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"...... governments were not, on the whole, staffed by people who had a grip, ... plans were what people made instead of thinking." Terry Pratchett, Night Watch p205
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NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state

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Today's Papers, radio and other media

August 2 2007 ~ "The Government's onward march towards a surveillance state has now become a headlong rush. They seem determined to hoover up the DNA details of as many people as they can, regardless of guilt or innocence." says Nick Clegg the Lib Dem spokesman on Home Affairs.
Ben Russell, the Independent's Political Correspondent: "People are being added to the Government's national DNA database at the rate of more than one a minute, figures from the Liberal Democrats have revealed. Their research showed that 547,020 profiles were added last year, the equivalent of 62 an hour, leading to claims that ministers were taking Britain into a "headlong rush" towards a surveillance state as numbers on the controversial police record topped four million..."
(As Andrew Marr points out in his History of Modern Britain, ID cards would not have stopped the July 7 attack. We are reminded too of the assertion by that most apolitical of all commentators, Quentin Crisp, : "If it can be done, it will be done " but even he had no idea of what would soon happen to the Home Office and its ever accelerating desire to hold central control whether civil liberties are put at risk or not. We are grateful at least to learn that the Human Genetics Commission has now launched a major inquiry into the use of DNA records by police. It will report in the spring, " it will look at the size of the DNA database, the large number of black men whose samples are recorded, and the difficulties in removing samples once they are entered into the system.")

August 2 2007 ~ "I never sought to injunct five million law-abiding individuals." - scenes of near farce at the Royal Courts of Justice Independent "BAA suffered further embarrassment in its attempt to block a climate change demonstration at Heathrow, when a High Court judge admitted yesterday to being confused over exactly who the company wanted to ban from travelling to the airport...... Mr Lawson-Cruttenden said the company's ban was only aimed at "protesters" who were acting unlawfully, but was unable to clarify who might come into that category under the terms of the injunction. ..... Opponents of the injunction have claimed that up to five million members of environmental organisations could be affected. Campaigners also claim BAA has resorted to "legal bullying" by trying to extend the ban to people using roads and public transport to get to the airport, even including the Piccadilly line on the London Underground.... Justice Swift said she was "frankly puzzled" and demanded a clear explanation of BAA's intentions when the hearing continues today."
(It turns out that the judge is, like many of us, a member of the RSPB and the Council For The Protection Of Rural England and a benefactor of the National Trust.)

August 1 2007 ~ "Next to Bush, Brown had only to read his script to look like a master communicator...." Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian "... Brown wanted his Washington debut to look nothing like the Bush-Blair love-ins of the past, and he succeeded. .... a shift not only in the so-called special relationship, but a deeper, strategic rethink in what Brown pointedly does not call "the war on terror". ......while the president said the west confronted "an ideology of darkness", Brown declared that "terrorism is not a cause; it is a crime". That immediately denies the terrorist the dignity of an enemy and casts him instead as a mere criminal, to be hunted down chiefly by policework and intelligence. Noticeable too was Brown's desire to be specific: the conflict was not with "terror" - an abstract noun - but "al-Qaida-inspired terrorism".
... Bush still refers to Iraq as the "central front" in the war on terror, but Brown named Afghanistan as the "frontline". Above all, Brown put the US on notice for an eventual withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, dependent on the word of military commanders on the ground. ..... A headline in yesterday's Washington Post declared of Brown: "More bulldog than poodle." ..... his praise at Camp David was for America rather than the Bush administration, ... he made a point of visiting congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. From now on, the special relationship will be with the US, not the Bush White House... "

August 1 2007 ~The De Menezes official report, published tomorrow will apparently clear Sir Ian Blair but Andy Hayman, the overall head of counter terrorism and intelligence is to be singled out for having been deliberately misleading. The Guardian says, "....in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, sources say there were unconfirmed rumours that the man who had been killed may not have been one of the four suicide bombers being hunted. Mr Hayman is criticised by the IPCC for not passing this on to Mr Blair at a briefing he had with him at 6pm that night..
...Three officers who were facing criticism began an application for a judicial review of the findings alleging the IPCC had breached procedural rules.
As a result the IPCC is understood to have re-edited the report in the last two weeks to remove the bulk of the criticism against them.
The first official report by the IPCC into the shooting itself - which has yet to be published - recommended no disciplinary action against 11 officers, including the two firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes on the tube.
Four senior officers - including Cressida Dick, the senior commander who ran the armed operation and is thought to have authorised the order to shoot - were told by the IPCC that they will have to wait for a decision on discipline until the end of a criminal prosecution of the Met under health and safety laws. Ms Dick has since been promoted.... ."

July 31 2007 ~US secretary of state says proposal to sell billions of dollars of weapons would shore up friendly regimes against al-Qaida and Iran. Guardian "..... The package also includes a 25% increase in arms sales to Israel over the next 10 years, ensuring it maintains its military superiority in the region...
....Iran has criticised the promise of arms, accusing the US of trying to sow fear and mistrust in the Middle East and of aiming to destabilise the region...
The arms deals need to be approved by Congress, where some members have said they plan to block the sale of advanced weaponry - including satellite-guided bombs, to Saudi Arabia."

July 31 2007 ~ George Monbiot: "The prime minister has broken his word and put us all at risk by allowing a US missile defence base on the North York Moors." Guardian "....Thus, without consultation or discussion, the defence secretary announced that Menwith Hill, the listening station on the North York Moors, will be used by the United States for its missile defence system. ....Des Browne's note asserted that the purpose of the missile defence system is "to address the emerging threat from rogue states". This is a claim that only an idiot or a member of the British government could believe. .....He claimed to have assurances from the US that "the UK and other European allies will be covered by the system elements they [the Americans] propose to deploy to Poland and the Czech Republic". Browne must be aware that this is a United States missile defence programme. It incorporates no plans for defending other nations. The British government has handed over its facilities, truncated parliamentary democracy and put its people at risk solely for the benefit of a foreign power.
The diplomatic cost of this idiocy is incalculable..."

July 30 2007 ~ "Either he is running some of the most sophisticated and brilliant rings around all of us, or the British secret services who tried to run him are a bunch of complete Charlies..." Snowmail on Channel 4 News' exclusive TV interview with Bisher Al-Rawi, a survivor of Guantanamo who had lived in the UK for 20 years but never bothered to get a passport Jon Snow wrote, " I cannot do better than draw your attention to our press release, which has some of the more bizarre exchanges in my interview with him tonight. It is very evident that his sense of humour, together with his obsession with his no-claims bonus on his motorbike insurance, got him through."
On the subject of complete Charlies, Australian police yesterday said they held an innocent doctor as a suspect in the plot to bomb London and Glasgow because they were initially sent wrong information by Scotland Yard. See Guardian. Mistakes do happen - but the Sim card used to incriminate him was actually found in Liverpool and not in the burning Jeep in Glasgow at all.

July 30 2007 ~"Nearly a third of the population of Iraq is in need of immediate emergency aid according to a new report from Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi NGOs ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/18_07_07_oxfam_iraq.pdf ).
The report said the Iraqi government was failing to provide basic essentials such as water, sanitation, food, and shelter for up to eight million people.
It warned the continuing violence was masking a humanitarian crisis that had grown worse since the invasion in 2003.
It also found that four million Iraqis had been uprooted by the violence.
More than two million people have been displaced inside the country, while a further two million have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the report...." BBC

July 30 2007 ~ Consider signing the petition

petitions.pm.gov.uk This petition on behalf of the brave men and women who have tried to help us has been submitted by Davide Simonetti  Deadline to sign up by: 24 July 2008  Signatures when we looked was 221 and it takes mere seconds to sign. Last week, the Danish military secretly airlifted out of the country about 200 Iraqis who were helping its own troops. The Iraqi civilians, mostly those working as aides and translators in the southern region of Basra, will now be offered asylum in Denmark. BBC

July 27 2007 ~ the British Airports Authority want to allow police to arrest demonstrators against airport expansion. See Independent

In spite of all warnings about oil depletion, energy problems and CO2 emissions, the Government evidently believes that economic growth can go on expanding for ever - and with it a third runway at Heathrow that is going to demolish the village of Sipson and part of Harmondsworth. The Independent quotes Bryan Sobey, 78, president of the Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents' Association,

July 27 2007 ~ Indian doctor free. Charge after failed terror bombings in London and Glasgow was a mistake.The Guardian reports, ".... An Indian doctor will be freed from custody after Australia's chief prosecutor said that a charge linking him to failed terror bombings in London and Glasgow was a mistake....Haneef has been in custody since July 2, when he was arrested at Brisbane International Airport as he was about to fly to India on a one-way ticket. Haneef had been charged with providing reckless support to a terrorist organisation because he gave his mobile phone SIM card to his second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, in July last year. He had faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted. ..."

July 26 2007 ~ Are these the last days of the Oil Age? William Rees Mogg in the Times ".....For the future, oil supply will be a zero-sum game. Some nations will be "haves" but others will be "have nots".
The shortage of oil and natural gas, relative to demand, had already changed the balance of world power. Historians may well conclude that the US decision to invade Iraq was primarily motivated by the desire to gain physical control of Iraq's oil and to provide defence support to other Middle Eastern oil powers. Political motivations are always mixed, but oil is an essential national interest of the United States. If the US is now deciding to withdraw from Iraq, the price will have to be paid in terms of loss of access to oil.... ..nothing will take us back towards the innocent expectation of indefinite expansion of the first months of the new millennium."

July 26 2007 ~ " The whole process is alarming and I fear that this matter will seriously set back relations - both nationally and internationally - between the Hindu community, politicians and the government." New Kerala.com reports the Shambo case

July 25 2007 ~ Oil and gas may run short by 2015 Geoffrey Lean in Sunday's Independent. on the new 420-page report, Facing the Hard Truths about Energy (exc summary) produced by the National Petroleum Council, a body of 175 authorities that reports to the US government. It includes the heads of the world's big oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, Shell and BP. See summary on warmwell's oil depletion page
(The UK floods - whatever their "cause" - are a stark reminder of the fragility of our civilised way of life. The loss of energy throws it into chaos. It is interesting that the term peak oil, referred to here since April 2004, is now far more widely used and accepted.)

July 25 2007 ~ 28 day detention rule at risk again Independent "... Gordon Brown will reopen the controversy over detention without trial in a Commons statement today on planned new anti-terror legislation. Although ministers insist they want to reach consensus on the issue, Ms Smith made clear the Government was prepared to press ahead with extending the limit if it believed the step was justified on security grounds. The Tories and Liberal Democrats, backed by civil liberties groups, strongly oppose an increase in the maximum 28-day period. They say it amounts to internment and argue it could backfire by causing resentment in Muslim communities...... David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, accused Ms Smith of a " distraction from the real and vital work we should be doing to maintain and protect our security". He added: "All the evidence so far is that 28 days is enough."."
The alleged attempted suicide bombings in London and Glasgow are, apparently, the "evidence" referred to by Jacqui Smith for extending the 28 day detention rule yet even John Reid said he had not seen evidence from police that showed it was necessary to extend the limit.

July 24 2007 ~ The Guantanamo Bay trial of Australian national David Hicks was a charade, according to the Law Council of Australia BBC ".... According to the report prepared by lawyer Lex Lasry, aspects of Hicks' plea agreement appeared "an attempt to protect the credibility and interests of the US government". The deal also meant that his tribunal became "a contrived affair played out for the benefit of the media and the public". It was "designed to lay a veneer of due process over a political and pragmatic bargain", the report said. Mr Lasry called the Howard government's support for the tribunal process "shameful" and said Australia's moral authority had been diminished by it. .."

July 24 2007 ~ The five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor are free. They stepped off the French presidential plane in Sofia early today, "greeted by the hugs of crying relatives and by Bulgarian officials". Cecilia Sarkozy helped secure their release. The International Herald Tribune says,"...The release came at the end of eight years of imprisonment, three trials and two separate death sentences. The medics deny infecting the children and say their confessions were extracted under torture. The Libyans agreed to the release only after the families of the infected children agreed to accept $1 million in exchange for dropping their demands for the medics to be executed, permissible under Libyan law. Most of the families received the money last week, after Bulgaria agreed to forgive Libya's foreign debt dating to the Cold War.... "

July 24 2007 ~ Flooding: "... it emerged last night that the government was warned in two separate reports that the plans in place to tackle flood risks were "complex, confusing and distressing for the public". In July 2004 the government said it needed to improve co-ordination between water companies, councils and the Environment Agency; then in 2005, the government also agreed to "work towards giving" the agency "an overarching strategic overview across all flooding and coastal erosion risks". Ministers promised to transfer this responsibility by 2006." Guardian

July 23 2007 ~ "I request a full, proper explanation and a thorough investigation into why he was refused intensive care and into the events surrounding and leading up to his sudden death." Readers of warmwell will be distressed to learn of Janet Hughes' bereavement - and of her continuing efforts to discover why her partner, Glyn, was hospitalised under the wrong patient number, wrong GP Practice and why his death certificate also had the wrong number. She is very concerned that his treatment was wrongly administered. She is still hoping for answers but was not allowed to read out the statement that she has now sent to warmwell.

July 23 2007 ~ "every direction ends in water...".Snowmail on Tewkesbury "There is an amazing spirit here. The community have risen to the occasion. They are friendly and upbeat, despite everything. Harry Jennings finished decorating his retirement home here three weeks ago. He had come out of the army 12 months ago and spent all the time since beautifying his semi-detached red-brick home. Today it is devastated. Tears well in his ruddy face. His grandchildren run about with fishing nets. Next door's goldfish pond has lost its contents. They are swimming somewhere down a sidestreet....But perhaps the most telling thing I have seen is the ongoing construction of 400 new dwellings on the flood plain right inside Tewkesbury...."

July 23 2007 ~ rise in animal testing continues BBC "....The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) announced it was taking the Government to the High Court in London on Tuesday over the fate of laboratory animals. The case will seek a declaration that the government has failed to ensure animal suffering in Home Office licensed laboratories is kept to a minimum. The judge will be asked to order the Home Office to re-examine its licensing regulations..."

July 22 2007 ~ Guantanamo inmates win right to see evidence A federal appeals court in Washington has ordered the United States government to hand over nearly all the classified evidence gathered against prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. See Sunday Telegraph who says this marks "a new blow to its controversial detention of alleged terror suspects. The White House had fought unsuccessfully to limit how much information it must share with the courts and lawyers of the 360 remaining detainees..." The ruling ...paves the way for a fresh round of legal challenges to the detentions at the US naval base in Cuba..."

July 22 2007 ~ Cash for Honours. The Public Administration Select Committee is poised to reopen its own investigation. JohnYates is keen to talk to the Committee. The Sunday Telegraph tells us that Sir Christopher Evans, the founder and chairman of Merlin Biosciences and the only secret lender arrested in the cash for honours investigation, has lost faith in the party to whom he secretly lent £1 million to help fund its 2005 general election campaign. Apparently he spoke to Lord Levy about the possibility of becoming a working peer and was even mooted as a future science minister.
In spite of Gordon Brown's insistence that he knew nothing of any secret loans, Sir Christopher's friends told the paper that had Sir Christopher been charged, he had intended to call him, as well as Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock, as witnesses to establish his credentials as a supporter and contributor to the party.

The Sunday Telegraph reveals that the all-party Public Administration Select Committee is poised to reopen its own investigation into the case. What the Telegraph article does not say - but the Sunday Times does - is that Sir Christopher Evans's name was removed from the honours list "after Downing Street discovered that his company was the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office." Both articles are well worth reading - and may leave a lingering conviction that all is not well.

July 22 2007 ~ The second anniversary of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes was marked by a ceremony at Stockwell Tube station. There has been "insufficient evidence to bring charges" in that case too. Relatives of Mr de Menezes, along with friends and campaigners, gathered at the station at 9 o'clock this morning to hold a one-minute silence and lay flowers close to a makeshift shrine. See BBC. "On Friday night an image of the Brazilian - accompanied by the words "Two Years, No Justice" - was beamed on to the side of the Houses of Parliament."

July 22 2007 ~ no one minister is in charge of floods strategy Observer ".... pressure was growing on Brown last night as it emerged that no one minister is in charge of floods strategy, responsibility for which falls across four different government departments. Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said: 'There is a lack of clarity in the chain of command. We need to know who is in charge.'...."
Large areas of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire are still under water and there are eight severe flood warnings, covering Oxfordshire, Berkshire and parts of London.

July 22 2007 ~ Anyone who dares tentatively to question the received wisdom of global warming, however well read in the subject they are, seems nowadays to become an immediate pariah and worthy of angry scorn. Whatever the cause of the recent abnormal weather conditions, (and no one is certain), this questionning is the modern heresy and it is worrying. But perhaps things are about to change. Christopher Booker writes in the Sunday Telegraph:

July 21 2007 ~ "The awkward truth is that Campbell comes across as a thug and Blair as something of a weakling." On the subject of the Campbell diaries, Anthony Howard is quoted today in the Guardian. Matthew Parris too: "Unwittingly perhaps, this is a brilliant, absorbing account. Vivid, direct, immediate, and honest in its way, it draws you into a world for which 'evil' is hardly too strong a word ... If Bill Sykes's bull terrier had written an autobiography it would read like this: a snarling, compelling, gut-wrenching splicing of loyalty with faithlessness ... This is the diary of a dog, a sort of devil-dog.".

July 21 2007 ~ Cash for Honours Carmen Dowd, reviewing lawyer and head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said today: "The investigation was lengthy, which is an indication of the complexities involved and the diligence and professionalism of the officers conducting the inquiry. While there has clearly been much speculation and rumour surrounding this case I must stress that my decision is based solely on a fair and balanced assessment of the evidence available. Having considered all of the evidence in this case I have decided that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any individual for any offence in relation to this matter." She added that a document explaining the decision is to be published today, and is also available to view on the CPS website (www.cps.gov.uk (pdf)). Paragraph 30 is interesting. " In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made - all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice - can properly be characterised as commercial."
(So there we are. The CPS did not pursue a prosecution because there wasn't the 'evidence' for a conviction...... in other words there may be a case - but not enough papers or records of telephone conversations to prove it. It might perhaps be helpful if the Public Affairs Select Committee (which has been carrying out its own investigation into the funding of political parties) called for the police evidence to be made public so that the court of public opinion should decide if there is a case to answer.)

July 21 2007 ~ The BBC suspended several editorial staff over the phone-in scandal today as Scotland Yard revealed the Corporation may face a criminal investigation. Independent

July 21 2007 ~ " It was all very well for Sir Liam to say that he was sorry. But sorry is not good enough. Article on Land-Care.org "...the Chief Medical Officer for England, he did not deny that he was the person responsible for a scheme that was so clearly riddled with unfairness to young doctors that it could not conceivably provide a competent appointment system. And so it turned out. Thousands of young doctors, expensively trained within the NHS and our Universities, feel desperately let down by a system that is manifestly unjust. Their complaint is that there is no possibility of the best applicants being successful within the jobs available: not by any believable criterion. As if that was not bad enough, the young doctors had already undergone the anxiety of their personal details (that they were required to submit within this scheme) being made widely available for others to scrutinise. Assurances given by the Department of Health over basic data protection meant nothing. And that is a serious offence..."

July 20 2007 ~ "Labour today held on to two safe seats with reduced majorities in the first parliamentary by-elections since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. But the results were also good news for Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who saw his party take second place in both the west London constituency of Ealing Southall and Tony Blair's old seat in Sedgefield, county Durham. .." Independent

July 20 2007 ~ Cash for Honours. No charges. The Scotsman quotes Angus MacNeil who said he would continue his campaign to establish what happened ".... "This is corruption and the message it sends out is that the UK is not a wholesome place. .....I don't want to see any individuals jailed but I want to find out precisely what took place. We now have this rather odd situation where politicians are talking about public funding for political parties but trying to ignore private funding. ...Hopefully the general public will see that the political culture has changed but there is the risk they might look at Mr Brown as being involved in this decision in some way. Personally I don't think he was and my advice to him and all politicians would be to steer clear - politicians shouldn't be involved in justice and the judiciary." Mr MacNeil added that the scandal, coupled with the Hutton inquiry and the Saudi arms deal had tarnished the UK's reputation worldwide.

July 20 2007 ~ Suit against Cheney dismissed A U.S. judge on Thursday threw out former CIA analyst Valerie Plame's lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials for disclosing her identity to the public. Reuters

July 20 2007 ~ The Danish military has secretly airlifted out of the country about 200 Iraqis who were helping its troops. The Iraqi civilians, mostly those working as aides and translators in the southern region of Basra, will now be offered asylum in Denmark. BBC

July 19 2007 ~ the critical issue is not how much oil is below ground but how fast it can be produced. See oil depletion page for Aspo's take on the NPC report. "The concern is not barrels of reserves but rates of flow. Although the NPC identifies "producibility" as a concern, it seems not to appreciate how depletion is ravaging the world's giant fields. Depletion is tireless, quick, inevitable, relentless and automatic. Investment is halting, slow, optional, costly and sporadic..."

July 19 2007 ~ Blogosphere not amused by Labour's u-turn on cannabis - nor the hypocrisy Chicken Yoghurt "Confession time
Back in the 1980s while I was at university, I wanted to be home secretary. I only thought about it a few times and did not enjoy it. I think it was wrong that I thought it when I did. I have not done for 25 years..."
and he asks

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ Tony Blair spoke to Rupert Murdoch three times in the 10 days before the outbreak of the Iraq war - once on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Guardian "....The telephone conversations were among six calls between the two men detailed by the cabinet office in response to a freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Avebury. ... Lord Avebury said: "Rupert Murdoch has exerted his influence behind the scenes on a range of policies on which he is known to have strong views, including the regulation of broadcasting and the Iraq war. The public can now scrutinise the timing of his contacts with the former prime minister, to see whether they can be linked to events in the outside world."...."

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ "the fact that there are some people getting up and publicly expressing their concern and dissent is not surprising." The Guardian quotes ex-CIA officials who endorse Dick Marty's claim that it was CIA dissenters themselves who helped expose secret renditions

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ Home Office leak reveals Big Brother' plan for police to use new road cameras Guardian ".....Bit by bit, vast computer databases are being made inter-operable and yet the government seems to running scared of a full and public debate."
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: "It is one thing to ask the public for special measures to fight the grave threat of terrorism, but when that becomes a Trojan horse for mass snooping for more petty matters it only leads to a loss of trust in government."..."

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ In Japan, the two earthquakes have caused radioactive water to be released from a Nuclear reactor The BBC reports today that the situation is worse than previously thought. "Owner Tokyo Electric Power company said 50% more radiation was discharged into the sea, following the magnitude 6.8 quake, than was earlier reported. ....... Despite Tepco's reassurances, the incident has triggered public concern and criticism of the company. The seven-reactor plant suffered more than 50 malfunctions as a result of Monday's earthquake. As well as the leak, a small amount of radioactive gas was emitted into the atmosphere. There was also a fire at an electrical transformer, and a number of drums containing low level nuclear waste came open after falling over. ....."

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ "Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran." Guardian ".... A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."....vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates. Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week..."

July 15 - 21 2007 ~ Diplomatic clash looms with US over BAE arms sale investigation says the Guardian as the UK is asked to hand over secret payments evidence. Refusal to do so, says David Leigh, could endanger sharing of intelligence. The US Department of Justice has taken over the corruption investigation after British prosecutors were forced to halt it late last year on alleged grounds of national security. (BAE) (Since the UK depends far more heavily on the US than on Saudi Arabia it is suggested that the definitiojn of "national security" may need to undergo a transformation...)

July 9 - 14 2007 ~ "George W. Bush acknowledged on Thursday that America was "tired of war" but showed no sign of shifting policy on Iraq in spite of a White House report that presented a mostly negative assessment of the situation there. The report said the Iraqi government had failed to bolster adequately its security forces, which were still prone to sectarianism....The report said Iraq had made very little progress developing security forces that could operate independently of US soldiers. It had also shown little success in preventing Iraqi commanders pursuing sectarian goals....
In a symbolic move, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday voted 223-201 to approve legislation to bring combat troops out of Iraq by April 1 2008.
Defying a veto threat from Mr Bush, House Democrats hope the vote will put pressure on the Senate to attach a similar troop withdrawal timetable to a military policy bill it is debating. Two previous efforts either died in the Senate or were vetoed by the US president..." FT

July 9 - 14 2007 ~ an independent foreign policy decoupled from Washington.......Having lieutenants make nuanced speeches in Washington is one thing; saying no to the White House on a matter of war and peace is quite another. Julian Borger in the Guardian ".... The appointment of Mark Malloch Brown as minister of state at the foreign and commonwealth office could not have been clearer. At the UN, Malloch Brown was seen by the US as an American nemesis - so much so that the American ambassador at the time, John Bolton, tried to get rid of him.
The message is clear. Britain is an ally, but no longer an unconditional ally..... Dick Cheney .... is still the biggest player of all in the policy debate. Bush still talks to him last before making up his mind on important policy decisions. The vice president doesn't always win, but he often does. And unless there is a diplomatic breakthrough he may win again, over Iran.
If Bush does decide to bomb as a way of halting Tehran's nuclear programme, Brown will be faced with possibly the hardest choice of all. US bombers would need British bases in Diego Garcia and in Britain itself...."

Reuters says, " Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied on Friday a shift in foreign policy away from the United States after one of his ministers told an audience there that a country's strength depended on alliances not military might."

July 9 - 14 2007 ~ Gordon Brown's cabinet. Useful Guardian page. It does not, however, include the not unimportant detail that Hillary Benn, now at DEFRA, is a vegetarian.

June 24 2007 ~ "Only when he restores liberty can we praise him" Henry Porter in the Observer "... it is for the opposition to express in the most forceful terms that an overbearing state represents a threat to every part of our national life..".

June 24 2007 ~ Tony Blair "planned to scupper" Gordon Brown's career and break up the Treasury just two years ago. Independent on Sunday He " had no intention of making a 'smooth transition' of power to Gordon Brown....The secret "Gov 2015" programme, the start of a 10-year plan to be put into effect the moment the 2005 election was over, is entitled "3rd Term Plan: Implementation Pack". It shows that the Prime Minister not only wanted a new Chancellor but also to emasculate the Treasury as a power base...."
So much for the Granita restaurant deal.

June 24 2007 ~ Tony Blair says a deal on a new EU treaty protects Britain's interests Critics call it a "major shift in power". The EU referendum Blog spot "Both The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times today offer powerful leaders demanding a referendum following yesterday's European Council. And both have also - with commendable speed - sussed that the treaty "mandate" is little more than another attempt to get the failed EU constitution, dressed in the different clothes of an "amending treaty", onto the statute book...."

June 23 2007 ~ "It's not a treaty" EU referendum Blog spot today "...it's a mandate for a treaty." So said Margaret Beckett, foreign secretary, on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning. And here is the "not a treaty"...All we need now to see is the statement from Blair, telling us what a good deal it all is for Britain (we don't need a referendum, honest guv!), and we have a full house. Then, with the fun and games over, our work will start, as we look at what the "colleagues" have actually agreed, and where they've sold us out. ....." (Be warned. The Not -Treaty is a large pdf file

June 23 2007 ~ Attorney general's announcement ends career dogged by Iraq and BAE case The Guardian "Lord Goldsmith dramatically announced his resignation as attorney general last night, days before he was expected to be ousted when Gordon Brown takes over .." See our Goldsmith page

June 22 2007 ~ "....an unregulated, unaccountable realm of the state with a vested interest in growing and intruding into personal freedom.. " says Simon Jenkins in the Guardian on the Hancock egg ban ".... There is clearly now a danger in any film material depicting smoking, drinking, fast driving and adults cuddling young children (unless part of a balanced cuddling regime). The truth is that Blair has created a bureaucratic industry whose existence depends on stopping the British people having a good time and being responsible for their own life and liberty.
I puzzle over what can be done to reverse this puritan revolution. Its health and safety apparat enjoys a power similar to that of the military. This apparat exploits the politics of fear much as does the military. Its work is enhanced if it can scare us witless. Sadly a generation of British politicians has lacked the courage to stand up for common sense. The result is an unregulated, unaccountable realm of the state with a vested interest in growing and intruding into personal freedom..
...show me a politician with the guts to stop this nonsense.."

June 22 2007 ~ Guantanamo's future Washington Post "... The Associated Press reported yesterday that a meeting of several top Bush administration officials about Guantanamo's future was scheduled for today, but the White House denied such a meeting was taking place. .... Justice officials have argued against moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States because it would immediately grant the alleged terrorists habeas corpus rights...
The move toward closing the facility is rooted in part in the international outrage its existence has provoked, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, legal advocacy organizations and governments that can point to the indefinite detentions there as an example of U.S. hypocrisy about legal rights.... four suicides in the past year .....John Bellinger III, legal adviser to the State Department, said that the administration is "acutely aware" of concerns that have been raised at Guantanamo and understands that it has been "a lightning rod for international and domestic criticisms."
See also Yahoo news today

June 22 2007 ~ "...a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives" "How Peak Oil went mainstream" is a Money Week headline this week: "Matt Drudge has just taken Peak Oil mainstream. Up until today, you could randomly ask 10 people on the street what "Peak Oil" is and you'd get a blank stare from at least nine of them...."
See Peak Oil pages, on warmwell since April 2004.

June 21 2007 ~ "....That the Prime Minister is becoming increasingly loopy as he heads for the exit says something about him and the extraordinary way he distances himself from his own decisions, as if they were made by a mysterious "other" who had no choice at the time. But it should not be allowed to divert attention from the fundamental issue of Iraq, and why it was such a horrendously wrong decision....Britain needs a proper inquiry into the whole sorry story - not to apportion blame (we all know that it was Blair who pushed the project), but to answer just how it came to be that we waged war in the first place, neither coming clean with the public as to the reasons, nor taking any advice as to what we were letting ourselves in for. Sir David Manning's evidence makes clear what we all suspected, that Blair signed up to the invasion nearly a year before it happened, knew it was virtually unstoppable but kept telling the public it was not. It also makes clear that we gave it our full backing, despite concerns, and despite the fact that, according to Condoleezza Rice, we were given a way out. There's plenty here for an inquiry to establish, not least so that we can't be led down this particular path again. What it will not do is give cover for those who supported the war and now excuse themselves by saying it was only US incompetence that led it to go so wrong." Adrian Hamilton in the Independent

June 21 2007 ~ "the MBE was not awarded by the Queen. It was awarded by a committee connected to No 10, and then sanctioned by Mr Blair." Independent article by Joseph Corre, co-founder of Agent Provocateur, who turned down the MBE

June 21 2007 ~ "Rural communities should be free to raise their own taxes, elect new leaders, and plan their own futures if they are not to fall into poverty and neglect, say development experts who have visited hundreds of villages across the UK, Ireland and beyond, taking evidence from thousands of people. The 20 members of the Carnegie trust commission said they found many rural people beset by an array of problems which successive governments had either failed to see or neglected to address..." Guardian

June 21 2007 ~ There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Independent article today on Professor Barry Commoner, who realised in the 70s that when you throw something away, there is really no "away" to throw it to; it had to go somewhere in the biosphere, the thin layer of life enveloping the Earth

June 21 2007 ~ France bans BlackBerry " concern is that information sent from a BlackBerry gets routed via servers in the United States and Britain, and that this poses "a problem with the protection of information". Independent

June 18 2007 ~ "Christian Aid yesterday blasted British policy in the Middle East accusing the government of exacerbating the unrest in the region by refusing to engage with the Hamas group. However, the charity was swiftly rounded on by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett..." AFP

June 18 2007 ~ " The results will be Gaza in full darkness, with no cars" Guardian Many areas of Gaza have been without electricity since power cables were damaged in last week's fighting. Gazans also stockpiled food, emptying supermarket shelves of food and contributing to price rises. Workers at Gaza's only fuel warehouse told the Associated Press that supplies had run out. .....

June 18 2007 ~ Blair to face grilling on Europe BBC Tony Blair will face questions about the planned EU treaty in his last Commons liaison committee session....critics say the treaty retains the substance of a constitution and must be put to the public vote. "

June 18 2007 ~ Derek Simpson of Britain's biggest union, Unite, will call on Gordon Brown today to sack Patricia Hewitt Guardian

We also learn today that (Reuters) "About a quarter of hospital trusts are failing to meet key hygiene standards, annual figures released by the NHS watchdog on Monday showed.." (See also below)

June 17 2007 ~ Blair knew US had no post-war plan for Iraq Nicholas Watt in the Observer " .... In a devastating account of the chaotic preparations for the war, which comes as Blair enters his final full week in Downing Street, key No 10 aides and friends of Blair have revealed the Prime Minister repeatedly and unsuccessfully raised his concerns with the White House..... He also agreed to commit troops to the conflict even though President George Bush had personally said Britain could help 'some other way'. The disclosures, in a two-part Channel 4 documentary about Blair's decade in Downing Street, will raise questions about Blair's public assurances at the time of the war in 2003 that he was satisfied with the post-war planning...."

June 17 2007 ~ "The United States has not shown that moderation pays or will accomplish more than violence." Robin Wright in the Washington Post on the deepening morass in the Middle East: "...The people we rely on the most to help are under siege, just as we are," said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution fellow and former National Security Council staffer. "Three of the four leaders may either not make it [politically] through the end of the summer or find themselves irrelevant by then." The broad danger is a breakdown of the traditional states and conflicts that have defined Middle East politics since the 1970s, said Paul Salem of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Beirut office. An increasing number of places -- Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories -- now have rival claimants to power, backed by their own militaries...Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and State Department policy planning chief during President Bush's first term. "The United States has not shown that moderation pays or will accomplish more than violence.. The U.S. bears responsibility, both for things it's done, particularly in Iraq, but also for things it's not done, which is where the peace process comes in," Haass said. "The president never developed his idea of a Palestinian state. He never used his leverage to help Egypt get launched on a trajectory of greater openness." The United States finds itself active in more Middle East theaters than ever but with less ability to influence events, said Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group. "It is very much now manipulated in places that it once thought it could manipulate."

June 17 2007 ~ Agent Orange: United States maintains there is no scientifically proven link between the wartime spraying and more than three million people Vietnam says are disabled by dioxin over three generations. Reuters "...... the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange has tried to put more than 30 U.S. companies that manufactured the defoliant on trial. Two years ago, a U.S. federal court turned down the case. The plaintiffs are appealing that ruling in a U.S. appeals court in New York on Monday, but it could be months before the judges announce any decision...."

June 17 2007 ~ Robert Zoellick, almost certain to be the next head of the World Bank...took aim at Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez, warning that his oil-fueled socialist revolution was headed for trouble...Chavez...has said he wants to withdraw Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil supplier, from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, blaming their decades-old economic recipes of tight budget control, privatizations and open markets for poverty across Latin America...." Reuters See also John Pilger below (Guardian) on the populist movements that are rising up against western intervention in Latin America.

June 16 2007 ~ The US-led administration set up to run Iraq following the invasion in 2003 was a "dysfunctional organisation" which almost completely ignored the British, according to its director of operations. Patrick Wintour in theGuardian
"Andrew Bearpark, probably the Coalition Provisional Authority's central British figure, also revealed that when he asked for details of the plan to restore the Iraqi power supplies, he was given a one-page piece of paper with a list of a dozen Iraqi power stations and their potential output, amounting to what he describes as "a wish list". "That was the CPA plan", he said in an interview with the Guardian.
He described Britain as "being complicit in Iraq's current position as a failed state due to its the failure to prepare a postwar plan."
....He said there was never a consistent approach to police training. He revealed that in 2003, three different individuals were handed the responsibility for Iraqi police training, including Yorkshire's chief constable, Doug Brand. The British had told Mr Brand he would replace the initial adviser on police training, Bernie Kerrick, the New York officer responsible for the city's response to 9-11, but his elevation was blocked by the US.
Mr Bearpark said British attempts to be signatories to the formation of the CPA as a joint occupying power under the Geneva convention were brushed aside by the Americans.."

June 15 2007 ~The rising price of oil is producing what Pentagon contractor LMI calls a "fiscal disconnect" between the military's long-range objectives and the realities of the energy marketplace. "The need to recapitalize obsolete and damaged equipment [from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan] and to develop high-technology systems to implement future operational concepts is growing," it explained in an April 2007 report. However, an inability "to control increased energy costs from fuel and supporting infrastructure diverts resources that would otherwise be available to procure new capabilities.......the American military has been transformed into a "global oil-protection service" for the benefit of U.S. corporations and consumers, fighting overseas battles and establishing its bases to ensure that we get our daily fuel fix. It would be both sad and ironic, if the military now began fighting wars mainly so that it could be guaranteed the fuel to run its own planes, ships, and tanks -- consuming hundreds of billions of dollars a year that could instead be spent on the development of petroleum alternatives. " See article from Tom Dispatch

June 14 2007 ~ "Politicians can no longer hide from the shameful truth behind Iraqi civilian deaths in British custody" Phil Shiner in the Guardian ".....The Lords held by a four-to-one majority that the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights did apply in south-east Iraq in detention cases, including that of Baha Mousa, who died in British military custody in September 2003 after sustaining 93 separate injuries. Following yesterday's damning verdict, there must now be a full, independent and public inquiry..."

June 14 2007 ~ "Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit....A survey of the four countries with the biggest reported reserves - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait - reveals major concerns. In Kuwait last year, a journalist found documents suggesting the country's real reserves were half of what was reported. Iran this year became the first major oil producer to introduce oil rationing - an indication of the administration's view on which way oil reserves are going....." Independent - and for full background see warmwell's oil depletion news page updated since April 2004.

June 14 2007 ~ "An internal FBI audit has found the agency violated rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data on domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years.....some two dozen of the newly discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have, the audit found." Reuters

June 14 2007 ~"....These days, with misnamed "reality" programmes consuming much of television like a plague of cane toads, cinema has been handed a timely opportunity. Such are the dangers imposed on us all today by a rampant, neo-fascist superpower, and so urgent is our need for uncontaminated information that people are prepared to buy a cinema ticket to get it.
The War On Democracy examines the false democracy that comes with western corporations and financial institutions and a war waged, materially and as propaganda, against popular democracy..." John Pilger (Guardian) on the populist movements that are rising up against western intervention in Latin America and why only the cinema was big enough to tell their story

June 13 2007 ~ Mischief: A Dirty Weekend in Hospital
The programme this evening at 8 pm on BBC2 showed "an angry army of a hundred MRSA victims armed with mops launch a mass guerrilla clean-up of ten British hospitals." The excellent Tim Samuels and his cameraman made at least one viewer (me) want to cheer aloud. With humanity, self deprecation and humour they coaxed stories from those of all ages and backgrounds who had suffered so unnecessarily and whose losses and grief were understated and the more heartbreaking as a result. The programme celebrated common sense and sense of responsibility - a stark contrast to the arrogant Mrs Hewitt, sweeping past Tim Samuels' request that she - as her Tory and Lib Dem counterparts had agreed - provide an MRSA check nasal swab. She had been delighted to see the film crew - until MRSA was mentioned. This demonstration of the continuing problem of hospital-borne disease got right up the noses of Patricia Hewitt and her Ministry of Health. The letter sent to Samuels, a classic of po-faced New Labour Speak, was read aloud with incredulity and cold disgust by the brave participants.
It was an insight into just how far from reality the smooth assurances of Ministers can be and best of all, extraordinarily entertaining.

June 13 2007 ~ Tonight on Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman goes to Northumberland, close to where the Foot and Mouth epidemic began, to see how rural life has changed during the last decade and finds some people are still reeling from what happened then. One former farmer told him she believes that "country people are the most ignored minority group there is".

June 13 2007 ~ "As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China? The Economist offered some answers this week. ".....one of the biggest barriers to more efficient recycling is that most products were not designed with recycling in mind. Remedying this problem may require a complete rethinking of industrial processes."

June 13 2007 ~ Baha Mousa : Today's ruling means that anyone held in custody abroad by the British Army, will be protected by the Human Rights Act. As such they will have a right to life, a right not to be tortured and the right to access to a fair trial.. Guardian "The House of Lords today delivered a resounding blow to British conduct in the war in Iraq by ruling that human rights law applies in the case of an Iraqi civilian who died in UK custody after alleged torture. The law lords decided that the UK was obliged to conduct an independent investigation into the death of Baha Mousa (see below), who died after sustaining 93 separate injuries in Basra in 2003. ...."

June 13 2007 ~ Who exposed this colossal bribery? Why, the feral beast
Simon Jenkins in the Guardian says "...Whitehall has been complicit in a colossal, secret and illegal act of bribery to win a grossly inflated contract. That is why Goldsmith had to suppress the SFO inquiry and why BAE dare not let Lord Woolf near the stinking trough. And Blair has the gall to call the press cynical...
He writes that in "any honest country the al-Yamamah participants would be in jail. ...I thought that little more could be squeezed from the Guardian's BAE/Saudi corruption story until the BBC's revelation on Monday that long-denied bribes had actually been countersigned by the Ministry of Defence. Those who jeer at the ethical standards of foreign governments should understand that these officials, were they in Washington, would now be in handcuffs..."
More on the BAE page and the Goldsmith page

June 13 2007 ~ "The arguments deployed in favour of the Bill were spurious and specious and collapsed after the most cursory scrutiny..." Tom Brake, Lib Dem for Carshalton and Wallington, has brought in a new bill

He is assisted by Norman Baker, Mr. Paul Burstow, Mr. Nick Clegg, Tim Farron, Lynne Featherstone, Mr. David Heath, Simon Hughes, Mr. Dan Rogerson, Mr. Richard Shepherd, Andrew Stunell and Mr. Phil Willis. Hansard and for background, see below

June 13 2007 ~ Mrs Beckett's farewell to Lord Levy will cost the country an estimated £6000 according to the Guardian

June 12 2007 ~ BAE: Lord Goldsmith remained silent on whether he had advised that information about the Bandar payments be concealed from the OECD - the world's anti-corruption organisation. Guardian "....Robert Wardle, head of the SFO, says that he himself took the decision to withhold the facts from the OECD on the grounds of "national security". This followed meetings with Lord Goldsmith's staff and MOD officials. Lord Goldsmith insists that he did not personally give the order, but has not so far disassociated himself from it. Lord Goldsmith is responsible for the SFO to parliament, and played a key role in the termination of the SFO's inquiry into allegations about the Saudi contract..." Goldsmith page. BAE page. ( Tony Blair had called in Lord Goldsmith and insisted that "national security" could be said to be at stake [document], rather than simply "commercial interests". M16, however, refused to tell the OECD that they "agreed with [this] assessment"...." Guardian )

June 12 2007 ~ "Only 17 per cent of people now believe the government can be trusted to put the interests of the country ahead of their party, the classic trust test. More than double this number - 38 per cent - had faith in the government in 1986........... The pattern is reinforced by figures also showing a striking decline in people trusting the reliability of government information. More than two-thirds, 68 per cent, believe official figures are distorted to support leaders' arguments..." Guardian

June 11/12 2007 ~ Tories demand an Iraq war inquiry Guardian "The Conservatives today demanded a full-scale inquiry into the Iraq war and its aftermath - warning that without a swift investigation the government could dispose of embarrassing evidence. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, insisted there should be an in-depth inquiry into the war before it was too late. And in a damning display of distrust in the Blair government, he told MPs the investigation must happen before "memories fade, documents are shredded and emails become untraceable.......The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, faced ire from MPs when she branded the call for a rapid investigation "self-indulgent". Mrs Beckett was heckled loudly..." .

June 11 2007 ~ Blackwater - the world's "most secretive and powerful mercenary firm", carrying out quasi-military operations on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the U.S. The Daily Mail's headline yesterday was "The picture that proves 'torture flights' are STILL landing in the UK"

The Daily Mail article is further commented on today at Alternet.org "...Stories such as these are a chilling reminder of one of the worst legacies of this war--the embrace of torture as a means to illicit intelligence."

June 11 2007 ~ "BAE Systems used a secret payments system to transfer more than £13m to a company linked to David Hart, the controversial former Conservative defence adviser, according to legal sources. He has acted as a lobbyist both for Britain's biggest arms company and also for the giant military manufacturer Boeing in the US. Mr Hart, an Old Etonian who lives in a Suffolk mansion, became notorious in the 1980s for helping the then prime minster Margaret Thatcher break the miners' strike...This is the latest allegation to emerge from corruption investigations into BAE, being conducted by prosecutors from three countries - Switzerland, Sweden, and the Serious Fraud Office in the UK...." Guardian (See BAE page)

June 11 2007 ~ Centrica may be target of Russians Guardian .....the idea of a major British purchase has alarmed the government in the wake of Russia's bullying of some of its neighbours by using gas supplies as a weapon. Gazprom bought the British energy retailer Pennine Natural Gas last year and has been busy signing up big name firms and organisations to expand its British customer base...."
The possibility that the Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom could use its gas exports as a form of political pressure is a cause for concern. Wsws.org wrote last year "... Many politicians regard this dependence as a political danger that will intensify if Gazprom buys up European power suppliers and thereby not only supplies gas to Europe but also increasingly controls the European infrastructure for its distribution..."

June 11 2007 ~ Clostridium difficile Scotsman ".... Previously, reporting of the infection was voluntary and many boards did not submit information on all infections. Now early figures, released to The Scotsman under Freedom of Information laws, are starting to reveal the true extent of the problem. From October 2006 to March 2007, 2,996 cases of illness related to C difficile were reported to HPS. If cases continue at the same rate, the figure could hit 6,000 or more after a year. But many believe the number might be even higher when taking into account people under-65 who pick up the infection.....Katherine Murphy, from the Patients' Association, said that health chiefs could hide behind the statements claiming that C difficile was coming in from the community. But she added that in many cases, while someone might have come into hospital from outside with the infection, its origins could be traced back to an earlier contact with healthcare settings. ..."

June 10 2007 ~Sir Menzies Campbell wants an inquiry into the allegations surrounding the Al-Yamamah deal. BBC "He is particularly concerned about allegations that the attorney general concealed from investigators from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that payments were being made over a decade to a Saudi Prince.
"What general advice does the SFO have from the attorney general?" he asked on the BBC's Sunday AM programme. "Were there any conversations between anyone in the attorney general's office and the Serious Fraud Office and Number 10 about what was to be done in relation to the OECD?"
Lord Goldsmith has denied the allegations and BAE Systems has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing."

June 10 2007 ~"The BAE episode is serious for several reasons. A British company has escaped criminal investigation on grounds other than the evidence; this has been admitted by the prime minister, attorney general and head of the Serious Fraud Office. Caren Ross in the Guardian "..... Our interests in Saudi Arabia cannot be seen in isolation. This episode has undermined and will continue to undermine British credibility in supporting the rule of law across the board, not just on corruption. ..... This episode shines an unforgiving light not only on the actions of the attorney general and prime minister. It also shows the mental landscapes of those who frame and make our foreign policy. Their assumptions about what foreign policy is "about" and which priorities to choose are simplistic and arbitrary - they may be right, but they may also be terribly wrong...." See BAE page

June 9 2007 ~ "...... those now angling for a pardon for Libby, who say that his trial "criminalized political differences." It would be truer to say that pardons of government felons have the effect of politicizing criminal differences." An article in the Huffington Post by David Bromwich, deserves to be read in full

June 9 2007 ~ "the US is planning a long-term military presence in Iraq" Guardian " This is a geopolitical development of the first importance. In spite of current difficulties - May was the most lethal month for American soldiers since 2004, with 119 killed - the United States firmly intends to maintain control of Iraq and its vast oil reserves. Iraq's neighbours, and energy-hungry states and oil companies, will take note."

June 8/9 2007 ~ Extraordinary rendition on trial Snowmail tonight "Accused of carrying out one of the most controversial aspects of America's war on terror: 25 CIA agents and US airforce colonel - have gone on trial in Milan. They're charged with kidnapping a Muslim cleric off the street as he walked to his mosque in 2003. Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr - better known as Abu Omra -- was abducted in February 2003 and flown via Germany to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He was released in February this year. None of the Americans turned up for the trial, which began in a courtroom lined with empty cages. One Italian agent who was also charged WAS present - saying he had nothing to hide."

June 8 2007 ~ Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: second report Explanatory memorandum* (pdf)
Draft resolution and recommendations: a "spider's web" of illegal transfers of detainees woven by the CIA in which Council of Europe member states were involved, and expressing suspicions that secret places of detention might exist in Poland and Romania. ..." "7. The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes protracted. Certain "enhanced" interrogation methods used fulfil the definition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture.."
Warmwell's secret renditions page According to the Daily Mail, the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia was also a "black site" used to process "ghost" prisoners whose locations were kept secret.

June 8 2007 ~ Radioactive Wastes: Waste Management Hansard Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the Fourth Report of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, Fourth Report on Radioactive Waste Management: an Update. (See below)
Ian Pearson: The Department expects to provide the Government's response to the Committee's Report within the recommended two month deadline.

June 8 2007 ~ extraordinary renditions- the smoking gun Snowmail's comment: "the Council of Europe report on extraodinary rendition....is dynamite. The report, to be broadcast on C4's Dispatches, says categorically for the first time that illegal detention centres around the world existed and were set up by the CIA, in effect to kidnap and torture people from whom the USA wished to get information.
It really is the smoking gun as it were, of what has been suspected and hinted at for so very long."
So prisons did indeed exist in Romania and Poland and there were flights which had been "permitted" simply by signing agreement.
See Wikipedia's entry on Extraordinary rendition

June 8 2007 ~ Dr Caroline Lucas has beaten Gordon Brown and David Cameron to be named politician of the year in the second Observer Ethical Awards. She said, "This award isn't really about me - it's about the Green Party, its policies and its fresh approach to politics. People are increasingly disillusioned with the three main parties and are looking for a progressive alternative which genuinely has social and environmental justice at its heart. Cameron and Brown may talk green - but it's only the Green Party that's doing green, as an increasing number of people up and down the country are realising."

June 7 2007 ~ BAE paid Prince Bandar 1 billion Independent "British arms company BAE Systems secretly paid a Saudi prince more than £1bn over a period of more than 10 years, an investigation has revealed. ...The Serious Fraud Office discovered the payments during an investigation into the Al Yamamah deal which was halted last year after a review by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. He said it was in Britain's national interest to drop the investigation. Prince Bandar and the MoD declined to comment on the matter, and BAE said that the company acted lawfully at all times. "
See warmwell's BAE page for the background. We have covered this since last November when it emerged that Mr Blair had overruled his own cabinet, and forced through a deal on behalf of BAE Systems, the UK defense contractor and Carlyle Group partner. The decision to end the Serious Fraud Office inquiry came after reports that the Saudis were threatening to pull out of a deal to buy 72 Eurofighter jets from BAE.

June 6 2007 ~ Radioactive waste - the government's plans are 'incoherent and opaque' according to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee which, on Sunday, issued a news release attacking the government's proposals for the next phase of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme. They therefore "recommend that the government should establish a statutory body, independent of day to day government control and accountable to Parliament, to oversee the implementation of the geological disposal programme". They also "criticise the institutional framework for the implementation stage of the MRWS programme. They label the government's plans 'incoherent and opaque' and urge the government to establish independent expert scrutiny and clear lines of accountability for the next stage of the MRWS programme." (Many thanks to Bryn Wayt for this link.)

June 6 2007 ~ G8 - Heiligendamm is now a total exclusion zone, ringed by razor wire and patrolled by the German police. Telegraph Blog "The only way for we journalists (sic) to get there is on a special steam train leaving from our media centre. But the protesters - who are all dressed as clowns - managed to block the line and the train didn't even make it out of the station. ...." A commentator on the blog remarks, "One group of clowns imitates every movement and action of the police confronting them: trying a new kind of disaramament? The members of another group shed all their clothes and lock arms in order, presumably, to confuse and disorient the police."
Monsters and Critics reports: ".... Police used water jets and tear gas to clear thousands of protesters off Highway 105 which runs past Heiligendamm at a distance of about 6 kilometres. The protesters also sat down on a coastal lane leading into Heiligendamm from the east and an antique steam railway on the coastline from the west, forcing organizers to transport reporters to the venue on Germany Navy boats. Another sit-down protest halted traffic on the autobahn near Rostock Airport, where the non-German delegations were landing Wednesday to travel to Heiligendamm by road. Exultant demonstrators voiced surprise that the police had not stopped them. Organizers said they had 10,000 protesters on the move in the countryside near Heiligendamm to disrupt the summit. ..."

June 6 2007 ~ G8 George Bush's chief environment adviser, James Connaughton, has said the summit would end without an agreement on fixed targets. But see Peak Oil page latest: "Severe climate change unlikely before we run out of fossil fuel."

June 6 2007 ~ What Blair has done for Bush. Some plain speaking in the Independent today, "..Blair gave Bush unquestioning loyalty from first moment Iraq invasion was raised. Stood by him throughout the aftermath of the 2003 invasion despite no WMD being found, and the deaths of 149 British soldiers in the war... Betrayed the British nationals held without trial at Camp Delta by remaining silent for the first two years. The Prime Minister only called for the camp to be closed in March 2006, after it had been open for four years....Blair allowed secret flights from American "black site" prisons to refuel at British airports in the knowledge that prisoners would be tortured, but concealed the information from European investigators....PM's support for US policy undermined his position with Palestinians and his desire to be an honest broker. Backed Bush in refusing to demand an immediate ceasefire during the Israeli onslaught in Lebanon last year....Sacrificed his popularity in the country and provoked hostility within the Labour Party and around the world, to preserve what is seen as a one-sided relationship - summed up in the phrase 'Yo, Blair!' ...."

June 6 2007 ~"... talk about being opaque, this is a government that is so hidden from us..." Seymour Hersh on Dick Cheney "....any time you have violent anti-Iran policy and anti-Shia policy, you have to start looking there. Look, clearly this president is deeply involved in this, too, but what I hear from my people, of course, the players -- it's always Cheney, Cheney. Cheney meets with Bush at least once a week. They have a lunch. They usually have a scheduled lunch. And out of that comes a lot of big decisions. We don't know what's ever said at that meeting. And this is -- talk about being opaque, this is a government that is so hidden from us. ..."

June 6 2007 ~ "An experienced British officer serving in Iraq has written to the BBC describing the invasion as "illegal, immoral and unwinnable..." John Pilger " .. which, he says, is "the overwhelming feeling of many of my peers". In a letter to the BBC's Newsnight and Medialens.org he accuses the media's "embedded coverage with the US Army" of failing to question "the intentions and continuing effects of the US-led invasion and occupation". He says most British soldiers regard their tours as "loathsome", during which they "reluctantly [provide] target practice for insurgents, senselessly haemorrhaging casualties and squandering soldiers' lives, as part of Bush's vain attempt to delay the inevitable Anglo-US rout until after the next US election." He appeals to journalists not to swallow "the official line/ White House propaganda"...."

June 6 2007 ~ "Republican candidates have broken ranks and turned on President Bush with a series of withering remarks about his performance on Iraq, immigration, and his failure to control spending and corruption..." Telegraph

June 6 2007 ~ Rulings leave Guantánamo in legal limbo Guardian " George Bush's administration faced renewed demands yesterday to abandon the separate legal system operating at Guantanamo Bay and to try detainees at military and civilian courts..."

June 6 2007 ~ China tightens food safety standards amid a string of scares over toothpaste, pet foods, and other goods. BBC

June 6 2007 ~ "Fears that global sea levels this century may rise faster and further than expected are supported by a studyshowing that 300 glaciers in Antarctica have begun to move more quickly into the ocean. ...rising temperatures are causing glaciers as far apart as Alaska, Greenland and now Antarctica to break up and slip into the ocean at a faster rate than expected. Independent

June 5 2007 ~ "The mission is no longer worth another life" Sir Christopher Meyer today told the Iraq Commission, the cross-party group set up to review the situation in Iraq. Britain's ambassador to Washington during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq said he believed British and American lives were being "wasted" in Iraq. See Channel 4 News

June 5 2007 ~ Venezuela to Propose the Most Sweeping Restrictions on GMOS in the Western Hemisphere (more on GM page)

June 5 2007 ~ White House Criticizes Guantanamo Trial Ruling Washington Post ".....Two military judges on Monday dismissed charges against a Canadian and a Yemeni detained at Guantanamo Bay, ruling that their war-crimes trials cannot move forward under the current military commissions law, a decision that could delay future legal proceedings at the U.S. detention facility.....Army Col. Peter Brownback's decision suspended the case against Omar Khadr, a 20-year-old detainee who allegedly killed a U.S. serviceman during fighting in Afghanistan in 2002. Khadr, whom the military has labeled an "enemy combatant," was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in what was to be the second case to go before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.....Khadr will not be released following the decision...."

June 5 2007 ~ "Libby's lawyers say he should be given leniency because of his lengthy career in public service."See Valerie Plame case.
Washington Post "... They also note that nobody was charged with leaking Plame's identity and suggest that Libby should not be punished as if he was a leaker. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has asked that Libby serve up to three years in prison, in part because he has shown no remorse. Libby "lied repeatedly and blatantly about matters at the heart of a criminal investigation concerning the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer's identity," Fitzgerald wrote in court documents. "He has shown no regret for his actions, which significantly impeded the investigation." If Libby addresses the court and does not apologize, he risks reinforcing that image..."
Update. Libby was given two and a half years for perjury. It remains to be seen what President Bush will do about this.

June 5 2007 ~ "You know, when I was over there, it was a real space and nothing was media and when I came back everything was media and the war wasn't here. There was no one to relate to and you try to talk to the people who are closest to you and everyone's forming an opinion about what the war is and what it means and they have no understanding of what is actually going on. And that's what Iraq Veterans Against the War is trying to do today."

June 4 2007 ~ China's political system... is appalling. But the trend, at least, is towards smaller government, localism and personal freedom. In Europe, the opposite is true. That is our tragedy. Daniel Hannan wrote (Telegraph Blogs) "It's a polar switch. The Orient is becoming decentralised, dispersed and dynamic, just as the Occident becomes centralised, sluggish and sclerotic....Yes, China has serious economic problems. Much of the country is still in poverty (which is why the EU gives China development assistance, simultaneously complaining about the unconditional nature of China's own financial support for various African dictatorships). And China's political system, as I wrote on Tuesday, is appalling. But the trend, at least, is towards smaller government, localism and personal freedom. In Europe, the opposite is true. That is our tragedy."

June 4 2007 ~Meanwhile, on the subject of Russia, Hilary Alexander writes on her Telegraph Blog about Gorbachev at his fundraising " Russian Midsummer Fantasy" at Hampton Court Palace on Saturday night

June 4 2007 ~ Russia. Putin warns Europe in missile row and says Russia may point missiles at Europe if the US goes ahead with its missile defence plans BBC President Putin also says the UK extradition request over Alexander Litvinenko's murder is "pure foolishness" BBC

June 3 2007 ~ Analysts in 2002 Described Worst-Case Scenarios, Including Anarchy in Iraq, Global Antipathy to U.S. Washington Post " On Aug. 13, 2002, the CIA completed a classified, six-page intelligence analysis that described the worst scenarios that could arise after a U.S.-led removal of Saddam Hussein: anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq, a surge of global terrorism, and a deepening of Islamic antipathy....while the Bush administration was putting a spotlight on the CIA's intelligence on Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be wrong, it either buried or ignored the agency's more accurate assessments of the problems that could emerge in the aftermath of regime change in Iraq, the Senate report said...."

June 3 2007 ~ "Gordon Brown is planning a raft of new anti-terror measures when he becomes Prime Minister later this month." ITN He "wants to revive proposals to extend beyond 28 days the period during which police can question terror suspects before charge - a move which was rejected by MPs in 2005, in Tony Blair's first defeat as Prime Minister in the House of Commons."

June 3 2007 ~ Six U.S. soldiers reported killed in Iraq attacks Reuters " Six U.S. soldiers were killed in five separate attacks across Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday, days after it recorded its deadliest monthly toll in more than two years. .."

June 3 2007 ~ To drop a cigarette stub is a worse offence than theft Booker's Notebook "... As from July 1, when the great smoking ban comes into force, an army of council officials will be empowered to levy on-the-spot fines of £80 on anyone dropping a cigarette-end in the street. ... In the light of new guidelines that shoplifters can be let off if they mumble an apology when caught, discarding a cigarette butt is now officially viewed as a worse offence than stealing (pity the Almighty didn't have that in mind when he issued the Ten Commandments).."

May 30 2007 ~ "Why Casey Died For Nothing" - Cindy Sheehan has had enough. Cindy Sheehan www.informationclearinghouse.info "..This is my resignation letter as the "face" of the American anti-war movement. This is not my "Checkers" moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources...."

May 29 2007 ~ Five Britons kidnapped in central Baghdad Guardian" Urgent attempts under way to free four security guards and finance expert seized by gunmen in police uniforms.....The incident also raises the effectiveness of a joint US-Iraqi security crackdown in Baghdad, widely seen in Washington as a last-ditch attempt to stabilise the Iraqi government. The missing Britons have not been named for their own safety. ..."

May 28 2007 ~ The entire Labour party shares blame for the horrors in Iraq Guardian Haifa Zangana: The members may want to pin responsibility on just one man, but they have a moral duty to question their own role. ....In the fifth year of occupation, Iraq is a country of horrors, invoking comparison in the mind of Iraqis with the barbarity of the Mongols in 1258. An academic, who fears for his life, told me last week that every aspect of human rights has been violated. ..
...The overwhelming majority of Iraqis want the occupation forces out now, and they believe that the enemy is the occupation itself and not "al-Qaida and Iranian-backed elements", as Blair tells the world....."

May 28 2007 ~ Army must come clean on torture in Iraq, says the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights "Stark inconsistencies" emerged in evidence about the death of an Iraqi detainee. Now the MoD is being pressed for answers says Jamie Doward in the Observer

May 28 2007 ~ "Fraud has become endemic" "..... Ourselves ten years ago would not recognise the British society of today. Blair suffered from the Genesis Delusion. He thought he merely had to say "Let there be X" and there would be X. He never quite cottoned on to the truth of Bismarck's dictum that "Politics is the art of the possible." It is the inevitable outcome of electing a leader who has never run anything, but no doubt the British will do it again. In turn this is the inevitable outcome of the youth and celebrity culture..... Ten years ago, for example, electoral fraud was unknown in Britain. Widespread voting fraud is now acknowledged, all just to gerrymander a few more votes for the governing party...." www.numberwatch.co.uk

May 28 2007 ~ " It has not been a partisan debate" On Thursday the House of Lords held a most important debate entitled Government: Civil Service and Judiciary . Lord after lord looked with saddened and critical eye at the state we are in. Lord Howe of Aberavon (Geoffrey Howe) was congratulated for "hitting the jackpot" for having initiated the debate. Lord MacNally said, " As the Prime Minister-designate goes off on Recess, he would profit from taking with him the Hansard of this debate. It has not been a partisan debate."
All should read it.: