Russia vs America – countdown to war?

28/08/2008

US and Russian warships on opposing sides of the Georgia conflict took up positions in the Black Sea yesterday in a war of nerves.

The Russian’s are in control of Georgia’s naval base at Poti.  And they are sending vessels to the area, including the missile cruiser Moskva and two smaller craft on “peacekeeping” duties at the port of Sukhumi on the coast of Abkhazia, the breakaway region that the Kremlin recognised as independent on Tuesday.

The US Coastguard ship Dallas was due to visit Poti but has been sent instead to the southern Georgian-controlled port of Batumi to deliver relief supplies. This has caused raised eyebrows in Russia – they consider it most unusual for a NATO ship to be delivering aid under the circumstances.

“Let’s hope we don’t see any direct confrontation,” said Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin.  Putin who, you may remember, was the president who destroyed entire cities in Chechnya to defeat rebels there.  It is hard to believe that he suddenly dislikes confrontation.  The military victories of the past weeks are extremely popular in Russia.  So the government may well decide they’re on a roll, and go for the big one – a head-to-head with NATO and the USA.

Last week, president Dmitri Medvedev said that Russia would be within its rights to attack Poland since America had sited missiles there.  He actually talked of a nuclear strike on a NATO member state!  And Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko is saying that if someone doesn’t stop Russia, any country could be the next target.

Any country.  Even the USA.  Russia respects only the powerful.  And America doesn’t seem powerful at all right now, bleating about how invading Georgia was “wrong”.  Wake up, USA!  The rights and wrongs don’t matter now – Georgia’s being carved up, and talk won’t stop it.  Only action will count now.

So what should America do?  Stand by and let Russia conquer its neighbors? Or get into a war that might go all the way?

Russian troops ready to march on Washington!

Russian troops ready to march on Washington!

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Will “Russia vs Georgia” become “Russia vs America”?

16/08/2008

Over the past week or so, the Russian army and airforce have pelted Georgia to hell and back.  And we in the West have been fed a constant diet of pro-Georgian propaganda: Russia is a big bully, we’re told, picking on plucky little Georgia for no good reason.  Of course, anyone with half a brain will know it isn’t quite that simple…

The truth of the matter is, there are no good guys in this scenario.  South Ossetia, an “autonomous” region of Georgia, has wanted to become part of Russia for a long time – there is a large ethnic Russian community there.  In the past month, South Ossetian separatists took military action against Georgian authority.  Georgia struck back at the rebels.   And Russia moved to protect its Ossetian buddies.

And then the USA weighs in on Georgia’s side, accusing Russia of aggression.  Georgia could certainly do with some support too!  Russia has large, powerful armed forces, whereas Georgia has… not much of anything, to tell the truth.

But the USA  isn’t mouthing off because it believes in Georgia’s moral rectitude.  Georgia wants to join NATO, and America is very keen on having a military ally in the Caucasus.  That’s why the USA is acting like protective Uncle Sam.

And Georgia’s pro-NATO attitude is the real reason why Russia attacked – South Ossetia was just a pathetic excuse.  Russia is feeling rather vulnerable at the moment.  Poland has agreed to siting the USA’s missile shield on its territory, which is too close for comfort to the Russians. The Ukraine is also in on the US missile deal. And now Georgia wants to join forces with  NATO – an organization which, not so long ago, was Russia’s enemy.  No no no!!

America is putting itself right into this conflict.  Not militarily, but politically.  And Russia isn’t going to quietly accept more American involvement in the region.  At some point, Russia’s going to tell the USA: “Put up or shut up.”  What happens then is anyone’s guess…


Brit hacker loses fight against extradition

08/08/2008

Gary McKinnon, the British hacker who broke into US Defense and NASA computer systems in search of evidence of UFOs, has lost his battle against extradition.

It was 2002 when the police came round to McKinnon’s house to nick him.  Now 6 years later,  on 30 July, the House of Lords agreed he should be sent to America to face trial and possible imprisonment.

Initially, McKinnon thought he would be tried in the UK and might get, at most, 3 or 4 years in prison. But then the US authorities decided they wanted to try him in an American court with charges that could a sentence of 70 years.

The Americans claim that McKinnom was intent on sabotage and that he did $700,000 worth of damage to US computer systems.  McKinnon refutes this – he says he had no malicious intent and was just trying to find the “truth” about America’s dealings with extraterrestrials.

The Americans have been hyping up the case, claiming that his hacking activities damaged defense systems in September 2001 – during the 9-11 crisis.  They’d have us believe that McKinnon is an online terrorist.  And they want to punish him accordingly.

Of course it’s no surprise that the UK government supports the USA’s desire to put him on trial in a US court.  But it is worrying to know that the UK authorities has no problem with sending a British citizen to another country to face a possible 70 years in jail.  McKinnon could have been tried in a UK court… so why wasn’t he?  Why is everyone so keen to ship him abroad?

I’ll tell you why: it’s because the UK government loves the USA.  A perverse love.

Remember when there was all that hullaballoo about “extraordinary rendition” (aka kidnapping)?  The UK government had absolutely no problem believing the lies told by the USA about how no rendition flights came anywhere near British territory.  It’s since been proven that these illegal flights often used to land in the UK territory of Diego Garcia to refuel.  And rendition planes frequently overflew the UK despite US assurances this never happened.

And now the UK is actively helping with a rendition.  They are to render McKinnon to the Americans, to do with as they will.


Four British residents to be freed from Guantanamo Bay… two others will stay locked up

08/12/2007

Four British residents are to be freed from Guantanamo Bay, after being held without charge for 5 years.  They are Jamil el-Banna, a father of 5 from London;  Abdenour Samuer, who fled from persecution in Algeria and was given political asylum in the UK;  Omar Deghayes, a 37 year old man who was born in Libya and came to Britain as a child after his father was murdered;  and Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, a Saudi national with a British wife.

Although the men are not British citizens, they have long, established links with the UK.  But until August this year, the government refused them representation.  Then foreign secretary David Miliband responded to growing criticism of the government’s position, and wrote to Condaleezza Rice requesting their release.

They will be returning to Britain, except Shaker Aamer who is going to Saudi Arabia.

Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian, was on a business trip to Gambia.  MI5 had approached him, asking him to work for them; then, a few days later they told the CIA that Banna’s travelling companion was carrying bomb materials.  This was not true, but the CIA grabbed him and flew him to Guantanamo.

Omar Deghayes had studied law at Wolverhampton University and in Huddersfield.  His family says that he condemns terrorism.  He has been blinded in one eye by a US soldier during his imprisonment.

Another UK resident, Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi from Ethiopia, is to stay in Guantánamo. The Pentagon claims he is particularly dangerous and it is determined that he face one of the military commissions established to prosecute prisoners in the camp.   And another former UK resident, Ahmed Belbacha, has not even been mentioned in the reports.

Amnesty International urgently wants to find out why these 2 men are not being freed after 5 years of being held with no charge.  And David Miliband should do what he can to get them freed.  After all, if they were truly dangerous, wouldn’t they have been tried in court by now?


UK plan: pay Afghan farmers to not grow opium

10/11/2007

The UK government has come up with a plan to combat the increase in opium coming from Afghanistan – they propose to pay Afghan farmers to grow something else.

The Afghanistan opium problem is getting steadily worse.  Illegal Afghan opium was selling for as much as $125 per kilo in 2006. The UN said the area under cultivation rose this year from 165,000 to 193,000 hectares and the harvest rose from 6,100 to 8,200 tonnes.

Some influential figures have proposed really radical remedies.  Lord Jay, the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, suggested that Afghani opium be legally produced and used to manufacture morphine for medical use.  But his idea has been rejected.  The pharmaceutical industry probably vetoed the idea, as an increase in the legal opium harvest would make it more difficult to justify the high price that is currently demanded for morphine.

Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown, who has recently returned from Afghanistan,  announced to the House of Lords that The Department of International Development is considering the subsidised purchase of legal crops from Afghani farmers so they can make the kind of money that they get from raising poppies.

He stressed that the UK government is against the US policy of aerial spraying of poppy fields.  That kind of action only alienates the Afghani farmers when winning their trust should be the priority.

It’s interesting that opium harvests in Afghanistan have been steadily increasing ever since the Taliban were overthrown.  Before the war, the Taliban were strictly opposed to opium and heroin on religious grounds, and had been clamping down on the trade.  So this situation is the fault of the UK and USA.  President George Bush is encouraging the illegal production of heroin.  No wonder he won two terms!

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The British Army are doing their bit to encourage the illegal cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan.


Burmese demonstrations continue… as does the murder of dissidents

28/09/2007

Just a quick post, while I have a spare minute – I’ll post more later on, when I’m home from work – but I thought I’d point anyone who’s interested in the direction of the Democratic Voice of Burma; a site that tells true news about what what’s going on in Burma/Myanmar. The site is based in Norway, so the Burmese government censors have no way of closing it down… as they have done to the media in Burma.

Oh yeah: the link above takes you to the English language version of the site – but from there you can get to other languages too.

See ya soon!

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UPDATE

The Burmese security forces seem to be winning their battle against dissent. They have arrested hundreds of monks – and many of them will probably be murdered by the army. Monasteries have been sealed. And hardly any news is getting out of Burma – nearly all internet links have been severed; and all privately-owned newspapers and magazines have ceased publication rather than carry the propaganda that the authorities ordered them to print, the Democratic Voice of Burma has reported:

“They are forcing us to publish their announcements and propaganda in our publications and we can’t let them do that to us,” said a Rangoon journalist.

The journalist compared the current situation with that during the 1988 uprising.

“In 1988 journals published news about the riots and shootings, but it is not as easy to do that now. The situation has changed – soldiers are shooting at everything now – so we can’t do it,” said the journalist. [from the DVB]

Now that the generals have taken the monks out of the picture, the demonstrators are losing spirit. The monks were a moral beacon, an example, and a form of leadership. But the Burmese civilian population have been ruled over tyrannically for decades – they are subservient by nature, disobedience has been beaten out of them – whereas the crowds numbered tens of thousands before, now just small crowds are gathering – and being savagely attacked by the army.

Horrific images have been shown all round the world. Japanese photographer Kenji Nagai, who worked for AFP, was shot dead by Burmese security forces – and, according to the Guardian, it looks like the army deliberately targetted Mr Nagai.

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AFP photographer Kenji Nagai, murdered in the street by Burmese soldiers.

It looks like the Burmese dictators’ tactics have worked – without the Buddhist monks, the demonstrations are petering out, and soon things may well be back to “normal” – whatever the fuck passes for normal in that fucked up country. The state media have reported 10 deaths – obvious bullshit. Gordon Brown has said he believes the casualty rates are much higher (according to BBC Radio 4 news), and he’s been talking to President Bush about the situation – but the Burmese generals don’t care. They have always ignored international opinion. The only other government they have “friendly” relationships with is the Chinese – and it looks like the army has been careful not to alienate China.

A group of 5,000-10,000 protestors assembled at around 3.30pm in the Chinatown area at the junction of Strand road and Keile road, also cursing government security forces. No government troops, guards or supporters were seen at this location.

“It’s like they’re trying not to upset the Chinese. We’ve seen an army truck passing by Chinatown, but no troops have been deployed.” [as reported by DVB]

So, what are the USA and UK going to do about this? The “free world” always make a big noise about the sanctity of democracy – liberating the Iraqi people from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein is constantly used as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq. Well, the Burmese generals are worse dictators than Saddam ever worse – so will we invade?

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

There’s no oil in Burma.  Just poverty and injustice.  Our political leaders may huff and puff, but at the end of the day they’ll do fuck all.  The military dictators of “Myanmar” have nothing to worry about.

Incidentally, what is this “Myanmar” crap all about?  The whole world seems to call Burma Burma.  Maybe by using the other name, the generals think that no one will realise what a shithole the place is.

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Buddhist monks in Burma – they led the demonstrations, now they’re probably dead.


Impeach George Bush!!

17/09/2007

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Holy Hell!!  That isn’t Laura!

And at least Bill Clinton had the good grace to get gobble-gobbled in private… and by a human*.

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*Well, I assume Monica was a human.  She looked human.  Kinda.  😉


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