Monday, 30 November 2009

good Peter Bergen piece in Foreign Policy mag here (the link doesn't always work), 'The Terrorists Among Us', plenty of interesting material, some excerpted below

'(Zazi had traveled to Pakistan in late August 2008, where by his own admission he was given training on explosives from al Qaeda members in the Pakistani tribal regions along the Afghan border.) ... Similarly, Bryant Neal Vinas, a 20-something Hispanic-American convert to Islam from Queens, New York, traveled to Pakistan's tribal areas in the summer of 2008, where he attended al Qaeda training courses on explosives and handling weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, lessons that he put to good use when he participated in a rocket attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan in September, 2008. Vinas was captured in Pakistan the same month and was turned over to the FBI. He told his interrogators that he had provided al Qaeda members details about the Long Island Rail Road commuter train system, which the terror group had some kind of at least notional plan to attack.
Surprisingly, even almost a decade after 9/11, a number of Americans bent on jihad managed to travel to al Qaeda's headquarters in the tribal regions of Pakistan. In addition to Zazi and Vinas, David Headley, an American of Pakistani descent living in Chicago -- who had legally changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, to avoid suspicion when he traveled abroad -- also allegedly had significant dealings with terrorists based in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Sometime in 2008, Headley hatched a plan to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which three years earlier had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that were deemed offensive by many Muslims. In a message to a Pakistan-based Yahoo group on Oct. 29, 2008, Headley wrote, "Call me old fashioned but I feel disposed toward violence for the offending parties." ...Following his trip to Denmark, Headley met with Ilyas Kashmiri in the Pakistani tribal regions to brief him on his findings. Kashmiri is one of the most prominent militant leaders in Pakistan and runs a terrorist organization, Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, closely tied to al Qaeda. Headley returned to Chicago in mid-June 2009 and was arrested there three months later as he was preparing to leave for Pakistan again. He told investigators that he was planning to kill Jyllands-Posten's cultural editor, Flemming Rose, who had first commissioned the cartoons, as well as the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who had drawn the one he found most offensive: The Prophet Mohammed with a bomb concealed in his turban.

Headley said that he had also cased a synagogue near the Jyllands-Posten newspaper headquarters at the direction of a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, the group that carried out the Mumbai attacks...Indian authorities are presently examining if Headley also had any role in Lashkar-e-Taiba's 2008 massacre in Mumbai. Reportedly, Indian investigators have found that Headley visited a number of the Mumbai locations that were attacked, including the Chabad Jewish Center, which was a particular target of gunmen and would help further explain why Headley had the book about Jewish prayer rituals in his luggage at the time of his arrest...According to an as yet unpublished count by New York University's Center on Law & Security, 25 American citizens or residents have been charged with traveling to an overseas training camp or war zone since 9/11: Two who trained with the Taliban, seven who trained with al Qaeda, 10 who trained with the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, four with the Somali al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, and three who trained with some unspecified jihadist outfit in Pakistan. (The actual number of Americans who have traveled overseas for jihad since 9/11 is significantly more than 25, as not everyone who does so ends up being charged or convicted of a crime.) ... Perhaps two dozen Somali-Americans, motivated by a combination of nationalist pride and religious zeal, traveled to Somalia in 2007 and 2008 to fight the Ethiopian occupation. Most of them associated themselves with Al Shabab -- "the youth" in Arabic -- the insurgent group that would later proclaim itself to be an al Qaeda affiliate.

Al Shabab managed to plant al Qaeda-like ideas into the heads of even its American recruits. One of them, Shirwa Ahmed, grew up in Portland and Minneapolis. After graduating from high school in 2003, he worked pushing airline passengers in wheelchairs at the Minneapolis airport and delivered packages for a medical supplies company. FBI director Robert Mueller said that some time during this period Ahmed was "radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota." The exact mechanisms of that radicalization are still murky. But in late 2007, Ahmed traveled to Somalia. A year later, on Oct. 29, 2008, Ahmed drove a car loaded with explosives toward a government compound in Puntland, northern Somalia, blowing himself up and killing as many as 30. He was the first American suicide attacker anywhere. It's possible that 18-year-old Omar Mohamud of Seattle was the second. On Sept. 17, 2009, two stolen United Nations vehicles loaded with bombs blew up at Mogadishu airport, killing more than a dozen African Union peacekeepers. The FBI is investigating if Mohamud was one of the bombers...The chances of getting killed in Somalia were quite high for the couple of dozen or so Americans who volunteered to fight there; in addition to the two men who conducted suicide operations, six other Somali-Americans aged between 18 and 30 were killed in Somalia between 2007 and 2009, as well as Ruben Shumpert, an African-American convert to Islam from Seattle.'

Bergen's conclusions are significant

Indeed, it is my assessment that the al Qaeda organization today no longer poses a direct national security threat to the United States itself, but rather poses a second-order threat in which the worst case scenario would be an al Qaeda-trained or -inspired terrorist managing to pull off an attack on the scale of something in between the 1993 Trade Center attack, which killed six, and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, which killed 168. While this, of course, would be tragic, it would not constitute a mass-casualty attack sufficiently large in scale to reorient U.S. national security policy completely as the 9/11 attacks did.

and this is important

That said, a key reason the United States escaped a serious terrorist attack has little to do with either the Bush or Obama administrations. In sharp contrast to Muslim populations in European countries like Britain -- where al Qaeda has found recruits for multiple serious terrorist plots -- the American Muslim community has largely rejected the ideological virus of militant Islam. The "American Dream" has generally worked well for Muslims in the United States, who are both better-educated and wealthier than the average American. More than a third of Muslim Americans have a graduate degree or better, compared with less than 10 percent of the population as a whole.

For European Muslims there is no analogous "British Dream," "French Dream," or, needless to say, "EU Dream." None of this is to say that the limited job opportunities and segregation that are the lot of many European Muslims are the causes of terrorism in Europe -- only that such conditions may create favorable circumstances in which al Qaeda can recruit and feed into Bin Laden's master narrative that the infidel West is at war with Muslims in some shape or form all around the world. And, in the absence of those conditions, militant Islam has never gained much of a U.S. foothold -- largely sparing the United States from the scourge of homegrown terrorism. This is fundamentally a testament to American pluralism, not any action of the American government.

An important caveat: Some of the men drawn to jihad in America in recent years looked much like their largely disadvantaged and poorly integrated European Muslim counterparts. The Afghan-American al Qaeda recruit, Najibullah Zazi, a high school dropout, earned his living as an airport shuttle bus driver; the Somali-American community in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis where some of the young men who volunteered to fight in Somalia had lived, is largely ghettoized. Family incomes there average less than $15,000 a year and the unemployment rate is 17 percent. Bryant Neal Vinas, the kid from Long Island who volunteered for a suicide mission with al Qaeda, skipped college, washed out of the U.S. Army after three weeks, and later became a truck driver, a job he quit for good in 2007. The five men in the Fort Dix cell were all illegal immigrants who supported themselves with construction or delivery jobs

(point one from Bob here should be read in conjunction w Bergen's above sentence that starts 'An important caveat:')

it's an obvious point to make but wrt usage of the term "Muslim" one must flash on this Lancaster Unity post, which makes the clear-eyed point that

The two Sikhs' hostility to Islam is strong enough for them to overlook the contempt in which the BNP ultimately holds all racial minorities. Communities in Britain with links to the Indian subcontinent have, over time, seceded from their rich shared heritage and the assertive "Asian" banner under which they fought successfully for their rights in the 1960s and 1970s. Dispersed into the sectarian religious identities of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim, they have all but forgotten how to mobilise together against the threat of an opportunistic ethnic majoritarianism that does not, ultimately, make fine distinctions among those it perceives as outsiders.

Generalising labels like "Asian" may have their drawbacks but, as Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations notes of Sunrise Radio's bizarre decision to drop "Asian" from its banner under sustained pressure from extremist groups like the World Hindu Council, the hope underlying such disaffiliation is that "racist whites could be persuaded to exclude Hindus and Sikhs from their hatred, and focus instead solely on Muslims". A 2006 Runnymede Trust survey claims that as many as 80% of Hindus and Sikhs in Britain wished to be seen as specifically distinct from Muslims. "Don't Freak, I'm a Sikh", urged T-shirts printed after the 7 July bombings.

most importantly of all, and going back to FP magazine, Stephen Walt rightly criticises what sounds like a very bad Thomas Friedman column here, warming to his theme that 'It is also striking to observe that virtually all of the Muslim deaths were the direct or indirect consequence of official U.S. government policy. By contrast, most of the Americans killed by Muslims were the victims of non-state terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan'.
great, rolling stuff from the sainted Unity at Liberal Conspiracy; thus far-

the truth about immigration: key concepts,

the truth about immigration: the migrants you don't hear about in the tabloids,

the truth about immigration: asylum, parts one and two

Isn't that the most ridiculous piece of crap you've ever heard?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

"In an interview in the January/February 2006 edition of Blender magazine, American comedian Margaret Cho calls Stefani's Harajuku Girls a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women.[8]
Writer Mihi Ahn said of Stefani's Harajuku Girls: "Stefani has taken the idea of Japanese street fashion and turned these women into modern-day geisha"" is, you must admit, guilty as charged, really, i suppose

(though also admittedly "Nakasone-Razalan has responded that Stefani was inspired by the Japanese fashion culture and felt honored to have been in the group.")

and then there is this

Tea makes a very good point about the Swiss new minaret ban here
good music lists from The Wire mag

The 100 Most Important Records Ever Made
Issue #100 (Jun 92)

100 Records That Set the World On Fire extra
Issue #175 (Sep 98)

'In The Wire 175, we polled our writers to nominate records that should have ignited the world's imagination - but somehow got forgotten along the way. What follows is not that list, but 30 runners-up that we had to leave out of the original article.'


100 Records That Set the World On Fire

(mirrored link)

and a lovely little A.V. Club feature, 'The best electronic music of the ’00s'

(though i would say the Burial debut album is already, pretty much, a modern classic)
this is a tip-top Wiki: 'List of place names in New England of aboriginal origin'

my kinda town

image copyright Mike Levin
out to the Dissensus thread that is posting tunes with a city name in the title, some good stuff representing Asia and the Americas thus far, out to tyranny posting Belfast by Orbital, you remember that incredibly, incredibly affecting usage of it in the film 'Human Traffic' showing the Cardiff cityscape on a morning rising?
Christian Bleuer rightly takes aim at press stupidity wrt (wholly false) allegations of American special ops dealings inside Uzbekistan.

"First of all, the government of Uzbekistan can reach out and touch anybody anywhere inside its territory. It needs no help in doing so. The security services are very strong. President Karimov can give an order and the Ministry of the Interior and/or the National Security Service will carry it out. There is no Waziristan in Uzbekistan. There are no uncontrolled territories. The central government is everywhere, and it is formidable. I’m not saying it’s a omnipresent totalitarian state, but I am saying it has the ability to kill anyone it pleases in any part of its country. Plus, the MO for them is to detain and gently interrogate, as per Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Int’l’s analysis."

i had a good black humour chuckle at the deliberate irony in the final sentence..
i'm very grateful to this anonymous American public affairs officer, in Afghanistan, taking Karl Eikenberry to task.

(my emphasis follows) there's a very good point wrt "Ambassador Eikenberry is correct to argue that more troops supporting Karzai will decrease the pressure on the Afghan president to clean up his government's act. Without meaningful reform, coalition counterinsurgency efforts will continue to swim upstream against the current of government illegitimacy. The ambassador's apparent position makes perfect sense if stabilizing Afghanistan was like haggling for carpets: I'll trade you so much additional security for so much less corruption.

Unfortunately, in Afghanistan at the moment security and corruption are not equivalent quantities. A basic level of security right now is the foundation on which any enduring gains in good governance must be built."

and also, earlier in the same piece

"a double standard already at work in press coverage (don't expect Eikenberry to suffer the same outrage that greeted General McChrystal regarding the propriety of influencing policy deliberations)."

his final two sentences contain more sense and insight than an entire year's worth of Independent newspaper archives

"Between the egg of security and the chicken of government legitimacy, the egg comes first, and it's discouraging that even a few close observers of Afghanistan appear to think otherwise. If Abraham Maslow was alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave."
if your name is on the list, there is nothing to be done.
The president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland's Muslim community would live in fear.
"This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.
the mosque in Regents Park, central London. although Britain has quite a few mosques, this is the 'national' one, so to speak.

i go past it quite a lot when i catch a bus from Manchester to London.

it is always a sight to cheer the soul.
hang your fucking head in shame, Switzerland.

hang your fucking head in shame.

this man drugged and anally raped a child
all the women in the camp - your men may do what they will

the infants do not concern me

find the old man
who at The Times said that Dave Eggers is better than Orhan Pamuk, Jonathan Littell, or W.G. Sebald?

at least they put Irène Némirovsky above him.

Natasha Wimmer's English translation of Bolaño is missed out too.

what a load of cobblers.
i ain't passed the Bar

but i know a little bit

well we'll see how smart you are when the canine comes
the sheer brilliance of sampling Billy Squier

LOVE the Chuck D at the start
Luomo, My Bloody Valentine, grime, Destiny's Child

i don't think they can handle this

i love that rapt little girl around three minutes down the front with the purple baseball cap
sampling the theme tune of a much loved British medical soap opera remains a stroke of genius, and this remains one of the greatest of contemporary songs of any genre anywhere

go shawtie it's your birthday

go shawtie it's your birthday

go shawtie it's your birthday
this is fucking brilliant, this lass has put this up for some lad and as she tells someone in the comments, you can tell she is looking up the lyrics at the time.


good voice.

Friday, 27 November 2009

(tongue in cheek) wailing and gnashing of teeth

will nobody aid me?

oh woe is me

sob sob

In a rare public statement on Wednesday, the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Omar, rejected Kabul's calls for negotiations and called on Afghans to break off ties with their "stooge" government.
sins of omission from Inayat Bunglawala

Fred Williams

Red Landscape
smiling almost telephone cut broad, mutt style
cheers guys
clay and gourd.
silk, as well.


in fact.

"Ding Yi is a Chinese artist in his mid-forties who lives and works in Shanghai. Last week the first exhibition of his work in this country opened at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. A small-scale retrospective, spanning the seventeen years of his career so far, it reveals him as a highly gifted and intriguingly unpredictable painter. His work is resolutely non-figurative. It is formed from a vocabulary of simple forms and gestures – principally two shapes, one resembling the mathematical plus sign, the other the cross in a game of noughts and crosses – which are densely multiplied across the surface of the canvas so that, at first glance, it seems to resemble a swatch of patterned textile.

But the artist finds all kinds of possibilities, different moods and atmospheres, within the limitations of this pictorial language. Many of his earlier works are sober, low-toned paintings that verge on monk-like asceticism. By contrast, his most recent pictures are large and self-consciously garish creations. Asymmetrical polyptychs painted in flickering reds and oranges, vibrant greens and yellows, they bring to mind the neon dazzle and shape-shifting structures of a modern metropolis.

Ding Yi was born in 1962 and educated first at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute, then at Shanghai University’s Fine Arts Department. His teachers encouraged him to pursue a career in Chinese traditional painting, but he decided otherwise. By 1988 he had created the first of his so-called “cross paintings”, all of which are simply entitled Appearance of Crosses (they are distinguished individually by date and serial number). He was inspired by the example [of] a Chinese artist called Zhao Wuji, who travelled to Paris in the 1940s and developed a style shaped, in equal measure, by European painterly abstraction and the traditions of Sung Dynasty ink-and-brush landscape painting. Ding Yi’s work is also a hybrid of the oriental and the occidental. The artist has acknowledged his debt to the fields of colour and geometrical grids painted by the great Dutch artist Piet Mondrian in the years leading up to World War Two. But his paintings also evoke Chinese pictorial and spiritual traditions.

This is particularly evident in the case of Appearance of Crosses 1997 – B21/B24, which consists of four long strips of corrugated paper decorated by the artist with his trademark mesh of crosses. Unframed, they form a quadryptych of abstractions which pays oblique homage to the example of Mondrian while simultaneously recalling the time-honoured forms of Chinese scroll painting. A tight-knit surface of marks, created on this occasion from numerous strokes of charcoal and chalk, produces effects of optical dazzle and blur that call to mind the movements of light and air. Ding Yi has written of the influence of Buddhism on his art. An exquisite skein of earth colours, shaped from the humblest of artist’s materials, the work seems to embody a spirit of monk-like detachment from the hurly-burly of the world.

Many of the paintings from the first ten years of Ding Yi’s career are suffused with spiritual implication and shot through with allusions to unspoiled nature. Gridded fields of blue, laboriously worked, pulse and shimmer like summer skies at twilight. Accents of white or yellow scattered across the same pictorial structure turn it instead into a night sky, sprinkled with stars. But there [are] also hints and suggestions of the man-made world. The hectic criss-crossing of hard-edged lines encountered in Appearance of Crosses 1991-3 might have been inspired by scaffolding on the outside of a building, or by an entire grid-plan city seen from the air. There are also a number of pictures painted not on to blank canvas, but on to tartan fabric, as if to suggest the visual layerings and manic cultural cross-pollination from which modern cities are formed. Such references gather and accumulate in the painter’s more recent work, eventually seeming almost to squeeze the air out of it. The pastoral is inexorably usurped by the urban.

This transition is mirrored not only by the style but also by the physical structure of the paintings. Ding Yi’s latest pictures are large and unwieldy objects. One resembles a multi-panelled screen pulsing with streams of digital information, while another is formed from abutting panels of stretched canvas that sprawl sideways across the wall – a device that mirrors the greedy proliferation of a growing city, as it sprouts new additions to its fabric, whether in the form of shanty town or suburb. The pictures are painted in bold colours of the kind found in cities rather than in nature. Their yellow is that of sodium light, rather than sunshine; their electric green that of neon, rather than grass. They are boldly vulgar but not joyfully so. There is something dyspeptic and dystopian about them. They exude the strong sense that disenchantment lurks just beneath their bright surfaces.

In a recently published interview with the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artist remarked that “the development in my painting might look like something simply happening on the surface, but instead it reflects the profound changes that are taking place in Chinese society”. By effecting changes in the texture of his own, abstract language of painting, he attempts to capture or evoke the convulsions of [the] world’s fastest-growing economy. Ding Yi’s work is subtle and ambitious, an up-to-the-minute Chinese version of what Charles Baudelaire had in mind, back in the mid-nineteenth century, when he called for a “painting of modern life”."

- Andrew Graham-Dixon, 'Ding Yi and Mike Marshall at The Ikon Gallery', 4th December 2005

attr. Gu Kaizhi

The Emperor Rebuffs ‘The Beautiful Wife Who Knew Herself to Be Beautiful’

Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies
"The Eight Sounds (八音)

The eight categories are: silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd and hide. There are other instruments which may not fit these classifications."

sinogrime, bamboo sounds over water dropping on stone

Monday, 23 November 2009

Course not. And of course your partner over here has to go over to the courthouse and lay our business out in front of a judge.

That shit cost money. It cost time and money.

Friday, 20 November 2009

We are, quite simply, going to have to find ways to do more with less

Yo, we in the projects, the customer be fucked up

Ain't no rules for dope fiends

I ain't no wh***.

Where the fuck are the guns?

Shit, I just felt like I was a interruption to they lunch break.

All of us. In Baltimore. Working. Sharing a dark corner of the American experiment.

You think 5-O care about n***as getting high, in the projects?

Man, 5-O be down here about the bodies, yo, that's what they be down here about, the bodies.

Fuck them west coast n***as cuz in B'more we aim an hit a n***a you heard

You can go a long way in this country killing black folk.

Young males especially.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Yo, you kill a downtown n***a like that, the whole world gon' stand up and take notice. You need a Day of the Jackal type motherfucker basically to do some shit like that, not a rumble-tumble n***a like Slim.
"There are multiple problems. Sometimes you wonder where you can start from."
Nobody who has not been occupied by two opposing forces should get on their high horse and start spouting about supporting one side or the other. We wanted a free Latvia. We hoped that the Allies would prevent us from being occupied by the Soviets but we were betrayed, including by the British. That’s a fact.

- Vaira Vike-Freiberga
"A significant shift is required if international statebuilding and peacebuilding projects around the world are to contribute to peace and lead to reconciliation while also engaging with international standards for democracy and human rights."
"Aid commitments should be met not despite but because of the current financial crisis, and aid allocations prioritised for the poorest, and most vulnerable countries - are among the recommendations in this reply to Phil Vernon."
"In Bhutan, a Himalayan country famed for its focus on Gross National Happiness, the Nepalese minority has been forced out. Anna Husarska traveled to their refugee camps to document their plight"
Cut off hands - that's idiotic. I'd cut off all the rest of them, but not hands. That's the one thing I need in the Congo.

3889 E Cesar Chavez


fucking seen
reading this?

go and read Daily Taco instead
my very good chum DT showed me this awesome YT of his beloved Cymru manning* it up against a typically resplendent Kiwi display at Stadiwm y Mileniwm a year ago


* ach, language and power and gender imbalances

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

'WASHINGTON (November 6, 2009) – Campaigning in Equatorial Guinea began yesterday for the November 29th presidential elections. The country has undertaken an ambitious effort to ensure an open election process. Last week, chief opposition leader and candidate Plácido Micó Abogo, Secretary General of the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), was interviewed on the Spanish International Channel. The interview was shown during the evening news in Equatorial Guinea. Micó Abogo will oppose the current President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
“The Government of Equatorial Guinea is committed to holding fair and democratic elections. As part of our reform efforts we aim to ensure all voices are heard. We view open access of the media to political candidates as crucial in this process. We are committed to ensuring all of our candidates are able to exercise their right to speak to the press,” said Ambassador to the United States, Purificación Angue Ondo.

Similar to the legislative elections held last year, all parties running in this year’s presidential election will receive public funds from the Government to use for their campaigns. President Obiang, a member of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) won the last election in December 2002.


This has been distributed by Qorvis Communications, LLC and Cassidy & Associates on behalf of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. More information is available at the United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.'
Eleanor Smeal President of The Feminist Majority Foundation and Publisher of Ms. magazine
Posted: July 15, 2009 08:04 PM


FAQ: Comments and Moderation FAQ: HuffPost Accounts

Who raises these Afghan boys to grow into men who can be so horrendous to their own women ? It is their own culture which is poisonous, it is their own religion which is corrupt. If Afghan women are victims, it is because they allow themselves to be victims, by not laying down the law and forcing change in their own status. The Taliban did not fall from the sky. This is a culture at war with itself, men against women. Women raise the children - what ideals do they teach to their sons ? When does the perversity start ? Justice, fairness, equality - these must be taught to children when they are young. You can't send boys to school and keep girls in closets and suddenly wonder if foreign troops can change anything. These people are killers because they choose to be killers, they can live in their own filth for all I care.

demigod Posted 11:00 AM on 07/16/2009


Like here in the US if Afghani women want rights they will have to stand up and demand them themselves.

GardenerNorCal Posted 12:59 PM on 07/16/2009


"The Huffington Post
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Huffington Post (often referred to as HuffPost) is an American liberal news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti, featuring various news sources and columnists.[2] The site offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy, and is a top destination for news, blogs and original content."
'Are Fewer Babies the Key to Saving Afghanistan?'

"If the Census Bureau's prognostications are right -- if Afghanistan experiences a sharp decline in family size and slower subsequent growth -- this change would represent a milestone in Afghanistan's development. But if Afghan population growth remains at a high level, auguring a continued surfeit of young job seekers, their disaffection and armed violence, the breakdown of schooling and health services, and the perpetuation of high fertility, it bodes very poorly indeed...Since then, the population has nearly quadrupled, despite horrendous rates of childhood death and three decades of warfare.

This trend, should its pace continue, guarantees a lengthy perpetuation of Afghanistan's extraordinary "youth bulge." Today over half of the country's adults are 15-to-29 year olds, compared with only 26 percent in the United States. So much competition in an opportunity-sparse society is bad news for young men seeking employment or land ownership -- and good news for extremist recruiters.

This pace of growth strains government services as well. This year alone, Afghanistan's school-age population grew by more than 3 percent, or 250,000 children. Even if the Taliban stopped destroying schools and obstructing attendance, the government would face a momentous challenge in furnishing enough classrooms and teachers for this burgeoning generation...It's that Western governments have failed to recognize the degree to which such deprivation in half the population is incompatible with the notion of a viable, politically stable state. Fewer than half of all the school-age daughters of rural Afghan families are receiving basic education. Many are married during adolescence, and are then limited to performing household chores. If abused, most have no recourse to a fair judicial system. It is little wonder then that, according to the Census Bureau, on average, Afghan women can expect to bear 5.6 children in their lifetime -- a rate that appears to have dropped from pre-invasion levels, which ranged between 7 and 8 children per woman. Evidence for this decline is supported by a 2006 health survey conducted by Afghan survey teams (organized by the ministry of health and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and supported by the World Bank). It shows that contraceptive use among married women has increased from 5 percent in 2003 to 16 percent at the time of the survey -- at least in the rural areas surveyed...If Afghanistan's ministry of health can continue the difficult job of extending the reach and quality of its maternal and child health services, as it has in the years since the Taliban were first evicted, fertility will probably continue on its downward path. As it does, the numbers of maternal and infant deaths are bound to drop from today's extreme levels. In 2005, the World Health Organization estimated that one in eight Afghan women die from pregnancy-related causes (in the United States, the lifetime risk is one in 4,800 -- and that's high for an OECD country). To put this figure in perspective, in 2008, about four times as many women died from pregnancy and childbirth in Afghanistan than anyone did from battle-related causes within its borders...But where the Taliban governs, the chances of even a slow, steady fertility decline, the type assumed by the Census Bureau projections -- and even the U.N.'s less optimistic projections -- are negligible.

Nowhere does the connection between women's low status and long-term instability make itself more apparent than in Afghanistan. This relationship helps explain why the Taliban uncompromisingly maintain traditions of female subjugation and roll back any hint of social reform, and why they intimidate families who send their daughters to school and murder teachers who nurture them."

i want to re-up a quote i picked out a month or two ago in the Dissensus rolling Afghanistan thread now (Intervention is always questionable but not always wrong...My central objection to intervention has always been that it won’t work—and what we cannot do, we should obligate ourselves to try to do.
- Alex de Waal
), purely because of a recent Peter Ryley post.

tb obviously clear, the fact i shoved the above quote into a rolling Afghanistan thread and are now blogging a link to a discussion of the Cambodian genocide does not mean i am drawing comparisons (well, i wouldn't dream of anything other than a general comparison, of course) between the Cambodian genocide and conflict-ridden Afghanistan, more that a general discussion of interventions had started on the thread, and this seems fair comment
SE4 multiplied by three

a few weeks back, Bob had a round-up here on a very important issue.
all his links in the piece below are worth reading

"Last week, the Guardian published a news article and longer report on sex trafficking in the UK. Both wer by heavyweight journalist Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News. In the two pieces, Davies exposes the sloppy way newspapers and politicians have used academic research for political ends, and dishonestly spun the results of a criminal investigation. Davies is of course right to expose this. But he is not right to leap from this to deny that sex trafficking is an issue."

another Bob post worth checking is this one, quoted in full below

'LRB subscribers, please read this excellent piece by Joshua Kurlantzick on the trials in Cambodia of the some of the former Khmer Rouge genocidaires. The piece is marred slightly by this minor Chomskyism:

        "it's unlikely the tribunal will provide much of an answer, so narrow is its scope... 
the trial focuses only on the years 1975-79 themselves; the American bombings of Cambodia,
beginning in 1969, which devastated the countryside and created the instability that helped the
Khmer Rouge seize power, is not mentioned."

Now, it is true the bombings helped create the conditions for genocide. And it is also true that the bombings were evil, and that there is a case to be made that they were war crimes, for which the US ought to be prosecuted, and indeed that the US involvement in Vietnam of which these bombings form a part was marked by a series of other air-borne atrocities of which the US ought to be deeply ashamed. However, America in carrying out those bombings is not responsible for the genocide which Pol Pot and his regime carried out, namely the slaughter by hand (mainly by bashing in the skulls of the victims, as Kurlantzick notes), of over a fifth of Cambodia's population.

To widen the tribunal to include the American bombings would deflect moral and political attention away from the actual crime at hand. To insist on contextualising genocide in this way, on explaining it away, is ethically and intellectually reprehensible, akin to the conservative revisionists of German history attempt to explain away the Holocaust by reference to the shameful terms of Versailles.

(On the other hand, America, with its ally China, did aid and abet these crimes by supporting the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1975-1979 period. This disgraceful fact is compounded by its spiteful refusal to recognise the People's Republic of Kampuchea, and insistence instead on recognising the Khmer Rouge and its allies as the legitimate government.)'

and finally, it seems like he had a productive time (not always the case if you are familiar with some of his comments there in the past) at LENIN'S TOMB discussing Islam4UK and the EDL

(check the 11:55 and 12:09 comments in particular)


via Oliver (check a Soho piece) - an MEF dissident watch post on Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Afghanistan: IoS readers have their say

The British troops are on a hiding to nothing. Of course we should withdraw our men and leave Afghanistan to sort itself out.

Jan Moor

East Molesey, Surrey

alas, my fave comment from the print edition postbag is not online; suffice to say it was a balder version of the above
"Airbrushing the Tory past"

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Friday, 6 November 2009

and now for something completely different..

his original and still his best

incredibly important observation from Graeme here about some utter fucking cunt in Ottawa

Monday, 2 November 2009

there was just an absolutely astonishing powerhouse of a performance on MTV just now of Gwen doing What you waiting for (Stefani and i are on first-name terms, of course).

i <3 Gwen

in other television news, there is a kid tv show called Littlebiz or something, and for some reason i find it very touching (and perfectly self-contained, crystal like)

the Lagonda IPA from Mancunian brewery Marble is a fine, fine beer, a proper IPA in the old-fashioned sense, one has to say, Roger Protz would approve