Saturday, March 31, 2007

Memo to Media: Rules for covering Iran

Note to All Editors.

Please ensure that journalists stick to following guidelines for reporting regarding any relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran:

  • Any Iranians captives held by our side must be described as 'detainees' or 'terrorists'.

  • Any members of western forces captured by Iran must always be described as 'hostages' or 'captives'. The events are to be described as a HOSTAGE CRISIS.

  • Western hostages should always be described as being PARADED even if they are sitting down and eating dinner or reading scripts.

  • There should be a clear implication that the hostages are being forced to do nasty foreign type things like making confessions against their will.

  • In the event of any western sponsored UN statements, this must be described as an official UN resolution requiring immediate action under threat of force.

  • Sufficient coverage must be given to PUBLIC OUTRAGE and ministerial level
    condemnation. Due consideration must be given to official British or American
    pronouncements and to published to official boundaries and GPS coordinates that provide supporting evidence for our case.

  • Inconvenient facts such as torture and detention of Iranian detainees should NOT be included in order to provide context during this crucial period. This could confuse the public leading to sympathy for the Iranians.

  • 'Iranian supply of 'sophisticated IEDs' to insurgents', 'nuclear weapons programme' and 'interference in government matters' should be used for context. The word 'alleged' should not accompany 'nuclear weapons programme' as it only sows confusion in the public mind.

  • Iran must be described as a 'dictatorship', as a 'theocracy' and a 'sponsor of terrorism' in each and every report.

  • Accompanying graphics should show Iranians to be sinister and threatening and
    Western forces as suitably heroic and/or suffering from maltreatment.
*Recommended nomenclature is highlighted in bold and italic.

Weird Googling

I am seriously disturbed about the number of people being referred to this blog by googling for 'dead kids', 'body parts' 'dead bodies' 'dead Iraq' and 'dead in Iraq'. They also happen to be mostly from North America. I hope you guys have a genuine reason for it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Quote for the day

" News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising."

Alfred Harmsworth

Iraq's Refugees

Iraq's refugees are piling into neighbouring countries terrified of the continued persecution, kidnappings, aerial bombardment, torture, daily suicide bombings, and murderous Western ground forces. Doctors and other professionals are continuing to flee depleting already desperate hospitals. According to UNHCR there are at least 0.7million refugees in Jordan and 1.2 million in Syria. About 1 million are internally displaced within Iraq (source - Global IPD project). Jordan has implemented draconian measures to deal with the influx. Now anybody between the ages of 20 and 40 is automatically barred from entry and those allowed entry must have sufficient financial means. This means that desperate people who have the misfortune to have no money cannot escape or cannot accompany their families away from the violence. What will happen to those men aged between 20-40? Surely, they will have no option but to seek protection by taking up arms, swelling the numbers of fighting men joining the insurgency, army or militia leading to ever increasing bloodshed. Perhaps, that is what they want. Prolonged instability gives them the excuse to avoid leaving and gives them more time to complete their multi-billion dollar embassy and their permanent military bases that will gradually replace the dozens of temporary and semi-permanent bases that currently exist.

If the UN can authorise the continuing presence of occupying troops, then it has a duty to make those occupiers financially liable for the refugees. They bear responsibility for the instability and continuing carnage by launching a war of aggression. The billions of dollar bills that have mysteriously vanished in Iraq could and should have been used to help with this problem. Instead, there is no rebuilding (apart from plush hotels and shopping malls in the green zone) and no help for ordinary people who risk life and limb to venture out for food. Indeed, Amnesty International have pointed out the low number of refugees accepted by the USA and the failure to meet their obligations to the rest of the refugees.

Amnesty are not alone. This is a copy of a letter to The Times from HRW:

Plight of the Refugees

Letter to the Editor

Published in The Sunday Times

Your poll shows that one in four has been displaced in Iraq, many forced to flee abroad. The UK has studiously ignored nearly 2m refugees escaping violence and persecution, perhaps because recognising their existence would be an admission that the adventure in Iraq did not go as planned.

Britain has done almost nothing to help or relieve the burden on Iraq’s neighbours; in the past four years it has had no programme of resettlement nor has it earmarked significant humanitarian aid for Iraqi refugees.

For their own reasons, Iraq’s neighbours have also preferred to regard the Iraqis in their countries as “guests” or “illegal aliens” rather than as people with certain rights. Jordan, in particular, is taking a very hard line, closing its border to men of military age and refusing to honour documents issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UK can no longer shirk its responsibility. Offers of resettlement and assistance to Jordan and Syria should be quick and generous. But to protect Iraqi refugees, Britain must condition this support on Jordan stopping its rejection of Iraqi asylum-seekers at the border and agreeing to respect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers on its territory.

Bill Frelick
Refugee Policy Director
Human Rights Watch
Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Swept away by a torrent of sewage

Whilst London plans a new sewerage system in time for the Olympics, they support a government in Israel that prevents essential work to a sewerage system in Gaza by threatening terrorist action against workers. This has now paid off for the Israelis in the form of even more Palestinian deaths in the giant concentration camp that is Gaza.

Six Palestinians Killed After Gaza Strip Sewage Tank Collapses

By Jacob Doctoroff and Saud Abu Ramadan

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- At least six Palestinians were killed and dozens of residents remain missing in a northern Gaza Strip village after the walls of 15 sewage tanks occupying an area of four square kilometers collapsed.

At least three houses were demolished by the torrent of raw sewage that spilled out of the cesspools, a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said by telephone. It swept through an estimated 250 other homes in the Bedouin village near the Gaza-Israel border, he said.

Kamel Abu Qaida, a member of the local municipal council, termed that collapse an ``environmental disaster'' and appealed for civil defense crews to save families that may still be trapped in the village.

A plan to move the cesspools away from the growing village had been delayed after international aid sanctions on the Palestinian Authority were imposed after Hamas took over the government in March 2006. About 5,000 people live in the village north of the town of Beit Lahiya.


Published: 03.27.07, 12:37 / Israel News

Palestinian Environment Minister Dr. Yousef Safia blamed Israel on Tuesday for the flooding of a Bedouin village near Beit Lahiyah following the collapse of a sewage system due to intense rainfall.

According to Safia, Sweden and the EU have provided the Palestinian Authority with the funds necessary to construct a modernized sewage system which will divert its contents to the ocean however Safia claims that Israel has threatened to bomb construction workers and the sewage pipes should the project begin. (Ali Waked)


Monday, March 26, 2007

The Volatile Darkies

Mike Marqusee has virtually written all of my next post for me today, so here it is. Every little titbit of information is being hyped and sensationalised as if the death of Bob Woolmer were a game of Cluedo. The cliches will carry on though while the inquest into India's exit will continue and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are still in the cup.

This innuendo about the Pakistan team is a disgrace

Reaction to the murder of cricket coach Bob Woolmer has more to do with stereotyping and hyperbole than the facts

Mike Marqusee
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian

It is a serious matter - as umpire Darrell Hair found out - to accuse a team, purely on the basis of supposition, of cheating to win a cricket match. It is an even more serious matter to accuse a team, or a player, of taking bribes to lose a match. But to accuse a player or a team of being involved in the death of their coach raises the stakes by several orders of magnitude.

Hyperbole may be the bane of sports journalism, but the unsubtle innuendo linking Pakistani cricketers to Bob Woolmer's ghastly murder goes beyond sensationalism. The rush to judgment here is fuelled by that other bane of sports journalism, national stereotyping.

Pakistan's shock loss to cricketing minnows Ireland, which led to their elimination from the World Cup, is said to be "under the microscope". The implication is that the match was fixed and that this is somehow related to Woolmer's murder. As conspiracy theories go, this one is particularly weak.

Given the team's abject performance on the day, virtually all the players would have had to have been bribed and the bribes would have had to have been on a colossal scale - sufficient to compensate for the huge financial loss, public humiliation, and termination of careers that would accompany an early exit from the cup. Neither the putative motive nor means are credible here.

There is, to hand, an alternative explanation: in recent months Pakistan has played dreadfully inconsistent cricket. Weeks before the players' arrival in the West Indies they were beaten by South Africa 3-1, bowled out once for a measly 107 and then for a barely more respectable 153. Ireland had already pulled off a surprise by tying with Zimbabwe days before encountering Pakistan.

The fact that three members of Pakistan's squad, including the captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, were questioned by police on Saturday was blazed in banner headlines. That police immediately confirmed the questioning was routine and declared that the entire team was free to leave the country was buried in the columns below.

But never mind the facts, it's easier to stick to stereotypes. We all know that south Asians take their cricket too seriously (which they do), that corruption is rife in these societies (which is true), and that wiliness and duplicity are part of the oriental (or Muslim) character (which is idiocy).

Since the Irish humiliation, the Pakistan cricket management - the chairman of the cricket board, the selectors and the captain - have all resigned. This represents an instance of rapid accountability exceptional in either the cricket world or in Pakistani public life. Significantly, it leaves Pakistan cricket entirely in the hands of its "patron in chief", General Musharraf.

While "factionalism" is often cited as a source of the malaise of Pakistani cricket, little is said about the bugbear of authoritarianism. The US-backed military dictatorship - which controls all the cricket structures - is treated by the cricket media as a natural state of affairs.

Ironically, in recent days, the English-language Pakistani press has displayed a greater sense of proportion than its British counterparts. The headlines there have been about the clash between Musharraf and the judiciary. On March 9, the general sacked the chief justice, who was then roughed up and confined to his house. Soon after, lawyers protesting in Lahore were baton-charged and tear-gassed by police, who also vandalised an independent TV station in Islamabad. After eight and a half years in power, Musharraf clearly has no intention of loosening his grip. That is rightly considered bigger news than the disappointment on the field and the tragedy off it which have beset the cricketers.

Can I propose a ban on the use of the word "volatile" by British journalists in relation to Pakistani (or south Asian) cricket? Like cliches in general, it's a tell-tale sign of a failure to reflect, and from a media addicted to the heroes-to-zeroes script, somewhat hypocritical: witness the wild mood swings that accompanied England's entry and exit from the football World Cup and Freddie Flintoff's transformation from Ashes messiah to pedalo piss-artist?

Virtually all contemporary societies take sport too seriously. That's not about national cultures, it's about global economics. Thanks to the IT and media explosions, international sport is becoming ever bigger business and consuming an ever larger slice of public attention. Hence the escalating investments by broadcasters, sponsors and advertisers, and, on the other side of the equation, the atomisation of spectators and the decline of other forms of collective identification.

The Jamaican police and the ICC should rigorously investigate any possible link between Woolmer's murder and match-fixing. But for the moment, what remains most disturbing is the juxtaposition of the triviality of sport with the taking of a human life. That's hard for any of us to assimilate.

· Mike Marqusee is the author of Anyone But England: An Outsider Looks at English Cricket

Friday, March 23, 2007

Counting the dead in Iraq; A case for shock tactics

Presenting figures of the dead in wars and conflicts, is a mugs game. The exact numbers are never going to be known and there will always be arguments about who is right and who is wrong. In humanitarian terms, even 100 dead is a horrific number. That does not prevent politicians and media from picking and choosing their numbers according to how they want to portray the situation. IBC figures are often chosen simply because the numbers are lower and can be used to counter findings such as those of the Lancet. It becomes a pure numbers game because the public are definitely not going to want to know about the ins and outs of how the numbers are arrived at. Bush did not attack Lancet 2 for any other reason than the fact that it was politically damaging to his own PR message. However, it was a political own goal in the sense that the study would never have had the exposure that it got if it wasn't for that attack.

What is the purpose of the estimates or counts? Is it to shock the public or simply to record our crimes? To be honest, I don't think anything will really penetrate the public conciousness whether it be 20000 or 2 million particularly because it involves foreigners and also because pure numbers do not affect the public going on with life or force it to think about the reality. I reckon the only thing that might do the trick would be to give the public a real in-depth gory blow by blow account of the casualties every day. Live coverage of bomb scenes, body parts, mortuaries, dead kids or whatever the hell it takes to get the message across. That might make a few more people cry out and question why the hell are we doing this? It might make enough people uncomfortable that the pressure to end the occupation would become irresistible. Of course, it would never be allowed for reasons of 'taste'.

Just think of the exposure that ~3000 dead of 9/11 got. It was virtually like a blockbuster movie on TV. People screaming, jumping out of buildings, fires, collapsing buildings, crashing planes and the media circus running full pelt. Even now the ~3000 dead of New York are held up as some kind of excuse for the disaster that is Iraq. It is not uncommon to hear it said 'well they started it with 9/11'. Can there ever be a comparison of ~3000 against the much larger number in Iraq? Why does it seem so much more important when it is white skinned westerners and western cities suffering damage? The death and damage in Iraq is orders of magnitude higher. Surely, the exposure and shock should be a magnitude greater too?

Is it ethical to pretend that 50000-1 million dead Iraqi's is not a monumental disaster? At least both Lancet and IBC are publicising the Iraqi dead. At least there will be some kind of record of the crimes that are being perpetrated in our name. But it is not just the numbers of dead people that needs exposure. The damage to infrastructure, the psychological damage to children and adults, the daily bombings, the torture, the millions of refugees, the rapes committed by US and Iraqi security forces, the lack of doctors and the lack of basic medicine, need exposure too. What about the grotesque contrast between the plush facilities in the green zone complete with McDonalds restaurants and Shopping Malls with the corridors of filthy Baghdad hospitals full of injuries and death? How much of this do you see on the BBC, ITV or Sky? Even blogs of this kind rarely get exposed to the general public:

Take the presidential palace: it used to house Saddam Hussein but is now home to the US Embassy. The mess hall is a hodge-podge of the cuisine of 50 American states. God knows how much it cost the American taxpayer to ship in the Kiwi(s) I ate. I had lunch, courtesy of my American hosts, by the pool. Troops played table-tennis. Country music whined. A bare-chested man sun-bathed conspicuously. One man sat, lonesome, a la Hank Williams, as the tunes droned on. Girls chatted. Men played pool. The Salsa night was advertised. Somebody even smoked. It reminded me of a resort in Antigua I went to in 2000.

It's possible to forget the carnage around you here. The language is a mix of Spanish and American-English; the food is like that of the US pizzeria chain Uno; the climate resembles Lanzarote in July. Only the occasional low-flying helicopter and flak jacket spoils the Caribbean illusion.

Before lunch, we'd watched the US Ambassador, Zalmay Khalizaid, conduct a ceremony celebrating the Iraqi boy scout movement. The event was dressed up with the requisite good intentions: the scout movement being something repressed in the past and how showing that the best intentions of the unemployed youth can helped to build a better Iraq and put to good harmonious use.....

The PX store (a Toys R Us for the US military and the only shop in town you can safely go to) sits opposite the embassy. Inside lurked six Georgians. I recognised the thick eyebrows and Caucasian features - the distinctive look of the Former Soviet Union's best cooks, friendliest hosts, and, perhaps, least likely soldiers. They are part of the Coalition of the Still-Willing and were perusing a long shelf of wide-screen TVs. In the car park outside, you could - through a firm in America - buy a car. I suppose you're lucky if all you bring back from Iraq is a large credit card debt....

Today's press conference at the press centre - our daily access to the American military - assured me $22 billion has been spent on reconstruction so far (adding the worrying caveat that there are other costs to it that they won't mention and that up to 12 per cent of it was spent on additional security). A spokesman also added that the bombing that was reported last night to have killed 18 young Sunni boys in Ramadi as they played football, simply hadn't happened like that. He may well have been right, but the day had already seemed removed enough from the outside world for this latest twist to have struck an odd note.

All the things I have mentioned deserve quantification AND exposure. Surely, some means should be found to have at least the same impact on the public that the events of 9/11 had? I am sure millions of people across the world relived those 9/11 moments in their nightmares as well as their waking moments. Why should the events in Iraq, without qualification vastly greater in all respects, remain sanitised? Why should our politicians be allowed to get away with the consequences of their criminal actions?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

If global warming doesn't get you..............

Global warming is the hot issue of the year. Even, sceptics in the government have come around to changing their tune on it's dangers and the need for action even if it makes no difference and involves money making schemes such as carbon trading etc. However, there is a danger that is more urgent than GW (although probably not as deadly as the neocons being in charge for another decade) which is the Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field is due to molten iron deep in the core of the Earth although there is yet no widely accepted model as to how it works. You may or may not know that the magnetic field switches polarity every now and again so that north becomes south and south becomes north. So what? It will confuse your compass but I doubt whether that leaves you quivering with fear. Now if this were to happen almost instantly then there would not be a problem. However, this is not the way of things in nature. The magnetic field weakens gradually, slowly decreasing to nothing and then builds up again with the opposite polarity. Although we cannot predict when this will happen (reversal occurs every few thousand years or a few million years depending on who is doing the estimating), we know it does happen at irregular periods from rock records.

Satellites in a low orbit over Southern Africa have already experienced radiation damage due to weakening of the protective effect of the magnetosphere. This could be due to random fluctuations but it has now been twice as long between the switch of polarity compared to last time and the consequences could be devastating. That may sound vague but according to an article in the NYT in 2004, the collapse of the field started around 150 years ago and it has now decreased by about 15% of its original strength. That decline is only accelerating.

In the absence of a protecting field not only will animals lose their way during migration, the Earth will be exposed to dangerous solar radiation that will do a lot more than top up your tan. The radiation will destroy ozone that protects us from UV and as well as leading to many species (probably) being wiped out. There is some evidence for small species extinctions being correlated with geomagnetic reversals. The USA has reacted with concern at these findings and has proposed several technological solutions to the problem. By 2050, they propose to have two giant magnets in place at the current positions of the magnetic poles. This will create a permanent fix, removing the instability of the current situation, with the only danger being to armour wearing polar adventurers and large steel hulled ships, wandering into the proximity of the new magnetic poles. Another technological fix is to flood the upper atmosphere with factor 3000 sun-screening chemicals. This will give the sky a permanent light brown look but experts reckon it is time we had a change from boring old light blue anyway. Shares in the sunscreen industry have rocketed, particularly since Halliburten-KBR group merged with Laboratoire Garnier. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Veil on War / War on Veil

After the wonderfully efficient Home Office led by John Reid, has had a go at tackling the Muslim menace within society, it is now the turn of the Education Department. Alan Johnston has declared war on the evil in schools that is the Muslim veil. The War on the Veil, aims to stamp on the wearing of the veil, by a huge number of a handful of people in the whole country who choose to wear the offensive object, because they believe it is an essential part of their religion. Never mind the failure of the flagship academies, the crumbling schools, the lack of discipline, the lack of resources, the overworked teachers and the ever changing curriculum and assessment requirements, this is apparently an issue that Headteachers must take action on immediately lest the Muslim menace take a firm grip on our society.

The grounds for the action are described as "safety, security and teaching". The security grounds are obvious. Any terrorist could easily pretend to be a teacher, appropriately disguising their voice to fool the pupils whilst flooding their minds with hatred of the moderate and charitable western actions in taking over and occupying oil rich Muslim nations. The safety implications are obvious too; you could easily take some child's eye out with the material or even set it on fire by sticking your head over a bunsen flame. The teaching is also an important issue. How are the kids supposed to see the expressions on the teachers face when it is covered with a dark material, particularly when they are trying so hard to gauge how much they can get away with in terms of poking each other with sharp objects? Clearly the heavy material muffles the voice of the teacher too leading to them misunderstanding important instructions like 'please be quiet'. Teachers are incapable of judging whether the said object is hindering their teaching or having no effect. Last year, a teaching assistant Aishah Azmi was sacked from a school in Dewsbury at the urging of concerned government ministers.

According the the guardian of the nations morals Jack 'Getyourveiloff' Straw, the device hinders face to face communications in a manner prevents him to "see what the other person means, and not just hear what they say". Clearly, years of sitting with New Labour ministers has taught Jack that what is said is never what is meant when you are having a conversation. For example, the expression ' give us a lot of cash and you too can have a K or P" could be mistakenly taken to mean that the government was looking to sell honours, which is clearly not the case, despite vicious police leaks. Mr Straw declined our request for a video conference interview saying that such things could be used to twist his words and make them appear to be bigoted rather than aimed at promoting community harmony and universal facial sign language. Jack also likes to see the expression on people's faces that says 'you lying little shit' whenever he makes another promise to a constituent, that he has no intention of honouring.

Auntie Beeb is as concerned as ever about this issue. Adopting the title 'Survey finds support for veil ban' they reveal that - One in three people would support a ban on the Muslim face-covering veil in public places. Clearly this massive majority of 33% is enough to sway the BBC headline writers into furious action. Only 56% of people said they would not and just under one in ten said they did not know. In a breakout of cross-Europe enlightenment, the article also reveals that:
Politicians in Italy have called for a ban on face-covering veils in public places while Dutch ministers have said they will legislate against the all-over burqa.
The Dutch and Italian politicians are apparently concerned that the rare lesser-covered female species prevalent in Western society particularly the ones described as 'red hot totty' could be wiped out due to the alien covered species wearing the full veil.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pedalo Pushers

Suppose you were a BBC news editor....No seriously, suppose you were and you had two big world cup related stories for the day. The first being the removal of Andrew Flintoff from the England vice-captaincy for falling off a pedalo whilst inebriated and the second being the death of the Pakistan Coach Bob Woolmer (a former England player). Which one would you feature in the headlines? BBC News 24 coverage is currently headlining with Flintoff's 'sacking' instead of Woolmer's death. Draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Anna Politkovskaya Diaries

A disturbing and very compelling read today in the Guardian. Putin is a butcher at least as bad as Blair and Bush, no wonder they get along so well:

December 8

Were we seeing a crisis of Russian parliamentary democracy in the Putin era? No, we were witnessing its death. In the first place, the legislative and executive branches of government had merged and this had meant the rebirth of the Soviet system. The Duma was purely decorative, a forum for rubber-stamping Putin's decisions.

In the second place the Russian people gave its consent. There were no demonstrations. The electorate agreed to be treated like an idiot. The electorate said let's go back to the USSR - slightly retouched and slicked up, modernised, but the good old Soviet Union, now with bureaucratic capitalism where the state official is the main oligarch, vastly richer than any capitalist. The corollary was that, if we were going back to the USSR, Putin was going to win in March 2004. It was a foregone conclusion.

December 23

Ritual murders are taking place in Moscow. A second severed head has been found in the past 24 hours, this time in the eastern district of Golianovo. It was in a rubbish container. Yesterday evening, a head in a plastic bag was found on a table in the courtyard on Krasnoyarskaya Street.

Both men had been dead for 24 hours. The circumstances are almost identical: the victims are from the Caucasus, aged 30-40 and have dark hair. Their identities are unknown. Such are the results of racist propaganda in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. Our people are very susceptible and react promptly.

December 26

Putin does not simply lack competitors. The whole background is an intellectual desert. The affair has no logic, no reason, no sparkle of genuine, serious thinking. Candidate No 1 knows best and requires no advice. There is nobody to moderate his arrogance. Russia has been humiliated.

January 6 2004

Those at the top and bottom of our society might as well be living on different planets. I set off to see the most underprivileged of all: Psycho-Neurological Orphanage No. 25 on the outskirts of Moscow. The surroundings here are warm and clean. The patient carers are kind, very tired, overworked women. Everything here is good, except that the children don't cry. They are silent or they howl. There is no laughter.................Meanwhile, our nouveau riche are skiing this Christmas in Courchevel. More than 2,000 Russians, each earning over half a million roubles [£10,000] a month, congregate for the "Saison russe". The menu offers eight kinds of oysters, the wine list includes bottles at £1,500, and in the retinue of every nouveau riche you can be sure of finding the government officials, our true oligarchs, who deliver these vast incomes to the favoured 2,000.

January 16

The body of Aslam Davletukaev, abducted from his home on January 10, has been found showing signs of torture. He has been shot in the back of the head. Aslan was a well-known Chechen human rights campaigner. Our democracy continues its decline. Nothing in Russia depends on the people; Putin is resuscitating our stereotype: "Let us wait until our feudal lord comes back. He will tell us how everything should be." It has to be admitted that this is how the Russian people likes it, which means that soon Putin will throw away the mask of a defender of human rights. He won't need it anymore.

February 10, 20,000 St Petersburg youths belong to unofficial fascist or racist organisations. The St Petersburg skinheads are among the most active in the country and are constantly attacking Azerbaijanis, Chinese and Africans. Nobody is ever punished, because the law-enforcement agencies are themselves infected with racism. You have only to switch off your audio recorder for the militia to start telling you they understand the skinheads, and as for those blacks ... etc, etc. Fascism is in fashion.

February 13

Ivan Rybkin has announced that he will not be returning from London. A defecting presidential candidate is a first in our history. Nobody now has any doubt that the regime drugged him.

February 15

The Sultanovs, the family of the little girl Khursheda who was murdered by skinheads in St Petersburg, have abandoned Russia and gone to live in Tajikistan. They took a small coffin containing the child's remains.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Big Bills?

Trident cost ~£20billion
Olympics cost ~£9 billion and rising
ID cards projected cost ~£20billion
Repayments for 83 hospital projects will total ~£53bn under the private finance initiative (PFI).
NHS Pensions shortfall ~£110 billion

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The man who is guilty of everything

There is nothing like years of torture and painful incarceration to loosen someone's tongue.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man long alleged to have planned the September 11 attacks, has admitted responsibility for those strikes on the US and other al-Qa'ida operations, according to a transcript of a hearing taking place at Guantanamo Bay. There was no way to confirm the testimony as the Bush administration has banned reporters and lawyers from proceedings.

According to the transcript, Mr Mohammed told a hearing on Saturday that he was "responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z". He also apparently claimed to have planned assassination attempts on the former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and on Pope John Paul II. He also said he was responsible for the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Centre, the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, and an attempt to bring down two American airplanes using shoe bombs. In all, he said he was behind 29 planned attacks.

I am surprised he has not admitted to assassinating JFK, Jack Ruby and starting world war 2
as yet. In fact, I am pretty sure he will soon admit to inventing a time machine and travelling back to murder Abe Lincoln. Given sufficient voltage and a pliant pair of testicles, the truth will soon be revealed and everybody will thank god that George Bush has been protecting freedom by incarcerating and torturing such evil-doers in Camp X-ray. Incredibly, a BBC reporter on Radio 4 this morning explained these confessions by saying that this was because Khalid was a 'boastful character' who wanted to come across as a true terrorist mastermind. Despite a brief mention of waterboarding he made no mention of any other torture that might have been inflicted on Khalid. The BBC taking US authorities at face value again? Surely not.

I dread to think of the horrors that have made this man admit to these crimes. It is something that fades from the public view thanks to our media who do not tell us each time that this man has been incarcerated and tortured for years. It reminds me of the feeling of horror, I felt when I learnt that the Turks had gotten hold of Abdullah Ocalan (not out of sympathy for the PKK but knowing their propensity for torture). Sure enough he soon appeared on TV to renounce all his previous misdeeds.

Turkish journalists who have interviewed Ocalan have come away with the impression of a "megalomaniac" and "sick" man who has no respect for or understanding of the "superior values of European civilization."

"Everyone should take note of the way I live, what I do and what I don't do," a December edition of the Turkish Daily News quoted Ocalan as saying in one of his many speeches.

Not recognising the superior values of European civilisation? I guess he deserved it then. If you need proof just look at his conversion to the values of western civilisation:

Since his incarceration he has significantly changed his ideology, reading Western social theorists like Murray Bookchin, Immanuel Wallerstein, Fernand Braudel[20], fashioned his ideal society as "Democratic-Ecological Society" (later renamed as "Democratic-Ecological-Gender Liberationist Society" as it is in the current programme of PKK) and refers to Friedrich Nietzsche as "a prophet"

Proof indeed that electric shock therapy to the genitals and other forms of torture, are not only important for protecting us from the evil turrsts but also for converting them to see the light.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The great ID card swindle

The tower containing Big Ben, the best known clock in the UK, contains cells especially designed to hold Members of Parliament who have breached parliamentary privilege. I suggest that they now build several more towers with enough cells to lock up a very large number of MPs. Another reason? Yes another reason, this being the fiasco of the proposed Identity Card system with its gross invasion of privacy, lack of security, and the associated sinister database. Now it appears that our worst fears are coming true. In order to pay for the astronomical cost of the disaster the government are willing to make us pay through the nose for a combined passport-identity package. The ‘voluntary’ nature of the scheme fools nobody and if you need to travel at all using a passport, then you will have no choice. As if rubbing salt in the wound, the government also now also propose to cash in, by flogging our details to the nearest commercial company who might be interested.

The Government is already facing a backlash over charging people £93 each for an ID card - which will contain 49 different pieces of personal data.
Now ministers are planning to charge companies around 60p a time to check details held on the giant "big brother" database. They hope for up to 770million "verifications" each year.

The government is already selling the proposal to companies by offering them a scheme to cut millions from fraud bills and saving them the whopping fines they are currently threatened with should they dare to employ asylum seekers and other illegals. The carrot is that these organization will be able to check up data in return for the small sum of 60p and this will provide a one stop shop for information on everybody on the database. Just imagine the potential for abuse. How easy will it be for identity fraudsters to take over an identity that gives them a cast iron hold over someone's finances? At the moment, at least you can persuade people that your identity has been stolen. In the future, it may not be so easy. James Hall, CEO of the Identity and Passport Service, admits that fraudsters will make a beeline for ID cards but says that the technology used will make it harder to fake identities and documents:

"The unique aspect of the biometric identifier will be a very important step in preventing criminals obtaining multiple documents under different identities."

Convinced? What chance will you have if people are taken in by the alleged foolproof nature of the system. If you believe the system is fool proof then you are a fool and here is your proof. The UK biometric passport system has already been cracked! Using a simple RFID reader and special code, data can be siphoned off from a passport within a sealed envelope (like the ones you send to the passport office during renewal). Nobody will know because there will be no need for tampering with the envelope. Once the encryption key has been cracked, cloning the passport is a doddle.

The Home Office deny that this would compromise security, saying that the details still could not be changed. However, how many fraudsters actually want to change the details and how many just want to use it as a cast iron proof of identity? I would suggest that the former is rarely needed if at all, whereas the latter is very common. If you have a cast iron proof of identity, you could open bank accounts and perpetrate all kinds of financial crimes very securely. In any case, do you really want anybody, particularly criminals to have access to your sensitive private details? I think this shows the government's pet project, is itself a major fraud in progress.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Insects infected by the 'alien' fungus

Friday, March 09, 2007

Disconnecting the brain from the body: Anosognosia

Mrs. M. is adamant. People are saying her left side is paralyzed, and she knows they are wrong. Several days ago the 76-year-old Californian suffered a stroke. She now sits in a wheelchair while a doctor in a crisp cream-colored suit bends over her, asking questions. She answers them with perfect coherence. Does she know where she is? Yes, she is in a hospital, brought here by her daughter. Does she know what day of the week it is? Of course. It is Tuesday afternoon.

Then the doctor starts in again about her hands. Can she use her right hand? Yes. Her left? Yes, of course. He asks her to use her right hand to point to a student who is taking notes, and she obliges. He asks her to point to the student with her left hand instead. This time she doesn’t move.

Mrs. M., why didn’t you point? asks the doctor. For the first time, she hesitates.

Because I didn’t want to, she answers.

In fact, fibers in the motor cortex on the right side of her brain, which controls movement on her left side, have been irreparably damaged by the stroke, and she will never use her left arm again. But Mrs. M. is not a stubborn old woman refusing to admit a difficult truth. A few minutes later Mrs. M. looks at her left hand, resting inertly in her lap.

Doctor, she asks, whose hand is this?

Whose hand do you think it is?

Well, it certainly isn’t mine!

Then whose is it?

It is my son’s hand, Doctor.

Mrs. M.’s claim would be peculiar enough if her son were in the room, but he is miles away, unaware that in his mother’s mind his hand has become attached to her arm. Mrs. M. is suffering from a condition called anosognosia, which sometimes appears when a stroke has cut off blood being supplied to the brain through the middle cerebral artery. The stroke damages regions in the brain’s right hemisphere that include a territory called the right parietal cortex, a patch of neurons about two-thirds of the way back along the brain. The two parietal cortices (there is one in the left hemisphere also) are known to be involved in directing the brain’s attention to movements, objects, and sensations on the opposite side of the body, as well as in the perception of that entire side of the body in space.

While otherwise clearheaded, patients with damage to the right parietal cortex are unable--not just unwilling--to acknowledge the radical change that has overcome the left side of their body. (The term anosognosia derives from nosos and gnosis, the Greek words for disease and knowledge.) One of the best-known victims of the condition was Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas, who suffered a right-hemisphere stroke in 1974 that paralyzed his left side and eventually forced his retirement. He initially dismissed the paralysis as a myth, and weeks later he was still inviting reporters to go on hiking expeditions with him. When one visitor asked about his left leg, he claimed that he had recently been kicking 40- yard field goals with it in the exercise room and soon planned to try out for the Washington Redskins.

Mrs. M.’s form of anosognosia is even more extreme: she not only flatly denies she is paralyzed, she refuses to admit that the limp limb on the left has anything at all to do with her. One such anosognosiac became so incensed that somebody else’s leg was cluttering up his hospital bed that he heaved the thing out and was subsequently amazed to find himself on the floor. Another claimed that the arm on the left belonged to his daughter, who was trying to seduce him.

We are used to thinking of our bodies as our selves, says Vilayanur Ramachandran--the inquisitive doctor in the cream-colored suit. Something has gone wrong here that calls that fundamental truth into question.....................Whole article here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is Rusbridger trying to help Blair again?

The cash-for-honours scandal rumbles on but it appears that somebody is determined that no legal action will happen despite the determination of the investigating officers. It seems significant that despite requests from police that certain information remain confidential, there have been attempt (now successful) to leak it first by the BBC and then the Gruaniad. The police apparently believe they have enough evidence for charges, including perverting the course of justice. The sources can only have been Downing Street or the police and it is definitely not in the police interest to foil their own case. It is was apparent that the spin doctors would find a way to leak the info in any manner possible. How did his future Lordship, Rusbridger get hold of the information and why did he publish despite knowing that it could prejudice any future case? He and his legal advisors knew, that there was nothing the judges could do if he got the presses rolling on the story. When it came out it was nothing spectacular anyway but suggestions that the governments favourite zionist was also a lying b'stard do show evidence of panic at number 10. Levy has been quick to use the leak to his advantage amusingly claiming 'anti-semitism' and stress:

Lord Levy protested his innocence, claimed he was the victim of a smear campaign and raised doubts whether he would be able secure a fair trial if a criminal case were ever brought. He said the near year-long investigation was placing a huge strain on his family(aawwwww). His rabbi said Lord Levy believed he was being leaked against by the police (not Downing Street despite what the memo says) , and was the victim of anti-semitism.

Nor is he the only one suffering from stress. According to Ruth Turner's mother:

"It is unimaginable to think what she must be going through. She has nobody to talk to at all. As far as we know this must be one of the stresses for her."

Who is doing the smearing? The emails are internal Downing street memo's which were allegedly recovered after police sent in Hackers realising that attempts were afoot to hide or destroy evidence. The same Gruaniad that helped by leaking the email is now publicising Levy's claims that he wouldn't get a fair trial. Surely, this suggests that he really does have a case to answer. And as he was Blair's favourite zionist with his nose firmly wedged up the Blair rectal passage, he can only have received official sanction before doing what he did whatever it was, if he is guilty of it. Blair recommended peerages for four businessmen who made at least £5 million of secret 'loans' to New Labour's election campaign. They were only withdrawn and became 'loans' as opposed to 'gifts' when they became public, much to the anger of the donors. Craig Murray puts the affair in perspective:

What is undeniable is that in Britain today there is no attempt at fairness in the application of this principle [preventing leaking of prejudicial information]. Senior New Labour figures are entitled to the full protection of this law. Is the same consideration applied to Muslims accused of terrorist offences?

The answer is a resounding no. Instead we receive a constant drip-feed of supposedly terrifying information, from police, Home Office and security services, sometimes open and sometimes just named as, for example, "Police sources". So in the case of the so-called "liquid bomb plot", such sources were only too keen to tell us under whose bed suicide videos had been found, near whose home were bottles containing hydrogen peroxide, who had a map pf Afghanistan, and a whole welter of such information. This was spun all over our front pages for a fortnight. Where was Lord Goldsmith and his concern for the right to a fair, unprejudiced trial then?I heard Louise Christian, a lawyer involved in the defence of a number of such cases, speak on precisely this point in January. She recalled a local newspaper printing a front page photo of two of her clients the day before their trial, with the banner headline "Terror sisters". That is not permitted under our law - but it is one of the many protections of the rights of citizens that no longer in practice applies to Muslims in the UK.

He also has some interesting information on the sleazy friendship between Ian Blair and Levy. Let's hope they both get what they deserve.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Terrorist spotting: a hobby for the whole community

I'm sure you have had enough of me banging on about the continual terror scares precipitated by the Blair administration and its security apparatus but if they can continue to piss me off by coming out with ever more ridiculous stories then I feel compelled to whinge about it even more. Take for example the latest story about the police training supermarkets staff to spot mad muslim terrorists. The supermarket I occasionally pop in to (and I am ashamed to admit that I go there) has 50% muslim staff and half of them have beards (and I will NOT say that's just the women, because I am above such puerile jokes). It must get pretty confusing for them spotting the potential staff. Bing Bong "Security Alert Code 167, we have a bearded wallah behaving strangely with a bottle of vodka in Aisle 15 - doh, scrub that, it's just the local wino". Bing Bong: "Security Alert, Code 177, we have a veil alert in Aisle 27- doh scrub that, it's some lady trying on our new £17.99 brides dress".

Lo and behold today we have the Mancunian local rag joining in the fun with the headlines:

'Help us spot to spot the terrorists, urge police'.
  • They may be living or working alongside you, says top boss,
  • Public told what to look for and urged to call tip-off hotline
In a new anti-terror drive, a tip-off hotline is being relaunched and an advertising campaign will urge people to report any suspicious behaviour. It asks:

* Do you know anyone who travels but is vague on where they're going?
Yes, most of the commuters who travel on trains.

* Do you know someone with documents in different names for no obvious reason?
Yes, my mum because the authorities just cannot seem to agree on the correct spelling of her first name.

* Do you know someone buying large or unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reason?
Yes, I often buy lots of white spirit for the purpose of washing paint brushes but it just sits on the shelf in the cellar as I never get around to doing the actual painting. Sometimes I even buy bleach for cleaning with the best of intentions...

* Handling chemicals is dangerous, maybe you've seen goggles or masks dumped somewhere?
Yes, I have seen a whole bunch of goggles dumped in the corner of a school laboratory except when occasionally used as fashionable headgear by one or two kids.

* If you work in commercial vehicle hire or sales, has a sale or rental made you suspicious?
I don't.

* Have you seen someone with large quantities of mobiles?
I've seen a few blokes in the market with stalls full of 'em. They looked like prime terrorist materials. They even hooked them up to the Internet allegedly to unlock them, but it looked bloody suspicious to me.

* Have you seen anyone taking pictures of security arrangements?

There was a bloke wearing dark glasses with a camera at the airport, when I went to drop my brother off....

* Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites?

Errr.... Everybody on medialens, apparently /allegedly /supposedly.

* Have you seen any suspicious cheque or credit card transactions?

My money keeps disappearing every time I go shopping. I suspect Al-Qaeda have hacked into my account. Could you trace and return it please?

* Is someone is asking for a short-term let on a house or flat on a cash basis for no apparent reason?

I wish.

The motto of the campaign is: “You don’t have to be sure. If you suspect it, report it.”

Surely, that should be " You dont have to be a Muslim to be a suspect, but it helps."

The e-mail to complain to about this piece of crap excuse for journalism, is the author

The comments are good though:

What does it take before we start calling things for what they are? How many innocent civilians are going to have to be put through the system before we realize we are living in a police state? As it seems the UK is a litmus test for what happens next in the USA, I am frightened by the fascist direction the government there has been going. What I am more frightened by, however, is the seeming willingness and complicity of the average British citizen to submit to an authoritarian government. Whatever happened to the "Oi oi" UK punk spirit?
5/03/2007 at 18:19

In the film Brazil, there are posters that read, "Don't suspect a friend. Report him." I see that you Brits are a few years behind schedule, but 1984 is not that far off.

With role models like you, no wonder we and the Australians are so hopeless.
chydenius, Miami, FL, USA
5/03/2007 at 17:58

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coke. The unreal thing

Andy Warhol:
"What's great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good."
All it proves it that the bum at the top is addicted to the same shit as the bum at the bottom. All cokes are the same and all cokes are full of shite. When the world stops being addicted to that crap, the age of consumerism will have passed for good.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bloody Oil Pipelines

Tariq Ali assumes that defeating a group of bearded men with no reach beyond Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, is the prime motive of NATO operations. One does not have to be a 'conspiracy theorist' to put two and two together and realise why the troops are forced to be there in the Afghan wilderness, under constant attack. The energy rich regions of the countries adjoining Afghanistan are predicted to be providing 80% of the worlds oil/gas by 2050. Shell, BP and other oil companies have major investments in the region. As far back as 1996, the Taliban were being feted and entertained in Texas because of the oil pipeline route planned by unocal and others. The deployment of NATO troops along the proposed route of the pipeline is perhaps an accident. But then again, perhaps not. Turkmenistan has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world. The Taliban who were once given the task of securing the territory for the proposed pipeline are now the people preventing it. That could change of course. Washington has more than one strategy for hegemony. Should the Republic of Iran fall into US hands, then the pipeline through Afghanistan becomes unnecessary as it was originally designed to circumvent Iran. Unocal (now merged with Chevron) and other companies may deny that the pipeline idea has been revived but the government in Kabul has other ideas. The warlords of the Northern Alliance are busy carving up the future profits for themselves. Unocal-cheveron is part of the BTC consortium that has just finished building a massive pipeline from the Caspian to the Med. In Burma the company was part of another consortium that hired the Burmese military to protect its Yadana pipeline from 'insurgents and terrorists'. Pipelines can be the only reason why the west is so insistent on having NATO in Afghanistan.

John Flynn (1944) quoted by Monbiot: “The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilize savage and senile and paranoidal peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.