Monday, 28 February 2011

Why Our Media Betray Us

By JONATHAN COOK

February 28, 2011

Counterpunch


Last week the Guardian, Britain's main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed "Curveball" by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.

Curveball's account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell's apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.

Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam's WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.

For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.

/Full article:

Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/cook02282011.html

Thursday, 24 February 2011

'How will America handle the fall of its Middle East empire?'

Pasted below is an interesting extract from an interesting piece ('How will America handle the fall of its Middle East empire?') by a well established Telegraph columnist (Peter Oborne).

(The full article - not particularly long, in case you're interested, is here:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100077625/how-will-america-handle-the-fall-of-its-middle-east-empire/)

Any thoughts you care to share about Oborne's analysis (e.g. its veracity)?

Rippon

***********************************
'How will America handle the fall of its Middle East empire?'
...

I would guess that the analogy is apt. Just as 1989 saw the collapse of the Russian empire in Eastern Europe, so it now looks as if 2011 will mark the removal of many of America’s client regimes in the Arab world. It is highly unlikely, however, that events will thereafter take the tidy path the White House would prefer. Far from being inspired by Twitter, a great many of Arab people who have driven the sensational events of recent weeks are illiterate. They have been impelled into action by mass poverty and unemployment, allied to a sense of disgust at vast divergences of wealth and grotesque corruption. It is too early to chart the future course of events with confidence, but it seems unlikely that these liberated peoples will look to Washington and New York as their political or economic model.

The great question is whether America will take its diminished status gracefully, or whether it will lash out, as empires in trouble are historically prone to do. Here the White House response gives cause for concern. American insensitivity is well demonstrated in the case of Raymond Davis, the CIA man who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore. Hillary Clinton is trying to bully Pakistan into awarding Davis diplomatic immunity. This is incredible behaviour, which shows that the US continues to regard itself as above the law. Were President Zardari, already seen by his fellow countrymen as a pro-American stooge, to comply, his government would almost certainly fall.

Or take President Obama’s decision last week to veto the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Even America itself accepts that these settlements are illegal. At a time when the Middle East is already mutinous, this course of action looks mad.

The biggest problem is that America wants democracy, but only on its own terms. A very good example of this concerns the election of a Hamas government in Gaza in 2006. This should have been a hopeful moment for the Middle East peace process: the election of a government with the legitimacy and power to end violence. But America refused to engage with Hamas, just as it has refused to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or to acknowledge the well-founded regional aspirations of Iran.

The history of the Arab world since the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate in 1922 can be divided schematically into two periods: open colonial rule under the British and French, followed by America’s invisible empire after the Second World War. Now we are entering a third epoch, when Arab nations, and in due course others, will assert their independence. It is highly unlikely that all of them will choose a path that the Americans want. From the evidence available, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are muddled and incapable of grasping the nature of current events.

...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Israeli troops kill Gaza fishermen (cf aljazeera and bbc versions)

# Israeli troops kill Gaza fishermen

Posted by The Editors [User Info] on February 17, 2011, 10:34 am

Israeli soldiers have killed three Palestinian fishermen along the Gaza-Israeli border, Palestinian medics have said.

Gaza's ministry of health said on Thursday that the men were killed overnight in the north of Gaza, near Beit Lahiya, while they were working with their nets on the shore.

The medics said that the victims were shot by Israeli forces before dawn.

But the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in a statement said the men were "militants".

/Full story:

Link: http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/02/201121775215281864.html
Post a Response

* BBC version ...

Posted by Keith [User Info] on February 17, 2011, 11:22 am, in reply to "Israeli troops kill Gaza fishermen"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12492867

Israeli troops fatally shoot three Palestinians in Gaza

Israeli soldiers have shot dead three Palestinian men in northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said its soldiers had opened fire after the men were spotted planting explosives in a no-go zone along the border overnight.

But Palestinian relatives of the men, who were all in their 20s, say they were unarmed civilians who had been gathering sea shells.

None of the militant groups in the Hamas-held Gaza has so far said the men were members.

Israel maintains a buffer zone along the border fence, where Gaza militants have planted bombs and explosives targeting Israeli troops in the past.

Israel often opens fire on people who "got too close to the fence" to stop attacks by militants, BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says.

More than 50 Palestinians, including 12 civilians, were killed by Israeli troops near the border in 2010, the UN says.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser

Media Lens Message Board
[ Media Lens Message Board ]

* 'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 15, 2011, 1:44 am

'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser.

This book was mentioned a while ago by someone on this board.

One remark (if I recall and understand correctly) was along the lines that it's significance went beyond the mere Dawkins-vs-Religion spat; that it had political implications that would be (are) troubling to ruling elites.

Can the person who suggested that, or anyone else, elaborate (before I seriously consider reading it).

Post a Response

o Re: 'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser

Posted by johnlilburne [User Info] [Email User] on February 15, 2011, 2:21 am, in reply to "'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser"

Was mentioned by the banned RWS - see link. All the best.

http://gatwickcity.phpbb3now.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1346&p=17046&hilit=hauser#p17046

Post a Response

o Re: 'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser

Posted by Tony S [User Info] on February 15, 2011, 8:03 am, in reply to "'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser"

Hauser applies Chomsky's lingiustic theory to morality. Some chapters are exciting, others are a little dry and technical. Well worth reading.

--Previous Message--
: 'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our
: Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc
: Hauser.
:
: This book was mentioned a while ago by
: someone on this board.
:
: One remark (if I recall and understand
: correctly) was along the lines that it's
: significance went beyond the mere
: Dawkins-vs-Religion spat; that it had
: political implications that would be (are)
: troubling to ruling elites.
:
: Can the person who suggested that, or anyone
: else, elaborate (before I seriously consider
: reading it).
:

Post a Response

o Chomsky - good on politics, not as good on language IMO. Read this instead for a different take:

Posted by Chris E [User Info] [Email User] on February 15, 2011, 8:43 am, in reply to "'Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong ' by Marc Hauser"

http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/ch04.htm

Post a Response

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Iraq: A regime of torture and secret prisons

The government of "liberated" Iraq operates secret prisons and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them, Amnesty charged today.
...

full article here:
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/100837

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Obama’s cold-blooded defense of Egyptian regime

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/feb2011/pers-f08.shtml

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Canada as lackey to America, environmental armageddon, RBS

Here is (from a discussion forum) a brief thread about the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. The Tar Sands has been deemed the dirtiest oil extraction process in the entire world. It is also highly energy intensive: it takes one oil-barrel's-worth of energy to extract two barrels of oil. Incidentally, RBS is a major investor in this deeply damaging and immoral piece of environmental armageddon; and we, that taxpayer, have been duped into saving this bank. We now own RBS, so we ought to be dictating what it does and doesn't do. Instead, what we have done is like paying the fine to absolve a hooligan and enable him to go on vandalising.

# Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 4:26 pm

Just watched a documentary about Canada’s Tar Sands.

It all looks very chilling, e.g. the vandalism being done to the landscape. One remark was that the decisions regarding Tar Sands development is basically a ‘ground zero’ for the environment and climate change.

Environment aside, there are also other very interesting political dimensions to this story.

For example, the upshot seems to be that Canada is basically just giving it (Tar Sands oil) away to America, i.e. receiving very little money in return. One commentator described Canada as becoming an energy colony rather than an energy power (a la ‘Saudi Canada’).

This surprised me – probably because I have no idea about Canadian politics. I had always thought (in my ignorance, perhaps) of Canada as a self-confident self-respecting country. Bending over to please the master was behaviour I associated with others, e.g. Britain. If even Canada behaves this way, then that suggests that all America’s ‘allies’ (except perhaps Israel) are actually just lackeys to the Godfather.

Any insights anyone cares to share into these issues would be appreciated.

Post a Response

* Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by Hidari [User Info] on February 3, 2011, 4:44 pm, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

You must remember that the US invaded Canada during the War of Independence, in 1812, and planned to invade on numerous occasions after that (in the late 19th century and in the 1920s and 1930s).

Since then the Canadians have pretty much done what the US has wanted them to do, so an invasion would be pointless.

Post a Response

o Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 4:53 pm, in reply to "Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

Thanks.
Yes, indeed, like I said: my surprise about Canada probably stems from ignorance about its history.

Post a Response

* white people suffering like brown people

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 5:01 pm, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

Oh, and another thing …

Another interesting aspect to the film was the paradoxical effect on living standards for working Canadians.

On the one hand, the Tar Sands projects have created a gold rush, with mining towns awash with money. But the workers who rush there to prosper from the well-paid jobs (e.g. a welder who earned six-figures) actually end up worse-off (through a combination of factors, e.g. rents in the emerging town being pushed to sky-high levels).

I think I have a vague recollection that there is actually a name for this phenomenon (because it’s is so well established) – ‘resource curse’ (I think), i.e. any community/country that is ‘blessed’ with a valuable resource (e.g. oil) will suffer, not prosper, as a consequence.

Now, ‘resource curse’ is something one can easily associate with certain places: the Niger Delta (for example) with its oil – because, after all, we are very used to thinking of Africans as being ‘cursed’. So it’s quite striking to see a rich well-to-do white-man’s country like Canada experience resource curse.

In fact, this is reminiscent of the curse of extreme weather events: one is used to seeing disasters, e.g. flooding, afflict brown people in far away places, e.g. Bangladesh, Pakistan. But it’s unusual to see such things afflicting rich white westerners (e.g. Queenslanders). And what is particularly galling about Australia’s floods and extreme weather is that, even when disaster strikes those who have benefitted massively from capitalism and consumerism, there is +still+ no discussion that our societal and industrial structures might be causing this and therefore need to be changed.

The analogy about industrialised society seems to be correct: it is like trying to turn around a super-tanker in football-pitch-size space – impossible.

Post a Response

* Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by John Monro [User Info] [Email User] on February 4, 2011, 2:19 am, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

I'm not sure what you're seeing is unique to Canada. I think it's the result of emasculation of sovereignty to corporatist interests - being the logical conclusion of neo-liberal market economics that sees corporatist interests override those of governments. It is is the amazing and bizarre success of these dogmas how they can persuade so many otherwise intelligent, and in other ways pretty belligerent, politicians to roll over and allow these non-sovereign and unaccountable interests to hold sway, against the interests of their own citizens, whose interests they're supposed to be protecting. We see it in NZ too, the sell off of our important strategic assets continues, after a brief hiatus. It's similar to the success of the Republican Party in persuading the poor and dispossessed that it's un-American to wish the government to look after you, better starve than have government in your life. Who needs guns when lies and self-deception are all that's required?

Egypt, The Muslim Brotherhood, The West's hypocrisy

With Egypt on the verge of potential revolution, many on the right (of the political spectrum) are talking up the dangers of radical Islamist forces, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), stepping into the power vacuum left by Mubarak's odious regime.

Even assuming that the Muslim Brotherhood is a significant factor, then 'concern' about them simply points to more western hypocrisy.

Haven't finished reading it yet, but my understanding from historian Mark Curtis' 'Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam' is that we have never had an ethical problem with radical Islamists, including the MB – happy to collude whenever it served UK interests. The West has never given a damn about human rights – that’s just sweet talk to cosmetically hide the face of ugly motives.

Now, Melanie Phillips (on the BBC’s ‘Question Time’) warned about the MB's past collusion with the Nazis. But by that logic, we ought to be severing relations with America, whose corporations (e.g. IBM, GM, Ford) and government certainly colluded a great deal with the Nazis.

meat (halal or other)

The Halal and Kosher slaughter methods might be the most humane ...

There's a secret video of the realities of slaughterhouses at this Guardian link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/03/abattoirs-supermarkets-cctv-cruelty-welfare

It shows that the notion that we consume meat from 'humanely' killed animals is a delusion. Stunning is a very crude, imprecise, and messy business, which results in some (many?) animals being slaughtered whilst actually conscious.

Here's the words that I've come across from one poster on a discussion forum:

"I advocate what amounts to the halal approach (a sharp knife) ... if the blood is loosed from an artery not near to any sensitive parts of the body, ... there's no indication at all of the usual fear reactions of such animals at all. Consciousness is lost before the animal dies, and, it seems, with as little pain or trauma as possible (bearing in mind taking any life prematurely will cause some trauma, even if only physical)."

The notion that halal slaughter is barbaric compared to what we civilised westerners do is simply another instance of surreptitious Islamophobia - which, as Sayeeda Warsi (a leading Tory, no less) has pointed out, is now so widespread that it has actually become socially acceptable within polite society.

Rippon