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“I have been writing about international terrorism ever since Reagan declared a war on terror in 1981. In doing so, I have kept to the official definitions of “terrorism” in US and British law and in army manuals, all approximately the same. To take one succinct official definition, terrorism is “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature…through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.” Everything I have just described, and a great deal more like it, falls within the category of terror ism, in fact state-directed international terrorism, in the technical sense of US-British law. For exactly that reason, the official definitions are unusable. They fail to make a crucial distinction: the concept of “terrorism” must somehow be crafted to include their terrorism against us, while excluding our terrorism against them.

Suppose that al-Qaeda had been supported by an awesome superpower intent on overthrowing the government of the United States. Suppose that the attack had succeeded: al-Qaeda had bombed the White House, killed the president, and installed a vicious military dictatorship, which killed some 50-100,000 people, brutally tortured 700,000, set up a major center of terror and subversion that carried out assassinations throughout the world and helped establish “National Security States” elsewhere that tortured and murdered with abandon. Suppose further that the dictator brought in economic advisers who within a few years drove the economy to one of the worst disasters in its history while their proud mentors collected Nobel Prizes and received other accolades. That would have been vastly more horrendous even than 9/11.

There were sensible steps that could have been undertaken to achieve that goal. The murderous acts of 9/11were bitterly condemned even within the jihadi movements. One constructive step would have been to isolate al-Qaeda, and unify opposition to it even among those attracted to its project. Nothing of the sort ever seems to have been considered.

With good reason, the hawkish Michael Scheuer, who was in charge of tracking bin Laden for the CIA for many years, concludes that “the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” The same conclusion was drawn by US Major Matthew Alexander, perhaps the most respected of US interrogators, who elicited the information that to the capture of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Alexander has only contempt for the harsh interrogation methods demanded by the Bush administration. Like FBI interrogators, he believes that the Rumsfeld-Cheney preference for torture elicits no useful information,in contrast with more humane forms of interrogation that have even succeeded in converting the targets and enlisting them as reliable informants and collaborators.

From hundreds of interrogations, Alexander discovered that many foreign fighters came to Iraq in reaction to the abuses at Guant‡namo and Abu Ghraib, and that they and their domestic allies turned to suicide bombing and other terrorist acts for the same reason. He believes that the use of torture may have led to the death of more US soldiers than the toll of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The most significant revelation in the released Torture Memos is that interrogators were under “relentless pressure” from Cheney and Rumsfeld to resort to harsher methods to find evidence for their fantastic claim that Saddam Hussein was cooperating with al-Qaida.

By the late ’90s, London began to attend to the grievances that lay at the roots of the terror, and to deal with those that were legitimate — as should be done irrespective of terror. Within a few years terror virtually disappeared. I happened to be in Belfast in 1993. It was a war zone. I was there again last fall. There are tensions, but at a level that is barely detectable to a visitor. There are important lessons here. Even without this experience we should know that violence engenders violence, while sympathy and concern cool passions and can evoke cooperation and empathy.

from… http://chomsky.info/talks/20100323.htm

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It’s perhaps the biggest threat to the nation’s mental wellbeing, yet it’s freely available on every street – for pennies. The dealers claim it expands the mind and bolsters the intellect: users experience an initial rush of emotion (often euphoria or rage), followed by what they believe is a state of enhanced awareness. Tragically this “awareness” is a delusion. As they grow increasingly detached from reality, heavy users often exhibit impaired decision-making abilities, becoming paranoid, agitated and quick to anger. In extreme cases they’ve even been known to form mobs and attack people. Technically it’s called “a newspaper”, although it’s better known by one of its many “street names”, such as “The Currant Bun” or “The Mail” or “The Grauniad” (see me – Ed).

In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often “cut” the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/10/strikes-unions-gordon-brown

Strikes are back, but unlikely to trouble Gordon Brown

Michael White
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 March 2010 20.17 GMT

Strikes are back in the headlines, though rarely on the front pages as they once routinely were. Is Britain heading back to the future – or at least facing a general election in which union militancy is an issue?

The likely answer is neither, unless the giant Unite union’s bumpy negotiations with BA over cabin crew staff ends up ruining Easter air travel plans. Ditto Bob Crow’s RMT doing the same for Easter train trips – both just before Gordon Brown goes to Buckingham Palace to seek an election.

The BBC website reports all sorts of strikes, threatened and actual. The GM’s engineering staff at British Gas are ballotting over claims of “bullying and customer exploitation”. How many staff? 8,000 – and note that concern for customers. Bus drivers in Wales, university staff in Sussex, BBC staff worried about station closures – the raw statistics tell the story of declining union membership, power and militancy in an increasingly post-industrial state where individualism prevails over social solidarity.

When Margaret Thatcher won her first mandate to “deal with the unions” in 1979, 29.5m working days were lost to strikes, a figure that dwindled to 235,000 in 1997 when Tony Blair moved into No 10. The figures rise and fall: 759,000 in 2008, rapidly falling again in 2009 despite 177,000 postal workers walking out in their modernisation battle with Royal Mail. That dispute was quietly settled this week on what are reasonable terms for the communications union (CWU): 6.9% over three years in return for (touch wood) belatedly embracing more reforms. Yet 80,000 jobs have gone over the decade.

Every case is different. BA and Unite are both stroppy and the union’s aggro level is higher by virtue of an imminent election for general secretary. Unite may be pumping Ashcroftesque millions into Labour’s empty coffers, but Brown’s election comes second. Chances are the non-Labour RMT will cut a deal with the train operators after ritual argy-bargy.

Striking public sector workers from the militant and often volatile Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, lobbying MPs again today, may be an easier target for the Tories. White collar staff, already facing higher pension contributions and older retirement (like everyone else), are resisting tougher redundancy terms. And they know that whoever wins the election is promising to slash thousands of jobs.

The decline of private pensions renders even modest public sector pensions vulnerable. Yet the prospect of a half-decent pension keeps older staff going, as David Cameron found last year when he promised to “sort out” public sector pensions and dipped in the polls.

The idea popularised by the Tory tabloids, that average public sector wages (not the plump cats whose pay Brown froze today) now run ahead of the private sector, fails to explain that its pool of unskilled workers pulls private sector averages down.

A serious blunder by unions, managements or politicians could make an election impact. But not even the Tories seem keen and BA cabin crews are said to read the Daily Mail. Even militancy is more complicated than it was.

“what if?” “Yield back the balance of my time.”

Protest over BBC Gaza appeal veto

A protest is due to be held outside of Broadcasting House
A protest is to be held outside the BBC’s London HQ over its refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza.
The BBC says it cannot show the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee because it does not want to compromise its commitment to impartiality.
But health minister Ben Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, said it was “an inexplicable decision” and that the reasons given were “completely feeble”.
Veteran politician Tony Benn will be at the protest at Broadcasting House.
The Disasters Emergency Committee – an umbrella organisation for several major aid charities – wanted to run TV and radio appeals to help raise funds for people in need of food, shelter and medicines as a result of Israel’s military action in the Palestinian area.

I’m afraid the BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally

Ben Bradshaw
Health minister

ITV and Sky have also said they will not show the appeal, with an ITV spokesman saying that no consensus could be reached.
The government has already asked the BBC to reconsider its position.
The International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander had urged all the broadcasters to reconsider this decision in light of what he called “the great human suffering still taking place in Gaza”.
But BBC Director-General Mark Thompson wrote back saying the appeal might jeopardise the public’s confidence in the BBC’s impartiality.
The BBC’s chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, said it had to be “very careful” over the broadcast of such appeals.
‘Impartiality’
“It’s important to remember that broadcasting appeals like this is a unique thing we do,” she said.
“And we have to be very clear about two things when we do it – firstly, that that money will go to the people it’s intended for.
“But secondly, that we can do it within our own editorial principles and without affecting and impinging on the audience’s perception of our impartiality.
“And clearly – in conflicts as controversial as this – that is a real issue for us.”
Mr Bradshaw said the BBC’s reasoning was flawed.
“First, the one about delivery – the British government is giving £25m to Gazan relief, we don’t have a problem getting it in. There’s no reason why there should be any problem getting the relief in.
“Secondly, this nervousness about being biased. I’m afraid the BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally.”
Mr Benn will address the pro-Palestinian rally called by the Stop the War Coalition, and is expected to say the BBC’s refusal is a “betrayal” of its obligations.
‘Disgraceful decision’
Mr Benn will say: “The decision of the BBC to refuse to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, which has left aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations, is a betrayal of the obligation which it owes as a public service.
“To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticised.

Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza humanitarian appeal:
Launched by UK charities on 22 January to raise money for Gaza aid relief and reconstruction
Participants: Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision
Tel: 0370 60 60 900 or go to DEC website
“I appeal to the chairman of the BBC Trust to intervene to reverse this decision to save the lives of those who are now in acute danger of dying through a lack of food, fuel, water and medical supplies.”
Mohammed Sawalha, president of the British Muslim Initiative, said turning down the appeal was a “disgraceful decision”.
He added: “The BBC should be ashamed for its coverage of the Israeli aggression which failed to address the catastrophic suffering on the Palestinian side, and now it’s concerned about its impartiality.
“Never was the BBC impartial throughout this crisis”.
Following Mr Benn’s speech, the demonstrators intend to march to Trafalgar Square via Downing Street.

Of the 44 predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians.

According to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009.

For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.

The success percentage for the drone hits during 2009 was hardly 11 per cent.

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the “routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

No CCTV website

Guardian link

Daily Mail link

Green change link

RATM reaching number 1 in the music charts was started by a fan on Facebook that seemed to escalate into a national campaign. It establishes how the ‘silent minority’ can make a difference over the monopoly of reality TV and popular music. Can this be a representation of revolutionary success, or more importantly, can it be transfered to a political or social instability. Would it be possible to suggest that blog polling is a new dimension of democratic practice.

Conversely, Sony BMG own shares in both RATM and Simon Cowell’s X-factor, so they will have the financial success. Further, RATM will have the inevitable promotion of this campaign for future sales, even though part of their sales from this track goes to charity.

It’s the stupid economy, stupid, as elections loom

By Les Reid on Dec 2, 09 11:11 AM

IT’S the economy, stupid,” was Bill Clinton’s simple assessment of the main issue that wins politicians power. There’s never been a better time to invert the phrase. Next year’s council and general elections should be fought over what some satirists call “the stupid economy”.

The stupid economy has many elements, and some are common themes in this column. It sees executives of taxpayer-owned banks rewarded in pay and bonuses 300 times more than a nurse or teacher. And please don’t tell us such statements are the politics of envy, rather than social responsibility.

The stupid economy sees 700 highly skilled workers lose their jobs at Ericsson, jeopardising government plans to enable 5,000 advanced technology jobs at Ansty Park to drive the nation’s future economy, rather than overly relying on the casino-style gambling of the financial sector.

The stupid economy also sees local authorities including Coventry City Council increasingly relying on borrowed money. It leads to absurd political contradictions. Conservative-led councils – faced with proportionate real-terms decreases in government funding and pressure to limit Council Tax – say borrowing is needed to help deliver council services and invest in future projects.

Yet they and their party leaders attack a Labour government for borrowing to bail out the banks to protect savers, and for other spending measures to protect jobs and prop up the economy during recession. Such measures have contributed to an upturn in many major economies and were praised last week by the International Monetary Fund’s leader, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

In turn, Coventry’s Labour councillors have been accused of hypocrisy for a relentless attack on Conservative council borrowing, in apparent opposition to Labour government policy.

Coventry Conservative leaders’ latest Budget plans this week include borrowing another £18 million. After five years, Coventry council taxpayers are having to pay back £31million each year with interest.

Whoever’s responsible, it seems a stupid economy, as does the government’s Private Finance Initiative. First introduced by John Major’s Tories and lapped up by New Labour, it’s widely accepted as an accountancy trick to keep spending on schools, hospitals and even street lights off the balance sheet.

Private companies initially meet the bill, and we as taxpayers pay them back over decades at staggering rates of interest. PFI projects are seeing millions pounds more of Coventry council taxpayers’ money going to private consultants just for advice on get the projects underway.

The council is even paying expensive management consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers millions of pounds to advise it on how to make “value for money” budget cuts. It’s a stupid economy. Can’t governments ensure councils have the funds they need to deliver services to rapidly growing young and elderly populations?

And surely national and local government should have enough expertise to enable councils to identify how to make prudent savings without damaging services. The attack on the public sector after the free markets of global finance caused the worst recession since the 1930s is surely just plain stupid.

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  • This article seems to be quiet accurate considering the economic times of the present, though doesn’t take into account the positive policies within the issues he has raised. The article seems to be biased against all Government, and could be seen as representing the populations opinions and attitudes towards politics.

Photo evidence has emerged today concerning Nick Middleton’s second home scandal under Coventry University expenses allowance. The University is not impressed and are looking into the allegations.

Furthermore, Naughty Nick has rented one of his rooms to Ken.

Young unknown photojournalist managed to capture naughty Nick, Red handed!

nick

Furthermore, his alliances in his deceit are under further investigation into illegal religious conspiracy’s that go right to the Vatican city itself…

nick church