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10 December 2004

Media blamed 'for Iraq attacks'

Is this the start of the end of war reporting?

The UK's Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Michael Walker has said about attacks on UK troops in Iraq, "The contribution towards the initial attacks against the Black Watch was certainly enhanced by a media picture that was being laid across a number of channels in all sorts of places."

So, let me see if I've got this straight - Iraqis have been sitting around positively enjoying the invasion and occupation of their country, loving the continued bombing since March 2003, and finding that the increased risk of dying every day just adds to the joys of living until they started watching television and realised things weren't quite as bright and rosy as they first thought? Maybe I'm missing the point, but surely any Iraqi attacks on British troops are related to the fact that these are the very troops that invaded and continue to occupy their country on entirely false premises?

However, let's pretend that this has nothing to do with the attacks and deal with the statement quoted above. By entirely ignoring the invasion and occupation of Iraq as the only possible reason for any attacks on British troops, not only is the issue of the invasion and occupation removed from the equation, the implication of this statement is that the reporting of events in Iraq and by logical extension any other event anywhere else in the world deemed to be of a sensitive nature, is a direct threat to certain specific interested parties. And, on occasions where these parties deem their interests to be greater than those of the requirement of the public to know what is going on, then the former should emerge victorious from the propaganda battle.

As if intimating that the already limited information that reaches us is already too much information by far wasn't sufficient cause for concern, Gen Walker went on to reject estimates, published in The Lancet (that well known bastion of outrageousness), that around 98,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the war and occupation saying, "I don't think we can put any credibility on that study in straight terms." If anyone can find any meaning for that statement in any context, please let me know. He goes on to say, "The difficulty with casualties, particularly when they are not your own casualties and are members of the civilian population or the anti-coalition forces is that we don't control the casualty evacuation, so one will never quite know what the figures are." All of which is a terribly convenient way of avoiding the issue again.

There is always going to be some margin for error in estimating the number of victims of the Iraq invasion. But, when the governments that should be accountable to their citizens decide that any data regarding this subject constitutes classified information, we are left with no other option than to rely on any available sources of data that can reasonably stand public scrutiny.

08 December 2004

Karzai sworn in as first democratically elected Afghan president

Troops from NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and personnel from the US-dominated and led coalition forces accompanied Afghan army and police as they intensified their patrols on the streets of Kabul ahead of the inauguration of the new president. But who is the man the Economist hails as "Afghanistan’'s George Washington"?

Hamid Karzai was born December 24, 1957 in Kandahar, an ethnic Pashtun and member of the powerful Populzai tribe (which has supplied Afghanistan's kings since 1747 and which, combined with Karzai's appointment as President of Afghanistan, provides yet another example how power is maintained amongst a very tightly knit group of clans the world over, throughout history and by whatever means necessary). Karzai become involved in the world of Afghan politics at an early age, supporting the incumbent clan's king, King Zahir Shah before studying to obtain a BA and MA in political science and international relations from Shimla University in India.

Following his studies, Karzai returned to Afghanistan and spent the mid-to-late eighties serving as a mujaheddin adviser and diplomat and fundraising on behalf of anti-Soviet uprisings. After the Soviet forces were expelled with the help of the CIA and Osama Bin Laden, Karzai served as a deputy foreign minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani who was overthrown by the Taliban in 1996. Initially, Karzai was a keen supporter of the Taliban, "Like so many mujaheddin, I believed in the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene in 1994 and they promised to end the warlordism, establish law and order, and then call a Loya Jirga to decide upon who should rule Afghanistan," Karzai said in an interview in September 2001. "I gave the Taliban $50,000 U.S. to help run their movement and then handed over to them a large cache of weapons I had hidden away."

Karzai's allegiance with the Taliban came to an end when Karzai began to oppose their rigid policies and distrust their connections to Pakistani intelligence and Arab Islamic radicals. In 1997 Karzai refused to become ambassador to the UN, even though Unocal oil barons were happy to entertain the Taliban in Texas.

Shortly afterwards, Unocal declared the political climate in Afghanistan to be too unstable to proceed with their plans for a pipeline through Afghanistan and in 1998, from his home in Quetta, Karzai set about organising opposition to the Taliban. On July 14, 1999 Karzai's father Abdul Arhad Karzai was assassinated with reports stating he was gunned down by unidentified killers who fled on a motorcycle as he emerged from a mosque. Blame was tacitly assigned to the Taliban, despite the killers being 'unidentified' and who may well have been another third party that wished for a perfidious connection to made between the murder of Karzai's father and the Taliban). Eight days later Hamid Karzai was nominated by Afghan leaders and Islamic scholars to be the next leader of the Populzai tribe, even though he has several older brothers living in the United States that might have qualified for the position.

In October 2001 Karzai's brother said that Karzai survived an ambush by Taliban forces and was still in Afghanistan. Other reports said that U.S. forces had rescued him and took him out of Afghanistan. The U.S. says it whisked him out of the country; Karzai insists he never left--perhaps concerned about being seen as too close to the U.S. Neither report could be independently confirmed. In December 2001 Karzai is sworn in as Afghanistan's new leader, a role which he filled until his presidential inauguration ceremony today.

In a country that has suffered from a notoriously unstable political climate for its entire history, one might have thought that the execution of the coup d'etat by conquering imperialist forces in Afghanistan would have been a little more swift than the three years it has taken to arrange for Hamid Karzai to become "democratically" and "popularly" elected as the country's President. And, with the likes of former Halliburton fraudster, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld among a select 150 of "the world’s great and good" foreign delegates that attended the inauguration of the new president, one has to wonder quite what the Afghan definition of 'stability' might be in the future.

Fittingly, and in a perverse reversal of Afghani, Iraqi and increasingly global truth Cheney announced, "We gather to mark a historic moment in the life of the nation and in the history of human freedom."

06 December 2004

Afghan warlord plans $100m ski resort fighter plans a Swiss-style resort

According to the UK's Independent newspaper, the former warlord Izatullah Atif Rooz plans to build a $100m (£56m) mini-Switzerland ski-resort in the battleground of the Afghan mountains.
Rooz, who says the area was virtually destroyed by the soviets, then the Taliban and that he lost 700 members of his family, is now seeking investment from Switzerland to build 600 homes within the next three years, using labourers that once made up his 2,000 strong private army, recently disbanded. The plans include ski slopes with snowmaking facilities and alpine chalets.

One of the hurdles that must be overcome for this venture to go ahead is that of removing any left over landmines in the area - what better way to do this than to cover them in snow and let fat rich skiers find 'em!

French End Hiding Of Explosives In Luggage

In another of those 'you couldn't make it up' stories, French police have decided that their practice of hiding plastic explosives in air passengers' luggage to train bomb-sniffing dogs is to come to an end after a package of plastic explosives went walkabouts.

In regular training exercises French Airport police deliberately placed plastic explosives into passenger's luggage in a bid to test the effectiveness of their bomb dogs. Early on Friday evening such a test occured and the luggage containing the plastic explosive was lost on a conveyor belt carrying bags through a restricted area from check-in to planes!

At the time of writing, no passenger has contacted French authorities to report discovering a bag with nearly 5 ounces of explosives tucked into his or her suitcase

In one slickly executed training exercise the French police have exposed the mindless risks to which authorities will expose citizens, proved that sniffer dogs are no good for anything other than working out if someone's smoked a spliff on the way to the airport, and given some poor soul a lot of explaining to do when they arrive at their destination - assuming, of course, that anyone official notices they happen to be carrying half a pound of plastic explosive!

28 November 2004

Brown Wants Schools To Take Babies in Private Nurseries

Knowing only the headline, The Antagonist surmises the gist of the story is that someone has devised a plan to install young babies into new, private nurseries so parents are freed of the problems of parental responsibilities. The characteristically New Labour way of fixing the problem of parental responsibilities by tackling the cause of parental responsibilities and removing kids from the parental equation.

So, knowing roughly what is to follow, The Antagonist goes on to read the article finding such gems as, "Under Labour’s plans, primary schools will be funded to set up private fee-paying day nurseries for infants and young children, as well as providing breakfast clubs and after-school activities for their pupils" spill forth from the screen.

The Antagonist asks the question, "Why would anyone suggest that removing newborn children from the care of their parents might be a good idea?"

From a governmental point of view this proposed scheme has a number of obvious advantages; Firstly, you can extort additional monies from parents for the 'service' being rendered.

Secondly, you dramatically increase the available work force (extensively so when done in conjunction with increasing retirement ages) by providing the means by which both parents can eschew any claim to maternity and paternity rights and duties, simultaneously making each and every other worker onsiderably less valuable (read: cheaper).

Thirdly - and most alarmingly - under the proposed new plans the hearts and minds of all new born children in the UK would effectively be under government control from a far younger age than ever before. Children are usually sacrificed to the woefully underachieving education system in Britain at the age of four. Under these new plans, this four year buffer period during which parents impart essential life skills to their child prior to allowing them to enter the education system and the world at large will be entirely removed, leaving children exposed to whatever sights, sounds and activities (Two Minutes Hate?) the government deems appropriate almost immediately they are born.

Indeed, in some parts of the country, similar schemes are already underway, and, "...[at St Bede’s primary school in Bolton] The nursery takes 40 children aged from six weeks to four years. Parents can leave their children from 7.30am to 6pm for a fee of £110 a week."

Before long, it'll be another £50 a week to leave them in overnight from Monday to Friday and the government will throw in extra weekend board options so neither parent has to bear the burden of sitting in school run traffic jams in a 4x4 full of screaming kids.

11 September 2004


While we're on the subject of Google, if you run a query for Kazaa, Google very kindly includes the following message, "In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed x result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results." Nice touch. What else is Google censoring?

9/11 Racketeering & Profiteering Continues

On the eve of the third anniversary of 9/11, and just as the three year statute on taking legal action is about to expire, the World Trade Center Agency that owns the site of the World Trade Center in New York says it is suing Saudi Arabia for damages suffered on 11 September, 2001.

Only last week the bond brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald who lost more employees in the attack than any other firm - sued Saudi Arabia seeking US$7 billion and claiming Saudi Arabia aided the attackers. Interestingly, there appears to be no mention of this action on the Cantor Fitzgerald web site, despite this being a fairly signifcant legal claim, and instead the latest news announcement at the time of this post was one relating to a September 11th charity fund.

Shortly before the events of 9/11 in the summer of 2001, Silverstein Properties won, with Westfield America, a 99-year right-to-lease of the World Trade Center from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with the deal resulting in Silverstein controlling the office space and Westfield America the retail space.

Assuming that the WTC Agency comprises at least the The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and maybe some part of Silverstein Properties, neither of these organisations appears to believe that issuing a law suit against Saudi Arabia for allegedly aiding attackers on 9/11 is particularly newsworthy as neither Cantor Fitzgerald, Silverstein Properties, nor The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey web sites appear to contain any information about the issuance of these law suits, despite them being rather significant events.

Given all we've been told about who was allegedly responsible for the attacks, and everything that has transpired since - the ongoing 'war against terror' ('the bombing of an abstract noun' as described by Monty Python's Terry Jones) which has resulted in the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan (tenuously connected to the events of 9/11) and Iraq (entirely unconnected with the events of 9/11, nor did it possess any weapons of mass destruction (or 'bombs' as they were known before the impact and meaning of words started disappearing entirely)), and consider also the fact that two leading Saudi newspapers published articles offering the Saudi point of view, condemning the attacks and disassociating the majority of Muslims and Arabs from 9/11 - one might be forgiven for wanting to understand quite how it might be possible to seek compensation from Saudi Arabia, mightn't one?

06 August 2004

The Prophetic Visions of General Tommy Franks

Four days before 9/11 Tommy Franks made a public comment that an attack on the World Trade Center was what kept him awake at night. When you've been a key part of orchestrating such a huge event for so many months, I guess you're bound to lose a little sleep here and there.

05 August 2004

Smoke & Mirrors

Or, 'Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything' - only, with the spread of media controlled by just a few powerful, wealthy individuals with their own agendas, it now applies on a global scale.

There's a whole world of people out there will unquestioningly accept whatever it is they're told as if every random third party on the planet has their best interests at heart. This nice little article provides a bit of an overview as to how this global whitewash is achieved.

22 March 2004

Keeping the spirit alive

I am not American. I do not live in America. I have little actual, effective jurisdiction over what goes on in the country in which I live, irrespective of whether or not I vote, or if indeed I am even allowed to vote, so it can be safely assumed that I have no sway over the American electoral system. However, like every other human being on this planet, I am being increasingly subjected to the tyrannical actions, and the repercussions of those actions, taken by those that govern the alleged land of the free. (Which definition of 'free' were they using, exactly?)

So, when I received the call-to-arms for the American people via email (congratulations Mr Smith, you're the Antagonist's first), I felt duty bound to post it on the optimistic whim that, maybe, if people the world over can communicate and work together sufficiently well in the run up to an election in America to change things for the better (however naive that notion may be), then maybe this spirit of collaboration and cooperation, as opposed to the traditional one of competition and conflict which is expounded and horrifically prevalent in daily events, can transcend borders, races and religions to build a better world for more people and, maybe one day, everyone.

Critical Mass
The cooperative spirit of the public is alive and clearly evinced by events such as the immense global anti-war protest that occurred prior to the bombing of Iraq, as well as the increased sense of unity demonstrated by the Spanish people after the Madrid bombing and their choice to align themselves with and elect a leader who speaks of peace and who professes to uphold their will on an issue where their previous government failed them.

In the interests of keeping this spirit alive...

Footnote: it could be argued that, by virtue of the fact that I've posted this call-to-arms, and that a bunch of people that may be entitled to vote might in the US may read it and, further, might also make a decision based on the information contained here-in that could potentially affect the outcome of the American elections in a manner that could potentially be detrimental to the position of power held by George Bush (despite even the efforts of the likes of Katherine Harris?*), that I do indeed have some influence over what goes on in a far-off land. If this applies to me, then it must apply to you too. [ * Serious respect to Mr Blumrich for hitting Google's number four spot with a simple search for "katherine harris" :) ]

16 March 2004

Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt

The UK is at no greater risk now from a terror attack than it was before the Madrid bombings or even 11 September, Home Secretary David Blunkett said yesterday.

Today, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens has said a terror attack on London is inevitable.

Well, how useful. By the same token, the sky is going to fall in and we're all going to die. Oh, and news just in... the sky is not going to fall in and we're still all going die but it's going to take slightly longer than if the sky had fallen in.

In amongst the fear, uncertainty and doubt that is created around us, we must endeavour to free ourselves from the burdens of all forms of external pressure and chastisement for this is the way to an enlightened and peaceful life.

04 March 2004

Necessary Illusions?

When it was realised that there was only so much control that could exerted over people through the use of physical force, logic dictated that the way to make people en masse act in the desired manner is ensure their minds are controlled instead. The text below is a collection of quotes from various talks given by Noam Chomsky relating to the subject of propaganda and which all fit together nicely to produce a synopsis of quite how values, beliefs and ideas are engendered in a largely unwitting public via 'education' systems, mass media and simple repetition:

"The point is that you have to work. That's why the propaganda system is so successful. Very few people are going to have the time or the energy or the commitment to carry out the constant battle that's required to get outside of McNeil or Dan Rather or somebody like that.

The easy thing to do, you know, you come home from work, you're tired, you've had a busy day, you're not going to spend the evening carrying out a research project. So you turn on the tube and say, "It's probably right", or you look at the headlines in the paper and then you watch the sports or something. That's basically the way the system of indoctrination works. Sure the other stuff is there, but you're going to have to work to find it.

Modern industrial civilisation has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilisation has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praise-worthy, on the grounds that private licence yields public benefits, in the classic formulation.

Now, it's long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself, in time. it can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it's possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can.

At this stage of history, either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests guided by values of solidarity, and sympathy, and concern for others. Or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialised class is in authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community.

The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely to impose 'necessary illusions', to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved, or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival."

03 March 2004

AD Serving Opt Out Cookies

No, not biscuits for people with attention deficit issues, this is apparently a way of preventing DoubleClick from setting cookies that are uniquely associated with your browser (read: 'identifiable as you') by setting a persistent "blank" cookie.

19 February 2004

Police 'abused power' during demo

Police 'abused power' during demo. Now this can be determined after the event, how about making a giant leap and having a bit of fairness before and during the proceedings?

One of the leading protesters, Jane Laporte, said: "It was just completely surreal being surrounded by motorcycle outriders and Land Rovers and police filming us constantly while we were on the coaches. We couldn't believe it was happening in this country. This is why we were supposed to be going to war in Iraq, because people were being denied their freedom of speech, and it was happening to us."

The irony of it all.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Nice interactive Flash animation on the Nation site outlining the big ten media conglomerates in the world and areas of media ownership.

Mark Crispin Miller's original article is worth a look too and keep your eyes peeled as Disney has unanimously rejected a takeover bid by cable firm Comcast. This really isn't that far off being true.

Attrition Security Rant: Anti-Virus Companies: Tenacious Spammers

If spam is "unsolicited junk e-mail" and anti-virus software alert messages include advertisements for the software that generated them which end up in your mailbox as a result of someone spoofing your email address, are anti-virus companies guilty of spamming?

Morris mom turns tables in music industry lawsuit

Morris mom turns tables in music industry lawsuit

And quite right too! The music industry has for too long been allowed to hold the music-buying public to ransom.

16 February 2004


From eXile: "You Pussies!"
"I just read the new polls. Americans are losing their war hard-ons faster than a fag in a whorehouse. At the start of May 2003, 61% said the war was going "very well." Now only 19% say that. Back in May, only 4% said the war was going "not well." Now 35% think so.

You make me sick.

What the Hell did you think was gonna happen? The Iraqis were gonna fall in love with an occupying army? "Oh thank you for blowing up our power plants and water supply! Allah be praised, now we have democracy!"

15 February 2004

White House Admits Bush Lied in 2002 State of The Union Over Al Qaeda Obtaining U.S. Nuke Plant Plans

President Bush claimed in his 2002 State of the Union address that the U.S. discovered in Afghanistan detailed plans of U.S. nuclear plants. The Bush administration was forced to admit this week that the claim was not based on factual evidence after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said there was no evidence any such plans were found in Afghanistan.

More at http://www.democracynow.org and Greenpeace USA.

Yes, kids, governments tell lies.

Greg Palast

If you don't already know the work of this man, here's a couple of RealAudio pointers:

- Theft of the Presidency
- Bush blocked Bin Laden probes

More of the writings of Greg Palast.

I love death

A superb animation for a rather catchy tune from Finnish band, Lodger (album out in the next four weeks).

It's nice when the 24x7 audio-visual and 'broadcast' capabilities that we have at our disposal are used to highlight the elusive obvious rather than to captivate and distract us from what actually is.

02 February 2004

Blunkett plans tougher terror law

A blind man in the UK isn't going to be happy until such time as we're all locked up.

Home Secretary David Blunkett wants new anti-terrorism laws to make it easier to convict British terror suspects. He wants to extend this so prosecutors can take action against suspected British extremists even though the evidence may not be strong enough to win a conviction under existing laws.

This may mean lowering the burden of proof in such cases from "beyond reasonable doubt" to what is acceptable in civil cases, "the balance of probabilities".

Words fail me... However, the reactions of those that frequent the BBC web site seem rather more balanced than usual. Given the nature of the democracies that are imposed on us, I'm not entirely certain that the opinions of the general public are going to make much of a difference in the long run, but we can hope.

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, "He that gives up a little liberty to gain temporary security will lose both and deserve neither".