Britain: Blair: poodle of Bush, and of Rupert Murdoch


This video from the USA is called Moyers on Murdoch; PBS.

Tony Blair is not just a poodle of George W Bush.

A bit like the 18th century Italian theatre role Harlequin, he seems to be the servant of at least two masters.

From British daily The Independent:

Former aide lifts lid on Blair‘s links with Murdoch

By Andy McSmith

Published: 29 May 2006

Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, had so much influence over Tony Blair’s government in its early days that he was like “the 24th member of the Cabinet”, according to a former Downing Street spin doctor.

Lance Price, deputy to Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s press secretary, from 1998 to 2001, implied that the silent presence of Mr Murdoch in government deliberations was one of No 10’s most sensitive secrets.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he revealed that when he submitted his book, The Spin Doctor’s Diary, for vetting, there were more objections to references to Mr Murdoch than to anything he wrote about Mr Blair’s fraught relationship with Gordon Brown.

“The close relationship between Tony Blair, New Labour and Rupert Murdoch was a double-edged sword,” he said.

“It won the government invaluable support from the News International stable, but at a high price.

“The Prime Minister’s meetings with Mr Murdoch were often treated like state secrets.

His voice was rarely heard … but his presence was always felt.”

See also here.

Murdoch’s fellow media tycoon Maxwell here.

Blair government in trouble: here.

Talking not just about Blair, but also about his role model, Margaret Thatcher: some of her dirty laundry became public today as well.

Guantanamo: children in torture camp


The Road to Guantanamo, film poster

From British daily The Independent:

The children of Guantanamo Bay

The ‘IoS’ reveals today that more than 60 of the detainees of the US camp were under 18 at the time of their capture, some as young as 14

By Severin Carrell

Published: 28 May 2006

The notorious US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay has been hit by fresh allegations of human rights abuses, with claims that dozens of children were sent there – some as young as 14 years old.

Iraq: Basra: two British soldiers killed


British troops and British Petroleum in Basra, cartoonFrom British daily The Guardian:

Basra blast kills two UK soldiers

Staff and agencies
Monday May 29, 2006

Two British soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in Basra, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The soldiers, from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, were killed as they took part in a routine patrol in support of operations intended to disrupt militant activities.

Their deaths took the British toll in Iraq to 113.

Two soldiers were injured in the blast, which happened at 10pm local time (1900 BST) in the Gizaya area of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Bush, Blair, and Iraq war, cartoonSee also here.

British soldiers deserting from Iraq war: here.

And here.

More on the Iraq war here.

Cindy Sheehan on Iraq war: here.

Doctor Salaam Ismael on Iraq war: here.

And here.

Haditha massacre by US soldiers in Iraq: here.

And here.

Anti Iraq war action in the USA: here.

Afghanistan: US troops kill demonstrators


Afghanistan cartoonAFP agency reports:

29/05/2006

KABUL (AFP) – Rioting and gunfire broke out in the centre of the Afghan capital, with violent demonstrations by hundreds of people in the streets after US troops shot dead at least four civilians, witnesses said.

Several volleys of gunfire were heard near the diplomatic quarter as around 1,000 people marched towards the area chanting “Death to America” and “Death to (President Hamid) Karzai”, an AFP reporter said. …

There were reports of other demonstrations and gunfire in other areas of the city, including outside the Serena Hotel, which is just across the road from the presidential palace. Security forces appeared to have stopped all traffic. …

Local media put the number of dead at between 20 and 30 but this could not be immediately confirmed.

An intelligence officer who did not want to be identified said initial reports were that seven people had been killed in the shootout with the US soldiers and nine wounded.

See also here.

And here.

And here.

Afghan parliament: prosecute US soldiers responsible for this.

Reconstruction in Afghanistan? See here.

And here.

Afghanistan: British soldiers die.

See also here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan: here.

From Dutch NOS TV:

The name Unicorn for the Dutch military mission in Uruzgan [Afghanistan] has been scrapped …

The name Unicorn had been chosen as it is uncontroversial and sounds positive to Muslims.

However, in the United States Unicorn is associated to the US gay rights’ organization.

The new name of the mission is Taskforce Uruzgan.

Definitely not all people in the USA hate gay people.

However, the Bush administration does: gay marriage banned, gays banned from armed forces [while the mentally ill are welcome to fight and die in Iraq], police torturing gay people.

While laws in The Netherlands include legal gay marriage, no discrimination of gays in armed forces or elsewhere, etc.

Gay rights, it is often said, are a canary in the coal mine of human rights in general.

Probably, on other human rights issues in Afghanistan, like torture of prisoners at Bagram airbase and elsewhere, the Dutch government’s standards will sink to George W Bush’s level.

You can send a protest e mail to Dutch Minister of Defence, Henk Kamp, defensievoorlichting@mindef.nl.

Talking about Afghanistan, in another province, supposedly much more quiet than Uruzgan, today, on 14 May 2006, a Dutch military patrol was hit by a roadside bomb, damaging a military vehicle.

Also on this issue: here.

Bagram torture prison in Afghanistan: here.

Indonesia: earthquake disaster in Java


Yogyakarta and surroundings

By Peter Symonds:

Earthquake kills more than 5,100 on Indonesian island of Java

29 May 2006

A major earthquake struck the heavily-populated Indonesian island of Java early on Saturday morning, leaving a terrible trail of death and destruction near the city of Yogyakarta.

Major buildings and thousands of homes have been flattened, rail and road transport disrupted and the city’s international airport was closed after the runway cracked.

According to the latest official tally today, the death toll has reached 5,115, but the final figure could be much higher.

Volunteers, rescue workers and soldiers continued to search through the rubble yesterday for trapped survivors. The actual number of casualties will probably never be known. …

Likewise the official condolences of US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and other world leaders reek of insincerity.

Despite the enormity of the crisis facing hundreds of thousands of people in central Java, the US has pledged just $2.5 million, Britain $5.5 million and Australia $2.3 million ($A3 million).

As in the case of the tsunami and other international disasters, whether these paltry promises actually materialise remains to be seen.

Also the famous medieval Prambanan temple near Yogyakarta was damaged by the quake.