08 April 2006

the relative value of freedom ..... 

‘From the beginning, there were ominous signs that the Iraqis weren't going to play the game right. More than a few neo-con hearts were broken by the Iraqi refusal to greet us with flowers and champagne as we marched into Baghdad, and the snub still hurts. Just this week, Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum and an unrepentant hawk, complained about "the ingratitude of the Iraqis for the extraordinary favour we gave them: to release them from the bondage of Saddam Hussein's tyranny."

In Baghdad on Monday for a joint appearance with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Condoleezza Rice suggested that we've now given the Iraqis all the help a liberated people can reasonably expect: We "have forces on the ground and have sacrificed here," she told reporters, so we have "a right to expect that this process [of government formation] will keep moving forward."

Chiming in, Straw called on the Iraqis to shape up and select a prime minister, pronto: "The Americans have lost over 2,000 people [in Iraq]. We've lost over 100…. And billions - billions - of United States dollars, hundreds of millions of British pound sterlings have come into this country. We do have, I think, a right to say that we've got to be able to deal with Mr. A or Mr. B or Mr. C. We can't deal with Mr. Nobody."

The "after all we've done for you!" theme is more than a little jarring, coming as it does from the architects of the war. The Iraqis didn't beg us to invade their country. We invaded Iraq for reasons quite unrelated to the welfare of the Iraqi people (and, it turned out, for reasons unrelated to the welfare of the American people as well).’

Those ungrateful Iraqis

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07 April 2006

more on the ‘value’ of “aussie tony” ….. 

‘Two grandmothers from Yorkshire face up to a year in prison after becoming the first people to be arrested under the Government's latest anti-terror legislation.

Helen John, 68, and Sylvia Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25 years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration.

Under the little-noticed legislation, which came into effect last week, protesters who breach any one of 10 military bases across Britain will be treated as potential terrorists and face up to a year in jail or £5,000 fine. The protests are curtailed under the Home Secretary's Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

Campaigners expressed their outrage yesterday at Charles Clarke's new law, which they say is yet another draconian attempt to crack down on legitimate protest under the guise of the war on terror. In October last year a protester in Whitehall was convicted for merely reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq. And at the Labour Party conference in September the Government suffered severe embarrassment when Walter Wolfgang, a veteran peace activist who survived the Nazis, was detained for heckling Jack Straw.’

Meanwhile, whilst the world’s most wanted terrorist (allegedly), Usama bin Laden, all but disappears into quiet obscurity (until the next election), British citizens John Catt (81), Walter Wolgang (82), Maya Evans (25), Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith (37) & Brian Haw (56) came to understand the real ‘value’ of freedom under the British government’s new ‘anti-terror’ laws.

Helen & Sylva: The New Face Of Terrorism

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the danger of being too liberal ..... 

‘In 2002, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales passed on to Bush a memorandum on torture by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). As noted by constitutional scholar Sanford Levinson: "According to the OLC, ‘acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture… physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.'" Levinson goes on to say that in the view of Jay Bybee, then head of the OLC, "The infliction of anything less intense than such extreme pain would not, technically speaking, be torture at all. It would merely be inhuman and degrading treatment, a subject of little apparent concern to the Bush administration's lawyers."

Gonzales further advised President Bush to effectively rescind the Geneva Conventions, which, despite being "the supreme law of the land" and the foundation of contemporary international law, contained provisions Gonzales determined to be "quaint" and "obsolete." Rescinding the conventions, he informed Bush, "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act." Passed in 1996, the act carries severe penalties for "grave breaches" of the conventions: the death penalty, "if death results to the victim" of the breach. Gonzales was later appointed to be attorney general and would probably have been a Supreme Court nominee if Bush's constituency did not regard him as "too liberal."’

War Crimes in Iraq

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in league with barbarians ..... 

‘"After four years of torture and rendition, you have the wrong person in the stand," Muhammad said. Military documents spell his name variously as Muhammad and Mohammad. The judge, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, told Muhammad it was the prosecutor's job to establish his identity during trial.

A written account of his capture provided to The Associated Press by Muhammad's civilian lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, details the detainee's allegations of torture while "directly or indirectly" in the custody of the United States. He alleges, among other things, that he was sliced with a scalpel and given mind-altering drugs.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last month the United States does not transport terrorism suspects to nations where it is likely they could be tortured, a practice known as extraordinary rendition.

Human rights groups say the United States carries out extraordinary renditions to outsource torture.

American Civil Liberties Union

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The American Civil Liberties Union last week asked the UN to investigate.’

Detainee Says He Was Tortured by Moroccans

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06 April 2006

when gangsters & war criminals define the rule of law ….. 

‘Opposition politicians and human rights campaigners reacted with dismay Tuesday to British Defense Secretary John Reid's call for international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, to be redrawn to ensure states could counter global terrorism and undertake military interventions.

The threat of terrorism should not be used as justification for a watering-down of fundamental human rights, Liberal Democrats Shadow Defense Secretary Nick Harvey warned.

Any suggestion that Britain should endorse U.S. policies such as indefinite detention of terror suspects and extraordinary rendition must be "emphatically rejected," he said.

Reid's remarks were described as "dismaying" by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, while Conservative parliamentarian Andrew Tyrie said his suggestions "beggared belief."

Alarm At UK Call On International Law

meanwhile, Bush’s gangster cabal continue to flout International Law at will …..

‘Human rights group Amnesty International accused the United States on Wednesday of using front companies to transfer individuals to countries where they have faced torture or ill-treatment.

The fresh charges come after months of allegations by campaigners who say the Central Intelligence Agency transports terrorism suspects outside normal legal channels to countries where they could be tortured under interrogation.’

US Uses Front Companies for "Rendition"

but why would little things like war crimes worry the masters of the universe .....

‘During a March 26 appearance on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to justify the invasion of Iraq this way: "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."

But, in a new essay on April 3, Parry points out that "this doctrine - that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering - represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter's ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago."

Parry flags the core of the administration's maneuver: "Gradually, Rice and other senior Bush aides shifted their rationale from Hussein's WMD to a strategic justification, that is, politically transforming the Middle East." He concludes that "implicit in the U.S. news media's non-coverage of Rice's new rationale for war is that there is nothing objectionable or alarming about the Bush administration turning its back on principles of civilized behavior promulgated by U.S. statesmen at the Nuremberg Tribunal six decades ago."’

When War Crimes Are Impossible

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05 April 2006

failed government ..... 

‘"Imperial overreach" is too fancy a term for what the Bush administration has actually done. While its officials have talked a great game when it came to achieving "victory" in Iraq and exporting democracy to the Middle East, its main exports have turned out to be mayhem and ruins. And those it can continue to export.

With every new move, yet more rubble, yet more terror, and undoubtedly yet more terrorists in Iraq and, sooner or later, in the wider region will be created. This is where the most essential choices made by the President, Vice President, and their chosen officials in the days after September 11, 2001 have taken us.’

The Hyperpower Hype & Where It Took Us

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04 April 2006

with drips in charge ..... 

From American Progress …..

Yesterday, George Will used prime space in the Washington Post and other major papers to suggest — not only is global warming not the result of human activity -global warming may not exist at all. In a one-two punch, this morning columnist Robert Novak used his regular space in the Washington Post to suggest that global warming - if it even exists - would only impact us so far in the future that our technological advances should be able to handle it. Neither of these columns is based in scientific fact - their only purpose seems to be to bolster the position of the administration.

George Will’s suggestion that global warming may not exist is not backed up by fact. George Will says that global temperatures have risen about one degree over the last 100 years and that “might be the margin of error when measuring the planet’s temperature.” The only support Will provides for this statement is a crude analogy -there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support Will’s position that the earth might not be warming. The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have also “issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.”

Will’s argument, while full of holes, is a winning one for the White House. The Bush administration can’t deny the facts - the United States contributes to global pollution. And as the world moves forward to address climate change, the U.S. “which is home to less than 5% of Earth’s population but produces 25% of CO2 emissions, remains intransigent.” Bush abandoned the Kyoto protocols and didn’t keep his campaign pledge to control carbon output. And there is no time to wait. In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences signed a joint statement with 10 other national academies which said, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.” (PDF)

George Will goes as far as to say that global warming might not be a bad thing. In his column, Will asks: “Are we sure the consequences of climate change — remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest — must be bad?” It’s hard to believe that a credible journalist would make such an argument - and Will doesn’t list any of the supposed benefits of global warming. Scientists think differently - they believe that global warming can cause severe hurricanes, flooding of coastal population centers and the spread of serious disease. That doesn’t sound too appealing.

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taliban cleric ..... 

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03 April 2006

reality shows ..... 

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02 April 2006

keeping us safe ..... 

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late night nero ..... 

‘"Today, we had a meeting at the White House of some of the top educators from all around the country and I asked them the one question that nobody’s been askin’: Is our children learning?" Then he can look genuinely surprised and puzzled when the audience starts laughing. It will all come so naturally to him.

Or he could talk about how hard he’s working to strengthen the economy to "put food on the American people." Or he could tell us how he has warned "outsiders" not to meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign Iraq. Again, the laughter will likely take him by surprise and when he reacts with surprise it will evoke further laughter.

Or he might explain how we are waging war in various parts of the world to spread democracy, because democracies are more peaceful. Democratic governments don’t invade their neighbors or spy on their own citizens. More laughter. More surprise, evoking still more laughter.

Eat your heart out, Leno.’

And Now: He-e-e-e-re’s Georgie!

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looking for good germans ..... 

‘"And just as Good Germans were complicit in the crimes of their government not that very long ago, so too are we American citizens complicit in the crimes of our own government. Because we are complicit, we must speak out against this monstrous war in every nonviolent way possible if we want to absolve ourselves of that complicity."

"Your Honor, I cannot stand by and watch these crimes continue. I must add my voice to the thousands of others crying out for an end to it until we awaken America's conscience," I stated. Then I looked at him directly and invited him to "help us wake our nation's conscience" by ruling that what I did when I read the names of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis killed in this war was not a disruption but a civic duty.

The courtroom fell quiet for a moment. Judge Milliken paused, asked the prosecutors a couple more questions, asked Ed, me, and our attorney, Mark Goldstone, if we had anything else to say, paused again, and said "Sentenced to time served."’

Four Words that Spoke Volumes

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