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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Burning Fields

Well it seems Helen read my letter to her, but not even I suspected the heights of machevilian genius this woman can muster. You can see the years of bitter and vicious in-fighting throughout the Blokey Labour Party of the 1980s and how a queer looking short haired hard looking Clarke must have punched back with twice the force, she is a woman of immense political skills and this latest twist is an astonishing reminder of that. Field is to be the focus of a Police investigation, which means he is out of the Parliament frying pan and fired. Helen keeps his vote, can tell people to wait for the Police investigation, and if timed correctly could even hold off a by-election till the next national election. Was the low polling a catalyst? Perhaps, but a further bump in the road will be the TV3 Poll due out on Saturday, and apparently it has a ‘big surprise’ in it. To hazard a guess I might suggest the rise of a 3rd party? I was interested to see in the today’s poll that the Greens jumped from 5.2 %to 5.8% - might Labour be losing it’s left wing to the Greens? Does the bad look with introducing Tasers, campaign money fraud and Field effect the left of Labour as much as it does to the Labour/National fence sitters?

Wiig, Anita and why Bob Clarkson should shut his stupid gob

When I was at University, the crush of my life was Anita McNaught. She was smart and sexy in that posh English rose, private school girl kind of way, just like Jackie Brown is. But I have to admit that I was taken aback recently to find out that Anita’s husband, the recently kidnapped and released cameraman Olaf Wiig, worked for Fox News. It was weird because lot’s of my lefty friends also privately questioned Anita with ‘someone who would work for Fox’? Even my more conservative friends wondered aloud at how that worked, the darling of the liberal media and princess of the working class, Anita McNaught with some European sounding Aryan God who worked for Satan’s official mouthpiece - Fox News.

Of course such thoughts were petty side salad brain snacking to the awful reality for those involved and the wider human concern shown was heartfelt and deep as was the threat to the future of journalism in the covering of the Palestinian conflict. Those things said, the fact that Olaf worked for Fox News still lingered in the spoiling kinda way a police raid on Christmas morning has on Christmas Dinner.

All these Seinfeldian concerns melted the moment I watched Olaf in his first Fox News interview. The man had already gone up in my evaluation of him when he announced on his release that he hoped his kidnapping would not stop other journalists from going to and reporting on the Palestinian occupation. I thought that was pretty bloody courageous of him, but more was to come. On his first major Fox News interview, Olaf and Steve Centanni recounted their experience. Olaf then starts on what will go down as one of the great moments in televised national face slapping I have ever been privileged to view.

Olaf explains that when they were first interrogated by their captors they accused Olaf of being an American. “Dude”, he said (he honestly said Dude), “I’m a New Zealander. New Zealand has a difficult relationship with America, we do not support them in their war with Iraq. We do not support them with their policies in Palestine”. The sharp intake of air from the Fox interviewer and Steve Centanni was like the sudden snap freezing of hospitality Eskimo style. But Olaf didn’t blink an eye, here is he pointing out, with some amount of glee, that he was not a target because as a New Zealander, we do not support and have never supported America and its mad adventures. He goes onto say that after a moment of discussion amongst themselves, their captors come back to Olaf and tell him that they have asked around about New Zealand, “New Zealand is fine, you do not kill Muslims” – the sheer balls required to front up on the most religiously pro Bush News Network and slap America’s face with the reality of their foreign policy made me ashamed I ever doubted Anita.

The fact that the kidnappers would release Olaf because he was a New Zealander follows a similar situation when Taliban leaders were asked whether NZ was a target for them prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s response was, “Where is New Zealand?”. It is a reminder that we are not seen as a target by the Muslim world, that our voice against America’s adventures and our support of the Palestinian cause has kept us immune from being lumped in ‘with the west’. Which brings me to big mouth Bob Clarkson. We are not a target for Muslim extremists, why the hell would you go out of your way to create ill feeling and stir up cultural anger over something as stupid as veils? Why would we even try and stir resentment when we are in such an important position, why not show both sides of the debate how we can live together by being an example of tolerant co-habitation rather than the race baiting thuggery of Clarkson’s knuckle-dragging rhetoric. This is not the voice of appeasement, it is one of realizing that we could have a unique position within the Muslim world and the West, and we need dialogue between people more now than ever before.


Missing You Already

After only a month it has become clear (at least at this stage) what my preferences are and aren’t in life. Some things you can do with and others without; being restricted in prison the priorities are coming into focus.

Women: Ones in Corrections Department uniform don’t count (no offence). How they look, how they smell, how they laugh, how they dress…
E-mail: Perhaps a better invention than even the telephone.
Telephone: I can make calls – but the fucks at Telecom get $1.80 per minute. Being able to call anyone at anytime and (with e-mail) solve problems involving many people and documents within hours is sorely missed. Trying to do anything purely through letters is absurd.
Computer: Being able to make text documents and the editing process is just incomparable to the laborious hand written, mistake-ridden drafts of correspondence on paper.
Internet: Isn’t it a human right protected by the U.N. yet? Not surprising that not having almost the entire knowledge of human civilization instantly available at your fingertips is a tad annoying.
The Wireless: I’m not talking about the one Kinch has concealed in the teapot – I mean Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme, Parliamentary Question Time (esp. when I find out later the questions are about me!), the jazz programmes on Sunday, BBC world service and yes, even Jim Mora’s show (esp. the panel – and yes, even when Mr. Bradbury is on).
The art of conversation: That is to say I’d settle for semi-decent quasi-intellectual discussion on any topic that doesn’t abruptly conclude with someone expressing an intention to assault, kill, rape, steal or destroy.
A View: How did Hannibal Lecter put it again? “I want a room with a view of the sea…” Where I lived I would walk into town (the CBD) at least three times a week across a bridge that commanded views of the sparkling Waitemata Harbour – and down to my flat views of the Waitakere Ranges and the rest was a Peter Sidell painting – now it’s the tops of some barren hills.
Coffee: Proper coffee. Nescafe isn’t proper coffee. I mean plunger coffee or café coffee. And to think I used to sigh when ordering a flat white or a latte like it was a chore! Oh to be inflicted with such a chore now!
Earl Grey Tea
Dessert: Any dessert. We get a small, cold apple pie on Sundays and that’s as close to it as it gets.
Sleeping in: Can’t really do that – having to be at breakfast at 8am on weekends is now considered “sleeping in”.
Staying up late: Primarily to read and write. Can’t really do that when you’re awoken at 6am for breakfast at 7am on weekdays. I don’t know what the point of waking people up at 6am is considering 90% of us don’t have anything to do. And when they give you dinner at 4.30pm it’s difficult to stay awake – a pity since I’m not in a writing mood usually until almost midnight normally.
A normal dinner: Cooked by or for the flatmates at a civilized hour of 10pm-midnight.
Drinking and watching Rugby

Primetime television….at least not yet
Junk mail/NZ Herald/Talkback Radio
Sound of traffic: esp. rush hour and the tension.
Errands: To the bank, the post office, any office, the supermarket, the shops…
Sound of yapping, barking dogs
Alcohol…not really. Felt like a beer the other day in the sun, and if I were able to watch the rugby I’d probably want one then too.
Cannibas…not really. Not exactly the best environment to enjoy that drug.
Money: The only actual money I’ve seen was during a visit when coins were used for the vending machine (only takes the old coins!). Prison is a cashless society. Sure, things are measured in dollars and cents but you never get to see it. Like Star Trek(?).
”Dealing” with people over the phone: Yes, telephones are handy, but so many calls are unnecessary including surveys, recorded ads, “charity” etc.
Pop-ins and awkward social engagements: These still happen here of course – people wanting to borrow things, screws calling you out etc. But the amount of preparation time, the average person puts in to things that they don’t want to do in the first place is quite staggering on reflection.

Tim Selwyn
Prison Blogger

The AIDS perfect storm

Just as Hurricane Katrina destroyed mainly Afro-American lives, a new perfect storm many times worse than that which hit New Orleans is silently occurring without any media attention.

Since 1980, The ‘war on drugs’ led to a massive incarceration program that saw the afro-American prison population quadrupled.

There are now more afro-American men in prison than in College.

With so many men in prison, sex with other men occur, condom use is not allowed in prisons which create an ‘AIDS Perfect Storm’.

The use of intravenous drug use and unprotected sex has led to an explosion in AIDS amongst Afro-Americans, they make up 15% of the American population but now make 50% of all new AIDS cases in America. The Bush Administration response has been to shut down needle exchange programmes and condom funding – these policies are exasperating the problem.

This year 20 000 Americans will die from AIDS, the majority of those deaths will be Afro-American.

America cared when the victims were white, as AIDS increasingly becomes more a poverty and black issue the problem simply gets swept under the carpet.

The Bush Administration, citing religious reasons, continues to cut back on needle exchange and condom funding, these are programmes that are crucial to turn the tide. Prisons in America do not test Prisoners for AIDS as once confirmed, the prison has to pick up the medical cost of the prisoner.

The AIDS perfect storm - another blow for justice from Fundamental Christianity.

Australian ‘terror threat’ can’t call Osama Bin Laden

A Federal court magistrate has described the interim control order imposed on accused terror suspect Jack Thomas as 'silly'. At a directions hearing in Canberra, magistrate Graham Mowbary attacked the federal government over the order which restricts Mr Thomas' travel, and requires him to report to police three times a week. Mowbray also blasted the federal government for including Osama bin Laden's name in a list of people who can't be contacted by terror suspect Jack Thomas. The 33-year-old is the first person to have a government interim control order imposed on him. He says he's willing to denounce everything Al-Qaeda stands for. But Federal Police are pursuing an admission, that Thomas underwent explosives and weapons training in Afghanistan. Thomas' curfew began on Tuesday and it means he can't leave his Melbourne home, between midnight and 5am.

Ummm – so this guy is such a threat to Australia that he has to now be under new Government powers restricting his movements because he talks to Osama Bin Laden all the time does he? R-i-g-h-t , Advance Australia Fair-ly Stupid!

Open letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Helen

Hey love, look I realize you’re pretty busy at the moment, but I just thought I’d drop you a line ‘cause I’m a wee bit concerned about the Poll in today’s Herald. NATIONAL LEAD BY 7.7%! Girlfriend I haven’t always backed your call, let’s see, the Ahmed Zaoui farce, the Foreshore and Seabed confiscation via legislation, getting my mate Tim thrown in prison for Sedition, doing piss all for the people on the very bottom of the system to name but a few, but I was proud how you didn’t get us involved in Iraq, your criticisim of Israel, Civil Unions, decriminilisation of Prostitution, and you have by and by made things a little better than when you started – but Helen you are slipping here. As much as I disagree with some of the things you’ve done, you are A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER than Don and his idiot National Party. I honestly believe if they get into power and do the things they say they will do to Maori (dump Maori education quotas, dump Maori seats) and cuddle up to America (letting in nuclear ships, and let’s not forget National with ACT wanted us to join in the Iraq war), and the destruction of the Unions – I fear real civil strife on the streets of this country the likes of which we have never seen before.

You can’t let National win, and by keeping hold of Field you are poisoning New Zealanders against you – we HATE corruption with a pathological fervor, and you only feed that by letting this clown stay in his job. I appreciate it would be a ‘process’ getting rid of him, but better now than allow it to remain septic. And as for the money you overspent for the election – look of course I understand that Governments have always fiddled the way they spend public money, and yes Chris Trotter made some bloody good points in the weekend paper about how justified you were to take the cash because allowing National to win with their dirty exclusive brethren cash wasn’t an option, but you really do have to move on that with new procedures on party funding so as to take some of the sting out of this issue.

Appreciate you are busy, but could you try a little harder, I really don’t want to have to take up arms against my fellow NZers if National win.

Say hi to the hubby


Israel is such a righteous and moral nation

This from the BBC
UN denounces Israel cluster bombs
The UN's humanitarian chief has accused Israel of "completely immoral" use of cluster bombs in Lebanon. UN clearance experts had so far found 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites, Jan Egeland said. UN efforts to rid Lebanon of cluster bombs have been under way since the conflict ended. Earlier estimates from UN experts had suggested a total of about 100 cluster bomb sites. Mr Egeland described the fresh statistics as "shocking new information". "What's shocking and completely immoral is: 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution," he said.

Isn’t that neat, 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours when Israel knew a resolution was coming and simply wanted to sow more misery on the innocent Lebanese civilian population. What a moral and righteous nation Israel is.This is a war crime, and every life these cluster bombs take is a murder. No wonder there is so much anger towrads Israel.

Putting the burke in burka

There has been a lot of comment on dear old bigot joker Bob Clarkson’s burka statements, and it is amazing how many of you are ‘experts’ in Islam - okay, just a couple of points – this burka 'misunderstanding' in Islam are due to comments by their Prophet who stated "people should be modest in their dress" - this led to full on veils as external pressures on Islam forced it to radicalize - now I'm no defender of warped religion - BUT I have read and heard Muslim women who wear the burka and they have a VERY different view on wearing it - are any of you who write on this site Muslim woman? Shouldn't we ask Muslim women what they want to wear, or are you exhibiting the same sexism that you accuse Muslims of? And surely we have a freedom in NZ to wear what we like - If I want to walk around in a massive Banana costume, who the fuck are you to tell me otherwise? What about Seikh’s who wear turbans? Shouldn't we listen to what the woman want first before passing judgment in an environment which is already anti-Muslim - now that's not to say there aren't sexism problems in the Muslim religion, but they also exist in Christianity and with our domestic violence rate in this country we can hardly take the moral high ground can we?

So what is next? We don’t like Muslims wearing burkas, what about T-shirts? What if we start telling Muslims what T-shirt they are allowed to wear.

I know what you are thinking -“Bomber you wanker, that’s ridiculous, no one would tell a Muslim what T-shirt to wear, you’re just taking things to a ridiculous extreme to win the argument, you tree-hugging lefty muesli munching pinko wanker, we are Jokers and we are fair minded blablablah”

Hmm, yes well this in the news today from the BBC

Arabic T-shirt sparks airport row
An architect of Iraqi descent has said he was forced to remove a T-shirt that bore the words "We will not be silent" before boarding a flight at New York. Raed Jarrar said security officials warned him his clothing was offensive after he checked in for a JetBlue flight to California on 12 August. Mr Jarrar said he was shocked such an action could be taken in the US. US transport officials are conducting an inquiry after a complaint from the US Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. JetBlue said it was also investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: "We're not clear exactly what happened." Mr Jarrar's black cotton T-shirt bore the slogan in both Arabic and English.

What is next you bigots jokers?

Not a good time to be a civilian

Israel continues to hurt Civilians in Lebanon
The Israeli prime minister has rejected UN calls to end its air and sea blockade of Lebanon until a Security Council resolution has been fully implemented. Speaking after talks in Israel with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, Ehud Olmert said the blockade would end only when all parts of UN resolution 1701 had been effected.

Sri Lanka continue to kill civilians
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission has said that the military murdered 17 local aid workers from the international group Action Contre La Faim this month. The statement said: "SLMM [the monitoring mission] is, with the obtained findings, convinced that there cannot be any other armed groups than the security forces who could actually have been behind the act."

Palestinian Civilians continue to be punished for Israel’s Lebanon misadventure
Israeli troops have killed six Palestinians in fighting in Gaza City, as part of its two-month offensive in the territory. Palestinian doctors said the six were killed in Israeli air strikes and exchanges of fire in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighbourhood on Wednesday.

Civilian beatings in Sudan
Riot police have fired tear gas and beaten up an Aljazeera journalist in Khartoum as opposition party supporters demonstrated against a recent rise in petrol and sugar prices, witnesses said. Thousands of people had been expected at the protest on Wednesday organised by a group of opposition parties. But riot police prevented opposition leaders and others from joining the rally, which the authorities had banned, witnesses said.

War Critics helping the enemy?

This from the Washington Post,

In a pointed attack on the news media and critics of President Bush's war and national security policies, Rumsfeld declared: "Any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere."

Oh – but it get’s better than that

Rumsfeld stressed that it is misguided for Americans to fall into self-blame and to "return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world's trouble." He blamed the U.S. media for spreading "myths and distortions . . . about our troops and about our country."

Isn’t that amazing, it isn’t America and its lie to invade Iraq that is the source of this problem, it isn’t their failed experiment of forced democracy to a country who were never going to accept it that is the problem, it isn’t that the whole WMD issue was a fucking outright deception that is the problem, it isn’t American troops torturing Iraqi’s at Abu Ghraib that is the problem, it isn’t America’s blind support for Israel’s brutal occupation in Palestine that is the problem, no none of that – apparently it is the US media who are spreading “myths and distortions”. Well maybe Fox News are spreading myths and distortions, but the majority of American Media are asleep at the wheel. It’s good to see that even questioning the direction of this mad Administration now makes you someone who is ‘weakening’ the war effort – I wonder if we will need to go to go to one of those Halliburton re-education camps?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mourning New Orleans – one year on

What really happened in New Orleans?

Film maker Spike Lee has just launched his film looking at the New Orleans tragedy and pulls no punches with his examination of events. As some in the conspiracy world suggest that Hurricane Katrina was directed by the US through the use of their HAARP facility in Alaska which are the only man made things which can interfere with the Ionosphere which in turn can effect weather patterns so as to create a ‘natural disaster’ so Bush could bring into effect his new martial laws to create precedence for some deeper nefarious plan (check out the posting below re the Detention camps), Spike Lee alleges the levees were blown by the Government…

In interviews, and in the documentary, Lee refused to reject the belief, held by many black residents, that the government bombed the levees, flooding the poorest areas to spare the wealthiest ones, such as the French Quarter, which is the biggest draw for tourists. "We let people say what they think," he said, noting the government did destroy levees during the 1927 Great Flood of Mississippi. "We have people from the Lower Ninth Ward who swear on a stack of Bibles they heard explosions.”


Sedition 101

Being in prison has turned out to be a bit of a hassle. It’s frightfully annoying. Yes, detainment in a compound where everyone seems to relish the re-telling of their most violent irresponsible episodes could be seen as a refreshing break from the middle class drudgery of office politics, café brunches and interest rates, but what I would give to see something other than dried mashed potato and cabbage seemingly every night for tea. Whinging fucking Aucklanders! It’s Don Brash’s culinary heaven all right, but I’m missing eggs, pornography, etc.

The point of imprisonment is to frustrate the prisoner – to cause mental anguish. Outwardly this may appear to be putting the prisoner into a small room for many hours and having people to visit only once or twice a week for a couple of hours along with a deliberately boring regime of food, activities and limiting communication to the “outside”. Now that is what society’s all over the world would expect from their prison system. However the mental anguish (putting aside the obvious question of the appropriateness of this to achieve “rehabilitation”, reintegration and reform) is facilitated and aggravated at far more levels than it appears from the outside.

The internal procedures of the prison – the mechanisms used – supposedly to help prisoners are operated to achieve maximum inconvenience. I’m not even sure they are even to make it easier for the staff. The management seem highly suspicious of technology and this probably is due to their lack of education, and accounts for there being only the lowest entry-level computer courses on out-dated machines available to help prisoners.

Everything seems to need forms, in advance, that will then go missing, along with the thing it pertains to. The information to make sense of prison life is never given – it must be extracted by the prisoner over weeks or months bit by bit as each crisis arises. And even when something is stated in black and white on a noticeboard it can be countermanded by management – this, of course, is not explained- the prisoner will not be informed a request has been denied. The staff want to do their own lags as easily as possible. Ringing your own lawyer is almost impossible. Got a painful back problem and currently on medication – “welcome to prison life” says the prison nurse to one prisoner and she withholds his pain relief! On top of all the specific anxiety and frustration is the fact that the prisoner can be moved, without notice, immediately to any other unit or prison – all the social ties over many months (all the deals and credit and debts owing) are all wiped away without any goodbye and without warning.

For example I received a notice from two improbably friendly police officers who issued me with a compulsory DNA sample notice. It was going to happen in a month, “or we could do it now if you want”. Yeah right. Make sure you smear it on some really heinous crime scene, Arthur Allan Thomas style, while you’re at it mate. So I have to ask for a hearing before then based on the fact I can’t find any evidence that I was ever convicted of the crime they say warrants it. The notice says which part of the Act is applicable but not what it actually says – so I’m not even sure the stated crime is applicable. It might just be some cop trying to make his DNA sample quota for the quarter or something more nefarious. The problem is management refuses to let me ring the cop who authorized it to find out whether it’s legit or not. I’m supposed to wait until the police come to take the sample (mouth swab) and then object and it will go to court. I explained that if I leave it till then it becomes an offense (refusal to give a sample is 3 months prison/$2000 fine) and he just shrugs.

Anyway I have contacted my lawyers (they rang me) and hopefully it can be sorted out. The DNA sample is being ordered because of conviction for “Conspiracy to commit criminal damage”. That might be on the Police data base – it isn’t on the Correction Department – because I have since seen the file and I saw the original Warrant of Commitment to Prison, signed by the judge which lists two sedition convictions and no conspiracy criminal damage conviction. I know she was harsh and potentially evil, but I didn’t know she was stupid and negligent. I mean she had the Lyn of Tawa suburban housewife accent from hell but I gave her a bit more credit than to fuck up the conviction that I actually pleaded guilty to.

The systems are totally fucked aren’t they? I received a fines notice from the Justice Ministry too – wanting $2,253 in reparation for “Publish Seditious Material”. Welcome to Singapore. If you are new to this blog I’m in prison for (amongst other things – one of which apparently isn’t conspiracy criminal damage) Sedition. Being the editor of Tumeke! it is, naturally frustrating.

There are so many issues I would like to comment on, such as the Treaty of Waitangi 1992 statute of limitations bill that closed for public submissions last Friday. Why don’t they make all crimes null and void if done before 1992? Why is it that the Crown wants to exempt itself from the scrutiny of its own crimes? They can’t handle the truth – it’s called Sedition.

Tim Selwyn
Prison Blogger


Another Prison Death

I’ve just received word that another Prisoner has died this morning in Auckland Remand – details are sketchy but it looks like it was a suicide caused by stand over tactics from a gang.

When will New Zealanders accept that Prison is not a hotel? I understand that the idea Prisoners get a cushy time inside infuriates many fair minded New Zealanders, but the truth is considerably different to the tune that Simon Powers sings for populist support. Prison is an ugly, brutal place, and the actual prison environment only exasperates the problem, if we refuse to see that all we create are more warped and damaged prisoners leaving jail to create more harm in society.

We need Prison reform and we need it now.

Stun Gun Justice

Here is my problem with the Taser. We were all told that Police needed pepper-spray because it was better to pepper-spray someone than shoot them. That sounded reasonable, much better the trigger happy cops pepper-spray someone rather than blow a couple of holes in them. BUT THEN came evidence that the cops used pepper-spray when people were handcuffed, that effectively is torture, the person has been arrested, but to then cause someone in custody pain is something Banana Republic's do. And let’s not forget how cops also use dogs to rip people up well after they have surrendered. We now have the Taser, a weapon already responsible for 200 deaths in America, my fear is that the cops we have in this country have already proven themselves liars when it comes topepper-spraying people without justification, and we will see that with the Taser. Would it be acceptable to any of you that cops Taser someone in handcuffs?

Cut backs in Police budgets means it only takes 19 weeks to train people to be cops. 19 weeks is a joke, it creates cops who don’t have the articulated skills to diffuse situations, and so they will reach immediately in an alpha-male kinda way for their Taser. Why would we give cops another weapon to use when we don’t have an independent police complaints authority – how can we as civilians hold the cops to account when we don’t even have a place to go and complain if they over step their authority.

We can’t rely on the media to discuss this as they won’t be the ones who get Tasered, and seeing as we live in an extremely conservative society right now where Bigots like Bob Clarkson are defended by the masses and parents pop their kid into the local prison kindergarten and then show shock that he is murdered, we are left to argue these issues on the fringes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mass Detention Camps in America?

This year Halliburton was awarded nearly $400 million to build ‘Detention Camps’ inside America. Does it worry anyone that America is building massive detention camps inside America? Who are the detention camps for? How many people are they planning to ‘detain’ and does this detention have anything to do with the massive changes in the martial law powers reported by the Washington Post that Bush and Rumsfeld have made behind the scenes?

Ronald and his 7 deadly clowns

I hate Ronald, here’s another reason, this from Scoop

McDonald's® NZ Invites Closer Inspection
McDonald's® New Zealand is going on the front foot with a concerted campaign inviting the public to take a closer look at its business.
Launching on Saturday (August 26 2006), the multi-level national campaign aims to address key questions Kiwis have about the Golden Arches®.
Gráinne Troute, McDonald's Restaurants (NZ) Ltd's Managing Director, says the company has decided "it's time to address some popular myths about McDonald's, the quality of our food, our impact on New Zealand and the way we do things."
The campaign comprises four months of television and print messages with ongoing evolution into 2007, a comprehensive 'Take a Closer Look' website, 'Open Door Days' at selected restaurants around the country and a number of 'Question and Answer' forums.
So confident is the company of its practices that it has set up cameras in its Queen St restaurant kitchen over two lunchtimes (Friday 1 and Saturday 2 September) and is relaying the action to a screen outside for all to see.
"We have nothing to hide and we're happy to invite people to have a look at our practices, see where our ingredients come from and how we make our food," Ms Troute says.
"We understand the importance of evolving and, through listening to New Zealanders, we have made and will continue to make changes to our menu which reflect demand. We haven't always promoted these changes so this is our opportunity to tell the McDonald's New Zealand story and invite Kiwis to take a closer look at our business."
The campaign addresses food quality facts around items such as beef for hamburger patties, thickshakes and fresh produce, as well as looking at the company's role and contribution in NZ.
Ms Troute acknowledges that the business will always have its detractors: "We believe that McDonald's can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle. We offer menu choices which are comparable to other restaurants - and we openly display the nutritional content of our options."

How kind of Ronald and his 7 clowns (Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Pimples, Bowel Cancer, Non-nutritional and Stroke) to help us out with some new information on how lovely their heavily processed, high sugar, high fat, non-nutritious junk food is. As the link between low quality junk food and obesity become clearer and clearer (the obese now outnumber the starving!), the fast food companies are acting more and more like the desperate Cigarette companies did as evidence of the dangers of smoking became apparent. But why is Ronald freaking out now? Is it because they want to be open and loving? Bullshit, after the brilliant Supersize Me movie, Ronald has been feeling the heat, and to make matters worse a new movie from Eric Sclosser’s Fast Food Nation is coming out soon, which is an even more damning indictment of Ronald and his 7 deadly clowns, this has nothing to do with being more open and everything to do with fear that even more inconvenient truths regarding Ronald and his death food will be exposed.

And I wonder at the ‘quality’ of this information, remember when ‘Supersize Me’ played in NZ? Ronald hired advert time during the doco and tried to downplay the damning evidence of their death food, the fact they have that power is creepy enough but it is also the insidious message they try and convey in their adverts. The latest one has a child ‘choosing’ a ‘healthy’ option of apple slices from their menu. ‘Choice’ is only valid when you understand the options, and children are the least equipped to make those decisions. The fact Ronald has thrown in some apples and salad doesn’t in any way defend how they sell and continue to sell to children.

Prison Kindergarten

Prison is a great place for Children with Attention Deficits

More info on the Liam Ashley case, apparently Liam had an Attention Deficit Disorder. His Mother had already been in the media previously complaining about how difficult it was to have a Son who lied all the time and stole all the time.

Hmmm, now I’m no psychiatrist BUT – why would ANYONE think that putting someone with A.D.D. in prison would, could or should get better? I’m sick of people saying the parents shouldn’t blame themselves, THEY asked the Courts to give him a custodial sentence, THEY could have scared him with the Court process, but no – THEY wanted him to serve time – A 17 YEAR OLD! Do you know what they call 17 year olds in prison folks? Fresh Meat – the parents ARE responsible and the only good thing that will come out of this is that NZers will drop the bullshit idea that the prison environment is a hotel.

I wonder if the family were Christian, you know the sort of ‘spare the rod’ happy clappers?

Oh and to add even more weight to concerns he was in prison at all, it now turns out that Liam was picked on in custody and that he relayed these concerns to his lawyer.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday Postings

Bush on the way out?
The recent tremors in the American political world are starting to suggest a major power earthquake that will cost the Republicans terminally in the mid-term November elections, and IF the Democrats can get a landslide win, Bush runs the real risk of being impeached

There are many tell tale signs.
Fears of a the Republicans losing has led to a massive military aid weapon stockpile increase in Afghanistan.
PR Firms in the Untied States are sensing an upcoming political shift are now hiring Democrat lobbyists.
Joe Lieberman's loss in the Connecticut Senate primary this month. One of the seemingly most impregnable Democrats could not retain his own party's support. He was beaten because of his support for the war, by a businessman with a simple campaign mantra: "Bring the Boys Home."
According to one recent poll, two-thirds of Americans no longer accept his argument that Iraq has become “The central front in the war on terror”
More revealing is the stand ofChris Shays, a Connecticut Republican who supported the war but last week broke ranks with the White House and called for a firm timetable for withdrawal.

So much for Hezbollah starting the war on purpose
Remember all those voices claiming Hezbollah started the war with Israel by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers on purpose? Hmmm, looks like Hezbollah didn’t plan that at all…
Nasrallah sorry for scale of war
Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has said he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war. "Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it," he said in an interview on Lebanese TV. He added that neither side was "heading towards a second round" of fighting.

Anything you can do, I can do better
Forget kidnapping Journalists from Fox news, Israel went one better by bombing Journalists..
Israeli rocket hits Reuters car
An Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City during a security operation has injured a Reuters news agency cameraman and a local journalist. At least one rocket hit the car as the cameraman was filming, knocking him unconscious, while the second man received serious leg wounds. The Reuters car was clearly marked all over as a media vehicle.

Police arresting Union leaders is never a good look
You know things are getting ugly when the Police step in and start arresting Union negotiators when they are striking. Low wage worker Unions are finally organizing themselves into forcing large companies with bad worker condition records to start negotiating better conditions.

Field about to get mown?
After even more revelations yesterday on TV One’s Sunday programme may force Clarke’s hand to dump Taito Phillip Field..
Clark says Field's future as MP in doubt
Prime Minister Helen Clark said today the latest allegations against her embattled colleague Taito Phillip Field are "awful" and he should reconsider his future as an MP. She said it would be hard for Mr Field to continue in the job.
"It's very hard to come back from something like that because the degree of public humiliation has been pretty high," she said. "I think he is rethinking his options he'll be thinking where he goes from here."
NZ Herald

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Brunch

Parents demand answers?

Let me see if I’ve got this straight? ‘Parents’ (and I’m using the word loosely) decide to teach their 17 year old son who has ‘stolen’ Mum’s car a lesson with some ‘tough love’ and call the cops. The ‘Parents’ go further by encouraging the court to remand him in Prison, while being transferred to remand he gets murdered in a Prison van by a prisoner.


Vast swathes of the under-developed part of NZ (many of whom vote National) seem to be under this illusion that Prison is a strict hotel service, that it’s easy in there. Christ we’ve had fuckwits on this site try and tell us it’s easy, that it needs to be harder – NO! IT’S A VERY VIOLENT PLACE! Tim detailed an assult in his first Prison Blog – NOTHING HAPPENED. That any Parent DUMB ENOUGH to willingly send their 17 year old boy to a prison have no right to look surprised – HOW DARE THEY HAVE THE AUDACITY to turn around and demand answers from a Correction service that is so dysfunctional and overcrowded that a child could be murdered in a Prison Van.

And yet under the Sunday Star Times front page is a pathetic story about Prisoners getting an easy time in Prison, and there is our Poster Boy for fuckwit of the month, Simon Power complaining that it’s just so easy for Crims in this country. Ask Liam Ashley how easy it is.

Bob ‘Bigot’ Clarkson

I have a view of provincial National voting types as slow witted, sexist, homophobic, narrow-minded, America lovin’, Rugby-fixated, sexist, homophobic (put in twice cause they really don't like fags) red-necked fuckwits, whom I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. Here are quotes from National Party Provincial guru and minority rights campaigner Bob ‘Let’s talk about my ball sacks’ Clarkson which are helping to flesh out that perception.

On Islam…
”Even walking down the street to a certain extent, how do we know there’s not a crook with a gun hiding under a burqa?”

On Gays..
”The problem with fags is that they are gay”

On his testicles..
”I like to talk about how sore my nuts are in public in front of female television journalists in the hope they might pop down there for a quick Tauranga mouth car wash”

Congratulations National, you are really looking like a 'Government in Waiting', if this was hell.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


The Truth of Truth-In-Sentencing

I’ve just been listening to the government’s new truth-in-sentencing/justice reform plans on T.V. Sounds great doesn’t it? – make them serve 2/3rds of their sentence before parole. Make a “sentencing council(?)” to “guide” judges. There are just so many problems with what they are proposing – even if some of the suggestions are made with the right intentions. We’ll forget Labour’s hypocrisy after having criticised it for a decade and get down to it:

Firstly, from my experience so far, the sentencing system at the moment works like this:

-Judges know exactly what all the various tariffs and release rules are and eligibility for parole and home detention etc and sentence accordingly – they know perfectly well that if they give someone 3 years their first parole hearing is at one year – they already know and take into consideration the “truth” in that sentence when they make it. This doesn’t stop them from ordering minimum non-parole periods or denying Home Detention as they see fit to make each sentence fit the crime and the offender, the victims etc.

-Parole being granted on the first hearing (usually at 1/3rd of sentence) is not usually granted – the offender would have to have an unblemished conduct history in prison, have pleaded guilty at an early date, have completed satisfactorily all courses, have a job and family to go back to, have no outstanding drug or personal issues, have had no previous convictions and demonstrate full and total remorse and the victim(s) have no problem with it – then, maybe, they might be released on parole conditions. There are psychiatric reports, victim reports, sentencing judge’s comments etc etc. and then, by many accounts of those who have been before the board, they grill the offender and try to provoke them into antagonism, to bait them, so any (natural and normal) hostility to the questioning in return is ever at hand to deny parole.

-Offering the carrot of parole at 1/3 and then a half and then 2/3 keeps many offenders from offending in prison – esp. drugs.

-All offenders sentenced to 2 years and under are released automatically after doing half, they have to fuck up in a major way to do their whole sentence. Basically everything under 2 years is not considered too major and many courses that these offenders could have gone on to help rehabilitate them (do they still even use that word?) are too long to complete and so there isn’t really anything for them to do.

-Offenders over 2 years get a parole hearing at 1/3, half and 2/3. Release is automatic at 2/3 unless they have fucked up (esp. drug test positive) and end up doing all of it. I think the board can alter when they want to see someone again – I’m not sure.

-Parole conditions vary. Breach of parole can mean going back to complete the sentence in prison – but I’m pretty sure that would need to go to a judicial hearing.

-“Back-end” Home D. is available for the last 3 months of a sentence I think. But like all Home D. it has to be approved and in an area where there are the monitoring facilities ie. probably not in rural areas.

-Home Detention means wearing a tracking anklet and being confined to an approved home except for pre-arranged excursions and employment.

Secondly the potential problems with making parole eligible only at 2/3:

-The use of drugs and misconducts will soar as the incentives for behaving oneself are reduced. It is already difficult for “normal” non-addicts not to find themselves wanting to lash-out in a prison environment designed to heighten frustration. Given many offenders are impulsive risk-takers with little self-control the “truth” will mean higher offending in prison and risks and danger to guards and other prisoners as that tension is manifested.

-It does little to differentiate the vast difference between a first-time, well-balanced, remorseful, “rehabilitated” prisoner and an out-of-control, violent, evil, unremorseful, recidivist offender who threatens to hunt down and kill the Parole Board. Ohhhh – you’ll have to do the remaining third – so what?

-It does not acknowledge that Prison is an undesirable place that breeds criminality – the longer an otherwise “normal” person is in contact with criminals the more susceptible and likely it will be to either pick up some very bad habits and/or further their criminal education and/or make all the wrong sort of friends that will follow them to the outside and/or plan crimes with these new chums.

-Possible unfairness between offenders sentenced under the new law and the old system. And if the system is fair and no-one serves a greater of lesser sentence than before – then why change it? Is unfairness inevitable?

Thirdly, this “sentencing council”. At present the judges are free to pretty much do anything they want. They seem to pay little heed to any submissions put forward by the Probation Officer in their Pre-Sentence Reports that’s for sure. If a judge “has it in for you” – then you are fucked. They will make up any argument, they will find any ill-fitting and irrelevant case – no matter how implausible – to fuck you over. There seems to be absolutely no consequences whatsoever for a judge who’s sentencing is criticised at appeal. They do as they please.

Sometimes as part of the plea-bargain deal a defendant may seek an “indicative sentence”. This is not binding I think but will be the basis for the likely sentence if they plead guilty. The system is designed to resolve in favour of a guilty plea at all stages – that is probably why there are so many stages in the first place – it gives the defendant and prosecutor many chances to deal. Maybe they might drop a few lesser charges for one heavy charge, maybe consolidate many smaller charges into one so it looks better (this sounds ridiculous but it’s true), or any combination. Now all of this takes place between lawyers – the victim and especially the defendant have almost nothing to do with any of this – just as in Court – all the talking is done by the lawyers. Apart from glancing up at the very beginning to see if a body is present in the right spot a judge may not even look at a defendant let alone hear from them. This puts the lawyers into a very powerful position. But what of their motives? How much can they be trusted? Despite being paid for trial it seems all lawyers are programmed to agree with the prosecution to at least one charge as guilty. The system also means that the only guaranteed mitigating factor that a judge must and will take into consideration to reduce a sentence is a guilty plea – and the earlier the better.

Tariffs for various offences have been sent in many areas in a defacto fashion by the Court of Appeal over the years. Most lawyers will know the relevant cases. These cases will form part of the sentencing submissions. Fraud for example will not incur a term of imprisonment unless it is over $15,000. But the individual circumstances are almost always unique. Does a previous conviction have weight if it is for something else? Does reparation mean much? – when the victim doesn’t accept it? This is the major problem with a hard-and-fast tariff table and why the Court of Appeal has it’s hands full. It needs a complete calculation, equation or algarithym rather than a basic set of “3-strikes” slogans.

The other problem is the appeal process often takes so long that the appellant may be out or almost out of prison anyway by the time it’s heard – so what value does the entire appeal system have if in practice its function is undermined by its actual use? Justice denial wouldn’t you say?

I agree that something needs to be done about widely varying sentences. But it is the sentences between different crimes that alarms me even more than the usual examples of gross discrepancy within the same sort of offences. It appalls most of us, I think, that a death caused by vehicle drivers are so lightly treated – sometimes, perhaps even usually, without a jail sentence – and yet a procession of cannibas offences can land you in jail. If the prosecution can’t even find a victim of an offence (eg. drugs) then how can imprisonment be appropriate? This is largely parliament’s fault of course.

So, what are the solutions given we know we have an imperfect system? I would like to think that Judges who keep making mistakes (ie. having their decisions reversed or substantially amended on Appeal) should be sanctioned in some way. We can’t keep pretending that all Judges are perfect. We can’t keep pretending that a jury will be prejudiced if they know the criminal background of a defendant but a Judge will not. I am telling you that they must certainly are! Of course they are! How can they not be? Should they not also be excused from hearing the case if they have had previous dealings with the defendant? Although that isn’t relevant to sentencing it really has to be said.

As usual I’m not sure what the best solution would be. To undo the injustices of poor sentencing, of harsh “deterrent” sentences that obviously don’t deter, of celebrity and wealth seemingly an overwhelming mitigating factor…to establish some sensible code AND make it workable is daunting. A group to draw up a systematic and fair set of tariffs still needs an appeal procedure that gets results promptly. To ask those questions and acknowledge the deficiencies is a good start. The use of more Home D and equitable sentences will fix some major problems, but others remain. The massive cost blow-outs on the three new prisons built under this Labour government and the lack of any corresponding expenditure or programmes for prisoners being just one.

Tim Selwyn
Prison Blogger

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cluster Kids

The Bomb that keeps on giving.
There were lots of ‘precision’ weapons used against Lebanon by Israel, one cheeky little number is the cluster bomb. Many of these ‘bomblets’ are now scattered all over Southern Lebanon and are continuing to kill civilians. To date 8 have died. Israel continues to resist calls to ban use of cluster bombs.

So much for ‘precision’ strikes, this from AlertNet
On 14 August, the Lebanese army began the painstaking task of clearing the thousands of unexploded cluster bombs that litter the fields, gardens, doorsteps and playgrounds of Nabatiyeh and its surrounding villages. Some 150 cluster bombs were detonated on Friday on the tarmac behind Najde hospital, said Dr Ali. A Lebanese soldier said he had detonated 1,000 such devices already. "I have never seen anything like it before. It is far more widespread than in Iraq," said Sean Sutton, spokesman for the Nabatiyeh office of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a UK-based NGO.

US Army Recruiters calling kids at Home
The US Army are so desperate to try and get new recruits, they are cold calling students in their last year of school at home from phone lists that Schools are forced by law to provide the Army. Is there something a little sick in phoning 18 year olds at home to try and get them to fight overseas?

This from BBC
As the "war on terror" drags on, the US military is finding it difficult to fill its ranks and there are growing concerns some recruiters are breaking the rules. Sgt 1st Class Arnold also does something every day that is the subject of controversy in America - he makes cold calls to high school students trying to talk them into signing up. He tells the students about the financial help the army can give them for their college education, the bonuses and how the training can help in their future careers. He uses lists of students that federal law requires the schools to provide to military recruiters. The law - passed in 2001 before the 11 September attacks - grew out of the military's frustration that some public schools banned recruiters from visiting campus. Others put severe restrictions on their access and many refused to provide phone lists. Today, the schools have no choice and the summer before their final year of secondary education, it is not uncommon for students to get calls from every branch of the service. The army recruiters in Kokomo will make 300 calls a day, Sgt 1st Class Lang told the programme. "Pressure is always there. It's the army, it's your mission, and they drill that into you every day," he added.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our Great and Mighty Justice System and other stories

I get a little tired of the voices we get on this site and hear in the mainstream that our justice system is so pure and un-corrupt and everyone in prison deserves it.

Let’s have a wee look at the recent case of Rex Haig

Okay, so we have two guys, David Hogan and Tony Sewell who cut a deal with Prosecutors that in return for their evidence which nails Rex Haig for the murder of Mark Roderique., Hogan and Sewell get PAID (Hogan gets $13 000) AND they get immunity from any prosecution that is signed by the Attorney-General. Sewell later dies in an 'accident'.

To make things even MORE dodgy, Anton Sherlock comes to the Police and tells them that Hogan confessed the murder of Roderique to him. This line of inquiry ends abruptly as Sherlock is murdered.

I’m sorry, but this stinks. Two guys give the Prosecution the information they need to convict Haig of murder, in return get immunity AND money. PLUS when Sherlock comes forward claiming Hogan confessed the Roderique murder, Sherlock is suddenly murdered. Oh and Haig rots in prison for 10 years.


Why should Prosecutions be allowed this level of discretionary power to cut immunity deals AND CASH DEALS to gain questionable evidence? Where is the oversight to make sure Prosecutions aren’t corrupted with that power? Was Anton Sherlock given any protection when he came forward to the Police with the information that Hogan had confessed the Roderique murder? How deeply did the Police go into Sherlock’s murder? Is the man serving a sentence for that murder also innocent?

And why the hell didn’t the media in this country do a better job of holding the system to account?

Ooops, I forgot. Everyone in Prison is a dirty filthy criminal who deserve all they get, and our Justice and Police system is the least corrupt in the world, and the media only entertain and maintain mis-perceptions, they don’t challenge authority.

Go back to sleep NZ, drink some beer and watch some rugby

What is it with Christian’s and beating their kids?
Those wacky Christian's, what is it with them and beating their kids hu? They love it so much they want their school’s to administer corporal punishment. This is a message to ANY kid at one of these cult schools, if your school hits you, TELL US and we will take them to court for assault. God can work it out later.

Probe school strapping, say Greens
Green MP Sue Bradford says education authorities must investigate whether private Christian schools are flouting the law after repeated refusals by several schools to reveal their policies on corporal punishment. The call follows reports in the Herald of Tyndale Park Christian School's corporal punishment policy under which parents "authorised" the school to strap their children. Under the Education Act 1989, the use of force is illegal at schools except by a parent or guardian of the child. The Ministry of Education said the power of the parent cannot be delegated to the school.
New Zealand Herald

Apart from trying to kill whales for “Scientific Research” - let’s just take a moment for the whole concept of “Scientific Research” - Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha - Thank you, apart from trying to kill whales for “Scientific Research” (giggle) The Japanese also seem to be raping our seas of fish. Now I don’t wish to seem unfair, BUT STOP STEALING OUR FISH!

Japanese in gun for over-fishing Tasman tuna
Japan looks set to be called to account over accusations that it has grossly overfished southern bluefin tuna stocks in southern waters including the Tasman Sea. The tuna species, valuable for its high fat content, came under voluntary conservation measures in the mid-1980s after heavy fishing resulted in a significant decline in mature fish. The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, of which New Zealand was a founding member with Australia and Japan, was established in 1993 to manage the stocks. The Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton, said yesterday that reviews of market data in Japan allegedly showed a huge discrepancy between what was being sold and what was being caught.
New Zealand Herald

Israeli Justice?
Arresting politicians and charging them with trumped up offences is an old tactic from most despotic regimes. I particularly like the fact that the Israeli’s shackled him in court.

Israel charges Hamas politician
The Palestinian parliament speaker, led in shackles into an Israeli military court, has been charged with membership in an outlawed organisation. Abd al-Aziz Dweik becomes the most senior of three dozen Hamas officials rounded up by Israel to be indicted so far. Dweik said on Tuesday that he does not recognise the court's authority. "It is a political trial, and I don't recognise it," Dweik said. "I am an elected official." Dweik was brought into the courtoom in the Ofer Prison Camp with his feet shackled. He wore a brown pajama-style outfit, and his normally long beard was trimmed. The military prosecutor charged Dweik with membership and activity in an outlawed organisation.

Throwing your toys in the sandpit
IDF gets embarrassed, Olmert needs to look tough, illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank stay, anyone surprised?

Israel Shelves Plan to Pull Out Of Settlements In West Bank
JERUSALEM, Aug. 22 -- The Israeli government's plan to dismantle some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and redraw the country's borders is being shelved at least temporarily, a casualty of the war in Lebanon, government officials said. The plan, which propelled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to victory in March elections and was warmly endorsed by President Bush as a way of solving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, is no longer a top priority, Olmert told his ministers last weekend, according to one of his advisers. Instead, the government must spend its money and efforts in northern Israel to repair the damage from the war and strengthen the area in case fighting breaks out again, Olmert said.
Washington Post

As the youth generation in America wise up to Military recruiters, the Army is having trouble convincing them that Iraq is an exciting way to pay your student loan. So to compensate, the Marines are calling up old men to go fight for their oil. Sing with me as you read folks, “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Terrorist, if you think old America is done”

Troop shortfall hits US marines
The Marine Corps will soon begin ordering thousands of its soldiers back to active duty because of a shortage of volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be the marines' first involuntary recall since the early days of the US-led "war on terror". Up to 2,500 soldiers will be brought back at a time, and there is no cap on the total number who may be forced back into service as the military helps fight the "war on terror". The call-ups will begin in the next several months. The number of soldiers in Iraq has climbed back to 138,000 - the prevailing number for much of last year.
Troop levels had been declining this year, to a low of about 127,000, amid growing calls from congress and the public for a phased withdrawal. Increasing violence in Baghdad has led military leaders to increase the US presence there. This is the first time the marines have had to use the involuntary recall since the beginning of the Iraq combat. The army, meanwhile, has issued orders recalling about 10,000 soldiers so far, but many of those may be granted exemptions.

Israel deliberately targeted civilians? Anti-Semitic Rubbish!
Civilians Israeli targets says Amnesty
LONDON - Rights group Amnesty International accused Israel yesterday of deliberately targeting civilians during its campaign against Hizbollah in Lebanon and said the Jewish state might be guilty of war crimes. Not only were food shops purposely destroyed by shelling and air attacks, Amnesty said, but aid convoys were blocked and hospitals and public utilities like water and power plants put out of action to force people to flee. "The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy rather than collateral damage," Amnesty said. Israel says it did not target civilians and had warned non-combatants to leave south Lebanon. It also accused Hizbollah of launching rockets from civilian areas. Amnesty called for the United Nations to quickly set up an independent inquiry into breaches of international humanitarian law.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The March of War?

Is the United States trying to create a stand off in the UN? This from the BBC

Iran to ignore nuclear resolution

Iran has vowed to pursue its nuclear programme, in its first official response to last week's UN resolution urging it to curb nuclear activities.

Chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran would continue to develop nuclear energy within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Last week the Security Council said Iran faced possible sanctions if it did not stop uranium enrichment this month.

Some members fear Iran may use the technology to build nuclear weapons.

Iran says its motives are peaceful.

"Our activities respect the Non-Proliferation Treaty... so we will not accept the suspension [of uranium enrichment]," Mr Larijani said.

"They should know that such resolutions will not affect our determination. We will pursue the nuclear rights of Iranians which are enshrined in the NPT."

Mr Larijani also warned that sanctions would hurt the West more, leaving people there shivering from cold during the winter because of higher oil prices.

Now to fully appreciate the context of this stand off, I think you have to try and see things through the Iranian eyes. Their Nemesis, AMERIKA, has done some very shitty things to the Iranian people, let’s see, that CIA sponsored coup that brought in the dictatorship of the US sponsored client regime of the repressive Shar, then there’s that whole supporting Saddam with his war against Iran, and let’s not forget the fact that the United States invaded two countries next to Iran. So an understandably paranoid Iran desperately wants an atomic bomb BECAUSE THEY DON’T (for very good reasons) TRUST AMERIKA. And let’s not forget that Iran had a chance to become more moderate with reformer Clerics getting elected into political positions that could have ushered in change. That was until Bush made his “Axis of Evil” brainfart, and the hardliners within Iran pointed to that and convinced the electorate to elect a hardliner.

You can’t have a war without a lot of fear mongering

This today from Reuters

Prepare for Iranian strike, Israelis told

JERUSALEM - Israel yesterday said it should prepare for a missile attack from Iran as a likely leader of peacekeeping in Lebanon called for Israeli troops to stop their shooting.

Italy said it was ready to lead peacekeeping forces in Lebanon and expected a decision by the weekend. But it called for an end to the exchanges that have threatened the week-long truce between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah.

Israelis, meanwhile, were being told to be ready for a potential attack from Hizbollah supporter Iran.

"We are liable to face an Iranian missile attack. The Iranians have said very clearly that if they come under attack, their primary target would be Israel," said Rafi Eitan, a member of the decision-making inner Cabinet.

Iran, which this week upset the West by saying it would not heed calls to suspend uranium enrichment, supported the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah in its war with Israel and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

"We must prepare for what could come, and prepare the entire country for a missile strike attack, to prepare all the civilian systems so they are ready for this," Eitan said.

Couple of things, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad DID NOT SAY he wanted Israel wiped off the map, he was referring to the regime of occupation in Palestine needed to be wiped of the map – those are two very different things.

Don’t you love the reasoning here by Rafi Eitan? “The Iranians have said very clearly that if they come under attack, their primary target would be Israel,"

Well perhaps Israel would be much better suited to tell America NOT to invade Iran then perhaps shouldn’t they? Iran HAS SAID it won’t attack unless they are attacked – how can that be construed as a threat?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


WASHINGTON - President George W Bush has voiced concern over talk in the United States of a civil war in Iraq prompting speculation he may be coming around to the idea and considering a future exit strategy. Bush's administration has insisted for months that Iraq is not sliding into civil war despite sectarian violence that has killed hundreds of Iraqis. "I hear a lot of talk about civil war," Bush told a news conference overnight. "I'm concerned about that of course

Isn’t this great news everyone? Oh happy day, President Bush is, and I quote, “concerned”

Help me out here with this one folks. What exactly is President Bush ‘concerned’ about? Is it Iraq? Is it the Civil War in Iraq? Or is it just that these pesky little news stories keep popping up just when his party faces anti-war backlash in the upcoming elections? Because he hasn’t had much problem with the tens of thousands of Iraqi’s who have died so far for his glorious freedom lovin’ democracy. Hasn’t really battered an eyelid at the tens of thousands of Iraqi’s who have been seriously wounded within a hospital system that can’t even provide the basics. In fact one could say that President Bush’s concern only started showing when his Party started doing the math for the next election. If I were Bush, I’d be “Concerned” as well. Not just for the horror that Iraq has become, but for the idea that IF the Democrats win enough seats in the next election, Bush could get impeached for any number of things from lying to invade Iraq, illegal phone tapping or even just cause they hate the dumb arse so much.

If I were Bush, I wouldn’t just be “concerned” about Iraq, I’d be fucking wetting my pants. George my boy – you have fucked up in a way that will mark you down as the worst President in the History of the position.

Islamic Fascism (trademark pending)

Welcome to the new bigotry, same as the old bigotry.

In these days of the war on terror, we are moving to new levels of fear and fear mongering, this from the Independent….

Muslim leaders yesterday spoke of their dismay after a passenger mutiny in which several British families refused to travel on a plane with two Asian men

The two men were forced to leave the flight bound for Manchester after fellow passengers wrongly suspected them of being terrorists.

Several people on board flight ZB613 from Malaga to Manchester became alarmed by the men's presence and demanded that airline staff remove them from the plane.

Cabin crew informed Spanish authorities of the passengers' fears and the men were ordered off the Monarch Airlines flight and questioned by police for several hours.

They were eventually cleared and put on an alternative flight to Manchester.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the incident, which follows a security alert over an alleged bomb plot at Heathrow two weeks ago, demonstrated the "the high level of suspicion that ordinary Muslims are often being unfairly subjected to".

He added: "They [Muslims] are increasingly being treated as though they are guilty of plotting terrorist acts unless proved innocent, rather than vice versa."

Similar incidents in which people of Asian or Middle Eastern appearances have been targeted by fellow passengers have been reported on pilots' and cabin crew's websites, including one in which two British women with young children on a flight from Spain apparently complained about a bearded Muslim even though he had been security checked twice before boarding the plane.

Watchdog has teeth

Apparently MPs were told what the rules were on election spending, Helen keeps saying that ‘we need to change the rules’, which I agree with. I would prefer to see Public money rather than private money fund electioneering, HOWEVER surely those are changes you make BEFORE you break the rules?

Auditor-General Kevin Brady says he forewarned political parties last year to be careful with their election spending

That, he said yesterday, is what could be taken from a report delivered to Parliament in June last year - three months before the September election - and he thought it cleared up any confusion about the rules.

"That was my view, but clearly that wasn't shared [universally]," he said.

A furore has broken out over leaked findings of a new report Mr Brady is preparing, which finds that much of the taxpayer-funded political advertising in the three months before last year's election was unlawful, including Labour's $446,000 pledge card.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Mr Brady said:

* He clearly warned MPs to watch their election spending.

* He expected their spending to be appropriate.

* He challenged the Prime Minister's argument that if a problem with unlawful expenditure existed for three months last year, it might have amounted to $350 million over 15 years.

Mr Brady said yesterday his new report on political advertising would stick to the three-month period before the last election.

Hiding the facts?

Ministry Of Defense in Britain are still not giving full figures for combat injuries on their website, despite promises by former defence secretary, John Reid that there would be monthly updates. With the casualty rate climbing in Afghanistan, there is widespread feeling that the MoD is ‘covering-up’ the sacrifices being made by British troops

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Global Briefing

Don’t we own Afghanistan yet?
Despite the hype that we are winning the war on terror, things are going from bad to worse in Afghanistan with the muhajadeen doing what they have always done when a foreign power invades – guerilla warfare. Which begs a couple of questions, I wonder if the West would be in any of this mess if the United States had refrained from playing God because of their Vietnam mis-adventure, by arming the Taliban and Bin Laden to the teeth in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union.

This from Aljazeera…
More than 70 Taliban guerrillas have been killed in fighting with Nato and Afghan forces in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said on Sunday. Four policemen were also killed in the battle in Panjwai district, to the southwest of Kandahar city, Neyaz Mohammad Sarhadi, the local police chief, said on Sunday.

Saddam trial to start on Monday
I think Saddam is a war criminal, no doubt. The horrific things this he did to his own people from the indigenous Marsh culture to the Kurds is evidence enough of his wrong doing, on top of the tens of thousands slaughtered by his oppressive regime, on top of the many more killed in the wars he started. However the kangaroo court that has been set up does no justice to the victims of Saddam just as it doesn’t convict all those responsible for their deaths. Wouldn’t it be great if we could also put on trial the people who backed Saddam and who gave him the capability to wreck so much destruction. Who backed Saddam throughout the 1980s? Russia, France, Britain, oh and of course Saddam’s best friend in the West, THE UNITED STATES. Shouldn’t those countries also go on trial for their complicity in these horrendous acts of violence and mass murder? Well seeing as these show trials are the creation of America, I can safely say that won’t be happening.

This from Aljazeera…
The second trial of Saddam Hussein will begin on Monday, according to Raed Juhi, the chief-investigative judge for the Iraqi high tribunal. The trial will be conducted while Baghdad is under curfew, making it difficult for the movement of people to and from the court.

More Ethiopian troops enter Somalia
Blowback is a CIA term that means one of their ‘black op’ attempts to destabilize the inner workings of someone else’s country has gone pear-shaped and blown up in their faces. This was portrayed more openly than usual recently in Somalia where the US decided to arm local war-crime ridden Warlords in their fight against a local Islamic Nationalist up-rising. As evidence of the United States support grew, this Islamic Nationalistic up-rising suddenly gained popular support from the people. What the Bush Administration failed to grasp was the difference between al Qaeda and Islamic Nationalisim, in the Absolutist World of Bush, the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. You would think such a policy failure would make them readjust their strategy, as it is their meddling that is exasperating the situation. But this is AMERIKA the great we are talking about, they have simply begun tacit support of a much more heavy handed approach via Ethiopia.

This from Aljazeera…
Hundreds more Ethiopian troops have arrived in the town of Baidoa, the seat of Somalia's largely powerless transitional government, officials and witnesses say. The soldiers are reportedly taking over the security of an airport which was abandoned when government troops defected to the Islamic militia that controls the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the south of the country.

Time to start asking if Kidnapping is something more..
I’m sorry to say this for the friends and family of New Zealand cameraman, Olaf Wiig, but I think WHO Wiig worked for has more to do with his kidnapping than anything else. Conventional wisdom would say it is the ridiculously pro-administration, Fox News and thus America who are being targeted here, not the reporter. Of course the fact that this story has dominated Fox News for the last week with candle vigils certainly stops more critical questions of Israel’s recent military mis-adventure from getting aired. So who is holding Wiig? Palestinian groups who rely on a sympathetic media to combat Israeli State spin, or someone who needed a valuable hostage, or someone who wanted acute media attention on something else?

This from Aljazeera….
The brother of Steve Centanni, the American journalist taken captive in Gaza with his cameraman, Olaf Wiig, has appealed on Aljazeera for his release. Centanni and New Zealander Wiig who work for the US broadcaster Fox News were seized by masked gunmen in Gaza City in August 14

Bombing the UN makes EVERYONE reluctant.
Remember when Israel bombed the UN post that had been marked and was in place since the 1940’s? Remember how the IDF were told half a dozen times over 6 hours that they were bombing closer and closer to the UN Post, and they did it any way? Remember how we said that if you were committing a dirty war and setting the stage for more aggression in the future, the last thing you wanted was the UN hanging around, and that such deaths would deter other nations from standing witness? Yeah, well what a surprise that this has happened.

This from Aljazeera….
France has asked the European Union to hold a meeting on deploying troops to Lebanon, as Israel said that the Lebanese army should not deploy along the border until an international force is in place there. Philippe Douste-Blazy, France's foreign minister, said on Sunday he had asked the Finnish foreign minister, Mr Erkki Tuomioja, for a meeting so that the European countries could clarify their contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

How did this country win the Olympics?
How does a country with an appalling Human Rights history that includes harvesting body organs from executed Prisoners to sell on the black market, get to host the Olympics? Ask Adolf Hitler. You would have thought that with so much global attention on Beijing, that they would at least pretend to not be a Totalitarian Communist State. Amazingly not.

This from Aljazeera….
Activists and government critics in China have called for the release of a prominent human rights lawyer detained by authorities. Police announced on Friday that they had arrested Gao Zhisheng "for suspected involvement in criminal activities", without specifying any charges.

Israel’s sour grapes make bitter wine
Okay, we know, they know, we all know (except for the Bush Bubble World) that Israel screwed up in Lebanon big time, and the myth of an invincible army has been banished. This is humiliation on a mass scale, perhaps a moment to reflect on the power of arrogance? For the Israeli people and party to take a long hard look at themselves and why these things happen? Not a chance my friend. Israel responds with a strike in Lebanon that has been described by Kofi Annan as a violation of the ceasefire AND Israel arrest a senior Hamas politician. What astounds me is how the pro-Israeli PR spokespeople can drink so heartily on their own vinegar without so much as a gag reflex across their self-righteous faces.

This from Aljazeera….
Israeli forces have arrested another senior member of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in the West Bank. Troops surrounded the home of Mahmoud al-Rahami - secretary-general of the Palestinian Legislative Council - and detained him in broad daylight, his sister Yageen said. The UN has said that Israel's commando raid in eastern Lebanon on Saturday violated the UN-brokered truce that halted the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, said that he was "deeply concerned" by the violation of the ceasefire.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


This in the Herald on Sunday today,

Stephen Cook

FOR NEARLY six weeks, inmate Tim Selwyn has waxed lyrical about daily life in prison. The current affairs newsblog www.tumeke.blogspot.com has featured his musings from behind bars about prison yard violence, his attitude towards the judiciary – and even claims that “bent cops” have been stealing cannabis from prisoners.

Now, after initially sanctioning the prison blog, Corrections has decided it is time to rein Selwyn in. Last week the department wrote to Selwyn – in jail on sedition and fraud charges – advising him that his blog could pose a threat to prison security and that in future all outgoing letters would be read by prison staff.

Any letter that posed a threat to prison security would be withheld by the prison.

Website owner Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury was disappointed with the decision.

“I think it is a bit ridiculous. They obviously are scared of Tim showing the country what life is really like in there,” he said.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Brunch

This from AP…

ISLAMABAD: Detained terror suspects told interrogators that al Qaeda’s leaders approved a plot to blow up planes from Britain to the US, says a senior Pakistani intelligence agent.

REALLY? So just when I thought this whole ‘Terror Alert’ thing was just another convenient tug of the mass fear media lever to remove all those images of dead kids in Lebanon, out comes this claim of an al Qaeda connection from the Pakistani intelligence committee.

Am I missing something here?

One of the worst Human Rights abusers in the world, who routinely torture anyone and everyone, says that the men they have arrested have confessed an al Qaeda connection. Do you know what folks, if the Pakistani ISI had me tied down somewhere and were starting to stick things in me, I think I’d confess to just about anything including a fully fledged homosexual live in S&M relationship with Donald Rumsfeld. Hey, I’m not proud of that, but that’s what you get from tortured people, what you want to hear. The fact the Pakistani’s have tortured confessions out of people CAN NOT be counted as evidence of an al Qaeda link at all, what it shows is that almost a week into their inquiry into this ‘threat’ they only have the confessions of tortured men to bring us.

But don’t take my word on Pakistan’s human rights record, this is from their biggest ‘friend’ in the West, the US Department of State on Pakistan and torture….

“…The Constitution and the Penal Code prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; however, security forces tortured and abused persons, often to elicit confessions. Ordinary courts at times dismissed such confessions. Under provisions of the Anti-Terrorist Act, coerced confessions are admissible in Special Courts; however, police had not used this provision to obtain convictions.

Security force personnel continued to torture persons in custody throughout the country. Human rights organizations reported that methods used included beating; burning with cigarettes; whipping the soles of the feet; prolonged isolation; electric shock; denial of food or sleep; hanging upside down; and forced spreading of the legs with bar fetters. Officials from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) estimated 5,000 cases of police torture annually; the Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid Madadgaar Project recorded 1,101 cases of torture during the year. At times, torture resulted in death or serious injury (see Section 1.a.). For example, on January 2, police in Choti Zaireen village, Punjab, beat Saifullah Ghangle with a blunt object until he fell unconscious. Ghangla remained in a coma in Lahore at year's end. Five police officials were charged in the case but none were arrested. On November 21, Naddeem Latif died during torture in custody. Two police officials were arrested in the case and remained in detention at year's end. There were no new developments in the Rasheed Azam case from 2003, nor were any expected….”

….Now help me out folks, how come none of this was even mentioned in any of the news reports today on this al Qaeda link story? The mainstream media are accepting what they are being given without critically analyzing anything they are being fed.

Which is sad, because when we start to accept confessions from tortured men as justification for infringements of our civil liberties, that’s when we need an active media the most.



He seemed very mellowed out – normal eyes this time. His only sartorial misstep being the sort of rainbow striped socks more commonly adorning female primary school teachers. Calmly he handed me a memo:

DATE: 07 August 2006

SUBJECT: Prisoner SELWYN Timothy, PRN 60477981 – Monitoring Mail

For Your Information

Information has been received regarding the correspondence and communications of prisoner SELWYN Timothy. The prison is concerned that the prisoner may send out information that could present a security risk.

Under Section 107 (1) © of the Corrections Act 2004, the prison manager suspects on reasonable grounds that the correspondence is likely to pose a threat to the security of the prison. Approval is granted to read all outgoing correspondence written by the named prisoner.

Under Section 108 (1) (d) (iii) of the Corrections Act 2004, approval is given to withhold the mail if the mail poses a threat to the security of the prison.

Under Section 108 (2) of the Corrections Act 2004, the prisoner is to be informed if his mail is to be withheld by the prison, if the mail is detrimental to the safety of any other person.

A log is to be kept of all incoming and outgoing mail in accordance with this memo.



Of course I’m far too discrete and responsible to ever jeopardise the security of Her Majesty’s prisons. I informed him of my policy to never name any prisoner or officer. He said that individual cases should not be identified or the names of any victims of crimes. I agreed.

The problem is that it may be difficult to inform people about the bent cops – in one person’s case I’ve studied – who blatantly stole the man’s cannabis. Can I name them? Can I make assertions about how they routinely give the stolen stashes to their informants and in part actually facilitate and expand the drug trade? Can I mention that the lawyers refused to handle this man’s case properly – one of whom was actually accused of the very crime (bartering drugs) as the defendant!?

There is the problem too that it may become difficult to describe why one case of assault resulting in a long hospitalisation over a drug dispute can get 2 years 8 months and yet another case of a couple of slaps – with no photographic evidence and no hospitalisation – over a legitimate debt can get 2 years 3 months. Does it matter that one was Chinese and the other not? Or is the unfairness of ‘deterrent’ sentences inherent?

There are many cases and incidents including more revelations around the corrupt network of police at the centre of Operation: Vine and the Gisborne detectives who walked free that deserve to be told. These stories must come to light – they are illustrative of a system and a constabulary far from being “the least corrupt in the world” as parroted by establishment figures - most recently the departing Governor-General.

I intend to pursue these matters, but must now do so cautiously.

And as for the rest of our meeting – I’ll leave that for another time. Soon.

Tim Selwyn
Prison Blogger

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday roundup

Is it just me, or is there something a little hollow with the medias love fest over the Maori Queen’s funeral? Only last month the media were ripping Maori families to pieces over the Kahui twins, now it’s deep respect for the Queen. Wouldn’t it be nice if the media respected living Maori the way they do dead Maori.

Powerful lobby groups are anticipating a massive power shift in the upcoming elections, will Bush and the Neocons finally die or will we see another synthetic terrorist attack on US soil to suddenly interrupt the democratic process with all these new Martial Law powers that have been put in place quietly behind the scenes?

This from the Washington Post….
WASHINGTON: Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections. In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so. "We've seen a noticeable shift," said Beth Solomon, director of the Washington office of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm that helps to place senior lobbyists and trade association heads.

One of the things I love is when something happens, and all the uninformed talkback rhetoric kicks off. You know when America illegally invaded Iraq, there were so many star spangled voices in NZ singing the praise of Bush and how Saddam was going to use WMDs within 45minutes to kill us all. Funny you don’t hear those fuckwits much now these days do you? Unless you’re listening to Radio Pacific, Newstalk or Radio Live! It’s a little like Israel invading Lebanon, remember a month ago the debate on this very site, ‘It’s all Hezbollah’s fault, Israel HAS to fight back, Hezbollah want to destroy Israel and they are evil, poor, poor victim Israel”. Remember the Israeli spokesperson on Campbell Live attacking John for even suggesting that Israel was over-reacting? Remember Paul Henry on Breakfast on TV One and the pro Israel bias? Remember that dumb bitch on TV One who was effectively reading out Israeli press releases?

Yeah well, after revelations that Israel planned this military adventure with the US in advance, with the beating back of Israel by Hezbollah who have legitimate complaints with the occupation of the Sheeba Farms, with the realization that the occupation in Palestine is breeding terrorists who are now becoming a pan Arabic nationalist movement, with all these elements of truth, isn’t it funny all those voices singing Israel’s praises, are now no where to be heard. This was an abortion to begin with and the damage and life lost can never be justified after learning of Israel’s premeditation. But of course we will never hear those voices apologise or admit they were wrong, we will simply hear from them again the next time a red neck button gets pushed.

Bush gets tapped by the law, this from Reuters…
DETROIT - A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to halt the National Security Agency's program of domestic eavesdropping, saying it violated the US Constitution. The ruling marked a setback for the Bush administration, which has defended the program as an essential tool in its war on terrorism. US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said the warrantless wiretapping under the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" violated free speech rights, protections against unreasonable searches and the constitutional check on the power of the presidency. "There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," Taylor said in a 44-page ruling.

I don’t know about you, but I could never work out what was creepier, child beauty pageant JonBenet’s death, or the fact that someone would dress their kid up like that in the first place. Wasn’t it weird? Her dressed up in make up and those outfits always left a really ill taste in my mouth. NOW we get these warped looking guy in Thailand who was a teacher at the time in JonBenet’s hometown, with a past history of Child Pornography. NOW I’M NO COP – BUT, how did this guy get missed in the criminal profile? How inept are American Cops? He could only be a more likely suspect if he had “I fiddle with kiddies” tattooed on his forehead and danced around in one of JonBenet’s blood-splattered dresses.

One of the things that really piss me off is all these Generals and paid pundits who sit on these news shows with those surprised looks on their faces as the conditions in Iraq get worse and worse. Remember when we were told the Iraqis would welcome American troops just like the French did when liberating Paris? Oh there would be flowers thrown in the streets, milk and honey running through the gutters and young Muslim maidens impaling themselves on lads from Ohio. Yeah, well, that’s kinda gone arse over end, the way voices like mine and millions of others around the globe POINTED OUT BEFORE YOU INVADED YOU DICKHEADS! Oh and don’t start me about Afghanistan – the feminist war, that’s right, those Marines are fighting for feminism in Afghanistan, that war is all about women’s rights! Education and the right to not wear burquas. Wow, and all this time I thought it was a diversion war to prep America for invading Iraq. Here are some news clips from AlJazeera that show how well Iraq is going at the moment….

US officer charged in Iraq assaults
The military has charged a US Marine Corps officer with assaulting three Iraqi civilians in April, accusing him of beating and choking them and placing a pistol in one victim's mouth. The Marines said on Wednesday that 2nd Lieutenant Nathan Phan, the officer, was charged with three counts of assault and one count of making a false official statement relating to the incident on April 10, near Hamdania, a town west of Baghdad. Phan, 26, was the platoon leader of the troops charged with premeditated murder in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man on April 26 in the same town, the Marines said; but he was not charged in relation to that incident.

Violence continues across Iraq
A series of attacks across Iraq have left several people dead and dozens injured as the country's prime minister says that Iraqi troops can handle the violence without US army support. The most deadly attack was a car bombing that killed at least two people in Sadr City, a mainly Shia area of Baghdad, on Thursday morning.

Bush rejects calls for early Iraq pullout
The US president has rejected calls by opposition Democrats for an early withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, warning such a move could result in a "terrorist state" with vast oil reserves. Those who say the United States should leave Iraq are "wrong," George Bush said on Wednesday.