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  • Monday, January 31, 2005

    Boycott Bush

    From the Boycott Bush website In April 2001, Gerd Leipold the Greenpeace International Executive Director stated "The American public can register their opinions at the ballot box, but for the rest of the world, all we can do is register our opinions via the marketplace." Indeed, we can all register our opinions, thanks to efforts to make available lists of products made by companies which have assisted the Republican party. The top 10 UK brands which can be boycotted are: 1 Esso 2 Maxwell House 3 Microsoft 4 MBNA 5 Lucozade 6 ASDA 7 Hotpoint 8 AOL 9 Budweiser 10 Walkers crisps

    Penalise Halliburton says watchdog

    Watchdog wants Halliburton penalized Iraq reconstruction monitor says funds not accounted for The inspector general of Iraqs reconstruction programme said yesterday that US Vice President Dick Cheneys former company Halliburton, which he still receives money from should be penalised. Amid controversy about a Pentagon contract to handle logistical support in Iraq and Kuwait, a team of auditors have been looking into Halliburton lately and have said that they don't know where some of the funds have gone. In August, Pentagon auditors also described KBR's cost-estimating system as "inadequate," saying that $1.8 billion in billings for $4.18 billion of logistical work remained unsupported by documentary evidence. KBR has billed the government for about $12 billion in Iraq, but nearly a quarter of that remains in dispute.

    The "religious" right

    I think I may have mentioned in the past what I think about the so called "religious" right, and the "compassionate conservatives". This article is a good one, and looks at some of the "principles" of the Bush regime. The following quote from the article is quite poignant: "Jesus was quite a troublemaker. In fact, I'm thinking the Bush administration would have a special place for Jesus were the swarthy Nazarene to take up his ministry today in the U.S. of A.--in a cell with other Middle Eastern men awaiting deportation." If you've heard of the 10 commandements you'll probably know one of them states "thou shalt not kill". My guess is that if there was more space on those stone tablets for any more commandments, thou shalt not torture and abuse might also have been included. Maybe those evangelicals in the Bush regime need to go back and learn some of the basics about their religion, before they try to preach to others about morality and values.

    Sudan crisis, where are the right?

    It is interesting when confronted by rabid right wing extremists (The sort who most ardently advocate the type of war crimes carried out in their name in Iraq) who say that Saddam Hussein had to be removed in the interests of his people, because of terrible human rights abuses. They also often claim the moral high ground by alleging that the left would approve of Husseins continued abuses. However, this is simply untrue. If you look at the facts, right wing regimes, such as Thatchers, Reagans and Bush I's allied themselves to Saddam Husseins regime, when he was at that time assisting against our leaders "enemy" at the time, Iran. When these abuses were being carried out human rights organisations (which generally lean to the left, not to the right) called on our "civilised societies" leaders to stop allying themselves to people such as Hussein, as supplying him with the means to abuse his own people made our leaders part of the crimes carried out. However, the right continued to ignore these warnings until it became apparent to them that it would be in their interests to install a new regime in Iraq. Now we have a crisis in Sudan. Terrible crimes have been committed, and continue to be committed there, and last night British diplomats were trying to get the Sudanese government to allow Save the Children and Oxfam chiefs back into the country. Now, let's have a look where the right stand on the Sudan issue. Well, the Bush regime approved of the watering down of the UN resolution on Sudan approved just a few weeks ago. They even quite surprisingly dropped demands for a halt to human rights abuses carried out there. It seems that wherever you look in the world, whether in latin America, the middle east, or Africa the right wing employ double standards on human rights. Yes, they may claim to act in the interests of human rights, but only when it suits their political idealogies.

    Then, they came for Iraq's Sunni

    This is a very interesting article: Some excerpts:

    President Bush said both U.S. and British military personnel had lost their lives in the crash. There had been no previous mention of US deaths Reuters noted. The Daily Telegraph mentions an ominous "maximum" of 70 special forces soldiers from both countries aboard the plane. "It was not clear why there was still doubt about the casualty toll," Kate Holton for Reuters dryly recorded --hinting at an obvious conclusion: politicians and military don't want to spoil the rosy propaganda about Iraq's "elections" by admitting high casualties.
    ......
    And in a commentary on Asia Times Online, Pepe Esobar said sources close to the resistance in Baghdad identified the missile as a shoulder-launched Sam 7 rocket which has a range of around two miles. Free Arab Voice reported that the helicopter wreckage "had been scattered over an approximately two kilometer area". Two days later on January 28, 2005 a US Army OH-58 Kiowa helicopter which usually carries a two-person crew, "crashed" in southwest Baghdad. Once again, cause and casualties were uncertain. Of these three recent downings, the two which caused large loss of life were almost certainly due to missiles. Either this was unexpectedly opportune for the resistance, or more likely, the result of calculated targeting designed to answer the American-imposed election with a commensurate tactical response.
    ......
    Continuing on from Fallujah (now largely destroyed and deserted), the genocide option was already unfolding even before the staged "elections." As Robert Fisk described on page 1 of South Africa's, Sunday Independent, January 30, 2005: ...... "Right up to the election hour, US jets were continuing to bomb "terrorist targets", the latest in the city of Ramadi,... now in the hands of the insurgents as surely as Fallujah was before the Americans destroyed it." "Every month since Allawi, the former CIA agent, was appointed premier, American air strikes on Iraq have been increasing exponentially. There are no "embedded" reporters on the giant American air base at Qatar or aboard the US carriers in the Gulf from which these ever increasing and ever more lethal sorties are being flown."
    see all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Birmingham Labour supporters accused of vote fraud

    According to this article at ic Birmingham, the deputy leader of the city council has filed for the release of confidential reports about potential postal vote fraud during the 2004 local elections, under the freedom of information act:

    An election petition alleging widespread fraud and intimidation by Labour supporters in the Aston ward will be heard by the High Court in Birmingham next month. The petition, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, accuses Labour candidates of fiddling votes on a massive scale, with party officials turning a blind eye to what was happening.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Almost 23% of exiled Iraqis voted

    Apparently, 93% of the 23% of exiled Iraqis who had registered to vote in the elections yesterday actually voted, according to this article:

    While participation of the registered voters was unusually high, those who registered in a special nine-day campaign that ended Jan. 25 represented only 23 percent of the estimated 1.2 million Iraqi expatriates.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Violence kept Ramadi residents away from polls

    Insurgents' threats keep Ramadi residents from voting

    Before the explosion, 75 people — including Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq poll workers and special police commandos protecting the site — had voted at the school in eastern Ramadi, U.S. military officials said. At midmorning, the nearby streets had been full of curious residents watching voters walk to the polling station. After the explosion and gunfire, the streets were deserted and no other voters came. Ramadi’s 400,000 residents were subject of a harassment campaign by insurgents, who promised death to anyone who voted Sunday. At another polling site in the Sofiya district of Ramadi, the polls were more active. More than 100 people had voted by early afternoon, officials said. There were eight polling stations in the city of Ramadi, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, and they estimated that about 1,000 people cast ballots during the day.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Uzbekistan, an "outpost of tyranny"

    Thanks to one of the commenters here at "A Logical Voice", I have been reminded to make a post about Uzbekistan, a partner in Bush's so called "war on terror". Uzbekistan has a leader called Islam Karimov, here's a useful profile.

    "I'm prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic…If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head." - President Karimov reacting to acts of violence in Uzbekistan in March 1999. The government originally blamed the incidents, including a bus hijacking, on "criminals" and later on "Islamic extremists." Agence France-Presse, April 2, 1999
    Under Islam Karimov, Muslims who practice their faith outside state controlled religious institutions have been targeted in a wave of repression. Some tortured, and detained without charges or fair trials. (Does this sound familiar?)
    The first letter documents new cases of arbitrary detention, harassment and ill-treatment of Muslim dissidents. A wave of arrests followed explosions directed against police officers in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April. While the government blamed the attacks on “extremists,” its response has broadly targeted “independent Muslims,” who practice their faith outside government-controlled mosques and other religious institutions. The letter also sets out concrete recommendations for tackling government abuses.
    In 2002 alone, Washington gave Uzbekistan's police and intelligence services $79 million. The US state department's website itself states that the police and intelligence services use "torture as a routine investigation technique".
    Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Guantanamo Briton witnessed detainees beaten to death

    According to this article, a Guantanamo Briton has stated that he witnessed US guards beating other detainees to death at the torture chamber on Cuba:

    He said his ordeal, beginning at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, included being shackled and dragged, having a "suffocating hood" placed on his head and being struck in the head several times. He also said he had witnessed two fatal beatings during interrogations by US officials in Afghanistan. "Two of these beatings resulted in the deaths of two detainees in June and December 2002. I was witness to both, in some fashion," said Mr Begg, who was arrested in Pakistan in January 2001.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    $9 billion missing from Iraq's funds

    You're probably aware of the oil for food scandal, what you may not be aware of is the scandal that the US led "Coalition Provisional Authority" (or the US colonial governors of Iraq) seems to have misplaced almost $9 billion worth of Iraq's money, from this article:

    One of the main benefactors of Iraq funds was Texas-based firm Halliburton (HAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , which was paid about $1.7 billion dollars out of those funds to bring in fuel for Iraqi civilians. U.N. auditors have asked for a full accounting of these funds.
    Halliburton's name does seem to crop up a lot when talking about corruption and cronyism doesn't it. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Haiti now "more violent and more inhuman" than under Aristide

    You may remember the US backed coup, which overthrew Haiti's leader Jean Bertrand Aristide. Well, apparently since the US backed the removal of the elected government in the country, the situation has sharply deteriorated, and according to an extensive report, conditions in the country are now "more violent and more inhuman" than under Aristide:

    The investigation also found that the U.S. was closely involved in the effort to remove Aristide, and now is providing key support for the interim government. “Top officials (of the interim government), including the Minister of Justice, worked for U.S. government projects that undermined their predecessors,” the report states. A U.S.-backed embargo from 2000 to 2004 blocked millions of dollars in promised aid from the Inter-American Development Bank to the elected government. The U.S. now provides financial and training support for the interim government, which investigators found to be heavily influenced by Haiti’s merchant elite. Some Bush administration opponents, including several members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, criticize the president for waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of installing democracy, all while undermining the democratically elected government in Haiti. Investigators also criticize the U.S., U.N. and Canada’s current strategies in Haiti. “No one in control can claim to have made any investment in real dialogue,” the report states. “The investments that have been made are in firepower, and the dividends have not satisfied the Haitian people’s social, economic or political needs.”
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Provisional turnout at 57%, more than 40 killed

    Yesterday, figures were touted of a 72% turnout in Iraq's so called "free and fair" elections. We now know that figure was based on "a guess", and that the "elections" were not free and fair. Apparently, more than 40 people were killed in attacks yesterday in Iraq, the electoral commission's "provisional estimate" for turnout is now at 57% and all the leading candidates are demanding a timetable for US led forces to get out of their country. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Kurds want power in Iraq

    According to this article in the Guardian those in power in Iraq are busy talking behind the scenes as to how the Kurds could gain some sort of power in a "democratic" Iraq:

    Though Kurds stress any deal will have to wait until the election results are known, the two main Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, said yesterday that they would demand one of the two top offices of state, prime minister or president.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Elections are not democracy

    This is an interesting article at MSNBC: Elections Are Not Democracy

    Unless there is a major change in course, Iraq is on track to become another corrupt, oil-rich quasi-democracy, like Russia and Nigeria.
    ...... See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Global warming could kill off polar bears in 20 years

    According to this article in the Guardian, the World Wildlife Fund has said that global warming could kill off polar bears in 20 years:

    "In the Arctic this could lead to a loss of summer sea ice, species and some types of tundra vegetation, as well as to a fundamental change in the ways of life of Inuit and other Arctic residents," the organisation said in a statement. The total area covered by summer sea ice in the Arctic is already decreasing by 9.2% a decade, and would "disappear entirely by the end of the century" unless the situation changes.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    72% turnout figure was just "a guess"

    According to this article, a spokesman for Iraq's electoral commission has admitted that he didn't really have a clue what the actual turnout figure was, and that the 72% figure widely touted yesterday was just "a guess". See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Assyrian Christians weren't allowed to vote in northern Iraq

    According to this article, Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq were not allowed to vote. Apparently villages around Mosul did not receive ballot boxes, although they had been promised:

    Simon George, co-director of an Assyrian satellite television station, says he received "at least 100 calls" from Assyrians complaining about being deprived of the vote in Christian villages around Mosul (MOH'-sul). He says Assyrian Christians were promised ballot boxes that didn't arrive. George said he was told that in the Assyrian villages, Kurds "stopped all the elections."
    See all recent "A logical Voice" posts

    Former minister hopes talking about HIV will end some mythology

    Chris Smith: 'I hope that talking about HIV will end some of the mythology' By Andrew Grice, Political Editor 31 January 2005

    Twenty years ago, Chris Smith made headlines when he "came out" as Britain's first openly gay MP. As he prepared to celebrate that landmark moment at a reception in his honour tomorrow week, the former cabinet minister wondered whether to reveal he had been HIV-positive for 17 years.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    "Voting irregularities" in Northern Iraq

    Irregularities mar northern Iraq poll

    At the Al-Khazrajiya school in the city's old quarter, Najat Ridha, 48, was ushered into a classroom and handed two ballots, one for the national assembly and another for the local provincial council. An election worker suggested she vote for list 285 headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and a local list headed by governor Duraid Kashmula. She ticked the boxes obligingly and walked out - just as Zahra Ibrahim, 60, did before her. "I really just did what they asked me to do," she said as the Iraqi national anthem crackled on a loudspeaker in the background. Similar scenes unfolded at the Al-Fadhila school on the west side as men and women, perplexed over what the list numbers stood for, were offered suggestions and a helping hand by election workers. "I want to vote for Allawi and Yawar," said a frustrated Fatima Hashim, 50. Both Dr Allawi and interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, himself from Mosul, head competing lists for seats on the national assembly, but were popular choices in the city because of their high profile.
    Did you read that correctly? I will repeat it for you, an Iraqi says "I really just did what they asked me to do"! See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Sunday, January 30, 2005

    Iraqi election watch

    Some notes from the "Iraqi election watch"

    A British military plane has crashed north of Baghdad. No details yet. UPDATE: The UK's Press Association newswire quoted military sources in Iraq as saying the transport plane rarely travels north of Baghdad.
    Polls to close an hour early in Iraq Nobody is saying why.
    Al Jazeera reports one vote in Fallujah, and in Mosul US soldiers were seen driving around city blocks asking why residents were not voting.
    Various spinners are touting a figure of 72% turnout in the Iraqi election, calling it a "revolution." AP elaborates on the source of that factoid: Iraq voter turnout placed at 72 percent THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An Iraqi election official said Sunday that 72 percent of eligible Iraqi voters had turned out so far nationwide. The official, Adel al-Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission, offered no overall figures of the actual number of Iraqis who have voted to back up the claim.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    "What a bloody charade"

    This is a good article:

    Right up to the election hour, US jets were continuing to bomb "terrorist targets", the latest in the city of Ramadi, which - although US President George Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair do not say so - is now in the hands of the insurgents as surely as Fallujah was before the Americans destroyed it. Every month since Allawi, the former CIA agent, was appointed premier, American air strikes on Iraq have been increasing exponentially. There are no "embedded" reporters on the giant American air base at Qatar or aboard the US carriers in the Gulf from which these ever increasing and ever more lethal sorties are being flown. They go unrecorded, unreported, part of the "fantasy" war which is all too real to the victims but hidden from us journalists.
    ......
    Now they are attacking "foreign terrorist targets" or "anti-Iraqi forces": I especially like this one, since the foreigners involved in this violence happen in reality to be Americans who are mostly attacking Iraqis. Yes, I know how it's all going to be played out. Iraqis bravely vote despite the bloodcurdling threats of the enemies of democracy. At last, the US and British policies have reached fruition. A real and functioning democracy will be in place so the occupiers can leave soon. Or next year. Or in a decade or so. Merely to hold these elections - an act of folly in the eyes of so many Iraqis - will be a "success". The Shi'as will vote en masse, the Sunnis will largely abstain. Shi'a Muslim power will be enshrined for the first time in an Arab country. And then the manipulation will begin and the claims of fraud and the admissions that the elections might be "flawed" in some areas. But we'll go on saying "democracy" and "freedom" over and over again, the insurgency will continue and grow more violent, and the Iraqis will go on dying. But there will be democracy in Iraq.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Lib Dems say scrap not cap Council Tax

    Lib Dems - Scrap not cap council tax Liberal Democrat Local Government spokesman, Edward Davey, said that the Government should be scrapping not capping council tax, following today's announcement by Nick Raynsford. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    News from 3 opinion polls

    Labour has a consistently strong lead over the Conservatives, according to three new opinion polls.

    Labour has 38 per cent of the voters' backing, compared with the Conservatives' 32 per cent and 22 per cent for the Liberal Democrats, according to a MORI poll for The Observer. A CommunicateResearch poll in the Independent on Sunday has Labour on 40 per cent, with Michael Howard's Tory party at 32 per cent; Charles Kennedy's Lib Dems have 20 per cent.
    Continued at link...... See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Student fees warning to Blair

    Blair warned over student fees Jan 30 2005

    Tony Blair has been warned that plans to charge foreign students A£500 for a visa to continue studying in Britain could force more university science departments to close. The vice-chancellors' umbrella group Universities UK is fiercely opposed to the Home Office's proposals. The group released details of a letter it sent to Mr Blair warning that many more universities could be forced to follow the controversial decisions of Exeter and Newcastle to ditch science courses.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    The Tories are in meltdown

    Howard set to lead Tories to new low Immigration card fails to pay off as meltdown looms Gaby Hinsliff, political editor Sunday January 30, 2005 The Observer Michael Howard is the most unpopular opposition leader approaching a general election since Michael Foot, according to a new poll which will spark fresh Tory alarm. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    37% would vote for Lib Dems if they had realistic chance

    The problem with voting for the Lib Dems, according to the results of many polls is the fact that many who would like to vote for them do not believe that they have a realistic chance of gaining a majority in the house of commons, and therefore forming a government. This article contains the results of yet another poll, where 37% of people have said that they would vote for the Lib dems if they believed they had a realistic chance of forming a government. If that percentage of people did vote for them, then they most likely would form a government, although like many governments before them, would not clearly have a mandate, as they would still have received less than 50% of the votes cast. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Greens reject "terror" proposals

    Greens reject new terror proposals 27th Jan 2005 Green Party Chair urges home secretary to think again

    Home secretary Charles Clarke yesterday put forward new proposals needed to fight global terrorism after law lords ruled that the detention of terror suspects without trial breached human rights. Hugo Charlton, Chair of the Green Party, today rejected Clarke's solution to the alleged terror suspects problem. He said: "The introduction of executive detention, even in your own home, is unacceptable in a modern democracy, much as it has been for the last few centuries in this country.
    Continued at above link...... See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Reports Iraq election turnout at 72%

    According to this article this afternoon, about 3 hours ago, the turnout for the Iraqi elections was reported to be at about 72% of registered voters:

    National turnout in Iraq's historic elections is estimated at 72 percent of registered voters by 2 p.m. (11 a.m. British time), a far higher figure than most expected, the country's Electoral Commission says. Officials told a news conference turnout was 90 percent or more in many Shi'ite areas. The polls are due to close at 5 p.m. Commission official Adil al-Lami said nearly 99 percent of polling stations had opened around the country, with only a few not able to open for security reasons or because of a lack of staff. Around 13 million Iraqis registered to vote in the elections -- around half of the population. Some eligible voters did not register, due to intimidation or because they were boycotting the polls.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Prescott plans will cause "irreversible environmental damage"

    Prescott home plan will 'ruin environment' By Geoffrey Lean and Severin Carrell 30 January 2005

    John Prescott's plans for green "sustainable communities" in Britain will cause irreversible environmental damage, two authoritative reports have concluded. A powerful parliamentary committee and a top Blairite think-tank have both found that the Deputy Prime Minister's £22bn housing plans will endanger the Government's bid to tackle global warming, increase the transport crisis and lead to water shortages.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    The torture documents

    A selection of documents received by the ACLU relating to torture and abuse See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    US likely to block Britain's "Marshall plan" for Africa

    It seems the regime in washington is very likely to block Gordon Brown's debt relief package for Africa, seen by many analysts as a way to help relieve poverty, and conflicts in the continent. (of course not supplying arms to African nations would also help)

    George W Bush will emerge as the major obstacle to Britain's ambitious proposals for a new 'Marshall Plan' for Africa this week as the world's finance ministers converge on London for the G7 summit. With troops mired in Iraq, and Bush under pressure to reduce his vast budget deficit, Washington is reluctant to commit extra cash to relieve the plight of Africa.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Pollsters in Iraq treated with suspicion

    Apparently, pollsters operating in Iraq are treated with suspicion by both sides in the ongoing war there, according to this article at SFGate:

    "In Iraqi society, they're not used to seeing people knocking on doors asking people what they think about politics and the government," said the former professor of business administration in Baghdad. "That's why many of my employees have been jailed and beaten." They also have been taken hostage by insurgent groups, accused of spying for the Americans and for their violent opponents and banned by militia groups in both the Kurdish north and Shiite south.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    US troops cannot win against "insurgents"

    According to this article in the Telegraph, a senior US military officer has said that the "insurgency" in Iraq is "resilient", it may last for a decade, and that US troops alone cannot defeat them. That is a big admission for a US military officer to make, considering the number of US troops in the country:

    "Undoubtedly, insurgents are going to attack polling sites with suicide belts wrapped around them,'' Gen John Abizaid of US Central Command told an American newspaper. Another senior officer disclosed that 400 Iraqi civilians, officials and security officers had been killed so far this month as part of a campaign of intimidation against voters. He said that insurgents had stepped up their attacks on polling stations, with 45 targeted on Friday alone.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Tsunami death toll almost 300,000

    The death toll from the tsunami disaster, according to this article in the Independent is now almost 300,000. Apparently, a warning system has now been agreed on:

    As the official tally of the dead and missing from last month's tsunami climbed above 298,000, delegates from 43 countries meeting in Thailand yesterday agreed to set up a regional early warning system that might prevent such a massive loss of life in the future. The news came as the death toll from the disaster continued to rise relentlessly. As predicted in last Sunday's IoS, the numbers who will eventually be listed as killed by the wave now seem set to exceed 300,000. The British totals are 54 confirmed dead, and 194 missing.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Survey: 70% of Afghans victims of war crimes

    According to this article in the Washington Post, a survey has discovered that about 70% of Afghans questioned said they had been victims of crimes against humanity:

    The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, an internationally mandated body, found that 500 of 2,000 people interviewed in focus groups said they had relatives who had been killed and 400 said that they or a relative had been tortured. The group's chairwoman, Sima Simar, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, presented the report to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and called for greater accountability.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    135 children died because of fighting in Iraq since July 2004

    Fighting kills 135 children Antony Barnett Sunday January 30, 2005 The Observer

    One hundred and thirty five Iraqi children have been killed in fighting or terrorist attacks in the last five months of 2004, official figures reveal. For the first time the Iraqi Ministry of Health has released its analysis of the rising death toll among civilians in Iraq. It shows that between 1 July 2004 and 1 December 2004 more than 3,200 Iraqi civilians were killed in total as a result of military activity, either by Coalition forces or insurgent attacks
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Irish students no longer wish to visit America

    I know several people who've said that although they had planned to visit America, under the Bush regime they have absolutely no wish to put money into the US economy while they are in charge: Irish students declare war on their US rite of passage

    Ireland’s youth is so out of love with America that the number of students applying for a summer visa scheme has halved within a year. As he embarked on a tour of universities and colleges last week, James Kenny, the US Ambassador, said that recapturing Ireland’s youth was “hugely important for us” and admitted that a wave of anti-Americanism was stopping many students visiting the US. Referring to a slump in applications for the J1 summer visa programme, from 6,500 in 2003 to 2,800 last year, Mr Kenny said: “We were pretty disappointed. What we hope to do is get the numbers back up to where they were previously to 2004. I hope that we can make it easier and more welcoming for people.”
    I'm sorry Mr Kenny, but as long as fundamentalist extremists are in charge of your country, then your visitor numbers won't be as high as they were before. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Former foreign secretaries say Britain should leave Iraq in a year

    According to this report at the BBC, two former foreign secreatries, Robin Cook, and Douglas Hurd have wrote to the Times stating that a prolonged occupation of Iraq would cause increasing levels of violence in the country, and that foreign troops should be withdrawn by January 2006. The Lib Dems' foreign affairs spokesman also put his name to the letter.

    Mr Cook and Lord Hurd, writing with Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell, said Britain and the US cannot ignore the "mess" they have created in Iraq. But nor can they solve tensions between different groups within the country, they said.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    "We have to work on the basis of fact"

    No wonder the US wants to get rid of the head of the IAEA, he has according to this article, stated, in relation to claims made about Iran that "We cannot work on the basis of belief, we have to work on the basis of fact". Oh, Mr El Baradei, why do you have to go and spoil things for those fundamentalist extremist blood thirsty warmongers who base all their decisions on their "beliefs"? See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Halliburton will pull out of Iran after contracts completed

    According to this article in the LA Times, Halliburton will apparently pull out of Iran after its current operations are wound down:

    The Houston-based company, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has been criticized for its work in Iraq, where it is the largest private contractor with revenue totaling more than $10 billion. The company is under investigation for possible overcharges for fuel and food services connected to its Iraq contracts.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Mixed turnout reports and violence as Iraqis begin to vote

    Iraqis Vote in Election, 27 Die in Attacks

    At one polling place in Baghdad, soldiers and voters joined hands in a dance, and in Baqouba, voters jumped and clapped to celebrate the historic day. At another, an Iraqi policeman in a black ski mask tucked his assault rifle under one arm and took the hand of an elderly blind woman, guiding her to the polls. In Ramadi, U.S. troops coaxed voters with loudspeakers, preaching the importance of every ballot.
    ......
    By midday, however, several dozen people were voting in Samarra and several hundred people — mostly Kurds — were voting on Mosul's eastern side, witnesses said. Yet in Baghdad's mainly Sunni Arab area of Azamiyah, the neighborhood's four polling centers did not open, residents said.
    ......
    In the most deadly attack Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a polling station in western Baghdad, killing himself, three policemen and a civilian, officials said. Witness Faleh Hussein said the bomber approached a line of voters and detonated an explosives belt. In a second suicide attack at a polling station, a bomber blew up himself, one policeman and two Iraqi soldiers. In a third suicide attack at a school in western Baghdad, three people and the bomber died, police said. And in a fourth, at another school in eastern Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed himself and at least three others. Another four people died in other suicide attacks. Three people were killed when mortars landed near a polling station in Sadr City, the heart of Baghdad's Shiite Muslim community. In addition, two people were killed when a mortar round hit a home in Amel, and a policeman died in a mortar attack on a polling station in Khan al-Mahawil south of Baghdad.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Saturday, January 29, 2005

    A catalogue of war crimes

    Ever since the Bush regime declared that pre emptive strikes should become part of US foreign policy, there has been widespread anger throughout the world at how a "civilised society" could carry out war crimes in the name of a battle of "good against evil". Breaches of international humanitarian Law, and of the Geneva conventions now appear to be the rule rather than the exception: Doctors Without Borders charges U.S. failed Iraq hospitals BOMBS FALL ON BABYLON Apr 3 2003 Anton Antonowicz And Mike Moore Report From Inside Babylon General Hospital After the cluster bombs Published: 24-Oct-2003 By: Lindsey Hilsum Australian pilot gives thumbs down to US bombing order 24.03.2003 By GREG ANSLEY Australia correspondent US is legally liable for lost Iraqi treasures Allied use of cluster bombs illegal, minister admits By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor 30 May 2003 Iraq's Child Prisoners Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-run Prisons in Iraq Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq Navy seals torturing Iraqis Torture and abuse is not isolated, it is widespread UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Proclamations are not enough, double standards must end More than words needed this Human Rights Day US shooting at ambulances and closing down hospitals Rahul Mahajan [URL] Sun 18 Apr 2004 FALLUJAH NAPALMED Nov 28 2004 US uses banned weapon ..but was Tony Blair told? By Paul Gilfeather Political Editor Fallujah: What Sort of Criminal Monsters Bomb Hospitals? by Kurt Nimmo Civilians killed in bus shooting in Iraq's Ramadi 21 Nov 2004 17:24:22 GMT Source: Reuters

    Blair, a traitor and war criminal

    It seems a long, long time ago now, but in 2002 Blair stated that he was willing to pay the "blood price" to cement his "special relationship with the rogue regime in Washington. But, of course, he was not going to pay that "blood price" himself; instead he would send others to die for Bush, and his friends. On the 24th September 2002 Blair and his cronies released the first of 2 of those infamous dossiers on "Iraqs Weapons of Mass Destruction". However, by July 2003 the Foreign Affairs committee had ruled that this dossier had undermined the case for war because it contained material plagiarised from a 12-year-old graduate thesis found on the Internet. In January 2003, Blair endorsed the second dodgy dossier. This second dossier according to the foreign Affairs Committee gave "undue prominence" to a claim that Saddam's troops could deploy chemical and biological weapons at 45 minutes notice. In February 2004, a shameless Blair tried to blame the media for "exaggerating the importance" of the 45 minute claim! It also contained an incorrect claim that Iraq had recently sought significant quantities of uranium in the African nation of Niger. Indeed, Iraq did not even have to go anywhere to buy uranium, it had its own uranium mines which inspectors visited in 2002. The Hutton inquiry which was later held to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a top British expert on WMD,Dr David Kelly failed to address properly the issues of high level orders to tamper with one of the dodgy dossiers. Instead, it decided to direct its criticisms toward the BBC. It is quite clear from the facts that Blairs endorsement of both of these dodgy dossiers means that he was either extremely incompetent, and was not aware of the facts at the time; or he deceived the British people. In either case, Blair should have done the decent thing and resigned. On the 23rd January 2003, Charles Kennedy the leader of Britains 3rd placed political party asked Tony Blair in the House of Commons if there were any circumstances in which Britain would not support US military action in Iraq. Of course Blair failed to answer the question as he had already decided despite what he was saying to the contrary that Britain would be involved in Bush's pet project. Therefore he lied to the House of commons and the British people that no decision had been made to attack Iraq before the vote had been taken in parliament. In March 2003, a 28 year old woman, who worked for the British GCHQ was arrested on suspicion of contravening the Official Secrets Act, because she dared to whistleblow. The GCHQ woker was just one of many working throughout Britains intelligence community unhappy at the push for war led by the regime in the US. Britons were startled to learn that the US was spying on UN members to "give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals..." By June 2003, after the mainstream media had begun to do its duty and reported on some of the inconcistencies in the arguments offered on both side of the Atlantic for attacking Iraq widespread legal opinion was that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. By November 2003, even a so called "hawk" loyal to the Bush regime, Richard Perle stated that the US breached international law when it decided to invade Iraq. By September 2004, Kofi Annan, the UN chief stated what the majority of people around the world also believed, that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. On the 2nd March 2004, the Legal Action Against War group submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to ask they investigate offences committed by Blair, Straw, Hoon and Goldsmith. Also in March 2004, it emerged that the US had told Britain to get legal opinion to back the invasion and occupation of Iraq after British government advisors had warned that invading the country would be illegal without the explicit backing of the UN through a second resolution. Britain has signed up to the International Criminal Court, however the US under the rogue regime has not. The Bush regime believed that they should not be subject to international law or any prosecutions for human rights violations carried out in Iraq. By this stance alone, Blair should have said no to Bush. Blair has now subjected not only himself to possible prosecution for war crimes, but also the British troops. Blair has through his deceit created a dangerous situation where if there was a real threat to this countrys interests, if he were to try to inform the British people of that threat he would not be believed. (And is there any wonder?) Blair needs to be impeached in the interests of British national security.

    "Good" against "Evil"

    According to Bush, upon launching his crusades he declared they were engaged in a fight of "good" against "evil", in that ever so familiar knuckle dragging style. Well I hardly think what his regime has condoned so far equates to anything approaching good whatsoever. Take a look at some of the following links, and read about the "good guys" for yourself: Timeline of US Torture in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq In a March 2003 legal memorandum, Bush administration lawyers wrote: "In order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign" the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority." US torture: the exception or the rule? Over and over again the public is assured by the military, the government and the corporate media that these are extreme acts carried out by a few bad apples and are universally deplored. These crimes will be rooted out and stopped, they say, through scrupulous military inquiries, congressional hearings or even a special commission. Suddenly forgotten is the role of the media after September 11. It whipped up a climate of racism and actively encouraged torture as a necessary part of the "war on terror." The senior editor of Newsweek, Jonathan Alter, helped open a public campaign with a commentary entitled, "Time to Think about Torture," published in the magazine on Nov. 5, 2001. CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others then picked up the theme. US military 'still failing to protect journalists in Iraq' Iraq: dozens of journalists and media workers have died during the conflict Independent journalists operating in Iraq face arrest and even torture at the hands of the US military and the authorities are failing to act on promises to do more to protect them, news organisations have warned. Iraq TV will be Top Target A CLAIM that television transmitters in Iraq will be amongst the first targets in the attack has been made by Euro-MP Chris Davies. He fears that military strategists will aim to win the propaganda battle before they win the battle on the ground. "Truth is always a casualty of war," said Mr Davies. "A news blackout will be imposed because those responsible will want to ensure that people in Britain hear talk of smart bombs and limited 'collateral' damage, not see pictures of innocent people being mutilated by our weapons. Speaking on Irish radio, Ms Adie claimed that a senior Pentagon officer had threatened to fire on independent journalists in Iraq using satellite dishes to transmit their reports First documentation of alleged torture jolts Chile A massive official report containing 35,000 testimonials of alleged political imprisonment or torture during Chile's long right-wing dictatorship caused a stir Wednesday when President Ricardo Lagos received it, the first government-sponsored recounting. The Duke University-educated Lagos, a socialist leading a centrist coalition, is the first Chilean president to investigate fully and seek redress for victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, which began Sept. 11, 1973, with U.S. help and lasted until 1990. US should be held accountable for actions "He’s faking he’s [expletive] dead,” says the marine in the video, pointing his rifle at the head of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. The frame freezes, but the audio continues with the sharp crack of a rifle. “Well,” says one of his companions, “He’s dead now.” The military is investigating the alleged execution and likely will report that this was an isolated incident, and that the marine, rightly or wrongly, made a questionable decision under the unimaginable stress of combat. And Americans will be shocked at the scene but relieved that it was only an isolated incident. Just like we were after the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Just like we were when an army reservist unit refused a convoy mission. Just like we were when American soldiers were charged with forcing Iraqi detainees to jump off a bridge into the Tigris River. The problem is, after a while, all these isolated incidents cease to be ... well, isolated. The Road to Abu Gharib: Paved With the Legal Opinion of Alberto R. Gonzales As Gonzales followed this line of thinking, he ran into a problem: the War Crimes Act. That U.S. statute criminalizes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, whether or not the prisoner is a POW. Gonzales worried in his memo that "it is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsel in the future." Therefore, he concluded, a presidential determination not to apply the conventions "would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution." This part of Gonzales' memorandum makes clear that the Bush administration, as early as January 2002, was planning on using (or already had used) interrogation techniques that it thought might constitute "inhuman treatment" and violate the conventions, thereby opening itself up to criminal prosecutions. In fact, as we now know, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did authorize techniques for use against prisoners in Guantanamo that would never pass muster under the Geneva Conventions. These techniques of interrogation were then brought to Iraq in the effort to "Gitmoize" interrogations. The scandal of Abu Gharib was the result. Can multinationals be held accountable? In a San Francisco courtroom, a trial is underway that will determine whether a multinational corporation can be held accountable in the US for alleged human rights abuses committed in foreign countries. The test case pits the energy giant Unocal against a group of 14 poor Myanmar villagers and charges that in the 1990s the Myanmar government forced the villagers to help build the $1.7 billion Yadana natural gas pipeline in eastern Myanmar. According to court papers filed by the plaintiffs' lawyers, the Myanmar military forced villagers living along the pipeline to build roads and army camps and carry heavy loads miles through the jungles. The military shot workers who moved too slowly and even used them as human mine sweepers. Unocal hired Myanmar troops to provide protection for the project, but it denies any knowledge of human rights abuses. "Unocal is going to have to stand before a jury of 12 people and defend the despicable conduct which literary destroyed the lives of tens of thousands," said Dan Stormer, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture It’s not enough that Rumsfeld and probably Bush not just tacitly condoned but actively encouraged studies of optimal torture regimes, creating a climate in which undeniable and disgusting torture was used against Iraqi civilians, including children. And at Guantanamo (more). Even they at least had the hypocrisy to attempt to do the Iraq torture planning under wraps. (Hypocrisy being “the tribute vice pays to virtue”.) Meanwhile, at home, being too delicate to torture domestically, the Administration quietly subcontracted the job to Syria. (See my post almost exactly a year ago, Maher Arar Affair: What is the Pluperfect of ‘Cynic’?.) US silent on torturing children The Pentagon says around 60 teens, "primarily aged 16 and 17," are still being detained, though unnamed sources at the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command (CentCom) said some prisoners are as young as 14 years old, according to Scotland's Sunday Herald. The British Ministry of Defense also admitted that it had interned minors, and that one was still in custody. Torturing children A German TV magazine called 'Report Mainz' recently aired accusations from the International Red Cross, to the effect that over 100 children are imprisoned in U.S.- controlled detention centers, including Abu Ghraib. "Between January and May of this year, we've registered 107 children, during 19 visits in 6 different detention locations," said Red Cross representative Florian Westphal in the report. The report also outlined eyewitness testimony of the abuse of these children. Staff Sergeant Samuel Provance, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib, said that interrogating officers had gotten their hands on a 15 or 16 year old girl. Military police only stopped the interrogation when the girl was half undressed. A separate incident described a 16 year old being soaked with water, driven through the cold, smeared with mud, and then presented before his weeping father, who was also a prisoner. Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who first broke the story of torture at Abu Ghraib, recently spoke at an ACLU convention. He has seen the pictures and the videotapes the American media has not yet shown. "The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking," said Hersh. "And this is your government at war." White House Counsel Gonzales' Role in Torture Scandal Merits Close Scrutiny As part of the confirmation process, Amnesty International calls for the full disclosure of any unpublished measures, directives or memoranda authored by Mr. Gonzales or his staff that discuss the legality of "disappearances," torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or extrajudicial executions. The organization would also welcome an absolute and unequivocal statement by Mr. Gonzales, that in accordance with US and international law, he opposes torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances, including war and any other public emergency. U.N. Report Slams Use of Torture to Beat Terror No country can justify torture, the humiliation of prisoners or violation of international conventions in the guise of fighting terrorism, says a U.N. report released here. The 19-page study, which is likely to go before the current session of the U.N. General Assembly in December, does not identify the United States by name but catalogues the widely publicised torture and humiliation of prisoners and detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. troops waging the so-called ”war on terrorism.” The hard line taken by the United Nations comes amidst the controversial appointment of a new U.S. attorney general, who has implicitly defended the use of torture against ''terrorists'' and ''terror suspects''. Salvadoran says US school tied to torture Activists and members of Congress have tried unsuccessfully for years to close down the facility on grounds that it has trained some Latin American military members who have been implicated in acts of torture and genocide. The Army has contended that the overall worth of the training program justifies continuing the school's operations. Mauricio and his caravan expect to join about 10,000 protesters, among them the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest from Lutcher, who has been at the head of the protest effort since 1990 and has done time in prison for his efforts to shut down the school. Members of the Colombian military are now studying at the institute, said Mauricio, who fears that, in attempting to maintain public order in their home country, they will maim and slaughter Colombian civilians and fighters, replicating Salvador's experience in the 1980s. (find out more about the School of the Americas here.) US military in torture scandal Use of private contractors in Iraqi jail interrogations highlighted by inquiry into abuse of prisoners Julian Borger in Washington Friday April 30, 2004 Torture Policy SLOWLY, AND IN spite of systematic stonewalling by the Bush administration, it is becoming clearer why a group of military guards at Abu Ghraib prison tortured Iraqis in the ways depicted in those infamous photographs. President Bush and his spokesmen shamefully cling to the myth that the guards were rogues acting on their own. Yet over the past month we have learned that much of what the guards did -- from threatening prisoners with dogs, to stripping them naked, to forcing them to wear women's underwear -- had been practiced at U.S. military prisons elsewhere in the world. Moreover, most of these techniques were sanctioned by senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Iraqi theater command under Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. Many were imported to Iraq by another senior officer, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller. Abuse, torture and rape reported at unlisted US run prisons in Iraq American legal investigators have discovered evidence of abuse, torture and rape throughout the US-run prison system in Iraq. A Michigan legal team meeting with former detainees in Baghdad during an August fact-finding mission gathered evidence supporting claims of prisoner abuse at some 25 US-run detention centers, most of them so far not publicly mentioned as being embroiled in the Iraq torture scandal. US hires private jet to take detainees to be tortured More is known about the Gulfstream, which can carry 14 passengers. Movements detailed in the logs can be matched with several sightings of the Gulfstream at airports when terrorist suspects have been bundled away by US counter-terrorist agents. Analysis of the plane's flight plans, covering more than two years, shows that it always departs from Washington DC. It has flown to 49 destinations outside the US, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba and other US military bases, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan. The CIA interrogated and roughed up Iraqi prisoners in a "romper room" The CIA interrogated and roughed up Iraqi prisoners in a "romper room" where a handcuffed and hooded terror suspect was kicked, slapped and punched shortly before he died last year at the Abu Ghraib prison, a Navy SEAL testified Monday. Blood was visible on the hood worn by the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, as he was led into the interrogation room at Baghdad International Airport in November 2003, the Navy commando said at a military pretrial hearing for another SEAL accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners. Further abuse at Abu Ghraib detailed WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They include incidents in which a female prisoner was sexually humiliated by US military intelligence officers and a male inmate was shot at to force cooperation. Pentagon rewards generals, corporations tied to Abu Ghraib scandal Instead of reprimands or dismissals, one general tied to the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison will probably receive a promotion and another has been recommended for a new command position. At the same time, both US corporations with direct ties to the abuse scandal have been rewarded with lucrative contracts valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Monster of a lawyer Alberto Gonzales, on the other hand, possesses one of the most twisted minds the American legal system has ever produced. If Bush gets his way, the nation's chief law enforcement official will be a man whose warped interpretation of presidential power, contempt for due process and gleeful deconstruction of fundamental human values puts him at odds with every patriotic American. Gonzales is the author of the infamous August 2002 "Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," a legal opinion issued while on his current job as White House Counsel. The 50-page "torture memo," which provides government interrogators justification to torture suspects in the war on terrorism, isn't just another memo. It's a benchmark position paper, a document that Administration figures from Bush and Rumsfeld down to CIA (news - web sites) interrogators at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib still rely upon to protect themselves from possible future prosecution for war crimes. First and foremost, Gonzales argues for a definition of "torture" that omits the most commonly used tactics banned by the Geneva Conventions. (Gonzales calls Geneva as a "quaint" anachronism.) To qualify as torture, he writes, the agony "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Abuses previously banned by the Army--"pain induced by chemicals or bondage, forcing an individual to stand, sit or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time, food deprivation, mock executions, sleep deprivation and chemically induced psychosis," according to The Washington Post--are now A-OK, according to Gonzales. As long as Bush orders it. Even the extreme mistreatment Gonzales still calls "torture," says Gonzales, is permitted--up to and including the death of the victim. This is because a post-9/11 torturer "would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by...Al Qaeda." The military's judge advocate generals (JAGs), not known for squishy liberalism, say that Gonzales is nuts. "It's really unprecedented," says a senior military attorney. "For almost 30 years we've taught the Geneva Convention one way. Once you start telling people it's okay to break the law, there's no telling where they might stop." Gonzales' torture memo has already cost the lives of innocent--i.e., never convicted, never charged and likely totally unconnected to terrorism--detainees. Two Afghan detainees died in U.S. custody at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan during the same week of December 2002; though their deaths were ruled homicides, no one has been charged. In April 2004, a captured Iraqi general was murdered by "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia." The Pentagon (news - web sites) says that there have been at least 127 homicides of POW detainees. Taking his cue from the Nazis' "führer principle," Gonzales posits that Bush, by virtue of his "commander-in-chief authority," can authorize torture. But American law doesn't include any such concept.

    Bush has made the world more dangerous

    According to a BBC World Service poll, 58% of those questioned, and 16 out of 21 countries' citizens polled say that the "re election" of Bush has made the world a more dangerous place. From this article:

    Only three countries - India, Poland and the Philippines - out of 21 polled believed the world was now safer. The survey found that 47% of the 21,953 people questioned now see US influence in the world as largely negative, and view Americans negatively as well. None of the countries polled supported contributing their troops to Iraq. "This is quite a grim picture for the US," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), which carried out the poll with GlobeScan.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts"

    Britain doesn't want to get dragged into another US led war

    Straw Fears UK Being Sucked Into Another US War Simon Tisdall, The Guardian

    LONDON, 29 January 2005 — When the UK foreign secretary, Jack Straw, met Condoleezza Rice in Washington this week, he did not ask whether the US had plans to use military force against Iran. And the new secretary of state did not offer to tell him. “The issue was not raised once by either side,” Straw said afterward “It was not on the table.” His lack of curiosity seems odd given recent reports, privately confirmed by US officials, that Special Forces commandos operating inside Iran had identified targets for future airstrikes.
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    Many Fallujans will ignore elections

    In scarred Falluja many will ignore election

    "This election is clearly an American game. We fear that the Americans, knowing that people here are not willing to vote, might force us to," said lawyer Abdul Latif al-Dulaimy, 50. "This of course will make us hate them more. The streets of Falluja are still red with the blood of innocent people that they spilled in November." Falluja, a Sunni Arab city 32 miles west of Baghdad, was the main insurgent stronghold in Iraq until a U.S. offensive drove most guerrillas out after a fierce battle. Most residents fled ahead of the battle, which left much of the city in ruins. Some have begun to return. But as elsewhere in Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland, most of them are suspicious of the polls and even those who want to vote are afraid to do so.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Bush says Iraq elections will not end violence

    Of course the elections in Iraq will not end violence, only a fool would consider that they would. Especially considering that many people will not be voting at all, some are being intimidated into voting, some intimidated into not voting, and many who will be voting won't know who they are voting for or what they stand for. These elections can hardly be described as "free and fair". See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    UK election battleground seats

    This is an interesting article in The Times:

    The only thing that is predictable about the forthcoming general election is its unpredictability. Labour faces challenges not only from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the minority parties but also from their own supporters’ apathy. The Tories are targeting Labour seats but must cover their own backs against a Lib Dem surge. Here three Times writers report on three key battles: Bethnal Green and Bow, where a pro-war Labour MP is involved in a four-way fight; Windsor, where the Conservatives’ reputation for sleaze has spread deep unease; and Birmingham Hall Green, which Michael Howard needs to win from Labour if he is to overturn Labour’s majority and become Prime Minister
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    Iraq war will sway some voters

    I've said in the past, and i'll say it again, because a significant number of Blair's own MP's were and are against the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, it cannot be said that Blair will have achieved any mandate whatsoever for his "shoulder to shoulder" stance if he does happen to gain a majority in the commons, I think that Blair may well get a majority of somewhere between about 75 and 130 seats, however, all of that majority is then swallowed up by the number of anti war MPs.

    Some 62 per cent of those asked said their vote would not be swayed by the war to oust Saddm Hussein from power. But the Ipsos RSL poll found 61 per cent of respondents thought it was the wrong decision for Britain to go to war with Iraq; a third supported the decision. Of the 4,000 people surveyed, 18 per cent of voters - who previously backed Labour - said they would switch to the Liberal Democrats at the election, widely expected to be held in May. Only nine per cent said they would support Michael Howard's Conservative Party; 13 per cent said they would opt for other parties. Six per cent of Labour voters said they would decline to vote at the next election in protest over the Iraq war.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Australian Guantanamo detainee has strong case for compensation

    I'd say he does, after having that torture and abuse inflicted upon him, and being held for 3 years without any charges or legitimate trial:

    Greens Senator Bob Brown has called for a full inquiry into Mr Habib's imprisonment. Senator Brown says the case is an indictment on the failure of the United States and Australian governments to recognise the international rule of law. He says Mr Habib is now a free man and should not be under watch. "Mr Ruddock's talk about constant surveillance is to try to continue the presumption of guilt rather than innocence under the law," Senator Brown said. "It's this reversal of law and Australian standards by Mr Ruddock and Mr Howard that we need to keep under surveillance." But federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says there were valid reasons for Mr Habib's incarceration. "He was in Afghanistan by his own admission and he trained with Al Qaeda, according to people who participated in Al Qaeda training camps," Mr Ruddock said. "That is not an offence under our law before July 2002. "But if it occurred since July 2002 it would be a matter on which he would be charged."
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Robin Cook to help Blair in election run up

    I have in the past considered Robin Cook's resignation in protest at the illegal invasion of Iraq as a noble action. However, it appears he is now willing to assist Blair gain power again. Robin Cook is throwing his principled stance on Iraq out of the window, and according to this article, helping to woo Labour voters back to the fold. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    A dodgy dossier on Guantanamo Britons

    I say this so called "dossier" is dodgy of course, because any so called "evidence" gained by torture and abuse cannot be classed as legitimate:

    The US Justice Department documents include claims that at least one of the men was taught how a jihad group works and was given instructions on how to use weapons and destroy vehicles. Similar allegations have previously been denied by the lawyers and families of the former prisoners, who were held for up to three years at the Cuban naval base as suspected terrorists. Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbasi, Richard Belmar and Moazzam Begg say they were tortured while in captivity. The Pentagon describes the four men as a continuing security threat, but they were freed without charge after being questioned on their return to Britain.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Where to vote, and who to vote for?

    Those are question facing millions of Iraqis: WHERE DO WE VOTE AND WHO ARE WE VOTING FOR? Jan 29 2005 From Chris Hughes In Camp Abu Naji

    IT has been hailed as Iraq's first "free election" for more than half a century. But when they wake up to their first taste of democracy tomorrow morning, some Iraqis won't know where to vote or who to vote for. A few even admit they don't know what a vote is.
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    No to a global tax

    The poverty issue cannot be solved by the implementation of a global tax, it has to be resolved by leaders courageous enough not to pander to the interests of big business and lobbyists, leaders should not supply arms to conflict zones and relief efforts should focus on education, ethical trade and debt relief.

    Fears of widespread vote fraud in UK general election

    According to this article in the Guardian:

    The government says there are very few prosecutions for electoral fraud, but the Guardian has established that criminal inquiries are under way in Reading, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire into allegations of theft of ballot papers, forged votes and personation, which involves filling in ballots in the absence of the voter. Many inquiries involve allegations of organised vote-rigging on a huge scale during last June's local elections in ar eas where the government piloted all-postal ballots. Other cases involve traditional ballot box elections.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Tories and Labour face a "trust gap"

    A substantial majority of voters do not believe that either Labour or the Conservatives would form an "honest and trustworthy government".

    The latest YouGov survey for the Daily Telegraph finds that 66 per cent of voters believe that Labour is "not honest" and 58 per cent of voters believe the same for Conservatives. Opinions on Labour appear more polarised with 24 per cent believing they are honest, with only nine per cent as 'don't knows'. The Conservatives, by contrast are trusted by 22 per cent but there is a significant 20 per cent who 'don't know'.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Blair and Howard face Mancunians

    The Manchester Evening News is asking its readers whether they'd like to ask Blair and Howard any questions, I could think of a few:

    Tony Blair is coming to the city and he has agreed that a handpicked group of M.E.N. readers can question him face to face on the issues of the day. A week later, the other big player in the "phoney" general election campaign - Conservative leader Michael Howard - will also take part in a question-and-answer session with our readers. To get the chance to meet Mr Blair or Mr Howard all you have to do is ring 0161 211 2465, and tell us who you are and what question you would like to ask. The Editor will then select the readers to meet the two leaders.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Minister says council elections should not be about party politics

    According to this article in the Guardian, a minister has indicated that he believes council elections should be more about a local authority's performance, rather than party politics.

    Asked about the impact of local government league tables on voter choice, Mr Raynsford said it had influenced some local election outcomes and overriden party politics. "It has helped to inform the public and that gave an added weight to the voice element," he said. "I do not think local government has been well served in the past to vote on party ticket irrespective of performance. It has been particularly so for councils that run their council well who are voted out of office because their party is unpopular nationally." Asked if he was saying that the electorate should vote for a council based on performance rather than party lines, Mr Raynsford cautiously agreed.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Poll finds lack of knowledge of, and opposition to EU constitution

    According to this report in The Guardian today, a poll has found that only half of Britons have heard of the EU constitution, and that 30% of my fellow countrymen and women oppose the constitution:

    The poll, carried out among 1,300 UK voters last November, shows that 30% of Britons oppose the constitution and only 20% support it, amid widespread ignorance of its existence, let alone its contents. Only Sweden, split 25% against and 27% for, approached the UK in closeness to rejection. Across the EU, 49% are in favour and 16% against, though a third of the 25,000 polled had never heard of the treaty and only 11% claimed to know its contents. Support was highest in Italy (72%), Belgium (70%) and the Netherlands (63%), traditionally the most pro-European of the original six members to sign the first Treaty of Rome in 1958, although a more recent Dutch poll showed declining support. Britain joined in 1973. Pro-Europeans fear the constitution could be voted down in France, Denmark, Poland or the Czech Republic before the UK votes, but yesterday's survey indicated healthy majorities in all four, notably France (48% to 17%).
    Click here to see what the EU constitution says See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Iraqi death toll figures uncovered

    The BBC has apparently obtained information from the Iraqi ministry of health, which confirms suspicions that US led forces are responsible for many Iraqi civilians' deaths, according to this report:

    The data covers the period 1 July 2004 to 1 January 2005, and relates to all conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries recorded by Iraqi public hospitals. The figures exclude, where known, the deaths of insurgents. The figures reveal that 3,274 Iraqi civilians were killed and 12,657 wounded in conflict-related violence during the period. Of those deaths, 60% - 2,041 civilians - were killed by the coalition and Iraqi security forces. A further 8,542 were wounded by them. Insurgent attacks claimed 1,233 lives, and wounded 4,115 people, during the same period. Insurgents have typically used car bombs to target Iraqi security forces, killing many civilians in the process. Attacks have multiplied in the run-up to the election on 31 January.
    And, those are only the figures from July 2004 onwards. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    The CIA's ghost prisoners

    CIA's 'ghost prisoners' spark rights, legal concerns

    "Ghost prisoners have had their identities and locations withheld from relatives, the International Red Cross and even (the US) Congress," according to US human rights lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Although the US spy agency does not disclose where it is holding its ghost detainees, several locations have been leaked to the US media: Bagram air base in Afghanistan (news - web sites), the remote island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and in a restricted zone at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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    MPs will revolt over house arrest plans

    The Clarke initiative to introduce house arrest in Britain for both foreign "terror suspects" and British nationals as "terror suspects" have quite rightly caused some controversy. Blair & Co cannot consider these plans to be a forgone conclusion, and many MPs will oppose the plans:

    Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats have decided how they will vote on the measures and say they are waiting to study the details. But Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said he was "extremely concerned" at the threat to include families. "I'm worried Charles Clarke is sounding over-keen on the use of control orders. These shouldn't be treated as anti-social behaviour orders." Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights pressure group Liberty, said: "In a country of suspects not citizens, even the children will not be presumed innocent. At least the Home Secretary is beginning to honestly set out the full, chilling logic of his new proposals." Robert Marshall-Andrews, Labour MP for Medway, said: "I think there will be a narrow majority in the Commons if the Government attempt to push it through and it will fail in the Lords. If they do, there will be one of the most sizeable rebellions in Labour ranks, not least because it will be electoral suicide."
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    Bush regime propaganda campaign scandal deepens

    Bush payola scandal deepens as third columnist admits being paid Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington Saturday January 29, 2005 The Guardian The Bush administration was confronted with fresh evidence of a far-reaching clandestine campaign to influence public opinion yesterday after a third conservative commentator admitted receiving payments for championing its policies. Michael McManus, a newspaper columnist, was paid up to $10,000 (£5,300) to praise the administration's marriage initiative, which diverts funds from welfare to marital counselling, the Los Angeles Times reported. Continued at above link...... See all recent "A Logical Voice posts

    Expat Iraqis going to the polls

    Expat and exiled Iraqis going to the polls See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    US troops intimidating Iraqis to vote

    Apparently, US troops are intimidating Iraqis into voting. According to this article, the US military is engaged in a campaign to conduct hosue searches as well as inform Iraqis that they "should go out to vote":

    Heavily-armed troops jump out and begin searching homes as loudspeakers blast in Arabic: "On Sunday you should go out to vote. Vote to give freedom to Iraq. Vote to save Iraq." A soldier hands out fliers to a group of untidy children. In the heartland of Iraq's insurgency, American soldiers are trying to combine fighting with getting out the vote. It's tough on both fronts. Several leading Sunni Arab parties are boycotting the poll and Islamist militants have threatened to kill anybody who casts a ballot. It is too dangerous for election workers to hit the streets. Suddenly, the whistle of a grenade pierces the air and a loud explosion shakes the ground. The soldiers fire back before returning to their armored vehicles and the convoy speeds away.
    Hardly "freedom and democracy" in action. See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Owellian tracking technology to be tested in US

    According to this article, the US is to test an Orwellian id chip technology on foreign visitors to the country:

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to begin issuing special identification devices to foreign visitors arriving by foot and by car by July 31, according to a Tuesday announcement from the agency. The devices will contain microchips storing a unique identification code that's linked via government computers to document holders' names, countries of origin, dates of entry and exit, and biometric data.
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    Labour MPs targeted by pro hunting lobby

    According to this article at the Craven Herald, pro hunting campaigners are vowing to unseat Labour Party MPs:

    According to the Sunday Telegraph, husband and wife Charles and Chipps Mann have unleashed a political crusade, infuriated by the hunting ban which is due to come into force at midnight on February 17. They have so far attracted the support of 5,000 volunteers who have been directed to help Conservatives, and in some cases Liberal Democrats, topple Labour MPs in certain areas. Mr Prentice, who is a vehement opponent of blood sports, has held his seat since 1992 and has been an influential figure in getting the hunting ban on the statute book. At the last general election in 2001 he had a majority of 4,275 votes over the Conservative candidate.
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    3 in 4 Sunnis won't vote

    According to this report, 3 in 4 Sunnis will not vote in the Iraqi elections:

    About 76 percent of Sunnis say they "definitely will not vote" in Sunday's elections, according to the poll conducted by US-based Zogby International for Abu Dhabi television. Only nine percent of Sunnis say they will cast ballots. Conversely, 80 percent of Shiites, Iraq's majority group, and 57 percent of Kurds say they will "likely" or "definitely" vote. Zogby polled 805 Iraqi adults from January 19-23 throughout Iraq, including the cities of Baghdad, Hilla, Karbala and Kirkuk, as well as the provinces of Diala and Anbar. The survey has a 3.6 plus or minus percentage-point margin of error.
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    Israel trains Saudi Royal Guards

    This is quite surprising, apparently Israel has been training guards for the Saudi royal family:

    The bodyguards have trained at a private security facility in Israel's Negev desert. The training included protecting convoys from attack, escaping ambushes and the protection of VIPs. Three bodyguards, said to have been German nationals, completed a weeklong training course at the Counter Terrorism Training Center near the southern city of Rahat. The course included 23 foreigners, including bodyguards for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
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    "Of course you're going to get torture"

    ‘Of course you're going to get torture' By NATHANIEL WEST, Staff Writer CHARLESTON -- To understand the torture led by U.S. troops in Iraqi prisons, one needs to look at America's prisons and culture of violence, said an expert in crime and punishment during a presentation Wednesday at Eastern Illinois University. "It's the outsourcing of torture, the outsourcing of abuse," said Stephen Hartnett, co-author of the book "Empire of Deception: The War in Iraq, Globalization & The Twilight of Democracy." Hartnett, associate professor of speech communication at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, said the use of former guards and administrators from U.S. correctional institutions at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq contributed to the abuses that have undermined America's international credibility. Continued at link...... See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Beijing wants unity talks

    According to this article, China has indicated (again) that it wants unity talks with Taiwan:

    Jia Qinglin, a member of the Communist Party's ruling Standing Committee, offered no new initiatives. But he made an effort to sound conciliatory, saying Beijing would negotiate with any Taiwanese leader who agrees that the two sides are "one China" — a condition that Taiwan's president has rejected. "We're open on who to negotiate with and what to negotiate," Jia said at a government ceremony, according to a summary of his remarks read to reporters by Wang Zaixi, a Chinese Cabinet spokesman.
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    The children of Iraq

    The children of Iraq See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    Iraqis vote in Britain

    For the first time in about 50 years, Iraqis have been going to the polls to vote in the elections, unfortunately many of them won't be aware of who they are voting for, and on the reports I have seen many appeared to be confused about what the various lists stand for, however, some were happy to take part:

    Relatively few of his compatriots, however, registered to vote. There are an estimated 250,000 Iraqis in the United Kingdom but only 30,961 took part in registration proceedings at three polling stations: in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Voting continues until 5pm on Sunday. Because of problems about checking identities, no postal ballots were allowed. Those who did arrive at the Wembley conference centre, in north-west London, were reluctant to leave the festive atmosphere. "I'm so happy," said Juliette Antabil who fled Baghdad with her husband and children in 1993. "It's like I'm coming to a wedding. I feel free now. It feels like Baghdad in here. I just want to cry. Everyone has been so nice to us. I'm 47 and this is my first election ever. There were no elections under Saddam." She proudly displayed the purple stain on her finger which shows that she had voted. The election overseas has been organised in 14 countries by the International Organisation for Migration. "People have shown a great deal of commitment to the process," said Sarah Fradgley, the organisation's press officer. "We have recruited 600 polling station staff and tried to ensure there's an Arab, Kurdish and English speaker on each voting booth." Ali Naser Al-Khwildi, an election volunteer, said: "Some people are crying when they vote. Arabs and Kurds have been shaking hands and there's been dancing. Unfortunately some people are away on the hajj [pilgrimage]."
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