Ceasefire: Hope for the gullible. by underground

Delivering a speech laced with propaganda Goebbels would be proud of, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced a unilateral ceasefire in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Apparently Israel has achieved its objectives in the war, which must have been to inflict as many casualties on the Gaza’s civilian population. Claims by Olmert that the military have resisted attacking “terrorists” in some cases during the operation because of the potential harm to civilians runs contrary to media reports and UN claims. No doubt the insulated ignorant within Israels borders will lap up Olmerts assurances. Few outside the nation will.

The unilateral ceasefire is hope for the gullible. Hamas is not a signitary and have pledged to continue the fight while occupying forces remain in Gaza. Israel have reserved the right to respond. Considering it was Israels inability to honour the conditions of the last ceasefire which began this disgusting war, this ceasefire is as worthless as Olmert’s word.

So what has been achieved? Israel points to the damage inflicted on Hamas and the governments infrastructure as evidence of the operation’s success. Hamas leaders are dead or in hiding. Many militants are dead. However Hamas will not struggle to recruit replacements. With over 1,000 dead and 5,000 injured, it won’t be hard to find people who want to fight against the Israeli aggressors. Israel has won no support from Palestinians. With every war crime a new terrorist/freedom fighter is born. Peace is very clearly not on Olmert’s agenda. And so the war continues.


One billion reasons to make shit up. by underground

Not for the first time I have just had an argument with someone about the validity of “historian” Gavin Menzies’ work. Despite selling copies of 1421 by the shelf load, his theory that China discovered the world has been well and truly dismissed. The criticisms of established and respected historians make for hilarious reading. The fact his ‘ancient’ maps are written in modern Mandarin is comical. His follow up 1434 is refuted with equal ease. It truly is a wonder anyone swallows a word of his writings. So why do people believe his theories?

People love conspiracy theories. It’s fun to think there is more going on. Man never landed on the moon, Elvis is still alive and aliens crashed at Roswell. Some like to think the authorities are lying to them. Often they are, and there are countless proven examples. But almost as if they doubt their credentials, perhaps jealously of their vast intellects, some love to dismiss academics. Slated for being out of touch with society in their ivory towers, people believe scholars are pulling the wool over their eyes. Global warming? Hoax. Evolution? Lie. Established history? Bullshit. Each with their own motive, academics spin a web of deceit, enticing society to follow a tall tale which influences their worldview.

Menzies is in good company. A certain David Irving flew in the face of criticism and denied the Holocaust. And no doubt there are a few sales to be made from neo-Nazis, even though, like Menzies’, Irving’s theories a based on dodgy evidence and outright lies. But the more academics that criticise it, the more nutjobs that buy it. Ian Wishart clearly knows the formula too!

Menzies must have made a killing from his books. They have been hugely popular in China and have even been quoted by Chinese President Hu. And with China’s massive population, and the potential sales, there are one billion reasons to make shit up.

Happy Election Day New Zealand! by underground

What a lovely sunny day to go out to a polling booth and express your rights democratically! What a joy! Casting my votes I felt privileged not only that I get to vote, a right not extended to all the peoples of this earth, but that we have MMP in this country so I at least get a party vote, as no doubt my candidate vote will be wasted, as I live in conservative Helensville!

If there is anyone out there who doesn’t know who to vote for, particularly if you live in Wigram, please cast your vote for Jim Anderton and the Progressives, who my little brother would vote for if he were old enough, unfortunately he turns 18 on the 13th of this month.

It is a shame that whilst my little bro, who is very interested and knowledgeable in politics, cannot vote, many who do not care or know remarkably little can vote. So to help them with casting their vote, I have constructed a diagram to inform them of what each party stands for. Rather than being based on specific policy, which people clearly ignore, I have placed each party on a continuum through time. So if you are unsure today, cast your vote for your favourite era! Continue reading

Tea, Toast and Terror with Bob of Arabia by underground

Foreign correspondent Robert Fisk has interviewed Osama bin Laden three times, witnessed numerous war crimes and atrocities and reported on conflicts from Algeria to Afghanistan and everywhere in between. Paul Harper finds out how and why he continues to report from the most dangerous places in the world.

After the Sabra and Chatila camp massacre of 1982, I actually believed, in my sleep, that corpses were piled on the bed around me. The reason was simple: I had been climbing over decomposing bodies and my clothes smelt of death.

From The Age of the Warrior

If you happen to meet the Independent’s Robert Fisk, you’re best advised not to ask how he copes with what he has witnessed in more than 30 years covering conflict in the Middle East.

“Yeah, look, I think that is bullshit. The only thing that matters when you ask me those [sorts of questions] is how do the poor people cope, who have pariah passports and can’t get visas and spend their entire lives trying to keep their families alive? How do they manage to get through life?” Continue reading

Robert Fisk Interview Hyatt Auckland 9/9/08 by underground

A couple of years back I finished my BA in History and Sociology and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Disillusioned, I spent two years working full time in a book store. I flirted with the idea of secondary school teaching until I read Robert Fisk’s Great War for Civilisation. People had suggested I look into journalism as a career before, but it was not until I read Fisk’s book on the history of the Middle East that I felt compelled to get into journalism. I loved the passion with which he writes with, the attention to detail, the sympathy he has for those who suffer in the troubled region. His knowledge on the area is unparalleled. I found his reporting inspiring. I feel I owe Fisk a lot, so imagine my delight when I was given the chance to interview my hero for Te Waha Nui.

This is the transcript from my 45 minute interview with the Independent’s Robert Fisk. Please forgive any grammatical errors – it took me eight hours to transcribe! Enjoy. Continue reading

Prosperity to Pain: How did it get this bad? by underground

Death of a nation – Part One: Prosperity to Pain: How did it get this bad?

Here’s a bit of background on Zimbabwe, sourced from a few websites, although mainly old wikipedia. A lot of the articles on Zimbabwe have disputed neutrality and a lack of citations. Feel free to comment if there are any errors!

Formally Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe Rhodesia, Zimbabwe came into existence following the Bush War (1964-1979), with Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union fighting the government forces of Ian Smith and then Abel Muzorewa, eventuating in the transition to majority rule in 1980. The country was then granted independence from Great Britain on April 18 of the same year. In 1965, Ian Smith had declared that “not in one thousand years, not in my lifetime” would black majority rule come to his country, but fifteen years later he had retired to his farm, ousted from power by Mugabe’s liberation movement. Continue reading

Alternative: Who is Morgan Tsvangirai? by underground

Death of a nation – Part Six: Alternative: Who is Morgan Tsvangirai?

There is a consensus, at least in the West, that Mugabe is a pretty bad man, to apply a typical Kiwi understatement. But who is the man most would have replace him? Who is Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, who decimated Mugabe in the polls, all those weeks ago? Continue reading