• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 10 februari 2007

De Nuance van de NRC 18

Precies zes dagen geleden schreef ik het volgende: 'Een waarschuwing voor de Nederlandse journalisten. En nu kijken welke krant of omroep in de polder dit gaat publiceren. Brzezinski is niet de eerste de beste, maar iemand die van binnenuit weet wat Amerikaanse regeringen doen.

'A political bombshell from Zbigniew Brzezinski
Ex-national security adviser warns that Bush is seeking a pretext to attack Iran
By Barry Grey in Washington DC

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser in the Carter administration, delivered a scathing critique of the war in Iraq and warned that the Bush administration’s policy was leading inevitably to a war with Iran, with incalculable consequences for US imperialism in the Middle East and internationally…

Following his opening remarks, in response to questions from the senators, Brzezinski reiterated his warning of a provocation.He called the senators’ attention to a March 27, 2006 report in the New York Times on “a private meeting between the president and Prime Minister Blair, two months before the war, based on a memorandum prepared by the British official present at this meeting.” In the article, Brzezinski said, “the president is cited as saying he is concerned that there may not be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, and that there must be some consideration given to finding a different basis for undertaking the action.”He continued: “I’ll just read you what this memo allegedly says, according to the New York Times: ‘The memo states that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation.’
“He described the several ways in which this could be done. I won’t go into that... the ways were quite sensational, at least one of them.“If one is of the view that one is dealing with an implacable enemy that has to be removed, that course of action may under certain circumstances be appealing. I’m afraid that if this situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, and if Iran is perceived as in some fashion involved or responsible, or a potential beneficiary, that temptation could arise.”’



Het onthullende van Brzezinski's betoog is dat hij impliciet ervoor waarschuwt dat de regering Bush opnieuw een leugen, een provocatie zoekt om een oorlog te beginnen, net zoals president Johnson destijds een leugen gebruikte om de massale bombardementen van Noord Vietnam te kunnen beginnen. Met andere woorden, volgens deze voormalige nationaal veiligheidsadviseur van de VS, staat onze NAVO-bondgenoot, de Bush Bende, op het punt een internationale misdaad te begaan.


We hebben zes dagen moeten wachten, maar ere die ere toekomt, de NRC herhaalt nu de waarschuwing van Brzezinski. Tegenover de correspondent in de VS, Tom-Jan Meeus, verklaart Brzezinski ondermeer het volgende: 'Een incident in Irak of een terreuraanval in de VS kan gemakkelijk aan Iran toe worden verweten... Vergeet niet dat deze oorlog (tegen Irak. svh) is begonnen omdat Irak massavernietigingswapens zou hebben - die er dus niet waren... Intussen wordt het meeste geweld in Irak gestimuleerd door de woede over de Amerikaanse vernietiging van de Iraakse staat... Mijn theorie geeft mijn zorgen weer. En deze zorgen zijn niet los te zien van het eerdere gedrag van deze zelfde regering... het is nog steeds niet duidelijk of Iran er nucleaire wapens mee wil maken.' Brzezinski wijst er voorts op dat 'Israel ook zelf een omvangrijk nucleair afweermechanisme [heeft]. Dus als Israel niet op de eigen nucleaire afschrikking vertrouwt, dan kan het mogelijk de eigen nucleaire wapens opgeven in ruil voor de toezegging dat Iran niet zal proberen nucleaire wapens te krijgen.'


Het is opmerkelijk dat het Brzezinski is die met deze eenvoudige logica komt en niet de NRC-redactie zelf, die zich in haar berichtgeving nooit door deze feiten laat leiden, bijvoorbeeld door het feit dat de bezetting in Irak niets te maken had met massavernietigingswapens, maar alles met olie, de meeste belangrijke grondstof ter wereld, waarvan de VS sinds kort het meeste moet importeren tegen prijzen die grotendeels door de OPEC worden bepaald. De context waarin de geschiedenis zich voltrekt, is bij de commerciele massamedia nauwelijks of niet aanwezig. Het is alsof alles bij toeval en ineens gebeurd. Tot nu toe hebben de NRC-lezers nog steeds niet in hun krant kunnen lezen wat de werkelijke motieven van de VS waren om Irak met geweld te bezetten. Waarom analyseert de NRC dit niet? En als een hooggeplaatste autoriteit in de NRC spreekt van 'de Amerikaanse vernietiging van de Iraakse staat,' waarom wordt die uitspraak niet verder onderzocht? Vooral als we weten dat de commerciele massamedia bij herhaling beweren dat het Westen daar zit om de democratie op te bouwen. Waarom wordt deze uitspraak van Brzezinski niet door de parlementaire redactie van de NRC voorgelegd aan het nieuwe Nederlandse kabinet, waarvan de deelnemende partijen voor het zenden van Nederlandse militairen naar Irak en Afghanistan waren en zijn? Op die manier krijgen dan de NRC-lezers eindelijk eens de context voorgeschoteld van gebeurtenissen die anders los van elkaar lijken te staan.
Welke nuance denkt de NRC-redactie te bereiken?

vrijdag 9 februari 2007

Iran 100

'Tomgram: Over the Cliff with George and Dick?
Thelma and Louise Imperialism
Over the Cliff with George and Dick?
By Tom Engelhardt

Let me make an argument about Bush administration Iran policy -- about the possibility that a regime-change-style, shock-and-awe air assault might someday be launched on Iranian nuclear facilities and associated targets -- based on no insider knowledge, just the logic of George-and-Dick's Thelma-and-Louise-style imperialism.
Of course, we all know at least half the story by now. Is there anybody in official Washington -- other than our President, Vice President, the Vice President's secretive imperial staff, assorted backs-against-the-wall neocon supporters lodged in the federal bureaucracy, and associated right-wing think tanks -- who isn't sweating blood, popping pills, and wondering what in the world to do about our delusional leaders?
You only have to pick up the morning paper to find the most mainstream of official types in an over-the-top mode that, bare months ago, would have been confined to the distant peripheries of political argument. There's Senator Joe Biden, the very definition of a mainstream man, grilling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about whether she believes the administration already has the authority to attack Iran and swearing, if she does, that it "will generate a constitutional confrontation in the Senate, I predict to you." (You can add the exclamation point to that comment or to similar ones from the likes of Senators James Webb and Chuck Hagel among others.) Or how about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on presidential pronouncements in January?
"Much has been made about President Bush's recent saber rattling toward Iran. This morning, I'd like to be clear: The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization -- the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization."
Former officials are now crawling out of the Washington woodwork to denounce Bush/Cheney policy in Iraq and Iran with the fervor (however masked by official Washington language) of an exorcism. There, for instance, is former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in front of Congress, more or less predicting the end of the Roman… sorry, the American empire:
"The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability… If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large… A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated…"
There are three retired high military officials, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (former assistant to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara), U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Hoar (former Centcom commander), and Navy Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan issuing a public letter insisting that attacking Iran "would have disastrous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions." There's Paul Pillar, former CIA analyst for the Middle East, in the Washington Post warning: "Avoiding the next military folly in the Middle East requires that the agenda for analysis and debate not be so severely and tendentiously truncated as before Iraq."
Even Secretary of State Rice, new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and hardline National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley seem to be exhibiting a certain degree of anxiety, sending back the intelligence dossier gathered by our embassy in Baghdad on Iranian interference in America's Iraq. (You know, "foreign" interference on our home turf.) Assumedly, this was because the latest doctored intelligence, claiming the Iranians are supplying advanced IED technology that is causing American deaths looks as hollow as the administration's cherry-picked and doctored intelligence on Iraqi WMDs before the 2003 invasion.
On the face of it, as Juan Cole long ago pointed out at his Informed Comment website, there's something suitably George-and-Dick wacky about claims like this, implying that the Iranians are arming the Sunni insurgency. How times have changed, however. Unlike in 2002-2003, officials and former officials are finally making such points in very public ways. Take, for instance, Bruce Riedel, a former top Middle East expert on the National Security Council, who recently bluntly told USA Today, "There is no evidence that the Sunnis are being assisted by Iran."
The Rice/Gates/Hadley send-back may, of course, turn out to be little more than the Iranian equivalent of Secretary of State Colin Powell sending back similarly wacky administration claims about Iraqi WMD before preparing his infamous UN presentation that led to the invasion of 2003. But if so, there's certain to be a lot more mainstream skepticism, criticism, and noise this time around.'

Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=164164

Martelen 65


Wat de hoofdredacteur van het NOS-Journaal Hans Laroes in een directief aan zijn ondergeschikten 'mishandeling' en later 'wangedrag' werd genoemd, wordt door de angelsaksische media gewoon marteling genoemd, wat het ook is.

'American Torture: The Book
Exposes the secret history of US torture at home and abroad...

"Michael Otterman's powerful book... should be compulsory reading for everyone with concerns over human rights." Rod Barton, Former Director of Intelligence (Australia), Weapons Inspector and Advisor to the CIA (Iraq).
George W. Bush calls them an 'alternative set of procedures': forcing victims to stand for forty hours, depriving them of sleep for weeks on end, dousing naked prisoners with ice water in rooms chilled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and strapping them to inclined boards then flooding their mouths with water. These techniques are torture, and they are used by the United States of America.
Michael Otterman reveals the long history of US torture. He shows how these procedures became standard practice in today's war on terror. Initially, the US military and CIA based their techniques on the work of their enemies: the Nazis, Soviets and Chinese. Billions of dollars were spent studying, refining, then teaching these techniques to instructors at military survival schools and interrogators charged with keeping communism at bay. Along the way, the US government produced torture-training manuals that were used in Vietnam, Latin America and elsewhere. As the Cold War ended, these tortures -- engineered to leave deep psychological wounds but few physical scars -- were legalized using the very laws designed to eradicate their use. After 9/11, they were revived again for use on enemy combatants detained in America's vast gulag of prisons across the globe -- from secret CIA black sites in Thailand to the Pentagon's detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Michael Otterman shows that these interrogation methods violate more than international law and fundamental human rights. They radicalize enemies, undermine credibility and yield unreliable intelligence. They do not make us more safe -- they make us less safe.

Press:This Year's Best Books, Sydney Morning Herald (Jan 6, 2007)Read More
Next Edition, The Australian (Dec 30, 2006)Read More
A Feast in Store, The Age (Dec 30, 2006)Read More

Publisher Information:American Torture © 2007 Melbourne University Publishing Pluto Press Distributed in North America by University of Michigan Press

http://americantorture.com/the_book.html

American Torture
From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and Beyond
Michael Otterman
Torture violates more than international law and fundamental human rights-it radicalises enemies, undermines credibility and yields unreliable intelligence.
Opinion
Michael Otterman's powerful book, "American Torture", traces the history of American torture from Nazi Germany to Guantanamo Bay. It an immensely disturbing story made all the more chilling by his disclosures that today these interrogation techniques are officially sanctioned under the guise of national security and that sets of rules have been developed to govern its practice. This book should be compulsory reading for everyone with concerns over human rights.--Rod Barton, former Director of Intelligence, weapons inspector and Advisor to the CIA (Iraq)

About this Title
Electric shocks.Sleep deprivation.Forced standing.Water boarding.
George W. Bush calls them an 'alternative set of procedures', vital tools needed 'to protect the American people and our allies'. By any definition, these techniques are torture.
In American Torture Michael Otterman reveals how torture became standard practice in today's War on Terror and how it was refined, spread and kept legal. Long before Abu Ghraib became a household name, the US military and CIA used torture with impunity at home and abroad. Billions of dollars were spent during the Cold War studying, refining, then teaching these techniques to American interrogators and to foreign officers charged with keeping Communism at bay.
As the Cold War ended, these tortures were legalised using the very laws designed to eradicate their use. After 9/11, they were revived again for use on 'enemy combatants' detained in America's vast gulag of prisons across the globe, from secret CIA black sites in Thailand to the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
American Torture shows how the road to Abu Ghraib leads back through US military survival schools, Latin American military assistance programs, Vietnamese counter-terror operations and, finally, to the USSR and Communist China.
Torture violates more than international law and fundamental human rights-it radicalises enemies, undermines credibility and yields unreliable intelligence.
Above all, the practice does not make the world a safer place.

About the Author
Michael Otterman is an award-winning freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. He was a recent visiting scholar at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney. He has covered crime and culture for an array of publications, including Melbourne's Is Not magazine, the Sydney City Hub newspaper, and Boston's Weekly Dig. He lives in New York City. American Torture is his first book.'

The Empire 172

Vanuit the land of the free, home of te brave het volgende bericht:

'Blogger in Jail Longer Than Any Journalist in History
By Adam Schreck
The Los Angeles Times

Freelance videographer Josh Wolf in July defied a federal grand jury's order to hand over raw footage of anarchists clashing with police in San Francisco.
He said he was protected by the 1st Amendment. A federal judge said he was in contempt of court.
On Aug. 1, the 24-year-old blogger reported to the federal detention facility in Dublin, Calif. and has been there ever since - except for a brief period in September. As of Tuesday, he had been incarcerated longer than any journalist in modern U.S. history.
Wolf's mother, a third-grade teacher from Wrightwood, will be on Capitol Hill Thursday to lobby members of Congress to help free her son. Liz Wolf-Spada also plans to push for a federal shield law that would protect mainstream journalists as well as independent journalists and bloggers like her son.
"I'm asking that they treat an independent journalist the same way they treat the journalists who work for the Hearst Corp.," she said, referring to the company that owns the San Francisco Chronicle and other papers.
One police officer was injured in the anti-globalization protest that Wolf filmed in July 2005. Outgoing U.S. Atty. Kevin Ryan's office is investigating whether protesters tried to torch a police car. Prosecutors argue that because federal money helped pay for the police car, the matter should be heard in federal court. Ryan spokesman Luke Macaulay said the grand jury needs the video to "determine what, if any, crimes were committed."
In a statement posted on his weblog Tuesday, Wolf - who sold some of his footage to San Francisco television stations - explained his decision not to comply with the grand jury's request.
"If the U.S. attorney can compel journalists to testify about what they've learned through their work and to force them to turn over their unpublished materials then not only will the public be unable to trust reporters but journalists themselves will become de facto deputies and investigators," read the message attributed to Wolf at www.joshwolf.net.
Supporters contend that his case is similar to that of two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who face up to 18 months in federal prison for refusing to cooperate with subpoenas to name their confidential sources for leaked grand jury testimony about steroid use in major league baseball. Last month, two congressmen called on Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to withdraw those subpoenas.
California, like several other states, has a shield law that protects journalists employed by news organizations from having to reveal the identities of unnamed sources or produce unpublished materials. That state law does not apply to Wolf because his case is being tried in federal court.
Wolf's case has won the support of several media watchdog groups that see his incarceration as an attack on press freedom.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-na-blogger8feb08,0,6020093.story?coll=la-home-headlines
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020807M.shtml

Amerikaanse Oorlogsmisdaden 38


'US Iraqi Holocaust And One Million Excess Deaths
By Dr Gideon Polya
Countercurrents.org
It is nearly the Fourth Anniversary of the illegal Anglo-American-Australian-Coalition invasion of Iraq. What has been the economic and human cost of Bush’s Iraq War?
In short, as of February 2007: (a) the accrual cost has been $2.3 TRILLION; (b) there are 3.7 million Iraqi refugees; (c) the post-invasion excess deaths (avoidable deaths, deaths that did not have to happen) total 1.0 million (ONE MILLION); (d) post-invasion under-5 infant deaths total 0.6 million; (e) there were 1.7 million excess Iraqi deaths associated with the Western-imposed 1990-2003 Sanctions War; (f) there were 1.2 million under-5 year old infant deaths in the 1990-2003 Sanctions War (see: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/12261/42/ ); and (g) Coalition deaths total about 3,360. These horrifying estimates from authoritative sources are amplified and documented below.
(a) ECONOMIC COST TO USA. The accrual cost of the Iraq War (i.e. the total, long-term committed cost, not just the Congressional allocation as measured by “cost accounting”) is $2.3 trillion according to the 2001 Economics Nobel Laureate US Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University) and his Harvard colleague Professor Linda Bilmes (see: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15499.htm ).
(b) IRAQI REFUGEES. The number of Iraqi refugees now total 3.7 million - 2.0 million outside Iraq and 1.7 million inside Iraq – and UNHCR predicts that there will be up to 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of this year. (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1986147,00.html ).
(c) POST-INVASION IRAQI EXCESS DEATHS. In October 2006 an estimate of “655,000 post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Iraq as of July 2006” came from a top medical epidemiology research team in America's (and the World's) top Public Health Department (the Bloomberg School of Public Health) at a top US university (Johns Hopkins) and was published peer-reviewed in a top medical journal (The Lancet) and endorsed by 27 top Australian medical experts in the area (see: MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/12163/42/ ; http://mwcnews.net/content/view/1375/247/ and http://mwcnews.net/content/view/11293/42/ ).
Consider the following estimate from the Johns Hopkins medical scientists of "annual death rate per 1,000 of population" of 13.3 (post-invasion Iraq) as compared to (a) 5.5 (for pre-invasion Iraq after 12 years of crippling Sanctions) and (b) 4.0 (for Iraq's resource-poor but peaceful neighbours Syria and Jordan; UN Population Division data: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ).
The "post-invasion excess death rate/1000 of population" was 13.3 - 5.5 = 7.8 (Comparison A) or 13.3 - 4.0 = 9.3 (Comparison B). Assuming an average population of 27 million, the "post-invasion excess deaths" total (over 4 years i.e. as of February 2007) (A) 7.8 x 2,700 x 4 = 842,000 and (B) 9.3 x 2,700 x 4 = 1,004,400 i.e. ONE MILLION.
(d) POST-INVASION UNDER-5 YEAR OLD INFANT DEATHS. The post-invasion Iraqi under-5 infant deaths total 0.6 million as determined from UN Population Division data (see: ). 90% of these under-5 infant deaths have been avoidable and are due to gross Occupier violation of the Geneva Conventions (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ).
(e) SANCTIONS WAR EXCESS DEATHS (1990-2003). Excess deaths in Iraq during the 1990-2003 Sanctions War totalled 1.7 million (from UN Population Division data: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ).'

The Empire 171

'Pentagon slammed after US Army confirms private security contract in Iraq.

After numerous denials, the Pentagon has confirmed that a North Carolina company provided armed security guards in Iraq under a subcontract that was buried so deeply the government could not find it.
The secretary of the Army has told Democratic lawmakers that the Blackwater USA contract was part of a huge military support operation by run by Halliburton subsidiary KBR.
Vice President Dick Cheney ran Halliburton before he became vice president.
Several times last year, Pentagon officials told inquiring lawmakers they could find no evidence of the Blackwater contract. Blackwater, of Moyock, North Carolina, did not respond to several requests for comment.
The discovery shows the dense world of Iraq contracting, where the main contractor hires subcontractors who then hire additional subcontractors. Each company tacks on a charge for overhead, a cost that works its way up to US taxpayers.
"This ongoing episode demonstrates the Pentagon's complete failure to safeguard taxpayer dollars," said Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, one of the lawmakers who had asked about the Blackwater contract and received denials.
"They continue to look the other way in the face of overwhelming evidence that Halliburton was charging taxpayers for unauthorised security services," Van Hollen said.
The hidden contract not only cost taxpayers money, it also might have been illegal. The Halliburton subsidiary's main contract for military support services prohibited hiring subcontractors to provide armed security. That job is left to the US military, unless the theatre commander decides otherwise.'

Lees verder: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/
worldnews.html?in_article_id=434586&in_page_id=1811

Irak 164

'February 8, 2007. A man holds his mother after she suffered a panic attack following his questioning and near-detainment by US Army soldiers in Baghdad. Former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, in testimony before the Senate foreign relations committee Thursday, criticized Bush administration policy as driven by "imperial hubris" and called it a "disaster" on historic, strategic and moral grounds. (Photo: David Furst / AFP)'

Gewoon een van die vele beelden waarmee we in onze beeldcultuur dagelijks worden gebombardeerd. Wat valt me meteen op: natuurlijk het leed van deze twee geintimideerde burgers op de vloer, maar ook - gek genoeg - iets anders. Al die Amerikaanse militairen staan met hun schoenen op de kleden, iets dat je niet doet in de arabische wereld. Het is een teken van respectloosheid. Een van de binnendringers is er eens lekker bij gaan zitten, terwijl de moeder uitgevloerd ligt. En ook op die manier wordt het gezien door de slachtoffers van het Amerikaans geweld. Uiteindelijk is de man niet gevangen genomen. Er was kennelijk geen reden voor en toch die inbreuk op de privacy van de mensen wier land wordt bezet door deze soldaten. De oorlog is verloren, de consequenties daarvan zullen we de komende jaren merken. Laten de westerse troepen zo snel mogelijk naar hun barakken in hun eigen land terugkeren.

Weg uit Irak en Afghanistan, behalve de olie hebben we er niets te zoeken. Die mensen leven in een millennia-oude cultuur, ons neokolonialisme kan ze niets fatsoenlijks leren. We veroorzaken alleen maar nog meer leed. En daar staan fotografen met hun neus bovenop om het te laten zien aan ontelbaar veel ogen in de buitenwereld, wat de vernedering nog eens miljoenvoudig doet toenemen. Ze willen ons niet, net zomin als wij zouden willen dat arabieren in het Westen gaan bepalen hoe wij moeten leven. Zouden wij willen dat we op die manier met onze oude moeder aan de wereld worden getoond? Nee dus. Waarom is dat nu zo verschrikkelijk moeilijk te begrijpen? De uitgestrekte arm van die soldaat die geen woord Arabisch spreekt en de linkerpols met die plastic doorgeknipte handboei van de man die geen woord Engels spreekt. Waar kijken we toch naar? Verwarring, angst, haat die nog meer angst, verwarring en haat oproepen. Een vicieuze cirkel die explodeert en weer opnieuw begint, tot de agressor verdwijnt, de dood in of naar zijn land van herkomst.

En die parlementaire democratie die we volgens de Balkenendes, Blairs en Bushes van de wereld aan het verspreiden zouden zijn, nemen die mensen daar met een korreltje zout, net zoals de 50 procent van de Amerikanen, die al decennialang niet meer stemt, de Amerikaanse democratie met een korreltje zout neemt. Die Amerikanen weten dat stemmen toch niets wezenlijks verandert, en de Irakese bevolking is net zo slim als de Amerikaanse. Of dacht u dat ze dommer zijn?

John Pilger 12

'THE WAR ON DEMOCRACY', JOHN PILGER'S FIRST CINEMA FILM, DUE FOR EARLY 2007 RELEASE

Two years in the making, 'The War on Democracy' is to be released in cinemas in the UK in early 2007, date to be decided. The distributor is Lionsgate Films which, in the UK and the US, has played a leading part in the new wave of feature-length documentaries.

'The War on Democracy' is John Pilger's first major film for the cinema - in a career that has produced more than 55 television documentaries. Set in Latin America and the US, it explores the historic and current relationship of Washington with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.

"The film tells a universal story," says Pilger, "analysing and revealing, through vivid testimony, the story of great power behind its venerable myths. It allows us to understand the true nature of the so-called war on terror". The ITV network will show the new film following its cinema debut.

PILGER DVD RELEASED IN THE UK

John Pilger DVDs are now available to buy in the UK. Released on DVD for the first time and personally chosen by John Pilger, the Documentaries That Changed The World box set brings together twelve of Pilger's most hard-hitting and inspirational films - Vietnam: The Quiet Mutiny (1970), Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia (1979), Burp! Pepsi v Coke in the Ice Cold War (1982), Nicaragua: A Nation's Right to Survive (1983), Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy (1994), Flying the Flag: Arming the World (1995), Inside Burma: Land of Fear (1996), Welcome to Australia (1999), Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq (2000), Palestine Is Still The Issue (2002), Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (2003) & Stealing A Nation (2004).'

Zie: http://www.johnpilger.com/

De Commerciele Massamedia 28


Meer dan wie dan ook leven journalisten in een schizofrene wereld. Enerzijds worden ze geacht de belangen van de lezers/ luisteraars en kijkers te dienen, anderszijds worden ze geacht de belangen van de belangrijkste financiers van hun medium niet te schaden, de grote concerns en de staat. Maar al te vaak kan dat niet omdat de belangen van de een de belangen van de ander schaden. De klimaatverandering is zo'n voorbeeld.
Media Lens bericht:
'MEDIA ALERT: IN THE SPIRIT OF NERO
"There ain't no time to wonder whyWhoopee! We're all gonna die." ('Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die' Rag, Country Joe and The Fish, 1967)
The science is now clear: humanity is bringing disaster to our planet. On February 3, the Independent noted that the latest scientific assessment by the prestigious UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides "humanity's loudest warning yet of the catastrophe that is threatening to overtake us". "No more excuses," the Guardian's editorial intoned on the same day. The irony is bitter indeed. While the Guardian's front page was packed with doom-laden warnings, the centre spread consisted of a two-page, full-colour advert for Renault cars: "Everything is sport." For good measure, the cover story of the Travel supplement promoted holidays to New York.A classic double-page was also to be found at the heart of the Independent: graphs of perilously rising temperatures, text explaining the catastrophic impacts, photographs of climate-related disasters around the world. And also, bottom left on the same page, a large advert for Halfords "car essentials" and, bottom right, an American Airlines advert for reduced-fare flights (just £199!) to New York

The rest of the Independent - like all other newspapers - was crammed with the usual inducements to indulge in unrestrained consumerism: Renault, Audi and Hyundai cars, a multitude of hotel breaks, hi-tech electronic gadgets, credit card loans, furniture and yet more 'cheap' flights. The message? We're rapidly heading for disaster and must take decisive action now. Meanwhile, we must continue accelerating along the same path that is the cause of this disaster. Never has the structural conflict of interest at the very heart of the corporate media been more painfully exposed.
The Beauty Of The Flames
The cover story of the Independent on Sunday's Review supplement the following day (February 4) was almost beyond belief. The words on the cover ran: "Time is running out... Ski resorts are melting... Paradise islands are vanishing... So what are you waiting for? "30 places you need to visit while you still can - A 64-page Travel Special..."

Precies hetzelfde geldt voor de Nederlandse kranten en omroepen. De NRC bijvoorbeeld opende op maandag 29 januari 2007 met 'Het staat nu wel vast: het klimaat verandert. Het wordt warmer, de zee stijgt en er ligt minder sneeuw.' Dit naar aanleiding van het rapport van de IPCC, de klimaatscommissie van de Verenigde Naties, waarin gewaarschuwd wordt voor de rampzalige gevolgen van de klimaatsverandering als gevolg van de uitstoot van vooral CO2. Op de achterkant van de NRC staat dezelfde dag een paginagrote advertentie van Nyenrode. Business Universiteit. The Spirit of Enterprise, dezelfde materialistische, neoliberale spirit die de wereld verwoest. De advertentie die met dank aan onder andere Heineken tot stand kwam, heeft als kop: De wereld is weer 98 ondernemende managers rijk.
Telkens weer stel ik me deze vraag: wiens belangen behartigt de journalist van dit bericht?

donderdag 8 februari 2007

Klimaatverandering 88


'What Al Gore Hasn't Told You About Global Warming
By David Morris, AlterNet.

George Monbiot's new book Heat picks up where Al Gore left off on global warming, offering real solutions without sugar-coating the large personal sacrifices they will require.
Al Gore is our generation's Paul Revere. Riding hard through the country, he warns us of the impending arrival of climatic disaster. He's proven an astonishingly effective messenger. An Inconvenient Truth may receive an Oscar for Best Documentary. Overflow crowds greet his presentations with standing ovations.
Which, come to think of it, is odd. When has someone ever delivered such an ominous message to such tumultuous applause? (Aside from those who insist we are in the end times and the rapture is near.)
In a recent speech to a standing-room-only audience at the New York University School of Law, Gore declared, "We are moving closer to several 'tipping points' that could -- within as little as 10 years -- make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization." The audience cheered wildly. Presumably audiences are not cheered by the prospect of imminent catastrophe. So what is going on here?
British journalist George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (Doubleday, 2006) has a theory.
"We wish our governments to pretend to act," he writes. "We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity."
Austerity? Hold on. Al Gore and the rest of the U.S. environmental movement never utter the word "austerity." Their word of choice is "opportunity." The prospect of global warming, they maintain, can serve as a much-needed catalyst to spur us to action. A large dose of political will may be required, but we need not anticipate economic pain. We can stop global warming in its tracks, expand our economy and improve our quality of life. We can, in other words, do good and do quite well. A leading environmentalist, for whom I have a great deal of admiration, summed up his position to an interviewer, "I can't stand it when people say, 'Taking action on climate change is going to be extremely difficult.'"
And there's the rub, as dear Hamlet would say. By claiming we can solve the problem of climate change painlessly, environmentalists confuse us. They offer stark and rigorous presentations terrifying us about the near-term, dire consequences of global warming. And then they offer generalized, almost blithe assurances about how we can avoid these dire consequences without great sacrifice. We are horrified and soothed at the same time. It's a dangerous strategy. Many who focus on the catastrophic present-day images of An Inconvenient Truth believe we have gone beyond the point of no return, which leads to cynicism and passivity. Those who are spurred to action believe that buying a hybrid car or taking an eco-vacation will address the problem.
Indeed, the "take action" section of Al Gore's website, http://ww.alternet.org/envirohealth/46318/www.climatecrisis.net recommends the following steps. Put on a sweater. Use more efficient light bulbs. Turn the thermostat down 2 degrees. Drive less.
I'm sure Al Gore knows that even if millions of individuals were to adopt such actions, the pace of ecological disaster would not slow one whit. I presume he views these actions as a way for us to demonstrate our willingness accept responsibility for our consumption habits. The next, and far more important, step is to persuade us to work collectively and aggressively for bold new policies. A recent letter from Al Gore, emailed from MoveOn.org asked us to do just that by signing a petition to push Congress to action.
Gore declared, "I'm ready to push for real solutions, but I need your help ..." The email offered no policy solutions. Nor does Al Gore's web site or speeches, except for his recommendation that America immediately freeze its greenhouse gas emissions and then reduce them.
George Monbiot, a reporter for the British newspaper, Guardian takes up where Al Gore and many others leave off. Heat is a remarkable book. For it is not written to convince the unconvinced global warming, but to educate the already-persuaded, those who exited the theater after watching An Inconvenient Truth with fire in their bellies, ready to fight the incoming menace about what must be done, and ready to face the significant sacrifices that will have to be made along the way.
Monbiot's assumptions differ only modestly from those of Al Gore. Both believe the window of opportunity is short, and closing. Both believe we must immediately freeze greenhouse gas emissions and then reduce them by up to 60 percent below current levels by about 2030. (Gore may use the 2050 time frame). Monbiot recommends more rapid reductions than others, but he argues persuasively that an ounce of reduction in the early years can avoid the need for a pound of reduction in the later years.
A key contribution by Monbiot is that he addresses the question Al Gore asks, but doesn't answer. "(W)hat would a responsible approach to the climate crisis look like if we had one in America?" Monbiot asks the question of his home country, United Kingdom.
Monbiot launches his investigation by asking a crucial question rarely discussed by Al Gore and other U.S. environmentalists: How does the responsibility of the world's largest polluters differ from that of the rest of the world? The average American generates more than 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions as does the average Chinese, and perhaps 30 times more than the average citizen of Bangladesh. (The gluttony of the average citizen of the UK is not far below that of the average American).
When Al Gore says he wants to freeze emissions, presumably he's talking about planetary emissions, not U.S. emissions. Otherwise, he's asking humanity to freeze the current stark disparity in resource use in place. That's politically impossible and morally disagreeable. Since the U.S. and UK generate a disproportionate amount of global greenhouse gases, a responsible approach presumably would require them to disproportionately reduce their emissions.'

Irak 163

'Tomgram:

Nick Turse, America's Secret Air War in Iraq

Just last week, in a typical air strike of the Iraq War, two missiles were fired at targets somewhere in the city of Ramadi, capital of al-Anbar province in the heartland of the Sunni insurgency, in the course of a battle with American forces stationed there. According to newspaper accounts, "18 insurgents" were killed.
Air power has, since World War II, been the American way of war. The invasion of Iraq began, after all, with a dominating show of air power that was meant to "shock and awe" -– that is, cow -- not just Saddam Hussein's regime, but the whole "axis of evil" and other countries the Bush administration had in its mental gun sights. Among the largest of America's "permanent" megabases in Iraq is Balad Air Base with the sorts of daily air-traffic pile-ups that you would normally see over Chicago's O'Hare Airport. And yet, as Tomdispatch.com has written numerous times over these last years, reporters in Iraq almost determinedly refuse to look up or report on the regular, if intermittent, application of American air power especially to heavily populated neighborhoods in Iraq's cities.
Now, the Bush "surge" is officially beginning. Little about it is strikingly new or untried -- except possibly the unspoken urge to ratchet up the use of air power in Iraq, the only thing a Pentagon with desperately overstretched ground forces really has to throw into the escalation breach (as in recent months it has drastically escalated the use of air power in Afghanistan). Pepe Escobar, the superb globe-trotting correspondent for Asia Times, has recently warned that the new Bush administration "plan" signals "the dire prospect... of a devastating air war over Baghdad" in which "Iraqification-cum-surge" will prove "a disaster mostly for every Baghdadi caught in the crossfire."
Just last week, Julian E. Barnes of the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. Air Force has the Iraqi itch and is getting ready to scratch it. Air Force commanders are preparing for a "heightened role in the volatile region." They are, he reported, already "gearing up for just such a role in Iraq as part of Bush's planned troop increase" -- an expansion of air power that "could include aggressive new tactics designed to deter Iranian assistance to Iraqi militants… [and] more forceful patrols by Air Force and Navy fighter planes along the Iran-Iraq border to counter the smuggling of bomb supplies from Iran."
Until now, U.S. air power in Iraq has been a non-story -- if you weren't an Iraqi. In the coming months, however, it may force its way onto the front pages of our papers and onto the nightly TV news -- but not if the Pentagon has anything to say about it. Doing some journalistic sleuthing, Nick Turse has discovered just how secretive the Pentagon has been about offering any significant information on the size, scope, and damage involved in its air operations over Iraq. The story of this secret American air war is now told for the first time -- and at this website. Tom'

Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=163152

De Dollar Hegemonie 27



'The Great Dollar Crash of ‘07

By Mike Whitney
The massive equity bubbles which arose from artificially low interest rates and the deliberate destruction of the dollar by reckless increases in the money supply have shifted trillions of dollars from working class Americans to the predatory aristocrats at the top of the economic food chain. The gulf between rich and poor has grown so wide that it now poses a direct threat to our increasingly fragile democracy.
“Whatever future developments may prove to be, my best guess is that the US will continue to maintain a façade of Constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it.” Chalmers Johnson, “Empire V. Democracy: Why Nemesis is at our Door”
Every time a US Dollar is traded, a check is issued on an account that is overdrawn by $8.6 trillion. (That is the present size of the national debt) It is, without question, the biggest swindle in history. Flimsy sheets of faded-green scrip are eagerly exchanged for costly goods and services without any regard for the real value of the currency. And, the real value of the currency is absolutely nothing! How is it that this scam persists when people appear to be aware of the massive debt and deficits which underwrite the dollar? Do they still believe in that puerile fairy tale about “the full faith and credit” of the United States backing up every greenback? Or are they pacified by the wizened graybeards, like Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson, who soothingly bray about the “strong dollar policy”? What gibberish. In truth, the dollar rests on the crumbling foundation of consumerism and oil. The American consumer’s gluttonous appetite for spending has kept the greenback flying high for decades. Economists marvel at America’s lust for electronic gadgetry, the latest fashions, and useless knick-knacks. They call our profligate spending “the engine for global growth”; and indeed it is. No other country in the world is nearly as addicted to binge-spending as the US consumer. As long as he can beg, borrow or steal his way into the shopping mall; the orgy of spending is bound to continue. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP) Regrettably, there are signs that the US consumer is beginning to buckle from the weight of personal debt. The Associated Press reported just this week that “people are saving at the slowest rate since the Great Depression… and the Commerce Dept stated that the nation’s personal savings rate for 2006 was a negative 1%, the worst showing in 73 years.” Additionally, credit card debt has skyrocketed, which is an indication that homeowners are no longer able to siphon easy-money from their home-equity. The nose-diving real estate market has slowed refinancing to a dribble; cutting off the additional $825 billion of cash which was extracted from home-equity just last year. Clearly, the well is running dry; the housing bubble is hang-gliding into the abyss and there’s nothing Fed-master Bernanke can do to save it from its inevitable crash-landing. The central banks around the world are now watching for any sign that the American consumer is about to give up the ghost. As soon as that happens, bank managers everywhere will swing into action, ditch their U.S.Dollars and head for the exits. When the “global engine” sputters to a halt; it’ll be curtains for the greenback. The Oil-extortion Racket The dollar’s link to oil has helped to keep it afloat but, in truth, it’s just another dismal rip-off. More than 70% of the world’s oil is denominated in USD; a virtual monopoly for the USA. Until last year, even Russia was using dollars in its oil transactions with Germany. Imagine a comparable deal, like the US purchasing oil from Canada in rubles?!? It’s lunacy; and yet this is the system the US hopes to preserve so it can maintain its unique status as the world’s “reserve currency” and keep expanding its debt into perpetuity. It explains why the Federal Reserve has been able to increase the money supply by a whopping 15% for the last 6 years! Trillions of dollars are now circulating in the oil trade keeping the value of the dollar high by creating artificial demand. The other reason the dollar hasn’t succumbed to hyperinflation is because the current account deficit is running at roughly $800 billion per year. The Asian giants (China and Japan) and the oil exporting countries are mopping up more than $700 billion of our red ink every year! The dollar’s link to oil forces central banks to maintain humongous stockpiles of USD to pay the steadily rising price of oil that keeps their industries and vehicles running. Otherwise they would have chucked the flaccid greenback years ago and converted to the more steadfast euro.The so-called ‘global economic system’ has nothing to do with competition, free markets or private enterprise; that’s just public relations gobbledygook. In practice, it is the world’s biggest extortion racket, wherein, the “Godfather”-- Uncle Sam-- holds a gun to the heads of his subjects and forces them to use our fiat-paper to purchase the oil that lubricates their economies. Why would anyone accept a personal check from a nation that owes the bank more than $8.6 trillion dollars? Why, indeed? It’s blackmail, pure and simple; and yet, the Chinese, Japanese etc. continue to play along knowing full-well that we neither have the inclination nor the resources to pay them back in kind? It’s madness.'

The Empire 170


The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy
From the Truman Doctrine to the Neo-Conservatives

by Michel Chossudovsky

PERDANA GLOBAL PEACE ORGANISATION
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE EXPOSE WAR CRIMES - CRIMINALISE WAR
5-7 February 2007, Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur

1. The contemporary context
The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, "a long war", which threatens the future of humanity.
At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout, over a large part of the Middle East.
There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration, in liaison with Israel and NATO, is planning the launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for Tehran's nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in "an advanced state of readiness".
If such a plan were to be launched, the war would escalate and eventually engulf the entire Middle-East Central Asian region.
The war could extend beyond the region, as some analysts have suggested, ultimately leading us into a World War III scenario.
The US-led naval deployment (involving a massive deployment of military hardware) is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean is broadly under the jurisdiction of NATO in liaison with Israel. Directed against Syria, it is conducted under the façade of a UN "peace-keeping" mission. In this context, the Israeli led war on Lebanon last Summer, which was conducive to countless atrocities and the destruction of an entire country, must be viewed as a stage of the broader US sponsored military road-map.
2. Naval Buildup in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean
The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada.
The naval buildup is coordinated with the air attacks. The planning of aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

While its contents remain classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the stockpiling and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.
In recent developments, there are reports that Washington is planning to launch air attacks from military bases in Romania and Bulgaria. "American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania's Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April [2007]," according to the Bulgarian news agency Novinite.
3. The Ultimate War Crime: Using Nuclear Weapons in a Conventional War theater
Despite Pentagon statements, which describe tactical nuclear weapons as "safe for the surrounding civilian population", the use of nukes in a conventional war theater directed against Iran would trigger the ultimate war crime: a nuclear holocaust. The resulting radioactive contamination, which threatens future generations, would by no means be limited to the Middle East.

B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb
4. The "War on Terrorism": Pretext to Wage War
In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States". Mass casualty producing events, involving the death of civilians are being used to galvanize public opinion in support of a military agenda. The deaths of civilian are used to justify preemptive actions to defend the American homeland against an alleged outside enemy, who are identified as "Islamic terrorists".
Mass Casualty Producing Events
"A terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event." General Tommy Franks,
"We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order." (David Rockefeller)
"As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." (Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Grand Chessboard)
The presumption was that if such a 9/11 type event involving the deaths of civilians (mass casualty producing event) were to take place, Iran would, according to Cheney, be behind it, thereby providing a pretext for punitive bombings, much in the same way as the US sponsored attacks on Afghanistan in October 2001, allegedly in retribution for the alleged support of the Taliban government to the 9/11 terrorists
More recently, several analysts have focussed on the creation of a "Gulf of Tonkin incident", which would be used by the Bush administration as a pretext to wage war on Iran.'


Lees verder: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20070201&articleId=4659

Klimaatverandering 87

'Who's Funding Global Warming?
By Tara Lohan
AlterNet.org

Find out which banks are part of the problem, and which are part of the solution, in the fight against global climate change.
Wearing hats shaped like smokestacks and carrying signs that said, "Coal Investments Cook the Climate," a group known as Billionaires for Coal raised awareness last week about the plans by TXU, a Dallas-based utility company, to build 11-new pulverized coal-fired power plants in Texas.
The activists delivered suitcases of coal, but the recipient of their gift was not TXU and they were a long way from Texas. Instead, their action took place in New York's financial district where they visited the headquarters of Merrill Lynch - a company that is putting coal and profits above human health and climate change.
Merrill Lynch is one of three major financial institutions, along with Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, that have agreed to arrange the needed $11 billion to finance TXU's plants.
It is widely known among scientists and regulators that coal-fired power plants are the most polluting form of electricity and right now, the world needs every opportunity it can to move away from the production of more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Some say the impetus is on the government to regulate GHG emissions; others put the responsibility on utility companies. But organizations like Rainforest Action Network (RAN) believe that banks that fund polluting projects like TXU also need to be held accountable.
The recent action by Billionaires for Coal in New York begs the question: What is the role of the global finance industry when it comes to climate change? It also highlights the ripple effect of global warming - more coal plants in Texas will be everyone's problem - including Wall Street's.
Banking on Dirty Money
If TXU secures the necessary money and permits, their 11 plants will produce 78 million tons of CO2 emissions each year for the expected 50-year lifespan of the plants.
Let's put that number in perspective. According to Environmental Defense, TXU's projected output of 78 million tons of CO2 a year is more than entire countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal. It is also the equivalent of putting 10 million Cadillac Escalades on the road or cutting and burning all the trees in a section of the Amazon the size of over 9 million football fields - larger than the state of California.
"This is the U.S. and its insanity at its very greatest. We are facing a climate crisis," said Brianna Cayo Cotter of RAN. "We are standing at the edge of a cliff and this is the sort of project that just pushes us over."
TXU seems to be striving to become known as the largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. With mounting political pressure in the United States and growing international action, what kinds of institutions want to be associated with them?
So far, the only three officially committed to the project are Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley, and they are known as "lead arrangers," in charge of helping TXU get the $11 billion in financing.
RAN has sent letters to 56 global banks - across the United States, Canada, Europe, and even in Japan and Brazil - urging banks to reject requests to finance the project.
In the Netherlands four banks were being approached for financing despite the fact that TXU's project will produce six times the pledged CO2 reductions of their country - negating the efforts (six times over) of the Dutch people to limit their contributions to climate change.
According to Cotter, at least 18 banks have already responded that they have no interest in financing the plan, and not one has affirmed that they will. So far there are also three major banks on public record saying they are not on board - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of Montreal. Wachovia and Scotiabank are among those still on the fence.
Many banks make it their policy not to comment on clients and so have not responded. However, a little reading between the lines sometimes can provide a sense of their position.
The London-based HSBC became the world's first bank in 2005 to commit to becoming carbon neutral.'

Lees verder: http://www.alternet.org/story/47615/ Of: http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/020607EC.shtml

Irak 162

'Ersatz Apocalypto: Slaughter and Spin in the Battle for Najaf
By Chris Floyd
t r u t h o u t UK Correspondent
Tuesday 06 February 2007

I. Rashomon in Babylon

It has been cast as a ferocious battle against a mighty opponent: a fanatical "apocalyptic cult" storming the holy city of Najaf with hundreds of warriors led by a self-proclaimed Islamic Messiah, their frenzy quelled only at the last moment by a massive intervention of American firepower. But, as with so much else in the blood-soaked annals of the Bush administration's disastrous Babylonian Conquest, it appears this neat story masks a far grimmer, grubbier truth: a mass slaughter of civilians, caught in the toxic fog of hair-trigger tension, sectarian hatred and violent political ambition unleashed by the US invasion.
The January 28 clash in Najaf was, the New York Times proclaimed, the greatest one-day battle in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Some 200-400 "cultists" were killed by Iraqi troops and the American air and ground forces that came to their rescue when the apocalyptics - whose ranks included Baathists and al-Qaeda terrorists - nearly overran the Iraqi government troops, according to the NYT and other Western media.
The "bizarre" and "extraordinary" attack by the obscure but massively armed "Soldiers of Heaven" Shiite splinter group was an attempt to kill the leading clerics in the sacred city, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of millions of Iraqi Shiites, we were told. This massacre would supposedly usher in the reign of the Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah figure whom many Shiites believe is coming to redeem - and judge - the world. For hours on end, the outgunned and ill-trained Iraqi government soldiers held off the swarming zealots until American planes began bombing raids on the cult's entrenched positions in the groves outside Najaf and US troops marched in to bolster the flagging locals.
It was indeed a rousing tale of carnage, courage and fearsome zeal, fit for one of Mel Gibson's cinematic bloodbaths. Yet, in the days following the attack, it has became increasingly apparent that the story being presented in the Western media - based largely on accounts from Iraqi government officials and the Pentagon - has about as much historical accuracy as Gibson's ersatz epics.
So what happened in Najaf? It is, of course, hard to see anything clearly through the natural confusions of a nation in chaos and the deliberate manipulations of the powerful and their sycophants, but there are independent Iraqi sources - nonsectarian, nonaligned, democratic - who have been providing eyewitness accounts and analyses of stories in the wide-ranging Iraqi press, which is almost entirely ignored by the Western media. One of these, the blog "Healing Iraq" - written by "Zayed," an Iraqi professional who spent his childhood in Britain - has led the way in unpacking the Najaf firestorm.
To be fair, it's no wonder that Western accounts of the fighting were confused, as they relied on "bizarre" and "extraordinary" - and wildly varying - accounts from officials of the Bush-backed Iraqi government. For example, one of the primary sources for the New York Times's story of the battle - which no Western reporters were allowed to witness - was Abdul Hussein Abtan, the deputy governor of Najaf province, and a member of one of the Iranian-backed, armed sectarian factions that George W. Bush has empowered in Baghdad: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). During a press conference aired on Al-Iraqiya television, Abtan first claimed that the "foreign-funded" cult was led by a Lebanese, then later said its leader was an Iraqi. As Zayed notes, none of the journalists present questioned the contradiction.
In his latest report, Zayed details the bewildering array of versions offered up by factions connected with the Iraqi government. Followers of controversial cleric Moqtada al-Sadr first identified the Najaf "attackers" as members of the cult. The Sadrists, buttressed by spokesmen in the Iraqi Health Ministry, which they control, also asserted that the group was planning to kidnap, not kill, Sistani, Sadr and other top Shiite clerics. It was also the Sadrists who claimed that the attackers were working with al-Qaeda and Saddam loyalists, "and that they received logistical and monetary backing from Saudi Arabia." They said the sect's leader was an Iraqi named Dhiaa' Abdul Zahra Kadhim.
Meanwhile, SCIRI members, buttressed by the Najaf provincial government, which they control, said that more than 1,000 terrorists were killed in the battle, and that some 200 "brainwashed women and children" were detained and "removed to another place," presumably for deprogramming. SCIRI officials differed on the number of terrorists captured in the battle; one said 50, another said 16, and yet another said "hundreds" were detained. It was SCIRI that advanced the notion that the attack aimed to kill the clerics, not capture them. Various SCIRI officials said the cult's leader was a) the aforesaid, unnamed Lebanese national; b) Dhiaa' Abdul Zahra Kadhim, as in the Sadrist account; c) a renegade Sadrist named Ahmed Kadhim Al-Gar'awi Al-Basri ; d) another renegade Sadrist named Ahmed Hassan al-Yamani; e) a self-proclaimed messiah named Ali bin Ali bin Abi Talib.'

Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020607R.shtml

Irak 161

'Veterans Group Speaks Out on War
By Lyndsey Layton and Jonathan Weisman
The Washington Post

Congressional Democrats let VoteVets.org talk for them, bluntly.
When Iraq war veteran Jon Soltz accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of "aiding the enemy," the Democratic senators gathered around him yesterday did not wince. Nor did Democrats object when Soltz, the chairman of a group called VoteVets.org, called President Bush and Vice President Cheney "draft dodgers."
In the United States Congress, where decorum usually holds sway, Soltz and his small band of veterans are saying things many Democrats would like to express but can't. And as the politics heat up over the Iraq war, Democratic leaders increasingly are being drawn to Soltz and his angry soldiers.
VoteVets.org appears to be the most active group trying to influence the debate about the president's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. Last month, it dispatched veterans to the home states of Republican senators waffling over resolutions on the war. Next, it ran a stark television ad on Super Bowl Sunday that drew national attention. And this week, group members crisscrossed Capitol Hill, trying to persuade lawmakers and their staffs to oppose the troop increase.
Their efforts are supported by a coalition of liberal groups that blocked the president's 2005 plan to privatize Social Security. But this new campaign could prove more difficult.
The veterans are selling a blunt message: The Bush strategy in Iraq is a failure, and adding troops sends more young men and women to their deaths. If you care about the military, they told lawmakers, vote against the troop increase. Legislators who are stalling debate on the matter are "cowards," they said.
This week marked their third pilgrimage to the Capitol. They met privately with the staffs of 11 senators, mostly Republicans. They talked strategy behind closed doors with the Democrats who run the House and then held a media event with those leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who praised them for speaking out.
Soltz, the group's intense 29-year-old co-founder who served in Iraq in 2003, displayed a fiery impatience with the procedural morass that has paralyzed the Senate. "I don't need some fancy Senate talk about why they can't vote," he said in an interview. "We just want a vote. We need a vote that tells the president that his strategy is not working."
In several news conferences, Soltz accused McConnell of "aiding the enemy" by allowing the Bush administration to build up troops in Iraq at the expense of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. "We are not fighting the war on terrorism, we are in the middle of a civil war," he said, referring to Iraq. "Meanwhile, the guy who attacked this country on 9/11 is living in a cave in Afghanistan."
Soltz called Cheney a "draft dodger," repeating charges he made last month when he disparaged a "president who frankly knows nothing of war and a vice president who knows even less." He said: "Senators on the fence have a choice. They can stand with veterans like us, or they can stand with the draft dodgers down the road."'

Zie: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2007/02/07/AR2007020702317.html?sub=AR

Irak 160

'A Bleak Assessment on Iraq
The New York Times
Editorial

There isn't much encouraging news in the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Ethnic and sectarian identities are hardening and violence is spiraling, as shown again in Saturday's horrific Baghdad market bombing. Iraq's new governing institutions are weak and leading politicians have a "winner-take-all attitude" that can only make matters even worse.
The intelligence agencies see "real improvements" in Iraqi security forces. But those gains are strictly relative and the report still finds those forces unlikely to be able to successfully battle Shiite militias in the next 12 to 18 months.
A good example of this problem can be found in the accounts of last week's battle between the Iraqi Army and a mysterious group of armed religious extremists outside the Shiite shrine city of Najaf. Najaf is supposed to be a showcase province for the American-trained Iraqi Army. The Pentagon chose it in December for the first symbolic handover of security responsibilities.
Barely a month later, in their first major battle, the Iraqis had to be bailed out by American air and ground forces. Hundreds of armed zealots had managed to set up a fortified encampment, complete with tunnels, trenches, blockades, 40 heavy machine guns and at least two antiaircraft weapons.
This happened just 10 miles northeast of the city at a time when hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims and Iraq's leading Shiite clerics were headed there for annual holiday observances. A successful attack on top clerics and pilgrims in Najaf would have been disastrous.
The Iraqis' next mistake was sending only one army battalion and some police to raid this armed camp after its belated discovery. Government forces were quickly surrounded and called in American air support. Still pinned down, the Iraqis had to summon American ground support as well before they could advance on the camp.
This less-than-impressive performance by a supposedly top-of-the-line Iraqi Army division has grave implications for President Bush's new Baghdad security drive, in which an additional 17,000 or so American troops are supposed to work in tandem with a much larger Iraqi force.
Perhaps the Iraqi security forces will improve over the next 18 months. But as the intelligence estimate also makes clear, the only real hope for Iraq lies in a bold reversal of course by Iraqi politicians that puts national reconciliation ahead of sectarian advantage. Mr. Bush needs to get serious about demanding such a change, including enforceable deadlines for overdue steps like eliminating militia supporters from the police, ending vengeful anti-Baathist measures targeting the Sunni middle class, and guaranteeing the fair allocation of oil revenues.
Otherwise, Iraq seems headed over the cliff.'

Zie: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020607F.shtml

The Empire 169

'Bush Slashes Aid to Poor to Boost Iraq War Chest
By Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian UK

President George Bush is proposing to slash medical care for the poor and elderly to meet the soaring cost of the Iraq war.
Mr Bush's $2.9 trillion (£1.5 trillion) budget, sent to Congress yesterday, includes $100bn extra for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for this year, on top of $70bn already allocated by Congress and $141.7bn next year. He is planning an 11.3% increase for the Pentagon. Spending on the Iraq war is destined to top the total cost of the 13-year war in Vietnam.
The huge rise in military spending is paid for by a squeeze on domestic programmes, including $66bn in cuts over five years to Medicare, the healthcare scheme for the elderly, and $12bn from the Medicaid healthcare scheme for the poor.
Mr Bush said: "Today we submit a budget to the United States Congress that shows we can balance the budget in five years without raising taxes ... Our priority is to protect the American people. And our priority is to make sure our troops have what it takes to do their jobs."
Although Democrats control Congress and have promised careful scrutiny of the budget over the next few months, Mr Bush has left in them in a bind, unwilling to withhold funds for US troops on the frontline. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said the days when Mr Bush could expect a blank cheque for the wars were over but she also insisted the Democrats would not deny troops the money they needed. Democrats could block Mr Bush's proposed cuts to 141 domestic programmes.
John Spratt, the Democratic chairman of the House budget committee, said: "I doubt that Democrats will support this budget and, frankly, I will be surprised if Republicans rally around it either."
Kent Conrad, the Democratic chairman of the Senate budget committee, said: "The president's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality, and continues to move America in the wrong direction. This administration has the worst fiscal record in history and this budget does nothing to change that."
The Vietnam war cost about $614bn at today's prices. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Iraq war has so far cost $500bn. About 90% of the spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars goes to Iraq. In addition to the spending on Iraq and Afghanistan this year and next, Mr Bush is seeking $50bn for 2009.
Mr Bush said the fact there was no projected figure for 2010 did not mean he expected US troops to be out of Iraq by then. He said he did not want to set a timetable "because we don't want to send mixed signals to an enemy or to a struggling democracy or to our troops".
Included in the budget is $5.6bn for the extra 21,500 US troops that Mr Bush ordered to Iraq last month. Some Democrats have threatened to withhold this part of the budget but more than half of the troops are in place with the others on the way. A plan to build the Joint Strike Aircraft has been withheld. Its absence, at the request of the Pentagon, could have a knock-on effect for jobs in the UK.
In the run-up to the invasion in 2003, the Pentagon's projected estimate of the total cost of the war was $50bn. A White House economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, was fired by President Bush when he suggested that the total cost would be $200bn.
The New York Times noted that the cost of the war would have paid for universal healthcare in the US, nursery education for all three and four-year-olds in the country, immunisation for children round the world against a host of diseases, and still leave about half of the money left over.'

Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020607N.shtml

Klimaatverandering 86

Ik kreeg deze email van het Worldwatch Institute:

'From “Inconvenient” to Incontrovertible

Last year, the world was captivated by academy award and Nobel Prize nominee Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Now, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the science is not only inconvenient—it’s incontrovertible.
Some 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries agree that there is at least a 90 percent probability that warming observed during the past 50 years is the result of human activity (up from 66 percent chance stated in the last IPCC report released in 2001).
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri has said the report’s greatest contribution to the debate was in achieving consensus about the threat. The question now is: What can we do about global warming and how can we prepare our world for worsening storms, droughts, floods and other impacts?
See how…
The United States (the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and whose action is necessary to encourage China and India to reduce their emissions) can displace a large portion of its fossil fuels by looking to the American Energy vision.
Cities—which cover only 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface yet generate the bulk of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—can make significant reductions in emissions by sourcing power locally and investing in energy efficiency.
Communities can plan for disasters due to the likely increase in sea-level rise, floods, heat waves, droughts, and hurricane intensity.
A summary of the IPPC report is available at http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf

Worldwatch Poll: What Do You Think?
Which of these groups' actions will most likely bring the U.S. into international climate policy discussions?
Concerned citizens
Mayors and other local/state government officials
Corporations
The media
Other (leave a comment!)
Cast your vote and add your comments now!

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De Volkskrant 16


Zomer 2006: Israelische kinderen, aangespoord door hun moeder en onder het goedkeurende oog van militairen, schrijven hatelijke teksten op bommen die naderhand hun Libanese leeftijdgenootjes vermoorden.
De Volkskrant bericht: 'Meer vluchten Israël boven Libanon na schietincident
ANP/AFP

JERUZALEM - Israël gaat meer vluchten boven Libanon uitvoeren naar aanleiding van een schietincident woensdagavond bij de Israëlisch-Libanese grens. Dat heeft de Israëlische generaal Alon Friedman donderdag laten weten.
Libanese militairen schoten woensdagavond in het grensgebied op Israëlische militairen van de genie die naar explosieven zochten. Daarna ontstond een schotenwisseling. Niemand raakte daardoor gewond. De Israëlische militairen trokken zich donderdagmorgen terug uit het grensgebied.
Het was het ernstigste incident tussen Israël en Libanon sinds half augustus vorig jaar een eind kwam aan de oorlog tussen Israël en de Libanese sjiitische beweging Hezbollah.'
Zie: http://www.volkskrant.nl/buitenland/article395357.ece/
Meer_vluchten_Israel_boven_Libanon_na_schietincident
'De oorlog tussen Israel en de Libanese sjiitische beweging Hezbollah?' Wat nu? De grootschalige Israelische terreur tegen de Libanese burgerbevolking was dus volgens de Volkskrant een oorlog tegen Hezbollah. Het vierde machtigste en zwaar bewapende leger ter wereld tegen een guerillabeweging. Zo vertekenen de commerciele massamedia de werkelijkheid elke dag weer een beetje.
'De Israëlische militairen trokken zich donderdagmorgen terug uit het grensgebied.' Hoe bedoelt de Volkskrant. Zijn de Israelische militairen uit Libanees of Israelisch grensgebied getrokken? Ik kan me nauwelijks voorstellen dat de Israelische militairen hun eigen grens niet meer bewaken. Hoe weet de Volkskrant dat de Israelische militairen die naar explosieven zouden hebben gezocht ook werkelijk zijn teruggetrokken? Was de Volkskrant erbij? Nee. Waarom staat de bron er niet bij?
'Libanese militairen schoten woensdagavond in het grensgebied op Israëlische militairen van de genie die naar explosieven zochten.' Hoe bedoelt de Volkskrant? Waren de Israelische militairen Libanees grondgebied binnengedrongen? Hoe weet de Volkskrant dat 'de Israelische militairen van de genie... naar explosieven zochten?' Was de Volkskrantredactie erbij? Nee. Hoe kan de Volkskrant dit dan zo zeker beweren? Waarom staat de bron er niet bij? Dat moet het Israelische leger zijn, wat de bewering onmiddellijk veel minder geloofwaardig maakt.
'Israël gaat meer vluchten boven Libanon uitvoeren naar aanleiding van een schietincident woensdagavond bij de Israëlisch-Libanese grens.' Ik begrijp de koppeling niet? Waarom vertelt de Volkskrant haar lezers niet wat het een met het ander te maken heeft? Tot nu toe worden die vliegtuigen gebruikt, zoals ik uit eigen ervaring weet, om met name de Libanese burgerbevolking te terroriseren. Waarom meldt de Volkskrant dit niet?
En dan: de onafhankelijke journalistiek laat beide partijen aan het woord. Waarom heeft de Volkskrant het Libanese leger niet gehoord?
De Franse socioloog Jacques Ellul toont in zijn studie Propaganda gedocumenteerd aan hoe propaganda het meest effectief werkt als het druppelsgewijs wordt toegediend en de consument er zich niet van bewust is dat het propaganda betreft. Zodra men weet dat het propaganda is, is het geen effectieve propaganda meer.

woensdag 7 februari 2007

Het Nederlands Provincialisme 2

Ik volg het af en toe van terzijde, ik zie als het ware zo nu en dan een beeld voorbij gaan, maar als ik het goed begrepen heb dan krijgen we een kabinet waarvan de twee grootste partijen de verkiezingen hebben verloren. En een van de twee vice-premiers wordt Wouter Bos die zijn partij, als oppositiepartij, de grootste naoorlogse verkiezingsnederlaag heeft bezorgd en dus politiek was uitgespeeld. En dit winnend team gaat het land de komende jaren regeren onder het motto: samen staan we sterk of iets dergelijks. In elk geval klonk het me heel VOC-achtig in de oren. Ze hadden er onmiddellijk een poster van laten drukken, zodat de media lakeien het meteen ongeclausuleerd en gedachteloos konden nakwekken. Zo op het eerste gezicht ziet het er allemaal tamelijk lullig uit. De toon deugde niet, die was verkrampt en humorloos en dus leugenachtig. Het zag eruit als Nederland in de jaren vijftig. Wat me opviel was dat ik drie monoculturele blanke mannen zag uit een totaal oninteressante generatie. Mensen zonder grote visie, zonder grote verlangens, zonder groot inzicht, kleine boekhoudertjes, die aan de vooravond van onvoorstelbaar grote veranderingen en crises de polder moeten besturen. Het ironische is dat dit soort autoriteiten juist een onderdeel zijn van het probleem waarmee de mensheid kampt. Over tien jaar zal men zich vertwijfeld afvragen hoe wij zoveel onbenul aan de macht hebben kunnen laten. Dan is het te laat. God hebbe hun ziel.