zondag 31 december 2006
'Arab haj pilgrims outraged at Saddam execution.
MECCA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Arab pilgrims in Mecca expressed
outrage on Saturday that Iraqi authorities had chosen to execute
former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on a major religious holiday,
saying it was an insult to Muslims.
Sunni Arabs at the haj were shocked at Saddam's hanging which
followed his conviction for crimes against humanity against Iraqi
"His execution on the day of Eid ... is an insult to all Muslims,"
said Jordanian pilgrim Nidal Mohammad Salah. "What happened is not
good because as a head of state, he should not be executed."
The Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, marks biblical patriarch
Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God. Muslim countries often
pardon criminals to mark the feast, and prisoners are rarely executed
at that time.
The death could harden hatred for Shi'ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia, a
bastion of Sunni Islam whose Islamic orthodoxy -- known as Wahhabism
-- regards Shi'ites as virtual heretics.
"This timing was chosen to turn our joy during Eid to sadness. I
don't say this for grief over Saddam ... but we must ready ourselves
for a new enemy from the East," a user on an Islamist Web site said,
referring to Shi'ites in Iran.
Saddam, a Sunni, was admired by many Arabs for standing up to the
United States. Haj authorities fear his death could stoke tensions
between Sunni and Shi'ite pilgrims.
Eid falls during the 5-day haj, when more than 2 million Muslims from
around the world follow ancient rites at the Islamic Muslim holy city
of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
"I don't want to believe it. Saddam cannot die. Is this the good news
we get on our Eid?" said Saudi Nawaf al-Harbi.
But many Shi'ites regard Saddam's death as a gift from God.
"Congratulations, this is like two Eids! I hope God will not have
mercy on him," Iraqi Nadir Abdullah said amid a group of jubilant
Security was already heightened for this haj season because of
sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq and elsewhere in
Haj pilgrims dress in simple white garments that can disguise
differences of sect and nationality. Many come from outside the
Middle East and on Saturday most were preoccupied with the next stage
of the rites, the symbolic stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge.
But many felt Saddam's execution would only worsen sectarian violence
"This is unbelievable. Things will not improve in Iraq now that
Saddam is dead," said a Syrian pilgrim, Abu Mostafa. "There will be
more violence and more Arab anger towards the West."
For Iraqi Kurds like Aladdin Suleiman Mohammad, the execution was a
"fair decision" regardless of timing, though it dashed hopes of
justice for crimes against Kurds.
Saddam's second trial on charges of war crimes against Iraqi Kurds in
what is known as the "Anfal" or "Spoils of War" campaign, had been
due to resume next month.
But many Arabs said if anyone should be put on trial it was the
Shi'ite-led Iraqi government that backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in
2003, which overthrew Saddam.
"They are American collaborators, those in Iraq. They should be
executed, not Saddam Hussein." said Mohammad Mousa, on haj from
Lebanon. "Saddam Hussein is the most honourable of all of them. He is
the most honourable Arab. They will go to hell, he will go to heaven."'
De International Herald Tribune:
'Muslims criticize timing of execution.
Muslim leaders around the world espressed dismay Saturday that Saddam Hussein was executed at the time of Id al-Adha, an important holiday considered a time of forgiveness and compassion.
Muslim countries often pardon criminals to mark the occasion, and prisoners are rarely executed at that time.
The most important date in the Islamic calendar, Id al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, honors the biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son Isaac for God before God decided to spare Isaac's life.
Id al-Adha also falls during the five- day hajj, the pilgrimage when more than two million Muslims from around the world follow ancient rites at the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis were among those criticizing the holding of the execution during Id al-Adha.
"There is a feeling of surprise and disapproval that the verdict has been applied during the holy months and the first days of Id al-Adha," a presenter on the official Al Ikhbariya TV said after programming was broken to read a statement.
"Leaders of Islamic countries should show respect for this blessed occasion," said the statement, which was attributed to the political analyst of the official press agency SPA.
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic nation, the government said it respected the sentence and trial.
"This execution is not surprising as a legal process has been conducted, despite its imperfection, and Saddam Hussein has been given a chance to defend himself," said Desra Percaya, an Indonesian government spokesman. "Indonesia hopes the execution doesn't separate conflicting parties further in the efforts to realize a national reconciliation, which is a requirement for the return of Iraq's sovereignty."
Masdar Mas'udi, a co-chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization, said the execution was "right by law, but it is not wise."
"People can already predict what the reactions of Saddam's supporters will be," Masdar Mas'udi said. "There may be more bloodshed."'
Lees verder: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/30/news/web.1230feast.php
'Blog: NYT to Ignore White House, Run "Classified" Op-Ed.
Over at the Washington Note, we see that the New York Times is set to reject a White House-led effort to block publication of an essay critical of its foreign policy. Last week the paper was set to publish an op-ed piece by Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration official who worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and on the National Security Council, which criticized the White House for its disastrous diplomatic approach towards Iran.
The CIA reviewed the article and cleared it for publication, but the White House put the brakes on it, saying it contained classified information that the CIA missed. Leverett cried foul: "All of my publications on Iran -- and, indeed, on any other policy matter on which I have written since leaving government -- were cleared beforehand by the CIA's Publication Review Board to confirm that I would not be disclosing classified information."
Now Steve Clemons, a friend of Leverett's, reports on his blog (ed.: see editorial note below) that tomorrow the Times will run the op-ed "with redacted lines 'blacked out.'" Clemons told me by phone that the Times will instruct readers where they can find the omitted information in other (unclassified) publications -- like, for instance, in Leverett's paper on the same topic called "Dealing with Tehran," published through the Century Foundation.
The information the White House had redacted, according to Leverett, "include Iran's dialogue and cooperation with the United States concerning Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and Iran's offer to negotiate a comprehensive "grand bargain" with the United States in the spring of 2003."
(ed.note: After this post was written, the post by Steve Clemons, which we referenced above, was taken down from his site, The Washington Note. The post which subsequently took its place contains some of the same information but not the key points referenced above --jmm.)'
zaterdag 30 december 2006
'Iraq 2006, the Year in Review.
A Nation Soaked in Blood Tears Itself Apart.
By PATRICK COCKBURN.
The history of Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has been full of fake turning-points--the capture of Saddam in 2003, the supposed handover of sovereignty to Iraqis in 2004, the parliamentary elections and referendum in 2005. All these events were greeted by the White House and Downing Street at the time as important and encouraging signs of progress, justifying the invasion of 2003. But with every year the war has become more intense. Iraqis are now dying at the rate of about 1,000 a week, according to the UN. Civil war is raging in central Iraq. The war against the US soldiers has also escalated, though American casualties are far lower. The country is awash with blood.
There were two real turning-points of very different kinds in Iraq in 2006:
the blowing up of the Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February;
and the Republican defeat in the US mid-term elections, in which Iraq was the main issue, on 7 November.
The first was the starting gun for the present sectarian bloodbath. The second also had a vast effect within Iraq as the US began to contemplate failure.
In Samarra, nobody was killed by the explosion itself, though it wrecked the great golden dome of the shrine. But the attack led to a Shia onslaught on Sunni Arabs. Shia restraint, already close to breaking point, finally gave way after more than two years of bombs aimed at army and police recruits, who were mostly Shia, as well as at purely civilian targets. Within days, 1,300 people, mostly Sunni, were dead. People caught in the wrong areas at the wrong time were dragged from their cars and slaughtered.
Amid this bloodbath, it is difficult to pick out long-term trends. However, several were clearly visible in 2006:
* There is civil war between Shia and Sunni in central Iraq, and it is getting worse by the day. The most important battle is for control of Baghdad.
* The US is becoming weaker in Iraq because of its evident failure to gain control of the country, and because of the Republicans' defeat in the mid-term elections. The number of Americans who support continuing the war is decreasing.
* The US tried, under its astute and affable envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, to conciliate the Sunni byoffering them positions in government,limiting provisions in the constitution they disliked andseeking to talk to the insurgents.The strategy shows little sign of working, and Khalilzad's star is waning.
* The Shia, never comfortable with the US-led forces but prepared to work with the US for their own ends, are increasingly hostile to the occupation. The percentage of Shia who agree with armed attacks on US-led forces rose from 41 per cent to 62 per cent in the first nine months of 2006.
* The US is considering negotiations with Iran and Syria, though this would be a confession of weakness. It also knows that they would look for concessions, such as a US withdrawal and an increase in their regional influence. Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are increasingly worried by Shia successes in Iraq and Lebanon.
* The Kurds are losing confidence that Iraq will hold together, though they do not want to be blamed for it coming apart. Kurdistan is the only peaceful part of Iraq.
* The militias grew stronger during the year because the army and police cannot provide security.'
Lees verder: http://www.counterpunch.org/
'A Dictator Created Then Destroyed by America .
By Robert Fisk
The Independent UK
Saturday 30 December 2006
Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold - that crack of the neck at the end of a rope - than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed - by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans - on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers - what about the other guilty men?
No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.
Hours before Saddam's death sentence, his family - his first wife, Sajida, and Saddam's daughter and their other relatives - had given up hope.
"Whatever could be done has been done - we can only wait for time to take its course," one of them said last night. But Saddam knew, and had already announced his own "martyrdom": he was still the president of Iraq and he would die for Iraq. All condemned men face a decision: to die with a last, grovelling plea for mercy or to die with whatever dignity they can wrap around themselves in their last hours on earth. His last trial appearance - that wan smile that spread over the mass-murderer's face - showed us which path Saddam intended to walk to the noose.'
De International Herald Tribune:
'U.S. role tainted trial.
Situation is called 'worst of both worlds.'
WASHINGTON: Iraqi judges handed down the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, but hundreds of American lawyers, advisers and investigators played an important role in the prosecution and conviction of Saddam.
For three years, officials from the U.S. Justice and State Departments searched for evidence to use in his trials. They pored over millions of Iraqi documents and looked into hundreds of graves that contained the remains of thousands of people killed during Saddam's 24-year rule, which ended in 2003 with the U.S. invasion. U.S. advisers helped draft the rules of the court and U.S. officials then served as the court's logistical backbone after Iraq regained sovereignty.
The U.S. government spent more than $128 million building the courthouse, exhuming mass graves, gathering evidence and training Iraqi judges, compared with $9 million spent by Iraq.
But for many critics in Iraq and beyond, Saddam's trial has been tainted by the perception — common in the Arab world — that the victors orchestrated the judgment. U.S. officials said that they wanted to play a lesser role but that few other governments were willing to assist Iraq in bringing Saddam to justice.
Miranda Sissons, a senior associate at the International Center for Transitional Justice, a group in New York that supports war-crimes and genocide prosecutions worldwide, observed Saddam's trial.
"It is very clear that if you look at sentiment in the Arab regional world," Sissons said, "the American role in establishing the tribunal and its link to the invasion of Iraq has greatly lessened the tribunal's legitimacy."
Nehal Bhuta, an assistant professor of law at the University of Toronto who also observed part of the trial for Human Rights Watch, agreed. "This is perceived as an American-dominated process," Bhuta said.
U.S. officials said they had tried to internationalize the process, asking the United Nations, the European Union and several countries to assist with the trial. They declined because they reject the death penalty and opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the officials said.
Pierre-Richard Prosper, who as a U.S. official played a major role in setting up the tribunal, said that he had approached many countries, asking them to take charge of witness protection, the exhumation of graves or the training of judges but that only Britain and Australia had agreed to help.
"At the time, everybody was saying, 'This is too American,' but it was American by default," Prosper said. "I wanted to dilute the American role. It would look like we were the puppeteers instead of a noble effort to help the Iraqis administer justice."
Debates raged over how Saddam should be tried even before Baghdad fell to U.S. military forces in 2003. Human rights groups, European governments and some prominent Democrats, including Senator Joseph Biden, argued that Saddam should be prosecuted in an international court, as had been done with defendants from Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia. They argued that a trial with an international makeup would be more credible and less subject to political pressure.'
Lees verder: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/29/news/america.php
By Jim Webb.
The Wall Street Journal.
The most important-and unfortunately the least debated-issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.
Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.
In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners' pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.
Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate "reorganization." And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.
This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind.
A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation's most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the "rough road of capitalism." Others claim that it's the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.'
Lees verder: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009246 Of:
vrijdag 29 december 2006
'Former Bush Interior Secretary Takes Job as Attorney for Shell
By Todd Wilkinson
Gale Norton is back providing oversight of energy development issues on public lands in the American West, this time as a key legal advisor for a major global oil company.
Months after she resigned her cabinet post as President Bush's Interior Secretary-and then seemed to disappear from public view-the Coloradan apparently has accepted an offer to serve as counsel for Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
Shell, one of the world's largest producers of oil, was also one of the companies that Norton's Interior Department routinely engaged on matters of drilling in sensitive ecological settings.
According to Dow Jones Market Watch, which published her job announcement Wednesday, Norton will serve as general counsel for Shell's unconventional resources division. By "unconventional resources," a Shell spokesman said it pertained to emerging technology that targets such things as oil shale and extra heavy oil. Shell's U.S. subsidiary, Shell Oil Co., is based in Houston, but Norton will be allowed to render her legal expertise from Denver.
The timing of Norton's career move is certain to raise eyebrows from government watchdogs and environmental groups that long have asserted that Norton, her former deputy at Interior J. Steven Griles, Vice President Dick Cheney through his national energy strategy task force, and Congress gave energy companies preferential treatment by opening up coastal areas as well as western and Alaskan lands to increased oil, gas, and coal development.
Shell has focused a significant part of its resources in the past on drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and in other coastline areas of the world.
Early in 2007, Democrats who now control the House and Senate, plan to hold hearings that closely scrutinize Interior's dealings not only with oil and gas companies, which have received billions of dollars in subsidies during times of record profits, but also the department's relationship to convicted felon and lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Indian tribes for which Interior has a trust obligation and a role in permitting gaming casinos.'
'With Israeli Approval, Egypt Sends Arms to Abbas's Fatah Movement.
JERUSALEM, Dec. 28 -- With Israel's blessing, Egypt has delivered a large shipment of arms to forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli officials said Thursday, in the latest Israeli attempt to boost the embattled leader in his conflict with the radical Hamas organization.
Israel has been trying to reinforce Abbas's standing among
his people. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Abbas
is a partner for negotiations -- unlike Hamas, which
rejects the existence of Israel and refuses to renounce violence. Hamas took over the Palestinian government after winning parliamentary elections last January.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas, issued a
statement denying any arms deal. At midday Thursday,
however, witnesses saw a truck belonging to the national security force carrying what appeared to be sealed boxes of weapons. The force is allied with Abbas's Fatah organization.
When the truck attempted to make a quick detour, a box
fell to the ground, scattering automatic weapons on the
road, the witnesses said. Security officers quickly got
out of the truck and collected the guns.
Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official,
told Israel Radio that the military assistance was
rendered to reinforce the "forces of peace" against the
"forces of darkness" threatening the region, a reference
to Islamic extremists. There has been a week-long hiatus
in violence between Fatah and Hamas, but Palestinians say
it could resume at any time.
Israel approved the transfer of 2,000 automatic rifles,
20,000 ammunition clips and 2 million bullets on
Wednesday, Israeli officials said, speaking on condition
of anonymity because the shipment had not been officially confirmed by Israel, the Palestinians or Egypt.
Ahmed Youssef, a political adviser to Prime Minister
Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, said Egyptian officials had
assured him that no arms were sent. He accused Israel of spreading false rumors about an arms shipment in "an attempt to increase tensions among the Palestinians."
Seventeen people have died this month in factional
fighting, which included an attempt to assassinate
On Thursday, the prime minister left Gaza to resume a trip
to Persian Gulf states that had been cut short by the
violence, which has since subsided. He was headed first to Saudi Arabia, then to Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan, where he and Abbas have been invited by King Abdullah for talks.
About 5,000 Hamas militiamen, some on foot, others in
jeeps, lined the roads as Haniyeh traveled from his base
in Gaza City to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Haniyeh's convoy came under fire at Rafah on Dec. 14 when he came back from his suspended trip, and the heavy security was a clear indication that concerns about his safety remained high.
Meanwhile, one of the Palestinian militant groups holding
an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas-linked radicals in
June said progress has been made toward a prisoner
Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance
Committees, said Egyptian mediators are trying to finalize
Also Thursday, Olmert slightly softened his tone
concerning peace overtures from Syria, saying he is open
to "any murmur of peace" from Israel's enemies. Olmert
added: "If our enemies genuinely want peace, they will
find in us a fair partner, determined to establish
relations of peace, friendship and reciprocity."'
Even voor alle duidelijkheid: de VS levert dus wapens via Egypte en met steun van Israel aan dezelfde groepering die Israel in 2002 tesamen met hun voorman Yasser Arafat probeerde te vernietigen. Dit alles in de oude en beproefde taktiek van verdeel en heers. Deze terroristische politiek wordt door het Nederlandse kabinet stilzwijgend gesteund.
Israeli security forces killed 660 Palestinians in 2006 - three times more than in 2005, according to an Israeli human rights group.
B'Tselem, which monitors human rights in the occupied territories, said the figure included 141 children.
At least 322 had taken no part in hostile acts, the group said.
In the same period, the number of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis has fallen - 23 Israelis were killed in 2006 compared with 50 last year.
The Israeli military renewed ground operations in the Gaza Strip after militants captured an Israeli soldier in a border raid in June.
Since June, Israeli troops have killed about 405 Palestinians in Gaza, including 88 children. More than half of the casualties were civilians, B'Tselem said.
As of November, 9,075 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails. This number included 345 minors, it said.
Of these, 738 (22 minors) were being detained without trial and without knowing the charges against them, the group said.'
Iets daarover gelezen of gehoord via de Nederlandse commerciele massamedia? Laat u het me dan weten.
ONE GENERATION IS ALL THEY NEED.
By Kevin Haggerty.
By the time my four-year-old son is swathed in the soft flesh of old age, he will likely find it unremarkable that he and almost everyone he knows will be permanently implanted with a microchip. Automatically tracking his location in real time, it will connect him with databases monitoring and recording his smallest behavioural traits.
Most people anticipate such a prospect with a sense of horrified disbelief, dismissing it as a science-fiction fantasy. The technology, however, already exists. For years humane societies have implanted all the pets that leave their premises with a small identifying microchip. As well, millions of consumer goods are now traced with tiny radio frequency identification chips that allow satellites to reveal their exact location.
A select group of people are already "chipped" with devices that automatically open doors, turn on lights, and perform other low-level miracles. Prominent among such individuals is researcher Kevin Warwick of Reading University in England; Warwick is a leading proponent of the almost limitless potential uses for such chips.
Other users include the patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, many of whom have paid about $150 (U.S.) for the privilege of being implanted with an identifying chip that allows them to bypass lengthy club queues and purchase drinks by being scanned. These individuals are the advance guard of an effort to expand the technology as widely as possible.
>From this point forward, microchips will become progressively smaller, less invasive, and easier to deploy. Thus, any realistic barrier to the wholesale "chipping" of Western citizens is not technological but cultural. It relies upon the visceral reaction against the prospect of being personally marked as one component in a massive human inventory.
Today we might strongly hold such beliefs, but sensibilities can, and probably will, change. How this remarkable attitudinal transformation is likely to occur is clear to anyone who has paid attention to privacy issues over the past quarter-century. There will be no 3 a.m. knock on the door by storm troopers come to force implants into our bodies. The process will be more subtle and cumulative, couched in the unassailable language of progress and social betterment, and mimicking many of the processes that have contributed to the expansion of closed-circuit television cameras and the corporate market in personal data.
A series of tried and tested strategies will be marshalled to familiarize citizens with the technology. These will be coupled with efforts to pressure tainted social groups and entice the remainder of the population into being chipped.
This, then, is how the next generation will come to be microchipped.
It starts in distant countries. Having tested the technology on guinea pigs, both human and animal, the first widespread use of human implanting will occur in nations at the periphery of the Western world. Such developments are important in their own right, but their international significance pertains to how they familiarize a global audience with the technology and habituate them to the idea that chipping represents a potential future.
An increasing array of hypothetical chipping scenarios will also be depicted in entertainment media, furthering the familiarization process.
In the West, chips will first be implanted in members of stigmatized groups. Pedophiles are the leading candidate for this distinction, although it could start with terrorists, drug dealers, or whatever happens to be that year's most vilified criminals. Short-lived promises will be made that the technology will only be used on the "worst of the worst." In fact, the wholesale chipping of incarcerated individuals will quickly ensue, encompassing people on probation and on parole.
Even accused individuals will be tagged, a measure justified on the grounds that it would stop them from fleeing justice. Many prisoners will welcome this development, since only chipped inmates will be eligible for parole, weekend release, or community sentences. From the prison system will emerge an evocative vocabulary distinguishing chippers from non-chippers.
Although the chips will be justified as a way to reduce fraud and other crimes, criminals will almost immediately develop techniques to simulate other people's chip codes and manipulate their data.
The comparatively small size of the incarcerated population, however, means that prisons would be simply a brief stopover on a longer voyage. Commercial success is contingent on making serious inroads into tagging the larger population of law-abiding citizens. Other stigmatized groups will therefore be targeted. This will undoubtedly entail monitoring welfare recipients, a move justified to reduce fraud, enhance efficiency, and ensure that the poor do not receive "undeserved" benefits.
Once e-commerce is sufficiently advanced, welfare recipients will receive their benefits as electronic vouchers stored on their microchips, a policy that will be tinged with a sense of righteousness, as it will help ensure that clients can only purchase government-approved goods from select merchants, reducing the always disconcerting prospect that poor people might use their limited funds to purchase alcohol or tobacco.
Civil libertarians will try to foster a debate on these developments. Their attempts to prohibit chipping will be handicapped by the inherent difficulty in animating public sympathy for criminals and welfare recipients -- groups that many citizens are only too happy to see subjected to tighter regulation. Indeed, the lesser public concern for such groups is an inherent part of the unarticulated rationale for why coerced chipping will be disproportionately directed at the stigmatized.
The official privacy arm of the government will now take up the issue. Mandated to determine the legality of such initiatives, privacy commissioners and Senate Committees will produce a forest of reports presented at an archipelago of international conferences. Hampered by lengthy research and publication timelines, their findings will be delivered long after the widespread adoption of chipping is effectively a fait accompli. The research conclusions on the effectiveness of such technologies will be mixed and open to interpretation.
Officials will vociferously reassure the chipping industry that they do not oppose chipping itself, which has fast become a growing commercial sector. Instead, they are simply seeking to ensure that the technology is used fairly and that data on the chips is not misused. New policies will be drafted.
Employers will start to expect implants as a condition of getting a job. The U.S. military will lead the way, requiring chips for all soldiers as a means to enhance battlefield command and control -- and to identify human remains. From cooks to commandos, every one of the more than one million U.S. military personnel will see microchips replace their dog tags.
Following quickly behind will be the massive security sector. Security guards, police officers, and correctional workers will all be expected to have a chip. Individuals with sensitive jobs will find themselves in the same position.
The first signs of this stage are already apparent. In 2004, the Mexican attorney general's office started implanting employees to restrict access to secure areas. The category of "sensitive occupation" will be expansive to the point that anyone with a job that requires keys, a password, security clearance, or identification badge will have those replaced by a chip.
Judges hearing cases on the constitutionality of these measures will conclude that chipping policies are within legal limits. The thin veneer of "voluntariness" coating many of these programs will allow the judiciary to maintain that individuals are not being coerced into using the technology.
In situations where the chips are clearly forced on people, the judgments will deem them to be undeniable infringements of the right to privacy. However, they will then invoke the nebulous and historically shifting standard of "reasonableness" to pronounce coerced chipping a reasonable infringement on privacy rights in a context of demands for governmental efficiency and the pressing need to enhance security in light of the still ongoing wars on terror, drugs, and crime.
At this juncture, an unfortunately common tragedy of modern life will
occur: A small child, likely a photogenic toddler, will be murdered or horrifically abused. It will happen in one of the media capitals of the Western world, thereby ensuring non-stop breathless coverage. Chip manufactures will recognize this as the opportunity they have been anticipating for years. With their technology now largely bug-free, familiar to most citizens and comparatively inexpensive, manufacturers will partner with the police to launch a high-profile campaign encouraging parents to implant their children "to ensure your own peace of mind."
Special deals will be offered. Implants will be free, providing the family registers for monitoring services. Loving but unnerved parents will be reassured by the ability to integrate tagging with other functions on their PDA so they can see their child any time from any place.
Paralleling these developments will be initiatives that employ the logic of convenience to entice the increasingly small group of holdouts to embrace the now common practice of being tagged. At first, such convenience tagging will be reserved for the highest echelon of Western society, allowing the elite to move unencumbered through the physical and informational corridors of power. Such practices will spread more widely as the benefits of being chipped become more prosaic. Chipped individuals will, for example, move more rapidly through customs.
Indeed, it will ultimately become a condition of using mass-transit systems that officials be allowed to monitor your chip. Companies will offer discounts to individuals who pay by using funds stored on their embedded chip, on the small-print condition that the merchant can access large swaths of their personal data. These "discounts" are effectively punitive pricing schemes, charging unchipped individuals more as a way to encourage them to submit to monitoring. Corporations will seek out the personal data in hopes of producing ever more fine- grained customer profiles for marketing purposes, and to sell to other institutions.
By this point all major organizations will be looking for opportunities to capitalize on the possibilities inherent in an almost universally chipped population. The uses of chips proliferate, as do the types of discounts. Each new generation of household technology becomes configured to operate by interacting with a person's chip.
Finding a computer or appliance that will run though old-fashioned "hands-on"' interactions becomes progressively more difficult and costly. Patients in hospitals and community care will be routinely chipped, allowing medical staff -- or, more accurately, remote computers -- to monitor their biological systems in real time.
Eager to reduce the health costs associated with a largely docile citizenry, authorities will provide tax incentives to individuals who exercise regularly. Personal chips will be remotely monitored to ensure that their heart rate is consistent with an exercise regime.
By now, the actual process of "chipping" for many individuals will simply involve activating certain functions of their existing chip. Any prospect of removing the chip will become increasingly untenable, as having a chip will be a precondition for engaging in the main dynamics of modern life, such as shopping, voting, and driving.
The remaining holdouts will grow increasingly weary of Luddite jokes and subtle accusations that they have something to hide. Exasperated at repeatedly watching neighbours bypass them in "chipped" lines while they remain subject to the delays, inconveniences, and costs reserved for the unchipped, they too will choose the path of least resistance and get an implant.
In one generation, then, the cultural distaste many might see as an innate reaction to the prospect of having our bodies marked like those of an inmate in a concentration camp will likely fade.
In the coming years some of the most powerful institutional actors in society will start to align themselves to entice, coerce, and occasionally compel the next generation to get an implant.
Now, therefore, is the time to contemplate the unprecedented dangers of this scenario. The most serious of these concern how even comparatively stable modern societies will, in times of fear, embrace treacherous promises. How would the prejudices of a Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, or of southern Klansmen -- all of whom were deeply integrated into the American political establishment -- have manifest themselves in such a world? What might Hitler, Mao or Milosevic have accomplished if their citizens were chipped, coded, and remotely monitored?
Choirs of testimonials will soon start to sing the virtues of implants. Calm reassurances will be forthcoming about democratic traditions, the rule of law, and privacy rights. History, unfortunately, shows that things can go disastrously wrong, and that this happens with disconcerting regularity. Little in the way of international agreements, legality, or democratic sensibilities has proved capable of thwarting single-minded ruthlessness.
"It can't happen here" has become the whispered swan song of the disappeared. Best to contemplate these dystopian potentials before we proffer the tender forearms of our sons and daughters. While we cannot anticipate all of the positive advantages that might be derived from this technology, the negative prospects are almost too terrifying to contemplate. What might Hitler, Mao or Milosevic have accomplished if their citizens were chipped, coded, and remotely monitored?
'FBI Considered "It's A Wonderful Life" Communist Propaganda.
I love It's a Wonderful Life because it teaches us that family, friendship, and virtue are the true definitions of wealth.
In 1947, however, the FBI considered this anti-cosumerist message as subversive Communist propaganda (read original FBI memo).
According to Professor John Noakes of Franklin and Marshall College, the FBI thought Life smeared American values such as wealth and free enterprise while glorifying anti-American values such as the triumph of the common man.
The FBI specifically detested the way Mr. Potter was portrayed:
The casting of Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" resulted in the loathsome Mr. Potter becoming the most hated person in the film. According to the official FBI report, "this was a common trick used by the communists."
"What's interesting in the FBI critique is that the Baileys were also bankers," said Noakes. " and what is really going on is a struggle between the big-city banker (Potter) and the small banker (the Baileys). Capra was clearly on side of small capitalism and the FBI was on the side of big capitalism.
The FBI misinterpreted this classic struggle as communist propaganda. I would argue that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a poignant movie about the transition in the U.S. between small and big capitalism, with Jimmy Stewart personifying the last hope for a small town. It's a lot like the battle between Home Depot and the mom and pop hardware store." Source: Franklin and Marshall College and Delilah Boyd
As you can imagine, Life is more than just a Christmas movie for us here at Wise Bread. Heck, George Bailey's life story is practically the blueprint for our mission statement!
Naturally I want to get to the bottom of this. I don't want to become an anti-consumerist, especially when our Commander in Chief has decreed that it is our duty as Americans to do more shopping.
So I fired up "The Google" and dug up the original FBI report just to make sure Professor Noakes was right. The original document was a bit hard to read so I transcribed it for your reading pleasure (I did this for free, maybe I am a pinko):
To: The Director
COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY
(RUNNING MEMORANDUM)... '
Lees verder: http://www.wisebread.com/fbi-considered-its-a-wonderful-life-communist-propaganda
By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t Columnist
My recent column "Where Are the Christians?" drew a bundle of answers in emails from Truthout readers. That piece was about the bigoted remarks of Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) attacking newly-elected Congressman Keith Ellis, a Muslim, for taking his unofficial oath of office with his hand on the Quran - and mindlessly predicting that this would somehow lead to a vast increase in illegal Muslim immigration (unless, of course, we close our borders).
It might be instructive to quote a couple of the emails I received.
Reverend Joy A. Bergfalk, of Life Listening Resources at Labyrinth House in Rochester, N.Y., wrote, "We progressives ... do not have the finances of the Religious Right. We do not have Big Business and Sun Myung Moon to back us, and the oil industry is certainly not with us. That kind of money goes to those who will let the corporate world take over America. Plus, we tend to try to use our finances to change the world by helping it."
In answer to my "Where Are the Christians?" question, Rev. Bergfalk wrote, "We are almost all of the places where peacemaking is going on. We are at marches and rallies. We are at our computers writing responses, letters to Congress and whomever we can. I have written a response to Goode's statements. There was no way to email it to him from outside of Virginia, so I have prepared a letter to be sent to each of his five offices."
She added, "And we are speaking out in churches and from the pulpits. I think my parishioners now realize that Muslims and Christians worship the same God by different names."
And she closed with, "We may not be as obnoxious and flamboyant as the Religious Right, but we are here and active. Maybe if people would quit leaving the church in reaction to right wingers, the church would be a stronger force for change in our world."
Another reader, Rev. Jim Altman, pastor of Cadott, Stanley, and Thorp United Methodist Churches in Stanley, Wis., called my article "a cheap shot." He explained, "There are credible progressive Christian voices out there who are rarely reported by even the progressive media. My response to Mr. Fisher's question is that nobody's asking us. I, for one, would love to give a Christian's response to Rep. Virgil Goode's outrageous rant against his fellow congressman Keith Ellison, but media outlets seem only interested in conflating Christianity with the religion of Falwell and Robertson. The majority of Christians in this country do not subscribe to 'The Old-Time Gospel Hour' or 'The 700 Club,' and do not worship in 'mega-churches,' yet when journalists look for the American 'Christian' response we get Jerry, Pat, or some blow-dried dandy from the Church of What's Trendy. Most of the Christians I know would support Rep. Ellison's freedom of religion and more than a few would argue that the world still has much good to learn from Islam, but in the theater of journalism, inflammation trumps reason and cartoon trumps reality."
Well, that is exactly the point I was trying to make. I wrote, "You might not be aware of it, but there is a robust community of progressive Christians in America, struggling to get its voice heard. That's a tough task when you don't have the deep pockets and the cynical White House connections to effectively drown out dissent. Or change the subject. It's a lot easier for this wedge constituency to get people worried that if same-sex unions become legal, they'll all be forced to marry a gay or a lesbian than it is to speak out for the homeless, the poor, those who have no health care, and for religious tolerance to find common ground."
There are dozens of progressive Christian websites and blogs and many of them have spoken out against Rep. Goode. For example, the simple advice from Rev. Tim Simpson's Christian Alliance for Progress was, "Stand up for religious freedom, tell Rep. Virgil Goode that America is still 'one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.'" Cross Left's admonition to its readers is: "Stand Up for Religious Freedom, Tell Rep. Virgil Goode to Stop Attacking US Muslims."'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122906J.shtml
The New York Times:
'The Rush to Hang Saddam Hussein.
The important question was never really about whether Saddam Hussein was guilty of crimes against humanity. The public record is bulging with the lengthy litany of his vile and unforgivable atrocities: genocidal assaults against the Kurds; aggressive wars against Iran and Kuwait; use of internationally banned weapons like nerve gas; systematic torture of countless thousands of political prisoners.
What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better future. A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule. It could have set a precedent for the rule of law in a country scarred by decades of arbitrary vindictiveness. It could have fostered a new national unity in an Iraq long manipulated through its religious and ethnic divisions.
It could have, but it didn't. After a flawed, politicized and divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by hanging. This week, in a cursory 15-minute proceeding, an appeals court upheld that sentence and ordered that it be carried out posthaste. Most Iraqis are now so preoccupied with shielding their families from looming civil war that they seem to have little emotion left to spend on Mr. Hussein or, more important, on their own fading dreams of a new and better Iraq.
What might have been a watershed now seems another lost opportunity. After nearly four years of war and thousands of American and Iraqi deaths, it is ever harder to be sure whether anything fundamental has changed for the better in Iraq.
This week began with a story of British and Iraqi soldiers storming a police station that hid a secret dungeon in Basra. More than 100 men, many of them viciously tortured, were rescued from almost certain execution. It might have been a story from the final days of Baathist rule in March 2003, when British and American troops entered Basra believing they were liberating the subjugated Shiite south. But it was December 2006, and the wretched men being liberated were prisoners of the new Iraqi Shiite authorities.
Toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better Iraq. Executing him won't either.'
Divorce and lost earning time could put living standards in a free
fall late in life.
By Jonathan Peterson, Times Staff Writer
Ellen Tucker Emerson cut short her nursing career to help raise her
children, but money was never a worry. Her husband made a good living
as a lawyer, and the family didn't miss her income.
"We traveled where we wanted," she said. "He bought me furs and
jewelry. We stayed at the best hotels."
Then the marriage fell apart. Now 51, Tucker Emerson scrambles to pay
the bills and wonders how she will get by in retirement.
"Maybe I'll be that old lady on the cruise ship working as a singer,
and I'll supplement my income working in a nursing home," said Tucker
Emerson, who lives on the coast of Maine. She added, "We need to
teach our daughters that you have to take care of yourself for the
Like millions of other upwardly mobile women of the baby boom
generation, Tucker Emerson faces the danger that retirement will
bring a sharp downhill slide in lifestyle. Many of these women could
suffer a greater decline in living standards in later life than their
Lees verder: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-women28dec28,0,7446902.story
By Margaret Munro.
Canada's North changing. Global warming suspected cause of huge breakup on Ellesmere Island.
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.
"It really is incredible," said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. "It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf."
The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000- to 4,500-year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.
It broke up 16 months ago, but no one was present to see it. The scientists say they are only now making public details after piecing together what occurred using seismic monitors and Canadian and U.S. satellites.
They say the ice shelf collapse, suspected to have been caused by global warming, is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation under way on Ellesmere, Canada's most northern land mass.
"We are seeing incredible changes," said Vincent, whose group is studying the island's disappearing ice shelves and their unique ecosystems. "People talk of endangered animals - well, these are endangered landscape features and we're losing them."
The Ayles ice shelf was one of six ice shelves left in Canada, remnants of a vast icy fringe that used to cover the top end of Ellesmere.
Scientists consider the Canadian shelves, located about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole, sentinels that reflect the accelerating change in the Arctic.
In 2002, one of Vincent's graduate students, Derek Mueller, discovered that Ellesmere's Ward Hunt ice shelf had cracked in half. The researchers have also seen the sudden collapse of ice dams and the draining of 30-kilometre-long lakes into the sea.
The shelves are 90 per cent smaller than they were when Arctic explorer Robert Peary crossed them in 1906. And the Ayles ice shelf can be erased from Canada's maps.
"It no longer exists," Vincent said.
Laurie Weir, of the federal Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, was poring over images from the RADARSAT satellite when she noticed the shelf had broken away. She passed the information on to Luke Copland, head of the new global ice lab at the
University of Ottawa, who led the effort to determine what had happened.
It turned out it took less than one hour for the ice shelf to calve off in the early afternoon of Aug. 13, 2005, Copland said. Low frequency "rumbling" and tremors were picked up on earthquake monitors, and Canadian and U.S. satellites captured images of the shelf cracking and breaking away.
"If you were standing right on the edge of the shelf, there'd have been this huge 15-kilometre crack as far as you could see in both directions," Copland said.
"And then the ice drifted off."'
http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/122806EA.shtml Of: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=e4c99314-a71a-4418-a246-eea457e8b873&k=82636
donderdag 28 december 2006
'The horrors of what happened in Europe as a result of 19th century nationalism fed the ethnocentric nationalism known as Zionism, and was used to justify the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestinian society.
By Mazin Qumsiyeh PalestineChronicle.com.
As a Palestinian-American, I am appalled that many people meeting in Teheran claim to support Palestine while denying or trying to minimize Jewish suffering. Few at the conference articulated that the Holocaust did happen, was horrendous, and it needn’t be denied in order to support Palestinian human rights or to oppose Zionism (throughout I refer to political Zionism not cultural Zionism).
This is not surprising, considering that Zionists constantly and intentionally conflate Zionism with Judaism. This is accomplished in many ways, using Jewish symbols for Israel, choosing a national anthem that speaks of Jewish yearning (even though 20% of the population is not Jewish), emphasizing Israel as a Jewish state, speaking of "the Jewish people" as united in support of Israel, even though most Jews are not Zionists, and countless other ways.
But to me the most dangerous Zionist myth that contributes to anti-Jewish ranting in Teheran and beyond is that political Zionism is the defender and protector of Jews against a hostile (gentile) world. The truth is otherwise, and is now well documented in declassified archives, in Zionist archives, in letters and books, and it is rather "inconvenient" (to put it mildly) to political Zionists.
In ‘Mein Kampf’, the only Jews admired were the Zionists. Hitler called it a "great movement out of Vienna" that helped him dispel the doubts he had as to whether Judaism simply represented another religion or was a nationality (and thus did not belong in Europe). After the 1935 Nazi racial laws were introduced, the Zionist Federation of Germany was the only Jewish group allowed to function, with offices open in Berlin until 1942. This is not surprising, considering that they (ZFG) wrote to the new Nazi regime that “Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group”.
Edwin Black’s book “The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine” is an eye opener on the tragic practical results of this convergence of these two segregationist ideologies. In the US, a powerful Zionist lobby scuttled efforts to bring Jewish refugees from WWII; this is documented in books by Jewish leaders and intellectuals like Alfred Lilienthal and Morris Ernst.
The future first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, rejected plans to save Jewish children, telling a meeting of Labor Zionist leaders on 7 Dec. 1938: “If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel.” Iraqi Jew (and ex-Zionist) Naiem Giladi exposed this and other of Ben Gurion’s scandals in a book by that title. (e.g. Zionist underground forces bombed Jewish targets in Baghdad to achieve Zionist objectives of driving Jews to Israel).
Sigmund Freud wrote a letter rejecting putting his name in support of the Zionist project on psychological grounds: “Whoever wants to influence the masses must give them something rousing and inflammatory and my sober judgment of Zionism does not permit this… It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land. But I know that such a rational viewpoint would never have gained the enthusiasm of the masses and the financial support of the wealthy. I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust.”'
Lees verder: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story-122006122942.htm
'Disappearing World: Global Warming Claims Tropical Island.
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.
As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.
Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.
It has been officially recorded in a six-year study of the Sunderbans by researchers at Calcutta's Jadavpur University. So remote is the island that the researchers first learned of its submergence, and that of an uninhabited neighbouring island, Suparibhanga, when they saw they had vanished from satellite pictures.
Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Dr Sugata Hazra, director of the university's School of Oceanographic Studies, says "it is only a matter of some years" before it is swallowed up too. Dr Hazra says there are now a dozen "vanishing islands" in India's part of the delta. The area's 400 tigers are also in danger.
Until now the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea were expected to be the first populated ones to disappear, in about eight years' time, but Lohachara has beaten them to the dubious distinction.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122606P.shtml Of:
'Inside TV News: We Were Silenced by the Drums of War.
By Jeff Cohen
t r u t h o u t Guest Contributor
September 11th made 2001 a defining year in our country's history. But 2002 may have been the strangest. It began with all eyes on Osama bin Laden and ended with Osama bin Forgotten - as the White House turned its attention to Iraq. Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech mentioned Saddam Hussein 17 times, but bin Laden not once.
Everything about my nine-month stint at cable news channel MSNBC occurred in the context of the ever-intensifying war drums over Iraq. The drums grew louder as D-Day approached, until the din became so deafening that rational journalistic thinking could not occur. Three weeks before the invasion, MSNBC Suits terminated "Donahue," their most-watched program.
For 19 weeks, I had appeared in on-air debates almost every afternoon - the last weeks heavily focused on Iraq. I adamantly opposed an invasion. I warned that it would "undermine our coalition with Muslim and Arab countries that we need to [help us] fight Al Qaeda" and would lead to "quagmire."
In October 2002, my debate segments were terminated. There was no room for me after MSNBC launched Countdown: Iraq - a daily show that seemed more keen on glamorizing a potential war than scrutinizing or debating it. The show featured retired colonels and generals resembling boys with war toys as they used props, maps and glitzy graphics to spin invasion scenarios. They reminded me of pumped-up ex-football players doing pregame analysis.
It was excruciating to be silenced while myth and misinformation went unchallenged. Military analysts typically appeared unopposed; they were presented as experts, not advocates. But their closeness to the Pentagon often obstructed independent, skeptical analysis.
When Hans Blix led UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq in November 2002 after a four-year absence, Countdown: Iraq's host asked an MSNBC military analyst, "What's the buzz from the Pentagon about Hans Blix?" The retired colonel declared that Blix was considered "something like the Inspector Clousseau of the weapons of mass destruction inspection program ... who will only remember the last thing he was told - and that he's very malleable."
Retired General Barry McCaffrey was the star military analyst on NBC and MSNBC - a hawk who pushed for an invasion every chance he got. (After the war started, McCaffrey crowed, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle." Unknown to viewers, McCaffrey sat on the board of a military contractor that pocketed millions on the Abrams and Bradley.)
As the war began, CNN news president Eason Jordan admitted that his network's military analysts were government-approved:
"I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started. I met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war. And we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."
[The idea of] Pentagon-approved analysts calls to mind FAIR's protest chant: "Two, four, six, eight/Separate the press and state."'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122606M.shtml
Uit eigen ervaring weet ik hoe ook in Hilversum dissidente visies onmogelijk werden gemaakt. Zelfs bij de VPRO. Ook de Hilversumse publieke omroepen zijn door de kijk- en luistercijfers en de reclame onderdeel van de commerciele massamedia, ook al worden ze voor een groot deel met belastinggeld gesubsidieerd.
'The year the world woke up.
Climate change In 2006, the public, politicians and industry have all shown significant signs that tackling global warming is on the agenda after scientific studies showed the pace of change gathering speed. John Vidal reports The Guardian
Not before time, the west awoke in 2006 to the vast economic, political and social implications of climate change - and twigged that it presented as many opportunities as threats to humanity. As temperature and rainfall records tumbled, and unseasonal, intense heatwaves, droughts and floods struck many countries, local and national politicians scrambled to beef up their green policies and credentials, some businesses found they could make a packet from trading carbon, and a broad-based global social and ecological movement emerged, linking climate change to social justice, as well as to poverty and lifestyles.
A plethora of scientific reports underpinned the global phenomenon throughout the year, which was officially the warmest ever recorded in Britain and the sixth warmest the world has known. It was, globally, a tad cooler than 2005, the hottest ever, but it continued a trend: the eight hottest years ever recorded have been in the last 10 years.
A succession of alarming reports came out. James Lovelock, the British scientist who devised the Gaia theory - that living organisms affect the environment - forecast planetary wipeout; government studies showed that Australia, in the middle of a "1,000-year" drought, would get even hotter and drier, and that worldwide crop yields would decrease. The Gulf Stream, which warms northern Europe, was found to be slowing, the tundra to be melting faster than previously thought, and satellite images showed that major rivers of Africa are carrying significantly less water than before. Monsoons were even more erratic across the Indian sub-continent, Arctic sea ice was predicted to disappear - along with polar bears - by 2040, and almost all the world's glaciers, in many cases providing water for cities, were confirmed to be in retreat.'
Lees verder: http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,1975381,00.html Of:
De wereld mag dan zijn wakker geworden, maar niet Nederland. Milieuvraagstukken speelden nagenoeg geen rol in de parlementsverkiezingen. De Nederlander snurkt rustig verder in de verwachting dat alles wel over zal waaien. Zo gaat het al eeuwen. En waarom zou men verandering brengen in die succesvolle lethargie?
'Book Description: Impeccably researched and explained survey of the evidence for imminent dramatic climate change. Synopsis: Climate change is not a matter of gradually increasing temperatures. New scientific findings about how our planet works show that it does not do gradual change. Under pressure, it lurches into another mode of operation. Man-made global warming is on the verge of unleashing unstoppable planetary forces. Biological and geological monsters are being woken, and they will consume us. Virtually overnight Nature's revenge will be sudden and brutal, like a climatic tsunami sweeping across the globe. No question, we are the last generation to live with any kind of climatic stability. In this impassioned report, Fred Pearce travels the world on the story to end them all. Most troubling, while visiting the places where the action may start: deep in the Amazon, high in the Arctic and among the bogs of Siberia, he uncovers the first signs that nature's revenge is already under way.
From the Back Cover: 'Engaging, lucid and balanced...This is a powerful book about the most important event in human history. Read it.' PROFESSOR LORD MAY, OXFORD UNIVERSITY.
Since the last ice age, almost 13,000 years ago, human beings have prospered in a stable, predictable climate. But our generation is the last to be so blessed. In THE LAST GENERATION Fred Pearce lays bare the terrifying prognosis for our planet. Climate change from now on will not be gradual - nature doesn't do gradual change. In the past, Europe's climate has switched from Arctic to tropical in three to five years. It can happen again. So forget what environmentalists have told you about nature being a helpless victim of human excess. The truth is the opposite. She is a wild and resourceful beast given to fits of rage. And now that we are provoking her beyond endurance, she is starting to seek her revenge.
'Do we really need another book telling us that doom is imminent? In this case, the answer has to be yes.' James Flint, DAILY TELEGRAPH
About the Author Fred Pearce: Fred Pearce is a former news editor at New Scientist magazine, and is currently its environment and development consultant. He is one of the world's leading writers on water. He also writes regularly for the Independent and the Times Higher Education Supplement, the Boston Globe and Foreign Policy in the US and has written reports and extended journalism for WWF, the UN Environment Programme, the Red Cross, UNESCO, the World Bank and the UK Environment Agency. He is syndicated in Japan, Australia and elsewhere and has filed articles from more than 50 countries in the past decade.
He was voted BEMA Environment Journalist of the Year in 2001 and has been short-listed for the same award in 2000, 2002 and 2003. He is a past recipient of the Peter Kent Conservation Book Award and the TES Junior Information Book Award. His books (for both adults and children) have been translated into eight languages.
He is a regular broadcaster on radio and TV, with interview credits from Today to Richard and Judy to the Open University.'
'Lies and Obfuscations.
By Eleanor Clift
A look back at some of the biggest falsehoods of 2006.
In the spirit of holding our political leaders accountable, this year-end review will tabulate the worst lies told by Bush and company, along with several stories that were underreported in the media. Much of what was generated got lost in the fog of war, but the long arm of history will retrieve these moments. As the president said in his news conference this week, if they're still writing about No. 1 - George Washington - there's plenty of time before the historians can properly evaluate No. 43. Judging by the mess in Iraq, it could be 200 or 300 years - if ever - before Bush is vindicated.
Bush has shifted his rhetoric in deference to the grim and deteriorating reality on the ground in Iraq. Asked by a reporter on Oct. 25 if we are winning the war, Bush said, "Absolutely, we're winning." Offered the opportunity at his press conference to defend that statement, Bush has adopted a new formulation. He now says, "We're not winning, but we're not losing." That sounds like the definition of a quagmire.
Exploitation of the war gained Republicans seats in '02 and got Bush a second term in '04, but it wasn't enough in '06. Karl Rove decided the best way for Republicans to retain control of the House and Senate was to embrace the war in Iraq and run against the Democrats as "Defeatocrats" and "Cut and Runners." It might have worked, had not most Americans decided they did indeed want to cut and run. Not right away - the voters want an orderly exit - but they weren't buying Bush's big lie about the Democrats.
Bush campaigned this fall as though the Democrats were the real enemy, not the terrorists. "They [Democrats] think the best way to protect the American people is wait until we're attacked again…If you don't want your government listening in on terrorists, vote for the Democrats." Now that the Democrats have won, watch Bush try to off-load blame for the failure in Iraq. If the Democrats won't go along with whatever cockamamie scheme he comes up with, he can always accuse them of losing the war.
Days after giving Defense Secretary Rumsfeld a ringing endorsement, declaring he would be there until the end, Bush fired him. It was the most obvious lie of his presidency. And it tripped so easily off Bush's tongue. There was none of the stammering that usually accompanies his public utterances. It was as big a lie as Rove's assertion on National Public Radio that all the public polls pointing toward a rout for the GOP were wrong. "I have the math," Rove proclaimed. A lot of people believed Rove, but the voters didn't.
The administration had the media snookered much of the time. Stories that were underreported largely because they ran counter to administration spin include:...'
The use of antibiotics on farms should be reduced because of suspected links with a superbug in humans, an organic food group claimed yesterday.
A virulent strain of E-coli which has killed at least 57 people in the UK has been found on 10 cattle farms in the UK since 2004. Meanwhile, human cases of the superbug are rising fast, according to Health Protection Scotland. In 1998, there were 28 cases of this type of E-coli in Scotland, but in 2005 the number rose to 1067.
The bacterium causes blood poisoning and urinary tract infections, and is potentially fatal to the elderly and hospital patients. The strain produces enzymes called extended spectrum beta lactamases (ESBLs) which stop many drugs working, including penicillin. Most people contract ESBL in hospital, but concerns have been raised that the infection may spread through meat and milk products.
Now the Soil Association says it believes the use of certain antibiotics in farm animals is one factor in creating the drug-resistant strain of E-coli. It is calling on the government to reduce the use of the relevant antibiotics on antibiotics on farms. In a letter to Ben Bradshaw, Animal Welfare Minister, the pro-organic group calls for the advertising of certain farm drugs to be banned and for vets to advise farmers how to reduce their use of the antibiotics.
Richard Young, Soil Association policy adviser, said: "There is growing evidence that the excessive use of antibiotics on intensive livestock farms is a central factor in the spread of this new type of E-coli."
Last year, for the first time in Britain, scientists found strains of the ESBL E-coli among sick and dying calves on a dairy farm in Wales. Some 56% of calves examined had the bug.'
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