24 June 2006
‘Chief executive officers in the United States earned 262 times the pay of an average worker in 2005, the second-highest level in the 40 years for which there is data, a nonprofit think-tank said on Wednesday.
In fact, a CEO earned more in one workday than an average worker earned in 52 weeks, said the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
The typical worker's compensation averaged just under $42,000 for the year, while the average CEO brought home almost $11 million, EPI said.
In recent years, compensation has been a hot issue with shareholders who have been bombarded with news stories about chief executives who are given multimillion dollar bonus and pay packages even if shares have declined.
For example, the chief executives of 11 of the largest companies were awarded a total of $865 million in pay in the last two years, even as they presided over a total loss of $640 billion in shareholder value, a recent study from governance firm the Corporate Library, found.’
‘Perhaps it’s time to offer a short refresher course in Guerrilla War 101:
- Air power works against you, not for you. It kills lots of people who weren’t your enemy, recruiting their relatives, friends and fellow tribesmen to become your enemies. In this kind of war, bombers are as useful as 42 cm. siege mortars.
- Big, noisy offensives, launched with lots of warning, achieve nothing. The enemy just goes to ground while you pass on through, and he’s still there when you leave.
- Big Pushes are the opposite of the "ink blot" strategy, which is the only thing that works, when anything can. Putting the Big Push together with lots of bombing in Afghanistan’s Pashtun country means we end up fighting most if not all of the Pashtun. In Afghan wars, the Pashtun always win in the end.
- Quisling governments fail because they cannot achieve legitimacy.
- You need closure, but your guerilla enemy doesn’t. He not only can fight until Doomsday, he intends to do just that – if not you, then someone else.
- The bigger the operations you have to undertake, the more surely your enemy is winning.’
‘In other words, everything that George W. Bush says he wants from the Iranians now, he could have had for the asking – three years ago. What then can we conclude from the rejection of this extraordinary initiative? The answer is obvious: that the Bush Faction is not really interested in curbing nuclear proliferation or defusing the powder keg of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the regional and global terror that it spawns.
What are they interested in? This answer too is obvious, to anyone who's been paying the slightest attention to the Faction's words and actions over the years: they are interested in loot and dominion. What they want from Iran is nothing less than its return to quasi-colonial control by the crony conquistadors of the West. And they're willing to play a (reasonably) long game to get it.
In the meantime, it serves their interests well for the entire Middle East to seethe and boil. War and rumors of war are engines of limitless profits for the crony-cons. It sends oil prices sky-high and keeps those pork-laden contracts for weapons and "military servicing" rolling in. And the terrorism that thrives in this deliberately created chaos is another massive money-maker, as vast armies of "security consultants" ply their political connections to gobble up tons of insider grease. Bush Regime minions have led the way in this alchemical transmutation of fear into gold: more than 90 officials from the Department of Homeland Security have stampeded through the revolving door from government service to lucrative private posts with companies seeking – and getting – fat deals from, er, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Times reports.’
22 June 2006
‘"Dictatorships, and there are plenty to choose from, are referred to as rogue states and threatened vociferously with military strikes, including the deployment of nuclear weapons. But it only further stabilizes the fundamentalist power systems in those countries.
"Whether the term `axis of evil' is used to refer to Iran or North Korea or Syria, politics could not be more stupid and hence more dangerous. Yet the entire world is watching and pretending to be powerless."
Grass quotes liberally from the blistering speech given last year by British playwright Harold Pinter in accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature: "The United States supported and, in many cases, engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world after World War II - Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and, of course, Chile ...
"Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place in those countries ... but you wouldn't know it. The crimes of the U.S. have been systematic, constant, vicious, and remorseless but very few people have actually talked about them.
"You have to hand it to America. It has exercised quite a clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's brilliant, even witty, a highly successful act of hypnosis. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?"
Having cited Pinter, Grass adds his own condemnation of "the hypocritical method of keeping the body count" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Although we meticulously keep count of the victims of terror attacks - terrible though their number is - nobody bothers to count the dead caused by American bombs or rocket attacks."
21 June 2006
Speech to the House of Representatives by Peter Garrett MP, Member for Kingsford Smith & Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts
June 15, 2006
It has been a week where the consciences of government members in this parliament have been challenged-challenged because our opportunity to participate in full and extensive debate, which is the hallmark of a democracy, has been challenged because of the use of the gag; challenged because the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006, which clearly concerned some members opposite, was withdrawn; and challenged because the government continues to resist repeated calls made, including calls made in a motion in the Senate this week, for Guantanamo Bay to be closed.
I support the remarks of my colleague the member for Banks. I want to say that Guantanamo Bay is a prison of shame and that it is to Australia's great shame that, as a government, we continue to participate in the operation of that prison. Revelations this week that three inmates at Guantanamo Bay had committed suicide is again confirmation that the conditions experienced by those who are held there are in breach of basic human rights, of the basic principles of our legal and democratic system and of the rule of law. Not one of those three who committed suicide had been charged. And no argument need come from this government, including the Attorney-General, that to question the conditions and the inhumane periods of detention is to countenance terrorism. It is a false argument, it is a false imputation and it does them no favour.
The fact is that Guantanamo Bay is a prison camp that is a discredit to American democratic traditions as much as it is to our own. Incidentally, it is such a discredit to the American political and democratic traditions that it is not located in the United States. But even more so, it is a discredit to our democratic traditions because we, alone amongst countries, continue to acquiesce to the conduct that goes on in this prison. The United Kingdom Attorney-General stated it clearly:
"...the existence of Guantanamo Bay remains unacceptable. It is time, in my view, that it should close."
The United Kingdom Attorney-General had already determined that the military commission set up to try the detainees would not guarantee a fair trial. That point has been emphasised by a number of leading human rights lawyers and journalists here in Australia as well. British detainees were subsequently returned to the UK, but in the case of an Australian citizen, the Australian government was mute.
It is to the discredit of this Attorney-General that he, as first law officer of the Crown, is so indifferent to the fundamental principles he is charged with protecting that the aberration of Guantanamo Bay continues without a murmur from him or any minister in the government. The best the justice minister can come up with is that he wants to get the military commission to consider the Hicks case. But recent events, including the suicides, mean the case is delayed. Hicks's attempts to become a British citizen have been stymied and the Pentagon itself blocks the access of British consular officials attempting to reach Hicks in prison, notwithstanding the links between those two countries.
The debate rages in the US, Europe and afar over Guantanamo Bay, and calls for its closure are repeatedly heard. Yet the government says and does nothing. The government's absence and silence on Guantanamo Bay shows the extent of its capture by the hardline neo-con elements of the US government. That is clear. The foreign minister was on television this week assuring Australians that the conditions Mr Hicks was experiencing were acceptable. An Australian consular official was cited by both the Prime Minister and the foreign minister as saying that, in their words, 'the visit was positive'. I would like to see a report from the consular official on Mr Hicks's state of health. But at the same time as these comments were put through, Mr Hicks's legal adviser, the American, Major Mori, was saying clearly that Hicks was in poor health:
"No, David is in isolation. He is not fit and well - he is depressed."
Who are we to believe-the foreign minister running his line or Mr Hicks's American lawyer? Whatever the circumstances or past activities of any inmate in this institution, they should not be subject to long periods of indefinite detention or the possibility of suffering subtle and continual psychological torture. It is a mark of a civilised and
humane society that it treats prisoners, any prisoners, in such a way so as not to deny them basic rights. It is a mark of politicians that they stand and argue for those rights, wherever they are being impeded upon.
The Howard government, the foreign minister and the Attorney-General are failing us terribly on both of these counts.
19 June 2006
‘Britain has secretly honoured a raft of senior US military and business figures in the past three years, it emerged last night. The recipients include General Tommy Franks, the man responsible for the "Shock and Awe " Iraq war attack plan, and Riley Bechtel, head of the Bechtel Corporation.
Mr Bechtel, the billionaire head of the US-based engineering giant, was handed a CBE for "services to UK-American commercial relations" in 2003, according to information obtained by The Observer. He is a likely bidder for future nuclear plants in the UK and has made hundreds of millions of dollars in reconstruction projects in Iraq. Others honoured include several senior US military figures, among them Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the man in charge of maritime forces during the Iraq invasion, and Rear Admiral Barry Costello, commander of the Third Fleet and Task Force 55.’