Archive for December, 2012

dronekidSince the George W. Bush administration’s first use of targeted assassinations via drone strikes, aimed at Al Qaeda and associated forces, in 2002, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) reports at least 178 innocent children (up to age 17) have died directly as a result of U.S. drone policy.

A Pakistani mental health professional shared his worries about the long-term ramifications of such psychological trauma on children:

The biggest concern I have as a [mental health professional] is that when the children grow up, the kinds of images they will have with them, it is going to have a lot of consequences. You can imagine the impact it has on personality development. People who have experienced such things, they don’t trust people; they have anger, desire for revenge . . . So when you have these young boys and girls growing up with these impressions, it causes permanent scarring and damage. 
source: Effects of U.S. Drone Strikes on Children in Targeted Areas, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, (2012).

Don2“If I see another picture of Gwyneth Paltrow, I think I’ll put my head down the lavatory. Fake tans, Beckhams, Jamie Oliver. I can’t take any more of it. That’s why I’m going to Syria.”

veteran photojournalist, Don McCullin tells the Observer…

1. Have a happy Christmas – things can only get worse (Guardian)
From local government to health, spending plans show the deepest cuts are yet to come, writes Polly Toynbee. This is bad news for Labour.
2. A case remains for economic liberalism (Financial Times)
The philosophy’s basic tenets hold sound despite the financial crisis, argues Samuel Brittan.
3. The west can’t direct the Arab Spring, but we can support it(Independent)
You can't expect mature politics to be practised in countries like Egypt where political parties have been banned for 50 years, says Adrian Hamilton.
4. British secret agents need protection from lawyers (Daily Telegraph)
We have been too slow at giving our spies vital protection against predatory lawyers, says Fraser Nelson.
5. NHS privatisation fears? Grow up (Guardian)
Competition works, says Ian Birrell. This bizarre, nostalgic prejudice against profits only damages the health service.

Justice Steven Rares:

Even though I have not found that the combination was as wide as Mr Slipper alleged in his points of claim, the evidence established that there was a combination involving Mr Ashby, Ms Doane and Mr Brough of that kind.  Mr Ashby acted in combination with Ms Doane and Mr Brough when commencing the proceedings in order to advance the interests of the LNP and Mr Brough.  Mr Ashby and Ms Doane set out to use the proceedings as part of their means to enhance or promote their prospects of advancement or preferment by the LNP, including by using Mr Brough to assist them in doing so.  And the evidence also established that the proceedings were an abuse of the process of the Court for the reasons I have given.  Accordingly, I am satisfied that the exceptional situation that enlivens the Court’s power to dismiss (or stay) proceedings as an abuse has been proved to the heavy standard required:  Williams 174 CLR at 529.

Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia (No 4) [2012] FCA 1411: p75

Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, has raised the issue of the human casualties of US drones, in the wake of the tragic and senseless events in Connecticut…

“If the victims of Mr Obama’s drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as “bug splats”, “since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.”

Monbiot’s piece was published in yesterday’s Guardian and a fully referenced version of this article can be found at

…plus, feel free to check out earlier interpretOr pieces on drones..

doodlebugs tO drones: terror from the sky


moncktonhereditaryhatMonckton here, but yooo people, yooo subjects of the wrealm can call me Lord Chwistopher. Blighty’s a tad chilly at the mo, so it weally warms my heart…my heart and soullll, to hear news of dear fwiends…dear fwiends down there in Auwwwstwaylia – Alan, Bolty, Sir David Flounce (OAP)…Sir David end Tony…let’s not forget master Tony…cawwying the sacwed message, the   sacwed message of monarchy to the distant ends of empire….

…it gives one gweat, gweat pleasure to share with yoooo, my antipodean subjects, the 2010 Oration for Monarchy by none other than master Tony Abbott:

“The wellsprings of its appeal are instinctual as much as rational: more akin to loyalty to a team, solidarity within a family or faith in a church than they are to support for a policy. Deep down, they are the heart’s reasons that reason doesn’t know…” Tony Abbott

The 2000 monarchist sycophant addwess was delivered by John Howard, and ACM are weally moving with the times…migwating from video cassette to some new fangled DVD thingummy….


autismA company that only employs people with autism is changing attitudes towards autistic workers:

“At the outset, it was Thorkil’s aim to persuade Danish tech companies to hire his autistic employees. Now he wants all kinds of companies, all over the world, to learn from what Speecialisterne is doing. He figures that if he is successful, then maybe a national railway will consider hiring a candidate as seemingly unlikely as his son, as long as he has the right skills.”

Click here for The Autism Advantage story in full @

Gareth Cook is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a columnist for The Boston Globe and editor of ‘‘Best American Infographics’’ (fall 2013).

droneRecent conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq have seen almost 1,200 drone strikes over the past five years, according to new data released to the Bureau.

The information, much of it classified until now, shows that US Air Force drones carried out most of the 1,168 attacks. However British crews are also responsible for a significant portion of the strikes in Afghanistan.
The Bureau has obtained data from the US armed forces, Nato and the UK’s Ministry of Defence. It reveals, for example, that more than a quarter of all armed Coalition air sorties in Afghanistan are now carried out by drones.
While only a fraction of those missions result in strikes, drone strikes in Afghanistan are now taking place on average five times each week
Afghanistan – the US’s most intense conflict
The US’s secret drone campaign in Pakistan and elsewhere is now in its eleventh year and is attracting increasing scrutiny, including academic studiescourt cases and, soon, a UN investigation. Ironically, less is known about the use of drones in conventional theatres of war.

The US military and its allies have carried out almost 1,200 drone strikes since 2008 in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. 

Click here to visit the Bureau’s Covert Drone War project
When the Bureau first approached the US military in August seeking drone data for recent conflicts, we were told the information was classified. Central Command (Centcom) later relented after the Bureau argued there was a strong public interest in releasing the information.
Centcom now says it is committed to publishing statistics on the number of missiles fired by drones in Afghanistan, as part of its monthly reports.

looking at a fiscal cliff?


When I look in the mirror I don’t see me…I see Sir Cliff Richard. But when I look at pictures of Sir Cliff, I still see myself instead of him…it’s a bit bonkers and spooky-tastic…looking like someone famous…lucrative, too.

Ahuuhh, ahh…two and a quarter years ago…everyone started saying that I looked like Sir Cliff , then one of my friends sent me photo to a lookalikes online agency ( and my whole life changed. I was an HR manager at News Corp, and then suddenly I…I was doing a shoot for Top Gear magazine, trying on outfits and helmets that Sir Cliff  would wear to his plantation…in the sun with Tony Blair – when the latter was in office, of course….anywayz, because I study him a lot, I look at pictures and try to copy his style and gestures.

He looks quite natural, so I don’t wear much make-up…except for a lot of black eye lasher, and I keep up me tannin, regularrr… I’d like my legs to be thinner like Cliff’s, and I’d like to be taller. I’m 5ft 4.6in – Sir Cliff’’s 5ft 7.3 ish-in. …There’s pressure to go to the gym more, but I’ll never be as mega and pumptastically-poptastic as Sir Cliff . And I’m from Essex, so sometimes I feel I should speak a bit posher when I make appearances. I don’t know about you, but every time some joker points me out as I walk through an airport wearing extra small Dolfin shorts, a tank top and leg warmers, I get a little upset….

At first I was just doing Sir Cliff at weekends, but now I’ve quit my job to do this full-time. It might last only until the 80th, but for now I’m having fun.

There Is No God Higher Than Truth

There Is No God Higher Than Truth

Gandhi on the Palestine conflict — 1938

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs… As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”

Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr.  Pic from


After losing the vote on Palestinian observer status, Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was dismissive of the entire exercise. “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade,” she said. “And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.” (New York Times)

In his response, the Israeli UN Ambassador, Prosor said, “The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples. Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the “Jews into the sea”. 

This of course is not true the Palestinians were not consulted and it was the Jewish militias that began the carnage.

Israel has also announced further illegal settlements in Palestinian areas and other punitive measures in an effort to maintain their long-term program of humiliation and demoralisation of the Palestinian people.

These angry and ridiculous comments from the the UN Ambassadors for Israel and the United States of America and the follow up threats against the Palestinians for gaining UN observer status clearly shows that the game is up for Israel’s long-standing repression and state sanctioned land theft. In fact Susan E Rice will wake up tomorrow and find that the world has changed and the USA is being left in its wake.

It has become very obvious to the world that the actual position of successive Israeli Governments as opposed to its stated position is to make life so unliveable in Gaza that the Palestinians are forced to leave. It is ethnic cleansing by stealth. They have had no intention of ever handing back Palestinian land.

Israel has a long record of disingenuous negotiation on the two state solution. They have combined placatory words with a continuation of dispossession, assassination and humiliation. There can never be a fair solution to the plight of Palestinians under the current unbalanced situation where Israel holds all the cards and has the power of the USA standing behind it.

The Israeli Government has been able to mute criticism of its brutal repression of Palestinians by using a massive well funded international lobby to build on international world sympathy and guilt stemming from the terrible criminal treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis. Israeli Government spokespersons brand critics of Israel as anti-Semitic. Today for many people who were born long after the terrible days of Adolph Hitler, the criminal behaviour of the Jewish State towards Palestinians has almost dried up that sympathy and support.

The overwhelming nature of the UN poll makes the USA a big loser because the massive yes vote shows that the rest of the Western world is fed up with US support of countries whose actions are so extreme and so obviously unfair that they are an embarrassment. In fact it appears many outside the USA not indoctrinated by the Murdoch Press have had the blindfold removed. The game is up and the repression and the lies must stop.

The UN which was the overseer of the partition process was a guilty player in the disposession of the Palestinians. The UN breached its own conventions when it failed to consult or give the people of Palestine a say in the breakup of their country.

The UN must get off its numerous backside and insist on a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians that provides fairness and justice to the people on both sides and which restores the dignity to the people who continue to be cruelly dealt with by their oppressors.


By Rachel Armstrong, (Reuters): SINGAPORE | Sun Dec 2, 2012 4:11pm EST

“Wall Street banks are looking to help offshore clients sidestep new U.S. rules designed to safeguard the world’s $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market, taking advantage of an exemption that risks undermining U.S. regulators’ efforts.”

click here for piece in full & free @

Downton AbbOtt…

Interview with Lisa Wilkinson, Today Show (transcript via Tony

Posted on Friday, 5 October 2012

Subjects: Tony and Margie Abbott.


I’m pleased to say Margie and Tony Abbott join me now. Good morning to both of you.


Good morning, Lisa.


 Look, morning, Lisa.


Mr Abbott, Downton Abbey? Your rugby mates will be crying in their beer! What is that about?


 Well, look, I guess I’ve just changed over the years, haven’t I? But look, I still enjoy watching footballers, but I did really fall in love with Downton Abbey. It was a great programme about managing domestic servants, tidy uniforms and that old virtue, the old virtue of unconditional obedience to authority.


 He is a softie isn’t he, Margie?


He is, absolutely, Lisa. He is a softie and, dare I say it, I didn’t win the battle. We watched Downton Abbey and Tony is our lord-of-the- manor in waiting, is he not Lisa?


But you wanted to watch the footballers, Tony?


Well, I think the important thing, Lisa, was that we were together on the lounge and you know, viewing what we hope will be the Australia of the future, a future characterised by good ol’ fashioned hard work, respect for one’superiors…at the end of the day, to be quite frank…men at work…men…

MORE media interview transcripts here @

FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2012 14:39
On Thursday, Bradley Manning, one of the foremost prisoners of conscience in the world today, testified in open court — the first time his voice has been heard since he was arrested, confined and subjected to psychological torture by the U.S. government.

An event of some newsworthiness, you might think. Manning has admitted leaking documents that detailed American war crimes in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has been held incommunicado for more than 900 days by the Obama administration. Reports of his treatment at the hands of his captors have sparked outrage, protests and concern around the world. He was now going to speak openly in a pre-trial hearing on a motion to dismiss his case because of that treatment. Surely such a moment of high courtroom drama would draw heavy media coverage, if only for its sensationalistic aspects.

But if you relied on the nation’s pre-eminent journal of news reportage, the New York Times, you could have easily missed notice of the event altogether, much less learned any details of what transpired in the courtroom. The (New YorK) Times sent no reporter to the hearing, but contented itself with a brief bit of wire copy from AP, tucked away on Page 3, to note the occasion...CLICK HERE FOR THIS PIECE IN FULL @ CHRIS FLOYD… 

Chris Floyd is an American writer based in the UK, and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. His blog, “Empire Burlesque,” can be found at


By Eliot Spitzer | Posted Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 10:52 AM ET @ Slate


“…The shoddy ethics of Murdoch’s British news operation has been exposed. There is now a huge question mark that hangs over his American news empire. Will his American interests be investigated in the same fashion? At this point, it’s beyond the proper thing to do. It is necessary…”

click here for Spitzer’s piece @ Slate

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