 2006]

    • [Anti-Jewish riots near Bielostok, 1906]

      Russia flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  
       The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia),   THE WEEK IN HISTORY  , by Frank Dunn, p 44, June 11, 2006
       From The Sunday Times   100 years ago  
       June 17, 1906: Riots near Bielostok, Russia, have resumed, with thousands of peasants arriving, robbing deserted flats and burning Jewish houses. Jewish residents were mercilessly beaten and the 250 wounded are reported to be suffering terribly from lack of medical care.    [BACKGROUND reading: The Thirteenth Tribe, by Koestler. ENDS.] [Jun 11, 06]
    • Who's next? The US got its man. Now it must target the real threat in Iraq  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Who’ s next? The US got its man. Now it must target the real threat in Iraq

     
       The Independent (London), http://news. independent. co.uk/world/ middle_east/ article756 016.ece , by Patrick Cockburn, June 11, 2006
       Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was never as important a figure in the insurgency as was claimed, and the manner of his death proved it, says Patrick Cockburn
       In the days before he was tracked down and killed by US laser-guided bombs, Iraq's most wanted man was living with almost no guards and only five companions, two of whom were women and one an eight-year-old girl, it emerged yesterday. [...]
       The ease with which Iraqi police and US special forces were able to reach the house after the bombing without encountering hostile fire showed that Zarqawi was never the powerful guerrilla chieftain and leader of the Iraqi resistance that Washington has claimed for more than three years. [...]
       The only resistance encountered by American commandos was from local Sunni villagers in the village of Ghalabiya, near Hibhib, who thought the strangers were members of a Shia death squad. [...]
       ... He was a wholly obscure figure until he was denounced by then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, before the US Security Council on 5 February 2003. ...
       Indeed, Iraqi police documents, discovered later, showed that Saddam Hussein's security forces, far from collaborating with Zarqawi, were trying to arrest him. Arriving in Iraq in 2002, he had taken refuge in the mountain hideout of an extreme Islamic group near Halabja in Kurdistan, in an area which the Iraqi government did not control. As for al-Qa'ida, in Afghanistan Zarqawi had led a small group hostile to it, and was never a close adherent of Osama bin Laden.
       ... After the capture of Saddam in December 2003, Zarqawi was once again heavily publicised by US military and civilian spokesmen as the pre-eminent leader of the resistance. The aim was to show that by invading Iraq, President Bush was fighting international terrorism. The US denunciations, and videos of Zarqawi beheading Western hostages, combined to spread his fame throughout the Muslim world, enabling him to recruit men and raise money easily. But for all his vaunted importance, US spokesmen admitted that Zarqawi's suicide bombers concentrated almost entirely on soft targets, and were responsible for very few of the 20,000 American casualties in Iraq.
       ... He was also heavily criticised by some other resistance groups and tribes for launching a sectarian war against the Shia which blackened the name of the insurgency at home and abroad. [...]
       It is not clear how far American or Iraqi government statements about how they located Zarqawi should be believed. It appears unlikely that he was meeting his lieutenants, as was first suggested, given that only two other men died with him.
       ... The myth of Zarqawi was attractive to Washington because it showed that anti-occupation resistance was foreign-inspired and linked to al-Qa'ida.
       In reality the insurgency was almost entirely home grown, reliant on near-total support from the five million-strong Sunni community. Its military effectiveness was far more dependent on former officers of the Iraqi army and security forces than on al-Qa'ida. They may also have helped to boost Zarqawi's fame, because it was convenient for them to blame their worst atrocities on him. [...]
       The killing of Zarqawi is a boost for the newly formed government of Nuri al-Maliki, but Iraqis did not fail to notice that when announcing it, he stood at the podium between Gen George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador. "It showed the limits of Maliki's independence from the Americans," noted one Iraqi commentator. "It would have been better if they had let him make the announcement standing alone."
       Such moments demonstrate the gulf that remains in the Americans' understanding of what motivates so many Iraqis to take up arms against them. It also helps to explain why Zarqawi's demise may make very little difference to the strength of the insurgency. #
    (A fuller version is at Submit / Submission Chronicle 5.) (By courtesy of Michael P.) [June 11, 06]
    • No deal is better than a bad deal; World Trade Organisation 

    World Trade Organisation:
    no deal is better than a bad deal

       Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET) (c/o Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Level 9, 299 Elizabeth St, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia), by Jemma Bailey and Dr Patricia Ranald, P.I.A.C., June 2006
       The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is at a crisis point.
       Talks remain in deadlock because developing country governments are resisting a package of unfair WTO agreements that place the legal rights of corporations above those of elected governments and communities. The proposals include:
    • Opening up essential services like education, water and postal services to investment by transnational corporations and restricting the ability of governments to regulate these services.
    • Making much larger tariff cuts on goods in poor countries than in rich countries, which will threaten local industries and jobs.
    • Fast-tracked opening of trade in environmentally sensitive sectors of forestry, fisheries and mining.
    • Undermining laws designed to protect the environment and promote social welfare, on the basis that they are 'non-tariff' barriers to trade, eg. measures to control the use of toxic chemicals and regulate essential services.
       The WTO is run by elected governments and the Australian government is playing a key role in these negotiations. We must act now to hold the Government to account.
    From Seattle to Hong Kong
       The current WTO negotiations, deceptively named the Development Round, have repeatedly stalled as rich governments, lead by the US and EU, have refused to address their own unfair agricultural subsidies while still demanding that poor countries open up their markets in services, agriculture, goods and resources. Agricultural subsidies in the US and EU lead to the displacement of vulnerable small-scale farmers in poor countries that cannot compete with subsidised products from industrialised countries.
      [Cartoon: A bulldozer, marked W.T.O., pushing dollars in the scoop having reached the base of a precarious cliff, on which are people holding placards including "Trade Justice," "Human Rights," and "Food Security", in front of buildings labelled Health, Education, Water, and Post. The prosperous bulldozer driver calls out "Away with barriers to trade!!"]  
       The Ministerial Meeting in Cancun collapsed in 2003. At the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial, after a week of all-night informal meetings and arm-twisting, negotiators emerged with a face-saving deal. In return for some small and conditional concessions in agriculture, the Hong Kong deal set a timeline of negotiations that aims to pressure developing country governments to agree to a deal in 2006.
    WJO myth 1: Democracy behind closed doors
       The decisions being made in the WTO negotiations will limit the policy choices of current and future governments at national, state and local levels. Yet decisions are being made behind closed doors. The negotiations at the Hong Kong Ministerial occurred in unofficial exclusive meetings, without minutes or a record of participants. Most of the negotiations in 2006 will occur at small informal 'mini-ministerial' meetings, which exclude the majority of governments from poor countries and which are relatively shrouded from public and media attention.
    WTO myth 2: Bullying as consensus
       WTO decision-making is supposedly based on consensus. But developing country governments are under intense pressure to agree to the demands of rich countries. In Hong Kong, large amounts of aid were offered to developing countries by the US, EU and Japan to persuade governments to drop their resistance to unfair proposals. Many of these 'aid for trade' pledges were either rebadging of old aid or money in the form of loans.
    WTO myth 3: Doha development doublespeak
       Over 2 billion people live on less than $2 a day. There is mounting evidence that WTO's model of rapid trade liberalisation is exacerbating global inequality by threatening food security, promoting privatisation of essential services and fuelling a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions.
       A recent World Bank study on the projected outcomes of the Doha Round predicted that most benefits from the proposals on the table would go to rich countries (World Bank, Global impacts of Doha trade reform scenarios on poverty, October 2005). Many developing country governments and community groups are now saying that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' in the Doha Round.
    Hosted and supported by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd.
    What is GATS and why should you care?
       The WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) aims to remove barriers to trade in services. It potentially covers all service sectors.
       Many GATS rules apply only to services that governments agree to list as part of the GATS, but governments are expected to increase over time the range of listed services. Once a service is listed in the GATS governments must treat transnational companies as if they were local, and cannot limit foreign ownership, require them to use local products or train local people.
       Global service companies have been lobbying governments to list essential services, such as education, electricity and water, which they see as potentially million-dollar markets.
       Listing essential services in GATS would mean that those services are treated like traded goods and are opened up to foreign control. It would reduce the ability of governments to regulate essential services to ensure that they are available to all. This would lock in global service corporations, increase prices and put services like electricity, water and education beyond the reach of the local population.
       GATS rules are enforced by a strong disputes resolution process which allows the laws of one country to be challenged by another country on the ground that they are a barrier to trade. Disputes are heard by trade experts on the basis of trade law, without regard to whether the law was enacted in the public interest. The most recent GATS case ruled that restriction of Internet gambling (enacted to prevent social harm) was a barrier to trade.
    Plurilaterals - who needs enemies with friends like these?
       The Hong Kong Ministerial made a dangerous change to the way GATS is negotiated. This change has intensified the pressure on governments to increase their GATS commitments and open up key essential service sectors to competition from large multinational companies. Previously, governments negotiated to increase their GATS commitments on a bilateral basis. For example, Australia would request that Thailand increase its GATS commitments in education or vice versa. Thailand could then make an offer in education or refuse to negotiate.
       The Hong Kong Ministerial introduced 'plurilateral negotiations', which allow a group of governments to join together as 'friends' in a particular sector (for example, Friends of Education), draft an ideal schedule of liberalisation and present this schedule as a request to targeted governments. Recipients of the request are now pressured to enter into negotiations. This could see Bangladesh at the table with a group of powerful 'friends' - hardly a fair negotiating dynamic.
       The Australian government supported the move to plurilateral negotiations, despite strong opposition from developing country governments and civil society. Since Hong Kong, 'friends groups' have formed across many service sectors.
       There are also separate negotiations to change the rules of GATS which could reduce the rights of governments to regulate across the board, whether a service is listed or not. For example, there is a proposal to reduce the right of governments to regulate by imposing a 'necessity test" to ensure that regulations in areas like qualifications and licensing must be "least trade restrictive." Public interest regulation of services could then be challenged more easily on the grounds that they are a barrier to trade.


    Where does the Australian government fit in?
       The Government's offer to increase Australia's-GATS commitments is back on the table. This means that previous community wins to exclude water for human use and other essential services are again up for grabs.
       Australia is a part of plurilateral 'friends' groups making requests in environmental services (which includes some water services), telecommunications, energy, maritime transport, financial and education services. These requests have been sent to a number of poor countries, despite pressure from community groups in Australia and around the world to not target vulnerable countries.
       The Government has received requests from 'friends' groups to increase the numbers of temporary service workers (known as GATS mode IV), as well as requests to list commitments in our postal service sector and our audio-visual sector. Including the audio-visual sector would threaten Australia's local content laws that enable Australian stories to be seen on film and television.
       The Australian government has also supported a "necessity test" that would enable public interest regulation to be challenged under GATS rules.
       There is a tight timetable set for these negotiations:
    • Australia's revised second round offer due on 30 July 2006
    • Australia's final schedule of GATS commitments due on 30 October 2006
    • The WTO Director General wants to reach agreement across services, agriculture and goods by the end of 2006. Commitments that the Australian government makes in GATS in 2006 will bind future governments. Once made, commitments are very difficult to reverse, as compensation must be paid to other WTO members.
       These decisions will not only trade away the current government's right to regulate essential services, but will also trade away the right of future generations to implement different policies.
    Water services –
    FOR SALE!
       Community groups in Australia and around the world have campaigned for many years to exclude water services from GATS completely. Access to clean safe water is a human right that should not be subject to market rules. But global companies continue to lobby the WTO and individual governments to expand the coverage of water in GATS, because of the potential for enormous profits in this basic necessity.
       Australia is part of a group called 'Friends of Environmental Services' that has drawn up an ideal schedule of liberalisation that includes some water services. This request has been sent to a number of developing country governments, including Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand.
       Due to strong community campaigning, this request does not include water for human use. But it does include sewerage and sanitation services. With increasing water shortages and proposals to move to recycled water, this request potentially impacts on the community's access to clean water, and should be withdrawn. Australia has already committed our wastewater and water remediation sectors in GATS.
       Water privatisation is failing communities around the world. At the World Water Forum in March, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela joined to call for an end to all trade negotiations on drinking water and basic sanitation. In the face of such strong statements from the developing world, the Government should withdraw our requests to developing countries to open up water-related services and, likewise, should not include water-related services in Australia's GATS commitments.
    Education services –
    FOR SALE!
       In March, the Government joined 'Friends of Education' to lodge a joint request targeting a number of developing country governments, including Chile, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This request could restrict a government's ability to regulate education services, from ownership of institutions to accreditation to requirements for joint ventures and local representation on boards of educational institutions.
       The request is specific to private education and, in response to strong community campaigning, the Government has emphasised that public education is not on the table. However, the definition of 'public' services in GATS is "any service not supplied on a commercial basis or in competition with another service provider". Given that Australia's TAFE, university and schools sectors all have some private providers, it is unclear whether our education sector would be spared under this plurilateral request.
       There are also broader proposals to define government funding as a subsidy under WTO rules. If 'national treatment' were applied to government funding in the education sector, foreign education providers would be entitled to at least the same level of funding under a competitive tendering system. Preferential funding for local institutions for research grants would not be allowed. This would reduce the funds available for the public system and pave the way for privatisation of higher education.
    Postal services –
    FOR SALE!
       Australia has received a request from the 'friends of postal services' to "move toward full market access and national treatment" of our postal and courier services.
       This could threaten the universal supply of quality basic postal services across Australia. Currently, Australia Post is able to cross-subsidise its service to provide a common price of 50c for delivering standard letters throughout Australia, whether the letter is sent from Sydney or from Mt Isa. This is known as the 'reserved service' and it is crucial for rural Australia.
       Some parts of Australia's postal market are already open to private competition and the Government is saying that Australia Post would retain the ability to provide the reserved service. But any offer on postal services could undermine Australia Post's ability to continue the reserved service as private companies would 'cream skim' the most lucrative urban markets and threaten Australia Post's viability.
       Global postal companies see public postal networks as a barrier to trade. Under NAFTA, US postal company UPS mounted a legal challenge against Canada Post on the basis that Canada Post's public network unfairly subsidised its postal services.
    Get active!
       The Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET) is a network of 90 community organisations and many more individuals. Many people around Australia and the world are joining together to say no to unfair trade agreements that benefit a small number of corporations and powerful governments. Community campaigning has already achieved a lot in this campaign. It is now crunch time and it is crucial that we act NOW before the Doha Round concludes to make our voices heard!
    How?
    • Read this publication, pass it on and discuss it with friends, family and workmates
    • Write to a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or ring radio talkback
    • Write, ring or (even better) visit your local member of parliament
    • Join AFTINET, get involved in our campaigns and receive regular campaign updates.
       For more information about these campaigns or to join AFTINET and get more involved, visit AFTINET's website www.aftinet.org.au or contact Jemma Bailey on 02 8898 6500 orjbailey@piac.asn.au.
    http://www.johnm.multiline.com.au/cont18.htm#no_deal_is
    [June 2006]

    • Nuclear power: not green, clean or cheap  

    Nuclear power: not green, clean or cheap

     
       On Line Opinion, www.online opinion.com. au/view. asp?artic le=4581 , By Mark Diesendorf - posted Friday, June 16, 2006.
       With growing international concern about global climate change from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, the nuclear power industry has attempted to change the image of its product into that of an energy source that is "clean, green and cheap". In reality, all the problems that worried us about the nuclear industry in the 1970s and 1980s are either unchanged or have become worse. In the latter case:
    • the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons is worse because the US and Australian governments are undermining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by selling uranium to non-signatories, India and Taiwan. While the NPT is far from adequate, it is better than nothing or unilateral US control;
    • since September 11, 2001, the risk of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities has increased. The fewer the facilities, the safer everyone is;
    • now that several countries have created competitive markets for electricity, it is clear that the cost of nuclear electricity is even higher than previously projected (see below); and
    • detailed recent calculations of the CO2 emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle reveal that nuclear energy, based on existing technology, cannot be a long-term solution to global climate change from the human-induced greenhouse effect (see below).
       This article addresses the last two of these points.
    CO2 emissions
       The nuclear industry has disseminated widely the false notion that nuclear energy emits no greenhouse gas emissions. The truth is that every step (except reactor operation) in the long chain of processes that makes up the nuclear fuel "cycle" - mining, milling fuel fabrication, uranium enrichment, construction and decommissioning of the reactor, and waste management - burns fossil fuels and hence emits carbon dioxide (CO2
       Over the past 20 years there have been several calculations of CO2 emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle. The most detailed calculation comes from Van Leeuwen and Smith (VLS) (2005).
       Contrary to the claims of the nuclear industry, VLS find that the CO2 emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle are only small when high-grade uranium ore is used. But there are very limited reserves of high-grade uranium in the world and most are in Australia and Canada. As these are used up over the next several decades, low-grade uranium ore (comprising 0.01 per cent or less yellowcake) will have to be used.
       This means that to obtain 1kg of yellowcake, at least 10 tonnes of ore will have to be mined and milled, using fossil fuels and emitting substantial quantities of CO2. These emissions are comparable with those from a combined cycle gas-fired power station.
       In response, the nuclear industry cites a report by Swedish utility, Vattenfall, which only considers a single power station and obtains lower emissions than VLS in the case of high-grade uranium ore and apparently doesn't address low-grade uranium at all. This report has not been published and is not available on the Internet - only a summary www.environ dec.com/reg/e_ epd21.pdf (pdf file 248KB), that does not reveal most of the assumptions or results, is available.
       It is very poor science to cite a report that is unavailable to the public. Van Leeuwen and Smith's report, which is based on the analysis of many uranium mines and power stations, stands unrefuted at present.
       In theory, a technically possible solution to the shortage of high-grade uranium would be to switch to fast breeder reactors, which produce so much plutonium that in theory they can multiply the original uranium fuel by 50. Large-scale chemical reprocessing of spent fuel would be necessary to extract the plutonium and unused uranium, and this has its own hazards and costs, since spent fuel is intensely radioactive and plutonium is an excellent nuclear explosive. The "commercial" reprocessing industry has failed in the US and UK. Only France hangs on.
       Fast breeders use liquid sodium as a coolant and so are more dangerous than ordinary nuclear reactors. So far, fast breeders have all been technical and economic failures. The largest was the French 1,200 megawatt Superphoenix, a name that alludes to the mythical bird that burnt itself on a funeral pyre and then arose from the ashes to live again with renewed youth.
       Reality was rather different from the myth: Superphoenix commenced operation in 1985 as a "commercial industrial prototype". It operated only intermittently and very rarely at full power, experiencing leaks from its cooling system and several other accidents. It was shut down at the end of 1998 after costing an estimated total of about A$15 billion.
       At present there are no commercial scale fast breeder reactors operating. There is a 600 megawatt demonstration fast neutron reactor in Russia, but it has a history of accidents and does not seem to have ever operated as a breeder. The pro-nuclear study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), entitled The Future of Nuclear Power, does not expect the breeder cycle to come into commercial operation during the next three decades.
       In summary, nuclear power, based on existing technologies, is a dead-end side alley on the pathway to reducing CO2 emissions.
    Nuclear economics
       In most countries where there is a competitive electricity industry, it is clear that nuclear electricity is much more expensive than fossil electricity. In the UK and US nuclear energy is even more expensive than wind power. More specifically, the MIT (2003) report (cited above) estimates that the cost of electricity generated by a new nuclear power station in the US would be US6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh), or about AU9c/kWh Australian. For comparison coal power in eastern Australia costs under AU4c/kWh. Wind power in US costs US4-5c/kWh and in Australia AU7.5-8.5c/kWh, depending upon site.
       When the UK electricity industry was privatised, the British Government had to impose a fossil fuel levy to subsidise nuclear electricity. By 1998 the annual subsidy had reached £1.2 billion per year, equivalent to a subsidy of about AU6c/kWh Australian on each unit of nuclear electricity generated. In addition, it has recently been estimated by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that dismantling Britain's existing nuclear power stations will cost about £70 billion. Since a full-size nuclear power station (1,000 megawatts or more) has never been decommissioned anywhere in the world, the costs could turn out to be even higher.
       The only new "commercial" nuclear power station under construction in a developed country is currently taking shape in Finland. The nuclear industry claims that this demonstrates nuclear energy is competitive in market conditions. But the power station is being built by a consortium, that includes a 40 per cent share by the government of Finland, which will sell its electricity to its own members. Thus the consortium avoids conditions of a competitive market and so has obtained finance at interest rates far below market rates. The European Commission is currently considering a complaint about this practice.
       On the global scene, consider the following frank summary of the 1998 electricity generating cost study that was published jointly by the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. The raw data was supplied by the nuclear industries in the countries surveyed, so they are hardly likely to be biased against nuclear energy. The summary was presented by Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist and head of the Economic Analysis Division, International Energy Agency (IEA), at an annual international forum of the Uranium Institute:
       The results confirm the current cost advantage of fossil-fuelled power generation ... Clearly, under BAU [business-as-usual] assumptions the contribution of nuclear power over the next two decades will be limited.
       The harsh reality is, at market interest rates of 10 per cent real or more, nuclear electricity is uneconomic almost everywhere in the world. It is at least double the cost of coal power in the US and UK, and would be nearly three times the cost of coal power in eastern Australia.
       The nuclear industry's solution to these harsh economic realities has been to produce a series of reports on the economics of a "new generation" of nuclear power stations that only exists on paper at present. In theory such reactors would be slightly cheaper and possibly slightly safer than existing models. The latest estimate of "new generation" economics is the report to ANSTO by leading nuclear industry figure, John Gittus, claiming that a non-existent nuclear power station, AP1000, would be competitive with coal power in eastern Australia under certain conditions.
       The Gittus report's conditions are indicated in two alternative scenarios. One involves substantial government subsidies on the capital and operating costs of the proposed power station. The other involves "no subsidy", according to Gittus, just a massive government guaranteed, unsecured, "insured loan, which would be repaid to government, together with a retrospective premium, out of revenues from the station once it began to generate electricity".
       But, what if the untried nuclear power station proves to be more expensive to build and operate than the paper study estimates? That has always been the case with nuclear power in the past. What if the earnings from electricity sales prove to be insufficient to repay the additional costs and the loans? The Gittus report is vague on such details, suggesting that the government (i.e., the taxpayer) would share the risk. If so, this is a subsidy dressed up as a loan and neither of Gittus's scenarios is anywhere near being economically competitive with conventional coal power.
       If this proposal is a good deal for the lender, why is it necessary for the government to lend anything? Surely, private financial institutions would be queuing up? Though it's strange that no private investors have funded a new nuclear power station in the US for over a quarter century, despite massive subsidies to the industry.
    The investor's choice
       The nuclear industry is offering investors and the community a false choice between coal and nuclear power, which are both dirty and dangerous technologies. But the real choice is between clean power - comprising a mix of efficient energy use, natural gas and renewable sources of energy - and dirty power - comprising coal and nuclear power.
       Both coal and nuclear power have severe adverse environmental, health and social impacts. Both offer big financial risks to investors. That's why the Gittus report requests that the government either pay a direct subsidy or take on much of the financial risk, which is an indirect subsidy. It is essential that the Australian community does not permit the government (i.e., the taxpayer) to take on the financial risk of building new coal-fired or nuclear power stations.
       A truly ethical and clean investment portfolio in energy would exclude both the coal and nuclear industries. Efficient energy use and renewable energy offer safe and clean investments. Over the past 15 years, wind power has been both the fastest growing and cleanest energy technology in the world. Bioenergy is already making valuable contributions to energy supply in Finland and Austria. China's target is for renewable energy (mostly wind power) to contribute 12 per cent of electricity and nuclear only 4 per cent by 2020.
       Meanwhile, huge potential for hot rock geothermal power has been demonstrated in Australia and a new generation of solar electricity generators (thin films including CSG cells developed at UNSW, sliver cells developed at ANU and solar thermal electricity) is coming onto the global market.
       For an article summarising our national scenario study, A Clean Energy Future for Australia, and related studies on four States, go here www.bml.csiro. au/susnetnl/ netwl54E.pdf (pdf file 513KB).
       [AUGMENT INFORMATION: Sign Up for free e-mail updates! ENDS.] [Jun 16, 06]
    • [David Keane's Recent Australian Economic Trends, issued June 2006]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
       Recent Australian Economic Trends, www.nw.com. au/~keane/ civilrep , By David Keane, Western Australia, June 18, 2006

    RECENT AUSTRALIAN ECONOMIC TRENDS


    By David Keane, 18/June/2006
    PO Box 582, Gosnells 6110, WA
    Email: keane@nw.com.au
    http://www.nw.com.au/~keane/civilrep/
       From April 2002, I have been producing analyses every three months, and sending these assessments out in a quarterly publication Recent Australian Economic Trends which is available by email to anyone contacting me and requesting to be placed upon the email distribution list.
       Any assessment of Australian financial management and bank regulatory policy, must begin with an assessment of the current state of Australia's financial affairs. In particular, it is vital that we analyse such significant national financial indicators as Gross Domestic Product, Gross Foreign Equity, Gross Foreign Debt, Gross Foreign Liabilities, Net Foreign Equity, Net Foreign Debt, Net Foreign Liabilities, Domestic Credit, and Total Australian Liabilities. Figures for these data are available on Internet at the website for the Reserve Bank of Australia ( http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/ ). In this article, I have taken June data from June 1988 to June 2003, and quarterly data from June 2004. You can confirm these data by looking up Gross Foreign Debt, Gross Foreign Equity and Gross Foreign Liabilities on Reserve Bank table H4, Net Foreign Debt, Net Foreign Equity, Net Foreign Liabilities on table H5, seasonally adjusted Domestic Credit on table D2, and Gross National Product on table G10.
       These figures are provided by the Australian Reserve Bank every quarter, now 3 months late. On 16/June/06, the Australian Reserve Bank published the March 2006 figures for table H4, and so now we have available all the information for all these statistical categories up until the end of March 2006.
       I simply rearrange the Reserve Bank figures which helps with comparison and trend analysis, and so it can be easily understood by the lay person. I add together the figures for Gross Foreign Equity, Gross Foreign Debt and Domestic Credit to come up with an overall figure of "Total Australian Liabilities".
       In the analysis released in September 2004, the yearly increase in Total Australian Liabilities for the first time exceeded 25% of the Australian Gross Domestic Product. The level of Australian liabilities is now blowing out in a very dangerous and volatile manner. This, together with the serious concern about the collapsing US economy, led me to title the September 2004 edition, the "Double Alarm Bells Edition". We have clearly entered the end stage of our society's experiment with a debt driven economy. These three-monthly analyses therefore take on a brand new significance, as they tend to forecast turbulent weather ahead, much in the manner of a barometer.
    Table A
       In Table A, the "Date" refers to quarterly figures provided by the Reserve Bank.
       "F Equity" refers to total Gross Foreign Equity (foreign ownership of Australian assets).
       "F Debt" refers to total Gross Foreign Debt.
       "F Liabilities" refers to Gross Foreign Liabilities = Gross Foreign Equity + Gross Foreign Debt.
       "saDomCr" refers to seasonally adjusted Domestic Credit.
       "TotalLiab" refers to Total Australian Liabilities = Gross Foreign Equity + Gross Foreign Debt + Domestic Credit.
    Date		F Equity	F Debt		F Liabilities	saDomCr	TotalLiab
    		A$billions	A$billions	A$billions	A$billions	A$billions
    Jun-88		74.047		138.130	212.177	247.7		459.877
    Jun-89		89.085		161.875	250.960	300.4		551.360	
    Jun-90		98.676		184.239	282.915	337.2		620.115
    Jun-91		105.156	197.661	302.817	346.1		648.917
    Jun-92		113.172	217.956	331.128	342.1		673.228
    Jun-93		127.597	238.541	366.138	348.1		714.238
    Jun-94		158.290	246.483	404.773	371.5		776.273
    Jun-95		172.046	268.245	440.291	406.5		846.791
    Jun-96		193.165	275.531	468.696	459.0		927.696
    Jun-97		217.078	302.846	519.924	502.8		1022.724
    Jun-98		249.495	346.971	596.466	562.6		1159.066
    Jun-99		286.979	359.840	646.819	624.9		1271.719
    Jun-00		338.121	416.824	754.945	697.1		1452.045
    Jun-01		357.394	496.307	853.701	772.6		1626.301
    Jun-02		350.279	533.415	883.694	868.5		1752.194
    Jun-03		365.056	582.987	948.043	966.0		1914.043
    Jun-04		433.767	660.100	1093.867	1093.9		2187.767
    Sep-04		439.203	667.095	1106.298	1125.3		2231.598
    Dec-04		486.367	697.247	1183.614	1163.6		2347.214
    Mar-05          493.139	693.669	1186.808	1200.0		2386.808
    Jun-05		431.591	715.590	1147.181	1242.9		2390.081
    Sep-05		460.038	735.547	1195.585	1279.6		2475.185
    Dec-05		480.462	767.271	1247.733	1321.2		2568.933
    Mar-06	508.410	809.457	1317.867	1370.5		2688.367
    Table B
       In Table B the figure I quote for annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents the four most recent (to that month) quarterly figures added up. For example the December 2005 annual GDP represents the quarterly GDP figures for March/05 + June/05 + September/05 + December/05 all added together to get an annual figure.
       Then the figures for Gross Foreign Equity, Gross Foreign Debt, Gross Foreign Liabilities, seasonally adjusted Domestic Credit and Total Australian Liabilities are provided as a percentage of annual GDP.
    Date		GDP		F Equity     F Debt	F Liabilities  DomCr	TotalLiab
    		A$billions	%ofGDP    %ofGDP	%ofGDP   %ofGDP	%ofGDP
    Jun-88		491.671	15.1	       28.1	43.2	      50.4	93.5		
    Jun-89		511.387	17.4	       31.7	49.1	      58.7	107.8
    Jun-90		531.505	18.6	       34.7	53.2	      63.4	116.7
    Jun-91		528.344	19.9	       37.4	57.3	      65.5	122.8
    Jun-92		528.929	21.4	       41.2	62.6	      64.7	127.3
    Jun-93		548.718	23.3	       43.5	66.7	      63.4	130.2
    Jun-94		571.384	27.7	       43.1	70.8	      65.0	135.9
    Jun-95		596.953	28.8	       44.9	73.8	      68.1	141.9
    Jun-96		621.543	31.1	       44.3	75.4	      73.8	149.3
    Jun-97		646.000	33.6	       46.9	80.5	      77.8	158.3
    Jun-98		674.932	37.0	       51.4	88.4	      83.4	171.7
    Jun-99		709.866	40.4	       50.7	91.1	      88.0	179.1
    Jun-00		738.123	45.8	       56.5	102.3	      94.4	196.7
    Jun-01		752.433	47.5	       66.0	113.5	    102.7	216.1
    Jun-02		780.817	44.9	       68.3	113.2	    111.2	224.4
    Jun-03		806.161	45.3	       72.3	117.6	    119.8	237.4
    Jun-04		838.251	51.7	       78.7	130.5	    130.5	261.0
    Sep-04		845.105	52.0	       78.9	130.9	    133.2	264.1
    Dec-04		849.308	57.3	       82.1	139.4	    137.0	276.4
    Mar-05	853.446	57.8	       81.3	139.1	    140.6	279.7
    Jun-05		859.191	50.2	       83.3	133.5	    144.7	278.2
    Sep-05		864.704	53.2	       85.1	138.3	    148.0	286.2
    Dec-05		870.901	55.2	       88.1	143.3	    151.7	295.0
    Mar-06            877.520	57.9	       92.2	150.2	    156.2	306.4
    	
    Table C
    Definitions:
       Net Foreign Liabilities = Net Foreign Equity + Net Foreign Debt
       Net Foreign Equity = Equity (value of property) Australians owe to overseas investors (Gross Foreign Equity) - Equity (value of property) foreign lenders owe to Australians.
       Net Foreign Debt = Debt Australians owe to overseas investors (Gross Foreign Debt) - Debt foreign lenders owe to Australians.
    Net Foreign 	Net Foreign 	Net Foreign	NetFLiab
    		Equity		Debt		Liabilities	% of GDP
    		A$billions	A$billions	A$billions
    Jun88		31.260		96.502		127.762	26.0
    Jun89		35.946		113.989	149.935	29.3
    Jun90		41.995		130.809	172.803	32.5
    Jun91		48.328		143.153	191.482	36.2
    Jun92		43.714		162.466	206.179	39.0
    Jun93		43.674		177.453	221.127	40.3
    Jun94		64.785		171.313	236.098	41.3
    Jun95		64.719		190.790	255.509	42.8
    Jun96		81.439		193.872	275.311	44.3
    Jun97		81.528		208.628	290.156	44.9
    Jun98		69.156		227.782	296.938	44.0
    Jun99		90.967		230.689	321.655	45.3
    Jun00		56.131		272.639	328.770	44.5
    Jun01		63.090		302.467	365.557	48.6
    Jun02		41.034		324.147	365.181	46.8
    Jun03		70.279		357.848	428.127	53.1
    Jun04		75.811		394.680	470.491	56.1
    Sep04		85.156		406.918	492.074	58.2
    Dec04		84.441		419.731	504.172	59.4
    Mar05		89.582		423.929	513.511	60.2
    Jun05		91.408		433.533	524.941	61.1
    Sep05		90.397		448.463	538.860	62.3
    Dec05		86.748		471.807	558.555	64.1
    Mar06 		77.563		493.480	571.042	65.1
    	
    Examining Recent Data
       If we look at all major categories over the past 9 months (since the June/05 quarter) of Gross Foreign Equity, Gross Foreign Debt, Gross Foreign Liabilities, Australian Domestic Credit, Total Australian Liabilities and Net Foreign Liabilities, all taken as a % of GDP, we notice two clear trends;
    1) In each of these categories, the indebtedness figure as a % of GDP is steadily rising, and
    2) The degree of increase of indebtedness as a % of GDP, seems with each quarter to be steadily increasing exponentially. This last point is particularly clear when we examine the Total Australian Liabilities as a % of GDP.
       We shall not look too closely in the previous year's figures, as they are muddled by the transfer between December 2004 and June 2005 of about 60 billion in property between foreign and Australian investments. No such major transfer of property has happened since June 2005, so since then the trend may be examined more easily.
       The last quarter in particular shows a very alarming figure. In the three months to the end of June 2006, Total Australian Liabilities as a % of GDP rose by 11.4% of GDP, all in the one quarter of three months. This is the very first time that the Total Australian Liabilities has risen by over 10% of GDP in just the one quarter, and by examining the trends, it seems not such a bold prediction to suggest that there will not again be a quarterly increment in Total Australian Liabilities as a % of GDP, of under 10% of GDP.
       This is an astonishing fact. Let us now compare with previous years. In the 6-year period from June 1994 to June 2000 (regarded as prosperous years for the Australian economy), the yearly increment in Total Australian Liabilities averaged at about 10% of GDP. In the last quarter, we get a 10% of GDP increase just in the last quarter. A more than four-fold increase in speed towards national bankruptcy.
       In the period June 2003 to June 2004, Total Australian Liabilities as a % of GDP rose by 23.6% of GDP in the one year, a trend that was so alarming that I then announced a "double alarm bells edition" of Recent Australian Economic Trends. Today we are well beyond the alarm bells situation. We are seeing the systems breakdown in full slow motion action, right before our eyes.
       In just the last six years, the Liberal Coalition government has engineered a four-fold increase in the rate by which Australians are going into indebtedness. And what are our politicians saying? Our Treasurer Peter Costello boasts of the best economic management in the world, and the Labor opposition whispers "tut, tut for increasing the level of indebtedness" (but not too loudly because after all former Labor Prime Minister and Treasurer Paul Keating proudly began this trend).
       It is an easy ask to cut to zero the national government indebtedness while at the same time cutting government spending in all sorts of areas, balancing the budget through selling off government assets, and giving the private sector a free unrestrained permission to increase private debt exponentially.
       It is not likely that this four-fold increase in indebtedness will hasten the day when the Australian economy goes bankrupt. That day will surely be decided by the world economy collapsing in response to the day the US economy collapses. What the four-fold increase in the race towards critical indebtedness means is that when the crash comes, the suffering by the Australian people will be four times as severe.
       Think about this. We as a nation are living the good times because we are spending freely on the national credit card. In years to come, this period will be regarded as being as foolish and as unsustainable as a pyramid bank scheme. Yet for the moment, the Australian people do not think of such things. There is no future planning for the time of national bankruptcy. Yes, we as the older generation have ridden the good times of free spending while not caring about escalating debt. But when the crash comes, it will be our children who will suffer the ruthless economic restrictions of having the national economy run by the international debt collectors.
       Yours for a truly sharing economy, David Keane
       [Apologies for the bad display on this webpage of the Tables. For the correct display, go to the David Keane webpage indicated, or e-mail him for regular issues, which are supplied as E-mail Attachments, in .DOC format.] [Jun 18, 06]
    • Sales, service staff to feel Telstra axe  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Sales, service staff to feel Telstra axe

     
       The Australian, www.news.com. au/story/0,10117, 19539354-2, 00.html , By Michael Sainsbury, June 21, 2006
       AUSTRALIA: TELSTRA will dump 2600 employees over the next two years, with its customer sales, service and network maintenance arms taking the deepest cuts, as the telco mounts a redundancy program to cut as many as 12,000 jobs by 2010.
       The Australian has learned that call centre staff at some locations were told last week they must reapply for their own jobs with no guarantee of success as Telstra (tls.ASX: Quote, News) brought in teams of psychologists to counsel workers.
       Telstra (tls.ASX: Quote, News) will close work order dispatch centres in Parramatta, Perth, Bendigo and Toowoomba as it moves away from a state-based system to a national model.
       More staff are expected to be advised they must reapply for jobs this Friday.
       Telstra's customer service and sales division will lose 1220 employees in two years and network installation and maintenance divisions will shed 1100 jobs.
       In November last year when he unveiled a more aggressive strategy for Telstra, chief executive Sol Trujillo pledged to cut 10,000 to 12,000 positions from Telstra's 50,000-strong payroll within five years.
       Macquarie Equities analyst Tim Smart said the planned reduction of staff should allow Telstra (tls.ASX: Quote, News) to book a provision for redundancies of around $210 million in its annual results. But it remains unclear just how many jobs are really being removed.
       Since taking the reins in July last year, Mr Trujillo has engaged in a fresh bout of contracting major parts of Telstra's operations to third-party suppliers.
       US information technology giant IBM has been handed a five-year $1 billion deal to run Telstra's internal information technology systems.
       The company's planned $11 billion network overhaul has also seen network design and construction and the implementation of a new billing and customer care system given to third parties, including Alcatel, Ericsson and Accenture.
       The news came as Telstra's shares continued their latest slide, closing 5c to close at $3.65 yesterday after the competition regulator promised to keep heavy regulations on the company's fixed line networks.
       The stock is now trading at only 1c above its lowest point since first listing on the market in 1997. The Government must make a final decision on whether to proceed with a sale of all, or part, of its 51.8 per cent stake in the company in the next month.
       The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday held out hope of removing some red tape that Telstra wants cut in a draft paper on future regulation of fixed networks.
       The ACCC also proposed to undertake an audit of Australian telecommunications infrastructure to "further inform" its analysis of where regulation is needed and can be removed.
       Graeme Samuel said: "the ACCC is not satisfied, on the basis of the information available to date, that there is effective competition in particular areas, even where some form of competitor infrastructure exists". #
       [COMMENT: Maintenance staff have been reduced and reduced for the several years since Telstra was "corporatised." When storms and floods occur, there is no "fat" to call on for the repair work. COMMENT ENDS.] [Jun 21, 06]
    • [Oman FTA Vote Tomorrow in U.S. Senate]  United  States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Oman flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  
    NAFTA EXPANSION ALERT:

    Oman FTA Vote Tomorrow in Senate: Call Your Senators NOW!


       Public Citizen, Global Trade Watch, By e-mail, June 27, 2006
       UNITED STATES - Despite the bruising CAFTA fight, the Bush administration just submitted new NAFTA Expansion legislation to Congress - this time aiming for the Middle East, with the OFTA: the Oman Free Trade Agreement.
       The Senate Republican leadership is pulling a fast one to try to limit debate and public scrutiny of more NAFTA expansion. They have just announced that they will hold a Finance Committee mark-up and then the FULL SENATE VOTE on the same day: TOMORROW, Wednesday, June 28.
       The Oman deal is word-for-word CAFTA, except where it's worse. Oman bans labor unions and has been cited by the U.S. State Department for human trafficking and forced labor. Please review the talking points below and then call both of your Senators immediately.
       Take Action: Call BOTH Your Senators to Stop NAFTA Expansion
       Tell them to say NO to the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA)
       Capitol Switchboard # (202) 224-3121
       Take these 4 steps to STOP the OMAN Free Trade Agreement (OFTA):
       1) Call each of your two Senators' DC offices. Don't know who your Senators are, or what their phone numbers are? You can call the Capitol Switchboard above (works 24 hours!) and give them your state or zip code. Or you can find out here: http://action. citizen.org/ getLocal.jsp
       2) Tell them to vote NO on the Oman FTA. Ask to speak to the person who handles trade issues. Tell the office you want your Senator to vote NO on the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) and ask for a response letter or email stating the Senator's position. (Use the Talking Points below)
       3) Let us know what they said! Reporting back is critical to our success- tell us what happened using the form below! Send an email letting us know you call and telling us what they said at padler@ citizen.org
       4) Spread the word. After you've reported back, forward this email far and wide. We need hundreds of calls in to each Senator in the next 12 hours!.
       Thank you for all that you do. - The Global Trade Watch Team at Public Citizen
       P.S.: Want to do more? After you call, send a letter to your Congressional (House) representative here: http://action. citizen.org/ campaign.jsp? campaign_ KEY=3664 . A house vote is likely in Congress the week of July 10th, and Representatives will be flying back home to you to do town hall meetings and other public events next week. Consider "Bird-Dogging" your member of congress about NAFTA expansion. Find out more here: http://action. citizen.org/ campaign.jsp? campaign_ KEY=3307
       Talking Points on the Oman Free Trade Agreement
    More NAFTAs mean more lost U.S. jobs. A decade of NAFTA has resulted in the largest U.S. trade deficit ever-a deficit caused by a flood of job-killing imported goods and the export of three million U.S. manufacturing jobs. Real wages are scarcely above their 1972 levels, even though productivity has grown by over 80 percent. We can't afford any more NAFTA-like trade deals. We need to change this broken trade model!
    Oman bans independent labor unions! Currently in Oman it is illegal to form independent trade unions. Workers can only join "representative committees" that include management representatives. The OFTA, like CAFTA and NAFTA, has strict intellectual property rights protections with tough enforcement - but no enforceable labor rights. OFTA merely requires Oman to enforce its own labor laws, and while the Sultan has promised "reform," OFTA would provide no recourse if he changes his mind. Under OFTA, there's not even any penalty for weakening this existing bad law further.
    This Oman FTA will lead to serious human rights abuses. The majority of the private sector workforce in Oman are foreign-born "guest workers" from China, Bangladesh and other poor countries. Recent horrific reports about the results of the U.S. Free Trade Agreement with nearby Jordan show how labor rights abuses and human trafficking can greatly increase with the introduction of a free trade agreement. The State Department has noted that Oman "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."
    The Oman FTA gives foreign corporations more rights than U.S. citizens. OFTA contains the same type of "investor-state" provisions as NAFTA and CAFTA, which would allow an Omani company (or a company from any other country incorporated in Oman) to sue the United States government in a secret tribunal, demanding payment from our tax dollars, if the company feels that any U.S. government policy is restricting their ability to make profit.
    OFTA could undermine U.S. national security. The OFTA goes beyond even CAFTA and NAFTA in explicitly promoting rights for foreign companies - including government-owned companies - to operate our sensitive infrastructure: electricity grids, port operations and more. OFTA allows foreign investors to take the U.S. government to secret tribunals if the profitability of any foreign investment in these sensitive sectors is threatened by an act of the U.S. Congress!
       For more info about U.S.-Oman FTA, go here.
       Have you sent a letter to Congress about the Oman agreement yet? If not, do so here. #
    [Jun 27, 06]
    • Soldier Who Killed Handcuffed Iraqi Is Freed.  [Murder of Muhamad Husain Kadir] United  States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Soldier Who Killed Handcuffed Iraqi Is Freed

     
       Editor and Publisher, www.editor andpublisher. com/eandp/ news/article_ display.jsp? vnu_content_ id=1002727787 , By Editor & Publisher Staff, "E&P", June/27/2006
       NEW YORK - An American soldier convicted in the fatal shooting of a handcuffed Iraqi cow herder in 2004 was freed from a military prison in Oklahoma on Friday, more than a year before his sentence was up, the Dayton Daily News reported today.
       Army Spec. Edward Richmond Jr., 22, of Gonzales, La., was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced in August 2004 to three years in prison for the April 28, 2004, shooting death of Muhamad Husain Kadir in the village of Taal Al Jal, which is about 40 miles southwest of Kirkuk.
       Richmond was released on parole, his attorney said Friday.
       "He told me this morning it feels good to be free," said Richmond's father, Edward Richmond Sr.
       The shooting was one of two of Iraqi civilians during a 10-day period by members of the same Hawaii-based platoon, the HHC 1/27th Mortar platoon.
       Richmond Jr. said that he shot Kadir because he thought he lunged at the soldier who was holding him, Sgt. Jeffrey D. Waruch of Olean, N.Y., and that he wasn't aware Kadir's hands were bound.
       Waruch was accused in the other shooting, in which a 13-year-old girl was killed and her mother and sister wounded. Waruch was discharged without being accused of a crime. Army officials determined it was unlikely they would find sufficient evidence against him.
       Both shootings were examined by the Dayton Daily News late last year in a special report.
       The Ohio newspaper reported then that dozens of soldiers were accused of crimes against Iraqis since the first troops deployed for Iraq, but despite strong evidence and convictions in some cases, only a small percentage resulted in punishments.
       "As with the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman and the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians by Marines in Haditha, the military did not immediately conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting of the three women by Waruch. The Army Criminal Investigation Command did not begin a formal investigation until more than a year after the Feb. 18, 2004, shootings, after official requests for records from both the Dayton Daily News and Richmond's father.
       "The Daily News reported that in the months leading to Waruch's deployment in Iraq, two women alleging domestic abuse obtained temporary restraining orders against him — each order requiring him to surrender his firearms to police.
       "During an interview, Waruch's supervisor, Staff Sgt. Marcus Warner of New Iberia, La., called him 'a cancer to my soldiers,' and he unsuccessfully tried to prevent him from going to Iraq." - © 2006 VNU eMedia Inc
       Click on "comments" on source website to read or post comments - Click Here For Comment Policy
       [By courtesy of Information Clearing House, www.information clearinghouse. info/article 13775.htm ]
       [COMMENT: Is this the "rule of law" and "democracy" that the Insiders of the USA, the UK, and Australia, led by Bush, Blair, Howard, and Big Business, are bringing to the Near East and Middle East? The horrors of Saddam's kilers and torturers replaced by Wild West murdering, thus leading the Iraqis to be tricked into adopting the horrors of Sharia Courts? COMMENT ENDS.] [Jun 27, 06]

    • [Comments on Minister Sharman Stone's work to 80 plea to enrich the rich, pay for prisons.]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    IN SHORT

     
       The West Australian, Letters to The Editor, p 22, Thursday, June 29, 2006
    [Work to 80, to keep murderer in prison?]
       So, we have been warned to get used to the idea of working until we are 80 (Work until you're 80 push by Canberra, 27/6).
       Why? To keep the mongrel who killed that little girl in Canning Vale in prison for the rest of his life? Bring back capital punishment. Kevin Heald, Canning Vale.
    [Average people die mid-70s, so why say retire at 80?]
       Retirement age 80, life expectancy around the mid-70s.
       I wonder how many taxpayer-funded overseas trips and committees did it take for this pearl of wisdom to be unearthed by an underpaid, overworked Federal Minister. Roger Boldra, Kingsley.
    An old truth
       Bravo, you good little economic units. Working until you're 80 to keep the wealth flowing up hill. You can rest when you are dead, after all.
       I have always had the suspicion that work was truly the reason we have been blessed with life. Sharman Stone has spoken and it's evidently true. Gayna Luck, Dunsborough.
    [Jun 29, 06]
    • Guest Media Alert: Kidnapped By Israel; The British Media And The Invasion Of Gaza  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags   Palestine Authority flag; Palestine Authority website  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Guest Media Alert: Kidnapped By Israel; The British Media And The Invasion Of Gaza

     
       Media Lens (Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media), By Jonathan Cook, E-mail via StopMAI WA, June 30, 2006
       Few readers of a British newspaper would have noticed the story. In the Observer of 25 June, it merited a mere paragraph hidden in the "World in brief" section, revealing that the previous day a team of Israeli commandos had entered the Gaza Strip to "detain" two Palestinians Israel claims are members of Hamas.
       The significance of the mission was alluded to in a final phrase describing this as "the first arrest raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area a year ago". More precisely, it was the first time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly left in August last year.
       As the Observer landed on doorsteps around the UK, however, another daring mission was being launched in Gaza that would attract far more attention from the British media - and prompt far more concern.
       Shortly before dawn, armed Palestinians slipped past Israeli military defences to launch an attack on an army post close by Gaza called Kerem Shalom. They sneaked through a half-mile underground tunnel dug under an Israeli-built electronic fence that surrounds the Strip and threw grenades at a tank, killing two soldiers inside. Seizing another, wounded soldier the gunmen then disappeared back into Gaza.
       Whereas the Israeli "arrest raid" had passed with barely a murmur, the Palestinian attack a day later received very different coverage. The BBC's correspondent in Gaza, Alan Johnstone, started the ball rolling later the same day in broadcasts in which he referred to the Palestinian attack as "a major escalation in cross-border tensions". (BBC World news, 10am GMT, 25 June 2006)
       Johnstone did not explain why the Palestinian attack on an Israeli army post was an escalation, while the Israeli raid into Gaza the previous day was not. Both were similar actions: violations of a neighbour's territory.
       The Palestinians could justify attacking the military post because the Israeli army has been using it and other fortified positions to fire hundreds of shells into Gaza that have contributed to some 30 civilian deaths over the preceding weeks. Israel could justify launching its mission into Gaza because it blames the two men it seized for being behind some of the hundreds of home-made Qassam rockets that have been fired out of Gaza, mostly ineffectually, but occasionally harming Israeli civilians in the border town of Sderot.
       So why was the Palestinian attack, and not the earlier Israeli raid, an escalation? The clue came in the same report from Johnstone, in which he warned that Israel would feel compelled to launch "retaliations" for the attack, implying that a re-invasion of the Gaza Strip was all but inevitable.
       So, in fact, the "escalation" and "retaliation" were one and the same thing. Although Johnstone kept repeating that the Palestinian attack had created an escalation, what he actually meant was that Israel was choosing to escalate its response. Both sides could continue their rocket fire, but only Israel was in a position to reinvade with tanks and ground forces.
       There was another intriguing aspect to Johnstone's framework for interpreting these fast-moving events, one that would be adopted by all the British media. He noted that the coming Israeli "retaliation" - the reinvasion - had a specific cause: the escalation prompted by the brief Palestinian attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead and a third captured.
       But what about the Palestinian attack: did it not have a cause too? According to the British media, apparently not. Apart from making vague references to the Israeli artillery bombardment of the Gaza Strip over the previous weeks, Johnstone and other reporters offered no context for the Palestinian attack. It had no obvious cause or explanation. It appeared to come out of nowhere, born presumably only of Palestinian malice.
       Or as a Guardian editorial phrased it: "Confusion surrounds the precise motives of the gunmen from the Islamist group Hamas and two other armed organisations who captured the Israeli corporal and killed two other soldiers on Sunday. But it was clearly intended to provoke a reaction, as is the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel." ('Storm over Gaza,' 29 June 2006)
       It was not as though Johnstone or the Guardian had far to look for reasons for the Palestinian attack, explanations that might frame it as a retaliation no different from the Israeli one. In addition to the shelling that has caused some 30 civilian deaths and inflicted yet more trauma on a generation of Palestinian children, Israel has been blockading Gaza's borders to prevent food and medicines from reaching the population and it has successfully pressured international donors to cut off desperately needed funds to the Palestinian government. Then, of course, there was also the matter of the Israeli army's violation of Palestinian-controlled territory in Gaza the day before.
       None of this context surfaced to help audiences distinguish cause and effect, and assess for themselves who was doing the escalating and who the retaliating.
       That may have been because all of these explanations make sense only in the context of Israel's continuing occupation of Gaza. But that context conflicts with a guiding assumption in the British media: that the occupation finished with Israel's disengagement from Gaza in August last year. With the occupation over, all grounds for Palestinian "retaliation" become redundant.
       The Guardian's diplomatic editor, Ewen MacAskill certainly took the view that Israel should be able to expect quiet after its disengagement. "Having pulled out of Gaza last year, the Israelis would have been justified in thinking they might enjoy a bit of peace on their southern border." ('An understandable over-reaction,' Comment is Free, 28 June 2006)
       Never mind that Gaza's borders, airspace, electromagnetic frequencies, electricity and water are all under continuing Israeli control, or that the Palestinians are not allowed an army, or that Israel is still preventing Gazans from having any contact with Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Meetings of the Palestinian parliament have to be conducted over video links because Israel will not allow MPs in Gaza to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank.
       These factors might have helped to explain continuing Palestinian anger, but in British coverage of the conflict they appear to be unmentionables.
    Arrested, Detained Or Kidnapped?
       There was another notable asymmetry in the media's use of language and their treatment of the weekend of raids by the Palestinians and the Israelis. In the Observer, we learnt that Israel had "detained" the two Palestinians in an "arrest raid". These were presented as the legitimate actions of a state that is enforcing the law within the sphere of its sovereignty (notably, in stark contrast to the other media assumption that the occupation of Gaza is over).
       So how did the media describe the Palestinians' seizure of the Israeli soldier the next day? According to Donald MacIntyre of the Independent, Corporal Gilad Shalit was "kidnapped" ('Israel set for military raid over kidnapped soldier, Independent,' 27 June 2006). His colleague Eric Silver considered the soldier "abducted" ('Israel hunts for abducted soldier after dawn raid by militants,' 26 June 2006). Conal Urquhart of the Guardian, referred to him as a "hostage" ('Palestinians hunt for Israeli hostage,' Guardian, 26 June 2006). And BBC online believed him "abducted" and "kidnapped" ('Israel warns of "extreme action",' 28 June 2006)
       It was a revealing choice of terminology. Soldiers who are seized by an enemy are usually considered to have been captured; along with being killed, it's an occupational hazard for a soldier. But Britain's liberal media preferred to use words that misleadingly suggested Cpl Shalit was a victim, an innocent whose status as a soldier was not relevant to his fate. The Palestinians, as kidnappers and hostage-takers, were clearly not behaving in a legitimate manner.
       That this was a deviation from normal usage, at least when applied to Palestinians, is suggested by the following report from the BBC in 2003, when Israel seized Hamas political leader Sheikh Mohammed Taha: "Israeli troops have captured a founder member of the Islamic militant group Hamas during an incursion into the Gaza Strip." This brief "incursion" included the deaths of eight Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and a child, according to the same report. ('Israel captures Hamas founder,' BBC online, 3 March 2003).
       But one does not need to look back three years to spot the double standard being applied by the British media. On the Thursday following Sunday's Palestinian attack on Kerem Shalom, the Israeli army invaded Gaza and the West Bank to grab dozens of Palestinian leaders, including cabinet ministers. Were they being kidnapped or taken hostage by the Israeli army?
       This is what a breaking news report from the Guardian had to say: "Israeli troops today arrested dozens of Hamas ministers and MPs as they stepped up attempts to free a soldier kidnapped by militants in Gaza at the weekend. The Israeli army said 64 Hamas officials, including seven ministers and 20 other MPs, had been detained in a series of early morning arrests." (David Fickling and agencies, 'Israel detains Hamas ministers,' 29 June 2006).
       BBC World took the same view. In its late morning report, Lyse Doucet told viewers that in response to the attack in which an Israeli soldier had been "kidnapped", the Israeli army "have been detaining Palestinian cabinet ministers". In the same broadcast, another reporter, Wyre Davies, referred to "Thirty Hamas politicians, including eight ministers, detained in the West Bank", calling this an attempt by Israel at "keeping up the pressure". (BBC World news, 10am GMT, 29 June 2006)
       "Arrested" and "detained"? What exactly was the crime committed by these Palestinian politicians from the West Bank? Were they somehow accomplices to Cpl Shalit's "kidnap" by Palestinian militants in the separate territory of Gaza? And if so, was Israel intending to prove it in a court of law? In any case, what was the jurisdiction of the Israeli army in "arresting" Palestinians in Palestinian-controlled territory?
       None of those questions needed addressing because in truth none of the media had any doubts about the answer. It was clear to all the reporters that the purpose of seizing the Palestinian politicians was to hold them as bargaining chips for the return for Cpl Shalit.
       In the Guardian, Conal Urquhart wrote: "Israeli forces today arrested more than 60 Hamas politicians in the West Bank and bombed targets in the Gaza Strip. The moves were designed to increase pressure on Palestinian militants to release an Israeli soldier held captive since Sunday." ('Israel rounds up Hamas politicians,' 3.45pm update, 29 June 2006)
       The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Jerusalem referred to the "arrests" as "keeping up the pressure on the Palestinians on all fronts", and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen argued that the detention of the Hamas MPs and ministers "sends out a very strong message about who's boss around here. The message is: If Israel wants you, it can get you." (BBC World News, 6pm GMT, 29 June 2006)
    Siding With The Strong
       So why have the British media adopted such differing terminology for the two sides, language in which the Palestinians are consistently portrayed as criminals while the Israelis are seen as law-enforcers?
       Interestingly, the language used by the British media mirrors that used by the Israeli media. The words "retaliation", "escalation", "pressure", "kidnap" and "hostage" are all drawn from the lexicon of the Israeli press when talking about the Palestinians. The only Israeli term avoided in British coverage is the label "terrorists" for the Palestinian militants who attacked the army post near Gaza on 25 June.
       In other words, the British media have adopted the same terminology as Israeli media organisations, even though the latter proudly declare their role as cheerleading for their army against the Palestinian enemy.
       The replication by British reporters of Israeli language in covering the conflict is mostly unconscious. It happens because of several factors in the way foreign correspondents operate in conflict zones, factors that almost always favour the stronger side over the weaker, independently of (and often in opposition to) other important contexts, such as international law and common sense.
       The causes of this bias can be divided into four pressures on foreign correspondents: identification with, and assimilation into, the stronger side's culture; over-reliance on the stronger side's sources of information; peer pressure and competition; and, most importantly, the pressure to satisfy the expectations of editors back home in the media organisation.
       The first pressure derives from the fact that British correspondents, as well as the news agencies they frequently rely on, are almost exclusively based in Israeli locations, such as West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where they share the daily rituals of the host population. Correspondents have Israeli neighbours, not Palestinian ones; they drink and eat in Israeli, not Palestinian, bars and restaurants; they watch Israeli, not Palestinian, TV; and they fear Palestinian suicide attacks, not Israeli army "incursions".
       Another aspect of this assimilation - this one unmentionable in newsrooms - is the long-standing tendency, though admittedly one now finally waning, by British media organisations to prefer Jewish reporters for the "Jerusalem beat". The media justify this to themselves on several grounds: often a senior Jewish reporter on the staff wants to be based in Jerusalem, in some cases as a prelude to receiving Israeli citizenship; he or she may already speak some Hebrew; and, as a Jew living in a self-declared Jewish state, he or she is likely to find it easier to gain access to officials.
       The obvious danger that Jewish reporters who already feel an affinity with Israel before their posting may quickly start to identify with Israel and its goals is not considered an acceptable line of inquiry. Anyone raising it is certain to be dismissed as an anti-Semite.
       The second pressure involves the wide range of sources of information foreign correspondents come to rely on in their daily reporting, from the Israeli media to the Israeli army and government press offices. Most of the big Israeli newspapers now have daily editions in English that arrive at reporters' doors before breakfast and update all day on the internet. The Palestinians do not have the resources to produce competing information. Israeli officials, again unlike their Palestinian counterparts, are usually fluent in English and ready with a statement on any subject.
       This asymmetry between Israeli and Palestinian sources of information is compounded by the fact that foreign correspondents usually consider Israeli spokespeople to be more "useful". It is, after all, Israeli decision-makers who are shaping and determining the course of events. The army's spokesperson can speak with authority about the timing of the next Gaza invasion, and the government press office knows by heart the themes of the prime minister's latest unilateral plans.
       Palestinian spokespeople, by contrast, are far less effective: they usually know nothing more about Israeli decisions than what they have read in the Israeli papers; they are rarely at the scene of Israeli military "retaliations", and are often unreliable in the ensuing confusion; and internal political disputes, and a lack of clear hierarchies, often leave spokespeople unsure of what the official Palestinian line is.
       Given these differences, the Israeli "version" is usually the first one to hit the headlines, both in the Israeli media and on the international TV channels. Which brings us to the third pressure.
       News is not an independent category of information journalists search for; it is the information that journalists collectively decide is worth seeking out. So correspondents look to each other to determine what is the "big story". This is why reporters tend to hunt in packs.
       The problem for British journalists is that they are playing second fiddle to the largest contingent of English-language correspondents: those from America. What makes the headlines in the US papers is the main story, and as a result British journalists tend to follow the same leads, trying to beat the American majors to the best lines of inquiry.
       The effect is not hard to predict: British coverage largely mirrors American coverage. And given the close identification of US politicians, business and media with Israel, American coverage is skewed very keenly towards a pro-Israel agenda. That has direct repercussions for British reporting. (It does, however, allow for occasional innovation in the British media too: for example, whereas American reporters were concerned to promote the largely discredited account by the Israeli army of how seven members of a Palestinian family were killed during artillery bombardment of a beach in Gaza on 9 June, their British colleagues had a freer hand to investigate the same events.)
       Closely related to this sympathy of coverage between the British and American media is the fourth pressure. No reporter who cares about his or her career is entirely immune from the cumulative pressure of expectations from the news desk in London. The editors back home read the American dailies closely; they imbibe as authoritative the views of the major American columnists, like Thomas Friedman, who promote Israel's and Washington's agenda while sitting thousands of miles away from the events they analyse; and they watch the wire services, which are equally slanted towards the American and Israeli interpretation of events.
       The reporter who rings the news desk each day to offer the best "pitch" quickly learns which angles and subjects "fly" and which don't. "Professional" journalists of the type that get high-profile jobs, like Jerusalem correspondent, have learnt long ago the predilections of the desk editors. If our correspondent really believes in a story, he or she will fight the desk vigorously to have it included. But there are only so many battles correspondents who value their jobs are prepared to engage in.
    Collective Punishment
       Within this model for understanding the work of British correspondents, we can explain the confused sense of events that informs the recent reporting of the Independent's Donald MacIntyre.
       He points out an obvious fact that seems to have eluded many of his colleagues: Israel's reinvasion of Gaza, its bombing of the only electricity station, and disruption to the water supply, its bombing of the main bridges linking north and south Gaza, and its terrifying sonic bombs over Gaza City are all forms of collective punishment of the civilian Palestinian population that are illegal under international law.
       Derar Abu Sisi, who runs the power station in Gaza, tells MacIntyre it will take a "minimum of three to six months" to restore electricity supplies. ('Israeli missiles pound Gaza into a new Dark Age in "collective punishment", 29 June 2006). The same piece includes a warning that the petrol needed to run generators will soon run out, shutting off the power to hospitals and other vital services.
       This is more than the Guardian's coverage managed on the same day. Conal Urquhart writes simply: "Israel reoccupied areas of southern Gaza yesterday and bombed bridges and an electricity plant to force Palestinian militants to free the abducted soldier." Blithely, Urquhart continues: "In Gaza there was an uneasy calm as Israeli aircraft and forces operated without harming anyone. Missiles were fired at buildings, roads and open fields, but ground forces made no attempt to enter built-up areas." ('Israel rounds up Hamas politicians,' 11.45am, 29 June 2006)
       In MacIntyre's article, despite his acknowledgment of Israel's "collective punishment" of Gaza (note even this statement of the obvious needs quotation marks in the Independent's piece to remove any suggestion that it can be attributed directly to the paper), he also refers to a Hamas call for a prisoner swap to end the stand-off as an "escalation" of the "crisis", and he describes the seizure of a Hamas politician by Israel as an "arrest" and a "retaliation".
       In a similarly indulgent tone, the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill calls Israel's re-invasion of Gaza "an understandable over-reaction": "Israel has good cause for taking tough action against the Palestinians in Gaza" - presumably because of their "escalation" by firing Qassam rockets. MacAskill does, however, pause to criticise the invasion, pointing out that "Israel has to allow the Palestinians a degree of sovereignty." ('An understandable over-reaction,' Comment is Free, www.guardian.co.uk, 28 June 2006)
       Not full sovereignty, note, just a degree of it. In MacAskill's view, invasions are out, but by implication "targeted assassinations", air strikes and artillery fire, all of which have claimed dozens of Palestinian civilian lives over the past weeks, are allowed as they only partially violate Palestinian sovereignty.
       But MacAskill finds a small sliver of hope for the future from what has come to be known as the "Prisoners' Document", an agreement between the various Palestinian factions that implicitly limits Palestinian territorial ambitions to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. "The ambiguous document agreed between Hamas and Fatah yesterday does not recognize Israel's right to exist but it is a step in the right direction," writes MacAskill. (ibid)
       A step in which direction? Answer: Israel's direction. Israel has been demanding three concessions from the Palestinians before it says it will negotiate with them: a recognition of Israel's right to exist; a renunciation of violence; and a decision to abide by previous agreements.
       A Guardian editorial shares MacAskill's assessment: "Implicit recognition [of Israel] coupled with an end to violence [by the Palestinians] would be a solid basis on which to proceed." ('Storm over Gaza,' 29 June 2006)
       If the Palestinians are being faulted for their half-hearted commitment to these three yardsticks by which progress can be judged, how does Israel's own commitment compare?
       First, whereas the long-dominant Palestinian faction Fatah recognised Israel nearly 20 years ago, and Hamas appears ready to agree a similar recognition, Israel has made no comparable concession. It has never recognised the Palestinians right to exist as a people or as a state, from Golda Meir's infamous dictum to Ehud Olmert's plans for stealing yet more Palestinian land in the West Bank to create a series of Palestinian ghettos there.
       Second, whereas the Palestinians have a right under international law to use violence to liberate themselves from Israel's continuing occupation, the various factions are now agreeing in the Prisoners' Document to limit that right to actions within the occupied territories. Israel, meanwhile, is employing violence on a daily basis against the general population of Gaza, harming civilians and militants alike, even though under international law it has a responsibility to look after the occupied population no different from its duties towards its own citizens.
       Third, whereas the Palestinians have been keen since the signing of the Oslo accords to have their agreements with Israel honoured - most assume that they are their only hope of winning statehood - Israel has flagrantly and consistently ignored its commitments. During Oslo it missed all its deadlines for withdrawing from Palestinian territory, and during the Oslo and current Road Map peace negotiations it has continued to build and extend its illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
       In other words, Israel has not recognised the Palestinians, it has refused to renounce its illegitimate use of violence against the population it occupies, and it has abrogated its recent international agreements.
       Doubtless, however, we will have to wait some time for a Guardian editorial prepared to demand of Israel an "implicit recognition [of the Palestinians] coupled with an end to violence as a solid basis on which to proceed." #
    [Jun 30, 06]
    • Shared bed hotter than nuclear: MP  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Shared bed hotter than nuclear: MP

     
       The West Australian, By NICOLE COX, p 59, Saturday, July 1, 2006
       PERTH: Sleeping next to your partner will generate twice as much radiation as a nuclear reactor, Tangney Federal Liberal MP and nuclear energy advocate Dennis Jensen claims.
       Speaking at a Council for the National Interest forum in Crawley, Dr Jensen, who has a PhD in physics and material science and has worked as a CSIRO research scientist, reiterated his push to endorse nuclear power.
      [Picture] Nuclear family: Tangney Liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen believes sleeping with a partner is a radioactive experience.  
       His presentation drew angst from several audience members, including the Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group, who challenged him to a public debate to flesh out community and safety concerns about nuclear power, particularly nuclear waste.
       But Dr Jensen dismissed the concerns saying: "Nuclear power is safe. It has been proven historically. You are exposed to twice as much radiation sleeping next to your partner than the radiation generated from a nuclear reactor."
       Dr Jensen said alternative energy production methods such as solar, wind and tidal energy were problematic with limited efficiency and solar energy five times more costly than current methods.
       "We are not going to solve our problem through using less energy," he said. "To think that, you're living in a fool's paradise."
       Last month, Prune Minister John Howard announced a six-month review to investigate the economic, environmental and health and safety impacts of uranium mining, processing and an expanded nuclear energy industry.
       [COMMENT: Is it true that somehow he got through the Liberal Party's pre-selection process, and was elected to Parliament? COMMENT ENDS.] [Jul 01, 06]
    • [Water and food future betrayed.]

    Future betrayed

     
       The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), Letter to The Editor, p 54, July 2, 2006
       THE spurious assumption that the valuable Nannup Yarragadee is the answer to Perth's future water needs is less than shortsighted.
       In decades to come, the Southwest will be required to produce our increasing fresh-food supply, so the watertable level must be maintained.
       This dearth of planning would make C.Y. O'Connor cringe with despair. J.B. LOCKYER, Highgate
    [Jul 2, 06]
    • Schools are zoos.

    Schools are zoos

     
       The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), Letter to The Editor, p 54, July 2, 2006
       DAVID Prichard's notion that student behaviour has improved since caning was abolished ("Liberal MP flogging a misguided horse", your voice, June 18) is the biggest load of nonsense I've read in a long time.
       As a high-school teacher who has decided to leave the profession, I'd like to share my experience.
       In little more than a school term, I have been assaulted twice, sworn at, spat on, abused and threatened with grievous bodily harm. I've seen other teachers being assaulted and one student attempt to knife another.
       In many cases, teachers are little more than zookeepers with graduate degrees. They have no real power to discipline students in any meaningful way and, as a consequence, many classes are more like 55-minute lion-taming sessions.
       Overlay the moribund notion of outcomes-based education (not only can you not discipline them, but you can't fail them either) and it is no wonder teachers are jumping ship.
       Improved student behaviour since the abolition of caning? I can introduce you to some Year 9 students who will quickly change your mind. P. PEAKE, Redcliffe
    [Jul 2, 06]
    • US troops 'plotted Iraq rape-murder for week'  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    US troops ‘plotted Iraq rape-murder for week’

     
       The West Australian, p 6, Monday, July 3, 2006
       BAGHDAD: Investigators believe US soldiers spent nearly a week plotting an attack in which they raped an Iraqi woman then killed her and her family in an insurgent-ridden area south of Baghdad, according to military officials.
       US officials had said they knew of the deaths but thought the victims died in sectarian violence.
       Police official Capt. Ihsan Abdul-Rahman said Iraqi officials received a report on March 13 alleging that US soldiers had killed the family in the Khasir Abyad district, about 9km north of Mahmoudiya.
       Satellite TV station al-Jazeera gave wide coverage to the alleged rape-murder, which threatens to stoke public anger in the wake of a series of other cases of US troops allegedly killing and abusing Iraqi civilians.
       An Iraqi human rights activist in Jordan pointed to other abuse allegations in the western Iraqi town of Haditha and at the Abu Ghraib prison and said the attack highlighted the need for formal agreements between Baghdad and Washington on the treatment of civilians.
       The US official, who is familiar with details of the investigation, said that flammable liquid was used to burn the woman's body in a cover-up attempt, although it was unclear if it was petrol or lighter fluid.
       The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing, said that the attack appeared "totally premeditated" and that the soldiers apparently "studied" the family for about a week before carrying out the attack.
       If convicted of premeditated murder, the soldiers could receive a death sentence under US military law.
       There were discrepancies over how many soldiers were being investigated. The US official said it was at least four.
       Two other US officials said on Friday that five were under investigation but one already had been discharged for unspecified charges unrelated to the killings and was believed to be in the US. #
    [Jul 3, 06]
    • Israel strikes Hamas PM's office  Palestine Authority flag; Palestine Authority website  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Israel strikes Hamas PM’s office

     
       The West Australian, p 6, Monday, July 3, 2006
       GAZA CITY: An Israeli air raid has struck the Gaza offices of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, ratcheting up the pressure to free captured Israeli soldier Cpl Gilad Shalit even as mediation talks continued.
       Mr Haniyeh, who was not present at the time of the raid, swiftly condemned the attack, which set his office ablaze in a dramatic warning to the Hamas Government after Israeli threats against their leadership.
       "It's an attack against a Palestinian symbol," he said. "We ask the international community and the Arab League to take its responsibilities towards our people and intervene." He described Israel's policy as "insane".
       A second near-simultaneous air strike in the northern Gaza strip town of Jabaliya killed a member of the armed wing of Mr Haniyeh's Hamas movement and wounded another, marking a fifth straight night of Israeli air raids on Gaza.
       Israel has repeatedly threatened to target Mr Haniyeh after the capture on June 25 of Cpl Shalit by three Palestinian militant groups, including the armed wing of Mr Haniyeh's Hamas movement. #
    [Jul 3, 06]
    • [The Right Stuff - branch-stacking takeover of Australian Liberals]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
       Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), "The Right Stuff," www.abc.net. au/4corners/ content/2006/ s1688866. htm , by Janine Cohen, July/17/2006
       AUSTRALIA:

    The Right Stuff

     
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    FOUR CORNERS
    Investigative TV journalism at its best.
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    Program Transcript
    Reporter: Janine Cohen
    Date: 17/07/2006
       JANINE COHEN: When Sir Robert Menzies won government in 1949, he boasted of a broad political movement.
       SIR ROBERT MENZIES: We represent all the people, not just the ones who voted for us but the ones who voted against us, and that the real thing that we have to produce in Australia is not only national prosperity but national unity.
       JANINE COHEN: Menzies had brought together about 200,000 conservatives and liberals of many persuasions into the new Liberal Party. But as Australia has grown, membership of all mainstream parties has slumped.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Now, the issue I have with those small numbers is that, that a group that gets organised and has the will and the capacity and the finances to manipulate the party can gain very considerable influence.
       JANINE COHEN: And that's exactly what many fear is happening to the Liberal Party in the Prime Minister's own home state of New South Wales.
       JANINE COHEN: And you actually know people that were asked to go and collect blank ballots?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Oh, yes.
       JANINE COHEN: And did they?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): If it's a well-founded accusation, there should be an inquiry and I think the Liberal Party ought to be pretty concerned about any of those claims.
       JANINE COHEN: Don't you think ordinary supporters of the Liberal Party would be shocked about all this? Don't you think they think that people who belong to the State Council would be voting themselves?
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: What planet are you from? People really expect political parties to function like political parties.
       JANINE COHEN: The Liberal Party in New South Wales is now in a bitter struggle for control. And for the first time, Liberals from across the spectrum speak out publicly.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): I expect myself and anyone else who speaks here today, will be out of a party.
       JANINE COHEN: But you feel that strongly about it?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): I feel that strongly.
       JANINE COHEN: What's at stake here?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): The future of the Liberal Party, the electability of the Liberal Party, democracy in Australia.
       JANINE COHEN: Tonight on Four Corners - a case study into a political party struggling with democracy.
       BETTY MIHIC: Would you like to sit near the heater?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): No, you take it. That's fine.
       JANINE COHEN: Betty Mihic is a conservative Liberal, a monarchist and a Christian.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): So, you've got some photos here, have you?
       BETTY MIHIC: Yes.
       JANINE COHEN: She adores John Howard, whom she's known since he was a boy.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): Well, this is a photo of John Howard when he was much younger.
       JANINE COHEN: Yes, when he was Treasurer. It was just when they were expecting their last child, so that was in the '70s.
       JANINE COHEN: Her philosophy has always been everyone was welcome at her local Liberal branch.
       BETTY MIHIC: And when people came to join our branch we didn't ask them their background, their religion or anything like that, that's not our business. As long as they were Liberals, and good Liberals, and what the Liberal Party stands for.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): Betty has worked tirelessly for the party. She has worked on election days, she has helped our fundraising, she would turn on a fundraising in a backyard and have 50 or 100 people come along and raise $2,000 or $3,000 at the drop of a hat.
       JANINE COHEN: Betty Mihic and her family ran the Petersham-Lewisham branch in the western suburbs of Sydney for more than 50 years. In 2004 the Prime Minister presented the 78 year old and her sister Anne with a meritorious award for their services to the party. How much have you loved your local branch of the Liberal Party?
       BETTY MIHIC: Oh, it's been the main part of my life really, and my sister. We just loved it.
       JANINE COHEN: Then one day a young stranger named Kyle Kutasi started attending the Petersham-Lewisham branch meetings. He was asked if he knew any factional players in New South Wales, and he said he didn't. On the day of the 2005 Petersham-Lewisham branch annual general meeting, Betty Mihic had baked cakes and made tea.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): At 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon about 20 people congregated on the footpath, had a little meeting, marched down the hallway.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: Pretty much after we sat down, Kyle Kutasi, his entourage arrived and it was also Alex Hawke and Kyle's parents and a few other people that I obviously didn't know.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): A Young Liberal stood at the end of a dining room table with his arms folded in an aggressive sort of manner and challenged every step of the way the right of people to vote.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: It just turned icy. You could tell that there was some sort of a confrontation.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): It was the most distasteful things I've ever seen in all my time in politics.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: They just snapped people, they wouldn't allow people to finish talking. If somebody made a point or tried to say something, they were pretty much talked down.
       JANINE COHEN: Kyle Kutasi and his supporters took over all the positions in the branch. Kutasi took over from Better Mihic as president.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): When it was all over they grabbed the papers, they marched out the door and you had these little old ladies and gentlemen sitting there with the afternoon tea ready on the side table just absolutely in shock and horrified at what had gone on.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: She was in shock. I do remember another lady was crying. Her husband, Betty's husband, was sort of slumped over the side of a cupboard.
       JANINE COHEN: According to some of those at Betty Mihic's branch that day similar takeovers are happening all over New South Wales. They say that Kutasi was a sleeper, working on behalf of the party's right-wing faction, that far from not knowing factional leaders he is close to - and was following a strategy devised - by this man, David Clarke.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: It's very difficult to protect a branch from someone like Kyle, especially if they slowly muscle in and then bring other friends in with them. How do you protect a branch?
       JANINE COHEN: For the last few years an obscure backbencher has been the subject of speculation by New South Wales political observers. Three years ago David Clarke was elected to the State's Upper House. He's a moral conservative and a devotee of Opus Dei.
       DAVID CLARKE IN NSW PARLIAMENT: Another accusation alleged is that there is no sex education as part of the curriculum. Well, all I can say to that is considering some of the sleazy material that passes for sex education in some of our schools many parents would probably heap praise on Redeemer Baptist School for being more discerning and treading cautiously.
       JANINE COHEN: Clarke describes abortion as a monstrous evil and says same-sex relationships are far more susceptible to being unstable and violent than traditional households. He also criticises what he says are thought-controlled tribunals and politically correct fringe groups.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Well, my experience with David Clarke and at the time was that he had views which were, in my opinion, intolerant towards religion, views which were not compatible with the modern role of women as the broader community sees it, and views on abortion that are not compatible with the broader community's views.
       JANINE COHEN: Few dispute Clarke's right to hold hardline opinions within a broad conservative movement. What his opponents are concerned about is his apparently determined campaign to capture the party's organisation and shift the New South Wales Liberal Party to what was once its right-wing fringe. Clarke's faction this year gained absolute control of the all-powerful State Executive of the Liberal Party. Clarke says he has no religious agenda for the party. His critics disagree.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): I think there's sort of a naive belief in here that just because I, as an individual, hold very strict Christian principles, I can permeate the entire party and win an election and then go into government and change all the legislation to make sure that my nirvana becomes the Australian nirvana, which is absolute nonsense.
       JANINE COHEN: Clarke first surfaced in the '70s as a member of the right-wing liberal group called by their enemies the 'Uglies'. The Uglies were led by Lyenko Urbanchich, a migrant who had fled Slovenia after World War II.
       IAN HANCOCK, LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER AND ANU HISTORIAN: He stood for the preservation of the things that he thought were essential to Australian democracy, namely the monarchy, the family, old values. I mean, he would be opposed to anything, as all the right wing were, to homosexual law reform, to drug reform, to feminism, to removal of censorship to pornography, the whole range of those things which were identified as Liberal trendyism.
       JANINE COHEN: Urbanchich and his supporters started branch stacking in the Liberal Party.
       IAN HANCOCK, LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER AND ANU HISTORIAN: I think there is evidence in the Liberal Party files of the Uglies engaging in forming and stacking branches and there is also evidence of senior Liberals within those branches feeling as if they no longer belonged. I think what you do have direct evidence of them engaging in, is intimidation. And there were plenty of examples of that.
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: I've seen intimidation in the Liberal party, never from Lyenko Urbanchich You would never find a more gentle, gracious man anywhere.
       JANINE COHEN: Michael Darby was a friend and supporter of Lyenko Urbanchich.
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: There were no Uglies. There were people who were designated as suspect because of their willingness to propose motions, their willingness to put their hands up and stand as candidates, their willingness to go out and recruit at random. And they were viewed as suspect.
       JANINE COHEN: A number of Liberals concerned about the extreme-right push by the Uglies got together and formed a moderate gathering of Liberals known as The Group. John Dowd and Chris Puplick were prominent members.
       CHRISTOPHER PUPLICK, FORMER LIBERAL SENATOR, NSW: The Uglies were the beginning of an attempt by people to penetrate the Liberal Party, which led to a reaction. Now, they were well organised. They were, in fact, a faction that didn't have the Liberal Party's best interests at heart.
       RECORDING: Are there Nazis in Australia? Are there Nazis in Australia?
       JANINE COHEN: The hatred between the Uglies and The Group intensified in 1979, after an ABC documentary exposed Urbanchich as a Nazi propagandist, who'd written a series of anti-Semitic articles in Slovenia during World War II. Urbanchich claimed the articles had been doctored by the Nazis. His friend and supporter, lawyer David Clarke, gave him legal advice.
       JOHN DOWD, NSW LIBERAL LEADER (1981-83): David Clarke was not a high-profile person at that stage. He did not express views. He was not seen up front. He was perceived as a lieutenant who carried out the views of Urbanchich and co in their branch stacking and endeavouring to take control of a large measure of the party.
       JANINE COHEN: A move within the Liberal Party's State Executive to expel Urbanchich failed by a handful of votes to get the 60% majority needed. David Clarke reportedly organised the numbers to stop Urbanchich's expulsion for writing the articles.
       IAN HANCOCK, LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER AND ANU HISTORIAN: But there did seem to me, I must say, looking at the evidence that's available on the Liberal Party records, that there's a fair case for saying that he wrote a series of anti-Semitic - quite ferociously anti-Semitic - articles around 1944.
       JANINE COHEN: In the late '80s and early '90s, Lyenko Urbanchich and David Clarke's power base waned. The Group, known today as the moderates, controlled the Liberal Party in New South Wales for many years. They dominated the State Executive and ran the party, controlling many preselections.
       IAN HANCOCK, LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER AND ANU HISTORIAN: They played a zero sum game of politics. It didn't allow for broad church didn't allow for any right-winger to go on the ticket, despite Nick Greiner's pleas that they should. I would say that one of the problems The Group has got since then came from that moment when they behaved exclusively, instead of inclusively.
       JANINE COHEN: Then in 2003, David Clarke launched his public political career, winning a seat in the New South Wales Upper House. But Clarke had already shown a keen interest in the party membership most crucial to the future - its young people.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: In about the year 2000, we started seeing David Clarke coming along to Young Liberal meetings, just sort of maintaining this baleful silence somewhere in the background. But as the power of the right wing within the organisation grew, and their numbers grew, obviously his involvement in the decisions of the organisation became much more prominent.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): If the group controlled by David Clarke are promoting people within the Liberal Party, within the Young Liberals, it's almost inevitable that they will seek to promote the same views that Clarke and his colleagues espouse.
       JANINE COHEN: In 2003, one of Clarke's proteges and a personal staffer, Alex Hawke, won for the second consecutive year the presidency of the New South Wales Young Liberals. Traditionally progressive, NSW Young Liberals under Hawke did a backflip on social policy. Clarke's critics say it's the strongest evidence yet of his views starting to effect policy agenda.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Everything about it's changed, the whole outlook of the organisation. A few years ago, an organisation that was pro-republic, pro-gay rights, sort of very sympathetic to the concerns of minorities and women, now an organisation that's rabidly conservative.
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: I would guess that David Clarke is not keen to encourage homosexual marriage. I don't think he's keen to encourage the employment of homosexual teachers in schools. But I'm not sure of that, you'd have to ask him. If those are his views, then he would be in touch with the majority of Australians on those issues.
       JANINE COHEN: Young Liberals are used by both the right faction and the moderates as the foot soldiers in factional warfare in which control goes to the faction which has the most branches. John Hyde Page used to stack branches in the wealthy harbourside suburbs of Sydney. He says he did it for the moderate faction, which responded to the right with its own power play. He's written a book about his experiences, soon to be released. What is branch stacking?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Branch stacking can involve a range of things. I mean, at its most basic, it's just introducing people into the party who wouldn't otherwise have joined. At its most extreme, it's signing people up to the party without telling them. It's paying for their memberships, it's bribing people to join the party.
       JANINE COHEN: And is that happening in the Liberal Party in New South Wales?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Oh, it's rife!
       JANINE COHEN: How do you know that?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Well, I was involved in it for a long period of time.
       JANINE COHEN: So you personally stacked branches?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: I was very much involved in those sort of things. It's not something that I'm very proud of.
       JANINE COHEN: Hyde Page says where branches were stacked, people were sometimes offered cash to come along to important meetings where their vote was needed.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: I saw a lot of that during my time in the party.
       JANINE COHEN: Can you refer to an instance where you saw it and describe what happened?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Well, there were so many instances. Just in general, whenever we needed enough people to a branch AGM for a quorum or whatever, and it was looking difficult, you'd find people in the branch list who were, you know, whether poor or university students struggling in some way and say, you know, "Come along and we'll give you $50." Happened all the time.
       JANINE COHEN: Where did the money come from?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Often from factional slush funds. Senior politicians through the party raise money in order to sponsor the operation of the factions and to pay for branch stacking and all these other sort of activities.
       JANINE COHEN: Last year, three people were suspended by the Liberal Party for paying for the renewal of other people's memberships. The most extreme of those cases involved Kyle Kutasi, the man who turned up at Betty Mihic's branch. In breach of party rules, he renewed multiple memberships using one credit card. It's unclear whose credit card he was using.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: He was suspended from the Liberal Party for membership rorts which were so profound and blatant that even the right wing had to support an expulsion motion to get him out of the party for at least a year.
       JANINE COHEN: Kyle Kutasi is reportedly engaged to David Clarke's daughter, Anne Marie, and has been a major branch stacker for the right wing. Four Corners has statement and statutory declarations from people who have complained that Kutasi has been abusive and intimidating to fellow Liberals. Kutasi claims that Four Corners has been misled by his political rivals. He is pictured here at a Woollahra Young Liberals meeting at the Lord Dudley Hotel in Paddington in 2002.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: I was there on that occasion and what he, in fact, is doing in those photographs is standing over people who were at a branch meeting and threatening them, swearing at them, and doing everything that he can to distract them from the business being transacted and to make it hard for them to participate.
       JANINE COHEN: Why would he do that?
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: Well, because, on that occasion, the right wing was not getting their way at the meeting.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Constraints on what people will do to influence the party seem to be disappearing, and that's a matter for concern.
       JANINE COHEN: And it was in 2005, after taking over many other branches, that Kyle Kutasi and the right turn their sights on the Petersham-Lewisham branch. Betty Mihic complained in a letter to the party that her branch had been targeted for take-over by David Clarke "As part of the extreme right wing fundamentalist push "to take over the Liberal Party." She said the tactics used were frightening, intimidating and members were treated aggressively. Betty Mihic said the tactics were similar to those she observed the last time David Clarke and Lyenko Urbanchich attempted to take over the New South Wales Party in the 1970s. The letter was leaked to Four Corners but Betty Mihic refused to discuss it. Betty, in her letter, actually says they have an extreme-right agenda, or religious agenda. Is that your view?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): I would take that view as well. From my experience, yes.
       JANINE COHEN: Ken Henderson knows Betty Mihic well. He was regional Liberal Party president for five years, and Betty Mihic's branch was under his supervision. He's a conservative Liberal and a former member of Clarke's inner circle. Is this happening in other branches across New South Wales?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): I believe so. I believe it's becoming quite common now.
       JANINE COHEN: Does that concern you?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): Yes. Very much so. It's the end of the party if it keeps going the way it is.
       JANINE COHEN: The end of the party?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): Well, the party will disintegrate if it's allowed to continue. This sort of thing is just not acceptable.
       JANINE COHEN: What does it do to grass-roots membership?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): They don't renew their membership, they withdraw from activities within the party, they don't do fundraising.
       JANINE COHEN: Clarke, who is now a backbencher, was presiding over regular meetings of his unofficial faction and exercising control over preselections and how State Council delegates vote. The moderates operated similarly. The public knew little of this factional warfare. Then in August last year, state Liberal leader John Brogden resigned. He admitted to behaving badly at the Hilton hotel in Sydney, and calling the former premier's wife "a mail-order bride". Brogden blamed people in his own party for peddling the story to the media.
       REPORTER: Are you prepared to say now that there was no-one in the Liberal Party working against you on this story.
       JOHN BROGDEN: I think that's pretty clear that that was the case.
       REPORTER: That no-one the Liberal Party...
       JOHN BROGDEN: No, that they were.
       REPORTER: They were spreading it?
       JOHN BROGDEN: I think that's pretty clear.
       JOHN BROGDEN: One of them has been named in today's media, the Federal President of the Young... of the Young Liberal movement, Alex Hawke has been named as pushing it.
       REPORTER: And, why were they doing that?
       JOHN BROGDEN: He needs to take a long hard look at himself. Well, look, it's pretty obvious that, uh, that, uh... everybody in politics, everybody in politics has people out to get them.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): They had been working against him, I don't think they necessarily meant to unseat him, but if you look at the way the circumstances congealed, let's say, to result in his resignation, they had a very substantial influence, beyond probably their expectations.
       JANINE COHEN: Alex Hawke put out a statement denying that he had been responsible. At the time of the incident, Alex Hawke was still working as a parliamentary staffer to David Clarke. Four Corners does not know who leaked the information, and is not suggesting Hawke or Clarke were responsible. What is clear was there was no love lost between Brogden and Hawke, or Brogden and Clarke. Brogden was considered a protege of the group, and his moderate views reviled.
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): David Clarke has the view that moderates don't belong in the Liberal Party, that they should form their own party or go and join the ALP.
       JANINE COHEN: After the story broke about the night at the Hilton hotel, it unleashed a barrage of further publicity. John Brogden attempted suicide. He has since resigned as a member of parliament. Michael Darby, a long-time Clarke friend and supporter said the right had nothing to do with peddling the stories.
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: I have recommended to the Liberal Party on many occasions that the Liberal Party conduct an open inquiry into the demise of John Brogden, and establish whether any member of the Liberal Party contributed. And if it is the case that the leadership does not want to conduct such an inquiry, then you should ask the question why. Because if it is the case that I, or Alex Hawke, or anybody else were responsible, we deserve to be exposed.
       JANINE COHEN: The Brogden affair left the new Liberal leader, Peter Debnam, with a party divided between moral conservatives and moderates.
       REPORTER: What did John Brogden mean, when in his farewell press conference, he talked about forces within the Liberal Party bringing him down.
       PETER DEBNAM: Simon, the issues that the people of NSW are concerned about are the schools, the hospitals, the roads, the policing, the railway system, public transport. They are not interested in your analysis of internal party politics.
       REPORTER: That's not an analysis, I'm asking you.
       PETER DEBNAM: They are not interested in what you think...
       JANINE COHEN: Questions started to emerge about David Clarke's agenda and methods. Late last year, moderate MP Patricia Forsythe was the first to break ranks and speak out after the Brogden affair.
       PATRICIA FORSYTHE, MP NSW: There are extremists and zealots who have got extreme, who've got a lot of power inside the Liberal Party at the moment, and ordinary members and ordinary people standing up for their position, standing up for the policies that they think are important, are quite capable of being swept aside. And merit - a candidate just standing on their merit is not necessarily the basis on which these people will make a choice.
       QUENTIN DEMPSTER ON 'STATELINE': When you say "extremists and zealots", are you prepared to name the extremists and zealots?
       PATRICIA FORSYTHE, MP NSW: Look, I'm prepared to say that within the parliamentary party, I am very fearful of the power of David Clarke.
       JANINE COHEN: Forsythe was on the party's left, and a known Clarke opponent. Since then, anxiety in the party has grown. Michael Osborne is a former state president.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Well, he's entitled to express those views in parliament, I mean, you know, I'll defend, as Voltaire says, I'll defend to the death his right to say it even if I disagree with it. There is a problem with it when the NSW division is being manipulated, so that only people who hold those views can hold positions of power within the organisation.
       JANINE COHEN: And do you think that's happening?
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Yes, I do think that's happening.
       JANINE COHEN: Party membership is in decline. There were more than 40,000 members in the NSW Liberal Party in the mid-1970s. Now there are about 15,000 members, but only about 3,000 of those are active or not-stacked members, according to Michael Osborne.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): Now, the issue I have with those small numbers is that a group that gets organised, and has the will and the capacity and the finances to manipulate the party, can gain very considerable influence.
       JANINE COHEN: Irfan Yusuf, a former State Council delegate, says he used to be closely aligned with David Clarke in the late '90s, and helped him stack branches.
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): When I think of branch stacking, I think of the art of getting people, regardless of how disinterested they are, and normally they are totally disinterested, of getting them into a party, signing them up, often paying their membership for them regardless of any consideration of what they actually believe in. And when people sign the membership form it actually has - a Liberal party membership form has a list of all the things people believe in. And often, you don't show them that bit, you just get them to sign the form. You're not interested in what they believe in. As long as they sign the form and turn up on the right day, at the right time, often if that means you have to get a bus to pick them up, but they turn up, and they vote the way you want them to.
       JANINE COHEN: And that's what David Clarke would do?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): And that's what David Clarke and those who are working with him would do. Basically, get them along on the right day at the right time, they all put their hand up at the right time and that's it, then they're off.
       JANINE COHEN: And you witnessed this?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): Oh, yeah, many a time.
       JANINE COHEN: Um, so, in many cases, these people that were being branch-stacked weren't even paying their memberships?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): Oh, no, often. Very rarely were they paying their memberships.
       JANINE COHEN: Fran Quinn, a former State Executive member of five years, and a conservative, was also part of Clarke's inner circle.
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Well, he did have an electronic diary, address and contact details where he kept an up-to-date, or a list of people that he believed, he could contact to join branches if needed.
       JANINE COHEN: So he had an electronic database that he could call on to use for branch stacking?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes. Yes. And he used to carry that around with him constantly.
       JANINE COHEN: And...did you see this?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes. Yes.
       JANINE COHEN: And was it branches all over the state?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes, yes, all over the state.
       JANINE COHEN: Quinn is currently suspended from the party for supporting an Independent candidate in a local council election. Many Liberals say they're concerned that David Clarke and his supporters are branch stacking against sitting MPs who don't share his view of the world. They say even federal members are being targeted, and other federal seats stacked in preparation for politicians that are likely to retire. Some are concerned for the future of moderate Senator Marise Payne, who faces a preselection in the next 18 months.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): She holds views on those litmus-test issues, like religious tolerance, and the role of women in the community and abortion, which are the antithesis of the views they hold.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): They figure they can put a clone of theirs in there that will do a better job. Might do a better job for them and their narrow agenda, but it won't do a better job for the community.
       JANINE COHEN: But Michael Darby says Clarke and his supporters don't call all the shots on preselection, and he's proof. Darby stood for preselection in Manly recently with Clarke's support, and lost. He says the NSW Liberal leader, Peter Debnam, supported the moderate candidate, who won.
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: Well, the leader has made it clear, again and again, that he intends to intervene directly in every preselection. I don't think that's a good idea.
       JANINE COHEN: Did Peter Debnam intervene in your preselection?
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: Oh, there's no...it's not a secret. He, um, he...telephoned perhaps 100 preselectors.
       JANINE COHEN: Against you?
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: Indeed.
       JANINE COHEN: Why?
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: Well, you'll have to ask him, he was perhaps convinced that my principal opponent might do a better job.
       JANINE COHEN: But the right has moved on. It's latest focus is on the leafy north of Sydney. In Hawkesbury, the right is stacking against sitting state member, Steven Pringle, whose preselection is later this year. The moderates are stacking in return. Pringle is a practicing Christian and a monarchist, who's always been considered more aligned to the moderates. Some Liberals are upset because they say there was an understanding in the party that sitting members would not be challenged. The fear is that all sitting moderate MPs across the state are now under threat.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): So they're methodically moving on regions, moving people around, recruiting people in those regions. It's just a methodical plan to take over the party and to move people out who don't necessarily share their views.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): It's concerning that any single individual exercises that much power on the organisation. That's my concern. That one person can control branch numbers and influence the selection process in the way they do.
       JANINE COHEN: The Hawkesbury electorate is the largest metropolitan electorate in NSW and has 10 branches. As well as controlling a large number of branches, both factions try to make them as large as possible. The bigger the branch, the more delegates supplied for party elections. In one branch controlled by the right, Beaumont Hills, there are about 560 members. Most of the people in this branch don't actually live in Beaumont Hills. In fact, 90 members transferred from branch in another electorate after that preselection was decided. Many of those signed up by the right are Lebanese Christians.
       JOHN HYDE PAGE, FORMER YOUNG LIBERAL: On many occasions throughout my time in the party, I saw evidence of people being re-signed either by members of their family, without their knowledge, or in some cases, by people who went along to the Liberal Party secretariat impersonating those people.
       JANINE COHEN: Betty Habkouk is a Lebanese churchgoer and a member of the Beaumont Hills branch, but she doesn't know where Beaumont Hills is and has never been to a meeting. She lives 20 minutes drive away in the north-west Sydney suburb of Pennant Hills but somehow ended up as a member of the Beaumont Hills branch. Several of Betty Habkouk's extended family are also Liberal Party members in the Hawkesbury and Epping electorates. There's a lot of Habkouks in the Liberal Party. Why are you in the Liberal Party?
       BETTY HABKOUK: Because I'm a Habkouk. (Laughs)
       JANINE COHEN: So when one of your family members joined, everyone decided to join?
       BETTY HABKOUK: We generally follow suit. We like to all stay together.
       JANINE COHEN: Does anyone know what branch stacking is?
       BETTY HABKOUK: I beg your pardon.
       JANINE COHEN: Branch stacking. Never heard of it?
       BETTY HABKOUK: No.
       JANINE COHEN: Branch stacking is when people are encouraged to join the party but they never go to meetings.
       BETTY HABKOUK: Oh, that sounds like us. We do that. We joined, but we don't go.
       JANINE COHEN: David Clarke may be encouraging the recruitment of Lebanese people into the party, but it's been alleged he's been privately disparaging of Lebanese people. Can you tell me how you heard David Clarke refer to Lebanese people?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) As 'dirty filthy camel drivers'.
       JANINE COHEN: You heard him say that?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes, I did.
       JANINE COHEN: Where did he say that?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) It was after a meeting at the Burwood RSL Club.
       JANINE COHEN: What was your reaction to that?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) I was shocked. It was the first time I'd heard him make any comments like that.
       JANINE COHEN: And yet, this is the man that recruits, or encourages, Lebanese Christian people to join the party.
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Not only Lebanese Christian people, but people from other ethnic backgrounds.
       JANINE COHEN: Other Liberals have backed up these allegations to Four Corners. David Clarke calls these claims: 'outrageous, malicious and based on fabrications'. One of the reasons that both factions branch stack is so they can get large blocs of votes on the party's State Council. Each branch gets at least one delegate on the council and it, in turn, elects delegates to the all-powerful Liberal state executive which runs the party. If council delegates come from a stacked branch, they mostly do what they are told. This can mean handing over their blank ballot to factional operatives who fill them in, electing hand-picked candidates. Current and former council delegates have confirmed to Four Corners that the collection of blank ballots by both the right wing and moderate factional players is common. Are you aware that blank ballots have been collected for State Executive meetings?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.
       JANINE COHEN: Common practice?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): Common practice. Yeah.
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): My understanding was that people were lent on quite heavily to hand over ballot papers etc. And obviously the factionalisation has gone on to such an extent that there is no middle ground now.
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) I know of people that were given the task of collecting them.
       JANINE COHEN: You know, personally, that people were asked to go and collect blank ballot forms for the State Executive elections?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Yes. Yes.
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): What would usually happen is they were collected and they would be taken to a certain, a central place, usually someone's house, and then there would be three or four people who would be assigned to actually filling them out.
       JANINE COHEN: You didn't have a big problem with it?
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): Not at the time, no, we didn't have, because we knew everyone doing it.
       JANINE COHEN: Ballot papers mailed from Liberal Party headquarters direct to council delegates are supposed to be filled out, signed and returned in the post direct to the secretariat. Both conservative and moderate Liberals say the right faction is highly organised and often mass collects ballot papers. Former right faction members have told Four Corners that David Clarke has overseen the collection of blank ballots along with key factional strategist, Nick Campbell. Nick Campbell is the Urban Vice President on the current State Executive.
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): When State Executive elections came along, David Clarke's role was largely to play a key role in organising the collection of the blank ballot papers from State Council delegates who had a vote on the State Executive ballot. Nick Campbell also played a key role in collecting blank ballot papers for the State Executive elections. He was working closely with David Clarke, he had his laptop with him. He would literally have a list of all the delegates including those who were on our side who were a bit soft and he would assign people to approach certain people to collect their ballot papers.
       JANINE COHEN: Liberals say Campbell and Clarke held right-wing factional meetings at a number of venues over the years, including the Burwood RSL Club and the Lithuanian Club in Bankstown where the collection of blank ballot papers was discussed.
       IRFAN YUSUF, NSW LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL (1996-2000): There was a bit of an argument as to whether it should be blank ballots. And eventually it was agreed, yeah - it was blank ballots that should be collected and not just sealed envelopes signed.
       JANINE COHEN: David Clarke would not agree to an interview for this program conducted under standard ABC guidelines. Neither he nor Nick Campbell responded to questions about the collection of blank ballots. David Clarke said in writing to Four Corners that he has never broken party rules. Ken Henderson this year complained to State Executive selectors about reports that three right-wing factional players collected about 200 ballots for the 2005 State Executive election. That election saw the right sweep into power for the first time in many years.
       JANINE COHEN: What does that do to the democratic processes within the Liberal Party?
       KEN HENDERSON, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1995-2000): There is no democracy under those circumstances, is there?
       JANINE COHEN: Don't you think ordinary supporters of the Liberal Party would be shocked about all this? Don't you think they think that people who belong to the State Council would be voting themselves?
       MICHAEL DARBY, LIBERAL PARTY FEDERAL COUNCIL: What planet are you from? People really expect political parties to function like political parties.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): If it's a well-founded accusation, there should be an inquiry. And I think the Liberal Party ought to be pretty concerned about any of those claims.
       JANINE COHEN: In this year's State Executive election, the right faction won an even greater majority - an unprecedented 80% of the vote. This means it now has the power to suspend sections of the party's constitution. How do you think the right gained such a huge majority on the State Executive?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) Through branch stacking.
       JANINE COHEN: And blank ballots?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) And blank ballots. Yes.
       JANINE COHEN: Did you think it would ever come to this?
       FRAN QUINN, NSW LIBERAL STATE EXECUTIVE (1997-2002) No. Not to this extent anyway.
       JANINE COHEN: Four Corners spoke to more than 100 Liberals during the making of this program. Some party figures portray the situation as normal political jousting. State leader Peter Debnam and senior party officials declined to be interviewed. The concern for many Liberals is that the NSW party is at risk of no longer being a broad church.
       DR JOHN HEWSON, FEDERAL LIBERAL LEADER (1990-1994): It's the hardline right religious element that you should worry about, in my view, 'cause they have no concept of the broader realities in the electorate.
       JANINE COHEN: Furthermore, they fear that branch stacking, vote rigging and factional control of preselections is eroding the integrity of the party. What's at stake, they say, is democracy within the party.
       MICHAEL OSBORNE, NSW LIBERAL STATE PRESIDENT (1996-1999): It requires a coalition to be formed between the parliamentary leadership and the organisational leadership to stop it, to make sure the influx of hundreds of new members into a branch, the obvious targeting of areas is stopped and that the people who are responsible for it are, in one way or another, prevented from doing that - that's what's required.
       ELLEN LIAUW, LIBERAL PARTY BRANCH MEMBER: I guess I'm afraid for the future of the Liberal Party because we find it very difficult now to get people to turn up on election days. What's going to happen if we disenfranchise people like Betty? Nobody will be turning up. You might was well stick a 'how to vote Liberal' card on the side of a door and leave it at that, and hope for the best.
       [End of transcript]

       Please note: This transcript is produced by an independent transcription service. The ABC does not warrant the accuracy of the transcript.
    Home | Archive | Opinion | Forums | Web Specials | About Us | Subscribe
       [LINKS: Patricia Forsythe speaks out www.abc.net. au/stateline/ nsw/content/ 2005/s145 2416.htm , September 2, 2005; Dumped by her Party www.smh.com. au/news/national/ revengeful- right-axes- faithful- forsythe/ 2005/12/03/ 1133422 148051.html December 4, 2005. ENDS]
       [LIBERAL FRAUDS IN W.A.: The West Australian, "Liberals head for court to make hard time of 30 minutes," (Peter Bacich's writ about the Wembley Downs branch meeting held 30 minutes before its advertised time), "Inside Cover" with Robert Taylor, Fri Aug 15 03, p 2
       The West Australian, "Liberal reject turns against party chiefs," (MLC Alan Cadby's exposure of the WA party officers' branch-stacking, etc.), By JESSICA STRUTT and ROBERT TAYLOR, p 13, Friday, April 8, 2005.
       Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), "WA's strife-torn Liberal Party," ( Lorraine Allchurch's and John Quigley's exposures of electoral cheating, etc.), www.abc.net. au/stateline/ wa/content/ 2005/s1363 242.htm , Stateline, Reporter: Layla Tucak, Broadcast: May/06/2005; also see newsitems of May 10, 2005 and July 11, 2005. ENDS.] [Jul 17, 06]

    • Iranian human rights lawyer jailed  Iran (formerly Persia) flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    Iranian human rights lawyer jailed

     
       Aljazeera Net (Arabic independent TV), http:// english. aljazeera. net/NR/ exeres/E08 EA014-1B3D- 45CC-A440-F96 9876A0 869.htm , 16:54 Makka Time, 13:54 GMT, Tuesday, July 18, 2006,
       IRAN: Abdolfattah Soltani, an Iranian human rights lawyer, has been sentenced to five years in jail on charges of disclosing confidential information and opposing the regime.
       Soltani, a colleague of Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel laureate, was arrested a year ago while defending two people accused of spying on Iran's nuclear programme.
       The judiciary said he had shared confidential case details with outsiders.
       Soltani said: "I have been cleared of spying charges, but received four years for disclosing confidential documents and one year for propaganda against the system.
       "Neither my lawyers or I were called for the court session mentioned in the verdict. [...]
    [Jul 18, 06]
    • The Shame of Being an American  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Palestine Authority flag; Palestine Authority website  Lebanon flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Saudi Arabia flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags/ 

    The Shame of Being an American

     
       Axis of Logic, www.axisof logic.com/ artman/pub lish/ article_ 22557.shtml , By Paul Craig Roberts, 09:17, July 23, 2006
       UNITED STATES: Gentle reader, do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians.
       Do you know that one-third of the Lebanese civilians murdered by Israel's attacks on civilian residential districts are children? That is the report from Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the UN. He says it is impossible for help to reach the wounded and those buried in rubble, because Israeli air strikes have blown up all the bridges and roads. Considering how often (almost always) Israel misses Hezbollah targets and hits civilian ones, one might think that Israeli fire is being guided by US satellites and US military GPS. Don't be surprised at US complicity. Why would the puppet be any less evil than the puppet master?
       Of course, you don't know these things, because the US print and TV media do not report them.
       Because Bush is so proud of himself, you do know that he has blocked every effort to stop the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese civilians. Bush has told the UN "NO." Bush has told the European Union "NO." Bush has told the pro-American Lebanese prime minister "NO." Twice. Bush is very proud of his firmness. He is enjoying Israel's rampage and wishes he could do the same thing in Iraq.
       Does it make you a Proud American that "your" president gave Israel the green light to drop bombs on convoys of villagers fleeing from Israeli shelling, on residential neighborhoods in the capital of Beirut and throughout Lebanon, on hospitals, on power plants, on food production and storage, on ports, on civilian airports, on bridges, on roads, on every piece of infrastructure on which civilized life depends? Are you a Proud American? Or are you an Israeli puppet?
       On July 20, "your" House of Representatives voted 410-8 in favor of Israel's massive war crimes in Lebanon. Not content with making every American complicit in war crimes, "your" House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press, also "condemns enemies of the Jewish state."
       Who are the "enemies of the Jewish state"?
       They are the Palestinians whose land has been stolen by the Jewish state, whose homes and olive groves have been destroyed by the Jewish state, whose children have been shot down in the streets by the Jewish state, whose women have been abused by the Jewish state. They are Palestinians who have been walled off into ghettos, who cannot reach their farm lands or medical care or schools, who cannot drive on roads through Palestine that have been constructed for Israelis only. They are Palestinians whose ancient towns have been invaded by militant Zionist "settlers" under the protection of the Israeli army who beat and persecute the Palestinians and drive them out of their towns. They are Palestinians who cannot allow their children outside their homes because they will be murdered by Israeli "settlers."
       The Palestinians who confront Israeli evil are called "terrorists." When Bush forced free elections on Palestine, the people voted for Hamas. Hamas is the organization that has stood up to Israel. This means, of course, that Hamas is evil, anti-Semitic, un-American and terrorist. The US and Israel responded by cutting off all funds to the new government. Democracy is permitted only if it produces the results Bush and Israel want.
       Israelis never practice terror. Only those who are in Israel's way are terrorists.
       Another enemy of the Jewish state is Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a militia of Shi'ite Muslims created in 1982 when Israel first invaded Lebanon. During this invasion the great moral Jewish state arranged for the murder of refugees in refugee camps. The result of Israel's atrocities was Hezbollah, which fought the Israeli Army, defeated it, and drove it out of Lebanon. Today Hezbollah not only defends southern Lebanon but also provides social services such as orphanages and medical care.
       To cut to the chase, the enemies of the Jewish state are any Muslim country not ruled by an American puppet friendly to Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the oil emirates have sided with Israel against their own kind, because they are dependent either on American money or on American protection from their own people. Sooner or later these totally corrupt governments that do not represent the people they rule will be overthrown. It is only a matter of time.
       Indeed Bush and Israel may be hastening the process in their frantic effort to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran. Both governments have more popular support than Bush has, but the White House Moron doesn't know this. The Moron thinks Syria and Iran will be "cakewalks" like Iraq, where ten proud divisions of the US military are tied down by a few lightly armed insurgents.
       If you are still a Proud American, consider that your pride is doing nothing good for Israel or for America.
       On July 20 when "your" House of Representatives, following "your" US Senate, passed the resolution in support of Israel's war crimes, the most powerful lobby in Washington, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), quickly got out a press release proclaiming "The American people overwhelming support Israel's war on terrorism and understand that we must stand by our closest ally in this time of crisis."
       The truth is that Israel created the crisis by invading a country with a pro-American government. The truth is that the American people do not support Israel's war crimes, as the CNN quick poll results make clear and as was made clear by callers into C-Span.
       Despite the Israeli spin on news provided by US "reporting," a majority of Americans do not approve of Israeli atrocities against Lebanese civilians. Hezbollah is located in southern Lebanon. If Israel is targeting Hezbollah, why are Israeli bombs falling on northern Lebanon? Why are they falling on Beirut? Why are they falling on civilian airports? On schools and hospitals?
       Now we arrive at the main point. When the US Senate and House of Representatives pass resolutions in support of Israeli war crimes and condemn those who resist Israeli aggression, the Senate and House confirm Osama bin Laden's propaganda that America stands with Israel against the Arab and Muslim world.
       Indeed, Israel, which has one of the world's largest per capita incomes, is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. Many believe that much of this "aid" comes back to AIPAC, which uses it to elect "our" representatives in Congress.
       This perception is no favor to Israel, whose population is declining, as the smart ones have seen the writing on the wall and have been leaving. Israel is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Muslims who are being turned into enemies of Israel by Israel's actions and inhumane policies.
       The hope in the Muslim world has always been that the United States would intervene in behalf of compromise and make Israel realize that Israel cannot steal Palestine and turn every Palestinian into a refugee.
       This has been the hope of the Arab world. This is the reason our puppets have not been overthrown. This hope is the reason America still had some prestige in the Arab world.
       The House of Representatives resolution, bought and paid for by AIPAC money, is the final nail in the coffin of American prestige in the Middle East. It shows that America is, indeed, Israel's puppet, just as Osama bin Laden says, and as a majority of Muslims believe.
       With hope and diplomacy dead, henceforth America and Israel have only tooth and claw. The vaunted Israeli army could not defeat a rag tag militia in southern Lebanon. The vaunted US military cannot defeat a rag tag, lightly armed insurgency drawn from a minority of the population in Iraq, insurgents, moreover, who are mainly engaged in civil war against the Shi'ite majority.
       What will the US and its puppet master do? Both are too full of hubris and paranoia to admit their terrible mistakes. Israel and the US will either destroy from the air the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Iran so that civilized life becomes impossible for Muslims, or the US and Israel will use nuclear weapons to intimidate Muslims into acquiescence to Israel's desires.
       Muslim genocide in one form or another is the professed goal of the neoconservatives who have total control over the Bush administration. Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz has called for World War IV (in neocon thinking WW III was the Cold War) to overthrow Islam in the Middle East, deracinate the Islamic religion and turn it into a formalized, secular ritual.
       Rumsfeld's neocon Pentagon has drafted new US war doctrine that permits pre-emptive nuclear attack on non-nuclear states.
       Neocon David Horowitz says that by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, "Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world," thus equating war criminals with civilized men.
       Neocon Larry Kudlow says that "Israel is doing the Lord's work" by murdering Lebanese, a claim that should give pause to Israel's Christian evangelical supporters. Where does the Lord Jesus say, "go forth and murder your neighbors so that you may steal their lands"?
       The complicity of the American public in these heinous crimes will damn America for all time in history.
       Dr. Roberts [ paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com ] is Chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute [ www.independent.org ]. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. www.antiwar. com/roberts/ ?articleid=9381
    (By courtesy of DG) [Jul 23, 06]
    • [Avoid paying for public expenses; Confessions of a banker.] 

    Confessions of a banker

     
       New Internationalist (UK, N. America and Australia), by Lucy Komisar, pp 10-13, August 2006 issue
    Banks     OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
    With help from a whistleblower, Lucy Komisar follows the money trail through the offshore operations of the world's biggest bank.
    You may have read how, in 2001, Argentina defaulted on its national bonds and its economy went into meltdown. What you might not have heard is that - according to some Argentine financial critics - their government's inability to pay its debts resulted from massive evasion of taxes. Tax cheating and corruption meant that the flight of capital to secret offshore havens over the previous decade had amounted to billions of dollars. By 2002, the Investigative Commission on Capital Flight set up by Argentina's House of Deputies estimated that the amount of Argentine assets held abroad had reached $127 billion - a figure that approached the country's total recorded foreign debt. Some represented legitimate investments, but billions were illicit capital flows.
       That year, TV journalist Maximiliano Montenegro caught a Citibank official in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, offering to help a 'businessman' cheat on taxes. Montenegro had sent in an actor to see what would happen if he told a Citibanker that he was an entrepreneur whose wife had just sold a company and didn't want to report all the profits. The Citibanker, Mr Mariano, was captured on video enthusiastically talking about how he could help the couple evade taxes: 'Eighty-five per cent of clients of the Private Bank have an offshore portfolio. Why? Because they are fed up with paying [taxes].' The banker described how he would send the money via a wire in a false name to a transit account at Citibank New York and move it from there into an International Personal Banking account. As a non-resident, the client wouldn't need to pay taxes on foreign soil. And back in Argentina, authorities would neither know about this account nor the money safely hidden within it.
       Not long after the video was aired, Citibank fired Mr Mariano and - alleges the journalist Montenegro - gave him a lot of money to keep quiet. The corporation also decided to transfer its Argentine private banking customers to Chile and Uruguay.
    Cooking the books
       Citigroup is the largest financial services conglomerate in the world. It operates in 100 countries. It has $1 trillion in assets. In 2005 it had $120 billion in revenues and reported nearly $25 billion in net income.
       Some of its revenues derive from questionable sources. For instance, last year Citigroup agreed to pay $2 billion to investor victims of the Enron collapse. The plaintiffs, led by the University of California, accused the company of helping the energy company cook the books. Citigroup had in 1993 set up a Grand Cayman shell company that pretended to buy future deliveries of gas from Enron. In practice, this allowed Citigroup to make loans totalling $4.8 billion to Enron through the shell company: indebtedness that Enron could keep off its books in order to keep stock analysts off its back.
       Citigroup is also being sued by the trustees of Parmalat, the Italian food company that went bankrupt after massive accounting fraud. One of its banks set up a Grand Cayman shell company aptly named 'Buconero' (black hole) to help Parmalat executives fake their balance sheets and hide their true financial situation.
       The common denominator in these accounting frauds was Citigroup's use of the offshore system of tax havens, whose chief financial product is bank and corporate secrecy. These offshore centres protect their clients from the curiosity of their countries' law enforcers and tax collectors. They even provide sham 'directors' for the shell companies that are set up to 'own' secret accounts. There are more than 70 offshore centres that hold the money of other countries' citizens. Citigroup has subsidiaries in 17 of them.
       Tax havens are used widely by business, industry and very rich individuals. This article focuses solely on Citibank and its operations in Spain. This is because I've been given exclusive access to inside information about Citibank Spain. It hasn't been published before. Indeed, were it not for a disgruntled Citibank executive who sent me a stack of insider documents after he resigned, the story would still be a secret,
    Bullish bravado
       Citigroup, like many banks, offer a range of offshore accounts to their customers. CitiGold International Personal Banking (IPB) allows the moderately rich in Spain to hold hundreds of thousands of dollars in its banks outside Spain. While CitiGold IPB is used for legitimate purposes, the Argentine 'entrepreneur' described above used it illegitimately to evade taxes.
       The very rich, with at least $1 million, but more like $5 million, are invited to open accounts in Citibank Spain's Private Bank, which moves clients' money offshore to other Citibank Private Banks or investments.
       In this age of computers, the 'movement' of money offshore is often just an illusion. An account officer with a computer in Madrid, or London, or New York can manage clients' money in a place ostensibly 'offshore'. The cash doesn't really exist there; it's all a matter of allocating it to a virtual 'place' in the bank's computerized accounts. This is the nature of modern banking.
       But it makes it possible for the bank at home to avoid keeping account records so that there is nothing in writing that can be used by law enforcers to implicate tax cheaters. It also offers banks at home a way of not reporting as income all the commissions they make from offshore accounts - and therefore paying no tax on these amounts. Is that how Citibank Spain's Private Bank is operating? Because if it is, then it's illegal.
       It's difficult to establish the truth. There is no assessable paper trail. But information contained in documents sent to me by a whistleblower means that it's time to ask some questions... and closely investigate the responses.
       That information comes from memos written in 2001 by Jose-Miguel Alfayate, reputed then to be Citibank Spain Private Bank's most successful account salesperson and manager. According to an official in the bank's human resources department, the bank reneged on severance payments that it had previously agreed to pay to Alfayate around the time that he was about to leave. The official said that Alfayate became angry. So he wrote several memos that ostensibly provided departing advice to his colleagues, but which also subtly laid out how Citibank may be violating the law. These memos apparently encouraged the bank to pay Alfayate his previously negotiated entitlements.
      Unpaid taxes could be as much as $255 billion a year - much more than the estimated $195 billion needed to halve world poverty in a decade  
       One memo - addressed to Javier Herreros de Tejada, one of the managers of the Private Bank - describes how his aim was to establish a strategy 'with respect to the offshore business booked in Jersey and Geneva, but obtained and overseen for many years by bankers located in Spain.' In other words, the business that Alfayate is discussing was officially located offshore, but had a continuing relationship to bankers in Spain.
       The Alfayate memo says: 'For a long time, the growth of offshore business has depended to an extraordinarily high degree on bankers located in Spain.' He says that he understands and agrees with the idea that the bank should 'take extreme measures to guarantee the total opacity [meaning lack of transparency] of said business from the point of view of the client as much as the bank.'
       He writes with enthusiasm that offshore accounts in the past, present and future would be more profitable than onshore accounts as they reported twice the profits. Outlining the reasons why, he explains that customers can buy bank products in tax havens that for tax reasons could not be offered onshore.
      Citigroup's 2003 Live Richly advertising campaign produced these posters, which adorned buildings, bridges and subway stations in six US cities.

    For a guaranteed return on investments, try buying flowers.
    There's no preset spending limit when it comes to time with your family.
    The best blue chips to buy are the ones you dip in salsa.
    Trade smiles.
    You are not silver, gold, or platinum. You are you.  

       These descriptions seem to be a reference to the main by-product of all tax havens: the ability for customers to avoid paying taxes. As for the profits that Alfayate refers to, he recommends that 'due to the importance of the high profit of these accounts, I consider that ... 50 per cent of the profits of these accounts should be included [for Spain] via MIS.'
       MIS stands for Management Information System. It's the bank's internal accounting system. Citibank used its MIS in a rather creative way 30 years ago when its offices in dozens of countries (both in Europe and in developing countries such as the Philippines, India and Mexico) cheated on the tax liability from their currency trading. Profits made from currency trading by the Citibank offices in higher-tax countries - including the UK, France and Germany - were recorded as if they had been 'booked,' or ordered, by employees in offshore Nassau, the Bahamas. But there were no Citibank currency traders in Nassau. A second set of books - Citibank's MIS - recorded the true situation.
       A whistleblower stationed in Citibank Paris informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the scam, which the SEC investigated for more than a year. There was also a congressional inquiry. Citibank had to pay millions of dollars in back taxes to some of the European countries it had cheated, (Interestingly the SEC didn't document cases in the developing world, so these countries were unable to make a claim for back taxes.) The scandal made headlines around the world. Alfayate's memos beg the question - has Citibank Spain been pulling the same trick again? Is it possible that profits earned by the Spanish bank from the offshore accounts are properly allocated to the bank, via the internal MIS, but are not recorded in the books available to Spanish tax authorities?
      [Picture] When Argentina's economy haemorrhaged in 2001, its people took to the streets in protest to express their disgust for the Government, the capitalists and the banks that had supported them. Here, graffiti on the closed doors of the Bank of Boston in Buenos Aires hides the people still working inside.  
    Keeping up appearances
       As if to keep up the pretence that this 'offshore' money has no important connection to 'onshore', Alfayate's memo says that he wants to avoid communication by existing clients with the Private Bank in Spain. He recommends assigning accounts in such a way that clients communicate with Citibank in Switzerland or Jersey: only offshore interlocutors should receive clients' communications. He notes that some of his accounts had a 'fantastic relationship' with their banker in Switzerland. With some satisfaction he points out that it was 'impossible to detect any kind of anomaly in opacity.'
       But even though Alfayate favours cutting offshore clients' communications with Spanish bankers, he makes it clear that internally it should be recognized that it's Spanish bankers like him who generated the profit: 'With respect to the acknowledgment of revenue, of course it is necessary to maintain it at 100 per cent since they are accounts that are sought out, secured and overseen for many years by the banker in question. To break this concept would lead to causing grave damage to the bankers since the present situation is nothing more than the shining achievement of [their] work following the norms and strategies established by the bank many years ago.'
       Knowing the background to Alfayate's situation and these memos, I wanted to know if Citigroup had a logical explanation for all this. Their responses were limited. I sent the documents that I received to top Citigroup officials and asked for their comments, but they declined to speak. At the invitation of Citibank public relations officers, I had a preliminary conversation in New York with a lawyer representing Citibank Spain but - at Citibank's request - that discussion was 'off the record' and so it cannot be quoted. However the lawyer provided me with no answers to the questions raised in this article.
       Alfayate also refused to speak with me, directing me instead to the corporation's public affairs department. Citigroup's public affairs officer in Madrid is Gabriela Sebastian de Erice. She said that I should feel free to send questions in writing. But when I did, she said that agreeing to receive the questions didn't mean that she would answer them. After declining an opportunity to register objections or make corrections to specific items in the text, she instead sent a declaration: 'We operate a wide range of businesses in 100 countries, and in each of our businesses we have strict policies and procedures in place to prevent any unlawful or inappropriate activities. Our customers come to us for the quality of our products, service and advice, our global presence and commitment to our customers and communities. Suggestions that our businesses are based on inappropriate activities are wrong and irresponsible.'
       Are such suggestions and questions wrong and irresponsible? The only way really to judge is to examine the books of Citibank Spain and its internal MIS and see if it is properly reporting profits that Alfayate suggests are being made from work done by bankers in Spain. I don't have access to those books. Spanish authorities do. They should examine the books and report.
    Balancing the books
       Companies pay taxes in the countries where their subsidiaries make profits. However individuals must pay taxes where they are resident no matter where income is earned. And the facilitation by banks of offshore accounts for their clients has led to massive tax evasion by the rich. In the late 1990s European Union (EU) law and policy makers started talking about an accord to end tax evasion by citizens who are not reporting income from accounts they hold in other countries. This accord would include the accounts that Citibank Spain set up for its clients in Jersey, Luxembourg and other offshore centres.
       The first proposal was to implement a withholding tax on interest paid to European citizens holding bank accounts in participating countries. Opposition came from Britain. The second alternative - eventually adopted - allows participating countries to choose either to institute the withholding tax and send 75 per cent to depositors' home countries, or to exchange information with other countries about interest payments made to their citizens. The accord extends to five non-EU European countries and ten Channel Islands and Caribbean tax havens. Most pay a withholding tax; a few share information. The US committed to exchanging information on request, but not to automatic exchange of information or a withholding tax. Canada was not invited to be part of the process.
       The EU Savings Directive came into effect in July 2005 and EU countries this year began receiving information about their citizens' accounts abroad. Switzerland, for example, reported that Spanish residents have at a minimum $432.6 million in Swiss bank accounts alone. They also have deposits of $5.2 billion in fiduciary accounts: money invested in the name of Swiss banks (including the Swiss subsidiaries of Citibank) on behalf of Spanish clients.
      [Picture] Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Charles Prince (right) gives a deep bow at a news conference in Tokyo in October, 2004 after manipulative sales and lending practices and lax controls against money-laundering were uncovered in Citigroup's private banking operations in Japan.  
       [This is just part of the picture. Although Spanish residents are required to report their accounts abroad, the very rich still hide their money in shell companies that are registered offshore so as to cover up the account owners' citizenship and identities.]
       Citibank Switzerland, of course, would not be the only haven for unreported Spanish wealth. The story is no doubt repeated worldwide. Figures provided by the Tax Justice Network show that the result is a potentially mind-boggling shortfall in taxes hidden from public view. International banking and investment statistics show that the ultra-rich have $11.5 trillion in assets offshore. There are more than 70 offshore centres that hold the money of other countries' citizens. Citigroup has subsidiaries in 17 of them
       The income from these assets alone would earn $860 billion. If none of this was declared, the unpaid tax could be as much as $255 billion a year - much more than the estimated $195 billion needed to halve world poverty in a decade. In these terms, tax justice is not just some concept that may make entertaining dinner conversation amongst progressive accountants. If properly targeted, it has the very real potential of starting to redress the massive imbalance between rich and poor around the world.
       Lucy Komisar is a New York journalist who is writing a book about how a worldwide secret banking system can threaten global welfare. She is a member of the international steering committee of the Tax Justice Network. Write to her at lkomisar@msn.com #
    [A main theme of this issue is exposing the role of the banks in helping to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. For some balance, on page 24 NI exposes the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on investigative journalists who expose land-grabs by the rich, and the Marxist and Muslim criticism on the soccer World Cup. Page 30 is the start of an article showing how in Patagonia, in 15 years Mr Luciano Benetton has bought 900,000 hectares - equivalent to half the area of Wales.] [August 2006]
    • Fundamentals Of Israel And Hizbollah Are The Same  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Palestine Authority flag; Palestine Authority website  Lebanon flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Fundamentals Of Israel And Hizbollah Are The Same

     
       From an Unusual Suspect, to The Editor, The Guardian Weekly (Britain), 119 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3ER, England, UK, weekly. letters@ guardian. co.uk , sent on August 2, 2006
       Thanks for Brian Whittaker's solid reporting in "Scale of Lebanon's human crisis emerges" (July 28-Aug 3). Since he wrote this the position has worsened, with Israel changing from probing raids to heavy bombing, calling a bombing halt, then pushing ground troops into Gaza as well as into Lebanon, demanding an international peacekeeping force!
       Hizbollah, which has helped precipitate this disaster for ordinary people, has a seemingly endless stock of poorly-navigated rockets (from Russia, maybe?) to rain upon Israel, thus hardening the resolve of Jerusalem's leaders. Israel's bombers have destroyed a three-storey house sheltering women and children, killed families fleeing, and hit United Nations observers.
       Commentators ought to remember that the religious traditions of both Israel and Hizbollah seem to have common roots. Both have the divine command to seize land, to strike terror into the hearts of the inhabitants, to utterly destroy those living there, and "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
       These parallels came as a surprise to me after the Bali bombing raised my awareness. The leaders of the West act as if they did not know this.
       They also act as if they don't want to know that in the 1930s there were three terrorist gangs operating among the religious minority then in Palestine, the Jews. They murdered non-Jewish Palestinians and British troops and police who were there under a League of Nations mandate.
       These terrorists' atrocities included garrotting two British soldiers, and blowing up the British headquarters in the King David Hotel.
       Readers who doubt the scriptural background for divine orders for destruction of cities, and trees, extermination of people, terror, and "an eye for an eye" ought to read the Hebrew scriptures Numbers 21:2-3, 2 Kings 3:25, Joshua 11:20, Deuteronomy 11:24-25, and Exodus 21:23-25.
       For parallel teachings turn to the Koran 7:3, 59:5, 9:123 (or 124), 8:12, and 5:45 (or 49), also supposedly from Heaven. (These are sample readings -- there is more!)
       Could someone tell me why the Islamic people of Palestine seem to have forgotten that their Arab forebears stole the land from the Christians, and why the Jews have forgotten that their own Bible tells them that originally they stole the land from Canaanites, Jebusites, and other peoples?
       The ordinary Israeli Jews and the ordinary Arabs ought to remember that for about 50 years the American political-military complex has been backing Israel with billions of dollars and armaments, and other powers have been backing the Islamic suicide bombers, but hatred has not worked yet! #
    CITING of REFERENCES (NOT sent to newspaper)
    Judaists' HEBREW SCRIPTURE (Torah, see Old Testament in the Bible) Muslims' ARABIC SCRIPTURE (Koran or Qu'ran) and GUIDELINES (Hadith)
       Destroy CITIES: Numbers 21:2-3:- 2 Then Israel made this vow to Yahweh : "If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities." www.bible gateway. com/passage/ ?search= Num %2021:2, %203& version=31 .
       3 Yahweh listened to Israel's plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah. www.bible gate way. com/passage/ ?search= Num%2021:3; &version=31; .
       CITIES destroyed : Koran 7:3:- How many cities have we destroyed! www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ quran/007. qmt. html #007.004 .
       Cut down TREES: 2 Kings 3:25:- 25 They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it as well. www.bible gateway.com/ passage/ ?search=2%20 Kings%203:25; &version=31; .    Cut down TREES: Koran 59:5:- Your cutting down some of their palm-trees and sparing others was by Allah's permission ... www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ quran/059. qmt. html #059.005 .
       AND, Hadith 3, 39:519:- The Prophet got the date palm trees of the tribe of Bani-An-Nadir burnt and the trees cut down at a place called Al-Buwaira. Hassan bin Thabit said in a poetic verse: "The chiefs of Bani Lu'ai found it easy to watch fire spreading at Al-Buwaira." www.usc.edu/ dept/ MSA/ funda mentals/ hadithsunnah/ bukhari/ 039.sbt.html #003.039.519 .
       Extermination of PEOPLE: Joshua 11:20:- 20 For it was Yahweh himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as Yahweh had commanded Moses. www.bible gate way. com/passage/ ?search= Joshua%2011: 20& version=31 .
       AND, Deuteronomy 20:16-17:- ... you must not preserve any breathing thing alive, 17  because you should without fail devote them to destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, just as Jehovah your God has commanded you. http://bible.ort. org/books/pent d2.asp?ACTION= displaypage& BOOK=5& CHAPTER=20 .
       AND, 1 Samuel 15:3:- Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. www.bible gateway. com/cgi- bin/bible? passage= 1SAM%2 B15%3A3 &showfn= on&show xref=on& language= english& version= KJ21&x= 10&y=6 .
       Extermination of PEOPLE: Koran 9:123 (or 124):- O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). www.usc.edu/ dept/ MSA/quran/ 009.qmt.html #009.123
       Koran 2:193:- ... Fight the unbelievers until no other religion except Islam is left. www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/quran/ 002.qmt.html #002.193 .
       AND Hadith 41:6985 (Sahih Muslim's collection):- ... Allah's Messenger ... saying The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree ... www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ fundamentals/ hadithsunnah/ muslim/041. smt.html #041.6985 .
       AND Hadith 2, 19:173 (Bukhari's collection):- Later on, I saw him killed as a non-believer. www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ funda mentals/ hadithsunnah/ bukhari/ 019.sbt.html #002.019.173
       TERROR: Deuteronomy 11:24-25:- 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the western sea. 25 No man will be able to stand against you. Yahweh your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go. www.bible gateway. com/passage/ ?search= Deut eronomy %2011:24-25; &version=31; .    TERROR: Koran 8:12:- ... I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ quran/008. qmt.html# 008.012 .
       AN EYE FOR AN EYE: Exodus 21:23-25:- 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. www.bible gate way.com/ pass age/ ?search= Exodus% 2021:23- 25; &vers ion= 31; . And read Leviticus 24:19-20 and Deuteronomy 19:21.    THE EYE FOR THE EYE: Koran 5:45 (or 49):- And we decreed for them in it that: the life for the life, the eye for the eye, the nose for the nose, the ear for the ear, the tooth for the tooth, and an equivalent injury for any injury. ... www.usc.edu/ dept/MSA/ quran/ 005. qmt.html #005.045
    [Aug 2, 06]
    • Pentagon probed over 9/11 inaccuracies  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    Pentagon probed over 9/11 inaccuracies

     
       The Age (Melbourne), www.theage. com.au/news/ world/pentagon- probed-over- 911- innaccuracies/ 2006/08/03/ 11541982 59390.html , AFT, 4:44PM, August 3, 2006
       WASHINGTON: The Pentagon's inspector general is investigating whether officials provided "knowingly false" information to a special commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 attacks.
       A secret inspector general's report in May 2005 concluded that Defence Department officials provided inaccurate information about the air defence response to the attacks, but did not say whether it was "knowingly false," said Lieutenant Colonel Brian Maka.
       The inspector general "will be issuing a report in the near future that will directly address the question of whether the testimony was knowingly false," he said.
       Vanity Fair has published a detailed account of the air defence response drawn from audiotapes made in the northeastern command centre of the North American Aerospace Defence Command as the attacks unfolded.
       The tapes show that no command was given to shoot down United Flight 93 as implied by Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials, the magazine said.
       The airliner crashed in a field in Pennsylvania before anyone in the military chain of command even knew it had been hijacked.
       Cheney was not informed of the possibility the United flight had been hijacked until one minute before it hit the ground.
       Among other inaccuracies, Major General Larry Arnold and Colonel Alan Scott testified they began tracking United Flight 93 at 9:16 am, but the plane had not been hijacked at that point.
       NORAD's northeastern headquarters was not notified of the hijacking for another 51 minutes, the Vanity Fair account said.
       Maka said the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States uncovered the inaccuracies during the course of its investigation, and the Pentagon corrected the 2003 testimony in May 2004.
       The Washington Post reported that some staff and commission members concluded that the inaccuracies were a deliberate attempt to mislead the commission, and debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.
       As a compromise, the commission asked the inspector generals of the Pentagon and the Transportation Department to perform an inquiry into whether the information was knowingly false.
       A secret Defence Department inspector general's report in May 2005 concluded that the Defence Department "did not accurately report to the 9/11 Commission on the air defence response to the September 11, 2001 hijackings".
       "The inaccuracies in part, resulted because of inadequate forensic capabilities and insufficient actions taken to ensure complete and accurate reporting of the events related to the 9/11 hijackings."
       But it did not directly address the commission's question as to whether they were "knowingly false." - AFP #
       Read from Vanity Fair magazine.
       [COMMENT: Whatever way this inquiry turns out, the fact remains that the Bush-Cheney administration flew a large number of relatives of Osama Bin Ladin out of the USA before other people were allowed to. The Bush and Bin Ladin families have been business associates for decades. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 3, 06]

    • The oath betrayed  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    The oath BETRAYED

     
    Who’s terrorising who in the War on Terror?
       The Record (Western Australian Roman Catholic newspaper), by Michael Cook, Vista liftout pp 1 and 3, August 3, 2006
      [Picture] American patrol: US troops inside the Abu Ghraib prison where Iraqi prisoners and others were degraded, humiliated and, in some cases, died from torture.    Photo: CNS  
     By Michael Cook
    Have American doctors and other health personnel cooperated in the abuse and torture of suspected terrorists? Yes, says medical ethicist Steven Miles in this exclusive interview.
    After 9/11 one of the most wrenching ethical issues faced by the American government is how to interrogate prisoners and detainees in a way which respects their dignity as human beings. In this, doctors and nurses have an especially sensitive role. In Oath Betrayed : Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror, medical ethicist Steven Miles claims that American health personnel have been complicit in the abuse of prisoners after 9/11. In an exclusive MercatorNet interview, Dr Miles contends that torture is both unethical and unproductive.
       MercatorNet: Have American doctors and other health personnel really become an integral part of military interrogations since 9/11? It's hard to believe. How many of them are participating?
       Miles: The numbers and roles of various health personnel varied.
       Pathologists with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology delayed public knowledge of homicides by torture. Earlier knowledge of those abuses would have given a signal that something had gone seriously wrong in the prisons.
       Physicians and psychologists helped design programs of coercive interrogation that were designed to break prisoners down; they monitored those interrogations; they culled medical records for weaknesses that could be exploited against prisoners.
       The general medical staff did not report signs of abuse, did not inquire about abuse in suspicious injuries, failed to record injuries in medical records. They also allowed prisoners, especially at Abu Ghraib, to live in a prison that was regularly subject to hostile mortar, grenade, and sniper fire in violation of the Geneva Convention.
       In Iraq and Afghanistan, they failed to ensure that prisoners received obligatory medical care for diseases like tuberculosis, as is required by the Geneva Convention and US military regulations. The mental health needs of prisoners were largely neglected.
       MercatorNet: It must have been difficult to find out exactly what was happening. Are doctors beating prisoners or putting needles under their fingernails? How did you do your research?
       Miles: Oath Betrayed is a meticulously documented book that is largely based on about 35,000 pages of government and military documents that were declassified and obtained in response to a lawsuit based on the United States Freedom of Information Act that was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. It shows that the physicians, psychologists and medics at the war on terror prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay were an integral part of the system of human rights abuses at these prisons.
       Medical personnel rarely directly abused prisoners, although I did identify a few instances where that happened. Instead, they actively and passively supported a system of human rights abuses that was run according to US Defense Department policy.
       MercatorNet: But what is torture, anyway? Some of the techniques revealed by the media - sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, loud music - don't sound like the techniques we see in old World War II movies.
       Miles: The Geneva Convention is quite clear.
       "The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever ...: (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; . . . (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;... No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind. The United Nations' Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment says that "pain or suffering... from prison conditions that do not comply with the Standard Minimum Rules may, in some circumstances, constitute torture."
       Other documents, including the UN Convention Against Torture reaffirm this position. Some prisoners were subjected to loud music. Most of these were also subjected to degrading treatment, beatings, kickings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, etc. All of these techniques are highly coercive and violent.
       MercatorNet: Why don't you think it acceptable to use medical skills in the interest of a higher imperative - in this case national security? After all, thousands of Americans died on 9/11 and more are going to die unless the terrorists are captured or crushed.
       Miles: Oath Betrayed summarises the abundant evidence from intelligence services' research that coercive interrogation does not work. In fact it is counterproductive. It floods limited intelligence analysis systems with bad information and this results in sending troops on dangerous and futile forays and in misleading policy.
      [Picture] Sustained by faith: An Iraqi prisoner reads the Quran, the Muslim holy book, before his release at the Abu Ghraib prison run hy coalition forces west of Baghdad in June.    Photo: CNS/Wathiq Khuzaie, Reuters 
    Medicine's amnesia at the service of foreign policy
       For example, the information that Saddam Hussein was giving Al Qaeda bioweapons training came from a torture interrogation and was a key part of the larger policy to go to war. Torture alienates recruitable informants and enrages populations against whom it is directed.
       MercatorNet: Why do you think that there is there something specially wrong about doctors having a role in torture and abuse? Do you think that they ought to be more morally sensitive than the rest of us?
       Miles: Physicians are front line human rights monitors. In prisons, their ethical duty to report abuses comes from their primary obligation -to the health of disarmed and captive people. Military physicians are in places where monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross do go and they are there when human rights monitors are absent.
       MercatorNet: Before 9/11 was there a different ethos amongst military health personnel?
       Miles: As far as I can determine, US military physicians treated POWS well in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War I.
       MercatorNet: Is it possible for a doctor to toggle between his role as an interrogator and his role as a doctor? Can't his moral life be put in a parenthesis while he does a job for the military?
       Miles: No. It is one thing for a good cross-cultural psychiatrist or psychologist to train an interrogator in techniques for establishing rapport during an intelligence interview; it is quite another for that behavioral scientist to provide advice on how to break a prisoner down.
       MercatorNet: Military doctors will always have to deal with the tension of loyalty to their Hippocratic Oath and obedience to higher-ups. What is a doctor supposed to do if he is ordered, or pressured to participate?
       Miles: Military health personnel are obliged to record signs of abuse, report abuse, and refuse to participate in abuse. Our professional colleagues in dictatorships have assumed grave personal risks to fight torture in their countries. No US military clinician faced the risk of disappearing, torture, or having his or her children killed for protesting these abuses. The US is paying a stunningly high price for the silence of its military health personnel.
       MercatorNet: The war on terror is supposed to go on for decades - are you optimistic about the ability of American doctors to withstand pressures to violate human rights?
       Miles: Although this is outside the scope of this book, the war on terror is misconceived. It should be understood as a long term police action against an international criminal organisation.
       MercatorNet: Is highlighting medical complicity in torture playing politics? Or is it an issue that Americans of every political hue should be concerned about?
       Miles: This book is about international human rights - not politics. It takes no position on the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The timing is due to the fact that the administration played politics with the timing of releasing information that belonged in the public domain.
       The first large release of information was delayed until about a week before the last election - far too late to sift through it.
       The majority of the information, tens of thousands of pages, was not released until early 2005. This book is based on an orderly review of that material. - Mercatornet
      [Book cover] OATH BETRAYED; TORTURE, MEDICAL COMPLICITY, AND THE WAR ON TERROR -- Steven H. Miles, M.D.  
    Steven Miles is a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a faculty member of its Centre for Bioethics. Michael Cook is Editor of MercatorNet. #
       [RECAPITULATION: Torture alienates recruitable informants and enrages populations against whom it is directed. RECAP. ENDS.] [Aug 3, 06]
    • Perish the thought of population growth  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
       The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), by Peter Strachan, p 60, August 6, 2006
       PERTH:
    60       THE SUNDAY TIMES, www.news.com.au/perthnow , AUGUST 6, 2006

    Perish the thought of population growth

     
    AUSTRALIA'S optimum population, in my view, is about 14 million people, compared with its current burden of about 21 million.
       Property developers, toll-road owners, retailers and others whose business profitability growth relies on lazy demographic expansion rather than innovation would prefer that our nation had 50 million souls wandering around in search of water while polluting its air, rivers and coastal habitats.
       Even the federal Treasurer wants families to have one child for mum, one for dad and one for the country.
    Taking
    Stock

    Peter Strachan

       The latest debate about use of recycled water reminds me of the movie Soylent Green, depicting a post-industrial world polluted beyond repair, where rats flourish while people visit tree museums to see what nature once provided.
       Disturbingly, the major source of nourishment comes in the form of a mysterious, high-protein food called soylent green.
       Over and above a blatant profit motive, those pushing the population growth bandwagon quote concerns about national security and the economy's ability to support an ageing population if its tax base shrinks in proportion to the number of retirees.
       Why would an over-populated, wide brown land be more attractive to its inhabitants if it is less attractive to our neighbours?
       In a giant leap for Australians' quality of life, we are now being urged to drink our own effluent because it is better for us than water from our dams (and we don't have enough water).
       This is a terrible indictment on the state of our waterways, so why would we seek to exacerbate the situation, reduce our quality of life further and double Australia's population again?
       As to the issue of catering for our aged, Australia is a wealthy nation. With appropriate savings and taxation policies, those retiring from paid employment can secure a sustained old age.
        Peter Strachan is an independent analyst and author of unvw.stock analysis. com.au . The writer may have an interest in companies related to the subject of this article. peter@ stock analysis. com.au . #
       [COMMENT: This is a refreshing change from the usual claptrap about the "healthy" real estate market, and the stock market going "into positive territory." Writers who use these terms are either in the middle class, or have no idea how deflated is reaction of the unemployed and low income earners to a "healthy" median home price of $440,000. COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 6, 06]
    • Plot planned since Tube attacks  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  

    Plot planned since Tube attacks

     
       News.com , www.news. com.au/ story/0,23 599,2008 9831-2,00. html , By staff writers and wires, 05:55pm, August 11, 2006
       LONDON: BRITAIN'S central bank froze the accounts and named 19 of the 24 men arrested in an alleged terror plot today, as it was reported that police had been tracking the plan since the London attacks in July last year.
       The probe into the foiled plot to bomb US-bound airliners began in 2005 after the London subway bombings, involved up to 50 suspects and was wound up suddenly out of fear more conspirators could be at large, The Washington Post said today.
       The suspects were kept under close surveillance while they frequently modified their plans and prepared for a practice run that was to have taken place in the next few days, US and European counter-terrorism officials told the daily.
       "It's not like three weeks ago all of a sudden MI5 knew about this plot and went to work," said a US law enforcement official, speaking of the British security service.
       "They'd had a concern about these guys for some time - for months. Details started to emerge, and it became clear over the last couple weeks the nature of the threat and the individuals," said the official, who remained anonymous.
       The plot was to blow up commercial airliners in mid-air with a peroxide-based compound, US counterterrorism officials said without giving the exact formula because, they said, the bomb ingredients are easy to obtain and difficult to detect.
       The conspiracy to blow up as many as 10 airplanes using liquid explosives was announced early yesterday by British authorities, triggering heightened security measures in Britain and the United States and snarling air traffic both sides of the Atlantic.
    Names released
       The Bank of England today directed that any funds held for or on behalf of the (19) individuals must be frozen, and that no funds should be made available, directly or indirectly to any person, except under the authority of a licence.
       "Financial institutions and other persons are requested to check whether they maintain any accounts or otherwise hold any funds, other financial assets, economic benefits and economic resources for the individuals named in the Annex and, if so, they should freeze the accounts or other funds and report their findings to the Bank of England," a statement from the bank said.
       The nature of the threat has become increasingly clear today as Pakistan announced it had detained two more Britons who allegedly had full knowledge of the plane bombing plot.
       24 men were arrested yesterday in raids after Britain said it had thwarted a plot to wreak "mass murder" by simultaneous mid-air bombings of commercial airliners travelling to the US.
       The 19 men named by the Bank of England were Ahmed Abdula Ali, Cossor Ali, Khuram Shazad Ali, Nabeel Hussain, Tanvir Hussain, Umair Hussain, Umar Islam, Wassem Kayani, Abdullah Assan Khan, Arafat Waheed Khan, Adam Osman Khatib, Muneem Abdul Patel, Tayib Rauf, Usman Muhammed Saddique, Assad Sarwar, Ibrahim Savant, Asmin Amin Tariq, Mohammed Shamin Uddin, and Waheed Zaman.
       The bank also published details of their ages, including members of the group aged just 17 and 18. [...]
    [Aug 11, 06]
    • [Mayor Anderson's speech leads call for truth about Iraq invasion.]  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    Text of Mayor Anderson’s speech

     
       Deseret Morning News, http://deseret news.com/dn/ print/1,1442,6451 97552,00.html , Thursday, August 31, 2006
    Address by Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson
    Washington Square
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    August 30, 2006
       UNITED STATES: A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
       Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation -- and our world?
       And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
       So let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
       Because if we had had the truth, we wouldn't be here today.
       Let no one deny we are patriots. We support our nation's troops. Let's hear it for our nation's troops! We have so many veterans here today. Let's here it for the veterans! We are grateful to our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, our administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our nation.
       So to James Evans and these folks who financed this massive radio campaign these last few days, let them understand that blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
       A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.
       That is not a patriot.
       Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience -- a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid -- afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.
       In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and, I might remind everyone, a Republican, who said:
       "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right."
       President Roosevelt continued: "Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, ..."
       --listen up Utah Republicans and James Evans, and all the good Republicans listening today--
       ".. or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing ..." --President Roosevelt didn't stop there-- "...but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."
       Those were the words of Teddy Roosevelt, a great president who knew the true meaning of patriotism.
       We are here today as truth-tellers.
       And we are here to demand: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
       We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
       We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth, that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.
       We have been getting just about everything but the truth on matters of life and death, on matters upon which our nation's reputation hinges, on matters that directly relate to our nation's most fundamental values, and on matters relating to the survival of our planet.
       In the process, our nation has engaged in a tragic, unnecessary war, based upon categorically false justifications. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed -- and many more have been seriously maimed, brain damaged, or rendered mentally ill. Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our unjustified, illegal invasion and occupation of a Muslim nation.
       What incredible ineptitude and callousness for our President to talk about a Crusade while lying to us to make a case for the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country!
       Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence, and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey Congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks-and-balances system of government.
       We are here to say, "We will not stand for it any more. No more lies. No more pre-emptive, illegal war, based on false information. No more God-is-on-our-side religious nonsense to justify this immoral, illegal war. We are here to say most fundamentally, no more inhumanity in the name of our nation."
       Let's raise our voices, and demand to the administration and our news media, "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
       Let's consider some of the most monstrous lies -- lies that have led us, like a nation of sheep, to this tragic war.
       Following September 11, 2001, the world knew that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the horrific attacks on our country. Our long-time allies were sympathetic and supportive. But our president transformed that support into international disdain for the United States, choosing to illegally invade and occupy Iraq, rather than focus on and capture the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
       Why invade and occupy Iraq when it was bin Laden and al Qaeda who attacked our country and still haven't been brought to justice? Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice represented to us, without qualification, that there were strong ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
       In September, 2002, President Bush made the incredible and absolutely false claim that "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam."
       President Bush represented to Congress, without any factual basis whatsoever, that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
       Our President and Vice-President, along with an unquestioning news media, repeatedly led our nation to believe that there was a working relationship between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, a relationship that threatened the United States.
       Even last week, when I met with Thomas Bock, the National Commander of the American Legion, I asked him why we are engaged in the war in Iraq. Why did we invade and occupy Iraq? He said, "Why, of course, because of the 9/11 attacks on our country." I asked, "What did Iraq have to do with those attacks?" He looked puzzled, and said, "Well, the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq."
       I was shocked. I was stunned. Here is a man who has criticized us for opposing the war in Iraq -- and he is so completely wrong about the underlying facts to justify this war.
       Not only has there never been any evidence of any involvement by Saddam or Iraq with the attacks on 9/11, but there has never been any evidence of any operational connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
       And Colin Powell finally conceded that there is, and these are his words, no "concrete evidence about the connection." "The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track al Qaeda" disclosed that "his team had found no evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." And the top investigator for our European allies has said, 'If there were (any) such links, we would have found them. But we have found no serious connections whatsoever.'"
       President Bush, by the way, finally admitted nine days ago on Aug. 21 during a press conference that there was no connection between the attacks on 9/11 and Iraq. It's terrific that the President has now admitted what others have known for so long -- but where is the accountability for the tragic war we were led into on the basis of his earlier misrepresentations?
       Beside the fictions of Saddam Hussein somehow being linked to the 9/11 attacks and his supposed connections with al Qaeda, what was the principal justification for forgoing additional weapons inspections, working with our allies toward a solution, refraining from seeking additional resolutions from the United Nations consistent with international law, and hurrying to war -- a so-called "pre-emptive" war -- in which we would attack and occupy a Muslim nation that posed no security risk to the United States, and cause the deaths of so many thousands of innocent men, women, and children -- and the deaths and lifetime injuries to so many thousands of our own servicemen and servicewomen?
       The principal claim was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- biological and chemical weapons -- and was seeking to build up a nuclear weapons capability. As we now know, there was nothing -- no evidence whatsoever -- to support those false claims.
       President Bush represented to us -- and to people around the world -- that one of the reasons we needed to make war in Iraq -- and to do it right away -- was because Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. His assertions about Saddam Hussein trying to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation and about Iraq seeking to obtain aluminum tubes for the enrichment of uranium were challenged at the time by our own intelligence agency and by our own scientists, yet President Bush failed to tell us that!
       Ten days, 10 days, before the invasion of Iraq, it was proven that the documents upon which President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein trying to obtain uranium was based were forgeries. That was found 10 days before we invaded Iraq. However, President Bush did not disclose that to the American people. By that failure, he betrayed each of us, he betrayed our country, and he betrayed the cause of world peace.
       Neither did the vast majority of the news media in this country disclose the forgeries -- until it was far too late. It took our local newspapers here in Salt Lake City four months -- until after the war was commenced and until after President Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over -- to report the discovery that the documents were forgeries -- and, therefore, that there was no basis for the false claims about Saddam Hussein trying to build up a nuclear capability. By its failure to promptly disclose those forgeries, our news media betrayed us as well.
       Had the American people known we were being lied to -- had President Bush informed us that the documents were forged and that he had no other basis for his claim -- had our nation's media done its job, rather than slavishly repeating to us the lies being fed to it by the Bush administration -- our nation very well may not have allowed the commencement of this outrageous, illegal, unjustified war.
       Then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that high-strength aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," warning "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
       Undisclosed by President Bush or Condoleezza Rice was the fact that top nuclear scientists had informed the Administration that those tubes were "too narrow, too heavy, too long" to be useful in developing nuclear weapons and could be used for other purposes. Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed.
       So, so much for the phony claims of Saddam Hussein building nuclear weapons, which were the primary claims justifying the rush to war, without working with the United Nations, without working with our long-time allies, without giving the weapons inspectors an opportunity to do their job, which if they had that opportunity they would have disclosed what we know now -- and that is there were no weapons of mass destruction.
       What were we told about chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction? These claims were as baseless and fraudulent as the claims about nuclear weapons.
       President Bush told us in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. Then, in May of 2003, he made the outlandish statement that, it turns out to be totally false, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories."
       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the (same) secretary of defense who assured us that the war would take maybe six days, maybe six weeks, but he doubted as long as six months. He told us at that time, "We know where the weapons of mass destruction are." Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of State Powell also joined in the chorus of lies and misinformation about weapons of mass destruction.
       Of course, no stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons were found. Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, appointed by the Bush administration, noted that Iraq did not have an ongoing chemical weapons program after 1991 -- a conclusion remarkably similar to statements made by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice just months before the 9/11 attacks -- and before they sacrificed the truth in the service of promoting the Bush administration's case for war against Iraq.
       On February 24, 2001, less than 7 months before 9/11, Colin Powell said that Saddam Hussein, and these were his words, "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors," said Colin Powell, some seven months before 9/11.
       And in July 2001, two months before 9/11, Condoleezza Rice said, and these were her words: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt." She told us two months before 9/11.
       It is astounding how they changed their claims after the President decided to make a case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq!
       To think that we could be lied to by so many members of the Bush administration with such impunity is frightening -- chilling. Yet these imperious, arrogant, dishonest people think we should continue to just fall in line with them and continue to take them at their word after we have been lied to time after time after time by these people.
       The truth has been established. It is the established truth. Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There is no evidence of any operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. And there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
       What a tragedy, leading to greater tragedy. We are fed lie after lie, our media reinforces those lies, and we are a nation that has been led to a tragic, illegal, unprovoked war.
       We are here today because of our values. We love our country. We cherish the freedoms and liberties of our country. We don't call those who speak out against our nation's leaders unpatriotic or un-American or appeasers of fascists, as we heard from our nation's secretary of defense yesterday. We have good, wholesome family values. In our families, we teach honesty, we teach kindness and compassion toward others, we teach that violence, if ever justified, must be an absolutely last resort. In our families, we teach that our nation's constitutional values are to be upheld, and that they are worth standing up, as we are here today, and fighting for. Our family values promote respect and equal rights toward everyone, regardless of race, regardless of ethnic origin, and regardless of sexual orientation. In our families, we teach the value of hard work and competence -- and we are left to wonder about a President who, after receiving an intelligence memo about the threat posed by al Qaeda, decides to continue his month-long vacation -- just before the 9/11 attacks on our country.
       As we demand the truth from others, let us also face the truth. Our government all too often has not cared at all about the human rights of people in other nations -- and it doesn't really care about democracy, unless it leads to the election of those who will do our bidding.
       Consider the irony regarding the claims that Saddam had chemical weapons and, because of that, we needed to rush to war in Iraq. When Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons -- first against Iranians, then against his own people, the Kurds -- our country provided him with biological and chemical agents and equipment to make the weapons. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush refused even to support economic sanctions, let alone go to war against him, against Hussein for his use of weapons of mass destruction. What did our nation do in response to Hussein's use of chemical weapons, killing tens of thousand of people, when he actually had them and we knew that he had them? We befriended, coddled, and rewarded him -- with government-guaranteed loans totaling $5 billion since 1983, freeing up currency for Hussein to modernize his military assets.
       Perhaps those in the United States government who aided and abetted Saddam Hussein to further US business interests, while he was gassing the Kurds, should be sharing his courtroom dock as he is now being tried for crimes against humanity.
       No more lies, no more hiding of the truth -- we can stand the truth -- no more wars that more than triple the value of stock in Dick Cheney's prior employer, Halliburton -- and which, as of last September, has increased the value of the Halliburton CEO's stock by $78 million.
       We are patriots. We are deeply concerned. And we demand change, now.
       I want to hear from you.
       No more lies from Condoleezza Rice about whether she and President Bush were advised before 9/11 of the possibility of planes being flown into buildings by terrorists.
       No more.
       No more gross incompetence in the office of the Secretary of Defense.
       No more torture of human beings.
       No more disregard of the basic human rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention.
       No more kidnapping of people and sending them off to secret prisons in nations where they will be tortured.
       No more unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans.
       No more proposed amendments to the United States Constitution that would, for the first time in our nation's history, limit fundamental rights and liberties for entire classes of people simply on the basis of sexual orientation.
       No more federal land giveaways to developers.
       No more increases in mercury emissions from old, dirty, dangerous coalburning power plants.
       No more backroom deals that deprive protection for millions of acres of wild lands in our nation.
       No more attacks on immigrants who work so hard to build better lives in this nation.
       No more inaction by Congress on fixing our hypocritical and inconsistent immigration laws and practices.
       No more reliance on fiction rather than the science of global warming.
       No more manipulation of our media with false propaganda.
       No more disastrous cuts in funding for those most in need.
       No more federal cuts in community policing and local law enforcement grant programs for our cities.
       No more inaction on stopping the tragic genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
       No more of the Patriot Act.
       No more killing.
       No more supposedly pre-emptive wars.
       No more contempt for our long-time allies around the world.
       No more dependence on foreign oil.
       No more failure to impose increased fuel efficiency standards for automobiles manufactured in this country.
       No more energy policies developed in secret meetings between Dick Cheney and his energy company cronies.
       No more excuses for failing to aggressively cut global warming pollutant emissions.
       No more tragically incompetent federal responses to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
       No more tax cuts for the wealthiest, while the middle class and those who are economically-disadvantaged continue to struggle more and more each year.
       No more reckless spending and massive tax cuts, resulting in historic deficits and historic accumulated national debt.
       No more purchasing of elections by the wealthiest corporations and individuals in our country.
       No more phony, ineffective, inhumane so-called war on drugs.
       No more failure to pass an increase in the minimum wage.
       No more silence by the American people.
       IF we can do this in Salt Lake City, we can do this throughout the entire country, and the world is going to hear us.
       This is a new day. We will not be silent. We will continue to raise our voices. We will bring others with us. We will grow and grow, regardless of political party -- unified in our insistence upon the truth, upon peace-making, upon more humane treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world.
       We will be ever cognizant of our moral responsibility to speak up in the face of wrongdoing, and to work as we can for a better, safer, more just community, nation, and world.
       So we won't let down. We won't be quiet. We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages of the Bush administration and this complacent, complicit, go-along Congress. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. We must break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of exploitation. We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war. It's up to every single one of us to do our part.
       Thank you everyone for lending your voices to this call for compassion, for peace, for greater humanity. Let us keep in mind the injunction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
       2006 Deseret News Publishing Company #
       [COMMENT by Michael P: On Thursday Bush told veterans at the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City that as "the horror of that morning grows more distant there is a tendency to believe that the threat is receding and this war is coming to a close".
       On that same day, in that same city, a crowd of thousands cheered Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for calling President Bush a "dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights violating president" whose time in office would "rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure."
       The group - including children and elderly and some hailing from throughout Utah - then marched to the federal building Wednesday to deliver a copy of a symbolic indictment against the president and Congress for abuse of power and failure to uphold the U.S. Constitution.the following speech was made. Here's the transcript of that speech !! COMMENT ENDS.] [Aug 31, 06]

    • Rupert Murdoch's Victims; The Life and Crimes of a Global Goebbels 
    Rupert Murdoch's Victims

    The Life and Crimes of a Global Goebbels

     
       CounterPunch (U.S. political on-line newsletter), http://counter punch.org/ neville 09012006. html , By RICHARD NEVILLE, September 1, 2006
       The first death known to me, that was precipitated by a Rupert Murdoch headline, occurred in Sydney in March,1964, when a schoolboy committed suicide. More of that later. These days, the casualties resulting from military invasions championed by Murdoch are numbered in the thousands, though he is not the sole agent of destruction. One of his former TV producers in the Middle East, Serene Sabbagh, resigned from Fox recently because of its "bias and racism".
       What tipped Sabbagh over the edge was the bombing of Qana. "As a mother of three, watching the images, the raw images of children being pulled out of the rubble and then I switched to Fox News to hear some of their anchors claiming that these little kids that were killed, these innocent victims that were killed, were human shields used by Hezbollah. And one of the anchors went as far as saying they were planted there by Hezbollah to win support in this war. And it was unbelievable. For me, that was the breaking point"
       On August 6, Serene Sabbagh and a colleague sent a joint letter of resignation to Fox News: "Not only are you an instrument of the Bush White House, and Israeli propaganda, you are war mongers with no sense of decency, nor professionalism." A verdict which is widely echoed. "Fox News has had reporters running around northern Israel chronicling every rocket attack and every Israeli mobilization, but has shown little or no interest in anything happening on the other side of the border", noted Andrew Gumbel in the UK's Independent.
       News Corp had "walked away from professional journalism and crossed over into dutiful propaganda", wrote another analyst," a dangerous new chapter even for Fox News". The whole organization had shifted beyond warmongering into deep censorship, where it "purposely cordoned off topics of discussion In fact, I could not find a single, authentic, independent expert on Arab politics and history who appeared on Fox News to discuss the roots of the escalating violence. Not one."
       In the editorial pages of Murdoch's antipodean flagship, The Australian, the bombing of Beirut is presented as "Israel doing Lebanon a favour" and restive Arabs are described as "Nazis". None of this should be surprising, as Murdoch revealed to the Hollywood Reporter that his media ventures are "not as important to me as spreading my personal political beliefs" (November 23, 2005). And these beliefs are dangerous. Murdoch's influential Weekly Standard advocates the pursuit of "regime change in Syria . and a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait?"
       It does not seem to figure in Murdoch's personal accounting that over half a million civilians are now dead or disfigured as a result of the wars he has already promoted. Instead of reconsidering his politics, like other lapsed neocons, Murdoch is still blazing away with his tools of the trade: hate, lies, fear and censorship.
       So here's the nub. In a world facing a series of crises, should an unelected billionaire with a militant agenda and key politicians in the palm of his hand be allowed to preside over a global empire of propaganda? An empire continually expanding, one that gobbles up competitors and is now even blocking free speech on the internet. (See MySpace Is The Trojan Horse Of Internet Censorship)
       On top of this, Murdoch's minions reject the inconvenient facts of climate chaos and attack the greens as "a threat to the prosperity and well-being" of the world (The Australian September 2, 2004). Whereas a real threat to the well-being of the world and its people is Rupert Murdoch, as I first discovered long ago.
       These days, Murdoch's war-mongering is compulsive and his disregard for human wreckage is both calculated and global; but in the beginning, what marked his output was a casual (and sometimes fatal) disregard for the frailties of humans.
       Murdoch's rise to power took off in Sydney in 1964, when he acquired an afternoon tabloid, the Daily Mirror. On March 12, the Mirror front paged a report on "promiscuity" among the pupils of a city high school, which was based on the contents of a young girl's diary. The resulting uproar led to the diarist and a fellow student being expelled from school. A job well done.
       That's where the story ended as far the Mirror was concerned, though not for those involved. The 13 year old schoolboy named in the diary, Digby Bamford, was found hanging from his backyard clothesline, having committed suicide. This news was "cordoned off" from public consumption. Even rival papers kept the secret, until a disgruntled Murdoch journalist tipped off an independent magazine. The author of the "school sex" diary was examined by a doctor from the Child Welfare Department and found to be a virgin. During an interview years later, I reminded Murdoch of this event and his reaction was sharp: "Don't you ever make mistakes?" Of course I do. Many. After acquiring the News of the World in London in 1971, Rupert discovered another diary, while he was campaigning against a popular BBC TV show, Top of the Pops. His paper accused its stars of "promiscuity" with young dancers in the audience. One of these was Samantha MacAlpine, aged 15, whose "leatherette bound book", according Murdoch's news desk, "could well blow wide open the scandal at the BBC". The day after this report, Samantha MacAlpine committed suicide.
       The News of the World tried to cover itself with the headline, THIS GIRL WAS A VICTIM NOW SHE IS DEAD, but the coroner stated that Samantha's diary was "pure fantasy. unconnected with reality", (like much Murdoch journalism). A Scotland Yard officer accused the paper of being "ludicrous and irresponsible". As is the Murdoch style, the evidence from the inquest was kept from the readers. Also suppressed was the statement of the forensic pathologist, that in his opinion, Samantha had died a virgin.
       Two weeks ago, when young Australian Jack Thomas appealed his conviction for receiving funds from Al Qaeda and holding a false passport, he was acquitted by the Victorian Court of Appeal.
       FURY AFTER JIHAD JACK WALKS FREE, headlined The Australian, although the fury was largely confined to Murdoch's newsroom. A jury had previously acquitted Jack Thomas of two more substantial matters. The Victorian Court quashed his conviction on the lesser charges, because police statements had been taken from the defendant while he was incarcerated in Pakistan without access to a lawyer and subjected to assaults. (A US interrogator told Thomas he would crush his testicles, rape his wife and put her breasts in a vice). When the Appeal judges freed Thomas, as they were obliged to do under Australian law, the Murdoch media called for public outrage and demanded "rapid amendments to ensure that no judge can make the same mistake". One of the first steps in the Third Reich's campaign to win over the hearts and minds of the German people was to attack the judges. Another step was to consolidate the media. A third step was to fan the flames of fear.
       In response to criticism of its assault on the judiciary, The Australian hit back: 'what will it take to get Mr Thomas's apologists to take the terror threat seriously? Suicide bombers detonating aboard Melbourne's trams? A USS Cole-style strike on the Manly ferry?" And sure enough, as I write, another Murdoch missile hits the front page. SYDNEY WILL BE ATTACKED.
       After interviewing 572 citizens, the Daily Telegraph has decided that "most Australians believe we are locked in a losing war against Islamic terrorists and an attack on our home soil is inevitable". The number who cite Murdoch's compulsive belligerence as a factor in the escalation of terror is not revealed. On the same day, Jack "Jihad" Thomas is arrested on the beach, slapped with a newly introduced "control order" and ordered home, where his movements are to be restricted. Questioning voices are merely a "civil libertarian lobby that believes John Howard is a greater threat to our way of life than bin Laden", according to MurdochWorld. No, the greatest threat is the control of information from the top. "Fascism ought to more properly be called corporatism", said Mussolini, "since it is the merger of state and corporate power." Beware the global Goebbels.
       Richard Neville has been around a while. He lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached through his very bracing website, www.richard neville. com.au/ #
    [By courtesy of Information Clearing House (USA).] [Sep 1, 06]
    • EDITORIAL:- Quarantine: time is running out  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags 

    The Federal Government's recent decision to permit the importing of 11 tonnes of processed bananas from Vietnam, without telling the Australian banana industry, has angered many Queenslanders.
       The head of the Australian Banana Growers Council, Tony Heidrich, told the ABC that the industry was "shocked" by the Canberra's decision to permit the imports, and said that growers were seeking urgent advice from the Government as to the scientific basis on which the imports had been permitted.
       Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has called for the imports to be banned, but the Federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran, has criticised Mr Beattie, saying he had created a quarantine scare when none existed and caused worry for many banana growers, "who may not know the true situation".
       The fact that the processed banana imports had occurred without the industry being notified, at the same time that the Government is considering an application to import bananas from the Philippines, where exotic banana diseases are endemic, lies behind the growers' alarm.
    Quarantine failure

       Canberra's recent furtive action comes at a time of widespread concern at the erosion of Australia's quarantine standards, evident in a recent Senate report into the citrus canker outbreak in Queensland and calls by the NSW Farmers Association for a review of Australia's quarantine system.
       This follows a 2006 Senate inquiry, into the outbreak of citrus canker in central Queensland in 2004, which was highly critical of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
       The Senate report said it "beggars belief that AQIS had not used its search powers to fully investigate allegations of illegal imports of plant material in 2001, and concluded:
       "AQIS seems to be so focussed on its important role of combating plant and animal
    NEWS WEEKLY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2006 -- PAGE 24
     EDITORIAL   
    Quarantine: time is running out
    pests that it appears oblivious to its other role under the Quarantine Act, which is to stop the illegal importation of plants and animals that could potentially bring disease into Australia. If there are no deterrents to illegal importation, the country is at risk of being exposed to a number of pests that are prevalent overseas."
       Separately, rural industries have cast serious doubts on the allegedly scientific methodology adopted by the Federal Government agency responsible for import risk assessments, in relation to the importation of apples from New Zealand, bananas from the Philippines, and pork.
       Other concerns have been raised in connection with the Federal Government's response to the outbreak of "mad cow" disease overseas.
       In the past, Australia has prevented the entry of "mad cow" (BSE) and other animal diseases such as foot and mouth, by prohibiting imports from countries where these diseases had been detected. It has taken a similar stance in relation to some exotic plant diseases.
       However, there is concern that Australia surreptitiously abandoned this principle, when it signed the free trade agreement with the United States in 2005.
       Until BSE was discovered in the United States, Washington banned the import of animals from European countries where the disease had occurred. However, after its discovery of the disease in the United States in 2003, Washington has worked to establish a new international agreement under which countries affected by BSE might continue to export beef, and countries where "mad cow" disease had occurred should not automatically have their exports rejected. It was adopted in May 2005.

       The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement included a "BSE side letter" which committed Australia to conform to the weaker international standards drafted by the World Organization for Animal Health, and to secure the compliance of other countries, such as Japan, with these weaker standards.
       It appears that the reason for the weakening of Australia's quarantine standards on beef was associated with the promise of greater access for Australian beef into the U.S. market.

      [Photo of Peter Westmore]  

       A side-effect of it, however, could be that Australia could be forced to accept beef from countries where "mad cow" disease has occurred, and it improves America's access to markets, such as Japan's, which have hitherto been closed owing to discovery of "mad cow" disease in the U.S.
       Even before the most recent events, Australia's largest state farmer organisation, the NSW Farmers Association, said that there had been a "litany of exposés" in recent years about failures of Australia's quarantine system.
       It said there was a "a crisis of confidence in the general public based on a crisis of competence in the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) and Biosecurity Australia (BA)".
       Last month, the Federal Opposition moved for a Senate inquiry, but the Government rejected it. Do we need a quarantine disaster before things change?
       In response to these concerns, there needs to be an open public inquiry into Australia's quarantine system, to protect the Australian people and the clean, green image of Australia's agriculture on which the superiority and competitiveness of our primary industry exports depends.

    -- Peter Westmore is
    national president of the
    National Civic Council.


    WWW.NEWSWEEKLY.COM.AU

       [COMMENT: I wonder how hard the Federal Ministers had to work to organise enough "redundancies" to bring AQIS to its present sorry state. COMMENT ENDS.] [Sep 16, 06]
    • [Lock people up indefinitely, and take away their legal rights - USA plan.] 

    Questioning McCain and Graham on Habeas Corpus and FISA

     
       Husseini.org , www.husseini.org/content/2006/09/questioning_mcc.html , 9:47 PM EST, September 17, 2006
       UNITED STATES: JOHN McCAIN was outside ABC studios Sunday morning, September 17, 2006.
       SAM HUSSEINI: People have also criticized the Warner plan. For example, The Center for Constitutional Rights says that it, as well as the Bush plan, have provisions that would "prevent anyone taken into US custody anywhere in the world, past or present, innocent or not, from ever having their case heard in a court of law." Are you familiar with that provision of the Warner legislation?
       Sen. John McCain: No, I'm not, I'm not familiar with that. I'm not familiar with that.
       Sen. Lindsey Graham was outside CBS studios on Sunday, September 17, 2006.
       SAM HUSSEINI: There's been some speculation that the White House is going to try to tie the, addressing the FISA statute, to this type of legislation. What's your view on the FISA statute's being basically done away with -- I mean -- Wouldn't that be a case -- I'm sorry, just the substance of it, if you could address the substance as well as that speculation. Wouldn't that be basically rewriting the law to make legal the President's violations of the FISA statutes?
       SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: The war on terror presents unique legal challenges, and we need to look at all of our laws to make sure they give us the tools we need to be safe. But in doing that, in redefining the law, my biggest fear is that we're going to redefine America. That if you have the torture statute defined in an absurd way, it no longer means anything. That if you have a trial where someone can go to jail and never see the evidence against them, you've redefined America, not protected the country against terrorism.
       When it comes to the FISA statute, I think it has a role in the war on terror. I do not want to destroy the FISA statute. What does the FISA statute do that's necessary? It requires the government to get a warrant if it, the government believes an American is collaborating with the enemy. I want to follow the enemy and listen to the enemy, and if the enemy is talking to an American, I want to know what they are talking about. But if we believe that this American is helping the enemy, then I think we should have to get a warrant, because if we're wrong, we've destroyed people's personal freedom. If you can't and won't make it easy to get a warrant in terms of time periods, we're not going to have a three day, get a warrant or let 'em go. We'll have a statute that allows the government to pursue the evidence and go to court and get a warrant on reasonable terms.
       But the day you say that an American suspected of collaborating with the nation's enemies can be followed without a warrant, then we've lost more than we've gained. It is not a burden on this government to get a warrant if they suspect an American of collaborating with the enemy. There is no requirement to get a warrant to surveil the enemy in a time of war.There must be a requirement to check the government when the government believes someone is committing treason.
       HUSSEINI: The Center for Constitutional Rights, on the facts, put out a statement criticizing both the Bush proposal as well as the Warner proposal. They said, "If either bill passes as currently written, it will prevent anyone taken into US custody, anywhere in the world, past, present, or future, innocent or not, from ever having their case heard in a court of law." Is that your understanding?
       GRAHAM: That is a complete false statement. That is a representation of the bill just as inaccurate as saying that we put the CIA at risk. In the legislation, there is a procedure for every detainee at Guantanamo Bay held as an enemy combatant, to appeal that decision to the US Circuit Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia. Every person tried as a war criminal will now be able to appeal their conviction if there is one through our federal court system. We have created legal rights of review for every person at Guantanamo Bay that is historic in terms of law of armed conflict. So, those who say that people in Guantanamo Bay are being held with legal review, or being tried without legal review, are flat wrong.
       HUSSEINI: Does this apply to anybody detained, I mean can't they detain people --
       GRAHAM: Anybody detained. Every person held down there as a enemy combatant,
       HUSSEINI: Anywhere. I'm not just saying Guantanamo.
       GRAHAM: Guantemo Bay. They're all held at Guan -- In Iraq, there are people held in Iraq that have their own procedures to appeal their status. Everywhere we hold someone there are rules in place to appeal their status as enemy combatants. People held in Afghanistan and Iraq are turned over to those countries. The people we have at Guantanamo Bay, we don't have a country to turn them over to, so we're taking care of them.
    [Sep 17, 06]
    • [Sleep deprivation not torture, claims Ruddock.]  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Torture ban ‘hinders terror war’

     
       Herald Sun (Melbourne), www.news.com. au/heraldsun/ story/0,,2050 6574-5005961, 00.html , AAP, 11:20am, October 1, 2006
       WASHINGTON: THE US decision to ban torture may hinder the fight against terrorism, Attorney-general Philip Ruddock has said.
       Mr Ruddock's comments come as the US moves closer to putting Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks on trial - four-and-a-half years after he was captured by the US in Afghanistan.
       Hicks is now held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
       In Washington to meet American officials about the US military commissions set up to trial terror suspects, Mr Ruddock said the US decision to ban torture as an interrogation method could make it more difficult to gather information about terrorism.
       "The point the United States has made is that it will not use torture and those instructions have been given to their agencies and that may well limit the capacity of intelligence organisations in the future," Mr Ruddock said on ABC TV.
       Sleep deprivation, Mr Ruddock said, was not torture.
       "I don't regard sleep deprivation as torture, I've not heard it being put in that way."
       But Mr Ruddock said depriving inmates at Guantanamo or elsewhere of sleep would be considered coercive by the military commissions.
       "Obviously the question would looked at as to whether the evidence obtained that way has any probity value."
       Exactly what torture was and was not, would have to be defined by the military commissions, Mr Ruddock said.
       "What's made clear in common article three of the Geneva conventions is that people have to be treated humanely.
       "In relation to torture, the United States has made it clear that torture is not permissible (but) some decisions will have to be taken as to what constitutes torture for the military commission process and those who are adjudicating the matter will determine that," Mr Ruddock said. #
       [RECAPITULATION: Sleep deprivation, Mr Ruddock said, was not torture. END.]
       [COMMENT: The Common Man and Woman faces two kinds of terrorist - those wearing masks, and some elected ministers of the "virtuous".  If torture and sleep deprivation are acceptable, why not immediately surrender to people who teach that they will put terror into the hearts of the disbelievers?  Why not welcome their theocracy? END.] [Oct 1, 06]

    • [Churchill's war volumes challenged]  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  
       The Weekend Australian Magazine ( magazine@ theaustralian. com.au ), by Phillip Adams, Magazine p 90, October 14-15, 2006
    90   THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN MAGAZINE   OCTOBER 14-15, 2006

    PHILLIP ADAMS —

     
    [Churchill’s war volumes challenged]
       Until J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter came along, the biggest thing in British publishing was Churchill's account of the war. The financial package for The Second World War was around $70 million in today's dollars, and sales of the six volumes were prodigious - two million in the US alone.
       His great work was as much about money as history. Churchill liked to live well, and even before being thrown out of Number 10 by an ungrateful electorate he needed to find lots in a hurry. Having been a working journalist all his life, and wanting to build himself the literary equivalent of a pyramid, WC was more than ready to produce the two million words the project would require (as many words as there are blocks of stone in that vast tomb of Cheops) - provided he could get around the tax problems.
       With the top tax rate of 19/6 in the quid (97.5 per cent), WC told friends he wouldn't write it "for sixpence". So his accountants and lawyers worked out a system of avoidance and evasion worthy of Rene Rivkin. And Time-Life, which paid hugely for US serialisation rights, provided luxurious working holidays. Vacations in five-star hotels were denied to lesser Brits who could only take 20 quid from the country. WC's holidays would cost Henry Luce a fortune.
       The writing began during the fighting. While waging the war, Churchill knew that history was watching and wrote memos to his generals and public servants accordingly. His letters to other world leaders were even more considered. They had to serve two purposes - to be urgently persuasive, and impressive as historical artefacts. And he made sure that much of the material remained in his possession, to prevent future arguments over ownership.
       Technically, all his wartime writings were state papers, unavailable even to an ex-PM, but Churchill's unique status meant that the Foreign Office and his successors in Downing Street would cut him a lot of slack.
       The work continued when he returned to Number 10 in 1951, and remained a race against time and poor health. And he just made it, living long enough to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award that thrilled his publishers but disappointed him. He'd have preferred the Nobel Peace Prize. But the mighty volumes on WWII were not the reason for the great honour. They weren't mentioned in the ceremony - just his earlier writings, and his speeches.
       Perhaps just as well, for it turns out that he left much of the writing of his most famous work to others, whose roles were kept secret. Lowly paid public servants, academics and gophers sifted through the awesome amount of his "personal" and official documents and made suggestions on inclusion, emphasis and structure, while his writing team, known as "the syndicate", churned out many a chapter.
       You can imagine how they felt reading the rave reviews of Churchill's inimitable style, his mastery of the English language, the praise heaped on prose that they, not him, had provided.
       For all the details, read one of the most remarkable works of scholarship I've ever come across - David Reynolds' In Command Of History: Churchill Fighting And Writing The Second World War. Talking to David, I asked whether his book was also written by a "syndicate", but he proudly proclaimed he'd done the research alone. "You need to get a feel for the papers," he said.
       The book is a blow-by-blow account of Churchill's war, of his blunders as well as his brilliance. It reveals his readiness to fudge the facts to protect or enhance his reputation - and to censor for political and strategic reasons. Thus WC avoids writing about Bletchley Park's code-breaking, still a powerful post-war weapon; and, with his approval, the syndicate fine-tunes the text to avoid problems with Stalin, Tito and Eisenhower, particularly when Ike becomes president.
       Churchill was also careful not to antagonise Robert Menzies. Initially highly critical of WC, later a close friend, old Pig Iron emerges from the story with more credit than you might expect.
       Meanwhile, determined to write the history of the war, Churchill blocks and manoeuvres against potential challengers, and complaints by his former generals in their memoirs are ignored.
       As a result it has taken decades to challenge Churchill's version of the War - and Reynolds' book is by far and away the best effort.
       It's full of revelations such as a plan called Operation Unthinkable, in which Hitler's army would join forces with the Brits and the US to attack the Soviet Union! And Reynolds has discovered how defensive and duplicitous Churchill was on Dresden, Auschwitz and the A-Bomb.
       With more plots than a dozen Da Vinci Codes, Reynolds' book is the greatest detective story I've read. Instead of starring a Hercule Poirot, his hero is a Hercules of modern history. Don't miss it. #
       [OTHER READING: Another book piercing Churchill's duplicity, and that of the UK Establishment and other global forces, is Churchill's War. ENDS.]
       E-MAIL COMMENTING ON THE ABOVE, dated Oct 21, 06: To Phillip Adams, The Weekend Australian Magazine
       Congratulations for writing about David Reynolds' book (14/10) exposing the fudging and duplicity of Winston Churchill in his war volumes.
       A previous book, Churchill's War, by an author whose name I have forgotten, also pierced the duplicity of Churchill and the UK Establishment.
       Perhaps the trendies who are running our Education Department curriculum branches could try some "critical literacy" on such books, instead of asking kids to detect the Maoist and feminist aspects of "As you like it."
       Best wishes! [Oct 14-15, 2006]

    • Weygers remains in limbo  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Weygers remains in limbo

     
       The West Australian, by BETHANY HIATT, p 61, Saturday, October 21, 2006
      [Picture] Under investigation: Peter Weygers is working as a research officer after having to leave his job as a school psychologist because of complaints.    Picture: Rob Duncan  
       PERTH: Two and a half years after school psychologist and controversial civil libertarian Peter Weygers was removed from contact with school-children, he is still being paid his full salary of $72,000 a year to work as a research officer.
       The Education Department moved Mr Weygers from a school to Swan district office in April 2004 after alleged sexual harassment complaints. He is the best-known of many teachers forced out of their jobs into years of limbo because of the department's slow handling of complaints management procedures.
       Mr Weygers has not been allowed to practise as a psychologist in schools despite receiving a school psychologist's salary. It is understood that he has been researching ways to get more girls interested in computer technology.
       He has claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated smear campaign against the WA Council of Civil Liberties, which he still heads.
       He is not allowed to speak to the media while under investigation but claimed last year there was no substance to the complaints, which were politically motivated.
       Council of Civil Liberties vice-president Tom Lawson said the recent Corruption and Crime Commission findings condemning the department's handling of misconduct allegations backed similar findings raised in an internal review earlier this year.
       He said rather than pouring more resources into the department's faulty complaints management unit, Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich should abolish the unit and outsource all investigations.
       A Department of Education and Training spokesman confirmed Mr Weygers was still working in a non-school setting. He said it was not appropriate for the department to comment further on confidential matters involving staff. #
       [COMMENT: The Education Department has been criticised for decades for its hopeless system of handling sexual and other complaints.
       It would be better for the WA Police to investigate, than a group of teachers, academics, and civil servants.
       However, with several people in the past year or so being shown NOT guilty of murders, in spite of the WA police and courts saying they were, any accused person has a difficult time ahead. COMMENT ENDS.] [Oct 21, 06]

    • Medics beg for help as Iraqis die needlessly [and other news] 

    Medics beg for help as Iraqis die needlessly

     
       Information Clearing House, www.informationclearinghouse.info (USA), by e-mail, October 21, 2006
       Medics beg for help as Iraqis die needlessly, By Jeremy Laurance. Half of all deaths preventable, say country's medics Reconstruction seen as disaster More than 2,000 doctors and nurses are killed, 18,000 more leave the nation. Even the most basic treatments are lacking. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15368.htm
       After Pat's Birthday, By Kevin Tillman. Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15365.htm
       At Least 15 Killed As Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraqi City: The takeover of Amara by the militia, the Mahdi Army, was a broad act of defiance against the authority of the central government, which has been trying to impose order and curb sectarian violence. The incident also raised questions about whether Iraq's militias can be reined in. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15362.htm
       Three U.S. occupation force soldiers killed in Iraq: Three U.S. soldiers killed in separate incidents in occupied Iraq during the past 48 hours, the U.S. military said in statements on Friday http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-10/20/content_5229120.htm
       Iraq 'hiding true casualty figures': THE Iraqi Government has told medical authorities not to reveal to the UN the true extent of civilian casualties in the country's conflict, French newspaper Le Monde said today. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15361.htm
       Patrick Cockburn: Hospitals now a battleground in the bloody civil war: Iraqi hospitals are dangerous places. Policemen and soldiers carry their wounded comrades into operating theatres and demand immediate treatment, forcing doctors at gunpoint to abandon operations on civilians before they are completed. http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article1904932.ece
       The End of Maliki? Will a Coup Unravel Iraq? http://www.tomdispatch.com/indexprint.mhtml?pid=130805
       Former Top Bush Administration Official Calls For Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Iraq: Richard L. Armitage - who served as deputy secretary of state from 2001-2005 - is advocating a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. From the New Jersey Express-Times: http://thinkprogress.org/2006/10/20/armitage-iraq-withdrawal/
       Are You Afraid? Watch his haunting observational film that explodes the myth around the claims that the Iraqis are preparing to take control of their own country. Contains some strong language. Flash presentation http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/page/0,,1927660,00.html
       White House Resists Major Course Change in Iraq: President Bush will resist election-year pressure for a major shift in strategy in Iraq, the White House said on Friday, despite growing doubts among Americans and anxiety over the war among Republican lawmakers. http://tinyurl.com/y639nm
       A Soldier's Duty? The Ehren Watada Story: Video: On June 22, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq War and occupation. For the first time since 1965, the military is prosecuting an objector for his opinions. He faces over eight years in prison - over six years for First Amendment speech alone! http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15366
       Eight Afghan workers executed: Gunmen ambushed a car carrying Afghan civilians working on a remote U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan and killed eight of them execution-style, a police official said Friday. http://tinyurl.com/wuyzf
       NATO Occupation Forces Accused of Executing Afghan Civilians: "When they saw my son in wounded condition, they shot him and killed him in front of my eyes." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15364.htm
       Bombers hit Afghanistan ahead of major holy day: A suicide bomber killed an Afghan soldier and wounded seven more in an eastern province bordering Pakistan on Friday, the army said. http://tinyurl.com/tjkp3
       Marine killed in occupied Afghanistan named: The MoD said Wright, 22, died on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a vehicle in which Wright was patrolling in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand. http://tinyurl.com/y37fbr
       Assassination attempts on Afghan leaders spike: Taliban adopts tactics seen in Iraq in bid to undermine government. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15332540/
       War pimp alert: Regime Change Only Solution for Iran, Israeli Expert Says: The Iranians "need to fear" the consequences if they continue in their nuclear pursuits, Olmert said, adding that he did not discuss specifics of what Israel would or would not do. http://tinyurl.com/y7lbow
       'US might consider Iran strike': With North Korea threatening more nuclear weapons tests, officials in Washington have placed the option of a military attack back on the table as they consider ways to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, experts say. http://tinyurl.com/u2jb2
       War pimp alert: Ultimately, the U.S. will Attack: Attacking will not provide a fundamental solution to the (nuclear) problem...only delay it. In order to bring about a halt to the nuclear program, there has to be a regime change (that) can take place...in less time than it takes the regime of the ayatollahs to obtain nuclear weapons." http://www.infoisrael.net/cgi-local/text.pl?source=4/b/iv/181020061
       Ahmadinejad: Attempts to strengthen fake Zionist regime doomed to fail : Addressing the supporters of this corrupt regime, he said, "As an option, I recommend you to comply with your claims to democracy and let the Palestinians determine their own destiny through a free and legal election. http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-17/0610208270162424.htm
       Force may be needed to guard Lebanese airspace -UN: U.N. peacekeepers may at some point resort to force to prevent repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, the commander of the U.N. force in southern Lebanon said on Thursday. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N19275977.htm
       Palestinian Prime Minister unscathed after militants open fire on his convoy in Gaza: Haniyeh had just finished making a speech at a Gaza mosque, where he said that his movement would reject any moves by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to call fresh elections or sack the Islamist government as a way to break a political deadlock. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/777447.html
       Why Israel should grab Hamas' truce offer: Hamas is the only party now in Palestine that has the legitimacy and the capacity to enforce a truce with Israel. Such a truce would likely generate strong pressures from its Palestinian constituency to keep moving in the direction of a permanent peace agreement. http://tinyurl.com/yy96xf
       Peace Now: 43% of illegal squatter camps are built on stolen Palestinian land: According to a survey by Peace Now, some parts of 75 of the 102 outposts in the West Bank are on private Palestinian land. The survey, carried out by the organization's settlement monitoring team, found that the total area of the outposts is 16,196 dunams, out of which about 43 percent are on private Palestinian land (6,986 dunams). http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/777212.html
       Talks Could Lead to Israeli Approval of Illegal West Bank Squatter Outposts: Illegal squatter outposts in the West Bank would get official government approval under a deal Israel's defense minister is working out, government officials and squatters said Thursday. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/19/AR2006101901835_pf.html
       Furor Over Carter's South Africa Analogy : Use of the word - apartheid - and some of the book's content are quickly leaking out, and Jewish Democrats were scrambling this week to limit the impact on closely fought congressional races only weeks away. http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=13147&print=yes
       Jewish political partisans in U.S.: In their campaigns for the Jewish vote on Nov. 7, Republicans are pitching support for Israel and anti-terrorism, as they have for years. Democrats are reminding voters of the party's traditional support for Israel but are emphasizing health care, keeping church separate from state and supporting reproductive rights, as they have for years. http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=17180&intcategoryid=3
       No more N Korea nuke tests - China: North Korea's Kim Jong-il tells Chinese envoy that Pyongyang is not planning to conduct further nuclear tests. http://tinyurl.com/y7bpqq
       South Korea prepares for attack: The South Korean army shot missiles at targets during a firing demonstration to prepare for military aggression from North Korea. http://tinyurl.com/yxv7ur
       N.Korea ship being tracked by U.S. intelligence: The "CBS Evening News," quoting U.S. intelligence sources, reported that a North Korean ship possibly carrying military equipment banned by U.N. sanctions had left that country for an unknown destination. http://tinyurl.com/wbbnj
       Seven in Ten Americans Favor Congressional Candidates Who Will Pursue a Major Change in Foreign Policy: U.S. Public Wants Less Emphasis on Military Force, More on Working Through U.N. A Majority Supports Direct Talks with North Korea and Iran. http://tinyurl.com/tmr2g
       CIA approached terrorism trial defendant about job as spy: A former university professor charged with plotting to bankroll Hamas terrorists was once asked by the Central Intelligence Agency if he wanted a job as a spy, his attorney told a jury Thursday. http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/politics/15800916.htm
       Video: Chinese Shoot Tibetan Pilgrims: Footage of Chinese border guards shooting Tibetans on pilgrimage to the Dalai Lama in India. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15369.htm
       Nicaragua's Ortega Could Win in First Round: Former head of state Daniel Ortega is the clear frontrunner in Nicaragua's presidential race. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/13514
       William Blum: Operation Because We Can: For 27 years, the most powerful nation in the world has found it impossible to share the Western Hemisphere with one of its poorest and weakest neighbors, Nicaragua, if the country's leader was not in love with capitalism. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15367.htm
       Venezuela's UN Ambassador Accuses Bush Administration of Blackmailing Other Countries Over Contested UN Seat: Guatemala has won every round of voting but has failed to secure the needed two-thirds majority. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/20/1434200
       Britain to defy US over UN resolution on arms trade: The UK is next week expected to push through the United Nations a resolution to open the way for a landmark arms trade treaty, in spite of opposition from the US, Russia and China. http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,1926722,00.html
       The limits of liberty: We're all suspects now : Ten years ago, the novelist and polemicist Henry Porter would have felt silly speaking out about human rights in Britain. But that was before the most fundamental assault on personal freedom ever undertaken. Now, he argues, it's time we woke up to reality. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1902830.ece
       The International Committee of the Red Cross "concerned" over US anti-terrorism law: The president of Swiss-run humanitarian body, Jakob Kellenberger, said that there were questions over its compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war. http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/swissinfo.html?siteSect=105&sid=7179717
       Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases: The administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15363.htm
       John Yoo: Sending a Message : Congress to courts: Get out of the war on terror: The military commission bill, which President Bush signed into law on Tuesday, most of the press and the professional punditry missed the big story. In the struggle for power between the three branches of government, it is not the presidency that "won." Instead, it is the judiciary that lost. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009113
       Congress' shameful retreat from American values: None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Ideal. Mark their names. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0610040035oct04,1,2100411.column
       Fear-mongers running rampant: Most elected federal-officials think "we the people" do not need the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Why? We have a president who, with a signing statement, declares the laws of the land do not apply to him. How can this happen? http://tinyurl.com/yeq2xl
       Padilla Was Drugged, Threatened by Authorities, His Lawyers Say: - Lawyers for accused terrorism supporter Jose Padilla say U.S. authorities drugged him with LSD or PCP, filled his cell with "noxious fumes'' and threatened to slash him with a knife while he was being held without charges. http://tinyurl.com/ykwa5s
       Most of U.S. spending monitors sacked: Most private contractors keeping tabs on billions of dollars in governmental spending for the U.S. House Appropriations Committee have been let go. With about 60 investigators gone, the shakeup leaves only 16 full-time employees in the unit, USA Today reported. http://upi. com/NewsTrack/ view.php?Story ID=20061020- 115849-8276r
       Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America's War? As Many As 655,000. http://informationclearinghouse.info/article15266.htm
       Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In Bush's War 2787 http://icasualties.org/oif/
       Cost of America's War in Iraq $335,699,824,535
       See the cost in your community http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182
       Peace & Joy, Tom Feeley
       QUOTATIONS: Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people." (August 1765) John Adams
       The Second Treatise of Civil Government 1690: "That the aggressor, who puts himself into the state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man's right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right over the conquered, will be easily agreed by all men, who will not think that robbers and pirates have a right of empire over whomsoever they have force enough to master, or that men are bound by promises which unlawful force extorts from them.
       Should a robber break into my house, and, with a dagger at my throat, make me seal deeds to convey my estate to him, would this give him any title? Just such a title by his sword has an unjust conqueror who forces me into submission. The injury and the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown or some petty villain.
       The title of the offender and the number of his followers make no difference in the offence, unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish little ones to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power in their own possession which should punish offenders." John Locke - 1632-1704 - http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtreat.htm
    [Oct 21, 06]
    • Weygers case -- Ravlich has not reformed unfair Education Department  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Weygers case — Ravlich has not reformed unfair Education Department

     
       Letter sent to The West Australian, Sent on October 23, 2006
       PERTH: The newsitem "Weygers remains in limbo" (21/10) says that Mr Peter Weygers has been paid $72,000 p.a. while being sidelined by the Education Department for 2 1/2 years. What a waste!
       He is one of many who, for decades, have been taken off their own tasks while the department muddles around handling harassment, sexual and other complaints. And the government caused the department's CEO to leave, but not the politicians who have presided over this mess for decades!
       The department's collection of ex-teachers, academics, and civil servants are not likely to be highly skilled in forensics, nor to have a deep knowledge of the practice of questioning fairly but getting the truth.
       It would be better for the WA Police to investigate all such cases.
       On the other hand, with several people in the past year or so being shown NOT guilty of murders, in spite of the WA police and courts saying they were, any accused person has a difficult time ahead.
       We certainly need our Quigleys, Egans, and Tennants in this State!
    [Oct 23, 06]
    • Ripper offers cold comfort on housing price mania.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
       The West Australian, By PAUL MURRAY, p 18, Tuesday, November 7, 2006
       PERTH:
    18 • TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2006                                                                 THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

    Ripper offers
    cold comfort
    on housing
    price mania

    PAUL MURRAY
    Why all this hand-rubbing and back-slapping over Perth's house prices soaring to Sydney levels? We should be treating this seismic shift as a disgrace and a major failing of government, not a cause for celebration.
       There was a line in a report in The Australian newspaper yesterday that was simply gob-smacking:
       "Just because Perth is on track to eclipse Sydney as the nation's most expensive real estate market, Peter Stamatopoulos says there's no reason to believe things can't get better still.
       "On Saturday he put his money where his mouth is, when he and fiancee Michelle Bolton paid almost $1.9 million for a two-bedroom home in one of Perth's most prestigious suburbs, Mosman Park."
       No reason to believe things can't get better still? Would Mr Stamatopoulos have been happier had he paid $2.5 million for a suburban home in the hope it will be worth $3 million next month?
       There's a funny mindset behind our overcooked housing market.
       I am at a loss to understand why people use the increasing value of their home as some sort of a measure of success. It's paper money created with no effort, but fairly meaningless if you need a house to live in.
       The only people who really benefit from soaring housing prices are speculators, real estate agents, banks and Treasurer Eric Ripper's happy little band of revenuers.
       The glee over ballistic house prices comes at the expense of young West Australians who are being priced out of the Great Australian Dream.
       Having allowed - perhaps even caused - the market to become overheated, where is the Carpenter Government's plan to bring down house prices?
       If you look at the components of the crisis, most - other than increasing interest rates - are in the State Government's domain.
       If this Government has a political future - other than as a lacklustre alternative to a lacklustre Opposition - it should be in attracting aspirational voters to Labor.
       Owning their home remains one of the great aspirations for young Australians. Why would a Labor Government be complicit in pricing that dream beyond their reach?
       Mr Ripper's defence of WA's onerous rates of stamp duty - cranked up at the start of Labor's reign and only marginally lessened in recent Budgets - is built around a statement by ANZ Bank chief economist Saul Eslake that a cut would lead to higher prices.
       In the words of that great political figure, Mandy Rice-Davies: "Well he would say that, wouldn't he?"
       The stamp duty impost is so high in WA that many first buyers have to borrow all or part of the stamp duty slug anyway. And why would the banks object to house prices soaring, pushing up mortgages?
       Mr Ripper quotes Mr Eslake:
       "It is my view that, particularly in the kind of housing market you now have in Perth, any cut in stamp duty - or any other form of direct cash assistance to home buyers - will simply be reflected in higher prices for property. That would be the case in almost any circumstances, but as I say particularly in those now prevailing in Perth.
       "As a general rule, if you give more money to home buyers to buy property they will spend it. The assistance thus gets capitalised into house prices just as the first home owners' grant did when it was introduced at the same time as the GST. Any kind of stamp duty concession would have the same effect."
       If Mr Eslake is right, then it makes the Government's small concessions to first home buyers in recent times just wasted money. However, I suspect he is not right.
       Now, there was a time when Labor treasurers treated the banks as part of the problem, not part of their defence.
       And Mr Ripper gave the game away in a parliamentary debate last month in which the Real Estate Institute of Australia's housing affordability index loomed large.
       The index measures the median family income against average loan repayments. This is what Mr Ripper said, arguing that the decline in the WA index, to its lowest level since the early 1990s, still left us well off:
       "There may well be problems with the validity of that measure. For example, it may not accurately show the impact of changing market conditions on lower-income people."
       From that statement, it is obvious that the Treasurer knows that this boom in housing values is pricing low-income earners out of the market.
       Now, I'm just old-fashioned enough to remember when Labor governments thought these people were the ones they were meant to be helping.
       So if Mr Ripper won't cut stamp duty to help them out, what is the plan?
       The best that Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan could offer was that WA was not "a command economy".
       "I often say to young people who are thinking of panic buying in an inflated market that there have been many instances around Australia and the world when there has been a sustained drop in the market and people have found themselves in a negative equity situation," Ms MacTiernan said.
       "We do not want that to happen in WA. We would very much like the market to cool so that sort of cataclysmic situation does not arise in this State."
       So it appears that the plan is to wish and hope that prices fall some time soon. Frankly, that's just not enough.
       paul.murray@ wanews.com.au
       Letters for publication:
       letters@ wanews. com.au
       [RECAPITULATION: ... Perth's house prices soaring to Sydney levels? We should be treating this seismic shift as a disgrace and a major failing of government, not a cause for celebration. RECAP. ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: And, there was a time when the Labor Party understood a policy to keep land prices (the variable part that has price changes outside the cost-of-living increases) low. This policy was dropped without debate some decades ago, in spite of resistance by Clyde Cameron A.O. and Sir Allen Fairhall (died about November 2006). COMMENT ENDS.] [Nov 7, 06]

    • Israel admits using white phosphorus.  Lebanon flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Israel flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; www.edwardmooney.com/miniflags  

      Israel admits using white phosphorus  

     
       Green Left Weekly (Australia), glw@greenleft.org.au , by Kim Bullimore, p 24, November 8, 2006
       LEBANON: Israeli cabinet minister Jacob Edery admitted on October 22 that Israel had used white phosphorus, a substance that burns when it comes into contact with air, during its 34-day July-August war on Lebanon.
       Associated Press reported that Edery, speaking on behalf of defence minister Amir Peretz, said: "The Israeli army made use of phosphorus shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground."
       Edery did not specify where or against what types of targets the bombs were used. However, he claimed that in using white phosphorus shells Israel had "used this type of munitions according to the rules of international law."
       White phosphorus can cause severe burns and death as it is easily absorbed into the skin and burns soft tissue (to the bone) and vital body organs, such as the liver, kidney and heart resulting in multiple organ failure.
       The International Red Cross is of the opinion that there should be a complete ban on phosphorus being used against human beings, and the third protocol of the Geneva Convention on Conventional Weapons restricts the use of "incendiary weapons", with phosphorus considered to be one such weapon.
       Israel and the United States are not signatories to the third protocol.
       Last year, the US, Israel's major ally and arms supplier, acknowledged using white phosphorus as a weapon against Iraqi resistance fighters during the battle of Fallujah in November 2004 but said it had never been used against civilian targets. However, burned bodies of civilians hit by the phosphorus munitions were shown by the press, and an international outcry against the practice followed.
       Throughout the month-long Israeli war against Lebanon, Lebanese doctors repeatedly accused Israel of using chemical weapons against civilians. AP noted on October 22 that in "one CNN report, a casualty with serious burns was seen lying in a south Lebanon hospital. In another case, Dr Hussein Hamud al Shel, who works at Dar al Amal hospital in Baalbek, said that he had received three corpses 'entirely shriveled with black-green skin', a phenomenon characteristic of phosphorus injuries."
       In late July, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud accused Israel of using white phosphorus and other chemical weapons against civilians. Israel, however, denied the claim saying that it was only using "lawful" weaponry.
       On July 23, however, the Israeli military censor Colonel Sima Valknin-Gil issued a directive banning all reporting of the "use of unique kinds of ammunition and weaponry" by the Israeli military in Lebanon. The directive was sent to all Israeli media, including editors, producers, broadcasters and correspondents.
       Israel has also been accused of firing as many as 4 million cluster bombs into Lebannon during the war, especially in the last hours before the August 14 cease-fire. UN demining experts say up to 1 million cluster bombs failed to explode immediately and continue to threaten Lebanese civilians.
       Cluster bombs burst into bomblets and spread out near the ground. While some aim to destroy tanks, others are designed to kill or maim humans over a wide area. An unexploded cluster bomb may look like a soda can or a dusty rock and can be set off by as little as a touch, packing enough force to rip off a leg or kill a child. #
       [COMMENT: Who are the "axis of evil," and who are the rogue states? Using horrendous weapons isn't likely to win friends and influence people -- except in the wrong direction! ENDS.] [Nov 08, 06]
    • State scandals hammer Beazley in polls.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Western Australia, State flag; Aust. Nat. Flag Assn.  New South Wales (Australia) flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au  Queensland (Australian State) flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au  Tasmania (Australia) flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au  Victoria (Australia) flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au 

    State scandals hammer Beazley in polls

     
       The Australian, www.news.com. au/story/0,23 599,20752 467-2,00.html , By Dennis Shanahan, 01:15am, November 14, 2006
       SCANDALOUS behaviour by state Labor ministers appears to have damaged Kim Beazley's federal team and cancelled out the negative effect of the latest interest rate rise on the Howard Government.
       In the first polling since last Wednesday's official rise in interest rates - the fourth increase since the last federal election - John Howard and the Coalition have escaped unscathed.
       But mired by grubby allegations against state MPs and governments and competing with an aggressive Greens campaign on greenhouse gas emission, the federal ALP has dropped to its worst primary vote since August.
       According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, the Coalition's primary vote was virtually unchanged on 41 per cent and Labor's fell from 41 per cent to 37 per cent.
       While climate change has been in the headlines for weeks, the Greens' primary support rose to its highest in more than a year - 9 per cent, almost two points above the party's vote at the last election.
       Based on preference flows at the 2004 election, the second preference vote is dead even, 50-50 for the Coalition and Labor.
       Personal satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were also virtually unchanged, as was Mr Howard's two-to-one advantage over Mr Beazley as the preferred prime minister.
       It is the first time Labor has dropped below the crucial level of 40 per cent of the primary vote in five successive Newspoll surveys since August.
       Federal Labor targeted Mr Howard's credibility over the latest 0.25 percentage point interest rate rise, accusing him of lying in the last election campaign.
       Labor's paid television ads show Mr Howard with a growing Pinocchio nose, and Labor Treasury spokesman Wayne Swan has accused him of stealing "Paul Keating's interest rate crown".
       But last weekend, the Coalition's primary vote was stable, down from 42 per cent to 41 per cent, and Mr Howard's satisfaction was also virtually unchanged, up one point to 49 per cent.
       In recent weeks, Mr Howard has announced almost $2 billion in drought aid, water reform and skills training as well as hosting a summit on water and the Murray-Darling Basin last Tuesday.
       The Reserve Bank's announcement of a rise in interest rates, pushing mortgage rates just above 8 per cent, was expected to hit the Coalition's political standing. But, as the rates announcement was made, Labor state governments in NSW and Western Australia were caught up in major scandals.
       West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter forced former premier Brian Burke to resign from the ALP after Mr Burke and small business minister Norm Marlborough were exposed as lying about their relationship to the Corruption and Crime Commission and Mr Marlborough lost his job.
       Mr Carpenter also banned MPs from contact with Mr Burke, who was jailed after the WA Inc inquiry 12 years ago.
       Mr Beazley faced media questions about his long friendship with Mr Burke and said federal MPs would also be expected to refuse requests from Mr Burke.
       The commission's investigation of the activities of Canal Rocks, a company that wants to build a $330 million tourist resort near Yallingup in the state's southwest, and for which Mr Burke is a lobbyist, is continuing.
       In NSW, Labor Premier Morris Iemma sacked his Aboriginal affairs minister, Milton Orkopoulos, had him removed from the ALP and demanded he leave parliament after Mr Orkopoulos was charged with 30 drug and child-sex offences.
       Mr Iemma has said he will sack anyone who previously covered up the allegations.
       In Queensland, the Labor Government of Peter Beattie is also in difficulty over investigations by its Crime and Misconduct Commission into former minister Gordon Nuttall's $300,000 loan from a coal company executive.
       And former Queensland tourism and racing minister Merri Rose is facing extortion charges arising from a crime commission investigation.
       Tasmania's sacked deputy premier, Bryan Green, is facing conspiracy charges and in Victoria, Labor is racked by police corruption and branch-stacking claims. #
       [COMMENT: "Something is rotten in the State of ..." -- Australia only has six States! The missing State is -- "South Australia". In Western Australia, neither Premier Carpenter nor the ALP's national leadership can successfully ban MsP from dealing with Mr Burke -- many of his followers during the "WA Inc" days have been endorsed regularly by the ALP as elections come round. In Western Australia the ALP is really the BLP. COMMENT ENDS.] [Nov 14, 06]
    • [Declaration by Australian States and Territories against imprisonment without trial.]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 
       Received by e-mail, November 21, 2006 (real date ~ Nov 10, 2006)
       FREMANTLE (Western Australia):

    The Fremantle Declaration

     
       We, the Attorneys General of the governments of Australia, declare and affirm our commitment to the following principles:
    • The right to a fair trial;
    • The principle of habeas corpus;
    • The prohibition on indefinite detention without trial.
    • The prohibition on torture.
    • Access to rights under the Geneva Conventions.
    • The separation of powers; and
    • The prohibition on the death penalty.
       These are fundamental norms of the Australian legal system and we, as Attorneys General, are responsible for ensuring that these principles are upheld in our jurisdictions.
       Australia has signed and committed to international treaties and conventions in which these rights are protected: the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention in Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
       We affirm our commitment to these international agreements and principles.
    The Hon. Bob Debus, ATTORNEY GENERAL, New South Wales
    The Hon. Jim McGinty, ATTORNEY GENERAL, West Australia
    The Hon. Michael Atkinson, ATTORNEY GENERAL, South Australia
    The Hon. Syd Stirling, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Northern Territory
    The Hon. Simon Corbell, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Australian Capital Territory
    The Hon. Kerry Shine, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Queensland
    The Hon. Steven Kons, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Tasmania

    The following PDF document requires Adobe® Acrobat ® Reader ™

       To print this, look in the PDF "Frame" border for the "Print" icon, click it, then click the "OK" button, 2nd button from the bottom right.
       Also see: "Fair trials accord adds to pressure over Hicks," Sydney Morning Herald, www.smh.com. au/news/world/ fair-trials- accord-adds- to-pressure- over-hicks/ 2006/11/10/ 1162661 897733.html ; By Tim Dick and Phillip Coorey, November 11, 2006
       COMMENT (This part written Dec 27, 2010): This declaration has some prima facie errors.  It is not dated.  The most important one is that it claims to be signed by the A-Gs of the Australian governments, but is not signed by the national A-G (i.e., the Commonwealth of Australia A-G), nor signed by the A-G of Victoria, the second most populous State.
       (This part written probably in 2006) Because State and Territory rights have almost been eliminated in a recent High Court decision, this "Fremantle Declaration" is worthless except as a fairly good statement of good intentions.  Some people suspect it was prepared to quieten down Australian Labor Party rank and file members who object to the illegalities and injustices that Australia is taking part in overseas and in Australia itself.
       Furthermore, the ALP has been more openly centralist than the Liberals and Nationals - so do not expect any real referendum action to reverse the recent High Court majority decision, so that federalism can be fostered. [~ Nov 10, 06]

    • JFK and 9/11. Insights Gained from Studying Both
       

    JFK and 9/11. Insights Gained from Studying Both.

     
       Lecture given by Dr Peter Dale Scott, a Canadian, in Dallas on November 18, 2006.
       DALLAS (Texas), USA: [The text is given below as issued by Global Research (Canada), www.global research.ca/ index.php? context=view Article&code= SCO20061220& articleId= 4207 ; at the date of December 20, 2006.]
    http://www.johnm.multiline.com.au/cont18.htm#jfk_and_911
    [Nov 18, 06]

    • The Power and the Glory; Myths of American exceptionalism.  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    The Power and the Glory

     
    Myths of American exceptionalism
       Boston Review, http://boston review.net/ BR30.3/zinn. html , by Howard Zinn, November 24, 2006
       The notion of American exceptionalism - that the United States alone has the right, whether by divine sanction or moral obligation, to bring civilization, or democracy, or liberty to the rest of the world, by violence if necessary - is not new. It started as early as 1630 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony when Governor John Winthrop uttered the words that centuries later would be quoted by Ronald Reagan. Winthrop called the Massachusetts Bay Colony a "city upon a hill." Reagan embellished a little, calling it a "shining city on a hill."
       The idea of a city on a hill is heartwarming. It suggests what George Bush has spoken of: that the United States is a beacon of liberty and democracy. People can look to us and learn from and emulate us.
       In reality, we have never been just a city on a hill. A few years after Governor Winthrop uttered his famous words, the people in the city on a hill moved out to massacre the Pequot Indians. Here's a description by William Bradford, an early settler, of Captain John Mason's attack on a Pequot village.
       Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived that they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.
       The kind of massacre described by Bradford occurs again and again as Americans march west to the Pacific and south to the Gulf of Mexico. (In fact our celebrated war of liberation, the American Revolution, was disastrous for the Indians. Colonists had been restrained from encroaching on the Indian territory by the British and the boundary set up in their Proclamation of 1763. American independence wiped out that boundary.)
       Expanding into another territory, occupying that territory, and dealing harshly with people who resist occupation has been a persistent fact of American history from the first settlements to the present day. And this was often accompanied from very early on with a particular form of American exceptionalism: the idea that American expansion is divinely ordained. On the eve of the war with Mexico in the middle of the 19th century, just after the United States annexed Texas, the editor and writer John O'Sullivan coined the famous phrase "manifest destiny." He said it was "the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions." At the beginning of the 20th century, when the United States invaded the Philippines, President McKinley said that the decision to take the Philippines came to him one night when he got down on his knees and prayed, and God told him to take the Philippines.
       Invoking God has been a habit for American presidents throughout the nation's history, but George W. Bush has made a specialty of it. For an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, the reporter talked with Palestinian leaders who had met with Bush. One of them reported that Bush told him, "God told me to strike at al Qaeda. And I struck them. And then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East." It's hard to know if the quote is authentic, especially because it is so literate. But it certainly is consistent with Bush's oft-expressed claims. A more credible story comes from a Bush supporter, Richard Lamb, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who says that during the election campaign Bush told him, "I believe God wants me to be president. But if that doesn't happen, that's okay."
       Divine ordination is a very dangerous idea, especially when combined with military power (the United States has 10,000 nuclear weapons, with military bases in a hundred different countries and warships on every sea). With God's approval, you need no human standard of morality. Anyone today who claims the support of God might be embarrassed to recall that the Nazi storm troopers had inscribed on their belts, "Gott mit uns" ("God with us").
       Not every American leader claimed divine sanction, but the idea persisted that the United States was uniquely justified in using its power to expand throughout the world. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Henry Luce, the owner of a vast chain of media enterprises - Time, Life, Fortune - declared that this would be "the American Century," that victory in the war gave the United States the right "to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."
       This confident prophecy was acted out all through the rest of the 20th century. Almost immediately after World War II the United States penetrated the oil regions of the Middle East by special arrangement with Saudi Arabia. It established military bases in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and a number of Pacific islands. In the next decades it orchestrated right-wing coups in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile, and gave military aid to various dictatorships in the Caribbean. In an attempt to establish a foothold in Southeast Asia it invaded Vietnam and bombed Laos and Cambodia.
       The existence of the Soviet Union, even with its acquisition of nuclear weapons, did not block this expansion. In fact, the exaggerated threat of "world communism" gave the United States a powerful justification for expanding all over the globe, and soon it had military bases in a hundred countries. Presumably, only the United States stood in the way of the Soviet conquest of the world.
       Can we believe that it was the existence of the Soviet Union that brought about the aggressive militarism of the United States? If so, how do we explain all the violent expansion before 1917? A hundred years before the Bolshevik Revolution, American armies were annihilating Indian tribes, clearing the great expanse of the West in an early example of what we now call "ethnic cleansing." And with the continent conquered, the nation began to look overseas.
       On the eve of the 20th century, as American armies moved into Cuba and the Philippines, American exceptionalism did not always mean that the United States wanted to go it alone. The nation was willing - indeed, eager - to join the small group of Western imperial powers that it would one day supersede. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wrote at the time, "The great nations are rapidly absorbing for their future expansion, and their present defense all the waste places of the earth. . . . As one of the great nations of the world the United States must not fall out of the line of march." Surely, the nationalistic spirit in other countries has often led them to see their expansion as uniquely moral, but this country has carried the claim farthest.
       American exceptionalism was never more clearly expressed than by Secretary of War Elihu Root, who in 1899 declared, "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the world began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness." At the time he was saying this, American soldiers in the Philippines were starting a bloodbath which would take the lives of 600,000 Filipinos.
       The idea that America is different because its military actions are for the benefit of others becomes particularly persuasive when it is put forth by leaders presumed to be liberals, or progressives. For instance, Woodrow Wilson, always high on the list of "liberal" presidents, labeled both by scholars and the popular culture as an "idealist," was ruthless in his use of military power against weaker nations. He sent the navy to bombard and occupy the Mexican port of Vera Cruz in 1914 because the Mexicans had arrested some American sailors. He sent the marines into Haiti in 1915, and when the Haitians resisted, thousands were killed.
       The following year American marines occupied the Dominican Republic. The occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic lasted many years. And Wilson, who had been elected in 1916 saying, "There is such a thing as a nation being too proud to fight," soon sent young Americans into the slaughterhouse of the European war.
       Theodore Roosevelt was considered a "progressive" and indeed ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1912. But he was a lover of war and a supporter of the conquest of the Philippines - he had congratulated the general who wiped out a Filipino village of 600 people in 1906. He had promulgated the 1904 "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine, which justified the occupation of small countries in the Caribbean as bringing them "stability."
       During the Cold War, many American "liberals" became caught up in a kind of hysteria about the Soviet expansion, which was certainly real in Eastern Europe but was greatly exaggerated as a threat to western Europe and the United States. During the period of McCarthyism the Senate's quintessential liberal, Hubert Humphrey, proposed detention camps for suspected subversives who in times of "national emergency" could be held without trial.
       After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, terrorism replaced communism as the justification for expansion. Terrorism was real, but its threat was magnified to the point of hysteria, permitting excessive military action abroad and the curtailment of civil liberties at home.
       The idea of American exceptionalism persisted as the first President Bush declared, extending Henry Luce's prediction, that the nation was about to embark on a "new American Century." Though the Soviet Union was gone, the policy of military intervention abroad did not end. The elder Bush invaded Panama and then went to war against Iraq.
       The terrible attacks of September 11 gave a new impetus to the idea that the United States was uniquely responsible for the security of the world, defending us all against terrorism as it once did against communism. President George W. Bush carried the idea of American exceptionalism to its limits by putting forth in his national-security strategy the principles of unilateral war.
       This was a repudiation of the United Nations charter, which is based on the idea that security is a collective matter, and that war could only be justified in self-defense. We might note that the Bush doctrine also violates the principles laid out at Nuremberg, when Nazi leaders were convicted and hanged for aggressive war, preventive war, far from self-defense.
       Bush's national-security strategy and its bold statement that the United States is uniquely responsible for peace and democracy in the world has been shocking to many Americans.
       But it is not really a dramatic departure from the historical practice of the United States, which for a long time has acted as an aggressor, bombing and invading other countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Panama, Iraq) and insisting on maintaining nuclear and non-nuclear supremacy. Unilateral military action, under the guise of prevention, is a familiar part of American foreign policy.
       Sometimes bombings and invasions have been cloaked as international action by bringing in the United Nations, as in Korea, or NATO, as in Serbia, but basically our wars have been American enterprises. It was Bill Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who said at one point, "If possible we will act in the world multilaterally, but if necessary, we will act unilaterally." Henry Kissinger, hearing this, responded with his customary solemnity that this principle "should not be universalized." Exceptionalism was never clearer.
       Some liberals in this country, opposed to Bush, nevertheless are closer to his principles on foreign affairs than they want to acknowledge. It is clear that 9/11 had a powerful psychological effect on everybody in America, and for certain liberal intellectuals a kind of hysterical reaction has distorted their ability to think clearly about our nation's role in the world.
       In a recent issue of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, the editors write, "Today Islamist terrorists with global reach pose the greatest immediate threat to our lives and liberties. . . . When facing a substantial, immediate, and provable threat, the United States has both the right and the obligation to strike preemptively and, if need be, unilaterally against terrorists or states that support them."
       Preemptively and, if need be, unilaterally; and against "states that support" terrorists, not just terrorists themselves. Those are large steps in the direction of the Bush doctrine, though the editors do qualify their support for preemption by adding that the threat must be "substantial, immediate, and provable." But when intellectuals endorse abstract principles, even with qualifications, they need to keep in mind that the principles will be applied by the people who run the U.S. government. This is all the more important to keep in mind when the abstract principle is about the use of violence by the state - in fact, about preemptively initiating the use of violence.
       There may be an acceptable case for initiating military action in the face of an immediate threat, but only if the action is limited and focused directly on the threatening party - just as we might accept the squelching of someone falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theater if that really were the situation and not some guy distributing anti-war leaflets on the street. But accepting action not just against "terrorists" (can we identify them as we do the person shouting "fire"?) but against "states that support them" invites unfocused and indiscriminate violence, as in Afghanistan, where our government killed at least 3,000 civilians in a claimed pursuit of terrorists.
       It seems that the idea of American exceptionalism is pervasive across the political spectrum.
       The idea is not challenged because the history of American expansion in the world is not a history that is taught very much in our educational system. A couple of years ago Bush addressed the Philippine National Assembly and said, "America is proud of its part in the great story of the Filipino people. Together our soldiers liberated the Philippines from colonial rule." The president apparently never learned the story of the bloody conquest of the Philippines.
       And last year, when the Mexican ambassador to the UN said something undiplomatic about how the United States has been treating Mexico as its "backyard" he was immediately reprimanded by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell, denying the accusation, said, "We have too much of a history that we have gone through together." (Had he not learned about the Mexican War or the military forays into Mexico?) The ambassador was soon removed from his post.
       The major newspapers, television news shows, and radio talk shows appear not to know history, or prefer to forget it. There was an outpouring of praise for Bush's second inaugural speech in the press, including the so-called liberal press (The Washington Post, The New York Times). The editorial writers eagerly embraced Bush's words about spreading liberty in the world, as if they were ignorant of the history of such claims, as if the past two years' worth of news from Iraq were meaningless.
       Only a couple of days before Bush uttered those words about spreading liberty in the world, The New York Times published a photo of a crouching, bleeding Iraqi girl. She was screaming. Her parents, taking her somewhere in their car, had just been shot to death by nervous American soldiers.
       One of the consequences of American exceptionalism is that the U.S. government considers itself exempt from legal and moral standards accepted by other nations in the world. There is a long list of such self-exemptions: the refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty regulating the pollution of the environment, the refusal to strengthen the convention on biological weapons. The United States has failed to join the hundred-plus nations that have agreed to ban land mines, in spite of the appalling statistics about amputations performed on children mutilated by those mines. It refuses to ban the use of napalm and cluster bombs. It insists that it must not be subject, as are other countries, to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
       What is the answer to the insistence on American exceptionalism? Those of us in the United States and in the world who do not accept it must declare forcibly that the ethical norms concerning peace and human rights should be observed. It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China, and of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to life as American children.
       These are fundamental moral principles. If our government doesn't uphold them, the citizenry must. At certain times in recent history, imperial powers - the British in India and East Africa, the Belgians in the Congo, the French in Algeria, the Dutch and French in Southeast Asia, the Portuguese in Angola - have reluctantly surrendered their possessions and swallowed their pride when they were forced to by massive resistance.
       Fortunately, there are people all over the world who believe that human beings everywhere deserve the same rights to life and liberty. On February 15, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, more than ten million people in more than 60 countries around the world demonstrated against that war.
       There is a growing refusal to accept U.S. domination and the idea of American exceptionalism. Recently, when the State Department issued its annual report listing countries guilty of torture and other human-rights abuses, there were indignant responses from around the world commenting on the absence of the United States from that list. A Turkish newspaper said, "There's not even mention of the incidents in Abu Ghraib prison, no mention of Guantánamo." A newspaper in Sydney pointed out that the United States sends suspects - people who have not been tried or found guilty of anything - to prisons in Morocco, Egypt, Libya, and Uzbekistan, countries that the State Department itself says use torture.
       Here in the United States, despite the media's failure to report it, there is a growing resistance to the war in Iraq. Public-opinion polls show that at least half the citizenry no longer believe in the war. Perhaps most significant is that among the armed forces, and families of those in the armed forces, there is more and more opposition to it.
       After the horrors of the first World War, Albert Einstein said, "Wars will stop when men refuse to fight." We are now seeing the refusal of soldiers to fight, the refusal of families to let their loved ones go to war, the insistence of the parents of high-school kids that recruiters stay away from their schools. These incidents, occurring more and more frequently, may finally, as happened in the case of Vietnam, make it impossible for the government to continue the war, and it will come to an end.
       The true heroes of our history are those Americans who refused to accept that we have a special claim to morality and the right to exert our force on the rest of the world. I think of William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist. On the masthead of his antislavery newspaper, The Liberator, were the words, "My country is the world. My countrymen are mankind."
       Howard Zinn, the author of A People's History of the United States, is a historian and playwright. His essay is adapted from a lecture he gave for MIT's Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies. #
       [ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: By courtesy of http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15732.htm . ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: Evidently George Washington attacked an Amerindian peaceful mini-nation early in the American Revolution/War of Independence.  Incidentally, some of the main leaders of the independence fight kept black slaves, and overlooked their own phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  US women, and the slaves of both genders, were not granted the vote for years. COMMENT ENDS.] [Nov 24, 06]

    • Pauline Hanson In Political Comeback Bid.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Pauline Hanson In Political Comeback Bid

     
       NewsRoom.co.nz , www.newswire. co.nz/main/ viewstory.aspx? storyid=350226 &catid=32 , 5:52 pm, Dec 07, 2006
       AUSTRALIA: Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has announced she is to make yet another bid for political office in Australia.
       Ms Hanson has announced she will run in the next federal election, the fifth she will have contested.
       During her only parliamentary term she co-founded the right wing One Nation party in 1997, and warned Australia risked being swamped by Asians.
       Now she says she is concerned by the ease with which people are able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans.
       Ms Hanson spent 11 weeks in jail in 2003 for electoral fraud, although her conviction was later overturned. © NewsRoom 2006 #
       [OTHER REPORT: See also: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asiapacific/detail.asp?ID=97077&GRP=C . END.]
       [COMMENT: It must have cost Big Business thousands of dollars to infiltrate Ms Hanson's supporters, then involve her and the movement in court cases.  She did not really start a proper political party, in spite of people thinking they had joined her party, but they had really joined a "supporters' group" and had no right to change Pauline and the two Davids.
       The "Establishment" will come at anything to stop such groups.  For example, see the infiltration of the Australian Democrats -- about 15 Labor members joined in Western Australia, and a Labor parliamentarian wooed the Federal leader!
       Regarding One Nation, Democat activist Mr John Samuel, of Perth, joined it, and next day sent a message to their headquarters threatening to sue them!  Tony Abbott and two wealthy people financed large legal battles.
       One of the most exclusive cultures in the world has spent years and years fighting for cosmopolitanism and against discrimination!
       Money comes before everything, for the Establishment. COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 7, 06]

    • Property prices will fall: Costello.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Property prices will fall: Costello

     
       The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au/default. aspx?MenuID= 77&ContentID= 15770 , by SHANE WRIGHT, ECONOMICS EDITOR, pp 1 and 6, Thursday, December 7, 2006
       AUSTRALIA: Peter Costello yesterday led a wave of warnings about Perth's booming property market, joining Eric Ripper and the ANZ Bank in putting buyers on notice that prices would fall.
       The Federal Treasurer said that after rising 46 per cent in the past year, house prices were certain to drop when the resources boom faltered.
       "There will be a correction and it's always advisable to factor that into your thinking," Mr Costello said. "My assessment in relation to WA is that while non-rural commodity prices are high, especially minerals, there's still going to be a lot of money in WA.
       "But those prices will turn down. They will turn down in the years ahead and we'll see a correction in WA as a consequence."
       Mr Costello's warning came as State Treasurer Mr Ripper "urged caution" for people investing in Perth property, saying a sharp drop in the number of first home buyers' grants and a recent doubling in the number of properties on the market pointed to storm clouds on the horizon.
       "We could be at the peak of the boom, or the peak may have already passed," he said. "I'd be urging caution to people at the current point."
       And there was more bad news for home owners when the ANZ predicted a "price correction" within months. ANZ analysts said more properties would come on to the market in coming months, forcing prices down.
       "Some price correction over the next 12 months is more than likely but the still-solid outlook for the WA economy suggests this adjustment will be limited," the bank said.
       A new Real Estate Institute of Australia report said Australian families needed to spend more than a third of their income to service an average home loan.
       REIA said housing affordability was worse than at any point in the past 25 years except for during 1989 and 1990, when interest rates went through the roof.
       Mr Costello was speaking after official figures revealed the Australian economy almost stalled in the September quarter, growing just 0.3 per cent in the three months for an annual rate of 2.2 per cent.
       The result was well below expectations with drought ripping tens of billions of dollars out of the economy and debt-laden shoppers being more circumspect in their spending.
       And WA has lost its position as the nation's economic powerhouse, with the State's economy contracting 3.4 per cent on the back of a sharp drop in business investment.
       The rural sector was facing a particularly tough time, with agricultural incomes alone dropping almost 52 per cent during the quarter.
       Economists said the economic slowdown was not confined to the farm sector, with productivity slumping for the second consecutive quarter.
       Among the States, Tasmania has now suffered three consecutive quarters of negative growth in State final demand, while NSW is only just avoiding an official recession. WA's growth rate is lower than Queensland and the Northern Territory, although at 7 per cent over the past year, is still strong.
       Mr Ripper said the 13 per cent drop in business investment in the quarter was a result of companies concentrating on the operational side of their business after years of investment. "That investment has been to boost capacity, and we should see that increase in capacity translating into more exports," he said.
       Australia has slumped to near the bottom of the OECD table for economic growth. Of 28 nations, Australia ranks fifth from the bottom, ahead of just France, Portugal, New Zealand, Italy and Iceland.
       Commsec chief equities economist Craig James said with half of the country's economies going backwards in the past three months, the Reserve Bank may have to bring forward an interest rate cut next year. #
       [PREVIOUS WARNINGS: "House prices soaring, but Costello warns it won't last," Sydney Morning Herald, www.smh.com. au/articles/ 2003/ 04/16/ 105017260 4032.html , By Matt Wade, April 16, 2003.
       The property market is coming off the boil, the Treasurer, Peter Costello, predicted yesterday, despite fresh evidence of strong house price growth and robust borrowing for home investment.
       Runaway Sydney house prices outstripped all other mainland capitals in the December quarter, rising 8 per cent, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia.
       A housing investment in Sydney returned 26.3 per cent in 2002. These stellar returns have proved irresistible to investors, especially with global sharemarkets in turmoil.
       Borrowing for investment in residential construction rebounded in February, rising 69 per cent to $613 million, separate Bureau of Statistics figures showed yesterday. This follows record borrowing for this purpose of $979 million in December. [...]
       "Property prices plateau," The Age, www.theage.com. au/articles/ 2004/06/16/ 108724496 2806.html?from= storylhs , June 16, 2004.
       Property prices in Australia had now plateaued, Treasurer Peter Costello said today.
       Mr Costello said properly managed, the plateauing of prices would be a long-term benefit to the economy.
       "I've been warning now for probably 12 to 18 months that prices couldn't keep growing at the rate they were and we were looking for a plateau," he told CNBC television.
       "We've now seen that, and I think that will actually be, properly managed, that will be a positive for our economy in the medium to longer term. [...] ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: Since 2003 property prices (meaning, the underlying land prices) have risen at a fast rate. "Put not your trust in ..." COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 7, 06]

    • Bishops plea for Hicks.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/  Cuba flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    Bishops plea for Hicks

     
       The Record (R.C. Perth W.A. weekly), By Paul Gray, p 7, December 7, 2006
       A continuation of the current situation whereby David Hicks is detained without trial at Guantanamo Bay is "not acceptable," the Australian bishops declared at the end of their latest plenary meeting last week.
       Hicks is an Australian citizen who was captured in Afghanistan and held by the US military since December 2001 but was not charged until 2004.
       The bishops issued a brief statement reiterating that Mr Hicks had been detained without trial since 2001 with no ability to contest the accusations against him.
       "There is now heightened concern for his physical and mental health in conditions which reputable human rights agencies have said are tantamount to torture," the bishops said.
       The bishops called for the Australian citizen to be given a prompt and just trial or returned to Australia.
       "Australia has a duty as a member of the world community to uphold standards of justice and decency.
       "Historically Australia and its allies have a proud record in supporting these principles both within and outside their borders," the bishops said.
       When Hicks, born in Adelaide, was captured it was asserted that he trained in al-Qaeda camps, guarded a Taliban tank at Kandahar airport and travelled to Konduz in northern Afghanistan to join Taliban engaged in combat against US-led forces.
       It was also alleged he intended to kill coalition combatants in Afghanistan between September and December 2001, and that he aided al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the context of armed conflict. #
    [Dec 7, 06]
    • [PM's adviser goes to international bank Goldman Sachs.]  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Blow to PM as top aide quits

     
       The Weekend Australian, by Steve Lewis, Chief political correspondent, The Nation section, p 8, DECEMBER 9-10 2006
       AUSTRALIA: JOHN Howard has lost longstanding chief of staff and confidant Arthur Sinodinos to the private sector, blasting a big hole in the Coalition's frontline political team.
       Just days after Labor anointed its new leadership team, ministers were last night lamenting Mr Sinodinos's decision, claiming it would rob the Coalition of an important "calming influence" heading into an election year.
       Mr Sinodinos's abrupt departure, to work in a senior role for investment bank Goldman Sachs JB Were, takes from the Prime Minister an important conduit to the business community.
       "This is a big loss. Nothing rattles him. And people feel that when they speak to (Mr Sinodinos), they speak to the PM," one minister told The Weekend Australian.
       Along with Mr Howard's principal private secretary, Tony Nutt, Mr Sinodinos has played a central role in crafting the Government's political direction over the past decade.
       He replaced Grahame Morris in 1997.
      [Picture] Sinodinos  
       Mr Howard - who faces a resurgent Labor Party as he seeks a fifth term - announced that Mr Nutt would take over as his chief of staff.
       A broader reorganisation of his office is expected later.
       "I would like to thank Arthur for his outstanding service to me personally, and to the work of the Government generally, over this very lengthy period," Mr Howard said.
       "He has been a wonderful adviser in every way. His policy advice, his political nous and his great interpersonal skills have all contributed in a substantial way to the smooth workings of both my office and the highest levels of government."
       Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane said Mr Sinodinos was probably the most influential prime ministerial chief of staff ever.
       "He's contributed significantly to the direction and success of the Government," Mr Loughnane said.
       Qantas chairwoman Margaret Jackson said Mr Sinodinos had "immense intelligence and impeccable judgment".
       But he also earned a reputation for knocking back corporations when they went seeking favours - as Qantas found out when it tried to lobby for an increase in foreign investment.
       "We've had spirited discussions and debate, but he's listened and been fair," she said.
       A former Treasury assistant secretary, Mr Sinodinos will join Goldman Sachs as a senior director in its investment banking team.
       He was offered Australia's most senior diplomatic post, ambassador to Washington, last year but remained with Mr Howard.
       He has attracted scores of job offers from Australia's corporate sector, particularly from the big finance houses.
       One well-placed source said Mr Sinodinos was the "most sought after Canberra-based individual in the country".
       Keith Tuffley, head of Goldman Sachs's investment banking team, played down concerns over a potential conflict of interest.
       The investment bank was one of the Government's core advisers on the sale of Telstra.
       "While Arthur will advise clients in their interactions with Australian federal and state governments, he will not be directly involved in issues that may cause a conflict of interest with the federal Government," ho said.
       Editorial - Page 18; Business - Page 35 #
       [RECAPITULATION: But he also earned a reputation for knocking back corporations when they went seeking favours - as Qantas found out when it tried to lobby for an increase in foreign investment. [...]
       The investment bank was one of the Government's core advisers on the sale of Telstra. RECAP. ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: Why would Qantas seek to have MORE foreign ownership? And why didn't the adviser agree to that? (Around Dec 13-14, a half-way foreign sellout was organised at a ridiculous profit to Qantas shareholders. Even a warning by a Reserve Bank leader about the high debt levels attached to this sort of transaction did not stop the deal being announced.) The Liberal-Nationals have been actively trying to sell minerals and coal at ridiculous prices, and to shed businesses, industries, and jobs of Australians. (The editorial on p 18 just loves the coal sell-out.)
       Regarding the Telstra advice, one could wonder what plum banking job will go later to a certain ex-banker who, with the Liberal-National treasonists, plans to remove water from the control of elected Australians. COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 9-10, 2006]

    • An early withdrawal would lead to a monstrous bloodbath.  Iraq / Irak flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    An early withdrawal would lead to a monstrous bloodbath

     
       The Weekend Australian, Letters, p 18, December 9-10, 2006
       THE letters published yesterday so critical of the tragic situation in Iraq were, largely and typically, nothing more than personal attacks on George W. Bush and John Howard and offered not a skerrick of constructive advice on how to solve the horrendous problems that exist in that tortured country. Indeed, it was a case of the clueless berating the clueless.
       Anyone with half a brain would realise that to cut and run from Iraq now would inevitably lead to a bloodbath of monstrous proportions that would spread to large segments of the population that, at this time, live in comparative peace; for example, the Kurds. Government officials would be summarily executed, as would many of the thousands of Iraqis who serve in the army and the police force. The refugee problem would be enormous - and disastrous for neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Kuwait. Renewed infrastructure would be destroyed and a reviving economy shattered.
       So my challenge to the clueless armchair critics is this: put up or shut up. Personal attacks (undoubtedly politically driven) have never solved serious problems. Remember, if we run from Iraq, our enemies will come after us with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. Deric Davidson, Bunbury, WA
    MOST TALKED ABOUT
    IRAQ: WHAT NEXT?

    [Australia under-represented in Iraq]
       THE US administration and Congress is now debating how to solve the Iraq problem.
       The Australian Government deplores any suggestion of cut and run, but Australia cannot cut and run because we were never really there.
       The US has a population of 300 million and 140,000 troops in Iraq. Australia has a population of 20 million and 700 troops, serving in a quiet backwater.
       If we had a commitment proportional to the Americans, we would be providing about 9000 troops, doing the hard yards in Baghdad and inevitably taking casualties.
       We are not committed to democracy in Iraq; we have a token presence designed to preserve a relationship with Washington Nick Beaumont, Caulfield East, Vic
    [Bush and allies have caused instability, etc.]
       JOHN Howard keeps repeating that "if we leave Iraq, the reputation of the US will suffer, we'll encourage terrorism in the Middle East, there will be regional instability, a spur to insurgents, etc". I thought the coalition of the willing had already achieved these outcomes. M. Penman, Ashgrove, Qld
    [Disastrous results, but Australian Govt. unaware.]
       ANY request to embed Australian troops with Iraqi forces was bound to receive short shrift from John Howard ("We spurn US on new Iraq role", 8/12).
       It may be the best way to train the Iraqis, and the Prime Minister may be on the record repeatedly talking up the importance of Australia's training role, but putting our troops in a situation fraught with political risks for the Howard Government is not on the PM's agenda. He would never risk Australian casualties so close to an election.
       If the whole Iraqi mess weren't so awful, we could have enjoyed a good chuckle when the Prime Minister claimed in parliament this week that, "The Leader of the Opposition is chained to a policy that would have disastrous consequences." He was positively inviting us to make the obvious response, "The Prime Minister is chained to a policy that already has had disastrous consequences." Agnes Mack, Chatswood, NSW
    [Islamic sects' internecine killings, in denial about Israel.]
       THE Iraq Study Group has suggested resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict as one of its recommendations for solving the crisis in Iraq ("Change war plan, Bush told", 8/12).
       I hope it has explained how the creation of a Palestinian state will stop Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites slaughtering each other or, for that matter, prevent the Iranians and Syrians from trying to overturn the democratically elected government in Lebanon.
       I also hope it has explained how Middle East peace may be achieved when the Hamas Government in the Palestinian territories has made it abundantly clear that it will never accept peace with Israel, or even Israel's existence. Justin Lipton, Melbourne, Vic
    [War supporters lacked even a glimmer of history.]
       IN the single sentence - "getting the troops home has been the object of the US campaign from day one" - your editorial ("Fresh eyes provide new ideas for Iraq", 8/12) has deftly, if inadvertently, highlighted the dismal ignorance and naivety at the core of the disastrous decision to invade Iraq, so aptly expressed by George W. Bush, in July 2003, when he said about threatened insurgent attacks on US troops, "Bring them on."
       So, what might have been the clues giving pause to the notion that the abrupt removal of Saddam Hussein by military invasion could be followed by the rapid installation of a stable, secular, liberal democracy?
       I suggest the following: a passing knowledge of the history of the place, a glimmer of understanding of the deeply enduring and bitter ethnic and religious divisions amongst its people; some appreciation of the overwhelming influence of Islam among its population; Iraq's location in the heart of the Middle East; and the fact that prolonged military occupation can usually be counted on to have profoundly negative effects on both the occupied and the occupiers.
       Your newspaper must bear a lot of responsibility for boosting the invasion folly and venomously denouncing those who opposed it - on what can now be seen as very good grounds. Indeed, getting our troops home should now be our top priority. Clive Huxtable, Beaconsfield, WA
       [COMMENT: The ignorance at the heart of the U.S. super-rich is apparent from the fact that they couldn't find a pawn with more intelligence than George W. Bush. Because U.S. Big Business is aiming to take over the planet, only treasonists would act like lapdogs to them.
       This letter-writer seems to acknowledge that the Islamic religion is a stumbling-block in installing a democracy. Reading the Koran and the other documents shows clearly that a violent THEOCRACY is envisaged. In other words, rule by force masquerading as "religion." COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 9-10, 2006]

    • Refugees bring disease into WA.  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Refugees bring disease into WA

       The West Australian, by DEBBIE GUEST, Pages One and 16, Monday, December 11, 2006
       PERTH: Refugees are arriving in WA with serious infectious diseases including tuberculosis and HIV after slipping undetected through overseas-based health checks, according to new research.
       The study of more than 2000 refugees living in Perth in 2003 and 2004 found that those from sub-Saharan Africa had particularly high rates of infection, with more than a quarter requiring treatment for TB.
       It also found that almost 60 per cent of African refugees had been exposed to hepatitis B, two tested positive for HIV, 101 had malaria and 99 had syphilis.
       This was despite refugees having to have two mandatory health checks in their home country before reaching Australia, overseen by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
       The second check, the pre-departure medical screen, was introduced in mid-2005 as a response to significant cases of communicable diseases among new arrivals.
       The researchers, Dr Jennifer Martin, the resident medical officer at the Migrant Health Unit in Perth, and Associate Professor Donna Mak published their findings yesterday in the Medical Journal of Australia.
       They argued that immediate action was needed due to the number of refugees requiring treatment for TB and the threat of the disease becoming re-established in Australia.
       "TB screening, treatment, follow-up and contact tracing services need to be adequately resourced to prevent the resurgence of this once common infection within the wider Australian community," they said.
       "Our study demonstrates the need to monitor the prevalence of diseases of public and personal health significance in refugees entering Australia to provide cost-effective services that protect the health of both individual refugees and the wider community."
       They suggested the extra checks were needed in Australia "because of the timing and the variable quality of pre-departure screening".
       The WA findings are backed by Melbourne-based research which found many refugees from Africa had previously unrecognised health conditions, including inadequate immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases.
       NSW Refugee Health Service director, Dr Mitchell Smith, has called for routine malaria and hepatitis B checks for refugees after they arrive in Australia from countries with a high prevalence of these diseases.
       He also called for a national refugee health strategy to make services uniform across the country.
       "Currently, each State and Territory has a different model and varying coverage for post-arrival checks," Dr Smith said.
       > ALSTON 16 [A cartoon]
    Real HIV, TB threat from refugees
      [Flashback Graphic] "Third World diseases hit WA", the heading of the March 24, 2006 issue. "New cases of infection such as typhoid and malaria lead to calls for tighter health screening of migrants."  
       Almost 80 per cent of refugees attend the MHU after arriving in Perth but their attendance is purely voluntary.
       Attendance rates at similar clinics in the Eastern States vary widely and some checks are left to GPs.
       The research follows claims by former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson that the Government's immigration policies allowed black Africans into the country without screening them all for AIDS and TB.
       Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said yesterday she would consider the findings but maintained that refugees were checked for disease before coming to Australia.
       "Health screening is a requirement for all permanent visa holders, including refugees, coming to Australia and our system is regarded as one of the most stringent in the world," Senator Vanstone said.
       She added that it was compulsory for refugees to meet any conditions relating to further health checks and screening once they arrived in Australia.
       According to DIMA, refugees who showed possible evidence of TB, or had hepatitis B, were allowed into the country but must give an undertaking to report to a health service after arriving. #
       [RECAPITULATION: The study of more than 2000 refugees living in Perth in 2003 and 2004 found that those from sub-Saharan Africa had particularly high rates of infection, with more than a quarter requiring treatment for TB.
       It also found that almost 60 per cent of African refugees had been exposed to hepatitis B, two tested positive for HIV, 101 had malaria and 99 had syphilis. [...]
       Almost 80 per cent of refugees attend the MHU after arriving in Perth but their attendance is purely voluntary. [...]
       The research follows claims by former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson that the Government's immigration policies allowed black Africans into the country without screening them all for AIDS and TB. RECAP. ENDS.]
       [COMMENT: When the former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson a few days prior stated that there were problems with immigration on integration and other grounds, she was immediately attacked by clever commentators and in letters to editors. It was stated she was opposed to Muslims. Other critics of the failures of the "pro-immigration department" have been labelled "racists", "opponents of growth," and so on. (BTW, this newsitem was not on the West website on Dec. 12. How "politically correct"!)
       The very idea of letting malaria or tuberculosis pathogens into Australia ought to have genuine Aussies boiling -- but, yawn, fake dislike of Pommy cricketers and the Barmy Army is more important, yawn! Let the "European" Australians keep proving their decadence now, and at the next election! COMMENT ENDS.]
       [AFTERNOTE (written Dec 20): In a newsitem published on December 17 the Roman Catholic archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey, proved his disassociation from "the world" by criticising Pauline Hanson for saying that refugees bring diseases into Australia. Unfortunately for him, details based on the MJA had been published a few days earlier in this article, AND in an article in the same newspaper on March 24, 2006, and presumably in other Australian papers. Dare we guess that a Search Engine search might reveal that refugees going to other Western lands, equally decadent to Australia, are "pulling the same trick"? ENDS.]
       [FOOTNOTE (Dec 20): What if a Muslim mosque was established in Goderich St, Perth, near the RC cathedral, and it had loudspeakers calling to prayer five times a day, and petitioned for the cathedral bells to be silenced? Would he be so welcoming then? ENDS.] [Dec 11, 06]

    • Campaigners' victory as law lords uphold right to protest; LAW LORDS RULING BACKS ANTI-WAR CAMPAIGNERS  Britain and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom of, flag; Mooney's MiniFlags  

    Campaigners’ victory as law lords uphold right to protest

     
    LAW LORDS RULING BACKS ANTI-WAR CAMPAIGNERS
       The Guardian (London), http://politics. guardian.co.uk/ iraq/story/0,, 1971171,00.html , by Staff and agencies, Wednesday December 13, 2006
       LONDON: Five law lords today upheld a claim by peace campaigners that their rights were violated when police prevented them from attending an anti-Iraq war demonstration.
       Officers from seven forces, acting under the direction of Gloucestershire constabulary, stopped coaches carrying 120 protesters outside Lechlade, near RAF Fairford, in March 2003.
       The protesters had been planning to join thousands of people in a demonstration against the war at the base, from which part of the US-led attack on Iraq had been launched two days before.
       They said their detention by police had breached their rights to "freedom of movement and lawful assembly" and began action to seek judicial condemnation. Ninety of those detained formed the Fairford Coach Action pressure group.
       In October this year, the high court and court of appeal ruled the police had acted unlawfully in detaining the protestors. However, it was also held that the police had not violated the protesters' rights to freedom of expression and lawful assembly.
       Today, that second ruling was unanimously overturned by the law lords, who also dismissed a cross-appeal by the police against the "unlawful detention" decision.
       In October, Ben Emmerson QC, representing the protesters, told a hearing at the House of Lords that it was a fundamental right in Britain for citizens to be able to gather to demonstrate peacefully.
       He said it was the responsibility of the police to maintain public order "in a manner which fully respects the rights of those who wish to demonstrate peacefully".
       Police breached those rights by authorising two coachloads of protesters to be stopped and searched before forcing them back to London under heavy escort, Mr Emmerson added.
       He argued that the police action in detaining the coaches at a layby in Lechlade was both premature and indiscriminate. [...]
       [BY COURTESY OF Michael P, Dec 14, 2006.] [Dec 13, 06]
    • U.S. judge dismisses Guantanamo prisoner case.  [- Hamadan and all humans are cheated again.]  United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    U.S. judge dismisses Guantanamo prisoner case

     
       Reuters, http://today. reuters.co. uk/news/ articlenews. aspx?type= worldNews& storyid= 2006-12-14 T030956Z_01 _N13170561_ RTRUKOC_ 0_UK- GUANTANAMO- HAMDAN. xml&src=rss ; By James Vicini, Thu Dec 14, 2006
       WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Guantanamo prisoner who won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June lost his bid to challenge his detention on Wednesday when a federal judge dismissed the case because of a new anti-terrorism law signed by President George W. Bush.
       In a victory for the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled the law removed federal court jurisdiction over the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Guantanamo prisoner who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan.
       Hamdan had won a historic Supreme Court ruling that struck down as illegal the military tribunal system created by Bush to try terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba after the September 11 attacks.
       That ruling prompted Bush to go to Congress and get authority under the new law that he signed in October authorising tough interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects under a new system of military commissions.
       Robertson ruled that law strips U.S. federal judges of jurisdiction to hear challenges by Guantanamo prisoners like Hamdan. The detainees, who currently number around 430, do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts, he said.
       It was believed to be the first ruling dismissing a case by a Guantanamo prisoner because of the new law.
       One of Hamdan's lawyers, Charles Swift said: "We respectfully disagree with the lower court's decision. "We believe the Constitution does not tolerate a legal black hole at Guantanamo Bay. We look forward to further proceedings."
       [BY COURTESY OF Michael P, Dec 14, 2006.]
       [COMMENT: If the voters paid as much attention to the civil liberties track record of the candidates as they do to empty promises, Britain, the USA, and Australia might not have people locked up without trial, being tortured, etc. Australian PM John Howard and his Ministers are quite comfortable with the idea that David Hicks, having been held illegally for five years by the U.S.A., will get a trial in some kangaroo Bush court "soon," even though the promise of a November trial was not kept. COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 14, 06]

    • Evans gives Rudd tick of approval  Australia flag; www.flagaustnat.asn.au/ 

    Evans gives Rudd tick of approval

     
       Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), www.abc.net. au/news/ newsitems/ 200612/s18 15169.htm , Last Update 9:23pm (AEDT), Tuesday, December 19, 2006,
       AUSTRALIA: Former foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans says the recent change in the Labor leadership is good for the party.
       The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, is winding up his 10-day tour visiting marginal seats around the country.
       Mr Evans has told the 7:30 Report the leadership change was a good move.
       "Well, I'm very sorry for Kim Beazley - it's a pretty shattering blow for anyone particularly with his family circumstance at the same time. But at the same time I think it is very good for the Labor Party," Mr Evans said.
       "It needed that resurgence of energy and with the kind of discipline and grunt that Kevin Rudd will bring to it, I think this will be pretty good for the party.
       "It's going to be a pretty interesting contest but I don't want to be back as part of it.
       "I'm really glad to be out of this abattoir, I really am." #
       [COMMENT: Jakarta's man backs Rudd. - Usual Suspect. COMMENT ENDS.]
       [2nd COMMENT: While the leader of the Australian Democrats and her deputy Meg Lees and their group was planning to bring down the people running their Western Australian Division (Jean and Brian Jenkins and eight others), Mr Evans might have been having trysts. - Unusual Suspect. ENDS.] [Dec 19, 06]

    [Nuclear power critics not 'woolly-headed'.]

     
       The West Australian, Letters to The Editor, pp 20 and 21, Wednesday, December 20, 200
    No facilities
       To add to Hugh Mackay's comments about the cost of nuclear energy and waste storage (16/12), there are no functional long-term waste storage facilities in the world.
       The first looks set to be Yucca Mountain in the US, scheduled for 2015. Selection of the site cost $6 billion. The 100-year cost is estimated to be some $60 billion.
       The US Court of Appeal ruled that the mandated 10,000-year repository life is not acceptable and that 1,000,000 years must be considered.
       And we worry about the cost blowout of the Mandurah rail line? James Linder, Willeton.
    I DISAGREE
    [Nuclear power critics not 'woolly-headed'] 
       There is an old saying in politics and the law which states: never ask a question unless you are sure of the answer.
       Our PM is, as is often stated in this newspaper, a master of wedge politics and I feel sure this was foremost in his thinking when he chose his "bipartisan" committee of experts and scholarly people to look into Australia's nuclear options - ergo, the committee's conclusions were a foregone conclusion.
       If this committee is to be believed when it states that an 18 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved using the nuclear option over conventional coal, it begs the question: if the amount of resources concerned with the nuclear cycle were instead to be channelled into hydro, potential geothermal and novel combinations of existing technologies (clean coal and low-emission thorium reactors, for example) would we not be contributing more to the solution than the problem?
       While I can see China's urgent need for our uranium for power generation, I don't see that axiomatically means we need to build reactors here.
       On the contrary, we should be at the forefront of a revolution in power generation and forward thinking.
       Given that the nuclear debate stirs strong (and not always rational) emotions in some people, I put it to The West Australian and Paul Murray in particular that referring to detractors pejoratively as "woolly-headed wombats" with "the odd Peter Pan" does nothing to further the debate you acknowledge to be so important. Ben Juniper, Wembley.
    Please explain
       The Switkowski nuclear report estimates 18 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions starting in 10 to 15 years. Hardly a global warming solution and far from a complete energy solution. We cannot afford to secure our future in our own gas and nuclear power will cost more.
       Better tell us what the real deal is, Mr Howard, because this proposition makes no sense at all. John Gaunt, Doubleview.
    Today's text
    Trust in the Lord for ever; He will always protect us. -- ISAIAH 26:4. (The Bible for Today). From the Bible Society.

       Letters to the Editor, WA Newspapers, GPO Box N1027 Perth WA 6843. Fax 08 9482 3830. E-mail to: letters@wa news.com.au
       [COMMENT: Private nuclear power companies will expect to be able to pay profits to the financiers and shareholders, but to leave the waste disposal and guarding expenses to -- the taxpayer! All the while, the financiers and shareholders keep up an intermittent campaign seeking lower taxes - for the Top End of Town, naturally! COMMENT ENDS.] [Dec 20, 06]
    !!!: [U.K. bribe 30% of Arab arms deal, US threatens Aussie wheat.]

    Let’s get serious about this business

     
       The West Australian, Letter to The Editor, p 21, Wednesday, December 20, 2006
       So there we have it. The UK bribes Saudis and middlemen up to 30 per cent of the total contract price to secure a $25 billion arms deal.
       An inquiry by the UK's Serious Fraud Office is dropped, recognising "this is the way business gets done in that part of the world" and that the Saudis would simply go elsewhere to get arms if the inquiry continued and that "the greater public interest must be weighed against the rule of law", thereby preserving up to 50,000 British jobs.
       Meanwhile, apparently refusing to accept that "this is the way business gets done in that part of the world", goofy Australia gets all precious about a mere $290 million in AWB kickbacks to Saddam and, no doubt egged on by US wheat farming interests and Labor probing for political chinks in Liberal armour, concludes a seemingly interminable inquiry into the bribery whose sole dubious benefit appears to have been to allow the Government to triumphantly proclaim itself off the hook.
       The upshot? Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman now wants a special inquiry (report, 16/12) into whether or not AWB kickbacks to secure favourable trade with Iraq financially damaged American farmers and is proposing that Australia and the US negotiate compensation, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, or the imposition of up to 100 per cent anti-Australian import tariffs until that value of compensation is attained, thereby threatening this country's $1.2 billion meat trade with the US, among other exports.
       Is this the way business gets done in this part of the world? If it is, I'm sure we have recourse to punitive withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. D. Bright, Ardross.
    [Dec 20, 06]
    • JFK and 9/11. Insights Gained from Studying Both   United States of America flag; Mooney's MiniFlags 

    JFK and 9/11
    Insights Gained from Studying Both

     
       Global Research (Canada), www.global research.ca/ index.php? context=view Article&code= SCO20061220& articleId= 4207 ; by Dr. Peter Dale Scott, December 20, 2006
       The assassination of John F. Kennedy took place 43 years on Friday, November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  The following text is the transcript of a lecture delivered by Peter Dale Scott in Dallas on November 18, 2006.
       When I first imagined doing this talk I thought well I probably knew more at this stage about 9/11 than most people here, who are professionally concerned with JFK. [1] But in preparing this talk, which I only began last Monday, has been a real learning experience for me. Taking a lot of things which I had already knew about each, but which I had never really put together before - when I did they gave me a clearer view of what was happening behind the scenes in both operations. Because certain things repeat themselves.
       These things that repeat themselves include what we might call external features - which you are very familiar within the JFK case - the ability of the government to establish a guilty party or parties immediately, and the press and media consumption of that product to the exclusion of all other possibilities.
       Eventually, in both cases a commission is set up - the Warren Commission in 1963 and the 9/11 Commission this time in 2003.
       And the starting point for both commissions is to validate what was already decided by the FBI on the day in question. That is the first of the common features that I would like to look at a bit more closely because it sort of hit me between the eyes when I thought about the two together.
       Now if you remember the case of Oswald, and I have to do this from memory here, so correct me if I am wrong about the details, but within minutes of the assassination and long before Oswald is picked up in the Texas Theater, they put out on the police network and possibly other networks, a description of the killer - five foot ten - 165 pounds (WR 5), which exactly matches what is in his FBI file, exactly matches what's in CIA documents about him. [2]
       One of the problems is it doesn't match the actual height and weight of the man picked up and charged, which is more like five foot nine and 140 pounds. [3] And it's also very suspect because as far as we can trace the origins of this exact fit with the FBI file, it's attributed to Howard Brennan [4]- who saw someone two blocks from here in the sixth floor window, from the waist up. So you'll have to figure out how they were able to get that exact. It appears they already knew who was going to be charged before they found him in the Texas Theater.
       Now the parallel to that for 9/11 is, I have to say, even more astounding, because of Richard Clarke, who was director for counter-terrorism activities in the White House, and a very important eyewitness. His book Against All Enemies is almost totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission, and it had to be ignored by the Commission because it is at odds, in many important respects, with what the 9/11 Report says (which I will get back to). But he tells us that at 9:59 am on September 11, which is the time when the second tower collapses, the North Tower, the FBI already had a list of the alleged hijackers. [5]
       This is extraordinary in the first place because the FBI always says about itself that it doesn't do much intelligence in the field of terrorism; its specialty is criminal investigation afterwards. They had the names of hijackers at 9:59; at 9:59 am Flight 93 had not yet crashed. And even more astonishingly, if we believe the 9/11 Report (which of course on this point I do not believe), NORAD, which was searching for the hijacked planes, wasn't aware that Flight 93 had been hijacked until 10:08, which is nine minutes later.
       ("I don't buy the idea that we didn't know what was coming," a former FBI official with extensive counter-terrorism experience has since said. "Within 24 hours [of the attack] the Bureau had about 20 people identified, and photos were sent out to the news media. Obviously this information was available in the files and somebody was sitting on it.") [6]
       So it's worth thinking about that for a moment, the two events together. And then in the other cases that we know about, how the identity of the person who is ultimately going to be identified as the culprit is established at the very beginning - Sirhan Sirhan, the bag with the gun that identifies James Earl Ray - it isn't investigative work AFTER the assassination, that finds these people, it is just following up what is already there, from the very beginning.
       As I say that is the first thing that strikes my mind about the similarities between the two events. And then we come to what I call the internal continuity of content. Historically I was first drawn to this because when the news of the Watergate break-in was in the New York Times, on June 17, 1972, which I remember quite vividly, there was Frank Sturgis, alias Frank Fiorini, that I had already written about in The Dallas Conspiracy a year before, because of his role in perpetuating false Oswald stories, what I now call Phase One Oswald stories, linking him falsely to Cuba.
       I could go on and on about that, but I just wanted to say, in the new paperback edition of Lamar Waldon's book Ultimate Sacrifice, we find validation of a very old story that Hunt and McCord, who we may loosely call two of the Watergate burglars, certainly the two who were controlling the fate of the rest, worked together in 1963. [7]
       This is an old charge, which was largely forgotten, but is revived in this book, and in my mind credibly. I just put myself on record that I was not impressed with the hardbound edition of Ultimate Sacrifice, and only this week just began reading my copy of the paperback edition. And I have issues with a lot of the things in there, but I am convinced it has to be taken seriously, and that whether or not he is right about his central thesis, he is more right about the supporting details that he has gathered for it and it has the advantage of being thoroughly documented book. The quality of the documentation goes up and down, but there is a great deal of it.
       THE WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY
       Now I want to come to a common denominator between what happened in 1963 and what happened in 2001. It is not often discussed, but by coincidence, I think it is being discussed right now in the other place, as we call it [i.e. the Lancer Conference], the role of the White House Communications Agency. You are all JFK researchers. How many of you have ever asked yourself about the role of the White House Communications Agency - WHCA on 11/22/63-? Anybody?
       Rex! [8] (laugh) Well I am indebted to Rex [Bradford], who of course is administering the web site of the Mary Ferrell Foundation. There are quite a few documents there, and I am going to draw on those documents. That is what's so wonderful about the Mary Ferrell Foundation, you never have to go to the National Archives again, you just give a few touches of the fingers on the keyboard and you get these things.
       It's going to help us with what I consider a very crucial and unresolved question of  9/11, and I'm sorry I have to telescope here. My big question and the focus of my forthcoming book - The Road to 9/11 - out of that huge book with 14 chapters, there are only two on 9/11 itself, and both of them are looking exclusively really, almost exclusively, at what Dick Cheney did between 9 am and 10:39 on that morning - because there are different accounts of it, and interestingly there are different accounts from Dick Cheney himself, incompatible accounts. And I believe it is a very important issue because either he was in the bunker, what we call the PEOC under the White House, or not, when two crucial orders were made, a Stand Down order that got all the planes down on the ground, that came out of the bunker, and a Shoot Down order, to shoot down any remaining hijacked planes. (At this point there was only one - Flight 93, which of course is the plane that should not have been shot down, according to the official version, because the passengers were taking care of the problem themselves.)
       And there is no doubt, everybody agrees, including the 9/11 Report, that both these orders occurred. There is no doubt that the first was at 9:42; and there is great confusion as to whether the second order was around 9:45 (Richard Clarke says it was before Air Force One took off at 9:54) or when the Report indicates: probably about 10:15, which of course is after Flight 93 had already crashed. [9]
       Now when did Dick Cheney go into the PEOC? He spoke to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" five days afterward, on September 16, and said he got there before the plane, if that is what it was, flew into the Pentagon, which was at 9:37. And I believe what he said on September 16.
       Then he was interviewed by Newsweek, and that appeared in Newsweek on December 31; and it is the basis for the story in the 9/11 Report: that he "arrived", and that's the Report's word, in the bunker "shortly before 10 [am], perhaps at 9:58." [10]
       You notice if that was the case, he was not present for either order, though we have many sources to say that he was there for the first, and the only coherent reading of Richard Clarke's book is that he transmitted to Clarke the shoot down order sometime before 9:54.
       What I think happened - and this is where we will get back to JFK - is that Cheney did indeed arrive quite early in the bunker, as Norman Mineta, who was also there, testified. (There's a very interesting story there that I can't get into here.) [11] And THEN Cheney left, and this is the interesting thing, he left the bunker, went back into the tunnel leading to the bunker - and from the tunnel he made the crucial phone call to Bush and perhaps an even more crucial phone call to Rumsfeld, which Rumsfeld has referred to but which the Report ignores, which was about three things:
    1) protecting Air Force One, which was irrelevant;
    2) orders (disputed) about planes, which may have involved the shoot-down order;
    3) Continuity of Government. [12]
       I wish I could get into this - it is the heart of my book: instituting COG, Continuity of Government (which I call Change in Government, because it is often called a plan for the suspension of the U.S. Constitution - and that is a pretty accurate summary of it). [13]
       How many of you did know that it was actually instituted on 9/11? That is perhaps one of the most important things that happened on 9/11, and it happened because of this phone call, and there is no record of the phone call. [14] And I think it's pretty obvious that there is no record of the phone call because he wasn't in the bunker where people were taking notes and logs were being kept. He went to a back channel from a secure phone somewhere. There's no question, everyone agrees, even Cheney himself, that he used a secure phone in the tunnel at this time. [15]
       Now this matter could be resolved by going to the records of the White House Communications Agency. They kept logs. The Secret Service kept logs. And we have logs from that day that which record a trivial phone call at 9:15 am and another trivial phone call at 10:15 am.
       But Thomas Kean, the commission chairman, complained publicly that the logs were not complete. [16] We have the equivalent of an 18 minute gap, which some of you will remember from the Watergate investigation. [17] The 9/11 Commission does not present any records from the logs for the time of the phone call, either because they never saw them, possibly because the logs had been massaged and cleansed and purged before they got to them, possibly because the commission purged them themselves or, and this is what I believe, and I think you should think about very seriously, because the phone in the tunnel was a back channel for which normal logs were not kept, possibly because it was a higher classification because it involved Continuity of Government.
       And one of the things I would press for is for Congress, when we start suing for the records that don't get released in 2009, [18] - to get released all of the documents pertaining to COG, which I believe will tell us all about warrant-less wiretapping, about the building of detention camps for large numbers of undesirable people like US, and so on and so on. I think this is a very important topic. [19]
       Let me see where I am from my notes here. Anyway, so because I noticed this gap. First of all by the way, I had a researcher contact the press officer of the WHCA and they very helpfully said to put in a FOIA request. Well, the poor old ARRB wasn't able to spin significant documents from the WHCA so I didn't bother to try on my own. [20] I did go however, to their web site, and what I read there was, and this is a direct quote now: "The WHCA was a key player in documenting the assassination of President Kennedy."
       Well this struck me as extremely interesting! Because I don't know who they documented it for; but on the basis of my research, they didn't document it for the Warren Commission. Because the Warren Commission never got their records. And neither did the ARRB. And there is actually a section of the ARRB Report where they say - and I think they were much too limited in their curiosity, but it came to their attention that edited phone calls out of Air Force One flying back to Washington were, in of all places, the LBJ Library. Well then they figured if the edited records are at the LBJ Library we should get the unedited set released. Their report said, though, "The WHCA could not produce any records." [21]
       What they really should have asked for, and I believe this would have documented the assassination, were WHCA records BEFORE the shots were fired, leading up to the moment the shots were fired, but as I said, they only requested records from Air Force One, which is to say some time after.
       However a few documents from 1963 were released. (And this is the beauty of the Mary Ferrell Foundation: you can read them there.) And what we read there is remarkably resonant to what I found out in respect to 9/11. In the post-shooting period, the regular switchboard in Washington was out of touch with Dallas, and the only way they could communicate was to patch though to Fort Worth, which in turn would then patch through to Dallas. But at the same time there was a back channel, just like I was talking about 9/11. The back channel was set up at Parkland Hospital, through the Secret Service, and the main WHCA switchboard was unaware of it. [22]
       And this is what really gets interesting, because in 9/11 I became fascinated with the WHCA channel - which in effect was the Secret Service channel, so the Secret Service knew everything of what was happening on 9/11 immediately, including what was on the screens at FAA or NORAD. That information was going directly and immediately to the Secret Service and therefore of course to Cheney, who had a Secret Service agent with him. That I think will turn out - I make this prediction, that if we ever get to the next layer of what happened on that day, you will become extremely interested in that Secret Service network with the White House Communications Agency. And I say it involves two levels, you will find a regular channel set of communications and the back channel, where the significant action is happening.
       What was really interesting, to judge from the reports they filed, the WHCA regulars were completely unaware that a back channel was operating.
       I read this from the Mary Ferrell Foundation site: "Direct communication was set up immediately, outside of Emergency Room at Parkland, with Mr. Behn" (the Special Agent in Charge of the White House Secret Service detail.) So it wasn't even a back channel back to the WHCA but it went to the head of the Secret Service detail in his office in Washington, "which became the Washington Command Post and Clearing House." [23]
       Now what do we know of what's happening at that Command Post on that day? Almost nothing. But from what I learned from 9/11, that is where we should look to learn more about JFK. And I think potentially, and here I am only speculating, that if we ever get to the pre-shot WHCA records, we will learn things like why Winston Lawson for example, stopped right in front of the TSBD where a man was having a so-called epileptic fit, which led to the Dallas Police ordering a direct pathway for an ambulance be open to Parkland Hospital. [24]
       So when the shooting of the president occurred, the President's car was like a pea in a pea shooter, there was only one way to go - the path to Parkland was open while access was blocked so the epileptic could arrive. For those of you who know the story, there was a man who when he got there, got off the stretcher and said he felt fine and didn't have an epileptic fit at all. He had changed history, he had affected history, but he didn't have an epileptic fit. [25]
       DRUGS
       I was thinking of two or three more points. Here's a broader one, where now you say, "There he goes again " on the question of drugs.
       In Deep Politics, and especially in Deep Politics II (which thanks to Rex, is about to be reissued I believe, and will be available shortly from the Mary Ferrell Foundation), I discuss the importance of the Mexican drug traffic as a factor - which is
    1) connected to Jack Ruby, [26]
    2) connected to the Mexican DFS, which taped Oswald in Mexico City,
    3) connected to Richard Cain, this multifaceted mob and law enforcement figure, who was the chief link between Sam Giancana and the Mexican establishment. And he may have very well, as I say in Deep Politics II, - his specialty was wiretapping, and it's conceded publicly that he did wiretapping in Mexico of foreign embassies in Mexico City for the Mexican government, which certainly sounds pretty relevant to the over hearing of the man identifying himself as Lee Oswald, and also some of the Cubans, we'll come back to them again, the Cuban students particularly Cubans students who were involved in drug trafficking. [27]
       At that point, when I first wrote this I had not yet looked at the new version of Ultimate Sacrifice; and realized that the Mexican drug connection is, if anything, even more important in Waldron's book than it is in mine, which may explain my new partiality to want to take that book seriously. He brings in people like, for example the French Connection, and whoever he was (Jean) Souêtre or (Michael Victor) Mertz, who was reportedly in Dallas November 22, 1963. [28] He ties those people to Marcello, and to Trafficante and to Rosselli and there are more people, I could give the rest of my talk on that theme, but I won't.
       Now the current position of the George W. Bush administration and how they feel about drug traffickers. How many are following the case of Luis Posada Carriles?
       Nobody denies he is a terrorist, he boasts to being a terrorist. He blew up an airliner in 1976 and he once boasted of bombing a Cuban resort in 1998 which resulted in the death of a tourist. He actually had interviews with an American journalist to try to draw publicity to this fact and he complained no news covered it, and said, in effect, "What's the point of killing tourists if the tourist traffic is going to continue?" [29]
       Later he was ultimately picked up for trying to assassinate Castro in Panama in the year 2000.
       Well we now know how tolerant the Reagan/Bush I administration was towards him because Bush Sr. arranged for Felix Rodriguez to be running the Ilopango Base in El Salvador, who turned around and gave a job to Luis Posada Carriles, who was still wanted for these crimes, but was now on the run. When that closed down in the 1990s, and now I am quoting from a Mexican journalist for Por Esto, "Posada Carriles was protected in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico by narco-traffickers in the Central American cartel headed by Otto Herrera García, an associate of the major Mexican trafficker Ismael Zambada." [30] The State Dept website says of Otto Herrera García: "In 2001, alone, his organization moved approximately 12 metric tons of cocaine, and may have the ability to smuggle as much as 2 tons of cocaine into the United States each month." [31]
       Well you would think that Posada would be in the bad graces of the American government, but No. He was smuggled into this country and the man who smuggled him in, who clearly committed a crime, has not been arrested for any crime. And when Posada once again called attention to himself, and got himself detained, he once again asked for asylum, and I think he will get it. Because the U S government has either to extradite him, which I guarantee they won't do, or prosecute him, or release him. At this point the clock is ticking, and they have three months left on how long they have to decide what to do with him. [32]
       They know how long they have to decide on what do with him. The reason they cannot prosecute him is because when he came back, the FBI in Miami decided not to prosecute him and destroyed all of the Luis Posada Carriles files. The man who did this is a Cuban-American whose father came out of that exile network where they all knew each other and protect each other and such protection exist. And I am in such a burn over this. [33]
       Orlando Bosch, who was a co-conspirator in blowing up the plane, and was able to pay for an acquittal in Latin America, came back without a record, was sponsored for US citizenship and obtained it, championed by Jeb Bush. [34]
       And then shortly before, - and this gives me even more of a burn, shortly before 9/11 occurred, the two men who are confessed killers of former Chile Ambassador to U.S. Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt right in Washington, who it took years to get them convicted because of the interference from George Bush, Sr., they were finally convicted. And after serving seven years for this spectacular terrorist assassination, they were, I don't know they were was paroled or pardoned, but anyway they were let out of jail by the George W. Bush administration, after serving only seven years.
       So those Cuban exiles still have their claws into the intelligence-security-justice network that is so interwoven with them - and that is going to be the theme of the second half of my talk.
       Well, so drugs are still a factor with intelligence, and the question is, now that we are facing al Qaeda, what is the relationship of al Qaeda to Drugs? And is it similar to what I think was drugs in being in the background of the John F. Kennedy assassination?
       Well there are two takes on this. Let me give you first of all, what the British Parliament was told on October 4, 2001 and that is that "al Qaeda's activity includes substantial exploitation of the drug trade from Afghanistan." [35]
       Now let's look at what the 9/11 Commission said on the same subject. They didn't have to say anything about drugs by the way, but they went out of their way to say this: "While the drug trade was a source of income for the Taliban, it did not serve the same purpose for al Qaeda, and there is no reliable evidence that Bin Laden was involved in or made his money through drug trafficking." [36]
       And this was after the U.S. Central Command reported that in December, 2003 a dhow was intercepted near the straight of Hormuz carrying almost two tons of hashish, valued at up to $10 million dollars. And the Cent Com statement said that there were, and I quote, "clear ties" between the shipment and al Qaeda.37 If that is true, then why did the 9/11 Report go out of its way to say that there is no evidence of a connection between Bin Laden and drug trafficking?
       I want to close this part of my talk on the allegations of Sibel Edmonds. Unfortunately we don't really know what they are because she is under a gag order. That for reasons of state she is not able to tell the public what she told the FBI. She was a whistleblower, who naively did what a whistleblower should do in the name of protecting the American public order, and got fired for it. And she is still fighting to appeal her case. She can't talk, but she has talked here and there. And my friend Daniel Ellsberg is very interested in her case; and very recently he summed up what she is saying for KPFA, my local Pacifica radio station. This is Ellsberg's summary of what Sibel Edmonds is saying:
    Al Qaeda, she's been saying to Congress, is financed 95% by drug money, drug traffic to which the U.S. government shows a blind eye, has been ignoring because it very heavily involves allies and assets of ours, such as Turkey, Kyrayzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan - all of the Stans, in a drug traffic where the opium originates in Afghanistan, is processed in Turkey and delivered to Europe where it furnishes 96% of Europe's heroin by Albanians, either in Albania or Kosovo, Albanian muslims in Kosovo, basically the KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (which we backed heavily in that episode at the end of the century, that's last century) -
       [I will interrupt at this point. In my book, I'm sure I think I quite adequately document that:
    A) That the KLA was deeply involved or its leaders were deeply involved in drug trafficking and have used the NATO intervention as a way to consolidate a drug route through Kosovo and
    B) that they were very heavily involved with al Qaeda. Al-Zawahiri's brother came to organize KLA things and al-Zawahiri himself may have come to Kosovo.
    C) At the same time key KLA leaders were allied with PMCs - Private Military Corporations - notably DynCorp. Those of you who were here last night heard Cynthia McKinney ask about DynCorp - and why the defense department worked with them. There are war crimes attributed to KLA leaders who in Croatia worked hand in glove with DynCorp.
       I'm cutting out a lot here that is relevant. But Sibel Edmonds says] "Suitcases of cash were delivered to the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert at his home near Chicago from Turkish sources, knowing that a lot of that is drug money." [38]
       These are very serious charges that were aired to some extent in some in Vanity Fair. [39] And they are so important that the media, predictably, ignored them. And I'm drawing attention to what she is saying not because what she is saying can be proven, but these charges are very serious and not just pertinent to 9/11 alone, but to the whole fabric of how this country is run.
       I consider this a top priority for testing the honesty and credibility of the new Democratic leadership in Congress. Will they pursue these matters? I hope that by hook or by crook you will try and put pressure on the new Democratic Congress to deal with these matters, so that we get a proper investigation of them for the first time.
       And to close this section, whatever is the extent of what she is describing, it's not just her. There was another witness, Indira Singh, who was talking at a 9/11 conference up in Canada; and she said, "I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me." [40]
       This is a woman who has nothing to do with Sibel Edmonds, but alluded to the same thing in the background of 9/11. [41] And we need to learn more about that. And I suspect that whatever the situation is, it's something which goes back to at least as far as 1963, and would then explain the same background for the Kennedy assassination.
       One thing we can say with confidence: the flow of Afghan heroin west through Turkey is a problem that can be traced back to the CIA's involvement with Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, with the drug-linked Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and with Islamist Afghan mujahedeen like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the 1980s. [42]
       In fact the web of influence she describes corresponds closely to BCCI's influence in the 1980s, when the head of BCCI used to boast to the head of Pakistan of BCCI's role in getting aid for Pakistan approved by the US Congress. [43]
       DOUBLE-AGENTS: OSWALD
       This is all preliminary stuff - now I get to the real stuff - Double Agents.
       In Deep Politics I explored at some length the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was, as Silvia Odio had heard, a possible (and this is a quote) "double agent trying to infiltrate the Dallas Cuban refugee group." [44]
       I went back and looked to see what I had to say about this in Deep Politics, and I must say in the light of 9/11, it blew my mind. I'm going to read from my own book, something that I had forgotten. 
    The preceding chapter considered the possibility that Oswald was associated with anti-Kennedy Cubans in order to investigate them on behalf of a federal agency. But we saw it alleged that Oswald was a double agent collaborating with some of these groups, either (as I suspect) because he or his handlers shared their goals [that is, anti-Kennedy goals], or possibly because he or his handlers had been "turned" by those they were supposed to investigate. Such a possibility was particularly likely with targets, like Alpha 66, about which the government itself was conflicted, of two minds. [45]
       Remember that Alpha 66 in early 1963 conducted a series of raids, not just against Cuba, but against Soviet ships in Cuba. It was obviously trying to shipwreck the US-Soviet understanding on Cuba, and really, in a sense was trying to torpedo the whole Kennedy policy of détente with the Soviet Union. And so there is no ambiguity about the total disapproval of the Justice Department (which cracked down on them and made a public announcement that they had to cease), and also the continuing support for Alpha 66 from the CIA. [46]
       Now Waldron says David Atlee Phillips - and I don't know if there really is any evidence on David Phillips in 1963 - had an Alpha 66 connection at some point. [47] I don't know it was Phillips, but it was certainly a group that was close to Phillips, and may I add, extremely important to this book, the paperback edition of Ultimate Sacrifice.
       Let me read one more paragraph from my book Deep Politics:
       Here it is relevant that Alpha 66, although anti-Kennedy, was being used operationally by military intelligence. There are signs, though complex and inconclusive, that Oswald's strange and self-incriminating behavior in New Orleans and Dallas was staged to be documented in the secret files of military intelligence. [48]
       And here I will summarize this very briefly. I go into how when he is arrested he volunteers - he asks for an FBI agent. (This is an experiment we could all do - get ourselves arrested for a misdemeanor, and then say we'd like the FBI to come and interview us. This is what Oswald did. How many of us are going to get the FBI to come down on Saturday morning to talk to us?)
       Well anyway, Oswald had no trouble doing this and he also talked to the police. In both cases he was talking about A. J. Hidell, and in both cases that information ended up somehow, via the FBI agent with Army Intelligence, and via Police Captain Martello with Naval intelligence. So Oswald was enriching the files on himself in a way that would lead to his death in Dallas in November 1963. [49]
       Well, what is so arresting about the connection here to 9/11?
       DOUBLE-AGENTS: ALI MOHAMED
       Because I want to talk about another double-agent - an unmistakable and very important one: Ali Mohammad. How many people have heard of the name Ali Mohammad before today? Almost nobody. Well listen to this, as it is important. There is a quite a lot about him on now on my web site because I've been talking about him.
       It is striking that he was undeniably working for US Army Special Forces, working with the CIA, almost certainly admitted to this country on a CIA visa, and in his last years certainly working with the FBI. He was actually detained in Canada by the RCMP, and he said, phone this number and you will release me; and they phoned the San Francisco office of the FBI, and sure enough they released him immediately. [50]
       And that meant he was able to go to Kenya, photograph the Kenyan embassy, and deliver the photographs personally to Bin Laden, who told Ali Mohammad where to plant the bomb. [51]
       And there is this new book: in fact it arrived the day before I caught a plane to come to Dallas, so I haven't had a very good read of it, but I've been following Peter Lance. It is Peter Lance's book, Triple Cross - How Bin Laden's Master Spy [that's Ali Mohammad] Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets and the FBI and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him.
       This is a very interesting story and there's quite a lot more on my web site. [52] What is particularly important here is that Ali Mohamed was not only protected under the George W. Bush administration - but from as early as 1990 when the FBI SOG Special Operations Group in New York photographed him training terrorists in terrorist activities - sharp shooting, etc.
       I'm going to name the names of some of his disciples, [53] and you can remember them for sixty seconds and then you can forget them:
    • El Sayyid Nosair, who went on to murder Meir Kahane, the Jewish racist, almost immediately, was trained in sharp shooting by Ali Mohammad;
    • Mohammed Salameh, who went on to participate in the first WTC bombing in 1993;
    • and finally there's a man called (Clement) Rodney Hampton-El, who is the one American-born black Muslim in the group, who clearly had Army backing. He was allowed to go to Fort Belvoir, and an Army major gave him a list of Muslims in the US Army whom he could recruit to go to Bosnia. [54]
       Ali Mohamed trained these Islamists to fight in Afghanistan. So you might say: Well of course we were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, so it makes sense that it was okay for them to approve this kind of activity. The problem is the Soviets had totally withdrawn from Afghanistan by early 1989, and all of this training was going on in late 1989-90, at a time when the U.S. government, to paraphrase what I just said about 1963, was of two minds about what to do in Afghanistan.
       Remember that Gorbachev was now the President of Russia, and that the State Department, and I believe the White House, attached a lot of importance from Reagan's last years on to working with the Soviet Union.
       The man the Soviets left in charge of Kabul, I think his name is Najibullah, [55] said in effect, "You may not like me in the West, but I'm the best you are going to get, and if you get rid of me you will have a nation of drug traffickers," which is essentially what we now have de facto in Afghanistan. His prediction was entirely correct. The CIA was way off base here.
       The CIA were backing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom some people call the leading heroin trafficker in the world, to get rid of this secular, anti-Islamist government in Kabul, which we would I think, we would pay an awful lot of money to get back at this stage as preferable to what we have.
       Meanwhile a State Department official, Edmund McWilliams, objected that "Pakistani intelligence and Hekmatyar were dangerous allies," and that the United States was making an important mistake by endorsing ISI's puppet Afghan interim government. [56]. But Ali Mohamed's training, both in Afghanistan and later around New York, was precisely designed to strengthen the Arab Afghans in Brooklyn who intended to go support Hekmatyar. [57]
       So this is a conflicted program and the fact that Ali Mohammad was doing it, earned him high-level protection. And there is so much I'm not telling you about how he was actually flying to Afghanistan and fighting while he was on the US Army payroll, which is a definite no-no. And his commanding officer didn't like it, but there was nothing he could do about it because Ali Mohammad was apparently being directed by another agency. [58] And you can only guess what that other agency would have been.
       Well anyway, the new book by Peter Lance confirms that Ali Mohammed was one of al Qaeda's top trainers in terrorism - yes, top trainers in terrorism, including top training in hijacking: how to bring on box cutters, where to sit in the plane. [59] (And that's not against the Soviets, because you couldn't hijack a Soviet plane, because no civilians ever got on a Soviet plane in Afghanistan.)
       Mohamed has also been called one of the primary sources for the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.'" [60] At the heart of that August 6 PDB was unmistakably a disguised double reference to Mohamed himself. [61]
       To sum up: Mohamed was a top trainer. He was an operative for the CIA and the Army, and in my book I write that in 1990 his trainees intended to help the CIA support the drug trafficker Hekmatyar in Afghanistan, even after the Soviets withdrew.
       Back in 1990 the FBI knew these people were involved in conspiratorial activity. As I said, they photographed, they videotaped Ali Mohamed training these people. Then very shortly afterwards, Nosair went out and shot Meir Kahane, and because of his own lack of cool, ended up being shot himself and arrested. [62]
       The police and the FBI told the public that he was, and we've heard this kind of language before, a "lone, deranged gunman." who, and this is the FBI speaking, "acted alone."
       Here you have a guy who was part of a tolerated conspiracy, and when it went public, - I don't think they anticipated the killing of Kahane, that is their response.
       First of all they knew he wasn't alone because they had film of him training these other people. All of his trainees were members of the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, which served as the main American recruitment center for the network, which after the Afghanistan war, became known as al Qaeda. And it has been said that the murder of Kahane was the first al Qaeda attack in America.
       The al-Kifah Center was headed at the time, by the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who like Ali Mohamed, had been admitted to the US on a CIA visa, despite being on a State Department watch list. And as he had done earlier in Egypt, he issued a fatwa that permitted his followers to rob banks and kill Jews. [66]
       Now in November 1990, three of Mohamed's trainees conspired together to kill Meir Kahane, the racist founder of the Jewish Defense League. The actual killer, El Sayyid Nosair, was caught by accident almost immediately; and by luck the police soon found his two co-conspirators, Mahamud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, waiting at Nosair's apartment.
       So they had the other two conspirators, and this is also what they found at Nosair's house, and I am quoting,
       There were formulas for bomb making, 1,440 rounds of ammunition, and manuals from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg marked 'Top Secret for Training' [May I say those manuals were supplied by Ali Mohamed - the double-agent, and became the basis for the al Qaeda's own manual, which was mostly written by double-agent Mohamed] along with classified documents belonging to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The police found maps and drawings of New York City landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square - and the World Trade Center. The forty-seven boxes of evidence they collected also included the collected sermons of blind Sheikh Omar, in which he exhorted his followers to "destroy the edifices of capitalism." [67]
       So all three - Nosair, Abouhalima and Salameh - had been trained by Mohamed. The FBI had photographed them, and if they had moved on and seized all three of them we probably would not have had the first World Trade Center bombing. And we almost certainly would not have had the so called Landmarks Conspiracy, where there was a plot to blow up other landmarks you just heard mentioned, like the Statue of Liberty.
       The police on the case thought at the beginning that they were facing a conspiracy. [68] And yet only hours after the killing, Joseph Borelli, Chief of NYPD detectives, struck a familiar American note and pronounced Nosair a "lone deranged gunman." And some time later, he actually told the press - and this is the real giveaway, that "There was nothing at Nosair's house, nothing that would stir your imagination. Nothing has transpired that changes our opinion that he acted alone." [69]
       So if 47 boxes of incriminating evidence is remembered by this man as "nothing," then he either has an astonishingly bad memory, or that this is how the US law enforcement system treats people who are marginally attached to intelligence operations, covert operations, even controversial operations which are opposed by other elements of the US government. [70]
       Now Borelli himself was not acting alone in this matter. His position was also that of the FBI, who said they too believed "that Mr. Nosair had acted alone in shooting Rabbi Kahane." "The bottom line is that we can't connect anyone else to the Kahane shooting," an FBI agent said. [71]
       So there is an MO here. And I want to go back to what I was saying at the very beginning. To end up having a unsolvable crime, somebody has pre-selected a candidate or candidates. And the ideal pre-selected candidate will be one about whom the truth will never emerge, because of the candidate's controversial involvement in previous covered-up operations. This will guarantee that an institutional cover-up, already in place, will be extended to cover the new crime, even if it is a major one.
       Oswald was one such pre-selected candidate. Those conspiratorially involved with Ali Mohamed and with 9/11 would also seem to fit the same description. That is what struck me most when I went back to compare the two events, or meta-events.
       I should make clear that with respect to 9/11, I have certain knowledge of only one fact: that there has been and continues to be a massive cover-up. I have not yet assimilated the earlier cover-up of Ali Mohamed in 1990 into my theory of what happened in 2001. But I commend this to you as something which merits further investigation.
       In this talk I'm not getting into the question of conspiracy. But of course there has to be a conspiracy theory about 9/11.You cannot say 9/11 was someone acting alone. To avoid a serious "conspiracy theory," the best you can come up with is something like "19 lone nuts acting together."
       Just in case you don't remember it, the FBI identified these names before 10 o'clock on that morning. And within two weeks there were five, six or seven people, in various places (nearly all turned out to be pilots, by the way) who said, "That's my name; yes, I went to that flight school;" two or three even said "that's my photograph that was published." But they also said "it's not me," and you had to sympathize with their logic: "it's not me because I'm still here and I'm still alive." And it was bad enough that the Saudi government officially protested to the United States government. In response to these problems, FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged on September 20, 2001, that the identity of several of the suicide hijackers was in doubt. [72]
       How many of you have looked at the 9/11 Report? You're a virgin audience here. The 9/11 Report has a great deal to say about the 19 hijackers, but it's never hinted that there had ever been a shadow of suspicion as to who they really are. Which is just one of the many indications this was not a very profound investigation.
       And like the Warren Commission Report, they already knew were they had to end up because it had been pre-defined for them. They already knew. But it is the combination I want you to think about. The truth about the predesignated culprit or culprits is unpursuable because he/they were part of an operation too embarrassing to disclose. Which in the case of 9/11 is a scandal. I mean these people could have been stopped back in 1990 and weren't.
       And I haven't gone into the Patrick Fitzgerald part of it. This is a very important book by the way, Triple Cross. And he has another book, A Thousand Years for Revenge, which is almost as important.
       My final words are words that I have said I think on many occasions, and are a propos on many subjects:
       That when we look at something like the JFK Assassination or 9/11, throw in Iran-Contra - or the bombing of Letelier, we are looking at meta-events. Meta-events, unlike most events, are not treated normally in the US press; but are what John [Judge] called this morning a hidden history. And they are reserved for a special kind of treatment, and that requires, among other things, a special kind of audience, people like you.
       Because we stumble upon it somewhere, in this case with JFK, we are open to the fact that it happens elsewhere. And like I said before and will say so again, and my final words to you is to understand any of these events in real depth, you have to go beyond bullet angles at Dealey Plaza, and films from the same place, and look at what is on-going in this country.
       And I'll remind you again of the possible involvement of the drug traffic. And to get to any kind of level where we can cope and deal with these kinds of problems in our country, we have to see the continuity and deal with it every time it surfaces.
       Because if we don't deal with it this time, and we probably won't, it will surface again.
       Thank you very much.
       Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His chief poetry books are the three volumes of his trilogy Seculum: Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1989), Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (1992), and Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000. In addition he has published Crossing Borders: Selected Shorter Poems (1994). In November 2002 he was awarded the Lannan Poetry Award.
       An anti-war speaker during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, he was a co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, and of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).
       His poetry has dealt with both his experience and his research, the latter of which has centered on U.S. covert operations, their impact on democracy at home and abroad, and their relations to the John F. Kennedy assassination and the global drug traffic. The poet-critic Robert Hass has written (Agni, 31/32, p. 335) that "Coming to Jakarta is the most important political poem to appear in the English language in a very long time."
       NOTES
       1 My thanks to Bill Kelly for transcribing this talk and making the text available on line.
       2 E.g. CIA Cable 74830 of 10 Oct 63 to Mexico City, http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=30335&relPageId=2; reproduced in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995), 512.
       3 Manning Clements FBI FD-302 of 11/23/63; in Warren Report, 614.
       4 WR 5. Brennan subsequently failed to pick out Oswald in a police line-up (Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact [Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2006], 10-13, 78n).
       5 Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terrorism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 13-14.
       6 William Norman Grigg, "Did We Know What Was Coming?" New American, 3/11/02, http://www. thenewamerican. com/tna/ 2002/03-11- 2002/vo18no 05_didwe know.htm. Cf. the remarks of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer of the Pentagon Able Danger project: "We were amazed at how quickly the FBI produced the name and pictures of all 19 hijackers. But then again, we were surprised at how quickly they'd made the arrests after the first World Trade Center bombing. Only later did we find out that the FBI had been watching some of these people for months prior to both incidents" (Peter Lance, Triple Cross [New York: Regan/HarperCollins, 2006], 383).
       7 Lamar Waldron, with Thom Hartmann, Ultimate Sacrifice (New York: Carroll and Graf, 2006), 74, 170.
       8 Before giving the talk I had already discussed WHCA documents with Rex Bradford, the only person to raise his hand at the conference in response to my question.
       9 9/11 Report, 41.
       10 9/11 Report, 40.
       11 Discussion in David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press/Interlink, 2004), 220-23..
       12 Clarke, Against All Enemies, 8; 9/11 Report, 38. The two accounts agree about Air Force One and COG, but not about the planes (Clarke: "tell the Pentagon they have authority from the President to shoot down hostile aircraft;" 9/11 Report: "The White House requested a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.")
       13 See James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans (New York: Viking, 2004), 138-45, 295-96.
       14 9/11 Report, 41.
       15 9/11 Report, 40.
       16 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean later complained that "The phone logs don't exist, because they evidently got so fouled up in communications that the phone logs have nothing. So that's the evidence we have." "There's no documentary evidence here," added Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton. "The only evidence you have is the statements of the president and vice president" (9/11 Commission, Hearing of 6/17/04, http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing12/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-06-17.pdf ).
       17 "Most Americans have heard of the '18 minute gap' in a Nixon Presidential tape - the erasure was part of a cover-up for which Nixon was driven from office. But few know of the erasure of a 1963 conversation between President Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a call recorded less than 24 hours after the murder of President Kennedy. This new documentary short, The Fourteen Minute Gap, relates Rex Bradford's discovery of the erasure, initial denials by the LBJ Library, and his failed attempt to get the story into the national media" (Rex Bradford, "The Fourteen Minute Gap," http://www. maryferrell. org/wiki/index .php/The_ Fourteen_ Minute_Gap ).
       18 Supporting evidence for the 9/11 Report is scheduled for release on January 2, 2009. See 9/11 Commission, Media Advisory, 8/20/04, http://www.9-11commission.gov/press/pr_2004-08-20a.pdf; Thomas H., Kean, and Lee H. Hamilton, with Benjamin Rhodes, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Knopf, 2006), 312: "All of our records were transferred to the National Archives, with an agreement that they would be made public at the beginning of 2009."
       19 Peter Dale Scott, "Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps," Pacific News Service, 2/8/06, http://news. pacificnews. org/news/view_ article.html? article_id=eed 74d9d44c304 93706fe03f4c 9b3a77: Censored 2007: The Top 25 Censored Stories (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006)
       20 In the 1990s the Assassination Records Review Board attempted to obtain from the WHCA the unedited original tapes of conversations from Air Force One on the return trip from Dallas, November 22, 1963. (Edited and condensed versions of these tapes had been available since the 1970s from the LBJ Library in Austin.) The attempt was unsuccessful: "The Review Board's repeated written and oral inquiries of the White House Communications Agency did not bear fruit. The WHCA could not produce any records that illuminated the provenance of the edited tapes." See Assassinations Records Review Board, Final Report, Chapter 6, Part 1, 116, http://www. archives.gov/ research/jfk/ review-board/ report/chapter- 06-part1.pdf.
       21 "The Review Board's repeated written and oral inquiries of the White House Communications Agency did not bear fruit. The WHCA could not produce any records that illuminated the provenance of the edited tapes." See Assassinations Records Review Board, Final Report, Chapter 6, Part 1, 116, http://www. archives. gov/research/ jfk/review- board/report/ chapter-06- part1.pdf. Cf. p. 155.
       22 NARA Record 172-10001-10003 (11/22/63), WHCA statement, "Dallas.": "Direct communication set up immediately between Agent directly outside of emergency room [in Highland Hospital] and Mr. Behn [Special Agent in Charge, White House Secret Service detail] in his office in Washington which became the Washington Command Post and clearing house."
       23 NARA Record 172-10001-10003 (11/22/63), WHCA statement, "Dallas."
       24 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 273-74, 277-78; quoting 23 WH 841, "cut all traffic for the ambulance going to Parkland."
       25 Scott, Deep Politics, 273-74, 277-78.
       26 Scott, Deep Politics, 127-46.
       27 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics Two, 135-36.
       28 Waldron, Ultimate Sacrifice, 513-15, 525-26, 647-48, 785-86, etc.
       29 Ann Louise Bardach, Washington Post, 11/12/06, http://www. bardach reports.com/ articles/wp_ 20061112 new.html: Posada had complained "of the U.S. media's reluctance to believe reports about a series of bombings in Cuba, which he hoped would scare tourists and investors away from Castro's island." Cf. New York Times, 7/12-13/98.
       30 Quoted by Al Giordano, Narco News Bulletin, 6/21/05, http://www. narconews. com/Issue38/ article1354.html.
       31 http://www.state.gov/p/inl/narc/rewards/47900.htm
       32 In August 2003, the Miami bureau of the FBI made the startling decision to close its case on Posada. Subsequently, according to the FBI, several boxes of evidence were removed from the bureau's evidence room. Since then, in a change of heart, Justice Department has reopened the case, by pursuing, not Posada, but the files of the NYT reporter (Ann Louise Bardach) who interviewed him. She fought back with a report on her problems in the Washington Post (11/12/06): "Justice Department struck a plea deal for about two years in prison for Posada's comrades Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat, who had been facing up to 50 years in prison for the illegal possession of hundreds of firearms." Santiago Alvarez, formerly of Comandos L, is one of the Cuban terrorists who pledged participation in the Revolutionary Junta of Paulino Sierra Martinez, whose connection to the JFK assassination is discussed by Robert Blakey and myself (Deep Politics, 89-90, 329-30).
       33 Bardach, Washington Post, 11/12/06.
       34 Bardach, Washington Post, 11/12/06.
       35 "Evidence Presented to the British Parliament, 4th October 2001," Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01. Cf. e.g. Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01; Asia Times, 12/8/01; New York Times, 10/4/01, 10/11/01;
    San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01. For further documentation, see Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War [Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003], 32, 36.
       36 9/11 Report, 171,
       37 "US 'seizes al-Qaeda drugs ship'," BBC News, 12/19/03.
       38 Daniel Ellsberg with Kris Welch, KPFA, 8/26/06, http://wotisit good4.blog spot.com/ 2006/10/ ellsberg- hastert- got-suitcases- of-al.html.
       39 Vanity Fair, September 2005.
       40 Indira Singh testimony, 9/11 Citizen's Commission, 128, http://www.justicefor911.org/September-Hearings.doc. Indira Singh was a one-time senior employee of J.P. Morgan, who was fired after she shared her concerns about an Arab-financed contracting firm with her bank and the FBI.
       41 The most sensational charge of a direct 9/11-drug connection is made by Daniel Hopsicker in his self-published book Welcome to Terrorland. "Hopsicker is still researching the three Huffman-trained 9/11 pilots, who he says had financial, drug-trafficking and military intelligence ties to the U.S. government. He is developing suspicions that Atta and the entire school were involved with Osama bin Laden in heroin trafficking. Hopsicker reports that on July 25, 2000, the DEA in Orlando discovered more than 30 pounds of heroin inside a Learjet owned by Wally Hilliard, owner of Huffman Aviation. Earlier that month, on July 3, Atta and Marwan Al-Shehri had started flight lessons at Huffman. Hopsicker claims it's not a coincidence that Atta was allegedly importing heroin with Hilliard's help, selling Afghanistan's notorious opium and heroin to finance the Taliban. Hilliard would not be interviewed for this story. 'The apparatus that Osama bin Laden set into place along with the CIA back in the '80s, still exists,' Hopsicker says. 'The FBI is protecting an operation set in place back in the '80s...a money-laundering device to funnel money to the Afghan Mujahedeen and to flood this country with heroin'" (Sander Hicks, Long Island Press, 2/26/04, http://www.911 citizenswatch. org/modules. php?op=mod load& name=News &file=article &sid= 82 ). Hopsicker's charges are reported, but only minimally corroborated, in Sander Hicks, The Big Wedding (Vox Pop #2, 2005), 31-39. Most other researchers, myself included, are looking for more independent corroboration.
       42 Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War, 27-58.
       43 Peter Truell, and Larry Gurwin, False Profits: The Inside Story of BCCI, the World's Most Corrupt Financial Empire (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992), 132.
       44 Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 252; quoting Lucille Connell, 26 WH 738.
       45 Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 257.
       46 Hinckle and Turner, Deadly Deceits, 173-76.
       47 Waldron, Ultimate Sacrifice, 187-88.
       48 Scott, Deep Politics, 257.
       49 Scott, Deep Politics, 257-58.
       50 Lance, Triple Cross, 123-25.
       51 Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 198.
       52 http://www. peterdalescott. net/q.html .
       53 Lance, Triple Cross, 47-51.
       54 United States v. Omar Ahmad Ali Abdel Rahman et al., Federal Court, SDNY, 15629-30, 15634-35, 15654, 15667-68, 15671, 15673; Kohlmann, Al-Qaida's Jihad, 72-74; J.M. Berger, "
    Al Qaeda Recruited U.S. Servicemen: Testimony Links Plot To Saudi Gov't," Intelwire.com, http://intelwire. egoplex.com/ hamptonel01 0604.html. In my talk, I said erroneously that Hampton-El was recruiting for Afghanistan.
       55 I mistakenly said "Rabbani." I have corrected my spoken text in this section to present my argument more accurately.
       56 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 196; cf. 197-202.
       57 Cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 20, 66.
       58 Cf. Lance, Triple Cross, 43: "Ali Mohamed defied his commanding officer and prepared to go [to Afghanistan] anyway. At that point, it seems clear that he was serving two sets of masters at Bragg."
       59 Lance, Triple Cross, 365, 382; J.M. Berger [ed.], Ali Mohamed: An Intelwire Sourcebook (Intelwire Press, 2006), 14; cf. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 181.
       60 J.M. Berger, "Unlocking 9/11: Paving the Road to 9/11," IntelWire, http://intelwire. egoplex.com/ unlocking911- 1-ali-mohamed- 911.html. FBI Agent Cloonan said on the National Geographic Show that "If you look at the six- or seventeen sentences that are in there, from what I've seen, all that information came from Ali. "National Geographic Presents Triplecross;" Berger, Ali Mohamed, 20. But Cloonan's statement exaggerates; one section of the PDB is clearly from Millennium plotter Ahmed Ressam.
       61 9/11 Report, 261-62: "Al-Qa'ida members - including some who are U.S. citizens - have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ [Egyptian Islamic Jihad] member lived in California in the mid-1990s." Ali Mohamed is simultaneously one of the two found guilty in the embassies plot (the other was his friend Wadih el Hage), and also the EIJ member who lived in California.
       62 Lance, Triple Cross, 56-58.
       63 Newsday, 11/8/90; quoted in Peter Lance, 1000 Years for Revenge (New York: Regan Books, 2003), 35.
       64 New York Times, 12/16/90.
       65 Rahman was issued two visas, one of them "by a CIA officer working undercover in the consular section of the American embassy in Sudan" (Peter L. Bergen, Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden [New York: Free Press, 2001], 67). FBI consultant Paul Williams writes that Ali Mohamed "settled in America on a visa program controlled by the CIA" (Paul L. Williams, Al Qaeda: Brotherhood of Terror [Upper Saddle River, NJ]: Alpha/ Pearson Education, 2002], 117).
       66 Wright, The Looming Tower, 177.
       67 Lance, 1000 Years, 34. Cf. John Miller and Michael Stone, with Chris Mitchell, The Cell (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 45.
       68 Miller and Stone, The Cell, 43: "Nosair, the NYPD had already learned, had apparently not acted alone Lieutenant Eddie Norris seemed to be looking at a conspiracy involving three and possibly more assassins."
       69 New York Times, 11/8/90; Robert I. Friedman, Village Voice, 3/30/93.
       70 John Miller, who went on to be the assistant director of public affairs for the FBI (Lance, Triple Cross, 115), blames the culture of the NYPD: "The previling theory in the NYPD was, 'Don't make waves.' So in the Nosair case, when Chief Borelli turned a blind eye to the obvious, he was merely remaining true to the culture of the NYPD" (The Cell, 44-45.) Miller's unlikely explanation suppresses the relevant fact that the FBI turned a blind eye to the obvious as well.
       71 New York Times, 12/16/90.
       72 BBC, 9/23/01; Newsday, 9/21/01; Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute (NewYork: HarperCollins/Regan Books, 2004), 498.

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    * Corrupt = "Corrupt ex-mayor faces stiff penalties." Electoral intereference. -- The West Australian, by DAVID DARRAGH, p 9, Tuesday, February 7, 2006. PERTH, W. Australia: Disgraced former Stirling mayor Adam Spagnolo faces heavy fines after pleading guilty yesterday to 13 offences, including interfering with postal votes at a local government election. Spagnolo pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrate's Court to three counts of procuring another to take custody of a postal vote, one count each of forging and uttering a signature of an elector and two counts of causing another person to open an envelope which contained a postal vote. He also admitted to six counts of failing to disclose campaign donations. Vlado Kukulj, a 29-year-old real estate agent, also pleaded guilty to charges of forging and uttering and local government charges of taking custody of a postal vote.
    * Freedom = Freedom of movement and to assemble lawfully upheld by the UK Law Lords. Police had stopped 120 in coaches in March 2003: "Campaigners' victory as law lords uphold right to protest; LAW LORDS RULING BACKS ANTI-WAR CAMPAIGNERS," The Guardian, http://politics. guardian.co.uk/ iraq/story/0,, 1971171,00.html , December 13, 2006
    * JFK and 9/11. Insights Gained from Studying Both. Dr. Peter Dale Scott questions how, within hours of the serious crimes of the murder of John F. Kennedy and the crashing-aircraft atrocities of September 11, the U.S. authorities were able to announce the name/s of suspects.  Some of the supposed "dead" plane terrorists turned out to be alive and well days later.  Dr Scott gives evidence of a similar chain of "knowledge" by the authorities in the president's murder.  Some of the perpetrators had been trained by the U.S.  Dr Scott's lecture was on Nov 18, and it was put on the WWW on Dec 20, 2006
    * Liberties = Liberties of Britain, the great debate. Since Tony Blair came to power in Britain, either by accident or design, his 'modernising' Labour government has steadily attacked our rights and freedoms, eroding the Rule of Law and profoundly altering the relationship between authority and the people. Successive laws passed by New Labour have pared down our liberty at an astonishing rate. The right to trial by jury, the right to silence, the right not to be punished until a court has decided that the law has been broken, the right to demonstrate and protest, the presumption of innocence, the right to private communication, the right to travel without surveillance and the details of that journey being retained - all have been curtailed by the Blair Government's legislation. April 23, 2006
    * No deal is better than a bad deal; World Trade Organisation. AUSTRALIA: June 2006
    * Refugee Disease = "Refugees bring disease into WA". Each Australian State has different systems for refugees to voluntarily be checked for health. The Medical Journal of Australia and a New South Wales official point to the admission of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. with incoming refugees, who have clearance "certificates" from overseas. Previous reports include Mar 24, 2006. Report and cartoon December 11, 2006.
    * The Right Stuff = Liberal branch take-overs, blank ballot papers, etc., in New South Wales. "... in 2005, after taking over many other branches, that Kyle Kutasi and the right turn their sights on the Petersham-Lewisham branch." July 17, 2006
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