Thursday 26 May 2005

The world in the palm of their hands

Ok, for those of you who take the "cockup" rather than the "conspiracy" line of history, please explain the Bilderberg meetings to me? If it's all innocent and for the good of humanity then why all the secrecy? If there are no conspiracies then why can't I go to the meetings?

Bilderberg 2005

by Daniel Estulin

May 24, 2005—The annual secret meeting of the Bilderberg group determines many of the headlines and news developments you will read about in the coming months. But the Establishment media completely black it out. With the exception of half-a-dozen high-ranking members of the press who are sworn to secrecy, few have ever heard of the exclusive and secretive group called The Bilderbergers.

Mainstream news organizations boastful about their no-holds barred investigative exploits, have been strangely reluctant to lift the blackout curtain hiding a major event: the Bilderberg group's secret annual meeting for the world's most powerful financiers, industrialists, and political figures.

Two thousand-five was a bad year for Bilderberg and its future looks gloomy. Herculean efforts to keep their meetings secret in Rottach-Egern failed miserably. Bilderberg's grief is the free world´s glory—and hope for further restraining the power grabbers in the dawn of a new millennium.

One certainty is that although the Bilderberg Group has lost some of its past luster, it is meeting under its usual secrecy that makes freemasonry look like a playgroup. Staff at the hotel are photographed and put through special clearance. From porters to senior managers, the employees are warned (under the threat of never working in the country again) about the consequences of revealing any details of the guests to the press.

International and national media are said to be welcome only when an oath of silence has been taken, news editors are held responsible if any of their journalists 'inadvertently' report on what takes place.

While Clinton, Blair, Chirac, Berlusconi and Company attended the G8 summits of the world's foremost democratically elected leaders, they were accompanied by the massed ranks of the world media. In stark contrast, the comings and goings at Bilderberg take place under cover of a virtual publicity blackout.

The discussions they will engage in this year, from deciding how the world should deal with European-American relations, the Middle East powder keg, the Iraq war, the global economy and how to stave off war in Iran, and the consensus they reach, will influence the course of Western civilization and the future of the entire planet. This meeting takes place behind closed doors in total secrecy, protected by a phalanx of armed guards.

What Was on Bilderberg´s 2005 Agenda?

After three straight years of open hostilities and tension amongst the European, British and American Bilderbergers caused by the war in Iraq, the aura of complete congeniality amongst them has returned. Bilderbergers have reaffirmed and remain united in their long-term goal to strengthen the role the UN plays in regulating global conflicts and relations.

However, it is important to understand that Americans are no more the "Hawks" than the European Bilderbergers the "Doves." Europeans joined in supporting the 1991 invasion of Iraq by President George W. Bush's father, celebrating, in the words of one notable Bilderberg hunter the end of "America's Vietnam syndrome." Europeans also supported former President Bill Clinton's invasion of Yugoslavia, bringing NATO into the operation.

A much-discussed subject in 2005 at Rottach-Egern was the concept of imposing a direct UN tax on people worldwide through a direct tax on oil at the wellhead. This, in fact, sets a precedent. If enacted, it will be the first time, when a non-governmental agency, read the United Nations, directly benefits from a tax on citizens of free and enslaved nations.

Bilderberger proposal calls for a tiny UN levy at the outset, which the consumer would hardly notice. Jim Tucker of the court-killed Spotlight magazine years ago wrote "establishing the principle that the UN can directly tax citizens of the world is important to Bilderberg. It is another giant step toward world government. Bilderbergers know that publicly promoting a UN tax on all people on Earth would meet with outrage. But they are patient; it first proposed a direct world tax years ago and celebrates the fact that it is now in the public dialogue with little public attention or concern."

Bilderberg wants "tax harmonization" so high-tax countries could compete with more tax-friendly nations—including the United States—for foreign investment. They would "harmonize" taxes by forcing the rate in the United States and other countries to rise so that socialist Sweden's 58-percent level would be "competitive."

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Then there is the rise of the NGOs, a development former President Clinton suddenly (one day after it was discussed at Rottach-Egern) calls one of "the most remarkable things that have happened since the fall of the Berlin Wall." Ironically, Clinton's statement was picked up by The Wall Street Journal, a paper always represented at the Bilderberg meetings by Robert L. Bartley, its vice president and Paul Gigot, editorial page editor.

The Bilderbergers have been vigorously debating giving, for the first time, nonelected, self-appointed, environmental activists a position of governmental authority on the governing board of the agency which controls the use of atmosphere, outer space, the oceans, and, for all practical purposes, biodiversity. This invitation for "civil society" to participate in global governance is described as expanding democracy.

According to sources within Bilderberg, the status of NGOs would be elevated even further in the future. The NGO activity would include agitation at the local level, lobbying at the national level, producing studies to justify global taxation through UN organizations such as Global Plan, one of Bilderberg´s pet projects for over a decade. The strategy to advance the global governance agenda specifically includes programs to discredit individuals and organizations that generate "internal political pressure" or "populist action" that fails to support the new global ethic. The ultimate objective, according to the source, being to suppress democracy.

The United Nations Environment Programme, along with all the environmental treaties under its jurisdiction, would ultimately be governed by a special body of environmental activists, chosen only from accredited NGOs appointed by delegates to the General Assembly who are themselves appointed by the president of the United States, who is controlled by the Rockefeller-CFR-Bilderberg interlocking leadership

This new mechanism would provide a direct route from the local, "on-the-ground" NGO affiliates of national and international NGOs to the highest levels of global governance. For example: The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a group of affiliated NGOs, recently petitioned the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO asking for intervention in the plans of a private company to mine gold on private land near Yellowstone Park. The UNESCO Committee did intervene, and immediately listed Yellowstone as a "World Heritage Site in Danger." Under the terms of the World Heritage Convention, the United States is required to protect the park, even beyond the borders of the park, and onto private lands if necessary.

The ideas being discussed, if implemented, will bring all the people of the world into a global neighbourhood managed by a worldwide bureaucracy, under the direct authority of a minute handful of appointed individuals, and policed by thousands of individuals, paid by accredited NGOs, certified to support a belief system, which to many people is unbelievable and unacceptable.

Elections in Britain

Bilderbergers are celebrating the result it wanted. The return of a much humbled Tony Blair to 10 Downing Street with a much-reduced parliamentary majority. European Bilderbergers are still angry at him for supporting America´s war in Iraq. While teaching Blair a useful lesson in international politics, Bilderbergers feel he is a far safer candidate to continue on the path of European integration than his conservative rival Michael Howard.

Full story...

Wednesday 25 May 2005

The Insufferable Silence

by Anthony Wade

How much is enough America? How much is enough before we stand up collectively and say, “No more”. America has become sedated, tranquilized by a corporate media that keeps the truth from coming to light on an everyday basis. Anesthetized to the point that when the vilest acts perpetrated in the war on terror are being carried out by us, we just flip the channel to see if we can see who is left on American Idol. What has happened to our collective conscience when in latter day America we spend more time worrying about the freak show that is the Jackson trial then what atrocities are being committed in our name.

That is right America; this war is fought in your name, my name, and the names of every other citizen who resides in this country. Do you even remember why? Do you care anymore? Tens of thousands of people have died, over 1,600 of our own and do you even remember why? Does their blood scream out to you, as it does to me, as an American, as a Christian, as a human?

If not, then maybe the latest story out of Afghanistan will shake our collective conscience. You remember Afghanistan don’t you? That was where this great war started. We were told it was where the big bad guy, bin Laden was. As it turns out, as soon as we had him surrounded, we let him go. We continued though to bulldoze through the country and install our puppet government in the name of democracy. The reality was a little more stark, as this resulted in the return of Afghanistan is the world’s chief supplier of heroin. That aside, we were told that Afghanistan was a great example of the success of the war on terror. The real terror however, has been going on after the great victories.

As reported this week, on Friday, there was another incident of prisoner abuse that resulted in the deaths of two suspects. These reports usually break on Friday, so the media can ignore them and then switch subjects come Monday. Just another shot of anesthesia for the American populace. The deaths are not only disgusting, but they now represent what we have become, what our legacy is.

Mr. Dilawar was a quiet man with a wife and daughter who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was Afghanistan and the time was during the Bush Wars. Driving his taxi past a base used by American troops, Camp Salerno, which had been the target of a rocket attack that morning; was his undoing. In a land dominated by an unrelenting foreign power, us, Mr. Dilawar was promptly picked up for interrogation. His crime was DWA, driving while Afghani. Mr. Dilawar was not an imposing man, standing only at 5 foot nine inches and weighing 122 pounds. That mattered not to his captors, us, who immediately labeled him as non-compliant. Apparently non-compliant is not a label you want in a U.S. prison in Afghanistan.

His torture started with over 100 strikes to his legs in a 24 hours period, while he was shackled standing up. Three days later, he began his fourth interrogation. His hands were slapped back up every time they fell below his head. They were falling of course because of the beatings and shackled positions he had been forced to endure for the past three days. He was violently shoved against a wall multiple times, because he could not sit in a chair as instructed by his tormentors, us. Of course he could not sit because of the state of his legs, battered over 100 times in a day. After 15 minutes of this, he was so weak he could not get up so they stood him up. It was then that the Sergeant stepped back and kicked him fiercely in the groin. Seemingly unsatisfied by this “interrogation”, the Sergeant then instructed them to leave the battered Mr. Dilawar chained to the ceiling with a black hood over his head.

Soon, he was crying out for mercy when his captors investigated. He said he needed to see a doctor because of his legs. The attending MP said he was ok and just trying to get out of his restraints. The next morning began his final interrogation. Mr. Dilawar was incoherent. The treatment was similar. He was beaten some more, choked with his black hood, and all in the name of you an I. By that time the next day, God had granted Mr. Dilawar the peace his captors, us, refused to give him for so many days. There was zero intelligence gathered and it appears the man had done nothing wrong.

The autopsy confirmed that death was cause by the blunt trauma to his legs which in the word of one of the coroners, were basically pulpified. Did you get that America? They beat this 122 pound man in his legs so badly that the tissue turned into pulp. The coroner compared the injuries to someone getting run over by a bus.

Mr. Dilawar was one of two murdered prisoners from that prison at that time. I will not review the horrific details of the other, except to say that it is no less violent and no less despicable. Most of the troops working there had decided that Dilawar was innocent before the final interrogation that took his life. They killed him anyway. They killed him in your name. They killed him in my name. By God, they killed him in Christ’s name and that is what has to stop.

George Bush goes to great lengths to tell us about his Christianity. Some say it is what clinched the last election for him. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not war. I have read the Bible and did not come across the word pulpify. There is nothing Christian about this war. Yet Pastors all over this country support this man and his policies of death and torture. It has to stop.

Full story...

A Spreading Treason

There's more to the AIPAC spy scandal than 'mishandling' classified information

by Justin Raimondo

The vagaries of U.S. involvement in the Middle East were surely brought home to First Lady Laura Bush on her recent trip to Israel, on a tour of Jerusalem's holiest sites. At the Wailing Wall, where she placed a note in the Western Wall – as is the custom – she faced surly throngs of protesters shouting "Free Pollard Now!" The Pollardites also showed up earlier that morning, as Mrs. Bush paid a visit to the home of Israeli President Moshe Katsav: "Pollard, the people are with you!" they chanted.

Jonathan Pollard, the jailed spy who sold U.S. secrets to Israel, is a national hero in Israel, and Tel Aviv has never stopped importuning Washington for his release. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly brought up the issue again on his recent visit to America, where he bargained with American officials on Pollard's behalf in return for the promise of continued cooperation with Bush's peace plan. He probably got nowhere: when Bill Clinton reportedly gave in to the Israelis' blandishments in return for a promise of cooperation on his Middle East peace plan, whole battalions of top government officials threatened to resign. Perhaps, though, Sharon also intervened on behalf of another more recent practitioner of Israeli spycraft on American soil: Larry Franklin, a Jonathan Pollard for our times.

We have our Pollardites in America, too, and they are much in evidence these days as another major Israeli spy ring is on the verge of being busted and hauled into court. The recent arrest of Franklin, a 58-year-old Pentagon analyst who – until recently – headed up the policy department's Iran desk, has conjured the specter of Pollard's heinous crime – and promises to be just as injurious to American national security, if not more so.

Franklin, a longtime Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and fervent neoconservative, was observed by FBI agents in the summer of 2003 imparting top secret information to two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the spearhead of Israel's amen corner in the U.S. What is striking about this story is that Franklin's perfidy was discovered only because these two top officials – Steve Rosen, AIPAC's longtime policy director, and Keith Weissman, their Iran specialist – were already under surveillance by law enforcement agencies. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency put it in a recent report:

"Information garnered during the investigation into alleged leaks from a Pentagon analyst to the two former AIPAC staffers suggests the FBI began probing AIPAC officials just before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

I've been covering this investigation since it surfaced last year, when CBS leaked the news that Franklin's treachery had been unearthed. That initial report – which originated, it is clear in retrospect, as an attempt to derail the investigation, and warn Franklin's co-conspirators that the feds were on their trail – was the occasion for a cacophony of catcalls, all coming from Israel's intrepid defenders in the neoconservative media and the various pro-Israel lobbying groups. The party line was to downplay the charges – "People exchange information in Washington all the time!" – and imply, not so subtly, that anyone who lends credence to the accusations against Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman, let alone makes them, is an anti-Semite.

When Franklin was finally arrested, however, reflexively pro-Israel neocons like Joel Mowbray and Kate O'Beirne sneered that the charges didn't rise to the level of espionage, and averred that the whole thing was merely a matter of "mishandling" classified information: a tempest in a teapot. And on the left, an otherwise excellent piece by Laura Rozen in The Nation downplayed the charges in a less obvious way.

Rozen, a perceptive reporter who has been following this story from the start, gives us the essential context of the Franklin affair by showing that he was very much a part of a small, tightly-knit network inside the Pentagon dedicated to provoking war not only with Iraq but also igniting a regional conflict including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and beyond. She does a very good job, in her piece, of showing how Franklin was at the center of this group's covert machinations: he had a penchant, as she puts it, for "showing up at critical and murky junctures of recent history":

"He was part of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, which provided much-disputed intelligence on Iraq; he courted controversial Iraqi exile politician Ahmad Chalabi, who contributed much of that hyped and misleading Iraq intelligence; and he participated with a Pentagon colleague and former Iran/contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar in a controversial December 2001 meeting in Rome – which, in a clear violation of US government protocol, was kept secret from the CIA and the State Department."

"In all these endeavors," Rozen writes, "Franklin … was hardly acting as a lone wolf." These rogue operations were projects of the neoconservative matrix in Washington, which reaches not only into the bowels of the Pentagon but also seems to have gained access to the higher echelons of this administration, and virtually taken over the Vice President's office lock, stock, and barrel.

Full story...

Monday 23 May 2005

Darth Vader and the New World Order

Quite possibly the best of all six films, Lucas really pulled it off with this movie. It is utterly superb! 10/10

Best quote from the film: "You're either with me, or you're my enemy... Only a Sith believes in absolutes."

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith mirrors reality

The Star Wars story has had, without a question, the greatest impact on popular culture of any movie in world history. We will now explore why it has resonated so strongly with so many people across generations.

At last, the mainstream media is picking up on something we've been talking about for years. The plot lines of George Lucas' six Star Wars films mirror, in many respects, the activities of western governments.

George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars saga, has said over and over again that he simply plays on subconscious archetypal symbols that evoke primeval fears and passions. Lucas has also stated on many occasions that he draws from historical examples of imperial leaders' lust for war and total power.

Lucas has said that that is why his films have such a powerful effect of people. Deep down, everyone knows that the greatest threat to life and liberty isn't the average criminal on the street, but the monolithic, all-powerful state.

The human desire to resist tyranny is one of the strongest drives we have and Lucas plays upon that instinct masterfully.

While premiering his film, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, at the Cannes Film Festival George Lucas was asked if his new film was a social commentary on George Bush and the Iraq invasion (which even our own government admits is part of America's new "kindly, helpful and loving" imperialism).

How can they not ask this when Darth Vader says to his former teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi, "if you're not with me, then you're my enemy." Remember that Lord Bush, after the 9/11 attacks said, "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Lucas responded to the reporters by saying that the original Star Wars was developed in the early post-Veitnam War era shortly after Richard Nixon left office amidst a byzantine scandal.

He continued by saying, "The issue was, how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship...When I wrote it, Iraq (the U.S.-led war) didn't exist.. but the parallels of what we did in Vietnam and Iraq are un believable ...I didn't think it was going to get this close."

Speaking about present day America he said, "I hope this doesn't come true in our country."

There are thousands of examples of classical despotism being practiced in the US and worldwide today. Here are just a couple:

- Our new Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, in published memos told the President and military leaders that US forces could interrogate detainees to death. If the detainees died while being tortured, the military's actions would be legal as long as they hadn't killed them on purpose. The document contained examples of how to strap someone down to a table and lower them into "liquid effluent" until they began to pass out.

Gonzales had the nerve to say that President Bush is the law and that he can break any Federal or international law that he wishes because he is the President. Gonzalez openly defended his view in front of a Senate panel that still confirmed him to be Attorney General.

Remember Hans Solo in the Empire Strikes Back strapped down in a torture chair as Darth Vader administers electric shocks. According the Alberto Gonzales' logic this is good. Vader works for the Emperor and the Emperor is the law.

The Attorney General's dark views are shared by the rest of the White House. They believe that they are above the law. Coupled with the exploding American police state, this reality is the text book manifestation of dictatorship.

Combine this open demonstration of dictatorship with 63 countries on a White House invasion hit-list and tyrannical empire is the only term that fits.

-Under section 802 of the USA Patriot Act, misdemeanor non-terror related crimes are listed as terrorism. Citizens are stripped of their most basic Constitutional rights that were held sacred in the old Republic.

-George Bush has set up a draconian Department of Homeland Security, giving FEMA the power to engage in mass arrests.

-Last year, the outgoing head of CENTCOM, General Tommy Franks, told the press that if America was attacked again the Constitution would be set aside in favor of a military form of government.

-The Federal government is dismantling the last vestiges of States' rights with its new Federally-standardized National ID Card that has been integrated with thousands of private databases to track and trace our every action.

Government-Sponsored Terrorism

When I first saw Episode I, I instantly understood the plot. Being a student of history, it made total sense. But, I was amazed, time and time again, when talking to educated adults who were also Star Wars fans that they didn't get it. They'd say, "it doesn't make any sense."

This phenomenon got even worse when Episode II came out. People were totally confused. They didn't understand a plot that children could grasp.

For those who are still confused, here's a plot synopsis in a nutshell:

In Episode I, Senator Palpatine is an obscure politician from the peaceful world of Naboo. Palpatine influences Naboo not to pay its Trade Federation taxes. The corrupt mercantile Trade Federation cartel then blockades the Naboo system and begins a ground invasion of its capitol, taking its orders from the sinister leader Darth Sidious, Lord of the Sith, who is one and the same with Senator Palpatine.

By manipulating the outcome of the Naboo police action, Palpatine (who then plays the part of resisting an operation that he has launched) is able to springboard into the Chancellery of the Galactic Senate.

Episode II begins with a widening conflict that threatens to destroy the hundred thousand-year-old Republic. The newly- elected Chancellor (Palpatine) is able to use the expanding crisis as a pretext to pass police state legislation and to launch a mammoth military buildup.

As in Episode I, Darth Sidious is in control of the separatists led by the charismatic Count Dooku, who is his secret apprentice, Darth Tyrannus. Darth Sidious uses his agent (Count Dooku) to create a crisis that threatens to destroy the Republic, thus threatening the Republic's very existence and manipulating the Senate into giving him the powers of a dictator.

This is the classic use of problem-reaction-solution. Create a crisis, get the reaction of fear from the population, and offer the solution of a police state that you control.

Real-world examples of this through history are:

-Adolph Hitler, two months after being elected Chancellor, firebombed the German Parliament (Reichstag) building, blamed it on his political enemies and declared martial law in the Reich.

-Most historians now believe that the US government bombed its own ship in Havana harbor as a pretext to launch the Spanish-American war in 1898.

-The LBJ Presidential library in 2003 released taped conversations between President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in which they discussed how the Gulf of Tonkin attack never really took place and how to use it to officially kick of the Vietnam War which resulted in the deaths of over 58,000 US troops and over a million Vietnamese.

-In early 2001, the Baltimore Sun and ABC News reported on a newly-declassified operation code-named Northwoods, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed hijacking jets by remote control and crashing them, bombing DC, committing sniper attacks in Miami and DC, having the CIA attack the Guantanamo Bay Marine Corps base with mortars, and how to blame all of this terrorism on Cuba and the Soviet Union, giving the Pentagon the pretext to start World War III.

The plan was green-lighted all the way up to President Kennedy who vetoed the plan. The bottom line is that the US government planned to terrorize its own cities as a pretext for war.

In Episode III, the surviving Jedi realize, when its too late, that the Clone Wars have been systematically engineered by the Lord of the Sith to destroy the Republic and the Jedi.

In the end, the Emperor dispatches his dark apprentice, Darth Vader, to exterminate the Jedi and the leaders of the separatist movement (that the Chancellor controlled), leaving the enemies of the Sith dead and the Sith in control of the Central Government. The despotic Galactic Empire is born.

Full story...

Thursday 19 May 2005

Galloway - The Man Who Took On America

Why can't we make this guy PM?

How did one maverick MP manage to outgun a committee of senior US politicians so successfully? And did he make any lasting impact?

It may not have been the "mother of all smokescreens" - as George Galloway memorably described the congressional investigation into the Iraq oil-for-food scandal - but his appearance certainly underlined the mother of all culture gaps between the parliamentary traditions of Britain and America.

We tend to see politics as a public bloodsport. In the US politics is as brutal as anywhere. But the violence usually takes place off-stage, in the lobbying process, in the money game, in the ruthless manipulation of scandal. True, every four years there are presidential election candidates' "debates". But - with the exception of Bill Clinton - every recent American president would have been slaughtered weekly if he had to face Prime Minister's Questions. On the public stage, US politicians are not accustomed to serious challenge.

Take Norm Coleman. He is a smooth, upwardly mobile Republican senator who is making a name for himself at the helm of the Permanent Sub-Committee for Investigations, not least because of his call for Kofi Annan to step down as United Nations secretary general over the scandal. As Mr Coleman knows, no American politician ever lost a vote by bashing the UN.

A telegenic former big city mayor, he looks younger than his 55 years. Every senator, it is said, looks in the mirror and sees a future president. And who knows, maybe a White House run is in Mr Coleman's future. But on Tuesday, to UK and US observers alike, he looked way out of his depth, manifestly unprepared for what was coming when Mr Galloway began to testify.

Perhaps he believed that a smooth ride would be ensured by the traditional deference accorded the Senate (which is fond of referring to itself, with barely a trace of irony, as "the world's greatest deliberative body"). In fact, proceedings only served to underline the average senator or congressman's ignorance of the world beyond America, be it the underlying realities of the Middle East, or the polemical ways of British public life.

"If in fact he lied to this committee, there will have to be consequences," said Mr Coleman after the encounter, in the manner of a petulant schoolboy outgunned in an argument, but who gamely insists on having the last word, however feeble, in an attempt to retrieve his dignity.

And like the hapless junior senator from Minnesota, the US media too did not know quite what had hit it. For all its imperfections, Congress - in particular the Senate part of it - commands a rigid respect. Coverage of it tends to be strait-laced and humourless. Into this primly arranged china shop crashed George Galloway, to deliver a public broadside against US policy in Iraq, and the US system, unmatched since Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

In Britain, the prospect of such a confrontation would have sketch-writers and columnists salivating days in advance. But that is not the American way. Honourable exception should be made for the New York Post, Murdoch-owned and the nearest thing in the US to a Fleet Street tabloid. "Brit Fries Senators in Oil" was the headline on a news story that noted the "stunning audacity" of Mr Galloway's performance, how he had caught Mr Coleman and his colleagues "flatfooted" (only one of whom was left when the chairman brought the embarrassment to an end).

A brief perusal of the US press suggests that the Post's Andrea Peyser was also the only columnist to weigh in. As might be expected, she excoriated Mr Galloway as a thug and a bully, "a lefty lackey for butchers". Mr Coleman and his subcommittee had let the side down, she wrote. "Our Senators did not pipe up. Rather, they assumed the look of frightened little boys, caught with their pants around their ankles, nervously awaiting punishment." She concluded: "It's time to take the gloves off, senators. Kick this viper where it hurts."

But anyone expecting such colour in the more august broadsheets will have been severely disappointed. The Washington Post and The New York Times devoted only inside-page coverage. The Times noted that Mr Coleman, despite being a former prosecutor, seemed "flummoxed" by Mr Galloway's "aggressive posture and tone". Both singled out the MP's debating skill. It is a skill on which, alas, American politics place little premium.

Much the same went for television coverage. CNN's presenters smiled gamely as they ran clips of the juiciest Galloway invective. Plainly though, they too were bemused. This sort of thing does not occur in the US Congress - and that of course was his achievement, to turn the usual rules of such hearings on their head.

Normally, the committee members dominate proceedings, armed with investigative material furnished by their handsomely financed staff, and expect respect bordering on veneration from those they summon. When the matter at hand is as contentious as the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, most witnesses appear with a phalanx of lawyers, advising them when to "take the Fifth" and thus avoid potentially incriminating testimony.

Not so George Galloway. Not a lawyer was in sight, and even if one had been whispering in his ear, he almost certainly would not have listened. Instead, he took the battle to his accusers. Mr Coleman looked as if he had not been spoken to like that since his father caught him cheating on high school homework.

Full story...

Tuesday 17 May 2005

Concrete Is Cold And Hard At Night

This article is a superb testament to what our society is becoming and says, in essence, that we're so "civilised" we allow poverty to exist and we allow innocent children to die of hunger on the streets. It made me realise that the people with the real money don't care, by that I mean the ones who wouldn't blink about spending £2000 on a bottle of wine in a swanky eatery. Their cold hearts are like ice to the suffering of little babies and so they try and convince us to give of the little WE have to charity. It's a proven fact that the people who give the largest part of their income to charity are the ones who can least afford it. While at the same time the super-rich give an amount so small as to be non-existent.

They think they are better than the rest of us by virtue of the size of their Swiss bank accounts or the blood in their veins. But they aren't! They are the venal and evil offspring of venal and evil fathers, each generation poisoned by it's wealth and power. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and these vile "human" beings are so corrupt as to be indistinguishable from corruption itself! It is through them that all this suffering enters the world, through their actions that poverty and violence and fear enter all of our lives.

They breed instruments of death like experiments in a Petri dish, then they release their manufactured demons and the slaughter of innocence commences. Generation after generation, every hundred years or so they start a massive war and the flower of "ordinary" humanity is consigned to a fiery and miserable death. War after war sons follow fathers into battle, their heads filled with "patriotism" and "nationalism" and they are waved off with all the fanfare befitting lambs entering a slaughter-house. At the end they are all the same, all of them rotting on the battlefield like the foul stench from untreated sewage flowing in the streets.

The wealthy guard their privilege so jealously, with their guards and their dogs, and their cameras and their guns. They are frightened of being found out. They are frightened of us. That's why they extend their tentacles of control! Up go the camera masts and down come the very freedoms those "people" claim to be upholding. They bleat on endlessly about "democracy" and "freedom" and "peace" and "justice" and "liberty" but it's all Orwellian double-speak, and they know it!

All of the "news" is merely propaganda designed to blind us to the truth of their heinous crimes and manipulate us into acquiescing to whatever scheme they happened to have dreamed up. Those heinous crimes, I will remind you, have been committed in our names! They feed us with "Big Brother" and none of us seem to see that they what they are really doing is turning "Big Brother" from an Orwellian enslaver of humanity into a nice fluffy Telly-tubby! They must be rubbing their fat little hands in glee at the thought of how they have so perfectly manipulated us. September 11 is a wonderful example of how an outrageous lie told so often and by so many people, ultimately becomes its own truth! Scratch the surface of the events on that day of barbarity and you will see that there is no more truth in what the US Government is saying than there is in the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald managed to shoot and kill JFK on his lonesome from that book depository window!

Which leads me to my next point, the problem we face is that if one of us becomes so popular as to constitute a threat then the beast kicks swiftly into action and that voice is silenced. That is why we must speak with one voice, at the same time. If all of us shouted the word "NO" simultaneously and at the top of our voices it would probably shake the very core of this planet! That's what it will take; not one voice, not a hundred voices, not a thousand, no, a billion voices all speaking the same words in unison. Maybe that's asking too much but somehow I don't think so because if there is anything that I know about life and people it's that we are bascially all the same in the sense that ultimately we want the same basic things out of life.

At the end of the day the power is theirs by virtue of the fact that WE give it to them. It's like money, if WE didn't believe it had any value it would be worthless paper. The same holds true of the plutocrats and their power, we give them power because they manipulate us into thinking that we have no choice, but we do have a choice most of us just don't realise it! All the messages they send us through media tell us to distrust each other and be afraid of everything and everyone. They tell us we're not good enough so many times a day in such incredibly subliminal ways that is it a wonder most of us are emotional basket-cases?

Forget about "conspiracy theories" or wacky websites or what you see on TV, most of all don't believe anything or anyone - least of all me! Look around and think about what you see. If you want to know how to react, watch George Galloway's brilliant performance tearing a US Senate sub-committee to pieces!

Will history mark this period as the one in which the majority of humans succumbed to enslavement by a tiny minority of rich, fat, selfish, greedy, nasty, violent control-freaks? Will history mark us as the useless "Nintendo" generation that sat idly by sipping ice-cold cokes and munching on Pringles while, far away in Iraq, people were tortured and killed in our name?

By Jay Shaft - Coalition For Free Thought In Media

This series of articles is an outlet for the people who are living through an overwhelming crisis. They want to tell everyone how bad it really is, and how terrible their day to day living conditions have become. Their voices will reveal the true depth of despair that many working class and low income people are living with on a daily basis.

I have spoken to over 300 families that have lost permanent housing. They tell horrifying tales of not being able to find emergency shelter for weeks or months at a time. They tell of the long housing list waits of two years or more, and how in many circumstances they don’t even qualify by HUD’s definition of homelessness.

It was really hard to hear the families talk about the fear of reporting their true situation because they are afraid their children will be taken away. Many families are losing custody rights after a state agency removes their children when they tell the truth about being without adequate shelter and access to food.

These are some of the voices of the children lost in a world of poverty, homelessness and despair. Their voices are the most painful to listen to. Everyone needs to hear their stories to fully understand the nightmare of homelessness and poverty from a child’s perspective.

A Brief Overview on Homeless Children and Families

Every night there are approximately 1,500,000 homeless children in America. Over half of all homeless families have been without shelter for over six months. Nationally families with children make up approximately 40 percent of the overall homeless population, with 42 percent of homeless being children under the age of five. Approximately 85 percent of all homeless parents with children are single mothers. The average homeless family is composed of a young single mother and two children under the age of six. (National Coalition for the Homeless, US Conference of Mayors, Urban Institute)

Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and account for almost 40% of all newly reported cases of homelessness. Homeless children are hungry more than twice as often as other children, and two-thirds worry that they won’t have enough to eat. Nationally, one in four people in a soup kitchen line is a child. In 2003 60 percent of all newly reported cases of homeless were single mothers with children. (National Coalition for the Homeless, America’s Second Harvest)

A severe lack of affordable housing in the United States combined with growing poverty is largely responsible for a major rise in the number of homeless and precariously housed families over the last few years. Affordable housing is defined as a person paying no more than 30% of income for rent or mortgage payments. No where in the United States does a full-time minimum wage job enable a family of four to pay fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment

There are now record numbers of families and single mothers reporting that they are sharing overcrowded or inadequate accommodations with others. At least 7.3 million people described themselves as precariously housed when applying for food stamps and other forms of public assistance in 2004. (USDA, HUD)

According to recent member agency surveys, the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that there are at least 10 million children living in conditions that qualify as fitting the government profile for precarious housing. Children often appear among the precariously housed population because parents who become homeless may place their children with friends or relatives in order to avoid literal homelessness for them.

Nearly 40% of American children live in families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, the amount needed for most families to be economically self-sufficient. Low-income families face material hardships and financial pressures similar to families who are officially acknowledged as poor.

Today more than 28 million people, about a quarter of the workforce between the ages of 18 and 64, earn less than $9.04 an hour, which translates into a full-time salary of $18,800 a year, the income that marks the federal poverty line for a family of four.

For most of the 1990’s the number of children in poverty was declining. Then between 2000 and 2002, there were an additional 546,000 children who slipped into poverty. In 2003 at least 500,000 more children plummeted into poverty, and additional 300-400,000 children were listed as being at the borderline of poverty.

Here is something shocking that should really give you an idea of how truly pervasive the poverty problems in America. In 2002 about one in three people in the US was poor enough to be classified as living in poverty for at least two months of the year, according to recent data from the US Census Bureau. Overall, 63 percent of U.S. families below the federal poverty line have one or more full time workers.

The Children Speak

Sara is 12, and has been homeless for almost a year. She moves from motel to shelter to parking lot with her mother and her three sisters. Her mother lost a job in February 2004 and since then they have not had a place of their own to call home.

“I’m old enough to know how bad this really is,” she says with a hardened look. “My sisters are pretty young, but I think they know that this isn’t like vacation anymore. When we first lost our house they thought it was some big game. Now they are scared Santa won’t be able to find us this year.”

“We sleep in our car when we can’t find a shelter, we’ve been in eight cities and my mom is thinking about going to another one” she says with a frustrated sigh. “I haven’t been to the same school for more than three weeks. I wish we could find someplace to stay for good, just so I could get some friends and stay in one school.”

When asked if she has gone hungry she just got an exasperated look, like it was the stupidest question she had ever heard.

“Duh! What do you think?” she asks with some irritation. “I am hungry all the time, even when there is enough food. I am afraid to eat till I’m really full because we might run out of food if we’re little pigs. I ate as much as I could on Thanksgiving but that was the only time this year I’ve been really full. I ate six pieces of pie and had three plates of turkey. I wish we had that much food all the time.”

“We’re almost out of food again, because mom went to every place she could find that gave out food” she explains. “You can’t go to most places more than once a month, so we try to get all the food we can when we get into a new town. We eat at soup kitchens and I know my mom gets some food from grocery store dumpsters. I don’t tell my sisters because they wouldn’t eat any food if they knew that.”

She has no clear idea of what the future will bring, and the fear and doubt show in her eyes and the lines in her face. It was sad to see a twelve year old with worry lines on her face. She has a look of age beyond her years and knowledge of how to survive that no child should have to acquire.

“I am so scared they will take us from my mom. It’s not her fault that we are homeless, but she can get in big trouble if they find out we’re living on the street,” she says with a fearful look. “They would break us all up and I might never see my sisters or my mom again.”

Her dream for Christmas is to live in a house again and be able to have three refrigerators full of her favorite foods.

“I stopped believing in Santa a long time ago, but I wish he was real. I all want is to be able to sleep in my own bed and have mom cook our favorite foods,” she says with a wistful expression. “I want to eat until I explode, then I’d eat more. I want my family to be safe and warm in a house, that’s my Christmas wish. I don’t want anything else, just that.”

For most of the 1990’s the number of children in poverty was declining. Then between 2000 and 2002, there were an additional 546,000 children who slipped into poverty. In 2003 at least 500,000 more children plummeted into poverty, and additional 300-400,000 children were listed as being at the borderline of poverty.

Maccanon Brown is Director of Repairers of Breach, a grassroots homeless outreach in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She can recite endless facts and figures, but says that is only a brief glimpse at what is really going on with homeless children.

“Our biggest failure as a society is to have children living on the streets in deplorable conditions. Our biggest sin is turning our backs on them and pretending that they don’t exists!” she exclaims adamantly. “Everyday more children become homeless or lose stable housing, and it just devastates them. Their whole lives become a nightmare that they can’t begin to adapt to.”

She says she sees many children who are experiencing emotional or mental problems after becoming homeless.

“Do theses kids know what’s going on in their lives? Yes! Even the very young ones seem to be able to figure it out to a major extent,” she says. “They know that they are homeless and it is tragic to see what the knowledge does to them. It changes their entire life and they will remember it for the rest of their lives. The average stay on the streets is increasing and the longer they are homeless the greater the emotional damage. It’s the children who have to carry the stigma of being homeless throughout their entire lives.”

Her anger with the fact that the number of homeless and hungry children is going up while most people seem to be ignoring it is a palpable thing. You can feel her disgust and irritation as she describes the perils and plights that the innocent children have to suffer.

“We see children who are malnourished and missing meals, here in this land of plenty. To deny a hungry child a meal is so tragic. Even if it’s done out of ignorance it’s still wrong, but people have to be able to see what’s going on. It’s in every city and on every corner, how can people not see it?”

“I just can’t believe that the bigger this problem grows, the more people try and ignore or minimize it. We must face up to this and try to get as many children off the streets as possible,” she says with great passion. “That’s one of the hardest things about working with homeless families. You know most of the time there is not a lot you can do but provide a temporary solution. It tears your heart out having to look into the child’s eyes and know that the odds are stacked against them.”

Meagan is 7, and lives in an abandoned building with her mom and three year old brother. Her mother has fixed up their space with curtains and bright wall hangings, but no amount of effort can hide the fact that they live in horribly dirty and depressing conditions.

“I hate living here, I miss my house so bad. I want my toys and my TV, but mom says we’re lucky to have running water,” she says with an uncomprehending look on her face. “It’s not fair that we have to live here, it’s yucky and it smells. I see rats and roaches every day, ewwww, they are nasty. I miss going to school and playing with my friends.”

When asked if she understands why they are living in the abandoned building she hesitates and then starts crying. She seems to be able to grasp many of the harsh realities, but is upset by not being able to understand the whole situation.

“My daddy left, then mommy said we had to move. She said the bill man came and took our house,” she says through her tears. “I only got to take one bag of toys and some clothes. I had to leave all my big stuffed animals and my games. Mommy won’t really tell me what’s going to happen, but I know it’s bad.”

She says she wants her daddy back, and then she wants to go home.

“I asked God to bring my daddy back and let us go home. I miss him so much, and my dog Spots, he went with daddy,” she explains. “I told mommy I would be good for a whole year if God brought daddy back, but mommy won’t tell me where he is. I just want us to be together again and a happy family like before.”

Homeless families are sixteen times more likely to relocate than the typical American family. A child needs four to six months to recover academically from a change in schools. Among students who miss 20 or more school days a year during first, second, or third grade, 66 percent will drop out of school. (Institute for Children and Poverty, National Coalition for the Homeless)

Katherine Preston is the executive director of the Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness. She says that many of the children they see are emotionally and physically harmed by being homeless or in unstable housing conditions.

“Unless you see it first hand you would not believe how much being homeless affects the children. It scars them for life and seems to change something in them,” she explains. “When they are constantly moving from motels to shelters and back to motels it fundamentally damages them in ways that are often hard to see at first. Without stable accommodations and a steady source of food their entire lives turn into a giant question mark. The lack of knowing what will happen next can tear a child apart.”

Full story...

Monday 16 May 2005

Anglo-American Imperialism: The lessons Learned

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Uncle Sam wants YOU to die for big business No historical process is more difficult to understand, yet more pervasive than imperialism: the series of actions by which a people, territory or state take over, and retain control of the land, resources, inhabitants, institutions, and potential of others. Given the enormity of what imperialism involves, it is hard for the historian or political theorist to pin it down, and when he attempts to, he restricts himself from seeing it clearly in other forms, guises, and places. Consequently, when most academicians have to deal with the phenomena, they conveniently assume its existence, too readily pass over its continuance, and too often predict its demise prematurely, and without any explanation. Imperialism seems to be everywhere; yet, nowhere, explaining why historians, unless absolutely necessary, hate to discuss it.

Dictionaries are little help in explaining imperialism because the definitions they provide generally assume what they are supposed to explain. The dictionary I have in my hand says that imperialism is: (1) the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or a nation over foreign countries; (2) an imperial government; and (3) an imperial system of government. These definitions, like those for the adjective - imperial - or the root noun - empire - are clearly too political, institutional, and static in character, not to mention tautological, for explaining the process in all its forms, especially economically, culturally, and indirectly. Students of words and makers of dictionaries seem no more willing to exploit the subject than other academicians.

If forced still to give some explanation for the phenomenon, British and American historians, the ones most concerned now with the process, generally resort to any factor but a clearly
political/governmental one in suggesting why it happened. Colonies were apparently picked up
because of a variety of geographical, social, psychological, economic, and irrational causes which governments ultimately were obliged to take control of, and responsibility for.

Domestic pressures because of a lack of resources to go round may have obliged governments to encourage emigration. Atavistic impulses or humanitarianism, especially 'the white man's burden' - and increasingly a combination of the two - could have caused imperialism. Then there could have been all kinds of opportunities for aggressive managers in the private or public sector to seize the initiative at the expense of those unable to prevent it, as Hilaire Belloc once put it: "Whatever happens we have got the maxim gun and they have not." (Quoted from Lance E. Davis and Robert A. Huttenback, Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire, p. 4.)

More specifically, settlement of apparently unpopulated lands because of over population in the host
country is a favorite social explanation, though it generally overlooks the role of government policy, whether it be religious persecution or crime prevention, in starting penal colonies there of one sort or another in the first place, and there were few really profitable, unpopulated places left. Then geographical and psychological considerations, especially because of a lack of security, are often used to account for their expansion. Of course, economic causes, especially in modern times, have been used to explain it - the pursuit of raw materials, cheap labor, and new markets, culminating in the famous claim by Nikolai Lenin that imperialism is the last stage of capitalism.

Traditional historians dealing with the modern phenomenon, usually political and diplomatic ones, echew the use of the word, imperialism, if at all possible. T. O. Lloyd, for example, in The British Empire, 1558-1983, announced in its Preface that it "invokes such a triumph of political commitment over historical precision that it will not be used in this book." (p. ix) Instead, he suggested using a host of other expressions - an aggressive foreign policy, imperial enthusiasm, imperial expansion, an imperial economic policy, a process of exploitation of imperial subjects, closer imperial unity, and Lenin's claim that it was the result of collapsing capitalism - to help explain what he was discussing at any given point, and readers could interchange the more precise terms he was using for imperialism if they chose - and in that way give it its myriad of meanings.

The only trouble with Lloyd's approach is that he almost never used these more precise terms to explain Britian's expansion in any context. The beginnings of the British empire, according to Lloyd, started during the reign of James I, and were to due to English establishment, thanks to the granting of royal monopolies, of bases for trading in out of the way places from the Great Moghul on the Indian sub-continent, and royal charters for settlements on the apparently uninhabited Atlantic coasts of the North American continent and on small islands in the West Indies - St. Christopher, Barbuda, Antigua, and Montserrat - "...that the Spaniards had not considered worth settling." (p. 2)

It is only later we learn that there were Indians of various sorts already living there, and they, though originally inclined to help out the colonists, and the Spanish were soon trying most diligently to root them out. Indians finished off the Virginia Company, the first tobacco colony, on Good Friday, 1622, forcing the Crown to make it a royal colony so that it could help supply its own means for
withstanding Spanish opposition - what became the model for subsequent trading companies, and a rash of other charters for territory around the globe. Also, Lloyd said little about English Protestant sovereigns' continuing efforts to subdue largely Roman Catholic Scotland and Ireland.

English settlement of less attractive West Indian islands had been partly the result of Spanish frustration of an English commercial offensive to force towns of the Spanish Main to permit trade by its privateers. In 1562, John Hawkins - thanks to Queen Elizabeth's investment in the venture - brought a ship-load of African slaves, and sold them at great profit in Caribbean ports. Hawkins, cousin of Francis Drake, repeated the process two years later, but in 1568, he was met by a Spanish fleet when they arrived at San Juan de Ulloa, and Hawkins and Drake both were lucky to escape with their lives from the disaster. Hawkins was rewarded for his efforts with a knighthood - the coat of arms of which included a black slave - and Drake, similarly rewarded, went on to carry out more aggressive and lucrative attacks on Spanish holdings around the world. In the process, the Queen received a 4,700 per cent return on her original investment.

In sum, contrary to what Lloyd claimed, the renewal of the British empire had a lot to do with effforts by the Crown and the Royal Navy, and they played an increasing role in the expansion of Europe as the world's goods became better known. The traders who induced them into action
purchased monopolies from the King to engage in the slave trade - the buying and selling of persons who had been forcibly kidnapped and held by others - and royal charters for colonies, some of which were used by pirates to prey on the Spanish Main. The process was driven by a desire for fees, and exorbitant profits by the Stuart kings, and their courtiers were loaded with the necessary venture capital for the enterprises in the face of Parliament's refusal to grant him necessary taxes - what resulted in the so-called 'Eleven Years' Tyranny', and the coming of the English Civil War. The companies and colonies were the means by which the Crown, a dynastic state, attempted to survive.

Once the Cavaliers had been defeated in England, and Charles I beheaded, Lloyd admitted as much: "While the King found it convenient to have a source of income that Parliament could not touch or question, people in England did not reckon the advantages of colonies in terms of the grants of revenue that they could make." (p. 45) Oliver Cromwell accelerated the process by seeing to the passage of the Navigation Act which gave English ships a monopoly in colonial trade, though the government increasingly issued expensive licenses of exemptions to foreign shippers for revenue purposes. The Staple Act of 1663 prevented English colonies from trading with Europe or its colonies, giving English manufacturers a monopoly for their goods.

The republican government sought colonies with a vengeance, Cromwell's Roundheads grabbing them up at Spanish, Stuart, and Dutch expense. The Stuarts' remaining hold on Ireland and Scotland was completely crushed during the early 1650s. In 1655, the British government tried to take Hispaniola from Spain by force, and when it was frustrated, it settled for capturing Jamaica and the Mosquito Coast, and reviving the East India Company. Charles II finally made good on Cromwell's aggression against the Dutch by seizing New Amsterdam in 1664. To enhance naval expansion, the Crown established the Greenwich Observatory in 1675 whose tasks were to chart the oceans, and to determine longitude by inventing a reliable chronometer.

The English imperialists even had their own ideologue, political philosopher John Locke. He was the secretary of Lord Ashley, the Whig leader who was deeply involved in the development of the Carolina colony, and later became a Lord Commissioner of the 'Lords of Trade', the body Charles II esblished to manage the growing empire. Locke claimed the the land was unoccupied, and should belong to whoever cultivated it. "...Colonial developments," Lloyd explained, "always gave Englishmen the idea that they were moving into empty land and seeing what could be made out of it." (p. 41) Carolina's proprietors went on to try to construct a feudal society there, but it was not very successful, given Locke's ideas about cultivation establishing ownership of the land in question.

England's imperial growth was almost entirely the result of Crown action - the granting of monopolies and charters for trade and land it neither controlled nor owned, protecting their settlements and trading posts from foreign interference and competition, establishing colonial governments in the hope of making them more secure and affordable, backing up what was being done in the colonies, on occasion, with military support and scientific knowledge, and supplying institutions and ideas of various kinds to keep colonial interests from flagging. In sharp contrast to what the Spanish and French were doing, Lloyd concluded, "...the Lords of Trade certainly had no money to spend on the colonies; and would been quite as surprised as any earlier generations at a suggestion that they ought to be spending money on them." (p. 46) In sum, according to him, since Britain has achieving an empire on the cheap, with the assistance of many others, and without any big designs, there was little chance that it was engaging in imperialism.

The process grew during the 18th century when Britain battled France's attempt to gain mastery of Europe, and added extensively to its colonial holdings as a result. Of the seven wars Britain fought with France, only the American Revolution was about the colonies, but still the Bourbons lost almost all their empire in the process. France bargained away its colonies at the end of the various war in order to gain concessions on the continent. In sum, Britain amassed a colonial empire by a kind of governmental inadvertance, and was only forced to deal with the problem when its policy of 'benign neglect' led to revolt by the under taxed American colonies, obliging London to seriously entertain the idea of getting rid of them.

The French Revolution and industrial development stopped all that. The conflagration in Europe so changed colonial arrangements, trade relations, economic organization, and the role of government that Britain could not contemplate getting rid of any colonies for fear of helping the enemy, and she was amassing more and more colonies in her naval struggle against Napoleon's attempt to master Europe. When the Emperor consolidated his hold on the continent, culminating in the Berlin Decrees which barred British trade with French-controlled areas, the Crown tightened by sea its grip over its holdings, and their relations with one another by blockading commerce with the continent. The consequent industrial revolution to meet the demands of the war so expanded the state that Britain played with the idea of recovering the former American colonies.

The 19th century saw Britain do by design with territory and settlement what she had previously delegated almost completely to others. To manage better the disparate colonies, the Colonial Office was established. Given Britain's control of the sea, and commerce to protect and promote established colonies, it again turned to private individuals to develop their interiors, especially in South Africa and New Zeland. The London money market provided the financing for government bonds, issued by them and the American Republic, and the United Kingdom increasingly provided the labor to do the work they entailed. To stop the most troublesome trade - that in slaves - Britain declared the slave-trade illegal in 1807, the institution itself illegal in 1834, and forcefully used the Royal Navy to suppress it by other powers thereafter. The new arrangements were solidified by Britain's adoption of freed trade in 1846 - what allowed for the efficient exchange of its manufactured goods for the raw materials and food from the colonies.

This plan percolated quite nicely, especially after Britain adopted Lord Durham's principle of colonial self-government for Canada in 1840, until the Sepoy rebellion in India in 1857 - conveniently called The Mutiny by London - and other Europeans powers, particularly Imperial Germany, joined the chase. In this context, the Crown renewed direct control of the colonies it still possessed, and went out of its way to gain new ones. With Britain and France deeply involved in Egypt's fate because of the potential of the Suez Canal - what ultimately involved London in taking over the country much in the fashion that Washington has recently done in Iraq - Bismarck started grabbing up African colonies to restrain German nationalism in Europe, causing British governments, in London and in the Commonwealth, going wild in doing the same thing. When gold was found in quantity in the Transvaal aka South African Republic, thanks to the activities of the British South African Company, the UK went wild with imperial enthusiasm.

Once Britain painted the globe largely red, it was hardly surprising that historians finally becoming interested in explaining it. J. A. Hobson explained: "Finance manipulates the patriotic forces which politicians, soldiers, philanthropists, and traders generate; the enthusiasm for expansion which issues from these sources, though strong and genuine, is irregular and blind; the financial interest has those qualities of concentration and clear-sighted calculation which are needed to set Imperialism to work."
(Quoted from Imperialism - A Study, p. 59) After the Boer War ended, Hobson added: "Although the new Imperialism has been bad business for the nation, it has been good business for certain classes and certain trades within the nation." (p. 40) Of course, Marxists went wild with this claim, Rosa Luxemburg contending that "Imperialism is the political expression of the accumulation of capital," and Lenin adding that Britain invested almost 50% of its financial capital in its colonies, concluding that this resulted in imperialism which would be its downfall.

Britain, of course, lost its empire during the 20th century - the settlement colonies, along with India and Pakistan, becoming self-governing states within the Commonwealth, while crown colonies, thanks to the growing power of nationalism, were given independence after WWII, especially after the Suez Affair when she could clearly no longer afford them. In the process, Britain finally learned that formally taking over countries had been an expensive business for the tax payer, and that its financial circles, despite Hobson's and the Marxists' claims, had not been its primary cause.

South Africa's Cecil Rhodes, and who better to know, was essentially correct when he said that Britain's "...imperialism was nothing more than philanthropy plus five percent!" (Quoted from Davis and Huttenback, p. 318.) - meaning that the London government was far too willing to supply its impressive forces, administrative subsidies, and high taxes to serve the colonies' interests in making the empire. The five perfect was the interest that government bond holders received for supplying the capital required for the expensive experiment.

The American Republic learned these lessons during the 19th century while it was establishing the profitable country it needed to prosper through expansion, purchase, and annexation. Washington, while operating on the shoe-string budget, was able to mount the necessary wars against the native inhabitants, foreign interlopers, and recalcitrant subjects to keep the expansion going, while purchasing and bargaining away big pieces of real estate from European powers for future development. According the Niall Ferguson, America bought no less than 1,693,662,720 acres of land during the time at a price of $17each.

While Washington continued to prepare the way, private citizens, either singly or in some kind of organization, took advantage of the agricultural, commercial, industrial, and financial opportunities with the least tax burdens possible - what Britain continued to support through its covert philanthropy.
British capital was much in evidence in financing the most expensive build-up of North American ranching, mining, and infrastructure, providing much of the money for both the U.S. and Canadian railroads - what was the biggest driving force for their expansion at the expense of the natives. In the 1880s, another collapse in ..."American railway securities resulted in a depression throughout Britain," (Quoted from Davis, and Huttenback, p. 60.)

When the American Republic reached the Pacific, it was hardly surprising that it started reaching beyond, as the European powers were madly doing - what resulted in the annexation of the Philippines, Spain ceding Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American War, and America annexing the Hawaiian Islands in the process. Washington clearly did not know if the United States was just an American power, a Pacific one, or an Atlantic one, or both. The problem was solved in 1903 when the US Marines arranged the annexation of Panama from Colombia, setting the stage for the building of a canal across the isthmus which would facilitate her being both. As she struggled to determine her mission in the world, claining all the while that she was not engaged in empire-building, she continued to benefit from British investment.

While Ferguson believes that the Supreme Court in deciding that Puerto Rico was merely a possession - unlike Alaska and Hawaii which were incorporated into the States by congressional approval - cast the die which made America a Pacific power, and well it did for quite awhile - the European powers exhausting themselves in two world wars surprisingly improved America's potential in the Atlantic, thanks to Woodrow Wilson's call for national self-determination at the end of the first one, and Roosevelt pushing the Atlantic Charter after the second one. New nations in Eastern Europe gutted the Austrian and German empires, and the Charter set the stage for an empire-free world of independent nations, engaged in free trade, and abandoning of the use of force to gain territory and settle disputes.

While Wilson's expectations were considerably frustrated by his excessive demands in the Versailles Treaty, the refusal of the American Seante to joint the League of Nations, and the surprising emergence of the Soviet Union and Japan as world powers, Washington did not give up on its plan for an empire-free world which constantly suited its purposes and interests. America started cutting Britain and Japan down to size when it came to naval power, the threat of war, war debt, the gold standard, trade, and expenditure - helping create a political climate that the weakened League proved unable of dealing with. In the process, it nearly bankrupted Britain, while encouraging Japan, Italy, and Nazi Germany to bite off more than they could chew.

When this was finally demonstrated - Roosevelt refusing Churchill's plea to change sides at Moscow's expense at the Yalta Conference for fear of Washington and London biting off more than they could chew - America set about building an international organization which would serve its long-range goals, given the country's lack of enthusiasm for imperialism, and foreign entanglements - its dream of returning to isolationism. The country's limited resources, especially in oil, research, and geographic position, would not permit it, especially in light of the threat of communism and Soviet superiority. The task was to get a country in denial of its imperial position to go along with the process despite its much more parochial wants and wishes.

The United Nations, with a General Assembly to articulate unimportant countries' wishes, and a Security Council, with a Washington veto, to guarantee nothing was done without its approval, was established. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later the World Trade Organization) was set up to achieve by design, thanks to the loans that the new Washington-based Interanational Monetary Fund could provide to promote free trade, tariff reductions like the British had established a century before. And given America's overwhelming economic strength, its dollar, not gold, became the international standard of value. Finally, America's military organization around the world, thanks to bilateral and multilateral treaties inspired to contain communism, would give it a thrust almost wherever it wanted without anyone else being able to do much about it.

Within this institutional framework, America wasted little of its resources in establishing a hegemony like the world had never seen. Economically, Washington, bolstered by the Marshall Plan, was able to make its financial resources work most efficiently in establishing new markets in the developed world, and sources of raw materials in the underdeveloped one without the wasteful competition that Britain's efforts had suffered from. Soon even defeated Germany and Japan became the leading purchasers of American exports. As America's trade surplus steadily rose, it was able to decrease its foreign aid as a percentage of GDP to the lowest in the world. And foreigners increasingly immigrated to the States to keep down the costs of products produced - Wal-Mart becoming the model of how to succeed.

When America could not induce allies, potential friends, and apparent enemies to follow its leads, it resorted to a variety of covert operations to achieve its goals by stealth, surprise, and snooping, thanks to the aggressive egos of its leadership. Washington's assassinations, coups, interventions,
perversion of elections, corruption of intelligent political dialogue, encourging terrorism and the use of prohibited weapons are legion, as William Blunt has duly recorded in Rogue State, and there must be more that still remains unknown to the public. While the CIA and other intelligence agencies were carrying out their black operations, the National Security Agency was increasingly developing the capacity to identify almost every possible threat.

When the Soviet Union went into its death throes, and scholars like Paul Kennedy started recognizing the increasingly imperial character of America, too many of them were still inclined to play down its significance and permanence. When Washington became a borrower of other people's money in the 1980s to pay for its expansion, many saw it as the beginning of the end of the American colossus, Kennedy seeing it go the same way as other over-stretched empires. They overlook, though, its global character - what guarantees that the dollar, capital flows, labor movement, oil production, and the like maintains some kind of stability. While others may complain about Washington's unilateralism when it bombs some recalcitrant country, or ousts some tryant, other countries, as we are seeing in Iraq, are obliged to join in, no matter how long it takes, and how obnoxious the work. Washington has taken all the philanthropy out of its imperialism.

In sum, the American empire is not going away any time soon.

Sunday 15 May 2005

Anger as US backs brutal regime

The "War on Terror" rolls on its merry way... This is really getting rather boring. Just for the record THE WAR ON TERROR IS A LIE, period. They are trying to manipulate us into believing that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength!

Human rights concerns as troops put down uprising in Uzbekistan

Uncle Sam wants YOU to die for big business Heated criticism was growing last night over 'double standards' by Washington over human rights, democracy and 'freedom' as fresh evidence emerged of just how brutally Uzbekistan, a US ally in the 'war on terror', put down Friday's unrest in the east of the country.

Outrage among human rights groups followed claims by the White House on Friday that appeared designed to justify the violence of the regime of President Islam Karimov, claiming - as Karimov has - that 'terrorist groups' may have been involved in the uprising.

Critics said the US was prepared to support pro-democracy unrest in some states, but condemn it in others where such policies were inconvenient.

Witnesses and analysts familiar with the region said most protesters were complaining about government corruption and poverty, not espousing Islamic extremism.

The US comments were seized on by Karimov, who said yesterday that the protests were organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group often accused by Tashkent of seditious extremism. Yet Washington, which has expressed concern over the group's often hardline message, has yet to designate it a terrorist group.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, tried to deflect accusations of the contradictory stance when he said it was clear the 'people of Uzbekistan want to see a more representative and democratic government. But that should come through peaceful means, not through violence.'

Washington has often been accused of being involved in a conspiracy of silence over Uzbekistan's human rights record since that country was declared an ally in the 'war on terror' in 2001.

Uzbekistan is believed to be one of the destination countries for the highly secretive 'renditions programme', whereby the CIA ships terrorist suspects to third-party countries where torture is used that cannot be employed in the US. Newspaper reports in America say dozens of suspects have been transferred to Uzbek jails.

The CIA has never officially commented on the programme. But flight logs obtained by the New York Times earlier this month show CIA-linked planes landing in Tashkent with the same serial numbers as jets used to transfer prisoners around the world. The logs show at least seven flights from 2002 to late 2003, originating from destinations in the Middle East and Europe.

Other countries used in the programme include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Morocco. A handful of prisoners' accounts - including that of Canadian Maher Arar - that emerged after release show they were tortured and abused in custody.

Full story...

Anti-American Protests Spread through Islamic World

UK film at Cannes says terror fears exaggerated

Some good news... This documentary is utterly brilliant and if you get the chance to see it I can highly recommend it.

A British documentary arguing U.S. neo-conservatives have exaggerated the terror threat is set to rock the Cannes Film Festival Saturday, the way "Fahrenheit 9/11" stirred emotions here a year ago.

"The Power of Nightmares" re-injected politics into the festival that seemed eager to steer clear of controversy this year after American Michael Moore won top honors in 2004 for his film deriding President Bush's response to terror.

At a screening late Friday ahead of its gala Saturday, "The Power of Nightmares" by filmmaker and senior BBC producer Adam Curtis kept an audience of journalists and film buyers glued to their seats and taking notes for a full 2-1/2 hours.

The film, a non-competition entry, argues that the fear of terrorism has come to pervade politics in the United States and Britain even though much of that angst is based on carefully nurtured illusions.

It says Bush and U.S. neo-conservatives, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are exaggerating the terror threat in a manner similar to the way earlier generations of leaders inflated the danger of communism and the Soviet Union.

It also draws especially controversial symmetries between the history of the U.S. movement that led to the neo-cons and the roots of the ideas that led to radical Islamism -- two conservative movements that have shaped geopolitics since 1945.

Curtis's film portrays neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld as counterparts to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in the two respective movements.

"During the Cold War conservatives exaggerated the threat of the Soviet Union," the narrator says. "In reality it was collapsing from within. Now they're doing the same with Islamic extremists because it fits the American vision of an epic battle."

Full story...

Friday 13 May 2005

Live Dangerously: Be a Scientist

This is an interesting one, it's definitely suspicious... We don't know what's going on but if there really were an independent media then SOMEONE would be looking in to this, as it is all we've got is the usual Internet reports. Do a google and you'll see what I mean...

Another scientist involved in disease control has been killed. David Banks was the principal scientist with Biosecurity Australia and was involved in containing pest and disease threats. He died along with 15 other people when the commuter plane he was traveling in went down in Queensland, Australia.

The communications manager at Biosecurity Australia described it as a devastating loss for the country. His primary mission was protecting livestock and plants in the country, and keeping diseases from crossing into Australia. He was an expert in the propagation of diseases by insect vectors, among other things.

Since January of 2004, more than twenty scientists are known to have died in accidents, under suspicious circumstances, or been murdered.

Tom Thorne and Beth Williams, prominent experts on chronic wasting disease, were killed on December 29, 2004, in a road accident.

In November, the former head of the Infectious Diseases Unit of the National Institute of Allegies and Infectuous Diseases died in Mexico, with no cause of death given.

In October, Matthew Allison was killed by an explosion in his car, either due to a bomb or a self-induced explosion. He had degrees in microbiology and biotechnology but was not apparently involved in the field when he died.

In August, Dr. John Clark, an expert in animal science who developed the techniques that led to the creation of Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal, was found hanged in his home.

In July, Dr. John Badwey, a biochemist at Harvard Medical School, developed a pneumonia that could not be diagnosed and died.

In June, Dr. John Mullen, a McDonnell Douglas nuclear scientist on contract to Boeing, was killed by a massive dose of arsenic. Also in June, Dallas county's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Assefa Tulu, died of a hemmorhagic stroke, believed to be an accidental death.

Dr. Eugene Mallove, an alternative energy expert and cold fusion researcher, was beaten to death in May near his home. He had just published a letter stating that it was only a matter of months before the world would see a free energy device.

Also in May, the body of senior programming analyist William T. McGuire, was found in three suitcases in and around the Chesapeake Bay. His murder remains unsolved, and no motive has been uncovered. He was an adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

In March, Louisiana State University emeritus professor of microbiology Dr. Vadake Srinivasan died in an auto accident apparently caused by a stroke.

In January of 2004, Dr. Michael Patrick Kiley, an expert on Mad Cow and Ebola died of unexpected heart failure, and Dr. Robert Shope, a virus expert died of lung transplant complications.

In October of 2003, another LSU professor, West Nile researcher Michael Perich, died in a single-vehicle car accident.

In July of 2003, British biological weapons expert David Kelly died after allegedly slashing his own wrists while walking near his home. He was the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific officer and senior adviser on biological weapons to the UN biological weapons inspection teams in Iraq.

Dr. Leland Rickman, an expert on infectious diseases and consultant on bioterrorism at the University of California at San Diego died during a visit to Lesotho.

The list is a long one, and it goes on. Since 2001, there have been 47 such deaths reported outside of Iraq, and reputedly numerous scientsts in Iraq who worked on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs have been assassinated.

Full story...

Wednesday 11 May 2005

The war on paperclips

I worry that I'm turning into a conspiracy theorist

by AL Kennedy

OK, I'm paranoid and depressed. My new government of troglodytes, murderers and spivs barely elongates the customary scream I give upon waking. What troubles me more is our rulers' inevitable recommencement of the war on terror bollocks.

To begin at what we're told is the beginning, we have 9/11 - the one in the US, not the earlier one in Chile when covert US government intervention killed thousands of innocents and handed the country to a commerce-friendly, torture-loving, far-right junta. Now if 9/11/2001 is so important, why is it so hard to find out what happened?

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The FBI, as we know, blocked all manner of investigations into the plot in the run up to its execution, whether these involved highly specific warnings from its own agents or from government sources in Afghanistan, Argentina, Britain, the Cayman Islands, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Russia.

Meanwhile, I worry why the nearest military aircraft weren't scrambled to intercept any of the hijacked flights when this is standard procedure and why, when more distant jets were finally aloft, they flew at less than half speed, thus failing to prevent the impacts at the twin towers and then, it would seem, managing to shoot down Flight 93 when its passengers may already have overcome its hijackers.

It would, of course, be easier to know what happened to Flight 93 if there weren't - according to educated estimates - three minutes of the cockpit recording missing. It would, equally, be handy to have access to the black boxes from the other crashes. Firefighters at Ground Zero have repeatedly stated that three of the four possible black boxes there were found and taken away by government agents.

And these worries are maybe less important than the ones about clear links between the Pakistani ISI, the CIA and the men named as the 9/11 hijackers. Or the mysterious inability of anyone to capture Osama bin Laden, who fled from Tora Bora, possibly being evacuated by helicopter, and then escaped to Pakistan unhindered.

Full story...

Tuesday 10 May 2005

US 'torpedoed' Kursk submarine

A former British military official has backed a sensational claim that the Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, was torpedoed by US forces in August 2000.

An official inquest concluded that the disaster - in which all 118 crew drowned in the Barents Sea, 135km off the Russian coast - was caused by an accidental explosion of an onboard torpedo.

But Maurice Stradling, a former torpedo engineer and a key figure in the original investigation, believes a new French documentary, The Kursk: A Submarine in Troubled Waters, should change world opinion on the sinking.

"On the balance of probabilities, the Kursk was sunk by an American MK-48 torpedo," said Mr Stradling, formerly a senior member of the British Defence Ministry.

BBC editor Nick Fraser called the claim a "pack of lies" and has refused to air the documentary, which attracted a record audience of more than 4 million when it screened on French TV.

The BBC used Mr Stradling as its main authority for a documentary it made in 2001 - What Sank the Kursk?, in which Mr Stradling theorised that the sinking was caused by the malfunctioning of an old-fashioned HTP torpedo.

Mr Stradling, who also appears in the new French documentary, said: "At the time (2001), that was a perfectly reasonable film, given the facts as we knew them then, when there seemed to be no third-party involvement."

The new explanation for the Kursk's sinking is based on film footage of a hole in the side of the vessel, and evidence placing US submarines in the area at the time it was sunk.

The French film shows stills of the Kursk raised above the water after being salvaged, with a precise circular hole in its right side. The hole clearly bends inwards, consistent with an attack from outside the submarine.

A US military source in the documentary declares the hole to be the trademark evidence of an American MK-48 torpedo, which is made to melt cleanly through steel sheet due to a mechanism at its tip that combusts copper.

The film suggests the attack happened while two US submarines, the Toledo and Memphis, were shadowing the Kursk in a routine military exercise.

The documentary says the Toledo accidentally collided with the Kursk, at which point the Russian submarine opened its torpedo tubes, leading to an attack from the Memphis, which was protecting the damaged Toledo while it retreated.

Full story...

Monday 9 May 2005

The most unfair election in British history

by Iain Macwhirter

The electorate left Tony Blair in no doubt what they thought of him last week. But with only 35% of the vote, Labour secured a projected majority of 66. The Tories took 32%, yet Tony Blair won nearly twice as many seats. And they call this democracy?

At least now we can wave goodbye to the pager clones. Those doggedly on-message New Labour MPs have gone the way of the device that used to deliver the “line to take”. Many of the most ardent Blairites were massacred on Thursday. Labour is now more like the party it was in the 1970s. The stage is set for a conflict between a leader who has lost credibility and a party that wants its ball back.

Two images sum up 2005. Stephen Twigg, the infant hero of Labour’s 1997 “people’s revolution”, biting his lip as he lost the seat he stole from the Tory minister Michael Portillo eight years ago. His rueful expression summed up the feeling that the New Labour project has come full circle.

Second image. Victorious George Galloway, the former Scottish Labour MP sacked for his opposition to the war, lambasting Tony Blair like an Old Testament prophet: “All the people you’ve killed and the lies you have told have come back to haunt you.” Not for the first time, Galloway had found the words to wound. It was the soundbite of the night – and he duffed up Jeremy Paxman too.

This was a defeat for Blair wrapped in the cloak of victory. It was a triumph for the very people power that helped put him in Downing Street in the first place. Up and down the country people used a kind of stealth voting to deliver maximum damage to the Prime Minister while avoiding the defeat of a Labour administration they believed to be essentially sound.

By calculated defections and tactical voting, a disillusioned electorate cut Blair’s majority by 99 seats, from a domineering 166 last time to a timid 66. From Putney to Na h-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles); from Bethnal Green to Dunbartonshire East, voters held the Prime Minister to account in a concerted and finely targeted withdrawal of consent.

Even in the seats Labour retained, such as Edinburgh South, voters delivered a message. They accepted that Nigel Griffiths probably deserved to stay on – after all he is a confederate of Gordon Brown’s and supported congestion charging in the city – but just to make sure he understood they slashed his majority to 400.

This was a remarkable achievement for the British voters. “Labour on a reduced majority” didn’t appear on any ballot paper. The Prime Minister warned that tactical voting would only benefit the Tories. Not so. The Conservatives did not have a good night, winning fewer seats even than the hapless Michael Foot achieved in Labour’s annus horribilis, 1983.

Through a kind of electoral telepathy the British people managed to overcome the vagaries of our increasingly anachronistic electoral system to achieve the required outcome: Tony Blair stripped of that huge majority which fuelled his hubris.

The PM will not be starting any more wars in a hurry with his new precarious majority. No more riding shotgun for George Bush as they rid the world of bad guys. Blair, so long as he remains leader, will be looking over his shoulder at a depleted Labour backbench.

In some respects, this was similar to the voter revolt we saw in 1997 when the Tories were slaughtered by a country which had had enough of sleaze. Now in 2005, the country has rebelled against a political leader many believe has betrayed the spirit of 1997. Not just over Iraq, but over things like house arrest, tuition fees, ID cards, Alastair Campbell.

If this was the revolt of the shiraz and chardonnay set, then it has found its voice and it is drinking well. New Labourites had resorted to a kind of class envy in their efforts to dismiss the concerns of the thinking middle classes about Iraq. Blue-collar workers supported the war, we were told, and the anti-war plonkers would be shown to be irrelevant.

Well, now they know. Principle can carry a punch. Brian Sedgemore, the former Labour MP who defected to the Liberal Democrats, called on voters to give Tony Blair “a bloody nose”. They decided to give him a couple of black eyes as well.

There is no doubt that the war and trust were the key issues of the night, and indeed of the entire campaign. Too many voters had simply had enough of what they believed to be Tony Blair’s high-handed and dishonest handling of the war in Iraq.

Of course there were other factors in the mix. Immigration played a strong role in eroding Labour’s vote, especially in English constituencies where the Tory “dog whistle” was heard loud and clear. Many people have become fed up paying higher taxes while still waiting for real improvements in the NHS. This is especially so in Scotland where cracks are beginning to show in the machine of Labour domination.

Tony Blair was probably right to say in his victory address that people are fed up with yobbery and the decline of “respect” – though in Bethnal Green and Bow he got rather more of that than he wanted. But the PM was badly advised in trying to suggest that what the electorate wanted was yet more Blairism. If it hadn’t been for the stabilising influence of the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, Labour might well have lost its overall majority.

This election, we now see, really was a very close call. That opinion poll collapse that happened in the first week of the campaign, when Labour’s overall lead was cut to one percentage point in the poll of polls, was no statistical aberration.

The polls have proved extremely reliable in this election. If Labour hadn’t presented itself as a two-leader party, if Brown hadn’t offered himself as a human shield, then Blair might have been negotiating with the Liberal Democrats for a coalition this weekend instead of putting the finishing touches to his third administration.

The winners lost and the losers won – though there was clearly disappointment in the LibDem camp that they didn’t do better. With 62 seats, the party is bigger than at any time since the days of David Lloyd George. But this wasn’t the mould-breaking result some had forecast. This was essentially an anti-Labour, or rather anti-Blair, vote instead of a fundamental and irreversible swing to Liberal Democracy in Westminster.

But it could be the beginning of the end for the Scottish coalition in Holyrood. With 11 seats, the Liberal Democrats are fed up not being taken seriously. They think they could take Labour, and Labour might be minded to let them try. There’s a lot of bad blood around.

Full story...