Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Over 60 years of winter snow, summer drought and millions of visitors have taken a heavy toll on the former Nazi death camp.
Just as survivors visiting the camp dwindle each year, so time is bearing down on the prison buildings, the rusting barbed-wire fencing and remnants of the gas chambers left behind when the Germans fled in January 1945.
Evidence of the victims -- hair, spectacles, children's toys and other belongings -- is also falling to pieces, eaten away by insects and mildew, its disappearance giving slow support to those who try to deny the Holocaust ever happened.
Unless conservation is stepped up there may soon be little left of the biggest graveyard in Europe, where up to 1.5 million men, women and children, mostly Jews, were slaughtered."
This testiment to man's inhumanity to man must be preserved. Read the full article on what is being done from Reuters [published on SMH] here.
"This is the text of the letter by Australian terror suspect David Hicks, released by his lawyers today. The letter is addressed to an Australian consular official sent to visit him at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay yesterday. Hicks refused the visit.
"To the Counsul: 30 Jan 07.
I don't want to see you.
I am afraid to speak to you.
Only last week an American impersonated an Australian embassy official by claiming he was "from the Australian embassy in Washington".
This deteriorates my trust even further.
In the past I have been punished for speaking to you. I am not well, I am not OK and yet you have not done anything for me and the Aust govt keeps saying I'm fine and in an acceptable situation.
To speak with you and tell you the truth and reality of my situation "once again" would only risk further punishments. You are not here for me but on behalf of the Aust Govt who are leaving me here. If you want to do something for me then get me out of here."
Let it not be forgotten that it is 40 years this year that Israel has occupied Gaza and the West Bank - with all that has entailed.
"Despite the impression cast by corporate news coverage, there is never anything like "calm" here in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The casualty count for 2006 released by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reports that Israeli forces killed 660 Palestinians, while 17 Israeli civilians were killed, 13 of them in the West Bank [pdf]. The violence is often spectacular, as during the summer and fall siege operations in Gaza that killed more than 450 Palestinians under withering aerial bombardment, artillery barrages and two major ground invasions. But, as an unusually frank headline in the current edition of the Economist rightly stated, "It's the little things that make an occupation."
When Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay visited Israel this week, it was these "little things" that he missed--like the more than 530 fixed checkpoints and roadblocks identified in a joint UN-IDF count in the occupied West Bank. These obstacles make simple travel between neighbouring Palestinian villages often impossible, particularly when added to the more than 7,000 "flying checkpoints" that spring up at the whim of the Israeli army, anywhere and at anytime. As the Economist pointed out, "arbitrariness is one of the most crippling features of these rules."
The checkpoints and closure regime enforced by Israel is more than inconvenient; all too often, it is deadly. On Friday, as MacKay met with President Abbas in Amman, Israeli soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside of the West Bank city of Nablus refused the Israeli-issued permits of a patient returning from liver surgery in Palestinian East Jerusalem. The soldiers forced Tayseer Al Qaisi out of the car and ordered him to walk across the checkpoint. Al Qaisi, a father of eight, was weakened critically by the surgery and collapsed only a few hundred feet into the checkpoint. As reported by David Chater of Al Jazeera International, a Palestinian ambulance was prevented from entering the area for two hours. Mr Al Qaisi died while waiting for help."
Kathy Kelly, writing in Common Dreams, puts the situation of ordinary people in Iraq in its full and awful context:
"Earlier this week, I received a joyful phone call from Baghdad. Members of a family I've known since 1996 announced that one of their younger daughters was engaged. Broken Arabic and broken English crossed the lines -"We love you! We miss you!" My colleague here in Amman, who also knows this family well, shook her head smiling when I gave her the happy news. "What an amazing family," she said. "Imagine all that they've survived." A few hours later, the family sent us a text message: "now bombs destroy all the glasses in our home - no one hurt."
No one was home when the explosion shattered every window and damaged ceilings and walls. This was exceptionally fortunate given that they are a family of nine living in a very small dwelling. The family has moved into an even smaller home where one daughter lives with her husband and newborn baby. It happens that their aunt and her three children are also with them. The aunt had traveled from Amman to secure needed documents in Baghdad. Seventeen people are crowded into an apartment the size of a small one car garage.
This family suddenly joined the ranks of over a million people in Iraq who are homeless, displaced. I watched television coverage of the gruesome carnage at the intersection of the street where they had lived. The blood-spattered streets, charred vehicles, and desperate bereavement are part of everyday footage filmed in cities throughout the region, whether in Iraq, Lebanon, the West Bank, or Israel. The humanitarian crisis that mounts as a consequence of the catastrophic explosions and attacks is more difficult to portray."
Monday, January 29, 2007
"Today will be the last time we run our traditional daily Brekkie blog spot.
In an innovation for radio, we've invited bloggers around the world to write us a blog entry, especially for Summer Breakfast.
They've oscillated from heavy political arguments, to an insider's opinion about loud restaurants, and the Icelandic way of coping with stress - we've aired them all.
The next story looks at the role of bloggers world-wide, and especially in the Middle East.
It's about how people from different part of the world use cyberspace to communicate a certain message, and why they do it.
Our reporter Hagar Cohen spoke to four different bloggers: an Iranian expat in Canada, an Iraqi woman and two Australians."
Listen to this interesting dissection, of blogs and blogging, and discussion here. Be patient as you track down the relevant item to listen to.
Blair is a bigot, offensive, far right-wing and defamatory in much of his writing - and his "correspendents" seem illiterate and so misguided on most topics for it to be most troubling. Bottom line, Blair panders to the lowest common-denominator in his writing and the responses he attracts.
The true Blair is revealed for what he is in this piece "Tim's pre-Christmas Tirade" on the blog planet irf.
Blair, and his blog, is best ignored. He won't necessarily go away but perhaps he will just slowly wither.....
Now, The Electronic Intifada has obtained an Israeli Ministry of Defense Powerpoint presentation which provides a frightening glimpse into the mindset of the bureaucracy of apartheid."
Nothing need to be added to or said about the Israeli document. It speaks volumes on it own!
Sunday, January 28, 2007
This week's column "Daffy Does Doom" [only available on subscription] goes for the jugular in relation to what seems to be the increasingly delusional and demented Vice-President Dick Cheney:
"Dick Durbin went to the floor of the Senate on Thursday night to denounce the vice president as “delusional.”
It was shocking, and Senator Durbin should be ashamed of himself.
Delusional is far too mild a word to describe Dick Cheney. Delusional doesn’t begin to capture the profound, transcendental one-flew-over daftness of the man.
Has anyone in the history of the United States ever been so singularly wrong and misguided about such phenomenally important events and continued to insist he’s right in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
It requires an exquisite kind of lunacy to spend hundreds of billions destroying America’s reputation in the world, exhausting the U.S. military, failing to catch Osama, enhancing Iran’s power in the Middle East and sending American kids to train and arm Iraqi forces so they can work against American interests.
Only someone with an inspired alienation from reality could, under the guise of exorcising the trauma of Vietnam, replicate the trauma of Vietnam.
You must have a real talent for derangement to stay wrong every step of the way, to remain in complete denial about Iraq’s civil war, to have a total misunderstanding of Arab culture, to be completely oblivious to the American mood and to be absolutely blind to how democracy works.
In a democracy, when you run a campaign that panders to homophobia by attacking gay marriage and then your lesbian daughter writes a book about politics and decides to have a baby with her partner, you cannot tell Wolf Blitzer he’s “out of line” when he gingerly raises the hypocrisy of your position.
Mr. Cheney acts more like a member of the James gang than the Jefferson gang. Asked by Wolf what would happen if the Senate passed a resolution critical of The Surge, Scary Cheney rumbled, “It won’t stop us.”
Such an exercise in democracy, he noted, would be “detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.”
Americans learned an important lesson from Vietnam about supporting the troops even when they did not support the war. From media organizations to Hollywood celebrities and lawmakers on both sides, everyone backs our troops.
It is W. and Vice who learned no lessons from Vietnam, probably because they worked so hard to avoid going. They rush into a war halfway around the world for no reason and with no foresight about the culture or the inevitable insurgency, and then assert that any criticism of their fumbling management of Iraq and Afghanistan is tantamount to criticizing the troops. Quel demagoguery.
“Bottom line,” Vice told Wolf, “is that we’ve had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes.” The biggest threat, he said, is that Americans may not “have the stomach for the fight.”
He should stop casting aspersions on the American stomach. We’ve had the stomach for more than 3,000 American deaths in a war sold as a cakewalk.
If W. were not so obsessed with being seen as tough, Mr. Cheney could not influence him with such tripe.
They are perpetually guided by the wrong part of the body. They are consumed by the fear of looking as if they don’t have guts, when they should be compelled by the desire to look as if they have brains.
After offering Congress an olive branch in the State of the Union, the president resumed mindless swaggering. Asked yesterday why he was ratcheting up despite the resolutions, W. replied, “In that I’m the decision maker, I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster.” (Or preordained it.)
The reality of Iraq, as The Times’s brilliant John Burns described it to Charlie Rose this week, is that a messy endgame could be far worse than Vietnam, leading to “a civil war on a scale with bloodshed that will absolutely dwarf what we’re seeing now,” and a “wider conflagration, with all kinds of implications for the world’s flow of oil, for the state of Israel. What happens to King Abdullah in Jordan if there’s complete chaos in the region?”
Mr. Cheney has turned his perversity into foreign policy.
He assumes that the more people think he’s crazy, the saner he must be. In Dr. No’s nutty world-view, anti-Americanism is a compliment. The proof that America is right is that everyone thinks it isn’t.
He sees himself as a prophet in the wilderness because he thinks anyone in the wilderness must be a prophet.
To borrow one of his many dismissive words, it’s hogwash."
But Kapuscinski, who died Tuesday at age 74, was much more than a man who took great risks to get the best insights - heading into the bush when colleagues were fleeing on the last planes out.
In the early 1960s, when Africa was shaking off colonialism's shackles, he got frustrated with the limitations of daily journalism and began to write books, establishing himself as a poetic chronicler of the human condition.
Along with the likes of Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this charismatic, probing Pole with a philosopher's gravitas and a bon vivant's lust for life has been credited with creating a ``New Journalism'' - literary reportage."
So begins almost a homage to this great reporter and writer in The Guardian - mirrored in newspapers around the world.
Whilst the press has articles from time about a specific bombing incident or the TV shows footage of some carnage here or there in Iraq, rarely does one read or see what life is actually like in downtown Baghdad [as it were!].
Writing in The Independent [reproduced on ZNet] Patrick Cockburn says:
"Baghdad is paralysed by fear. Iraqi drivers are terrified of running into impromptu checkpoints where heavily armed men in civilian clothes may drag them out of their cars and kill them for being the wrong religion. Some districts exchange mortar fire every night. This is mayhem beyond the comprehension of George Bush and Tony Blair."
No less importantly....
"It is extraordinary that, almost four years after US forces captured Baghdad, they control so little of it. The outlook for Mr Bush's strategy of driving out insurgents from strongholds and preventing them coming back does not look good."
Saturday, January 27, 2007
If the extract from the book is anything to go by [published in The Age] not only is what the Howard government doing very, very troubling - and should be of grave concern to all Australians - but Howard & Co. need to be tackled on their actions full-on.
"A decade is a long time to be in government. Any government in power for so long will leave an indelible mark on the society it governs, changing the culture, identity, values and direction of the nation. For those in the community who disagree with government policy, there is some comfort in the knowledge that at the very least they can express their dissenting opinions through the recognised institutions of democracy. This capacity for public debate and dissent ensures that governments must continue to publicly justify their decisions — a hallmark of democracy.
But what happens when these democratic institutions are themselves eroded by government? What are the costs when a government tries to ensure that its values are the only values heard in public debate? What are the consequences for a nation whose citizenry is denied essential information about controversial policies?
The Howard Government has been progressively dismantling the democratic processes that create the capacity for public debate and accommodate dissenting opinion. The tactics used to silence critics are diverse, including the withdrawal of government funding, threats to destroy the financial viability of dissenting organisations, appointment of party functionaries or friends to key positions, strict interpretation of laws governing release of information, and the targeting of individuals. One sector that has been a particular target of these efforts to silence dissent is the non-government sector.
In Australia, recent years have seen an unprecedented attack upon non-government organisations, most particularly upon those organisations that disagree with the current Federal Government's views and values. The attacks have come from the Government itself and from close allies such as the Institute of Public Affairs. Questions have been raised about NGOs' representativeness, their accountability, their financing, their charitable status and their standing as policy advocates in a liberal democracy such as Australia.
The most public and visible attack on NGOs has been led by the IPA, a right-wing Melbourne think tank, which first came to prominence in the 1980s when, backed mainly by the mining industry, it was instrumental in developing and promoting the policies of economic rationalism. In the world view of the IPA, NGOs are seen as selfish and self-serving interest groups with little representative legitimacy. The vast store of knowledge of disadvantage and marginalisation held by NGOs such as the Red Cross, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Oxfam and the Australian Conservation Foundation is dismissed."
Today comes this news from the NY Times:
"Maher Arar, the Canadian software engineer who was detained by American officials in 2002 and deported to Syria, where he was jailed and regularly tortured, will receive 11.5 million Canadian dollars ($9.75 million) in compensation from the Canadian government, under a settlement announced Friday.
The compensation ends a lawsuit brought by Mr. Arar and follows a recommendation from a judicial inquiry into his case. That inquiry said the expulsion to Syria was caused by false assertions made by the Canadian police to United States officials, saying that Mr. Arar was an Islamic extremist linked to Al Qaeda."
Is this what they call "your taxes at work?" The situation is no different in Australia where untold millions of dollars [not disclosed allegedly for reasons of confidentiality!] have been paid out to people wrongfully detained, or even in one case deported, by the Department of Immigration. Scandalous is the only word for it!
Friday, January 26, 2007
What should not come as a surprise is that these accusations are almost identical, to a tee, to those levelled at anyone who writes critically of Israel. The "critics" certainly aren't original!
That settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is near-enough central to resolution of issues in the Middle East was recognised as recently as by the Iraq Study Group Report.
This morning [in the USA] Carter was interviewed on National Public Radio [NPR]. The interviewer certainly was more than pointed in his questioning of Carter.
"Former President Jimmy Carter finds himself in a defensive posture after criticism of his new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. The best-seller has generated a passionate response in critics who say it is slanted toward Palestinians, and full of inaccuracies.
Since the book was published, Carter says he has been branded an anti-Semite and a bigot. Reaction to the book included the resignation of 14 members of a Carter Center community board, who say Carter puts too much blame on Israel."
Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Arar is a Canadian citizen the U.S. detained without charge then sent to Syria in 2002. Leahy fumed: "We knew damn well, if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held. He'd be investigated. We also knew damn well, if he went to Syria, he'd be tortured."
Leahy was responding to Alberto Gonzales' comments that "there were assurances sought that he would not be tortured from Syria." Assurances? From the country that President Bush recently described as the "crossroads for terrorism"? From the country that Bush has vilified and threatened to attack? But before we point the finger at other countries, we have to look here at home.
Gonzales knows about torture. Arar was detained less than two months after Gonzales' office produced the notorious "Torture Memo," which has served as the legal basis for the Bush administration's brutal torture methods such as "waterboarding" (holding a victim's head underwater until unconscious) that are increasingly well-known and globally despised."
So begins a piece by well-known journalist Amy Goodman reproduced on Common Dreams. It again highlights the actions of the US and its allies. What? - the Brits, the Aussies and many Eurpoean countries didn't know what was going on?
As Goodman writes:
"The Bush policies of war, occupation, torture and rendition are having a cumulative effect on global opinion. A recent BBC poll of more than 26,000 people found that 75 percent oppose the U.S. role in Iraq, two-thirds oppose the handling of prisoners at Guantanamo, and 52 percent feel that the U.S. has an overall negative effect on the planet."
Time reports today:
"Two summers ago, Estelle Guzik, a volunteer archivist at New York City's YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, came across a curious file previously not indexed: a cache of letters written by Anne Frank's father, Otto. The roughly 80 documents, including considerable correspondence from Otto Frank to friends, family and officials, reveal just how desperately Mr. Frank—who survived the Holocaust—was trying to save his wife Edith, his mother-in-law Rosa Hollander and his daughters Margot and Anne.
The until now undisclosed trove of documents include letters Otto Frank wrote between April 30, 1941 and Dec. 11, 1941 (when Germany declared war on the U.S.), as well as correspondence from his U.S. relatives and a university friend, New York's Nathan Straus Jr., the son of the Macy's department store's founder. The Franks began their two years in hiding in an attic above Otto Frank's office in July 1942."
But who is Hillary Clinton? - apart from Bill's wife.
"Hillary Clinton is like our national Rorschach: She stokes our every emotion, from our deepest fears to our darkest hatreds."
Read this Alternet "profile" of Hillary.
Meanwhile, George Bush hasn't been getting much traction from his State of the Union address [see yesterday's posting]. AlterNet in reproducing a piece from Mother Jones says:
"Bush's seventh State of the Union speech was loaded with proposals that will go nowhere and had little relationship with reality. So much for hoping that a 28 percent approval rating would teach him anything."
Over at the NY Times its editorial deals with the Bush address in the context of how it sees things in the US in early 2007.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
For some the whole Hicks affair is seen from a political perspective. For others it's simply a matter of fairness and justice which should see Hicks released from Gitmo after 5 years, much of it in solitary confinement - with no seeming prospect of being charged let alone getting anything resembling a fair trial.
For some time lawyers have spoken out about the disgraceful way in which Hicks has been dealt with by the Americans and Australia's response to that. Now, Stephen Charles, recently retired Victorian Supreme Court judge, has weighed into the discussion. Charles QC, as he now is, has a pretty impressive track-record:
"........as a barrister [he] practised in the areas of commercial and corporate law, constitutional law, banking and finance law. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1975. He was chairman of the Victorian Bar Council from 1983 to 1985 and president of the Australian Bar Association from 1985 to 1986. He was a director of Macquarie Bank from 1985 to 1995, a member of the Victorian Corporate Affairs Advisory Board from 1987 to 1991 and the Commonwealth Administrative Review Council from 1989 to 1992. He was appointed a judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal in 1995, retiring in 2006."
Charles writes [in a piece on Malcolm Fraser's web site]:
"The New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions said that the treatment of David Hicks was “disgraceful”, which led the Minister for Foreign Affairs to tell the DPP to “mind his own business,” surely one of the most impertinent and arrogant comments made by an Australian Cabinet Minister."
Charles' piece is a must read for a careful and nuanced analyse of all the issues surrounding Hicks. Justice is certainly not being done!
For a foreigner observing, and reading, all of this [which Mahler's Prodigal Son is, as he is in the USA at present] it's all "political theatre" of the first order - from the President's entry to the Chamber, observing who claps when, and how, during the speech, who is snubbed and who isn't, and an almost word-by-word analysis of what was said post the speech.
Of course, listening to George Bush deliver his State of the Union address yesterday - widely covered in both the Fairfax and Murdoch press and on ABC and SBS TV - it is quite clear that what Bush said are not his words at all. They are, obviously, the "script" of a speech-writer. Bush would not be capable of stringing together the 49 minute speech let alone the catch-phrases, hyperbole, etc.
NPR [National Public Radio] this morning analysed the speech for the accuracy of the statements, assertions and claims made. Bottom line Bush doesn't make it all that well. Check out [ie listen to] NPR's fact-check here. Worth listening to!
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The slaying of the writer Hrant Dink in Istanbul a few days ago can only be seen as tragedy on a whole range of levels. Most importantly, he was prepared to raise an issue which the authorities simply do not allow - namely, the genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915.
The outpouring of grief and the uniting of groups to mourn the death of such a brave person as Dink is recorded in this piece from the NY Times:
"More than 50,000 mourners, including senior Turkish and Armenian officials in a rare display of unity, poured into the heart of Istanbul on Tuesday to bid farewell to Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was killed in front of his office last week, a death that many Turks hoped would be a catalyst for change.
The Armenian patriarch, Mesrob II, spoke out during Dink's funeral service against curbs on freedom of expression and urged an expansion of the potentially thawing relations between Armenia and Turkey that have become evident since the slaying."It is unacceptable to judge and imprison someone because of his thoughts, let alone to kill him," Mesrob said during the hourlong service at the Holy Mother of God Armenian Patriarchal Church. "It is mystical that his funeral turned into an occasion where Armenian and Turkish officials gathered together."
"When I started in this profession five years ago -- I used to teach English -- I presumed that librarians were mostly united in their attraction to books. But as I moved along in my library science program, I found that books weren't really our focus. Information management, database networking and research tools claimed the largest share of the curriculum. In other words, literacy today is defined less by how English departments or a librarian might teach Wordsworth or Faulkner than by how we find our way through the digital forest of information overload.
Typically, many people in my line of work no longer have the title of librarian. They are called media and information specialists, or sometimes librarian technologists. The buzzword in the trade is "information literacy," a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books. These days, librarians measure the quality of returns in data-mining stints. We teach students how to maximize a database search, about successful retrieval rates. What usually gets lost in the scramble is a careful reading of the material."
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Now The Independent has published an article on a report dealing with the effect of the so-called "separation barrier" - and confirming what has already been said previously by others and denied by the Israelis.
"A British government-funded report says the route of Israel's separation barrier is trapping 250,000 Palestinians in enclaves designed to protect Jewish settlers in the occupied territory.
It says that creation of the enclaves cutting Palestinian communities off from the rest of the West Bank "almost totally ignores the daily needs of the Palestinian population" and is "focused almost exclusively on the desire to maintain the fabric of life of Israeli settlers".
The critical report which says the existence of some Palestinian communities is threatened by the barrier was produced by the Israeli planning and rights organisation Bimkom. The research was jointly funded by the New Israel Fund and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.
It says the barrier is cutting employment for Palestinians and isolating farmers from markets, causing "particularly serious damage" to residents' health-care needs and undermining social and family life."
"The image of the United States has deteriorated around the world in the past year because of issues such as Iraq and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, according to a poll by the BBC World Service released on Tuesday.
The proportion of people believing the United States has a mainly positive influence in world affairs dropped seven points from a year ago -- to 29 percent from 36, the results from 18 countries that were also polled the previous year showed.
Fifty-two percent thought U.S. influence was mainly negative, up from 47 percent a year ago, the poll found.
The survey, released on the day President George W. Bush gives his State of the Union speech to Congress, found sharp disagreement with U.S. policy on Iraq which is ravaged by violence nearly four years after the U.S.-led invasion."
Does George Bush and his cohorts get it? No way! His view, blinkered and ignorant, is that history will judge his actions as having been the correct ones. Meanwhile, even if it's down to Laura and Barney, his dog, who support him, he will carry on regardless with what he believes is right. Oh dear!
What can't be overlooked for Australians in all of this is that John Howard has steadfastly nailed his flag to the mast in being a fully-fledged supporter of the US - no questions asked. They might increasingly be seen as not having been a smart move.
Today, as in all past years, large numbers of vocal pro-choice and pro-life groups will be out, demonstrating, at the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington.
It was reported on NRP Radio this morning that George Bush will address the pro-life group. What a paradox!- and how offensive. Here is the "chief-architect" of the Iraq War speaking to pro-lifers when his very actions have resulted in over 3000 Americans lives being lost in Iraq and thousands more being injured, physically and mentally - and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis being killed and maimed.
Meanwhile, NRP also reports that a humanitarian crisis has developed for the Iraqis who have fled Iraq - some 1 million to Jordan, more than 1 million to Syria and approximately 150,000 to Egypt. Over at the the BBC Radio's Newhour program it is reported, today, that whilst Britain was one of the main-players in the Coalition of the Willing, resulting in the war which has led to many Iraqis fleeing their country, in 2005 it only granted permanent residency to 5 Iraqis.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The first Bushism for 2007 has now appeared:
"The best way to defeat the totalitarian of hate is with an ideology of hope—an ideology of hate—excuse me—with an ideology of hope."—Fort Benning, Ga., Jan. 11, 2007.
If you want to be appalled, despair, laugh - whatever your predilection - check out Slate's collection of Bushisms here.
So writes John Pilger in a piece on ZNet. The above figures are truly horrifying - as is, equally, how the West is ignoring the plight of 1.4 million Palestinians. One doesn't have to be a rocket-scientist to see how people in the Middle East, and elsewhere around the globe, sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, see the duplicity of the West when it speaks loudly, and often, about the 3000 people killed in the 9/11 attack - but does nothing to stop the strangehold on the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The trauma unfolding in both areas will not either go away easily or the memory of it be quickly forgotten. We, in the West, have only ourselves to blame as we stand aside, mute, and see the tragedy in Gaza and the West Bank continue unabated.
"The Israel lobby retains its grip inside the Beltway, but it’s starting to lose its hold on the broader public debate. Why? You can’t brutalize the Palestinian people in the full light of day, decade after decade, without claims that Israel is a light among the nations getting more than a few serious dents. In the old days, Mearsheimer and Walt’s tract would have been deep-sixed by the University of Chicago and the Kennedy School long before it reached its final draft, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux wouldn’t have considered offering a six-figure advance for it. Simon & Schuster would have told President Carter that his manuscript had run into insurmountable objections from a distinguished board of internal reviewers. But once a book by a former president with weighty humanitarian credentials makes it into bookstores, it’s hard to shoot it down with volleys of wild abuse.
The trouble with the lobby and the Christian zealots who act as its echo chamber is that they believe their own propaganda about Israel’s equitable social arrangements and immaculate political and legal record in its relations with the Palestinians. Use the word apartheid and they howl with indignation. The shock is about thirty years out of date. Israeli writers have used the word apartheid to describe arrangements in the occupied territories for years. Hundreds of prominent South African Jews issued a statement six years ago making the same link."
So writes Alexander Cockburn on Counterpunch. A piece worth reading as the consequences of a changin' in the wind of how the world views Israel's actions and the plight of the Palestinians may see reality creep into politics in the Middle East.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The entire cost, in monetary terms, of the Iraq War is fully detailed in this examination and analysis by the NY Times - and how the money spent might have been much better directed to something truly worthwhile. Bottom line, the money-sums involved in the Iraq War are truly staggering and hard to come to grips with. And bear in mind this is all basically the cost of the military operation. It does not take into account the cost to Iraq, its infrastructure [what's left of it!] and its people. Also not included in the figures is what the War has cost UK and Australian taxpayers.
"The human mind isn't very well equipped to make sense of a figure like $1.2 trillion.
We don't deal with a trillion of anything in our daily lives, and so when we come across such a big number, it is hard to distinguish it from any other big number. Millions, billions, a trillion — they all start to sound the same.
The way to come to grips with $1.2 trillion is to forget about the number itself and think instead about what you could buy with the money. When you do that, a trillion stops sounding anything like millions or billions.
For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children's lives.
Combined, those programs wouldn't use up even half of our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every three- and four-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds."
It's the Oz household which is shrinking in fairly alarming numbers and likely to continue to do so - as Hugh Mackay documents in this article in the SMH:
"By 2026, more than 3 million Australians will be living alone and more than 6 million will be living with just one other person. The size of the average Australian household will by then have fallen from the current record low of 2.6 persons to a jaw-dropping 2.3 or even 2.2 persons per household.
At present, about 50 per cent of Australians live in what were once regarded as conventional family households - mum, dad and the kids. Twenty years ago, that's how 60 per cent of us lived, but "couple with children" households are in statistical freefall: 20 years from now, a mere 40 per cent of us will be living in the traditional version of the family household. (All these figures come from the Australian Bureau of Statistics - one of our very few genuine national treasures, by the way.)"
President Bush on Sunday shared his lamentations on "60 Minutes," the modern equivalent of the storm-swept heath. Assuming the time-honored role of Fool, CBS' Scott Pelley asked the president, "Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?"
Bush retorted: "That we didn't do a better job, or they didn't do a better job?…. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude…. We've endured great sacrifice to help them…. [Americans] wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."
Rosa Brooks, writing in the LA Times, makes more than a biting tongue in cheek assessment and analysis of how grateful the Iraqis ought to be to Uncle Sam....
"Well, yes. I have wondered about that. Frankly — I'm talking to you, Iraqis! — a few flowers and ticker-tape parades wouldn't be amiss, even at this late stage. Remember, we got rid of Saddam Hussein for you — with a little help from his executioners, to be sure, who sent him to his death amid enthusiastic chants in praise of Shiite militia leader Muqtada Sadr. But that's just a detail."
Israel speaks with a forked-tongue, especially as all the evidence is there to support what Jimmy Carter has been saying - Israel is conducting apartheid-like policies - with which many Israelis agree, whilst Jews outside Israel loudly condemn Carter as been anti-semitic and dead wrong.
"All the promises to relax restrictions in the West Bank have obscured the true picture. A few roadblocks have been removed, but the following prohibitions have remained in place. (This information was gathered by Haaretz, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch)"
Amira Haas writing in Haaretz pulls together the facts and statistics. They are horrific! They also confirm one, and one thing only. Israeli's policies and actions stand roundly condemned - and it is easy to see why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has nowhere to go [nothwithstanding all the talk of "road maps, meetings between leaders, Condi visiting the Middle East, etc. etc.] unless Israeli's actions are curbed and stopped altogether.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The plight of the Iraqis, this time its children, is revealed in this piece in The Independent [reproduced on Information Clearing House]:
"The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors.
They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life.
In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing "hundreds" of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs.
"Sick or injured children who could otherwise be treated by simple means are left to die in hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources," the doctors say. "Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated," they add."
One must ask. Where are the consciences of Bush, Blair and Howard? - do they have one? - as the ongoing war in Iraq does so much damage to its people. After all they didn't seek the toppling of Saddam, let alone a war [remember the awefully, but aptly named "Shock and Awe" offensive at the beginning of the invasion?].
"My nominee for Australian of the Year is Major Michael Mori of the United States Marine Corps. His efforts to extract David Hicks from the horrors of Guantanamo Bay exemplify our values of a fair go and equality before the law.
Not for the Howard lot, though. There is not a lawyer of standing in Australia now who believes Hicks can get a fair trial, but Howard, Ruddock, Downer and Co do not care. Their subservience to the White House, the Pentagon and the US Attorney-General is sickening. They twist and bluster to do Washington's bidding.
The game got rougher again this week. The new Pentagon plan for military commissions would allow Hicks and other "terrorist suspects" to be tried, convicted and executed on hearsay evidence or coerced testimony.
The major went on the attack yet again. The rules "just don't provide for a fair trial", he said on Friday. "The right to a speedy trial - that's gone. Any right against self-incrimination has been taken away, along with the right to confront your accuser. They say all hearsay can come in and the burden is on the defence to show why the prosecution shouldn't be able to use this."
Semper fidelis, as they say in the Marines. Michael Mori would make a dinkum Oz of the Year. Far more so than some."
Friday, January 19, 2007
"I'm not going to mince words," said John Howard, signalling that rare occasion at a prime ministerial press conference. A moment of truth. A degree of candour. Surprise, surprise, neither eventuated. Instead, words were minced as never before into the political counterpart of hamburger grind while truth and candour were crushed into dust, specifically bulldust. But you had to admire Howard's chutzpah, standing there feigning rectitude. How does he do it? How can he continue to talk such twaddle? One felt the same trust you'd have in the shonkiest second-hand car dealer. Would you buy a used war from this man?
Where George W. Bush took the blame for the failures in Iraq on himself, Howard, as usual, kept his distance from the catastrophe. Fifth Yet Howard admitted to the coalition of the willing having a few minor problems. But nothing another 20,000 Americans couldn't fix. Yet there would be no more Australian troops to share in the triumphs he still regards as inevitable, or pretends to. Seems a pity really, not to be better represented in the victory motorcade in Baghdad as cheering locals lay down their rocket-launchers to toss flowers and take up democracy.
Information Clearing House publishes this piece which points up that Condi's visit to the Middle East was essentially a misdirected junket. The writer certainly suggests there there was no real aim to come to grips with the Palestinian issue, despite what she has been saying:
"Condoleezza Rice has used her trip through the Middle East to announce her intention to “accelerate the road map and move to the establishment of a Palestinian state”. (NY Times) She plans to convene a summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert so that “informal talks” can be held on the main issues related to a permanent settlement.
Why? Why this sudden interest on Rice’s part in Palestinian statehood?
As Rice said on Monday, “Before we say this is going to end in frustration, let’s be glad that after 6 years that the parties want to engage in an informal set of discussions about the future between them.”
Thursday, January 18, 2007
"Back in the year 2000, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote and was shoe-horned into office by the Supreme Court in spite of clear conflicts of interest on the part of Scalia and Thomas, the psychology of Little George was known to only a few.
To most of us he seemed like a doofus -- a more or less well-meaning guy who enjoyed running things like baseball teams and the State of Texas if not too much work was involved. Had been an alcoholic and a drug user, but had apparently come clean in some hazy, quasi-religious way -- that was his personal history to many Americans (if not to all those who met with Karl Rove behind closed doors and heard the truth)."And:
"The small pathologies of Bush the candidate have, thanks to the purposes of the neocons and the religious right, been enhanced and upgraded. We have a bona fide madman now, who thinks of himself in a grandiose way as single-handedly turning the tide of history. Some of his Frankensteins have bailed, some haven't dared to, and others still seem to believe. His actions and his orders, especially about Iran, seem to be telling us that he will stop at nothing to prove his dominance."
"Add this to the endangered list: blank spaces.
American advertisers seem determined to fill every last one of them.
Supermarket eggs have been stamped with the name of a new CBS television show.
Subway turnstiles bear messages from Geico auto insurance. Chinese food cartons promote Continental Airways. US Airways is selling ads on motion sickness bags. And the trays used in airport security lines have been hawking Rolodexes.
Marketers used to try their hardest to reach people at home, when they were watching television or reading newspapers or magazines. But consumers' viewing and reading habits are so scattershot now that many marketers say the best way to reach time-pressed consumers is to try to catch their eye at every turn."Sigh!!!!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
China to spend big on wind power: China , the world's biggest energy consumer after the US, plans to invest 45.6 billion yuan ($US5.8 billion) to more than triple wind-power generation capacity by 2010: Bloomberg
Oil industry giant considers U-turn: Exxon Mobil Corp., a longtime opponent of mandatory regulations to combat climate change, met with US environmental groups last month to discuss how the oil behemoth might respond to global warming: Reuters
India embraces solar cooking: A choice is now available for those living in apartments to switch over to the renewable energy mode of cooking. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL) is now promoting a solar-powered steam-based cooking system that suits apartments, hostels, big hotels and the institutions that take up mass feeding:
Canada’s car makers face emissions targets: Canada's largest private sector union said on Thursday that thousands of jobs in the auto industry could be at risk if a left-leaning opposition party succeeds in persuading the government to quickly introduce binding emissions standards on vehicles: Environmental News Network
Porpoises going hungry thanks to global warming: Porpoises are starving to death in European waters because of fish shortages linked to ocean warming, according to a new study that warns of mounting fatalities if sea temperatures continue to rise: National Geographic
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize, dropped by the other day, and she made the same point with characteristic bluntness. "It amazes me that the United States, with all its scientific accomplishments, is so shortsighted in its foreign policy," she noted.
It is pathetic. We can go safely to the moon but not to Anbar Province. We can peer into the farthest reaches of the universe, but we fail to notice (until it's too late) that many Iraqis loathe us. We produce movies that delight audiences all over the world, but we can't devise a foreign policy that anybody likes."
So starts an insightful piece by Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times and re-produced in the IHT. It's a balanced and objective assessment, by an American, on why the US just doesn't seem to get it right when it comes to matters of foreign policy around the globe.
"Washington will launch a military strike on Iran before April 2007, say sources. The attack will be launched from the sea and Patriot missiles will guard all oil-producing countries in the region, they add. Recent statements emanating from the United States indicate the Bush administration’s new strategy for Iraq doesn’t include any proposal to make a compromise or negotiate with Syria or Iran. A reliable source said President Bush recently held a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice and other assistants in the White House where they discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail.
According to the source, Vice President Dick Cheney highlighted the threat posed by Iran to not only Saudi Arabia but the whole region. “Tehran is not playing politics. Iranian leaders are using their country’s religious influence to support the aggressive regime’s ambition to expand,” the source quoted Dick Cheney as saying. Indicating participants of the meeting agreed to impose restrictions on the ambitions of Iranian regime before April 2007 without exposing other countries in the region to any danger, the source said “they have chosen April as British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it will be the last month in office for him. The United States has to take action against Iran and Syria before April 2007.”
For those of you who don’t have a blog yet, think of one as a large yellow Labrador: friendly, fun, not all that bright, but constantly demanding your attention."
So begins a quirky, yet informative, article in the NY Times by David Carr on blogging and bloggers. It's the new paradigm and world out there! - and as the article suggests it is changing the way we communicate.
In an op-ed piece in The Age, Wilkie writes:
"Prime Minister John Howard said of the Bush Administration's plan to escalate the Iraq war that "an American or Western defeat in Iraq will be an unbelievable boost to terrorism, and if America is defeated in Iraq, it is hard to see how the longer-term fight against terrorism can be won".
But Howard's assessment is deeply flawed - and misleading - because it hinges on the assumption that Iraq is not lost already. The conflict obviously failed to achieve the original aim of reducing weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. So too it failed to achieve more recent justifications such as improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq and planting the seed of democracy in the Middle East. Nor has the war achieved the real reasons for its conduct, in particular to enhance United States power, control Iraq's oil, bolster Israel's security and bottle up Iran. Even the prospect for Iraq's fledgling Government is now parlous. From Australia's perspective, the war has certainly not made us safer."
Monday, January 15, 2007
"The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.
BearingPoint is fighting to restore its reputation in the US after falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 (£60,000) to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor. Other recipients include three prominent Congressmen on the House of Representatives' defence sub-committee, which oversees defence department contracts."
This week's piece carries on Dowd's best "tradition":
"I feel good about the new war with Iran.
How can you not have confidence in the crackerjack team that brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom, which foundered and led to Operation Together Forward, which stumbled and led to Operation Together Forward II, which collapsed and was replaced by The New Way Forward, the Surge now being launched even though nobody's together and everything's going backward?
I say, bring it on. If a pre-emptive war in Iraq doesn't work, why not try a pre-emptive war on Iran in Iraq?"
"George Bush is preparing to make a historic shift in his position on global warming when he makes his State of the Union speech later this month, say senior Downing Street officials.
Tony Blair hopes that the new stance by the United States will lead to a breakthrough in international talks on climate change and that the outlines of a successor treaty to the Kyoto agreement, the deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases which expires in 2012, could now be thrashed out at the G8 summit in June.
The timetable may explain why Blair is so keen to remain in office until after the summit, with a deal on protecting the planet offering an appealing legacy with which to bow out of Number 10."
With Australia and the US being 2 principal nations which have held out on ratifying the Kyoto agreement, if George Bush does his alleged u-turn, what will little "me too" John Howard do? More interestingly, how will he try and dress up his almost certain change of heart too?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
What diplomatic skills? It is impossible to think of one thing Rice has successfully negotiated or even mediated either as Bushs' Security Advisor or now the US Secretary of State.
That aside, it looks very much like the the scenario the Americans see in relation to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli issue is doomed. All simplistic and totally unrealistic! - as this piece in the IHT clearly steps and spells out:
"The latest American and European bid to revive the long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process apparently goes something like this:
Tighten the squeeze on Hamas's government to curtail its acquisition of money and weapons. Tip the military balance by pouring in tens of millions of dollars to train and equip security forces loyal to Fatah. Strengthen the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, politically with the kinds of immediate, tangible concessions — money transfers, prisoner releases, lifting of roadblocks — mentioned by the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, at his dinner last Saturday with Abbas."
Now comes this contemptible and thoroughly dishonest attack on lawyers representing Gitmo prisoners, as the NY Times editorialises:
"No one who has followed President Bush’s policies on detainees should be surprised when a member of his team scorns American notions of justice. But even by that low standard, the administration’s new attack on lawyers who dare to give those prisoners the meager representation permitted them is contemptible.
Speaking this week on Federal News Radio, a Web site and AM radio station offering helpful hints for bureaucrats and helpful news for the administration, Cully Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, tried to rally American corporations to stop doing business with law firms that represent inmates of the Guantánamo internment camp."
Saturday, January 13, 2007
In an op-ed piece in the latest IHT Cordesman does an analysis of the latest Bush plan starting out with this:
"The president was refreshingly candid, saying that "where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me." But taken as a whole, the speech raised more questions than it answered.
I've selected a number of important phrases from the address that beg for more detailed discussion, and included my own analysis of the validity and practicality of what the president seems to have in mind."
A must read here.
In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets — one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other."
So begins a piece on Information Clearing House written by Jumah Al-Dossar, a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002. The article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense. It serves as a rare insight from inside Gitmo. In reading the full piece, appalling and disgraceful are the only words which immediately come to mind.
Another perspective on Guantanamo is that of Melissa Hoffer, a Boston attorney, whose client is imprisoned at Gitmo. She shows another aspect of Gitmo, and what it means for those incarcerated there, in an article in the Boston Globe "Trapped at Guantanamo".
And what about in the Middle East? The LA Times, under the banner "Mideast shaking its head" reports:
"In ordering more American troops into Iraq, President Bush said he was sending a message of hope to millions of Arabs and Afghans trapped in violence. But to many on the ground in the Mideast, the speech spoke volumes of a gaping disconnect between high-flown U.S. promises and a deadly, turbulent reality.
After long years of war and political disillusionment, Bush would have been hard-pressed to come up with any message that would please the Arab world. Analysts say public opinion of the United States has sunk to an unprecedented low, with no end in sight to the bloodletting in Iraq or the Palestinian territories.
Many here, long mired in bloodshed and sinking deeper into sectarian tensions, hold America squarely to blame for both."
Meanwhile the NY Times reports that the reaction to the Bush announcement has been tepid at best if not complete resentment:
"Iraq’s Shiite-led government offered only a grudging endorsement on Thursday of President Bush’s proposal to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops in an effort to curb sectarian violence and regain control of Baghdad. The tepid response immediately raised questions about whether the government would make a good-faith effort to prosecute the new war plan."
The signs are ominous indeed that whatever Bush and his cohorts - like Cheney and Condy - might have thought they were planning to pursue has any prospects of succeeding.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Now that George Bush has confirmed more troops being committed to Iraq - and of course PM Howard endorsed the move! - writing on AlterNet Miller says:
"As a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War -- the United States' only lost war -- President Bush's imminent decision to increase the U.S. force in Iraq by thousands of troops brings to mind events more than thirty years old.
In 1968, shortly after Clark Clifford succeeded Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense, Secretary Clifford met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the war in Vietnam. He quickly learned that America's top military leaders did not know how many troops were needed nor did they know what constituted victory."
"There is an ugly cynicism to the attack on Jimmy Carter that has been launched by Americans who well recognize that the former president's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, says nothing that has not already been said about the Middle East conflict by Israeli politicians and commentators.
So why is Carter, a longtime friend of Israel and the Jewish people, being smeared as an anti-Semite for suggesting that the occupation by Israeli forces of Palestinian territory inspires troubling comparisons with the apartheid system that white South Africans once imposed on their country's black majority?
One of Israel's most prominent political figures suggests that it has a lot to do with the determination of Carter's critics to allow their emotions to trump the facts.
"The trouble is that their love of Israel distorts their judgment and blinds them from seeing what's in front of them," argues Shulamit Aloni, a veteran of Israel's war of independence who went on to serve in the Knesset and as a minister in several Israeli cabinets. "Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us."
So writes John Nichols in The Nation. This is a "story" which has some way to go - as events in the Middle East attract attention every day, especially the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Wise heads have for years been saying that this conflict must be settled if some sort of stability is to be reached in the region, in the war against terrorism and the unrest of Muslims around the world.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
"Iran has ensnared itself in a petroleum crisis that could drive its oil exports to zero by 2015. While Iran has the third- largest oil reserves in the world, its exports may be shrinking by 10 to 12 percent per year. How can this be happening?
Heavy industry infrastructure must be maintained to remain productive. This is especially so for oil, because each oil well's output declines slightly every year. If new wells are not drilled to offset natural decline, production will fall.
This is what is happening in Iran, which has failed to reinvest in new production. Why?"
James Caroll, in a hard-hitting piece in the Boston Globe writes:
"The hanging of Saddam Hussein Dec. 30 offered a view into the grotesque reality of what America has sponsored in Iraq, and what Americans saw should inform their response to President Bush's escalation of the war......
The harsh fact is that the Shi'ite dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki, in its contemptible treatment of a man about to die, laid bare the dark truth of Bush's war. This is what revenge looks like, and revenge (not weapons of mass destruction, not democracy) drove the initial US attack on Saddam Hussein every bit as much as it snuffed out his life at the end. The hooded executioners took their cue from George W. Bush."
Meanwhile over at the NY Times, Paul Krugman in his op-ed piece, "Quagmire of the Vanities" goes one step further than even Carroll:
"The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.
Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks they’re cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be “the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.”
Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his research on irrationality in decision-making, thinks they’re delusional. Mr. Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon recently argued in Foreign Policy magazine that the administration’s unwillingness to face reality in Iraq reflects a basic human aversion to cutting one’s losses — the same instinct that makes gamblers stay at the table, hoping to break even.
Of course, such gambling is easier when the lives at stake are those of other people’s children."
The NY Times reports the rather startling assessment and forecast of geologists where our planet is headed far, far down the track:
"Kiss the Mediterranean goodbye. Ditto the Red Sea and its wonderland of coral reefs and exotic sea life. And prepare for the day when San Francisco has a gritty new suburb: Los Angeles. Indeed, much of Southern California, including the Baja Peninsula, will eventually migrate up the west coast to make Alaska even more gargantuan.
Geologists have long prided themselves on their ability to peer into the distant past and discern the slow movements of land and sea that have continuously revised the planet’s face over eons. Now, drawing on new insights, theories, measurements and technologies — and perhaps a bit of scientific bravado — they are forecasting the shape of terra firma in the distant future."
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Now, as AlterNet reports:
"George Monbiot's new book Heat picks up where Al Gore left off on global warming, offering real solutions without sugar-coating the large personal sacrifices they will require."
"For it [Monbiot's book] is not written to convince the unconvinced global warming, but to educate the already-persuaded, those who exited the theater after watching An Inconvenient Truth with fire in their bellies, ready to fight the incoming menace about what must be done, and ready to face the significant sacrifices that will have to be made along the way."