Saturday, 23 June 2007

letter to the editor, TIME, April 10, 1972


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?

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



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.


'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

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..


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.

eating the peaches: good times..

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



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.


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.