American politics

American politics&British politics&Global politics&Middle East14 Aug 2006 08:18 pm

Cowley Road, East Oxford

Cowley Road, East Oxford – Photo by Dood LD, originally posted on Indymedia

“When monarchs through their bloodthirsty commanders lay waste to a country, they dignify their atrocity by calling it ‘making peace'”.
– Tacitus

American politics&British politics&Global politics10 Aug 2006 01:20 pm

Yeah, I'm hotlinking from the BBC. Don't fret, they can afford the bandwidth. I am forced to pay them handsomely every year.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
– Joseph Goebbels

“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.”
– Joseph Goebbels

“Once a government resorts to terror against its own population to get what it wants, it must keep using terror against its own population to get what it wants. A government that terrorises its own people can never stop. If such a government ever lets the fear subside and rational thought return to the populace, that government is finished.”
– Michael Rivero

“It also gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware the people around us are of what is really happening to them.”
– Adolf Hitler

American politics&British politics&Middle East21 Feb 2006 01:16 am

So let’s get this straight.

You’re a north African Muslim and a qualified pilot. You can work in Britain.

Somehow, you can be falsely accused of training terrorists. You can be wrongly detained in one of Britain’s most notorious high security prisons. You can be threatened with extradition to the US as a terror suspect, with all the nightmarish visions that conjures. Then you can be released after 5 months without charge and told by a judge there is not a bit of evidence against you.

But you aren’t eligible for any compensation for the wasted 5 months of your life, your ruined career or the injustice you have suffered.


Lofti Raissi

Luckily Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi has now won the right to a judicial review, which means he might just get some compensation for his pains after all.

But if he still doesn’t win the argument, it means we have a criminal justice system which allows an Algerian to be banged up in Britain for no reason and receive no recompense for his shredded life even when found innocent.

Well, I feel safer just thinking about it. Thanks once again, government.

American politics31 Jan 2006 07:15 pm

Apparently some American bloke is delivering a speech tonight.

It seems he’s going to talk about how all the countries who decided to stop trading in dollars a few years ago and start trading in Euros instead – aka The Axis Of Evil – are still evil.

In the face of impending US economic collapse once the dollar ceases to be the world’s reserve currency – aka Risks To National Security – he will propose controlling these renegade nations (Iran, North Korea, what’s left of Iraq, what’s left of Afghanistan) by fair means or foul – aka Business As Usual.

It will last 38 minutes, not including breaks for spontaneous applause, heckling or laughter.

There, my American friends. Now you have a concise version before the event, you get to spend your evening doing something more fun than watching da Prez read an autocue. Here to help!


(I know these simian photos are so five minutes ago, but they remain irresistible.)

American politics&Asia Pacific&Europe&Human rights25 Jan 2006 09:36 pm

Chinese dog characterGoogle have joined Microsoft and Yahoo in capitulating to the Chinese government. They are offering a censored version of their search engine for use by Chinese citizens.

A lot has been said about this by Westerners of all political persuasions, but what surprises me most is that it surprises anyone. ‘BUSINESS MAKES DECISIONS BASED ON PROFITS RATHER THAN ETHICS‘ is hardly going to trouble the front pages.

What’s more unsettling, and increasing every day, is the volume of articles about how China’s emerging economy will be the ruin of the planet. Sanctimonious articles by supposedly left-leaning writers like this one are everywhere.

Apparently the environment is going to collapse under the strain of the entire world consuming at post-industrialist levels, and it’s all China’s fault for zooming up to Western levels of consumption.

The jawdropping hypocrisy of this viewpoint seems never to be questioned by any editor. China’s speedy adaptation to a Western-esque lifestyle is quite likely to be the last straw, survival-wise. But how can any Westerner argue that the problem is China? Europe, America and Japan rampaged across the planet’s resources long before China and India got anywhere near our rapacious behaviour. Now they are close behind, but the problem is not seen to be Ours or Everyone’s. It’s Them. It’s Their fault. They are worse than Us now, so They should be the ones to cut back.

Year of the Dog The Guardian article says:

The western economic model – the fossil fuel-based, car-centred, throwaway economy – is not going to work for China. If it does not work for China, it will not work for India, which by 2031 is projected to have a population even larger than China’s. Nor will it work for the 3 billion other people in developing countries who are also dreaming the “American dream”.

The implication here must be that our disgustingly wasteful consumerist economic model “works” for us.

As must be obvious to anyone with a basic grasp of arithmetic, it does not. It “works” only to deplete our planet to the point of collapse. The “American dream” – which is not too far ahead of the western European dream when it comes to consumerism – is fundamentally flawed. There is no such thing as endless growth. There are no more Earths to ransack.

So no, rampant capitalism won’t “work” for China or India, any more than it “works” for us. The difference is that China and India will probably never have the ultra-consumerist experience, however short-lived, because we’ve already used up most of the earth’s resources. Surrounded by riches beyond the wildest imagination of most of the world, and aware that the earth cannot even sustain our extravagance for much longer, we now begrudge anyone who might forshorten our reign of luxury.

Chinese lanterns “Sorry mate, we ate the last slice of cake. Hands off the crumbs though, you greedy pigs! Have you no SHAME?”

That’s about the size of it.

So any commentator who claims the earth’s impending destruction is the fault of China and its new-found Western-style materialism cannot be thinking clearly. Or they must be employed by a large corporation that has a vested interest in keeping the global status quo exactly as it is.


No, that one won’t be troubling the front pages either.

American politics&South Asia06 Dec 2005 05:18 pm

Blatant attempts to embroider the truth
Upset Pakistan’s English-studying youth.
Schools found their textbooks contained a lame rhyme
Hiding a reference to Bush in each line.

Intrigue ensued, for the source is unknown.
Some think this hint was deliberately sown
As a seed of discreet propaganda; and so,
Now the secret is out, the trick poem must go.
Islamabad calls Bush a close favoured friend.
Desperate to please, their own people they send
In chains to Guantánamo Bay, without trial,
On a mission to win Dubya’s simian smile.
Torture and Bush-praising poets are vile.

American politics&British politics&Middle East&News media&The art of blog26 Nov 2005 10:35 am

Publish the Al-Jazeera memo, Tony, you power-crazed maniac
Did George Bush order the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar to be bombed? Or did he not?

If he did, did Tony Blair attempt to talk him out of it? Or did he not?

The Daily Mirror says yes. The British newspaper was gagged by the Attorney General after revealing the existence of the memo.

David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, civil servants who handled the memo, are due to appear in court next week, charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Until the memo in question is published, we cannot know for certain. What we do know is that its contents are sufficiently important that a D-notice was slapped on them, forbidding publication. Any editor who does so will be prosecuted for violating national security. To even the least politically-minded, that gesture speaks volumes.

Thankfully, Al-Jazeera aren’t taking this news lying down and are demanding that the memo is published. And several editors (including Tory MP Boris Johnson of the Spectator) and a legion of bloggers (like our own Red, who also designed the jazzy button at the top right of this post) have announced that they’ll happily publish the memo if they’re given a copy.

The Official Secrets Act is supposed to protect the safety of the country, not protect the current government from political embarrassment. I hope the brightest legal minds in the country will put their efforts into making this distinction if David Keogh and Leo O’Connor go to full trial.

If I happen to come across a copy, I’ll post it here and email it to every likeminded editor and blogger I can find. If another blogger or editor publishes the memo, I will be delighted to reproduce it on this blog, and so will plenty of others.

What will they do, arrest us all? Let’s see.

American politics&British politics&Middle East26 Oct 2005 09:18 pm

Can anyone explain to me how I’m supposed to be deeply affected by the thought of 2,000 dead American military personnel in Iraq, while simultaneously not being bothered about the 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died violent deaths in the same period?

I’m having a few problems with that one today.

Boy weeps in Iraqi rubble

As always, visit BugMeNot for a login if you want to read the Lancet report for yourself.

American politics25 Oct 2005 10:19 pm

The men behind the curtain Here’s a story from this week’s Schnews mailout:

A schoolkid in North Carolina got a bit more attention than he bargained for recently when he submitted his work for class. His teacher had set a project to take photographs that illustrated their liberties as guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. So one kid took a photo of himself standing beside a poster of George Bush, giving him the “thumbs down”. He put the film into Wal-Mart’s for developing, who then promptly informed the police. Suspecting subversion, the FBI paid a visit to the school, confiscated the offending photograph, grilled the teacher for a bit, then had a few patriotic words with the boy.

I can laugh about this, but only to stop myself yelling in impotent fury. Meanwhile, Blair is taking notes.

American politics&Corporate&Human rights09 Sep 2005 10:58 am

I initially wrote this as a comment to the post below but, having finally realised (with help from Mr Swiss) that it is crazy to bury long rants in comments and later plead blogger’s block, I am posting it here instead.

Pat commented that the article quoted in the post below is very harsh.

Well yes, it is harsh. I agree. As I said, I doubt I would’ve put it quite like that.

Nonetheless, I share the sentiment behind it.

The idea that a shoot-to-kill policy was put in force in New Orleans to stop looting – to protect property over human life, in other words – is just staggering.

I know there are some fairly effective attempts by officials to excuse this, such as the “We’re just protecting law-abiding citizens from rapists and crack addicts” excuse, but the bottom line is exactly what that article says: “one item of our property is worth more than your life”. Initially, it was admitted in the international media that the shoot-to-kill approach was intended to protect property, presumably to reassure those who have some. That cry seems to have turned to a whisper, in the face of international disapproval, but it doesn’t change the motive.

This is capitalism at its rawest, without the usual sweeteners which make it palatable.

In modern life, money rules. You will be killed if you attempt to come between capital and the rich. That’s true for everyone, everywhere. The police protect those with property; those who have power, influence, things. The life of a poor person is worth less than a single dollar to the rich. You need only look at the local droughts around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants, or the sweatshop labour of Asia, to see that. It’s not news to any of us. We know what makes the world go round.

Again, it doesn’t really shock any of us that poor, disenfranchised people are not considered worthy of much official effort when it comes to saving lives. They do not constitute an important market, and they are not sufficiently shackled to the labour market, for various reasons, to affect the economy. So what use are they? (See also: most of Africa.)

So what’s most chilling of all about the New Orleans situation is that it is not an anomaly. It is merely the hideous face of modern capitalism without its make-up on.

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