Wednesday, 14 July 2010

here's a link detailing just some of the dirty tricks that BP have been up to post-spill (sadly aided by the US govt in some cases, predictably of course), and the link also has awful photographs of affected (dead, stricken) wildlife, you may wish to know. (via.)

incidentally, a few weeks ago, when Obama maybe once or twice (a few, i don't know, i wasn't paying any attention) publicly used the words "British Petroleum" we suffered all sorts of tools in the UK (Toby Young, the mayor of London and so on) banging on and on about this.

this despite the fact that Obama had certainly used the term "BP" (i believe BP is short for Bernard Poots) beforehand and had appropriately excoriated other large companies involved in the spill concerned.

so, one or two no doubt calculated slips of the tongue made by a political leader under extreme domestic pressure, which were then corrected by diplomatic overtures, were blown up out of all proportion (he's just as bad as the Republicans, a populist goon, fat yankees in their gas-guzzling cars, god damn look at Bhopal, damn bloody yankees, after all the help we give them in Afghanistan, and that Mrs Clinton is mean about the Falklands, grr! etc etc etc), as the BBC's man in the USA sanely explains here.

from a (necessarily parochial) British observation viewpoint, this just goes to show (not that we need to be told), Tory cant must always be treated w the strident and utter contempt it deserves.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

so now Gillard is pointing out because there was not a full house voting in East Timor (about half its MPs were not present ahead of parliamentary holidays, although every single member who voted rejected Australian proposals), and 'we deal with the government', she can continue to explore Timorese options for her offshore processing centre plan.

she'll probably get somewhere with that. the top brass there want to keep their big neighbours onside after all.


silly me.

be that as it may, i was under the impression elected representatives should have free votes in parliamentary systems that express their will, and this should count as equally as the view of any other representative, regardless of which party that representative happens to sit with.

ach. (nothing if not naive round these parts.)

ah well.

"Setting out the facts for Australians must occur in the long term and not just in the lead up to the election," said John Menadue AO, Center of Policy Development director and former Department of Immigration and Ethnics Affairs head.

Less than 2 percent of Australia's migration intake comes from asylum seekers. However, Essential Research reports that 38 percent of Australians believe that more than 10 percent are asylum seekers. Only 18 percent of the population were accurate.

"What a story of misinformation. What an opportunity to exploit ignorance."

Monday, 12 July 2010

"East Timor's parliament has rejected a proposal by the Australian government to establish a regional processing centre for asylum seekers.

All parties of the East Timorese government were in opposition to the proposal floated by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week, ABC Radio reported.

The decision to reject the proposal was unanimous among the 35 members of East Timor’s 65 person parliament who voted on the resolution...Ms Gillard was criticised last week for not consulting Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on the centre proposal ahead of announcing her policy."



Ms Gillard has in recent days backed away from suggestions the centre would be located in East Timor.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has also left open the possibility of more than one country housing a processing centre.

now, from the bottom of that second piece (my emphasis follows)

"East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said last week he had discussed with Ms Gillard the “possibility” of hosting a processing centre.

But he said the purpose of any centre in Timor would be to take in and process asylum-seekers who were in danger on the high seas and had not found safety in another country.

He also specified that any holding facility in East Timor would need to be administered by the UN, not Australia or Timor."

it's clearly fair to take that attitude in terms of the human kindness of first responders (such as the Spanish Red Cross tending to people who have made it across the Strait of Gibraltar) is always with us, and to codify that would be a welcome small step.

but the brass tacks of this situation - as in so many other similar situations elsewhere - are that a wealthy country is seeking to extend out its initial zone of exclusion for a handful (relatively speaking) of bedraggled people. so, indeed, even such codification would have a huge downside, an exclusionary and structural one.

the Timorese may be signatories to refugee conventions, which John Howard's Nauru dumping ground of choice wasn't, and Julia Gillard is far less barking than her opposition, but however you seek to dress it up, that is the bottom line.

do Julia Gillard and team have a preferable set of asylum proposals to their opposition?

sure they do; though opposition leader Tony Abbott's temporary visa plan is so mean-spirited that seems like damning w faint praise, TBH.
(incidentally, you can't blame Abbott for sniping his opponent w 'all at sea' gags.)

but in taking up this issue in the ways they have been doing, Gillard and team are shifting the debate ever further toward an increasingly populist-friendly viewpoint, thus opening up even more space for Abbott to feel emboldened as he goes about on his hectoring, insular way, and legitimising ways of thinking about asylum seekers that delegitimise those washing up on Aussie shores.

it's an old, distressing, predictable cycle.

P.S.: In a further setback for the Australian government, plans for Australian officials to discuss the plan in Dili this week seem pointless.

Mr Horta, along with East Timor's foreign affairs minister and the country's senior advisers will spend the week in Shanghai, part of a delegation of more than 100 people.

East Timor's prime minister Xanana Gusmao is, meanwhile, touring the country's remote districts all week.

"There is no one serious left here for them to talk to who has any authority on this matter ," said one East Timorese official.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

oh jesus wept.

as you may have heard, Gillard wants to seize the initiative on asylum seekers (well there is an election coming up), because as any fule kno, the hugely over-crowded and physically tiny island-state of Oz is over-run with the grasping buggers, especially from notably peaceful and wholly uneventful countries Sri Lanka* and Afghanistan.

unfortunately, the new offshore plan wholly-different-in-every-way-plan-from-what-John-Howard-did-plan-way-thing has had some people - tentatively - calling a spade an implement for digging: However, Gillard's announcement last week that she had discussed the issue with East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta met with a mixed response, with some Timorese figures saying they did not want their country to become a "prison island."

why should East Timor have a processing facility for Australian refugee claims? is it a wealthier and more stable society than Australia? has there been any conflict there in recent history that might mean its infrastructure for this sort of thing might not be as good as that in a larger, more affluent society?

it is all very well for Gillard to rightly attack Tony Abbott on his simple-minded 'turn back these boats' bill-of-fare, but, as has been noted elsewhere, "she also called for an end to the extremes in the debate. My view is that instead of telling people it’s OK to be ‘anxious’ about boat arrivals, our political leaders should be educating people that fears about terrorists and stolen jobs are widely unfounded."

still, you can't keep all of the people happy all of the time, so at least focus on someone, eh?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s July 5 announcement that she would solve the refugee crisis by being tougher on refugees did what former PM John Howard failed in his 11 years of conservative rule. She has made former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson feel at home.

Hanson announced she wasn’t emigrating to Britain, as planned, saying she was in “total agreement” with Gillard’s plan to “sweep political correctness from the debate”, the Australian said on July 6.

(just want to add that, personally, i am shocked and truly surprised that the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian should applaud such a straw-mannish approach to that damn politically correct NONSENSE.)

Gillard may be more humane sounding and attempting to keep the national conversation at a reasonably superficially civil level more effectively than her opposition, but we have seen before now in Anglophone economies what can happen when a centrist, left-looking government attempt to seize the initiative on asylum from further right opponents.

take New Labour Home Secretaries.

each iteration of that shower succeeded in royally shafting a lot of incredibly marginalised people (laudable schemes such as borough councils adopting refugees were admirable but also brought attention to many others left high and dry), whilst emboldening ever more those parochial quarters whose grip on reality was (and is) about as firm as my ability to play top-class international cricket.

so, nervy times indeed, though i don't mean for ALP strategists.

a closing note, then, from that third and final link above.

It is not clear that Gillard’s strategy will even work. Labor has shifted to the right on refugees, but the Coalition will probably win any race to the right on that issue.

The July 7 Sydney Morning Herald interviewed a voter from a marginal seat in western Sydney: “Good on her. I don't want the boats here. Won't change my vote though.”

Both big parties say refugees should have fewer rights. They both target refugees from particular countries


* speaking of which: housing minister Wimal Weerawansa.

so, you held a, probably media-targeted, three day hunger strike (which has now ended), because you don't want the international community looking into (credible and seriously troubling) war crimes allegations your government should (but, realistically, will not) answer for?

i can think of ways to describe your stunt, but none of them are diplomatic. which is a laugh really, since your government is quite good at getting diplomats from lots of different nations a bit ticked off with you.

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Dreaded Cold Collation - Davey B with all your food review and recipe needs, including some mouth-watering photographs and a charming line in just being generally lovely, really.

i particularly enjoyed the sketch of Dough restaurant in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

"I'm not sure how long Dough has been there, because I'm not very observant and I'm not cool enough to be allowed in the Northern Quarter that often"


Thursday, 8 July 2010

love his Misfits shirt

Your job?
My job.

Your job was illegally
shaking down churro vendors.

Look, a job is a job, lady.
here in London there's a sound called garage

i heard they don't like me in garage
news round-up

(a) "Supreme court judges predicted that "more and more" gay and lesbian refugees are likely to seek protection in Britain after a landmark legal ruling recognised the rights of asylum seekers.

Five supreme court justices said gay and lesbian asylum seekers should not be expected to "exercise discretion" in their home countries to avoid persecution. Their ruling met with cheers and applause from campaigners."

good good good, a magnificent, magnificent landmark. typical of the previous New Labour govt's appalling record on civil liberties that they ended up playing dog-whistle politics to the right-wing press all the time, appeasing people they shouldn't have been bothering to appease in the first place (to be blunt)


[BBC radio disc jockey] "Nicky Campbell asks [on his BBC Radio 5 live programme], should sexuality be grounds for asylum?"


Are Migration Watch a load of complete tools?

("Sir Andrew Green from Migration Watch [UK anti-immigration pressure group] says it shouldn't be grounds for asylum.")

(b) "European court of human rights will not allow Abu Hamza to be extradited until it is satisfied he will be treated humanely"


also: i don't know what the case is against him, there may be a lot of evidence against him for all i know, but is he actually involved in anything current? er, not AFAIK, no.

you can't go around dumping on people because you disagree w their views. (well, of course, the American govt * frequently does just that, of course.)

(c) "Police forced to abandon power to stop and search the public without reasonable suspicion after European court rules it illegal"


* not that the American govt is unique among world govts in that regard, natch

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A young artist must be aware that he does not have to invent everything anew: his job is to sort out in his own mind the compatibility of the different approaches in the works of art that impress him and at the same time question nature.

Henri Matisse

the above is shortly off to a new, good home

some excerpts before then

as follows

In foregrounding the role of perception, Riley's art engages with our experience and understanding of the world at a fundamental level. A new-born infant's view of its surroundings is untainted by experience...Hidden from our understanding, perception nevertheless lies at the centre of our being. This is the area of experience which Riley's art investigates and celebrates...There is nothing in her art that cannot be found in nature...a profound adherence to the 'pleasures of sight'


For Schopenhauer, perception is central to our understanding and experience of the world...The problem he identifies with perceptions is that, because they are immediate and fleeting, they cannot be retained, and they therefore cannot be communicated. His plea - 'if perceptions were communicable' - has enormous significance in relation to Riley's art.


From 1967, when she first introduced colour, the emphasis shifts. It is as if the grammar of perception has now been defined, the point made...The central principle of the black and white works was one of 'repose, disturbance, repose'...In perceptual terms, every colour affects, and is affected by its neighbour. The basis of her work in colour is therefore 'continuous' instability


After 1980, a fundamental development occurs. Following a trip to the Nile Valley in the winter of 1979-80, when she visited the tombs of the later Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, she returned to London suffused with the memory of the five colours she had observed as having been used by the Egyptians in their tomb decoration. At the bottom of her fascination with the so-called 'Egyptian palette' - red, blue, yellow, turquoise and green - was the realization that these same intense colours occurred in all aspects of the Egyptians' daily existence...Rather than using the new colours as elements in a perceptual argument, she found instead that the palette invited a different kind of organization...Having mined the quarry of perception for so long, we now witness Riley seeking to extract, from perception itself, 'the gold hidden in the ore'. Her objective is 'sensation': pure, primary visual experience, preceding the structures of cognition


the painting returns us to that state of innocence which precedes the dawn of perception

- Paul Moorhouse

discussing the shift in Riley's work from the 1980s, her employing repetition, simple variations in arranging her work, this grabbing at "sensation", etc ("She no longer accumulates sensation to a particular perceptual end, but is allowing, as Schopenhauer would say, 'the things themselves to speak'"), Moorhouse quotes some late-period Beckett, to showcase some sort of 'effectiveness through reduction'-type approach.

here's an extract from Rockaby anyway

V: Her recorded voice.

V: till in the end/the day came in/in the end came/close of a long day/when she said/to herself/whom else/time she stopped/time she stopped/ going to and fro/all eyes/ all sides/high and low/ for another/another like herself/ another creature like herself/ a little like/going to and fro/ all eyes/all sides/ high and low/ for another/ till in the end/ close of a long day...

Modern painting, I believe, should always be a beginning - its own re-invention, if you like...I realised that any direct depiction of Cornwall would not express what I felt about being there...the cliffs in the early morning, the blackness of the sea in deep shadow or the shiver of tiny grasses...I wanted to recreate such sensations...I start at the other end...en route to a painting


I think that good work needs an internal resistance...I have found a stricter foundation results in greater freedom.

- Bridget Riley

on the different phases in Riley's career (eg 1960's Pink Landscape, a dappled work in colour, came before the major black and white works of the early-mid 60s - it was never monochrome from the start - which in turn were succeeded by greys and then colour, the famous colour that Moorhouse refers to as being 'introduced' in '67), Lynne Cooke writes:

irrespective of how systematic any single line of enquiry might prove...her practice has never become programmatic or predetermined but remains, as Anton Ehrenzweig argued, always 'aware of its ultimate mystery, [of] the transformation which will give her work its independent life and secret "presence"'

more Cooke (partly whilst discussing the art in Riley's own pantheon- eg, Matisse, Seurat, C├ęzanne, Klee, Mondrian, Pollock, her love of the Alhambra):

her characteristic tendency is always to move forward by looking back

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

RIP Bob Probert

Monday, 5 July 2010

as a lot of people know, the fact that in the Grand Theft Auto video-game series, a wide variety of music genres (and chat shows) are available for players to listen to as part of the in-game radio whenever your character is in a motor vehicle, is, quite simply, freakin awesome.

one of the many wonderful stations is the drum'n'bass channel, MSX FM, that is available in the game Grand Theft Auto III.

below is a YouTube embed of part of the station as heard in that game.

the usage of the tune 'Spectre' by Aquasky by about 42 seconds in, is hairs on neck territory
We have today a government already showing the hardest face towards the poor in living memory. It takes a special kind of brassneck to describe this as 'new politics'.

- Shuggy

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Aren't you sharp as a tack, you some type of lawyer or something, somebody important or somethin'?

I ain't passed the Bar but I know a little bit
Enough that you won't illegally search my shit

Well, we'll see how smart you are when the K9 comes

a good pal was telling me recently the Daily Mail was running a story slagging the NHS.

this is the same paper that lauds Cameron's small state approach. Cameron would be taking his axe to things whether neoliberalism had deemed it 'necessary' (by its own logic) to do so, or not.

Cameron is living proof that structural imbalances exist in society, and that they are entrenched.

fuck the Mail.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

really, really feeling Drake at the moment

Kylie's joyous pop is touching

Friday, 2 July 2010

Thursday, 1 July 2010

as a companion piece to the table yday, Richard Murphy - way back last summer - also noted a few home truths about VAT here.

incidentally, out of the ten or so comments under the piece, the one from the author is worth a look, whilst the final crucial comment - from somebody named GWI - is fair and fine.

in fact, i'm going to quote it, because somebody in the thread of this article mentions about the high VAT rates in Nordic countries.

The real point about the Nordics is that while gross total tax incidence is regressive (mainly because of high VAT), net incidence (after looking at how tax receipts are spent) is not—it’s far more progressive than in the UK; eg, good pensions, good social provision for the aged, children’s pre-school care and so on.
Much the same is true for many other EU states, and helps explain why the post tax Gini in much of the EU is much lower than in Britain. That’s the bit of the story that always gets left out!

if VAT receipts were spent in a more fair way in the UK - New Labour achieved some redistribution overall, yes - some people would probably be less concerned about VAT (and a total tax package is always the thing to look out for, w attention paid to all aspects, granted).

as it is, they are not, and have not been, and that is that.