Thursday, 29 October 2009

but, hey, what do i know?

he is working it, that is enough, and he has already done far, far more than i will ever do. (without wishing to state the obvious in what cynics could misconstrue as a deliberately self-flagellating manner.)

i know this is Frank O'Hara

V.R. Lang

You are so serious, as if
a glacier spoke in your ear
or you had to walk through
the great gate of Kiev
to get to the living room.

I worry about this because I
love you. As if it weren't grotesque
enough that we live in hydrogen
and breathe like atomizers, you
have to think I'm a great architect!

and you float regally by on your
incessant escalator, calm, a jungle queen.
Thinking it a steam shovel. Looking
a little uneasy. But you are yourself
again, yanking silver beads off your neck.

Remember, the Russian Easter Overture
is full of bunnies. Be always high,
full of regard and honor and lanolin. Oh
ride horseback in pink linen, be happy!
and ride with your beads on, because it rains.


You don't know

A thing about me

I don't know

A thing about you


"Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University."

the guy is like plating air.
"On the morning of 14 July, a convoy of around thirty buses transporting Bosnian Muslims left Bratunac for Zvornik. The men were driven to various detention centres in the Zvornik municipality, including the schools in Grbavci, Petkovci and Pilica. Sometime between 14 and 16 July, they were blindfolded before being put on board buses and taken to nearby fields. Here, terrorised and defenceless, they were executed group after group. The surrounding areas of Orahovac, the Petkovci dam and the military farmhouse of Branjevo became indeed true killing fields, strewn with dead bodies.

Approximately 500 male Bosnian Muslims were also executed on 16 July in the Pilica cultural centre where they were being detained. Trucks for loading the bodies and digging equipment were already on site at the time of the executions, or arrived soon afterwards, to bury the dead in mass graves. The Engineering Corps from Zvornik on a repeated basis provided the equipment and drivers to participate in the burial operations."

Why are you so interested? You're not one of those fucking journalists are you?
the following letter to the editor appears in the November 2, 2009 issue of the European edition of Newsweek magazine (my emphasis)

'A Tory victory is likely at the next British general election not owing to the party's ideological appeal, but because New Labour, with Gordon Brown at its helm, is totally discredited. David Cameron faces challenges in succeeding Brown similar to those Barack Obama faced post-George W. Bush: a domestic malaise, an unprecedented economic downturn, an engagement in two increasingly unpopular wars, and a diminishing role for his country on the world scene.
Like Obama, Cameron is not an ideologue but a pragmatist who wants to get things done. Britain might be in for a "gloomy dawn", but that is probably the very reason why Cameron will likely be elected.'

[someone in France]

that is utter horseshit

as Shuggy rightly pointed out recently *

The piece goes on to question whether there's anyone else in the economically developed world that believes the credit crunch was caused by government that was too big, too involved? It's rhetorical, obviously - one would hope not because it is so patently absurd. I'm a little surprised that more hasn't been made of this. I'm also a bit worried. There's been a few to choose from but with this remark alone, Cameron vacated the centre ground and reality simultaneously.

fortunately someone in Germany sends a letter in on same.

their letter is;

(a) Short
(b) Accurate

David Cameron's 'progressive conservatism' sounds strikingly similar to George W. Bush's 'compassionate conservatism'

* do these people not pay attention to somedisco links?!
They have to know that there are 20,000 armed Serbs around Sarajevo . . . it will be a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die
They will disappear. That people will disappear from the face of the Earth.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

oh is that for me?

it sure is!

that's very kind of you, thank you very much indeed!

don't mention it
"The conflict between the Indian state and the Maoists is entering a crucial phase with the Central government planning a major offensive."
"9 August 2009 – Insecurity is having a serious impact on preparations for Afghanistan's upcoming elections, especially for women, according to the United Nations and the country's human rights body, which added that despite attacks and threats, Afghans are eager to take part in the polls.
A report co-authored by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found that insecurity has severely limited freedom of movement and constrained freedom of expression for candidates and supporters, hampering their ability to campaign openly through public gatherings or door-to-door visits.

“These restrictions have, in turn, created significant limitations on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and amplified women's difficulties in participating in the electoral process,” stated the report, which covers the period from 16 June to 1 August.

According to the AIHRC, three women candidates in the southern province of Kandahar cannot live there because of the insecurity, while other female candidates are unable to even put up posters due to opposition by their families or other people in their neighbourhoods.

In another case, a woman in Takhar province had her office closed down and her house set on fire for campaigning.

There have been four alleged election-related killings in the month of July, according to the report, which also noted that the political rights of candidates and their supporters have generally been respected despite isolated instances of documented violations."
Do you believe in capital punishment?

Why yes I do

Do you think we should bring it in to this country?

Why thank you for asking me! Thank you very much for asking me. Yes please!
"The capacity of the Afghan Government at the national, provincial and district levels remains limited and suffers from corruption. Continuing insecurity, criminality and, in places, the influence of the narcotics trade further impede efforts to improve good governance. Despite these challenges, the Government has made progress in extending and establishing its presence across the country. International donor-funded programmes are helping to develop the capacity of state institutions, including the civil service, reform at the central and sub-national levels, broad-based efforts to strengthen the country’s judicial system and counter-narcotics capabilities. At the local level, initiatives run by the Government, notably the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), to improve the links between central and local authorities are taking shape.

Maintaining public support is critical for international and government forces if security is to be increased across the country in a sustainable manner. According to The Asia Foundation’s 2008 Afghan Opinion Survey, views on the Government’s effectiveness differ by region. The survey showed respondents in the North, West, Central and parts of the East of the country citing improved security as a positive indicator of national progress. Respondents in the South-West, South-East and Kabul central regions reported a degradation of the security situation. High-profile attacks in Kabul, increased criminality, and the targeting of poorly-protected government outposts contributed to decreased confidence in the government.
Independent surveys do show, however, that Afghan citizens do not want the Taliban to return to power. According to the BBC/ARD/ABC poll only 4% of Afghans would rather have the Taliban in power today, while 82% support the current form of government.
Furthermore, a large majority of Afghans continue to support their Government’s overall efforts, and agree that a strong international military presence is necessary for the time being. This sentiment is supported by the Asia Foundation survey in which 86% of Afghans believe the ANA helps improve security. The survey also found that 69% believe the ANA is not yet ready to operate and secure the country without the support of international forces.
In December 2001 the Bonn Agreement provided the constitutional blueprint and the institutional frame-work for Afghanistan to build a state. Decades of conflict, a nearly non-existent national infrastructure, high levels of illiteracy, endemic poverty and chronic underdevelopment place Afghanistan 174th out of 178 countries on the UN Human Development Index. The Bonn Process provided for a Constitution, an elected President and Parliament and the beginnings of a functioning government. In early 2006, the Afghan Government and the International Community came together in London to develop a strategy for Afghanistan’s recovery. The result was the ANDS which aims to create and develop effective national, provincial and district government institutions capable of delivering basic services. It is a long-term and challenging task that has produced mixed results so far.
The number of registered lawyers in Afghanistan tripled from 200 in 2007 to almost 600 in 2008 with 130 being women...Continuing challenges to progress include : Chronic lack of resources
These macro-economic achievements have been coupled with constant improvement in the quality of life of ordinary Afghans. More than 7 million children, including 2 million girls, are enrolled in school. Since 2001, more than 3,500 schools have been built and 19 universities are now providing a growing number of students with higher education curricula. Today, 85% of Afghans have access to the Basic Package of Health Services.

These are all important achievements, especially when compared to the dire situation the country faced in 2002. However, strong international engagement will continue to be required to address the remaining difficulties Afghanistan must overcome. In this context, during the last International Conference on Afghanistan (Paris, June 2008), more than 80 donors pledged 21 billion USD, aligning themselves with financing and implementing the priorities set out by the Afghan Government in the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) from April 2008. The ANDS is a strategic document setting priority
areas and high level benchmarks for 2008-2013. It focuses on three main pillars: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and, economic and social development. At the Paris Conference participants agreed to prioritise the agriculture, irrigation and energy sectors, while continuing support for roads, education and health. In this context, efforts will be made to expand agricultural production and to extend rural development. Investments in larger scale power generation, transmission and distribution to stimulate Afghanistan’s economic development and generate employment will also be included."

[Nato .pdf: source]


'Afghans understand the need for international assistance, both for the country's development and for the strengthening of its military. This is especially evident now that the insurgency and the violence are less their own creation than an unwanted gift from the other side of the border with Pakistan.'


Last month, the International Republican Institute released the results of a survey of Afghan opinion that showed a mood of heightened optimism about security, the Afghan economy, and the country's prospects for the future. But it isn't until you get to the last paragraph of the IRI's findings index that you encounter this:

"When asked which organizations, groups or countries they view favorably, the ANA ranked number one at 67 percent favorable, followed by the United Nations at 58 percent and the United States at 28 percent. Iran ranked at minus 10 percent followed by the Taliban and Pakistan at minus 49 and minus 50 percent respectively"


The proposal by some Americans to reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and instead fight al-Qaeda with drone-fired missiles would only push this vast strategic region swiftly into chaos. Moreover, such thinking still does not address how to get at the leadership of al-Qaeda and the various Taliban movements—all of whom are sitting in Pakistan rather than Afghanistan. The Pakistani military has not been persuaded to turn its ship around and develop a clear policy that does not differentiate between the pro-Pakistan Taliban and the “bad” Taliban.

Ultimately the choices are stark. Either the United States and Europe abandon the region to the forces of violence, extremism, poverty and the danger of loose nukes—with all its consequences—or they remain committed and prepare to carry out both counterinsurgency and nation building. Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia are on the cusp of a critical historical moment on which the region’s future stability depends. Only U.S. leadership alongside that of the international community can assure that the region does not fall to extremists or other vicissitudes...Over the past eight years the Taliban has become a role model and inspiration for extremism in the whole region. Today there are Taliban movements in Pakistan and central Asia determined to overthrow their governments. It is entirely possible that the Taliban model could spread to Muslims in China and India. The Taliban’s religious ideology, its elevation of jihad above all other Islamic teachings, its effective guerrilla war, and its brutal methods of controlling and governing local populations are spreading. Moreover, all of these groups, including al-Qaeda, respect Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and consider him the regional leader of jihad against America.

Though the Taliban leaders are not global jihadists like al-Qaeda, they have learned that the Islamic revolution they brought about in Afghanistan from 1993 to 2001 cannot be sustained unless neighboring countries undergo the same process and support them. Perversely, it’s the Leon Trotsky doctrine—that revolution in one country is insufficient to secure the revolution.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda are working together. And their ranks are expanding. In recent years, the Afghan Taliban has spawned the Pakistan Taliban. Al-Qaeda has forged a close relationship with both groups and their allies, such as the extremist network led by Afghan Jalaluddin Haqqani and central Asian groups based in Pakistan’s tribal areas. All these extremists protect al-Qaeda by increasing the Pakistani and Afghan territory under their control, so that al-Qaeda has more room to hide from U.S. drones, while operating and planning for the future.


'"During our time as hostages, I tried to reason with our captors. I told them we were journalists who had come to hear the Taliban’s side of the story. I told them that I had recently married and that Tahir and Asad had nine young children between them. I wept, hoping it would create sympathy, and begged them to release us. All of my efforts proved pointless.

"Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

"Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world."'


"Finish the job you started," was Samar's advice.
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.

Joshua Foust discusses American troops drawing back from Nuristan province, northeastern Afghanistan.

"these people" are mostly HiG fighters; as Foust notes

The challenge with managing the violence in the area is that, while much of it is performed by outsiders like al Qaeda, most of the HiG fighters are actually locals—a dynamic very similar to southern Kapisa province, where many of the HiG militants in the area are locals either paid to attack U.S. forces or do so simply out of pride for HiG’s role in defeating the Soviet Union.

notes from Foust's boy Richard Strand, writing two summers ago

"Rumors in eastern Nuristân indicate that al-Qa'ida is attempting to make a major strategic thrust toward Afghanistan's capital by overrunning the province of Nuristân. The number of anti-government insurgents in Nuristân's eastern LanDay Sin Valley is now estimated to be as high as 2,000, but recalling the gross over-estimations that the communists made of the first Nuristâni insurgents in 1979, the real number is probably in the low hundreds. In either case, the number is up sharply from an estimated 40-60 in late 2002. Five years ago, most of the insurgents were indigenous Hezb-e Islâmi partisans; but today there is an increasing influx of al-Qa'ida-supported outsiders, including Pakistanis, Arabs, and other al-Qa'ida partisans who infiltrate freely over Afghanistan's border from Chitral District in Pakistan. The insurgents find sanctuary and support in the mosques of most villages throughout the Kâmdesh District of Nuristân Province. Because American forces are currently stationed at several operating bases in the LanDay Sin Valley, al-Qa'ida is calling on jihadists to come to Nuristân to confront the Americans there. Through sympathetic mullâhs in the local mosques, al-Qa'ida propagandists are finding new jihadist converts among gullible Nuristânis, equating the American military presence with that of the former Soviet army through the slogan, "The infidels have arrived again!" Using their proxy mullâhs, al-Qa'ida's alleged goal is to convert a belligerent minority of Nuristânis to the jihadist cause, allowing al-Qa'ida to effectively control Nuristân Province and infiltrate their forces closer to Kâbul."

It is a shame to leave them at the hands of such people
meanwhile the open Democracy site re-upped a three-year-old piece from Alex de Waal's brother Thomas on Abkhazia's torched archive, and its patient archivist.

"I could barely make sense of the geography of the place I visited. Although fighting had ended eight years before, grass was growing in the streets of Sukhumi and half the city was still in ruins. The vast burned hulk of the Abkhaz parliament loomed over the town, a blackened shipwreck beached in the middle of the central square...On 22 October 1992, the city was under Georgian military control and curfew and he had made his precarious way home when it was still light, as the snipers were beginning their evening's work.

At 8pm a neighbour who lived next to the archive rang and said the building was on fire. There was no way Ioannidi could make his way back, so he had to wait until morning to find out what had happened during the night.

Late in the afternoon a car with five or six young Georgians wearing black uniforms of the Sukhumi military police had drawn up outside the archive. They broke down the door of the building, went in and set it on fire. Neighbours of all nationalities, including Georgians, rushed to put the fire out. However, the armed men returned forty minutes later. This time they drove away the neighbours with shots, ringed the building, poured kerosene over it and set it ablaze again. A fire-engine, which came to put out the fire, was not let through...In a single night Abkhazia's documentary history had been virtually erased. 95% of the archive was destroyed. The only section that more or less survived at all was the radio archive from the 1930s. Nothing from the extensive 19th-century collection was preserved.

The following year, Abkhazia's Communist Party archive, kept in a different building, was annihilated in fighting, as the Abkhaz recaptured Sukhumi from the Georgians. Ioannidi estimates that of 176,000 archival documents in Abkhazia, before the war, 168,000 were destroyed...Ioannidi stands as a dignified emblem of a multicultural road not taken. He has an unpublished manuscript on the Stalinist deportation of 1949 based on his study of KGB archives that went up in flames. And he has the authority to assert that that mass expulsion deprived Abkhazia of a community which was binding Abkhaz and Georgians together. "If there had not been 1949, the whole situation in Abkhazia would have been different," he told me. "If there had been a neutral force in the middle, war would not have been so possible.""

an earlier piece by the same writer makes similar downbeat points

The biggest act of cultural vandalism was undoubtedly the destruction of Abkhazia's archive. It seems to have been a deliberate attempt by the Georgian paramilitary soldiers to wipe out the region's historical record.

The irony is that the soldiers actually burned the documentary history of what was one of the most cosmopolitan parts of the Black Sea area.

Amongst the ashes, for example, are all Abkhazia's turn-of-the-century Greek newspapers, from the time when Sukhumi was a thriving port with a large Greek population.

AFAIK no cataloguing help has come that de Waal hoped might - when he asked on behalf of the archive remnants;
so a cultural war crime of the gravest magnitude went from foul plan to total endgame in the space of forty kerosene-soaked minutes, ripping the heart and memory out of an entire people
under the heading UKIP AND NOT THE BNP WILL BECOME THE MAIN ANTI-IMMIGRATION PARTY this morning Patrick O'Flynn (chief political commentator for the Express) wrote the following on his own page (the fact this gentleman has his own page once a week w his photograph at the top is a wonderful testament to the beauty of free speech)

First, there is a massive gap in the market for a non-racist party that is against further mass immigration and ready to resist Islamo-fascism. Second, Nick Griffin's BNP is not it...Straw waffled...Huhne postured...Warsi did better...But the Tories will not say what the cap should be or how it would be enforced...And the Conservatives, remember, are pressing for 72 million Muslim Turks to be admitted right into the EU and thus gain an incontrovertible right to settle in Britain. So who can fill the gap? The obvious candidate is UKIP.

Huhne would have to go along w the logic of the final three sentences - we can but assume! - given his televised eagerness to adopt a hardline retrospective analysis of the British decision to leave borders open to willing continental nationals during EU enlargement rounds some years ago. whilst Warsi would surely have no problems given she campaigns for British values (apparently, whatever they are) in her local Dewsbury.

but, hang on, Nick Griffin is "ready to resist Islamo-fascism" {sic} - so i'm told.

so perhaps Patrick might reconsider his vote.

heaven forbid the BNP have got anything to do with the Daily Express
ah!!!! this old chestnut!!!

bro·ken (brkn)
Past participle of break.
1. Forcibly separated into two or more pieces; fractured: a broken arm; broken glass.
2. Sundered by divorce, separation, or desertion of a parent or parents: children from broken homes; a broken marriage.
3. Having been violated: a broken promise.
a. Incomplete: a broken set of books.
b. Being in a state of disarray; disordered: troops fleeing in broken ranks.
a. Intermittently stopping and starting; discontinuous: a broken cable transmission.
b. Varying abruptly, as in pitch: broken sobs.
c. Spoken with gaps and errors: broken English.
6. Topographically rough; uneven: broken terrain.
a. Subdued totally; humbled: a broken spirit.
b. Weakened and infirm: broken health.
8. Crushed by grief: died of a broken heart.
9. Financially ruined; bankrupt.
10. Not functioning; out of order: a broken washing machine.

now he's back to dog whistles about the EU - good work Billy, mine's a pint
"it's time to put Northern Ireland at the heart of the union" - interesting
"profoundly undemocratic" - Hague money quote there, fair play to him
somedisco stakes out obvious position wrt the Six Counties

Billy Hague had a nimble and correct position as regards the Ulster Unionist Party to be fair across the board to his lot, i must say.

why shouldn't UUP members in the future have a say about national UK issues, such as UK defence issues, above and beyond the important issues in Northern Ireland?

this is a basic, totally correct, and widely unaired proposition.

it is all very well to say the historical moral cause of Ireland should be a united Ireland but clearly facts on the ground show Northern Ireland must remain at least in limited part connected to Britain until majority sentiment there changes
members of the Conservative and Unionist party cribbing from a Tory paper

the next time you mention - albeit in a fairly humorous way - about the state of the British economy (from a whining article taken from - where's that? - The Telegraph you say?! - shome mishtake shurely) perhaps you would care to recall that if your chancellor was in charge with his scorched-earth approach to this worldwide slump the British economy would be in an even worse mess.



Friday, 23 October 2009

Nomad on the director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Bio-Sciences
The certain victory of a long-term president in a sham election is a routine occurrence in the Arab world. But Tunisia’s governance model and international outlook make it a special case, says Amel Boubekeur.
"Organisations working with refugees across the UK hit out at government cuts to asylum welfare being introduced today (5 October). The Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils and North of England Refugee Service (NERS), all members of the Asylum Support Partnership, branded the cuts “appalling” and are calling on the government instead to allow asylum seekers to work.

The government will today implement significant cuts to the amount of money it currently gives to asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claim. At the moment, rates are set at 70% of income support. From today, destitute asylum seekers who ask for support and who are single and over 25, will receive even less, with rates falling from £42.16 to £35.13 per week. This is a little over half of what the government says a person needs to live on.

In addition, lone parents with one child will not receive an increase in their income in line with the rise in the consumer price index, which effectively leaves them over £2 per week worse off.

Asylum seekers already struggle to survive on the money they are given each week, and are not allowed to work, so are restricted to the amount set by the government. Refugee communities are already among the poorest in Britain, and there are fears that further impoverishing this group will lead to isolation, poor health and have a wider impact on local communities."
good initial round-up of the CWU action from Shiraz, including where to send cash

Thursday, 22 October 2009

2 oz Gin

5-6 oz Tonic Water
Freeman Dyson, on the other hand.

heretic is one term.

useful idiot might be another, unfortunately.
from the same feature, talk about an anthropological argument
the Atlantic's brave thinkers (27 leaders - not necessarily leaders in the conventional sense - pushing things forward) cheers the heart.
yes, it is American-centric (and has more men than women by a margin), but it does peek outside the lower 48 too.

among some of my favourite people on earth, a few get in;

to wit, the leonine Iftikhar Chaudhry,

the nod to de Waal gets it right: the sad fact is that even when Darfuris in the camps were wanting justice, a hard-headed bottom line analysis should probably have gone with peace, for better or worse,

and there's a typically tough-headed article for Morgan Tsvangirai too.

i've never even heard of some of these people, but there's clearly some good sorts in there.

marvel at the tattooed man-mountain with a Harvard public policy degree trying to pull Braddock, PA, back from the brink, the champion of American home-owners, a Dallas DA, the Danish CEO whose firm appears to be gaining notices as a social enterprise model, a man deep into electric cars, and a conservationist-minded academic.

plus the Director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Bio-Sciences, and an appealing sounding Virginia senator interested in penal reform.

blow it, i'm off to read the whole thing..

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


some more choice quotes from that interview:

One thing is clear: new entrants are only interested in business mail, which makes up about 80% of the market. Wells admits he has no plans to enter the less profitable "social mail" market [...]
Speak to Wells about the business that made his fortune - those irritating adverts that fall through your letterbox as well as Ikea catalogues - and his real enthusiasm shines out. "Everybody has an opinion on them," he says with some satisfaction. "And do you know why? It's more intrusive. One of the benefits is that it demands an action. If it's well targeted you pick it up and put it somewhere to act on. If not, you put it in the bin."

social mail? that bit speaks volumes.

put it in the bin? if you're not recycling such mail (not everyone does) then you're creating waste.


David Cameron banging on about the govt's failure to part privatise the Royal Mail and the govt being culpable for looming strikes due to this (nowt to do with the intractable Mail management, who even business psychologists are criticising for rigidity) ignores the crucial fact that the Mail is already part privatised, and also side steps the rather large moot point about whether privatisation would make the Mail harder, faster, better, stronger. (that a debate that needs to be had, certainly, but Cameron appears to have already made his mind up.)

One thing you probably don’t know, for instance, is that the Royal Mail is already part-privatised. It goes under the euphemism of ‘deregulation’. Deregulation is the result of an EU directive that was meant to be implemented over an extended period to give mail companies time to adjust, but which this government embraced with almost obscene relish, deregulating the UK mail service long before any of its rivals in Europe. It means that any private mail company – or, indeed, any of the state-owned, subsidised European mail companies – is able to bid for Royal Mail contracts.
Take a look at your letters next time you pick them up from the doormat. Look at the right-hand corner, the place where the Queen’s head used to be. You’ll see a variety of different franks, representing a number of different mail companies. There’s TNT, UK Mail, Citypost and a number of others. What these companies do is to bid for the profitable bulk mail and city-to-city trade of large corporations, undercutting the Royal Mail, and then have the Royal Mail deliver it for them. TNT has the very lucrative BT contract, for instance. TNT picks up all BT’s mail from its main offices, sorts it into individual walks according to information supplied by the Royal Mail, scoots it to the mail centres in bulk, where it is then sorted again and handed over to us to deliver. Royal Mail does the work. TNT takes the profit.

"Roy Mayall"

any Britons watching their television news in the last few days will probably have seen the chief boss at TNT UK, Nick Wells, moaning about the Royal Mail. curiously, the elephant in the room about TNT was not acknowledged by Mr Wells; the one that 'Mayall' so appropriately identities above.

odd, huh?

'Supporters of Royal Mail - and there are many in parliament - argue that it is handicapped by its obligation to serve every small hamlet and unpronouncably named village in the country while operators such as TNT can cherry-pick the most profitable parts of the service.

Wells says this is a "charge propagated by Royal Mail" but goes on to say the company will have to "compete in certain sectors or geographical areas or products" in order to succeed. Is this not cherry-picking? He says this is a "question of semantics". "We would be silly to exactly replicate what Royal Mail do."'

make your own mind up. also note Wells gets the human touch in about his postie early (just a regular guy, hey), before moving on to business.
Never has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform

- Mervyn King
Hova and Alicia, who doesn't love the Big Apple?

great, touching stuff.

it has been decided to (temporarily, we hope) turn this blog into a Thomasina 'Tommi' Miers tumblr. i'll try and find some of her with her fella (a chap named Mark) because somedisco is all about the twee.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

hopeful news:

A judge in Turkey has ordered the release of five Kurdish rebels who crossed into the country from Iraq as part of a 34-strong "peace group".
The Kurdistan Workers Party members were charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation. The PKK is banned in Turkey.
But the judge ruled that they should not be held in custody as they had returned of their own free will.
Others from the group who entered Turkey on Monday were released earlier.
The group was made up of both PKK fighters from their stronghold in Iraq's Qandil mountains, and refugees from the Makhmour camp south of Mosul...Monday's event - which Ankara calls a "surrender", but which the PKK insists was no such thing - was a calculated symbolic step by the Kurdish separatists to test the new conciliatory approach promised by the government, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul...How the rebels are treated now will be watched closely in Turkey as an indication of the government's willingness and its ability to deliver on its promise of leniency for those willing to give up the armed struggle, says our correspondent.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the jubilant scenes at the border were a sign of hope.
"How is it possible not to be hopeful when we look at those scenes on the border?" he asked MPs in parliament. "Good things are happening in Turkey."
Mr Erdogan has called for opposition support for a peace plan which he launched two months ago.
But he has not outlined what measures would be included in a peace package. Suggested proposals are said to include constitutional reform, greater concessions to Kurdish culture and possible amnesties.

obviously each conflict zone has its own specifics, and the analogy i am about to draw is very problematic (not least given the realities of some of the problems in the present day Balkans), but i was flashing on the optimistic side of Izetbegović's famous declaration when reading the above

To my people I say this may not be a just peace, but it is more just than a continuation of war. In the situation as it is and in the world as it is, a better peace could not have been achieved.


finally, we are allowed to be clear about the PKK. for instance, there's no denying the accuracy of the parts of the backgrounder i quote from Soner Cagaptay below:

'Too many diplomats and journalists accept PKK claims to represent Turkey's Kurds. They do not. To understand the PKK, it is important to understand the characteristics that have defined the group since Öcalan founded it as the National Liberation Army in 1973.

First, it is a cult of personality. PKK members and sympathizers call Öcalan "Apo," the Kurdish word for uncle. Öcalan consciously promotes this cult. "Everyone should take note of the way I live … The way I eat, the way I think, my orders, and even my inactivity should be carefully studied. There will be lessons to be learned from several generations because Apo is a great teacher," he told the Turkish Daily News in 1998. PKK members often refer to themselves as "Apocus" (Apoists), emphasizing Öcalan's central role in shaping the group's identity and destiny.

Second, the PKK holds true to Maoist ideology. In the 1970s, while studying at the prestigious Ankara School of Political Science (Mülkiye), Öcalan grew enamored of the Maoism embraced by many intellectuals at the time. Turkey's Marxist-Leninists he found too soft. He became persuaded that nothing around him was good enough because it was capitalist and imperialist. His politics reflected rural feudal values, rooted in his southeastern Turkey upbringing, and a Maoist obsession with the peasantry, which he developed in Ankara. He dropped out of the Mülkiye in 1978 and founded the PKK. The group "condemned the repressive exploitation of the Kurds" and called for a revolution to overthrow the system in Turkey. The PKK wanted to set up a "democratic and united Kurdistan" in southeastern Turkey to be governed along Marxist-Leninist lines. Since there was no working class in southeastern Turkey at the time―the area's population was split among majority peasants, minority landowners, and a small urban middle class―the fundamental force of the revolution would be a worker-peasant alliance. Under Öcalan's leadership, the peasantry would be the "main force" of the "popular army," providing Öcalan with an expandable manpower supply. Over time, more than 30,000 Kurdish peasants died as a result of this vision.

Third, the PKK seeks to monopolize the Kurdish nationalist struggle. Öcalan tolerated no other Kurdish leftist or nationalist groups operating in eastern Turkey, his area of operation. He branded all his Kurdish rivals fascists and acted to eliminate them. In the late 1970s, the PKK decimated the Revolutionary Unity of the People (Devrimci Halkın Birliği), the Liberation of the People (Halkın Kurtuluşu), and the Revolutionary East Cultural Association (Devrimci Doğu Kültür Derneği, DDKD). Öcalan crushed not only violent groups but also peaceful Kurdish political parties, including Kemal Burkay's Kurdistan Socialist Party (Partîya Sosyalîsta Kurdîstan, PSK), ending the hope of many area Kurds for peaceful political action. He also targeted Kurds who identified with Turkey. In 1979, the PKK rose to national prominence when it assassinated Mehmet Celal Bucak, a well-known conservative Kurdish politician and a wealthy landowner in eastern Turkey. They condemned him as someone who "exploited the peasants." Bucak was the first of many, and the trend continues. On July 6, 2006, PKK members killed Hikmet Fidan, coordinator for the Patriotic Democratic Party (Partîya Welatparêzên Demokratên Kurdistan, PWD), a PKK splinter group based in northern Iraq that promoted nonviolent action for the Kurds.

Fourth, the PKK is dependent upon foreign patrons. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and their Syrian clients underwrote the group. Soviet agents trained PKK cadres in Damascus and Lebanon's Syrian-held Bekaa Valley. The PKK also received help from the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon. With the Cold War's collapse, Öcalan infused the Marxist component of PKK rhetoric with greater Kurdish nationalism and an Islamic patina that appealed to more conservative Kurds.

After the Soviet Union's collapse, the PKK turned to Greece and the Kurdish-ruled areas of northern Iraq for safe-haven. The Greek government allowed PKK terrorists to infiltrate the Lavrion refugee camp outside Athens. The PKK has relied on a safe haven in northern Iraq since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein lost control of the region after the 1991 uprising. Turkish cross-border operations into the safe haven diminished but could not eradicate the PKK presence, which enjoyed the patronage first of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), as well as Saddam Hussein, and later—and, at present—the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Iran's theocratic regime, diametrically opposed to Turkey's secular system, long saw the PKK as a useful tool to use against Turkey. Tehran allowed the PKK to maintain "about 1,200 of its members at around fifty locations in Iran."'

can't say i'm too bothered about his fourth point (both the great powers funded proxies in the Cold War, after all, and so on), but i leave it in my excerpt for the sake of completeness, and the details about Greece and Iran remain juicy.
more bollocks from Mary-Kay Wilmers

Michel Platini

Wikipedia: Platini was a member of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was voted the best player and top goalscorer. He participated in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in the latter two. Platini, Alain Giresse, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana together made up the "carré magique" (French for "magic square"), the group of midfield players that formed the heart of the French national team throughout the 1980s. He is also widely regarded as one of the best passers in football history as well as one of history's greatest free kick specialists and finishers. He holds the record for most goals (9) scored in European Championship final tournaments despite only appearing in one such tournament (1984). Despite being a midfielder, he held the national team top scorer record until striker Thierry Henry surpassed the 41 goals mark in 2008.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Mark Dearn on Philippine abductions and disappearances

"Philippine human rights group Karapatan estimates that more than 900 activists, journalists, street children, petty thieves and outspoken clergy have been the victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings while the Arroyo regime has been in office...But to bring an end to the chains of impunity something more may be needed. The Arroyo regime is notable for its ‘trapos democracy' style of government, wherein it courts the historically powerful local clans, showing little care for a disenfranchised working class whose campaigners are often prominent victims of disappearances; little hope resides in change coming in this term of office."
in April, retired British diplomatic corps man Brian Barder rightly attacked Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid.

here's another smackdown, from Zambian Economist
it's still rare to see on mainstream TV news, so Karen Allen is worth lauding here for her brutal Congolese report (i saw the half-hour repeat on BBC News 24 yesterday)
Benny's grimy garage 1999-2004 mix is absolutely astonishing

1. Ho/Endz mashup - White label
2. How Much Gal? - The Corrupted Cru feat. Mr Bigg$hot (Kronik records)
3. Bite Dem Up - Zed Bias/Sweetie Irie/Ms Dynamite/ Spee (Bigger Beat records)
4. Killahertz - Hazard (Heatseeker recordings)
5. Make it Easy (Davinche Remix) - Shystie feat. J2K & Crazy Titch (Network Music)
6. My Philosophy (Bounce) - Donae’o (Social Circles)
7. Course Bruv - Genius Cru (Kronik records)
8. 1999 - Groove Chronicles (DPR)
9. Live Life (Time to get rowdy) (Steppers mix)- Brasstooth feat. MC Lethal (Well Built records)
10. Sweeter than wine (Bump ‘N’ Flex Vocal Dub Mix) - Dionne Rakeem (Pure Silk)
11. Bad Boy - Bad Boy (Big Apple records)
12. Case of the Ex (Sovereign Remix) - Mya (Interscope)
13. Rose in my garden (Black Rose mix) - Sovereign feat. Specialist Moss (Bigger Beat records)
14. Love Come Down (Dub mix) - AC Burrell feat. Harmanii Rae (Pure Silk)

some of the sounds on it are remarkable.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

"When the State Department threatened to forcibly assign U.S. Foreign Service personnel to Iraq in late 2007, many diplomats read about it in the press before hearing about it from their superiors. The rank and file were irate. On October 30, 2007, the director general of the Foreign Service, several hundred employees, and union representatives held a meeting that quickly degenerated into a shouting match. A journalist's surreptitious recording of the gathering was widely publicized soon afterward, conjuring up an image of disloyal, cowardly diplomats, which stood in stark contrast to that of brave soldiers protecting the United States abroad. By stripping away the complex and highly political context surrounding the presence of civilian government officials in Iraq, the media made Foreign Service officers (FSOs) appear unreasonable and unwilling to serve.

In fact, the Bush administration had effectively engineered the dispute in an effort to publicly embarrass the diplomatic corps."
the current bitterlemons-international focuses on Yemen. good stuff.

"Absent urgent regional or international intervention, Yemen is on a course leading to the potential collapse of Saleh's government or the country's partitioning into autonomous zones run by non-state actors."

Fred Halliday in Andorra
track 3 off Plastikman's very, very good 1994 LP is called 'Kriket'.

it does what it says on the tin.

how super that my mate Vim has started blogging again.

his splendid post 'Castro's Legacy' remains a brilliant discussion of its subject
"Chief executive Adam Crozier has been awarded a total of £2.4m in performance bonuses since arriving at the company in 2003. The figure boosted his £3.6m salary over the period by two-thirds – but it does not include a series of further perks that have added millions to his pay package during his time at the troubled company...The Royal Mail caused uproar last year when it revealed that Mr Crozier received a package worth more than £3m – about 180 times a typical postman's salary – at a time when he was pushing to close 2,500 post offices."

in other words, Mr Crozier (who was a tosser when he was at the Football Association and - surprise surprise! - is a tosser at the Royal Mail) is regarded as as worthwhile as one hundred and eighty postal workers, you know, the people that get up early in the morning, break their back grafting around the country's lanes and estates, are dictated to by tinpot management, and all for a meagre salary. Crozier, incidentally, has a pension that is safe as houses, which is more than can be said for a lot of Mail staff.

so, in summary, the people that do all the fucking work get shafted, whilst the top bosses let poor middle-management saps carry out their whimsical diktats, as those same top bosses continue to line their pockets whilst driving down personal customer standards in a relentless search for profit.

this pseudonymous postie diary (via Owen) is very good, and the author also has a blog, Going Postal

the vermin Tory press will doubtless be going on the attack over postal employees in the coming days and weeks, so it is of some comfort to know that anyone with a brain will ignore their poisonous garbage.
RIP Private Jonathan Couturier, born Loretteville, Quebec, died near Kandahar, aged 23, 17 September 2009

Couturier is survived by his partner Andréanne, his parents and two brothers.

I was with (Bobby) Charlton, (Denis) Law and Puskás, we were coaching
in a football academy in Australia. The youngsters we were coaching did
not respect him including making fun of his weight and age...We decided
to let the guys challenge a coach to hit the crossbar 10 times in a row,
obviously they picked the old fat one. Law asked the kids how many they
thought the old fat coach would get out of ten. Most said less than
five. I said ten. The old fat coach stepped up and hit nine in a row.
For the tenth shot he scooped the ball in the air, bounced it off both
shoulders and his head, then flicked it over with his heel and cannoned
the ball off the crossbar on the volley. They all stood in silence then
one kid asked who he was, I replied, to you, his name is Mr. Puskás.

- George Best



Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Russia has two problems: fools and roads

- Gogol

Sunday, 11 October 2009

'Me, me? I can't betray my religion and get out of Iraq. In the name of God, I will not leave Iraq until victory or martyrdom'

Friday, 9 October 2009

"A witness at a local hospital told the Associated Press news agency that he had seen the vehicle explode.
"I saw a blood-soaked leg landing close to me," he said. "I understood for the first time in my life what a doomsday would look like."
Witnesses also described how bystanders desperately tried to free survivors trapped in vehicles overturned by the force of the explosion."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

thankfully, Kostas Karamanlis has been unseated in Greece, w a big swing against the New Democracy party.

this is by far the best thing to happen in Greek political life for a long time.

obviously, there is no such thing as a magic bullet in this world, but this is a start.
from BBC News online this morning

The Pakistani Taliban have said they launched Monday's attack on the UN World Food Programme offices in the capital Islamabad, killing five people.
A Taliban spokesman said the international agency had been targeted because its work was "not in the interest of Muslims"...The Taliban spokesman who called himself Azam Tariq said that the UN and foreign aid agencies were "infidels" promoting an American agenda.
The group has been behind a series of recent attacks.
Last week, at least 16 people died in two suicide car bomb attacks in north-western Pakistan.
"What makes you think he's my friend?

He's not my friend

This is a copy of his registration, license, photo and all.
Are you sure you want this?

Have I told you what this man did?   


That's a test? Where were you guys when
I did my CPA?

Ah! What the fuck?!

Yeah? Test this you fucking quack.

So will you remember me next time you see me?

I think you will.

Natalie, right?

Who the fuck is Dodd?

Guess I don't have to worry about him

Who is he? What have you got me into?

His name was Jimmy.

What happened?

He went to meet somebody and didn't come

Who did he go to meet?

A guy called Teddy.

What do the police think?

They don't look too hard for guys like

No pens here, I'm afraid. You're never going to know that I called
you a retard, and your wife a whore.

Don't say another fucking word!

Venereal disease. Maybe your cunt of a wife sucked one too
many diseased cocks and turned you into a retard.


Make him beg.

Hey, where are you going? You know what time it is?          

It's beer o'clock. And I'm buying."

Foust channels Strand to speculate on Nuristan

In 2007, according to ethnolinguist Richard Strand, al Qaeda began a “major strategic thrust toward Afghanistan’s capital” by increasing its presence in Nuristan. Prior to 2007, Nuristan was mostly the domain of Hezb-i Islami Gulbuddin, and the two groups rarely worked together (HiG militants thought al Qaeda too extreme). Strand estimated the number of militants in the low hundreds, with supply backers in Pakistan, most likely Chitral.

the Treach Battle b-side of this is immense, deceptively simple but legendary. not a massive Shadow fan although of course i was well into the debut at the time, but hey, have at ya
DAVID Cameron this morning asks us to believe that an entity he notably refers to as ‘the new Conservative Party’ is now ‘the party of jobs and opportunity’. Either the overnight transformation took several tonnes of fairy dust, or it is a hallucination caused by some other magical powdery substance reputedly once much favoured by opposition frontbenchers.

Nobody who is historically literate will forget that it was the Tories that ruled Britain through most of the 1930s and all of the 1980s, the only two decades in which the dole queues topped three million.

And didn’t Cameron once work as special adviser to Norman ‘Black Wednesday’ Lamont, the Conservative chancellor who famously argued that joblessness on a massive scale is ‘a price well worth paying’ to control inflation?

The truth is that the brand of free market economics to which all good Tories subscribe clearly maintains that involuntary unemployment can only arise in a limited range of special cases. Until Cameron explicitly disavows this doctrine, the suspicion has to be that he agrees with his former boss.

In this view of the world, the labour market would naturally achieve equilibrium, if it were not for such distortions as trade unions, welfare benefits and the minimum wage.

So it wasn’t just sheer class hatred that made Thatcher and Tebbit so hostile to the labour movement, although that will have played a part as well. Dogma was also a factor.

Sadly for the Conservative right, the minimum wage is now established, and is too popular to be abolished immediately, although some highly remunerated Tory journalists are openly calling for just that. Expect instead a freeze on annual increases, and maybe further restrictions on its applicability to young people.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Coatesy has some interesting stuff on the man David Cameron has asked to think outside the box re welfare reform.
Baron Freud (for it is he) is a mover and shaker.

money central passage from Tendance Towers

David Baron Freud’s ‘expertise’ on welfare is nill. What has he done in his life? Well, he was a public schoolboy. He went to Oxford. Worked at the Financial Times. He then swanned around advising on financial deals, pilfering and making a mess of things.

A general outline of his knowledge of welfare issues: [].

“His involvement in raising £50bn ($72bn) during some of the biggest deals of the 1980s and 1990s made him a wealthy man – yet he continues to cycle to work, swim regularly in Hampstead Heath’s ponds and conduct his business in functional off-the-peg suits.”

Mistakes he has made in his career include [],

He moved into advising companies, and was involved in piecing together extremely complex deals such as the flotations of Eurotunnel and EuroDisney, which cost investors millions, and the financing of the Channel Tunnel rail link. Eurotunnel opened in May 1994 one year behind schedule and £2bn ($2.9bn) over budget. Sir David later admitted the deal was a “shambles” and that he had “successfully sold the market a pup”.But his chutzpah meant his career was not held back.Hauled before furious MPs to explain the mispricing of Railtrack, he was subsequently appointed an advisor to the government on its successor, Network Rail.

all here, plus more besides at the main page.

meanwhile, Nick Cohen recently took a look at Baron Ashcroft.

he's an effective (if seedy) kitty for the Tories, for sure, but some of the fine print about the extent to which he's enmeshed in the Belizean economy is very disturbing.
Paul Anderson takes a first look at the new New Statesman for his Tribune column.

it's very good that he got in the extremely correct observation "no one who publishes Neil Clark, an apologist for Slobodan Milosevic, can be taken seriously".
"The postal dispute in Britain can be a bit annoying. Not getting post for a few days and then lots of bills all come at once, but if you’re a postal worker it is a lot harder.

Postal workers in Britain do not make a lot of money, their work is boring, even if it is essential, and the management of the Post Office are renowned as bastards.

The Post Office management would gladly force all postal workers to do 16 hour days, for next to nothing, if they could get away with it."

Sunday, 4 October 2009

it really makes me laugh how omnipresent Frederic Robinson brewery is in the Stockport area (i mean, it's a good thing the town has a major independent cask ale brewery, as well as at least one micro-brewery incidentally: the 3 Rivers brewery), just in terms of i've been procrastinating on that Stockport Pub Guide site added to the links bar, and it's corking stuff, there's some drily hilarious phrases.

divided into the various areas across the wider Stockport sprawl, the entry for the Great Moor neighbourhood starts - quite brilliantly - with the warning "Community straddling the busy A6 between Stockport and Hazel Grove. If you don't like Robbies' you have to get on the bus."
Let's not underestimate. Let's be prepared for the worst.

— Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Jon on Damon & Naomi
Sunday morning on C-SPAN

Scott Ritter - doing so well talking about possible Iranian nuclear developments in a measured and sensible way, and fairly analysing American impulses re this etc - has just gone majorly, majorly downhill, and started talking minimising, apologetic (and in some cases downright inaccurate) shite about certain elements in Iran, wrt their views on Israel.

oh Scott.
like, i really, really, really like 'Wad'.

also reminding me how ace the drums are on 'Simon Says' by Monch, and the Godzilla sample (he got sued for that!), and, well, the song in general.

"The Saturdays' Saturday Night...
...Party Top 50. Vanessa, Una, Mollie, Rochelle & Frankie take you through the Saturday of all Saturdays as they give us their soundtrack to the perfect Saturday night party!"

can i say i watched/listened to the above programme on British music channel TMF (a subsid of MTV) earlier today and by jove it was freaking awesome

Saturday, 3 October 2009


i really like 'Wad', Pearson Sound, h/t Tim F
The Power of Nightmares, a three-hour BBC documentary directed by Adam Curtis, is arguably the most important film about the "war on terrorism" since the events of September 11. It is more intellectually engaging, more historically probing and more provocative than any of its rivals, including Fahrenheit 9/11...The fact that the film has not been widely shown here is our loss, since it raises important questions about the political manipulation of fear.

i am a little uncomfortable w his (too monolithic, too imprecise, not politically correct enough for me at the very least, to be blunt; something like 'first generation immigrants from Muslim-majority states' would clearly be less snappy, to be fair) usage of "Muslim" in the penultimate paragraph (though his "population of alienated Muslims" following that is clearly accurate), but this June 2005 Peter Bergen article on The Power of Nightmares is definitely worth a read.

also on same, and as equally deserving of attention, is David Aaronovitch, writing in late 2004.
"As regular readers will know, BNP legal officer Lee Barnes is a busy man."
Dear Jackie Fletcher,

The rebel groups fought for control of the lucrative port and main airport in southern Somalia this week. Al Shabaab won the battle, in which a local rights group said at least 28 civilians and an unknown number of combatants were killed.
"September 30, 2009 (BOR) – Authorities in Twic East County say villagers are fleeing the area following rumors of a new attack from the Lou Nuer who had already attacked the same locality last month.

Armed men from the Lou Nuer in Jonglei on Twic East on August 28 killed 40 people, also more that 160 people were killed by the same tribal elements in another attack on Dok Padiet on September 20.

Southern Sudan officials were alarmed by the escalation of violence in Jonglei. Following a visit to the affected area, the southern Sudan interior minister, Jonglei governor and UN coordinator for the semi-autonomous region agreed they attack had been directed to the government forces and institutions. They all also spoke about a structured and heavily armed militia.

However following the attack, Lou Nuer dismissed the emergence of an organized militia in the area accusing the southern Sudan and Jonglei authorities of taking Dinka’s side. They further said by the attack had been carried out by angry armed civilians who decided to take the law into their own hands as a result of their unresolved grievances that accumulated since 2006.

The southern Sudan army deployed an additional battalion of some 700 soldiers in the area to prevent further escalation of the situation there.

Twic East Commissioner Diing Akol Diing says days are being counted down for possible attack and "there is general fear." Unconfirmed reports claim the Lou Nuer armed men gave 9 days ultimatum to Twic East citizens in Panyagoor to prepare for war or quit.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune by phone from Panyagoor, Twic East headquarters, Mr. Akol says the situation is tense and there is uncertainty about security situation."
Silvio's House of Cards
October 2009

Friday, 2 October 2009

re celebrities who i have a high opinion of, Lucy Cavendish interviewed Emmanuelle Béart for the Sunday Telegraph recently, and we all know the woman has a good attitude in defence of immigrants etc in her native France, anyway the final paragraph (Cavendish wrote the woman's English pronunciation as follows, so, eh, whatever!)

Before she leaves I ask her if she is still politically motivated. She worked for 10 years as a UN ambassador and has marched against France’s right-wing government, protesting over legislation that decreed all landlords must declare foreign lodgers. 'Of course I am political,’ she says, opening her eyes wide. 'You ’ave to be don’t you? Every day it is about your future, your right to that future. ’Ow can people ignore this? We ’ave to leave a good world for our children, n’est-ce pas?’

what an utter piece of nonsense that proposed legislation is/was!

racaille indeed.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

I think a number of the children just died instantly
Jamie Oliver's programme in which he goes around the USA (he ate Mexican food in LA, cooked outside in New Orleans, apparently went ranching on the High Plains but i missed that, and he is in the 'Deep South' tonight as i write).


Jamie is going up in my estimation all the time catching this (i liked him before anyway), he is really humane and dwells on politics. for instance meeting reformed gang bangers in Los Angeles, he had some really touching (and sensible, from the structural point of view) thoughts to camera afterward.

a white person just said "n*****" in his presence of an evening when he was hanging out with some folks, and the morning after Jamie is talking to the camera in his rented gaff (or wherever he is), and you can tell he is really, deeply, deeply troubled by it (like his voice is almost breaking).
at the time it happened he just froze or something and remarked on the voice-over he decided to get out of the place ASAP.

he's just said he's in Savannah, GA, incidentally. (of course his friend at the caff the next day - a black woman - tells him in gentle terms to expect that.)

he is cooking bacon, meatballs, collard greens, grits, and shrimps.