Friday, March 31, 2006

Death threats to members of Democratic Muslims. UPDATED

It is not only Naser Khader, the moderate muslim who formed the organisation Democratic Muslims, who has received death threats. Before the general assembly meeting today several members report to Danish paper Politiken that they have been threatened by other muslims who do not support their views on how to integrate muslim faith into a modern society.

The threats were dealt with in a board meeting last Sunday. A member of the board wants to leave the board to become an ordinary member; she tells that she has been spat on in the streets, her hand was twisted at her work place, and she feels threatened in her Copenhagen neighbourhood.

These members of Democratic Muslims have been asked by other muslims to distance themselves from their "heretic thoughts", says Ibrahim Ramadan, cashier in Democratic Muslims and member of the board. In Aarhus, which is generally regarded as a hotbed of radical islamism, a member of the representative assembly of Democratic Muslims, Wisam Muhanna, has been threatened by a group of imams in one of the city's mosques. They said repeatedly "It only takes a single knife. Then he has had it", until they knew he had heard it. Muhanna, who is a Danish citizen, married to a Dane and father of three children, has received phone calls in his home with a voice stating: "You'll get punished. Be sure of that."

Politiken is a centre-left, generally well-informed paper, mostly with readers based in the Copenhagen area, but also with a national circulation. It was previously aligned with the social liberal party, the Radicals, but today it is independent of definite partisan political views.

According to the homepage of Democratic Muslims, to become a member of the organisation you have to sign that you adhere to the following principles:

The basis of our work is the Danish constitution, the basic principles of democracy and the human rights, as these have been formulated in the human rights conventions of the UN and the European Council.
The broad muslim identity of the members and the culture associaation is non-partisan, but it must represent the muslim identity and culture in the Danish society.
Freedom of expression: All human beings have equal right to expression in the public debate.
Equality: All men are equal, regardless of all differences in way of life, beliefs, origin and gender. All human beings have a right to decide over their own lives and future.
Separation of state and religion: We consider religion a private matter.
Against the death penalty: We are unequivocal opponents of the death penalty. Source: Demokratiske Muslimer.

About 100 members participated in the general assembly on April 1st according to the Danish press. After the meeting Naser Khader reaffirmed his determination to become minister of integration in a government with participation of the Radicals. He had become more determined to go for this goal, he said, after the perceived death threats emitted against him in case of him becoming minister of integration. He furthermore expressed his determination to combat radical islamism.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Designer Democracy

So much for "freedom and democracy". The Americans once again reveal that these words are empty of content, when the democratic process runs counter to their wishes. Here is what the New York Times wrote on March 30:

Mr. Jaafari is at the center of the deadlock in the talks over forming a new government, with the main Kurdish, Sunni Arab and secular blocs in the 275-member Parliament staunchly opposing the Shiite bloc's nomination of Mr. Jaafari for prime minister.
Senior Shiite politicians said Tuesday that the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, had weighed in over the weekend, telling the leader of the Shiite bloc that President Bush did not want Mr. Jaafari as prime minister. That was the first time the Americans had openly expressed a preference for the post, the politicians said, and it showed the Bush administration's acute impatience with the political logjam.
Relations between Shiite leaders and the Americans have been fraying for months and reached a crisis point after a bloody assault on a Shiite mosque compound Sunday night by American and Iraqi forces.

It is still a mystery what happened around the mosque in Sadr city. There is also a lid on the media, and locals are obviously afraid of being witnesses to events. The Americans are up against strong shiite power, Mr. Jaafari being increasingly supported by Al-Sadr. The US is against his more or less openly expressed plans to form an army out of the militias. According to the Americans these militias are at the heart of the bloodshed.

Muslim law suit against Jyllandsposten

On March 15th The Danish attorney general decided that there is no legal blasphemy case against the Jyllandsposten for publishing the Mohammed cartoons (link here). Jyllandsposten has not violated the Danish blasphemy article, - nor the racism article, according to the top public prosecutor.

Now 27 muslim organisations and the Islamic Faith Community have decided to sue Jyllandsposten in a civil law suit. It will attempt to use other articles from the Danish penal code, among others the article on libel.

Muslim organisations have considered the set up with an attorney general who is employed by the government undemocratic. The public prosecutor is an extension of the executive power. The maximum penalty of Jyllandsposten is a fine or up to 2 years of imprisonment.

Danish unemployment reaches new low

(Unemployment seasonally adjusted, on a full time basis. Total and insured)

New figures released by the Danish national statistics show the lowest unemployment figures for many years. This has reignited fears that the Danish economy is overheating. In many parts of the labour market there is a shortage of labour, especially in construction, hospitals and health sector, industry, information technology and nursery staff for the elderly. There is fear among economists that the shortage of labour will start a wages-prices spiral that will endanger the "health" of an otherwise vigorous economy with balance of payments surplus and state budget surplus.

On the other hand up to a million Danes in the age group 15-64 receive some form of welfare payments. Apart from the unemployed it is people receiving disablement benefit, people on sick pay, people on pre-retirement pay, etc. Many of these people would not mind getting a job, if they could get one. Employers, however, look for "efficient" and flexible employess, - with the right kind of qualifications. So, in the present situation they look abroad for labour. But this perspective does not go well with the rampant xenophobia!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Increased risk of nuclear war? UPDATED

(The Economist March 9 06)

SAY HELLO TO Dr. STRANGELOVE - he'll spread the gospel!!

Did George W. Bush with his recently signed nuclear deal with India increase the risk of a nuclear war? India is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty. And then it is not a good idea to "reward" the country by making a deal with it on development of its nuclear technology. Former president of the US, Jimmy Carter, writes in the Washington Post:

There is no doubt that condoning avoidance of the NPT encourages the spread of nuclear weaponry. Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina and many other technologically advanced nations have chosen to abide by the NPT to gain access to foreign nuclear technology. Why should they adhere to self-restraint if India rejects the same terms? At the same time, Israel's uncontrolled and unmonitored weapons status entices neighboring leaders in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other states to seek such armaments, for status or potential use

The Economist urges Congress to veto the treaty with India. The magazine thinks the deal is dangerous and that Mr. Bush is unprincipled in signing it:
In striking his deal with India, allowing it to import nuclear fuel and technology despite its weapons-building, Mr Bush has not for the first time seemed readier to favour a friend than to stick to a principle

Hysteria on Danish stock market - or how to tickle the small shareholders up their backs! UPDATED TWICE

APM-Maersk Report and accounts for 2005

A-share March 29 06

(Maersk A share (blue) and general Copenhagen index. 5 year development)

Mass hysteria broke out on the Danish stock exchange today, proving that mass psychosis is part of the behaviour pattern of investors and stock exchanges, at least as much or even more than hard economic facts.

The big company A.P. Moller Maersk, which stands for 12-13 per cent of the Danish production (GNP), published its yearly report and accounts for 2005 today.
Investors reacted solely on the bottom line, which was not quite so much in surplus as in 2004, even though the very profits of this company corresponds to more than half the gross national product of a mid-size African country. The two shares, Maersk A and B that comprise about 1/3 of total market trading of the Danish stock exchange's C20 index of the 20 most traded shares, fell by 15 per cent in mid afternoon. That corresponded to 40 bn. kroners (6-7 bn. $) wiped off the market value of the firm.

Most of the reaction is pure mass hysteria. A closer look at numbers (at link or above) shows that most of the decline is due to acquisition of the Anglo-Dutch P&O Netlloyd container line in 2005 and amortisaton of investment in oil fields in the British sector of the North Sea. This has led to increased depreciation and financial costs. These investments will pay off after some time and increase profits. The lower value of British sector oil fields is a pure estimate. No outsiders can verify this. It gives the company room for bringing down 2005 profits. The heavy depreciation costs - "luckily" - keeps profits fairly moderate, thus producing "political correctness" accounts. Maersk traditionally makes "conservative" accounts, systematically moderating income projections. In this case the company has a clear interest in not provoking more public clamour over the 2003 deal with the state (explained below).

Financial analysts have noted that profit before tax was bigger in 2004 than in 2005, but in 2004 there was a one-time item of 5 bn., i.e. value adjustment of financial assets.

Furthermore, in spite of increased depreciation costs, Maersk pays increased taxes. This is surprising at a time when Danish corporation taxes have been reduced to only 28 per cent. The company clearly sees an interest in getting tax payments up. Postponed tax from previous years will be paid in 2005. Why is that? Why is the company p(l)aying Santa Claus to the Danish state?

In 2003 Maersk negotiated an agreement with the Danish state that is astounding both in legal procedure and results. The state makes a tax agreement with a single private interest. And it was extremely beneficial for this private interest:
The company was given sole rights to pump oil in its part of the North Sea until 2042, with no option for the state to terminate the contract. Oil taxes were based on the low oil prices prevailing until 2003. After that oil prices more than doubled making it possible for the company to shovel money in. Furthermore, the treaty says that if the Danish state increases taxation on oil, the company has a right to be compensated.

There has been some criticism in the media lately of this astoundingly beneficial deal - beneficial for Maersk and its shareholders. The left party the Unity List is trying to bring up the matter in the Danish parliament.
So, what has happened is probably something which is not uncommon in the corporate world: "This was the report we chose to present this year." Public discontent must be cooled off a bit. If we can make the bottom line look somewhat less rosy than it actually is, it is good for us in the long run.

Who is going to pay for this exercise in corporate communication? The common shareholder, who has invested his or her pension money in Maersk shares, and who sells in the course of the panic selling this afternoon. Who is going to win?:

The big investors who sit on the side line and bemusedly watch the show and buy when the stock has presumably hit bottom. Because it'll rise again eventually. A closer look at the numbers above clearly demonstrate it! According to Danish business paper Borsen, when American investors woke up at opening hour on Wall Street, which was mid afternoon in Copenhagen, they sent the stock further down in new panic selling. At the closure of the Danish stock exchange it had regained quite a lot of ground. Sorry for the little investor: You lost again!

Latest: The stock exchange has informed the public that the chairman of the board of Maersk Michael Pram Rasmussen has bought 20 A stocks when the stock was down thursday afternoon. He has to inform the stock exchange of this according to insider trading rules. This is interesting: He may have done so to regain faith in the stock. He may also be acting out of knowledge of the kind referred to above: The stock is undervalued at the exchange because of cautious accounting practices. It's hard to say whether the books are "cooked" or not. They're probably not so in an illegal sense. Danish accounting legislation, however, leaves quite a lot to estimate. There may be much arbitrary value fixation. At Maersk they call it cautious principles of accounting.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Unclear result of Israeli election makes peace near impossible - Updated

(Source: Haaretz)

The result of the Israeli election was a blow to right-wing Likud Party and a less than expected success for the centre Kadima party. "

Seats in Knesset after 99 per cent of votes counted:
Kadima: 28
Labour: 20
Shas: 13
Yisrael Beitenu: 12
Likud 11

The result will make it difficult to negotiate peace with the Palestinians.

And so what? Israelis seem to have dropped that anyway, perhaps opting for the permanent apartheid society?

Peace talks did not seem to be on Kadima's agenda at all before the election. The party suggests withdrawing from parts of the West Bank, including isolated settlements. It will keep the big settlements jutting out into the West Bank from the Jerusalem area, for instance the biggest one, Maale Adumin. In that way the West Bank will be cut in two, making Palestinian movement difficult, - perhaps even impossible if Israel continues controlling the border region to Jordan. The Palestinians will find it difficult to get to and from Jerusalem, which is a Palestinian city as well as an Israeli city.

It would be impossible to make a Palestinian state, when Israel controls the borders. It would be a state functioning in much the same way as the Gaza strip: No control of import and export trade, border controls that'll infuriate the locals. The Palestinians will be at the mercy of the Israelis, who can use the economic weapon to effectively punish the area and its population. Anger will build up and the spiral of violence will continue.

It must be up to all involved to live up to past agreements. Israel should stop its imperial ambitions and live up to now long-forgotten UN Security Council resolutions (242) and withdraw behind the borders before the 1967 war. The US and the EU must put pressure on Israel to carry it out in practice. The Palestinian authority and Hamas must be ready to negotiate. They seem to be so. The prime minister Haniyeh of the Hamas government wrote in The Guardian March 31st:

Olmert's unilateralism is a recipe for conflict. It is a plan to impose a permanent situation in which the Palestinians end up with a homeland cut into pieces made inaccessible because of massive Jewish settlements built in contravention of international law on land seized illegally from the Palestinians. No plan will ever work without a guarantee, in exchange for an end to hostilities by both sides, of a total Israeli withdrawal from all the land occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; the release of all our prisoners; the removal of all settlers from all settlements; and recognition of the right of all refugees to return.

Liberalists split on anti-terror legislation in Danish Parliament - votes from DPP may secure the majority

(The Danish People Party may look nice and dynamic on their posters all over the land, but they are not giving breath of fresh air to human rights by being Mr. Rasmussen's bleating sheep!)

Seven members of the liberalists' (Venstre's), the governing party's group in parliament (Folketinget) consider voting no to the liberalist-conservative government's anti-terror legislation. That may make it difficult to get the laws through parliament, as the big oppositon party The Social Democrats are also against the laws.

The sceptical liberalists are worried that the police should get increased powers to eavesdrop on citizens without a warrant. They're against the expanded video surveillance that may herald a big brother society. And finally they don't like the way the government tries to rush the anti-terror bill through parliament with the authoritarian conservative Danish People's Party. It may turn Denmark into a stronghold of conservative authoritarianism in Europe.

It is a question, though, if Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen can knock the obstinate liberalists into compliance with the party line. There is a tradition in Danish party politics of strong party allegiance. It is aganist the customs to vote against the party line in vital issues. It will be tantamount to exposing the weaknesses of Fogh Rasmussen and the government if they prevail. - But for the sake of freedom rights one must hope so.

Actually, liberal democracy was founded by the liberalists in the first place! The Danes have been a freedom loving people since the Vikings. That the foul breath from DPP and Osama Bin Laden should change this is beyond human comprehension. The Danes are suffering from an acute cosyness complex, in which welfare and comfort behind the privet hedge takes precedence over freedom!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Words of peace from Hamas leader

"I've never sent anyone on a suicide mission," Ismail Hanieh, the leader designate of the new Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority, said to the CBS TV Channel on March 16th.

"If one of my sons came to me and asked me that, I wouldn't even consider giving him my blessing."

According to CBS: Hamas hasn't sent any suicide bombers into Israel for more than six months. But if it restarts its terror campaign, Haniyeh will be at the top of Israel's hit list. He narrowly escaped assassination once before — three years ago, an Israeli F-16 bombed a house where he was meeting other Hamas leaders. So what would it take for Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist? "That depends on Israel's recognition of a Palestinian state within the boundaries of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem," he said. "Only then can there be room for talks." Israel calls all that "double talk." It says Haniyeh is the smiling face of Hamas' public relations campaign to soften its murderous image in the West. But when asked if he could foresee a day when he would be invited to the White House to sign a peace agreement with the Israelis, he answered, "Let's hope so." Words of hope and not hatred are a new vocabulary for Hamas.

These are important words of peace that everybody around the world, including the Danish government and the EU, ought to listen to. Hamas should be removed from the EU terror list. The Danish government could take an initiative and raise the matter in the EU. After all EU got a common foreign policy with the Maastricht treaty. It has been more or less dead, but it might be reinvigorated now.

What the Hamas leader demands is not much more than what has been agreed in international treaties and the UN. According to the Camp David accords and resolution 242 Israel shall withdraw to its borders before the 1967 war.

Watch the complete Ismail Haniyeh interview

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Criticism of Danish anti-terror legislation - hypocrisy after cartoons case

(The PM sending out ignited powder on docile Danes. May they wake up from the slumber!)

There is mounting criticism by civil rights pundits of the anti-terror package that the government is presenting for the Danish parliament Folketinget. The package is also being criticised by parliamentarians from the governmental party. Birte Rønn Hornbech, who has a background in the judicial system, criticizes the package for going too far in eavesdropping on Danish citizens.

The prime minister's strong defence of freedom of speech in the drawings case is hypocritical when he puts forward these proposals that will lead to curtailments in the exertion of freedom of expression.

The new law is being rushed through parliament by the government and the party that secures its majority, The Danish People's Party.

The tele companies are not happy about the role allotted to them: "We go from being a business undertaking to being a company that has to act as a prolonged storage unit for the police. The tele businesses are certainly not interested in that", spokesmen of tele companies say to Danish paper Politiken. The tele giant TDC: "We are very worried why Denmark wants to go much further than other countries", Jens Hauge vice CEO of TDC says.

On some points the anti-terror legislation may violate the Danish constitution and the safeguards of individual civil rights written into it, some commentators say. It may be safeguards of privacy and the home. The package of legislation will be followed by increased funds to PET, the Danish secret intelligence service.

So, if Cosmic Duck is transgressing the bounds of communicative propriety in the new law, this is perhaps soon the last you hear from your most humble Duck.

From WMD eradication to Designer Democracy or Iraqi democracy - UPDATED

(Modernity comes to Iraq)

The official Danish explanations of the reasons for being in Iraq change slowly, but inexorably. The politicians must presume that Danish voters are stupid!

“The UN increasingly run out of steam – one of the examples of that we experienced when the UN weapons inspectors were denied access to Iraq. The UN had to look on hesitatingly when an American-led invasion stepped in and actually turned UN resolutions into action – against the will of the UN”, Pia Kjaersgaard writes in her weekly newsletter March 20th.

This is wrong. It is correct that some time in the nineties the inspectors were thrown out when Iraqis claimed they violated Iraqi sovereignty, but in the pre-war period in 2002-3 Iraq did cooperate with the weapons inspectors. They visited any possible sites for production or storage and Iraq delivered 30.000 pages of documents. Actually the inspectors were pulled out because the USA and Great Britain did not intend to allow them more time for inspection.

After the roadside bomb that killed a Danish soldier last week Prime minister Rasmussen said: 'The attack hit Danish soldiers who were in Iraq to help Iraqis achieve freedom, peace, and progress' (Jyllandsposten March 24).

There has been an interesting development in the way the Danish political coalition behind the war explains why Denmark is taking part in this war. In March 2003 when the decision was taken, Rasmussen said: “Saddam Husein has weapons of Mass destruction. This is not something we believe. It is something we know.” When it was finally proved that there were no weapons of mass destruction the explanation was “We went to war to rid Iraq of a terrible dictator”. Today the explanation given is “We are in Iraq to help the Iraqis build a system of freedom and democracy.”

Who said Orwell? Cosmic Duck did:

The Ministry of Truth -- Minitrue, in Newspeak -- was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


...... The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty. (1984)

Orwell is not entirely right in his dire prophesying. War is not always peace, as the following quote from The Independent suggests. Uncle Sam is making new leaps in the building of designer democracy in Iraq. It is a problem when the voters do not elect the "right" representatives, and when these representatives do not form the "right" type of government. On the other hand, the designed model may be in its infant stage:

US forces killed 22 people and wounded eight at a mosque in east Baghdad in an incident likely to lead to increased tensions with the Shia community. Police said the US troops had retaliated after coming under fire.
Videotape showed a heap of male bodies with gunshot wounds on the floor of the Imam's living quarters in what was said to be the Al Mustafa mosque. There were 5.56mm shell casings on the floor, which is the type of ammunition used by US soldiers. A weeping man in white Arab robes is shown stepping among the bodies. .......The killings may mark another step in the deteriorating relations between the US and Iraq's Shia community, 60 per cent of the population. Shia leaders fear that the US is trying to rob them of the fruits of their success in the election on 15 December when the Shia coalition won 130 out of 275 seats.

When Uncle Sam shoots back, you better get out of the way, or you drop dead!

The mosque incident had repercussions on March 27th as the ruling shia muslim alliance in Bagdhad demanded that the USA relinquish control over security to the Iraqis. The American soldiers had allegedly killed innocent people in the mosque: "The alliance asks for a speedy transfer of security to the Iraqi government", the alliance spokesman Jawad al-Maliki said. The American army rejects the allegations. Those killed were members of the Mehdi militia, and it was thus an act of war.

The incident shows the full extent of the mess that the Americans have created in Iraq. The ethnic strife that should have been avoided is in full bloom. The shias have taken over power, which turns out not to be in American interests. Nobody can control what is going on in the border regions to Iran, and how the shias in Iraq may be helped or influenced by Shias in Iran. A powerful bloc of Shia power has been established, where before it was more like a balanced scoreboard that gave the Americans a larger leverage for influence. Short of going on wild military rampages, the Americans will have to admit defeat and leave the Shias to rule Iraq. This is probably not the worst of outcomes. Muqtada Al-Sadr is not the firebrand he is portrayed as. He has shown much restraint at times of crisis. He will probably know how to stretch out hands of reconciliation to the Sunnis. Anyway, he seems to be the only hope for some semblance of national Iraqi leadership out of the crisis. The West seems to have brought itself in a position where it'll have to accept an islamic state.
But for that to happen, the coalition forces will have to leave.

Will that happen?

No, because the ulterior reason for being in Iraq is control of the Middle East with its oil fields. It is incredible that the Danish government is not capable of understanding this - and understanding that at precondition for handling Danish interests in an optimal way in future is to get out of the war.

Xenophobic nation closing in on itself

(Source: Gallup Institute for Berlingske Tidende)

The cartoons case has made a small landslide in the Danish electorate. The Danish People's party (DPP) stands to get more than 15 per cent of the votes according to the latest Gallup poll. And the Social Democrats go back in electoral support.

The DPP has even scored higher. At the height of the Cartoons crisis the party reached 17-18 per cent in polls. This mild reduction seems to have caused panic in the DPP headquarters. That seems to be the only explanation why Kjaersgaard offends muslims yet again by calling the prophet a "robber" (previous post). It is a deliberate provocation, because a historical person's acts cannot be taken out of the historical context in such a way.

In ancient time the bedouin tribes of Arabia made routine razzias against each other. It was a sudden armed attack on the members of another tribe to make booty or to chase camels off one's turf. Normally the razzias did not cause much bloodshed. It was not dishonorable to run away if you were attacked. Mohammed and his adherents in Medina also made razzias. That may be the background for Kjaersgaard's characterisation.

Pia Kjaersgaard makes verbal attack on the prophet (PBUH)

Commenting on the Akkari issue, Pia Kjaersgaard attacks the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). She writes on the homepage of the Danish People's party:

"Ahmed Akkaris forkølede undskyldninger om, at han ikke kan huske, hvad han har sagt, og at det bare var humor, kan selv et barn gennemskue. Hvor i alverden var hans humoristiske sans, da Jyllands-Posten bragte 12 sjove tegninger af en røver, som blev ophøjet til profet"?

...which translates to: "Ahmed Akkari's misconceived excuses why he cannot remember what he has said, and that it is just in jest, even a child can see through. Where in the world was his his sense of humour when Jyllandsposten published 12 funny cartoons of a robber who was canonized as a prophet."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Shocking images of war - and a "cowardly act of terrorism"

(This is just one of citizen of Mosul's shocking pictures. Dead children; killed during the "hunting down of a terrorist" )

The Iraqi blogger "a citizen of Mosul" often brings some of the most shocking pictures of the war.

I am sorry to publish those pictures.But I think all American citizens should see how their brave soldiers defeated the terrorists Iraqi children, he says.

This should make the Danes think as well. A few days ago the media in Denmark reported the death of yet another Danish soldier. That is sad and deplorable. The official Danish response is also deplorable. The Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls it a "cowardly terrorist act".

It is wrong to call it that. Denmark is at war; those fighting against the Danish troops should more appropriately be regarded as freedom fighters than as terrorists, but it probably alleviates guilt or removes blame from the PM that he can call them terrorists. It turns the war into a "war on terror", and this - according to the likes of Bush and Fogh Rasmussen - gives justification for any kind of retaliation. And retaliation there is. It is a known fact that the Americans are getting increasingly sophisticated at counterstriking the roadside bombs (Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs). They put snipers on rooftops, and they put jammers on the vehicles that counteract the remote controls of the IEDs.

The coalitions forces' snipers are probably not called "cowardly" by Mr. Rasmussen. They're on the "right" side of history's great divide between good and bad. So the kind of adjective being used on combat behaviour depends on which side uses it.

A lot of the comments on the Mosul citizen's blog are from angry Americans who won't accept responsibility. They won't even regard the pictures as authentic. They have been manipulated by conservative American media. This is part of war; the heavy propaganda that fill the population with lies and militaristic and nationalistic propaganda.

In World War II there were Danish freedom fighters fighting aganist German occupation. They were regarded as dangerous terrorists by the Germans when they blew up the railway line that transported agricultural goods from Denmark towards the south and products from Norway through Jutland. The Danish people have forgotten they were in a situation very similar to the one the Iraqis are in. Prime Minister Rasmussen even uses it in a reverse story telling as part of his despicable spin: Saddam Husein is like Hitler, he has said, and the "Coalition of the Willing" are, together with cooperative Iraqis, the freedom fighters.
How low can you get? Saddam Husein was a cynical dictator, but apart from that the two historical situations do not compare. Germany was an emerging and strong industrial power that could easily dominate half the world. Germany was permeated with a totalitarian ideology that affected all sectors and segments of society. Iraq was in comparison a poor country weakened by the UN sanctions. As a backward Third country it could not develop totalitarianism of the German kind, as this requires efficient mass organisations and a modern society.

The Baath party propagated a kind of pan-Arab development ideology. The country could hardly be a threat to anyone. The neo-cons in Washington, however, succeeded in conjuring up a non-existent threat because it served American geopolitical interests. And Rasmussen swallowed the rotten porridge raw!

- And talking of children: How many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children lost their lives due to the UN sanctions?

The British clown Jo Wilding toured Iraq entertaining Iraqi children. She participated in rescue operation the first time Fallujah was cleansed of insurgents. Here is an excerpt from one of her reports from the war stricken city. But of course, snipers are not "cowardly":

“Come,” says Maki and ushers me alone into a room where an old woman has just had an abdominal bullet wound stitched up. Another in her leg is being dressed, the bed under her foot soaked with blood, a white flag still clutched in her hand and the same story: I was leaving my home to go to Baghdad when I was hit by a US sniper. Some of the town is held by US marines, other parts by the local fighters. Their homes are in the US controlled area and they are adamant that the snipers were US marines. Snipers are causing not just carnage but also the paralysis of the ambulance and evacuation services. The biggest hospital after the main one was bombed is in US territory and cut off from the clinic by snipers. The ambulance has been repaired four times after bullet damage. Bodies are lying in the streets because no one can go to collect them without being shot.Some said we were mad to come to Iraq; quite a few said we were completely insane to come to Falluja and now there are people telling me that getting in the back of the pick up to go past the snipers and get sick and injured people is the craziest thing they’ve ever seen. I know, though, that if we don’t, no one will.He’s holding a white flag with a red crescent on; I don’t know his name. The men we pass wave us on when the driver explains where we’re going. The silence is ferocious in the no man’s land between the pick up at the edge of the Mujahedin territory, which has just gone from our sight around the last corner and the marines’ line beyond the next wall; no birds, no music, no indication that anyone is still living until a gate opens opposite and a woman comes out, points.We edge along to the hole in the wall where we can see the car, spent mortar shells around it. The feet are visible, crossed, in the gutter. I think he’s dead already. The snipers are visible too, two of them on the corner of the building. . ( No longer available)

This kind of warfare produces more "terrorists" than it removes. That is why the situation in Iraq continues deteriorating. By even the most conservative estimates by coalition forces American troops have killed over 250 innocent people at vehicle check-points alone.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Did Akkari mean to blow up Khader? UPDATED

According to Jyllandsposten the Danish imam Ahmed Akkari has been reported saying about Naser Khader, Danish parliamentarian for the Social Liberals: "If some day he becomes minister of immigration and integration, I wonder if one should not send two guys out to blow him and his ministry to pieces".
According to the Arabic language translator of the Danish public service channel DRTV, Akkari's words should be rendered in the following way: "If some day he becomes minister of immigration and integration, I wonder if a couple of fellows will come round and blow him up?" In that translation it is more of a hypoethetical statement and thus not so incriminating for Akkari.

The journalist , the Algerian born Mohamed Sifaoui, filmed Akkari with a concealed camera during a drive where Akkari was talking with another Danish imam, Raed Hlayel. The film is going to be shown on French and Danish TV tonight (TV2 22 o'clock news). Akkari spoke in Arabic. The text has been translated by independent translators.

Akkari has admitted making the death threat, but he now says it was in jest. "There is a tradition of sarcasm and irony in Denmark", he says to Danish media. Nonetheless, he has been reported to the police for making death threats. It is one of Naser Khader's fellow parliamentarians who has gone to the Danish police and reported Akkari.

According to DRTV 18.30 news, Khader considered dropping his political career. It was not worth the risk to himself and the well-being of his family, he said.

Mohammed crisis creates deep divisions in Danish political elite

It is becoming more and more apparent how the Mohammed crisis is creating deeper and deeper division in the Danish political elite. On one side you find the National liberalists under the leadership of the prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, his young liberalist "lions" like the minister of taxation Christian Jensen, and political spokesman for the parliamentary group Jens Rohde, and leader of the Danish People's Party Pia Kjaersgaard. On the other side you find leader of the Social Liberals Marianne Jelved, the Social Democrats and the left parties. But on this side you also find a number of Conservatives, like the minister of foreign affairs Per Stig Moller. On this side you also find some business people, who find it increasingly difficult to manouvre with their companies because of the bad reputation the crisis has given the Danes abroad. This side you may call the multicultural globalisers.

It was Anders Fogh Rasmussen who started the manichean-splitting-up game when he talked of the increasing necessity of separating the sheep from the goats in the debate over freedom of expression. Now many people wonder why it was so urgent to separate the good, the chosen ones, from the bad, the lost ones, in an almost biblical need to cleanse the turf of "infidels" - especially when there was no factual disagreement about the principles of freedom of speech. - Which is why some commentators say that the real issue is another one. It is the Danes' fear of globalisation and how to deal with it that is the real core issue!

Now he runs the risk of seeing his party drifting away from the centre he has coveted so eagerly in his efforts to secure his hold on power. He's landed so securely in Pia Kjaersgaard's xenophobic lap that it has become more and more detestable to a lot of his core electorate and to traditional backers of the liberalist party in the business community.

Business leaders are now saying they'll cut donations to the Liberalists' (Venstre's) election campaigns in future. Jens Rohde's suggestion to Arla that it can move its business to Teheran if the company wants to "put freedom of speech at stake for two litres of milk" has shocked parts of the business community in Denmark. Venstre, the Liberalists, have traditionally been the most pro-business party in Danish politics.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Orwellian exercise in Danish state administration

The Danish immigration service is going to be restructured. It has so far been called Udlændingestyrelsen, which literally means Foreigners' Administration. It is going to be called in future Udlændingeservice, literally Foreigners Service. It's like taking its English name and turning into a Danish equivalent.

The immigration service has been criticised in a report by the state auditors for inefficiency and even some corruption, which is normally not supposed to be very widespread in Danish administration. Denmark generally has a high score in Transparency International's corruption rankings. But last summer it came out that a number of Chinese students had obtained longer residence permits by paying employees in the immigration service.

The new name leads to the expectation that the agency will be more service oriented. That is only going to happen to one group of immigrants, the educated specialist. The agency will be divided into two main departments, one for immigrants with qualifications that can help alleviate the shortage of qualified labour that is acutely felt by Danish business at the moment, and another department for asylum seekers and family related applications for residence permit.

Denmark has very restrictive immigration policies, and this restructuring is a cynical obliging to narrow economic interests. It is not the intention to help alleviate refugee problems around the world, but to favour Danish business interests.

The minister of immigration Rikke Hvilshøj tries to "sell" the restructuring to the public through an elaborate orwellian exercise of newspeak. It is not only the change of name, but also the adoption of the management principles of "lean production" know from Toyota. The Udlændingestyrelsen is supposed to change from a "heavy paper processing factory" to an efficient "lean" producer in the computerised information age.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Winner in economic race

Cosmic Duck had the story. And now you can also find it in the Copenhagen Post March 21:

Nation's economy best in EU
By The Copenhagen Post

The Danish economy has been named as the best in the EU at creating growth and employment ...., according to a report from the Centre for European Reform, A London-based think tank devoted to improving the quality of the debate on the future of the European Union.
The centre's report makes it likely that all ears will be on the prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, when he speaks about the Danish flexicurity model on Thursday at the EU economic summit in Brussels to discuss.
'The flexible Danish labour market, in which it is easy to fire and hire, combined with a high level of social security make Denmark a role model for other EU countries,' concluded report author Aurore Wanlin

What is interesting about this story is not the fact that the Danes may be good at making money in the honorable old sense of capitalist enterprise, but how they make it, and what they intend to do with it doesn't cause much of a bother. Money is a medium for something else. It is not an end in itself. In this regard there's something we may have completely misunderstood - not only in Denmark, but in the whole of the EU.

The European Union set itself the honorable goal of being the "most competitive knowledge economy in the world by 2010".

As part of its globalisation targets published recently the Danish government has repeated this goal, but for the sake of modesty - or realism perhaps - they call it a goal for 2015. Then, not only the Danish economy, but the Danish society shall be the "most competitive in the world".

Then one must ask: - Are we in a sports arena, - or is it the "animal spirits of capitalism" that are driving the the Danish government (and the EU for that matter)? Imagine the consequences of all countries in the world pursuing this goal. Who'll be sweeping up after this rat race of the most most fit economies?

After it ends, and we have perhaps reached the top of the pinnacle, what will we masters of creation think: That we're the best in the world in the economic race? What does that prove about us as human beings - quite apart from the homo oeconomicus aspect of us?

What is interesting about the knowledge economy in a wider sense is how you compete. Actually, You do it by out-competing others in knowledge. It is all done in the highest principle of free and fair competition. - Or so it is thought. In real life it is a different story. The rat race of the knowledge economy is about building up monopolies in well-defined areas of software, recipes for making drugs, of building computerised systems or logistics systems that others will come to depend on, and hence be ready to pay a lot of money for. You'll be a privileged earner of monopoly profits, as long as your patents run. And when they've run out, you'll have developed new ones.

It is also a question of political power. In the WTO (World Trade Organisation) the Western countries, the knowledge economy leaders, control the negotiations on regulations on trade in services. Through the WTO the forceful opening up of weaker economies is brought about in trade agreements. They have to accept investments from multinational Western corporations.

A hierarchical system of trade relations and division of labour is formed, with the strong knowledge economies on top and those lower in the hierarchy farther down. The task of the latter is to receive the outsourced polluting production from the advanced service economies at the top. Buying cheap industrial goods from the mass-producers in the South and selling expensive knowledge service products to them, secures the best of possible worlds for the rich Western countries.

So, is it only by being good, diligent schoolboys that this position is secured for them? No, it is actually by exerting power in the trade negotiations and by enjoying the fruits of the good transnational monopoly which knows how to do transfer pricing between branches and mother company.

Sitting with Maersk, NovoNordisk, Bill Gates and other highflyers of the knowledge economy at the top of the globalisation ladder, all the white-collar, well-dressed Danes can bring a toast to the hard-working labourers toiling away producing industrial goods at the lower rungs of the ladder. This is the difference between Veuve Cliquot and unhealthy chemical-tasting Coke. But the ladder doesn't reach into heaven.

Mr. Rasmussen may tell EU leaders a thing or two about flexicurity, hire-and-fire, and other wonder principles of modern capitalism. But when it comes to making peace at home between people of various ethnicities he won't have much to say. Modern economics is a discipline onto itself. It is not concerned with ethics, nor does it deal with the illogical aspects of human behaviour.

"Arla’s falling on its knees for muslims is pathetic" says Liberalist party spokesman Rohde

The liberalist Party (Venstre) and the Danish People’s Party now make a vehement criticism of Arla for letting them down in the fight for freedom of expression.

That happens after the dairy giant in ads in Arab papers last weekend expressed respect and understanding for the fact that millions of Muslim consumers will no longer buy the company’s cheese and butter because of the Mohammed drawings. The purpose of the ad offensive is to get the muslim consumers to accept Arla’s dairy products again. But according to The Liberalists’ spokesman Jens Rohde in conservative Copenhagen daily Berlingske Tidende today, the ads are a “pathetic knee-fall” to the angry muslims.

“Arla is ready to sell its grandmother to sell its goods in dictatorships. I can by no, no means understand that they can deal so lightly with our principles. My freedom rights are not for sale for two litres of milk,” says Jens Rohde who by that token – unlike prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen – again labels a company which The Liberalists think lets freedom of expression down.

The chairperson of the DPP Pia Kjaersgaard is also adamant in her condemnation of Arla. “Morally and ethically I do not like such submission to the Arab world as the ad expresses. I certainly don’t. It’s very unsympathetic”, Pia Kjaersgaard says.
“It sends very bad signals about how in that situation we bow into the dust and submit ourselves to their reactions. Arla says that they understand the boycott. We should neither understand it, nor accept it,” she says.

At Arla’s which has so far lost 60 mio. $ on the boycott – chief of press Louis Illum Honoré is firm as to it having been wise to express understanding for the muslim boycott. “After 40 years in the Middle East we understand that muslims feel offended by the drawings. We understand, and thus we also understand that they try to express their anger at the drawings by boycotting us, among others”, Louis Illum Honoré says. He emphasises that Arla is fully on the side of freedom of expression: “But we also think that tolerance to other people’s cultural background and religion is an important part of Danish democracy. It’s important to find a balance between these two fundamental pillars.”

Pia Kjaersgaard also goes after another of the very big companies in Denmark, Grundfos. The president of the pump corporation, Niels Due Jensen, yesterday said that the close cooperation between the government and the DPP harms both Danish business and Denmark’s reputation abroad to a disastrous degree.
“I think it is very rude. And insolence usually falls back on people. I wonder if Niels Due Jensen is a member of the Social Liberals,” says Pia Kjaersgaard.

Arla’s ad:
With a forty year long history and being an active and integral part of society, we understand why you feel offended…. That is why we understand and respect your reaction, which has led to a boycott of our products after this irresponsible and sad incident.”
(Inserted in 25 Arab papers in the Middle East).

It's a long way to ...... Sharpeville

“We must combat all forms of intolerance by celebrating the diversity and the differences that enrich the human family. But we must work to reduce the differences that are imposed, rather than chosen, that speak of deprivation rather than fulfilment and that fuel the xenophobic discourse about the relative merit and desert of individuals based on stereotypical attributes attached to their race, religion or ethnicity.”
Louise ArbourUnited Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Background of 21 March
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is marked every year on 21 March with activities led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, New York and at the field-presences. This year’s theme is Fighting Everyday Racism.
Forty-six years have passed since the Sharpeville massacre, where 69 demonstrators were shot and killed during a non-violent protest against apartheid on 21 March.

The UN's use of the Lego brick in its anti-racism has angered Lego, and it is one of the big stories in Danish media today. Not a single one asks the question: Maybe it's intentional. What does the UN want to call attention to?

Look at the broad definition of "racism" and its many shapes. This is not to say that Lego is racist, but if you look at the many places where Lego has been used in an emblematic way, maybe you can see what the UN's point may be. Lego has become a symbol of freedom of expression, used by oddly well-dressed and well-fed people. They do not look like the crowd that protest over the cartoons.

Freedom of speech in this form is a privilege of the few. Where the poor man in the 3rd world goes into his hut to worship Allah, the middle class in the rich countries enjoy freedom of speech at their computers with broadband connection to a world of opportunities. There are many bricks in the wall that separates man from fellow man i Palestine. There is a complicated jig-saw puzzle to see through to determine how people of different ethnicities are treated differently in the metropolises of the world. To say it's not racism that people with a certain skin colour or behavioral characteristics do not have access to the same goods as those with other characteristics have, is to miss the point.

There may be another hint to Denmark. What country was in the frontline in the struggle against apartheid in the years after the Sharpeville massacre, when the South African government hardened its separatist and racist policies? That country is no longer in the front line. Last week the Danish prime minister had to cancel a tour to India. It was obviously too controversial to receive him.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is Denmark biased in dealing with its minorities?

According to Ritzau News Agency the public prosecutor in Copenhagen has decided to prosecute the spokesman of Hizb-ut-Tahrir for presumed threats against Danish ministers and Jews. In November 2004 the organisation distributed a handbill at a Mosque in a Copenhagen neighbourhood, in which it said: “Go out and help your brethren in Fallujah Iraq and do away with your rulers if they are in your way.”

This statement is a threat to prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other members of the Danish government, in the public prosecutor’s opinion, and thus it is a violation of the penal code’s text about threats to persons in public office.

Fadi Abdullatif, the spokesman of the islamic organisation that only has 100-200 active adherents in Denmark, has said that the Danish authorities render his words in a biased way. The exhortation was primarily directed at the military forces in Muslim countries around Iraq, he said.

The new penal case will also deal with another handbill placed on the organisation’s homepage, with the words “and kill them, wherever you find them”, which is directed at “infidels”, particularly Jews.

Fadi Abdullatif has previously been convicted of derision and threats against Jews, thereby violating article 266b in the penal code concerning racist utterances. He was sentenced to 60 days conditional imprisonment.

The new indictments of Hibz-ut-Tahrir raises the question whether Denmark is biased in its dealing with minorities. The public prosecutor has just dropped the case against Jyllandsposten for blaspheming Muslims with the cartoons drawings. The cartoons are not sufficiently concrete to merit a case. The same argument could be used about Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s statements. These statements are cloaked in a kind of religious wording, somewhat resembling the Qu’ran’s text. The threats are not concrete.

The Danish Model - the globalization yardstick

The British thinktank Centre for European Reform has published its annual review of the economies of the 25 EU countries. The Danish economy is given top grading. The think tank states that the Danish model ought to be copied all over the region.

The “Danish model” is said to be characterised by extensive welfare provisions being combined with a high level of economic growth.

President of the EU commission Jose Manuel Barroso agrees on this evaluation. At a meeting for the press in Brussels he declares agreement with the think tank. The Danish experience is seen as an inspiration for the so-called Lisbon process. In Lisbon in 2000 the EU heads of state agreed on an ambitious goal of turning the European economy into “the most competitive knowledge economy in the world” by 2010.

One of the recognized secrets behind the Danish success is the so-called flexicurity labour market model. A system of hire-and-fire has been institutionalised in the Danish labour market. It makes capitalism operate more smoothly, when it is easy for companies to hire and fire workers. The workers accept it because there is a good system of welfare coverage, - and “lifelong learning” educational programs in case of unemployment. In Denmark it is possible to receive unemployment benefits up to a period of 4 years, and the benefit level (dependent on previous earnings and up to 2.300 $ a month) is fairly high.

So here we have the successful globalizer: One of the most open economies. Low unemployment, balance of payments and state budgets in surplus, highest wage level in Europe and generous welfare provisions. How come this country becomes the focal point of the cartoons crisis? - Is there something we have misunderstood?

Well, in the first place Denmark has submitted to the sick neo-liberal logic: “How to become the most competitive economy in the world?”

How low can you get? – You measure people in terms of economic utility: What is their economic contribution? And what about those who cannot contribute much because they’re either too dumb, too tired, too lazy, too schizophrenic, or too interested in beer and soccer?

One can see the bad side effects of this competitiveness in the widespread use of alcohol, tranquillizers and other happiness-inducing drugs. Happiness does not arise naturally out of people’s everyday lives. Happiness is a commodity like other things in the marketplace.

In the second place welfare has not been introduced for the blue-eyed viking’s own sake. It is part of the logic of economic development. Perhaps welfare recipients sense that. That’s why they are not happy. Actually a large part of their energies is wasted on blaming the system for the predicament they are in. Probably much like welfare cases everywhere else.

Thirdly, statistics have just been published that show that the 1 million mark of people receiving some kind of public payments for their living has been passed. This is the seamy side of the much-acclaimed flexicurity model: All the marginalised individuals who cannot keep up with the competitive level of work in the globalized economy.

- What about trying to become the most humanitarian society in the world?

Iran Nuclear? Updated

What was the justification for starting war in Iraq?
WMD? - We can still recall Colin Powell in the UN Security Council showing pictures of the Iraqi installations for WMD. Today we know it was not the truth. Then what happened:
- Justification for the war changed. We were explained that luckily we got rid of the dictator Saddam Husein.
Today the explanation is changing once more. Now we're told that luckily we have the coalition in Iraq because otherwise there would be a civil war. - Maybe there is a civil war.
The media manipulation is turning around in a vicious circle, grinding the "official explanation" into our fool heads.

And now it is being repeated all over - this time about the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

What is it actually that Iran wants? They say they want to use nuclear power as a source of energy. Why not take the explanation at face value? Nobody asked questions about the Israeli accession to the nuclear paradise. And in a sense Israel had a "right" to do so, because the country is not a signatory to the Nonproliferation treaty. - So why be so secretive about it that it had to take a Vanunu to get the story out in the open.

The Israeli WMD never seemed to worry the Americans. - Not so with the Iranian - what? - WMD - do they have that?

No, they don't. So what's the point of asking so much about it - and doubting the country's own account of it? Of course, Ahmahdinejad's statements on Jews and Holocaust, which he has claimed never to have taken place, do not bode well. They reflect a semi-fascist presidential populism. But, still the country may have a right to a peaceful use of nuclear power. But see how this is twisted in the American media.

This string of questions seem to suggest what it is the Americans are up to.

What about the allies, do they go along in the fairground ride towards another Mid East war? They seem to - even with a lot more gusto than in the Iraq war. So the West seems to be fairly united this time. But the effect of alienation of the Mid East and a number of countries does not seem to be smaller this time - on the contrary it seems to be bigger. So we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg of cultural estrangement that we saw evidenced in the cartoons crises and which will probably repeat itself in new crises of cultural estrangement.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Anglo-American imperialism and the Danish Poodle

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. (Carter doctrine, State of Union Address 1980)

Retired USAF lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski has said:“Perhaps Lenin is another George Bush model. Lenin expected that Imperialism would be Capitalism’s highest stage, and clearly George Bush believes it. Lenin’s actions in 1918 were two-fold. He established "War Communism" at home to seize property, infuse domestic loyalty, and strengthen the federal state, along with a "Third International" to "promote world revolution according to the Russian communist model…The pattern fits. If you consider the philosophies and writings of his neo-conservative advisors, it begins to look eerily familiar. Lenin would approve”.

Can George W. Bush be compared to Lenin as suggested by Kwiatkowski? It’s an interesting thought. There are, however, big differences, not only between the two politicians' ideologies, but also between the "faces" of imperialism in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Unlike the conservative Bush, Lenin was a socialist revolutionary. He believed in the dictatorship of the proletariat as the precursor for a communist society without social class divisions. This thinking was a Marxist legacy. Lenin was, however, a Marxian vulgarizer. Marxism-Leninism is a vulgarization of classical Marxism. Lenin's theory of the communist party as a vanguard of the working class is un-Marxian. Marx saw revolution as the outcome of a revolutionary consciousness in the working class, - not an outcome of the work of an elite in an elitist party. Revolution might - according to classical Marxism - be expected in the most highly developed capitalist societies, not in an authoritarian peasant/landlord imperial state like Russia. When it happened in Russia it was because of the weakening of the country in the Ist world war.

Lenin saw imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism. Inspired by the British economist Hobson he saw the imminent threat of too much saving and hence under-consumption in advanced capitalism.
Furthermore advanced capitalism suffered from the falling rate of profit, according to the Marxist theory of capital accumulation and its consequences. In mature capitalism the composition of capital changes in such a way that the “dead” capital in the form of machines, buildings and raw materials takes preponderance over variable capital, labour, which in the Marxian scheme is the only part of capital that is capable of producing more value than that which is already embodied in it.

Unlike the neo-classical economists Marx did not see capital as “productive”. Therefore profit was not to be seen as the “just” return, a payment to capital for service rendered. Profit was the result of exploitation; it was capital as a social relationship in production. The capitalists were not capable in the long run of keeping the growth in profits high enough to compensate for ever increasing outlays for machinery and other productive inputs. Hence a falling rate of profit. The profit rate also might fall in the course of the business cycle when a relative shortage of labour might boost wages and thus the outlays for labour – or variable capital – that the capitalists had to make, hence leading to a falling profit rate.
The answer to underconsumption and the falling rate of profit was to convince politicians of the need to get colonies, to get markets for the over supply of goods and to increase investments to get a higher return on capital.

That explains the rush for colonies at the end of the 19th century. The most rapidly expanding European economy was a late-comer in this race. Germany was united by the strong chancellor Bismarck, and then the country got the fastest growing industrial economy, but it didn't get many colonies. This is what the theory of imperialism sees as an essential explanation of the world wars in the 20th century: There was no room for the strongest European economy to expand.

The causes of 21st century imperialism are not entirely the same. The USA has replaced Germany as the dominant capitalist power, - for the time being.

The dominant ideology is different however. It is no longer national socialism and expansion behind protective trade barriers and hence having a need of empire in the form of protected markets. The dominant ideology is economic freedom, democracy and free trade. Even though we can see there is a lot of hypocrisy whenever the dominant powers are threatened in their economic interests. The Chinese gave up acquiring Unocal in 2005, and Dubai ports renounced on the take-over bid of the 6 American ports after resistance in Congress.

Imperialism in the 21st century is also economically motivated. It is important to control the flows of oil and gas to maintain the standard of living characterised by big parts of the population driving in gas-guzzling SUV's and industries running on cheap oil. But apart from that the modern information economies are increasingly lightweight, based on the flow of information. Of course, it is only in the rich centre the economy is lightweight. It is so partly because the bulk of industrial production is outsourced to lower wage economies. In the poor countries they cough and develop lung cancer and asthma, whereas in the rich centre people enjoy the sophisticated life style in fitness centres and ecological cocktail lounges. In order to keep such an economy alive and vibrant it is necessary to keep information flows open on the internet. Therefore the US must maintain the control of the net through the distribution of and fixing of the standards of domain names and technical standards.

21st century imperialism is not based on colonization, at least not an open colonization by military suppression of the kind undertaken by the European powers. That is only the case in the few instances of "necessary" regime change, when countries do not face up to the responsibility of keeping markets open to multinationals. Otherwise power is exerted in a more discreet way in the World Trade Organisation.

It is important for the American empire to be able to print money in unlimited quantities. Therefore the dollars must be respected as the leading reserve currency. Countries that want to trade oil in other currencies, for instance euro, will not be popular. It may be necessary to effect regime change if such cheek be met with.

If there is not a general acceptance of the dollar it will not be possible for the USA to maintain its huge balance of payments deficit. Financing this deficit is made possible by the flow of investments into the US and by the the US having the option of playing central banker of last resort, that is printing money if necessary. That makes it possible to have huge military expenditures, and to reward close allies generously. The City of London is an important outpost of American economic imperialism. The giant British insurers and banks have important service tasks for American businesses. Even a small country like Denmark receives generous rewards in the form of shipping deals and defence contracts.

It is thought provoking that in the recently published National Security Strategy, the passage of the text where the words get most specific and detailed is in the thinly veiled warning issued to China. Here is a new "Germany" arising in East Asia that may come to destabilise Pax Americana. A country that'll demand its share of global resources. The country is however not warned against taking its reasonable share of resources, but:

holding on to old ways of thinking and acting that exacerbate concerns throughout the region and the world. These old ways include:
Continuing China’s military expansion in a non-transparent way;
Expanding trade, but acting as if they can somehow “lock up” energy supplies around the world or seek to direct markets rather than opening them up – as if they can follow a mercantilism borrowed from a discredited era; and
Supporting resource-rich countries without regard to the misrule at home or misbehavior abroad of those regimes. .....
Ultimately, China’s leaders must see that they cannot let their population increasingly experience the freedoms to buy, sell, and produce, while denying them the rights to assemble, speak, and worship.

The many violations of human rights in the USA are not mentioned, for instance the many blacks eking out hardship in prisons and on death row all over the country, or poor whites and Mexicans that eke out hard lives in poverty at the bottom of American society.

George W. Bush may be Lenin's ideal imperialist, but in the age of information capital and with a freely flowing international currency it is still the inequality of capitalism at home that strikes the observant eye.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Danish defense minister lauds Iraqi offensive

(When King of Spin Anders Fogh Rasmussen could still appear beside the greatest crusader symbol of all time, the favourite heating material for muslims around the world. Now there are not many flags left for the countless photo opportunities for Rasmussen)

The Danish defense minister Soren Gade (from Liberalist Party Venstre) sees the on-going American Iraqi air assault north of Baghdad in a positive light. Gade points out the importance of the Iraqis participating in the military operation. These soldiers cannot but keep improving in fighting capability.

To Danish paper Politiken he says: "It partly shows that they intend to solve a dangerous task, and even more important that they are capable of it (!!!). The ability level of the Iraqi security forces is increasing, when they can be used in such a dangerous and big operation. The negative thing is that it is being necessary to launch such an operation in the first place."

The Iraqi defense chief, a kurdish general, has just visited Denmark where he was received with a lot of pomp by his colleague Soren Gade. A guard of honour received him in Kastellet, a fortified and well-protected area in Copenhagen that is the seat of some important military installations, among them some of the offices of the intelligence of the National Defense.

The Danes do not know so much about the ethnic composition of the so-called "Iraqi" army. That it consists mostly of Kurds, eager to show their appreciation of the state of autonomy the Americans have bestowed on their northern province, is not known to them, at least not officially on the national TV channel DR1. So, it is no wonder that the man with the compressed lips, who calls himself a general, is a Kurd. If it were not for the pay the Kurds would also run away, but not to the same degree as recruits from other ethnic groups. Anyway, we better believe that they have an operative Iraqi army. So taxpayers in America and Denmark: Don't despair. Help is on its way!!

The general was also interviewed to national Danish TV (DR1). He was treated with all the respect and honour that is normally reserved for visiting statesmen, thus underlining the firm Danish commitment to stand behind the USA as the staunchest of allies!! In the interviews he warned against Danish withdrawal from Iraq. That would be running away from the terrorist threat and just bring this threat to European soil. This argumentation we've heard before. It reminds us of the Communist bogus under the Cold War.

The two large opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the Radicals (social liberal) are committing themselves to a withdrawal of the Danish forces on July 1st 2006. This will leave the government and its coalition partner the Danish People's Party with the increasingly unpopular option of being sole protagonists of further Danish military involvement in Iraq.

In spite of the official propaganda broadcasted on national TV channel DR1, the Danes are getting increasingly sceptical about further military participation with Danish troops. For a long time the Danish government under the King of Spin Fogh Rasmussen succeeded in "selling" the war to the Danes as a kind of DANIDA project. DANIDA is the Danish Development assistance Authority in the Ministre of Foreign Affairs. By being a kind of social workers in military disguise it was hoped that the Danes would not appear as a war mongering lot. This hope has - alas - expired after the cartoons crisis when the Arabs will take no more shit of this kind from the Danes. The PM's spin has been called, and the Danish foot soldiers are in a manner of speaking left naked in the desert.

So much for Freedom of Speech

The USA talks a lot about freedom and democracy - and implementing its system of freedom in other parts of the world. But when it comes to implementing these fine principles at home, there seem to be some serious difficulties. This is what BBC wrote today:

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams missed a St Patrick's Day event in the US after being delayed at a Washington airport for "secondary screening".
He had been invited by Congressman Brian Higgins to speak in Buffalo.
Mr Higgins told the audience Mr Adams was absent because his name was on a "terror watch list", but Homeland Security officials would not comment.

Gerry Adams seems to be too much for "American security". This nice and quiet Irishman has helped to bring about peace and democracy in Northern Ireland after decades of turmoil and civil strife.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Not by Pia's work

(Asylum seekers gaining residence permits. Dan. Statistics)

One of the most persistent, but false, assumptions in the Danish electorate is that the drop in the number of asylum seekers experienced in recent years is due to the work done by the Danish People's Party to scare them away. This is a main reason for the rising popularity of the party. The Danish voters - or a large part of them - do not like this kind of immigrants. Hence they vote for a party that actively scares them away.

It is not correct, however, that it's the good and honorable work done by Pia Kjaersgaard, Luise Frevert ("Cancer growth"), Camre and Langballe ("Pest over Europe") that keeps Denmark ethnically "clean". This has come about as a general development. It also happens in other countries in the Western hemisphere. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, writes in a newly released document:

Asylum applications in industrialized countries fell sharply in 2005 for the fourth year in a row. Last year, 336,000 asylum applications were submitted, 15 percent fewer than in 2004.In the last five years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in all industrialized countries has fallen by half.The total number of asylum seekers arriving last year in the 38 industrialized countries for which comparable, long-term historical statistics are available was the lowest since 1987, at 331,600.In the 25 countries of the European Union, as well as in Europe as a whole, the number of asylum seekers last year was the lowest since 1988.In most individual asylum countries, the 2005 total was the lowest for many years. In Denmark and Germany, for example, the number is the lowest since 1983; in Canada since 1985 and in Switzerland since 1986. In the United Kingdom, the number of asylum applications in 2005 was the lowest since 1993.

So, dear Danes. No need to vote for Pia any longer. We can have a free and open society in Denmark again.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Militaristic states and their propaganda warfare

(Picture from blogger citizen of Mosul. Dead children loaded on truck after US raid March 15)

U.S. and Iraqi forces today launched the largest air assault operation since the invasion of Iraq nearly three years ago, the U.S. military said this afternoon. More than 50 aircraft are involved in Operation "Swarmer", supporting more than 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops near Samarra, about 75 miles north of Baghdad.

Only 22 per cent of the American population believe that the Iraq war is winnable. So what do you do as a military planner, seeing that the "Shock and Awe" bomb raid came to nothing? - Start a new one of course. And knock sense into the doubting public's dumb brains.

You start a large scale offensive, operation "Swarmer", as it is called. - To hunt terrorists!

How do you go about convincing the populations in the countries of the "coalition of the willing"? By telling lies about what is going on. Because the truth is much too stark. It doesn' t go to say that a lot of the "enemy combatants" are not terrorists, - but rather insurgents, or maybe even freedom fighters. That apart from the Kurds in the north, the iraquis do not support the occupation.

The Danes are exposed to the same set of lies. On Danish national TV tonight the Danish military leadership in Baghdad said that the iraqui troops were more and more up to the task of fighting the "terrorists"; the Danish correspondent in Washington had been filled with propaganda from the press conferences in Washington so he could inform the viewers that Operation "Swarmer" is necessary to clean up this difficult part of the Sunni triangle with all the sectarian strife. After all the media coverage during the afternoon and evening one wonders: Why don't people understand that we're going to win this war?

Quote from Reuters March 15:
Police and witnesses said 11 members of one family were killed in a U.S. raid overnight in Ishaqi, a town in Saddam's home province north of Baghdad. The U.S. military said two women and a child died as troops arrested an al Qaeda militant.
A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged.
Television footage showed the bodies of five children, two men and four women in the Tikrit morgue. One infant had a gaping head wound. All the children seemed younger than school age.
"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," U.S. spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.
"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."
Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured.

Khader in conflict over Democratic Muslims

A few weeks after forming his organisation Democratic Muslims, Naser Khader has got into a bitter conflict with another member. It is co-founder Hadi Khan. Some remarks of the latter to conservative paper Berlinske Tidende has angered Khader so much that he will bring the issue on the agenda for a meeting in the board of Democratic Muslims on Friday.

Hadi Khan said to the paper that “Khader is not enough Muslim, and Islamic faith Community (with imams) is too much muslim”. He added that one may be in favour of sharia, but without supporting stoning and physical maiming as a punishment. He does not agree with Khader in the need to reject sharia as a precondition for membership in Democratic Muslims.

Khader also blames Khan for not being open about his membership of a competing muslim organisation, Critical Muslims, which according to Khader has a problematic view of Sharia: “You cannot flirt with Sharia as legal basis for the country, and be a member of our association, but you can be a practising muslim and be in favour of Sharia as a belief. We must make that distinction”, says Khader. The prominent Danish businessman Asger Aamund (Neurosearch), who is chairman of Democratic Muslims Supportorganisation, agrees with Khader’s membership policy. Hadi Khan does not understand what the disagreement is about. “I don’t want to lure a Medieval sharia-interpretation into our association, but on the other hand I don’t think such a basic element should not be excluded from the discussion in the first place”, he says.

In the course of the cartoons crisis Khader has moved to the top level of leadership in the Radicals, the social liberal centre party he represents in the Danish parliament. He had been given the top post of immigration policy spokesman. However, yesterday he got into disagreement with party chairwoman Marianne Jelved on her remarks on Prime minister Rasmussen. Jelved is increasingly – and successfully – casting herself in the role of leader of the opposition against the Rasmussen government. A few days ago she said that “Rasmussen is a mishap to Denmark” and he is creating “dangerous divisions” in Danish society by his distinguishing between “sheep and goats” (the “good guys” and “bad guys”) in the debate on freedom of speech. Khader criticised the coining of the criticism as too harsh. Jelved however got general support from the parliamentary group of the Radicals in parliament.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

After Blasphemy Decision: Defiant Juste: "Attorney general on wrong track".

In an interview to the Ritzau news agency Carsten Juste, chief editor of Jyllandsposten, expresses satisfaction at the blasphemy charges being dropped, but he doesn’t like some of the wordings in the attorney general’s decision. He even thinks the attorney general is mistaken in some of his formulations. It is the remarks about freedom of speech not being unrestricted with regard to one having to be “ready to put up with "scorn, mockery and ridicule"”:

“I don’t understand him”, Juste says. "We all know that we have freedom of expression under responsibility before the courts, but I don’t think you should say at the outset that freedom of expression is limited. In that respect the attorney general is on the wrong track”, Carsten Juste tells Ritzau.

Jyllandsposten: Statement in the paper after the attorney general’s decision (excerpt):

"...... The attorney general writes clearly on the basis of decisions and statements of the European Court of Human Rights that “persons who use their right to freedom of religion, regardless whether it is as a member of a religious majority or a minority cannot reasonably be expected to be free of any kind of criticism. They have to tolerate and accept other people’s denial of their religious convictions, and even attitudes that are hostile to their belief”. The attorney general adds: “it is not unusual that there is a direct and informal debate in Denmark, where even abrasive and offensive expressions of opinion are widely accepted”.

"This is precisely what Jyllandsposten’s culture editor Flemming Rose said in the accompanying text on September 30th last year. Quite unnecessarily the attorney general finds it relevant to teach the paper that it is not reasonable that it is “… incompatible with freedom of expression to demand regard for religious sentiments and that one must be ready to accept derision, mockery and ridicule”. Such were the wordings of Jyllandsposten on September 30th, but it was a part of the logic of the whole context that such utterances are to be made within the frames of the law, included the articles on blasphemy and discrimination.” It goes without saying that Jyllandsposten knows about and respects the words on blasphemy and discrimination, which is also recognized by the attorney general in his decision on the prophet drawings".

No prosecution of Jyllandsposten for blasphemy

The Danish attorney general has decided that there is no legal blasphemy case against Jyllandsposten for publishing the Mohammed cartoons (link here). Jyllandsposten has not violated the Danish blasphemy article. The attorney general thus confirms the ruling of the district attorney at the district court in Viborg, Jutland, Denmark.

The press release from the attorney general's office says:

The Decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case of Jyllands-Posten's Article "The Face of Muhammed"
I have today decided not to institute criminal proceedings in the case of Jyllands-Posten's article "The Face of Muhammed", which was published on 30 September 2005 and where complaints were filed against Jyllands-Posten for violation of Sections 140 and 266 b of the Danish Criminal Code.
My decision is that there is no violation of the said rules of the Danish Criminal Code. My decision is published on the homepage of the Director of Public Prosecutions (
Although there is no basis for instituting criminal proceedings in this case, it should be noted that both provisions of the Danish Criminal Code contain a restriction of the freedom of expression. Section 140 of the Criminal Code protects religious feelings against mockery and scorn and Section 266 b protects groups of persons against scorn and degradation on account of their religion among other things. To the extent publicly made expressions fall within the scope of these rules there is, therefore, no free and unrestricted right to express opinions about religious subjects. It is thus not a correct description of existing law when the article in Jyllands-Posten states that it is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression to demand special consideration for religious feelings and one has to be ready to put up with "scorn, mockery and ridicule".
My decision in the matter cannot be appealed to a higher administrative authority. This follows from Section 99(3) of the Danish Administration of Justice Act.
Henning Fode

The general attorney frees Jyllandsposten from prosecution, but he also notes that Jyllandsposten is not right about there being complete freedom of expression, that you can mock a person for religious sentiments in any way you like. The ruling cannot be appealed to a higher administrative authority. But the Minister for justice may decide to prosecute to see how far the blasphemy article carries in a courtroom. This night she (Lene Espersen) said she will not ask the public prosecutor to sue Jyllandsposten.

The case however, evolves very quickly now. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is really doing damage control now. They fear new riots in ME countries after the ruling. 40 ambassadors have been called to a meeting in the Ministry this evening, where the text has been read aloud to them. The Ministry hopes there will not be new embassy and flag burnings. This hope was reiterated by ministers in the government and other politicians in the parliament after a meeting this afternoon in the foreign affairs committee in parliament where the possible prospects of new demonstrations and rioting were discussed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Particular zeal in defending freedom of speech in Jyllandsposten case

“As soon as we get to the debate on the Mohammed drawings there are no limits to Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s defense of "freedom of press”, the editor of the Danish paper “Arbejderen” (The Worker) said at the prime minister’s weekly press conference on March 14.

But when it concerns the Danish Police’s removal of the association Opror’s appeal for support to the PFLP and the FARC, the Prime Minister says this is all right. It is a matter for the police, he says, even though in other contexts, for instance Jyllandsposten, he has said it is a matter for the courts to decide when there is a violation.

The police have ordered the internet service provider (ISP) to remove the appeal from the “Arbejderen”’s homepage. Legal experts on the press and the association of Danish newspaper publishers have deemed this illegal according to Danish press law, as it is not up to the ISP to edit material.

On February 28th the Member of Parliament Line Barfod asked the Prime Minister about the case in question time in parliament. The PM is also minister of the press. She asked: “Will the prime minister account for how the police intervention in utterances and removal of pages on the Internet, as has been the case with the subjoined appeal, is in compliance with our fundamental freedom of expression rights, that the prime minister talks so warmly about at the moment”?

The appeal from Opror:
The ‘war on terror’ threatens us all – defend freedom of expression, human rights and international solidarity!
Appeal from ‘Rebellion’ (Denmark) to European movementsThe Danish association ‘Rebellion’ appeals to all European movements for democracy and international solidarity to join it in challenging national anti-terrorist legislations, the ‘terrorist list’ of the European Union, and the so-called ‘international war on terror’. ……link to rest of text.

Does this fall under freedom of expression? The Opror text has an appeal for help to funding organisations on the USA and EU terror lists. The people in charge of Opror risk up to 10 years imprisonment. This is out of proportion to what they have done!

Two things seem to be mixed up: Freedom of speech and the question of censoring the correct link in the distribution process. Of course it was wrong to intervene at the level of the ISP. That would correspond to preventing a printer from printing a newspaper. It is the editor that should be prevented from publishing a message in case of the use of censorship.

Whether freedom of speech is violated is questionable. In a sense it is, as the appeal to support is an utterance and hence something that should be freely applied. Making an utterance is not the same as actually paying money.

In addition, one might say that the terror lists are in their present form a gross violation of freedom to make an organisation and work politically. The FARC may have used terrorist methods and they have kidnapped innocent people, but the Colombian government has collaborated with the self-defence forces, and these have penetrated the Colombian state apparatus and many members of the Colombian parliament are on their paying lists. The FARC are in a fierce struggle with this repressive state. In a war-like struggle it may be difficult not to transgress human rights. Apart from that the FARC are fighting against feudal land distribution and for social and civil rights for ordinary colombians. It is a problem that people are no longer permitted to help them in their fight, - indeed even express indignation or sympathy for fear of being on the wrong side in the "war on terror". This so-called "war" is used as a means to subjugate vital civil rights.

When the FARC was put on the EU's terror list there was a long moment of hesitation from some countries, particularly Sweden and France. Perhaps they should reconsider the case.