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  • Friday, December 31, 2004

    Minute silence and donation points planned for Edinburgh Hogmanay

    Organisers of the Edinburgh Hogmanay, usually the liveliest place to be in Britain on a new years eve, are planning on holding a minutes silence at 10:45PM and are setting up donation points for people attending to donate towards the tsunami relief efforts.

    Bush regime shamed into upping tsunami aid

    Well, if there were any doubts that the Bush regime was being stingy in its $35 million pledge towards the victims of the Asian tsunami, those doubts should be erased now. That amount apparently will be increased 10 fold following worldwide criticism at the lousy amount pledged by a regime which has spent billions on an unnecessary invasion of Iraq, and will be spending $45 million on the "inauguration" of Bush. The article claims that the increased pledge of $350 million was offered on Sunday, if that were truly the case, then why was that amount not publicised at the time? This is a last ditch attempt to save face, and shows that the original offer was a lousy one.

    A letter to Sky News

    Dear Sky News, Although it must disappoint some of your most ardent right wing so called "christian" fundamentalist viewers and backers to have to allow your organisation, and your sister "journalistic" organisation in America to distract yourselves by taking your eyes of the so called "war on terror", and the tragedy called "9/11" for one minute, it must be liberating for your so called "journalists" to report on the actual facts of a disaster many times worse than the events of the 11th September 2001. I am aware that this probably breaches the usual standards of "journalism" at both Fox and Sky News, as you are not particularly renowned for your in depth analysis, and investigative and insightful reporting on world events, so your organisation must be congratulated this once for breaching the usual Murdoch "standards" of bowing to the feet of your masters in the Bush regime. Perhaps it would be too much to ask that you actually report on the fact that while the rest of the world rushed to help the US after the 11th September 2001, all the Bush regime has been able to manage in response to this disaster, so far taking the lives of over 125,000 people and displacing millions more is a lousy $35 million. Perhaps the rest of the world should remember this if ever the US cry for help from the rest of the world again. And maybe your media organisations should remember this fact, as you've assisted in pumping out all this propaganda for them for so many years now, I think the public are catching onto you, and deserting Sky and Fox in droves. Although this breach in your "journalistic standards" was probably some sort of slip up, perhaps you could consider in light of your disappointing viewing figures reporting on civilian casualties in Iraq, war crimes committed by US troops in the country, the possible use of banned weapons in Fallujah, the signing of an Executive Order by Bush authorising abuse and torture while our Prime Minister stood idly by, and the growing evidence that the rogue regime in Washington allowed the events of the 11th September 2001 to happen. Then again, maybe I would be quite happy to see your viewing figures completely disappear down the drain, considering your organisations part in allowing all these war crimes to be committed in the name of Bush's crusades. Regards

    Thousands take to streets of Khartoum to celebrate peace

    Well, it certainly makes a change to be posting some good news. And peace should be rightly celebrated, apparently it is very rare that the Sudanese take to the streets. They must be delighted at their chances for peace after 21 years of civil war. The bold display of southern sentiment, unusual in the tightly controlled capital, was in response to word from negotiations in Kenya that southern rebels and the government had agreed on a permanent ceasefire deal and a plan on how to implement an agreement to end their 21-year war.

    Southern Sudan will see peace in the new year

    What better way could you hope to usher in the start of a new year, than by bringing peace to a war ravaged area? The Sudan government and rebel leaders signed deals today implementing a series of agreements to end a 21 year civil war in the south of the African nation.

    Australian New Year celebrations start with 1 minute silence for victims

    More than 1 million people gathered in Sydney to celebrate the new year, and held a one minute silence in memory of the victims of the tsunami disaster. A candlelit vigil will replace fireworks in Phuket, Thailand for the ushering in of their new year.

    Public's generosity is moving

    I have to say, I've been moved by the generosity of my fellow countrymen and women. According to this report, Brits have now pledged a total of £45 million towards the tsunami disaster relief efforts. That is, of course additional to the £50 million pledged by the government.

    Second Ohio recount sought

    The Green Party, and Independent candidates in the US Presidential election yesterday sought a second recount in Ohio. The second recount is sought on the grounds that by pre-selecting the 3% sample to manually recount, a breach in US law occurred. Apparently:

    Ohio law requires an elections board to manually recount a randomly selected 3 percent of ballots. If the totals match certified results for those precincts, all the county's votes are then to be machine-counted. If the hand count is off, a county must manually recount all its ballots.
    There have been numerous reports that the Ohio counties did not randomly select the precincts chosen for the 3% recount, and that the areas with the most reports of voting "irregularities" were missed out from the recount.

    Bush regime have proved by their actions, they're no "Christians"

    Now, more than ever, following the distasteful slap in the face to the victims of the tsunami tragedy, it is imperative that people show the Bush regime exactly what they think of their so called "compassionate conservatism". Many in the Bush regime claim they are "Christians", but true "Christians" would not authorise torture and abuse, true "Christians" would not authorise "rendition", true "Christians" would not stand idly by while millions are deprived of their livelihoods, their homes, their families, food, water and sanitation. So called "compassionate conservatives" (if ever there were an oxymoron this is it) would not spend more on the so called "inauguration" of a war criminal than they would spend on providing assistance to millions in need; so called "compassionate conservatives" would not lie about a threat faced by their nation in order to justify the invasion of another nation; so called "compassionate conservatives" would not allow banned weapons, such as napalm to be used in Fallujah, so called "compassionate conservatives" would not allow troops to be trained to believe that every Iraqi is a potential terrorist. The way the rogue regime in the US has behaved is a disgrace, and the US can no longer claim itself to be a "civilised society" when it allows criminals and liars to take charge of their country. The people of America, must, if they want the world to see that the rogue regime do not reflect real American principles speak out. There are demonstrations planned in the US in January and March. There is also the opportunity for Americans to contact their representatives to urge them to challenge the results of the vote fraud tainted US Presidential elections. If Americans want the world to believe that the criminal ways of the Bush regime do not reflect the true American spirit, then they must demonstrate, they must contact their representatives, and they must make it known that the slap in the face the rogue regime has given to the victims of the tsunami disaster will not be tolerated in a "civilised society". Time is running out, before the rogue regime will once again be installed as the so called "leaders of the free world". Real, true Christians need to make it clear that Bush does not represent their faith. True "compassionate conservatives" need to stand up and be counted. Good luck to my American friends in their efforts, I have always believed the US has a great capacity to do good in the world, but the past 4 years have severely dented the world's view that that capacity is still available.

    Yes, the Bush regime is stingy

    The New York Times also believes so, according to this editorial. Excerpt from the editorial:

    Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe. Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disburse a single dollar.

    Conyers calls on senators to open debate on Presidential election

    Rep. Conyers calls on senators to open debate on presidential election The following letter was sent to all U.S. senators by Rep. John Conyers D-Mich this afternoon. A copy was released to RAW STORY by Conyers’ office. The letter was not available in image form because tech employees were not in today, a spokesperson said. The letter was first reported by Truthout, a progressive media site. December 30, 2004 Dear Senator, As you know, on January 6, 2005, at 1:00 P.M, the electoral votes for the election of the president are to be opened and counted in a joint session of Congress, commencing at 1:00 P.M. I and a number of House Members are planning to object to the counting of the Ohio votes, due to numerous unexplained irregularities in the Ohio presidential vote, many of which appear to violate both federal and state law. I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters. I will shortly forward you a draft report itemizing and analyzing the many irregularities we have come across as part of our hearings and investigation into the Ohio presidential election. 3 U.S.C. §15 provides when the results from each of the states are announced, that “the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any.” Any objection must be presented in writing and “signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received."1. The objection must “state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof."2 When an objection has been properly made in writing and endorsed by a member of each body the Senate withdraws from the House chamber, and each body meets separately to consider the objection. “No votes . . . from any other State shall be acted upon until the [pending] objection . . . [is] finally disposed of."3 3 U.S.C. §17 limits debate on the objections in each body to two hours, during which time no member may speak more than once and not for more than five minutes. Both the Senate and the House must separately agree to the objection; otherwise, the challenged vote or votes are counted.4 Historically, there appears to be three general grounds for objecting to the counting of electoral votes. The language of 3 U.S.C. §15 suggests that objection may be made on the grounds that (1) a vote was not “regularly given” by the challenged elector(s); and/or (2) the elector(s) was not “lawfully certified” under state law; or (3) two slates of electors have been presented to Congress from the same State. Since the Electoral Count Act of 1887, no objection meeting the requirements of the Act have been made against an entire slate of state electors.5 In the 2000 election several Members of the House of Representatives attempted to challenge the electoral votes from the State of Florida. However, no Senator joined in the objection, and therefore, the objection was not “received.” In addition, there was no determination whether the objection constituted an appropriate basis under the 1887 Act. However, if a State - in this case Ohio - has not followed its own procedures and met its obligation to conduct a free and fair election, a valid objection -if endorsed by at least one Senator and a Member of the House of Representatives- should be debated by each body separately until “disposed of". Please contact me at 225-5126 to appraise me of your thoughts on this important matter. If your staff has questions, that may be forwarded to Perry Apelbaum or Ted Kalo of my Judiciary Committee staff at 225-6504. Thank you. Sincerely, John Conyers, Jr.

    US propaganda outlet will serve as election night results service

    Ah, nothing like "freedom and democracy" is there? And this certainly is nothing like "freedom and democracy. What next I wonder? Diebold, and Triad being in charge of voting day systems?

    Iraq's first democratic elections in 80 years are being heavily promoted by an Arab language television network operating out of Northern Virginia that will offer an American-style election night coverage from voting places across Iraq. Begun this spring as part of a strategic, U.S.-backed media offensive against terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East, and bankrolled with more than $100 million in federal funding, Alhurra TV's mission is to explain and promote democracy throughout the war-torn region, with its chief focus on the Jan. 30 elections that could decide Iraq's future and, with it, the success of the U.S. military mission there.

    Fallujans don't know who to trust

    An Iraqi soldier has admitted that troops burnt homes in Fallujah, were they found so called "pro-insurgency literature or material." With Fallujans returning slowly to their city, destroyed by almost constant US bombardment, and no end in sight to the fight against the Iraqi resistance it is no wonder that these people do not know who to trust.

    Impossible Phantom Votes in New Mexico

    This is an interesting article, which looks at "phantom votes". Phantom votes are the exact opposite of undervotes, and occur when the number of votes recorded exceed the number of ballots cast. "I have yet to come up with any acceptable explanation for phantoms. Much less, 2,087 of them statewide in New Mexico, just about one third of the margin of victory that determined the selection of that state's presidential electors."

    Guardian files for release of legal advice on Iraq invasion

    The Guardian is today reporting that it has filed a request to view the legal advice given by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, on the legality of the invasion of Iraq.

    But in practice, there are expected to be numerous complaints. Apart from the controversial ministerial veto, a major problem has already arisen over "commercial confidentiality". Whitehall succumbed before Christmas to lobbying from arms firms to water down the guidance to the officials who have to decide whether to release files containing information about commercial organisations.
    This, it seems will be the first major test of how the Freedom of Information Act really works, and whether or not the government are serious about allowing the public access to information such as this.

    Aid agencies struggling to reach disaster hit areas

    Apparently, aid agencies are having difficulties reaching some of the areas most affected by the tsunami tragedy.

    In the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, rotting bodies and piles of debris continued to clutter the streets, with the local government in disarray. Officials were burying dead bodies by the truckload, but they lacked the manpower to dig them all out and transport them to mass graves.
    Meanwhile the number of confirmed dead from the disaster has been confirmed at 124,000 so far, with that number expected, sadly to rise even further.

    New revelations on vote fraud in the US

    Ohio's official non-recount ends amidst new evidence of fraud, theft and judicial contempt mirrored in New Mexico by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman December 31, 2004

    Meanwhile, more than 92,672 machine-rejected ballots remain unchecked and uncounted, as do at least 14,000 provisional ballots. Conservative estimates of Kerry’s net gain among those ballots are another 36,000 to 40,000 votes. No accounting in the count or recount has been made for voters turned away at the polls due to insufficient voting machines, computer malfunction, tampering with registration data, mishandling of absentee ballots, misinformation and intimidation, or a wide range of other problems.
    .....
    The final recount tested roughly 3% of the roughly 5.7 million votes cast in the state. But contrary to the law governing the recount, many precincts tested were selected not at random, but by Blackwell's personal designation. Experts with the election challenge suit have noted many of the precincts selected were mostly free of the irregularities they are seeking to investigate, while many contested precincts were left unrecounted.
    ......
    The contrasts are striking. Officially, Bush built a narrow margin of roughly 51% versus 48% for Kerry based on votes counted on election night. But among the 147,400 provisional and absentee ballots that were counted AFTER election night, Kerry received 54.46 percent of the vote. These later totals came from counts done by hand, as opposed to counts done by computer tabulators, many of which came from Diebold.
    ......

    700 Mosul election staff quit en masse

    The planned Iraqi elections for the end of next month really do look like they are going to be a disaster, not only have just less than 1% of Iraqis registered to vote, now the entire Mosul staff of Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission have resigned following threats received. The country is in a mess created by the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Both Bush and Blair are to blame for all the bloodshed and violence caused in the country.

    British public in complete unity on tsunami relief efforts

    The British public are united in grief for the victims of the tsunami disaster. By last night, it was reported that the government co-ordinated Disaster Emergency Committee alone, had received well over 600,000 telephone calls, with pledges totalling £25 million. That number however was boosted by people turning up at charity shops with donations (large and small) towards relief efforts. The Guardian is reporting that by last night the British public had donated £30 million. And today is reporting that the figure has increased to £32 million. Last night on the local news, I heard that at Friday prayers today, the whole of the Muslim community will be launching a campaign to boost those figures even further, and that Churches have been inundated with donations towards relief efforts. Apparently, collectors will be in town centres across the UK to help with the fund raising efforts today. Because of this staggering response by the British public, Blair & Co, were forced to increase their donation to £50 million, from the stingy £15 million it had originally been planning on donating, as it seemed the public's donations would far exceed the donations of the government. It really gives you faith in human nature, when you see how the public reacts in unity to disasters like this.

    Thai villagers say wealthy tourists got better assistance than locals

    No wonder Thai villagers are angry, they have been left to cope with the after effects of the tsunami disaster, while tourists were given priority treatment apparently. "Help? It was slow in coming," he said. "As for the tourism, the authorities gave that higher priority. Here it was quiet. The problem was everywhere, but they focused on the tourist areas. The people here, our lives don't have the same meaning as theirs."

    4 charged with intent to defraud over "Biblical discoveries"

    It seems, that a sophisticated forgery ring has been discovered in Israel.

    Four men have been charged with the faking of some of the most important biblical discoveries in recent years. The artefacts in question include an ossuary which was believed to contain the bones of James, the brother of Jesus, and a tablet with a written inscription by a Jewish king in the ninth century before Christ.
    Officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority have said that these forgeries call into question every "find" discovered, in a non authorised excavation.

    The Stingy U.S. , an appalling performance

    Blair has pledged that Britain will donate £50 million, Bush has pledged less than half that amount. If Bush really were such a "compassionate conservative", then why is it, that the US, a nation far larger in size than Britain, can only manage a measly $35 million? Bush is managing to spend $45 million on his so called "inauguration", so obviously we all know where the rogue regime's priorities lie.

    Thursday, December 30, 2004

    Scottish politicians say end torture flights

    Following revelations that the US has been engaged in transporting detainees to countries which allow torture, Scottish politicians have called on ministers to intervene to stop Prestwick airport being used as a refuelling stop for an aircraft engaged in the "rendition" of prisoners. Rendition is apparently the process, whereby a government sanctions transfer of so called "terror suspects" to countries where torture is a routine method of extracting information.

    Congresswoman will challenge Ohio electors

    It has emerged that a congresswoman from California, will, along with others "be challenging the seating of the Ohio electors when the Congress meets in joint session on January 6th."

    Press release: Call on congress to reject tainted electoral college votes

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DECEMBER 30, 2004 2:13 PM CONTACT: Green Party of the United Sates Blair Bobier, 541-929-5755 Cobb Calls On Congress to Reject Tainted Electoral College Votes WASHINGTON -- December 30 -- A day after the conclusion of the flawed recount of Ohio's presidential vote, Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb called on Congress to challenge the legitimacy of Ohio's Electoral College delegation. "The recount of Ohio's presidential vote was conducted in clear violation of both the spirit and the letter of the law. We can have no faith in the results when both the initial election and the recount were conducted in a haphazard and clearly illegitimate manner. Ohio's presidential electors are tainted by unresolved allegations of voter suppression and the lack of a meaningful recount. Congress must reject and challenge their votes," said Cobb. One of the most significant problems with the recount was that few of Ohio's 88 counties randomly selected sample precincts for the recount as required by Ohio law. "The lack of random sampling calls into question the legitimacy of the recount. A few counties did the recount properly and selected the precincts at random. The vast majority of them, however, chose the precincts in advance without the official observers witnessing or participating in the selection. That's like showing up at a poker game with strangers and finding that you've already been dealt your hand," said Blair Bobier, Cobb-LaMarche Media Director. Other problems with the recount included a lack of security for the ballots and voting machines-including allegations of interference with voting machines by representatives of the Diebold and Triad corporations-and the refusal of some counties to do a full hand recount when required by law to do so. Detailed reports from observers outlining a wide range of irregularities with the recount are available at <http://www.votecobb.org/recount/ohio_reports/index.php>. "We have done our utmost to protect the integrity of our right to vote in court and through the recount process, yet a cloud of suspicion still hangs over the election results. We cannot sit back and allow our rights to be violated. It is time for Congress to defend the right to vote and the right to have all votes counted, and time for the people to engage in loud and peaceful protests," said Cobb. Cobb will be speaking at rallies in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC on January 3 and 6, respectively. The Columbus rally is at 2 p.m. at the Capitol Theater, 77 S. High Street, and is sponsored by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Rainbow/PUSH, the Cobb-LaMarche campaign and many other organizations. The events in Washington will be held on January 6, the day of the expected challenge to the presidential electors, and will begin with a rally at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, at 10 a.m., followed by a march to Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill. "We urge everyone to contact their Senators and congressional representatives and ask them to reject Ohio's Electoral College votes," said Blair Bobier. Contact information for members of Congress can be found at <http://vote-smart.org>. Additional information about the recount and the Cobb-LaMarche campaign can be found at <http://www.votecobb.org>. The website for the national Green Party is <http://www.gp.org>.

    No holiday for vote thieves

    No holiday for vote thieves by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, publishers of BlackCommentator.com The dean of the Congressional Black Caucus is confident that at least a few U.S. senators will join House members on Jan. 6 to question the fairness of the Nov. 2 election. John Conyers Jr., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Salon.com he doesn’t believe the Senate will repeat its performance of four years ago, when Black lawmakers sought in vain for one senatorial objection to “official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means” in Florida, as Congressman Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., put it at the time. “No, I think the Senate is going to go along with an inquiry this time,” said Conyers. “I don't think they would embarrass themselves to let this happen two times in a row … I just don't think the Senate would get caught in that position.” Conyers is careful not to name names, claiming he hasn’t spoken directly to a single senator, but adding, “There are Republicans who support what I'm doing who haven't been willing to come forward.” continued at link above.....

    Reports of "imminent peace deal" in southern Sudan

    There are reports tonight of an "imminent peace deal" in southern Sudan. Fighting there has apparently been ongoing for 21 years, and this deal would be an historic step forward in the country's history. As this article states, this deal could provide the blueprint for a deal on the separate crisis engulfing the Darfur region.

    10 things you could know, that you don't know now

    This article is an interesting one, and looks at some of the ways the new Freedom of Information act could assist the public in gaining access to information. Included in the examples given is this one: You want to know which routes are used for driving tests in your area. You could ask for details from the Driving Standards Agency, which is making this information more widely available. ..and this one: You were interviewed for a job at the local council, but the post was given to the son of a councillor instead. You feel aggrieved and complain to your MP, who takes up the case with the council. You could apply to the council for notes of the interviewing panel and any other papers that may have been compiled about the case.

    Fewer than 1% of Iraqis register to vote

    60,000 people register to vote in Iraq! The Iraq Solidarity Campaign (UK), 30.12.2004 13:01 Fewer than 1 percent of eligible Iraqis have responded to a voter-registration drive, forcing authorities to look for other ways to build up voter lists, whilst for the overseas voting, registration in most parts has not yet even started.

    "What they are worried about are suicide bombers and intimidation." That fear is not isolated to Fallujah. Residents of Baghdad also are saying they are not sure whether they are willing to risk their lives to cast their ballots, expressing fears that polling stations will be targeted. Others swear they will not be deterred. One of those is the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission, the group set up by the United Nations to organize the election. "They can't hit every single polling station," said Farid Ayar, sitting in his tiny office in the heavily protected green zone. "For me, a man who suffered under Saddam, I feel that this election is a turning point to create a new Iraq," he said. "I am over 60, and I never voted in my life, so I find this a challenge — to go once in my life to vote." But Mr. Ayar, like everyone in Iraq, recognizes that security is a major issue. He rarely goes into the city streets anymore, especially because his face has become well-known after months of promoting the election in national and international news outlets. Because there is no reliable census information, voter lists have been put together based on U.N. food-rationing lists from the era of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, with everyone on those lists being sent a form to verify its accuracy. But only 60,000 to 70,000 people in a country of about 25 million have responded — about .25 percent — and authorities are now looking for other ways to qualify citizens to vote. "Iraqis want democracy, but they know if they reach out, they will get shot," said a U.S. official in Baghdad who declined to be identified.

    Shame on Bush and Blair for their stingy donations

    UPDATE - Britain now pledges £50 million towards relief effort. Well, when praise is due I will give it, well done Blair for this more than trebling in Britain's pledge towards the victims, that's more like it. Now, please withdraw our troops from Iraq. The unnecessary and illegal invasion of Iraq has, so far cost the US approximately $147 billion, while Gordon Brown, the British chancellor announced only this month an additional £520 million of British traxpayers money will be spent on the pointless project. Now a real tragedy has occurred, the tsunami in Asia has so far claimed the lives of approximately 120,000 people, (that is only the confirmed figure so far) and what respect do Bush and Blair give to this necessary effort to assist millions of people left without homes, food, clean water, necessary sanitary conditions and their livelihoods and many of their families destroyed? Bush donates a measly $35 million, while Blair gives a stingy £15 million. And, yes, compared to the amounts they are willing to spend on their unjustifiable and illegal invasion of Iraq, those amounts are very stingy. They should be ashamed. Is it any wonder there is such hatred in the world towards our so called "civilised societies", when our leaders slap real victims of tragedies in the face like this? The people in these countries, which have fallen victim to a tragedy far greater than any seen in our life times must surely notice that our leaders priorities are backwards in nature? And not only that, Blair could not even be bothered to return home from his holiday to help coordinate the British relief effort, while the torturer in chief has spent his time at his Texas ranch. (Most likely in hiding following the revelation that he signed an Executive Order authorising torture)

    US troops now used as propaganda tools

    In an obvious sign that US troops are being used to fight a propaganda battle, forces have been equipped with cans of spray paint, to spray over any grafitti they happen to see, which does not fit into their way of thinking. The graffiti come from a variety of sources, Staff Sgt. Bryce Rigby said. “Most of it is kids,” he said. “You can tell it’s kids because they misspell words [and] the kids write things like ‘down USA.’” Erm, just a minute, but don't the occupation forces know that english is not the Iraqis first language?

    The soldiers stopped at two graffiti-strewn walls during their patrol Sunday to spray paint out various messages. Both were near small mom-and-pop shops.
    Can someone please tell me what "mom and pop" shops are?

    Bush ratings plunge to historic new lows

    Considering Bush, as we are led to believe, was "re-elected" only recently, his approval ratings do not reflect a mandate for his policies.

    A new Gallup survey conducted for CNN and USA Today puts Bush's approval rating at 49 percent -- close to his pre-election numbers. That's 10 to 20 percentage points lower than every elected sitting president at this stage since World War II, according to Gallup. Bush's Gallup rating echoed a survey published last week by ABC News and the Washington Post, which put his approval rating at 48 percent. That poll also found that 56 percent of Americans said the Iraq war was not worth fighting. Time magazine put Bush's overall approval at 49 percent.
    Frank Newport, the editor of the Gallup survey, asked this interesting question: "The question is, what happened to the honeymoon?" Indeed. Maybe the honeymoon never happened, because the marriage never took place in the first place.

    Tsunami death toll now approximately 120,000

    This really is a dreadful catastrophe, and apparently there are reports that more tidal waves are on the way. As the official death toll from Sunday's devastating earthquake in the Indian Ocean climbed to 119,747, panic added to the misery of survivors today with warnings reported of fresh tsunamis in India and Sri Lanka.

    End the Occupation of Iraq, Bring the troops home

    The Stop the War Coalition in Britain is planning a large demonstration for the 19th March 2005, please click here for more details. This is part of a wider series of actions to coincide with the anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. As well as the protests planned against Bush's inauguration in the US in January, there will be protests against the continued occupation of Iraq in March.

    5 million in 11 countries lack basic requirements

    That is a shocking figure, imagine if the tsunami had happened where we live and destroyed millions of people's lives in our own countries.

    According to ICRC estimates, there are 500,000 injured people across the region, 200,000 with serious injuries. In Sri Lanka alone there are a million people without shelter.
    One aid worker for Cafod described the scene in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, as: "Corpses, corpses and more corpses. Walking on foot in the streets, it is all corpses. There is a rotten smell everywhere. Because people drowned, their stomachs are full and today they started to tear open.

    Private recruiting agencies stealing nurses from countries with most need

    The Royal College of Nursing last night said that Blair & Cos attempts to stop recrutiment agencies poaching nursing staff from the developing world have failed. According to this article in the Guardian today, a letter was sent, representing 250 nursing agencies to the government telling them that they refused to sign codes of ethical conduct. These agencies, if they have breached the codes of conduct need to be punished, and the government minister responsible should be held accountable for this failure.

    Blair continues with his holiday, despite tsunami crisis

    It seems Blair would rather continue to enjoy himself on holiday, than return to Britain and help to coordinate any British relief efforts towards the tsunami victims.

    Number 10 stressed that Mr Blair had held two phone conversations with John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, as well as a conference call with Hilary Benn, the development secretary, and Mr Straw. Mr Prescott is holding a daily coordination meeting with ministers. Mr Prescott, Mr Straw and Mr Benn cut short their holidays, as did the international development minister, Gareth Thomas.
    All those other ministers cut short their holidays to help with the relief effort, Blair should have done the same.

    Israel refuses thousands of Palestinians right to vote

    Israel, it seems is meddling in the Palestinian elections. Apparently, the Israeli government has told the Palestinian Election Commission that it will not allow privacy screens in the voting booths in East Jerusalem post offices, nor will election officials be allowed to mark voters with indelible ink to prevent fraud. Only around 5,000 will be allowed to vote in East Jerusalem, while the other estimated 115,000 voters from the area will have to travel to cast their votes.

    A Logical Voice 2004 Review (Part 2 - July to December)

    July This month, following numerous reports that children had been captured, and tortured in Iraq, the Norwegians were seriously considering cutting ties to the Bush regime. Following a world court ruling that Israel's West Bank barrier was illegal, Israel urged the US to oppose the ruling, and Jeremy Greenstock, Blair's special envoy to Iraq publicly embarrassed his boss by admitting that Iraq's alleged stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction just "were not there". Also in July, the Butler inquiry was due to report, and all hopes of Blair's credibility being restored were shattered, and well before the mainstream media were reporting on the terrible conditions the Sudanese people have to face on an everyday basis, alternative media was providing a medium to tell the world what was happening in the civil war stricken country. August This month, more media outlets were reporting on the attrocities committed in Sudan; meanwhile, US senators were visiting China, the delegation apparently told Chinese officials that despite ongoing tension between Taiwan and China the US would not back down on supplying arms to Taiwan. Also in August, massive protests were held in New York, as the Republican National Convention gathered to once again choose Bush as their presidential candidate, the EU Commissioner on human rights condemned Israeli incursions into Gaza, and said that any help provided by the EU for the Palestinian people did not absolve Israel of its obligations to the Palestinian people under international humanitarian law. September At the beginning of this month, reports emerged that a secretive Pentagon office, called the Office of Special Plans was linked to an Israeli espionage case the FBI were investigating. The Office of Special Plans had been largely discredited on its "intelligence" on Iraq's alleged WMD. Meanwhile, in Northern Ossetia, it was said that Chechen rebels were responsible for holding hundreds of children, staff and parents hostage at a school. Many hundreds were killed in the dreadful siege. Also in September, Hans Blix, the former chief weapons inspector said that the consequences of the attack on Iraq were "terrible and tragic", and the US claimed it had killed more than 100 so called "insurgents" in a major offensive concentrated on Samarra. However, many angry residents of the city denounced the incursions into Samarra, saying the offensive had mainly led to the deaths of many innocent civilians. October Afghans went to the polls for the first time in 20 years on the 9th October 2004. Although the turnout was reported to be high, there were numerous reports of vote fraud, and multiple registrations. The Lancet (a highly respected publication), this month published the results of a survey taken in Iraq, which showed that more than 100,000 civilians have probably died as a direct, or indirect consequence of the US led invasion of the country, the US, this month decided to adopt the Hama rules, in a widely condemned incursion into Fallujah. Reports have sinced surfaced about a number of war crimes being committed in the city, from reports of civilians being imprisoned in tiny cages and being denied food for 2 days, through snipers opening fire on anything that moved, aid agencies being denied access to the city, people being denied the treatment they needed, reports that forces were entering houses and shooting people because they couldn't speak english, hospitals bombed, and napalm, a banned weapon, used apparently. November The moment had almost arrived when the world was watching, and holding its breath to see if Bush would once again steal the keys to the White House, a poll published on the 1st November showed that if young voters turned out in large numbers, that could possibly tip the balance in favour of Kerry. When the exit polls were released, it was widely expected that Kerry would win the race for the White House; however, strangely enough, it appeared as if Bush had won the 2004 Presidential election. Vote fraud reports, seemingly were not only confined to the US this month, there were reports of vote fraud also in Romania, and Ukraine. The mainstream media however, in general failed to report on vote fraud issues in the Romanian and US elections. At the end of November, Bush began his official visit to Canada, and the Canadian people wanted to give him the welcome he deserved. December This month saw probably one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen, The renowned dictator, and human rights abuser, Augusto Pinochet was declared fit to face charges of kidnap and murder; A British high court ruled that the European conventions on human rights must be upheld, and it emerged that Bush signed an Executive Order authorising torture. Also in December, it came to light that Blair and Co had ordered that emails more than 3 months old be deleted from computers, and that hundreds of thousands of documents had been shredded before the new freedom of Information act comes into force. The government called this "housekeeping".

    Wednesday, December 29, 2004

    A Logical Voice 2004 Review ( Part 1 - January to June)

    January The year began with US troops raiding a Sunni Muslim mosque, searching, they said for weapons. At a time when the Bush regime, and Blair and Co were still attempting to paint forces as "liberators", rather than "occupiers" the families of some Iraqis captured by forces complained that there had been cases of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, British troops were accused of kicking to death 8 Iraqis arrested in Basra according to a report in the Independent on Sunday; and in Britain, Blair was saying that he was ready to quit if the Hutton report (widely regarded as a whitewash) proved him to have lied over the Dr David Kelly death. However, Hutton was found by Mr Mandelson (now an EU Commissioner), a close friend of Blair's, so he was hardly going to lay any blame at the door of Blair & Co was he? Also in January, Colin Powell admitted for the first time that there were no links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime, Blair admitted he hadn't got a clue whether or not Iraq had any Weapons of Mass Destruction and reports surfaced about Blunkett planning to extend holding prisoners without trial to UK citizens. February Reports surfaced at the beginning of February that Israel knew Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Also, Blair & Co's assertions about the so called "45 minute threat" from Iraq fell apart this month, also the case for a suicide of Dr David Kelly fell apart. Also in February 2004, despite growing concerns of increased tensions between India and Pakistan, there were several reports that the US, Russia and Israel were busy supplying India with arms, there was a US led coup in Haiti (US marines additionally entered the country on the 29th February), and there were numerous reports of a possible military draft in spring 2005 for citizens of the US. March On the 6th March, a convicted conman whose ex fiance was a close friend of Cherie Blair (the PM's wife) went public with the claim that while he was living with Carole Caplin in London in 2002, she was having an "intimate relationship" with the Prime Minister, on the same day a report surfaced that an Al Qaeda linked man in Afghanistan was working as a CIA operative. On the 11th March, scores died in Madrid as explosions rocked the city, The pro war Spanish leader, Aznar was later ousted from power in a move widely seen to be punishment ("as no Spanish leader had ever been punished before", as one commentator put it) for his stance close to Bush. On the 20th March there were international demonstrations on the 1st anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, millions took to the streets around the world, 100,000 were reported to have demonstrated in the streets of London alone. Also in March there were numerous reports that torture is routinely used at Guanatanamo, there was also a report that the US Department of Justice had asked an FBI translator to re-translate and adjust the translations of "subject intercepts" that had been received by the CIA and FBI before the 11th September 2001. April In April there were several reports that some US soldiers were heading to Canada to seek asylum, rather than having to commit any war crimes in Iraq. Meanwhile, the US military lost control of 2 Iraqi cities, Najaf and Kut. On the 13th April, reports surfaced that the military was taking part in mysterious hauling missions in southern Iraq. According to sources in one report, "a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments." May Reports were beginning to come to light that US torture and abuse of detainees was ordered by those higher up the chain of command. There were also claims of British abuse of detainees, but the photos these claims were based on were later proved to be fakes. Also in May, it was widely believed that Blair was about to go, as reports showed that Blair did not have the confidence of his party; The editor of a US funded Iraqi newspaper quit, saying that the US expected too much control over the news, more than 5,000 blasts an hour were reported in Ukraine after ammunition explosions at a military depot showered parts of south-eastern Ukraine with shells and shrapnel for three days, and there were reports that hundreds of prisoners were held at Abu Ghraib for long periods even though there was no evidence that they posed a security threat to US forces. June Local and European elections were held this month, Blair's Labour party lost about 480 local council seats, while the Tories gained about 280, and the Lib Dems gained about 140 seats. In June, it was also reported that the US military had issued an order to prevent thousands of soldiers designated for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan from leaving the military even when their volunteer service commitment expires. Also in June, Blair claimed his "special relationship" with Bush is a "sensible" thing to do, half a million people protested the torturer in chief on his visit to Rome, and a top Chinese general called the United States "a whore" for suggesting that Taiwan try to destroy the Three Gorges Dam, while maintaining that it could never be hit by Taipei's conventional arms. Part 2 - July to December 2004

    Dean had it right on Iraq

    I've just found this interesting letter to a US newspaper, many people label John Kerry as a liberal, well I suppose compared to Bush even many conservatives in Britain could be described as liberal, but in the true sense of the word, Howard Dean is more a liberal than Kerry: Dean had it right on Iraq December 28, 2004 Your editorial marking the year anniversary of Saddam Hussein's capture was a good one. It would also have been the one year anniversary of Howard Dean's remark that the capture of Saddam "doesn't make us any safer." Is there anyone who would disagree with the accuracy of that judgment? But what was the reaction to Dean's statement at the time? His fellow Democratic candidates, led by John Kerry, attacked him for defeatism. They claimed that statement proved Dean's unworthiness as a leader and reinforced his reputation as a "loose cannon." Nobody in the Democratic Party establishment had the courage to admit that just maybe he was right. Dean and the rest of the anti-war movement got a big reward for being right— they were completely shut out of the proceedings at the Democratic convention while a candidate who didn't know where he stood on Iraq took them all down to defeat.

    Donate to assist tsunami victims

    The International Red Cross, and Red Crescent, as well as Oxfam have all issued appeals for donations towards the victims of the tsunami in Southern Asia, which produced death and destruction not seen before in our life times. To find out how to donate, please click on one of the following links: Oxfam donation page, please click on the name of the country you are visiting from, and follow the on screen instructions if you would like to make a donation to this organisation. How to help the Red Cross and Red Crescent movements. Helping the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Mercy Corps' tsunami relief efforts donation page.

    US presidential election challenge likely on the 6th January

    Kerry Preparing Grounds to Unconcede

    If you haven't been following John Kerry closely, get ready to hear of surprising developments. The vote-defrauded, potential president-in-waiting has just indicated through his lawyer that the validity of George Bush's reelection is no longer a given.
    ......
    Now MSNBC 'Countdown' reports the same Hoffheimer, in comments on their imminent filing in the Ohio recount, concluding their call for a scrupulous recount with this caveat: "...Only then can the integrity of the entire electoral process and the election of Bush/Cheney warrant the public trust." That's the first time the Kerry Campaign has impugned the legitimacy of Bush's reelection.
    ......
    For Kerry, a fraudulent recount in Ohio could be an open door into to the Oval Office. Already, John Conyers is confident that a few U.S. Senators will join House members on January 6 to question the November 2 election. On Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported that in a conference call with journalists Jesse Jackson said that Kerry had conceded the presidential election "much too soon. Before all the facts were in."
    Interesting article don't you think?

    "It's not a meaningful recount"

    A lawyer representing voting groups, challenging the Ohio election results has stated: "You're allowing the original error to be repeated a second time, so it's not a meaningful recount." His comments reflect concerns that machines have been tampered with, and that "cheat sheets" were used in the recount, rather than counting the actual ballots cast. However, even without the machine tampering and "cheat sheets" factored into the counting, Kerry's numbers of votes in the 3% recount increased by 734 votes, while Bush's increased by just 449 votes. I'd be interested in knowing what the actual figures would be, if that percentage in increased votes were translated throughout Ohio. By my calculations, the difference would see an approximate 25,000 vote increase in Kerry's total across the whole of Ohio, while Bush's total would increase by approximately 15,000 votes. Because the number of votes Bush would gain here is significantly less than the number of votes that would be added to Kerry's total, it appears the original counting process was significantly favourable towards Bush. Also, there are bound to be differences with the declared results and the actual ballots cast, when "results" are based on these "cheat sheets". I wonder how much closer Kerry would get to Bush's total if the actual ballots cast were counted.

    130,000 excess votes at least possibly awarded to Bush through "irregularities" in Florida

    University of California publishes voting irregularity analysis The first scientific analysis of voting machine irregularities has now been published by the University of California. http://www.electoral-vote.com/nov/nov19.html The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections Summary: - Irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 excess votes or more to President George W. Bush in Florida. - Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 2000 and 2004. This effect cannot be explained by differences between counties in income, number of voters, change in voter turnout, or size of Hispanic/Latino population. - In Broward County alone, President Bush appears to have received approximately 72,000 excess votes. - We can be 99.9% sure that these effects are not attributable to chance. Details: Because many factors impact voting results, statistical tools are necessary to see the effect of touch-screen voting. Multipleregression analysis is a statistical technique widely used in the social and physical sciences to distinguish the individual effects of many variables. This multiple-regression analysis takes account of the following variables by county: - number of voters - median income - Hispanic population - change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004 - support for President Bush in 2000 election - support for Dole in 1996 election When one controls for these factors, the association between electronic voting and increased support for President Bush is impossible to overlook. The data show with 99.0% certainty that a county’s use of electronic voting is associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. The data used in this study come from CNN.com, the 2000 US Census, the Florida Department of State, and the Verified Voting Foundation – all publicly available sources. This study was carried out by a group of doctoral students in the UC Berkeley sociology department in collaboration with Professor Michael Hout, a member of the Academy of Sciences and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center. http://ucdata.berkeley.edu/new_web/VOTE2004/index.html

    US troops trained to hear "criminal, get out of my country."

    The US military has adopted a new tactic in their training methods. It appears that they have employed the services of Iraqis to help troops get used to the locals shouting insults at them. Such insults may include, but are not limited to: "I don't want you in my country. You're killing people." and/or: "Criminal, get out of my country!" Maybe they should have been taught how to deal with these things before the invasion even began?

    Grinning abusers sue news agency

    Six Navy seals and their families yesterday moved to sue the AP news agency for publishing photos of them apparently abusing Iraqis. The suit, which claims invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, seeks damages and an injunction barring further distribution of the photos. Perhaps these people should have thought about that before they decided to post their sick photos onto a website accessible by anyone. And what about the "intentional infliction of emotional distress" of those detainees abused and tortured by troops?

    What if the "war on terror" was a scam?

    I watched an excellent documentary, aired in Britain in October called "The Power of Nightmares". It revealed a whole range of issues which the mainstream media in general have failed to address, such as Rumsfeld's role in helping to label Russia as an "evil" nation, and how the neocons assisted the Mujahadeen (and Bin Laden) in Afghanistan when it was in their interests to do so. The documentary exposed the fact that the same people who were behind the labelling of Russia as "evil", are the same people who are today calling for "regime change" in "evil" nations. These people high up in US politics helped to finance many groups who today they claim they are against. The "Power of Nightmares" also exposed the fact that the "Al Qaeda" network never really existed, except in the minds of those who wanted the "terror network" to exist, and that the name Al Qaeda was used by those in positions of power in the US, before Bin Laden ever mentioned the term.

    Tsunami death toll could reach 120,000

    Health experts have warned that the death toll in Asia could be as high as 120,000. Already, estimates are that 60,000 people have tragically died from the flooding, with worries that number could double from lack of clean water supplies and sanitation, and reports that millions are stranded with nowhere to go, it appears this natural disaster could be the worst ever.

    General election may be called for 21st April 2005

    According to this report at This is London, "sources" have suggested that Blair is considering calling a general election for the 21st April.

    Although turnout could be boosted because local elections are held that day, some in Labour's Old Queen Street HQ fear that anger at council tax and town hall performance could hamper the vote for Westminster. Claims that an even earlier poll, in February or March, was being seriously considered have been comprehensively denied, largely because the Budget is scheduled for mid-March and a three-week election campaign is needed to ram home its principal messages.
    This date has apparently been pencilled in as a viable alternative to the widely expected date of 5th May, in a bid to wrong foot the Tories, who really don't seem to be challenging the Blair government on a whole range of issues.

    Former cabinet minister warns over Labour party disunity

    A former cabinet minister, Stephen Byers has warned that in-fighting between cabinet colleagues could seriously damage Labour party chances at the next general election. With recent reports that Blunkett (who had to resign) had launched attacks on Jack Straw and John Prescott, and ongoing battles reported between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, it appears that the Blairites have a job on their hands persuading the cabinet to become a model of unity.

    House of Lords should be elected

    New Year's resolutions and priorities: New Politics Network - Blair should introduce elected House of Lords Wednesday, 29 Dec 2004 Peter Facey, director of the New Politics Network, has told politics.co.uk that the Prime Minister Tony Blair should trust the electorate in 2005 in relation to the reform of the House of Lords.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2004

    10,000 held in Iraq by Britain and the US

    According to reports, 10,000 prisoners are being held by Britain and the US in Iraq. It appears however, that only about 350 of those are being labelled as "foreign terrorists". So who are all the other people being held by Britain and the US? Most likely petty criminals slung in these detention centres for drunkenness and thieving.

    US military redefines the word "humane"

    Following serious charges of abuse and torture by detainees, the US military has issued a denial that abuses have occurred, despite all the evidence to the contrary. And not only have they blatently lied about that, they have also insisted that detainees have been treated humanely. There must be a different definition of the word humane in the dictionary than the one I have read.

    Ohio secretary of state accuses voters of "frivolous conduct"

    Voters who have filed lawsuits to contest the vote fraud in the 2004 Presidential election have been labelled as "frivolous" by the Ohio secretary of state. Kenneth Blackwell is the Ohio secretary of state, and was also the co chair of the Ohio Re-elect Bush/Cheney campaign, so there is an obvious conflict of interest. He has now requested a protective order to prevent him from having to tell the truth about what happened in Ohio.

    Blair denies troops will be deployed to Sudan

    Following reports that Blair would be sending 3000 troops to Sudan, it appears that is not the case. At least according to this report.

    "I don't recognise that story at all," a Blair spokesperson said on condition of anonymity. "Our position on Sudan has been made clear. Basically, what we are doing is providing whatever help we can to the African Union force and we're working with the African Union and the UN to resolve the situation there," the spokesperson said.
    However, Blair and his spin doctors also said that there was an imminent threat from Iraqs so called weapons of mass destruction.

    "Need I remind you of how their elections were held in the United States?"

    That quote from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Obviously he is right to point out that the rogue regime in Washington has absolutely no business telling other countries how elections should be run, when there is so much evidence of vote fraud and "irregularities" in the US.

    Tsunami death toll rises to 40,000

    The estimates of the numbers of those who died in the Asian tragedy have increased now to 40,000 people. Tidal Waves Death Toll Rises to 40,000 By ANDI DJATMIKO, Associated Press Writer BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The death toll from the epic tsunami that rocked 11 countries rose to 40,000 people Tuesday, and food and supplies poured into the region, part of what the U.N. said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen. Millions remained homeless. Continued at above link..

    Senator makes bid to end electoral college sham

    At present, as this article mentions, presidential candidates can focus their attention on "swing states" which have larger numbers of electoral college voters. A senator called Dianne Feinstein is proposing an end to this, so that wherever people vote from their votes will be weighed equally. "The Electoral College is an anachronism, and the time has come to bring our democracy into the 21st century," Feinstein said in a statement. "During the founding years of the republic, the Electoral College may have been a suitable system, but today it is flawed and amounts to national elections being decided in several battleground states."

    Kerry lawyers file for preservation of ballots and voting machines

    Lawyers representing the Kerry/Edwards Presidential campaign have filed motions calling for the preservation of voting machines and ballots. This follows various reports that voting machines have been tampered with in Ohio.

    The purpose of the motions is twofold: A) To preserve all ballots and voting machines pertaining to the Yost matter for investigation and analysis; and B) To make available for sworn deposition testimony a technician for Triad Systems, the company that produced and maintained many of the voting machines used in the Ohio election. The technician has been accused of tampering with the recount process in Hocking County, Ohio, though other counties are believed to have also been involved. Any officers of Triad Systems who have information pertaining to said tampering are likewise subject to subpoena for sworn deposition testimony.

    US based "Modern day monsters" will likely get away with their war crimes

    It seems, according to this article in USA Today, that the torturer in chief has signed an order saying that the Office of Special Investigations has permission to investigate any war criminals and human rights abusers who attempt to settle in the US.

    "They've never found a Nazi war criminal. All the guards they've found are people who did what you'd call perimeter watch — sentries," says Joseph McGinness, a Cleveland lawyer who has defended people in several cases brought by the OSI. The office is "running out of business. Most of these concentration camp guards aren't alive anymore or are very old. (The OSI's) agenda is to keep themselves going forever."
    However, this order obviously does not extend to US citizens guilty of war crimes or human rights abusers, obviously.

    CIA hiding details of abuse and torture

    The CIA is refusing to hand over documents concerning abuse and torture. According to this article at the International Herald Tribune:

    The CIA asserts that it is protected according to the submarine case, in which a judge allowed the agency to neither confirm nor deny that it possessed records of a deep-sea mining project thought to be a front to recover a sunken Soviet submarine. The CIA has refused to acknowledge whether it has documents and photographs related to abuse of detainees.
    In the same lawsuit which is attempting to gain access to these CIA records, the ACLU successfully managed to get documents from the FBI which showed that Bush authorised torture, through an Executive Order.

    You can apply, but you might get turned down

    When the new Freedom of Information act comes into force on the 1st January 2005, there are expected to be scores of applications for documentation. However, under this act, there are unfortunately a number of excuses which can be given, to not turn over information, one of those is that anything which is "disproportionately expensive", another is that anything deemed not to be in the "public interest" doesn't have to be turned over. It doesn't seem necessary to have shredded all those documents, and destroyed all those emails, when you think about it, anything Blair and Co believe could harm their interests probably will not be released.

    Israelis arrested in Jordan for supplying arms to Sudanese rebels

    Sources have said, last week that Israelis were arrested by Jordanian security officials for supplying weapons to Sudanese rebels. According to this report:

    The mastermind in the weapons deal, Wayid A'a Mose Jolan has accepted that he runs a weapons factory in Tel Aviv and he has a consultancy office for supplying weapons to secessionist movements, special agencies and security companies.

    Make poverty history

    A coalition of campaign groups and trade unions have started a campaign telling Blair to make significant policy changes to help to eradicate poverty in the world.

    The group will deliver a report called Make Poverty History to the prime minister which calls for changes to trade agreements, the cancellation of developing countries' debts and big increases in aid.

    "Free and fair vote" impossible in Iraq

    According to Iraq's main Sunni party, a "free and fair vote" is impossible in the current security nightmare of Iraq.

    Although conservative Sunni clerics have urged an election boycott, the Iraqi Islamic party has until now backed the poll and submitted a large list of candidates. "I am fully with the ideas of elections, but the security situation does not make it possible for Sunnis to vote," Mr Abdel Hamid said.

    Monday, December 27, 2004

    Iraqi government positions have absolutely nothing to do with the US

    Apparently, the rogue regime in Washington are considering "reserving" positions in the soon to be "democratically elected" Iraqi government.

    "There's some flexibility in approaching this problem," a White House official told the New York Times. "There's a willingness to play with the end result - not changing the numbers, but maybe guaranteeing that a certain number of seats go to Sunni areas even if their candidates did not receive a certain percentage of the vote." Some are deeply critical, claiming the move illustrates the problems Washington is having in persuading Iraqis about the legitimacy of the January 30 poll.

    Elderly to get "consumer choice" in care

    Apparently, Blair is drawing up plans to make the care sector more "market oriented". Personally, I feel this is a step in the wrong direction. Care should be available for all who need it, and should not be market driven.

    The No 10 strategy unit is drawing up alternate blueprints that would allow those among the elderly who want to exercise choice to do so. The report is unlikely to be ready by election day, but the scheme will feature in Labour's manifesto. After news of the initiative was leaked yesterday, Alan Milburn, Mr Blair's election strategist, was quick to reassure MPs that it was not about privatisation of social services or a change in the way they were funded by the taxpayer.
    Although the spin doctors will attempt to tell us all that this isn't privatisation, it is.

    Tsunami death toll now approximately 22,000

    It really is a tragedy what has happened in South East Asia.

    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Rescuers piled up bodies along southern Asian coastlines devastated by tidal waves that obliterated seaside towns and killed more than 22,000 people in nine countries, and officials indicated Monday the death toll could climb far higher.
    Hundreds of children were buried in mass graves in India, and morgues and hospitals struggled to cope with the catastrophe. Somalia, some 3,000 miles away, reported hundreds of deaths.
    I expect the actual death toll will continue to rise though unfortunately.

    Rumsfeld admits Flight 93 was shot down

    There have been many mysteries surrounding what really happened on Flight 93 on the 11th September 2001. The Bush regime said that people should believe the official version of events for that day, however, wherever you look, the official version of events just doesn't add up. Now Rumsfeld has admitted as much. As this article states:

    The official story has been that passengers on the United Airlines flight rushed the hijackers in an effort to prevent them from crashing the plane into a strategic target – possibly the U.S. Capitol
    Here's what Rumsfeld said on Friday: "....or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania....."

    Sunday, December 26, 2004

    For the torture apologists

    There seem to be some in the world who attempt to try and apologise for the behaviour of the rogue regime in Washington by making excuses for them, even sometimes denying that incidents have taken place. However, the FBI backs up what many of the people tortured and abused have been saying. According to this article:

    At least 10 current and former detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have lodged allegations of abuse similar to incidents described by FBI agents in newly released documents. The detainees' claims were denied by the government but gained credibility with the reports from the agents, their attorneys say. In public statements after their release and in documents filed with federal courts, the detainees have said they were beaten before and during interrogations, "short-shackled" to the floor and otherwise mistreated as part of the effort to persuade them to confess to being members of al-Qaida or the Taliban.

    Blair fails to disclose holiday

    It seems Blair has fallen foul of procudures once again. Apparently, the poodle has failed to declare that he went on a family holiday to a chateau belonging to a wealthy businessman with close ties to the tobacco industry.

    Sir Philip Mawer, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, has asked the Prime Minister why he failed to record a family holiday in the chateau of the billionaire businessman Alain Dominique Perrin in the Commons' register of interests. The questions follow complaints from Tories because of M. Perrin's former role as chief senior executive in the French luxury goods firm Richemont, which owns brands such as Cartier and Dunhill, and also has a £3bn stake in British American Tobacco.
    All MPs interests are supposed to be declared.

    Merry Christmas Baghdad

    As one report, I linked to just the other day described, under Saddam Hussein's regime, at least the Christians were able to live in peace with their Muslim friends and neighbours. Under Hussein, they were free to worship at least, without threats of violence, but under US occupation that has greatly changed.

    9,500 killed in Asian earthquake floods

    I had just woken up this morning when a family friend rang to say they had made their scheduled flight out of the area, about 30 minutes before the tidal wave struck, and not to worry. Unfortunately many thousands weren't so lucky. I'm sure, from what i've heard that figure will increase sadly. Asian quake floods kill 9,500 By Simon Gardner COLOMBO (Reuters) - One of the most powerful earthquakes in history has hit Asia, unleashing a tsunami which devastated coastal areas of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and tourist isles in Thailand, killing nearly 9,500 people. The tsunami, a menacing wall of water, wreaked death, chaos and destruction across southern Asia. Up to 10 metres high, the tsunami was triggered by an 8.9 magnitude underwater earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

    Queen issues plea for tolerance

    In her yearly address to the nation, the Queen issued a plea for religious and cultural tolerance.

    She conceded that 'discrimination still exists' in Britain, but said the nation could achieve most by pulling together. 'Some people feel that their own beliefs are being threatened. Some are unhappy about unfamiliar cultures,' she said, in a message filmed in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. 'They all need to be reassured that there is so much to be gained by reaching out to others; that diversity is indeed a strength and not a threat.

    Blair to order 3000 troops to Sudan

    According to this article in the Independent today, Blair is preparing to send 3,000 British troops to Sudan. The situation there has been particularly bad for some time now, and when the international community gathered last month to table a UN resolution on Sudan, the US backed down on condemning the attrocities carried out there. It is understood that both Israel and Germany have been assisting the rebels in Sudan.

    Torturer in chief urges "compassion" at Christmas

    The Torturer in chief (Bush) has said he'd like to see more people helping the weak, the needy and the vulnerable at this time of the year apparently. Such a pity those poor souls in Iraq won't be getting much compassion this year though.

    Archbishop says Blair and Co "sexed up" threat from terrorism

    The Archbisop of Canterbury, in his Christmas sermon yesterday launched a stinging attack on leading politicians, saying: "When a society believes in nothing, the only agenda is fear." He went on to urge a war on a major problem - poverty.

    Is Bush seriously ill?

    There are a number of rumours floating around the internet at present about Bush's physical health. Here is one such report.

    Friday, December 24, 2004

    The paper trail of torture leads to Alberto Gonzales

    Only now are mainstream media outlets beginning to look at the Bush regime authorisation of torture and abuse. Well, it is about time, they have been very slow to report the facts, and have not been doing their duty to the public up until now. Torture's Path The paper trail is long, and it isn't pretty. But it's sure to produce some tough Senate questions for Alberto Gonzales But, although quite rightly there should be tough questions for Gonzales, where are the tough questions for Bush? This is where the media are failing.

    What a Christmas present for 900 TA members

    It seems 900 Territorial Army members have received their call up papers to serve in Iraq. This comes at a time when there is increased tension in the country, ahead of planned elections next month, and after the bombing of the US base in Mosul, where the US has admitted it does not have control of the situation. The Military Families Against the War group is calling on anyone related to those soldiers who oppose the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq to join them.

    Blair tells activists to think positive

    In an obvious sign of panic, Blair has used the opportuniy, in his Christmas email to party activists to say::

    "I know it sometimes doesn't feel like it, but people are now better off than they were under the Tories."
    You're right Blair, it very often doesn't feel like it.

    The Christians in Iraq used to live in harmony with Muslims

    It seems, that because of the so called "Christian" rhetoric from the torturer in chief's regime, many in Iraq view the occupying forces as some sort of crusaders for "christianity". Christians, who once lived peacefully alongside muslims in the country are now concerned for their safety, worried that they will become targets of terrorism, because they will be seen as a part of this "christian crusade". The article linked to states:

    Gone are the days when Christians' Muslim friends would join them carol singing, and Christmas trees are definitely out. In fact, few Iraqis are buying the traditional trees. Mohammad Noori sold 35 last year. With two days to go this year he had sold only one.

    US considering strikes in Syria

    Only yesterday, there were reports that Blair had told Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, that Syria was a threat to operations in Iraq. Now, it appears that the US are considering incursions into Syrian territory, according to a senior Bush regime official.

    10 deaths preventable in Florida last year

    In Jeb Bush's state of Florida, it turns out that authorities were able, but did nothing to prevent 10 children dying from abuse, or neglect in 2003. Jeb Bush, as you may know is the brother of the torturer in chief, and this alone shows he is just as much a miserable failure as his brother.

    "We don't have enough troops. We don't control the terrain."

    In a staggering admission, it seems, by Colin Powell, yet another senior Bush regime official has admitted that the US has lost control in Iraq. In a meeting in November, attended by Bush, Blair and Powell, Powell is said to have told Bush "We don't have enough troops. We don't control the terrain." Paul Bremer, who was in charge of the US occupation government said in September: "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout"

    Indonesian inquiry looking into British arms firms payout

    Indonesia calls inquiry into British arms firm payment John Aglionby in Jakarta, Rob Evans, David Pallister and David Leigh Saturday December 11, 2004 The Guardian Anti-corruption investigators in Indonesia launched an inquiry yesterday into the Guardian's disclosures that a British arms company paid £16.5m to ex-president Suharto's daughter over a deal to sell light tanks. The deputy head of the independent anti-corruption commission, Erry Hardjapamekas, said the disclosures were "a high-profile case that has to be a major concern" for his body. Continued at link above...

    Only 1 in 3 Brits can speak a second language

    When I was at school, we were taught both French and German (And the school I attended was not a "posh" school by any stretch of the imagination). However, not everyone had the luxury of being able to learn another language, at other schools in the area sometimes languages were only taught from the age of 14 upwards, whilst other schools gave pupils the choice not only of French and German, but also Italian, Spanish and latin. It seems however, that Britain is at the bottom of a league table when it comes to second languages, with only 1 in 3 of us being able to speak another language, 98% of those in Luxembourg are able to do so.

    Fox's disgraceful "Who's your daddy?" gameshow

    Apparently, Fox has sunk to new lows by planning a gameshow called "Who's your daddy?". In each episode a young woman wins $50,000 (£27,000) if she guesses her biological father correctly from a line-up of eight men whom she meets in the course of the show. If she is wrong then one of the fake fathers pockets the money.

    Blair has worst voting record of any modern Prime Minister

    It appears that Tony Blair has a dismal record of turning up to vote in House of Commons debates. Since getting power in 1997, he has voted in just 8% of commons divisions. According to this article:

    The Conservative leader Michael Howard voted in 36% of the divisions while the Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy had a 54% voting record.
    It is fairly pathetic that Blair can only be bothered to turn up to vote in the House of Commons 8% of the time.

    So the dome does have a use for something after all

    After the obvious flop of the millenium dome, it appears someone has found a useful use for it after all. Until the end of December a third of the domes area will be taken over to provide accommodation as well as basic medical and healthcare services for about 1,500 homeless people. Now, wouldn't it have been better to use the dome for this purpose all along?

    Arms companies seek get out clause from Freedom of Information act

    First the government tell its various departments to delete emails, then we hear about the shredding of hundreds of thousands of documents, now it appears that arms manufacturers want a get out clause from the Freedom of Information act.

    They plan to write legally enforceable confidentiality agreements into their dealings with Whitehall and are preparing "injunction packages" with which to threaten officials. This will have the effect of bypassing the legislative machinery, and knocking a large hole in the act. The Ministry of Defence wrote to arms firms this month, promising them a virtual veto and "the opportunity to seek a legal remedy" before files are disclosed. The government has also bowed to commercial pressures by deleting guidance to officials.

    US admits losing grip on Mosul

    According to this report in the Guardian today:

    Insurgents have been able to "operate at will" in Mosul, where 22 people died in a bomb attack this week, because the US forces and the Iraqi authorities have failed to tackle them, an intelligence assessment by senior US officials in northern Iraq concludes.

    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    As Fallujans return, fighting erupts

    About 200 returning Fallujan refugees were greeted by bombs dropping on their city, and fierce continuing clashes. Apparently, this was a "slow start" in the flow of returning refugees according a quote in this report. It seems a strange thing to say to me, considering that fighting is continuing, after all, would the US military prefer there had been a speedier return of refugees with more civilians being at risk of dropping bombs or artillery?

    What about Egyptian human rights?

    The only excuse left now for the invasion of Iraq, is the "humanitarian" excuse. Hoever, trying to use that one in light of the fact the Bush regime authorises abuse and torture really doesn't wash anymore. Now apparently, the torturer in chief, and his regime are threatening to cut funding for the United Nation's Development Programme because of an as yet unpublished paper by Arab academics. According to this article:

    American taxpayers give the Egyptian military $1.3 billion dollars every year – making Mubarak's government the second largest recipient of U.S. arms after Israel. Since September 11 and Bush's war on terror, Egyptians say, America's interest in large scale crackdowns has intensified, as has Mubarak's brutality. After terrorist attacks in October killed 33 tourists near the Israeli border the Egyptian state has rounded up – and tortured – hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people. None of them have been allowed to see a lawyer and only a handful have been charged with a crime.

    Blair attempting to turn peace conference into a rehabilitation programme for Palestinians

    It appears that the planned conference Blair is hoping to host in February is every day being seen more and more as a failed enterprise. Initially when reports first surfaced about this conference, it was said to have been a peace conference, but of late there have been more and more reports, including this one which seem to indicate that the planned peace conference is turning more into some sort of "rehabilitation conference". The Palestinians don't appear to like that. I wonder who will turn up for this conference? As neither the Israelis, nor Americans want to show up, now the Palestinians have reservations.

    Putin slams the west's illegal actions

    Vladimir Putin has replied to US criticism of Russia's relationship with Ukraine, by slating America's illegal policy actions. Mr Putin pointed to the farce that Iraq's election monitor would operate from Jordan, and expressed concern at the democratic rights of Serbs and Russians being ignored in Kosovo and Latvia as examples of the double standards applied by the west in general. He also made it clear that he hoped it was not US policy to isolate Russia.

    Survey shows 1 in 10 votes not counted

    Election study finds widespread ballot-counting problems (SH) - A review of election results in a 10-county sampling revealed more than 12,000 ballots that failed to record a vote for president, almost one in every 10 ballots cast. The unofficial audit by Scripps Howard News Service uncovered malfunctioning voting machines, improperly designed ballots and poor accounting procedures around the nation.

    "Cheat sheet" allows local officials to ignore actual ballots in election recount

    "Cheat sheets" are probably the most revealing aspect of "voting irregularities" uncovered so far in the 2004 US presidential election scandal. According to this article:

    The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued a stinging letter to the president of Triad Election Systems Thursday, remarking that he had "more questions and concerns than ever" after viewing a tape of Triad's visit to the Hocking County Board of Elections Dec. 20. In a sworn affidavit, Hocking elections official Sherole Eaton wrote that a Triad official may have inappropriately tampered with a tabulation machine and tried to plant unverified information into the recount, encouraging local officials to use a "cheat sheet." RAW STORY acquired the letter late Thursday evening.
    And apparently, Triad left unofficial vote totals on public servers. And no doubt you are aware of that "bank of computers" Karl Rove was working at? I wonder if this was the reason behind the difference in exit poll data, compared to the "official results"? The ONLY 2 states where exit poll data and "results" did not match were Ohio and Florida. Two main points here, firstly, why are cheat sheets allowed to be used, rather than actual ballots, when it is obvious that leaving unofficial vote totals on an open server could result in vote hacking? Secondly, why were Ohio and Florida the ONLY 2 states where exit poll data did not match up with "official results"?