Friday, June 12, 2020


Labels can be used to navigate to parts of the blog. To get just book reviews click on "books"

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Socialist Alternative in America

Socialist Alternative and "Justice" Newspaper Needs Your Help

Help us raise $10,000 to make "Justice" newspaper a monthly!

In the United States great opportunities for socialists are opening up because of the manifest failure of the capitalist class in their stewardship of society. Our assistance will help make the Socialist Alternative in America more powerful.

You can donate by clicking here. Every penny or every cent counts.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

LA Teachers End 24-Day Hunger Strike

In Los Angeles, a group of teachers have ended their twenty-four-day hunger strike to protest budget cuts. The teachers said they will now organize a campaign to recall some members of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers may soon be fired as the district faces a $700 million budget gap.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bush's punishment by Muntadar al-Zaidi

I can see why people think Muntadar al-Zaidi is a hero when
the puppet government in Iraq are such pussies. The brave
security services are beating up a defenceless man in
custody. And they do it to grovel to the American occupying

Since the war millions of Iraqis are still waiting for the
electricity and water supplies to be restored to normal. It
is hardly surprising they experience frustration and any
sign of resistance to Bush is welcomed.

The politicians stay well away from Iraqis, keeping
themselves locked up in what Rajiv Chandrasekaran called "The
Emerald Palace" of the Green Zone. So it was only because
Bush wanted the media to see him on his farewell tour that
Muntadar had a chance to strike a small blow on behalf of
the women and children whose blood is on Bush's hands.

I don't condone throwing shoes but compared to bombing
civilians, the massacre at Fallujah, torture at Abu Ghraib
and Guantanamo, Bush's punishment is mild.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Torture counterproductive in Iraq

Democracy Now! interviewed a former special intelligence operations officer who led an interrogations team in Iraq two years ago. His nonviolent interrogation methods led Special Forces to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He has written a new book, "How to Break a Terrorist: The US Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq."

The publication date for the book was delayed for six weeks due to the Pentagon’s vetting of it. The soldier wrote it under the pseudonym, Matthew Alexander, for security reasons. He says the US military’s use of torture is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US soldiers by inspiring foreign fighters to kill Americans.

Click here to read more

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

McCain has had his chips

Millions of Americans genuinely voted for change. McCain represented more of the same and Obama represented the audacity of hope.

The Democrats and Republicans are essentially one party and we can hardly celebrate the victory of one capitalist party over another. The Democrats are the worst kind of manipulative machine politicians.

A simple example is the response to the story of Obama's aunt.

The use by muckrakers of the corporate media of the fact that Obama's "half aunt" was classed as an illegal immigrant was an ideal opportunity to point out the plight of the illegals in the US. After all when the illegals staged a one day strike on May Day 2006 many everyday services in the USA ground to a halt. The prejudice against illegals is nonsensical.

Instead we were told that Obama was "of course concerned that the law should be complied with". Would he have told Rosa Parks, would he have told all those who broke the law to achieve civil rights the same thing? If he is prepared to make concessions like this before the election what other compromises will he be prepared to make in the future?

Many in America see Obama as a fresh hope after eight years of Republican rule but their disappointment will be so much the greater if the new boss turns out to be the same as the old boss.

Initially people who supported Obama will make excuses - he couldn't help the poor because of the economic crisis. He is intent on managing capitalism and helping the poor and disadvantaged. Socialists might be tempted to say "I've told you before you can't do that!"

And every government which has tried - sincerely or otherwise - to do so has been blown off course like Wilson in 1966. The corporations will not relinquish their power without a fight - and usually a fight to the finish with no holds barred.

John Pilger commented on the election of Obama, "Well, it comes down to, I suppose, asking an Afghan child how they feel when their family has been destroyed by a 500-pound bunker-busting bomb dropped by the United States and dropped by President Obama, as he continues that war. I think that’s the reality that we really have to begin to discuss now, having celebrated, and rightly celebrated, the ascent of the first African American president of the United States. "

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Change big donors can believe in

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman reports that "Regardless of who the winner is, the next president will enter the White House with a long list of major donors to thank. "

And the media do not report on this.

Researcher Bill Buzenberg explains:

“Every local television station I have been to, I say, ‘How do you do in election years?’ They say, ‘We buy new cameras, new sets.’ It is a huge benefit to them. The commercial broadcasters are cleaning up this year like never before, and you’ll never hear them questioning the system that allows so much money to come back to them.”

Click here for details

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Arrest of journalist - BBC does not protest

Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention.

Democracy Now! is a radio and TV show available on the internet at HTTP:// It aims to represent the “silenced majority” in American society. To their shame, BBC journalists have failed to raise the issue of Amy Goodman's arrest or to protest.

Sheer self-preservation would suggest that journalists should oppose the targeting of journalists by the police in the United States. Democracy Now has been a thorn in their side because of their refusal to use “embedded” journalists who simply reproduce the government line.

As Amy Goodman says “journalism is telling a story somebody doesn't want told. Anything else is advertising.”

It is in the interests of all workers in the media (and out of it!) to protest the arrest of journalists who seek to undermine the lies of the corporate media.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Labour and torture

An astonishing 30 percent of Americans in a recent poll thought that torture was justified. The British government does not torture but it exports the job of torturing to other governments which is just as bad....arguably worse.

It is everybody's nightmare to be tortured but a democratic government which hands over the job to undemocratic governments is disgusting beyond belief.

I can't believe I used to be a member of the Labour Party. What has the party of Keir Hardy become?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007


I saw 300 today and the short review would be "don't".

The battle scenes are well choreographed but the cartoon-like violence becomes repetitive when you have seen the fifteenth beheading. I found myself murmuring, "I've had worse than this, this is just a flesh wound." which seemed to send my daughter into fits of laughter.

The dialogue is forced and false. It is a bit of an insult to the Greeks who invented rhetoric to make them sound like neocon yahoos.

And Xerxes was a bit of a stereotype I think. The big bad black guy with an army of rhinos, giants and elephants.

And it is just the film to get Bush baby dropping 300 hundred troops into Iran just to see if it works.

No it was not history. To be fair, historical drama seldom is. Shakespeare (for example) certainly isn't. Having said which this certainly ain't Shakespeare!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

BBC lose 9/11 coverage

The BBC have lost their coverage of 9/11

The head of BBC news claims on the BBC website that is a cock-up not a conspiracy. If it is a cock-up it is a monumental one. The phrase "heads will roll" springs to mind. When they refer to Richard Porter as the head of is still attached to his body is it?

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


"America, it's time to start bringing our troops home. It's time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else's civil war," Obama said. "That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace."

Barack Obama speaking in Springfield.

I have no idea whether Obama is for real but it is interesting he thinks that is a vote-winning position. It is an indication that there is a groundswell of oppositon to to the war and that the American electorate are not happy with vague promises of eventual troop withdrawal - even the most Hawkish Republican can promise that "when the time is right" - Obama feels the need to name the date.


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rumsfeld and Saddam

Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants were convicted for crimes committed in the town of Dujail in 1982.

Saddam shaking hands with a beaming Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq on December 20, 1983. Is it possible that Rumsfeld and his friends were unaware of Saddam's acts the previous year? Not really.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bush's mid-term defeat cartoon

Alan Hardman's cartoon comment on Bush getting his come-uppance in the mid-term elections.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Animal Rights on BBC2

I have just been watching a scientist on BBC2 comparing Animal Rights protesters with terrorists and explaining that all medical advances have been brought about by animal experiments in the past which proves conclusively that there will never be an alternative in the future.

His case was undermined just a little by the way he was puffing away on a cigarette throughout. Obviously all those experiments proving that beagles get cancer if you force them to smoke were lost on him.

I am not an animal rights supporter - I stroke the cat occasionally but that is about it. I do know that equally serious scientists are seeking alternatives to the old fashioned methods of animal experimentation.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006 looks like being an excellent weekend on November 25/26th. We've got a wider range of speakers and debates than ever - something for everyone.

There should also be an opportunity for Socialist Party teachers to meet on the Sunday to discuss union work.

The details of the event are on the website
You can also buy tickets online at that site.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

White poppies

A lot of fuss about newsreaders being made to wear poppies. I thought the idea of charity was it was voluntary. A lot of people choose to wear poppies and they think the money is going to a good cause.

My mother always wore a white poppy. She made it herself. People celebrated the end of the war. It was only later that the generals and the politicians decided to make 11th November into a celebration of the glory of .... politicians and generals.

And the idea that people fought for the freedom to be forced to wear a poppy is not fascism but it is a bit ironic.

The state has money to wage war. To look after the victims of war apparently is a job for charity. What if it were the other way round. What if the state looked out for the victims of war but the generals had to hold charity drives to buy cluster bombs?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bernie Sanders - first socialist senator?

The victory of Bernie Sanders in Vermont shows the potential for someone who stands against the millionaires to gain support. Right wing republicans cannot afford healthcare, right wing republicans cannot get their kids through college - they want someone to look after their economic interests.

He approved of the idea of millionaires voting against him - it is in their class interests to do so!

Bernie described socialism on Democracy Now! as follows:

"Well, I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That's all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that's the goal that we have to achieve."

Bernie is not a member of the CWI and his view of socialism is more on the Scandinavian model. Nevertheless his victory does show what is possible.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cheney on torture

According to the US TV program "Democracy Now!"

"Vice President Dick Cheney has apparently confirmed US interrogators engage in water-boarding – an outlawed practice that creates the sensation of drowning. The admission came during an interview on a right-wing North Dakota radio program on Tuesday. Cheney said he agreed with a listener’s comment that terrorists should be dunked under water if it could save American lives. Cheney added: “that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation." A spokesperson denied Cheney had endorsed waterboarding and said he was referring to broad interrogation procedures. Water-boarding is barred under international treaties that prohibit torture."

Water boarding is a technique the CIA have directly copied from the Gestapo. Don't it make you proud?


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The mother who yearns for her son (Written by Omar's mother)

The mother who yearns for her son (Written by Omar's mother Taher Deghayes) Omar is a hunger striker at Guantanamo tortured with the knowledge and complicity of the British Labour government. The campaign is only asking for him to be tried or released.

Dear Sir

Whenever I try to express my feelings of sadness due to my beloved son’s absence, I find my brain incapable of doing so. Whenever I remember him in my mind or in my soul, the tears pour out of my eyes and I cannot stop them at all. The tears feel as if they would go on for eternity.

How can I tolerate my existence in the house without him? I find his smell in every corner of the house where he lived. How do I cope with the knowledge that we eat everything we like while he does not eat even a little; or the fact that we sleep on our comfortable beds while he does not even get to sleep. Instead he is tortured to prevent him from sleeping!

Every morning when I get up and wash my face with clean warm water and perform the ritual ablution in order to pray, I remember him and how he does not even have water. So how do you think I feel thinking of my son in a cold narrow cell without sunshine or fresh air? I cannot sleep at night because of the sadness I feel when I think of my son, (and when do I forget?) It breaks my heart to think that my handsome, well-groomed son who took such pride in his appearance does not even have clothes to wear. It breaks my heart that he has not had a comb to brush his hair in three years. He told me how sad he was to see that his hair had turned grey from all the stress. Worst of all it breaks my heart when I think of his milky white eye which has been blinded so deliberately and callously by the American guards. My late husband was so determined that Omar does not lose his eye when Omar was accidentally poked in the eye by another child. The advice in Libya was to remove Omar’s eye but my husband refused and took Omar to Switzerland as it had the most advanced eye treatment at the time. Omar underwent extensive and repeated treatment and numerous surgeries to ensure that he keeps his eye functioning as well as possible. He has had to visit his eye Professor every year since then to receive painful laser treatment. Alas, all that effort, pain and money is completely destroyed in such a brutal way.

Sometimes I cannot tolerate staying in the house because of his absence from me as he was my best companion. How can I tolerate my existence in the house while I see the room of my dear son closed and empty, so empty of my beloved son? My cheerful, vivacious son who never left me alone particularly in the absence of his brothers. However, now I only have his shadow in my imagination.

I am absentminded and distraught and every place becomes narrow for me whenever I remember him which is all the time. He is in this cursed jail for so many years in conditions which are not even fit for animals. I pray to Allah during every prayer that he is released and that he finds people who treat him kindly and compassionately. My heart is ruptured with sadness. I swear that if I could express what I feel properly even tens of papers would not be sufficient. However, this is all I could express. So what shall I say and what do I say when his little son Suleiman comes to me and asks me, “where is my daddy? Where is my daddy and when is he coming so I can meet him?” When he asks me, I feel the world is pulled from under my feet. I pray to Allah that he comes back to me and to his son soon before I die so that I can feel happy and embrace him while he is in a good condition.

Everyday I wait for a letter or some news from him but they are so hard to come by. My anxious feeling choke me up as I wait for the arrival of anything from him that comforts me.

Even when I receive a letter from him, I find half or more of the letter erased. They have begrudged me even the pleasure of hearing his news but Allah never neglects those who are in his custody.

I swear by Allah that my son is innocent of all these charges. Omar loves all people and loves helping people. Have mercy on those on Earth and God will have mercy on you.

The mother who yearns for her son.



Friday, March 10, 2006

Press release about force-feeding.

I received this press release today.


The letter, published today in The Lancet medical journal, is signed by more than 250 distinguished medical experts from the UK, the USA, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia. Co-authors include Dr Oliver Sacks (author and neurologist), Dr Holly G Atkinson (President of Physicians for Human Rights) and Dr John Kalk (who oversaw hunger strikes in apartheid-era South Africa). A number of the experts are American medics, including from Harvard and Yale.

Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at the City Hospital in Birmingham, who coordinated The Lancet letter said:
“This letter really shows the strength of feeling amongst the world’s leading medical experts – they are saying with one voice that force-feeding of hunger strikers by medical staff at Guantánamo is unequivocally wrong.”

Local Brighton GP, Dr Christa Beesley said:
"As doctors we have an ethical duty to respect the human rights and dignity of our patients, whatever their circumstances or beliefs. Working in a multi-cultural town such as Brighton, I think that it is particularly important that I do not alter my standard of care based on a patient's background or religion. I was therefore happy to be a signatory on the letter to the Lancet."

The letter states that international medical-ethics standards forbid force-feeding of hunger strikers who make an informed decision to mount a hunger strike. It specifically condemns the actions of the former commander of the hospital at Guantánamo, Dr J S Edmondson, who instigated force-feedings at the prison camp.

The letter also attacks the use of “restraint chairs” to immobilise prisoners before forcibly inserting feeding pipes into detainees’ nasal passages. The letter calls on the US government to “ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians” and that “force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned forthwith in accordance with internationally agreed standards”.

One of the hunger strikers, Omar Deghayes, a long-term UK resident who has been detained for four years at the US prison camp, explained why they were taking such desperate action: "We are dying a slow death in here. And you have to remember that we have not been charged with any crime”.

Omar and other British residents detained in Guantánamo are the subject of a judicial review, challenging the British Government’s lack of action on their behalf. The challenge is led by lawyer Gareth Peirce and is to be held on the 22nd March, 10.30am, at the Royal Courts of Justice (Strand, London).

Jackie Chase from the Save Omar campaign said: “How can a civilised country tolerate the cruelty being meted out to these people? The force-feeding at Guantánamo amounts to torture and is yet another humiliation and abuse of detainees. Guantánamo Bay needs to be shut down and the British Government need to exert their influence to make it happen.”


Friday, February 17, 2006

Justification for torture

The latest justification for the torture at abu ghraib is priceless. It appeared on the TES website:"any change is bound to have repercussions".

The news networks have finally dragged the photos of these "repercussions" into the public domain. The White House's only response is that publishing the photos will lead to violence. This is an interesting argument and could be used to stop any reporting of any event. Messrs Blair and Brown probably had their notebooks out at this point. IT is almost as good as "any change is bound to have repercussions."

It was unarmed Iraqi civilians who were bound and are they really the sort of repercussions you would like your child to suffer? Have you tried telling them they are much better off now? Difficult for some because your "repercussions" seem to be fatal.

And your sole argument: Saddam was a bastard. Yes we know that and he was a bastard when the Americans armed and supported him. Are you being a tad two-faced perhaps?


Friday, February 03, 2006

State of the Union response from Celeste Zappala

A member of Gold Star Families Speak Out, Zappala's eldest son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. He was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004, while searching for weapons of mass destruction.

She said today: "Yesterday George Bush spoke with unsubstantiated optimism about the war in Iraq; yesterday another U.S. soldier was killed, bringing the total to 2,243. If all of the families of all of those soldiers had been sitting in the chamber, could Bush's self-serving comments about sacrifice have been heard above the cries of grief and anguish?"

Naturally this wasn't quoted widely in the corporate media because she isn't important like George W Bush.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Impeach Bush?

This is a link to a rather nice video.
Bush video

The movement to impeach Bush is quite strong in the US but unfortunately there is no political alternative to back it up. The democrats are too scared to oppose most of his policies. Kerry's attitude to the war and the Patriot Act could be politely termed ambiguous.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Guantanamo Doctor

Today, Friday 13th, Dr David Nicholl informs me that lawyers
for some of the Guantanamo detainees (Allen & Overy) are asking the San
Diego Superior Court to compel the Medical Board of California to initiate
an investigation that Dr. John Edmondson (the doctor in charge of
Guantanamo) is engaged in unprofessional conduct.

He says "I believe this case is extremely important and essentially boils down to
whether the US medical establishment will be prepared to investigate serious
torture allegations or are US military doctors beyond the rule of law in
Guantanamo, just like the detainees?"


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kennedy and Churchill

The main story in the UK media atm is the admission by Charles Kennedy (Liberal) that he has a drinking problem and this is being treated by doctors. He is seeking re-election as party leader.

A drinking problem does not preclude someone from being a political leader. Churchill freely admitted his drinking habits and depression. When he was defeated it was on political not personal issues.

Kennedy however opposed the war and even marched with us against the war right up until the point at which it started. THAT is what he should be pilloried for, not his admission of a drinking problem.

That admission makes him more honest than a large number of politicians and 99 percent of the journalists who are hounding him!


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Omar Deghayes

Omar Deghayes' family still live in Brighton and have a lot of support in the local community.

There is outrage that New Labour continues to support imprisonment without trial and torture at Guantanamo.
There are copies of the leaflet for the demonstration to download and print out here


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

British residents in Guantanamo Bay

I received this information from the Save Omar campaign.
It clashes with the RMT meeting but if Tony Benn can make both
perhaps other people can too.

Sat Jan 21st,
Assemble 12 noon, Tothill St
(nr St James Park tube) map

Support the Hunger Strikers
Shut down all illegal prisons
March via Downing St to the American Embassy, Grovesnor Square
Speakers include Tony Benn and Anas Al-Tikriti (MAB)
Supporting Families of the British Residents in Guantánamo Bay
Coach tickets from Brighton £6/£4 (Jackie - 07796 478 421 for tickets)
For more details contact


Saturday, December 10, 2005

We do not torture suspects - Condoleeza Rice

According to Democracy now ( the US radio and TV show:

"New details are emerging in the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi -- the detainee whose faulty claims on links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were used to justify the invasion of Iraq. The New York Times is reporting government officials have acknowledged al-Libi fabricated his claims to avoid harsh punishment while in Egyptian custody. Al-Libi was handed over to Egypt by US agents in January 2002. The Times notes the disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of detainees."

Torturing suspects may not give you the truth, but it will give you the answers you want to hear.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bush's church condemns war

President Bush and Dick Cheney are facing more opposition about the war in Iraq - this time from their own church. Last week the United Methodist Church passed a resolution calling for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. The resolution read in part "As people of faith, we raise our voice in protest against the tragedy of the unjust war in Iraq. Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in a war the United States initiated and should never have fought." The church board also called on Congress to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate U.S. treatment of detainees overseas.
(from Democracy Now! this morning)

I am an atheist now but I went to Sunday School as a lad and I must say that is more my idea of what a Methodist ought to be :)


Sunday, October 16, 2005


Is Halliburton an agency of the US state or is the US state a branch of Halliburton? An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year. That is rather more than one percent for each American life lost.

“Halliburton has already raked in more than $10 billion from the Bush-Cheney Administration for work in Iraq, and they were awarded some of the first Katrina contracts," Lautenberg said in a statement. "It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it. The Vice President should sever his financial ties to Halliburton once and for all.”

Cheney continues to hold 433,333 Halliburton stock options. The company has been criticized by auditors for its handling of a no-bid contact in Iraq. Auditors found the firm marked up meal prices for troops and inflated gas prices in a deal with a Kuwaiti supplier. The company built the American prison at Guantanamo Bay."



Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I remember Naomi Klein using Bushisms as one of her reasons for crossing the picket line and voting for the Democrats. She argued that the low level of political debate under Bush would come to an end under a more wily representative of the capitalist class!

So on the whole I do not pass on Bushisms, but this is a very special compilation:
of all your old favourites with a new twist.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Bush has a direct line to God

Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen and foreign minister Nabil Shaath describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003. Shaath quotes Bush as saying at the time "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it,'" Shaath quoted Bush as saying. The White House denied Bush made the comments, calling them "absurd."

I wonder if anyone has told Bush that the only reason God sends people to the Middle East is so they can be crucified.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Pat Robertson's hand in the till?

Pat Robertson's hand in the till?

After FEMA suggested that people who want to help the victims of Katrina should give money to Pat Robertson's charity "Second Blessing", Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now revealed the following facts:

"Interestingly enough, when I checked their latest 990 for the fiscal year ending of March of 2004, they give hundreds of grants for a few thousand dollars to churches all around the United States, but the single largest recipient of assistance from Second Blessing is Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. It received $885,000 in grants from the charity. For what purposes, I'm not quite clear.

"But the other part of it is also that Second Blessing has had a less than stellar record. Back in the mid-1990s during the Rwandan genocide, Robertson appealed for assistance for Operation Second Blessing on his 700 Club for money to fly relief supplies to the Rwandan refugees in Zaire. An investigation later by the Virginia Attorney General's office revealed that the planes that were bought by the charity were actually ferrying mining equipment for a diamond mining operation, the African Development Corporation, and lo-and-behold, who is the principal shareholder of this private corporation? None other than Pat Robertson himself. So, he eventually had to reimburse his own charity $400,000 for the fact that these planes were being used, not for charitable work, but for his own enrichment.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans 2

As an Englishman I really only know New Orleans from the music and the Anne Rice novels but the top journalists - real journalists - from the UK have been out there and universally critical of the response of the authorities.

I watched John Snow on the news yesterday. For a newscaster he can get very angry while delivering a report and his comments on Bush arriving in New Orleans were very bitter. They were probably coloured by talking to people on the ground who have lost loved ones, not to the "natural disaster" but to the incompetence of the state.

Perhaps the saddest sight was the car park with hundreds of buses under water. The buses that could have gotten poor people out of there but didn't. You need something like a "Dunkirk" response to tackle such a massive crisis. Bourgeois Politicians (politicians in the pockets of the corporations) can only rally the enthusiasm for war not for rescuing the poor.


Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

The news is awful and the US government seem to have been napping at the wheel (again) and to have all their resources in the wrong place (again). There are thousands of national guard who could have been helping out in New Orleans but of course they are all bogged down in Iraq.

They can't even transport people out of the city when they tell them to evacuate. If you haven't got a car you haven't got a chance. People are starving so they want to crack down on looters. FFS if my family were starving I'd be a looter.

If government want to destroy a city (like Fallujah) they can spend billions on it, but when it comes to helping poor people in a crisis they do too little and too late.

Chavez of Venezuela has offered a million dollars to help the poor in America. This is the guy they want to kill off. Venezuela is a lot poorer than the US - everybody is a lot poorer than the US!


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Moral High Ground on music downloading

Democracy Now! reports today:
"Sony-BMG Settles Payola Lawsuit
One of the world's largest record companies -- Sony/BMG -- has agreed to pay a $10 million settlement in a major payola case. New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued the company for illegally paying radio stations thousands of dollars to play certain artists including Jennifer Lopez and Franz Ferdinand. Spitzer said "Contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees." Spitzer also criticized the radio stations for accepting the payment. He said the Federal Communications Commission should consider stripping the licenses of the stations. On Monday FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein called for an immediate federal investigation of payola practices."

This is very interesting given the decisions of big business to prosecute teenagers for downloading music and their contention that a teenager who downloads music is robbing them of much needed needed to pay fines for illegal activities presumably.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

USA promoting democracy worldwide?

Well, look here at these recipients of US Military Aid, then click on the link for the human rights records.

A tad mixed vis a vis promoting democracy and freedom, is it not?

Then a little further probing reveals such bastions of democracy as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan as doing rather nicely in receiving the means to oppress their own peoples.

And one of the first things Condoleeza Rice did as Sec of State was to certify Indonesia for IMET military training. I quote G.W.Bush, on the aid to Indonesia:

"We're really pushing for normalisation of full military ties."

Saudi Arabia $1,169,436,000
Egypt $1,046,709,000
Israel $845,562,000
Taiwan $646,775,000
Turkey $523,488,000
Singapore $169,014,000
Kuwait $153,236,000
Thailand $139,576,000
United Arab Emirates $110,130,000
Bahrain $97,052,000
Jordan $70,556,000
Venezuela $34,819,000
Uzbekistan $33,971,000
Philippines $26,416,000
India $26,158,000
Mexico $24,676,000
Colombia* $22,378,000
Brazil $18,925,000
Afghanistan $17,143,000
Malaysia $13,509,000
Dominican Republic $11,813,000
Morocco $10,717,000
Oman $8,102,000
Nepal $6,697,000
Nigeria $4,690,000


Thursday, June 30, 2005

New Labour complicity in torture of suspects

The UN's special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, called on the Bush administration to hand over a list of where prisoners are being held. Nowak said the charges of secret detention camps were very serious, amounting to enforced disappearances.

The British New Labour Government cannot deny complicity in torture just because they "outsource" it to the US. According to the Observer in January two prisoners "were both questioned by an MI5 officer who gave his name as 'Andrew', while they were being abused by Americans both in Afghanistan and Guantanamo. According to the letter, 'he was the one who told Mr Begg that the more Mr Begg (falsely) said he was guilty of something, the quicker he would get home. Andrew was also the one who said that he would not comply with both of my clients' requests for consular notification, as well as Mr Begg's requests to learn whether his pregnant wife, Sally, and their three children were safe in Pakistan."

According to my local MEP, Pete Skinner, even the European Parliament has condemned Guantanamo and the Labour members voted for that condemnation. No such condemnation has been forthcoming from HMG.

(A apologise for the wording of the European Parliament resolution - never use one word whereas a hundred will do!)

The text is on my website


Friday, May 27, 2005

More controversy over the Koran and Guantanamo

I am an atheist and consequently more concerned about the documented abuse of people than the abuse of a book. OTOH people of my generation have an automatic reaction against abuse or burning of books, whether it is the Koran or The Satanic Verses. The church in North Carolina with a sign outside approving the abuse of the Koran is probably less than helpful. The pastor has finally been persuaded (apparently by God) to apologise.

Today Democracy Now has the following:

"Amid widespread accusations and documentation of US military desecration of the Koran, the Pentagon held a special news conference yesterday to address the allegations. The military says it has identified five incidents of what it describes as "mishandling of a Koran" by U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay. Brigadier General Jay Hood refused to specify the nature of the mishandling of the Koran, other than to say it did not involve placing it in a toilet. That runs contrary to information revealed in newly declassified documents. In one 2002 document declassified this week, an FBI agent quoted a detainee in as saying guards had thrown a Koran in a toilet. General Hood said yesterday that military investigators interviewed that man this month, but did not directly ask him whether he had seen U.S. personnel put a Koran in a toilet.

Here is General Jay Hood: "First off, I'd like you to know that we've found no credible evidence that a member of the joint task force at Guantanamo Bay, ever flushed a Koran down a toilet. We did identify 13 incidents of alleged mishandling of the Koran by joint task force personnel; 10 of those by a guard and three of those by interrogators. We found that in only five of those incidents, four by guards and one by an interrogator, there was what could be broadly defined as mishandling of a Koran." General Jay Hood speaking yesterday at a Pentagon press conference.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Citizenship: Omar Deghayes and Rosa Parks

I have encouraged my pupils to look into the case of Rosa Parks. There are a number of American websites which deal with her story. I liked

On the one hand it is about how one person can make a difference. "A brave woman who sat down on a bus and started a revolution"

On the other hand it shows the importance of a mass movement for justice which backed Rosa Parks and organised the bus boycott and changed the law and changed attitudes. We have brave individuals in this country and what we need now is that mass movement for justice.

In other news

Tory MP Nicholas Soames wrote to me today saying that he will certainly take the matter up with the home secretary. Well with Soames' weight behind it perhaps something will be done.

My pupils were surprised and delighted.

My review of "Remember Me Rescue Me" was published in Socialism Today today.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If you support the war and genuinely believe this is an altruistic mission to liberate the oil (sorry the people) of Iraq.

Or if you oppose the war.

You can put a bit of html on your website.
you can get the necessary files from

You can put a casualty counter on your own webpage.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Abuse of the Koran and Saddam

According to the Red Cross, the abuse of the Koran at Guantanamo and other US torture camps has been an issue since 2002.

Today George W Bush pontificated about pictures of Saddam in his undies in the Sun and said "we will get to the bottom of this in as transparent a way as possible." I hope not!

Abusing books and tyrants are minor issues compared with the known, photographed and documented killing and torture of people though.

Alex Salmond said on Question Time last night on the BBC in the UK, the only people to face accusations in this country over the war are George Galloway, the editor of the Daily Mirror and functionaires of the BBC. Bush and Blair, Straw and Rice are all above the law apparently.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Forgotten Arm

Aimee Mann's new album is The Forgotten Arm. The title refers to a boxing trick of feigning weakness in one arm which is then used to deliver the knockout.
I have written about "Dear John" and the earlier "Jacob Marley's Chains" today.

I used the website which I like because as a former English teacher the lyrics of songs interest me as poetry. My analysis is not very deep on this site though.

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