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Friday, 7 December 2007

no doubt another vicious slur against Chomsky, Zinn and Ali from that mendacious neo-con rag, the Guardian

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Thursday, 18 October 2007

I've returned from the meadow with a fellow named X
two turntables and a spark upon his set
wet behind the ears from the tears of my peers
rap is outta control that's what we fear
so we collapse any actual threats
with the new batch of catchy little quirks
and it works like a charm as I bomb and alarm
any listeners
coming through crisper
on your transistors

Saturday, 29 September 2007

i think an apology is owed to Jonathan Steele, actually, certainly for the amount of occasionally nasty commentary his article on Kosovo/a provoked. (it's trying to be fairly cautious, i think, and not exactly doing a great many of the things some of its respondents appear to think.
maybe it's me.)

i was too harsh on the USA the other day, which has been trying to help in Burma more than most, in doses, through the last decade or so and more, and although i know i am only stating the obvious (or Myanma or Bama or whatever you want me to say), i felt like stating it.
and i think Tisdall, since an editor of his, or perhaps he himself, chose to drop in a discussion of the 'blame game' to his piece, and sort of flag that up, could have looked more at this, perhaps.
there's certainly some powerful opinions from various Indians there, about her neighbour.

i also think this short Rubin article, say, or this 2000 reminder from Zimbabwe seems fair when considering a lazy Guardian leader line about making it easier for despots to target their opponents because of American crimes and misdeeds and mistakes, a line of argument that, frankly, shouldn't have got past the person with a red marker.

+

anyway, who do i think i am with these preening little asides (Hirsi Ali, Buruma, Tisdall, Steele, various talking heads).

the commentary thought police?!
it's absurd.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

CRITIQUING MYSELF

(i) contrary to an extraordinarily mean-spirited and really rather loutish aside in a provincial English newspaper recently, Kate Nash does do that Regina Spektor thing quite well, and seems to want to follow other ivorians, maybe, you know, and i saw her on the tv.
she was quite frou-frou, dressy, doing that song that you know, that relationship break-up one.

and she was wonderful.

(ii) this

"while the Trial Chamber's factual findings show that KLA soldiers systematically committed cruel treatment and torture in the camp, the Trial Chamber was not satisfied that these KLA soldiers were participants in a systemic joint criminal enterprise to commit these crimes"

Tim Judah come in please.

(iii) this

'Beinart's argument gives a pass to the tyrants in Tehran.'

though there is this
- "Certainly, the timing of the Hersh article could not have been worse.."

CRITIQUING MYSELF

the below little bit contains some awful rubbish and parlour game trash from myself, but i'm not deleting it in an act of solipsistic accountability, to remind myself if i read it again of how one should refrain from discussing sick jokes and petty shite in the real world.
well that's what i think for the below anyway, let's let the journalists get on with it.
Buruma's pop psychology on Podhoretz's body image etc is a tad offensive.

(or just plain loopy.)

(iv) good that the Guardian leader rightly attacked
this:

Britain's own investment relationship with Burma is far from clear. There was a revealing exchange between the Foreign Office and Burma Campaign UK on the junta's claim that the UK is its second largest investor. While the Foreign Office dismissed the figure as bogus, Burma Campaign UK said that Britain had allowed foreign companies to use subsidiaries in the dependent territories to invest in Burma. They are right to argue that David Miliband should now close this loophole.

they also had time for One of the consequences of the Bush era, in which regime change is an explicit aim of foreign policy, is that the US and Britain have become tainted messengers of democratic values. Efforts to undermine hostile regimes - either militarily or covertly through funding - can create real difficulties for opposition movements in those countries. It it is now all too easy for despots to brand their domestic opponents as foreign lackeys. It is an argument that echoes from Iran to Zimbabwe.

efforts can create real difficulties, true.

but

despots will tend to do that anyway.
they are despots anyway.
their domestic opponents are their domestic opponents anyway.

it's a little shame in a fairly focused editorial (on the same subject, the Guardian's London rivals the Telegraph and the Times had leaders of a slightly different stroke today, and preferable for that), discussing matters at hand, that if we are going to get into broad strokes about the US, it couldn't be acknowledged that that country has had a better record than most toward Burma in recent times, which - yes - is not saying much, you can argue. (given they, the Yanks, were trying to do things in a vacuum for much of the 1990s, without many other states assisting, they didn't get too far.)

Simon Tisdall - here - surprisingly mentions Burmese neighbours first off, in a piece about 'the blame game'. (i mean: where's Israel?)
fair cop at the end, too. 'war on terror'. etc. undermining the rule of law.

but you know what?
this from Geras, is shorter, and better.
(oh. but he doesn't mention the USA. neocon hubris.)


(v) five rushed, angry points.

(vi) rugby; i prefer Tests to one-dayers, i must say.
actually, i don't know.
i think i prefer watching them.
maybe.

jove, this rugby world cup has been SOME fun.

(vii) two NYRB articles on trafficking and Buruma doesn't like Podhoretz (no link, but it was in the most recent-less-one issue). at all!
look at that cartoon.
you wouldn't mess with that guy!
the Irishman in 'Withnail & I'.

i liked "Dogmatism also leads to errors of judgment, for example when she recommends backing the Turkish military against the democratically elected Turkish government, just because it is led by an Islamic party".
i didn't know that about Hirsi Ali.

oh dear.

Buruma and TGA got in a spot of bother over Hirsi Ali and i can't remember what it was about exactly but - be fair to them - they were in the right*.

CRITIQUING MYSELF

(viii) i've been seeing a shrink for about a year. (this ain't a joke; i mean, i'm being serious.)
it's good, i'm finally getting there, and getting well.
not that i know what i'm doing.
(save this navel-gazing need to spew pompous and careless opinions about as if to nail out who i am, where i stand.)

i am going to go a wandering soon.

but.
anyway.
let what i said above about Kate Nash stand.

that is there.

entirely.
that stays.

go.
now.

* iirc

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

redux

if i could just find a dateline Kigali, late May '94 post from Mr Steele, that started "The genocide, the major blight on the CDR record, is almost over."

[(awful) joke, sic, to make a 'point'.]

but, yunno?
brushed aside in a second, when he appropriately excoriates other situations that are the making of other countries and organisations and people, it's, well.
beats me.

economic fairness in Thailand as long as you're not a Laotian or Burmese national, or a drugs injector, or.. (the unique motor of democratic progress line is addressed to a strawman, no?)



i'm sorry. er, really. i thought of this pie-eyed need to rant this morning whilst listening to John Humphrys drone on, on Radio 4's Today programme.
much like Steele, Humphrys chats lazy, simplistic garbage about Afghanistan is too a venerable Brit journo.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

a deadly serious UK govt elision

what is, most likely, a lie, and a disgusting one at that, given the despicable topic of conversation- "The government says its position was backed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)."

what is, most likely, the truth- However the ICRC says this has never been discussed with them by Britain.

'Simon Conway, director of Landmine Action, says if this was a cluster bomb last November, then it still is.

Neither of the government's points are internationally accepted definitions that would exclude this rocket from a ban.'


elsewhere, Jonathan Steele has this piece in today's Guardian that i want to (very briefly) comment on.

i'm glad he got in

The "smash the bourgeoisie" ideology Putin grew up with was extreme, but today's political opposite, the picture of the middle class as unique motor of democratic progress, is equally simplistic.

he does continue

Take Chile, or more recently Venezuela and Thailand, as three cases of bourgeois backing for military coups against democracy and economic fairness.

i like that he likes Thaksin Shinawatra's laudable health-care provision (democracies are sometimes able to provide pretty decent health-care) and all that, but the likes of Shinawatra and Chavez have a few skeletons in the cupboard and it's a little troubling to say the least that Steele felt good enough about his thesis (one assumes.. ...ass out of you and me, and all that..) to drop these examples in, given that the skeletons in the cupboard should really be about enough to dissuade one from lauding these two men (whilst, naturally, condemning without condition the military coups against them, whether successfully attempted or not).

the short aside

The second Chechen war, the major blight on Putin's record, is almost over.

is a bit relaxed, innit?!
hmm.

that wily Yeltsin.

the bottom line with Steele (noted here before, but clear-eyed reportage from Pristina is a reason to laud him, among other things) is that his analysis here is fairly detached and cool, perhaps a little more detached than the subject deserves.
but hey.

+
* what is bandwidth? it's something to do with your internets, eh. it's not a pr0no ref. i know that.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

They don't support Saddam. They don't support his foes. They have no policy to offer.

-Nick Cohen.

mummy what's a new statesman?

Saturday, 4 August 2007

it is far beyond me to describe how deeply i am in love with Channel 4 (UK)'s advertisement for its film arm season of 'new Hollywood'.

(the fact that Michael Mann's Heat, The Shield and the updated edition of 'City of Quartz' have been three of my key touchstones all year - and they are not competing claims - possibly helps.
the nearest i've even been to LA is the Bay Area.)


+

don't ask me quite how the text of this email came to me (i'm still unsure myself), but, read on, dear heart, read on

from A <_____@__.by> hide details 09:20 (1 minute ago)
to
____ <____@__.ve>
date 01-Aug-2007 9:20
subject Fraternal greetings; Against the idlers, a Plea
mailed-by ____@__.by

H,

I know you gave me a lot last month but we need some more.
PLEASE.
V's up to his uncomradely tricks again. (Only issue 'those fuckers' and I agree on!)

Thing is, I admit I made LOTS selling MY utility to HIS utility, but that pot's all dry.
(Don't ask, brother.)

Fraternally, A.


Saturday, 14 July 2007

here's a link to normblog, mentioning something utterly despicable the truly shameful fool Richard Dawkins once said.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

letter to the editor, TIME, April 10, 1972

Sir:

Concerning the National Enquirer story: Sorry- the leopard has only half changed its spots if their story on Howard Hughes (which included me) is any example.
I was never interviewed by these gentlemen, and much of their little story is a complete lie. There were never any nude scenes shot during or after a day's shooting.
I have never posed in the nude above or below the waist. Like Lucifer, publications of this ilk tell a little truth and slip the lies in like chopped liver in a sandwich. The gullible don't know they've been had till they get sick.


- Jane Russell, Los Angeles

Monday, 11 June 2007

i saw some magpies fighting yesterday.

they made a heck of a racket.
At 28 days detention, we are already the most draconian of the common law democracies.

David Davis
Sir Andrew Green, British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1996-2000, wrote an article in yesterday's Telegraph.

in it he took a classically realist view of the Serious Fraud Office investigation being blocked.
(and got a lot of tough Tories applauding him in the comments box.)

the formulation "The Saudis are often blamed for being behind the growth of Islamic extremism. Certainly, they have never been short of fundamentalist -preachers. But the regime is itself now the first target of al-Qaeda" shows Sir Andrew's gift for gross understatement, the BUT at the end demonstrating you can have a firm grasp on the facts and still come up smelling of humbug.

a series of chilling (and valid, natch, if necessarily crudely reductionist*) questions to the strawmen he is arguing against highlight Sir Andrew's imaginative gifts whilst not engaging one tiny iota with any of the serious arguments concerning the SFO investigation being stopped short for reasons of public interest.



* what other sort of argument would you expect from the man who runs the absurd pressure group Migration Watch UK?

NOTE
Trevor Kavanagh once wrote a piece some years ago in The Sun defending Sir Andrew and his group, claiming that a man who had done such good work as chair of the Medical Aid for Palestinians group (and, to give Sir Andrew immense credit where it is due, he has also been involved with the group Christian Solidarity Worldwide) was hardly a bigot.
a fair point in itself to rebut the charges he wanted to, but as an extended argument more than a little disingenuous, as Trevor must have known, given the sorts of groups and outlets claiming Migration Watch UK as their own, surely - in some cases - with the approval of the watchdog.
are you seriously telling me Migration Watch UK do not have the ear of the Daily Express?

whenever it runs a story on the issues they campaign upon Sir Andrew is - without fail, to my knowledge, at least at any time in the last few years and if the story has been more than a small paragraph or so - reverently quoted as the leader of an independent campaign group, Migration Watch UK.

Friday, 8 June 2007

as the Sri Lankan supreme court has stopped any further evictions of ethnic Tamil residents from Colombo, AFP are quoted as The court will hear the case on 22 June and in the meantime, the police inspector general has been restrained.

"The Free Media Movement in Sri Lanka has condemned the expulsions saying they are tantamount to ethnic cleansing"


in a slightly less imperfect world where the necessities of linguistic nicety did not matter quite so much, the above good souls would need not be so polite

-

yesterday

Victims of Colombian paramilitaries and rebels..filed for damages against Chiquita Brands after the U.S. fruit company pleaded guilty to paying protection money to an illegal armed group and agreed to a $25 million fine, one of their attorneys said.

"We filed a complaint in U.S. federal court for damages on behalf of the 144 people who had family members who were murdered by the AUC or the FARC during the period of time Chiquita was providing them support," Terry Collingsworth, an attorney with International Rights Advocates, told Reuters.


Monday

'Police Capt. Guillermo Javier Solorzano, a local businessman and his son were forced into a vehicle late Monday by uniformed men in Valle del Cauca province..police said.
"They were kidnapped by group of men who arrived by surprise and acted as if they were a military operation," the Valle del Cauca police said in a statement.'

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Brendan O'Neill has a fair point here (from last July) about the IAF flying low over Latakia in order to send a message, but his conclusion

This old Cold War conflict is kept alive by the needs and prejudices of many in the West, not by what the people of Israel or Palestine want.

So, Hands off the Middle East – and today that doesn’t only go for America, but also the UN, the EU, Russia and every other institution, NGO, writer, academic and activist who has helped to turn the Middle East into a stageshow for their own political gratification.


while clearly true of some unbending idiots, says rather more about O'Neill than anything he's trying to analyse, ("the West", civil society, cutting through cant)
[i humbly submit]

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Friday, 1 June 2007

i'm delighted that Ollie has blogged about Anne Applebaum and Russia's new dissidents [a motley crew of very uneven quality], which you can see here, as it prompts me to go with a little something i'd been meaning to for some time.

{not quite in a chatting shit kinda way, i hope, although that's not for me to judge, as when Green Day's Mike Dirnt once said to Kerrang! Magazine, that he had a little shit to chat about the Presidents of the USA
1}


Mary Dejevsky, evergreen, (she was reporting on the Baltic Way in 1989, as Wikipedia suggests) wrote an article on the chess man's dance, headed The secret of Putin's crackdown, halfway through last month in the Independent (17 April).

[Dejevsky is often out and about in her columnist duty, recently discussing, say, gay marriage, or Sarkozy, or the euro. or, indeed, "The Chechnya parallel helps explain why Moscow is so sensitive about Kosovo. If Kosovo can become independent, why not Chechnya?"

she's someone with plenty of opinions, and wide-ranging interests.

fair play.]


Dejevsky appears to make some fair sense the first time, read through.

she lamented the police action, then argued that perhaps "Russia, to be sure, would benefit from making a greater effort to see itself as others see it. But we should try to understand, too, how Russia looks from the Kremlin", arguing how some of the regions have little to fear from the centre in terms of being reined in, which has to inform what she identifies as the Kremlin's over-reaction.

(i'm not sure if this really stands up to analysis, given the presidential appointment of regional governors nowadays, and how the Kremlin is drawing all power to itself, but no matter eh.)

she pointed out Putin's massive approval ratings and had sharp words for some of the dodgy end of the protestors (though Ollie above summarised things better and more concisely on that score).

but reading back through her article a second time (and, admittedly, in light of what Applebaum wrote – a writer that, whatever one can say and applaud about Dejevsky's long-standing interest in this region, surely has a better understanding of the big picture) some things stand out that strike me as extremely dis-satisfactory and just wrong, in tone and analysis.

Dejevsky finds the "consequences depressingly predictable" of riot police wading into the crowds, which is clearly to her credit ("gashed heads and bruised limbs"), but in the same breath she finds another consequence as depressing and (it appears, or - rather - one is not being unreasonable to infer this, if you read through) on the same moral plane, that is, "headlines across the Western world denouncing Big Bad Putin".

this sort of application of equivalency needs to be called out for what it is: true plain nonsense.

(and i don't know why i didn't notice it properly straight away.)

a free press finding fault with those scenes?

(i'm not going to digress about much of the printing presses in the UK being concentrated in a few hands here, as, to stick with the UK, a country whose papers find room for Macer Hall in the Express and Seumas Milne in the Guardian and Con Coughlin in the Telegraph and Suzanne Moore in the Mail clearly has a healthy enough situation in that department..

2)

now why-ever is that – in a million years – "depressingly predictable"?

'Depressingly', mind you.

that word in itself, in these circumstances, is a big disappointment.

who is the editor here?

reading things with this in mind stuff gets a little weird in the article.

shortly after her egregious oversight about independent journalists getting upset with the horrible behaviour of the police of this awful govt, she discusses how "crowd control has come a long way in two generations", citing the double outrages of Kent State and Bloody Sunday, with a side order of Tiananmen Square.

(you can perhaps appreciate why she cites Ohio and Northern Ireland ahead of, say, incidents during the Moroccan Years of Lead or episodes of the 8888 Uprising, as a lesson of what monstrous things can happen in the darkest of times for protestors and dissenters..)

there's casuistry with how Russian leaders can now "throw back retorts about Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition and double standards" if asked about "considerations of image".

yes: hers is a correct analysis in the most essential sense, as Russian leaders should and can do that (any govt is entitled to lecture the Americans on this, but sadly many of the least deserving regimes, mind you, revel in this freedom, as – granted – we all know), but Putin of course is able to go even further and use the American war on terror branding as an excuse for all sorts of naughtiness, and the exercising of lots of conveniences that offend, to grossly understate.

(as GW Bush, again, can and has done, obviously.)

this is a very basic point but one that Dejevsky omits. this sin of omission is really troubling.

look, this is all very sixth form and preening of me (or sub-sixth form) but i can't apologise for that, can i, because the article itself is even worse.

yes, worse.

coming to the end now, again, and that final line now sticks in the throat when at first it had breezed past me: But we should try to understand, too, how Russia looks from the Kremlin.

we have been doing that for a long time, it seems.

we have been so understanding toward Russia from the Kremlin's perspective that a city the size of Edinburgh was entirely razed to the ground (just for, yunno, kicks and starters..), thanks, partly, in some small (or perhaps quite significant) way to our 'understanding'.

they have a law that authorises their agents to liquidate people overseas!

cyber-tricks against Estonian websites, it's recently implied.

yes, that as of yet is not reputably sourced AFAIK, more just rumour but i mention it, of course.

perhaps i'm going off on an entirely wrong track here and ascribing all sorts of motives and issues to Dejevsky that she would disassociate herself from (clearly, she would have nothing but condemnation for all the abuses the Russian govt has committed, and continues to commit).

after all, it's not like any of the above would be news (Baltic Way for her as the rest of her colleagues were laughing at Ross Perot, after all), and you could say i am engaging in my own sleights here, not fully grappling with the subtle thrust on display.

but it's one sentence at the start of her final paragraph that again stops you short, and not in a good way.

"A more confident regime might have surprised us by leaving the protestors to their rallies – and it should have done."

well, we can all agree with her fine conclusion there (which indicates the fundamental agreement that places her by the side of all opponents of Putin, granted), but, Putin & Co didn't, did they.

and that is the issue in this situation.

(other issues in nearby situations are the friendships between the Iranian and Russian govts, the Russian and Sudanese govts, the Russian and Belarusian govts, and ex-German Chancellors of recent times and the current Russian leader, and so on & such & so forth.)

that, is, the issue.

and no amount of phrasing footwork changes that.

indeed, read through that prism, the article veers close to apologetics.




1
eating the peaches: good times..

2
false consciousness on my part you may wish to argue, so i will say that Nick Cohen's June 1998 New Statesman piece, 'The Death of News', reprinted in his Cruel Britannia anthology, is instructive

+

P.S.

Ollie was good enough to send some news-links my way recently (you can dig them up on that blog, if you fancy, and haven't already), and i hafta doff my cap to that.

Michel Gurfinkiel had a in-depth look at Commentary magazine on the topic of 'Can France be saved?' which had a lot of interesting things to say about the ENA, statism [quoting sociologist Louis Chauvel, we have the delicious "What used to be said of Prussia..applies to France today, with a slight difference. Other countries may have a state bureaucracy, but France is a state bureaucracy that owns a country"], and the uselessness of Chirac.

(to be fair to France, no-where does Gurfinkiel mention her productivity.)

and other bits & bobs too, the most of which is worth quoting (Sego loves the Kurds), though especially the GFIW – in closing – on the murder of Moaaid Hamid, VP in the federation, and his wife, recently.

Glory and eternity to our fallen comrade trade union leader Hamed and his wife.

Glory to the martyrs of the Iraqi working class.

Shame on the murderous terrorists.


P.P.S.

with the recent hardening of attitudes between London and Moscow it will be interesting to see how intelligence handling between the two countries carries on.

just this weekend past it has been reported how Russian help to the UK security and intelligence services – providing useful information about groups in the Balkans and the Horn and the Caucasus – has previously been of assistance.

such arrangements have become damaged.

Friday, 25 May 2007

press freedom - some recent developments in-

Thailand

Honduras

Indonesia [via normblog]

Venezuela
you can read Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, here, discussing New Lab's tendency to curb civil liberties.

"Who could have predicted 10 or 20 years ago that we would need to apply for police permission to protest peacefully in Parliament Square?"
Liberty often have sensible things to say.

is the Home Secretary listening, to their criticisms, or any of their suggestions?

No one disputes that we live in difficult times. But with threats come opportunities.
a small selection of REALLY REALLY SHIT headlines MAKING some of the domestic NEWS IN THE U.K.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra hopes to complete a takeover of English Premier League soccer club Manchester City in early June, his spokesman said on Friday.

"Everything is going smoothly," Thaksin's lawyer Noppadon Pattama told Reuters. "We hope the deal will be formally concluded by early June."


-

'The home secretary, John Reid, made clear yesterday he is prepared to declare a "state of emergency"'

+

Spiralling gun crime is blighting Greater Manchester with more than 3,000 firearms incidents in the last 15 months, the MEN can reveal today.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

i think this is the first Comment is free (Guardian) posted comment i've seen to make me laugh, from someone called TheScaryCornflake

theres plenty of indigenous people who hate this country mate, try reading this site.

[many have you despairing]

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

some good news for the Chagossians at the Court of Appeal in London today.

Families expelled from the Chagos Islands to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home today.


it'll be a pleasant surprise if the UK doesn't continue its shameful and disgraceful behaviour and not try to appeal..

...btw, you'd have to buy it, but one from the archives: Glenny on the murder of Zoran Djindjic

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

MY UNCLE WENT TO NEWARK AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY 'PORTS AMERICA' TEE-SHIRT

i should have mentioned this at the time but about two months ago Dubai Ports World finally completed the sale, in full, of American assets to an American company, although the deal was agreed last year.

the deal had been seen as necessary as DPW had come under intense pressure from within the USA to offload their American holdings to an American firm.
DPW had acquired these interests in the USA when they bought another company out, the British P&O.
(public and legislative opposition to a foreign state-owned outfit controlling aspects of American port security was the driver of this hostility.)

[the company buying is American International Group, who are arguably best known outside their homeland for their sponsorship of Manchester United football club.
some embittered Mancunians have been suggesting AIG stands for Absent In Greece, which is petty and unfair but clearly i'm running with it, so you can go ahead and call me on that.]


late last year, incidentally, it was reported that

A.I.G.'s asset management unit, the AIG Global Investment Group, will take control of the port operations. The ports' current management, led by its chairman, Michael Seymour, will remain. AIG Global Investment's managing director, Christopher Lee, said that A.I.G. had "identified the marine terminals sector as a key element in our infrastructure investment strategy."


this sort of tinkering shows, pretty much, what a storm-in-teacup the whole thing was from the jump..
i don't think i'm contributing to anything horrid here (there's a big media scrum there, and who knows really what that means) - (i would say this of course) - as regards the ongoing agony of life for the parents & loved ones of the missing British girl, Madeleine McCann, who disappeared days short of her fourth birthday in southern Portugal recently during a family holiday, but i wanted to flag up Carol Sarler (ex-Daily Express) here.

"we have paedophiles, as do "they"; we have desperate, barren madwomen, as do "they" – but at least we don’t have organised bands of evil, swarthy foreigners grabbing our babies to flog in their vile markets"

Monday, 21 May 2007

The "horror of history" in which her apologists thought her "imprisoned" was a narrative of her own making about which she remained nostalgic and unrepentant. It was richly rewarded and free of any compulsion save personal ambition. She did not suffer from it but profited, and to suggest otherwise – as she often did – is an insult to the millions who died at the hands of a regime she took pride in glorifying, using, and enabling.

- Steven Bach on Leni Riefenstahl

Thursday, 17 May 2007

p.s.

it's behind a free sub but


here is the Washington Post's Juan Forero on "one of Chávez's most far-reaching experiments -- community councils"
yesterday

Gaunt-faced and thin in a police uniform, Jhon Frank Pinchao described how he slipped from chains the guerrillas used to hold prisoners and fled for more than two weeks through the jungle before he was found by a police patrol.

Pinchao was captured by the FARC when guerrillas attacked a police base in 1998, killing some officers and taking more than 60 hostage. He said he was held with a group of 13 hostages, including some other police officers.

All of the hostages were suffering from ailments after years in the jungle, including Gonsalves who has hepatitis, Pinchao said.

"I hope they can return soon, God protect them," he said, breaking into tears.


+

Gaza: "A BBC correspondent described the fighting as the worst he had ever seen."

&

press release for Accepting Realities in Iraq, with link to paper. (they also announce In 2007 we plan to publish reports on FLEC in Angola and the Forces nouvelles of Cote d'Ivoire.)

+

if you were at all surprised (even a little, momentarily, as i perhaps was*) with Tony Blair's slurring like a bar-room drunk at his resignation speech to his constituency - proud to have been at the helm of the greatest nation on earth - do recall that during his tenure Blair has occasionally been guilty of stoking some quite crass populism against the EU, when he has been courting tabloid readers of a certain stripe, for instance.

i thought the only national politicians that genuinely believed that theirs was the best are politicians serving under dictatorships or (of course) American ones.
it seems not.

* [i'm still unsure, i guess.]


BAGGIES BAGGIES BAGGIES BOING BOING BOING

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

yesterday

Uribe says the arrests are proof Colombia's institutions are working and demanded authorities support the investigation. But rights groups say the militia bosses have kept their criminal networks alive and remain influential.

Paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso promised this week to give evidence about politicians, army commanders, business leaders and foreign companies who he says collaborated with the warlords before their demobilization.

U.S. banana giant Chiquita Brands International recently pleaded guilty to charges that it's local unit paid protection money to paramilitaries and agreed to a settlement of $25 million.


announced yesterday

'Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said the killings were under investigation but the two men could have crossed into Venezuela as part of their undercover work against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.

"They infiltrated the FARC; we have a lot of people infiltrated in the FARC. There is nothing unusual about that, and they were found dead in Venezuela," Santos told local Caracol radio.

"They were assassinated and appear also to have been tortured," he said.'


+

Maruf Khwaja on "Rising, uprising Pakistan"

Politics, the state, and its doctrinal fetishes have failed Pakistanis - but their voices are not yet silenced.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

yesterday

The attack was near Landazuri, in Santander province, 100 miles north of Bogota, where officials said the National Liberation Army is active.

Local police commander Gen. Jaime Otero said the officers were providing security for workers eradicating coca crops, which are used to make cocaine, when FARC members detonated explosives as their truck passed by.


today

'Valle de Cauca is a centre of Colombia's lucrative cocaine trade.

Both Farc and the right-wing paramilitary groups draw revenues from the cultivation and export of cocaine.

Army commander Gen Hernando Perez Molina said Thursday's attack on an army patrol took place at 1245 local time.
Perez told the local Caracol radio station that..had carried out the attack.

Two officers and eight soldiers were killed in the attack.
"We know this is Farc because it fits their modus operandi and historically they have operated in this zone," he said.'

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

RIP Nina

You were just little

Thursday, 3 May 2007

two links to the Beeb: 'Iran's proud but discreet Jews', by Frances Harrison, & a photo essay from Western Sahara (camps, troops, and camels)
interesting juice in the Champions League these past recent days, as the final returns to Athens for the first time since 1994, incidentally the scene of the greatest display in a European Cup final of modern times,

will lightning strike twice?

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Of course he was bashed. He deserved it...I told the police beat him a lot...We are saying to him, ‘Stop it now or you will regret it.'

"Right now, no one walks about after 7 p.m., unless you want a beating"

Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence and State Repression in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

it's testament that, plucked at random, Owen's two latest bits at one of his places cause unalloyed joy, just plucked at random mind you.

a slap-down to Simon Jenkins (i might not be saying he's always a total duffer, politically*, and i admit to being intrigued by his forthcoming Falklands conflict book, with Max Hastings, but really more because it's Max..) is beautifully administered here, whilst the last line on this Niemeyer biscuit here should certainly be in cold, hard print.

{* tempting though, maybe}
'EU TERRORISM SITUATION AND TREND REPORT 2007' [via LENIN'S TOMB]

Monday, 30 April 2007

yesterday i saw an old man in a caff, with a large tattoo on his forearm, in dark ink.

the tattoo read
Trust in God, wisdom and art

(it definitely said "trust in god, wisdom" although i am not 100% sure about the last bit as his arm was obscured slightly, but it looked like 'and art'.)
THE CROWD SAY BO

I don't know what qualifications are required to be a weather forecaster on television or radio, but you would have thought that there were plenty of people who would like to do the job. Why, then, do the selectors find so many who are unable to pronounce the word 'Arctic' (it has two cs in it, neither silent) or the word 'Ireland' (it has an r in it, making it sound different from 'island')?

Charles Moore

Saturday, 28 April 2007

oh yes, Myleene (looking pregnant and very well, the announcer said) is preparing a six-part series on Elgar.
anyway, yesterday morning Classic fm (office ambience innit) was very affecting on the death of Mstislav Rostropovich.

their announcers and reporters were touching, eloquent, plain (in the best sense of the word), and powerful.

the first piece of music played after the news by that station was some Tchaikovsky by the London Phil, conductor: Rostropovich.

after that was the man himself playing Bach.

actually, again on Ch4 news yesterday, their arts correspondent had an emotional piece at the end of the programme, with a few figures from the world of that profession, and friends.
Andrew Neil on Channel 4 News last night was on magnificent form, plucky and full of spirit; vim & vinegar
tago-mago.net has a nas, wu-tang, & others thing, up here.

S/FJ linked him the other week actually (wot can i say, we must be on the same mail-list).
here for S/FJ, becuz, frankly, you need that picture.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

oh.

it is so on

'According to the BBC's business editor, ABN will not want to halt the sale of LaSalle, and will view RBS as "a hostile invading force rather than an institution trying to offer more money to its owners than Barclays"'

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Chicago Triad

three random Second City snippets - unrelated, really, and what have you - called to mind/sprung to attention, in the last few days, for me, just underline how much i miss that town, not in themselves you know, but, they just do.

it's a great city.

1. Virgin Atlantic airline is introducing a daily service from Heathrow to O'Hare.

2. two of the world's 50 best restaurants are there (you know those poll results), specifically the otherworldly and transporting Alinea (is the conjuror Grant Achatz still there? got it going on) and the celebrated Charlie Trotter's (again, not a surprise).
{two alternatives to flag from the most recent* food issue of the local Time Out i've seen would be the pepito sammich' at Costa Rican gaff Irazu, in Logan Square, and the somun bread at Adria Mare on Broadway at Balmoral**.
oh, ok, three: take the apple fritter at Old Fashioned Donuts on the South Side, on Michigan, around 112th, 113th.
money quote: "The most. Insanely. Delicious. Doughnut. On. The. Planet."}

*a coupla years old, granted.
**what can i say? i must be in a carbs mood.


3. the Barclays-ABN Amro merger, one effect of which is the possible sale of ABN arm LaSalle to Bank of America.
apparently the RBS is quite cheesed off with this proposal, as one financial journalist (Stephen Kahn) writes : ABN's Chicago subsidiary LaSalle was a gem that RBS coveted.

again, it's a great city.

gosh i miss that town.
the WWF on its Borneo rhino images

Monday, 23 April 2007

a recent Big Issue (UK street paper) had a piece by Hazel Healy about an April 5 demonstration - rallying 70-handed - outside Dallas Court Reporting Centre in Salford, base for UK Immigration Services.

the protest was called to show support for 50 Sudanese asylum seekers who were due to check in at Dallas Court that day, people facing the possibility of detention and eventual deportation.

"Sudanese people had been rounded up from across the country the previous week, according to Abobeker Zureya, secretary of the Darfur community in Manchester, which organised the event.
Zureya claims Khartoum is not safe for Darfuris, who will be targeted by the Sudanese government if they are returned...The Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture has documented Darfuris being tortured in 'ghost houses' in Khartoum.
Last week the Aegis trust..publicised a case where a returned asylum seeker was tortured in Khartoum."


on April 4 the Court of Appeal ruled that, in the case of three Darfurian asylum seekers due to be deported to camps near Khartoum, the deportations must be halted, on the grounds that same action would be unduly harsh, given conditions in those refugee camps.
the Home Office said it would consider an appeal to the House of Lords.

on April 5 no one was detained at Dallas Court.
Zureya says the rallies will continue until the Home Office acknowledges no part of Sudan is safe for Darfurians while conflict continues.

(one of the protestors - 27 year old Adam Al Noor Ibrahim who left Forbaranga in west Darfur in 2005 - was wearing "a blue beret representing a plea for UN peacekeeper intervention in the conflict.")
APING SARAMAGO

Boris Yeltsin shuffles away, and all that that entails for his family and friends*, and i wanted to say - bringing it back to 'the personal'/almost solipsistic arguably - that Dr Matthew Wyman taught a Russian politics course at undergrad level at Keele (where i, essentially, wasted a degree) and it was his passion and humanity that came through, and he was starting to teach Russian politics to me at roughly the same time as other friends in literature departments were being taught about Russian literature by their tutors (which is good as that meant everything mixed), and Dr Wyman was/is a really, really lovely bloke (one of many awesome academics i was fortunate to meet and be taught by at Keele, though in my case "taught" is perhaps a stretch) so here is the homepage at Keele for him, here, showing his interests in the teaching of politics itself and so on.

*this blog is pretty good at stating the bleedin' obvious
Abu Sayyaf delivers seven headless bodies to the Philippine army.

at least 32 people die in a molten steel industrial accident in Liaoning Province.

the UNHCR says people are trapped in Mogadishu.

5 babies are killed in a fire at a Sarajevo orphanage.

a young man dies following his participation in the London marathon.

there are many, many deaths, and much violence, entwined with the Nigerian elections.

in the weekend that just passed Gaza and the West Bank suffered numerous killings.

this is some news of recent days.

what is my point? {if any.}

i don't know.
"Amnesty International today repeated its call to the Syrian authorities to release immediately Anwar al-Bunni when his trial before the Damascus Criminal Court concludes tomorrow, 24 April 2007."

more here
Oliver Kamm is honest enough to flag up this debate here he had with aid worker Conor Foley about intervention and Darfur.

Foley cites Alex de Waal, Human Rights Watch and the ICTY, applauds some of the United Nation's work, and asks questions of Kamm.

Kamm gets stuck in to numbers, cites Brookings and pays tribute to the work Foley does.

I think that we share the same wish for peace in Darfur and agree that this crisis should not be turned into a proxy for ideological battles elsewhere. I hope that the investigation by the International Criminal Court will continue and bring those responsible for war crimes to justice, but my priority for the region is peace - and you rarely get that by bombing.
- Conor Foley.
one feels like one should almost be apologising for posting the following link as what is said is so clearly reasonable that (surely) anyone reading it would agree with a sad shrug (sad given the matter under discussion), but the final paragraph of this normblog post appears to be news to Henry Porter of the Observer.

and that is a very odd thing.

[as per with the Guardian, you may want to hold your nose if you read all the commentary.]

Sunday, 22 April 2007

the other day i was sat in a shaft of sunlight and ripping up envelopes and with the paper being rent asunder there were wisps emanating from the papers. like you know how if you are within a shaft of light, the sun shards will (almost forensically) illuminate particles of dust and such in the air and you can trace their path as it were, well, this was a bit like that. you know what i mean if you've recently done this and remember it. the smokiness was almost like an old gun being fired and the wisps appeared like the result, if you can remember the credits for BBC rogueish antiques-dealer programme Lovejoy (you might call it a 'dramedy' these days i suppose), there was an old pistol being discharged there iirc. (then Lovejoy himself started saying "cocksucker" for HBO, brilliant.)

of course it may sound a very monotonous or mundane observation but there was something very enchanting about the few minutes and i definitely felt as if i'd been improved by the whole experience, though to what end i cannot say; some magic – as it were – had happened to me or within me and it changed me, these things always change you a little don't they, something gets let in, and it is all for the good, the positive.

(and there again, here i go trying to pin all this down, hammering nails into butterflies. why would i do that?)

speaking of Discharge, are they from Stoke?
was that Crass? i forget. (it was Discharge, wasn't it.)

got the Sugababes singles collection on, Overloaded, cracking stuff.
i'd like them to work with Tony Matterhorn.

i ain't linking to it now for tedious technical reasons but that site blissblog linked to recently, an article, original meaning of the word fey and that, eldritch not twee, and other stuff, with their folkie nights in south London, that was bob on as folk (hah!) say in parts of Lancashire.

Paul Morley, he likes Ronson's versions, he doesn't like Razorlight, that's not libel innit. he's also a proper fanboy for Bob Dylan, i mean proper fanboy.
that's alright though, becuz - yawn - as long-term readers know, i'm a proper fanboy for Stockport beers.

+

i went to a football match yesterday.
oh dear.
saw a lot of old faces though, a few old mates. that's always good, isn't it.

one mate teaches in central Nottingham, in a school with a few problems, kids with issues and all that, kids speaking different languages (quite a bit), kids that just literally cannot get on the bus cuz they don't know how but are at home with stealing bikes cuz that they do know (for instance).
told me about one year 7 boy (that's eleven years of age) with an ASBO who – ASBO, be that as it may – possessed enough civic pride to do a citizen's arrest on a drunk driver. this driver was gunning his car down a street, crashing into parked cars, and then got out of his car and started stumbling down the road, so the little eleven year old karate kicked him and lay on top of him until the law arrived.
and a few hairier stories, but it sounds like they're getting results, getting along, and my mate is a good progressive sort, heart and mind in tandem, everything in the right place.

another mate living the good life out in Austria, but gets down to Italy a fair bit (especially Sardinia), to keep his Italian in, and making friends with a lot of Europeans, knocking about now with a lot of kids from central Europe, Kiev and Croatia and Serbia (Vienna ain't it).

our team lost but that's good for the other team and their fans eh.
right, stop waffling, s.

there's a lot of money at stake (personally) next weekend in the football. garn. ("Garn" is a swear word one of the baddies uses in 'Prince Caspian'. it’s like darn for CS Lewis-types.)

&

the indignity, the absolutely absurd FUCKING INDIGNITY of the great Brian Lara's last ever knock, being run out for 18 by his team-mate, i think the Beeb's man at the game actually said "stupidly run out by Samuels" or "idiotically run out by Samuels", pah.

Pah!

FFS.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Murúch on Mavis Staples
given the photo i saw this morning of Duncan Fletcher with a tear in his eye i do feel like a bit of a horrid stain for my post yesterday but no matter, it is for the best he has gone.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

"It will be a pity for her family to welcome her home at Heathrow in a body bag just like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan."

- what appears to be an explicit threat on the life of Gillian Dare, political officer at the British embassy, by Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper, earlier this month


you can now join us, if you so desire, for a spot of –

Pseuds Corner anyone?
{it's not even that, is it}

the new Wildhearts single is called something like 'the sweetest song' (research? pah! to roughly quote this very weblog many times in its more prolifically-posting-yet-still-lazy-fool-manner past) and it has bits of na na na, like Hey Jude or realising that the Kaiser Chiefs do well with that. nah i jest.

the chorus has some lyrics (i've heard it only a few times in hardly ideal conditions) about hearing, to you (the writer of song, anyroad, i guess), the sweetest song ever, what you take that to be, and how it hits you just so, gets you just there, just right.
the 'hearts do seem to have a talent – in a few great tunes from their fine catalogue – of articulating quite precisely and poetically what seem genuine truths about the power of music, and this universe-sized ocean of music we all pursue
for saying universal things about art and life, and how art can enrich you, and enlarge your heart, which seems a quite special, well, gift.

by the way in an Uncut magazine from, ooh, about 3 or 5 years ago now i'd say, maybe, Reynolds said something about reggae being an "ocean of sound", those three exact words (it might have been ocean of music, but it was ocean of__ something) and i just want to say, that's spot on. he was reviewing some re-issues iirc, i don't even know what, just Trojan or Blood & Fire or something ("just", he magnanimously hedges..)

i am in love with that.

so, yes, the Wildhearts in concert should be decent, one hopes.




'Nationwide, the number of people killed or found dead was 233, which was second only to a total of 281 killed or found dead on November 23, 2006.'

I rushed with others to give a hand and help the victims. I saw three bodies in a wooden cart, and civilian cars were helping to transfer the victims. It was really a horrible scene.

28 year-old Salih Mustafa, who was waiting for a minibus to take him home, in Baghdad.

+

in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre, myspace pages belonging to victims of the tragedy got deluged with messages of love and remembrance and fraternal good vibes and all that stuff. (i'd bet the Holocaust survivor professor who was killed didn't have one, but some of the younger victims certainly did.)

anyway one page had a message from a young lady saying how she wished she had said this earlier, but she loved the victim, and other pages had stuff about the wit and warmth and heart and empathy and whatnot of victims, and i'm sure you've read this elsewhere with memorialised names in a paper etc. more properly/respectfully remembered, but myspace is amazing, becuz it seems like alongside counselling and inquiries and due process and faith and community love and sincere empathy and the kindness of strangers, that a big big route out of something was, if only in terms of a small small thing but maybe remembering someone like that is a big big thing but anyway, that myspace was being used and opened up in this way, and that's pretty damn awe inspiring, if i'd stop to think, which i don't suppose i have truly yet, becuz you would likely break down entirely or maybe you have and i should shut up anyway.

so heart the myspace and people adoring each other and friends and colleagues being actual friends and colleagues. [that might be enough waffle.]

&

You've got to appreciate what you have while you still have it.


- the title character in aforementioned 'About Schmidt' (i suppose there's also Scottish indie rockers Idlewild with their listen to what you've got.)
toward the end of 'Curse of the Golden Flower', it is basically almost a bit:
if Titus Andronicus was originally in Mandarin.
Duncan Fletcher, it's never anything to do with him, is it?

the Dame Shirley Porter of international cricket.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

separating fact from fiction in Zimbabwe

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Nat Bedingfield seemed to be a missing strand between Dee Dee Warwick and Diamanda Galas earlier today.

that, and Dizzee Ras has grown up!
he's got a bit buff.

the video on the Orgreave estate, with huntsmen on horseback chasing through, settles on a wall with the scrawl ONLY COWARDS STEAL FROM THE POOR.

thunderous sounds.
apparently the youngest victim (and his father) came from a very small, tight-knit community. (the proverbial fishing village.)

bleh.
and then it was a salvage mission.

Friday, 13 April 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut
NEVER do that
all those tugboat crewmen that are missing in ice-cold waters after their vessel overturned between Norway and Scotland, and, well, some of their colleagues are now in hospital and, well, some did not make it that far,
one of the people on-board is a fifteen year old boy.

he was only there for his work experience.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

there's a programme on British tv called 'Musicool' about a bunch of musician kids from diverse musical backgrounds (grind/thrash vocalist; dancehall emcee; drum'n'bass sort; etc) that has them gelling together in training in order to put on a show in London.

crowding around a piano for some song exercises on the first day, the dancehall lad remarked that the melody was heavy..all the emcees found that part easier than the singers.

it's combustible, and good.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

'The Insider' strikes out in fine ensemble style – again – from Michael Mann.
i love the camerawork, just the jerks and the long views and the fleshy shots.
and the middle American river and how south Beirut looks. entices.

the script, tight as a gnat's chuff. (usual brooding and appropriate tunes.)

he really knows how to show cities; the view of the Big Apple from the CBS offices does make one catch their breath.

it's there.

when the sharp Gina Gershon (suit and hair and face on) is playing hard-ball with CBS press section, outlining dangers from the baccy giant, Pacino requests she repeat herself at one point in their tall office, above streets.
he doesn't ask can you repeat that please?

he says, to Gina, "come again".

Oh. Well. Then. Now.

yes. exactly.

now 'i'm sorry' but, yes, i am a bit sad, and a bit horny and a bit messed up at the mo, so, forgive me, but, that line,

jee-zus..

Friday, 30 March 2007

oh, and this one is a bit less late..

Poplicks imagines Chamillionaire vocab

mad luv for Cha' here
more extreme lateness:

i just think Angus is so bang on the money about Germaine Greer here, classic turn of phrase w' 'annoying and sanctimonious...'.

Greer does have one of the most magnificent voices in the Anglophone sphere (is that Roberts creeping in? er) i do think though.

imagine serving a summons on her!
christ!

her reaction would, possibly, be both ghastly and erotic.
Philip's newer blog has been dormant for some time now (pot and kettle until recently), and i know this is really late to flag as a teensy-weensy way of bigging up someone i wuv (and also, i dig all his stuff here anyway, that stuff about an audience not even being there, and 'The Culture Show', and Victorian attitudes to death, and&, and&, but i digress), but this about Tom Wolfe is tip-top.

{I am interested to know though why Wolfe is so fixated on muscle groups.}

hah! (it's very true.)

in a recent Spectator, the diary of Andrew Roberts had Roberts schmoozing in the USA with Wolfe and Norman Podhoretz at a Chaos Club, NY, meet. Wolfe "complete in the high collar and three-piece white suit", if you please.
i admit upon reading this i turned nearly as curmudgeonly as Wolfe himself can be and, possibly, thought some inappropriately rude words about the man.

more here on that Roberts diary
honestly, i've not even read it yet, but am glad to see Mr Hari not forget our old chums at sp!ked
my mate on the Wildhearts
to change tack
SR uses a gutterbreakz (leg-end!) bleep'n'bass mix as a springboard to riff on the 'nuum once more

it's the one attained by all the "crest" moments in the nuum: hardcore, jungle 94, speed garage, 2step
and lo the day before yesterday in the Guardian newspaper or yesterday on Channel 4 News TV you had the damn fine Inigo Gilmore reporting on the UK sending back Sudanese asylum seekers to Khartoum (interviewing a Darfuri man), because as we all know the Home Office operates in a culture of snide disbelief that permeates through every fibre of some of its time-poor officials (well, how else can it be explained away?), as they are processing the claims of people to seek asylum in the UK and, furthermore, well, i don’t know.

John Reid, good lord.
you can’t doubt his sincerity to combat extremism but he runs a despicable department, how does that work; the horrid spectacle of an excellent journalist subjecting this bloke to psychological and medical tests to conclude that, yes, it seems he has been tortured, and still one assumes this is not quite enough to appease some of the morally reprehensible-in-effect and actually morally reprehensible bunch of clowns that appear to run the roost down in Whitehall, and so we have the appalling scenario of the Home Office sending people actually back on the way into hell, and then you remember this is consistent with the same Home Office that was sending Zimbabweans with failed claims back until robust opposition attacks on such a disgraceful and unsupportable policy, and then you remember that, what, what can you conclude about a department like that, i don’t know.

Tory MP John Bercow (Buckingham) deserves a medal by the pinched and miserable and small-spirited standards of some of his Home Office opposites for pointing out what any sane person can see.
(you could give him at least the same honours as Mick Jagger, anyway.)
incidentally, Tony Blair once called Bercow nasty and ineffectual – now, i don’t know any Buckingham constituents (perhaps it was a reference to local issues from the PM, after all) but if Bercow is ineffectual what does that mean for Reid?

"Sadiq's case is not isolated - I think there is a wider picture," Mr Bercow said. "There have been many cases of people who have been instructed to return to Khartoum who have been intimidated, threatened and tortured having done so. It's an extremely risky business for Britain to send people back."

what are you playing at Reid?

oh i forgot too busy having your officials crow – crow like some fucking mean-spirited gambler about your opponents lucking out! – about how Britain is all-the-while reducing its asylum burden, numbers getting lower all the time, the numbers game, all-the-while we are seeing less and less

[w’ apologies...]

the grotesque chaos of a Labour government - a Labour government


p.s.
Gilmore spoke to Khartoum’s man in London (not a monolithic govt these days, Darfur & Darfur conflict watchers remind us) as you may have seen, and granted we’ll not go there...
Elton John’s birthday bash in the Big Apple, with a few pals, was televised last night. (alas no ‘Tiny Dancer’.)
i want to say, ooh, three things about it:

(1) i did not know that Elton did quite that much for charity, and fighting AIDS. yeah i knew he was an incredibly generous and restless figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS (an absurd understatement for such an icon of largesse..), but the true figures were a gobsmacking surprise.
what an absolute legend, big big big love to Elton. clearly there are no words.
(and his putting Robert Downey Jnr in the video for ‘I Want Love’, still one of my faves of recent years.)

(2) Scots funnyman Billy Connolly has done work for Stonewall, many years ago, he said. (presumably this Stonewall, not any American organisation. i don’t know anything of the controversies detailed toward the bottom there and often go with what Peter Tatchell says, but looking at some of their achievements is heartening; eloquent defence, no?)
wow!

nice up your chest Billy, awesome.
ossum.

top, top, tip-top man. again, no idea here.
hadn’t a clue. foggiest.
gone right up in estimation. etc etc.

(3) Anne Hathaway, dancing, in a dress.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

normblog (again!), arguing against - Food as a human right - one of the less persuasive points of that Economist leader the other day.

"in making the argument, The Economist fails to answer its own question" :
more here

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

i just got a spam mail, and the sender was called piss.

well it amused me
writing from a UK-centred perspective, are the current adventures of Conrad Black inspiring the biggest mass outbreak of schadenfreude in recent times?
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

"That is why the rights that make open politics possible...are so precious"

from The Economist, 22 March

&

Something more universal

Monday, 26 March 2007

+

the sun looked like a blood orange this morning

Thursday, 22 March 2007

scrap yard dog

[Kroger, man. that’s some good shit]

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

They said Wae-halem’s name was on the blacklist

re. this report here, ‘It Was Like Suddenly My Son No Longer Existed: Enforced Disappearances in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces’, it gets acknowledged that “most ‘disappearances’” in focus were “during Thaksin’s rule” though “many of the senior military and police officials who carried out this policy remain on active duty”, and “General Surayud’s government has done little to translate..promises into action”.

+

Everybody must be in Minsk

25th March.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Yasmin Sewell, the glorious Aussie who buys for Browns, was yesterday wearing a Fendi skirt and Jil Sander jacket, teaming it so well, and my jaw literally

hit the ground

Thursday, 15 March 2007

the Ides






























detail from A Wall in Naples (1782, Thomas Jones, oil on paper)

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Zimbabwe Vigil - London, UK
..
PRESS NOTICE
ZIMBABWEAN DEMO IN LONDON (14/3/07)

Zimbabweans in the UK are to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Wednesday in protest at the arrest and torture of peaceful protesters in Zimbabwe.

Supporters of the Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will gather outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London from 1 – 4 pm on Wednesday, 14th March 2007 in solidarity with the suffering of opposition activists in Zimbabwe.

They will be joined by supporters of the Zimbabwe Vigil, who have been demonstrating outside the Embassy every Saturday since October 2002 in support of free and fair elections and against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

For interviews etc, contact:

Ephraim Tapa, Chair, MDC UK – 07940 793 090

Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa, Secretary, MDC UK – 07984 254 830

Rose Benton, Vigil Co-ordinator – 07970 996 003

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Matt Frei feels a bit sorry for Scooter.

the diminutive, courteous and mildly poetic consigliere

read it here.

[Frei is a good journalist.
i like him a lot.
he has a sense of humour, of course. but there's also warmth.
his pieces for tv following that man who walked across the USA last summer or so, in an attempt to lose weight - though that was not the only reason i believe - contained affection and feeling.
when he was in another part of the world for the BBC he filed some powerful pieces, bearing witness.
an article for the Sunday Telegraph from Herat will never be forgotten.
sadly it ended in this vast tragedy.]

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Bless you, Ernest Gallo
John Reid.

words fail me.
for the second time in as many days today i heard a radio advert for the anti-terrorism hot-line phone number.
the first time i heard it i could not decide if i’d tuned into a satirical station or not.
i guess not.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Gilbert & George swearing at Tim Marlow

that's television
Iain Banks.
quite good at dodgy leaps.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

i just heard someone sing an absolutely incredible ‘Amazing Grace’

wow

Thursday, 22 February 2007

their names were
Victor Corea
Ranjith De Silva
Santhosh Kumar
and Sharmila Sangeeth Kumar

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

enjoyed Richard Deacon's Personals at the Ikon gallery recently.

also Sofia Hultén's Familiars, for video.
‘Prison Break’ tv show (airing on Channel 5 in the UK) is advertised on Ch5 with this piece of music that really stalks my soul atm (if that doesn’t sound too wanky, which of course it does).
having not heard it properly but snatches – like last night, having the tv on, but in the other room doing dishes – you get snatches and so race to your tv barking like a thing possessed, trailing dirty dish water and flapping your towel, and you get bits. (and shit on carpets.)

i don’t know if it’s some His Name is Alive-type stuff (it could be part of their catalogue if ya get me), or some old blues or it’s perhaps some blindingly well-known obvious tune that because i’ve heard it from a way off, escapes me. i know literally a second of it. a classical pianist sitting down to belt out show ballads in a folk style, at a Steinway with added juice.

to me it sounds a bit like an old man’s heart breaking, but in a cathartic, soulfully majestic sort of way. (cheerful ain’t we.)

perhaps i should sit in front of a tv for 48 hours with Ch5 on and nothing else, invariably hearing it eventually.
could be an arty experiment, couldn’t it?

tacos and a blanket.
a woman i find very attractive has just told me she spent her holiday time in a Chinese supermarket.
talk about pushing buttons!
aside from the recent issue of the wire (how sweet, btw, was Hua Hsu in saying two things he liked in '06 were the magazine and Bawlmer tv show - of same name) with the Melvins on the cover and Stelfox's fucking awesome Texan rap effort (ever since my dear boy Dan got me into Scarface i've been a big fan of the whole Geto Boys experience), the January issue recently was particularly safe.

Keenan on MV & EE, Barker in Beijing, Gary Smith, the lists (dubstep, rap, Carla Bozulich, oh yes) were all clearly extremely tasty toppings on a good pie but Jon's headline reviews piece on Dredd Foole was lovely.
he can get some phrasing, that boy.
compliments due.

RIP Ken Johnson
i was told that Unity House on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent city centre has been demolished to make way for offices.
the building was perhaps (probably definitely) the tallest in Stoke; my memory is hazy (i lived in Stoke for three years in the late 90’s as a Keele undergrad and was last in the Potteries for a weekend in the summer of 2005) but i seem to recall it dominating the Hanley skyline in a way no other building did, save perhaps the grey, blocky police building (it is a police HQ isn’t it?) close to the Sugarmill gig venue.
i once saw a Swedish metal outfit eating Italian at a restaurant by the Sugarmill. Entombed or someone like that.

Unity had a certain elegance and was clearly quite tall, it was near a boozer called the Black Lion that was quite a fine, lively, local alehouse (the gaffer was Scottish iirc at the time we all drank there), on the outskirts of the city centre, near the Shelton district where five of us lived and laughed at the local gangsters holding their guns cocksure looking all silly in their cars (a house containing a Brummie and a Mancunian is – by British standards – well placed to pass such judgments).
Shelton had some nice graffiti, beautiful quiet old canals, a pretty graveyard, and a classic laundrette.

certainly surely the biggest building in the Stoke urban area was the steelworks near Vale’s ground kind of way (Tunstall? Burslem? closer to Stoke actually and i remember wrong? i dunno), which seemed to approach Chinese size in my teenage formulation.
(not the steel factories with 100,000 workers over there, ok, but it was pretty big.)

in its last years Unity was a derelict shell more or less, but provided – among no doubt other services – a good space for skateboarding, and a gloriously handsome visual fixture for any confused traveller: a budget Sears Tower, a true building of hauntology.
one big thrust (in a series of fantasy novels i loved as a kid the towering mountain lair of an evil sorcerer was described as being like a finger pointing accusingly at the gods) was complemented by a shorter, stepped attachment, the shelves receding from the street, going back shorter the higher that part of Unity climbed.
i could ruminate on urban spaces, etc. here but i’m hardly Owen or detroitblog am i.

mind you: now it’s gone and we’ll miss it. it was a superb constant on any bus journey.

the snooker player Ray Reardon had a snooker club nearby (Reardon used to do the summer circuit at British holiday camps after retiring from the pro game and would offer all comers a best-of-three arrangement where he’d split winnings with people who asked him to go easy on them, but give a genuine game – and therefore tonk someone – who said they fancied him playing as well as he could).

here’s a couple of photos of Unity.

RIP Unity House.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

I own six Speaker Cities, I'm worth $3 million that the government knows about, do you think I'm gonna pull that kind of set-up for some student marching band?
Just keep your eyes on the stage.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

soap opera quote - (i love this)

in Eastenders, Stacey the market-stall holder, speaking to her boyfriend's City trader boss, says she works in a market and he misinterprets what sort of market she means, excitedly asking which and she says something like Bridge Street. we sells tops and knickers. i'll even model the merchandise for you if you like.

Friday, 9 February 2007

i’ll be off to Tate Liverpool soon for ‘Bad Art for Bad People’ but – by jove – you wouldn’t want to meet Jake down a dark alley would you.

lookit the little spat he’s just had with Comrade Hari: all sorts of stupid tosh spouted and, a nice touch, personal insults about somebody’s physical appearance.

classy guy

Thursday, 8 February 2007

"The international community has strangely failed to criticize the upcoming Turkmen election"
17th richest club on earth - play like cunts.

{you could say the same for 19, to be fair}
Timothy Garton Ash replies to Pascal Bruckner
Six Nations?

France were irresistible for sure but you had to be impressed with Ireland's tactical nous at the Millennium.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

on the subject of football and - whilst i don't think this is big enough to bother Robin C. with it's still worth flagging up in the admittedly highly unlikely event he reads this - an interesting letter to a Manchester United fanzine (UWS, good interview with Rio Ferdinand, who seems a top guy) from a Manchester City supporter, enclosing comments re. a photo taken in Cardiff of some United fans at a game.

the particular fan in the centre is carrying a sign that says MANCS NOT YANKS.
he is also wearing one of those New York Yankees baseball caps that are all the rage, er, everywhere in the world.
yet another terribly crass and really quite thoughtless BOOM-BOOM moment from this blog


with the high profile arrests in Birmingham yesterday (George Alagiah, Jon Snow and various others mangling honest Brummie hood names a la Alum Rock was a peculiar joy: y'all know i'm down with the central BHAM – Snow in particular elongated a few words, a bit like how Dr Cox does when angry), we suddenly have new life breathed into the Birmingham City football ditty

[…]

He comes from Washwood Heath/

He gives the Villa grief


"it's the way i tell 'em"
k-punk gets to the point, again

{ETA: not getting at the Klaxons, but his second paragraph is good, to me. i think we can all think of some suspects in that camp..}

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

one thing that's been in the UK news lately is the possibility of a strike by British Airways workers (now averted).
i just wanted to say N Cohen's Cruel Britannia anthology has a few good passages about when Bob Ayling was there if i remember.
timely reading.

Cohen's also good on another of Tony Blair's mates, Silvio B, and Labour's gambling addiction (more timely stuff).

btw, it says Jimmy now here below. it's cuz i switched blogger to the same thing as my food/drink blog (where i'm Jimmy); i'm planning to get back into the swing of things, soon, and have already started adding some links to some fave food blogs (though w/ my html skills, they are a bit messy), inc THE SARAWAK LAKSA [ two kids eat their way around Sarawak, bowl after bowl after bowl ], SO BAD ITS GOOD [ photos of L.A. carniceria store murals ], and the original and best, Great Taco Hunt, also based in the City of Angels.
i feel, incidentally, i too must register my disgust that the Wikipedia entry on tacos has recently delinked that site.
tosh!
-
foodblog.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

is it just me or is Nancy Pelosi seriously hot?

( sample pick up line: let's ditch these isolationist losers Nanc, and grab a bellini )
i've not heard Organized Konfusion for bloody ages.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Chief Executives, now they've got the skills. Justin King, currently chief executive of UK supermarket Sainsbury, now he has to be on the top of his game discussing quinoa, Omega-3, Jamie Oliver's kid-sized takes on a nice quesadilla, things like that.

but hold on!

King used to be don dada at the RAC, the UK road users' association (owned by Aviva, who have their fingers in plenty of pies, such as insurer Norwich Union), didn't he?

so where once he was banging on about black ice, taxing the motorist off the road and the pernicious toll at Tamworth, now it's 5 -a-day, PJ smoothies and finest ready meals.



now these people are the top people and so they're not so much on the details i imagine as the overall picture, which is why they get bounced around, in demand. (blue skies thinking? the first time i've ever used this phrase, and i believe a phrase everyone wants binning, one might add.)



but come on King!

sort it out!

wheatgerm or Citroen, what's it to be?



it's this shilly-shallying that gets me.

(on second thought, i think i may be getting King confused with someone else.
but any"road".)
maudlin tone, gently self-mocking, the dry humour, everything came together at the weekend just gone when a very close chum of mine sent me a txt re. the football that literally made me belly-laugh out loud (a rarity for me and texts).

he's an Evertonian, and they went on to win, but it must have been nils when he sent me these words:

Wigan v Everton. Two shit teams playing football.
you'd think Charles Clarke would have learnt to have put a sock in it by now, wouldn't you.
i've been running this place down for the last couple of years or so but i think i'll get back into it, from now on.
maybe. (i'll have to sort out the archive and other links later on.)

meanwhile, Paul Dacre: fuck me, the bloke's a bit of a thicko isn't he?
if i told you, you wouldn't believe me anyway.