Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Born of Amerika and loose in Whitehall. Condi hits the UK and parliamentarians run in circles. Comment below.
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Another brick in the wall

Alito Confirmed By Senate

Conservative Samuel Akito has now been confirmed as the latest right-wing appointment to Amerika's supreme cout - a legacy that will outlast the Bush administration itself. He is expected to be sworn in later today in time for Bush's annual procrastination on the state of the union. Expect the word "strong" in the speech but don't believe it for a second.

The wife of Martin Luther King passed on today. The other half of a civil rights partnership, the King legacy has been considered a lot in recent days following Amerika's annual memorial day. The message of King and his wife is more apt now than ever.

Here in London, Condi's come to town. For perceptive media watchers this has resulted in a transformation in the body language of our foreign secretary, Jack Straw. Whilst Blair is in usual show-off mode, Straw seems to have taken to performing like an excitable schoolboy in her presence. It would be comical save for the implications.

Today's Independent newspaper has a profusion of interesting stories. The world according to Bush is a good starter. The diffrences between the UK and the US in handling the Afghanistan opium problem is another.

On the web front CBS have a useful report on the worm due to hit your computers this Friday. Be prepared.

The EU are beefing up their biofuel strategy which might explain why the price of sugar is rocketing. Is sugar cane the future oil one asks?


Monday, January 30, 2006

Our planet - the Amerikan view. Nice graphic courtesy of AlterNet.
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The top 10 you didn't get

Censored News Stories

No epic musings today, just the link above to find out the main stories you missed last year. Good resource.

But also ...

Exxon Exposed movie. Nuclear posturing for the end of the petroleum age. Amerika standing on the brink and behind the domestic psy-ops and progranda.

From Italy, an interview with Hamas' leader via OpEd.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Grabbing insurgent wives

U.S. Troops Held Insurgents' Wives to Get Husbands to Surrender

A quick link above to the LA Times with a report seemingly not covered elsewhere and suggesting Bush is up to even more illegal war tactics. Since Amerika can't find all the so-called "insurgents" its after, it has developed a new ploy - kidnap and detain their civilian wives in the hope the husbands' will surrender. This is another violation of the Geneva Convention.

Also read here for the State of Crooning-On from the emporer's mouth.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Quick wit, slow thought!

Trying to Maintain Control of the State, in a State of Confusion

Dana Milank at the Washington Post (link above) analyses the 7000 words delivered yesterday by Bush and summarises them in four. "I am the State". Telling.

They should better have stayed silent. Within minutes of the result, Bush, Blair, Israel and others were up and agitating in response to the Hamas victory. That it was a well-organised, corruption-free, peaceful example of democracy reflecting the popular vote seems already lost on those who normally obsess on promoting that very thing. We are also hearing a lot of nonsense based on paranoia and the intransience of rightious attitude.

If, during WW2, a Brit had advocated the abolition of Germany, he or she would probably have been deemed to be a true patriot, but it is doubtful that anyone would have taken seriously the prospect that the geographical entity would be totally wiped off the map in a post war scenario. In resisting invaders on their land, Hamas may have adopted slogans and advocated extremes, but in reality there is currently a state of general ceasefire with the enemy. Morover, such proclamations as they may previously have made have not been part of their electoral campaign and there seems no reason to suggest that as a government they will do more than settle in to managing and rebuilding the infrastructure of their non-occupied territories.

Hamas themselves would now be wise to conduct themselves as a political party and abandon their paramilitary activities. As the party in power, they have no need of a partisan force - they are effectively in charge of a state where a non-partisan mininstry of defense can be used to address border disputes and the like. Most Palestinians, despite the rhetoric, concede that Israel will always be their neighbour and don't even demand it return to the confines of its original borders. All they demand is a withdrawl from territories occupied since 1967 - the areas of incursion that have given rise to hostilities in the recent past.

Provided Palestine be granted its righful statehood and its border restored, there could be a peaceful solution to troubles in the area. It should also be possible for those currently living in illegal settlements to remain where they are - they would simply be jewish residents in Palestine. In an era of global economy and communications, the issue of which country one lives in should be of less and less consequence - especially given that jews and Palestinians have much in common and have sucessfully lived side-by-side elsewhere.

Both states and the international community need to realise that all this should be settled according to law. The United Nations needs to uphold that law - even if it means taking retroactive decisions they failed to address when they should have. The UN's unwillingness to be an impartial arbitrator in the middle east can be seen as perpetrating an injustice that has subsequently led unwarrented conflicts elsewhere. The whole world could be a safer place again were this core issue addressed at its source.

As for the self-syled leaders of the "free" world - if they stopped procrastinating and preaching for a while, they might find their beloved democracies can take care of themselves.

One of those leaders is our very own prime minister. Last week Channel 4 treated us to a cute little docudrama of the year when, aged 19, a young Tony Blair to time off from his education to dabble in the world of rock 'n' roll and new counterculture. The programme could have been better and had parts of the real history kept "under wraps" but was still a source of some amusement. If it told us one thing, it's "once a prat - always a prat!" Behaviour that is somehow overlooked in the elder man looks incredibly shallow when seen in the youth. "Dabbled" really is the word.

"One - check the money.
Two - prepare the show.
Three - get ready.
Now - go Tony, go!"


"Back down easy,
turn around slowly
- now try it again"


"Back down easy,
turn around slowly
- now try it again!
(Remembering when ...)


<<< Insert loop here >>>

Truth be told, when it comes to education, he might be better off recalling Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall", but that's for another day.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Democracies for the world - "democrises" for Bush

Changing the Drug War Debate

The ape emperor's promotion of democracy must be coming back to haunt him. He may have stolen the electoral vote that brought himself to power, but things can't be corrupted quite so easily in less complacent parts of the world. Yesterday's rise of Hamas to true political power will probably have the White House incumbant running for an extra dose of anti-depressants.

Some reckon he might be running for the old Bolivian Marching Powder too - but surely not? After all, that comes from another source that's misfired. Evo Morales democratic election is another blow to the rape of South American resources.

The headline link above actually leads to an article about re-defining the "drug war". Amerika may scowl, but Morales (as in "morals"?) actually intends to eradicate the cocaine trade. What he does want to do however, is use the natural product formerly synthesised into that chemical, as a legitimate crop already integral to his country's economy. In other words, as with fuel resources, he seeks to redeploy a previously hi-jacked infrastructure to serve the interests of his nation. His democratic mandate to do so is a threat to Amerika's imperial power of interference. The coca plant has myriad uses over and beyond the manufacture of cocaine and it is on this that Bolivia seeks to capitalise.

As Britain is now forced to send even more troops to Afghanistan, there is a lesson to be learned here. Post Amerikan invasion, that country has been a minefield of instability with no solid economic direction. It too has been reliant on the export of "contraband" goods - ranging from the relatively innocent marijuana plant through opium and heroin production. Trying to wipe out this pervasive industry is a pretty futile quest, especially where no adequate replacement can be offered. A future democratic government in Afghanistan would logically seek to redeploy cultivation and manufacture of these existing resources to beneficial ends. An emphasis on the hemp plant would be a good idea - it can be used to manufacture "paper", rope and all manner of other things. Were it not subject to draconian prohition elsewhere, the female marijuana plant could be a controlled export crop. Opium too as many traditional uses, mostly in medicine. If legitimate uses for the plant could be established, the production of heroin would probably diminish of its own accord as new market demand took over.

This would all be bad news for the huge "underground" criminal corporations that now operate the global black market for illicit drugs. With their suppliers incorporated into the mainstream economy, sources would dry up. With less product available, the market would gradually implode. The "war on drugs" would become easier where dangerous products are concerned - especially if legal alternatives were available to customers. These legal alternatives could be the sort of thing both Bolivia and Afghanistan might produce.

There is no simple solution of course. It can be argued that the black market would continue by offering potential suppliers higher prices than legitimate industry can pay, in turn charging their customers higher prices and increasing criminality among users desperate to feed their habits. But were drug use itself to be addressed as a social problem divorced from criminality, serious addictions could be treated with pure and unadulterated products newly available from authorised suppliers. The "war" would not be won overnight, but as a model for re-appraising the futile policy of trying to "police" a hidden growth industry it is worth some thought.

The human demand for recreational intoxication will never go away. Relying on alcohol alone (itself a very dangerous drug) as an avenue for such escapism is leading to violence and anarchy in an increasingly stressful 21st century society. Probibiting tobacco smoking in an air full of petro-chemicals and other hydrocarbons is just the latest hypocritical ploy by government to convince us they are really concerned about public health. All the signs suggest that goverments of the developed world are trying to engineer their populations into docility and an anti-progressive mindset. They think the "total absorption" of television and new media will keep us comfortably numb. They forget that the disenfranchised who cannot subscribe will find their own escapes. So too will the social pioneers of each successive generation who grow up bored with the norm. If those escapes involve the herbs and chemicals the planet provides, it will be no surprise. It is the continuation of an ancient human legacy.

Accomodation of diversity is better than the prohibition of dissent. This applies as much to nations and cultures as it does to individuals. Otherwise we'll always be at war - abroad, at home or within ourselves.



No, Prime Minister!

Independent UK Politics

There is a junk-food dessert that it's advertisers used to describe as "heavenly". Maybe it's no surprise then that Tony Blair seems to have a fondness for "Instant-Whip" recipies where policy is concerned. The link above leads to a short report about some civil service e-mail leaks that suggest home secretary Charles Clarke is less than happy about accepting such hastily contrived decrees from number 10.

As Shami Chakrabati says in the closing paragraph ...

"This shows the intelligence agencies are not going to provide cover for a political decision and good for Charles Clarke because he can ee an illegality waiting to happen."

Which leads me to something I don't normally do - advocacy rather than comment. Channel 4 News are currently running their annual "Political Person of the Year" contest and as usual the public have nominated the obvious suspects based on media coverage. There is however, one shing light - Shami Chakrabati, the head of civil rights organisation "Liberty" who I've just quoted above. Please do her a favour by casting your vote for her. The link below will launch your email program with everything neatly filled in for you, so there's no excuse!

Do It Now. (Please don't vote more than once or they'll cancel your vote completely.)

Plus a comment on our whale here. Gone but not forgotten. It's also "Back To Reality" for Respect MP George Galloway as he leaves the "Big Brother" house to face the music in what may now become a "Big Bother" all round.

Following yesterday;s comments on the Palestine elections, it now appears that Hamas may have actually "won" the popular vote - which changes everything.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Straddling the Great Firewall

The Google Censorship Controversy

No link here, just some comment on features that hit the UK television news tonight. Everyone leads on the new censored Google portal in China, despite the fact that none of them cared to give coverage to the equally important issue of Google combating the US government data requests. There is too much talk about nothing here - Google's main search engines are probably the best on the web and worldwide. Yet search via their UK portal and you get results that are more local and advertising pitched to UK readers. The new China portal seems very similar. Those that know how to bypass the Great Firewall will continue to do so, but the average local web user in China will probably prefer censored results. Why? Not because of the censorship, but because it will be easier to use - listings will not include links that the communist state blocks anyway, so surfing will be faster with less "dead ends". Google are really just improving their local service and as China itself opens up slowly, so will the local engine.

The BBC's local London news featured an item on Camden. This is a London borough renowned for its market area and entertainment facilities - street life has been at the fore of its reputation. Now they have a rather absurd idea for combating the drug dealers who gravitate to the area to service those markets. The focus, despite home secretary Charles Clarke's recent decision not to do a legislative U-turn on the issue, is on that milder herb, marijuana. Moststreet trading in this product does involve the stronger variety known as "skunk", but dealers are so prevelant that the police cannot address every instance - especially where the evidence will usually amount to little more than that covered by the definition of "personal use". So the local council has taken another approach.

They are using their CCTV hub to monitor activities themselves and are subsequently issuing ASBOs (Anti-social Behaviour Orders - a civilian imposed measure) on anybody suspected of dealing on the basis that their street activity is a nuisance. For those on the receiving end, this involves a ban from the local area, which (conveniently for Camden) simply shifts the problem to adjacent boroughs. Those boroughs are not altogether happy with the consequences.

A council spokesman turned up on the programme to try putting on a favourable pitch. Fortunately, Andy Cornwall of the Cannabis Education Trust was also on hand to point out the folly and suggest they could solve the problems far more easily by creating licensed premises where these small-time suppliers could move inside and do their business privately.

Harking back to yesterday's comments on prostitution, it was this same borough (Camden) that thought it could tackle that problem by shifting those involved off the streets of King's Cross and other areas. The result? The profession moved across the local borders, leaving the central hub of the station area for residential areas where the perceived "nuisance" was even greater. Once again - all right for Camden, but damn the neighbours. If a council itself can be so un-accomodating to those around it, they can hardly complain if their own population mimic the practice in microcosm.

More grim looks in the White House. Early results now suggest that Hamas may have grabbed a very large sector of the vote in Palestine. Their community and infrastructure work, together with the technological aid they have provided to the people, has almost certainly counted for a lot. Three words for Bush and Israel - this is democracy! So stop meddling!

Lastly, Tony Blair has come up with yet another not-so-bright idea. A few days back I published links to news stories on the proposed privatisation of "drop-in" GP surgeries for busy city workers and the like. Today we learn he wants them in Tesco stores and other supermarkets too! (GPs are our regular family doctors here in Britain.) It's supposed to be something to do with the convenience factor and presumably the fact that megstores now sell more drugs than traditional chemists. The main idea appears to involve these new surgeries renting space within the stores in the same way coffee shops do, but they haven't discounted the idea of supermarkets "employing" doctors and nurses directly.

The conflict of interest should be obvious - prescriptions written for in-store products and, worse still, advice that doesn't include the dangers of the store's products. In the latter case, that now includes almost every foodstuff and pollutant imaginable. Of course, a conscientious GP might take the oportunity to examine your shopping bags and insist you return 75% of the products to the till, but somehow I can't quite see that!


Please allow me to introduce myself ... Say hello to the data vampire. See below.
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After Subpoenas Some Pause

Internet Searches Give Some Pause - New York Times

The above leads to a concise piece in the New York Times where some internet users give response to the recent US government subpoenas on search engines. It is the simple answers that betray the problems. When you walk, CCTV sees you but there are too many of us to monitor. An argument here, for example, suggests that when you search the data is recorded but remains such microscopic in the huge volume of information that individual monitoring would be near impossible. I'm not so sure. CCTV is a physical thing - it can be recalled where specifically needed, but there is not enough manpower to monitor everything from a set location. Data is altogether a different thing - it is an essentially non-physical form of information that can be filtered and analysed at incredible speed by powerful computer engines. The search companies are themselves the example - combine them under an even more powerful government software and the threat is very real indeed.

As I write, radio news has just broken that Google, despite their current stand-off on the US subpoena, have agreed to censor their search engine in China. Maybe there is a limit to what they can resist after all.


Journal of a Futurist

The Future this week

A double dose from Richard Neville. The link above leads to his first journal entry for the brand new year, "Singing the Song of those that feed you" illustrated with some fine artworks from the China exhibition currently at the V&A. There also also links there to revised versions of articles he's recently published elsewhere and his blog is newly updated too. All good reading.

This link to an article in Slate discusses blogs that have withdrawn their posting facilities after an onslaight on offensive postings. On a related front, I am increasingly pissed off here with postings from what seem to be a new incarnation of the dreaded "spammers". Basically, they post a sentence saying how much they like the blog (having quite obviously not actually having read it!) then paste in the usual unwanted advertising copy. If you find any of these in the comments section, please bear in mind they are nothing to do with me and can only be deleted when I get round to doing a full blog edit. This posting and picture posts are done "on-the-fly" live and added automatically - one of the beaties of the blogging system.

I use similar automation techniques for the "latest clicks" listing (see left for link) which explains why the order sometimes gets scrambled. They should be chronological, with my absolute latest links at the top. Enough of the tech ...

Here in the UK, today's Independent reports that police are now using "stop and search" powers given to them under the new anti-terror laws on around 100 people each day. In most cases, it seems, without due cause. See here.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How long can Google hold out. Let's hope this is not the future. See below. Cartton from Slate.
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Google Robot FAQ

Last update: November 1st, 2030

As Google continue to stand alone in opposing US government requests for information, here's a little light relief in an increasingly dark landscape. Appearances aside, the above link is not quite what it seems.


As the elite of Washington fall over themselves in an effort to distance their affairs from the army of lobbyists, one has to wonder if those in government are not truely the biggest "prostitutes" of all. By co-incidence, a highly appropriate cartoon from today's Slate.
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A defaced poster of Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten outside his own constituency. Oaten resigned his political position and candidacy for party leadership last week when it was revealed he had an affair with a prostitute. Worst still - a male one! But exactly what is so wrong about prostitution anyway? See below.
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Two's company, three's still illegal

Cunst Art on Prostitution

When, last week, our government saw fit to pronounce once again on matters relating to prostitution, I resisted comment. Not because it is a contentious subject nor even because it is hypocritical (are not they themselves "prostituting" themselves in satisfying the lusts of commerce and industry?) but rather that it is an issue that touches on so many other areas that an immediate response is near impossible. Matters of human trafficing, sexual slavery, exploitation of and violence against women, drug dependency and public nuisance invoke one response. Matters of individual freedom, the (particularly women's) right to choose and the profession's historical legacy as an avenue of both sexual education for the uninitiated and as a source of comfort for those who cannot find it elsewhere raise a different response entirely.

In many respects it needs a womens' take (for women are the majority of those involved) to tackle the questions and the link above by Caroline Coon and Amber Marks goes some way to addressing them.

It is often said that prostitution is the world's oldest profession. As such, whatever the official decree of religious and political "overlords", it can hardly be considered illegal. It services basic human needs and has of times even provided a social and economic infrastructure for those who chose to live outside the norm and confines of conventional marriage. Arguments that prostitutes are "exploited" (which of course sometimes they are) are generally counterbalanced in circumstances where the prostitutes themselves admit that they "exploit" their clients. There is no easy absolute. Nor is it confined to women - there are plenty of men who services the needs of both women and other men. Witness the fate of Liberal Democrat contender Mark Oaten last week.

In the 21st century, prostitution is booming. The manic rush of modern society means that more and more people have less and less time to spend away from the endless quest for power, money and consumer trinkets. It is hardly surprising that they seek quick solutions for sex and companionship - they do so for virtually everything else. Government and its corporate paymasters are wholly complicit in this - their own desire for the totalitarianism of social engineering and the clinical manipulation of the population is a boon for anything offered quick escape from the daily grind. There is little difference of purpose between those who seek out prostitutes and those who seek out the tribal companionship of regressive religions or the false reality of the televisual propaganda machine.

In an odd, half-arsed attempt to look accomodating on the inevitable, the government has decreed that two prostitutes and a receptionist can work in premises without being defined as a "brothel". Big deal - no business model could accept such restrictions on expansion. Better they legalised all "brothels" and legislated for health and safety measures instead. So ingrained is the legacy of prostitution that I suspect the majority of people realise it will always be with us. What Preacher Blair and his cronies seek to mobilise is that old "not on my doorstep" mindset of the suburban isolationist voter. It is like trying to swat a fly by stomping on it with heavy boots. Futile - and another waste of public money.

My only real concern is for those who are driven to prostitution unwillingly. The worst case is those women who smuggled into this country on false pretenses and then enslaved in the trade. Then there are those for whom it is the only economy in which they can survive given the absence other work and of anything more than basic subsistance income from the state. On top of this is the final tragedy of those who seek to numb the reality of their fate by using the kind of drugs on which they become ever more dependent - the cost of which forces them lose the majority of an income, which if saved, might just have allowed them to to one day escape their plight. If our government were at all concerned by this, they would be tackling the underlying social issues rather than pursuing the all-too-easy headline news with procrastination and empty doctrine.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Military may have killed our whale

Britain, UK news from The Times

This morning's Times, link above, suggests that the UK military may have sent the London whale up the Thames as it swam away to escape military testing. Residents in Kent report that activities from Tuesday to Thursday last week resembled a "war zone" with offshore "detonations" cracking floors, windows and ceilings in local homes. This would certainly have been more than enough to disorientate and scare the shit out of the poor creature. One also wonders if its injuries were also a result of those events.

Also in the Times, the vague logic of British law. A woman who hired a hitman to kill her has sucessfully sued him for failing to do the job. Weird - it's here.

Alternet report on how the hub of empire, Amerika itself, has been left behind by the broadband revolution. The main reson seems to be greed. See here. Britain too is plagued by the high price of what this article refers to as "21st Century electricity" but in our case takeup has been pretty high. Edinburgh is currently experimenting with a public access broadband wireless network and the trials are slated to extend elsewhere later this year. My own area, Kensington & Chelsea (London) will be among them, so with luck I'll be able to give first-hand reports.

I may moan about beaurocracy but I'm not sure this is a solution. The Independent reports that the government is waking up the trend now prevelent in the commercial sector - outsourcing. Whitehall propose to axe tens of thousands of civil service jobs bu switching their call centre operations to India. Communication and attitude problems with foreign telephone operators are becoming legendary and many private companies are re-examining the wisdom of this policy in public relations terms. Whether the government is simply behind the times as usual or whether this is a strategy to make access health, safety and welfare departments even more difficult remains to be seen. It certainly won't help with the demand for immigrant labour, since those opportunities are largely for work that demands a physical presence. More than likely it's just another Blairite "bright idea" that hasn't been thought through for long-term effect.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Clandestine in Palestine

U.S. Funds Enter Fray In Palestinian Elections

A notable story in the link to Washington Post above. The ape emperor must be seriously doubting the wisdom of promoting the notion of democracy to achieve his ends, since elections in both Latin America and the Middle East are backfiring with a vengence as polls produce governments which do not quite suit Amerikan ideals.

Given that the root of so much international discontent lies with Israel's illegal occupation of its neighbouring territories, local pride (if nothing else) will ensure that an authentic election will produce a government intent on doing something about the state of affairs. The jewish state, like contemporary Amerika, seems to believe it has the divine right to take over anything it pleases - indeed, their policies are both interlinked. That Amerika is using underhand tactics in an attempt to engineer a situation that will result only in the "illusion" of a true democracy is symptomatic of their own desparation to implement a "hidden" agenda which is becoming rapidly all-too-visible. With luck, Palestinians will see through the subterfuge in making their choice at the ballot box.

Following my last blog on Friday, I went down to say hello to our whale. I've seen dolphins and all manner of sea creatures, but never a whale. It was an opportunity not to be missed. Sadly, it died around 7pm (UK time) last night. My own photos didn't really capture the spectacle. The subject moved far to fast to snap easily and I really needed a zoom lens. The memory will however remain with me.

Something rather disturbing was the media coverage of this. Four helicopters hovered above the scene with television cameras focused on the whale and the small flotilla of boats surrounding it. What I saw in the flesh and found completely absent in the news coverage, was the constant traffic of huge barges lugging containers up and down the river, seemingly oblivious to these events. The noise and water disturbance they created can only have increased the stress levels of such a sensitive creature. The self-congratulation in the pitch of the media reports was contrived - the crowds were not nearly a vast as implied (I had more than enough space to myself on the riverback beside the whale) and there was clearly no will to disrupt the usual industrial activities to better ensure the creature's welfare. More sad than heartening in my view.

Also in the UK, news has broken about the DNA database of "juveniles" - previously held without their knowledge and regardless of whether they have been involved in criminal activities. This may not be direct "surveillance" but a simple excercise in maths reveals the danger. The teenage generation in question will soon be adults and suceeded by a new generation of teenagers who will be recorded in a similar manner. Within the span of a few decades, intimate details of almost all the active population will be on an information network held by a civilian police force. Everywhere we go, virtually anything we do, we leave traces of our DNA behind us. It can be transmitted by touch. Criminals on the database can be identified almost immediately - but so can anyone else who may have excercised their freedom of movement in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Permission for this activity has not passed through parliament and legislated for. Nor should be be.


Friday, January 20, 2006

A whale of a sight

No link here yet but try the BBC. As I write there is the extraordinary sight of a rather large deep sea whale engaged in water activities outside the House of Commons. Having swum up the Thames to parliament, one wonders if it might be there to protest about pollution.

In their ignorance, the TV newsfeeds are still refering to it as an "animal" wheras it is actually a "mammal" of a species known to have a degree of intelligence. Sadly, it doesn't have the words to communicate with us. A rescue attempt (eviction) will be underway shortly. It is a remarkable sight.


US demands internet records

U.S. Obtains Internet Users' Search Records

This is a direct follow-up from my early morning musings. As the above link reports, Google may be resisting calls to hand over information to the Bush imperial database - but Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo seem to have no such qualms. Nor is there any comfort for those of us living outside Amerika - these are global search engines that operate beyond national boundaries.

Just how long Google can battle alone against this conspiracy only time will tell. For now, you can be sure I'll be restricting my searches to a route free of data highwaymen.


Communication Shakedown

Feds Seek Google Records On Porn

It's gone midnight here in Britain. I was about to annouce a late blog but the witching hour has passed. I was offline most of yesterday so still have to catch up on late news.

This quick link above reports on the Bush government's attempts to get hold of data from Google - a major threat to our privacy that is being "vigourously contested". The issue is not one concerning pornography at all - that is simply the excuse. A precedent here would effectively be a back door to total surveillance. Google need the most support they can get on this - their own business interests are under threat, but in reality our own freedom is under even more threat.

This is hot on the heels of Blair's education secretary finding herself in hot water over sex offenders working in UK schools. As usual, the rabble-rousing breed of press have jumped on the bandwagon and stirred up a load of paranoia about child molesters and the like. One of the teachers in question seems to have done little more than download a packet of pictures, only one of which was remotely suspect and probably accidental. My own spambox is deluged every day with invites to view "hot rabid teens" (or somesuch) in all manner of wholly unattractive activities. Once in a blue moon an odd one gets by the filters and if opened accidently will, of course, copy that content to my cache. Twice infact, since I also connect to the internet via my own proxy server. Browser pre-fetch handlers also mean this stuff can come down the line without my having seen it at all. So - am I guilty of some crime for having been invaded by material I have not even seen and have no want of? If the criteria described can get me a "caution" which itself would put me on a sex offender's register, it would seem so. Frightening.

Since the time of 9.11, I have kept an eye on signs of excessive surveillance by Blair's government. The sad fact is that it is police, security services and civil servants to conduct such mischief and the legacy of such practices will, if allowed to take root, outlive the present government itself. It is a sad fact that activities involving child sex do plague our society. We are right to be outraged and the issue is a highly emotive one. The solution is not, however, to rally around the vigilantee cause promoted by the media in order to give a totalitarian state more ammunition with which to impose draconian measures which affect personal freedom. I have long suspected that the huge public support for catching child sex offenders has provided the government with the approval it needs to build a surveillance infrastructure that is designed to monitor far more that that which this particular excuse provides. The current dilemma simply shows how inept the system is. If such confusion, mismanagement and practical failures can exist where the protection of children is concerned, one can only imagine the false prosecutions, imprisonments and character assassinations that will ensue when that system reveals its full potential as a mechanism for the supression of civil liberties and dissenting voices.

Hey - I said it was way gone midnight. So goodnight.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Former US vice president Al Gore who delivered a highly-acclaimed bi-partisan speech yesterday - highly cricital of the current administration and their illegal practices.
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Al Gore declares constitutional crisis

AlterNet: Rights and Liberties

Yesterday also saw a major speech from Al Gore. For those with short memories, he was Vice President under the Clinton administration and knows what he's talking about.

The above link will take you to a transcript of the full speech.


Abuse of freedom's memory

Protesters at King March Oppose Air Force Flyover

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the US - a traditional time to celebrate freedom and civil rights. This link tells us that protesters were less than happy about an air force flyby and the suggestion that King would have approved of this excercise of military muscle.

Most ironic of all must be the words of the ape emperor himself, getting in on the act with the following ...

"Dr King roused the dozing conscience of a complacent nation."

One presumes the Bush copywriter in this instance has a wicked sense of humour.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Planetary ecosystem moves beyond point of no return

Independent Online Edition > Environment

The above links leads to a tragic, but not altogether surprising feature on the destruction of Gaia's lifeblood. It's today's headline news in the Uk's Independent newspaper - a worthy editorial choice.

The Galloway TV fiasco has been described by his aide as a "Worst Case Scenario" as the Respect party loses all respect. Also, as Gordon Brown annouces he has another baby on the way (keeping himself in the limelight after the weekend's "British Day" comments) a new poll suggests the English MPs do not want a Scotsman as Prime Minister in the new age of devolution.

"Violence entered my life, destroying what I loved. Because I was a victim of hate, I have dedicated my life to turn that hate into understanding, into tolerance and, why not say it, into love."
The new (female) President Bachelet of Chile.

Bachelet's election represents another move away from Amerikan influence in Latin America. This is becoming a trend, with Peru next on the agenda.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Patriotism is the last refuge ... ?

Brown's flag day divides opinion

And another link to the Scotsman above, though hardly breaking news. With Cameron enjoying the rollercoaster of Tory renewal and the Liberal Democrats deciding on their own new leader, Britain's chancellor pops up to remind us that he also has aspirations to occupy the number ten slot.

It's a nice little diversion, raising issues as it does that do not collide with anything else obvious in the current news agenda. Sadly, it fails in that it stinks of Labour's "Nanny State". In essence, "Thou shalt remember and celebrate" is not really something I want to hear - the approach is all wrong! I also suspect a hi-jacking of Rememberence Sunday to include other things would upset a lot of people, if not myself.

We do not have a constitution that provides focus for such a National Day - nor thankfully do we have the kind of facism that "demands" allegience to the flag. But Brown's reference to the latter does imply one needed change. He wants to reclaim the Union Jack as a symbol of our nation without the current association with the National Front and racist right. This itself is an applaudable quest - extreme damage to Britain's cultural identity has been done by misuse of the flag by football hooligans, right-wing extremeists and others. Given that there are restrictions on the use of the words "British" and "Britain" in the naming of corporations and general promotional excercises, it seems right that similar prohibitions should apply to our flag itself.

Provided Brown does want to reclaim it as a masthead for his own version of the New Labour project, I would support its use as a unifying cultural symbol. Provided too, that it was employed in such a way that ethnic and racial minorities who are part of our culture be able to rally around it too.


The television that demanded rescue

TV receiver sparks £20,000 helicopter rescue

A rather extraordinary story is revealed at the link above. A Portsmouth resident's set-top box accidently sent a distress signal to an RAF base nearly 700 miles away in Scotland. The resulting mobilisation cost £20,000 to conduct. In the age of concerns about the spying habits of government, one has to ask exactly what technology in the box was capable of sending such a clearly "outbound" signal.

All the news today concerns the Amerikan imperial incursion into Pakistan. Not only is this country a supposed "ally" in Amerika's phantom wars, but it is so despite the opposition of a great majority of its people. The arrogance of this attack and the subsequent murder of 17 innocent villagers has now provoked nationwide protest and raises the prospect of further isolation for the Bush Oil theft projects.

If you haven't heard, it seems that George Galloway's fee for the big brother debacle will be going to a charity for the homeless in Palestine. Not wishing to be left out on the act, Bush has publicly declared the same charity to be a "terrorist organisation", thus giving Blair more ammunition with which to discredit and maybe penalise Galloway himself. Ever increasing circles in the realm of political juveniles.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Asolute control for an absolute ass

Bush could seize absolute control of U.S. government

It may be called "domestic" policy but the guy in charge is not exactly what civilised people would call a domesticated beast. The above link discusses how the ape emporer could impose martial law in his precious homeland itself - even to the extent of employing mercenary troops to do so.

One of the more edifying facts about Bush's aspirations for world domination has been the blatent lack of manpower available for the quest. The imperial military machine may be capable of slaughtering 100s, 1000s or even millions of our fellow men and women, but it is relient on a level of detachment that leaves it ill-equipped to cope with the aftermath or, indeed, any real affairs on the ground. The majority of Amerikans may be apathetic to the huge changes that surround them, but in equally apathetic fashion there is no rush to sign up for the presidential cause - or should I say, follies. Although military recruiters are falling over themselves trying to seduce those in high school and other sources of young blood (emphasis on "blood" and blood to be spilt), a direct return of the draft has so far been avioded - probably because it would signal a level of desparation that might just trigger the kind of social unrest experienced in the 1960s.

There is of course some degree of fallback to the massive corporate conglomerates. Mercenaries can be found through the likes of Blackwater (see link article) and others could be hijacked to serve the war machine by virtue of harnessing existing employees of those companies. Like monetary collapse, that would preserve the illusion for a while, but at the end of the day would become transparent. Abroad, Bush could resort to using nuclear weapons - at home this is hardly an option. That the administration cannot cope with natural disasters or all manner of human concerns on the ground may be its greatest failing. Like so much of commerce and industry in the modern world, it is so dependent on its technological tools that it has forgotten that the art, crafts and skills of people themselves are still essential to the workings of the machine.

In the UK, it seems the Respect party leader, George Galloway, will remain incommunicado for at least another week. One can't help but wonder whether the mindless mass of big brother voters deliberately chose to keep him in the house in order to perpetrate and enjoy the shit flying around outside it. Miow!


Friday, January 13, 2006

Will Oil abandon the dollar?

The Story About Oil You Need to Hear

I've been going on about that worthless almighty dollar for some time and have just been sent this link above. It explains a lot in far plainer language than yours truely is prone to indulge, plus it gives a few new revelations on unreported Bush administration actions to hide the coming damage from public view. A must read.

In the house of big bothers, it seems George Galloway is going to regret his last career move. Forgetting the fuss about his being incommunicado and absent from both his constituants and the serious houe of debate, he has unwittingly played into the hands of those who would discredit him anyway.

I don;t care a damn about whther he wants to crawl around on all fours pretending to be a cat in an attempt to bring his political views to the masses - I'm more concerned that this behaviour will actually give cause for many to ridicule his views rather than the man himself. Labour's orchestrated campaign to discredit him in his absence is just the start of it.

The producer of the big brother programme has revealed what Galloway may not realise, especially has be was not exactly familiar with the situation he was getting into. Sure, he'll get a substantial fee for the "job" and considerably more in the unlikely event he wins. This keeps him in the house and stops him walking out deliberately to both ridicule and financial loss. The problem is he has no political platform here at all

It would be easy to discount those in the house with him as having no interest in politics, but he has tried to open conversions of interest. Unfortunately, we don;t get to hear them. Under UK law, any political comment made by him in the house has to be censored - yes, censored - simple because there is nobody else on hand to give "a fair and balanced" counterpoint. If indeed Galloway went in the place to promote his views, he clearly didn't bother to investigate the legal restraints that obviously defeat that object.

In isolation as he is, he probably still doesn't even know it yet either. More the fool. More the shame. Whether he is evicted tonight or somehow last a few weeks more, he is likely to be the butt of a thousand jokes in the real debtaing chamber for a considerable time to come.

Saddest of all is that with both Galloway and Charles Kennedy discredited, I can think of no strong anti-war spokesperson remaining sitting in the House of Commons. Whover wins the leadership election, I predict the Liberal Democrats will tone down on the issue in order the address the cventre ground. We'll see.


The legless of Whitehall

Can a lush run the country?

They may make a big hue and cry about maintaining the prohibtion of a herb like marijuana, but the lifeblood of the UK parliament seems to depend on one of the most dangerous drugs we know - namely, alcohol. Westminster's status as an den of inebriation is legendary. Ironic then that the fate of Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy be the result of his having been seduced by the mind-altering pursuits of his colleagues.

Today's headline link above leads to an interesting retrospective.

There is of course one other thing that fuels the British government. Find it here.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"What began as a miracle substance subsequently became a youth cult drug, and thus a political danger for America."

LSD Chemist Wants Drug Ban Eased

The words of Albert Hofmann as he celebrates his 100 birthday in Switzerland today. See link yesterday for a full profile. See link above for today's take at CBS.

Hofmann used the occasion to speak out against the continuance of LSD prohibition for medical purposes. He believes its use in psychoanalysis can be a therapeutic experience and that outlawing its use was a result of the political motivations of a paranoid government unable to cope with a generational shift in the 1960s.

Also, for a different take on the making of the evil empire, click here. Op-Eds also ask Why do Christians need so much "Saving" anyway? and Whatever happened to the Bush "integrity" thing? Not that we really need to ask.

HEALTH WARNING: The author suggests you use extreme caution before considering the use of LSD whilst also under the influence of bush. It may seriously damage your perceptions.


Toward the fall of imperial resources

2006: The Year of Oil Collapse?

There has been a theme to some of my recent blogs, although not wholly intentional. It is the pending collapse of the Amerikan economy and the effect it will have on the rest of the world. The data keeps coming - and so do the opinions. The above link leads to an in-depth article at Alternet and should be taken seriously whether you live in the dying empire of consumerism or not.

Admidst all the holiday programming on TV, there was a countdown of the most significant events of the last century. The 9.11 attacks, the creation of the world wide web - you name it. My own choice was not included.

In science-fiction there is an intruiging and popular theme that concerns the notion of parrallel universes or timelines. It is the idea that if, at a given point in our perception of linear time, events had taken a different course then our entire history would be different. Some contend that maybe such diversions really took place and that for each of these there exists a parallel universe. In choosing the most significant event I would apply this concept to my choice - in other words, what would life be like without that event.

In every scenario I've been drawn to events before my birth - mostly to the late 1930s and the Second World War. It would be easy eliminate the rise of Hitler from history or alternately muse upon a world where he rose and achieved his goals. In both instances, one has to question whether the US would have ever interfered in Europe or elsewhere, whether the state of Israel would ever have emerged and whether the Soviet Union would have risen to provide the only power-bloc to counter that of Amerika. It is the stuff of stories I will never write.

So my own choice of crucial event is actually the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Amerika, formerly a refuge for the disaffected of the world had pursued its own isolationist path until that moment. Then, for the first time, it was attacked on its own soil. Then, in shock, it entered the war. It also made sure everyone else knew it was in charge - largely by virtue of providing the manpower and resources needed by the ailing combat machine at work in Africa, Europe and Asia. Their involvement almost certainly helped win the war, but the help came at a very high price.

The war cost Amerikan lives and affected its economy, but unlike the fate of those on other continents, its infrastructure was barely dented. Amerikan soil remained very distant from the conflict itself. Post-war, the threat was over but the rest of the world had to rebuild itself and in the chaos, Amerika appointed itself as a supervisor of global affairs. It exported is wayward, mercenary culture around the planet, held in check only by the communist bloc and the highly ambiguous "cold war" with Russia and its satellites. So innocent and benevolant did it look that even the newly formed United nations adopted it as a safe home.

The decades that followed were a time of what we Brits call "one-up-manship" as the two superpowers taunted each other in the race for scientific advancement, idealogical prominence and military prowess. Every territory was ripe of colonisation and almost every subsequent conflict involved one or both of these two superpowers. By appealing to baser human instincts, namely greed and self-comfort, Amerika ultimately won the "cold war"and found itself dominant in world affairs, but without an "enemy" to justify continued imperial pursuits. Even the likes of "commie" China had adopted the idea of a market-driven economy and the planet's trade revolved around Amerika's almighty dollar.

By the end of the century there was a big hole in the super-structure. Capitalism was in firm control of the superficial side of world trade, but was (and is) dependent on an underlying hierarchy of winners and losers. In Amerika and other so-called "rich" nations, the increasing polarisation of those living in wealth and those living in poverty had become acute and is only hidden from view by ensuring a majority live in the illusion of "comfort". Television has become the usual opiate whilst cheap petrolium is offered as a kind of subsidised freedom. The myth of this false reality is maintained less by the political elite than the vast corporate interests that control them. For the increasingly disenfranchised and the ignorant, the same corporate mindset has repackaged mythology and religion to the point of a total distraction. Money flows, yet the continually recycled "capital" grows stale. "Buy" and "Sell" have become like binary code - the sole functions behind the ryhthm of western lifestyles. Profit is all as the civil and civic obligations of government are abandoned because they fail to "recycle" that treasured capital.

As capital is the new lifeblood of everything, so it needs to replenish itself. Having wasted the resources to regenerate its own, it is forced to become a "vampire" preying on others to survive. It pays little heed to the time when even its prey become extinct. This is Amerika today. It is also to a lesser or greater extent, the fate of all nations tied to the insidious web of Amerikan dependency. The imperial vampire will now engineer any excuse to drain the lifeblood of others - and when "enemies" are exhausted it will turn on its "friends". No wonder it want to hide the science that gives evidence to "survival of the fittest" - it is desparate to survive but unfit to do so.

So I return to Pearl Harbour. Without Amerika's intervention there is no doubting today's world would be a very different place indeed. Maybe one far worse than we can know. Yet it is worth considering what North America might have become. Unattacked it may well have purused its own course and grown into a society that better reflected the ideals expressed in its constitution. Without the cold war it may not have developed the vast military complex which costs it so much and wastes its resources. Without the Soviet Union and the state of Israel it may never have taken upon its the meddle too much in foreign affairs. Without the intent of cultural colonialism and military imperialism, it may not have wasted its huge continent-wide natural resources and may have developed a self-sustaining ecostructure. Without its involvement in WW2 it would not have the scientific pre-eminence it gained by providing a home for ex-Nazis and those in the later economic "brain drain" for the UK and elsewhere. Nor would it have gained dominion over technologies developed by others and simply stolen in the aftermath of war. Would we even be living in a world without nuclear weapons scattered around the globe?

Then again, maybe Amerika would not have been the nation that pioneered civil rights. Maybe mankind would not yet have set foot off this planet. Horror of horros, we may not even have had Rock & Roll. Too many things that actually form our known history, too many things we can never know. What is clear is that we have reached a time where the US needs to put its own house in order again. Until then, the rest of the world will increasingly seek to survive without it.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Without dollars in your pocket, what's left? For a consumer junkie, only theft! More below.
eTV Picture Post

The true cost of Bush Con Jobs

Paul Craig Roberts: Counterpunch

The author of this link muses on whether Amerika will need the International Monetary Fund to bail them out of a debt crisis. One might wonder what would happen if the IMF refused. In the free world, most are disgusted with Bush's imperial pursuits and some might question the wisom of financing the bankrupt dollar anyway.

The article also reveals that the true cost of the war in Iraq is almost 30 times more than Bush's own estimate, with dark implications for an already shakey economy.

One thing about all this does scare the shit out of me. Were we all to stop buying dollars for trade and subsequently force Amerika to face the reality of having less income than its expenditure, it is all too comfortable to predict that without available funding its military muscle would go limp. This, however, does not solve the problem an it having an existing nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the planet several times over. Were Bush forced to consider using the weapons of last resort to get his way, I would not trust him to hesitate for a second.

If the IMF or other world bodies ever needed to come to the aid of the US, then Amerika should be forced to give up both state terrorism, foreign occupation and its own weapons of mass destruction. After all - isn't that just what they are demanding of the rest of the planet! Hypocrisy is just not acceptable and if it takes the fall of their wasteful consumerist charade to ram the message home - so be it.


An appropriately psychedelic-influenced portait of Albert Hofmann - discoverer of LSD. Photo and artworking by Dean Chamberlain. See below.
eTV Picture Post

Hofmann at 100 and tripping toward reappraisal

Independent Online Edition > Profiles

LSD - the chemical discovery that changed Psychiatry forever and influenced the perception of generations from the 1950s through the hippie era and beyond. Advocates like Tim Leary are well known, but its discoverer, Albert Hofmann, less so. Tomorrow Hofmann will be 100 years old and this link to the Independent gets in early with an excellent profile of the man.

In the 21st century world of propaganda, mind-control and thought manipulation, the world of medicine is increasingly geared to the supression of individuality and the sedation of independent thought. Anything that enhances the senses or encourages intellectual self-examination is strictly off limits in the robot society.

Hofmann didn't just discover LSD - he experienced its effects with a large accidental dose. It was the trip of a lifetime that now spans an entire century. Hardly what they call an acid casualty. As with most drugs, it is the user not the chemical itself that should be the focus. As this profile points out, the is now some serious reappraisal of LSD in the area of psychiatry and therapy - maybe the human quest for a degree of higher consciousness is not dead yet.


Pulpit to Nowhere

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics

One might be forgiven for thinking that, with George Galloway incarcarated in television's on-air lunatic asylum, Tony Blair has taken up the job of leading his party.

"Thou Shalt RESPECT!"
"Thou Shalt RESPECT!"
"Thou Shalt RESPECT!"

Sadly not - he's simply trying to repeat a sermon delivered too many times before. For the catalogue of failures resulting from the same, Click Here.

Plus - exactly why would US house democrats keep quiet about Bush spying when they knew about it 4 years ago. The stench of corruption and self-interest in Washington continues here.


"You're Arab, I'll bomb ya!" - Is this Dubya?

Did Bush propose to take out Al Jazeera?

I first covered this a few weeks back, only the find the UK government imposed a reporting blackout almost the moment the leak broke. Obviously, such restrictions can only apply in the UK so its good to least reporting on the matter kept alive at this link to Slate at the Washington Post.

Published yesterday by our timing, it tells nothing particularly new but does reveal that the two persons being prosecuted for the leak are in court to defend their case today. Although British media have restrictions on publishing the contents of the leak itself, in so far as I can tell only standard reporting restrictions would apply to the court case itself. It will be interesting to see if the trial's progress and verdict are even mentioned in our homegrown news sources.


Monday, January 09, 2006

On that which never happened

The Quiet Death of Freedom

Turning aside from Amerika, this link leads to an article about Britain from the acclaimed journalist, John Pilger. The erosion of freedom suggested is insidious and he has some harsh words about recent BBC reporting. Read it.


Fall of the Red Dollar

Strangleholds on the Dollar

OpEd News are rapidly becoming my first choice of the day for political comment (Alternet now second and Counterpunch in third place) and this link proves the point with some coverage I haven't seen elsewhere.

In real times (if you disregard false manipulation of the global economy), Amerika's currency is today a pretty worthless commodity. If Suadi Arabia and China cash were to cash-in their dollar reserves for for a more stable currency, the United States economy would crumble. I recently mentioned that one of the first actions Amerika took after the Iraq invasion was to restore the local oil transactions to a system pegged to the dollar, thus artificially boosting their own currency and effectively controlling the global market for Iraq's oil production. (Saddam had favoured the increasingly strong Euro.)

Last Thursday, China took the first steps toward shifting away from the dollar as the anchor for its exchange rate mechanism. A week or so ago Iran did the same. It will be a slow decline, but if this trend continues, Amerika will be facing a real threat to its current way of life. It's military machine and consumer economy would become impotent if they could no longer afford the resources required. The fall of the Amerikan empire could come as a consequence of their own devise.

For readers in the US, check out this link, also at OpEd. You have two weeks left to protect your freedom! Also - do you know what "Echelon" is? No? Click here.


Google the good or google the bad

This editorial is copied from the latest newsletter from Info Economy as is worth reading. For longer artcicle, follow the link.

"Big bad Google
In the technology industry, only the unpredictable is predictable. In 1985, IBM dominated the IT industry and Microsoft barely registered; in 1995, Microsoft, now dominant, was scrabbling to stave off the threat from the newly emerged Netscape; in 2005, it was Google, a company that does not sell computers and gives away almost all of its software, that began to deeply trouble the major players in both the technology and the media industries.
Google grabbed the first technology industry headlines of 2006 with the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will soon begin selling video content over the Internet. Using the Google search service, visitors will be able to search for commercial video content and then download it for a small fee.
The move means that Google can now include the cable and satellite TV companies, and the innovative video serving companies, such as Apple, among those with whom it is now in direct competition.
And it confirms the fears of these and other media companies that their distribution mechanisms - such as TV channels - may soon be bypassed as viewers simply search the web for the programmes they want and download them.
Google - now with sales of more than $5 billion and growing at nearly 100% a year - is managing to freak almost everyone out. Newspaper and magazine publishers, for example, are losing vast swathes of advertisers to Google, who pick up the visitors on their way to visiting the actual content producer's site. Book publishers are suing Google over its plans to digitise their content and allow some searching and display of these texts without paying royalties; eBay, Amazon and others are worried about Google's move into transaction services; telecom services providers are concerned about Google's move into Voice-over-IP services; Microsoft and Dell are worried by rumours of a Google Cube - a low cost box that searches, finds, displays and plays but does little else.
There is, reportedly, much more to come. Insiders say Google is preparing a big move into local content, taking on the likes of Yell.com and local newspapers; there are also reports of more advanced, contextual information management services that users will be able to subscribe to. Even governments - including the European Commission - are worried that Google seems to have taken on the role of global archivist and information manager.
The extent to which all these threats will materialise is as yet unclear - but Google is unique in one key respect. Unlike Microsoft, for example, it has no constituency to protect, no installed base that it must service, no network of dealers who must be protected. Only its advertisers need to be kept happy, but there are so many of these, and Google's proposition is so strong, that their fears do not represent a major constraint on Google's expansion. History suggests that the anti-trust authorities are already watching, will no doubt start an investigation in the coming year or two, but will do little or nothing of real consequence.
What happens next? That is almost certainly likely to be the technology industry's biggest discussion point of 2006: the world of Google, competing with Google, living with Google, controlling Google, forecasting Google. The only certainty is that almost all of the analysts will fail to foresee the really next big thing - if it happens at all, that is."

Personally, I love Google - they even host this blog. There is of course a warning here, but their maverick approach and commitment to freedom of information currently shows no real sign of fading.



President Bush at Recess - New York Times

By popular request, click above link for more on those sneaky appointments Bush made during the reccess.

As I write, news has just broken that Dick Cheney has been hospitalised due to breathing difficulties. He is known to have heart problems but whether this is serious enough to knock him off the stage like Sharon is unclear.

Labour political Tony Banks' stroke has now proved fatal, so we say goodbye to an ardent animal rights supporter and strong voice in the British parliament.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

A "Case" soon to be "Heard"

The Bush Administration vs. Salim Hamdan

Ah, Sunday. Well the weekend here starts like any other day really. Having fallen, stumbled or otherwise extricated myself from bed or whatever other location and position I've fallen asleep in, I head first for the coffeee filter and than the "inbox". Or rather, the "spambox".

I subscribe to an ever-increasing number of newspapers, magazines, newsletters and links pages. Since many are mailed in bulk, I have to check the spam folder to make sure something genuine hasn;t slipped into it. Only then to I delete.
The sad fact is that, starting Friday midnight, the profusion of spam continues all weekend with junk arriving almost non-stop. 3 to 5 times the amount I get on weekdays and it is highly frustrating to sort it.

That done I move to the real inbox. Normally I read headlines and synopses rather than full articles, but since a lot of my regulars go dormant at the weekend it is when I take some time to read in more depth. Now and then there is a longer story that departs from the worldview whilst being whooly relevent at the same time and this link leads to one such.

Salim Hamdan is a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. His case will be a first for those incarcerated in the Cuban outpost and may become a test-case for Bush/Rumsfeld policy. This is his story and well worth reading. Some tangental issues, such as the nature of "Jihad" also give pause for thought. Lying somewhere between evangelism and crusade it is a notion not easily perceived in the west despite bearing an uncanny resemblence to Christian and Jewish fundamentalism. Less obvious still its that its rise is clearly the result of the western world's interference with and betrayal of Islamic cultures and their values.

In learning Hamdan's history, it was impressed on me that, despite its loose-knit and widespread structure, Al Qaeda seems to operate using a very familiar hieracharchial system of command and class divide. Hamdan may have been as physically close to Bin Laden as it's possible to be, but at the end of the day he held the lowliest rank, was concerned only about his paypacket as a driver and was also intellectually ignorant of his position in place and time. This is like penalising a chauffeur for the crimes of a missing passenger.

I hate war and violence and have nothing but contempt for those that promote it. Nonetheless, and as I've said before, "terrorism" has always been a method of warfare and not a finite thing in itself. Witness some of the activites of both ourselves and the French resistance during World War 2. The war against Amerika and its allies in the west is not at all welcome or to be condoned, but is is the end by-product of imperial interference and betrayal.

A quote in the artice reads:

Bin Laden was clear about the goals. "He would say over and over again that we must carry out painful attacks on the United States until it becomes like an agitated bull," al-Bahri recalled, "and when the bull comes to our region, he won't be familiar with the land, but we will."

Therein is the quandry. Amerika is indeed behaving like an agitated bull and has quite literally stampeded into the lion's den. Worse still, it taken half the western world in with it! The task ahead is not just withdrawl, it is to make reparations that will be both understood and beneficial to those who will otherwise be the next generation of conscripts for "Jihad". If the footsoldiers of this hidden army are given hope and the motivation to direct their energies elsewhere, the command structure of dissent will fall and a peaceful accomodation might be in sight.

That won't happen if we abandon them to the festering ruins of a raped and pillaged infrastructure - democracy and freedom are meaningless without hope and the foundation on which to build them. If Hamdan versus Rumsfeld ends in defeat for Rumsfeld, it may just send the smallest of signals that justice and conscience can still prevail in the empire of fear.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Charles Kennedy. The leader of the British Liberal Democrats who has resigned tonight under appalling media and political pressure. Goodbye Charles, we'll miss you.
eTV Picture Post

An animal trapped is at its most dangerous


From the same source as the previous items, this article notes how Bush has been summoning heavyweights from various previous administrations to ffer "advice" on how to extract himself from the current foreign policy. It is suggested he doesn't actually give a damm for any such advice - rather he wants to pretend co-operation with individuals on whom he can later "pass the buck". Given all his troubles, the fact that he used the holiday reccess of the senate to (legally for once) bypass approval of new political appointments and the creation of the new national police force heralded by many as an "Amerikan Gestapo", suggests he is following an agenda that has no intention of compromise. The totalitarian madness is so transparent that one is almost tempted to call him honest, save for that being a serious misnomer where intentions are concerned.

Scariest of all, though not considered by the writer of this link, is that now the ape emperor has no way to back out of his self-imposed prison, he is possibly at his most dangerous. Those who are finally waking up and demanding withdrawl from Iraq, his impeachment for high crimes, war crimes and other myraid misdemeanours must act quickly. Most of all, they must convince their representatives in the senate and congress to give up their financial sedatives long enough to fix a machinery of state that has entered terminal decline. The people of the USA need champions who address their needs, not the entrenched corruption of the Washington elite and their corporate paymasters.

So too to an extent here in Britain. One of the saddest aspects about the current hounding of the Liberal Democrat party leader, Charles Kennedy, is that it looks set to throw the one political force that opposed our partaking in the Bush wars into turmoil and a temporary uncertainty of direction. As a supporter of that party, I have long felt we needed a stronger personality at the head of the party, but this turn of events has all the hallmarks of a secret agenda to discredit the party and halt its ambitions on the eve of forthcoming local elections. This article holds some information that might give us a clue as to what's really up behind the scenes and suggests certain media may be complicit in the affair.

The supreme irony too is that Britain's other anti-war party, Respect, is currently disabled too. Its leader (and only MP), a certain George Galloway, has returned from extensive touring engagements in the USA only to enter the confines of the "big brother" television house. Whatever the folly (or otherwise) of this move in itself, those familiar with the programme will be aware that he has no contact with the outside world. He is thus oblivious all this Whitehall intruige and absent from the fray when his voice might be useful. Co-incidence probably, but one never knows.

Back in the US, religious mouth Pat Robertson has declared that the fate of Ariel Sharon is "god's will". Bush won't be happy about that one! The Palestinians must be very confused - a couple of decades back it was the Christians who moved in to slaughter them while Sharon directed the proceedings.

My view is that the absence of Sharon on the political stage may be no bad thing. His new centre-party has never seemed like more than a sham to give him the personal authority he needed to engineer an expaned, highly-fortified Israel to the detriment of a Palestine still struggling to achieve statehood. Withdrawl from Gaza was simply a ploy to get rid of a small unwanted region whilst grabbving more territory where he did wanted. That is served as a bit of good well-spun international PR was an added bonus. Given that his new party (without him) will probably not have enough support to form a government, the Israeli electorate will most likely end up with another coilition government. No exactly the best for stability, but preferable to one party following a criminal's agenda.

More interestingly, the departure of Sharon represnts the end of an era. His credentials have always been tied to the perpetration of a non-secular jewish state - a cause he fought for even in days preceding its formation. Whether post-war Britain had the right to cede Palestinian land to what became an expansionist occupational force is now ancient history. That land, and that land only, is now accepted by most Palestinians to be Israel's own and the future lies in co-operation not dictation. Sharon and his generation are ancient history too and the region needs new voices and new attitudes for a new era.

Israel was also one of the sadder failing of the United Nations. Not only did they fail to stop new new state illegally stealing neighbour's territory, but also turned a blind eye to the state's development of nuclear weapons. To this day, no action has been taken - yet all manner of sqawking is going on when Iran is thought to be doing the same. Even as the western world jumps back on the bandwagon to promote nuclear power, we have the audicity to prevent less developed nations doing the same. But I digress.

This link is more bad news for the future of the UN and indeed NATO. As if you hadn't guessed - Bush is withdrawing support for both.


A timely quote and a bit of newspeak

As huge gatherings for the "out of Iraq" movement take place today across Amerika (some even with republican support) this quote from the ape emperor's daddy (circa 1990s) shows just how extreme the Washington mind-shift has become.

"Trying to eliminate Saddam .. would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq ...there was no viable 'exit strategy' we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

And you can forget the Orwellian dictionary. Here's the latest bit of newspeak ...

Bush (boosh) adj. 1. of or relating to George W. Bush. –n. 1. a person elevated by money and powerful interests to a position far above his abilities. 2. an amoral, deceitful, self-righteous hypocrite: COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE 3. an inarticulate nincompoop, who believes himself to be amusing. 4. a corrupt, scheming demagogue, ruling an Orwellian world using Machiavellian principles. –v. 1. To screw up everything—completely. 2. to use the vast resources of the government to attack and malign those who oppose you.

Be sure to use it in a sentence today. (e.g., He is a real Bush.[or] Anybody that Bush ought to be in jail.)

Both the above thanks to items at Op Ed News.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow
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A hidden side to Oil profits


This link leads to a very interesting article indeed - raising also a question about the invasion of Iraq that had, I admit, totally excaped my attention before today. In essence, it relates to the fact that all international oil trading is conducted in US dollars, which means traders have to buy that currency in the first place in order to do business. With its huge debts, Amerika's money is no longer of any value in the real sense, so the Middle East suppliers were looking to do business using the newer Euro as a common currency.

Having wasted its own huge natural resources through excessive consumption, Amerika's interest can only be served by raping resources elsewhere in the world. Controlling the financial infrastructure under which such deeds are conducted obviously gives tham a lot of additional leverage in getting their way. It seems that prior to invasion, Iraq switched its exchange currency to Euros. More currently, Iran has just done the same. After the invasion, Amerika forced Iraq to return to dollar-based trading. Unknown is how they will make Iran do the same.

Here in the UK the status of cannabis legislation has popped up yet again and the government wants to reverse previous reforms after scares about the link to mental illness. Typically, they are only reading from one biased textbook. For every allegation of users suffering mental health problems, there are others of the herb being a curative for the same. As with Alcohol, different individuals react in different ways to mind-altering substances. Campaigns to repeal cannabis prohibition (its illegality is comparitively new and was only an accidental byproduct of opium legislation anyway) have been prominent since the late 1960s and in not needed them, successive governments have allowed a huge underground industry to grow. This industry has of course become entangled with other illegal trafficing and the unscrupulous behavior of some of those to conduct it.

Any significant rise in mental health problems is more than likely due to the gentically-modified variations now on the market and other (truely criminal) tampering with the product by those who do not advise consumers accordingly. It is hardly surprising either - they are only mimicing the corrupt market model used by so-called respectable industries. More here.

All this on the same day that GW Pharma, producers of the medinical pot product Sativex, get approval to conduct research in, of all places, the USA. See here. It's a weird world.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last exit closes for Guantanamo victims

Dismissal Of Gitmo Lawsuits Sought

This link to CBS News is distressing in that it suggests those detained without trial by Amerika in Guananamo Bay will no longer have any method at all to contest their imprisonment. In other words - "abandon hope all ye who enter" - whether guilty or not.

Maybe one day this godforsaken place will get a new use - a place of exile for the corrupt and criminal elite now infesting Washington.


Pay-Per-View for Freedom of Information

UK news from The Times

... and get it if you're lucky!

Yes - no sooner have we British got the right to obtain information about ourselves and those who supposedly serve us, than the Blair Bitch Project decides to take the "free" out of "freedom" and to charge us for the privilage. Regardless, it seens, whether or not they even decide to impart the requested data to us or not. The reality of the situation is that the disenfranchised who are likely to need information access the most are the very people will will not be able to afford it.

Given that the beaurocrats already seen incapable of finding answers to comparitively simple questions, one also wonders about the value of the service anyway. Maybe those who can afford to access will find themselves paying good money for what in practice will be disinformation anyway. In an age where information can be stored in databases and the cost of retrieval is virtually non-existant, these plans are absurd.

The link leads to a report in The Times.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An advertisment placed today in the New York Times by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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Amerika will reap what its sown

AlterNet: Iraq - Civil War in 2006?

A link to AlterNet where the former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter debuts with what promises to be a regular blog. Here he argues that 2005 will be remembered less for the elections in Iraq than for sowing the foundations for what will this year turn into a bloody civil war. With repurcussions that will be the exact opposite of what Amerika intended, this article articulates what for many should have been instinctively obvious and reminds us of the folly in following the dictates of leaders incapable of foresight.

Would that we could exile Bush and Blair to Bagdad so they can personally reap what they've sown.


40 lessons from the new millenium

Secret Webs, Scared Bullies and a Global Mind Shift

It's always good to find someone re-affirming my own thoughts. This link leads to Richard Neville who gives us 40 things to consider for the coming cycle - precise, concise and very much to the point!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hindsight and Blindsight

AlterNet: Excerpt: Feet to the Fire

So the party's over and we get back slowly to serious news analysis. This link leads to an interesting journalistic take on the falsehoods perpetrated as a prelude to the Amerikan war on Iraq. Most notable is, whatever else you might say about Saddam Hussein, he presided over a secular government and was just as worried about Bin Laden and other religious extremeists as anyone else.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. "In retrospect, we might have ..." - the perfect excuse to those unwilling to offer any real apology for their errors. This is the time when the media fill their pages and airwaves with retrospectives. For the most part this is simply the recent news repackaged and condensed in chronological order as seasonal fodder for those with short attention spans. In some cases however, serious journalists are able to use the hindsight analogy to give us an overview of events without the immediate political bias with which they were presented at the time. I would dearly like to see the likes of Blair and Bush forced to present such a summary to their nations themselves - I suspect they'd be tripping over themselves so fast that they would be reduced to measuring their time left in office to mere hours.

Here in Britain we have something called the "30 year rule" under which classified documents are finally released to the history books. As I've said before, one of the more fascinating advantages of reaching a certain age is that one finally finds out the truth about events that have occurred during one's own lifetime. There are sad exceptions - anything too sensitive can be witheld for an additional 20 years or even until after the death of persons concerned. In the case of misadventures involving the Royal Family, the entire rule is extended to 100 years. Nonetheless, we do obtain a glimmer of the real history we've lived. Strangely there hasn't been much of intruige revealed yet this this time round, but I'm about to go searching just in case. Watch this space.

It will be another seven or eight years before this rule reveals more facts about Britain's 1980's war in the Falklands - especially the suggestions that the whole sequence of events were engineered by the Thatcher government to justify fortification of the supply routes to our oil and mineral resources in Antarctica. However, given that we are now immersed in a worldwide economic war for energy reserves, one has to wonder if certain rumours have real basis in fact. Yesterday we heard that Russia cut off gas supply to a customer that refused to pay the same price as other customers. In a world where commerce dictates everything, it is hard to see what the fuss is about. The detail is in the contract. Russia needs to pay a decent rent for the land under which its pipelines run, but the real message is they are no longer handing out favours to those who have left the fold. The danger is that the move will send signals that unduly affect the forthcoming democratic elections in the Ukraine.

The whole affair seems to be making Russia's other European customers nervous. Given that they are paying the full market price for the gas, there hardly seems to be any real cause for panic. So long as they pay the bills required by the same consumer-driven economy they themselves promote, there should be no threat. The paranoia comes from addiction to the product - it may not be opium, but oil and gas dependency makes the so-called "civilised" world behave like any other junkie. There's a problem with that - upset the dealer and your life becomes a very cold turkey indeed. When and if Iraq gets its own act together again, this could be a lesson that comes back to haunt us. The supplier doesn't usually respond well to blackmail.

A closing note. Yesterday I posted this link about Britain's planned energy cuts in the "Latest Clicks" section. It was published before the Ukraine business happened. As Europe reacts to Russia's move with similar restrictions, one wonders if the whole affair is being hyped up and over-played simply to hide cuts that were on the agenda anyway.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Not just cold, but also ...

Hunstanton, Norfolk, UK. Geriatric seaside resort maybe, but not the place to spent winter. It still can't receive Channel 5 terrestial television, can't get a decent mobile phone signal if indeed one at all, has only a couple of stone-age public computer terminals and just has to be the only place with dangerous hills in an otherwise flat country. All this is mainland UK and I guess the only claim to fame is its proximity to the royal palace at Sandringham. More pictures here.
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New cycle

So after a few days of silence I'm back to wish you a good new year - or a fine forthcoming 365 days if perchance you subscribe to a calender other than the one here in Britain.

No links today (and I've got 5 days of news to catch up on) but the radio reports that last night's celebrations here in London involved an unprecedented number of knife attacks on otherwise innocent party-goers. A sad sign of the times and I didn't escape unscathed myself.

After a nightmarish few days stranded snow-and-icebound without communications in a remote village on the North Norfolk coast (where I'd been called on false pretenses at short notice and some cost anyway) , I arrived back in London only to be forced to navigate through all manner of intoxicated drivers in an attempt to cross town from the station to home. Since my bike was parked at the station and the tube system was out on strike for the evening I really had no choice but to cycle it. Fine until a big red London Bus came barging by and used a diagonal route to push me out of the cycle lane and into the fencing protecting pedestrians.

Thanks to some hasty halting by the car behind I have survived with just some nasty bruises, but when even public service vehicles are driven by people behaving like lunatics one despairs. My thanks to the decent people that picked me up off the road and rescued most of the bike too.

So I'll probably need a new cycle for the new cycle, but that's a minor worry given what could have happened.

Back in the less personal news I also read that the UK government is planning for a worse Winter than predicted and will probably cut power usage by industry in order to maintain the illusion that there is no energy crisis by maintaining supplies to our homes. Presumably it will be Spring before any cost to the greater infrastructure will be noticed? See here.