From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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It still warms
Climate science faces the capitalist Inquisition

17 March 2010

For asserting, with mounting evidence, Copernicus’ theory that the Earth moves around the Sun and not vice versa, Galileo Galilei was hauled before the Vatican Inquisition. Tried before 10 cardinals he was found “vehemently suspect of heresy” (seven for, three abstentions), and forced to recant.  He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

After finishing his recantation, the father of modern science is supposed to have looked down to the earth and muttered, “It still moves”.

I thought of Galileo, when I read that Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has called for climate scientists associated with the IPCC to be investigated for criminal violations.

It’s all part of a McCarthyist campaign now being mounted by the same political backwoodsmen who support ‘creation science’ to have leading climate scientists run out of government employment.

A month ago, for example, the yokels of the South Dakota legislature passed a resolution calling for “balanced teaching of global warming in the public schools of South Dakota”. The “balanced teaching” argument is the same one that was used to smuggle creationism into the science classes in the hayseed states of the US. The draft resolution stated “a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological and ecological dynamics” affect climate. Astrological? Thermological? We’re marching back to the dark ages here.

And then there’s the Utah House of Representatives, which has passed a resolution rejecting climate science. One supporter of the Bill told the press “environmentalists were part of a vast conspiracy to destroy the American way of life and control world population through forced sterilisation and abortion”.

Galileo was not the first scientist to have opposed the old Ptolemaic ‘geocentric’ model by which the universe revolves around the earth. Copernicus had advanced the correct ‘heliocentric’ view almost a century before, but very, very quietly, because as an official of the church he was well aware that it was theologically challenging.

So Galileo ran up against the fact that the geocentric view fitted nicely with the Christian theology that was the underpinning of European social order. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church, by the way. Luther also worried about Copernicus’ conclusion and denounced him as a “new astrologer” who would “overturn the whole art of astronomy”.

A major problem was that ordinary folk could see, with their own eyes – contrary to the laughable “theories” of pointy-headed latte-sipping elitists – that the Earth stood still and the Sun went around it. And Galileo’s use of early telescopes to make observations of the planets was denounced by many as false science, much as computer modelling is by the climate “sceptics” today.

By boldly asserting his theory as truth rather than as a fanciful hypothesis, Galileo was laying down a direct challenge to the prevailing order. Oh, and he spoke disparagingly of the academics who opposed him and sometimes fudged a bit. He was lucky to get house arrest. If he’d had email and it’d been hacked, he’d probably have been hanged, drawn and quartered.

And so it is today. Widespread acceptance of human-induced global warming is, in fact, a threat to laissez-faire capitalism. It’s fair to say that climate science, like the heliocentric universe (and, later, Darwinian natural selection) snuck up on the forces of evil and darkness. Nowadays these folk like to be seen as pro-science in the limited sense that the scientific method leads to saleable products. They went ballistic when science showed that smoking causes lung cancer. Now they’re being told that burning, over a mere century, the atmospheric carbon locked up under the earth over hundreds of millions of years causes warming and they’re incandescent with rage. (Did I mention that many of the scientists and columnists now being funded to oppose climate science are the same ones who took the tobacco company dollar?)

The more rational elements of the capitalist class at least admit that something should, in all prudence, be done, as long as it’s market-based and somebody can make a profit from it – hence the push for the response to be carbon-trading type schemes. The couldn’t-give-damn-about-anything greedheads just deny that there is, or could be, any human-induced effect at all (and, as a fall-back, even if there was, it’d be a Good Thing).

For the greedheads, the horror is that climate science flew in under the radar. While they were busily engaged, looting the world, it proceeding on a broad front with thousands of lines of evidence and inquiry towards an incredibly disturbing and subversive conclusion: that human population and fossil fuel use had grown unchecked to such enormous levels they were now a significant factor affecting climate. It followed that human activities would have to be significantly regulated. 

This thing is going to get very nasty before it’s over because the greedheads don’t like being told what to do, and they don’t care what social forces they unleash to get their own way.