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Counterpoint: Hits from the Left!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Apologies 

Currently suffering: ABD syndrome (All But Dissertation)

Will be taking a short break from posting until I can get back on track.


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Monday, July 21, 2003

Bush is a Coward. . . 

Jack Balkwill is the one who took his place in Vietnam, so he should know.

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The New Age of Pre-emptive War 

Many fears are beginning to take shape as more data is collected from the North Korean border. Krypton 85, a gas emitted in the production of plutonium, has been detected in increasing levels, but not from NK’s existing plant. U.S. satellites monitoring the nuclear plant at Yongbyon have recorded data which suggests that the gasses blew across the Korean peninsula from an unidentified source.

Many officials believed that dictatorships and military governments would be taking on very new behaviour with America and the UK setting a precedent for pre-emptive war. North Korea, it seems, is ushering in the new age.

read more: NYTimes
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Update: David Kelly 

In a concerted effort to deflect heat from Kelly's death, the Blair administration is laying full responsibility on the BBC. Labour MP Gerald Kaufman said: "None of this would have happened if it had not been for the BBC story. The BBC has behaved deplorably and there are serious implications for its future." The deplorable behaviour Kaufman is referring to, of course, is BBC's refusal to reveal an unnamed source. The 'implications' he speaks of, tighter gov't control. Even opposition Tories are implicating the BBC in Kelly's death suggesting that if the BBC had made a statement identifying Dr. Kelly that he would be alive today.

Defending Kelly's anonymity, however, former BBC editor Rob Liddle said: "It's an absolutely fundamental tenet. Who would trust any journalist if he caved in to pressure from the government to root out their source?"

More than being a matter of trust and accountability, I suspect that this has more to do with power. The BBC struck a major blow against the Labour party, severely damaging their integrity when they suggested that the governement was inflating evidence against Iraq. The government wants to know who the whistleblowers are -- by keeping sources anonymous the government is unable to directly attack the credibility of the source and is forced to confront accusations head on. This marks a decisive loss in the propaganda war.

Suggesting that it was the gov't and not the BBC who fuelled public interest and controversy over this issue, professor Alastair Hay, a friend of Dr. Kelly, said that "David was a bit like a Ping-Pong ball. The government was out to establish that it had integrity and it was going to do anything and everything to ensure that its integrity was not going to be called into question."

With the tragic end of Dr. Kelly, civil servants may be less inclined to speak to reporters

read more: Reuters

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Sunday, July 20, 2003

BBC Source Commits Suicide  



British scientist David Kelly, the BBC's source for inside information about the 'beefing up' of intelligence about Iraqi weapons, was found near his Oxfordshire home on Thursday with his wrists cut. He was 59 years old.

The BBC issued an apology saying that they were "profoundly sorry that his involvement as [their] source has ended so tragically."

PM Tony Blair took the news in stride saying that "You've got to have broad shoulders in this job...I've got them," in response to the question of whether he had contemplated resigning.

Kelly's family said that "events over recent weeks have made David's life intolerable." No doubt such controversy as between the British government and the BBC over WMD would have enormous pressure on someone like Mr. Kelly caught in the middle.

Nevertheless, the fact that the man allegedly responsible for so much turmoil in the government is now dead will be too tempting for some...conspiracy theorists will be coming out of the woodwork for this one.
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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Are We Being Lied To About Coalition Casualties In Iraq? 

If www.lunaville.org is correct in its assessment the current number of American casualties is three times the numbers published by the mainstream media.

Media has consistently reported since May 2nd that 33 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. This, in fact, is the only the number of US soldiers killed in some form of combat. The actual numbers are in the mid-eighties. Sadly, many of those men and women accounted for in this discrepancy have died as a result of accidents - accidental explosions, vehicle accidents, helicopter crashes, and drownings. Six soldiers were even killed by what the military has vaguely described as "non-hostile" gunshots.

This bleak occupation is now having dire psychological effects on the men and women stationed in Iraq. With their tour of duty being extended, and daily facing the prospect of ambush or accident, some soldiers have begun to lose hope. Commanders now estimate that of the 85 deaths since May 2nd, approximately 5 of those were suicides.

I don't think Bush anticipated these losses (we all know that he believed coalition forces were going to be met with cheering and celebration) but how much sympathy could you expect from a man who went AWOL to avoid fulfilling his own tour of duty?

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Friday, July 18, 2003

State-of-the-Union Address Ignores CIA Intel 

source: Globe and Mail

Allegedly, during the composition of the controvercial state-of-the-union address, there was a debate over how far information could be stretched and still remain close to the truth. This news comes from CIA Director George Tenet who testified at a closed meeting Wednesday about what went on behind the scenes. In that testimony Tenet was also said to have named the official responisble for doctoring the speech, though confidentiality requires that the names remain unpublished.

Senator Dick Durbin, present at Tenet's testimony, told Good Morning America that Tenet "told us who the person was who was insistent on putting this language in, which the CIA knew to be incredible, this language about uranium shipment from Africa."

Using dismissal tactics characteristic of the Bush Administration, White House spokesman Scott McClellan -- taking the "You're either with us..." tack -- said of Durbin's statements: "It's not surprising, coming from someone who was in a rather small minority in Congress who did not support the action we took."

Of course, McClellan would like us to forget the fact that Congress voted a majority favouring the invasion of Iraq on the assumption that the information presented to them was credible and that Saddam was in possession of WMD. Since this turned out to be a misconstrual of the facts (*ehem* blatant lie) majority support in Congress no longer holds any water.

Nevertheless, McClellan continued to comment saying "The whole idea that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was not real was something that was never under debate previously. This is an attempt to continue to rewrite history" Whether or not this is the case Mr. Tenet was eventually blamed by Condoleezza Rice, and (last week) accepted responsibility for the inclusion of the faulty intelligence.

Senator Durbin, apparently ill-contented with Tenet's admission, argued that we should be more concerned with uncovering whoever it is in the Whitehouse "who was hell-bent on misleading the American people." "All roads lead back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Durbin concluded.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Comments Error Fixed 

A previous error with the comments link has been fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003


He's Either Incredibly Stupid... 

*cough*...so now Bush is telling us that the reason the US invaded Iraq is because Saddam didn't let UN inspectors into the country.

Responding to questions during a photo opportunity at the Whitehouse Bush said of Saddam: "we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region."

This might explain why Bush was so opposed to giving the inspectors any more time...

read the official transcript

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PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST? 

I thought I would harp on the whole prospect of a Palestinian state a bit more...

Blogger Martin Lindeskog at EGO, responding to a comment I left on one of his posts, pointed out that he has, on a number of occasions, criticized president Bush; at one particular time for saying:

"I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict."

Lindeskog interprets this to be a statement of support for the creation of a new terrorist state. He calls it a terrorist state insofar as he feels, I presume, that the majority of Palestinians support Arafat and therefore terrorism as well. Lindeskog asks: "Why should Israel cave in to the demands by the terrorists? I don't think that you should negotiate with the enemy." He then lists a few well-written articles arguing against the creation of a Palestinian state -- the titles speak for themselves: "Don't Reward Terror with Palestinian State"; "Israel Has A Moral Right To Its Life: Why Reason and Justice are on Israel's Side".

I point these out because Lindeskog's approach is representative of countless others who are trying to understand what is happening in the Middle-East. Critics of the "peace plan" dismiss it as extortion: a land-for-peace deal that is immoral.

Brook and Schwartz, in the article linked to above, try to shock us by citing the death toll Israeli citizens: 400 Israeli civilians have died from terrorist attacks so far. Apparantly, on a per capita scale this amounts to six times the number of people claimed by the Sept. 11 attack. Making this comparison is undoubtedly designed to conjure up painful memories and incite us to try and magnify the emotion, but what is striking about the tally is that avoids making any comparisons with the suffering of Palestinians.

If you do a straight numbers comparison beginning about Sept 2000 you see a very different picture. Over the past two and a half years Israel has sufferred 814 deaths and approximately 5603 casualties (includes security forces). Palestinians, on the other hand, have sufferred 2412 deaths, and 23 212 total casualties, more than one quarter of which are caused by bomb fragments and shrapnel.

Rarely is it mentioned that the state of Israel was imposed on the Middle-East in 1948; rarely do we read that Palestinians have been living in exile since they were evicted from their homes to accomodate this imposition; and rarely do we read that they are now living in what amount to concentration camps policed and humiliated by Israeli soldiers. All that we hear are tales of bloodthirsty zealots who will not stop terrorizing Israel until they have bombed it from the face of the earth.

Reality, in fact, is far more benign: far from any desire to inflict terror on Israeli citizens, most Palestinians want what we all want: to earn a living, raise a family, celebrate holidays, and live to see their grandchildren. This may be a generalization, but it is a far more accurate and helpful stereotype than the assumption that all Palestinians are terrorists.

I wonder, how is a refusal to negotiate supposed to help end the killing?


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BEMUSED 



What strange creatures we are
To be the only beast capable of wanton destruction
And yet to cry "foul" when Disease claims a child
Or old age subdues its victim
Indeed, whenever Nature imposes itself in a manner that does not comform
To the laws that Man has imposed on this World
We take, we consume, and lust for more
But mourn the loss of a Trinket!

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Saturday, July 12, 2003


BIG OIL KILLS 

Wasting energy and fuel has consequences more terrible than most of us imagine. We allow our cars to idle while we wait to pick up a friend or family member from work; we choose to drive to the grocery store instead of walk; we drive SUV's and sports cars which can consume four times as much fuel or more as smaller cars because we are obsessed with status. All the while we imagine the effects of such wasteage to be trivial, benign. But our choices have a trickle down effect that ends in blood. In many places in the world, Nigeria being a prominent example, oil has been the source of unimaginable suffering, and sometimes bitter conflict. Peaceful protests are stifled by military force --- the cries of the innocent unheard by those of us complicit in their torment.

Years ago, Royal Shell Nigeria (the same oil giant that now boldly splashes images of Shell employees working with indigenous peoples trying to preserve communities and endangered environments) was indirectly responsible for the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 others who were peacefully protesting for the rights of the Ogoni people who's lands, once used to hunt and grow crops, were covered by a thick crust of oil by products. The Nigerian goverment, supplied with funds and arms by Shell Nigeria, thought it best to violently crush any opposition to Shell's interests in Nigeria in order to keep the money flowing.

Elsewhere, about the same time, a village chief and his two sons were dragged before a horrified community and set on fire by the military to send an important message: economic interests trump human rights.

Oil companies love military dicatorshipts: they are able to maintain control. . .and 8 years after the execution of peaceful Ogoni activist Ken Saro Wiwa, little has changed in Nigeria

find out more here

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Friday, July 11, 2003

Africa's HIV Babies Given Hope 

in Globe and Mail

**UPDATED - see bottom**

"Johannesburg — For Stephanie Jones, the babies offer proof — 300 of them born during the past 18 months at Coronation Hospital in a rough area of Johannesburg.

All of their mothers are HIV-positive, but the babies were given the drug nevirapine at birth, and today fewer than 9 per cent of them appear to have the virus that causes AIDS. Without treatment, about 25 per cent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers have the virus.

"There's this sense when you talk about HIV, that 'Oh, there's nothing we can do.' But there is so much you can do for an HIV-infected person," Dr. Jones, a gentle, unassuming 27-year-old, said yesterday, soon after U.S. President George W. Bush left her city on his tour of Africa."

read more . . .

. . . of course, a year's dose of nevirapine costs about US $5700.00 which makes it absolutely necessary that governments and NGO's step in to provide the necessary assistance. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Botswana to adopt Africa's most aggressive approach to dealing with the epidemic by providing funding to cover the cost of providing drugs to every infected person.

"Getting kids into treatment makes such a huge difference in the quality of their lives, and it's so frustrating, you know it's out there and you could be doing it," Dr. Jones said about the antiretrovirals that keep HIV-positive people healthy. The only challenge, she finds, is to make the drugs accessible.

"You can take away the hopelessness," she said.

*new*
In the Globe article linked to above, President Bush reportedly promised millions in new aid to Botswana (a portion of the 15 billion allocated for Africa) which desperately needs it to combat the AIDS epidemic. I thought, for once, here was an act which did not appear to be undermined by some form of treachery. Now it seems that the new funding will go, not to the purchase of more medicines, but to cover the increasing cost of the AIDS medicines which is being driven up by patent hyperprotections that the Bush Administration simultaneously promised to the pharmaceutical companies.
It's brilliant really: Bush concedes to the activist communities by offering further aid to Africa which acts as a funnel to redirect American tax dollars into the hands of the drug companies.

read more . . .

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Thursday, July 10, 2003

SOUNDING OFF 



Yesterday the BBC quoted Donald Rumsfeld saying that "the coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light - through the prism of our experience on 9/11."

He continued saying that "the fact that the facts change from time to time with respect to specifics does not surprise me or shock me at all; it is all to be expected. It is part of the intelligence world we live in."

Yet in constructing the case for war against Iraq in November of 2002 Rumsfeld said in frustration: "There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons. We all know that. A trained ape knows that."
Sure enough, after the UN reported that they "have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s” Rumsfeld said (addressing the US Senate) “I don’t believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons.”

I don't know what's worse: that politicians have stopped employing any tact whatsoever in delivering their lies, or that people are actually buying this garbage!

read the lies here


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A Dose of Irony

Today's issue of the National Post reports that the U.S. has been putting pressure on South Africa's president Mbeki for "failing to publicly condemn Mr. Mugabe's abuse of the rule of law, murder of political opponents, harassment of independent judges and electoral fraud."

Forget Nigerian amnesty. If America truly sets the standard for the rest of the world it would seem that all President Mugabe needs to do is deny each of these allegations, grant massive tax breaks to the existing wealthy and political allies, and start a war against a more notorious criminal. In no time public polls will be publishing record highs in public support for his administration.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

America's Political Lies

...yeah! what he said!


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BUSH'S STAGED PHOTO-OP INCITES ANGER IN AFRICA

In a resounding moment comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall, President Bush took bold and revolutionary steps toward a new world order yesterday by condemning the American slave trade. . .

*cough*

Or maybe this was all just a clever bid to diffuse Harare's accusations that the American stance against Mugabe is "driven by racism". If that was the case, then his efforts would have been better helped had he not herded local residents into detainment before delivering his speech.

Bush came to Goree to tour the red-brick Slave House, where Africans were kept in shackles before being shipped across a perilous sea to a lifetime of servitude.

[There] he gave an eloquent speech about the horrors of slavery, standing at a podium under a sizzling sun near a red-stone museum, topped by cannon pointing out to the sea.


But not before residents of Goree, had been taken to a football ground on the other side of the island early in the morning and held there until Bush had departed, around midday.

"It's slavery all over again," fumed one father-of-four, who did not want to give his name. "It's humiliating. The island was deserted."

* read the rest here

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Sunday, July 06, 2003

US and the ICC cont'd

In Hulsman's article (below) about the US's opposition to ratifying the ICC treaty the conclusion ran as follows:

"The United States has proposed a reasonable compromise--placing the U.N. Security Council, as the ultimate authorizing body, in a position to determine whether ICC investigation of U.N. peacekeepers is appropriate. If other nations truly believe the international system can enforce justice through the ICC, they should not object to giving the international institution charged with protecting international peace a say in cases that come before it."

I can only imagine Hulsman snickering as he wrote these words. The Bush administration has made it abundantly clear that it is prepared to disregard the UN whenever it becomes apparant that the UN will not dutifully follow along with American policy. How are we supposed to believe that the US genuinely desires for the UN to act as the "ultimate authorizing body" when they ever so recently engaged in a smear campaign depicting the UN as irrelevant? The only thing reasonable about this proposed compromise is the obvious manner in which the US is going about its underhanded business: the reason that they wish to see the UN as the "ultimate authorizing body" is to ensure that they can wield their VETO in all its glory.

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Friday, July 04, 2003

US and the ICC

The ICC (International Criminal Court) poses an interesting problem to national governments: if a government chooses to ratify the ICC treaty then its citizens and officials can be taken before the international court for crimes against humanity, that is, war crimes, torture and so on. Previously, and this is still the case for those countries which have not ratified the treaty, perpetrators of atrocities could kill with immunity basically by granting themselves amnesty in another country. The ICC, with its universal jurisdiction, is designed to curb that problem.

While this seems like an effective solution, the U.S. sees itself in a tight spot. They feel that if they were to ratify the treaty that they would be making themselves vulnerable to their enemies insofar as U.S. officials could be brought before the court for carrying out activities that they now conduct with impunity. President Bill Clinton, for example, might find himself before the court orchestrating something as innocent as the destruction of the water distribution system in Iraq, condemning hundreds of thousands to disease, starvation and death. It is conceivable that someone might also take issue with Bush junior's illegal war and send him before the court. Clearly this is unacceptable...

The following articles represent a cross-section of the arguments both for and against the U.S. ratifying the ICC treaty:

"Trials for 'Enemies of All Mankind'? Count the U.S. Out"
Reed Brody - L.A. Times
**related article

The Right Way To End the ICC Impasse
by John C. Hulsman, Ph.D. and Brett D. Schaefer
--Hulsman and Schaefer clearly articulate the reasons supporting America's opposition to the ICC.

U.S. should ratify International Criminal Court
Dr. Andy Knight
--Dr. Knight discusses why the US should ratify the ICC treaty given its professed moral stance on crimes against humanity, and he explains why the US has nothing to fear from the ICC.

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