Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"The BBC's Umaru Fofana at the court in Freetown said that as the verdicts were delivered, Sesay looked very serious and Kallon, clad in a smart light green suit, could have been mistaken for one of the lawyers, while Gbao buried his face in his hands and looked very dejected."


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

the superb CAFÉ TURCO recently celebrated its first birthday, and yesterday there were these lovely pictures of cuties

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Jim D has embedded an extraordinary 6 minute plus Youtube recorded on a phone at 5:30 am yesterday, Shift C, "yellow", from the BMW Mini Plant at Cowley.

his post has the apposite title of Agency workers treated like shit by BMW Oxford.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunday, 15 February 2009

ModernityBlog has rounded up a couple of invaluable Guardian/Observer reports from northeastern Sri Lanka here.

the details are horrific.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

i have been linking to normblog a lot of late but here's another one. whenever he mentions his mate Ian Holliday writing something, i always pay attention as Holliday talks sense.

it's going on about the Rohingya boat people, and the entire post is worth reading in full, not least because the final line from Geras himself is masterly in terms of controlled anger making a point far more impressively than any amount of swearing rants from pie-eyed pub tub-thumpers such as myself.

Friday, 13 February 2009

the latest from Hitchens (click here to visit) at Slate is about Zimbabwe - he is nothing if not a reactive writer in the best sense - and there's some reaching going on, but what i wanted to do is quote the final paragraph in full, as he makes a connection that i think one rarely sees from big name writers and journalists in the every day press.

I once spent some time with Sebastiao Salgado, the UNICEF special envoy for the eradication of polio. By 2001, when we visited Calcutta and other parts of Bengal, this horrible and preventable illness was well on its way to joining smallpox as a thing of the past. But if only a few pockets resist inoculation, the malady, which is almost insanely infectious, comes roaring back across wide swaths of neighboring territory. And in certain militant Muslim areas, where it is believed that the inoculation is a plot to make people sterile, the doctors and nurses of the campaign have been shot as imperialist intruders. As a result, polio is spreading again. Once more, it seems to me that this could qualify the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan as having, to that extent, become an international responsibility rather than just the concern of Pakistan alone. The fact that the Taliban and al-Qaida spread from the same source may not be entirely coincidental, which is why I offer the thought that human rights and epidemiology may be natural partners [my emphasis] —and that Zimbabwe could make an excellent laboratory in which to test the proposition that the two kinds of health are related.

Hitchens is obviously correct and should be thanked for pointing out the fundamental link between epidemiology and the study of rights.

The analysis of famine as a social experience rather than a technical malfunction is the foundation of the case for politicizing famine.
- Alex de Waal, in the 2004 preface to that revised Famine that kills of his.

also in the preface, he references Nutrition matters: People, food and famine (Helen Young and Susanne Jaspars, 1995).

again, this is another paragraph worth quoting in full.

Famine that kills became perhaps best known for its strong claims about the epidemiology of excess mortality in famine. The finding that infectious diseases were the principal cause of famine mortality was nothing new, and in retrospect it is astonishing that such an elementary fact of disaster epidemiology should have caused such a stir. There is no doubt that the position that I argued is too strong. The striking and unexpected finding that socio-economic indicators had almost no correlation with mortality levels led me to search for an alternative explanation, which I duly found in the health crisis model. This residual hypothesis was then forwarded, perhaps not cautiously enough. There are so many intermediate variables between income and food access and the nutritional status of children that the inference that nutritional factors played almost no role cannot be sustained by the data. As Helen Young and Susanne Jaspars subsequently pointed out, nutrition matters (1995). For good measure, they derived their data from Darfur. I stand corrected. But my chief point, that food consumption failures cannot account for famine mortality in the absence of analysis of disease, is correct. And the practical recommendation that measles immunization, malaria control and clean water supplies are at least as important as emergency food relief, still stands.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

the Tigers have now denied responsibility for the attack attributed to them on Monday, through TamilNet.
so after the alleged suicide bomb blast on Monday near Vishwamadu that was initially reported to have killed 28 people (though DefenceWire quoted an updated toll of 32 people by Monday night), Reuters is today reporting that
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers on Wednesday denied gunning down civilians streaming out of the country's war zone, and the Red Cross said 16 patients had been killed in shelling.

(also, that Reuters article says 29 people were killed in the Monday attack.)

note, then, that the LTTE - through TamilNet - deny the death by shooting of 19 civilians.
the TamilNet response to Monday's alleged bomb blast was however, perhaps, not entirely believable.

as - it looks likely - the LTTE is staring a conventional military defeat in the face (the BBC is including that map in all its reports: there's a Red Cross spokesperson clip embedded there - nice to hear a union mentioned!), the grim assessment being made all over is that insurgency tactics (in the contemporary sense of that ugly word) are sure to increase.

from the view of the Tigers, who must have suffered many casualties in recent months, their storied martyrdom culture must be looking most attractive for a brush-off from the perspective of the leadership.

added to this a rigid, abusive govt. currently rejecting ceasefire calls ('must get the job done'), the immediate outlook seems as bad as it's been for a long time, in terms of the impact of this fighting on the people, the cruelty of the miserable, massive displacements, the shutting down of freedoms and active persecution from the govt. and the prospects for an upturn in those wicked martyr operations.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Thursday, 5 February 2009

i was watching Masterchef earlier (one of my favourite telly) and there was a Metropolitan Police London Transport cop in one of the heats and he was a nervous guy when cooking, and he admitted he was getting a bit stressed.
the look on his face when he didn't make the cut, it really was heart-breaking, i felt so sorry for him.

(i mean, you always feel sorry for the people that don't make the cut i am sure, but this chap just looked so pained, i felt so sorry for him.)

some great food in tonight's show, as ever.
Q: Why is there so much ignorance and hatred in the world?

A: Because of the Jews.

nicked from swears from the Dissensus jokes thread
this all reminds me of an excellent post from Norm Geras a few years ago which he entitled Shoah business, taking aim at the stupid, monumentally wrong and pernicious idea that some fools like to peddle about the oppressive weight of that tedious 'Holocaust industry'.

you should really read it all by clicking here, but the concluding paragraph is entirely correct.

Yes, a people who lost a third of their number, and two-thirds of their number within Europe, have a certain understandable (remember that word?) preoccupation with the experience, and many minds, not all of them Jewish, have found in the experience matter meriting close study as well as other types of reflection. Much has been produced, much learned, a certain amount obfuscated; good work has stood alongside bad and indifferent work. That's all. 'Holocaust industry' is base mockery of a vast human tragedy and the response to it. It's worthy of Norman Finkelstein, and unworthy of Michael Burleigh.
the following really grabbed me from the start of that piece.

Among these is a Lefebvrist "bishop" named Richard Williamson, who doubts his own version of the facts of the Nazi Holocaust and who furthermore suspects the Bush administration of having orchestrated the events of September 11, 2001, in order to afford itself a pretext for war.

Richard Williamson, twice over.

politically speaking, i wish you extreme ill.
As with Cardinal Bernard Law, the enabler of child-molestation, who is now sheltered by Rome and who was able to vote in the election of Ratzinger as pope, so with those who slander the Jews with innuendo and worse, and who spread the vile libels that blame the democratic United States for the theocratic terrorist attacks upon it. One might think a responsible church would be indignantly arraigning and expelling such people rather than piously seeking reconciliation with them. Apparently, one would be wrong.


in short, the Pope doesn't seem to have too much of an issue with homophobes and anti-semites.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Erwin James on a John Martyn prison gig.

(via the fabulous Shuggy.)
Dissent re. John Updike, here.

good words about the changing role of the public writer, criticism, and a nice finish about Rabbit, Everyman.

Of the Farm: like the sound of this "peerless novella"

the stuff about comfortable married sex reminded me of Ian McEwan who does a very fine job of evoking this, briefly, in Saturday.