Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

BBC: I’m so bloody angry about this!

29/12/2012
What! - serving American propaganda!

What! – serving American propaganda?

I’d intended to take a few days off from this blog, to enjoy some days of peace and quiet, non-contention, and so on. ‘Peace, man’, as they used to say in the 60s.

Then, I saw an online report this evening, stating that:

“the BBC World Service could broadcast programmes aimed at residents of North Korea for the first time, under proposals being discussed by MPs, corporation bosses and US officials.

Barack Obama’s administration is encouraging the Foreign Office to back plans to establish a BBC Korean service to help open up the most secret country on earth.[1] [my emphasis]

“They, [the US], believe the BBC’s reputation for impartiality could help build up trust “with [the?] communist state’s 24 million population.” [so, they – the US – admit they have no credibility at all?] [my comment]

Look!

You may have noticed my completely sympathetic remarks about North Korea and its stupendously charismatic new leader. Plus, the BBC is, deservedly so, under attack for a recent load of complete cock-ups (I’ll return to some ‘lighter’ aspects soon); but it’s a British institution, funded by the British licence payer  (internally), and by a direct British government grant derived from UK tax payers (specifically for its foreign services), i.e, the BBC World Service.

So, why  is the US involved in this, at all?

  • Is the UK really the 51st. US state?
  • What is the meaning of this much mis-quoted ‘special relationship’, which invariably means the UK wagging its tail to North (US) America?
  • Who the hell pays for this UK government-funded service? (and, that’s bad enough, in terms of national democracy vs. short-term political expediency)
  • Who, finally, are those spineless English (the BBC Trust, presumably, led by that stubborn hero of British public credibility, Lord Patten) sucking up to?

Bugger off, UK government – use your own initiative – you are currently vociferous enough about ‘UK sovereignty’ vis à vis the EU, for example.

Bugger off, Obama administration – use CNN and Fox TV for your stupid, vapid propaganda! Get out of our garden, you miserable, malicious… !

[1]: The Independent

US torture disclosure dilemma: film versus facts

19/12/2012
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public. (Graphic: AFP)

You’ve probably noticed I don’t, generally, hold positive opinions about the moral high ground of the USA, in all respects. It’s not to do with American people (several of whom I know, and admire, personally); it is, rather, about the official attitudes those people in power display and their arrogant (supply your own favoured adjective) behaviour.

So, here’s a vexed one! Disclosure, or not? Transparency, or not? The truth (unvarnished), or not?

A report from Spiegel Online International (SOI) gently, but meticulously, unpicks a moral and operational dilemma faced by various US “big suits”. Some, including Obama, come out of it quite well (he’s so frequently accused of not being able to achieve anything during his first term as President). Others – as patronising, inimical individuals who, basically, have no regard for democratic responsibility or respect.

So, I urge you to take a couple of minutes to read a most perceptive article – before you all rush to the cinema to see “Zero Dark Thirty”. And note what Senator McCain (remember him?) has to say!

Two quotes from the SOI article

“There is currently a confluence of events that will focus attention on America’s post-9/11 record of torture: a trial, a congressional report and a movie. Will they end up contributing to a more accurate accounting of what happened over the past decade? Or… ”

“On Dec. 6, 2012, Colonel James Pohl, the judge in the military commission trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and four others charged along with him, ruled that anything an accused says in court about his treatment while in US detention is classified information that must be shielded from public disclosure. He upheld the continued use of a 40-second audio delay so such information does not get into the public domain. So much for the transparency part of the Office of Military Commissions motto: “Fairness — Transparency — Justice.”[1] [My emphasis]

Meanwhile, let us not forget that several European governments (including the UK) have been shown to be involved in ‘secret rendition’ and other such miserable – disgusting – activities.

[1]: Spiegel Online International

Image:  Spiegel Online International/AFP

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public.

Obama: Look how many punchy friends I’ve got!

05/12/2012
"Oh, and this friend must be Australia, I suppose."

“Oh, and this friend must be Australian, I suppose.”

Mr.Obama and his country led a very select band of states that opposed the hugely successful Palestinian bid for UN recognition as a “non-member observer” within that body.

The USA was joined / supported by Canada (well, OK), and an imposing list of other countries that included: the Czech Republic (the only European state to vote thus), Israel (well, what a surprise!), Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, and Panama.

What an imposing list!

That, to me, is a surprising result, given that Obama has, allegedly, so many international friends, who are all described as “our best / most important allies”, who “consistently push above their weight”.[1] Watch the video! And, by the way, note that Bulgaria has now joined the “club of buddies” – Obama recently praised the country as “one of our most outstanding NATO allies”.

Well, in that UN vote about Palestine, he surely got all the significant support he needed… Nauru, for heaven’s sake? Can you pinpoint Nauru on a world map? Fine, then try Palau.

[1]: YouTube

‘The stars have been aligning on this… ‘

02/12/2012
The Intelligent Community.

The Intelligent Community.

The Pentagon plans to increase America’s international spy network, by expanding the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), a military ring that will become comparable in size to the CIA.

A new generation of recruits will work alongside civilian colleagues and elite military commando units.

Their priorities will include such issues as “fundamentalism in Africa, the growth of China’s military, and weapons transfers by the secretive North Korean regime”.[1]

A quick look at Wikipedia shows there are already…

“… 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations in the United States that are working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, and that the intelligence community as a whole includes 854,000 people who hold top-secret clearances.”[2]

A former senior military official involved in planning all this apparently told the Washington Post: “The stars have been aligning on this for a while.”  (Thanks for the headline!)

Cosmic stuff, indeed! It seems to me the US will soon be at the point where there are more spies than suspects – an interesting, if absurd, scenario.

[1]: The Independent

[2]: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Beyond science fiction: Project A119

01/12/2012
Carl Sagan popularised science

Did a laughing Carl Sagan really work on a US plan to bomb the moon?

Secret documents released after almost 45 years reveal that the USA was seriously considering exploding an atom bomb on the moon.

The US military allegedly developed a top-secret project called, “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” – or ‘Project A119’, hoping to intimidate their Soviet rivals with a display of America’s Cold War muscle, in a tit-for-tat riposte to the USSR’s having put the first man into space in October, 1957, and generally to boost American morale.

It seems they decided on an atom, rather than a hydrogen, bomb, because the latter would be too heavy for the missile delivering its payload over 240,000 miles. (Well, happy with that!)

Physicist Leonard Reiffel, who claims to have worked on the project, apparently worked alongside Carl Sagan, then a young astronomy graduate.

This demented project (if any of the above is true) was abandoned, it seems, because of “concerns” about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, and possible adverse  effects on humans beings – that’s you and me, or perhaps only the favoured few in a White House bunker.

The report I read notes that: “The US government has never formally confirmed its involvement in the study.”[1] It’s worth noting that this paper refers to an infamous UK tabloid as its source (another question, entirely)).[2]

It just makes you wonder, though; so much really mad stuff emerges, everywhere, from secret government files a generation later, it’s a wonder we are all still alive.

It also reminds me of the joke (told by Macedonians, themselves): The head of the Chinese Communist Party is informed that Macedonia has invaded China. Coolly, he turns to his personal aide, and asks: “And in which hotel are they staying?”

[1]: The Independent

[2]: The Sun

Image: Jet propulsion laboratory


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