30.8.06

golf? shameful?

The mayor of Venezuela's capital Caracas says he plans to expropriate two exclusive golf courses and use the land for homes for the city's poor.

Mayor Juan Barreto has said playing golf on lavish courses within sight of the city's slums is "shameful".

player haters!

One of Britain's richest men, Lord Vestey, says he'll fight the Venezuelan government to stop hundreds of peasant farmers taking over land on his cattle ranches in South America.

commie plot to steal honest inbred's inherited land

stop picking on the richkids!

we can't all be venezuelans

Chad demands stake in oil output

Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno has said in a public speech the country must have a stake in oil production.

Speaking outside his presidential palace in N'Djamena, Mr Deby told crowds a revolution had started.

This comes three days after he ordered two foreign oil companies, Petronas and Chevron-Texaco, out of Chad.

The two oil firms control 60% of the consortium which runs Chad's pipeline, the same as the share Mr Deby says the government wants.

They were ordered to leave the country as Mr Deby accused them of not paying taxes.

If Petronas and Chevron-Texaco had been hoping President Deby might have mellowed since the weekend, they were wrong.

He declared Chad must enter into oil production at what he called a reasonable rate of 60%. Crucially, 60% would give the government of Chad a majority share and therefore control over the consortium which runs the country's pipeline.

Mr Deby did not repeat his earlier demand for the two oil companies to leave Chad, but he did insist they must pay the Public Treasury $1bn.

This is double the amount he asked for from the firms at the weekend, and an official later said the president had made a mistake and the amount of tax to be paid is actually $500m.

But it was clear from Mr Deby's emphatic language that he believed Chad had a sovereign right to take more control of its own oil.

breaking news- national government wants stake in profits derived from exploitation of its resources

29.8.06

better than doughnuts in a wheat field

"Partying like it's 1989? These days, as rave veteran Sarah Champion discovers, the kids are as young as 12, the drug is laughing gas, the venues are forest glades and the music is harder and faster. One thing hasn't changed, though - trying to keep one step ahead of the police."

i had a lot of fun a couple of wends back at the secret garden party (viva to joe for getting me free entry x), anyone buying hippie crack on sat night from the main bar will remember me looking rather lost in a hi vis jacket, hat and make up, since i didn't even work there but it did prove a sensible way of finding my lost friends (and making some new ones). al fresco, unpoliced party. big it up.

was informed of busted out party too (video here) but friday left me to confused to make it, which was just as well really. thetford forest scene definitely most exciting place to be in norfolk i can assure you!

28.8.06

In March this year, a man with a passion for Portuguese football, living in a city in Florida, was drinking heavily because his wife was having an affair. He typed his troubles into the search window of his computer. "My wife doesnt love animore," he told the machine. He searched for "Stop your divorce" and "I want revenge to my wife" before turning to self-examination with "alchool withdrawl", "alchool withdrawl sintoms" (at 10 in the morning) and "disfunctional erection". On April 1 he was looking for a local medium who could "predict my futur".

They know all about you

Latin America - The End of and Era

by Mark Weisbrot

Published in the International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 36, No. 4 (2006)
The changes that have taken place in Latin America in recent years are part of an epoch-making transformation. To borrow from the Cold War framework that still prevails in U.S. foreign policy circles: we have witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the formation of newly independent states. A region that has been dominated by the United States for more than a century has now, for the most part, broken away. Of course there are still strong commercial, political, cultural and even military ties; but as in the states of the former Soviet Union after 1990, these do not have the same economic or political implications that they had a decade or even a few years ago.

These changes seem to have been largely misunderstood – and vastly underestimated – across the political spectrum. They are certainly noticed. Hardly a day goes by without prominent warnings that the region – or at least a good part of it – is on the road to “populist” ruin, or worse. On the right – including the Bush administration – this process is viewed through a Cold War prism, a Castro-Ch├ívez-Evo Morales axis that poses a strategic threat to the United States. Imagined or implied links to terrorism and the drug trade (little or no evidence is provided) are sometimes added for effect, as when the State Department cut off arms sales to Venezuela on May 15 for “lack of cooperation” in fighting terrorism.

The liberal/center views are less bellicose, but similarly pessimistic about what is happening in the region. Foreign Affairs has run three articles since the beginning of the year warning of the dangers of Latin America’s left-populist drift, as well as sorry state of U.S.-Latin American relations. The news reports, editorials, and op-ed pages of America’s major newspapers mostly carry the same themes.

But from the point of view of the vast majority of the hemisphere, including people in the United States, there is actually much to be optimistic about. As French President Jacques Chirac noted during a recent visit to South America, "there is a strong movement in favor of democracy in Latin America, a movement that is growing.” He added that the newly elected leftist presidents cannot be cause for concern because they were elected in free democratic elections. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that the changes of the last few years will not be reversed, and that the region will continue in the direction of further economic and political independence, diversification of trade and finance, some regional integration, and more successful macroeconomic policies. Not all of these economic policies and experiments will succeed, but most importantly it appears very possible that Latin America’s long quarter-century of economic failure will be reversed in the foreseeable future, and that its hundreds of millions of poor people will be among the main beneficiaries.

Centre for Economic and Policy Research, article published in the
International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 36, No. 4 (2006)

Interview on Democracy Now

Lies, Damned Lies and Immigration from the Independent

on line videos and interviews

Medialens contributors have compiled a great list of videos available on-line

available here

featuring the inevitable chomsky, curtis, zinn, parenti, pilger, Hussein (!), Fisk and galloway

also heiddegger, derrida, foucault, Said,

Arabs, Venezuela, Gaza, Israel, The United States, Animal Rights, anthropology, linguistics, newsnight, hollywood, drugs, corporstions, Fox News, Latin America... etc etc

maybe we want to include a video library on our sidebar? can you be bothered editors?

25.8.06

You don't need to live in a functioning country to know...

What are the three main reasons for the US Invasion of Iraq?



University of Michigan Study

"The percentage of Iraqis who said they would not want to have Americans as neighbors rose from 87 percent in 2004 to 90 percent in 2006. When asked what they thought were the three main reasons why the United States invaded Iraq, 76 percent gave "to control Iraqi oil" as their first choice.

But at the same time, significantly more Iraqis support democratic values, including the separation of religion and politics.

In 2004, 27 percent of the 2,325 Iraqi adults surveyed strongly agreed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. In 2006, 41 percent of 2,701 adults surveyed strongly agreed
."

23.8.06

hitlering, iran and the resistance



The staggering strangeness and naivety of anyone opening a Hitler themed restaurant in Mumbai is quite amazing... The owner says: "Just like Hitler wanted to conquer the world, I want to conquer at least my area through the food served in my restaurant."

In other news...



Juan Cole on Lebanon, Iran, Peak Oil and global strategy

This Iran focused blog provides a roundup of comment and analysis



Lenin's Iraqi Resistance Dossier

Benazir Bhutto on Pakistan's dictatorship and terrorism

22.8.06

More maps

"War is God's way of teaching Americans Geography" Ambrose Bierce

Lenin from Lenin's Tomb pointed out this gem:

Apparently us Europeans made such a mess of drawing the borders of the Middle East that it has led to all the problems and troubles that we are now experiencing, but fear not... luckily the Americans will re-draw them for us. Yes, arrogant imperialists dividing up nations was a bad idea when the Europeans did it in the 19th and 20th centuries but might just be a good idea now that the good old Americans can do it for us with their famous sensitivity and empathy for Arab nations, according to Ralph Peters from the American Armed Forces Journal...



21.8.06

La Resistance

Media Lens' August 17th Media Alert about the continuing insurgency in Iraq and the lack of coverage of it by the mainstream media:

"MEDIA ALERT: BURYING THE INSURGENCY IN IRAQThe BBC, Insurgent Attacks And The New York Times
Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the BBC, like the media more generally, has consistently attempted to delegitimise armed opposition to Britain and America's illegal occupation of Iraq.

Initial reporting presented the insurgency as a fanatical and irresponsible assault on ordinary Iraqi people. On October 1, 2004, for example, the BBC's correspondent in Baghdad, Nicholas Witchell, reported that a series of insurgent car bombs in the capital were "intended to undermine the future". (Witchell, BBC1, 18:00 News, October 1, 2004)

The alleged mindlessness of the insurgency has been repeatedly emphasised. In September 2004, Witchell reported:

"As is so often the case in this conflict it's the Iraqi civilian population which suffers the greatest loss of life - either as a result of mistakes by the Americans, or, far more frequently, of course, as a result of the bombs and the bullets of the insurgents." (Witchell, BBC1, 18:00 News, September 30, 2004)

In fact media reports at the time suggested that operations by US and multinational forces and Iraqi police were killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry.
"

On the same day the BBC published this report:

Iraq violence: Facts and figures

Gathering reliable data on the current bloodshed in Iraq is difficult, but the available figures help build up a picture of the complex mixture of insurgent attacks and sectarian killings.





The BBC also published another plug for Iraq Body Count which does accept that there may be other ideas about the figures of casualties



Best of all it includes these interesting maps which I have posted below:



17.8.06

Hicks in Edinburgh

Laughing in His Grave


Most of us have heard of the American fashion for asking: "What would Jesus do?" You may be more surprised to learn that a book was recently published entitled What Would Bill Hicks Say? Are we to infer that the late US stand-up, who died in 1994 aged 32, is comedy's Christ?

He has certainly risen again at this year's Edinburgh. The hit Fringe show Bill Hicks: Slight Return, in which Hicks is brought back to life in 2006 by writer and actor Chas Early, is back at the Pleasance. At the Dome, Hicks's childhood friend and one-time comedy partner Dwight Slade is staging three seminars, entitled Bill & Dwight, in which he reminisces about their relationship.

Dwight Slade

opium and afghanistan





This is an interesting report about afghanistan "as an empty space" - "the prerfect neo-colonial state of the 21st century"

More on my blog

14.8.06

draft resolutions and other skulduggery



Axis of Oil latest Schnews

also includes new update on "Lord of Poverty" - Bono's latest plot...

the dark side of scandwegians...

Here is Chomsky on Israel, Palestine and Lebanon in a recent interview

According to a Downing Street Spokesman, uncritically parroted by the BBC "nobody could have worked harder" than Tony Blair to achieve a cessation of hostilities in the Middle East. Apparently the Prime minister was not actually on holiday in Barbados at the time, but has been working flat out trying to stop the conflict... by allowing American weapons to pass through British airports for the Israelis to use for "peaceful" bunker busting missions.

According to Seymour Hersch writing in the New Yorker... the Bush administration and (by extension the Blair Governorship) knew about and were involved in the planning of the current Israeli war against Lebanon. "“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”"

New Rulers of the World, a Documentary by John Pilger... Here

"'Global economy' is a modern Orwellian term. On the surface, it is instant financial trading, mobile phones, McDonald's, Starbucks, holidays booked on the net. Beneath this gloss, it is the globalisation of poverty, a world where most human beings never make a phone call and live on less than two dollars a day, where 6,000 children die every day from diarrhea because most have no access to clean water."

Fisk

11.8.06

terror plot

Interesting story about the alledged terror plot from the Indian Express

This warning not to jump on the skeptics "armchair generals" bandwagon:
"So why is the case that, while accepting this general principle that our policies have bred murderous rage and resentment, the first reaction of so many to events such as today's is immediately to assume governmental conspiracy (CIA, MI6, Mossad, Neocons, whatever)? Armchair Generals are bad enough and many of us have had to sit across a pub table from some stocky dullard who thinks a shelf groaning with Andy McNab or Tom Clancy makes him James Bond's best mate. But the left seems to breed its own kind of pub bore equivalent. The guy (and it usually is a guy) who feels able to pronounce immediately that the latest event 'definitely' looks wrong, suspicious, or is 'clearly' a false flag operation. I've lost count of the number of times, after an atrocity or an 'atrocity prevented', some blogger or poster to board or box has sat back, filled their pipe and said sagely, 'looks like psy-ops to me'. No evidence is required and challenges are met with accusations of naivete and mental subservience to The Man, or simply a self-satisfied cui bono? - as if responding in Latin is too enigmatically clever not to be right."



And this skeptical look at the alledged terror plot:
"'As the police investigation into the terror plot unfolded yesterday, the main focus of attention was on two brothers who lived in a semi-detached ex-council house in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Their home in Walton Drive was raided by police in the early hours. ………..As word of their arrest spread, residents spoke of how the pair, both in their early 20s, seemed to shun local mosques and become insular after frequenting a local Islamic bookshop.
Phil Redfern, 26, a local builder and former acquaintance, said: "They used to come out and play football, but as they got older they got very secluded.

Frequenting bookshops - now that is a sign of a true terrorist. They shunned local mosques but went to the bookstore instead! Bookshops are not noted for their sermons or prayer services and tend to be rather cramped for that kind of thing. Perhaps Mr Redfern knows how the preaching is different in a bookshop compared to the local mosque, but I have my doubts.'
"

10.8.06

democracy, labour and lies



MPs can't even get into to parliament to raise the concerns of constituents over the government's failure to call for an immediate cease-fire for the Israeli/Lebanon conflict.

resignations and rebellion in the Labour party

any idea why it is still called the Labour Party?

Britain has some of the worst working conditions in Europe. Britons work the longest hours in Europe. The prime minister continues to insist on an opt-out from the EU directive that limits the normal working week to 48 hours, and an exemption from the EU directive providing the same protection for agency workers as for their staff counterparts - a provision of particular importance for women. British workers cannot make a case for unfair dismissal until they have worked for an employer for a year - if sacked after 11 months they have no right of redress. If workers take legal industrial action, they have no protection - whatever the rights of their case - from being collectively dismissed after eight weeks.

Trade union recognition rights are still denied to the 6 million employees - nearly a quarter of the workforce - who work in companies with 20 or fewer employees. This exemption of small firms from most employment protection legislation is not found elsewhere. Yet it is in these small firms, which constitute 85% of Britain's employers, that protection is most needed. These workplaces often have the worst health and safety records. And they employ a greater proportion of women and black people, on lower pay and subject to more discrimination. This exclusion really matters when Britain is the only country in the EU with no proper inspectorate of working conditions, yet prosecutions of employers are rare and there is no other mechanism for the exploited to seek protection.

But it is part of a strategy to appease business and make the country attractive to foreign investment. In 1997 Tony Blair promised that "the changes that we propose would leave British law the most restrictive on trade unions in the western world". The government's own trade and investment website takes the boast further: "UK law does not oblige employers to provide a written employment contract," and "Recruitment costs in the UK are low ... and the law governing the conduct of employment agencies is less restrictive in the UK."

Easy hiring and firing is seen by the government as a major selling point for companies, whatever the costs for workers in insecurity and powerlessness.

But it is a counter-productive policy. Even leaving aside the obvious injustices of the current approach and Britain's defiance of the International Labour Organisation convention, it has not improved productivity or competitiveness. Recent figures show that British productivity is far behind that of our closest competitors - 13% lower than Germany and 21% behind France. Moreover, productivity in the UK has been raised almost wholly by shedding labour - arguably the worst failing of the British economy over the past three decades. And we have slipped down the competitiveness league from fourth a decade ago to 11th now.

by former cabinet minister Michael Meacher writing in the Guardian

8.8.06

I am in blood
stepp'd in so far that,
should I wade no more,
returning were as tedious
as go o'er.

Macbeth