transcript of the Blair/Humphrys interview, 29/9/ 2004

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In Politix Archive October and November 2004


November 30 2004 ~ "More than 100 allegations, which also include rape, indecent assault and degrading treatment, are listed in a report drawn up by Surrey police during their investigation into the deaths of four recruits at the training camp. . ." Guardian on the confidential documents leaked yesterday. And don't forget it is also the subject of Channel 4 Dispatches on Thursday at 9 pm

November 30 2004 ~ "....The greatest danger is the politicisation of security and intelligence. Whitehall need only look at Washington. The US does not appear to be learning from its intelligence failures .." Richard Norton Taylor in today's Guardian. Read in full

November 30 2004 ~ ID cards "Frankly, why should anyone trust this government, of all governments, to treat the information it holds about them with respect and sensitivity." (David Davis) Read the Independent report in full

November 30 2004 ~ ID cards. Telegraph "People who fail to tell the Government when they move home will face a fine of up to £1,000 when the new ID card is phased in from 2008....... a refusal to register.. carries a £2,500 fine.....anyone found guilty of tampering with a document risking up to 10 years in prison..."

November 29 2004 ~Channel 4 news update: "Deep shock over Deepcut barracks where four suicides by young soldiers provoked a major police inquiry. Its report has been leaked and it is unimaginably awful. .."

November 29 2004 ~"....Most Israelis themselves do not want to keep another people in the slave-like condition of statelessness, or to interact with them only through brutal military raids...." Professor Cole describes an essay by Henry Siegman in the New York Review of Books (on Ariel Sharon's true plans) as a "breath of fresh air" Extract on Prof Cole's site today

November 28 2004 ~ Another voice on Ukraine. President Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela "Almost all similar cases to what is happening in the Ukraine are stimulated from the outside for geo-political reasons ... if there were elections on the Moon and Mars, the USA would be there."
Chavez Frias, of course, knows all about US interference. See Geoffrey Heard's article. Chavez Frias argues that behind the USA-EU position lies a policy to isolate the Ukraine from Russia and create new divisions in Europe.

November 28 2004 ~ Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday. ".........During a visit to Belgium last week, I discovered that muggers benefit hugely from the existence of compulsory identity cards. This is because, when they steal a woman's handbag,or a man's wallet, they usually get the victim's identity card too. This means they know who you are and where you live, and can demand your keys at knifepoint, then go round and let themselves in while you are still getting your wounds dressed. Don't think of calling the police. Your assailant knows where to find you and can take revenge if you do. " (Thanks to the ever-vigilant Roger for this.)

November 28 2004 ~Jitters over the dollar: FT "Chinese and Japanese central banks might ... be reconsidering their asset holdings. If either began to shift into European or Asian assets, the dollar would plunge and interest rates on US government debt would rise sharply...." (The huge financial cost of the Iraq war would then start to bite. The US government has - up to now - relied on foreign powers needing to stockpile dollars.)

November 28 2004 ~North East Referendum ".. if politicians are allowed openly to break their own laws, does it not become a rather serious matter?" asks Christopher Booker

November 28 2004 ~"Peter Hain says that, in light of Mugabe's "murderous rule", he was "opposed" to England's cricket tour of Zimbabwe. Why then did our Government not forbid the visit, so that the International Cricket Council would not then have been able to threaten our cricket establishment with £1 million fine for breach of contract? What everyone missed was why our ministers had no power to do so. As part of the common foreign and security policy, we have agreed that our policy towards Zimbabwe is subject to a "common position" with our EU partners.." Booker's Norebook

November 28 2004 ~Ukraine. " the risks of a partition are real.....The pro-Russian government's grip on power also weakened as nationwide state-controlled television channels threw off censorship and began to cover the opposition protests in an objective way...." Turkish Press
Ukraine's parliament has now declared that the disputed presidential poll handing victory to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was invalid.

November 28 2004 ~ Re Mr Blunkett, the journalists Jonathan Miller writes, "It has come to a pretty pass, has it not, when a chap cannot even sort out a visa for his mistress's nanny, without arousing an unseemly witch hunt. Everybody knows Filipina girls are above rubies especially when you need someone totally reliable to watch nipper while you are off shagging. I hope we will have no comparisons... between the hard-line law and order agenda of new Labour and its properly tolerant attitude towards the private lives of cabinet ministers."

November 28 2004 ~ The revelation in the Independent yesterday that New Labour is full of strangely coexisting Trotskyites and Stalinists surprised even those of us who can remember Jack Straw in the 60s. The article is funny. Its implications are not.

November 27 2004 ~ Last week the Civil Contingencies Bill was duly - and without any media fuss whatever - passed. As a taste of what is now likely to happen to anyone (in this case an affable and cooperative ex-investment banker) read the story that appears in the Spectator this week.

November 27 2004 ~ You may consider - as Sir John Stevens appears to do - that we are in such hourly danger from "terrorism" that the terrorising of our own population by "policemen" is a small price to pay for our freedom and safety. On the other hand, you may feel so sickened and appalled at what is now happening to our country that you express your reaction to Sir John at the Metropolitan Police and copy your complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission at Independent Police Complaints Commission What happened to animal owners in 2001 is now - as we feared -happening randomly to anyone at all.

November 27 2004 ~ Independent "Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons, has denied media reports that the security services foiled a plot by al-Qa'ida to fly planes into the skyscrapers at London's Canary Wharf..."

November 27 2004 ~ "Putin sees Yanukovych as Moscow's choice because of heavy Russian investments in Ukrainian businesses, including oil refineries, aluminum factories and the country's extensive oil and gas pipelines. Russia poured as much as $50 million into Yanukovych's campaign.." SeattlePi

November 25 2004 ~ Ukraine. The country's supreme court has suspended the Presidential election result. Lech Walesa attended one of today's daily rallies at Independence Square and stood alongside Yushchenko - and it looks as though a pro-Russia rent a mob may be being bussed in.

November 25 2004 ~ There is a comments page at Manchester Online for readers to comment on the Commons motion towards the impeaching of Mr Blair. Comments so far are all in favour, and mainly expressed in sober terms.

November 24 2004 ~ Jon Snow's Channel 4 news update "Met an excellent group of brokers/dealers/traders in the city at lunchtime. Fell to discussing the 'threat' to Canary Wharf. No further evidence that there is even a scintilla of truth in the story that a plot was foiled. Went back to my sources today (yes, two, Lord Hutton.) Both resolute in their dismissing of the story. So it remains strange tonight that such a story broke so conveniently upon a day when the government wanted to unveil 'tough on terrorism' plans. .." (See also below)

November 24 2004 ~ "The troubled dollar - Is international support for the dollar and for US policies eroding? Yes, it most certainly is. A powerful case can be made that it has been US policies and actions since September 11 that have resulted in a powerful upswing in terrorism worldwide along with an equally powerful elevation in Middle East instability resulting in sustained crude oil price hike and a resulting dollar decline.." See Peak Oil news

November 24 2004 ~ The website has been removed, without warning and with its entire petition deleted, by the hosting company. One may now visit the newly set up - and re-sign the petition. Frederick Forsyth and Corin Redgrave have added their voices to the call for Tony Blair's impeachment over Iraq.

November 23 2004 ~ The politics of fear - is the Independent's laconic headline for its run-down on the Queen's speech.

November 23 2004 ~ ...and right on cue, we get the story today of how "Britain's '9/11' foiled by security forces" in theScotsman, a close reading of which somewhat belies the headline. The brief story is full of such phrases as "security chiefs believe.." , ".. According to a senior authoritative source" (not named) "The Home Office and Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the reports"...."It was not clear whether .." and especially "If this is the case" (There is also mention of that Scaremonger -in-Chief, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens)

November 22 2004 ~ Tens of thousands of demonstrators jammed downtown Kiev in freezing temperatures Monday night, denouncing Ukraine's presidential runoff election as fraudulent. AP

November 22 2004 ~"Tony Blair faces a backlash from lawyers and civil rights campaigners over the string of anti-crime Bills and measures against international terrorism expected to dominate tomorrow's Queen's Speech." Independent. Read in full on democracy page

November 19 - 21 2004 ~ "....the gulf between our fishermen and the DEFRA ministers and officials.. who rule their lives on behalf of Brussels"....."When I briefed the BBC, I told them they could not do a properly professional job on covering these new regulations without explaining why they were being so hastily and chaotically introduced to comply, under an EU directive, with standards laid down in Brussels...."......"...... thousands of jobs will be lost to Britain, at UK taxpayers' expense. And this extraordinary decision has still aroused scarcely a squeak of protest from our press..." ...."Even before starting work... Mr Barroso's team could be facing embarrassments as great as those which led to the resignation of the entire Commission in 1999..."
Here is this week's Booker's Notebook, each story of which ought to be front page news.

November 19 - 21 2004 ~ "Consumers will ... reduce their borrowing and a lot of companies engaged in financial services will find they own a lot of bad debt." Reuters The US economy is in a bad way. Oil is 2 dollars up. See peak oil news.

November 19 - 21 2004 ~ 50,000 demonstrators in Chile, using slogans such as "Another world is possible" and "Santiago is ours" have expressed their anger at the United States for the war in Iraq and globalisation. The protest is part of the Chilean Social forum's response to the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a 21-member group of nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds have been arrested. See Guardian

November 19 - 21 2004 ~ ID cards "A protest group, NO2ID, set up by a coalition of civil liberties groups, claims to be recruiting 250 new members every day and aims for 50,000 by the election expected in May..." See its website and this Independent article about Mr Blunkett's apparent worry about store loyalty cards (sic)

November 19 - 21 2004 ~"The fear of terrorism - a terrorism inflamed by this Government's support of an illegal occupation and American gung-ho tactics - is being used to erode every historic freedom this country has depended on. .." See democracy page

November 19- 21 2004 ~ “There is no doubt that Scotland faces major challenges to improve the oral health of younger generations but adding fluoride to the water supply is not the answer.” Times

November 18 2004 ~Hunting ban "Ministers are desperate not to bring it in before the General Election. They say the delay is aimed at giving people whose livelihoods depend on hunting time to find new work. But they will also be determined to avoid the threatened civil disobedience and pictures of hounds being put down during an election campaign..." Scotsman

November 17 2004 ~"......."Britain gave its support, but I have not been impressed by the payback," Chirac said. ..........Bush's election victory over Sen. John Kerry this month has complicated the prime minister's political fortunes. "I have no doubt Blair would've welcomed a Kerry victory because of the fact that it would have disengaged him (Blair) from the poison in his own party," said David Baker, a professor of politics and international affairs at the University of Warwick..." from the Kansas City Star

November 17 2004 ~"....our study indicates a seemingly unbridgeable supply-demand gap opening up after 2007 .." Mr Chris Skrebowski, editor of the UK trade magazine Petroleum Review See Peak Oil news

November 17 2004 ~"Tony Blair is secretly hoping that hunt campaigners will overturn a ban on fox hunting in the courts and prevent a row souring next year's general election campaign..." Independent

November 17 2004 ~ The Daily Telegraph are running a series of awards Vote for Neil Herron!

November 16 2004 ~ "Tempted by the offer of 15 shillings, 20-year-old Ronald Maddison put his trust in the scientists at Porton Down, and paid with his life." Scotsman.

November 16 2004 ~ Hawk Rice replaces Dove Powell. See Independent

November 16 2004 ~ "Huntsmen, foxes and police are all heading for a fall" Alice Thomson in Telegraph Opinion "......Now twice as many foxes are being killed in Scotland, and many more wounded, it's far more dangerous for everyone involved – it fails on all counts." In England and Wales, where the measures are more draconian, the situation looks even more grim. More than 50,000 people have signed a petition saying they are prepared to break the law. These are some of the most naturally law-abiding people in the country..."

November 15 2004 ~ The Western Mail (Wales) has decided to drop a projected article on Janet Hughes' book "The Killing Pens". Janet tells us that she has been accused of making "wild claims"
In his Introduction Christopher Booker comments, "...In giving such supine support to the Government, the courts had grievously blundered." Newspapers who are similarly supine do their readers no favours.
See also page on the "Killing Pens"

November 15 2004 ~ The very nasty tendency of smearing opponents appears to be on the increase both in the US and UK. George Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for his comments about the Iraq war. His case against the Telegraph finally begins today. He has already successfully sued The Christian Science Monitor for claims that he "received money" from Saddam Hussein's regime. That paper has since paid him damages and apologised, admitting that the documents it relied on were false.

November 14 2004 ~ Nicholas Soames declined to endorse party leader Michael Howard's decision to sack his "great personal friend". He said: "I'm very, very sad and sorry for Boris. It is a very bad moment. .." BBC

November 14 2004 ~ Boris Johnson has been sacked. Theresa May has backed Mr Howard's decision. Readers of this website may find it deplorable that political leaders throw to the lions, under some high-sounding pretext, anyone who "offends"

November 14 2004 ~ "There is encouraging news for Tony Blair in his efforts to sell the EU constitution to the British people - efforts that will face their final test in a referendum likely to be held in March 2006. The Chinese foreign ministry has issued a statement praising the part the constitution will play in bringing about a "unified and integrated European Union". China fully supports the EU's "political unification", giving "new opportunities for the further development of China-EU relations". How cheered Mr Blair and his EU friends must be to win as an ally such a stalwart champion of democracy as the People's Republic of China." Booker's Notebook

November 13 2004 ~ "Mr Gil-Robles' (EU Commissioner on human rights) growing concerns about the use of powers enacted in response to the threat of terrorism had prompted him to ask the government for a list of the men and women who had been arrested, detained, charged and sentenced since September 11, 2001. .." See Democracy pages

November 12 2004 ~"...Yael Lotan, an Israeli writer and anti-nuclear campaigner who conducted the BBC interview, said that she was "profoundly disappointed" that the (Israeli) security services had not finished playing cat-and-mouse with Mr Vanunu. "We thought that finally the Israeli government realised that he has nothing more to add to what he's already said." Ms Lotan accused the authorities of taking advantage of Yasser Arafat's death to divert attention from the latest arrest. ." See Independent

November 11 2004 ~ Rural Strategy "... confused, unaccountable, over-centralised and wasteful. ...Lord Haskins said that millions of pounds of money earmarked for rural projects was still being wasted because of excessive bureaucracy and a poor sense of priorities...." WMN

November 11 2004 ~ Things in the US are more threatening towards liberal thought than even we had realised. Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton explains in today's Guardian how "the religious right is exerting its power" democracy page

November 11 2004 ~ Yasser Arafat has been declared dead in a Paris hospital. Reuters Speculation that he might have been poisoned has not been successsfully squashed.

November 11 2004 ~ More Scottish troops could be set to join the Black Watch in Iraq. Around 100 Scots Guards are to be sent into the “triangle of death”...." Scotsman (which also carries a petition to saveScotland's regiments)

November 10 2004 ~ Tony Blair came under pressure from families of serving troops and over the future of Scottish regiments today Scotsman "...a letter of protest to 10 Downing Street, which read: “Stop the war, bring the troops home and hand responsibility over to the United Nations.” Signed by 10 families, it accused the Prime Minister of “morally unacceptable conduct” and ended: “Well Mr Blair you have been true to your word on one point. You are getting some of the Black Watch home for Christmas, tragically injured, maimed and others in body bags.”

November 10 2004 ~Fallujah. Independent "... Local people claimed US warplanes bombed a clinic, causing many casualties. The main hospital was captured by US and Iraqi government forces on Monday, when, according to government figures, more than 40 "terrorists" were killed."

November 9 2004 ~ Regional Assemblies that already exist "If he's not going to abolish these unelected bodies that are spending money on our behalf will he please have a referendum in the South West?" Angela Browning, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, The SW Assembly covers from the Isles of Scilly to Gloucester and Swindon, and has statutory powers over regional planning. See WMN

November 9 2004 ~ "Black Box Voting has taken the position that fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines. We base this on hard evidence, documents obtained in public records requests, inside information, and other data indicative of manipulation of electronic voting systems..."

November 9 2004 ~ "Mr Prescott said, the Government had decided not to go ahead with polls in the North-west and in Yorkshire and the Humber.. David Curry..." a "colossal gap" in the North-east between the rhetoric about devolution and the limited powers the assembly was being given."..." Independent

November 9 2004 ~ An emailer writes to tell us that "the BBC now seems to be embarking on a campaign to get us all excited about regional assemblies. Just three days after the result in the North East, up pops a special section on the BBC Online website telling us how the voters can get involved in "your" regional assembly..." The pages are at

November 7 2004 ~ "Labour's private polling estimates that some three million of its natural supporters may back the Liberal Democrats or abstain in a protest over Iraq." Independent

November 7 2004 ~ Tony Blair is charged with "gross misconduct" over the war in Iraq in a parliamentary motion to impeach him, published today. Independent on Sunday

November 7 2004 ~".... it is part of a larger and dangerous trend to control the academic discourse in the United States on the Middle East, as exemplified by Campus Watch and the Title VI restrictions. If you share this impression, please add your name to the petition defending academic freedom at Columbia." extract from Prof Juan Cole's site about the campaign against Joseph Massad, an assistant professor in the Middle East studies department of Columbia University. See democracy page

November 7 2004 ~ "... if there is one man who, more than anyone else, stopped this plan in its tracks, it is Neil Herron.... by repeatedly wrong-footing the local political establishment, managed to turn what had once seemed the unstoppable advance of an elected assembly into a rout." Booker's Notebook and he is right. Mr Herron shows what can be done by ordinary people who believe in democracy and are prepared - with no ulterior motive whatsoever - to wade in on its behalf.

November 7 2004 ~ "It will become a criminal offence for householders to carry out most electrical work without getting council approval. And, as from January 1 it will similarly become an offence, punishable by fines of up to £5,000, to sell a property without a certificate for any electrical work carried out after the new law comes into force. .." Booker's Notebook

November 6 2004 ~ "....North-Easterners were ripe (it was thought) for being picked off first. The whole of England owes them its gratitude for declining the invitation. " Matthew Parris BUT the Guardian has this: "The story of Welsh devolution is a relevant cautionary tale, especially for those who were quick off the mark to write the obituary of English regional devolution in the aftermath of the government's defeat in the north-east regional assembly referendum yesterday. In Wales in 1979 the no vote was 80%. In the north-east this week it was 78%..."

November 5 2004 ~ The North East Referendum. Neil Herron's blogspot now carries many letters of congratulation - such as "We, the ordinary, working class people of England owe you a great debt for saving us all from fake devolution, a chopped up country of competing tin pot regions. You've made the difference. We cried with relief when we heard the result. THANK YOU AGAIN!"..."The lack of coverage by the BBC tells its own story..." ... ( In fact, the BBC covers the result this morning. The photo is of John Elliott rather than of Neil Herron but there is also a disgruntled guy ready for the bonfire.)

November 5 2004 ~ Michael Moore's thoughts on that other election may make you smile and decide - like Dorothy Parker, that you "might as well live"

November 4 2004 ~ "Secret ballot? Free and fair referendum with council officials walking around with Ballot Papers in their hands? " I'll just get the Ballot Box. It's locked away behind reception." And with that he vaulted over and lifted the Box over for me to place my Ballot envelope in. It wouldn't fit, as the hole was too small..." Neil Herron

November 4 2004 ~ Reuters "....members of Blair's Labour party, many of whom remain bitter about his decision to follow Washington to war in Iraq, said that boil could have been lanced if Bush had been ousted. ..... Now, Blair faces his own election, probably in May 2005, with Bush continuing to appear on British television screens. The premier's popularity ratings have plunged over Iraq..."

November 4 2004 ~ Voting in the North East regional assembly referendum enters its final day. Neil Herron writes that "a No vote will mean the rejection of not only the Elected Regional Assembly, but also its unwanted, unelected and expensive potential predecessor....The unelected North East Assembly which sits in luxurious surroundings at the Guildhall on Newcastle Quayside (heavily subsidised by the Newcastle ratepayers with a peppercorn rent) faces a very bleak future."

November 4 2004 ~ "Tony Blair looks forward to continuing his "strong relationship" with President Bush after his election win." BBC

November 3 2004 ~ "...we are being asked, at this late stage of the Bill's progress, to write the Government a large blank cheque to set up powerful databases that would include each and every one of the more than 11 million children in this country.." Tim Loughton ( read in full Mr Loughton's speech - from Hansard) See also democracy page

November 3 2004 ~More electoral dirty tricks. Neil Herron writes in his blogspot, "Prescott take notice of purdah? Electoral Commission spotted? Fat chance!"

November 3 2004 ~"....the Ukrainian election was scarred by even dirtier tricks and more dubious registration procedures than the one across the Atlantic. Like the US election, it was also the subject of close - in this case, perhaps too close - attention from abroad. And while its outcome may not decide the fate of the world, it will help to determine the future of Europe and its borders. Will Ukraine face east towards Russia or west to Europe? " Independent (portfolio)

November 3 2004 ~ Reuters ~ " ....Bush has said he would continue filling the strategic petroleum reserves to capacity, a policy Kerry had promised to reverse. Analysts also said Kerry would be more likely to pursue energy conservation and alternative fuels...." (See peak oil news page)

November 3 2004 ~ More implications of a Bus win - seen through narrowed oil-business eyes "Some analysts said a Bush win could stoke nervousness about U.S. policy in the oil-producing Middle East, particularly Iran, while Kerry is seen as more likely to work through conventional diplomatic channels. "In particular, if another Bush government moves on to Iran, then oil prices would go very high and really threaten China's economic development," said Andy Xie, Morgan Stanley's chief Asia economist." Reuters

November 3 2004 ~ Republicans have kept control of the US Congress and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle is in jeopardy of being voted out of office ...Reuters

November 3 2004 ~ Sudanese soldiers have surrounded three refugee camps in Darfur, forcing out aid workers. Telegraph

November 2 2004 ~ 9/11 "....A Zogby International poll of New York City residents last August showed that 49 percent believe some high officials knew about the attacks in advance and "consciously failed" to take preventive action. 41 percent of state residents overall shared that view. A full 66 percent of New York City residents in the survey agreed the case of 9/11 should be reopened by Congress - or by Eliot Spitzer. .." From the

November 2 2004 ~ ".....Alastair Campbell, who fled No 10 after the Hutton saga, is slated to return to help Blair win the next election. "The bullying is bound to start up again when Campbell is back," Dimbleby says. "He may be coming back at us with knobs on. The BBC will resist it, of course. ..." Independent

November 2 2004 ~ "The whole world is silent, and even the killing of Iraqi civilians is not condemned. " Please see the letter from the citizens of Fallujah to the UN Security Council and Kofi Annan

November 2 2004 ~ Just noticed in the Guardian "An Iraqi trade union movement that helped persuade Labour opponents of the war to back the government at their party conference has admitted holding talks over receiving government funds shortly afterwards"

November 2 2004 ~ The Stop the War Coalition is holding a Naming the Dead protest in Trafalgar Square and across the UK. At 5pm, speakers including Ken Livingstone, Harold Pinter, David Hare, Juliet Stevenson and Stephen Hawking will begin reading out the names of Iraqis killed.

November 2 2004 ~" ...The most frightening thing of all is that the Project for a New American Century group, which has made an internal coup in the Bush administration, ultimately has its sights on China..." Professor Juan Cole

November 2 2004 ~The (Iraqi) interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar, has told the Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas: "I completely disagree with those who see a need to decide [Falluja] through military action. The coalition's handling of this crisis is wrong. It's like someone who fired bullets at his horse's head just because a fly landed on it; the horse died and the fly went away." His remarks seemed a direct challenge to the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi. " (Guardian)

November 2 2004 ~ A US citizen is among six people reported kidnapped as gunmen storm an office in central Baghdad. says the BBC

November 1 2004 ~"....the latest scandal over missing nuclear-related high explosives in Iraq (traced and controlled under the UN inspections regime) only underscores the utter deceitfulness of the Bush-Blair argument for the war..." Scott Ritter in today's Guardian is essential reading.

November 1 2004 ~".. the prime minister is susceptible to lobbying. But there are no allegations of secret meetings with pensioner groups, clandestine conversations with representatives of asylum seekers or furtive trysts with homeless organisations. The prime minister only gives audiences to the rich and powerful. .." Roy Hattersley in the Guardian

November 1 2004 ~ The filmmaker Michael Moore has announced a large-scale effort to combat dirty tricks during tomorrow's US election by stationing hundreds of people with video cameras outside polling stations. "I'm putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated..."

November 1 2004 ~ The killing of the deputy governor of Baghdad is the latest in a series of attacks on officials linked to Iraq's US-backed interim government. It follows a rocket attack on Sunday in the city of Tikrit, which killed at least 15 civilians and wounded eight. BBC

November 1 2004 ~ Bogeyman to scare US into condoning the destruction of Fallujah? "......the flowery language of communiqus attributed to Zarqawi, including the December letter outlining Tawhid and Jihad's plans to sow instability in Iraq -- and the recent oath of loyalty to bin Laden -- sound far too sophisticated to have been authored by Zarqawi, who is said to be an inarticulate high school dropout." Boston Globe

November 1 2004 ~ "American officials have grossly inflated the role of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the violence in Iraq in their eagerness to blame foreign terrorists for the insurgency, according to Jordanian analysts and Western diplomats...Convicts ...remember Zarqawi ... as brutal and inarticulate, dependent on others for direction.." Boston Globe

October 31 2004 ~ "One of the US Army's top procurement officers yesterday called the Bush administration's grant of multibillion-dollar contracts to oil services giant Halliburton "the worst case of contracting abuse she has ever seen". IOS

October 31 2004 ~ "Stephen Hawking, Britain's most eminent scientist, has become the latest prominent opponent of the Iraq war by agreeing to take the lead role in a ceremonial protest to coincide with the United States presidential election." IOS

October 31 2004 ~"...Last week the Bush re-election team replaced one of its campaign adverts after acknowledging that a photograph had been doctored to increase the number of soldiers appearing to listen to the president." Sunday Herald

October 31 2004 ~ A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb yesterday next to a US military convoy west of Baghdad, killing eight Marines and wounding nine. Boston Globe

October 30 2004 ~ a website called allows people who are not US citizens to vote in the next American Presidential election and is filled with information about all of the candidates; it may be useful for Americans to understand how we feel about their choices.

October 31 2004 ~ Mr Nicholas Soames: " At the very time when the exceptional qualities of British troops are needed as never before, the Government appear hellbent on reducing the numbers of fighting men in the British Army. Does that not reveal the utter folly of the Government's plans to disband four infantry battalions? Does it not further explain the profound anxiety expressed by Members on both sides of the House at such an untimely and foolish proposal? " Hansard October 25

October 31 2004 ~ Prescott's regional dreams in tatters Independent " .... If forecasts are correct, a campaign endorsed by every senior politician in the North-east from the Prime Minister downwards, and by a galaxy of local celebrities, has been defeated by a mixed group of political amateurs led by a former market trader...Neil Herron... .... His campaign has a single, easily understood theme - that a regional assembly would be nothing but a costly platform for party politics. .."

October 31 2004 ~ "Lord Woolf is poised to step down as Lord Chief Justice four years early because he is tired of being bullied by ministers, it was reported last night. Friends said that England's most senior judge had grown weary of being the target of repeated attacks by David Blunkett.." IOS Read in full on warmwell's democracy page(new window opens)

October 31 2004 ~ So-called War on "Terror". As in the US, there are attempts to frighten the UK population out of its (common) senses and into wanting a "strong" leader. Sir John Stevens insisted it is "not a matter of “if” but “when” an attack happen". His successor denies this. Tony Blair and David Blunkett urge that the threat from Al-Qaeda is so serious that "draconian new counter-terrorism laws" are urgently needed. At least there is some hope that these fearful laws may be "delayed" - and the Law Lords will rule next month on the legality of Blunkett’s powers to detain 11 foreign terrorist suspects without trial at Belmarsh. See Anti-terror drive stalled by human rights fears in the Sunday Times

October 31 2004 ~"In no meaningful way does the constitution do any of these things. In every significant respect the constitution extends the powers of the new "government of Europe" - as in foreign policy, defence and justice - in ways which make a complete nonsense of Mr Straw's claims. The last thing he and Mr Blair want is a proper, open debate.." Booker's Notebook. See democracy page

October 31 2004 ~ Tony Blair is planning a snap General Election in February, according to reports. Scotland on Sunday

October 30 2004 ~ a website called allows people who are not US citizens to vote in the next American Presidential election and is filled with information about all of the candidates; it may be useful for Americans to understand how we feel about their choices.

October 30 2004 ~ "... Mr Bush put himself among dangerous — in Mr Cheney’s case very dangerous — men. The so-called War on Terror and the occupation of Iraq involved stunning errors of analysis and execution. But democracy’s antibodies will emerge to rectify them. No foreign policy can be based on myth for ever.." As usual, Simon Jenkins (The Times) writes a clear, humane analysis.

October 30 2004 ~EU Constitution "Jack Straw revealed an 18-month game plan to win a referendum on the European Union's first constitution yesterday with a vote scheduled for March or April 2006.... Tony Blair left the signing ceremony in Rome before other Europe leaders... All 25 EU member states now have two years to complete ratification. So far, eight countries have set dates for referendums, with the first in Spain on February 20 2005, followed by Portugal (April 10), Holland (March or April), France (possibly May 8) and Poland (May or October). ...

October 29 2004 ~ Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he will find another candidate to replace his controversial nominee as Justice Commissioner of the European Union. ABC Online

October 29 2004 ~ The first Black Watch soldier has been killed . Roger writes, "One dead already. " Road accident ". How can you have a road accident in the middle of a massive desert ? ....."

October 29 2004 ~ "...something has obviously gone badly wrong at the apex of power in the UK. .. In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost whereby he encouraged the ventilation of matters previously reserved for confidential Kremlin discussion alone. He also exposed himself to fundamental public criticism, urging that this would produce a more healthy politics in the USSR. George W Bush and Tony Blair over Iraq and Vladimir Putin over Chechnya have gone the other way by restricting and distorting information available to their electorates....Blair used Alastair Campbell to bully the BBC as a way of diverting attention from the ghastly mess he and Bush had made in the Middle East. In a democratic system, it is time for the PM, whose quasi-apology was an insult to the public, to pay the final price." Robert Service, Stalin's biographer, finds some surprising parallels between the PM and the Soviet tyrant. The Dictator of Dpwning Street

October 29 2004 ~ " John Morrison, one of the most senior intelligence analysts at the Ministry of Defence, said intelligence had been used as a "public relations tool" to be used to win the public debate since Mr Blair came to power. ..... his remarks reopened damaging wounds caused by the death of Dr David Kelly, the weapons expert, and allegations that intelligence dossiers had been "sexed up", which were investigated by the Hutton and Butler inquiries." Independent - please see Democracy page

October 29 2004 ~ "...the people of Iraq have been forced to pay, since the fall of Saddam, almost 80 million dollars to America and Britain as 'reparations'. Even Israel has received an untold fortune in Iraqi oil money as compensation for its 'loss of tourism' in the Golan Heights - part of Syria it occupies illegally. As for oil, the 'o-word' is unmentionable ...." John Pilger says what other journalists do not. See also IRAQ pages for today's news. (opens in a new page)

October 29 2004 ~ A note from Val on colour - and an inspired guess about why New Lab is more Republican than the Tories.

October 28 2004 ~ It has been announced that as President-designate Barroso's team will be unable to take office as scheduled November 1, current European Commission President Romano Prodi and his Commission will remain in office in a caretaker capacity. The EU Dutch Presidency has called EU leaders together for talks on the situation. Jurist

October 28 2004 ~ Iraqi Officials Deny Early Disappearance of Explosives Dr. Muhammad Sharaa who leads Iraq's science monitoring department, denies that the 380 tons of high explosives that has gone missing could have been moved in spring of 2003 before or during the war. AFP reports:

October 28 2004 ~A militant Islamist group today calling itself Al-Islam's Army Brigades claimed to be in possession of some of the missing explosives - and would use them if foreign troops threaten Iraqi cities. The statement said they had been taken while the al-Qaqaa facility had been under the protection of the American forces." See Guardian

October 28 2004 ~ "one form of tyranny has been replaced by another. Bombs, kidnappings and shortages have turned their lives upside down.." says Kim Sengupta in the Independent

October 28 2004 ~"The function of intelligence is to speak truth unto power. If it doesn't do that, it fails and I felt somebody had to speak up for intelligence standards. I did that. I got sacked and I don't regret it for a moment.".....John Morrison in the Guardian

October 28 2004 ~ "Angry members of the Commons public accounts committee questioned the permanent secretary, Sir Kevin Tebbit, about mistakes costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. The RAF spent £259m on eight Chinook helicopters which cannot fly..
....Gerry Steinberg, Labour MP for the City of Durham, described the Chinook blunder as the latest in a long line of "the most appalling reports" about the MoD. "It can't be coincidence," he said. "Every time you appear before us, this committee loses its temper. It doesn't happen with anyone else. You balls up the Apaches, you also messed up the Chinooks, you also messed up the Lynx." Guardian

October 28 2004 ~ "From the start, Bush ran a government based on secrecy, handed over the departments and agencies to more than 100 industry executives and lobbyists appointed to key positions, and exhibited belligerence towards anyone who raised a question about his right-wing imperatives. His bullying prompted Republican Senator James Jeffords of Vermont to cross the aisle, throwing control of the Senate to the Democrats. In only months, Bush's incompetence and arrogance had induced paralysis." Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian

October 28 2004 ~ Telegraph " The Home Office cites opinion polls suggesting that 70 per cent or more of the public support ID cards. However, the results of its own consultation exercise also published yesterday showed that 48 per cent of respondents were opposed and only 31 per cent in favour Read in full. "It will not be an option to refuse to have an ID card."

October 28 2004 ~ The Home Office confirmed yesterday that the UK national ID card is to be issued alongside passports. This effectively pre-empts a future Parliamentary decision on whether or not they should be made compulsory, because anyone who needs to renew their passport will be 'volunteered'. See the Register

October 26 2004 ~ Mr Blair was among those lobbying MEPs to back away from a confrontation over Mr Buttiglione but the new European Commission was facing a humiliating rejection by MEPs last night. See Independent

October 26 2004 ~ The European Parliament are voting over whether or not to reject the new European Commission because of the Italian Buttiglione's comments on gays and women. See Matthew Parris - if you have not already read it.

October 26 2004 ~ "... activists will feel emboldened, and plans are afoot for another international Day of Action on Iraq, probably on Febuary 19th 2005" Today's Democracy page features an extract from the even-handed look at the European Social Forum by John O'Farrell

October 26 2004 ~ "Allawi has ordered an urgent investigation into whether information was leaked to the insurgents who ambushed the unescorted convoy and why the young soldiers were unarmed, said the source, who asked not to be named. America's top enemy in Iraq, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for what is one of the worst attacks on Iraq's new security forces..." Reuters

October 26 2004 ~ However, Arab News asks Zarqawi the Terror Monster: But Does He Really Exist? "Zarqawi is a semi-literate former petty thief with a low IQ,” says Husam Ghassen, a Jordanian ex-militant who knew the fugitive in the 1990s. “Having lost a leg in an American air raid on one of the Mujahedeen camps in Afghanistan, Zarqawi is more likely to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan or Iran than leading holy war in Iraq"....The US has justified its daily attacks against Fallujah, west of Baghdad, with the claim that it is targeting Zarqawi On Saturday, however, Zarqawi was supposed to be near Kirkush, some 200 kilometers east of Fallujah .."

October 26 2004 ~ "Whereas official U.S. policy still blames OPEC for our oil woes, even right-of-center, pro-business outlets like Business Week, The Economist, and Fortune have acceded that the biggest risk for U.S. energy security isn't "foreign" producers or even environmentalists, but rather a decades-old domestic energy policy that remains focused almost entirely on finding new supplies while doing nothing to curb demand. .." read more on the peak oil page

October 25 2004 ~ "Blair's big Commons majorities have exacerbated this problem and, combined with the tradition of party loyalty, have led to a weakening of cabinet government and a marginalisation of Parliament..." Clare Short says what is in so many of our minds. Independent and warmwell's democracy page

October 25 2004 ~ "Bush is Making us Safer?" asks the respected Professor Juan Cole. "The complete lack of interest of the Bush administration in actually securing dangerous materials connected to the old, abandoned Iraqi nuclear program has long belied Bush's stated concern with Iraq's alleged weapons as a pretext for the war...Incredibly, the International Atomic Energy Commission and European Union officials warned Bush before the war that these explosives needed to be safeguarded. Josh Marshall is suspicious that this major screw-up has been known to the Bush administration for some time, and that it may have pressured the Iraqi government not to mention it. " Read in full

October 25 2004 ~ Bill Clinton today made his first appearance on the campaign trail since his heart surgery seven weeks ago and urged voters to elect John Kerry as a president who "wants you to think and hope". Guardian

October 25 2004 ~ The report - Forecasting The Future (very slow pdf file. new window) - warns that if energy consumption continues at the current rate, by 2050 local towns and cities could experience more frequent severe flooding due to increase rainfalls - (and cod and daffodils are at risk, according to many headline writers, afraid that this news is not attention grabbing enough..) The report is full of good advice for individuals - and rightly so - but the gains made by such well meaning attempts could be cancelled out by the growth in aviation emissions. Air travel is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and while many find cheap air fares very convenient, if airlines had to pay for their pollution through a charge of tax on aircraft emissions our own efforts would make more sense.

October 25 2004 ~ "While in the background the EU's interior ministers hatched plans to fingerprint all 450 million of us (The Register - new window) , the foregrounded story in the UK was our opt-out/opt-in/veto. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis claimed that actual Home Secretary (arguably the shadowier one) David Blunkett was selling the UK down the river by accepting qualified majority voting and losing the veto..." The Register

October 25 2004 ~ The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives are missing from one of Iraq's former military installations - formerly under American military control but now a no man's land. These explosives could be used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons. The White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished "sometime after the American-led invasion last year." See also

October 25 2004 ~ "Eminem is not the first performer to step forward with criticism of Bush regarding 9/11. But he may be the most important one to do so yet: his immense popularity as a crossover artist extends across demographics of ethnicity, region, and to some extent, even age. People from the ghetto and the trailer park alike burned in the WTC; as for class, both the investment bankers and the custodial staff were pulverized to the same powder. About twenty million people who were minors in 2001 have since become eligible to vote, and that's not all they're eligible for: some are in those boxes we're not supposed to photograph as they're unloaded at Dover Air Force Base...." and see also Juan Cole's comment: "Until they bring our troops home" is a lyric that makes a moral claim.

October 25 2004 ~ Jimmy Carter states that Bush has exploited 9/11 suffering, and that actions have increased terrorism and that Bush misled people over Iraq. "Completely unjust adventure based on misleading statements". Guardian

October 25 2004 ~ "Eminem is not the first performer to step forward with criticism of Bush regarding 9/11. But he may be the most important one to do so yet: his immense popularity as a crossover artist extends across demographics of ethnicity, region, and to some extent, even age. People from the ghetto and the trailer park alike burned in the WTC; as for class, both the investment bankers and the custodial staff were pulverized to the same powder. About twenty million people who were minors in 2001 have since become eligible to vote, and that's not all they're eligible for: some are in those boxes we're not supposed to photograph as they're unloaded at Dover Air Force Base...." and see also Juan Cole's comment: "Until they bring our troops home" is a lyric that makes a moral claim.

October 24 2004 ~ Independent on Sunday Clare Short claims Sir Andrew Turnball, Cabinet Secretary told her the decision had been made at least seven months earlier "...that Blair had given his commitment to be totally with the US in August or before". She discloses that Gordon Brown told her in September 2002 "that Number 10 had already asked Geoff Hoon [the Defence Secretary] to make 20,000 troops available". Read in full

October 24 2004 ~ Lord Haseltine Lord Hurd and Kenneth Clarke speak out. Observer ".... Lord Heseltine ... "I think he has lied about the situation in the Middle East,'' he told ITV1's "Jonathan Dimbleby'' program. "We were told that there was a threat. We were told there were weapons of mass destruction. There were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no threat.'' ...... said the transfer of the Black Watch was far too big to be a purely operational matter... the transfer was "militarily extraordinarily ill-judged'' and linked to the Nov. 2 presidential elections in the United States.
Hurd, a former foreign secretary, described the redeployment as "a highly political decision.'' Clarke, a former Treasury chief who served in the governments of prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Major, said it was "absurd.'' ......

October 24 2004 ~ Channel 4 News update tells us that President Bush's local paper - "the Lone Star Iconoclast -- circulation 900 -- has endorsed his rival, John Kerry, setting off a storm of controversy in the small town. Loyal Bush supporters are now boycotting the paper -- cutting its readership in half. But its editor has been deluged with support from all over the world."

October 24 2004 ~"....we found out that they were shot after being ordered to lay down on the earth,” General Walid al-Azzawi, commander of the Diyala provincial police, said, adding that the bodies were laid out in four rows each, with 12 bodies in each row." Associated Press report on the ambushed unarmed Iraqi soldiers. They were on their way home after completing a training course north east of Baghdad when their buses were stopped yesterday evening by rebels near the Iranian border around 95 miles east of Baghdad.

October 24 2004 ~ "Greens challenged Tony Blair to resign or face impeachment yesterday when their conference debated how best to maximise next year's election opportunities without compromising their core beliefs. .....Caroline Lucas MEP, the party's leader in the London assembly, urged Mr Blair to quit and said other parties were "indistinguishable on war, privatisation and globalisation". She backed the no vote on the constitution, "which entrenches the worst part of the EU". ..." Guardian

October 24 2004 ~"Some were shocked this week when two leading American neo-conservative thinkers, Irwin Stelzer and William Kristol, called our prime minister a neocon ".... neocon philosophy in its purest form: war as the ultimate lever of change." Guardian - read in full

October 24 2004 ~ "Far from a limited number of pro-Saddam resistance groups fighting coalition forces, well-funded cells and militias representing a spectrum of Islamic groups are now spread across Iraq." Sunday Herald. Read in full

October 24 2004 ~ Brian Haw and his collection of anti-war posters - Ministers have been forced to pass a specific law against Mr Haw's activities as a desperate last resort. Westminster Council's injunction against the lone 55 year old peace protestor was thrown out by a judge who ruled that he was not an obstruction. In May the Commons Procedure Committee was forced to admit that Mr Haw's rights to protest could not be over-ridden by medieval statutes guaranteeing MPs safe passage in the streets of Westminster. Like many Americans who have wept to read Mr Haw's posters, warmwell mourns the passing of the Englishsense of fair play and its affectionate tolerance of brave eccentrics.IoS reports

October 23 2004 ~ "Kick him out. This the European Parliament can do by rejecting the proposed new Commission in its entirety — the only power available to it. Senhor Barroso said: “Is it reasonable to make a commission fall because two or three commissioners aren’t satisfactory? No. One must keep a sense of balance.” I say: yes, entirely reasonable. .." Please do read Matthew Parris in the Times today on the subject of Justice Commissioner-designate, Rocco Buttiglione.

October 23 2004 ~ Simon Jenkins writes in the Times "Opinion in the North East appears to be going against Mr Prescott. I find it near incredible that anyone should say “no” to an offer of more democracy. But northeasterners know when they are being conned..."

October 23 2004 ~ Clare Short says she saw the intelligence reports on Iraq's alleged arsenal as International Development Secretary. Independent "In An Honourable Deception?, Ms Short alleges that Mr Blair deliberately misled the country - a charge which would, if proven, force him to resign. Rejecting the findings of the Butler inquiry that the Prime Minister acted in good faith, she says: "I am afraid it is clear that the Prime Minister did knowingly mislead." read in full

October 23 2004 ~ "Several lawmakers questioned the timing of the operation, saying it would put British and American troops in a major combat operation just as Americans were voting in their own election. Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that any redeployment would have nothing to do with the American elections." The New York Times leaves this - without comment - at the end of its article on the deployment of UK troops.

October 23 2004 ~ "By abolishing the army, we destroyed in the Iraqi mind the last symbol of sovereignty they could recognize and as a result created a significant part of the resistance." New York Times quoting Col. Paul Hughes of the Army, a retired three-star general and the first civilian administrator of Iraq, who served as an aide to Jay Garner, .

October 23 2004 ~Sunni group urges boycott of elections because of Falluja action. The New York Times quotes cleric, Sheik Qasim al-Hanafi: "The clerics will call upon all the Iraqi people to boycott the elections and consider them bogus if Falluja continues to be subject to the incursions and bombardments."

October 22 2004 ~ Alex Thompson in the Channel 4 news update: "...On Al Jazeera TV a short while ago a new videotaped message from the Dublin-born hostage Margaret Hassan. It's upsetting stuff from a hostage in no way involved with the military occupation. The British-Iraqi head of the aid agency CARE International's Iraq operation is in tears, begging for her life and begging for British troops to leave Iraq and - in an apparent reference to the Black Watch - not to come north. These videos put the TV media in an invidious position. Do we censor and not show the video and prevent viewers from knowing what is going on? Or do we show it in full and effectively become used as publicity outfits by the kidnappers? If there is an easy answer out there, it eludes me thus far.."

October 22 2004 ~ "..the Carlyle Group is a story of dealings inside the “Iron Triangle,” the place where the world’s mightiest military intersects with high-powered politics and big business. It is a company whose history includes ties to CIA cover-ups and secret arms deals, and an astounding trail of corporate cronyism... " Michael Moore's website has a link to excerpts from The Iron Triangle: inside the secret world of the Carlyle Group" By Dan Briody

October 22 2004 ~ The Electoral Commission sent its Evaluation Report - on the European and Local Government elections in June - to many in the North East who had complained. The Report they received was for the North West.

October 22 2004 ~ North East referendum shambles... Having raised concerns over the all postal ballots during the European Elections, and having been instrumental in exposing the printing problems in the North East, it is ironic that leading No Campaigner, Neil Herron has received FOUR Ballot Papers. click here

October 22 2004 ~ Tony Blair must resign or be impeached for taking the UK to war in Iraq on the basis of a "lie", Green Party principal speaker Caroline Lucas has said. BBC Meanwhile, an emailer writes, "It seems Lord Butler was very selective in the choice of whose story he listened to - and bothered to remember. Why didn't any of the Select Committee members ask him why had had ignored the testimony from those within the intelligience services who raised doubts about the intelligience used in the dossier? ..... If Butler had been up before Caroline Lucas his comments would not have gone unchallenged."

October 22 2004 ~ Lord Butler insisted yesterday that no one - neither Tony Blair nor John Scarlett, now head of M16 - could be held responsible. ..Guardian "..he was satisfied that he was not prevented from a proper investigation .."

October 22 2004 ~ Highly significant number of letters in the Independent, not a single one pro Blair. Independent

October 22 2004 ~ The indefatigable Anne Lambourn - who sends so many invaluable links to warmwell - writes, "We aren't told in the UK of the Fallujah sheiks wanting to negotiate - it's already been decided to launch massive attack on Fallujah, and I don't think anything can stop it.
I've copied three items/links from New York Times which provide further insight into Iraq situation re:
1. Higher level of opposition and funds than thought; here
2. Fallujah sheiks want to negotiate; and here
3. Pentagon deliberately skews CIA's views of Quaeda ties. hereThis last one is particularly worth reading.

October 22 2004 ~ Blair has taken us towards an elective dictatorship Hutton and Butler exposed the decay of accountable government Michael Quinlan, former Permanent Secretary to the MOD, in the Guardian today.

October 22 2004 ~ Terry Jones - Bush has words with the Almighty...Guardian

October 22 2004 ~ Fisk's case, that the war had succeeded only in consigning Iraq to a state of "anarchy and madness", comfortably held sway among the audience of 500...... There was also eloquence from the floor. A former US naval officer, worrying that the West had "lied about Iraq like we lied about Vietnam", urged The Independent to continue "challenging the lies" in a way no other paper has. "It is astonishing," concluded Kelner, (Chair of debate) "that despite the illegality of the war, the thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of soldiers who have died, that nobody on either side of the Atlantic has paid a political price." Independent

October 22 2004 ~ Lord Butler "defended his decision not to apportion blame in hisreport. Questioned about the conduct of his inquiry, Lord Butler of Brockwell revealed that ministers had attempted to resist disclosing some documents, including the advice from the Attorney General on the legality of the invasion." Independent This does not make clear whether Lord Butler saw the Attorney General's advice.

October 22 2004 ~ The highly respected Juan Cole writes today ( "Bush now becomes a symbol of grasping, stupid Federal interference, and Iraq is reconceived as a carpetbagging operation. "Until they bring our troops home" is a lyric that makes a moral claim. Bush & Co. have kidnapped US young persons in uniform and are holding them prisoner in an Iraqi cauldron for no good reason. ..... If any significant number of lower middle class white youth are thinking like this, it could make a difference...."

October 22 2004 ~"The Black Watch regiment was yesterday ordered by the Cabinet to help US forces throw a "ring of steel" around Fallujah before an all-out assault on insurgents in the city." Independent. Please see Iraq page Those of us who believed the labour rebels would stand firm can only watch with sick concern as the Whips successfully head off a mutiny and Mr Blair "convinces" those such as Anne Campbell.

October 22 2004 ~ Caroline Flint denies that UK enforcement agencies were used in the action by police in Britain in co-operation with other agencies that led to the temporary closure of 21 of the more than 140 Indymedia web sites worldwide. (reported on warmwell democracy page)

October 22 2004 ~ "Behind the long list of parliamentary expense claims released yesterday lie 659 different excuses," says the Guardian "MPs hit taxpayers' pockets with £209m expenses claim" is the Independent headline

October 22 2004 ~ Clare Short has revealed that Tony Blair did indeed offer to retire as PM if Gordon Brown backed plans to join the euro. Ms Short's book An Honourable Deception? is serialised in the Independent . BBC report. ".. he said two other ministers had given him the same message. "Gordon's answer was, firstly, that such deals were not worth talking about because previous agreements had not been kept," said Ms Short.

October 21 2004 ~An American Little boy asks his Daddy.... Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?....
This extract from the Expat World Messenger spells out in words of one syllable what is usually wrapped up in rhetoric.

October 21 2004 ~ Read the Guardian Leader "Just say No" and wonder, with us, how on earth the UK government can get away with saying "Yes"
..." no prime minister could now maintain public support for a campaign on the Western Front for a single day in the way that Lloyd George and his contemporaries were able to do for more than four years..."

October 21 2004 ~ "..'No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as terror,' wrote Edmund Burke. But not even the eve of destruction will stifle turnout.." Sidney Blumenthal's Guardian article America's hidden vote is essential reading.

October 21 2004 ~ Kerry and Bush : "The polls, nearly all showing a dead-even race, fail to account for the new voters, who have no past records. They do not measure those for whom a mobile is their main phone - 6% of the population - who will vote Democrat by a margin of two-and-a-half to one. The Democracy Corps poll, however, filters in newly registered voters. Four months ago, the newly registered made up only 1% of the sample. One month ago, they comprised 4%. Now they are at 7% and rising. And they will vote for Kerry over Bush by 61% to 37%. ..." Guardian

October 21 2004 ~ Guardian ".. chief of the defence staff, General Sir Michael Walker, and senior army commanders expressed what defence sources describe as "real concern" about the security gap the Black Watch would leave in the British-controlled area around Basra in southern Iraq. If violence erupted again there, other British troops, now engaged in training Iraqi forces, would have to fill the gap. That would delay the Iraqi training programme, delaying in turn the departure of British troops in Iraq... "

October 21 2004 ~ Guardian "The deputy prime minister, John Prescott, said he was confident the people of the north-east will vote "yes" in the referendum on whether to set up a regional assembly. Bernard Jenkin, for Tories, said the Federation of Small Businesses in the north-east has said it would rather money was spent on up-grading the A1 road than on a "toothless talking shop". ..."

October 21 2004 ~ More disturbing news about freedom of speech on the internet: "Indymedia NL won't give the Public Prosecutor and the police access to the webserver-logs of ... ...By using threats, the police, with help from the Public Prosecutor , tries to deprive an independent medium of its editorial confidentiality...." More

October 21 2004 ~ “everything has been globalised except our consent”...See democracy page and click here for Amazon page and reviews of the Monbiot's "Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order"

October 21 2004 ~ BBC families of Black Watch tell of their worry ".....Mr Buchanan's sons, Gary, 32, and Craig, 27, fought in the war in the Middle East. One son remains in Iraq, the other is back in Britain for the time being. Mr Buchanan ... said he was now distrustful of any official information coming out about Iraq and added: "The government have been lying through their teeth, they have already lied, so they will probably lie again."

October 21 2004 ~ "...will the oil rich Kurds have to pass another winter without kerosene for heating, cooking and other basic necessities?" Oil crisis in the land of oil

October 21 2004 ~ The news that the Cabinet has - unanimously - decided to agree to the decision made- who knows when - to send 650 troops to patrol volatile areas near Baghdad. This is ".....a step that will make Tony Blair a political hostage to events in Iraq through to the year-end and beyond..."comments Reuters. " Some critics have accused Blair of acting to help President George W. Bush ahead of U.S. elections on November 2, in which Iraq has proved a pivotal factor."

October 21 2004 ~ Mr Blair is getting too skilled at ducking Parliamentary Questions and this leaves ordinary people like us with no chance of getting their MPs to elicit clear answers in the proper democratic process of parliament. An emailer sends this

October 21 2004 ~"A People's Tribunal on U.S. War Crimes in Iraq: Overcoming the Silence," held by members from by the Human Rights Film Series, Streets Project, Penn State Amnesty International and the State College Peace Center, was part of War Crimes Week at Penn State..."

October 20 2004 ~ " Twenty Labour MPs tabled a motion last night demanding a Commons vote before the Cabinet agrees to the US request to send British troops to the "triangle of death" near Baghdad....Tony Blair will face renewed demands by the MPs today at Prime Minister's Question Time to allow a vote...." Independent
(Comment from a senior MoD source that the Black Watch would be "back home for Christmas" makes one wonder if senior MOD personnel have never read any history at all)

October 19 2004 ~Charles Kennedy is rightly furious with Jack Straw "To try to suggest or imply, as he did, that somehow those of us who were against the war were, in fact, covertly in favour of some form of strengthened Saddam Hussein is an absolute insult to the integrity as well as the intelligence of people." See Guardian

October 19 2004 ~ Annabelle Ewing (Perth) (SNP): As the MP for Perth, where the Black Watch has its regimental headquarters, I know that people in my constituency do not understand how it could be operationally necessary to deploy the 600-plus battalion in the US zone, where there are already more than 130,000 US soldiers. What does the Secretary of State have to say to my constituents who are anxiously awaiting news about their loved ones, who are currently on their second tour of duty within a year and who are being stabbed in the back at home by the Government's plan to disband their historic regiment? My constituents want to know when the Black Watch will come home.
Iraq debate yesterday

October 19 2004 ~ Channel 4 news update on the kidnapping of Margaret Hassan "....She has lived in Iraq for 30 years, is married to an Iraqi and has worked for the charity Care International for 15 years or so.
She lasted right through Saddam's tyranny and now, in the deepest insecurity that has followed, she has been seized. Those who know her are very deeply affected and that includes me and my colleagues; this is a very bad development. She wasn't there as a soldier or an entrepreneur of fortune. ...."

October 19 2004 ~ "Please, don't go. Please don't make yourselves complicit with the atrocities which will undoubtedly be committed against ordinary Iraqi people in Falluja. Please don't put yourself closer to harm for the sake of an ill-advised attack that will only make things worse" Read Jo Wilding's letter - Iraq page She, unlike Bush, Blair, Hoon and the rest, has been, in her ambulance, under fire from US marines.

October 19 2004 ~ From "....In the 1970s and 1980s, some prognosticators spoke about the world "running out of oil." That prospect is not what drives the current fears. It is the apparently inevitable supply-and-demand driven market movements that may force the price of oil to $100. And that's a lot scarier." Even the most conventional business pages are now discussing peak oil. See peak oil news page

October 19 2004 ~"Like an abject timeshare salesman making a pitch that he knows is dud, Geoff Hoon went through the motions.." Guardian

October 19 2004 ~ "....there were a few farmers in the audience who, if the Yes speakers had been one of their animals, would have reached for the shotgun to put them out of their misery..." See democracy page on the fiasco of the North East referendum

October 19 2004 ~ Independent - Iraq: Pro-war MPs draw a line in the sand "..... PAUL FARRELLY (MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme) Voted for the war "There is no way we should give this dangerous American president any encouragement to inflict the sort of civilian casualties that we have already seen in Fallujah. We should instead be praying that he leaves office shortly."....." Read in full

October 19 2004 ~ "Government whips reported back to Mr Blair of their alarm at the change of mood on the Labour back benches. "The worm has turned," said one anti-war Labour MP..." More encouraging news from the Independent - read in full

October 19 2004 ~ North East Assembly Why has it become acceptable for politicians to lie?
Telegraph "....Mr Prescott, who was accompanied by the former Cabinet minister Stephen Byers, said he had met more pro- than anti-assembly voters among the public. However, The Telegraph, speaking both to people Mr Prescott had met as well as other passers-by, found no one positively in favour of the assembly plan. Four people - three of them Labour voters - were determined to vote against." Read in full

October 18 2004 ~ Odd that the only place to go for a smile and a bit of optimism now is "...Moore had everyone in the audience over the age of 22 who didn't vote in the last election stand. Instead of boo-ing these so-called "slackers" (myself, sadly, included), Moore said, "let's hear it for our non-voting friends who promise to vote this year." Moore didn't make anyone promise who they were going to vote for, he just made them promise they were going to vote...."

October 18 2004 ~ "...Repeated protests by doctors in local hospitals that the vast majority of the casualties are civilians have been dismissed as rebel propaganda. Now the town is waiting for an imminent ground and air assault, amid fears of a bloodbath. Among the dead in the al-Jabouri family were 26-year-old Atika, who was six months pregnant, her three-year-old son Omar, her husband Thamir, 28, her sister Athra and her mother. Atika’s prematurely born baby lived for a few hours after her, but they were buried in the same grave. The only member of the family to come out alive was Atika’s five-year-old daughter, Ayisha. She was asleep, hugging her grandmother, who was killed instantly. ...for the Pentagon, a whole lot of Fallujahans, including three year old Omar al-Jabouri, look a lot like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."

October 18 2004 ~ Guardian "...our troops are already in great danger in the "peaceful" south, where armed resistance to the occupation is intense; and "how the Americans do things" already makes life very difficult for British soldiers. .."

October 18 2004 ~ Mr Hoon got a bruising reception today when he said Britain will "have failed in its duty as an ally" if it does not send UK soldiers to fill in behind US troops. It was suggested on Radio 4 that the "tipping point" may have been reached since Hoon was opposed today by such as Andrew McKinlay and Sir Gerald Kaufman - former supporters of the war.

October 18 2004 ~Stocks in British Airways and EasyJet are nosediving. See peak oil news page. The price of oil has increased 68 percent this year.

October 18 2004 ~ Gulf Daily " Thousands of anti-war campaigners took to the streets of London last night calling for an end to the "illegal occupation" of Iraq by US-led coalition troops..... The brother of Kenneth Bigley, a British hostage beheaded in Iraq earlier this month, called for people to join the march. The protest comes at the close of a three-day European Social Forum in which thousands of trade unionists, environmental and peace campaigners and politicians gathered in London for a conference to oppose war." (See European Social Forum) and also George Monbiot "...At the European Social Forum in mid-October you will find everything that the Labour Party has lost: the passion, the ideology, the freedom and the chaos..."

October 18 2004 ~" Carne Ross, a former first secretary to Britain's UN mission between 1998 and mid-2002 in charge of Iraq issues...resigned because Downing Street "did not tell the whole truth" about the Iraqi threat... " Independent Carne Ross' boss, " Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who served the Government loyally at the United Nations before becoming Britain's senior envoy to Iraq, has said the inspectors should have been allowed to complete their work. Sir Jeremy has retired from the diplomatic service."

October 18 2004 ~"....While in the past the Government tried to create a feelgood factor, now it ramps up the fear phenomenon. Next month's Queen's Speech will be dominated by legislation intended to prove Labour's commitment to "safety and security". Ministers warn, Cassandra-like, of ever more terrible threats. Recently, they even published a "terror advice" pamphlet telling us to stock up on baked beans in case of a chemical weapons attack.
The Power of Nightmares: the Politics of Fear starts on Wednesday on BBC2 at 9pm Telegraph

October 18 2004 ~ UK soldiers to move under US control. Reuters "Officials say ...Geoff Hoon will confirm the request in a "holding statement" to parliament today, but will stress he has made no decision yet....Analysts say up to 650 British troops may be moved north .....Commentators suggest the volatile towns of Iskandariya, Latifiya and Hilla as possible destinations. Opposition politicians accused Blair of preparing to put the lives of UK troops at greater risk for the sake of President George W. Bush, whose performance in Iraq is a key issue in upcoming presidential elections in November...."

October 17 2004 ~An emailer writes of the Anti War demo "Between 20,000 police figure to 100,000 stop the war." See also and Guardian

October 17 2004 ~Star Wars missiles designed to shoot down incoming nuclear weapons will 'inevitably' be based on British soil following a secret deal between Tony Blair and George Bush - Scotland on Sunday

October 17 2004 ~North East Referendum Neil Herron sends this: ".....Support for the Yes perspective is plummeting in the polls as people of the North East realise that all that is being offered are empty promises and emotional arguments. Bear in mind that a hand-picked 50-50 audience will produce a 50-50 result. What is coming back from the streets is massive opposition to the proposition..."

October 17 2004 ~ We are ashamed to say we knew nothing about the Anti-war march today which expects a 50,000 turnout. Is the UK press banned from reporting plans for Stop the War coalition announcements - or do editors choose not to? See Telegraph today and remember - as we now shall - the Stop the War coalition website.

October 17 2004 ~"....'Right, we are going to throw the whole PR operation of the Government against you'. These are not nice people..." Greg Dyke in the IOS reveals a lot about government intimidation over the dossier story that, sadly, does not surprise us.

October 17 2004 ~ a unique insight into the mind of a Prime Minister determined upon war...Six of Britain's leading experts on Iraq trooped into No 10 Downing Street on a Tuesday afternoon in November 2002, determined to warn Tony Blair that occupying the country would be difficult at best and catastrophic at worst. ...(they) represented a formidable body of knowledge about Iraq's politics, history and economy..... "I was staggered at Blair's apparent naivety, at his inability to engage with the complexities. For him, it seemed to be highly personal: an evil Saddam versus Blair-Bush. He didn't seem to have a perception of Iraq as a complex country." He recalled that the Prime Minister had interjected only occasionally and cryptically. At one point he had exclaimed: "But he [Saddam] is evil, isn't he?" Independent

October 17 2004 ~ We are aghast to report that Mr Blair has given the go-ahead for UK troops to be moved under US command. On "Today" yesterday Nicholas Soames, the shadow defence secretary, said: "We need to watch the timing of all this and be careful this isn't just a kind of political gesture to reassure the Americans of Blair's support for the American elections." Readers of this website will share the sense of frustration and desperation that - in spite of all reason, all facts, all decency and all humanity, the UK under Mr Blair is sliding ever further into the morass. See Times report

October 17 2004 ~ A senior official, Carne Ross, who was Britain’s Iraq expert at the United Nations before the war, said he has resigned in “total disillusionment” with the government’s behaviour over the conflict. See report in the Sunday Times "Westminster insiders say the real reason is that grave doubts about the legality of the war persisted at the highest levels right up to the invasion.
"It is a major scandal," said one senior figure familiar with the details. "It has to do with the attorney-general's view, which was that the war was illegal. It's all been hushed up."...." Read in full

October 17 2004 ~ "...In a interview with the ITV1 Jonathan Dimbleby programme, to be broadcast today, Annan said: “I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq..." Sunday Herald

October 16/17 2004 ~ US soldiers were under arrest in Iraq last night after refusing to carry out a dangerous mission for which they say they were inadequately equipped. Scotsman

October 16/17 2004 ~ Independent letter "Sir: Charles Kennedy is the latest senior politician to describe the Iraq War as the greatest foreign policy disaster since Suez (14 October).
The Suez campaign saw fewer than 1,000 casualties (almost none of them civilian) and merely caused embarrassment to two former colonial powers (Britain and France) who were firmly put into their place in the new world order by the USA.
Contrast Iraq, with a minimum of 10,000 civilian casualties, instabilities is the region that will last for decades and a vastly increased risk to British citizens, both at home and abroad.
Suez didn't come close. But the prime minister did have the decency to resign."

October 16/17 2004 ~ "If Mr Blair could apologise for the Irish potato famine, why not now apologise to the Kurds for turning a "blind eye" to Hatra? Instead he continues to inflict similar death and destruction on Iraqi civilians..." Simon Jenkins Don't say sorry if you aren't

October 16/17 2004 ~ "Blair under new pressure over Iraq war: did he ignore advice of officials that it was unlawful?...."secret papers, including a highly confidential memo from Mr Straw to Mr Blair, which have been seen by The Independent, show that as long ago as March 2002 members of the Cabinet had been warned that invading Iraq could be fraught with legal problems. The full extent of the doubts in Whitehall is revealed in the astonishing series of confidential documents written at the highest levels of government a year before Mr Blair agreed that Britain should join the invasion..." Independent - or read in full here

October 16/17 2004 ~ "Our local Copeland Borough Council are advertising for Officers who will be fully qualified to run the Council when it becomes a 'Regional Assembly'. They are asking existing administrator Chiefs to re-apply for their own jobs. They need staff that can run 'Regional Assemblies..' Frustration and anger in this email.

October 16/17 2004 ~ The residents of the heavily-populated Fallujah now face a massive US onslaught.....more than 1,000 US and Iraqi ground troops are advancing towards Fallujah after weeks of almost daily air strikes...
As Juan Cole wrote (see below) "Collective punishment is an ugly tactic, famously practised by the Nazis in Europe to keep their conquered populations in line. It is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.. Iraq page

October 15 2004 ~ "The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a gimmick from Florida-based Applied Digital Solutions to chip people with RFID implants - previously confined to tracking animals - thereby making it easy to access their medical records, even when they cannot, or would rather not, cooperate..." (The Register)
I did not find credible a science fiction story about this - and here we are in 2004. Blunkett's biometrics are but a small step behind. See democracy page.

October 15 2004 ~ A three part new TV documentary The making of the terror myth starts next Wednesday. See Guardian "...During the three years in which the "war on terror" has been waged, high-profile challenges to its assumptions have been rare.."

October 15 2004 ~ The Ambassador in Tashkent, Craig Murray, was suspended by the Foreign Office this week. He leaked his own highly critical memo accusing officials of turning a blind eye to torture in Uzbekistan by accepting intelligence that the CIA obtained via the regime's torture chambers.

October 15 2004 ~ "....he said of Blair that he was our first elected monarch .... and how diminished and debased our democratic system had become.... looked like balloons who had been pricked - really he (Dr David Starkey) was saying 'Why are you sitting here, spouting a load of hot air - and getting personal payment for it - when, if you're an elected politician you should be getting on with the job of making parliament and democracy work?'
Faced with such incontrovertible honesty they were completely floored.
Went to bed invigorated - it was such a gale of fresh air blasting into the stale and tawdry state of politics today." An email about last night's This Week.

October 15 2004 ~ A Colorado congresswoman is seeking a congressional investigation into allegations that Iraqi war veterans near the end of their enlistments were given a choice between re-enlisting or being sent back to Iraq. AP
British troops are to support American forces in Fallujah and Baghdad - the troops would also be under American control.

October 15 2004 ~ "....the Attorney General owes it to himself, never mind the rest of us, to state what would have been his opinion on the legality of the war if he had been given the true facts. It may be prudent on his part to prepare a revised opinion, as now it can only be a matter of time before the legality of the war is challenged in the British or international courts. .." Robin Cook in the Guardian.
See warmwell pages on Lord Goldsmith

October 15 2004 ~ Poll reveals world anger at Bush. Guardian "....George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office. According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries, including Britain, want to see the Democrat challenger, John Kerry, defeat President Bush in next month's US presidential election. "

October 15 2004 ~ " US forces launch fresh air attacks on the rebel-held Iraqi city of Falluja after the collapse of peace talks" BBC - but let us be under no illusions about what this means. "...when you bomb a city repeatedly to get at a guerrilla group hiding out there, you are implicitly punishing the civilian population for the actions of the militants. Collective punishment is an ugly tactic, famously practiced by the Nazis in Europe to keep their conquered populations in line. It is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949....When a five hundred pound bomb hits a building, it turns the building itself into shrapnel. Glass, stone and adobe fragments fly out, into eyes and into hearts, killing and maiming for hundreds of feet around. Iraqis are organized in clans, and are fiercely protective of their kin. Each innocent Iraqi death produced by an American bomb creates another clan feud with the U.S." Juan Cole opinion

October 14 2004 ~ "Speeding care" ... If you thought that biometric compulsory ID cards were sinister in the massive grasp of present or future governments, here is the US Food and Drug Administration today, approving an implantable computer chip that can "pass a patient's medical details to doctors, speeding care"

October 14 2004 ~ Mr Blunkett has not thought it necessary to wait for the response to the "consultation" on ID cards nor get an actual bill passed. The ad for the ID Head of Spin has already gone out. (Closing date tomorrow, actually.) Of Mark Oaten's plaintive cry of foul play, the Register's John Lettice comments, "it's nice to see MPs starting to notice that the Home Office regards them as a tiresome formality"

October 14 2004 ~ We're living in a land of honeyed words from all sides. Channel 4 news update says that former pensions minister, honourable John Denham, says that no parties are now being honest about the terrible pensions truth.

October 14 2004 ~ "For those of us who care about the way this country is run, and have a duty to hold the government to account, it's necessary to keep pursuing the truth .." Charles Kennedy

October 14 2004 ~ "...Scarlett should go - perhaps being kicked upstairs to the House of Lords, in time-dishonoured fashion, as Lord Scarlett of Epsom-cum-Dossier, there to give us the benefit of his wisdom at 45 minutes' notice." Today's article in the Guardian about this "whole tawdry affair" by Timothy Garton Ash.
See also warmwell pages on John Scarlett
"It turns out the buck does not stop with Blair or John Scarlett or Richard Dearlove or anybody. In government, it seems, there is no buck. .." (Jonathan Freedland in July)

October 14 2004 ~ A senior figure on the Butler inquiry into the intelligence failings over Iraq told The Independent that Lord Goldsmith "should consider his position" after the withdrawal of the intelligence claims that Saddam could ready weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes..." Lord Goldsmith had been reassured by the Prime Minister, but MPs last night said those grounds had been blown apart by the withdrawal of the 45-minute claim. It was also disclosed yesterday that two senior Foreign Office legal advisers, in addition to its deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, went to Lord Goldsmith warning him of their fears that the war would be illegal, and subsequently resigned from the civil service.."

October 14 2004 ~ Mr Blair still refuses to answer, apologise for, or even it seems to understand, the real criticism - the misuse of false intelligence. Yesterday in Parliament he was still angrily defending the war because without the invasion "Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be running Iraq..." It was left to a nervous sounding Bob Waring (Liverpool Lab ) to ask" does the Prime Minister explain his statement to this House on 25 February 2003, in which he said:

Hansard The Prime Minister spluttered that his position was consistent.
See also Independent.

October 14 2004 ~ "a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" Read Seymour Hersh, Warmwell Iraq page

October 14 2004 ~ Part of an email from "a member of the public who is extremely concerned by the behaviour of the Prime Minister.....To be told by a laughing Labour party official in an extremely mocking tone on the telephone that Blair has been cleared by four separate independent Inquiries is a lie in itself, and has made me extremely angry. I feel so strongly that something has to be done, even though it will rock the boat in the Westminster village. The electorate deserve some honesty, and if impeachment is the only way, then so be it..."

October 13/14 2004 ~ Being PM means never being able to say you're sorry....Channel 4 news update " ....Mr Blair did say he 'apologised' for relaying duff information (whilst key purveyors of it go on to be decorated and promoted in the "intelligence" services). But somehow the 's' word eludes him - just when the rest of the cabinet are spraying it around with utter abandon on the duff-intelligence issue. Is he being advised to do this? Does being PM mean never being able to say you're sorry?" (PM: I did not mislead on Iraq Blair apologises for wrong evidence but refuses to accept he had acted dishonestly or that war in Iraq was wrong.)

October 13/14 2004 ~ Fishy business on a little dishy...three Government Ministers breaching the referendum's purdah period to make the Yes boat come in ... North East Referendum.
Neil Herron: ".. We were also told that if we, as a permitted participant, breached any of the rules, you would come down on us, "like a tonne of bricks (whether metric or imperial wasn't specified but we got the message). Gordon Brown :"I believe that a 'yes' vote in this referendum would be good for the people and the businesses in the North-East - moving us forward from an old Britain weakened by centuries of centralisation towards a new Britain strengthened by local centres of initiative, energy and dynamism."....." .....

October 12 2004 ~NE Referendum - " a forced referendum by easily corruptible postal ballot on a non-issue which leaves ordinary people cold (unless they're whipped up into knee-jerk them-and-us regional "patriotism" or anti-Toryism by people who play on their emotions)What on earth has all this got to do with "democracy" ?" Gill writes about the second burglary at the NO headquarters See also democracy page

October 12 2004 ~ "... because the giant US oil corporations are seen as the very embodiment of US power, anything to do with oil - pipelines, wells, refineries, loading platforms - is seen by insurgents as a legitimate and attractive target for attack ....(President) Carter's principle of using force to protect the flow of oil was later cited by president George H W Bush to justify US intervention in the Gulf War of 1990-91, and it provided the underlying strategic rationale for America's recent invasion of Iraq..." Read The oil that drives the US military Michael T Klare in the Asia Times

October 12 2004 ~ Massive amounts of equipment and even buildings relating to Saddam's nuclear . have gone missing. Guardian

October 12 2004 ~ Oil now $54...see peak oil news page

October 12 2004 ~Surge in greenhouse gases "...A background fear is that extra human emissions, by cars, factories and power plants, may be blunting the planet's ability to absorb CO2. In the worst case, that could lead to a runaway warming.." .IOL

October 12 2004 ~ "...Now that we know that Labour's infamous September dossier was full of careless holes and conscious omissions, shouldn't Andrew Gilligan and Greg Dyke be reinstated at the BBC, for it is now clear that the dossier was, as Andrew Gilligan first implied, "sexed up"..." From one of the stream of letters in the Independent that show the population is not at all prepared to move on just yet.

October 12 2004 ~ Mr Blair ducks parliamentary questions asking about the lack of "substantive mention of GCHQ" in the Butler Report, whether signals intelligence relevant to the Iraq crisis was received and why such intelligence was not included in the report. Another PQ, asking if he will "instruct the Attorney-General to evaluate Kofi Annan's statement about Iraq" was similarly shrugged off. A very angry emailer sends this extract from Hansard, adding "Blair just makes a mockery of the PQ procedure"

October 12 2004 ~ An impecunious maths expert has a brief word to say the impending UK pensions crisis...

October 12 2004 ~ "Our betrayals and broken promises have created a kind of irreversible disease that cannot be forgiven... journalists can scarcely travel in Iraq any more, there is no longer any independent witness to this awful war. What is going on in Ramadi and Hilla and all the other cities where US forces carry out their brutal raids?" Read Robert Fisk. Iraq page

October 12 2004 ~ A new IT system for the NHS (its £90million pound new email system crashed yesterday) will cost up to £31 billion pounds - three to five times the declared figure - in order for example that "..patients should also be able to book appointments and operations using an electronic booking system" (BBC) Is no journalist going to make the obvious remark about this? At least the fiasco of spiralling costs will be examined by the Public Accounts Committee. It all reminds us of what the Guardian's Paul Lashmar (September 25, 2004) calls "... the delicate balance between the freedom of the individual and intrusion into our daily lives by the state.." an article that should be read in full - although it unwisely assumes that government t IT systems actually work. See also democracy page

October 11 2004 ~ Channel 4 news update: "Tony Blair thinks Britain is still keen for grandiose visions. In a speech today he attacked the "minimalist" policies of the Tories, saying people in this country expect better. He now wants to move from a welfare state to an "opportunity society", whatever that means. He will not rest, he claims, until Britain is a land of opportunity for all. All very well, except he didn't say anything about what that actually involves, what it means for policy or what it will cost the taxpayer..."

October 11 2004 ~ "Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq." Quotation from Mr Kerry. See New York Times on the redefining of "Pre-emption".

October 11 2004 ~ "A dilemma lies at the heart of U.S. attempts to tame the Middle East—the more it intervenes, the more it antagonizes the people of the region. Then, faced with widespread opposition to its policies—in some cases full-scale rebellion—the U.S., along with Israel and the hated Arab regimes, cracks down, citing a threat to its security or to its national interests as the reason. This, in turn, provokes yet more hostility and the vicious cycle continues..." Useful history lesson from Oil and Empire in the Middle East

October 10/11 2004 ~ We are simply staggered by the news that Mr Blair intends to reward with Honours the already knighted Sir David Omand the Cabinet Office permanent secretary, and others involved in intelligence for dossiers. Has he forgotten one apology that actually was made? Are we expected to forget the tragic fallout from that fiasco? The death of Dr Kelly? Remember how John Morrison was sacked, and how Air Marshall Sir John Walker referred to "... the whole dossier effect, the politicisation of the JIC, the decapitation of the BBC and the way this whole matter has been handled.."? You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

October 10/11 2004 ~ Rumsfeld's optimism silenced by bombing. Independent "Bombs in Baghdad killed 18 people as the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, declared during a visit to Iraq that America was winning the war against insurgency.."

October 10 2004 ~ "Tony Blair offered to stand down as Prime Minister before the next election if Gordon Brown agreed to abandon the pound for the euro, according to extracts from Clare Short's diary..." Telegraph An Honourable Deception?: New Labour, Iraq, and the Misuse of Power, to be published on November 1 by Free Press. (Clare Short herself famously accused Blair of perpetrating an “honourable deception” in presenting the case for war.)

October 10 2004 ~ Comment in the Independent on Sunday: Scott Ritter and Hans Blix - compare "if you had seen what I have seen..." (New window)

October 10 2004 ~ "Every time I hear the President speak, I get an anxiety attack that’s a lot more complicated than merely disagreeing with him. I become desperate for oxygen. ... What GOP heavies do at street level — keep anyone who might harbor unscripted thoughts out of the arenas and assembly halls where their leader is scheduled to talk — White House speechwriters do with far more efficiency at podium level. .... terrorism begins with murdered language. What’s intolerable about listening to Bush is the airtightness of the lie he constructs out of the shredded language of human hope." An eloquent opinion column from the New Hampshire Sunday News

October 10 2004 ~ Blix accuses Blair as Labour MPs turn up heat over WMD Independent on Sunday See Iraq page

October 10 2004 ~ Booker's Notebook "....he wrote about his plight to his MP; to ministers such as the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, and the ministry's spokesman in the Lords, Lord Whitty; to the shadow agriculture spokesman, Tim Yeo; and to several others.
Most did not reply...."
( a common problem in one's dealings with public servants.) Archive August 2004 -October