Saturday, May 21, 2005

Unleash the sadists within: "THOSE two academic lawyers from Deakin University in Melbourne have struck a bold blow for liberty in advocating the use of torture in our war on terrorism.

"You will have read their argument in Tuesday's Herald. 'The belief that torture is always wrong is … misguided and symptomatic of the alarmist and reflexive responses typically emanating from social commentators,' wrote Professor Mirko Bagaric, head of the Deakin law school, and his beautiful brunette assistant, law lecturer Julie Clarke.

"Questioned on ABC radio, the professor said that sticking needles under people's fingernails to cause excruciating pain would be the way to go. Even to the point of 'annihilation', although that 'only in extreme circumstances'.

"What a refreshing change from the leftie hand-wringing so common in our universities these days.

"And economically sound, too: no more need for rendering, as it is called, the expensive business of dispatching terrorist suspects for a spot of outsourced torture at the hands of the professionals in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. We can do it cheaper here at home.

"OBVIOUSLY there is not a moment to lose. I urge the Howard Government to act immediately, with an advertising campaign along these lines:

'ASIO, Director of Torture, Grade 6. Salary range $175-200K (plus benefits). The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is seeking to recruit an experienced sadist to join the front line in the fight for freedom as head of its newly formed Directorate of Torture. The successful candidate will be a self-starter, demonstrating outstanding qualities of leadership and interpersonal violence. You will be forward looking and outcomes oriented, confident in managing stakeholder relationships in a dynamic environment, with extensive, hands-on experience in the administration of all forms of physical and psychological pain to subjects under interrogation, including the use of thumbscrews, the rack, near-drowning, partial garrotting, testicle crushing, solitary confinement and sleep deprivation, and the application of electricity to male and female genitalia. A postgraduate law degree would be desirable although not essential.'

"Surely there would be a rush of applications from right-thinking people eager to serve our country. Our free way of life is at stake."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement: Gorgeous George gives the US Senate a hell of a serve. That would be a video to see. How many times would these crooks and liars have been told, to their faces, that they are crooks, liars and war criminals?

"'Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

"“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"'Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.""

One commenter paraphrased the whole speech as follows: "It was your shameless hubris, greed and ghastly appetites that killed those people, those troops, those civilians. Your fuckin' arrogance and blindness and mendacity put the knife in the world, and you twisted it the way small time hoods do, and you have the temerity to drag my ass up here all fuckin' hoity-toity, but you're the ones who are the liars and murderers. May God have mercy on your worthless fuckin' souls, for I fear the world will not."

The $4.7 Trillion Pyramid: Michael Hudson criticises the Bush plot to privatize social security.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Howard's Gestapo Openly Advocate Torture: "Torture should be legalised and is a 'morally defensible' interrogation method, even if it causes the death of innocent people, according to an article by two Victorian academics.... [the authors state that] the belief that torture is always wrong is, however, misguided and symptomatic of the alarmist and reflexive responses typically emanating from social commentators. It is this type of absolutist and short-sighted rhetoric that lies at the core of many distorted moral judgements that we as a community continue to make, resulting in an enormous amount of injustice and suffering in our society and far beyond our borders."

"Professor Bagaric [one of the authors] is a part-time member of the [Howard] Government's Refugee Review Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal."

To bring this up at this stage indicates that Professor Barbaric is not the slightest bit deterred by the mind numbing revelations that the Iraq war was a high level conspiracy sold on a lie (the 'Downing St memo'); or that the vast majority of the unfortunate inmates of Guantanamo bay were admittedly not terrorists; or the general scandal surrounding the Bush administration and its 'torture memos'.

This development illustrates how sustained government lying about important issues assists the rise of fascism and barbarism. The 'war on terror' is no such thing: it is a war against the Arabs for control of the oil (which, incidentally, is what produces the insurgency or 'terrorism' of the Arabs; and the reduction of which terrorism is not, obviously, the priority of the 'Allies'). Torture (the purpose of which is to repress and terrorise, not to acquire information) is immoral and barbaric and must remain totally banned.

As the world and the country slide ever deeper into a great global crisis of energy, ecology, economics and politics, the debate over such matters as torture, concentration camps and the loss of civil liberties is a battle for the soul of the country and the future of freedom and democracy in a new era.

Monday, May 16, 2005

British Columbia (Canada) referendum on adopting Hare-Clarke voting system: "The thing that interests me even more is the way that the referendum came about. A couple of farcical election results (the current BC parliament has 77 government MPs to 2 lonely opponents) sowed the seed for change, but there is an obvious problem here. When discussing electoral reform, if every MP with a conflict of interest left the room you’d have an empty chamber. Independent inquiries are all very well, but often end up being made up of a bunch of retired pollies, who may not be much better. So the BC government did something really radical – they trusted the people. Not by handing them a referendum most people couldn’t understand, but by setting up a “Citizen’s Assembly”. 160 people were selected off the electoral roll at random. There is no evidence that any of them had even thought about the issue before, let alone held a formed opinion, but for 11 months they read submissions, quizzed experts and discussed.

"In the end an overwhelming majority agreed that the electoral system should change, that the change should be to what they call BC-STV (basically Hare-Clark but with electorates of varying populations and numbers of MPs) and a referendum giving final choice to the voters. The whole process restores one’s faith in the wisdom of the population. In discussing their conclusions the assembly members get to the heart of what democracy should be about, and they weighed up which system will best provide this. What's more, they communicated their decision in clear and moving prose of the kind that is now an endangered species in Australian political discourse.... It may all come undone. The major flaw in the BC process seems to have been the post recommendation publicity. An opinion poll taken a few months before the referendum showed that most people were still confused about the whole thing, and quite a lot didn’t even know it was on."

The British Columbia proposal, apart from some electorates having only two members, is a reasonably pure form of the Hare-Clark quota preferential method, and includes such advanced features as 'Robson Rotation'. A good case can be made that the Hare-Clark quota-PR (STV) system with its latest refinements is about the best and fairest method of electing representative bodies that is possible. And one must admit it is gratifying to see that a Citizen's Assembly comprised of people selected at random has also come to that conclusion. The first-past-the-post system is primitive, and it is symptomatic of how difficult and slow reform, politics and activism is that such primitiveness could endure for so long when plainly superior alternatives have long been known.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Torture’s Dirty Secret: "This is torture’s true purpose: to terrorize—not only the people in Guantanamo’s cages and Syria’s isolation cells but also, and more important, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resist—the individual prisoner’s will and the collective will.

"This is not a controversial claim. In 2001 the US NGO Physicians for Human Rights published a manual on treating torture survivors that noted: “perpetrators often attempt to justify their acts of torture and ill treatment by the need to gather information. Such conceptualizations obscure the purpose of torture….The aim of torture is to dehumanize the victim, break his/her will, and at the same time, set horrific examples for those who come in contact with the victim. In this way, torture can break or damage the will and coherence of entire communities.”

"Yet despite this body of knowledge, torture continues to be debated in the United States as if it were merely a morally questionable way to extract information, not an instrument of state terror."

Jenny Brockie and a whole SBS studio full of people discredited themselves recently by 'debating' the proposition that torture may be justified by the gaining of information. Torture is a tool of tyranny and dictatorship. Its purpose is to terrorise and suppress the population. Failure to understand this or to protest vigourously against it is to make oneself an accomplice to barbaric torture. De-nazification is needed, it seems, not only in the US, but also in Australia.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Biggest Story of Our Lives: "At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

"People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

"And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

"Many of the participants in this blog have graduate school educations. It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research and its uncanny accuracy and validity. We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.

"Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy."

Monday, May 09, 2005

ACT Human Rights Act 2004 (pdf - 34pp): A noble document which expresses many of the classic values, principles and freedoms we love so much, hardwon over the centuries, and that are now endangered by current events. This act can also serves as a basis for public discussion and a template for any future similar act for the State and Federal parliaments, or for a constitutional referendum.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Senator Brandis: Dog-whistling is the secret of Howard's success: "The political columnist Matthew Parris, a former Conservative MP, has written a wonderful piece which begins: 'May I claim my prize? Unless I am much mistaken, and unless my internet searches have missed something, it was I who brought the expression 'dog-whistling' to British politics. I did not invent it. For this honour - as for a good deal of vulgarly succinct modern slang - we have the Australians to thank. I borrowed the phrase from John Howard's election campaign.

"'It happened like this. In July 2003 two senators from Queensland contacted me to say they were shortly to visit Britain on a study tour and would like to meet me to discuss British politics. Flattered, I readily agreed. Senators George Brandis and Brett Mason came round to my flat and the three of us sat by the Thames on a late July day, discussing our politics and theirs.

"'They seemed decent, clever and interesting men, both members of Prime Minister John Howard's governing Liberal Party, although (I sensed) a little to the liberal side of that deeply conservative politician. I asked them what their leader's secret might be, given he seemed to have all the charisma of a stoat, and yet he had a habit of sneaking through to victory at the hustings.

"' 'Dog-whistling,' they replied."

'Dog-whistling' is a skill that Howard learned after being punished in the 80s for his more or less openly racist, anti-Asian stance. However if the tactic proves successful, and as things begin to deteriorate, one cant see why the racism will not be open and undisguised in future.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran: Michel Chossudovsky reviews the preparations for the June or later attack on Iran. He concludes it will be a bombing attack, but Iran has promised to retaliate with a missile strike on Israel and/or US bases and ships. This raises the prospect of escalation and all-out war.

Top secret Downing st memo leaked: There have been a number of leaks around the world which have devastated the US/UK/AUS case for war, but this is probably one of the most important ones. It provides documentary evidence of the widely believed view that the policy of attacking Iraq was decided upon early by Bush (with Blair concurring) and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Review of Israeli nuclear arsenal and policy: "According to Israel Shahak, "The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is." and "Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states.... Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East..., without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.""