FOI Act Defended From The Govt. By MP’s

There is no evidence that the Freedom of Information Act needs to be limited, MPs have said.
Government plans for new cost limits on FoI requests were “unnecessary, unpopular and undesirable” the constitutional affairs committee added.
It said the changes could allow public bodies to dodge embarrassing or difficult questions. The government, which is consulting on restricting the act, has said changes could save £4.7m a year.

The committee chairman, Liberal Democrat Alan Beith, said: “The FoI Act works. It enhances the rights of the public. “Neither the government nor MPs should be seeking to limit its effectiveness, and there is no evidence here to support either the government’s proposals on fees or the bill. “I am hopeful that both will now be dropped.”

The committee also criticised a separate private member’s bill which aimed to exempt MPs and peers from the Act altogether. Director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, Maurice Frankel, accused the government of trying to sabotage FoI legislation and said the new Labour leader Gordon Brown should “kill off both sets of malodorous proposals”.

And a smackdown of the zombie bill, well done. Brown now has the chance to show how democratic he really is…

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Which Chavez Story Did You Read?

Was it big oil doing deals to remain involved when the oil industry is nationalised with only Exxon and Conoco refusing?

Or was it the US congress passing a measure to add an extra $10 million to Voice Of America to broadcast into Venezuela?

Or was it Chavez’s speech on an army base where he warned of US operations to destabilise Venezeula? Factually true (re. VOA and much else) & he also increased their wages although this part was left out by AP editors so the story simply paints him as a militaristic paranoid dictator, not redistributor of wealth, (strange I would have thought support the troops Americans would like that part, -if they got the chance to read it …) the piece then detailed his military spending to make him seem like a scary enemy!!!!

I’m guessing it was the scary speech story, not least because Google news shows the speech/military spending story is in the hundreds and the others…well oil gets a few and the VOA propaganda funding story gets, erm 2.

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Genocide Etiquette

When Kurdish emissaries spoke to him in 1991 of killing 180,000 Kurds he bridled at the allegation and said the real figure was closer to 100,000.

Ali Hassan al-Majid was the Heinrich Himmler of Iraq. After Saddam Hussein appointed him the all-powerful overlord of northern Iraq in March 1987 he oversaw the murder of more than 180,000 Kurds in just over a year. “The armed forces must kill any human being or animal present,” he decreed.

It was for this crime of genocide against the Kurds that Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”, and two other defendants were yesterday sentenced to death by hanging by a court in Baghdad.

Britain expressed anxiety and grave concern about allegations over the use of chemical weapons but promptly doubled the export credit facility available to Iraq. The US sought to implicate Iran in the use of poison gas. Kurdish claims that they were the victims of genocide were dismissed as exaggerated or politically inconvenient by Western governments.

Because 100,000 is fine? Maybe there are rules of etiquette for war criminals that I just don’t know about, perhaps by them the 3/4-1 million Iraqis we have killed are ok because the period includes a leap year?

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Blair Helped Destroy The UN’s Humanitarian Work

The Iraq war has shattered the cause of humanitarian intervention endorsed by Tony Blair and directly led to the targeting of relief workers in conflict zones where they are no longer considered to be neutral, according to a former senior UN official.In a speech in London tonight, Sir Mark Malloch-Brown will say: “The brutal truth is politics is making it harder and harder to serve victims’ needs by reaching them with assistance or bearing witness to their suffering and thereby staying the hand of those who would harm them.”
Sir Mark, the former UN deputy secretary-general under Kofi Annan, however, points out that the Sudanese President, General Omar al-Bashir, has been able to use the Iraq invasion as the prime reason to delay acceptance of a UN force in Darfur. “Tony Blair and George Bush have repeatedly called for the right kind of action in Darfur only to be rebuffed as the architects of Iraq. Bashir has tried to make them his best weapon.“It is not their loss of credibility that concerns me today, but rather that of humanitarian workers. The trouble is the two are linked,” he goes on. “I have watched the work I used to do get steadily more dangerous as it is seen as serving Western interests rather than universal values.”

Many argue the corruption of UN work to partisan ends is not that new, but when a senior UN figure admits it the debate looks over. Of course that does suite many people who never liked the idea of helping other people at all. Social Darwinists of the conservative bent simply saw a Malthusian process where those that died or were killed was a necessary process (Kissinger’s ‘useless eaters’) of survival of the…cruelest and whitest usually. How could capitalism work when some damn fool kept going around helping it’s unwanted victims. While this may be played as a tragic unintended consequence, so many people over so many years can’t all have been oblivious and/or stupid. This is a deliberate consequence much desired by bastards everywhere. And now, the inevitable Bolton clip.

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Rain Still Wet, Grass Still Green

Right wing ideologue and Bush appointee to head world ‘poverty-reduction’ bank. Anyone spot any problems with that sentence? Because apparently no one on the board did.

 Robert Zoellick, a seasoned player in international financial and diplomatic circles, won the unanimous approval of the World Bank’s board on Monday to become the poverty-fighting institution’s next president.

Zoellick, 53, brings to the World Bank years of experience in the foreign and economic policy arenas under three Republican presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. Zoellick left the Bush administration last year to become an executive at the Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. 

By tradition, the World Bank has been run by an American. The Bush administration made clear it wanted to keep that decades-old practice firmly intact throughout the Wolfowitz debacle. The United States is the bank’s largest shareholder and its biggest financial contributor. 

Erm, now this may just be me, but how is a man who served under conservative administrations who all increased poverty meant to be the answer to global inequality? Huh, anyone?

Conservative, Killing For Profit & Hilarious

I think it will be like ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ ” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute. “You remember how we all got together afterwards and decided to ban guns.”

Absolutely hilarious Micky boy, because no one is dying right now because an insurance company denied treatment to maintain profits and there certainly haven’t been any massacres at schools or colleges thanks to the NRA. All is well thanks to the free market, Amen.

However this does point out the underlying discovery of both ‘Bowling’ & ‘Sicko’ (and in Virginia Tech a failed health care system and gun culture collided lethally) there is a deep abiding cruelty that the capitalist ‘American dream’ lie has cultivated and refined. Moore’s film company is called Dog Eat Dog, but in the logo the underdog swallows the big animal. The attacks on ‘Sicko’ will be relentless and fierce, after all the people doing it kill people everyday for money. Here’s to the underdog.

Cheney- The Secret Emperor

Fingers crossed for that fifth heart attack. Some excerpts of a long piece in the Washington Post which pulls a lot of it’s punches and accepts many assertions at face value and as commenter’s note, Cheney has a long record in govt. going back to Nixon but it ignores all that and the papers own lax reporting.  Still, nice of the MSM to start making some ripples now, seven years and many lives too late, but… Nevertheless it shows a man wielding presidential powers (while Bush exercises for hours each day and makes idiotic speeches) but preferring the shadows and with an utter contempt for law or democracy, he now believes himself and Bush above the law. And on the day of 911, he spent no time on the rescue operations, he just began planning for war and the negation of all international law.

Cheney’s proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court — civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed “military commissions.”
“What the hell just happened?” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.

 Cheney has served as gatekeeper for Supreme Court nominees,…When particulars rise to presidential notice, Cheney often steers the preparation of options and sits with Bush, in side-by-side wing chairs, as he is briefed.

Cheney preferred, and Bush approved, a mandate that gave him access to “every table and every meeting,” making his voice heard in “whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in,” Bolten said….Cheney took on “the economic issues, the security issues . . . the energy issues” — and the White House legislative agenda,

Across the board, the vice president’s office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency. Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs. His general counsel has asserted that “the vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch,” and is therefore exempt from rules governing either. Cheney is refusing to observe an executive order on the handling of national security secrets, and he proposed to abolish a federal office that insisted on auditing his compliance.

911- Cheney made no sound. “I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed,” said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink. While others assessed casualties and the work of “first responders,” Cheney began planning for a conflict that would call upon lawyers as often as soldiers and spies. More than any one man in the months to come, Cheney freed Bush to fight the “war on terror” as he saw fit, animated by their shared belief that al-Qaeda’s destruction would require what the vice president called “robust interrogation”

The attorney general found Cheney, not Bush, at the broad conference table in the Roosevelt Room. According to participants, Ashcroft said that he was the president’s senior law enforcement officer, supervised the FBI and oversaw terrorism prosecutions nationwide. The Justice Department, he said, had to have a voice in the tribunal process…Cheney took the next big step. He told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that terrorists do not “deserve to be treated as prisoners of war.”

Forced Prostitution, Another Great Bonus Of War

British PM Anthony Blair, seen here visiting a former nazi in a dress.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in the club two months ago.

If you do convert Anthony, I’d schedule a good few years put aside for penance.

Private Equity Offers To Be First Against The Wall

On the same day, Sir Ronald Cohen, one of the founding fathers of the UK private equity industry, went as far as to predict that there would be rioting in the streets if poor people were left behind in this country. “Entrepreneurial economies, which have high rates of growth and high rates of job creation, do lead to great divergences in wealth. When economic situations get bad, it takes a spark to ignite a violent reaction,” he proclaimed. As an industry, private equity does not seem to know whether to be defiant in the face of criticism or repentant.

Translation- if the proles twig how much we’re scamming them for they’ll be hell to pay.

Blair’s Farewell To Britain: Pro- Torture, Eugenics & Slavery

Blairwatch and MOA wrote about Blair’s opting the UK out of human and social rights in the new EU treaty. What I noticed was NuLab negotiated to give us less rights and while the tories whined that they had failed to give us a referendum they did not complain about Blair removing the UK from European rights. So there you have it both the parties have absolutely no desire to give us rights, to democratise power and lessen state control, 51st state-tastic. Only the Lib dems came from a position of being on our side:

“By opting out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, there is now the danger of a two-tier citizenship in the EU,” Mr Campbell said.

Some of those rights everyone else in europe gets but we won’t-

Prohibition of eugenic practices, particularly those aiming at the selection of person. Article 3
What’s at stake: Science is seeking to eradicatedisabilities by genetic manipulation. It might be possible for parents to order a “designer” baby.

Trafficking in human beings is prohibited. Article 5
What’s at stake: This year the UN said that human trafficking had reached epidemic proportions. The Home Office said that in 2003, 4,000 women were trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation

No one should be subjected to torture. Article 4
What’s at stake: Since the invasion of Iraq, British soldiers have found themselves in the dock over the abuse of civilian detainees.

Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her. Article 8
What’s at stake: A vast amount of data is stored on each of us already. From 2010, ID cards will be compulsory for anyone applying for a passport in the UK.

Everyone has the right to freedom of assembly and of association. Article 12
What’s at stake: Anti-war protests prompted the Government to bring in legislation to prevent unlicensed demos within quarter of a mile of Parliament.

No one can be removed to a state where there is a serious risk of torture. Article 19 What’s at stake: The Government’s determination to deport terror suspects to countries with questionable human rights records

I guess hanging out with Bush has really rubbed off on him.

203:214 SOA/WHINSEC Survives Vote in Congress by a 6 Vote Margin

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Update: MOA has the list of the 42 dems who voted for the torture school but overall this issue and vote was practically unreported.

Damn that was close, I missed this so bad me, but here is the report:

214 Members of Congress missed the chance to stand up for human rights, justice and democracy, and voted to keep the funding for the SOA/WHINSEC flowing.

The WHINSEC PR machine and high-ranking Pentagon officials used taxpayer money to put a lot of pressure on Members of Congress.

Tens of thousands of emails, faxes and calls flooded the halls of Congress over the past three days. Students, clergy, union members and veterans travelled to DC and visited with hundreds of Congressional offices to communicate clearly that there is no room for institutions like the SOA/WHINSEC in our future.

If you don’t know what SOA/WHINSEC is, basically it’s where the empire trains aligned latin nations police and military on how to torture and kill enemies to maintain imperial order:

The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,” is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA, frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins,” has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.

Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.

War Pimps In The Air

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has been training on long-range flights, including refueling in mid-flight, in preparation for potential strikes against Iranian nuclear targets.The training program has been taking place for some time but has only been released for publication Friday, the Ma’ariv daily reported.

But also this:

At the end of 2007 the US and Israel are expected to hold a joint assessment to ascertain the influence of economic sanctions against Iran.

A new package of upgraded sanctions prepared jointly by Israel and the US, includes exerting pressure on European governments to cancel US $22 billion in loan guarantees given annually to European companies trading with Iran.

The new package also includes sanctions against banks working with Iran, non-renewal of oil infrastructure in Iran and a long series of economic actions that are meant to seriously hurt the Iranian economy.

Following the end-of-year assessment, Washington will decide how to move forward in the struggle against Iran’s nuclear race.

Which sounds like they are reporting on the state dept. approach not the Cheney gangs plotting which wants an attack within a few months, less sanction-y more bomb-y.

h/t Lenin.

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War Pimps Go On A Sailing Holiday

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The USS Enterprise CVN 65-Big E Strike Group will join the USS Stennis and the USS Nimitz carriers, building up the largest sea, air, marine concentration the United States has ever deployed opposite Iran. This goes towards making good on the assurances of four carriers US Vice President Dick Cheney offered the Gulf and Middle East nations during his May tour of the region.
The “Big E” leads a strike group consisting of the guided-missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke DDG 51, USS Stout DDG 55, Forrest Sherman DDG 98 and USS James E. Williams DDG 95, as well as the guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg CG 64, the SS Philadelphia SSN 690 nuclear submarine and the USNS Supply T-AOE 6>
On its decks are the Carrier Air Wing CVW 1, whose pilots fought combat missions in the Gulf and Arabian Sea during 2006. The Air Wing is made up of F/Q-18 Super Hornet strike craft, the Sidewinders Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-86, the 251st Marine Fighter Attack Squadron MFA, and the Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ 137.
The 32nd Sea Control Squadron VS consists of S-3B Vikings. The Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAQ 3 flies E-2C Hawkeye craft. The Fleet Logistics Support Squadron VRC is based on C-2A Greyhounds.

While Iran says it is open to talks to clarify its nuclear program, war pimps make hay with a speech by Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi where he claims Iran has 100kg of enriched uranium materials. Which is contradicted by a senior nuclear official who gives lie to the boast. But which story will make the big headlines? Carrier groups rattling sabres? Iran wanting talks and working with the IAEA, or …Run for you lives they’ve got tons of nukes and they want to kill us all!!!!!!Please big brave America save us with your swanky big warships.

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Obama, The Friendly Face Of Empire

“America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America,” Mr. Obama said. “We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission — we must lead the world, by deed and example.”Mr. Obama called for increasing foreign aid to developing countries, expanding and modernizing the military and rebuilding fractured alliances. He called for expanding American ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines. But less than 1 percent of the military can speak Arabic, Mandarin or Korean — a shortcoming he said needs to be corrected through training and recruitment.

Gosh, reckon he foresees lots more deployments overseas, mandarin hmmmmmmm. Did anyone ask ‘the world’ if it wanted to be led by America? Just asking.

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Friday! The The: Sweet Bird Of Truth

80’s video symbolism aside this 20 year old track could be written today (except the pilots now could likely be evangelical Christians), which shows perception and creativity are lightning fast even as history repeats. Read about the huge and often unreported air campaign in Iraq here.