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Saturday, February 16, 2013

John Tognolini: Australia-Not Happy Julia & Abbot Happens



 Now Gillard has called the date of the election for September 14 I feel the need to express my feelings about the state of the nation and what is on offer. I would like to quote Shakespeare’s Romeo &Juliet and say, ”A plague on both your houses”. The thing is I’d feel sorry for the poor plague.
 
In regard to Abbott, I'm just going to call him Abbott Happens from now on in regard to him saying "shit happens" on being told in Afghanistan in August 2010 of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney's death. It was a stupid macho comment. Both parties support this filthy imperialist war.
 
Some people won't wear any critical comments of the ALP. Sorry they stink. They are the Alternative Liberal Party and their whiffy. Yes Abbott Happens will be prime minister. It’s not something to look forward to.
 
I couldn't watch the ABC's Q&A the other week. Abbott Happens's attack poodle Chris Hinde was on it. Flick. And can I find any reason to like the ALP? Well apart from Eddie Obeid’s appearances before ICAC providing a consistent source of amusement about how greed is such a big factor in the ALP. No I just can’t. He and other former ALP state ministers remind me of something Groucho Marx once said "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them…well, I have others." Old Groucho was only joking about it, the ALP do it for real.


I did crack up with the NSW ABC TV News last week . First performance and rec drugs and crime gangs in the major Oz sport codes. Second  a former state minister being offered a $4,000,000 bribe over a coal mine as part of the Obeid circus that has made the ALP rather putrid in this state. They even reek more than the O’Farrell’s Liberal/Nationals. Now how do you do that?
 
And I’ll go off like the Guns of Navarone, when the first union leader says that a bad Labor government is better than the Liberals/Nationals. How I heard that so many times with Hawke and Keating. And what did we get? An Evil Dwarf called John Howard as prime minister for nearly twelve years who ripped off Pauline Hanson’s racist policies. We have this foul race to the bottom bashing refugees and the Northern Territory Intervention. What some call the real politik.  Is it any wonder we have an ABC newsreader and his two year old daughter being racially abused on a Sydney Inner City Bus?
 
We’ve had a departing attorney general putting an extra ten year ban on 37 year old federal government documents that supported the murderous Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Why because it would expose Whitlam  as a supporter of mass murder for East Timor's oil.


I’m not happy at all. Can the ALP give us one reason to like them apart from Abbott Happens becoming prime minister on September 14 -NO THEY CAN'T!

Wellington, Central West New South Wales 16-2-2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

John Pilger:WikiLeaks is a rare truth-teller. Smearing Julian Assange is shameful


 
Last December, I stood with supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the bitter cold outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Candles were lit; the faces were young and old and from all over the world. They were there to demonstrate their human solidarity with someone whose guts they admired. They were in no doubt about the importance of what Assange had revealed and achieved, and the grave dangers he now faced. Absent entirely were the lies, spite, jealousy, opportunism and pathetic animus of a few who claim the right to guard the limits of informed public debate.

These public displays of warmth for Assange are common and seldom reported. Several thousand people packed Sydney Town Hall, with hundreds spilling into the street. In New York recently, Assange was given the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award. In the audience was Daniel Ellsberg, who risked all to leak the truth about the barbarism of the Vietnam war.

Like Jemima Khan, the investigative journalist Phillip Knightley, the acclaimed film director Ken Loach and others lost bail money in standing up for Assange. “The US is out to crush someone who has revealed its dirty secrets,” Loach wrote to me. “Extradition via Sweden is more than likely . . . is it difficult to choose whom to support?”

No, it is not difficult.

In the NS last week, Jemima Khan ended her support for an epic struggle for justice, truth and freedom with an article on Wiki­Leaks’s founder. To Khan, the Ellsbergs and Yoko Onos, the Loaches and Knightleys, and the countless people they represent, have all been duped. We are all “blinkered”. We are all mindlessly “devoted”. We are all “cultists”. In the final words of her j’accuse, she describes Assange as “an Australian L Ron Hubbard”. She must have known this would make a gratuitous headline, as indeed it did across the press in Australia.

I respect Jemima Khan for backing humanitarian causes, such as the Palestinians. She supports the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, of which I am a judge, and my own film-making. But her attack on Assange is specious and plays to a familiar gallery whose courage is tweeted from a smartphone.

Khan complains that Assange refused to appear in the film about WikiLeaks by the American director Alex Gibney, which she “executive produced”. Assange knew the film would be neither “nuanced” nor “fair” and “represent the truth”, as Khan wrote, and that its very title,WikiLeaks: We Steal Secrets, was a gift to the fabricators of a bogus criminal indictment that could doom him to one of America’s hellholes. Having interviewed axe-grinders and turncoats, Gibney abuses Assange as paranoid. DreamWorks is also making a film about the “paranoid” Assange. Oscars all round.

The sum of Khan’s and Gibney’s attacks is that Ecuador granted him asylum without evidence. The evidence is voluminous. Assange has been declared an official “enemy” of a torturing, assassinating, rapacious state. This is clear in official files, obtained under Freedom of Information, that betray Washington’s “unprecedented” pursuit of him, together with the Australian government’s abandonment of its citizen: a legal basis for granting asylum.

Khan refers to a “long list” of Assange’s “alienated and disaffected allies”. Almost none was ever an ally. What is striking about most of these “allies” and Assange’s haters is that they exhibit the very symptoms of arrested development they attribute to a man whose resilience and good humour under extreme pressure are evident to those he trusts.

Another on the “long list” is the lawyer Mark Stephens, who charged him almost half a million pounds in fees and costs. This bill was paid from an advance on a book whose unauthorised manuscript was published by another “ally” without Assange’s knowledge or permission. When Assange moved his legal defence to Gareth Peirce, Britain’s leading human rights lawyer, he found a true ally. Khan makes no mention of the damning, irrefutable evidence that Peirce presented to the Australian government, warning how the US deliberately “synchronised” its extradition demands with pending cases and that her client faced a grave miscarriage of justice and personal danger. Peirce told the Australian consul in London in person that she had known few cases as shocking as this.

It is a red herring whether Britain or Sweden holds the greatest danger of delivering Assange to the US. The Swedes have refused all requests for guarantees that he will not be despatched under a secret arrangement with Washington; and it is the political executive in Stockholm, with its close ties to the extreme right in America, not the courts, that will make this decision.

Khan is rightly concerned about a “resolution” of the allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. Putting aside the tissue of falsehoods demonstrated in the evidence in this case, both women had consensual sex with Assange and neither claimed otherwise; and the Stockholm prosecutor Eva Finne all but dismissed the case.

As Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote in the Guardian in August 2012, “. . . the allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction . . .

“The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will . . . [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step to their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

Published 14 February 2013 New Statesmen and Society

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Issue 7 A History Talks Vol 1 by John Tognolini


1984-85 British Miners Strike
“On “Digger” priorities when landing on a New Guinea beach during the Second World War and being inadvertently attacked by American planes: After a while, I put my head up-to have a look around. I’ve never been so proud of my countrymen. First things first. Every bloody man had taken his tin hat off his head and clapped it over his balls. Quoted in Russell Ward, A Radical Life (Melbourne and Sydney, 1988, p 148”

Dictionary of Australian Quotations Edited by Stephen Murray-Smith, Richmond, Victoria, Heinemann. 1984

“In 1919, noted conservative economist Joseph Schumpeter presented a surprisingly critical picture of Roman imperialism, in a world that might sound familiar to present-day critics of U.S. “globalism”:

….That policy which pretends to aspire to peace but unerringly generates war, the policy of continual preparation for war, the policy of meddlesome interventionism. There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies: and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest-why, then it was national honour that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbours, always fighting for breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs.”

The Assassination of Julius Caesar , A People’s History of Ancient Rome by Michael Parenti, The New Press, New York, London 2003.

“Across the Atlantic, Thatcher was attempting an English version of Friedmanism by championing what has become known as “the ownership of society”,……With British workers now categorized as “the enemy within” Thatcher unleashed the full force of the strikers, including, in a single confrontation, eight thousand truncheon-wielding riot police, many on horseback, to storm a plant picket line, leading to roughly seven hundred injuries. Over the course of the long strike, the number of injuries reached into the thousands. As the Guardian reporter Seumas Milne documented in definitive account of the strike, The Enemy Within: Thatcher’s Secret War Against the Miners, the prime minister pressed the security services to intensify surveillance of the union and, in particular, its militant president Arthur Scargill…..”
The Shock Doctrine, The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klien, Allen Lane an imprint PENGUIN BOOKS Australia, 2007

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Mark Steele: Unless Ricky Tomlinson is working for al-Qa'ida, 'national security' is an odd reason for secrecy

Ricky Tomlinson
 
Everyone knows that in the 1970s the unions ran the country. For example, every television clip of the decade, probably by law, has to include a bit that goes “it was a time when the unions wouldn’t even let the dead be buried”, so there must be millions who think that’s what unions did. They went into the manager’s office and said “give us a rise or we’ll chuck another corpse on your desk”, and some newspapers probably claim the dead bodies became so confused that they woke up, threatening major disruption on behalf of the National Union of Zombies, Undead and Allied Flesh-Eating Trades (NUZUAFET) until Margaret Thatcher destroyed them all with a shovel.
 
 
So it’s peculiar that the Government has decided to keep documents about the 1972 building workers’ strike secret for another 10 years. The strike was for increased pay, and 24 of the strikers were charged under the Conspiracy Act, with two of them jailed as a matter of “national security”. Presumably, their demands were for a 10 per cent rise, double-time for Sundays, and the handing over of state power to Colonel Gaddafi, with all plastering to be under the control of an alliance of Angolan guerrillas.
 
One piece of evidence that has emerged to back the Government’s case was a 1973 letter from the Attorney-General, who supported the jail sentences because the strikers had used “intimidation, consisting of threatening words”. What sort of threatening words can breach national security, I wonder? Maybe they were shouting “ Give us a pay rise”, which by coincidence was the Ministry of Defence password for finding the precise location of our nuclear submarines.
 
But it was bad luck for the Government that one of the jailed strikers was Ricky Tomlinson, who then became one of our best-loved actors. So the case has continued to attract attention ever since. It seems there was a conspiracy between the construction companies, the police and the Conservative government, who wanted the strikers jailed to break the unions so they concocted the charges between them. The papers which could settle this issue were due to be released this week, but the current Government has now said they can’t be seen until 2021 “due to national security”.
 
 
If this was a strange argument at the time, it’s even more baffling 40 years later. Maybe these papers contain building workers’ prose so potent we’ll all surrender power to bricklayers and agree to become their hod-carrying slaves. Perhaps Tomlinson has been secretly working for the North Koreans, and his lines in The Royle Family were coded signals to Kim Jong-Il revealing the whereabouts of every unit of the SAS. “Denise love, put the kettle on will yer” almost cost us an entire regiment.
 

Campaigners demand that the papers be released, but you can see the Government’s point. Because if al-Qa’ida were to become aware of the details of a 40-year-old building workers’ dispute, there’s no telling what havoc they might create.
 
 
Tuesday 22 January 2013

John Pilger:The real invasion of Africa is not news and a licence to lie is Hollywood's gift

A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.

The invasion has almost nothing to do with "Islamism", and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a "menacing arc" of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus "red menace" of a worldwide communist conspiracy.

Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom's "soldier to soldier" doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite whose "historic mission", warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of "a capitalism rampant though camouflaged".

A striking example is the eastern Congo, a treasure trove of strategic minerals, controlled by an atrocious rebel group known as the M23, which in turn is run by Uganda and Rwanda, the proxies of Washington.

Long planned as a "mission" for Nato, not to mention the ever-zealous French, whose colonial lost causes remain on permanent standby, the war on Africa became urgent in 2011 when the Arab world appeared to be liberating itself from the Mubaraks and other clients of Washington and Europe. The hysteria this caused in imperial capitals cannot be exaggerated. Nato bombers were dispatched not to Tunis or Cairo but Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi ruled over Africa's largest oil reserves. With the Libyan city of Sirte reduced to rubble, the British SAS directed the "rebel" militias in what has since been exposed as a racist bloodbath.

The indigenous people of the Sahara, the Tuareg, whose Berber fighters Gaddafi had protected, fled home across Algeria to Mali, where the Tuareg have been claiming a separate state since the 1960s. As the ever watchful Patrick Cockburn points out, it is this local dispute, not al-Qaida, that the West fears most in northwest Africa... "poor though the Tuareg may be, they are often living on top of great reserves of oil, gas, uranium and other valuable minerals".

Almost certainly the consequence of a French/US attack on Mali on 13 January, a siege at a gas complex in Algeria ended bloodily, inspiring a 9/11 moment in David Cameron. The former Carlton TV PR man raged about a "global threat" requiring "decades" of western violence. He meant implantation of the west's business plan for Africa, together with the rape of multi-ethnic Syria and the conquest of independent Iran.

Cameron has now ordered British troops to Mali, and sent an RAF drone, while his verbose military chief, General Sir David Richards, has addressed "a very clear message to jihadists worldwide: don't dangle and tangle with us. We will deal with it robustly" - exactly what jihadists want to hear. The trail of blood of British army terror victims, all Muslims, their "systemic" torture cases currently heading to court, add necessary irony to the general's words. I once experienced Sir David's "robust" ways when I asked him if he had read the courageous Afghan feminist Malalai Joya's description of the barbaric behaviour of westerners and their clients in her country. "You are an apologist for the Taliban" was his reply. (He later apologised).

These bleak comedians are straight out of Evelyn Waugh and allow us to feel the bracing breeze of history and hypocrisy. The "Islamic terrorism" that is their excuse for the enduring theft of Africa's riches was all but invented by them. There is no longer any excuse to swallow the BBC/CNN line and not know the truth. Read Mark Curtis's Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam (Serpent's Tail) or John Cooley's Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (Pluto Press) or The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski (HarperCollins) who was midwife to the birth of modern fundamentalist terror. In effect, the mujahedin of al-Qaida and the Taliban were created by the CIA, its Pakistani equivalent, the Inter-Services Intelligence, and Britain's MI6.

Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, describes a secret presidential directive in 1979 that began what became the current "war on terror". For 17 years, the US deliberately cultivated, bank-rolled, armed and brainwashed jihadi extremists that "steeped a generation in violence". Code-named Operation Cyclone, this was the "great game" to bring down the Soviet Union but brought down the Twin Towers.

Since then, the news that intelligent, educated people both dispense and ingest has become a kind of Disney journalism, fortified, as ever, by Hollywood's licence to lie, and lie. There is the coming Dreamworks movie on WikiLeaks, a fabrication inspired by a book of perfidious title-tattle by two enriched Guardian journalists; and there is Zero Dark Thirty, which promotes torture and murder, directed by the Oscar-winning Kathryn Bigelow, the Leni Riefenstahl of our time, promoting her master's voice as did the Fuhrer's pet film-maker. Such is the one-way mirror through which we barely glimpse what power does in our name.

31 January 2013