November 30, 2004

US Using WMD In Falluja?

Well according to Baghdad Burning they may well be with a large number of suspicious deaths reported. Maggies Pants certainly wouldn't put it past them. It seems that nothing is beyond American forces right now - all sense of perspective has been lost and anything that moves is considered a legitimate target. Not that someone has to be moving for them to be a target in US forces eye it seems - as Maggies Pants noted the other day, if someone is still breathing, it's ok to shoot them. It's somewhat ironic that the only WMDs used in Iraq are American - cluster bombs, depleted uranium shells, bunker busters and now - allegedly - chemical weapons. If this doesn't dispel the myth that this war is about global security then nothing will. It's about money and oil. Get it yet?

November 29, 2004

England's Cricket Shame

Protesters outside the Zimbabwe v England One Day International

It is, as they say, just not Cricket. England's cricketers are currently in Zimbabwe playing for the 'Robert Mugabe PR Trophy' - also know as the 'let's see how many ways the English team can help to legitimise Mugabe's fascist, murderous, brutal dictatorship' tour. Well for a start they can play his sham of a cricket team in which all the best players have been kicked out for not supporting his government. Yep done that. Then they can then appear on TV with the patron of the Cricket Board - a Mugabe appointee. Yep done that. Finally, perhaps they can give Mugabe the biggest coup of all, and have Michael Vaughan shake the dictator's hand. Haven't done that yet, but Maggies Pants wouldn't bet against it. If and when that shameful event happens, perhaps Vaughan should take a leaf out of the Jack Straw book of diplomacy and bigotry and claim it was too dark to see him. Of course, the team should never have been in Zimbabwe in the first place. No tour should have been arranged, the players should never have agreed to go and the government should have demanded that it did not happen. Mugabe is systematically killing off half the country. It's genocide and Maggies Pants doesn't use the word lightly. This tour is every bit as disgraceful as those to South Africa in the 1980s. Just as those tours did, this one supports and legitimises a brutal and represive regime. Indeed, the only person who comes out with any credit is Graham Thorpe who refused to travel on moral grounds. It's a shame that more of the team didn't take that principled stand. Never again should the England cricket team be forced to support a murderous regime such as Robert Mugabe's

Blunket's Days Look Numbered

Far be it from Maggies Pants to suggest that a sense of schadenfreude greets the news that David Blunket is in deep trouble. First he embarrasses the government by contesting the parentage of (possibly) his illegitimate child with his former lover Kimberly Quinn - probably a first for a politician that one! Then he's caught up in allegations of sleaze. His accusers say that he used his position to aid the visa application Mrs Quinn's nanny. Blunket says he only looked over the papers to check that they were correct. He's also accused of sharing confidential security information with Mrs Quinn, giving her a first-class train ticket which had been assigned to him, using bodyguards at taxpayers' expense and using a government chauffeur to drive her around. At worst, if any of it is true, Blunket has to go. At best, if Blunket is telling the truth, he's still a liability to the government. The press smell blood and the vultures are circling. If he were to leave, few people would shed a tear. Blunket is, after all, the most authoritarian home secretary in living memory. He's presided over a set of security legislation that has stripped individual freedoms and turned the country into a virtual police state. An overstatement? Not if you think that the Police (and particularly untrained Community Support Officers) now have the power to stop, search and arrest anybody, anywhere, without suspicion under new counter-Terrorism powers. Indeed, the powers are greater than at any time during WWII. Still, there is one benefit to all this - whatever the result of the current scandal, it should at least have ended any lingering hopes Blunket had of becoming PM one day.

November 27, 2004

Video Shows US Murder of Iraqi

US marine murders unarmed Iraqi at point blank range

This video shows the murder of an unarmed Iraqi - probably an 'insurgent' injured in the fighting in Falluja. The footage was captured by an embedded American journalist. Click the image above to view video in pop-up window. 2mb Windows Media.

Two US marines assess the injured man:

Marine 1: "He's still alive, he's faking he's dead"
Marine 2: "Yeah he's breathing. He's fucking faking he's dead"

A marine walks up to the injured Iraqi and shoots him dead at point blank range. "He's dead now" he says.

With thanks to falluja.us for the raw footage.

November 26, 2004

Ethnic Pitch Stretches Credulity

It's the only way to get rid of the vampires
Michael Howard will today make a keynote speech on ethnicity and racism - but it is hard to believe that this Tory party really means anything it says on the subject. This is the party who for the last five years have demonised asylum seekers and taken a hard-line xenophobic attitude towards European integration. They're the party who want to introduce quotas on immigration and who, not so long ago, deselected a prospective member of Parliament because he was black. They're a party with virtually no black or Asian candidates, let alone MPs. The opportunist in Michael Howard may think that there are Muslim votes up for grabs post-Iraq. Indeed, there may well be but surely they'll be going to the Liberal Democrats or even Respect before they go to the Tories? Faced with extremists from the BNP and UKIP, successive Tory leaders have chosen to lurch to the right, not the mainstream, on issues such as immigration. One speech won't change that and it won't fool the voting public either.

November 25, 2004

Dick, I Never Knew You Cared

The Peculiar One brings us this rather disturbing image of US VP Dick Cheney. I'm not sure if, like his boss, he also had a bad tailor, or if he was just really pleased to have been re-elected? Either way I'm not letting Big Dick come anywhere near our venerable ex-Prime Minister!

Cheney, Dick Cheney ma'am

Blair Stokes Up The Fear

One thing stood out in Monday's Queen's Speech - fear is going to play a major part in Labour's election strategy. Principally the fear of crime and the fear of terrorism. Additional anti-terrorism powers and a new serious crime squad (SOCA) are being touted by New Labour, together with the mooted jury-less trials for terror suspects. It seems likely that the strategy will be based, in part at least, on that used to such great effect by the neo-conservatives in the US. As Bush discovered in the recent Presidential election, fear is a powerful weapon in ensuring incumbents win elections. After all, if the public believe that they are in mortal peril from bands of marauding fundamentalists they're less likely to 'change horses in mid-stream'. Yet there are key differences between the US and UK public that may mean this strategy backfires on our Tony. Firstly, the UK public has never bought into the 'war on terrorism' in the same way that the US public has. Secondly, Tony's attempts to link the Iraq war and the fight against terrorism, and hence build up the fear, went spectacularly wrong. Nobody believes him - so it takes a leap of faith to believe that we're under direct threat from terrorists in the UK too. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, negative messages have rarely worked in the UK. Polls show that people want ideas - for healthcare, education, transport and the economy. Give us those ideas, and let us believe in the power of hope, not fear.

November 24, 2004

Did Bush Steal 2004 Too?

The Blue Lemur and Thom Hartmann both report anecdotal and statistical discrepancies between exit poll data and returned results in the 2004 Presidential Elections. According to Hartmann these discrepancies appear to be greatest in states that have electronic voting machines - although Blue Lemur did correct an earlier story that backed up this claim. However, the fact is that the exit polls and returned results in key states do not match. And by quite some distance. Did the electronic voting machines, which have no paper trail, return more votes for Bush than he really gained? Although statistical anomalies may point to this, it is still rumour and conjecture at the moment. What is criminal is that Bush was ever elected in the first place. The systematic targeting of black voters with the aim of disenfranchising them put Bush into power, when the majority of the US electorate did not want him. How the world has changed as a result. Bush clearly stole the 2000 election. The question is - did he manage the same in 2004?

November 23, 2004

Bush Calls Yanukovych Black

Yushchenko supporters demonstrate in Kiev's main Sq. They have vowed to stay there until their candidate is declared the winner

President Bush's least favourite candidate - Viktor Yanukovych - has claimed victory in the Ukrainian Presidential election. Or at least cheated his way to victory - observers are widely reporting that the election has not met normal standards of fairness and that many abuses have taken place. Stolen election - sound familiar anyone? It's no surprise that the White House would like to see Yanukovych's rival, Viktor Yushchenko, to win. He's a pro-Western capitalist who'll open up the Ukrainian economy and develop closer relations with the US and EU. Yanukovych on the other hand is an authoritarian backed by the Kremlin. While the people of Ukraine would surely be better off steering clear of the worrying authoritarian trend developing in Russia, it's a bit rich of the White House to accuse anyone of stealing an election. 15,000 disenfranchised Floridians might think so too.

November 22, 2004

Invasion of Iran Starts Here

You'd better believe that if the outgoing Secretary of State is building up the pressure on Iran that the neo-cons in the White House are gunning for Tehran to be next on the hit list. Iran may have made concessions this week, including the suspension of its enrichment programme but WMDs or lack thereof make little or no difference to the Bush administration. Their stated aim is to expedite regime change in so called 'rogue states' and expand American hegemony in strategically important middle east countries. Moreover, with Condoleeze Rice moving into Colin Powell's position there's yet another hawk in a top level job. If I were a civilian in Tehran, Damascus or Amman right now, I'd be building a very deep concrete bunker!

November 21, 2004

US Murders Worshippers

Many thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) - somewhere between 14454 and 16604, or as many as 100,000 depending on which analysis you believe. Whatever the true figure - and it'll be many thousands more once the genocide in Falluja has been added into the equation - it's disturbing to think that the US many actually be targeting Iraqi civilians. In the latest incident, last Friday, eye witness accounts report that US and Iraqi National Guard soldiers entered a Mosque in Baghdad and sprayed the place with bullets - killing at least four worshippers. It's one thing when US "precision guided munitions" perhaps aren't quite as precise as they'd like us to believe. No bomb dropped from 60,000ft is ever going to be precise - that's nothing more than a PR myth. However, its quite another when civilians are being wiped out at close quarters. It's genocide, nothing less. Has the US lost all sight of what they claimed they went there to do? Wasn't it about liberation, democracy, freedom? Or perhaps security and oil are more important than all of that?

November 19, 2004

The Real Falluja

Images taken from "Falluja In Pictures"

Operation Iraqi Liberation OIL

Fox Lives, Nobody Cares

The Hunting With Dogs bill has finally been passed using the Parliament Act meaning that fox hunting will be banned from February 2005 - but does the general public care? Sure, there's a lot of passion of both sides. Those opposed to fox hunting point to the obvious barbarity of the sport. Foxes do get butchered; it is pretty cruel. Those few people who enjoy hunting say that livelihoods will be ruined. Yet, it's an issue that probably wouldn't even come in the top 10 most important for the majority of voters. Shouldn't we be spending more time discussing how to improve our failing education, health and transport systems? Why all the media coverage then - because Tony Blair couldn't make his bloody mind up. He wanted hunting banned because it's in the manifesto but realising that such a commitment meant little to him, he backtracked. For all his obfuscation Tony has ended up with exactly what he didn't want - the bill coming into effect just before the next general election.

November 18, 2004

Je T'Aime, Mai Non Je T'Aime!

Group hug now - come on now Tony and Jacques can't we just all learn to love each other? Well maybe the French could learn to love us if we weren't a bunch of warmongering hypocrites who shit on international law any time our masters, the United States, demand it. Still, I'm sure there'll be many public displays of affection when Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac meet today in London. Jacques described it as "l'amour violent" - although, frankly, comparing your relationship to a Johnny Halliday song is just about as offensive as it gets! In truth of course Blair and Chirac hold completely different views of the world. Tony Blair believes in regime change, pre-emptive wars and a strongly submissive relationship with America. Chriac believes in mulilateralism, international law and a strong European Union. Vive la France!

November 17, 2004

Tom Watson, Cheapskate!

Oh deary me Mr. Tom Watson MP, did you forget to pay the bills this month or are you really that popular? I'm guessing, looking at (New) Labour's ratings in the polls recently, it ain't the latter. Sort it out Tom!

November 16, 2004

We're Not Educated

A worrying lack of grammar to match the size of the waste on there two red-neck Bush supporters over at We're Not Sorry. Uncovered, as always, by the ever brilliant Councillor Bob Piper.

November 15, 2004

Smoking Ban Good News

The government is preparing to introduce a white paper that will ban smoking in public places including offices but not in pubs who do not offer "prepared food" and private clubs who vote to keep smoking. While not the blanket 'public places' ban many people want it is certainly a good move. A recent survey estimated that more than 40% of deaths in some poorer areas are smoking related, with at least 10% of those 'passive smoking' deaths. With so many lives at stake it is worth the inevitable 'nanny-state' label if this offensively high death rate is to be reduced further.

November 14, 2004

Naughty Boris


You really are a bad boy aren't you Boris - sleeping with a woman outside the sanctity of your marriage under God blah blah blah. So Boris got sacked for getting his leg over. As if it's the first time a politician has done that. Or if you believe Michael Howard, not for getting his leg over but for not being entirely honest about getting his leg over. Not that somebody's private life matters to Howard, oh no, except in an election year when he's bleated on and on about the new Tory "honesty". Like anyone will believe that one anyway! Truth is, Boris is the most popular, most liked Tory out there and Howard, it would seem, has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. A complete bumbling buffoon Boris may be, but he's good on HIGNFY and he doesn't give me the creeps unlike the current Tory leader. If I lived in Henly not Hackney I might even vote for him! I say might, I'd rather catch ebola and crap out my putrified organs than vote Tory, but it's still a "might" and that's about as good as it gets for Tories seeking my vote.

November 12, 2004

Arafat Death Will Change Little


Yasser Arafat will be buried today amid renewed calls for the Israel-Palestine peace talks to resume. The truth is though - nothing is likely to change in the near future. There is a deep responsibility on the Israelis now to resume substantive talks; for three years Israel has used Yasser Arafat as an excuse for refusing to come to the negotiating table. Imprisoned in Ramallah, often without electricity, communications or water, Arafat was still blamed as the principal reason for the continued Intifada and suicide bombings. Whatever the truth of that claim - and I personally believe none of it - with Arafat gone Israel's excuse has disappeared. Let's face it, the ONLY way that peace is going to be achieved is through negotiation. Yet, it seems that Ariel Sharon is hell bent on grabbing as much land as he can with his illegal wall before any negotiations ever take place. Will he come to the table and discuss peace or will he stall and wait and see if the new Palestinian leadership will cow-tow to his demands more easily than the last? I suspect the later will be true.

November 11, 2004

Was It Worth It Tony?


Tony Blair begins a two day visit to his bestest mate in the whole wide world tomorrow. Having desperately wanted him to lose in the American Presidential election, Tony Blair is under intense pressure to come back with something more substantive than a slap on the back from his mate George Bush. With almost the whole Labour Party, neigh the whole country, united in its utter hatred of the lying warmonger some movement on the Middle East peace process must happen. Enough of Tony Blair - it's now George Bush's turn to deliver for the UK! So how about a firm commitment from Bush to pressure Israel to begin talks with the Palestinians? Or perhaps a commitment from the US to matching UK targets for emissions reduction? Or maybe, just maybe, some honesty about exactly how many "son of star wars" missiles the US really wants to put on British soil. Any of this likely to happen? Of course not. It's the most one-sided special relationship since Jan-Erik Olsson robbed Sveriges Kreditbank in 1973! Blair is political capital for the Republicans and nothing more. He was a convenient electioneering slogan but that's the neo-con right for you. War, money, religion, bigotry, Tony Blair... all convenient for gaining power, ultimate power.

November 08, 2004

Do Something About Darfur


Why isn't the International Community doing anything about Darfur? The people of that highly impoverished region of Sudan are being systematically ethnically cleansed. It's genocide, plain and simple. Why aren't they doing anything - because the UN is paralysed and there's no military-strategic importance in Sudan for the US to intervene. Of course, if 60% of Sudan's oil was bought by the US, and not China, then it might be a little different of course. As usual the US is the global policeman, but only when it gets a good salary for the job. If ever peacekeepers were needed in a region then it's Darfur. While the massacre is not on the scale of Rwanda a decade ago, the US and UN are doing exactly the same as they did in that desperate country - NOTHING AT ALL. Does the life of hundreds of thousands of poor, defenseless Africans mean anything to the world? Sadly, it seems that they do not.

November 04, 2004

George Bush's Responsibility


I am devastated that George Bush has won the American election. Not because I spent hours campaigning - I didn't - or because I loved John Kerry - I don't - but because of what it means for the rest of the world, the UK included. With a second term, an improved mandate (he never actually had a mandate before, did he?) and both Houses on Congress on his side, George Bush has incredible power. It is up to him and his administration to use that power wisely. The problem is that with no mandate the first Bush administration ruled from the right and demonstrated the neo-con philosophy of using America's power to increase their hegemony over the world. This has got nothing to do with democracy per se - its about power, oil, wealth and military geo-strategic security. On the one hand the first Bush administration was an isolationist one - pulling back from Kyoto, the World Court and the UN. On the other, it was an interventionist one - invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and threatening countless other nations with the same. America now has to decide what it is about - it can't be the global policeman if it is not prepared to play by the same rules as the rest of the world. That's called imperialism. So I call on you George Bush, put your incredible power to good in your second term:
  • Broker a final and lasting peace deal between Israel and Palestine that includes a viable Palestinian state
  • Sign up to Kyoto and voice your commitment that the world's greatest polluter is doing something about global warming
  • Resist calls from your neo-con friends to invade any more countries - they don't have WMDs and you need to build bridges with the Islamic world
  • The 'War on Terror' does not mean that Human Rights can be neglected, offer fair and open trials to suspects currently held in Guantanamo
  • Do something about Third World debt - you want to cancel Iraq's commitments so you don't have to pay for them, how about the rest of the world?
Bush would do well to remember this from Martin Luther King, Jr:, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." You're either with it, or you'll be forgotten by history. On what is a pretty dark day for the world, we have to cling to that hope at least.

November 03, 2004

Oh No - Bush Wins!


As I am writing, at about 9am UK time, it seems as though the election has gone George Bush's way. The American people have had their say and voted for the warmongering simpleton. At least this time it seems that Bush has actually won the election rather than have his Daddy's appointees in the Supreme Court hand it to him while conveniently ignoring the (hundreds) of thousands of black disenfranchised voters. If the election does finally go Bush's way - and at the moment it appears to depend on Ohio where Bush is 100,000 or so votes ahead with 97% counted - it is an absolute disaster for the world. Last time round Bush had absolutely no mandate but took his election 'loss' and ran with it. He and his neo-con cronies have an agenda, which is the use of American military power to extend their hegemony over, particularly oil rich, Middle Eastern states. One can only wonder at what an actual election victory, albeit very close, will mean. If I were an innocent civilian living in Iran, Syrian, Jordan or Saudi Arabia (well maybe not them since they're Bush's best buddies) I'd be ducking for cover right now, as America's 'precision' weaponry is likely to be falling through a residential roof somewhere near you soon. As someone who has lived in the states, albeit briefly, I have never bought into the common held notion here in the UK that all Americans are as stupid as their President. It's a massive constituency, which is not solely full of warmongering red-necks. However, the electorate have broadly bought into Bush's mythical War on Terror. Someone should point out to them that not only can you not wage war on an emotion, but there are in fact no organised armies of Islamic invaders ready to parachute into the Mid-West and butcher all the God-fearin' folks there. Yet, that is exactly what millions of Americans believe and have voted for. It's a sad, sad day for America. It's an even sadder day for the rest of the world.

November 02, 2004

For the sake of the World...


.. vote John Kerry today! If you're an American and are registered to vote, for the love of God (Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, the Dollar or whatever you believe in), get out and vote for John Kerry today. Sure, he can't make up his mind sometimes. Yet diving headlong into bad decisions has hardly served the current regime well has it? Yes, he's a 'liberal' and maybe he will make the rich pay a little more tax - but that's fair isn't it? Surely though, whatever Kerry brings, it has got to be better than an idiot and his lunatic neo-conservative buddies having four more years to start yet more wars and fill their pockets full of even more filthy lucre. Don't be fooled by the mythical war on terrorism - there's no army of Muslim fanatics about to invade America, no matter how much the Bush regime would like to keep you in fear. Don't be scared - head out today and have confidence that building bridges around the world is the best way to confront the greatest of world ills - poverty, inequality, climate change and war. John Kerry is the only man who has the confidence to build those bridges, the other side only want to destroy them.

November 01, 2004

Feb Election Not On


Speculation has mounted in the press that Tony Blair could call a surprise February 2005 election. This speculation has predictably been rubbished by Number 10. The Sunday Times and Telegraph had argued that the Blair government could benefit from a Baghdad Bounce - an approval ratings lift as a result of the upcoming January 2005 Iraqi elections. A snap General Election in February 2005 could see Blair at the height of his popularity according to the papers. However, this appears to make little sense. Historically elections are not held in the winter due to lower turnout. Furthermore, the likely upsurge in violence in Iraq is hardly going to increase Blair's support. There is absolutely no guarantee that all Iraqi groups are going to support the election after all. A Sunni boycott, and the election of an American-backed puppet government is a real possibility. This is hardly going to be a boost for Blair, no matter how much spin he puts on the matter.