Thursday, 31 December 2009

sound and vision : 200 noughties faves

(some faves generic for brevity, though some highlighted may be from genres also already mentioned - no reason)


‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’

“"Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)" was a 2000 single and so far the biggest success for British group Oxide & Neutrino” - Wikipedia

the singles ‘Maps’ and ‘Gold Lion’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Twista’s single Overnight Celebrity (dig the strings from Miri Ben-Ari)

Brandy’s What About Us? single

the juggernaut that is Alicia Keys

Oliver Ho, shading into the 00’s from the 90’s

the Nas single Made You Look

which leads into Hova, singles specifically (i’m afraid his debut remains the only album i’ve paid much attention to) especially Dirt.. and 99 Problems off his Black one (not to disrespect The Blueprint), plenty of collabs and appearances, the man in general really (the single Big Pimpin is from a ’99 album, but it was released as a single in spring 2000, so, i’ll have that too - got to laud UGK after all) - oh, and didn't he do something with Alicia recently..

the Chemical Brothers/Q-Tip single Galvanize (that amazing Najat Aatabou sample)

the Gwen Stefani single What You Waiting For? (the full video is ace) [ETA: hmm]

The Sheldon Epps production of Purlie at the Goodman, Chicago (2005)

City High’s single Caramel (what a superb opening - the way Claudette starts her vox, unf)

The Wire (HBO)

(“It was about The City...Mythology is important...a supporting myth has also presided, and it serves as ballast against the unencumbered capitalism that has emerged triumphant...In Baltimore, as in so many cities, it is no longer possible to describe this as myth. It is no longer possible even to remain polite on the subject. It is, in a word, a lie.”
- David Simon.) [ETA: still, Dave Zirin, no]

Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ single

DJ Casper conquering the charts in ’04 and it getting mullered - joyously so - at any community or family do you went to since..

the video for Duffy’s Mercy, featuring the dancing boys of Manchester’s very own Beat Boutique - chest ya! [ETA: who writes like this?]

Cam’ron’s Oh Boy single, which gets paired with Mariah Carey’s Boy (I Need You) - both enhanced no end, admittedly, by a 1977 Rose Royce sample, but it’s such a lovely sample and i adore what’s done with it

Estelle singing 1980 and American Boy

Sia, ‘Breathe Me’

yīyī/Yi Yi (Edward Yang)

the single I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor by the Arctic Monkeys

“New Weird America”
(big up Keenan, in neologisms, the decade’s ‘post-rock’?!)

Nelly Furtado’s single I’m Like A Bird

Clicks + Cuts, and can i cheat and just say learning about Germany in general, and micro-house, from better educated peers? (i can’t?) oh. well.

Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls single, which i am minded to pair with Jamelia’s See It in a Boy’s Eyes single

Franz Ferdinand, ‘Michael’

the Sweet Female Attitude single Flowers


getting into crunk

the Avalanches single Since I Left You (beautiful little vid and all)

how Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior looks

Saddle Creek Records, though in particular Bright Eyes and Two Gallants

花樣年華/In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)

which brings us to Christopher Doyle generally

the Dresden Dolls song My Alcoholic Friends (hellooo Amanda Palmer) [sigh]

Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Wilco, Lambchop (boxed together thanks, so much of Ryan, and with the Cardinals, in particular, so so much)

The Shield (FX)

Scrubs (ABC) - a show which includes among many cute, great, funny, or occasionally heart-breaking moments, the following two minutes of memorable sunshine

grime (brevity, see!)

Usher’s Yeah! single (follow up single Burn was pretty tasty, must say)

Fennesz (and the good ship Mego, whilst it lasted, really)

Sonique’s It Feels so Good single

Take That’s comeback toward the end of the decade

P Diddy’s Let’s Get Ill single


2-step (albeit this would be in a nineties list first off)

that self-titled Metro Area album

Black Coffee’s Turn Me On - tune!

Mulholland Drive’s torch song

The Sopranos (HBO)

The Black Eyed Peas song Where Is The Love? (you may remember Robin Carmody writing sweetly and persuasively about this at the time) and their recent smashes I Gotta Feeling and Meet Me Halfway

4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (Cristian Mungiu)

Abigail Washburn, Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet (who include Béla Fleck in their number)

Egypt’s In The Morning single

Nelly, ‘Hot in Herre’

an Icelandic poster at Dissensus once talked about “a lot of "krútt" music (the icelandic word for sigurros, mum and their countless immitators in the country)” - i am not massively into that, i admit - but when the BBC used the Sigur Rós song Hoppipolla to advertise a natural history strand, that really worked for philistines like me -

(this clip is actually the full thing; the original BBC clip was about fifty seconds, but, hey)

the only comparable thing - ie non-original (not of the show or associated with the show itself, on the part of the individual makers) music being used to plug an upcoming tv show that i’ve paid attention to - being some sort of brief, accordion-heavy wheezy Americana (or even trad’ arr’ Quebecois *) music i’m misremembering (bet the house on that) British tv used in a snatch to advertise the earliest season of Prison Break over here (or perhaps season two; at the time this blog suggested it sounded like a Warn Defever fragment, someone playing a piano - Defever’s maternal grandfather came from Saskatchewan, apparently, BTW)

* [what the fuck am i on about?! what do i know about that, to make that analogy?!]


Lupe Fiasco's 'Superstar'

the Shaggy single It Wasn’t Me

N.O.R.E's 'Nothin' single

Wookie - Battle

Battlestar Galactica miniseries and re-imagined series (Syfy)

L'enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)



Futureheads, ‘Hounds of Love’

Ugly Betty (ABC)

Girls Aloud

the J Da Flex mixed CD that was given away free with a early decade edition (’01? ’02? i simply forget) of the now defunct Deuce mag (not to be confused with the tennis mag of same name currently in rude health!)
- listing here - including his fantastically splendid Sexy Boy from 2000

Roger Deakins, though especially on the adaptation of No Country for Old Men (Coens), and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

Destiny’s Child (comments in brackets from 2-step entry apply, natch), and the later B circus, certainly given she has many of the decade’s best songs (with Kelly’s solo material, collaborations with the likes of Nelly and David Guetta, etc, getting my vote too, although - to my shame - i know not of Michelle’s gospel fare)

(learning about) kuduro


the Burial debut album

Green Day’s single American Idiot

Elton singles? I Want Love. and the re-released Are You Ready for Love? (great RDJ pr0n in a brilliant vid for the first.)

‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’

the Pete Yorn song Black

R Kelly’s Ignition (tune)

The College Dropout (a super album, just super)

Mis-Teeq’s Scandalous

'Castles in the Sky' by Ian Van Dahl

the opening three tracks off Art Brut’s debut album Bang Bang Rock & Roll

quite a lot of electroclash, in the moment yeah (though again, apparently Rome birthed it, late 90’s, 2-step bracketed caveats could apply)

Tha Hymphatic Thabs, cheers Jim

the Cold War Kids songs We Used to Vacation, Hang Me Up To Dry, and Saint John, which i must pair with the song All the Wine by The National, and the song Rebellion (Lies) by the Arcade Fire (i’m a bit ignorant of that lot, but even i adore this one), and that last one personally recalls the Martha Wainwright/Snow Patrol effort Set the Fire to the Third Bar too

Bubba's 'Ugly'


Ghostface Killah. still.

WALL-E (Andrew Stanton) - certainly the wordless opening

Isolée’s immense goodness: Beau Mot Plage

‘Pass the Courvoisier, Part II’

JoJo’s single Leave (Get Out)

Horsepower Production

how Jia Zhangke’s 三峡好人/Still Life looks (nod to cinematographer Yu Lik-wai) and in gen, pretty much

Daniel Bedingfield’s single Gotta Get Thru This

the Counting Crows songs Holiday in Spain and American Girls

麥兜故事/My Life as McDull (Alice Mak and Brian Tse)

Colin Farrell in the final frame of In Bruges

Joy Orbison

餃子/Dumplings (Fruit Chan)

(learning about) reggaetón

Natasha Bedingfield’s These Words single, her song Unwritten, and I Wanna Have Your Babies

There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène)

Afroman’s Because I Got High single, the one with the cuss words, of course (i cannot tire of this song)

Up the Bracket

(ha, here’s symmetry) the Razorlight songs Don’t Go Back to Dalston, Before I Fall to Pieces and America

deadmau5 & Kaskade’s I Remember song

T2’s Heartbroken song

the Rhythm & Sound w/ The Artists album, and Rhythm & Sound in general, given how you can literally just stumble across all sorts of utterly bang on mixes of theirs that change you

the Braham Murray production of Othello at the Royal Exchange, Manchester (2002)

The Holly Valance Kiss Kiss

the Panjabi MC do-over of Labh Janjua’s Mundian To Bach Ke (my single of the decade?)


learning about Senegalese rap

Good Charlotte's 'Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous'


Rihanna, ‘Umbrella’ (another single contender); and an honourable mention for my fave Disturbia (jones for that chorus)

座頭市/Zatōichi (Takeshi Kitano)

Miss E... So Addictive (very much one fave album of the decade) - oh! and Work It - didn’t WOEBOT once write that the first time he heard Work It on the radio he nearly crashed the car or something?!

the 3 Of A Kind single Baby Cakes (another single up there)

the Madonna single Music

the intro of Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck): Casey with the wonderful voice (and wonderful voice-over) in that opening scene

the Daft Punk song One More Time


the Electric Chair night, Manchester, which was put to bed a couple of years ago after about a dozen years breathing and which was surely - for at least part of its run - the finest club night in its country (as noted here previously) [ETA: no local chauvinism here, eh]

The Postal Service song The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, which i must pair with Death Cab for Cutie’s song Transatlanticism

Johnny Mad Dog (Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire)

the first time i heard the Streets - in a wee bedroom, in central London, at night, on a radio

the Arthur Russell documentary

Panic! At the Disco’s single Nine in the Afternoon

Amy Winehouse doing Valerie

J-Kwon's 'Tipsy' - banger, jolly good stuff

t.A.T.u.’s All the Things She Said single

the Go! Team’s Huddle Formation song (it wasn’t a single, but it may be my favouritest of the decade, i dunno)

J Dilla

M.I.A.’s tune Galang and another TUNE Paper Planes (the latter another very serious contender for song of the decade)

Moby’s song We Are All Made of Stars

The White Stripes song Seven Nation Army

various Foos songs - Times Like These, Best of You, The Pretender (corking vid)

Vashti Bunyan coming out of it (her gigs were a privilege)

the song California by Phantom Planet (hey, OC!)

the ‘Tiny Dancer’ scene on the bus in Almost Famous


Lady Gaga's Poker Face

the quite incredible Slovenian compilation the Wire gave away with their September 2000 issue, Elektrotehnika Slavenika, discogs here

Pearson Sound, ‘Wad’

the Fatman Scoop single Be Faithful

Our American Theater Company’s staged reading of After the Fall at the Theatre Off Jackson, Seattle (2008)

the Strokes single Last Nite

Jack Nicholson in the final scene of About Schmidt

The Rakes song 22 Grand Job

Michael Mayer

Hot Chip singing Over and Over

David Banner

無間道/Infernal Affairs (Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, though the prequel and sequel need to drop off)

The Bourne Identity’s editing (Doug Liman; nod to the editing in its 2004 follow-up, even if the camera jerks don’t do it for me) and cracking pace

Bill Murray teary at the start of Lost in Translation over Kevin Shields and whisky

Baha Men, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ (interestingly, their bread and butter is very different in style from this)

Memento (Christopher Nolan; and David Julyan’s music please)

how Los Angeles looks in Michael Mann’s Collateral (cinematographer was Dion Beebe, so noted)

Rye Rye and Blaqstarr’s song Shake It To The Ground

Traffic’s feel, dust, air, comradeship, dialogue, ending (Steven Soderbergh)

Katy Perry's singles I Kissed a Girl and Hot N Cold

Kid Spatula’s Full Sunken Breaks album, perhaps especially the song Hard Love (can’t help it)

mashups, for at least a while, for sure, especially given my favourite example: Richard X vs Liberty X’s single ‘Being Nobody’

Snoop’s singles From tha Chuuuch to da Palace (comedy vid, great, great stabs sounds) and Drop It Like It’s Hot and the video for Beautiful (amazing drums)

the magnificent Blu Cantrell single Breathe (feat. Sean Paul, of course)

Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles single

the Radiohead songs Idioteque and House of Cards

Lily Allen

Lil Wayne

Ms Dynamite and Sticky’s song Booo!

Paul Van Dyk’s We Are Alive (another confident contender for my fave single of the decade)

Xtina, though especially her Beautiful single (lovely video and message)

Wanksta and In da Club, ah 50

the All Saints single Pure Shores: filmed on a chilly Norfolk beach, apparently..

‘The Bucket’, Kings of Leon

The Durutti Column, soldiering on (providing - very possibly - my gig of the decade)

Kelis, especially singles Trick Me and Milkshake and the tune Mafia

Vybz Kartel’s ‘New Millenium’ with Wayne Wonder

Danni’s I Begin to Wonder single

various Killers singles, in particular Smile Like You Mean It i suppose

the Sean Paul singles Gimme the Light and Like Glue

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists in general, though also a special mention to Ted covering Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ and mixing it with ‘Maps’, and their Me and Mia song

speaking of, Kelly’s above tune and her single Because Of You

cLOUDDEAD’s eponymous compilation album


Jazmine Sullivan’s Need U Bad single (dense, humid feel)

Timbaland’s The Way I Are song w Keri Hilson and D.O.E.

which leads into Trousersnake, like his ’02 single Cry Me a River, like Like I Love You, and the ‘N Sync signature, Bye Bye Bye (hurrah!) - apparently recorded autumn ’99 but not released until the new year, so i’m having it

Les Triplettes de Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

H ‘two’ O’s What’s It Gonna Be: choon

Weezer’s Island in the Sun and Beverly Hills tunes

the Johnny Cash 'Hurt'

the single Don’t Falter from Mint Royale featuring Lauren Laverne (January 2000!)

it's enough to note - i want to for the sake of completeness - that absurd amounts of regional US rap and r'n'b, heard in little snatches, learning off people who know, that's been a big pleasure. to hear bits from, say, the Bay this decade, little insights, certainly for someone like me who very much relies on others to guide him - and, like, fuck! just recently encountering Gucci Mane, for example, or, Chicago juke, i mean, wow

like, some years ago now, but the principle the same, seen this, for exam ple

you feel me?

200 items?

here is a bonus one, as in, my favourite ever advert (to date):


(click for an amazing wide picture)

backpacker LP P.S.

just missing out (wrt the cLOUDDEAD collection there):

the odd bit of fare like Violent by Design and The Cold Vein


labels of decade :-

Soma are cool, and so too the British Library Topic (not the British folkie label of same name, sound as they are), as are Radio France Ocora, but i really think that Soul Jazz is out in front, adore their approach, gorgeous cataloguing

compilation of decade

Plaid’s Trainer anthology was released in 2000, so (just) makes it (though, obviously, the music is not of the noughties, but i think i can be let off on that, given how much i love it)

BIG-ASS TABLET-STYLE compilation of decade

got to be Anthology of American Folk Music, though handsome Charlie Patton boxes are clearly a bit tasty, and i admit to drooling over photos of the big Warp set

RIP Jockey Slut


- the Dan Flavin retrospective, 2004 onward tour, organised by Dia Art, NY, and the National Gallery of Art, DC (seen at MCA, Chicago, 2005)

- Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, 2002 onward tour, organised by MoMA (seen at San Francisco MoMA during its October 2002 to January 2003 run)

- Louise Bourgeois (Tate Modern, 2007)

- CoBrA national touring exhibition (Britain and Ireland, 2003), organised by the Hayward

- the Thomas Jones: An Artist Rediscovered tour, 2003, organised by the National Museums and Galleries of Wales

- Juan Muñoz first full retrospective in the USA, 2001 onward tour from the Hirshhorn (seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002)

- the Turner: the Late Seascapes tour, 2003 onward, organised by the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, and Manchester Art Gallery

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

half-arsed or what,

one other film that came out this year in my native UK, stick the solid and humane biopic of Milk, many great turns from a quality ensemble (Josh Brolin most of all, perhaps) a touching courtship between Harvey Milk and the James Franco character at the start, ooh around my personal number 6 or 7 we'll say..
oh yeah

i wanted to see The Hurt Locker this year

but did not
films 2009

every new release i saw (anal, no?!)

1. Johnny Mad Dog

2. Il Divo / The White Ribbon = (awe-inspiring former probably shades it, the latter’s big statement clearly deserves an audience, granted; it is also magnificently shot, even if the precision and deliberate feel might turn some folk off)

3. Let the Right One In / Sugar (grand and deeply moving) =

4. Wendy and Lucy (killed me) / District 9 (what Jim said; truly superb use of vox-pop, which, coupled with the above argument, negate any ‘disjointed!’ shouts, etc.) =

5. Star Trek (what lighting) / Frozen River (looked great, too; got a fair few lukewarm reviews in its native land last year IIRC, but i must admit to falling for it head over heels) / O’Horten (packed a genuine emotional punch whilst being unapologetically off-beat, and w some glorious lensing; the tender ending wonderful) =

6. Momma’s Man (you could’ve watched his parents all night)

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (hardly the whole of it but i want to say there were some unexpectedly gentle and sexy scenes in this movie, Swinton, Pitt, Blanchett all) / Flame & Citron / Gran Torino / Where The Wild Things Are: charming, funny, violent, growing, utterly self-centred, smart, profound, real - just like a little kid then / Terminator Salvation (crush on Sam Worthington, eating up the screen; onscreen partner Moon Bloodgood is hotter than the core of the sun) / Avatar (CRASH BANG WALLOP and CCH Pounder) =

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

9. Harry Brown (good tune from rapper Plan B and affecting back story)

10. The Time Traveler’s Wife (OK, book sounds better, always a treat to see Ron Livingston)

no Seraphine, Up, The Wrestler or A Serious Man viewed, which are ones i wouldn’t have said no to, off the top of my head, that’s all i can think of for now

old films at cinema 09

1. Citizen Kane/The Hour Glass Sanatorium/The Queen of Spades = (perfection and, er, lush, lunatic perfection and, er, frosty self-contained strangeness assimilating you perfection; greats)

2. Die Hard/Taxi Driver = (balls of your feet, and, well, they’re just more advanced out in California, aren’t they; also a real pleasure to hear Taxi Driver’s splendid sounds through big ol’ cinema speakers)

exhibitions 09

Giuseppe Penone retrospective (Ikon, Birmingham) - revelatory Arte Povera show from this consistently super space

the small but stunning selection of Goya prints at Manchester Art Gallery, one room, fantasies, follies, disasters, and alongside the Chapman Bros Disasters of War diorama, whose impact was amplified many times over alongside the plain walls and unshowy prints presentation, far more impressive a sight than alongside some of its siblings at the large Chapman show i saw at Tate Liverpool a few years ago TBH (very, very, very good as that was) -

jaw-dropping would be an understatement for these prints

and the British Museum/Terra Foundation touring show The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock (seen at Whitworth, Manchester) - truly epic, immersive learning, varying styles, broad range of artists, good historical background given and excellent associated reading (eg Studs Terkel interviews, etc)

compilation 09 (you'll let me off that the music was not of '09)

man like Droid’s epiphanic 20 ragga round-up at FACT - see here

(big decade list to follow you get me)

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

"Fire in the hole" is a warning used in the United States, indicating that an explosive detonation in a confined space is imminent.

Monday, 28 December 2009

the following post - rather simple and needlessly reproving in tone and free from vital context as it is - could have been written by a sixth-form sociologist who has just encountered the Glasgow University Media Group for the first time.

be that as it may, whatever point it is making, is, of course, not lessened in terms of sorrowful poignancy, by this obvious admission.

"LAGOS, 4 March 2004 (IRIN) - At least 2,500 people have fled Plateau State in central Nigeria following a fortnight of violence between Muslims and Christians that has left 62 dead and more injured, the Red Cross said on Thursday. Patrick Bawa, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Nigeria, told IRIN that his organisation had registered 2,500 displaced people in neighbouring Bauchi State by Wednesday afternoon and more were still arriving. “We had 2,500 in five camps spread around Bauchi in the afternoon, but more people arrived last night that are not yet included in our figures,” Bawa said. Around 100 of the arrivals were injured and in need of treatment. The Red Cross provided first aid, and 16 people with severe injuries were sent to hospital, he added.


Muslims and Christians had coexisted peacefully in these rural communities for decades, but that all changed in 2001 when a complex mixture of religious issues, arguments over land tenure and politics lead to a spate of tit-for-tat killings and communal attacks. During one week in September that year more than 1,000 people were killed in religious violence that gripped the state capital Jos. However, ethnic and religious violence is not restricted to Plateau State. Tens of thousands of people have died in ethnic and religious clashes across Nigeria since President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in elections in 1999. Squabbles over the distribution of oil revenue in the Niger Delta have frequently led to fatal ethnic clashes."

"LAGOS, 8 October 2004 (IRIN) - More than 53,000 people were killed during three years of sectarian violence that engulfed Plateau State in central Nigeria, according to a report by a government committee offering the first official death toll of the crisis. A committee appointed by the Plateau State government investigated the period between 7 September 2001 -- when a week of bloodletting in the state capital Jos left more than 1,000 dead -- to 18 May 2004, when President Olusegun Obasanjo declared emergency rule in the state following the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in the town of Yelwa by a Christian militia. The Committee of Rehabilitation and Reconciliation of Internally Displaced People said in a report published on Thursday that almost 19,000 men and more than 17,000 women and 17,000 children had been killed during 32 months of retaliatory violence between Christians and Muslims --- 53,787 deaths in all.

Chairman Thomas Kagnaan said the committee had arrived at the figure after visiting communities in Plateau that had been affected by the violence. Survivors there listed the relations they had lost in the fighting between rival militia groups armed with guns and machetes. The committee reported that 280,000 people had been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence in Plateau State, although the majority had now been resettled. But at least 25,000 houses had been razed to the ground and some 1,300 herds of cattle had been slaughtered during the battles."

Social Mobilization And Collective Violence: Vigilantes And Militias In The Lowlands Of Plateau State, Central Nigeria

"The collective violence in rural areas of southern and central Plateau State between June 2002 and May 2004 was accompanied by widespread social mobilization and heightened ethnic and religious divisions. Vigilantes adapted to the new insecurity and were important local actors in the crisis, but became polarized along religious lines. Their emphasis shifted from vigilance against theft within villages to vigilance against the more serious threats posed by armed militias. The intersection of vigilantes and militias was situational; where there was less violence vigilantes were more prominent, but elsewhere their functions merged."


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The school that Band Aid built
Monday, November 30, 2009,The Sun
BOB Geldof revisits Ethiopia to open new school paid for by re-released charity single

Nigerian reality show death
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ANTHONY Ogadje, 25, drowned in a river-crossing challenge after diving off a canoe

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Saturday, June 16, 2007,The Sun
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Thursday, January 15, 2004,The Sun
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Sex tips And The City
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PART two of our sizzling sex series with tips for a Happy Phew Year

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Tuesday, December 11, 2001,The Sun
BIN Laden prepares to die as US drop Daisycutter bomb on Tora Bora

Saturday, 26 December 2009

[ETA - the following YT video appears to have been removed for violations, but i'll leave this post up in case it comes back]


speaking of scenes from the telly that hit you, the below

- when the wonderful Liam Cunningham is shown around some of the collection, from about 4'15" into the clip, and the following three minute or so long rush of photographs set to stirring music, rudely interrupted by (the splendid) Spall's sarcastically wicked pisstake American accent; seductive, smiling Emilia Fox, with that almost menacing "click........... click............... click" (the same musical phrase is used to very good effect earlier when a group of Land Rovers start to congregate on the gardens outside as the utterly superb Duncan and Cunningham have a fiery conversation) -

can happily duke it out with the below BSG 2004 scene, among perhaps one or two others, personally speaking (another fairly obvious pick but hey; that indescribable photo of the young woman around 6'25" - DIES)

that above segment always leaves me a total mess
the following stolen from the Wikipedia on the man earlier today (so no need to link); i do not know about the accuracy, but it is well referenced, and seems to read very reasonably

Beginning in 1972, Ceauşescu instituted a program of systematisation. Promoted as a way to build a "multilaterally developed socialist society", the program of demolition, resettlement, and construction began in the countryside, but culminated with an attempt to reshape the country's capital completely. Over one fifth of central Bucharest, including churches and historic buildings, was demolished in the 1980s, in order to rebuild the city in his own style. The People's House ("Casa Poporului") in Bucharest, now the Palace of the Parliament, is the world's second largest administrative building, after The Pentagon. Ceauşescu also planned to bulldoze many villages in order to move the peasants into blocks of flats in the cities, as part of his "urbanisation" and "industrialisation" programs...

In 1966, the Ceauşescu regime banned all abortion, and introduced other policies to reverse the very low birth rate and fertility rate - including a special tax amounting to between ten and twenty percent on the incomes of men and women who remained childless after the age of twenty-five, whether married or single. The inability to procreate due to medical reasons did not make a difference. Abortion was permitted only in cases where the woman in question was over forty-two, or already the mother of four (later five) children. Mothers of at least five children would be entitled to significant benefits, while mothers of at least ten children were declared heroine mothers by the Romanian State. However, few women ever sought this status; instead, the average Romanian family during the Communist era had two to three children. Furthermore, a considerable number of women either died or were maimed during clandestine abortions.

The government also targeted rising divorce rates and made divorce much more difficult - it was decreed that a marriage could be dissolved only in exceptional cases. By the late 1960s, the population began to swell, accompanied by rising poverty and increased homelessness (street children) in the urban areas. In turn, a new problem was created by uncontrollable child abandonment, which swelled the orphanage population. The regime did not acknowledge the existence of HIV/AIDS because it wasn't publicly called AIDS until 1981. It outlawed contraception in 1966, a policy situation that on its own would probably have lead to an increase in HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. However the situation in Romania was exacerbated by the provision of blood transfusions to young orphans and hospital patients with the aim of improving their strength. The transfusions of untested blood, often completed on multiple infants or children using a single syringe, led to Romania accounting for 60% of Europe's paediatric HIV/AIDS cases at the turn of the century despite having a population that only makes up around 3% of Europe...

Ceauşescu visited the People's Republic of China, North Korea and North Vietnam in 1971 and was inspired by the hardline model he found there. He took great interest in the idea of total national transformation as embodied in the programs of the Korean Workers' Party and China's Cultural Revolution...The liberalisation of 1965 was condemned and an Index of banned books and authors was re-established.

The Theses heralded the beginning of a "mini cultural revolution" in Romania, launching a Neo-Stalinist offensive against cultural autonomy, reaffirming an ideological basis for literature that, in theory, the Party had hardly abandoned. Although presented in terms of "Socialist Humanism", the Theses in fact marked a return to the strict guidelines of Socialist Realism, and attacks on non-compliant intellectuals. Strict ideological conformity in the humanities and social sciences was demanded...

After Pacepa's defection, the country became more isolated and economic growth faltered. Ceauşescu's intelligence agency became subject to heavy infiltration by foreign intelligence agencies and he started to lose control of the country. He tried several reorganizations in a bid to get rid of old collaborators of Pacepa, but to no avail...

In the 1980s, Ceauşescu ordered the export of much of the country's agricultural and industrial production in order to repay its debts. The resulting domestic shortages made the everyday life of Romanian citizens a fight for survival as food rationing was introduced and heating, gas and electricity black-outs became the rule. During the 1980s, there was a steady decrease in the living standard, especially the availability and quality of food and general goods in stores. The official explanation was that the country was paying its debts and people accepted the suffering, believing it to be for a short time only and for the ultimate good.
The debt was fully paid in summer 1989, shortly before Ceauşescu was overthrown, but heavy exports continued until the revolution, which took place in December...

By 1989, Ceauşescu was showing signs of complete denial of reality. While the country was going through extremely difficult times with long bread queues in front of empty food shops, he was often shown on state TV entering stores filled with food supplies, visiting large food and arts festivals where people would serve him mouthwatering food while praising the "high living standard" achieved under his rule.
there again given i stopped watching NYPD Blue at the time the Smits character died (i.e. about season five), what would i know?!

and my watching of Law & Order hasn't extended beyond the first few seasons in any systematic way..
Law & Order has been going so long they should give them all medals, or awards, or something.
what am i saying?!

three great 'tec shows in the 90's; certainly, early Law & Order was grand, and obviously about the system of sentencing and what happened to people once the excavation work had been done (that opening season is pretty much perfect, to be fair, like that episode with the Provo is amazing).

i cannot embed the opening credits from season one but here's Mike Post's sublime theme, with some pretty photos


Bayliss: Man, I hate arson fires. There's never any evidence, no witnesses, nothing.
Pembleton: Well, look at the upside.
Bayliss: I don't see an upside.
Pembleton: I'm the primary on this case. If we don't close it, Gee will cast his long, doleful, accusing glance in my direction, not yours.

Friday, 25 December 2009

big up all the medics


mentioned here previously, but, script (the single scene of television to hit me the most thus far, in twenty odd years of recalling watching television; i'm being obvious, but my emphasis, fuck it)

Caprica's Cell
(Romo and Lee enter; Laura and Tory watch from outside, with Adama.)

Lampkin: I understand that you had a romantic relationship with my client.

Caprica: Gaius Baltar is a brilliant, gifted human being. In the time I've known him, he's made a sport out of mendacity and deception. He was narcissistic, self-centered, feckless, and vain. I'm the one who should have stabbed him.

Roslin: Things are looking up.

Lampkin: Love. Precocious evolutionary move, fashioning Cylons to be capable of experiencing it. I don't know if it was engineered as a tactical imperative, but... It's not for the faint-hearted, is it?

Caprica: No, it's not.

Lampkin: Maybe you should've been nicer to your mechanic. Well. Perhaps Cylon love is not the same as human love. Perhaps it's designed to hurt a little less.

Caprica: How would you know?

Lampkin: I loved a woman. Beautiful, beautiful woman. But so serious. This frowning face, trapped in the middle of a daisy. She had a way of walking, processional. As if she were on her way to her own execution. We had ten years. Then it fell apart under its own weight.

Caprica: Is that what you wanted?

Lampkin: I thought if I could get over her, I could get over anything. I could endure. Conquer. Be a man, stand up to any and all kinds of punishment. I clung to an empty, spinning bed for months. And that... that was when I finally realized how much I loved her. If I needed all that strength, what was the point? I needed to be with her.

Caprica: Did he... Ask about me? Gaius?

Lampkin, removing his shades for the first time: He wanted to know if you were well. He wanted you to know that he misses you. Loves you. Because he can't be here to tell you, he gave me this, to give to you. He uses that at the risk of grave reprisal to express his feelings, to put his world into some kind of recognizable order. To be heard. He kept it hidden because he knows he will not get another. He wants you to have it. Because without you it has no meaning. He wants you to have it because he would do anything, anything to be with you again.

Caprica, with a sad smile: Well, that's a shame, isn't it? Since they'll never let me keep it.

Lampkin: You understand that your days are owned and tallied by these people, the ones out there watching us. I think you realize what's likely to become of you. I couldn't help you if they paid me ten times what they offered me for Baltar. You won't get a trial, not even a bad one. So... I have to ask you. Does your love hurt as much as mine?

Caprica, staring at the pen: Yes.

Roslin: I feel like part of that world just fell down.

(Romo puts the glasses back on. Adama notices he's missing a button from his uniform.)
the USA, all up in your base, producing another truly great 90's show

all in suburban Pittsburgh

one of the two great 'tec shows of the 90's

and certainly one of the greatest opening credits of any show ever, anywhere


i told you



got to put your thumb

over the picture

November 1999

another classic 90's song, starting to think about my noughties faves innit

just watched a YouTube of some fucking cunt from California who needs a slap because he is a sexist shitbag piece of crap

how i love tabloids lecturing Miley Cyrus - oh heavens - a bunch of hypocritical twats hectoring a young woman about how to navigate her burgeoning sexuality, fucking great

if you are reading this blog post, you may know me from Dissensus, or from mouthing off in a pub somewhere in Britain


i adore this song more than i can say

i took care of that


don't worry about it

i seen your bitch

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009:

Seventy-three Saudi soldiers have been killed, 470 wounded and 26 are missing since fighting broke out in November between Saudi forces and Yemeni rebels, a Saudi minister said Tuesday. “The confrontation on the southern border” has resulted in “73 martyrs and 26 missing” soldiers, said Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan in comments broadcast on television from a media conference in Al-Khobar in the southern Jizan Province.
“We believe that 12 of [the missing soldiers] were killed, while we do not know about the fate of the other 14,” Prince Khaled said.
“The number of wounded has reached 470, the majority of whom have been treated and released, while 60 remain in hospitals,” he added...Prince Khaled said that the bulk of operations were now over, but noted that a small border village called Al-Jabiriyah was still under Houthi control.
“They have 24 hours to surrender, or we will destroy them,” he said, referring to the rebels occupying the village. While the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis began recently, fighting between the rebels and the Yemeni government has occurred sporadically since 2004.
The latest round broke out after government troops launched “Operation Scorched Earth,” an all-out assault against the rebels, on August 11.
According to international aid organizations, more than 150,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began in 2004.

Monday, 21 December 2009

I can't say where they will be sent, but I assume their final destination will be China, where they come from

- Lt-Gen Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman

Sunday, 20 December 2009

RIP Brittany Murphy

November 10, 1977

December 20, 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

the Guardian Media Group is looking to offload the Manchester Evening News arm of its operation, perhaps to Trinity Mirror.

this will thus end 189 years of association between the Guardian and Manchester (or so i've read; i assume all the admin that happens in Manchester for the Guardian Weekly international news-sheet that the Guardian works on with Le Monde and the WaPo, and other Guardian admin that occurs in the rainy city, will go elsewhere if this happens).

perma-tanned Stopfordian Ray King - a near-legendary figure in Mancunian journalism, restaurant reviewer, man-about-town and columnist of some longstanding repute - writes (on the site Manchester Confidential, which i won't link to, but suffice to say credit where due, the publisher is called Mark Garner and one of the chief writers is Jonathan Schofield; shortly to go subscription only, their zesty message boards are always worth a look for Manc residents who like food and drink)

That the MEN is a victim of major structural change - migration of recruitment advertising to the web and access to news via a multitude of new media - is beyond doubt. But is it also indisputable that the paper - on which I was a journalist for more than 30 years - suffered grievously from appalling management decisions. The first was to waste more than £20m on a press in Deansgate when the opportunity to share much better plant with the Telegraph in Trafford Park was there many years before the MEN made the inevitable move. Then the decision to go "24 hours" (upon which I left the staff) has proved risible. By setting an "evening" newspaper deadline earlier than that of the morning papers, the MEN sacrificed its ability to compete with the nationals - which was what we strove to do during all the years I was there - on any worthwhile story ever again. They even got the giveaway policy wrong. If the paper is free for some people some of the time, you will inevitably alienate those who have to pay for it all the time. In editorial terms, the MEN has been too timid for years. I had to battle hard, when writing the editorial comment columns, to maintain an anti-Iraq war stance, which is what the MEN did and for which I'm proud. But the editor was too often too willing to accept rubbish if espoused by "leading figures". Hence the paper took a neutral stance on John Prescott's lunatic scheme for an elected north west assembly, came out broadly in favour of the congestion charge (thank goodness my column lasted long enough to say told you so before they sacked me) and accepted the blather from Charles Allen that Granada would continue to be a programme making force in Manchester while ITV was busy airbrushing the most famous commercial TV brand from history. Frankly I don't see much of a future for the MEN. The print media cannot compete with its electronic rivals in bringing the news; it's duty is comment and analysis. Unfortunately virtually everyone at the MEN who might have been experienced enough to delivering that has gone. Don't even get me started on Mark Dodson's egomaniac folly, Channel M. Shame.

very interesting.

IIRC at the time King was against the congestion charge (i wasn't), but it is undeniable he was right on the 'gotcha!' front there.

his assessment of timidity seems fair.

everybody knows print local newspapers in the UK are largely shit *, and the MEN has certainly been going downhill for years, which is a shame, as it is the most-distributed provincial paper in the country (though a huge amount are given away in town; it is only the second biggest provincial paper on paid sales AFAIK behind the Black Country and west midlands-covering Express & Star of Wolverhampton) and therefore has some potential to be half-decent, even a bit prestigious.

well no more, and Ray King's analysis above reads reasonably to me.

the alienation of the disconnect between giving it away in the city centre and paying for it in all the suburbs is a obvious but extremely splendid point that bears repeating. some areas of Manchester and Salford and her outer satellite suburbs are among the most deprived in the UK; some areas of downtown Manchester contain some of the country's most affluent real estate and an awful lot of moneyed tourists/creatives/businesspeople and, generally, folk with a few bob.

it shouldn't need spelling out.

* ha! the nationals aren't much better some of the time

Friday, 18 December 2009

The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.

- Gerald Templer

To the U.S. Administration and Syrian government:

1. Devise a process of mutual engagement revolving around concrete, realistic goals, notably:

a) containing Iranian assertiveness in new arenas such as Iraq or Yemen (rather than aiming to drive a wedge between Damascus and Tehran);

b) working toward national reconciliation in Iraq, by combining U.S. leverage with the Iraqi government and Syrian access to the insurgency and former regime elements;

c) encouraging the Lebanese government to refocus on issues of domestic governance and containing the risks of a new Hizbollah-Israel conflagration; and

d) combining Syrian efforts to restrain Hamas and reunify Gaza and the West Bank with U.S. adoption of a more welcoming approach to intra-Palestinian reconciliation.'

ADEN, Dec. 18 (Saba) – Police in Yemen's business capital arrested on Friday four al Qaeda suspects of those who were hurt in Thursday's raids on terrorist hideouts and training camps in the southern province of Abyan, the Interior Ministry said.

The four survived ground and air attacks by anti-terrorism forces and were taken to hospitals in Aden by their families.

Their were named as Abdullah Salim Ali, Muhammad Ali Salim, and Abdul Rahman Mohammed Qayed, all in their 30s, and Hidera Salim Ali, 27.

On Thursday security authorities said about 51 suspected terrorists were killed and arrested in the raids that took place in Abyan and Sana'a.

34 were killed and 17 others arrested, most in the south, they said.

Police could not identify those killed, except one, Muhammad Saleh al-Kazemi from the district of Mahfad.

However, information suggested their ages were ranging from 20 to 40 years old.

Examination of their bodies is underway.

20 years of age.
"This new term will bring a renewed commitment to our country’s reform efforts."
Progress looms, stalled, in Mali

didn't even notice this at the time (!), but a recent article flags up one practical effect of the new Malian family code, excerpts below.

(Martin Vogl in Bamako had the story the first time around; more notes about the code getting returned to parliament in its first incarnation here.)

"Fatoumata and Moussa didn’t just decide to get married under Mali’s new family code, they got married in it – literally. The bride, groom and wedding guests at the September ceremony in Bamako all wore colourful traditional Malian boubous and pagnes, printed in browns and greens with key words from the new Code about mutual love, support and fidelity: “affection mutuelle”, “soutien mutuel”, “fidélité mutuelle”, proclaimed the wedding dress.


The new Code, which had been under discussion for a decade, does not recognise customary marriage (and instead requires all marriages to be registered with the civic authorities), sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years and expands inheritance rights for girls. Most important, it provides for equal rights and responsibilities of the spouses and ends the wife’s duty to obey her husband. Hence the dramatic message of the wedding dress.

Opponents have warned that the new provisions would lead to immorality, harm women’s interests, threaten ‘African values’ and result in a loss of cultural identity.


Globally, there are increasingly visible arguments for equality and justice in the Muslim family using both international human rights language as well as Muslim jurisprudence and Qur’anic interpretations, and demanding that laws be brought into line with social realities. One of the main tactics that the new code’s opponents have used is to dismiss those who seek greater equality for women in the family as ‘westernised’. Both personal actions like Fatoumata’s as well as successful national campaigns like that in Morocco and Turkey show that there is plenty of locally rooted support for family law reform."


Developments in Mali have been closely watched by rights activists in neighbouring countries. Isatou Touray who works with The Gambian Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) says “In Mali, the mullahs were able to mobilise the grassroots because they engaged the people - particularly men - at community level, indoctrinating them with patriarchal interpretations of Islam and women's rights. The answer is to focus on the poor and powerless who need the right information to dismantle the shackles of discrimination and violence against women in the name of religion.”

whole piece here - including charming picture of the wedding cloth design based on Article 312 of the code

Thursday, 17 December 2009

They just started to shoot people
'In the summer of 1996, stories began to filter out of Libya about a mass killing in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison. The details remained scarce, and the government initially denied that an incident had taken place. Libyan groups outside the country said up to 1,200 prisoners had died.

In 2001 and 2002, Libyan authorities began to inform some families with a relative in Abu Salim that their family-member had died, although they did not provide the body or details on the cause of death. In April 2004 Libyan leader Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi publicly acknowledged that killings had taken place in Abu Salim, and said that prisoners’ families have the right to know what took place.

In May 2005 Human Rights Watch visited Abu Salim prison, run by the Internal Security Agency. Head of the agency Col. Tohamy Khaled said the government had opened an investigation into the 1996 incident, but did not provide information on the manner or timing of the investigation. Human Rights Watch subsequently asked the Libyan government for details on the investigation, but the government failed to reply.

Prisoners in Abu Salim prison interviewed by Human Rights Watch in May were unwilling to speak about the incident, apparently out of fear. The interviews focused on their individual cases, and all of them said that conditions in the prison had recently improved.

In June 2004 and again in June 2006, however, Human Rights Watch interviewed a former Abu Salim prisoner who claims to have witnessed the killings. Now living in the United States, where he has applied for asylum, Hussein al-Shafa’i said he spent 1988-2000 in Abu Salim on political charges, but was never brought to trial, and he worked in the prison kitchen in June 1996. Human Rights Watch could not verify his claims, but many details are consistent with a report from an émigré Libyan group, based on another witness account.

According to al-Shafa’i, the incident began around 4:40 p.m. on June 28, when prisoners in Block 4 seized a guard named Omar who was bringing their food. Hundreds of prisoners from blocks 3, 5 and 6 escaped their cells. They were angry over restricted family visits and poor living conditions, which had deteriorated after some prisoners escaped the previous year. Al-Shafa’i told Human Rights Watch:
Five or seven minutes after it started, the guards on the roofs shot at the prisoners—shot at the prisoners who were in the open areas. There were 16 or 17 injured by bullets. The first to die was Mahmoud al-Mesiri. The prisoners took two guards hostage.

Half an hour later, al-Shafa’i said, two top security officials, Abdullah Sanussi, who is married to the sister of al-Qadhafi’s wife, and Nasr al-Mabrouk arrived in a dark green Audi with a contingent of security personnel. Sanussi ordered the shooting to stop and told the prisoners to appoint four representatives for negotiations. The prisoners chose Muhammad al-Juweili, Muhammad Ghlayou, Miftah al-Dawadi, and Muhammad Bosadra.

According to al-Shafa’i, who said he observed and overheard the negotiations from the kitchen, the prisoners asked Sanussi for clean clothes, outside recreation, better medical care, family visits, and the right to have their cases heard before a court, because many of the prisoners were in prison without trial. Sanussi said he would address the physical conditions, but the prisoners had to return to their cells and release the two hostages. The prisoners agreed and released one guard named Atiya, but the guard Omar had died.

Security personnel took the bodies of those killed and sent the wounded for medical care. About 120 other sick prisoners boarded three buses, ostensibly to go to the hospital. According to al-Shafa’i, he saw the buses take the prisoners to the back of the prison.

Around 5:00 a.m. on June 29, security forces moved some of the prisoners between the civilian and military sections of the prison. By 9:00 a.m. they had forced hundreds of prisoners from blocks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 into different courtyards. They moved the low security prisoners in block 2 to the military section and kept the prisoners in blocks 7 and 8, with individual cells, inside. Al-Shafa’i, who was behind the administration building with other kitchen workers at the time, told Human Rights Watch what happened next:

At 11:00 a grenade was thrown into one of the courtyards. I did not see who threw it but I am sure it was a grenade. I heard an explosion and right after a constant shooting started from heavy weapons and kalashnikovs from the top of the roofs. The shooting continued from 11:00 until 1:35.

He continued:
I could not see the dead prisoners who were shot, but I could see those who were shooting. They were a special unit and wearing khaki military hats. Six were using kalashnikovs…

I saw them—at least six men—on the roofs of the cellblocks. They were wearing beige khaki uniforms with green bandanas, a turban-like thing.

Around 2:00 p.m. the forces used pistols to “finish off those who were not dead,” he said.

Abu Salim prison held between 1,600 and 1,700 prisoners at the time, and the security forces killed “around 1,200 people,” al-Shafa’i said. He calculated this figure by counting the number of meals he prepared prior to and after the incident.

Cleanup began around 11:00 a.m. the next day, June 30, when security forces removed the bodies with wheelbarrows. They threw the bodies into trenches—2 to 3 meters deep, one meter wide and about 100 meters long—that had been dug for a new wall. “I was asked by the prison guards to wash the watches that were taken from the bodies of the dead prisoners and were covered in blood,” al-Shafai’i said. In 1999 security officials poured cement over the trench, he claimed, although he believed that they later had the bodies removed.

The only other description of the incident comes from a report by the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, an opposition political group based outside Libya. Drawing on the account of an anonymous former prisoner who witnessed the incident (not al-Shafa’i), the report largely corroborates al-Shafa’i’s account.

The National Front report says that 120 sick and wounded prisoners boarded buses on June 28 to receive medical care but that many of them were executed, although it provides no details. The next day around 11:00, the report says, “hand grenades were thrown into the crowds of prisoners followed by continuous firing from different weapons like AK-47s, general purpose machine guns, crowd control machine guns. The raining of bullets continued for an entire hour.”

The report does not mention trenches but says that refrigerator trucks from the Meat Transportation Company and the Marine Fisheries Company took bodies away. On June 30, a forklift loaded the last bodies into a container for trains. In total, 1,170 prisoners died, the report says, but it provides no names.

The Libyan government has denied that any crimes took place. In May 2005, Internal Security Agency head Khaled told Human Rights Watch that prisoners had captured some guards during a meal and taken weapons from the prison cache. Prisoners and guards died as security personnel tried to restore order, he said, and the government had opened an investigation on order of the Secretary of Justice.

“When the committee concludes its work, because it has already started, we’ll give a detailed report answering all questions,” Khaled said.

According to Khaled, more than 400 prisoners escaped Abu Salim in four separate break-outs prior to and after the incident: in July 1995, December 1995, June 1996 and July 2001. Among the escapees were men who then fought with Islamist militant groups in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, he said.

A Libyan group based in Switzerland, Libyan Human Rights Solidarity, says that since 2001 the authorities have notified 112 families that a relative held in Abu Salim is dead, without providing the body or details on the cause of death. In addition, 238 families claim they have lost contact with a relative who was a prisoner in Abu Salim.

The organization expressed concern about one of the four prisoner negotiators from June 28, Muhammad Bosadra. According to the group, the authorities transferred Bosadra from Abu Salim to an unknown facility in summer 2005, and no one has heard from him since.

Human Rights Watch spoke with the brother of one former Abu Salim prisoner whom the authorities had informed of his brother’s death. According to Farag al-Awani, now living in Switzerland, security agents arrested his brother Ibrahim al-Awani, 25 at the time, from the family home in al-Bayda in July 1995. The family never heard from Ibrahim again.

In 2002, members of Libya’s Internal Security Agency told the family that Ibrahim had died in a Tripoli hospital due to sickness. A death certificate they provided, viewed by Human Rights Watch, said Ibrahim had died on July 3, 2001, but it gave no cause of death. Despite repeated requests, the authorities never returned the body, as required under Libyan law. It is unclear if Ibrahim al-Awani died in the June 1996 incident or at another time.

“We just want to know what happened and to have the body back,” Farag al-Awani said.'

- HRW, 28 June 2006

'Limited improvements are under way in Libya, including expanded freedom of expression and proposed reform of the penal code, but repressive laws continue to stifle speech and abuses by the Internal Security Agency remain the norm, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

Human Rights Watch will hold a public news conference in the country today, a first for Libya, promising public debate on sensitive issues. The arrest of prominent critic Jamal el Haji on December 7, 2009, however, reflects the very real limits on internal criticism.

"A public assessment of Libya's human rights record in Tripoli would have been unthinkable a few years ago and reflects the expanded space for public discussion in Libya" said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government should revise its penal code to allow all Libyans the freedom to have such public discussion without fear of criminal sanction and stop jailing those who express criticism of the government, including Jamal el Haji."

The 78-page report, "Libya: Truth and Justice Can't Wait," is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch during a 10-day visit to Libya in April, the organization's most recent trip to the country. The report is also based on ongoing monitoring from outside the country. The report finds that while the internet and two new newspapers in the country have given journalists increased space to write openly on certain sensitive subjects, heavy criminal sanctions continue to stifle journalists and prohibit freedom of association. Lawsuits and prosecutions of journalists under the country's libel laws have increased, but so far no journalist has been sentenced to prison.

Justice ministry efforts to secure the release of unjustly detained prisoners face continued opposition by the Internal Security Agency, which operates with impunity, imprisoning or "disappearing" Libyans at will. The government has tolerated increased activism by families of the 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison, offering them compensation but still no accountability for the massacre.'

- HRW, December 12, 2009

'Rifts within Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime were laid bare at the weekend when Government agents cut short an unprecedented press conference on Libya’s human rights record that was supported by his reform-minded son.

The launch of a hard-hitting report by Human Rights Watch was arranged with the help of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the colonel’s second son and heir apparent. Never before had a Western NGO been allowed to stage such an event in Tripoli, and Libyans whose relatives had been killed, imprisoned or “disappeared” by the regime seized the chance to tell their harrowing stories.

Government hardliners went to considerable lengths to undermine the event. The Times was the only Western newspaper allowed into Libya to cover it. The relatives of some victims were prevented from travelling from Benghazi, Libya’s second city, to attend. Security agents infiltrated the press conference in a Tripoli hotel, photographed those present, then brought the proceedings to an end by shouting down the speakers.

“There are clearly forces pressing for greater openness. That’s why we’re here,” Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said. “But there are also powerful forces who don’t want this process to succeed...Several burly men in the audience, whom the dissidents identified as government agents, stood up, denounced the speakers, accused Human Rights Watch of dividing Libyan society while ignoring US and Israeli human rights abuses and demanded that it leave. The press conference ended in pandemonium.

“I don’t mind pro-government people denouncing the dissidents with words,” Mr Malinowski said afterwards. “We’re worried they were taking pictures and observing who was here and saying what ... The key test is whether anyone is punished.”'

- The Times, 14 December 2009
Welcome to Syria! by DaveM
'"He was screaming, blood was coming from his head and his body", Adan Nurkey who witnessed the stoning told AFP, "he died very quickly after being hit by a big stone", another witness, Mohamud Ashur said.
The 15-year-old girl with whom the man was accused of having a sexual relations received a hundred lashes -- she escaped the death penalty because she was not married at the time.'

incidentally, good post here from Christian Bleuer, 'A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEGOTIATING WITH THE TALIBAN'

At the moment there is great speculation about exploratory talks and negotiations, up to and including a comprehensive negotiated settlement. Beyond the issue of the Taliban's history of neglecting to deliver on agreed terms is this question: why would a force on the rise negotiate honestly and seriously with a force that still appears to be on the decline? I don't believe in assigning a rigid pattern of behavior to any social/historical entity and then expecting predictions based on that to be completely accurate. Variables, sometimes unseen, can change. However, the recurring pattern of the Taliban failing to honor agreements should instil wariness in any potential negotiator.

elsewhere on the same site i was struck by this, where he noted

In 2006 Sami Yousufzai and Urs Gehriger interviewed Mullah Sabir, a high ranking Taliban commander about the Taliban Laheya rulebook, which included this exchange:

Q:What is your attitude towards NGOs which are building roads and digging wells to improve people's lives?

A: The organisations which have come here under the new administration only pretend to help the people. In reality they are part of the government. Whatever they may propose to build – bridges, clinics, schools – we will not tolerate their activities.
actually, that editorial from below makes an interesting observation about Jack Layton, New Democrat leader (if i was Canadian i'd be an NDP supporter, i must here point out).

thinking out loud.

if Canada withdraws all its forces from Afghanistan (as they are going to in 2011 unless something else occurs, AFAIK), then any good things that Canada might have been aiding in happening in areas where its military are engaged will be, at the least, slightly weakened, and therefore the highly imperfect but progressive achievements they were aiding will be, at the least, slightly weakened (it seems reasonable to suppose, although the extra American forces and the many more contractors/mercenaries that are arriving in Afghanistan will have something to say about that, presumably).

below selected excerpts from various sections of the September report to parliament, Canadian engagement in Afghanistan

Construction was finished on seven new schools in Kandahar, for a total of a dozen completed since the project began in 2008, and work continued on 21 more. None of the Canadian-funded schools were among those that Afghan education authorities reported in mid-September were not holding classes because of physical damage, insurgent action or threats against students or staff. An example of such intimidation was the acid attack in November 2008 on a group of girls walking to school in Kandahar City. To counter such threats, Canada is now funding a year’s rental of five school buses, providing safety for schoolgirls and female teachers to attend classes. Canada also supports more than 3,000 community-based schools across the country, reaching in excess of 80,000 students, predominately girls...Other education initiatives also moved ahead: a new intake of trainees (mostly women) continued in a community-based adult literacy course already successfully delivered to more than 10,000 individuals; funds were made available to significantly upgrade a teacher training college with classrooms and a female dormitory, and to improve the water supply; and another 44 teachers were prepared to be “master” trainers (teacher-trainers), making a total of 144 so far in Kandahar. (By the end of the year, these master trainers should have helped upgrade about 300 teachers already in classrooms in the province.)


A vaccination campaign in July reached about 380,000 children aged five and under in Kandahar, and in September a broader campaign in high-risk districts of Kandahar and two neighbouring provinces reached 880,000 children. The percentage of children missed declined from 15 percent in May to under 5 percent in July.
Yet with nine new cases during this quarter bringing the national total to 22 for the year, it is widely acknowledged that the country cannot be polio-free by the end of the year. Canada remains committed to the eradication of polio in Afghanistan and we will continue to report progress toward that target.
The Canadian-supported removal of landmines and explosives in Kandahar moved ahead in July and August, making life safer for the residents of 11 villages by clearing land equal in area to more than 40 football fields.

now, those things aren't too much, maybe, and progress must seem slow, but those things above are worth lauding.
they would be worth lauding if even S. Harper said so (if this were Private Eye Hislop at this point would scribble something about inserting an Orwell/Halifax/Telegraph thing) etc etc etc

and they wouldn't be happening if the international community was not engaged in Afghanistan and the Taliban were still in charge.

now thinking out loud, i suppose the point is, it is right for Jack Layton to be concerned about these crimes of torture which Canadian troops appear to be enmeshed in, and he is perfectly entitled to his opinions about Canadian withdrawal (i imagine they're shared by many, if not most, of his fellow citizens), and he is right to want to lock down these crimes, get to the bottom of it, but if a Canadian draw-down exposes some Afghans to a worse situation than the one they already exist in (ie a shockingly poor, strongly conservative, battle-scarred society), will he then also look forward to having a review getting the facts on record about any potential Canadian culpability for a different sort of Afghan brutality (he may want the assistance of international organisations on that one, to be fair)? a rather more full-throated and unapologetic Afghan brutality, one might say; i do wonder.

i think of Joshua Foust discussing the Americans leaving Nuristân, when he wrote "It is a shame to leave them at the hands of such people, but the costs of remaining there simply do not justify the slim benefits".

ETA - to be clear, the speculation above does not imply support for Tory procrastination and fudging on this vital issue

and two more Afghanistan links for today before we shut up shop.

firstly, i was struck by the following image in this National Post op-ed (another National Post link! oh dear - what will some think *) in the pre-9/11 period took the form of hanging them from soccer goals, cutting off their extremities and letting them bleed to death.

secondly, the LAT has a story of an unusual - and very healthy - protest in Kabul.

* to any NP reader who says flagging up that image at the end of an editorial i won't lose sleep over ** is in order to minimise alleged {sic} crimes that have taken place related to Canadian forces is from the playbook of the disgusting FOX anchor excusing Gitmo outrages and abuses by referring to the barbarism of 9/11, i call bullshit


** which is more than can be said for my reading about Thai death squad infernal units yesterday
the sight of two Canada residents (and both ex-swots to boot, Will where are you?! *) not quite agreeing over the torture thing is providing plenty of fair points on each side.

responding to Terry's last-but-one post, Graeme (of course rightly) notes that I'm not a legal scholar, but I would suspect that a prisoner transferred to Afghan forces and beaten severely enough that Canadian troops had to seize him back could reasonable constitute "severe pain or suffering...inflicted on a person" whilst TG's latest praises an NDP MP for asking after what is happening now

* i gather Hak shut her blog down not long after which is fair enough

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

"Christmas travel on British Airways is being held hostage by a macho management which prefers imposition and confrontation, or even litigation, to negotiation.

“Last Friday we offered to suspend any industrial action and declare a ‘pause for peace’ if the company would only agree to suspend its imposition of new terms and conditions on cabin crew.

“Willie Walsh turned this offer down flat. Confrontation, not negotiation, is his approach, even though an industrial dispute will cost the company vastly more money than his projected savings from attacking cabin crew conditions.

“It should be clear that BA does not have a problem with Unite, although it may prefer to present it as such.

“It has a problem with its own core employees – highly-skilled and loyal professionals who believe they are being bullied by the company. It is these employees who, by an overwhelming majority, have voted to stand up to this bullying and give the lie to the claim that they are only being asked to accept small changes.

“If British Airways want to get Christmas back on schedule, and values its relations with its own core employees, it will now take up our offer: Suspend the imposition of contractual changes and we will suspend the strike.

“That is the choice – a pause for peace or madhouse macho management.”"


update - the sight of loads of pissed off poor sods fuming about their festive season flights has prompted Derek Simpson (one of the two gents whose name is on the above press release) to start doing a little bit of diplomatic distancing on the national media; the plot thickens..

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

in the interests of fairness, it should probably be pointed out that Christie Blatchford comes over better here (i think the only thing someone * could rear up at is the shoe beating by the ANP personnel and that is what it is).

update to above - BruceR at the Flit comes up with something new

Asher Kohn at Registan quoted compadre Joshua Foust a few times in a recent, excellent, questioning post on 'Building a Better Afghanistan' here.

and meanwhile, i wanted to note the details of a standard security review afoot in the USA.

details are not much from what i've read thus far (my emphasis)

The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) is understood to have begun a review of Sir Richard’s sale of a 32 per cent stake in Galactic to Aabar Investments for $280 million (£170 million). The move has caused alarm in banking circles in Abu Dhabi and could raise tensions between the US and the Gulf.
Bank insiders told The Times that there was a growing concern locally that the deal could be amended or even blocked because Aabar, Sir Richard’s proposed partner, is ultimately controlled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family...CFIUS takes 30 days to review a case and either approves it or moves on to a 45-day statutory investigation. It is unclear what stage Virgin has reached as the committee can demand further information at any time.

all the same, naturally, one thinks of the Dubai Ports World hoo-hah, for a start, and can probably be justified in feeling a little unease until further clarification (Op. cit.)

oh, and Dubai are now in hock to Abu Dhabi.

interesting times.

* and they would have to be someone who thought context was a Greek pastry dish, presumably

Monday, 14 December 2009

"For every rebel combatant disarmed, one civilian has been killed, seven women and girls have been raped, six houses have been burned and destroyed and 900 people have been forced to flee their homes," British-based organization Oxfam said... "Some victims were tied together before their throats were, according to one witness, 'slit like chickens.' The majority of the victims were women, children, and the elderly," the group said.
More than 7,500 cases of sexual violence against women and girls were registered at health centers during that nine-month period, nearly double that of 2008 and likely representing only a fraction of the total... The group also called for the U.N. to find "a new approach to protect civilians."
"The U.N. peacekeepers are being put in an appalling situation where they are supporting an army that is attacking its own population," it said... U.N. officials in Congo long have argued they do not have enough boots on the ground to protect civilians


Sunday, 13 December 2009

wrt Graeme's wholly appropriate response to a woefully inappropriate Canadian Tory response to that story, coming at it from a slightly different angle (though still against the use of torture in any circumstances, so just like a normal human being), Brian Platt makes a very, very sharp, insightful little aside (it's just almost tossed off, like it cost him no effort, and yet if you unpick it, it genuinely says as much about world public responses to international military involvement in Afghanistan as something far longer) when he wrote 'The whole detainee "scandal", which was fixed two years ago and is entirely irrelevant to what's currently happening on the ground in Afghanistan, is perfectly emblematic of how Canada's discussion of Afghanistan is consistently undermined by our obsession with our self-image.'

the second half of that long sentence, the section that starts immediately after the final comma, is truly masterly. (i do not for one moment accept this as apologetics, as a longer piece Platt wrote here makes clear; though he made a mistake in linking to Christie Blatchford, whose argument is evasive and with a very dangerous elision in her framework).
Wikipedia describes the brilliant 1999 single, 'Sweet Like Chocolate'

Many journalists commented on the song's unavoidable presence on the streets of London.

i like music on the streets of large cities.

it is possibly my favourite thing there has ever been.
“Once there was a girl, and she loved a man.

They had a date next to the eighth street station of the sixth avenue subway.

She had put on her good clothes and a new hat. Somehow he could not come. So the purpose of this picture is to show how beautiful she was. I really mean that she was beautiful.”
beautiful: that's Little White Earbuds and their five artists who defined 2009
given we are talking about interviews with Taliban figures, it would be wrong to not laud a hat-tip to Leah Farrall's increasingly famous dialogue with Abu Walid al Masri
super Jeff Weintraub post
meanwhile, Graeme writes "Canadian Tories lost far more sleep about the film Young People Fucking recieving tax credits than they are with the certainty that they committed a grave breach in the Geneva Conventions by handing over prisoners to be tortured in Afghanistan."
ModernityBlog: "Viscount Monckton...What an offensive Tory shit he is."
"For the authors of Living Marxism, the magazine that pioneered Bosnia genocide-denial, the Bosnian war was an issue only in the UK and other Western societies; an issue, as they saw it, over which the ‘consensus’ had to be challenged and ‘freedom of speech’ upheld for the sake of their own, British concerns. What was or was not happening in Bosnia was, in and of itself, of no importance to them, since to them Bosnia was not a real place and the people who lived there were not real people. They were quite ready to parrot Serb hate-speech against Croats and Bosniaks, since they did not care about what happened to the latter. They viewed the case that ITN brought against them for libel as a greater crime than the murder of tens of thousands of Bosnians."

Marko Hoare has a feisty post up here, 'Anti-Balkan racism in academia and on the Left'
speaking of the tragic and horrendous murder of Meredith Kercher reminds me of David Robson, the Daily Express features writer.

a jovial Yorkshireman, Robson is one of the few good things about this largely awful newspaper, and every Saturday he has his own page, weaving together often humane, and usually always warmly witty pieces, about issues of the day and British water-cooler fodder.

i realise he has an editor who presumably orders him to tackle certain subjects on request, and i realise no journalist is ever perfect, but it was with a slight sadness yesterday that i saw him conflate the somewhat intemperate outburst of some politician from Washington state into a unnecessarily generalised aside about Americans and how 'they' view the justice available to their nationals in foreign states. now, i realise a lot of Britons are rightly angry about the potential extradition of Gary McKinnon, prompting a lot of sour comment (i've heard it myself) about American exceptionalism and whatnot, but passing comment on one potential miscarriage of justice to one party in a mean-spirited manner just because of a pending miscarriage of justice actioned from some second party to a third party, is not on.

regrettably, Robson had a bit of a strawman moment yesterday.

i mean, heck, whilst we're at it, why don't we just pour it on a bit more?

why, they're all fat and hardly any of them have passports anyway, the ignorant bastards!

good grief.
discussing the Amanda Knox conviction, a commenter at Martin's web round-up, writes what sounds like a very sane point to me.

i am going to quote it in full below.

Garret said...

The trial in some ways reminds me of the 'Guildford 4', in which a corrupt police force bullied somewhat naive young people living abroad into a confession, then twisted whatever evidence they came upon to suit their needs. There is no physical evidence that bears scrutiny, nor do the prosecution witnesses, one who magically appeared one year after the crime to tie the three accused together but claims to have seen Amanda Knox wearing an outfit she does not possess and was never found, one who contradicted his own statements about not seeing Amanda Knox the day after the murder, buying bleach in his shop, and was also contradicted by his own shop assistant, who says she saw neither Knox nor Sollecito. After the shoddy DNA, and the unreliable witnesses, we are left with what the press so gleefully indulged in (shamefully by many in Britain as well as Italy), smutty innuendo. An internet moniker, a vibrator bought as a joke, and Mr Sollecito's manga magazines depicting what manga magazine's always depict, sex and violence, all of which adds up to nothing. The fact it all began because Knox and Sollecito are what every young couple are, immature and prone to inappropriate kissing and cuddling, beggars belief. I only hope that, as one of the above writers speculates, that they are freed on appeal and not left to languish as the Guildford 4 were.
speed garage, i love you more than i can say


some pals and i went out last night for a truly unhealthy night of alcohol and harsh football-related abuse in Wigan. hung-over this morning and at the wishes of the group, we ate in a McDonalds. i have now ate McDonalds in Germany, Spain, Italy and England with these lads.

travel broadens the mind, classy like, oh aye.