Wednesday, 27 February 2008

He feuded bitterly with the writer Gore Vidal, and in a live appearance on ABC television at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi."

Buckley answered: "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamn face."
gracias Chavez
the village voice talks to Chinua Achebe

Monday, 25 February 2008

whilst, for something slightly different- the Spectator criticised both Darling and Osborne on the subject of non-doms last week

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Nick Cohen on fighting German tax evasion
'In Putin's Russia, there's only room for one party'

"It may sound sacrilegious, but I would propose to suspend all this election business for the time being, at least for managerial positions."
[...]Today, authority flows from the Kremlin to a regional governor appointed by Putin, who abolished the election of governors in Russia in 2004.
[...]"If you don't vote for United Russia, it will be very bad," a worker named Aleksandr recalled, characterizing the pressure on the rank and file.

(that second sentence from the report i quote brought to mind a certain piece in the Independent from last spring)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

RIP Janez Drnovsek

Friday, 22 February 2008

on Tuesday Gérard Prunier was, as usual, worth reading

there's some choice links to other articles there, too

The fighting occurred just as the African Union (AU) was meeting in Addis-Ababa and the AU was unanimous in condemning the attack. For once there was no split along Francophone / Anglophone lines as is often the case with the African organisation; and chairman Jakaya Kikwete said that if the rebels took power in Ndjamena, they would be "excommunicated"..
Sudanese defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein was so upset that on 6 February he broke down and cried in public during a government function. The Americans remained completely silent; there are reports that off the record Condoleezza Rice said that the matter should be left to the French "who know how to handle this kind of thing".
In fact Washington was probably relieved not to have to face the contradictions of its Sudanese policy..
Idriss Déby is hanging to power by the skin of his teeth but he is likely to hang on only as long as Paris and Brussels continue to support him under some kind of a pseudo-humanitarian face-saving dispensation. But saving face might be a bit difficult because as soon as the rebels attacked, Idriss Déby reverted to his usual dictatorial behaviour and had all the key civilian opponents (Lol Mahamat Choua, Ibn Oumar Mahamat Saleh, Abd-el-Kader Kamougué, Ngarjely Yorongar) arrested and detained incognito in military jails. Their lives are definitely in danger at the time of writing.


thank you Moqtada al-Sadr.
thank you.

(sincere cease-fire thanks do not equate with general endorsement.)

Roth was to have presented the report at a press conference in Moscow. However, the Foreign Ministry, aware of the plans, cited a changing array of technical reasons to refuse him a visa.

"It's clear this was politically motivated. We are observing a change in the political regime in Russia from authoritarianism to totalitarianism. What happened here is one example among many," Maxim Reznik, leader of St Petersburg's opposition Yabloko party told the Guardian.

He added: "This hasn't got anything to do with fire risk. The university was carrying out important work in connection with election monitoring. Now it's being punished for it."


We would be very surprised if [the evidence] did not shock the nation.
Some alleged survivors of the gun battle near the southern Iraqi town of Majar al-Kabir also claim corpses were mutilated by UK military personnel.

"For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, how did one have his penis cut off [and] some have torture wounds?"

Mr Shiner acknowledged that the bulk of the evidence relied on the five men's interpretation of what they heard while blindfolded and that no post-mortem examinations had been carried out on the bodies of the 20 dead.
But he said he believed his clients were telling the truth.
"It may be that none of this happened," he said. "We need a public inquiry to establish the facts."

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Chadian Interior Minister Mahamat Ahmat Bachir: terrifying
toward the end of that there HRW report - everything compressed into just the one sentence - there is a familiar, old echo:

The French authorities have so far maintained almost absolute silence on human rights abuses and possible war crimes being committed by the CAR military
so, with this news
A Sudanese deputy provincial governor told the BBC the fighters were heading towards the Central African Republic.

He said the activity may be linked to the split in LRA ranks following the death of deputy leader Vincent Otti.

you have - maybe - LRA militants heading toward the CAR; the deputy is Joseph Ngere Patuko, for Western Equatoria. [HRW put out a report last September, available here. they prefaced This 108-page report is based on three weeks of on-the-ground research. It documents the human rights abuses and breaches of the laws of war committed in northern CAR by both rebel groups and the government forces, and also documents attacks by banditry groups in the northwest known as zaraguinas, who often kidnap children for ransom.]

Reuters quote that
A spokesman for the LRA, which gained notoriety for mutilating victims and abducting children, dismissed the report as government propaganda.
"Those are stories cooked up by those who are against peace returning to northern Uganda, we urge them to stop such damaging talk," said LRA chief negotiator David Matsanga-Nyekorach.

we'll see. it isn't just Sudanese officials fingering the LRA.

meanwhile, an impossible situation is made brutally (and predictably) worse by a possibly hands-full and sadly impatient govt, although the govt may indeed by facing this.

what this means in the context of Françafrique i don't know.
(Bockel wanting to bury it and all; from the previous link, there is When asked earlier about the fate of three opposition members arrested in the wake of the rebel attack, Bachir said the government had only heard about this on the radio and was conducting its own judicial enquiry on Tuesday.
France, which has strongly backed Deby's government, called on Tuesday for immediate clarification of their whereabouts.

a EUFOR/TCHAD RCA page is here.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Amnesty International have a report about forced evictions in Cambodia.

the news item is here, report at bottom.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

N'DJAMENA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - European Union troops heading to eastern Chad will keep their distance from French forces and avoid taking sides in the country's rebellion, but will attack anyone endangering civilians, the EU force commander said.

Wigand picks up the phone and dials.


They've finished lunch. Wallace and Hewitt are turned to
talk to Sam Cohn and an older writer as suddenly Lowell's
cell phone rings.


WIGAND'S VOICE (OVER) fucked me!

Who is this?


...protect your sources...! You screwed
me! You sold me out!


What are you talking about? Where are


Fuck you, too!

And he slams down the phone.


Lowell, holding the dead phone in his hand...

Thursday, 7 February 2008

MSF on their recent activities in Kenya

part quote
"From January 25 to 27, the towns of Nakuru and Naivasha experienced violent clashes. Hospitals in both towns were faced with an influx of wounded people needing care, with roadblocks and insecurity preventing many Ministry of Health (MoH) staff from accessing the hospital and some essential supplies running low. In Nakuru, MSF teams responded by reinforcing the hospital where 157 people needed surgical care over the course of two days and flew in essential surgical supplies by helicopter."

Monday, 4 February 2008

Owen on Eltham Expressionism
another late one: Gregory Warner wrote about Afghanistan's (sadly cash-strapped) National Solidarity Program, a Very Good Thing, here
Fayrouz returns to Damascus

(this NYT article also mentions the most recent arrest of Riad Seif, which took place on January 28th; according to Seif's lawyer, Mohanad al-Hassani, Five plain-clothed security officers came to Mr. Seif's house at 7 p.m. and took him away. They identified themselves as members of the state security intelligence division)
bit tardy: out for a few weeks or so, the first edition of Pathways: A Magazine on Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy, from Stanford, is proving a top read.

of headline-grabbing interest is a fine piece from U of Mich's Rebecca Blank about the anti-poverty credentials - policy proposals and ideas &c - of the folk contesting the nominations.

it's a .pdf file here.

the three main Dems get the best reviews; each talks a good game in certain areas (it's been easy to see since last spring how the recently departed Edwards has energised this agenda, and a lot of recent sensible comment has flagged this).
not surprisingly, McCain gets the most praise from GOP candidates.

it's also good to see Blank (very politely) dismiss Ron Paul's incredibly stupid, dangerously libertarian views.

[via Lane Kenworthy's Consider the Evidence]

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Somphong, a boyhood classmate of Thaksin's, is slated to become justice minister while Suraphong, a stalwart aide of the former prime minister, will probably take the finance portfolio. The two ministries are crucial in the legal cases against Thaksin and his family.

I told him we must have a sporting spirit—defeat, victory and forgiveness—and that’s all

- General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin


what prescience in Ndjamena sounds like on a Friday night:
"We cannot rule out anything; the rebels are well armed and equipped."