Monday, December 19, 2005
A Carol Service is planned
Harold Bloom wrote in the Guardian on Saturday
- "...Among the profiteers of our Iraq crusade are big oil (House of Bush/House of Saud), Halliburton (the vice-president), Bechtel (a nest of mighty Republicans) and so forth. All of this is extraordinarily blatant, yet the American people seem benumbed, unable to read, think, or remember....
There is now a parody of the American Jesus, a kind of Republican CEO who disapproves of taxes, and who has widened the needle's eye so that camels and the wealthy pass readily into the Kingdom of Heaven. We have also an American holy spirit, the comforter of our burgeoning poor, who don't bother to vote. The American trinity pragmatically is completed by an imperial warrior God, trampling with shock and awe...."
And here we are in the week before Christmas 2005.
Ox and Ass looking benignly down onto a baby in a manger. The smell of fir needles, mandarine oranges and baking mince pies... Forgotten Magic.
Nowadays, like Scrooge, one would much rather not be reminded ("Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?") of the global malaise and grief elsewhere. For the survivors of earthquake-torn Pakistan and Kashmir snow is not a winter wonderland. The people whose communities were torn apart by the tsunami do not inhabit a beach paradise, and on the streets of Hong Kong people trying to do something, anything, to stem the globalised juggernaut of the Haves against the Have-Nots have been "held back" by Chinese police. Chinese police only last week, to make way for a power station, but away from the world's cameras, fired on and killed at least 70 peaceful farmers in Shanwei.
As for the charitable urge that swept through so many last Boxing Day - we hear that much of the money that has not simply disappeared has gone to build luxury hotels in glitzy new resorts that will have no place for the people whose lives were destroyed by the filthy giant waves.
Meanwhile, the Leader of the Free World, the president of Land of the Free, who allows torture, spies on his own people and even makes checks on people's library books, says in a televised address, that the war in Iraq is still being won and asks the people "not to give in to despair". And in England, if you stand within the area desgnated by the Mother of Parliaments and recite the names of the British dead in Iraq you are arrested and charged under Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 for committing such a serious and organised crime.
It does rather turn the taste of mince pies into ashes, the wrapping paper into sackcloth. But having the blessed and the cursed human ability to turn away from the unbearable, the possibility of a Happy Christmas remains.
A Carol Service is planned for 6pm on Wednesday the 21st of December 2005 in Parliament Square. It will contain both Christian and secular verse, and is expected to last no more than an hour. People are asked not to bring placards, banners or circulars to this event. Candles and song sheets will be made available, with donations going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children. The details can be found at
Anyone who attends will know they are in danger of being arrested. The police have been invited - but not "notified". So while singing policemen would be a festive addition - the police are as likely to be singing as red-nosed reindeer are to be flying over the Houses of Parliament.
God bless us every one.
Monday, November 28, 2005
a mess of memos, a wealth of whistle-blowers
28/29th November 2005 ~ David Keogh and Leo O'Connor will appear before Bow Street magistrates on Tuesday.
They are charged with leaking the secret 5-page FCO government memo. Iraq in the Medium Term - (which has been on warmwell via the Sunday Times since May 23 2004)
Like the excellent Blairwatch, we are confused as to why the names of Mr Keogh and Mr O'Connor have been linked (in this BBC report, for example) to the 5-page Downing St "Al Jazeera" memo about which the Attorney General has issued his threat of the OSA - in which it appears that George Bush, during a face-to-face meeting with Mr Blair at the White House on April 16 2004,talked about bombing al-Jazeera's building in Doha.
Blairwatch says that the Mirror
- ".. suggest that their memo is the one that David Keogh and Leo O'Connor are being charged over. This is the line that has been taken by the media and Downing St since the story surfaced. Downing St confirming their view that the memo could not be disclosed because it was sub-judice."
- "Could it also be possible that Messrs Keogh and O'Connor are being charged with the leaking of more than one document, but we only know about the charges relating to the Times memo, because it is in the public domain?"
We wait and may see - can Keogh and O'Connor really be thought to have threatened "the country's security or to its international relations" by blowing the whistle on the FCO document?
Michel Berlins in the Guardian has
- "been trying all weekend to think of ways in which disclosing the memo - even if, apart from the al-Jazeera bits, it also contains what Bush and Blair said about the US attack on Falluja - could cause the damage required by the act. I have failed..."
28th November 2005 ~Attorney General. "Me, of all people, gag the press? Heaven forfend." Michel Berlins in the Guardian
- " He was merely reminding papers, in the words of his note to them, "that to publish the contents of a document which is known to have been unlawfully disclosed by a crown servant is itself a breach of section 5 of the Official Secrets Act".
28th November 2005 ~ Sir Ian Blair is to be investigated by the police complaints commission over his role in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Mr de Menezes. See Reuters
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The notion that you can make the world a better place by making it illegal to say nasty and dangerous things has the intellectual sloppiness....
....the headline-seeking shallowness, the philosophical carelessness and the creepy mix of the sinister with the sanctimonious, that marks it out as absolutely characteristic of our Prime Minister’s mind..." wrote Matthew Parris in The Times on September 17th.
Now we have the extraordinary spectacle of Peter Goldsmith, the Attorney General, (or Witchfinder General, brandishing the Official Secrets Act) threatening all and sundry that if they publish the leaked Foreign Office memo, already referred to by the Mirror, they will be damned.
Simon Jenkins is not impressed.
27th November 2005 ~ "The Official Secrets Act is a reasonable tool of internal Whitehall discipline. But it cannot be an appropriate punishment for members of the public or reporters, once a secret is out. ..." Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times
The Attorney General "...... is dragging David Keogh, a former civil servant, and Leo O’Connor, a former political aide, before the Bow Street magistrates for allegedly leaking a memo to the Daily Mirror. As Tulkinghorn would intone, “The reputation of one of England’s noblest families is at stake.” The name of the Blairs must be protected at all costs.
Goldsmith risks going down in history as the most miserable holder of his Janus-faced office. He is supposedly an “independent law officer” and adviser to the government (as over Iraq). Yet he also enjoys the patronage of the prime minister as his private legal counsel (as over Iraq). The conflict of interest is glaring. ..." Read in full
"I'll go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera" says Boris Johnson
- "If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. .. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for..."
Peter Kifoyle's EDMs are EDM 1084 and EDM1117
Is your MP among Friday evening's list of those supporting Douglas Hogg's Early Day Motion?
"That this House believes that there should be a select committee of seven honourable Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to military action in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath."
Wareing, Robert N
If not, and you wonder why not, trying faxing your MP online (new window). It is simple.
Many of al-Jazeera's employees have long been privately convinced that their offices in Kabul and Baghdad were deliberately targeted by the Pentagon in 2001 and 2003.
Gagging the press "It is time for the media and lawyers to view the current gag in light of Gun's case. It is time for an editor to challenge the political process and force the issue to be put before a politically unbiased court of law.
To the extent that the attorney general may choose to threaten the UK press, the press should robustly rebut such threat with reference to the European convention on human rights. Under Article 10 of the convention the freedom to receive and impart information can only be constrained if it is prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society..." Guardian
On the 24th November 2005 ~Radio 4's Today interviewed Ambassador Joseph Wilson
(Mr Blair )"... will have to explain exactly how that happened but certainly, as an outsider, it looks like he was double crossed and had no choice but to go along with it." (written extracts from the Today Interview with Ambassador Wilson : warmwell transcript)
- " I think Mr Blair really thought that he was getting involved in a disarmament campaign- which was all to the good - I fully supported that. I think at the end of the day he was double-crossed by the regime change crowd in Washington and by that time… he will have to explain exactly how that happened but certainly, as an outsider, it looks as though he was double crossed and had no choice but to go along with it." (Read in full)
Plame Scandal On the Today Programme Ambassador Joseph Wilson spoke to James Naughtie (extracts: warmwell transcript)
BBC: "The husband of the CIA agent whose identity was revealed by the White House, says that Tony Blair was double crossed by those in the Bush administration who wanted to go to war with Iraq regardless of the situation on weapons of mass destruction." Listen Again
- " 'The British Government has recently learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' ....the Administration knew full well that those words weren't true..."
- "...what I saw was a two year smear campaign, a campaign to assassinate my character and impugn my integrity and that reached a crescendo when a Congressman stepped forward and said that my wife, who was a complete innocent in all this, "got what she deserved"...I have always speculated that the real reason they did this was to send a signal to others..."
See also Valerie Plame pages and the Niger pages on warmwell.
(written extracts from the Today Interview with Ambassador Wilson.)
24th November 2005 ~Sending a signal to others?. Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White in the Guardian - Secrecy gag prompted by fear of new Blair-Bush revelations today talk of , "this week's unprecedented threat by the attorney general to use the Official Secrets Act against national newspapers."
- "....Andrew Nicol QC, a media law expert, said he was unaware of any case going to trial where a newspaper or journalist had been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. He said Lord Goldsmith appeared to be trying to "put down a marker" to prevent further leaks or publication of further disclosures from the document already allegedly leaked.
Last night the former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle tabled a Commons motion saying Mr Blair should publish the record of his discussion with Mr Bush."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Passing the Buck...
- It looks at Federal cover-up claims that the breaching of the levees was never anticipated. "officials have warned for years that a Category 4 [hurricane] could cause the levees to fail."
- "... two news articles falsely reported that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had failed to declare a state of emergency, which had supposedly hampered the federal response..." (She declared a state of emergency on August 26)
- "Gingrich falsely claimed that Nagin could "have kept water pumped out" of city had he ensured that pumps worked."( The New York Times also noted that "[e]fforts to add backup power generators to keep [the pumps] all running during blackouts have been delayed by a lack of federal money.")
We also read that
- Michael Brown, in a Sept. 2 broadcast of NBC's Today, claimed "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day" whereas NBC News photojournalist Tony Zumbado reported on MSNBC Live "...I can't put it into words the amount of destruction that is in this city and how these people are coping. They are just left behind. There is nothing offered to them. No water, no ice, no C-rations, nothing....They just want food and support. And what I saw there I've never seen in this country. ..."
In fact, many people, far from going to the Superdome voluntarily were, according to the Associated Press, Aug. 31 "herded" there :
- "After several hours, a small fleet of rented moving trucks showed up to take the people to the downtown convention center ...... Police herded people up metal ramps like cattle into the unrefrigerated boxes."
It considers the Federal Government's attempts to deflect blame onto state and local officials in Louisiana :
The history of Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans is already being rewritten. The UK foot and mouth disaster, while it resulted in unnecessary and distressing slaughter, did not cause the loss of human life - except the suicides (and the number 60 has been quoted) of those who were in despair - but there are similarities.
When the authorities chose not to heed warnings, to disregard and criticise local expertise, and subsequently threw their weight about with arrogance, cruelty, ignorance and complacency, the cover-up that followed was almost wholly successful - to the extent that in April 2004, the Government voted to congratulate itself on "eradicating a major outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in seven months and on implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Royal Society Inquiries so that Government is better prepared to tackle a future outbreak of a major livestock disease"
.. Words fail.
This is not a frivolous analogy. A government that puts central power and its own importance before proper, ethical, informed and common sense planning is a disgrace to the name of democracy. One that takes an unwilling country into a miserably futile and filthy war, in spite of the many informed voices of warning, is criminally wrong. Faced with a catastrophe, it then tries to shift the blame away and stridently to proclaim its "triumph" - safe in the knowledge that there is no viable opposition left to hustle it into a straitjacket and consign it, as it deserves, to the padded cells.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Another attempt to silence John Humphrys?
A disgraceful article appeared in the Times on Saturday with the headline Radio's king of rude launches another salvo at Labour 'liars'. "King of Rude" is nonsense and the whole article, written by Tom Baldwin and Andrew Pierce, is a crude smear. And who "leaked" the video of a speech, not intended for public ears, to the Times? Why is that nauseating article written in such tones of outrage? Who is the "source close to the BBC Governors"? One also close to Qinetic perhaps. The article concludes,
- "a source close to the BBC Governors said that Humphrys had gone too far, adding: “ On Hutton, he is wrong on substance. There have to be guidelines about what BBC presenters can speak about.
He certainly needs to be rebuked or more. .."
- “If we were not prepared to take on a very, very powerful government, there would be no point in the BBC existing — that is ultimately what the BBC is for.”
The BBC says that Michael Grade has "ordered an investigation" and a transcript. What nonsense it all is. Thank all the gods for the grasp and grit of John Humphrys. He may be arrogant and outspoken - but we need him desperately.
Of course the sycophants and the dark cabal want him silenced.. He is the voice gently and humorously reminding us that the Emperor has no clothes on.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
London police maintain "shoot-to-kill" policy
Reuters "London's police force has reviewed its controversial "shoot-to-kill" policy and left it largely unchanged despite the killing of a Brazilian mistaken for a would-be suicide bomber, Scotland Yard said on Saturday..."
"Largely unchanged" presumably means that Sir Ian Blair can go on making lying statements to compliant journalists, "Gold Command" can go on giving the order to shoot to kill random passers-by who have not been identified as even "alleged" terrorists (but who may, perhaps have wrong looking eyes), no warning will be given, people may be held around the arms and torso by one plain clothes officer while another shoots them in the head at point blank range... and all this, to make us feel "safer".
Where, oh where, is the democratic opposition to this utterly unbelievable, frightening nonsense?
In his article for Dissident Voice, Mike Whitney writes, " It always astonishes how quickly the demagogues in Washington and London swing into action when there’s a chance to hack away at personal freedom. They seem to operate on the theory that people will only be safe when the country assumes the same standards of justice as, let’s say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia."
He quotes the Prime Minister of Great Britain on the subject of "terrorism"
- "There is no justification for it, period,” Blair opined. “And we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil. Not just the methods but the ideas. …We are not having any of this nonsense about it is to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any of the rest of it.' It is nonsense, and we have got to confront it as that. And, then we will start to beat it...”
“We shouldn't even allow them the vestige of an excuse for what they do,” Blair boomed. “What is happening in Iraq is that ordinary, decent Iraqis are being butchered by these people with the same terrorist ideology that is killing people in different parts of the world.”
Really? How odd that the rest of the world sees it as the predictable reaction to a barbarous occupation"
- "... the consummate political poseur: always ready to wrap himself in the Union Jack, assume a Churchillian pose and rattle-off some patriotic claptrap about battling evil...He’s become a tattered coat on a stick flailing away at the ether to no affect; an empty gourd of a man; pallid and soulless; ..."
I too am despairing of seeing anything more than self-serving, high-handed vanity and callousness in the actions of the authoritarians we have allowed to rule our lives. The half-way decent ones such as Mo Mowlam and Robin Cook have gone, leaving behind precious few in whom we can have any trust. Reid? Clarke? Byers? Mandelson? Blunkett? Beckett? Blears? Howard and his ilk? Mere partners in a danse macarbre, choreographed elsewhere.
John Pilger writes in similar vein to Mike Whitney, describing a particularly nasty raid on the Iqra Learning Centre and book store near Leeds. The Iqra Trust is a well-known charity that promotes Islam worldwide as "a peaceful religion which covers every walk of life." Pilger, in his New Statesman article, says:
- "....The police smashed down the door, wrecked the shop and took away anti-war literature which they described as "anti-western".
Among this was, reportedly, a DVD of the Respect Party MP George Galloway addressing the US Senate and a New Statesman article of mine illustrated by a much-published photograph of a Palestinian man in Gaza attempting to shield his son from Israeli bullets before the boy was shot to death. The photograph was said to be "working people up"..... It is not known whether the police have yet read the chapter that documents how the Americans, with help from MI6 and the SAS, created, armed and bankrolled the terrorists of the Islamic Mujahideen, not least Osama Bin Laden.
The raid was deliberately theatrical, with the media tipped off. Two of the alleged 7 July bombers had been volunteers in the shop almost four years ago. "When they became hardliners", said a community youth worker. "They left and have never been back and they've had nothing to do with the shop." The raid was watched by horrified local people. who are now scared, angry and bitter...."
John Pilger's article begins by raising fears of a black list here that will go far beyond terrorism. Thomas Friedman is the New York Times columnist who wants the US State Department to draw up a blacklist of those who make "wrong" political statements - such as those who believe American actions are the root cause of the current terrorism.
- "...The latter group, which he describes as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists", includes most Americans and Britons, according to the latest polls.
" this McCarthyite rubbish has floated across the Atlantic and is now being recycled by the prime minister as proposed police-state legislation, little different from the fascist yearnings of Friedman and other extremists. For Friedman's blacklist, read Tony Blair's proposed database of proscribed opinions, bookshops, websites. The British human rights lawyer Linda Christian asks: "Are those who feel a huge sense of injustice about the same causes as the terrorists - Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib - to be stopped from speaking forthrightly about their anger?"
Websites such as warmwell.com, make "wrong" political statements every day. They are written by perfectly ordinary people trying to make sense of an increasingly senseless world. Are we also,(in small letters somewhere at the bottom), soon to find ourselves on a blacklist?
Dammit. I shall quote the quintessentially English John Betjeman - whose poem here would no doubt have landed him on Mr Blair's blacklist too - "Come, friendly bombs..."
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Giant wind farms are to save the country from global warming. The wild beauty of the windiest parts of our country has a value that cannot be measured. And the country is to be desecrated in the name of green energy.
The Argyll and Bute Regional Council have just taken a decision that has left everyone thunderstruck. They have turned down a planning application for 16 wind-turbines to be erected on the ridge in the Inverliever Forest in Argyll. A probably temporary victory for the protesters.
Like them, that amiable and brilliant scientist Professor James Lovelock is not impressed with the rush to cover Britain with gigantic windmills. His Gaia theory sees the Earth as a single, living organism. He speaks urgently about how dire are the threats facing her. He is one of our very best scientists; kindly, and a true visionary. The turbines he bluntly calls dark satanic mills And what's more
- "wind power won't cut it at all ......It's better than doing nothing, but it's absurd, just gestures. Time is of the essence...."
Rather than trying to involve us all in a united effort the political response is to create a Gold Rush involving only those in the know. This is not leadership from public servants. It may save political face - but it won't save the planet.
Undemocratic quick fixes need bribery and threats. In the foot and mouth crisis it was wildly inflated compensation payments made to those who otherwise would complain at the overkill - and a very nasty hidden blackmail to those who did protest anyway. Here, it is massive subsidies to the companies, and a careful PR campaign designed to make protest seem selfish nimbyism. Into its web, the environmental groupies with their decency and desire for activism were soon drawn. When Stephen Timms cried "Go forth and Build Turbines!" like a latter day Moses, the shining eyes of the environmentalists dared anyone to cry "Hang on a Minute!"
David Bellamy did - and has inevitably been condemned and smeared for pointing out the "government’s naive belief that wind farms produce green electricity"
At the end of the film "The Day After Tomorrow" the "Dick Cheney" character, the humbled Vice President who has escaped with a large number of his shaken fellow americans into Mexico, looks into the camera and delivers the film's message: "...for years we operated under the belief that we could go on consuming our planet's natural resources without consequence. We were wrong..."
Yes yes. Of course we are wrong. But it is no use looking to governments to take responsibility for helping us to take responsibility for ourselves.
Global Warming - whatever its causes - is not going to be stopped by wind turbines. Similarly, the global consequences of the depletion of cheap oil are not going to be addressed in public by anyone ruthless and powerful. Peak Oil is starting to get talked about at last. But governments are dodging the issues.
Dr. Robert Hirsch, a Senior Energy Program Advisor at the Science Applications International Corporation, an Energy expert with the best credentials, wrote a calm and measured US government sponsored report. It was described as "unprecedented" in US government circles. Its conclusions pulled no punches. It disappeared from the internet for weeks.
In fact, here is the elusive Hirsch Report (pdf new window. Loads slowly.)
- "....... The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary...."
Climate change and Peak Oil. Interlinked problems. No leadership. I have a mental picture of Corporal Jones rushing up and down,crying "Don't panic! Don't panic!" I also have a nasty feeling that we are on our own.