Afghanistan Timetable?

Maybe the massive opposition to the Afghan occupation is getting through-

Gordon Brown tonight raised the prospect of agreeing a timetable for international withdrawal from Afghanistan, in a speech in which he claimed that almost half of al-Qaida’s leadership had now been killed. Brown said he hoped a UN- sponsored London conference in the new year would set a timetable for a transition to Afghan security forces taking charge of their own country.

Delivering the traditional prime minister’s foreign policy speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the City of London, Brown said the damage already inflicted on al-Qaida gave international forces the chance to set a timetable for pulling out.

Guilty Evasions

Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war in secret because he feared that he would be subjected to a “show trial” if it were opened to the public, the Observer can reveal.

Blair is believed to have been alarmed by the prospect that he might be asked to give evidence in public and under oath about the use of intelligence and about his numerous private discussions with US President George Bush at which the two leaders laid plans for war.

The Stupid Drug War Lumbers On

devharv.jpg

One of the defining characteristics of the drug war is politician’s ignoring expert findings and providing demagogic enforcement measures to placate idiot & ignorant voters. And never, ever, EVER considering de-criminalising and harm reduction allied to social reform. And Gordon’s no different-

Downing Street today signalled that the prime minister remained intent on toughening the law on cannabis despite reports that the government’s official drugs advisory body opposes its reclassification. Gordon Brown’s spokesman played down reports that the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs (ACMD) had concluded there was no need to raise the classification of cannabis from class C to class B.

The mental health charity Rethink said Mr Brown should heed the committee’s advice. The charity spokesman Paul Corry said: “Gordon Brown should put aside his personal views on cannabis and accept the fact that it does not make sense to reclassify.

“Use of the drug has gone down since it was downgraded in 2004 and research by Rethink shows that only 3% of users would consider stopping on the grounds of illegality.”

Cannabis was downgraded from class B to class C in January 2004. People still face up to two years in prison if caught in possession of the drug, while those supplying the drug to others can be given a five-year sentence.

Brown Does A Blair, UK Attacks Mehdi Army

Shock horror! NOT. UK troops were sent in to help the US/Maliki assault on the Sadrist nationalists

British forces have become directly involved in the fighting in Basra, as clashes continue between the Iraqi army and militiamen of the Mehdi Army. British troops launched artillery shells at a mortar position in the al-Klalaf area of northern Basra, which had been firing on Iraqi troops.

In Basra, British aircraft had been patrolling the skies during the course of the Iraqi government forces’ operation, but had previously not been used to attack militiamen. 

That’s why withdrawal doesn’t count unless they are out of the region and home, because it’s one phone call from the Whitehouse and bingo! They are back in the shit.

Mehdi Kazemi Now At The Mercy Of The Home Office

Which is not a good situation to be in. So boys and girls, here we go, the background-

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

In a phone conversation with his father in Tehran, Mr Kazemi was told that, before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Mr Kazemi. Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. Late last year, his claim was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of being deported, he made a desperate attempt to evade deportation by fleeing to the Netherlands

What happened in the Netherlands (from Paul Canning’s blog)-

As you may be aware from the BBC, the 19 year old gay Iranian refugee Mehdi Kazemi has lost his case in the Netherlands and the Dutch are refusing to reconsider.

The United Kingdom had sent a formal request to Holland asking for Mehdi’s return to Britain, in order to proceed with his deportation to Iran.

Now then the Home Office/Border and Immigration Agency are (well not fit for the purpose) operating a policy of appeasing immigration demagoguing scum stoked by tabloid imbecility so they routinely ignore the dangers people face if forced back to their countries. In this case it also reveals their absurd and bigoted hypocrisy-

Home Office’s position is that people like Mehdi can be homosexual ‘on the quiet’, therefore no ‘risk’, therefore we can send them back. That somehow homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice’. Meaning that they ‘choose’ to be persecuted, they ‘choose to break laws’.

The problem is a homophobic Home Office whose actual policy towards gay refugees is interchangeable with Iranian policy towards gays: it’s a ‘choice’.

So current state of play- he is on his way back to Britain where sufficient pressure and visibility will force the Home Office to actually live up to their pretence that they do not deport people who would be in danger. So, bring the noise-

Home Secretary, The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
House of Commons, Westminster,
London, SW1A 0AA
By Telephone and Fax : 01527 523355

By E mail: smithjj@parliament.uk
Home Office email
public.enquiries@ homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

indpublicenquiries@ ind.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

And of course sane and intelligent people can do this without it meaning bombing Iran is a splendid idea. I’m sorry I have to always say this, but right wingers & war pimps really are that stupid.

Fuck Your Militarist Propaganda

Only a short time ago the government was making noises of a review of whether to encourage the military to wear uniforms while out in public, well it seems that review is ongoing but the government has already concluded to encourage uniforms. And just in time for stories of personnel getting some aggro for wearing uniforms off base of RAF Wittering. What is the source of these reports? The MOD, are they spinning some weekend drunken shouting into patrio-porn enabling militarism? Vietnam vets being spat on redux? No police record of abuse just reports via the government and the CO (officers!) that claim verbal abuse. ‘Churnalism‘ in service of the establishment. Up pops Gordon and before you know it we have the ‘Queen & country’ spiel, combined with the recent well staged Prince Harry media campaign. This is clearly a coordinated push to use the respect and sympathy we have for troops who have been used to support America’s imperialism (and keep memories alive of ours) to quash dissent towards these wars (and mention of the lies perpetrated) as the 5th anniversary approaches. But the worship of empty uniforms does not extend to Ben Griffin, he is still gagged, one report today said the gag had been extended but the link to that story comes up error ridden.

Gag bid against ex-SAS man
TeleText – Scotland,UK
At an earlier hearing an interim order granted to the MoD in relation to Ben Griffin was continued by consent pending further argument in the case. …

Link (not working as far as I can see, the above text is from the email alert I got)
So the fascistic fetishising of the military is about forcing us to identify with the agenda of the ruling class by means of our feelings for those in the military. When a soldier speaks truths that conflict with establishment narratives he has the entire legal might of the government’s apparatus gag him under threat of prison. Where is their respect for the service of that soldier? This country was manipulated to show solidarity with a Royal Prince who revelled in his role in killing people while an exceptional soldier (both in his professional abilities and in his character and personal morality) from a more humble background is attacked and silenced, hidden from view lest people start to…God, Queen & Country forbid…identify with something other than the elite’s simulacrum.

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Brown Rejects No 10 Website Petition For Public Inquiry Into 7/7 bombings

Just got the email, yet another No. 10 petition ignored, clearly these things are designed to give the illusion of particpatory democracy, use up that energy, misdirect it and thus protect the unaccountable intentions of the establishment, here is what the official response says-

Thank you for signing the e-petition about 7 July bombings.

The Government understands the feelings of the survivors and relatives of those killed in the 7 July bombings. Our aim is to ensure that other families do not suffer the hurt, loss and pain caused by such attacks and that is why the protection of our people against future attack remains our top priority.

The Government remains of the opinion that a public inquiry is not required into the events of the 7 July 2005. There are processes currently underway which will address many aspects of the 7 July attacks:

Criminal proceedings in connection to the bombings have been brought and pursued. Three people have recently been charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and are currently awaiting trial. The police investigation into the 7 July 2005 bombings continues.
The inquests into the deaths of all those who died have yet to take place. Proceedings stand adjourned because of the criminal proceedings outlined above.
At the end of the Crevice trial in April 2007, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) were asked by the Prime Minister to re-appraise themselves of the information at their disposal – in particular, in relation to new information that emerged during the Crevice trial.
It remains the case that there was no prior intelligence that an attack was to be carried out on 7 July 2005. I can reassure you that the Police and Security Service would have done everything possible to prevent such an attack had any such intelligence been available. As highlighted by the Crevice investigation, the threat we face is complex. The presence of Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammad Siddique Khan in the periphery of the investigation of 2004 shows the scale and complex nature of the real and serious threat we face.

Well fuck you very much, not only do they deny an inquiry they use the refusal as a chance to peddle their misinformation. So let us now conclude:- bullshit rejection of a public inquiry has backfired. This only increases the calls for a public enquiry for accountability and for the government to admit their support of Bush’s murderous imperial adventurism put us in this danger. After that; remorse, apologies and making it right, a public enquiry is but one part of that. That would be for a government that was democratically accountable to us citizen’s, that it doesn’t happen tells you about the real dynamic of power that exists. And that’s a poisonous harvest to be sowing.

Update: Davide Simonetti who proposed the petition has a full breakdown at The Nether World (he kindly put a link to me but this is not mere polite reciprocating, he knows his stuff) of the government’s response and picks it apart lie for lie, obfuscation for obfuscation. There is no good way of turning down an inquiry but of the many ways it could be done this burbling pol speak nonsense is by far the worse. NuLabour excel at this corporate bilge-speak, somehow the gravity of the issue does not impinge on them, shameless bullshitting shiny suited wankers. And all the way through, that popular corporate myth of good faith, as if everyone was trying to be the best public servant they could be, not the responsibility evading, warmongering, mendacious little careerist establishment toerags they actually are.

The Consultation Scam- RoboCop II

In two recent cases the government’s consultation process has been shown to be an utter sham, an illusion of democracy where entrenched elites, the corporate lobby and their views override evidence & us-

Gordon Brown will call for an acceleration of nuclear power today in a speech to business leaders designed to show he is focused on the long term and will not buckle in the face of negative headlines. During his annual address to the Confederation of British Industry, the prime minister will also give his personal endorsement of the third runway project at Heathrow. He will tell business leaders: “Long-term reforms will intensify and be stepped up. We must leave behind the old policies of yesterday and plan for new long-term policies which will serve us better tomorrow. There are no answers to be found in old and outworn dogmas.”

Dogmas like..erm, truth, fairness and democracy apparently-

Greenpeace accused the Government of acting illegally by failing to consult properly on its nuclear power plans before giving them the go-ahead. Upholding their complaint, Mr Justice Sullivan criticised the consultation exercise, which lasted only 12 weeks as “seriously flawed”, “misleading” and “procedurally unfair”. The consultation document gave every appearance of being simply an “issues paper”, he said. It contained no actual proposals and, even if it had, the information given to the public was “wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response”, added the judge.

They must be on drugs, oh yes-

An influential Home Office-backed committee raised serious doubts about the consultation process behind the 10-year strategy which will be unveiled in April. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) described the process as ‘self-congratulatory and generally disappointing’ and questioned the credibility of much of the evidence presented to government.

the council said: ‘We consider that an opportunity has been missed to address the public health problem relating to drug misuse and the balance with law enforcement and the Criminal Justice System…The consultation would benefit from extending further to the wider social harm of drug misuse.’ It also said: ‘It is of concern that the evidence presented, and the interpretation given, are not based on rigorous scrutiny. It is not acknowledged that in many cases the information is uncertain and sometimes of poor quality.’

Steve Rolles of think tank Transform, which advises the UN on drugs policy, said: ‘The consultation process behind the new strategy has been woeful.’ Last month Transform branded the consultation process a ‘sham’, saying the government had already made up its mind to continue with its current strategy. (ht2 D-Notice)

Which means they will be ignoring this yet again-

The designation of drugs in classes A, B and C should be replaced with one more closely reflecting the harm they cause, a committee of MPs has said. The Science Select Committee said the present system was based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment.

The alternative system was prepared by Professor David Nutt, a senior member of the Committee that advises the government on drug classification, and Professor Colin Blakemore – chief Executive of the Medical Research Council.

_41949092_drugs_graph_416.gif

Of course there is money in them thar prisons- £300 million on one contract alone, 11 private prisons and drug related offences make up a large proportion of the prison populace (65% test positive for drugs at arrest, inmates for drug offences 13% -in 2000- and rising). And corporations involved are usually fingering lots of other privatisation pies, some steaming with war OF terror juiciness.

And treatment is a hard sell to the tabloid felch even though it works-

Initial results from a London pilot scheme where addicts inject themselves with heroin in a clinic suggest it has reduced drug use and crime.

Trial leader Professor John Strang, of the National Addiction Centre, based at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, told BBC News that about 40% of users had “quit their involvement with the street scene completely”.

BBC correspondent Danny Shaw said initial results suggested the experiment was having a profound effect on hardened heroin addicts. Many were leading much more stable lives and were enjoying better family relationships because they were no longer in and out of prison, our correspondent added.

The cost of the treatment, including providing heroin, is between £9,000 and £15,000 per patient – about three times as much as a year’s course of methadone.

And what does prison cost-

prison.jpg

So why RoboCop II? The MacGuffin was a drug called ‘nuke‘. Whereas the MacGuffin here looks like capital and institutional traditionalism. It took Semmelweis, Wendell Holmes, Nightingale, Pasteur years to get the medical profession to wash their frickin’ hands and thus stop killing their own patients and that is an educated & scientific grouping (and they are so fucking dumb we need to be taught it all over again, even if some of the patients are drinking the stuff, jeebus). The obstinacy of institutions to accepting change and judging new evidence fairly is mind destroyingly frustrating, the influence of greedy entrenched interests, moralists and opportunistic corporations compound the consultation process into a farce. Which leaves me even feeling pity for the poor politician dealing with it all, or it would if they showed any sign they were fighting these demons and not leaping into bed with them for that revolving consultancy/directorship treacly goodness. What is the point of finding what works or innovating when it all gets binned in favour of the same old comfortable shite and mutual back scratching corruption from the usual cast of pigly ‘business leaders’ whose second, third and fourth homes are never anywhere near the industrial centers workers call home. No wonder drugs are such a bleedin’ popular getaway.

Corruption Pays

Oh no! Can you believe it, a public asset is sold off for peanuts to the private sector and the govt. shills who ran the deal become multi-millionaires and national defence becomes the property of corporations and…the Carlyle Group was involved. Who’d a thunk it?

The part-sale of QinetiQ was ordered by the Treasury in the late 1990s and led to government assets being snapped up by a US private equity company at an eighth of their value.

“The report will be highly critical of the whole process, in particular the over-incentives given to senior civil servants to privatise part of QinetiQ,”

“…both US research workers and British research workers funded from the public purse would resent the fruits of their work going to enrich individuals in a private company.”

Sir John Chisholm, chairman of QinetiQ – and also chairman of the Medical Research Council – and Graham Love, the chief executive, turned investments of £129,000 and £108,000 into assets worth £22m and £18m respectively when the firm was floated in 2006.

At the same time Carlyle, the private equity group, which bought a stake in QinetiQ for £42m in 2003, was able to sell at a £300m profit three years later.

What you have to ask yourself is, the politician’s (Brown!) who did this, whose interests do their actions serve? The public who were robbed, or the corporations who were enriched, ok not a hard question. So what do we do when our elected representatives have betrayed us and are working against us? Because y’know a vote every few years ain’t really cutting it. Meanwhile the US part of this deal is simply more of the same pattern of public funds and liabilities being harvested into private hands by means of the ‘defence’ industry and great big lovely wars which turn a loss for the public commons but a profit for the corporations. So again can you guess who the politician’s are serving? Is there still the death penalty for treason?

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Brown Commits To War Poodlism

Gordon Brown declared last night that Britain “will lead” the international campaign to stop Iran’s nuclear programme, calling for new sanctions on oil and gas investments in the Islamic republic if it fails to comply with UN resolutions. In his first set-piece foreign policy speech, the prime minister described his approach as “hard-headed internationalism” and said that if Iran continued to ignore UN security council demands to suspend uranium enrichment, Britain would call for tighter sanctions.

It’s déjà vu all over again, maybe it’s just the confluence of war pimping filth but I feel like something has shifted a gear and we are in 2002 again with naught but the letter Q changed to N. Is there an emoticon for despondent or ennui? Live journal my arse.

Blair For President?

As Davide Simonetti at Blairwatch puts it- For The Love Of God, NO!!

Tony Blair would be a “great candidate” for any big international job, Gordon Brown said today amid speculation over who would be the first president of the European council. It follows a claim in the Financial Times that Mr Blair was being “heavily promoted” for the job by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

This would be a very empire friendly elite ruling the EU plus y’know that whole war criminal thing, is it that hard to distinguish between- should be in jail or hugely powerful President? Wow, that would make us really like America.

They’re Coming Across The Atlantic To Kill You

All three companies [UnitedHealth, Aetna and Humana] figure prominently in Michael Moore’s new film Sicko, a compelling indictment of the US health system – under which 18,000 Americans die a year because they are uninsured. Hardly the ideal players, you might think, to take a central role in the reform of the National Health Service.

But it is precisely these three corporations, along with 11 other private firms including KPMG, McKinsey and Bupa, that the government this month announced have been lined up to advise on or even take over the commissioning of the bulk of NHS services. Primary care trusts, which control most of the NHS’s £90bn budget, will now be encouraged to buy in advice from the 14 selected companies on health needs, contracts and local provision. Potentially, these corporations could take over the management of the heart of the NHS.

…a mixture of market dogma, business lobbying and a revolving door syndrome that saw Simon Stevens, former adviser to Tony Blair and a succession of New Labour health secretaries, move effortlessly on to become European president of UnitedHealth.

Of course ethically it is entirely consistent when your life is threatened to defend yourself, just because their rationale is choosing increased profit over life saving medical treatment doesn’t make them any less a threat to life than overt terrorism. Killing with a spread sheet in tasteful business attire in fact makes them a more insidious menace. We shall fight them on the beaches etc. Join the resistance.

Also, John Pilger on Sicko.

War Pimps, Like Paedophiles, Love To Fuck Up Children

And so it was I spent some time earlier today playing with my two youngest nieces, for a while we drew some pictures on a device not unlike this-

163538_s.jpg

Then upon returning to my secure-undisclosed-secret-under-volcano-hideaway my HAL 9000 supercomputer (which while state of art in 2001 is a tad ‘struggly’ these days, new 24″ imac anyone??) facilitated my perusing of various web ‘sites’ (as I believe they are called) from which I gleaned various information. Two separate blogs provided a collision of sorts with my earlier activities. Along with a report from the march in London, Lenin had a post about the pimping of an attack on Iran, it linked to a story that read-

Gordon Brown has agreed to support US air strikes against Iran if the Islamic republic orchestrates large-scale attacks by militants against British or American forces in Iraq, according to senior Pentagon officials. Washington sources say the Prime Minister has been informed of US plans to launch limited air and special forces raids against Revolutionary Guard bases. After talks with President George W Bush in July, Mr Brown left US officials with the belief that Britain was “on board” for a military response — but only if Iran was proved to be behind a big militant attack or another stunt similar to the kidnapping in March of British sailors.

Now this is in a Murdoch rag and uses Vincent Cannistraro a ‘former’ CIA spook who is not the most trustworthy/agenda-less person in the world, so it is another entry (to some extent) into the -‘encourage’ the PM into being obedient by publicising he has agreed thus making any dissent even harder- they look to seal the deal in the public arena with stories like this, to normalise the concept of the attack simply by repetition of talk about it in the media. It is part of the new drive for war that concentrates on attacking Iran is protecting our ‘brave boys & girls’ in Iraq from those dastardly Johnie foreigner types coming over the border and helping Iraqis…resist the invaders. Yeah, the moral high ground crap kind of runs out when even your dreamt up scenario has to paint people resisting a genocidal invading force as the bad guys. Ahem, so the casus belli/excuse is set, Iran is attacking our forces, thus an attack is virtually self defence!…Of an invading force that travelled thousands of miles and has killed over a million people and is already facilitating terrorist attacks within Iran, y’know, that kind of ‘self defence’. You know the sort, where you select a house because it looks nice and would be full of shiny things then break in rape, torture and kill the occupants haul off the gear and when a neighbour intervenes you knife them, that kind of ‘self defence’.

The other blog post was by Naj who posted some pictures made by Iranian children under the banner ‘Imagine Peace’, this is my pick-
iran008.jpg

And the others also carry quite a punch. So while in peril of falling into ‘won’t someone think of the children’ mawkishness, one has to ask if maybe our forces weren’t occupying Iraq then just maybe (d’you think?) we wouldn’t be looking to slaughter more people based on their bloody minded pursuit of being uppity and not gratefully accepting our introduction of ‘free & democratic’ bullets into their homes, bodies and children.

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The Race For Burma

It seems there are two concurrent and in some ways opposing narratives about Burma. Internationally much seems to be moving in a hopeful direction, the reaction to the explosion of resistance is different to ’88, change is possible, meanwhile internally the regime makes some PR concessions but the story is one of a tightening police state, rumours of atrocities and protesters on the run, adapting and overcoming to keep resistance alive.

The Burma Campaign UK are pleased with our Gordon-

The Burma Campaign UK today warmly welcomed the action the British government is taking with regards to the current crisis in Burma. The measures were summarised in a ministerial statement by Foreign Secretary David Miliband today.

“The steps the British government is taking are exactly what is needed,” said Mark Farmaner, Acting Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “They are applying pressure in all the right places. We are very pleased to see the government taking decisive action in this way.”

Only two points are outstanding-

What more could the British government be doing?
•    Support a United Nations arms embargo on Burma.
•    Release the names of companies trading with the regime. For many years we have been calling on the government to publish the names of companies that import goods from Burma into the UK. £26 million of goods were imported last year, but the Treasury refuses to disclose the names of those companies, citing a duty of confidentiality. However, the information could be released if the relevant government Minister decided it was in the national interest to do so. This would give the British public the choice of avoiding purchasing goods from Burma if they choose to do so.

But the mood seems to be Brown is actually doing something more than previous administrations (Thatcher, Major, Blair- not exactly hard, ahem). The UN are ‘debating’ a formal response, it’s hard not to see the realpolitik on show here, countries benefiting from the regime oppose a strong statement, countries who would like a slice of the Burma pie are coming over all concerned about democracy. But any port in a storm, the regime are so bad it is necessary to take support where it can be had, then perhaps the second era of a Burma campaign will be helping them resist a thorough sacking by the forces of neo-liberal ‘economic development’.

What is hopeful is only a very few government’s with vested economic interest in Burma are standing by the regime, overall condemnation is the persistent message (although the ever capitalist authoritarian Singapore leaves a lot to be desired)-

Malaysia’s foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, said General Than Shwe should drop any conditions on talks with Aung San Suu Kyi if Burma was to avoid a range of punitive sanctions being urged by the US and EU following the junta’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. “Myanmar [Burma] has no choice but to move towards democracy,” he said. The strong words that spoke for all Burma’s neighbours in the Association of South East Asian Nations came as the UN security council prepared to debate a draft resolution today condemning the repression

Internally the Generals feel enough pressure to make some PR moves, a weak diversionary tactic-

Burma’s military rulers have appointed an official to liaise with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an apparent concession to the UN. Aung Kyi, a retired general currently serving as deputy labour minister, was appointed to “continue relations [with her] in the future”, state TV said.

Dissected at length at Irrawaddy-

More probable is that this is a clever and calculated diplomatic offensive launched by Than Shwe and his experienced diplomats. The former psychological warfare officer was indeed manipulating in order to deflect external and internal opinion and criticism with the aim of buying time. Than Shwe has had two face-to-face meetings in the past with Suu Kyi and reportedly holds a grudge toward the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He and his hardliners masterminded a plot to kill Suu Kyi and her supporters in Depayin, a remote area in central Burma where no journalists, film crew or photographers were able to witness the carnage in May 2003. Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo (former army chief in the 1970s) narrowly escaped the thuggish attack and were taken in custody to a safe location by intelligence officers belonging to Gen Khin Nyunt, who was then still in power.

Although no film footage or photographs of the attacks reached the outside world, the incident prompted international condemnation. Than Shwe, however, launched a clever counteroffensive. Shortly after the attack, the regime surprised the world by releasing dozens of photographs of meetings between Suu Kyi and top leaders, including Than Shwe, to demonstrate that the regime had conducted dialogue with her, while accusing her of destabilizing the regime.

Now, after crushing the street demonstrations in Burma, the regime has stepped up its damage-control campaign, with the blessing of China and neighboring countries.

The other moves at perception management and outright corrupt propaganda suggest the regime is indeed less than sincere in its approach-

State-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar has published its own account of raids on monasteries by government security forces, including allegations of items recovered in the raids.

Burmese authorities blamed some monks, along with 88 generation students and “bogus monks”, for fomenting unrest and threatening monks who did not participate in the recent mass demonstrations in Burma. The paper also denounced foreign media, which it accused of misinformation and fabricating stories about the deaths of monks during the protests.The article defended security officers who had rounded up all the monks during the monastery raids, claiming that they were unable to distinguish between the real monks and imposters and so had to arrest everyone.

Among the items that had reportedly been found during the raids were alcohol, pornographic and sexual materials, women’s clothing, anti-government literature and a variety of weapons. U Gambira, a spokesperson for the People’s Movement Leader Committee, dismissed the claims. “People of Burma and the whole world know whether these accusations being made about monks by the junta are really true or not. Monks are peaceful people and we don’t need to give any answer to the government’s claims as everyone knows the truth. But still, I would like to say this is a very bad thing the [Burmese government] has done,” he said.

This leads into the parallel story, of the continuing lockdown and extermination of dissent, prisoners are moved to unknown locations and some are beaten to death in custody. And another story of mass cremations appears, albeit in a Murdoch rag-

The Burmese army has burnt an undetermined number of bodies at a crematorium sealed off by armed guards northeast of Rangoon over the past seven days, ensuring that the exact death toll in the recent pro-democracy protests will never be known.

The secret cremations have been reported by local people who have seen olive green trucks covered with tarpaulins rumbling through the area at night and watched smoke rising continuously from the furnace chimneys.

And the resistance is now underground, an atmospheric undercover video report from the BBC here. The web is back up partially which is good and bad, the regime reckon they have crushed the uprising so the web is not a threat, which is bad if they are right, but with the web up the resistance can organise more easily and communicate directly with the outside world. So this is the race for Burma, the regime strangling the democracy movement while internationally some real difference in response suggests the military will not be able to revert to their standard operating procedures.

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Burma Protest

Campaigners in 30 cities around the world are staging a series of rallies against the bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Burma.The marches, starting at noon, began in New Zealand then moved to Asia and Europe, ahead of North America later.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown met marchers in London and vowed to keep “pressure for change” and push for more EU sanctions against the regime.

Make that 31! Protest at Total in Llandudno went well, full report vid and pics in due course. Meanwhile Gordon is not so keen on home grown protesters-

This is rather a ham-fisted attempt to prevent us from demonstrating. What they (the government and police) do is up to them. We will just ignore them and we have the moral and logical high-ground.

Stop the War Coalition planned a march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square on Monday – the day parliament resumes – to draw attention to the fact that a lot of us are still thinking about Iraq and to call for the immediate withdrawal of troops. Using an archaic law (the 1839 Metropolitan Police Act), that demonstration has now been banned. Now why would that be? Stop the War Coalition has organised dozens of such demonstrations, and as far as I know not one person has been hurt. So it can’t be public safety that’s at stake.

It would take courage for Gordon Brown to say: “This war was a catastrophe.” It would take even greater courage to admit that the seeds of the catastrophe were in its conception: it wasn’t a good idea badly done (the neocons’ last refuge – “Blame it all on Rumsfeld”), but a bad idea badly done. And it would take perhaps superhuman courage to say: “And now we should withdraw and pay reparations to this poor country.”

I don’t see it happening. But the demonstration will, legal or not: on Monday Tony Benn will lead us as we exercise our right to remind our representatives that, even if Iraq has slipped off their agenda, it’s still on ours. Please join us.

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