Without Any Debate Brown/e Signs The UK Up To US Missile Base

Peace campaigners accused the Government of being underhand, and of turning part of the UK into a prime military target by allowing an RAF base in Yorkshire to become part of the US missile defence system.

The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, announced in a written statement to the Commons that he had accepted an American request to use RAF Menwith Hill, near Harrogate, as part of the system. He said it would help to “build future protection for our citizens.”

The highly guarded base is the scene of an annual peace demonstration, which can be expected to get bigger as a result of yesterday’s announcement, which provoked a furious reaction.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “This is an outrageous announcement made with total contempt for democracy and consultation. Where was the chance for MPs, let alone the public, to discuss tying in Menwith Hill to the so-called Missile Defence system?

“This totally unnecessary system will protect no-one, but threaten all… another Missile Defence base in Britain confirms our place on the front line. Were anyone to wish to attack the US, the top priority would be to destroy these defences, sited only a few miles from British towns and cities.”

But Mr Browne said in his statement: “Missile defence systems… are not for offensive use and by supporting American efforts… in the UK, we are helping to build future protection for our citizens.

He has ‘accepted’ and American request, how nice, except, that’s ok if it’s an invitation to afternoon tea, but great big missiles? A written answer too, the parliamentary equivalent of the one cheek sneak, if you doubt we are a US client state, get a fucking grip.

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On The Astroturf Trail

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Ok, while mooching re: the fake fist icon used by the empire to hijack dissent and install friendly client regimes the breadcrumb trail begins at-

http://www.ruedalo.org/

Google english translation here.

Where the b/w fist shows up and the one coloured in Venezuela’s flag, they do have an animation of Che Guevara, but rather than co-opt him (as they have done with the fist) the animation has him put a gun into his mouth and blow his brains out (actually the CIA executed him in Bolivia). The site also has this poster-

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The site is bright and noisy and looks like a conservative’s idea of an activist site, it links to the Serbian movement we know was backed by the US, in images it clearly calls for Chavez’s death-

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Once you get to the bottom of the site you find this-

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http://orvex.org/

Google english translation here.

Didn’t take long for the empire to show it’s hand, now Orvex make a good play of non-violence and democracy (the velvet glove the empire’s fist is always in), but we will see what a sham that is, they are owned and run it would appear by ELIJEN’S CORP.

http://www.geocities.com/elijenscorp/asilo.html

Google english translation here.

Now Elijen’s Corp. are headquartered in Florida and say they are not lawyers but advise on immigration, but they also played a part in the RCTV protests, from the images and graphics it is clear they are pro-american, anti- leftists-

“I came to the United States fleeing from the chavistas circles of Venezuela…”

But they also provide for Orvex which owns the Ruedalo website, but who really is Elijens/Orvex? This blog has some details but not much more. However this site shows Ruedalo’s details as-

IP Location: Virginia – Herndon – Network Solutions Llc
Registrant Name:ORGANIZACION DE VENEZOLANOS EN EL EXILIO – ORVEX
Registrant Organization:ORGANIZACION DE VENEZOLANOS EN EL EXILIO – ORVEX

Hmmm, Virginia, home of the CIA, n’est pas?

So Orvex runs a site calling for Chavez’s death and displays the co-opted fist graphic, Orvex’s statement on their youtube account-

The current Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez has taken advantage of the purity and intrinsic nobility of the democratic system in order to rape it and kidnap it, without ever mentioning in 1998 its evil intentions of establishing a communist-like society.

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Above is a picture used as a tiled background on the spanish youtube site of Orvex-The Venezuelans in exile peeps seem awfully patriotic…for America. Run by Elio Aponte who lists Elijen’s Corp as his care/of address.

So- Florida corporation, linked to destabilising a leftist govt. in the Americas, not exactly original is it? The CIA can’t even be arsed to use a new design, such a low opinion they must have of their victim’s in the projected target client regimes.

The Empire Needs A New Graphic Designer

astroturf.jpg

One of these things doesn’t… Oh wait they’re all the same, hmmm…

All of these are the logos of youth movements in different countries that have either removed, or are working towards removing, governments undesirable to Washington. All have been organized and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Freedom House, and other CIA organizations. Washington was instrumental in strengthening and supporting these groups, as well as similar groups in the Ukraine, Belarus, and others. The objective is to co-opt popular youth movements against a controversial government in order to open the country to Washington’s neoliberal interests. They have succeeded in many places, and though we have no evidence of CIA backing of the youth movement in Venezuela, we can see now that they are here in Venezuela as well.

From Chris Carlson’s Gringo in Venezuela blog, he writes a full piece at Venezuela analysis here-

The new imperial strategy includes something called “American Corners.” These “corners” are small offices set up by Washington throughout the target country that basically serve as mini-embassies. It is not completely clear what exactly these “corners” do, but inside you will find an array of information about the United States, including study abroad opportunities, English classes, and pro-U.S. propaganda. On top of this, the mini-embassies also organize events, trainings, and lectures for young students.

Interestingly, they seem to be very abundant in countries that Washington seeks to destabilize. The former Yugoslav countries have a total of 22 American Corners, including 7 in Serbia. The Ukraine has 24, Belarus 11, Russia 30, even Iraq, with 11. By far the highest concentration of the “corners” is in Eastern Europe, where Washington has focused its destabilization efforts in recent years.

There are at least 4 “American Corners” in Venezuela, the most for any Latin American country, and the U.S. also finances literally hundreds of organizations throughout the country, to the tune of more than $5 million a year.

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Murderous Priorities

Defence Secretary Des Browne has welcomed the announcement by the Government today, Wednesday 25 July 2007, which will see a £7.7bn increase in the defence budget over the next three years. (h/t Blairwatch)

Meanwhile

Unions are furious that a 2.5% pay award for nurses in England is to be introduced in two stages, cutting its value.

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WaterBlogged- 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

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Some blogs appeal for funds to cover bandwidth costs, hosting, new computers, prostitute fees. Some are worthy appeals- for example the inestimable Dave of a Complex Series Of Pipes (great post about southern bias in the flooding stories) looking for sponsorship to swim across Lake Windermere (that’s cold baby) to raise funds for Water Aid a great NGO that thinks people shouldn’t die of thirst or water borne diseases while the number of billionaires increases as never before. Some are not- any right wing blog (for example). But, Ten Percent has never asked for your money, until now…

Y’see reading this article about the hyper rich in America was fairly predictable, they even mentioned ‘trickle down economics’ hilarious! Mostly it is a list of the wealthy’s private world, private schools, jets, boats, compounds etc. Ok, so pass the ammunition and get building the guillotines, but then something really stuck in my craw. Yes the mega wealthy may say this is the politics of jealousy but I don’t really care, here’s the deal-

They are now so rich there is a market in building private submarines, the pinnacle of this the Phoenix sub is proposed to cost 85 million and is really a very nice sub.

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But this is just plain wrong, submarines are not for the super rich and their crack fuelled sex parties. No, submarines are for Captain Nemo’s or tense cold war undersea thrillers, even occasionally for TV Sci-fi. Sadly you see I have kind of a thing for submarines, as a 6 year old I and a friend wrote to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ asking to go on a nuclear sub, for a while there I was pretty keen on becoming a submarine commander (it should also be noted that for a long time I thought being a petrol pump attendant was a great job, petrol smell all day and people constantly visiting and you giving them something they needed and them being thankful to you, fantastic. Not to mention the special offers, 6 glass tumblers or a big torch for every 100 gallons!). Yes I watched Stingray, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and even Seaquest DSV, I loved The Man From Atlantis (a claim made by only a few dolphins and the doctor woman sidekick -who was my first crush, quickly followed by the bionic woman). There was even a weird cartoon (one of the first dubbed animes) called Marine Boy- check the title sequence, pet dolphin, mermaid girlfriend, flying sub, what’s not to love?

And the films, Ice Station Zebra, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and later Das Boot, On the Beach and The Hunt For Red October, The Abyss, Hostile Waters and the lesser entries- Gray Lady Down, The Enemy Below, Above Us The Waves, K19 (Don’t mention Crimson Tide, the appalling shoe horned Tarrantino dialogue only served to make it more wretched). Yep I even liked the rubber monster-a-thon of the Doug McClure-tastic The Land That Time Forgot because it began with a sub! And Operation Petticoat, Cary Grant, nurses, a big pink submarine!

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As a boy I went to a navy open day, and went on an old diesel sub, I even gave orders down the blow tube thingy and got them acknowledged back ship wide over the PA system. I screamed ‘Dive, Dive, Dive’ which was acknowledged very loudly for all the visitors to hear ‘Dive, dive, dive. Aye Aye Captain’, leading to some anxious looks from the punters at the still open hatches. Even had a battery driven sub toy for the bath.

So this is a step too far for me by the super rich scum, if they are to have swanky private subs then the time has come to dust off my Captain Nemo hat and sally forth, leave these landlubbers behind and Run Silent Run Deep in my own hunter-killer submarine of Robin Hood style justice! Yep if these twats want to swan around under the waves laughing at our quaint public schools, hospitals, social security and radar, it is my duty to bring to them the sheer terror of knowing an implacable enemy is locking a firing solution onto their executive submersible, opening tubes 1 through 4 and telling the XO I’d favour the cheese on toast for lunch. If they want to devastate the earth with their greed and then retreat underwater to savour their spoils then I will take the fight to them, they shall not escape. The Ten Percent Nautilus shall answer that call!

periscope.jpgimages1.jpg

So here’s the plan- while their swanky luxury subs will have all the latest shiny tat they are, compared to a military vessel- a big joke and guess what the Russian navy have for sale? Bing-fucking-O! In fact third or forth hand are even cheaper check this for 250,000 euros (Ok, it’s a poor Soviet knock off of a U-boat but even an old 50’s diesel sub outpaces the shitty billionaires plaything by 3 knots! And ok it needs the dive systems restoring and has been used as a floating wedding barge and museum but all dreams take work –still has the four 530 mm torpedo tubes in the bow and two in the stern- and won’t it be worth it just to see the faces of plutocrats as you surface). Of course the ultimate would be this, yep an actual nuclear submarine, no longer needed to put the fear of communism up the west this beauty would bring the class war to the oceans. Just when they thought it was safe to go back in the water, just when they thought they had escaped social responsibility to their fellow man… but just show me a luxury sub that can evade military sonar! They might have an endless supply of caviar but they ain’t got shit in the torpedo department. You know that trickle down theory? The only trickle they are going to feel will be when their hull begins buckling. Avast me hearties! Ships are for pretend pirates and losers, time to take it to the next level, forty fathoms below the surface!

Empire- Colombia, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Rwanda & Tory Wankers- Edition

The Colombian army installed its third military base with 1,000 troops on the border with Venezuela, the Colombian government said on Monday. Governor of northeastern department Norte de Santander Luis Morelli said the base, the third to be established this year, will begin operations in October in the Catatumbo border region.

One brigade is based in Cucuta city and is already operating in Norte de Santander and a mobile base is patrolling across Ocana province. Colombia and Venezuela share 2,219 km of border that is often illegally crossed by armed groups who extort, kidnap and smuggle drugs and gasoline.

Somehow this isn’t getting the attention the RCTV issue got. Meanwhile the Empire’s Ethiopian proxies are accused of stealing aid and using starvation as a military tactic-

the Ethiopian government is putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of starvation by blockading emergency food aid and choking off trade to eastern parts of the country. The area affected is home to the Ogaden National Liberation Front – a rebel group that has opposed the current government. One humanitarian official accused Ethiopia of trying to starve out the population. He said “If something isn’t done on the diplomatic front soon, we’re going to have a government-caused famine on our hands.” The official refused to be quoted by name because he feared reprisals against aid workers. The New York Times also reports the U.S.-backed Ethiopian military and its proxy militias have been siphoning off millions of dollars in international food aid and using a UN polio eradication program to funnel money to pro-government fighters. 

Will the conservatives condemn this from their genocide PR HQ in Rwanda? Will noted humanitarian and man of compassion Peter Lilley-

Lilley’s remarks at that party conference took the form of a pastiche of a Gilbert and Sullivan song. He said he “had a little list” of people he wanted to “root out” including “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”.

demand transparency in that process? Oh and just one question in regard to that Mr. Cameron, which party was in power when the Rwandan genocide happened? Hint- You’re now it’s leader.

John Major’s government was most definitely warned, because during the build-up to genocide, the violence, hate propaganda and militia increased in scope and power. In the weeks before the genocide, the Belgian ambassador to the UN tried desperately to persuade the permanent members of the security council that it was five minutes to midnight in Rwanda and that their mission urgently needed reinforcing and a stronger mandate. But the warnings were to no avail. The US and the UK were against a stronger mandate. 

Declaration Of Independence, From America

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· We call upon the Government of the United States of America to cease from occupation of any part of British land and withdraw its military powers round this world as we call upon all Governments everywhere to cease their occupation and control of any foreign territories. And for support of this Declaration, we, the representatives of a more gentle and peaceful persuasion, mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour.· And, with specific reference to this gathering today, we, the under-mentioned, do solemnly demand the return of the land, once within the boundaries of the ancient townships of Birstwith, Felliscliffe, Norwood and Menwith, now occupied by the United States National Security Agency and their military forces.

· We do also solemnly demand that any connection with, or preparation for, the American Missile Defense programme at NSA Menwith Hill and other such places ceases forthwith. We are despairing that the American Government continues to over shadow Earth, Sea, Air and now Space throughout and beyond this most magnificent of Planets.

· We utterly reject the notion that the Government of the United States should claim Space for itself. We will bring into use every sinew of our bodies to peacefully prevent the Earth, Sea, Air and Space from being overwhelmed by the American Missile Defense programme.

· We encourage the United States of America and all governments of the world to uphold the keeping of International Laws and Treaties thus ensuring that the Heavens and every corner of the Earth are free from domination and greed.

· We use our intelligence to imagine the consequences of the space around our dear planet Earth and other Celestial Bodies being filled with weapons of desperate destruction. We speak from our hearts which beat in terror at the legacy we might leave the children of this world.

· Once again, we call upon all American people connected with the workings at NSA Menwith Hill to imagine our roles reversed and to remember their own ancestors’ Declaration of Independence from our ancestors.

Read more about this July’s demo here, learn how British police will arrest a British citizen for wearing a ‘Fuck Bush’ shirt.

The Ministry Of Australian Truth- Kafka Division

Well I figured it was all a bit fishy, now the stench is overwhelming-

The case of Mohammed Haneef, arrested in Queensland three weeks ago, has strained relations with India and sparked accusations that anti-terrorism officers were incompetent. Reports at the weekend suggested that the Metropolitan Police regarded their Australian counterparts as a laughing stock for perpetrating “such a major cock-up”.

The main piece of evidence was a mobile phone SIM card reportedly found in the wreckage of the burnt-out Jeep that Kafeel Ahmed drove into the Glasgow airport terminal. The card was in the name of Dr Haneef, 27, a registrar at the Gold Coast Hospital since last September.

Except-

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed last Friday that the SIM card had not been found in the wreckage of the Jeep, but at Sabeel Ahmed’s house in Liverpool.

Dr Haneef told police he gave Sabeel Ahmed the card when he left for Australia. He does not deny having social contacts with his cousins. But he denies any knowledge of a terrorist plot, or any connection with Islamic extremism. “Every drop of blood is human,” he told his interrogators.

And

Australian Federal Police also made much of the fact that he could not explain why he was planning to leave Australia on a one-way ticket to India, and that he had admitted sharing a house in Britain with the Ahmed brothers. Several other Indian-born doctors who knew Dr Haneef were arrested in Australia, but quickly released.

A Brisbane magistrate, Jacqui Payne, was underwhelmed by the police case. She granted Dr Haneef bail last Monday. The Immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, immediately announced that he was cancelling Dr Haneef’s work visa on “character grounds”, and ordered him to be held indefinitely in a Sydney detention centre for illegal immigrants.

The move prompted an uproar, with lawyers and civil liberties groups denouncing it as a snub to the judiciary’s independence, and highly prejudicial to a future trial. The Australian High Commissioner in Delhi, John McCarthy, was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs. An Indian minister visited Dr Haneef’s wife, Firdous Arshiya, who returned to the couple’s home in Bangalore earlier this year after becoming pregnant.

The controversy was fuelled by the leaking of the transcript of Dr Haneef’s police interview. It revealed that he told anti-terrorism officers that his father-in-law bought him a one-way ticket to see his wife and new baby because he could not afford it himself. And he denied living in a house in Liverpool with his two cousins.

It has also emerged that, before he was arrested, Dr Haneef tried to contact one of the British police investigators – to explain why his SIM card was in Sabeel Ahmed’s possession, he says. Phone records show that he tried to call four times, without success.

Despite these revelations, Mr Andrews has refused to reinstate Dr Haneef’s visa. He claims the government has secret evidence which it is unable to release.

These trumped up charges are ridiculous, Howard’s racist goons (taking a break from his war on the aboriginals)arrested anyone in sight for being Indian, used their new Kafka powers to fabricate a case and now claim they have ‘secret’ evidence. Not to mention revoking his visa so they could bang him up as an illegal immigrant, an illegality caused by them, Franz would be proud. This is the bullshit war on terror just a new label on the oldest scam, authoritarian rule over a populace kept in check with fear.

Stop Thinking & Let The Greed Virus Prosper

Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to shift emphasis away from intellectualism and towards “working hard” with the hopes of getting rich. Says Finance Minister Christine Lagarde: “Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”Mr. Sarkozy and his team hope to persuade the French that it is in their interest to abandon what some commentators call a nationwide “laziness” and to work longer and harder, and maybe even get rich. France’s legally mandated 35-hour work week gives workers a lot of leisure time but not necessarily the means to enjoy it. Taxes on high-wage earners are so burdensome that hordes have fled abroad. (Mr. Sarkozy cites the case of one of his stepdaughters, who works in an investment-banking firm in London.)

In her National Assembly speech, Ms. Lagarde said that there should be no shame in personal wealth and that the country needed tax breaks to lure the rich back

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, meanwhile, mocked Ms. Lagarde for praising the sheer joy of work and quoting Confucius’s oft-cited line, “Choose a work that you love and you won’t have to work another day.” Such “subtleties have escaped the cleaning lady or the supermarket checkout clerk,” a commentary in the newspaper said Wednesday.

“We are seeing an important cultural change,” said Eric Chaney, chief economist for Europe for Morgan Stanley. “Working families in France want to be richer. Wealth is no longer a taboo…

The fundamentalists of the Church of the Free Market are pleased indeed. The NY Times seems to suggest France has no opulence, that there are no wealthy BMW or Mercedes driving elites with huge country houses to compliment their valuable city homes. Or at least that’s what they want their audience to think, such low opinion of their readers, well they did lie them into war, respect must be hard to come by all round. And I don’t think that the fact Sicko shows France as an example of universal healthcare is unrelated to this representation of a country beset with oppressive taxes and low achievement obsessing over intellectualism while high earners flee the voraciously punitive taxes. Such is the Empire’s culture wars, its clash of civilisations, it wants the whole earth under it’s idea of utterly cruel free market fascism. The Priest economists claiming faith as fact (free markets work brethren!) and poverty as the punishment for sinners of low enterprise. A 35 hour working week? What with all that spare time one might have a real family life or time to enrich mind and body away from ones toil. What kind of fool would want that? Heresy!

Simpering, Whining, Pampered Crooks

The wife of Downing Street’s former chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, has lifted the lid on the private fury felt by Tony Blair’s inner circle over the cash-for-peerages inquiry, accusing the police of ‘Gestapo tactics’. In a remarkable intervention, which contrasts with the measured language of the former Prime Minister, Sarah Helm singled out a dawn raid on the former Number 10 aide Ruth Turner as a sign of police heavy-handedness.

Helm, a journalist and author, writes in today’s Observer: ‘I know one shouldn’t make these comparisons, but I was writing about Nazi Germany right then and I couldn’t help think: Gestapo tactics! Pick on the vulnerable, preferably a single woman, living alone. No matter that you may have nothing on her that will ultimately stand up in court – give her a scare.’

Un-fucking-believable, a govt. that has covered up torture flights, chose a war of aggression and whose inconvenient opponents turn up dead in the woods and this whining little moron thinks their being treated in exactly the same way as any member of the public is ‘gestapo’ nazi-like tactics. Fuck me, the police have been shooting brown people in raids for the last few years, whither your outrage there Sarah my dear? Not surprising in a culture that rehabilitated Marie Antoinette via a crappy biography written by a tory ariostocrat (then filmed to further excuse imperial capitalist decadence to it’s credulous audience of facile retards) this entitled bleating cretin thinks they are the victims. Boo-fucking-hoo, what next? A global series of concerts to raise awareness of the terrible shortage of wardrobe space in penthouse apartments? Or a searing idictment of developing country’s diet where because of poor nutrition the organs we harvest are not as organic and healthy as the bodies of the elite they are implanted into? Cry me a fucking river.

Kneel Before The Sacred Profit

So mooching through this article about the Met Office warning of this summers high rainfall and risk of flooding and the govt. not being very interested (and yet again flooding is only a big story when the places being flooded aren’t in the north, southern shandy drinking etc.) I happened upon this-

However, at the same time, the government was planning to cut jobs at the Environment Agency, which deals with the defences. Water companies had also been prevented from building larger storm water drains and sewage systems because of the risk of rising water bills. 

Erm, would that be the same water companies which since they were sold (they used to be nationalised, we owned them) off are now profit making corporations. They were ‘prevented’ from investing in  infrastructure because of the ‘risk of rising water bills’. Becasue well obviously they counldn’t be expected to use their profits to fund infrastructure, y’know like when we owned them. This is how the mushroom soup works, first they are privatised, then their profits are argued about, but nothing is done. Now they are not even considered as a way to fund essential work apparently because profit is sacred and must not be sullied by being used for the common good, no it must be hoarded and spent on further luxuries for the wealthy. That is only right and sensible and if you are thirsty or drowning you can at least be happy in the knowledge that in the CEO’s various houses around the world, they have nice gold plated bathrooms.

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The Memory Hole

Today we learn there was a news blackout on reporting that Dhiren Barot was seriously assaulted in jail-

Dhiren Barot, 35, from Kingsbury in north-west London, had been serving life at HMP Frankland near Durham. He spent five days in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after the assault. A news blackout was imposed for the duration of his hospital stay, during which armed police were present. Barot was returned to prison on Saturday.

How lovely and cooperative our press were and of course they give a quick shorthand of the dastardly evils he was sent to jail for-

At his trial at Woolwich Crown Court Barot was described as a determined terrorist who prepared meticulous plans for al-Qaeda figures on a series of synchronised attacks in the UK. These included exploding gas tankers hidden in limousines, flooding the tube network and a radioactive “dirty bomb”. He was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum sentence of 40 years

Except…cast your mind back to when this ultra-dangerous (not so dangerous that he could be caught alone and badly attacked, AQ as prison gangs go can’t protect its own, but you should remain utterly terrified of them apparently)-

“The Crown could not dispute claims from the defence that no funding had been received for the projects, nor any vehicles or bomb-making materials acquired.” No money, no vehicles, no bombs – just some retarded nutcase scrawling absent-minded empty threats in a notebook. Should he be investigated by the police? No doubt about it. Should his “confession” of scribbling demented ramblings in a paper pad be splashed all over the top of the BBC website and head up the evening news as a major foiled bomb plot? No. That’s outright fearmongering and artificially inflating a nothing story to feed into the public’s fear of its own shadow.

Given that many of the readers of Spy Blog (or of Tom Clancy novels) have at least as much knowledge of potential targets and techniques as Dhiren Barot appears to have had, we are worried about this “thought crime” conviction with no actual evidence of means and capability to put into action any of the “movie plots”, which he appears to have been researching. Just because he pleaded guilty, presumably for the purposes of self martyrdom, this is only evidence of evil intent, not of an actual, realistic, threat. 

Americium, as Kelly’s evidence also states, is found in smoke detectors. Barot’s plan was to somehow either harvest the minute quantities of it from smoke alarms, or if that proved too difficult, to somehow acquire 10,000 of them, then either set them alight, or place all 10,000 of them on top of an “explosive device”, all without anyone noticing this tottering tower of beeping annoyances. He worked out that it would cost around £50,000 to obtain the smoke alarms, and another £20,000 to store them, all money which he didn’t have. 

But that was down the memory hole, now all that is put in the minds of the punters is terrifyingly dangerous terrorist getting pasted in prison. Somewhere between the lines ‘just deserts’ hovers and by not revisiting the ludicrous aspects of the case fear of the terrorist menace (they could be under YOUR bed!) is maintained. Ho-hum.

American Culture Destroys Empathy

After some speculation around this topic on The Unapologetic Mexican blog, now comes some clinical proof:-

People from Western cultures such as the United States are particularly challenged in their ability to understand someone else’s point of view because they are part of a culture that encourages individualism, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

In contrast, Chinese, who live in a society that encourages a collectivist attitude among its members, are much more adept at determining another person’s perspective, according to a new study.

One of the consequences of Americans’ and other Westerners’ problems of seeing things from another person’s point of view is faltering communication, said Boaz Keysar, Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

“Many actions and words have multiple meanings. In order to sort out what a person really means, we need to gain some perspective on what he or she might be thinking and, Americans for example, who don’t have that skill very well developed, probably tend to make more errors in understanding what another person means,” Keysar said.

Keysar is co-author with University graduate student Shali Wu of “The Effect of Culture on Perspective Taking,” which discusses their research and is published in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Although studies of children have shown that the ability a person to appreciate another person’s perspective is universal, not all societies encourage their members to develop the skill as they grow up. “Members of these two cultures seem to have a fundamentally different focus in social situations,” the authors wrote of Chinese and Americans.

“Members of collectivist cultures tend to be interdependent and to have self-concepts defined in terms of relationships and social obligations,” they said. “In contrast, members of individualist cultures tend to strive for independence and have self-concepts defined in terms of their own aspirations and achievements.”

They chose two groups of University of Chicago students: one consisting of 20 people from China who grew up speaking Mandarin, and another group including 20 non-Asian Americans who were all native English speakers.

The researchers tested a hypothesis that suggested interdependence would make people focus on others and away from themselves. They did that by having people from the same cultural group pair up and work together to move objects around in a grid of squares placed between them.

In the game, one person, the “director,” would tell the other person, the “subject,” where the objects should be moved. Over some of the squares, a piece of cardboard blocked the view of the director, so the subject could clearly tell what objects the director could not see. In some cases there were two similar objects, one blocked from the director’s view and one visible to both people playing the game.

The Chinese subjects almost immediately focused on the objects the director could see and moved the correct objects. When Americans were asked to move an object and there were two similar objects on the grid, they paused and often had to work to figure out which object the director could not see before moving the correct object. Taking into account the other person’s perspective was more work for the Americans, who spent on average about twice as much time completing the moves than did the Chinese.

Even more startling for the researchers was the frequency with which many of the Americans ignored the fact that the director could not see all the objects.

“Despite the obvious simplicity of the task, the majority of American subjects (65 percent) failed to consider the director’s pespective at least once during the experiment,” by asking the director which object he or she meant or by moving an object the director could not see, Keysar said. In contrast, only one Chinese subject seemed confused by the directions.

Americans do not lose this ability, but years of culturalization based values of independence do not promote the development of mental tools needed to take into account another person’s point of view, they said.

“That’s a huge difference – it’s off the charts,” says Richard Nisbett, a psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This is also the central issue of Sicko, how a culture has become all about ‘me’ and not about ‘we’, a we that would all contribute to national healthcare, to be concerned with other people. It also has implications in how the empire is operating, the cultural suppression of empathy results in the war crimes we see committed and a political culture that really only accepts the center and the right. The research says ‘western’ but it does seem to only refer to America, comparisons with other western countries would be interesting. I would hazard a guess that in countries with a higher incidence of conservative govts. you will get lower empathy. Capitalism after all does rely on us being selfish lonely robots.

It is also relevant with the resurgence of torture, and Bush’s recent ruling that actually doesn’t prohibit torture but gives legal and political cover to the perpetrators.

“It seems like the goal of today’s order is not to produce clarity, but rather to produce room for reasonable doubt when CIA officers are defending their own abusive conduct,” said Shayana Kadidal, Managing Attorney for the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

And news of further force feeding of hunger strikers at Gitmo further shows the distance from ethical standards even doctors have now moved-

Twice a day at the U.S. military prison here, Abdul Rahman Shalabi and Zaid Salim Zuhair Ahmed are strapped down in padded restraint chairs and flexible yellow tubes are inserted through their noses and throats.

In recent months, the number of hunger strikers has grown to two dozen, and the military is using force-feeding to keep them from starving.

The force feeding of hunger strikers by physicians at Guantanamo Bay under the authority of US officials is in direct violation of international codes of medical ethics, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today. Ethical codes endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), including the World Medical Association (WMA)’s 1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which was elaborated in the 1991 WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers (see links below), state clearly that “where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.”

And here is the beginning of a solution- withdraw from Iraq and nationalised healthcare. If you haven’t seen Sicko yet, go now!

Comms Failure

HAL smallBlogging will be intermittent until effective permanent repairs can be made.

Update: As a temporary measure a faltering wireless link has been rigged.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . Comments Off on Comms Failure

Blair & Murdoch & Goering

Tony Blair had three conversations with the media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the nine days before the start of the Iraq war, the Government has disclosed.Details of the former prime minister’s contacts with Mr Murdoch have been released under the Freedom of Information Act. After trying to block disclosure for four years, the Government backed down in a surprise change of heart the day after Mr Blair resigned last month.Yesterday the Cabinet Office said there were six telephone discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch in 20 months, all at crucial moments of his premiership. The subject of their calls was not revealed.

In 2003, Mr Blair phoned the owner of The Times and The Sun on 11 and 13 March, and on 19 March, the day before Britain and the United States invaded Iraq. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch-owned newspapers around the world. The day after two of the calls, The Sun launched vitriolic attacks on the French President Jacques Chirac. The Government quoted him as saying he would “never” support military action against Saddam Hussein, a claim hotly disputed by France.

Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch spoke again on 29 January 2004, the day after publication of the Hutton report into the death of Dr David Kelly. Their next conversation was on 25 April 2004, just after Mr Blair bowed to pressure led by The Sun for him to promise a referendum on the proposed EU constitution. They also spoke on 3 October that year, after Mr Blair said he would not fight a fourth general election.

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”- Herman Goering

Saddam has plans to use the weapons even against his own population and some are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them. – The Sun

Like a cheap tart who puts price before principle, money before honour, Jacques Chirac struts the streets of shame. The French President’s vow to veto the second resolution [on Iraq] at the United Nations – whatever it says – puts him right in the gutter.- The Sun

Time has run out for Saddam Hussein. His day of reckoning is at hand. The war on Iraq has begun… The courage and resilience of Tony Blair and George Bush will now be put to the ultimate test.- The Sun

Being anti-war won’t save you …it will give comfort to those fanatics who think the West is too soft to resist and has no stomach for a fight. -Richard Littlejohn, The Sun-on Spain’s election after the Madrid Bombing.

THE million who marched through London are an embarrassment to Britain. Would they rather wait until Saddam attacks us first?- The Sun.

Godwin’s law can go fuck itself. Welcome to the Fatherland.