Sunday, 18 December 2011

New Photos Released of Iraq Atrocity, With Documents and Video

"Every American should read this letter:"

http://www.zcommunications.org/new-photos-released-of-iraq-atrocity-with-documents-and-video-by-david-swanson

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Obama at Fort Bragg: A hypocritical embrace of a criminal war

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/dec2011/brag-d15.shtml

By Bill Van Auken
15 December 2011

President Barack Obama used his speech to US troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina Wednesday to embrace the nine-year war in Iraq that he had ostensibly opposed and to declare the destruction of the country a “success.”

Obama exploited a captive audience of 3,000 soldiers assembled at the largest US Army base in the world as part of a cynical attempt to use the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, which is to be completed by the end of this month, to promote his own reelection campaign.

The speech appeared to have been written by someone who threw out Abraham Lincoln’s famous adage and adopted the view that you can “fool all of the people all of the time.”

The Democratic president presented the complete withdrawal of American forces as an “extraordinary achievement” for his administration, while telling the troops that it was necessary to “remember everything that you did to make it possible.”

The reality is that the withdrawal of America’s armed forces from Iraq is not the deliberate outcome of US policy, but rather the unavoidable result of Washington’s failure to negotiate a new Status of Forces agreement to permit the administration’s favored plan, which was to leave behind as many as 20,000 troops.

That failure was based on the refusal of the Iraqi government, and indeed all of the major political forces in the country, to accede to Washington’s demand for blanket immunity for US troops from Iraqi law. Mass popular opposition, based on the bitter experiences of the Iraqi people over nearly nine years of US occupation, with all of its death and brutality, made any such agreement impossible.

Even as Obama used the Fort Bragg speech to wrap himself in the American flag and associate himself with the US military—he referred to himself as “commander-in-chief” three times, while his wife Michelle introduced him to the military audience by that title—he sought to promote the illusion among his liberal Democratic base that the withdrawal represents the fulfillment of a 2008 campaign pledge.

This is a bare-faced lie. Obama won the 2008 election in large measure due to the deep-going hostility among the American electorate to the wars begun under the Bush administration. He pledged to end the war in Iraq within 16 months of coming to office. Once in the White House, however, he retained Bush’s secretary of defense, Robert Gates, and largely ceded policy decisions to the Pentagon brass.

The December 31, 2011 deadline for completing troop withdrawals was set not by Obama, but was rather part of the Status of Forces Agreement reached between Bush and the Iraqi regime in 2008. Bush, like Obama, had fully intended to renegotiate this pact to allow permanent stationing of US troops in the country.

As it is, Washington is doing its best to maintain its grip on Iraq, replacing uniformed troops with an army of up to 17,000 under the nominal direction of the US State Department. It is to include a force of 5,500 private mercenary security contractors, a massive CIA station, and Special Operations troops operating covertly out of uniform. Tens of thousands of US troops are being kept in place across Iraq’s border in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, while the US Navy and the US Air Force remain in control of the country’s coastlines and airspace.

US imperialism remains poised to intervene once again in the country, even as it engages in unceasing saber-rattling against its neighbor, Iran. Obama’s hailing of “the end of the war in Iraq” may prove decidedly premature.

Obama’s speech, which included no hint of his own supposed opposition to the Iraq war, was filled with empty rhetoric—such as, “there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long”—meant to obscure and falsify what the war was all about. He sought to portray it as a crusade for democracy and the liberation of the Iraqi people.

“We remember the early days—the American units that streaked across the sands and skies of Iraq: the battles from Karbala to Baghdad,” said Obama, as if recounting some heroic exploit. In reality, the “early days” were the days of “shock and awe,” when massive US bombardments killed civilians and largely defenseless Iraqi troops alike in an unprovoked attack on an oppressed and impoverished country.

“We remember the grind of the insurgency,” he added, declaring that the will of the troops “proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it.” Here one has the inevitable and time-worn rhetoric of colonialism. Those resisting the foreign occupation of their country are “terrorists,” while occupiers are endowed with the supreme right to impose their will.

“We remember the specter of sectarian violence,” he continued, telling the troops, “in the face of ancient divisions, you stood firm to help those Iraqis who put their faith in the future.” One would never guess that the bloody carnage and ethnic cleansing had itself been unleashed by the US invasion, the destruction of the Iraqi state, and the deliberate promotion by Washington of sectarian divisions as a means of conquering the country.

Obama referred to the “heavy cost of this war,” citing the nearly 4,500 US troops killed and the more than 30,000 wounded. Yet, he suggested, it was worth it, because nearly nine years of war had led to a “moment of success.”

“Now Iraq is not a perfect place,” he said. “It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”

Missing from this narrative was any reference to the cost that the US war imposed on its unwilling victims, the Iraqi people. According to credible estimates, these costs include a million Iraqi lives. Some four million people were driven from their homes, forced to flee the country or become internal refugees. Basic infrastructure was smashed, leaving masses of the population without adequate access to electricity, clean water and other basic necessities of life.

A country of 30 million has been left with 4.5 million orphans, some 600,000 of them living in the streets. There are an estimated 1.5 million widows in the country, 10 percent of Iraq’s female population.

The poverty rate has risen from 15 percent before the war and occupation to 55 percent today, with a quarter of the population living in extreme poverty. The United Nations gives the unemployment rate at 28 percent, while others suggest that the share of the population without real jobs is closer to 50 percent.

Meanwhile, lethal violence continues, with an average of 243 Iraqi civilians killed in each of the first six months of this year. On the day Obama delivered his speech at Fort Bragg, just the initially reported incidents of bombings in Baghdad and Ishaqi and shootings in Mosul and Fallujah killed at least 11 people, leaving many more wounded.

Nine years of US war and occupation have indeed left Iraq less than “a perfect place.”

What is perhaps most stunning about what is being billed as Obama’s keynote speech on the end of the Iraq war is his complete inability to present even the semblance of a coherent explanation of why the US went to war in the first place.

“Because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny,” he said. “That’s part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.”

In another passage, he told the assembled soldiers: “Never forget that you are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries—from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you—men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.”

This is all nonsense and lies. Do the White House speechwriters really expect anyone to believe that 170,000 American troops were deployed in Iraq to give Iraqis “a chance to forge their own destiny” with no thought for the 112 billion barrels of oil within the country—the second largest proven reserves in the world?

People in Iraq had been forging their own destiny for thousands of years without the help of American bombs, missiles and bullets. Far from an unbroken line from the colonists who overthrew an empire in the 18th century, America’s ruling elite in the 21st century embarked upon naked colonial-style wars aimed at imposing US hegemony over the world’s key energy producing regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

As for delivering “justice” to those who attacked the US on September 11, 2001, there is no record of anyone allegedly involved in these attacks having come from Fallujah or Basra, where Al Qaeda had never been heard of before the US military invaded Iraq.

Obama merely recycles some of the old lies of the Bush administration, while wisely skipping over the principal pretext given to the American people for the war: an imminent threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that did not, in fact, exist.

As Obama gave his speech at Fort Bragg, thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in the streets of Fallujah, scene of the bloodiest US sieges of the war in 2004 and 2005, which claimed thousands of lives and left virtually the entire city of half a million people in rubble.

The demonstration was called as a “festival to celebrate the role of the resistance” in forcing an end to the US occupation. Demonstrators carried photographs of friends and relatives killed in the American offensive as well as placards bearing slogans such as “Now we are free” and “Fallujah is the flame of the resistance.” Others burned US flags.

“I’m glad to see the Americans are leaving Iraq,” a taxi driver, Ahmed Jassim, told Reuters. “It’s only now we truly feel the taste of freedom and independence. We will not see American forces anymore. They remind us of strife and destruction.”

In his cynicism, Obama may think that the American people do not remember how the US got into Iraq. He may reassure himself that they have no alternative in any case, given that both Democrats and Republicans are fully implicated in this criminal war of aggression.

The lying and glorification of the Iraq war—which gave the world the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the siege of Fallujah, the massacre in Haditha and countless other war crimes—is not just a matter of electoral calculations. Obama is compelled to defend this war because its original aims—the use of military might to offset the decline of American capitalism through the armed occupation of the world’s key energy producing regions—are still pursued by the US ruling elite.

With all the talk about the ending of a decade of war, the downward spiral of US and world capitalism is creating the conditions for global military conflagrations that will eclipse the crimes committed by American militarism in Iraq.

Iraqi deaths survey 'was robust'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6495753.stm

Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
E-mail this to a friend Printable version
Iraqi deaths survey 'was robust'
By Owen Bennett-Jones
BBC World Service

/Picture>
/Picture caption:> Iraqis search for survivors in rubble in Ramadi, western Baghdad after a gun battle between US marines and insurgents
The survey estimated that 601,000 deaths were the result of violence, mostly gunfire.
/end picture caption>

The British government was advised against publicly criticising a report estimating that 655,000 Iraqis had died due to the war, the BBC has learnt.

Iraqi Health Ministry figures put the toll at less than 10% of the total in the survey, published in the Lancet.

But the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the survey's methods were "close to best practice" and the study design was "robust".

Another expert agreed the method was "tried and tested".

Mortality rates

The Iraq government asks the country's hospitals to report the number of victims of terrorism or military action.

Critics say the system was not started until well after the invasion and requires over-pressed hospital staff not only to report daily, but also to distinguish between victims of terrorism and of crime.

The Lancet medical journal published its peer-reviewed survey last October.

It was conducted by the John Hopkins School of Public Health and compared mortality rates before and after the invasion by surveying 47 randomly chosen areas across 16 provinces in Iraq.


Are we really sure the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies
Foreign Office official

The researchers spoke to nearly 1,850 families, comprising more than 12,800 people.

In nearly 92% of cases family members produced death certificates to support their answers. The survey estimated that 601,000 deaths were the result of violence, mostly gunfire.

Shortly after the publication of the survey in October last year Tony Blair's official spokesperson said the Lancet's figure was not anywhere near accurate.

He said the survey had used an extrapolation technique, from a relatively small sample from an area of Iraq that was not representative of the country as a whole.

President Bush said: "I don't consider it a credible report."

But a memo by the MoD's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, on 13 October, states: "The study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to "best practice" in this area, given the difficulties of data collection and verification in the present circumstances in Iraq."

'Cannot be rubbished'

One of the documents just released by the Foreign Office is an e-mail in which an official asks about the Lancet report: "Are we really sure the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies."

The reply from another official is: "We do not accept the figures quoted in the Lancet survey as accurate. "

In the same e-mail the official later writes: "However, the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones."

Asked how the government can accept the Lancet's methodology but reject its findings, the government has issued a written statement in which it said: "The methodology has been used in other conflict situations, notably the Democratic republic of Congo.

"However, the Lancet figures are much higher than statistics from other sources, which only goes to show how estimates can vary enormously according to the method of collection.

"There is considerable debate amongst the scientific community over the accuracy of the figures."

'Mainstreet bias'


In fact some of the British government criticism of the Lancet report post-dated Sir Roy's comments.

Speaking six days after Sir Roy praised the study's methods, British foreign office minister Lord Triesman said: "The way in which data are extrapolated from samples to a general outcome is a matter of deep concern...."


It would appear they were only able to sample a small sliver of the country
Dr Michael Spagat

Some scientists have subsequently challenged the validity of the Lancet study. Questions have been asked about the survey techniques and the possibility of "mainstreet bias".

Dr Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway London University says that most of those questioned lived on streets more likely than average to witness attacks: "It would appear they were only able to sample a small sliver of the country," he said.

Dr Spagat has previously conducted research with Iraq Body Count, an NGO that counts deaths on the basis of media reports and which has produced estimates far lower than those published in the Lancet.

If the Lancet survey is right, then 2.5% of the Iraqi population - an average of more than 500 people a day - have been killed since the start of the war.

The BBC World Service made a Freedom of Information Request on 28 November 2006. The information was released on 14 March 2007.

Friday, 9 December 2011

FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO

Media Lens Message Board
[ Media Lens Message Board ]

* FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO

Posted by The Editors [User Info] on December 9, 2011, 3:41 pm

Extra! December 2011

Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO
Like Da Vinci or the Dalai Lama—only better

By Peter Hart

Several labor unions came together on October 5 in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests, leading to a march of thousands in downtown Manhattan. Populist MSNBC host Ed Schultz was live on the scene—but devoted the top of his broadcast to the breaking news that Apple Computers founder Steve Jobs had just died.

It made for an incongruous TV moment: a labor-friendly host in front of a boisterous anti-corporate crowd, joining with Bloomberg pundit Jonathan Alter to pay tribute to a billionaire CEO.

“He was one of the great figures of American history,” explained Alter. Schultz added: “This protest here tonight, it was made possible by his innovation. It was made possible by the very things that, you know, he created.”

Schultz’s tribute was just the tip of the iceberg. “Steve Jobs remade the world as completely as any single human being ever has,” explained Lev Grossman and Harry McCracken in Time (10/17/11). “The genius of Jobs,” they went on, “is that while Jobs understood us completely, he wasn’t like us. He was better.”

“In the pantheon of American innovators, nobody comes close to the defining legacy of Steve Jobs,” wrote Harold Evans in Newsweek (10/10/11).

On television the hero worship was, if anything, deeper. ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir (10/5/11) declared, “He was our Edison, our Disney, our Da Vinci.” That night’s broadcast was dedicated to “a visionary who changed the way we live, work and play, the man who gave us products we love and pointed the way to a future that he alone seemed able to see.”

/Full article: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4439

Post a Response

o Re: FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO

Posted by thiskneelingfool [User Info] [Email User] on December 9, 2011, 3:49 pm, in reply to "FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO"

--Previous Message--
: Weir (10/5/11) declared, “He was our Edison,
: our Disney, our Da Vinci.” That night’s
: broadcast was dedicated to “a visionary who
: changed the way we live, work and play, the
: man who gave us products we love and pointed
: the way to a future that he alone seemed
: able to see.”

A world of privileged pointless indulgence complete with head-in-the-sand reality.

What about all the African lives lost in the mineral wars needed to manufacture Jobby's toys?

Yes, what a visionary!

Post a Response

o Re: FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO

Posted by Hidari [User Info] on December 9, 2011, 6:22 pm, in reply to "FAIR: Steve Jobs and the Cult of the CEO"

It's not often pointed out enough that all, literally all, of the great innovations of computer era were made in the public sector. The mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart at SRI as was the Wiki idea (indeed all groupware). Email was invented at MIT. The Internet was invented by the NSF. The web was invented at CERN. And so on.

Capitalists invented nothing.

http://killingsometimebeforetimekillsyou.blogspot.com/

Monday, 28 November 2011

What is the motivation for having nuclear power?

It’s difficult to see how it serves the interests of anyone at all.

No ordinary citizens want to live near a power plant, given the choice; that must be even truer in light of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

The nuclear and insurance industries themselves recognise that it’s not a viable enterprise. The state must nanny the industry massively for reasons including the unwillingness of providers to sell insurance policies to nuclear businesses.

There might be some considerable financial reward for some nuclear executives, but capitalists are clever people: if not nuclear, they can find plenty of other ways to enrich themselves.

Moreover, these executives (and their children) will live in the same country as their power stations and, as Fukushima shows, one can never really live far enough away to be safe from an accident.

I have been watching the documentary, ‘Into Eternity’: in Finland, they are building a massive underground repository (effectively an underground city) for nuclear waste; this facility will eventually be sealed, and must remain sealed for the next 100,000 years.

It’s mind-boggling. It’s not clear (might become so – haven’t finished watching the whole lot yet) who is paying for this. Apparently, this is the only safe way to deal with waste; but the cost of this project seems to dwarf any benefits from nuclear, and that itself seems a massive understatement when you consider that this project will presumably have to be replicated hundreds/thousands of times around the world (for all those advanced nations engaged in nuclear power production).

Out of all the contempt that drives human activity (e.g. racism that enables the plunder of lands populated by brown people, misogyny that sustains the oppression of women, hatred of animals that enables the daily genocide perpetrated by the meat industry), it seems our greatest contempt is for future generations. It seems that we (might) love our children, but we couldn’t give a damn about their children.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

comment on: Norman Finkelstein, 'How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict'

I listened to Norman Finkelstein on Fri at London University: 'How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict'

As an aside: Finkelstein, to my mind, is a very laborious speaker. I don't really want to listen to him again, certainly not live - I could tolerate snippets on YouTube. He is stimulating to read, though; so that's what I intend restricting myself to doing with him in future. (The same applies, though to a lesser extent, with Noam Chomsky.)

Delivery aside, the *content* of his talk was interesting. He spoke for so long (two+ hours - so long that I couldn't even bear to stay to the end) that, inevitably, there is much I could comment on. But I will just highlight one aspect:

Finkelstein said that a major factor exacerbating Israel's international isolation is that its would-be supporters are Jews, so they have Jewish sensibilities. - Jewish sensibilities are a major problem (for Israel).

Jewish sensibilities are overwhelmingly liberal, meaning that Jews believe in such things as: the same rules of law should apply to the rich/powerful as to the poor/weak; conflicts should be resolved through nonviolent means, not superior firepower.

Jews in America are atypical in their voting habits, because, in America, most people vote with their wallets. So rich non-Jews typically vote Republican, and poor blacks typically vote Democrat. Given their wealth, Jews *ought* to be voting Republican, but they overwhelmingly vote Democrat - against their economic self-interest (but according to their liberal sensibilities).

Given those sensibilities, then, and especially if you're a young Jewish boy/girl on some ivy-league campus, you really don't want to be seen defending Israel when its crimes are so massive and perpetrated with such hubris and chutzpah.

For example:

In the summer of 2006, in its war with Hezbollah, Israel dropped four million cluster bomblets (illegal weapons) on South Lebanon in 72 hours; and this was even *after* the UN had passed a ceasefire resolution and the war was effectively over.

In 2008/9, during their massacre of 1400 Palestinians in Gaza, Israel dropped white phosphorous (another illegal weapon - reaches a temp of 800 Celsius, burning through human flesh like a hot knife through butter) on two Gazan hospitals.

The Goldstone Report was a disaster for Israel: Goldstone, a Jew and self-avowed Zionist, succumbed to his Jewish sensibilities in endorsing the judgement that Israel was indeed guilty of war crimes in 'Operation Cast Lead' (the euphemistic term for Gaza Massacre).

In 2010, Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara civilian vessel (part of the pro-Palestinian activist flotilla) in international Mediterranean waters (yet another contemptuous breach of international law), killing a dozen of those onboard. (Incidentally, some of the commandos were captured for a while, yet, despite relentless Israeli propaganda those onboard were terrorists, not a single commando was executed but, rather, received medical attention.)

Finkelstein said much more, but this aspect of his talk struck me as particularly interesting - the notion that the nature of Jewishness itself ('Jewish sensibilities') was a fundamental problem for Israel. That seems a real Catch-22: Israel wants to be a (the) 'Jewish State', but Jews want to distance themselves from it (due to sensibilities which are apparently inherent to the Jewish identity). Seems to me that that might be a real dilemma for the Jewish Diaspora (perhaps even for Jews in Israel): do you avow your Jewishness (Jewish sensibilities) by condemning the actions of the 'Jewish State', or by avowing your loyalty to the Jewish State (which others, including Jews, will see as complicity in war crimes)?

‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ (ethnic cleansing, WMD, and more)

The sequel is much darker than the original.

Po (the kung fu panda of the title) must confront his past so that he can find the strength to deal with the present and the future.

(Incidentally, the Soothsayer in ‘KFP2’ reminds us that the present is the most important: as Master Oogway said in ‘KFP1’, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift – that is why it is called the present.”)

But there is deep darkness in Po’s past, accounting for his adoption: his panda village was destroyed and (nearly) all pandas murdered by a military invasion-occupation.

And today, the leader of that military dictatorship, Lord Shen, is hell-bent on utilising a WMD to expand and entrench his territory – a weapon so powerful that it threatens the very existence of kung fu.

It is the job of Po (and the Furious Five) to save China and Kung Fu.

Well, that’s the politics. There is also much spirituality (Buddhism perhaps).

Awed and inspired by seeing what his Master (Shifu) is capable of kung-fu-wise through achieving ‘inner peace’, Po resolves that he must ‘get his peace on’.

And that’s a principal message of the film: you must vanquish your inner demons – anger, bitterness, vengeance, avarice, greed, ambition etc. – and ‘get your peace on!’

(There is also much implicit promotion of veganism, but that’s probably inevitable because all the characters are animals.)

Kung Fu Panda and other action heroes: compare and contrast

('Kung Fu Panda 2' out now! - on dvd and blu-ray)

Po (aka Kung Fu Panda) is the chubby hero of the Kung Fu Panda movies.

He fantasises that he can be *awesome* like his heroes, the Furious Five (China’s leading kung fu warriors), painfully aware that he is seen by others, and by himself, as just a clumsy overweight oaf. This is exactly what we see him dreaming in the opening sequence of the first movie. Villagers (in his dream) thank him for saving them from evil bandits, someone remarking how “awesome” he is and some girl remarking how “attractive” he is. ‘How can we repay you?’ they ask. Po imagines that he will be very magnanimous: ‘There is no charge for awesomeness – or attractiveness.’

He is unique amongst action heroes in being the only one whose hallmark personality trait lies in having self-esteem issues (e.g. he eats when he’s upset).

This occurs with no other action heroes. For example, James Bond’s primary personality trait is smug arrogance. Moreover, to the extent that any other heroes have any personality at all, the only ‘depth’ to that is their torment: Spiderman and Superman, particularly, are tormented by their separation from the girls they love as a consequence of their crime-fighting duties. That adds a modicum of drama to plotlines which are otherwise pretty turgid.

Conventional action heroes, e.g. Spiderman, Superman and Batman (SSB), are narcissists who demonstrate their superiority to others (e.g. Batman is superior to the Gotham City Police in crime-fighting). Kung Fu Panda merely seeks acceptance by others (particularly the Furious Five), achieving equality with them rather than superiority. It is striking that SSB fetishize themselves through their skin-tight costumes designed to advertise their toned physiques; whereas Po merely wears very old patched shorts that have been stitched in many places (due, no doubt, to his fatness splitting the seams). SSB think only about *themselves* (as exemplified by the branding of themselves through their thoughtfully constructed self-obsessed costumes) and their alter-egos (their enemies). Po thinks only about *others* – in his admiration of kung fu masters and in his mission to protect the villagers. SSB are masters and saviours to be idolised, whereas Po and the Furious Five are merely servants (of the people) to be thanked.

There are striking differences between the economics of conventional action heroes and Kung Fu Panda. Bruce Wayne and James Bond, for example, are capitalists; Po and the Furious Five are socialists. This is sometimes very explicit: for example, Bruce Wayne derives his Batman powers largely from his fabulous wealth which enables him to invest in hi-tech gadgets and weaponry. The same applies to Ethan Hunt, James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer (curious, btw, that so many spies have the initials ‘JB’): enormous personal wealth and/or taxpayer subsidy via MI6/CIA. And even if material wealth is not crucial to the hero, e.g. Superman, Spiderman, then it is crucial to the villain, e.g. Lex Luthor, Green Goblin, Doc Octopus. What we learn from SSB is that there is good capitalism (e.g. Wayne Enterprises) and bad capitalism (e.g. Lex Luthor’s holdings, the Green Goblin’s ‘Oscorp’); and we the audience cheer the good capitalists and boo the bad capitalists, but capitalism itself is not challenged.

In stark contrast, Kung Fu Panda does not derive any power from any such crude commodity as money, nor in fact do his adversaries. Indeed, he doesn’t derive any strength from any external agent – because even the sacred powerful ‘Dragon Scroll’ (the rightful possession of the ‘Dragon Warrior’, who Po is revealed to be) is nothing but a mirror that simply tells one to look within oneself.

Thus, Po is a very positive influence for not only children (whom his films are apparently meant for) but adults too. The message is that anyone, even a clumsy overweight panda, can become “awesome” if they tap into their inner strength. In stark contrast, others, e.g. Batman, Bond, are a very corrupting influence, the message being that, if you can get yourself the right gadgets (Bond films even indulge in the crass practice of product-placement), the right body and the right costume, then you too can be the coolest kid on the block. This simply promotes consumerism, whereas Po promotes self-reflection.

It is striking that, whilst SSB, Bond, Bauer, Bourne & Hunt are men, it is Po the *panda* who is actually the only one with genuine human qualities: he is wracked by low self-esteem, self-doubt and fear.

Po’s supreme humility and complete lack of ego is illustrated at the end of the first movie. He has vanquished the evil Tai Lung and saved the Valley of Peace. He has fulfilled his Dragon Warrior destiny and earned the respect and adulation of the whole village. Even his most severe critic, Master Tigress, is moved to bow and address him with the honorific title he has finally earned, ‘Master’. Rather than basking in the adulation, Po merely chuckles at hearing the word ‘Master’ being applied to him. Moreover, he is so concerned about others and uninterested in himself that the word ‘Master’ simply turns his thoughts straight to his own master, Master Shifu – who he rushes straight off to see for fear that he (Shifu) might have been injured/killed.

In political terms, Po + the Furious Five are like Sandinsta or VietCong guerrillas, whose mission is to repel fascist invaders from terrorising peaceful villagers. In stark contrast: James Bond’s mission is to protect Her Majesty’s imperial interests – originally ill-gotten anyway through rapacious plunder around the globe by the British Empire – against any upstart villains who have the gall to think they can challenge the power of the MI6-CIA terrorist network.

On the inter-personal level, Bond is always looking for sex (from women), whereas Po is always looking for love (from anyone).

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

'Collapse'

There are writers out there who are saying that we are witnessing the collapse of the global financial system.

Just came across this guy, Michael Ruppert - watched a documentary about him and his theses. His last book was 'Collapse' (2010).

Haven't read his book, but listened to him, instead, in the documentary of the same name.

His argument (as I understood it) is that Peak Oil is the key to much (all?) global politics, and that the global financial system (not just America) is, in essence, a pyramid-selling scheme, where the principal product being traded around the world is derivatives (and derivatives of derivatives), where derivatives are complex packages of debts (e.g. mortgages).

So there are two principal problems.

The first is that the vast majority of the economy is fake (trade in debt), based on nothing tangible. What little real money exists, e.g. gold, dollar bills, is dwarfed by the 'money' (fabricated numbers) in circulation. (Apparently, there is $700 trillion in the world, but nowhere near that amount in stuff of real value + real money.)

And then, the second problem: what real economy there does exist is all based on fossil fuels, a very finite resource, especially now that we have reached (perhaps passed) Peak Oil (the point where we have consumed half of the Earth's reserves). One give-away of the truth of this is the fact that the Saudis, who themselves sit atop 25% of the world's reserves, have started drilling in the sea: this only makes sense if they have passed their own peak, because it's massively more expensive for them to extract under-sea than under their own land.

Apparently, the oil companies are well aware that the ice caps are melting, but they're actually celebrating this because it means that, finally, they can now access the oil under the Arctic Ocean.

And the disastrous feature of our economy is that fossil fuels are far more than simply what powers our transport. It powers *everything* (even when the power is electricity), e.g. all manufacturing processes, very many materials (e.g. everything that contains plastic), hospitals, food-preservation. And what is even more scary is that our entire food system is oil-based: modern industrialised farming has so depleted the soil of nutrients that now we can't grow any food without fertilisers and pesticides, both of which come from oil. Without oil, we can't even eat!

An 'oil-based' economy does not really capture the chilling reality. It is more like oil is the blood in the veins of our civilisation, and that, I think, is why these futurologists talk about the 'collapse' of our civilisation rather than, say, 'crisis'.

Ruppert argues (paraphrasing - can't remember his exact words) that it's only when you understand the centrality of oil to western civilisation that foreign policy begins to look rational rather than inconsistent, e.g. overthrowing one dictator whilst supporting another. 'Of course Iraq was all about oil; everyone knows that.'

Thursday, 3 November 2011

"Unions are just as bad as the banks."

"Unions are just as bad as the banks. They rip us off as much as they can. There is no difference."

Amazing statement from someone on Twitter.

The writer has no concept of the relative budgets and power of banks and unions.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The rape accusations against Assange cannot be taken seriously.

There would be no rape accusations against Assange if certain countries (e.g. America) did not regard his Wikileaks project as highly politically subversive.

One indicator of the veracity of that hypothesis is the fact that, originally, Assange approached the Swedish authorities himself (when he was in Sweden - a couple of years ago, I think) with regard to these accusations because he wanted to clear his name before leaving (for England, I think).

At that time, Sweden showed no interest in inviting him to stay (or detaining him) for that purpose (i.e. to examine the 'case'); indeed, the relevant Swedish judge at the time dismissed the accusations as being too flimsy to stand up in court.

Only later did Sweden feel sufficient pressure from America to decide suddenly that, actually, Assange did have a case to answer after all.

Sweden has exposed its new political colours, i.e. subservience to the US, very recently. In all previous years, Sweden has always voted in favour of pro-Palestinian UN resolutions, along with the vast majority of nations, and against the tiny minority of anti-Palestinian voters (primarily America and Israel). But this year, for the first time, it decided to vote *with* the US.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I attended another lecture at the TCU ('Tent City University') at St Paul's.

I attended another lecture at the TCU ('Tent City University') at St Paul's.

The speaker gave some fascinating chilling insights into the welfare 'reforms', e.g. DLA (disability living allowance).

Government actions over DLA are basically striking panic and fear, even sometimes suicide, into people receiving that benefit and their carers and families.

A major driving force behind these 'reforms' (i.e. privatisation) is a certain American health insurance company (whose name escapes me now).

She remarked on how the corporatized media spin this subject. For example, they typically pose the question, 'What do you think about people claiming undeserved disability allowances?' - to which the answer, of course, is universally 'we hate it.'

BUT, when you ask, say, 'Is there anyone whose future you fear for with regard to welfare reforms?' you get a very different picture of people's attitudes towards welfare claimants.

She writes this blog (which looks pretty interesting):
http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 22 October 2011

whitewashing libya

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Will the whitewashing start with tomorrow's editorials?

Posted by Peter [User Info] on October 20, 2011, 8:28 pm

I expect most 'papers will feature at least one leader column about the life and death of Muammar Gadaffi, with an overview of the last seven months of conflict in Libya in general. Here are a few of the things you might expect them to mention:

* The fact that U.N.S.C.R. 1973 demanded an immediate ceasefire, with even Establishment think tanks like the International Crisis Group saying (p.28) that it was NATO and the NTC, rather than the Gadaffi regime, who were rejecting all such ceasefire attempts out of hand.


* The fact that there was no mandate for regime change, even though this is what the NATO action was clearly aimed at.


* The looting, burning and emptying of the villages of al-Awaniya, Rayayinah, Zawiyat al-Bagul and Qawalish by vengeful rebels in July, as documented by Human Rights Watch.


* The bombing of Libyan state T.V. by R.A.F. fighter jets in July, which reportedly killed a number of journalists and was subsequently condemned as a war crime by Reporters Without Borders, UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists.


* The countless other civilians killed by NATO bombing raids, as reported by various new agencies and even corporate journalists themselves.


* What can only be described as the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha, a primarily black town that was emptied of it's population (circa 30'000) by vengeful rebels in mid-August, with NATO air support. The rebels then proceeded to loot and down burn homes, kill livestock, and spray racist graffiti everywhere while vowing to never let the Tawerghans return.


* The reduction of Sirte, previously a town of 100'000 people, to a smoking ruin via a three to four week long siege. The siege encompassed daily indiscriminate bombing, the cutting off of water, food, medicine and electricity supplies, the shelling of a hospital, and widespread looting by rebels. Aid agencies described what was happening to the town as a humanitarian disaster.

* The looting, burning and emptying of Abu Hadi by vengeful rebels in early October, as documented by the L.A. Times.


* The ongoing torture in NTC detention centres, as documented by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.


* The general persecution of black Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans by rebel groups in Tripoli, with Human Rights Watch reporting that 'widespread arbitrary arrests and frequent abuse have created a grave sense of fear among the city’s African population', Amnesty International reporting that 'black Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans are at high risk of abuse by anti-Gaddafi forces'.

But how much of this is going to be airbrushed out of what you might describe as the Official History - and tomorrow's leaders will be the first draft of it - in favour of the grand but clearly fraudulent narrative of benevolent NATO protecting civilians, promoting democracy and just trying to do what's right?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Re: Will Hutton: there is no alternative to capitalism

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Re: Will Hutton: there is no alternative to capitalism

Posted by David Bracewell [User Info] on October 2, 2011, 5:58 pm, in reply to "Re: Will Hutton: there is no alternative to capitalism"

Capitalism has little in common with the way humans act naturally. It is unresponsive to people and unadaptable, requiring society to entirely change its patterns and priorities for it to work.

It is the utopian project par excellence and requires brute force and eventually vast disparities in wealth to peel off the wealthy layer to keep it in place against the rest of society, for which the wealthy cease to have any empathy or common goals.

The archeological evidence of people like David Graeber and Caroline Humphrey show that almost all of our pre-industrial ancestors have never lived in such a way before - transactionally as opposed to socially - and Karl Polanyi's analysis, which is similar, has been vindicated.

Studies on political equality with small wealth differentials by people like Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer (used to be Uni of Zurich) and Stephen Bezruchka (Uni Washington) tend to confirm that, given a certain modest level of wealth, society at all levels is happiest in such conditions. This is confirmation that our pre-archaic-state, genetically predisposed nature is not compatible with the exigencies of capitalism.

I think the involuntary human energy with which capitalism must be sustained for it to even vaguely work, it's complete inability to do so without everyone else having to adapt by state force (it's like a rare orchard it needs so much sacrifice to keep it alive) is an indicator of how short a time capitalism has left. While in the past it could still spread into the world to impose its misery while enriching its middle classes in its originating centres, it had a future. But now that most people have pretty much been or soon will be screwed by it, it can no longer divert its misery beyond its borders as it has always previously done.

It's only a 250 year old system. That's not a very long time. And since it cannot set prices in the market or allocate scarcer and scarcer resources efficiently, its two justifications are really a busted flush. It must now exist entirely in the face of the world population, including, perhaps most importantly, the educated ex-middle class and much of the ex-communist educated elite.

There is a massive pool of disaffected and able people in the world now, able to understand and use non-military assets much better than the state and corporate sectors. This makes a difference. This leaves capitalism with just one tool, pure force, much as this same tool had been left to the Western empires - including the US currently - and before it its ancien regimes.

What we move to may be messy, but it won't be capitalism, because too many in the middle class are slated for poverty as things stand. The most successful economies, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, where capital is constrained by either civil society or, in the latter case political rights, may be in our futures, but I think that leaves in place the ability for Capital to once again hijack society. That means, I think, a system that comes out of this next crisis that is not subject to Hyman Minski's eventual ponzification of capital which in turn means that capital must cease to be the tool by which we consolidate our societies.

This is the only time in history that almost the entire world has been subject to capitalism's misery. There are few fresh fields abroad, no western frontiers and few people suppressed by other types of social organisation who capitalism can buy off with promises of wealth.

I believe a more root and branch replacement will be in place within 20 years.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Libya: “the jewel in the crown”

Libya: “the jewel in the crown”

Libya: “the jewel in the crown”
30 September 2011

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/sep2011/pers-s30.shtml

In a recent teleconference with US businessmen, Washington’s ambassador to Libya let slip a telling phrase while referring to the North African nation’s oil reserves.

Ambassador Gene Cretz, who recently ran the stars and stripes up the flagpole at the previously abandoned US embassy in Tripoli recounted to reporters the contents of the briefing he delivered to representatives of some 150 American businessmen. Joining him in the presentation was Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, the State Department’s point-man on pursuing US corporate—and particularly oil—interests abroad. The agency has also played a leading role in seeking US investments in Iraq.

“We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources, but even in Gaddafi’s time they were starting from A to Z in terms of building infrastructure and other things,” said Cretz.

The US ambassador continued: “If we can get American companies here on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do everything we can to do that, then this will redound to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs.”

The “jewel in the crown” is a phrase that is drenched in the history and ideology of imperialism. First employed in the 19th century by the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, it referred to India and its position as the most lucrative source of profits extracted by British imperialism from its worldwide colonial possessions.

That such language creeps into the official briefings of the chief US representative in Tripoli is hardly accidental. It expresses the rapacious aims pursued by American imperialism and its NATO allies, particularly Britain and France, since the outset of a war waged on the phony pretense of “human rights” and protecting civilians.

Now, with NATO warplanes and heavily armed “rebels” continuing a brutal siege of the coastal city of Sirte, where bombs, shells and lack of food and water has already killed hundreds if not thousands of civilians, capitalist interests from all the major powers are engaged in an unseemly stampede to exploit the wealth created by Libya’s oil reserves, the largest on the African continent.

Similar meetings of hundreds of businessmen have been convened in London—addressed by the envoy of the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council on Tuesday—and in Paris, as the governments who sent warplanes and special forces operatives to wreck the country are now mobilizing a new invasion of capital to extract profits from it.

On Thursday, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and two other Republican members of the US Senate visited Libya, the highest level US delegation to arrive in the country since the beginning of the NATO war last March.

The purpose of the visit was clear: profits. As the Associated Press reported, “The senators said American companies are hoping to tap into the wealth of oil and natural resources in Libya, which under Gaddafi long faced sanctions that prohibited much business.”

“There is a desire here by the Libyan people to make sure that those who helped get paid back,” Graham told reporters in Tripoli. McCain added, “I think American investors are more than eager to come invest here in Libya and we hope and believe that they will be given an opportunity to do so.”

In the past, the Libyan oil industry has been dominated by European conglomerates, but US corporations such a Conoco, Marathon, Hess and Occidental have been involved in a number of projects in the country and are anxious to increase their grip over Libya’s resources.

McCain and Graham are no strangers to Tripoli. In August 2009 they were the guests of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his son and national security adviser Muatassim. A US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks described the meeting as “positive, highlighting the progress that has been made in the bilateral relationship” and quoted McCain as assuring the Gaddafis that he would work in Congress to expedite US arms sales to the regime.

These contemptible US politicians, who now bray about Gaddafi the “bloodthirsty dictator,” are no more concerned now than they were then about the lives of Libyan working people, thousands of whom have been killed in the war they promoted.

Having previously curried favor with Gaddafi to promote the interests of Big Oil and Wall Street, Washington and its European allies saw the mass upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt together with the beginning of anti-Gaddafi protests in Libya as an opportunity to initiate a predatory war aimed at securing semi-colonial control over the oil-rich country.

An indispensable role was played in preparing this criminal venture by a whole layer of middle class ex-lefts and liberal academics who provided a chorus that echoed and embellished upon the cynical claims of the US, French and British governments that their only interest in intervening in Libya was to halt a supposedly imminent massacre and to defend “human rights”.

From the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France, to the Nation magazine and the Pabloite International Viewpoint, the glaring contradiction that the same US government that took the lives of approximately one million Iraqis and continues to slaughter civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere was suddenly seized with concern about the fate of civilians in Libya gave them no pause.

A leading voice in this camp was that of University of Michigan professor of Middle Eastern history Juan Cole, who used his reputation as a critic of the Bush administration’s war policy in Iraq the better to sell the war on Libya. At the beginning of the war, Cole issued “An Open Letter to the Left,” warning that foreign intervention should not be turned into a “taboo” and “anti-imperialism” should not be allowed to “trump all other values”.

In this statement, he described the argument that the US and the other imperialist powers were waging the war not to protect the Libyan people, but “to open the way for US, British and French dominance of Libya” as “bizarre”.

The ongoing scramble for Libya has put paid to these pathetic apologies for colonial-style conquest. The war itself has served to expose the movement of a whole socio-political layer of ex-lefts and liberals into the camp of imperialism, which they seek to serve by providing a “left” cover for aggression.

The movement of this layer is itself an expression of the deep-going social and class polarization that characterizes US society and, indeed, the entire capitalist world. Like the turn by the major powers to wars of imperialist conquest, it is driven by the historic crisis of the capitalist system and is a harbinger of coming revolutionary struggles of the working class.

Bill Van Auken

Thursday, 11 August 2011

These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/10/riots-reflect-society-run-greed-looting

These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting

Seumas Milne
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 August 2011 22.39 BST

David Cameron has to maintain that the unrest has no cause except criminality – or he and his friends might be held responsible

It is essential for those in power in Britain that the riots now sweeping the country can have no cause beyond feral wickedness. This is nothing but "criminality, pure and simple", David Cameron declared after cutting short his holiday in Tuscany. The London mayor and fellow former Bullingdon Club member Boris Johnson, heckled by hostile Londoners in Clapham Junction, warned that rioters must stop hearing "economic and sociological justifications" (though who was offering them he never explained) for what they were doing.

When his predecessor Ken Livingstone linked the riots to the impact of public spending cuts, it was almost as if he'd torched a building himself. The Daily Mail thundered that blaming cuts was "immoral and cynical", echoed by a string of armchair riot control enthusiasts. There was nothing to explain, they've insisted, and the only response should be plastic bullets, water cannon and troops on the streets.

We'll hear a lot more of that when parliament meets – and it's not hard to see why. If these riots have no social or political causes, then clearly no one in authority can be held responsible. What's more, with many people terrified by the mayhem and angry at the failure of the police to halt its spread, it offers the government a chance to get back on the front foot and regain its seriously damaged credibility as a force for social order.

But it's also a nonsensical position. If this week's eruption is an expression of pure criminality and has nothing to do with police harassment or youth unemployment or rampant inequality or deepening economic crisis, why is it happening now and not a decade ago? The criminal classes, as the Victorians branded those at the margins of society, are always with us, after all. And if it has no connection with Britain's savage social divide and ghettoes of deprivation, why did it kick off in Haringey and not Henley?

To accuse those who make those obvious links of being apologists or "making excuses" for attacks on firefighters or robbing small shopkeepers is equally fatuous. To refuse to recognise the causes of the unrest is to make it more likely to recur – and ministers themselves certainly won't be making that mistake behind closed doors if they care about their own political futures.

It was the same when riots erupted in London and Liverpool 30 years ago, also triggered by confrontation between the police and black community, when another Conservative government was driving through cuts during a recession. The people of Brixton and Toxteth were denounced as criminals and thugs, but within weeks Michael Heseltine was writing a private memo to the cabinet, beginning with "it took a riot", and setting out the urgent necessity to take action over urban deprivation.

This time, the multi-ethnic unrest has spread far further and faster. It's been less politicised and there's been far more looting, to the point where in many areas grabbing "free stuff" has been the main action. But there's no mystery as to where the upheaval came from. It was triggered by the police killing a young black man in a country where black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than their white counterparts. The riot that exploded in Tottenham in response at the weekend took place in an area with the highest unemployment in London, whose youth clubs have been closed to meet a 75% cut in its youth services budget.

It then erupted across what is now by some measures the most unequal city in the developed world, where the wealth of the richest 10% has risen to 273 times that of the poorest, drawing in young people who have had their educational maintenance allowance axed just as official youth unemployment has reached a record high and university places are being cut back under the weight of a tripling of tuition fees.

Now the unrest has gone nationwide. But it's not as if rioting was unexpected when the government embarked on its reckless programme to shrink the state. Last autumn the Police Superintendents' Association warned of the dangers of slashing police numbers at a time when they were likely to be needed to deal with "social tensions" or "widespread disorder". Less than a fortnight ago, Tottenham youths told the Guardian they expected a riot.

Politicians and media talking heads counter that none of that has anything to do with sociopathic teenagers smashing shop windows to walk off with plasma TVs and trainers. But where exactly did the rioters get the idea that there is no higher value than acquiring individual wealth, or that branded goods are the route to identity and self-respect?

While bankers have publicly looted the country's wealth and got away with it, it's not hard to see why those who are locked out of the gravy train might think they were entitled to help themselves to a mobile phone. Some of the rioters make the connection explicitly. "The politicians say that we loot and rob, they are the original gangsters," one told a reporter. Another explained to the BBC: "We're showing the rich people we can do what we want."

Most have no stake in a society which has shut them out or an economic model which has now run into the sand. It's already become clear that divided Britain is in no state to absorb the austerity now being administered because three decades of neoliberal capitalism have already shattered so many social bonds of work and community.

What we're now seeing across the cities of England is the reflection of a society run on greed – and a poisonous failure of politics and social solidarity. There is now a danger that rioting might feed into ethnic conflict. Meanwhile, the latest phase of the economic crisis lurching back and forth between the United States and Europe risks tipping austerity Britain into slump or prolonged stagnation. We're starting to see the devastating costs of refusing to change course.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Libya War Lies Worse Than Iraq

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28666.htm

By Thomas C. Mountain

July 23, 2011 "Information Clearing House" --- Asmara, Eritrea: The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya have surpassed those created to justify the invasion of Iraq. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had honest observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya.

According to the Amnesty observer, who is fluent in Arabic, there is not one confirmed instance of rape by the pro-Gadaffi fighters, not even a doctor who knew of one. All the Viagra mass rape stories were fabrications.

Amnesty could not verify a single “African mercenary” fighting for Gaddafi story, and the highly charged international satellite television accounts of African mercenaries raping women that were used to panic much of the eastern Libyan population into fleeing their homes were fabrications.

There were no confirmed accounts of helicopter gun ships attacking civilians and no jet fighters bombing people which completely invalidates any justification for the No-Fly Zone inSecurity Council resolution used as an excuse for NATO to launch its attacks on Libya.

After three months on the ground in rebel controlled territory, the Amnesty investigator could only confirm 110 deaths in Benghazi which included Gadaffi supporters.

Only 110 dead in Benghazi? Wait a minute, we were told thousands had died there, ten thousand even. No, only 110 lost their lives including pro-government people.

No rapes, no African mercenaries, no helicopter gun ships or bombers, and only 110 ten deaths prior to the launch of the NATO bombing campaign, every reason was based on a lie.

Today according to the Libyan Red Crescent Society, over 1,100 civilians have been killed by NATO bombs including over 400 women and children. Over 6,000 Libyan civilians have been injured or wounded by the bombing, many very seriously.

Compared to the war on Iraq, these numbers are tiny, but the reasons for the Libyan war have no merit in any form.

Saddam Hussein was evil, he invaded his neighbors in wars that killed up to a million. He used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) in the form of poison gas on both his neighbors and his own people, killing tens of thousands. He was brutal and corrupt and when American tanks rolled into Iraq the Iraqi people refused to fight for him, simply put their weapons down and went home.

Libya under Col. Gadaffi hasn’t invaded their neighbors. Gadaffi never used WMD’s on anyone, let alone his own people. As for Gadaffi being brutal, in Libya’s neighbor Algeria, the Algerian military fought a counterinsurgency for a decade in the 1990’s that witnessed the deaths of some 200,000 Algerians. Now that is brutal and nothing anywhere near this has happened in Libya.

In Egypt and Tunisia, western puppets like Mubarak and Ben Ali had almost no support amongst their people with few if anyone willing to fight and die to defend them.

The majority of the Libyan people are rallying behind the Libyan government and “the leader”, Muammar Gadaffi, with over one million people demonstrating in support on July 1 in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Thousands of Libyan youth are on the front lines fighting the rebels and despite thousands of NATO air strikes authentic journalists on the ground in western Libya report their morale remains high.

In Egypt the popular explosion that resulted in the Army seizing power from Mubarak began in the very poorest neighborhoods in Cairo and other Egyptian cities where the price of basic food items like bread, sugar and cooking oil had skyrocketed and lead to widespread hunger. In many parts of Egypt's poor neighborhoods gasoline/benzene is easier to find then clean drinking water. Medical care and education is only for those with the money to pay for it. Life for the people of Tunisia is not that much better.

In contrast, the Libyan people have the longest life expectancy in the Arab world. The Libyan people have the best, free public health system in the Arab world. The Libyan people have the best, free public education system in the Arab world. Most Libyan families own their own home and most Libyan families own their own automobile. Libya is so much better off then its neighbors every year tens of thousands of Egyptians and Tunisians migrated to Libya to earn money to feed their families, doing the dirty work the Libyan people refused to do.

When it comes to how Gadaffi oversaw a dramatic rise in the standard of living for the Libyan people despite decades of UN inSecurity Council sanctions against the Libyan economy honest observers acknowledge that Gadaffi stands head and shoulders above the kings, sheiks, emirs and various dictators who rule the rest of the Arab world.

So why did NATO launch this war against Libya?

First of all Gadaffi was on the verge of creating a new banking system in Africa that was going to put the IMF, World Bank and assorted other western banksters out of business in Africa. No more predatory western loans used to cripple African economies, instead a $42 billion dollar African Investment Bank would be supplying major loans at little or even zero interest rates.

LIbya has funded major infrastructure projects across Africa that have begun to link up African economies and break the perpetual dependency on the western countries for imports have been taking place. Here in Eritrea the new road connecting Eritrea and Sudan is just one small example.

What seem to have finally tipped the balance in favor of direct western military intervention was the reported demand by Gadaffi that the USA oil companies who have long been major players in the Libyan petroleum industry were going to have to compensate Libya to the tune of tens of billions of dollars for the damage done to the Libyan economy by the USA instigated “Lockerbie Bombing” sanctions imposed by the UN inSecurity Council throughout the 1990’s into early 2000’s. This is based on the unearthing of evidence that the CIA paid millions of dollars to witnesses in the Lockerbie Bombing trial to change their stories to implicate Libya which was used as the basis for the very damaging UN sanctions against Libya. The government of the USA lied and damaged Libya so the USA oil companies were going to have to pay up to cover the cost of their governments actions. Not hard to see why Gadaffi had to go isn't it?

Add the fact that Gadaffi had signaled clearly that he saw both Libya’s and Africa’s future economic development linked more to China and Russia rather than the west and it was just a matter of time before the CIA’s contingency plan to overthrow the Libyan government was put on the front burner.

NATO’s war against Libya has much more in common with NATO’s Kosovo war against Serbia. But one still cannot compare Gadaffi to Saddam or even the much smaller time criminals in the Serbian leadership. The Libyan War lies are worse than Iraq.

Thomas C. Mountain - Asmara, Eritrea - thomascmountain at yahoo dot com - Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He was a member of the 1st US Peace Delegation to Libya in 1987 .

Thursday, 14 July 2011

'MMT' economics

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A reader emails about (a) Chris Hedges film review and (b) economics

Posted by The Editors [User Info] on July 13, 2011, 9:33 am

Hi David & David,

Many thanks, as ever for your brilliant & incisive work. It must be tough but please keep going!

Two items, the first maybe a little off-piste for your mainly UK focus, but I came across the following written by Chris Hedges (himself a foreign correspondent of the NY Times for 15yrs), highly critical of a recent film ‘Page One:Inside The New York Times’

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_myth_of_the_new_york_times_in_documentary_form_20110706/

“The Times, like Harvard University, where I attended graduate school, is one of the country’s most elite and exclusive institutions. Its ethos can be best summed up with the phrase “You are lucky to be here.” That huge numbers of people at The Times, as at Harvard, buy into this institutional hubris makes the paper, where I spent 15 years—nearly all of them, thankfully, as a foreign correspondent a few thousand miles from the newsroom—a fear-ridden and oppressive place to work. The Times newsroom, like most corporate nerve centers, is a labyrinth of intrigue, gossip, back-biting, rumor, false piety, rampant ambition, betrayal and deception. Those who play this game well are repugnant. They are also usually the people who run the place.
When you allow an institution to provide you with your identity and sense of self-worth you become an obsequious pawn, no matter how much talent you possess. You live in perpetual fear of what those in authority think of you and might do to you. This mechanism of internalized control—for you always need them more than they need you—is effective. The rules of advancement at the paper are never clearly defined or written down. Careerists pay lip service to the stated ideals of the institution, which are couched in lofty rhetoric about balance, impartiality and neutrality, but astutely grasp the actual guiding principle of the paper, which is: Do not significantly alienate the corporate and political power elite on whom the institution depends for access and money. Those who master this duplicitous game do well. Those who cling tenaciously to a desire to tell the truth, even at a cost to themselves and the institution, become a management problem. This creates tremendous friction within the paper. I knew reporters with a conscience who would arrive at the paper and vomit in the restroom from nervous tension before starting work. “
Hope that’s of interest to you, if you weren’t already aware of it.


The second item is about the global financial crisis, and the disastrous ‘policies’ (if one can dignify them as such) to supposedly resolve the situation.

Now, macroeconomics is complex & can be highly counter intuitive, so this isn’t an easy story to get a grip on. I’m an engineer by qualification, but have studied some basic economics in an MBA program some years ago & it’s taken me a couple of months to reach a good level of confidence in what I’m about to tell you.

I appreciate that this is likely to be seriously outside your scope of work. But it is a story of such far reaching importance to humanity & our continuing existence in the face of the imminent (ecological & resource) sustainability crisis, that I know you care about, that I believe you would want to be aware of it.

You may be aware that at the core of the global financial crash, & its ongoing problems, is a financial sector that has become huge in relation to the ‘real’ economy of goods, services & jobs, and effectively out of control & in large parts indeed criminal. Essentially a parasitical casino that passes it’s losses onto the real economy whenever its bets go bad & it crashes.

Read anything by Michael Hudson, Ass Prof of Economics with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, to get a grasp of the underlying ‘political economy’.

But there is more, much more. It turns out that the entire academic basis of mainstream macroeconomic thinking is bogus. Nearly every prominent economist, including people like Krugman & Stiglitz (Nobel Prize economists, generally sympathetic toward ordinary citizens) ignore glaring mathematical, logical & accounting untruths, factual inconsistencies (not matters of ‘opinion’) in their work.

The effect of this is profound. Not only is there needless suffering thru’ massive unemployment & devastated vital public services, but the urgent effort & investment, minimal as it was, to transform our economies to sustainability, particularly away from fossil fuels, is being hampered & delayed.

There is no reason for this whatsoever. No impediments, technically or financially – period. The world is +not+, I repeat +not+, ‘credit’ constrained in investing in a sustainable future of prosperity. To say otherwise is a lie perpetrated on a vast scale by the vested interests of a bloated & parasitic financial sector & the unbelievable ignorance & conformity of the mainstream economics profession & media commentators. If you thought the herd mentality of the media was bad, that of economics thinking is off the charts.

The solution & the key to understanding what amounts to this intellectual fraud, lies in a school of economic thinking which takes Keynsian ideas a stage further & has been recently termed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It also owes much historically to a theory known as Chartalism.

Probably the biggest lie perpetuated ad nauseam by politicians & media, and uncorrected by economists, is equating the macroeconomic & fiscal policy of a sovereign (‘fiat’) currency state (like UK, US & many others) with the financial management of a household or business. They are diametrically different. One is a currency issuer, the other a currency user, and the use of common terms like ‘defecit’ to imply the same meaning in either situation is fraudulent.

Anyhow, I wanted to make you aware of this. I suspect you believe as I do that humanity requires a ‘holistic’ solution to what is essentially its impending existential challenge. Because if we do not also change the basis of money, as our means of value exchange, & the economic & fiscal policy that flows from it, reforms to politics, democracy and media will not ultimately succeed.

Not a small thing to suggest, I know, but the midst of a global financial crisis represents a major opportunity for change & wider public awareness of the issues.

It is only recently that ‘MMT’ advocates, as yet a mere handful of academic economists, but usefully a few commercial finance ‘insiders’ as well, have begun (somewhat in frustration of their peers) to try to reach out & promote these ideas to a wider public audience. There is virtually no single location to go to find a comprehensive &, in lay terms, well explained source of information. But this resource list is very good, & has links to near all of the advocates’ blogs:

http://dollarmonopoly.blogspot.com/p/resources_10.html

The book referred to there is available as a free download from the author’s site here:

http://moslereconomics.com/wp-content/powerpoints/7DIF.pdf

“Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy”

(I doubt that Mosler believes these ‘frauds’ are ‘innocent’ at the upper levels of the financial hierarchy any more than I do, but he is trying to engage astonishingly blinkered peers as best he can.)

Note that much of the material discusses the US economy & currency, but is directly applicable to the UK & indeed in many important aspects to the Eurozone, if one considers member states somewhat similar to semi-autonomous regions of a nation state..

As I’ve suggested, economics is not an easy (or very intuitive) subject, hugely important tho’ it is. It may not be something you don’t personally have much time to delve into, but perhaps, in conversation, you come across honest enquirers into this topic? It might do immeasurable good to point them in the direction of MMT!

I will leave you with that famous quote by banker Mayer Amschel Rothschild

“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

Best wishes,
Mike

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hacking the phones of relatives of dead soldiers ain’t that bad.

The media frenzy over the NotW’s crimes is serving the ‘respectable’ media very well. They are reacting with ‘horror’ that bereaved relatives’ phones have been hacked. But they themselves have participated in an infinitely greater crime: they colluded in causing the deaths of those soldiers in the first place (and in the death and misery of millions of foreigners); they chose not to challenge government lies and spin (e.g. 'WMD') and instead joined the chorus of warmongers (The Observer, for example, is particularly notable in this respect).

There is actually a good public-interest case to be made for hacking bereaved relatives’ phones:

The problem is that the words of bereaved relatives are only ever given exposure when they serve the official narrative – government/media like to hear from relatives when those relatives’ words ‘celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of our boys in a noble cause’.

The public interest in hacking phones could be in revealing messages such as: ‘I’m so angry. I told Jonny he mustn’t sign-up. I told him they would make him waste his life in some pointless war. ‘Told-you-so’ is an awful feeling when you’ve lost your son.’

Friday, 1 July 2011

Libya: Unending American hostility

The Anti-Empire Report

July 1st, 2011
by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
Libya: Unending American hostility

http://killinghope.org/bblum6/aer95.html

If I could publicly ask our beloved president one question, it would be this: "Mr. President, in your short time in office you've waged war against six countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect: What is wrong with you?"

The American media has done its best to dismiss or ignore Libyan charges that NATO/US missiles have been killing civilians (the people they're supposedly protecting), at least up until the recent bombing "error" that was too blatant to be covered up. But who in the mainstream media has questioned the NATO/US charges that Libya was targeting and "massacring" Libyan civilians a few months ago, which, we've been told, is the reason for the Western powers attacks? Don't look to Al Jazeera for such questioning. The government of Qatar, which owns the station, has a deep-seated animosity toward Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and was itself a leading purveyor of the Libyan "massacre" stories, as well as playing a military role in the war against Tripoli. Al Jazeera's reporting on the subject has been so disgraceful I've stopped looking at the station.

Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France, which has been the leading force behind the attacks on Libya, spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 7. After his talk he was asked a question from the audience by local activist Ken Meyercord:

"An American observer of events in Libya has commented: 'The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.' That comment was made by Richard Haass, President of our Council on Foreign Relations. If Mr. Haass is right, and he's a fairly knowledgeable fellow, then what NATO has done in Libya is attack a country that wasn't threatening anyone; in other words, aggression. Are you at all concerned that as NATO deals more and more death and destruction on the people of Libya that the International Criminal Court may decide that you and your friends in the Naked Aggression Treaty Organization should be prosecuted rather than Mr. Gaddafi?"

Monsieur Juppé then stated, without attribution, somebody's estimate that 15,000 Libyan civilians had been killed by pro-Gaddafi forces. To which Mr. Meyercord replied: "So where are the 15,000 bodies?" M. Juppé failed to respond to this, although in the tumult caused bt the first question, it was not certain that he had heard the second one. (For a counter-view of the Libyan "massacre" stories, see this video.)

It should be noted that, as of June 30, NATO had flown 13,184 air missions (sorties) over Libya, 4,963 of which are described as strike sorties. You can find the latest figures on the Allied Command Operations website.

If any foreign power fired missiles at the United States would Barack Obama regard that as an act of war? If the US firing hundreds of missiles at Libya is not an act of war, as Obama insists (to avoid having to declare war as required by US law), then the deaths resulting from the missile attacks are murder. That's it. It's either war or murder. To the extent there's a difference between the two.

It should be further noted that since Gaddafi came to power in 1969 there has virtually never been a sustained period when the United States has been prepared to treat him and the many positive changes he's instituted in Libya and Africa with any respect. For a history of this hostility, including the continual lies and scare campaigns, see my Libya chapter in Killing Hope.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Media Lens letter to BBC

Email to Helen Boaden, director of BBC News

Posted by The Editors on June 22, 2011, 9:18 am, in reply to "Your complaints are costing us time and money admits BBC Head of News"
Message modified by board administrator June 22, 2011, 7:26 pm

From: editor@medialens.org
Sent: 13 June 2011 10:38
To: helenboaden.complaints@bbc.co.uk; helen.boaden@bbc.co.uk
Subject: Value of Journalism Speech: missing section

Dear Helen Boaden,

I enjoyed reading your well-written and interesting speech (http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/speeches/stories/boaden_lse.shtml).

You said that: “Our ratings for trust, impartiality and independence have [...] continued to rise over the last three years.”

But you do not provide any figures to back this up. Could you possibly point to the relevant references, please?

You also said that:

“In each decade, from its inception to the present day, the BBC bears the scars of its entanglements with those in power.’

However, what followed was as a rather selective and debatable list.

Here is some of what you missed:

The BBC was founded by Lord Reith in 1922 and immediately used as a propaganda weapon for the Baldwin government during the General Strike, when it was known by workers as the "British Falsehood Corporation". During the strike, no representative of organised labour was allowed to be heard on the BBC. Ramsay McDonald, the leader of the opposition, was also banned.

In their highly respected study of the British media, Power Without Responsibility, James Curran and Jean Seaton wrote of "the continuous and insidious dependence of the Corporation [the BBC] on the government". (Routledge, 4th edition, 1991, p.144)

Thus, at the start of the Second World War, an official wrote that the Ministry of Information "recognised that for the purpose of war activities the BBC is to be regarded as a Government Department." He added: "I wouldn't put it quite like this in any public statement."

For forty years, from an office in Bush House in London, home of the BBC World Service, a brigadier passed on the names of applicants for editorial jobs in the BBC to MI5 for “vetting”.

John Pilger has reported:

"Journalists with a reputation for independence were refused BBC posts because they were not considered 'safe'." (John Pilger, Hidden Agendas, Vintage, 1998, p.496)
In the leaked minutes of one of the BBC's weekly Review Board meetings during the Falklands war in 1982, BBC executives directed that the weight of their news coverage should be concerned "primarily with government statements of policy". An impartial style was felt to be "an unnecessary irritation". Prior to the opening of hostilities, a Peruvian plan for a negotiated settlement came close to success. On May 13, 1982, the former British prime minister Edward Heath, told the broadcaster ITN that the Argentineans had requested three minor amendments to the peace plan. According to Heath these were so trivial they could not possibly be rejected, but prime minister Thatcher rejected them out of hand. The Heath interview was the only time the peace plan was mentioned on British television - the story was blanked.

In 2003, a Cardiff University report found that the BBC "displayed the most 'pro-war' agenda of any broadcaster" on the Iraq invasion. Over the three weeks of the initial conflict, 11% of the sources quoted by the BBC were of coalition government or military origin, the highest proportion of all the main television broadcasters. The BBC was less likely than Sky, ITV or Channel 4 News to use independent sources, who also tended to be the most sceptical. The BBC also placed least emphasis on Iraqi casualties, which were mentioned in 22% of its stories about the Iraqi people, and it was least likely to report on Iraqi opposition to the invasion.

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Andrew Bergin, the press officer for the Stop The War Coalition, told Media Lens:

"Representatives of the coalition have been invited to appear on every TV channel except the BBC. The BBC have taken a conscious decision to actively exclude Stop the War Coalition people from their programmes, even though everyone knows we are central to organising the massive anti-war movement..." (Email to Media Lens, March 14, 2003)

David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde University and co-founder of SpinWatch, concluded:

"BBC managers have fallen over themselves to grovel to the government in the aftermath of the Hutton whitewash... When will their bosses apologise for conspiring to keep the anti war movement off the screens? Not any time soon." (Miller, 'Media Apologies?', ZNet, June 15, 2004, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfmSectionID=21&ItemID=5713)

In a speech at New York's Columbia University, John Pilger commented:

"We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by MI6, the secret intelligence service. In what was called 'Operation Mass Appeal', MI6 agents planted stories about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction - such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All these stories were fake." (John Pilger, 'The real first casualty of war,' New Statesman, April 24, 2006)

In truth, the BBC's relationship with the establishment was accurately summarised long ago, in a single diary entry made by Lord Reith:

"They know they can trust us not to be really impartial."

I hope you will respond, please.

Regards
David Cromwell
Co-Editor, Media Lens
www.medialens.org

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Bengali Holocaust (6-7 million dead), Media lying & "Churchill's Secret War" by Madhusree Mukerjee

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Bengali Holocaust (6-7 million dead), Media lying & "Churchill's Secret War" by Madhusree Mukerjee

Posted by Dr Gideon Polya [User Info] [Email User] on June 15, 2011, 2:23 am

We know that Mainstream media remorselessly lie by omission and commission but the worst example is the whitewashing from British history of the WW2 Bengali Holocaust in which 6-7 million Indians perished under the British.

Thus there is no mention at all of the WW2 Bengali Holocaust in pro-Zionist Simon Schama's 3-volume "A History of Britain"(BBC 2002) nor in Michael Woods' "The Story of India" (BBC 2007), nor in thousands of other English-language history books in a continuing process of holocaust ignoring that is far, far worse than repugnant holocaust denial because at least the latter admits of public discussion (how can you discuss something you haven't heard of? ).

The important book “Churchill’s Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War II” by Madhusree Mukerjee (Basic Books, New York, 2010) is an account of the forgotten World War 2 Bengali Holocaust, the man-made, 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British under Churchill for strategic reasons in what was one of the greatest atrocities in human history but which has been largely white washed from British history.



Other books have been written about the Bengal Famine Thus N.G. Jog’s “Churchill’s Blind Spot: India” (New Book Company, Bombay, 1944) in referring to this Bengali Holocaust was the first to refer to a WW2 atrocity as a “holocaust”. Paul Greenough’s “Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: the Famine of 1943-1944” (Oxford University Press, 1982) is a detailed and definitive account of the WW2 Bengal Famine.



Brilliant Bengali film maker Satyajit Ray's film "Distant Thunder" is a profoundly moving account of part of this disaster and concludes with an estimate that 5 million Bengalis perished.



My book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) put the WW2 Bengali Holocaust into a wider context of British racism, imperialism, holocaust commission, holocaust denial and cultural self-deception. My thesis was that history ignored yields history repeated and that ignoring of immense man-made famine disasters in Bengal, notably the 1769-1779 Bengal Famine (10 million dead) and the 1942-1945 Bengal Famine (4 million dead in Bengal, 6-7 million Indians dead in Bengal and contiguous provinces) increases the risk of repetition and, specifically, in the 21st century from man-made global warming, sea level rise, increased tropical cyclone intensity and land inundation and salinization through consequent storm surges.



However an even deadlier threat, not just to Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh), but to all Developing countries comes from post-colonial, US-led, First Word hegemony and callous disregard of the entitlement of all people on Spaceship Earth to a minimally decent life. In the first edition of my book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” I referred to the diaries of General Wavell and observed (p141): “On October 15 1943 in Cairo on his way out to India, Wavell inspected Indian troops and spoke to Casey about food. Casey said Australia had had a bad wheat harvest, Canada could just supply U.S. and British deficiencies and that the Argentinians had burnt their surplus of 2 million tons as fuel on the railways in the absence of coal, of which there was a world shortage”. Now in 2008 Americans and Europeans are burning biofuel in their cars while 4 billion fellow human beings on Spaceship Earth are malnourished and facing starvation.” At the end of 2008 oil and food prices peaked, there were food riots around the world and only the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and an attendant decline of food prices averted a Bengal-style catastrophe. However food prices have been rising again since the GFC and the threat of man-made, price-driven famine is again looming in a World in which billions of people go hungry and 1 billion are malnourished. Unaddressed man-made global warming is imposing An already worsening Climate Genocide in which 10 billion people, including over 2 billion South Asians, are predicted to die this century (see “Biofuel Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/biofuelgenocide/ and “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ ).



Madhusree Mukerjee’s book commences with a key quotation from Churchill that addresses “from the horse’s mouth” the fundamental holocaust commission, holocaust ignoring and holocaust denial behaviour of this mass murdering, racist imperialist. Thus Churchill makes no reference in the text of his 6-volume “The Second World War” (for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature) to the Bengal Famine (holocaust ignoring, holocaust denial) in which he deliberately murdered 6-7 million Indians (holocaust commission). Instead Churchill offers in his fraudulent history the following appalling holocaust lie: “No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the peoples of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small Island” (“The Second World War”, volume 4, p181, Cassell, London, 1954; “Churchill’s Secret War”, Prologue: our title to India, pix; “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History”, Chapter 14, The Bengal Famine of 1943-1944, p133).



Madhusree Mukerjee systematically successively analyzes the background to the Bengali Holocaust in a prologue that deals with British India and the massive recurrent man-made famines, commencing with the 1769-1770 Bengal Famine in which 10 million people died due to British greed. Not quoted is Amaresh Misra’s book “War of Civilizations: India AD 1857” that estimates that 10 million people died in British reprisals for the 1857 Indian rebellion. While the appalling famine history of British India is outlined the genocidal aspect is downplayed. Thus it can be estimated from British census and comparative mortality data that 1.8 billion Indians died prematurely under 2 centuries of British rule. While Mukerjee makes clear the British economic exploitation of India, she downplays the reality that endemic poverty and hunger in India made it possible for a distant island of scores of millions to rule hundreds of millions of disempowered Indian subjects with the help of well-fed sepoys and other collaborators..



A major contribution of Mukerjjee’s book is the account of the beginning of the Bengal Famine in 1942 with the brutal British suppression of rebellion in West Bengal accompanied by mass killing, mass imprisonment, burning of houses and villages, seizure of food and other measures that were exacerbated in their imoact by a major storm surge event. While the key years of the Bengal Famine were 1943 and 1944, surviving inhabitants of South West Bengal date the beginning of the famine to late 1942 due to British excesses. Mukerjee provides a logical account of the factors contributing to the huge increase in the price of rice (up to 6-fold) that was the real killer in the Bengal Famine e.g. cessation of rice imports from Japanese-occupied Burma; hundreds of thousands removed from areas close to Japanese-occupied Burma (instant impoverishment and demand on rice stocks); seizure of rice stocks (Rice Denial to impair Japanese invasion as well as punishment of rebellious Bengalis); local deficiencies (due to the 1942 hurricane, fungal infestation and British suppression of Bengali nationalists); the Boat Denial Policy (that ostensibly was meant to delay a Japanese invasion but which condemned millions to death through lack of fishing and food distribution); provincial autonomy of food stocks (a deadly divide and rule policy covered with a veneer of “partial democracy”); mass imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Free India supporters (thereby minimizing democratic Indian political responses to the Bengal Famine); various British encouragements of capitalist hoarding and profiteering; export of grain from India associated with hugely decreased imports of grain; British unresponsiveness in Indian and in London; lack of shipping in the India Ocean due to Churchillian fiat at Casablanca (especially in 1943); government protection of the food security of soldiers, civil servants and defence industry workers in Calcutta (a major industrial city undergoing a wartime boom and which sucked food out of a starving but rice-producing countryside); inflation (due to the British running up a huge financial debt to India during WW2 and Government rice purchases ).

A novel contribution is exposure of the key role in the disaster of incompetent and racist key Churchill adviser Professor Lindemann (Lord Cherwell) who consistently opposed food relief for starving India while Britain was stocking up with excess food. Physicist Mukerjee’s book refers to C.P Snow’s classic book “Science and Government” that excoriates physicist Lindemann for his successful promotion of bombing German cities at the expense of protecting Allied shipping, a policy that led to massive losses in the Battle of the Atlantic. This in turn led to Churchill halving shipping in the Indian Ocean in 1943. Mukerjee, while properly condemning Lindemann for his opposition to food aid for India, overlooks this key consequence of Lindemann’s bombing obsession, specifically .the causal pathway of diversion of Allied bombers from ship protection to bombing German civilians -> loss of Allied shipping -> Mediterranean strategy-dictated halving of Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean -> food price rise in the Indian Ocean region -> famine in India. Indeed C.B.A. Behrens in her book “Merchant shipping and the demands of war” (referred to by Mukerjee) does make this connection and states “the North Africa campaign doomed almost irrevocably to starvation any deficit area in India”, a view with which British historian A.J.P.. Taylor concurs.
Mukerjee makes clear that Churchill’s deadly unresponsiveness to the Bengal Famine came from a passionately Anglocentric and imperialist view of the world and his entrenched racism from “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion” to his view of Bengalis that “they breed like rabbits”. In interview Mukerjee incorrectly stated "He [Churchill] is often criticised for bombing German cities but has never before been held directly responsible for the deaths of so many people as in the Bengal famine” (see Ben Sheppard, “Book blames Churchill for Indian famine that killed millions”, The Age, 8 September 2010: http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-world/book-blames-churchill-for-indian-famine-that-killed-millions-20100908-150o6.html ). In reality, many people have been blaming Churchill from the time of the Bengal Famine Indian and a small body of humane European writers have been blaming Churchill from the time of the atrocity onwards. I have written and broadcast extensively over 2 decades about Churchill’s responsibility for Bengal Famine this elciting a trenchant response from the Churchill Centre to an article I wrote for MWC News entitled “Media lying over Churchill’s crimes”(MWC News, 18 November, 2008: http://truthforever.com/MWC%20News%20-%20A%20Site%20Without%20Borders%20-%20-%20Media%20Lying%20over%20Churchill%27s%20Crimes.htm ) : “Polya begins by dismissing all historians who disagree with him as Anglo-American and Zionist propagandists, including official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert—who, since it’s always a good idea to question the accused, we asked for comment. “Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine,” Sir Martin replied. “I have been searching for evidence for years: none has turned up. The 1944 Document volume of the official biography [Hillsdale College Press] will resolve this issue finally” (see the editors, Finest Hour, “Bengali Famine”: http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/in-the-media/churchill-in-the-news/575-the-bengali-famine ).





The most shattering part of the book deals with personal accounts of the victims. One cannot comprehend what the starvation to death of 4 million Bengalis or 6-7 million Indians as a whole actually means. The sexual abuse of famine victims, either by exploiters in Calcutta (some 30,000 victims) or in the British Military Labor Corps (that effected the equivalent of the large-scale Japanese comfort women abuses) are particularly horrifying. These parts alone of Madhusree Mukerjee’s book should make it compulsory reading for all people. We are obliged to tell others about gross abuses of humanity – we cannot walk by on the other side.



From a dispassionate scientific perspective, rational risk management successively involves (a) getting the facts, (b) scientific analysis and (c) informed systemic change to minimize risk. Mukerjee’s book is very important because it sets out a detailed and documented account of the Bengali Holocaust in which Churchill deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death over an extended period (1942-1945) despite the pleas of Bengalis, Indians and decent Britishers (notably General Wavell, Viceroy of India). Yet thousands of books about India, WW2, and British history fail to even mention the Bengali Holocaust, one of the worst atrocities in human history. We have seen above eminent pro-Zionist historian Sir Martin Gilbert’s denial of Churchill’s crimes. There is s no mention of the Bengali Holocaust in pro-Zionist Simon Schama’s “A History of Britain” (BBC, 2002) or Michael Woods’ “The Story of India” (BBC 2007), although in 2008 the BBC broadcast a program entitled “Bengal Famine” involving myself, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and other scholars as part of a series entitled “The things we forgot to remember” (see: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/bengalfamine_programme.html ). Colin Mason in his book "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD" (Macmillan, 2000) slams generations of English-speaking historians and writers for whitewashing the Bengal Famine from history, Mason arguing that the evidence suggests that it was the result of a deliberate “scorched earth policy” by Churchill in the war with Japan.



Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. Missing from Mukerjee’s book are any direct admission quotes from Churchill in which he actually mentions the Bengali Holocaust. I have found one such Churchill statement in an April 1944 letter to Roosevelt (alluded to in Mukerjee’s book) in which Churchill states “I am seriously concerned about the food situation in India and its possible reactions on our joint operations. Last year we had a grievous famine in Bengal through which at least 700,000 people died… By cutting down military shipments and other means, I have been able to arrange for 350,000 tons of wheat to be shipped to India from Australia during the first nine months of 1944. This is the shortest haul. I cannot see how to do more. I have had much hesitation in asking you to add to the great assistance you are giving us with shipping but a satisfactory situation in India is of such vital importance to the success of our joint plans against the Japanese that I am impelled to ask you to consider a special allocation of ships to carry wheat from Australia without reducing the assistance you are now providing for us, who are at a positive minimum if war efficiency is to be maintained. We have the wheat in Australia but we lack the ships. I have resisted for some time the Viceroy’s request that I should ask you for your help, but I believe that, with this recent misfortune with the wheat harvest and in the light of Mountbatten’s representations, I am no longer justified in not asking for your help”(see “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History”, Chapter 15, pp157-158).



In the interests of truth and rational risk management there should be a posthumous war crimes trial of Churchill held by the International Criminal Court or , better still (because the ICC is a notoriously a US-beholden holocaust ignoring and genocide ignoring organization), by an authoritative panel of outstanding jurists and scholars with impeccable scholarly and human credentials.



In the last analysis, what killed 6-7 million Indians in 1942-1945 was lying by omission and commission – and the same anti-science perversion is set to kill several billion more South Asians this century due to climate change inaction. The first Lord Monckton worked in British propaganda and information in WW2 and was given his peerage in 1957 in part for loyalty to mass murderer Churchill and for removing the Bengal Famine from public perception. 60 years later his non-scientist grandson the Third Lord Monckton tours the world telling gullible audiences that man-made climate change is not happening, denying the overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary. Yet search the entire site of the Australian ABC (the Australian equivalent of the UK BBC) for “Lord Monckton” and you will get 169 results as compared to ONE (1) for “Madhusree Mukerjee”, and that only being due to a comment made by me about an ABC program about Churchill: “Winston Churchill is on record as telling Leo Amery, the UK Secretary of State for India, in 1942: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion". Churchill is responsible for the Bengali Holocaust, the man-made 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British for strategic reasons in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. For the shocking details of the Bengali Holocaust and its whitewashing from British history by holocaust-ignoring and holocaust-denying media, academics, editors, journalists, teachers and politicians see Gideon Polya, "Bengali Famine", Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio National (1999); Gideon Polya, "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability" (1998, 2008); Colin Mason, "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD", (2000); Dr Gideon Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen et al, "Bengal Famine", BBC (2008); Madhusree Mukerjee, "Churchill's Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War 11" (2010).”



In 2011 Britain is still making war on Third World Muslim countries, namely Iraq (war-related deaths 4.6 million, 1990-2011), Afghanistan (war-related deaths 5.0 million, 2001-2011) and now Libya, which is being bombed back to the Stone Age. Greed, racism and imperialism aside, a key reason for Britain’s mass murder of Bengalis (substantially Muslims) in WW2 and for its continued atrocities lies in personal self-deception and propaganda-assisted public deception. Madhusree Mukerjee discovered this profound confession by mass murderer and holocaust denier Churchill : “I therefore adopted quite early in life a system of believing whatever I wanted to believe.” I strongly recommend Madhusree Mukerjee’s very readable and vitally important book “Churchill’s Secret War”.

History ignored yields history repeated. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Decent people must (a) inform everyone they can, (b) apply sanctions against all media, politicians, academics, corporations and institutions complicit in holocaust ignoring and (c) demand prosecution of the UK over the Bengali Holocaust before the International Criminal Court.