The wonderful world of Tony Blair

October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Britain’s most fearless investigative journalist Peter Oborne follows up his excellent work exposing Britain’s Israel lobby and the Murdoch empire with another devastating documentary about the myriad conflicts of interest of the execrable Tony Blair. (Also see Ali Abunimah’s piece on Blair’s myriad shady dealings).

International viewers can watch the documentary below:

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Ten years too long: What is the True Cost of the Afghanistan War?

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Narrated by Tony Benn, with music by Brian Eno. The clip ends with a call to join the Antiwar Mass Assembly in Trafalgar Square on 8 October: http://www.antiwarassembly.org

DSEi: playground of the power elite

September 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Brenda Heard

DSEi 2009: Guy Tinsley of the Nottingham-based branch of Heckler & Koch, a German arms manufacturer

The images have become commonplace.  Pick-up trucks laden with rocket launchers and machine guns.  Dusty men with their rifles, poised as so many Rambo’s.  Billows of smoke that linger after the bomber has flown on to its next target.  These are the images of contemporary conflict.  Differences of socio-political opinion are settled by bloody confrontation.

True, violent conflict is as old as mankind itself.  True, self-defence is a necessity, even a responsibility.  But the business of war has become the norm rather than the exception.  The significance of this development lies not merely in the multitude of violent and unnecessary deaths—but more so in our readily viewing this reality with a novel brand of bold nonchalance.

In business-speak for international arms dealing, DSEi—Defence & Security Equipment International—boasts that its biennial exhibition ‘provides a time-effective opportunity to meet the whole defence and security supply chain’.  DSEi further promises that this year’s event will exceed attendance figures from 2009: 25,170 attendees; 1280 exhibitors; 98 countries; 70 official delegations; 27 national pavilions.   Just have a look at its slick website offering ‘infinite opportunities’ to those who would jump on the weapons carousel.

The DSEi exhibit organiser, Clarion Events, offers a patronising disclaimer:

While we would all wish to see a world in which no nation has any need of equipment for defence or peacekeeping, it is not the world we live in now.

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These riots reveal some unpalatable home truths

August 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Author Hari Kunzru writes on the British riots in an excellent piece for The Guardian‘s Comment is free:

In a society that has abandoned or devalued most forms of mutual assistance in favour of a solipsistic entrepreneurialism, it’s hardly surprising that, faced with the end of the good times, people help themselves. Fear and greed are our ruling passions. That’s true of the kids smashing shop windows to steal trainers. It’s also true of the MPs fiddling their expenses, the police officers taking backhanders, the journalists breaking into phones. Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t any of us? The example has been set by our new masters, the one per cent for whom and by whom we’re governed. The ability of powerful actors in the financial markets to socialise risk while privatising profit appears, to the financial peasantry, indistinguishable from organised crime. No reason for the rest of us to stand on ceremony.

One may object to this rhetoric (bankers = looters) on the grounds that markets have social utility, or that bankers don’t beat up shopkeepers (they don’t have to) and sometimes give to charity. One may also feel that any attempt to understand the rioters’ motivations risks shading into justification. The strongest objection to any argument based on social conditions is the oft-made one about individual responsibility: whatever the prevailing economic or social situation, not everyone chooses to behave in a particular way, whether that’s insider trading or knocking over Evans Cycles. However, it’s hard not to think we’ve made a culture in which the strong and swift are encouraged to feel they bear no responsibility towards the halt and lame. Now, as the wheels fall off the global financial system, fear and greed are free to roam unchecked, without bothering to mask their faces.

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Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

August 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

John Pilger’s 2000 documentary on the effects of economic sanctions on Iraq remains an important testament to the pre-Iraq war history of international crimes against the Iraqi people.

Following footage of George H.W. Bush’s convincing announcement that “You, the people of Iraq, are not our enemy. We do not seek your destruction,” Pilger narrates from Iraq:

What happens when modern civilized life is taken away? Imagine all the things we take for granted are suddenly not available, or severely limited: clean water, fresh food, soap, paper, pencils, books, light bulbs, life-saving drugs. Telephone calls to the outside world are extremely difficult, computers no longer work, when you fall ill you must sell your furniture to buy medicine, when you have a tooth out there’s no anesthetic. No country will trade with yours, and your money is almost worthless. Soon your children become beggars. It’s as if the world has condemned your whole society to a slow death, and all because of a dispute between governments over which you have no control. That’s what has happened here in Iraq, where almost 10 years of extraordinary isolation, imposed by the U.N. and enforced by America and Britain, have killed more people than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, including half a million young children.”

Pilger’s latest documentary, “The War You Don’t See”—an investigation into the media’s role in war—can be viewed online (outside of Australia) for $4.99.

There is a context to London’s riots that can’t be ignored

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Police in riot gear in Enfield, north London, on Sunday night (Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, writes in The Guardian:

Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.

As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as “social problems” (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

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Does Nick Clegg bear responsibility for the London riots?

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Who would have known that Nick Clegg was such a prophet? Long before he joined the Tories in a governing coalition he had predicted that ill-conceived austerity measures could lead people to riot. But if he was so certain, woudln’t that suggest that he triggered the riots by furnishing the circumstances under which he predicted they would happen?

Murdoch: The Mogul Who Screwed the News

August 3, 2011 § 3 Comments

This is a very revealing documentary, a must see.

Jacques Peretti talks to everyone from Hugh Grant to Rupert Murdoch insiders to find out how celebrities, cops and politicians cosied up with, and then turned against, Murdoch.

The blood of Dresden

June 25, 2011 § 15 Comments

Following is an extract from Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut in which he describes the scenes  of ‘obscene brutality’ he witnessed as a prisoner of war in Dresden which inspired his classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

Dresden before the allied bombing

It was a routine speech we got during our first day of basic training, delivered by a wiry little lieutenant: “Men, up to now you’ve been good, clean, American boys with an American’s love for sportsmanship and fair play. We’re here to change that.

“Our job is to make you the meanest, dirtiest bunch of scrappers in the history of the world. From now on, you can forget the Marquess of Queensberry rules and every other set of rules. Anything and everything goes.

“Never hit a man above the belt when you can kick him below it. Make the bastard scream. Kill him any way you can. Kill, kill, kill – do you understand?”

His talk was greeted with nervous laughter and general agreement that he was right. “Didn’t Hitler and Tojo say the Americans were a bunch of softies? Ha! They’ll find out.”

And of course, Germany and Japan did find out: a toughened-up democracy poured forth a scalding fury that could not be stopped. It was a war of reason against barbarism, supposedly, with the issues at stake on such a high plane that most of our feverish fighters had no idea why they were fighting – other than that the enemy was a bunch of bastards. A new kind of war, with all destruction, all killing approved.

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Serco – The biggest uk company you have never heard of

May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

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