Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Monday, 30 August 2010

the unutterable tool Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (his latest wheeze is to publicly wish for Abu Mazen to be eradicated from the plane of existence) is clearly a horrible bigot with a despicable and total disregard for humanity.

reading the BBC story, an aspect of another one of Yosef's past announcements is particularly disturbing.

in the box about halfway down the page, they write

"Rabbi Yosef: Man of controversy

5 August 2000:
Said the Nazi Holocaust was God's retribution against Jewish sinners.

Later added that he believed all six million Jewish victims were pure and complete saints."

the second part of this formulation, about Holocaust victims all being pure and complete saints, is troublesome. (let's ignore the first part, which is standard wingnut fare.)

if you take this narrative to its logical conclusion, it could be used to imply only people of virtue are worth commemorating and fighting for when they fall victim to rights abuses, and such.

it could be used to imply that, for example, generally unpleasant people with some socially obnoxious views who may fall prey to rights abuses, are not worth seeking remedy for as much.

this is a departure from universal norms, which are the only true currency of human rights, and which are of course diminished by the likes of Yosef's words and some of the actions of Israel, just as surely as they are diminished by the words and actions of some of Israel's enemies.

speaking of Israel:

AUGUST 18, 2010

(Jerusalem) - The Israeli government should immediately stop demolishing the homes of Bedouin citizens in the Negev desert in southern Israel and should compensate those displaced and allow them to return to their village pending a final agreement that respects their rights under international law, Human Rights Watch said today.

it does seem, in many ways, that Israeli Bedouin Arab citizens have a similar lot to how Roma residents are treated in some European countries.

unpeople all.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Friday, 27 August 2010

when we say something is unacceptable to us, one can draw his own conclusion.

- from a Pakistani Taliban statement reported in the international press today

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

House GOP leader John Boehner gave a speech today in Ohio about his policy demands as he limbers up for a shot at becoming Speaker.

the Daily Kos has gone to the trouble of fisking what Boehner actually said, and it turns out - i hope you are sitting down as you read this - that what he said was a load of old cobblers.

(i know, i know. me too.)

turns out the only time Boehner goes into much practical detail (as opposed to making absurd moon-on-a-stick requests in Obama's direction) it's to laud a set of proposals from GOP Congressman Paul Ryan.

unfortunately, as the Kos notes, this eventually brings us back to, well

In other words, far from being some brilliant new innovation, Ryan's Roadmap is basically the same sort of economic mumbo-jumbo peddled for years by the Bush administration and conservative Republicans.

And it's now the centerpiece of John Boehner's economic platform as he campaigns for Speaker, which brings us back to the central question voters will face this November: do they want to allow Democrats to continue trying to revive the economy, or do they want to give up on the Dems and go back to the Bush economic policies of the Republican Party?


Monday, 23 August 2010

one of the many perennially awesome rolling threads on Dissensus is questions you are dying to ask but are too scared to b/c of music nerd cred?

New Jersey's gentlemanly Leo recently posed ' it the same thing as dancehall? a form of dancehall? not related to dancehall at all?', which got a fabulous, short, informative reply from the lovely John Eden here.

(see also Tea, who has recently put up the self-explanatory Mr. Tea's Top 10 Badass Phenomena, an extremely freakin' brilliant piece of work.)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

RIP Edwin Morgan

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

UK benefits fraud debate *: "Only about 1% of all benefits are fraudulently claimed" (i.e. about one billion pounds, to which one can add about 460 million pounds of fraudulently claimed child and working tax credits)

this is not the impression you would get from following some of the country's right-leaning media.

the amount of tax evasion in the UK may be to the tune of about 70 billion pounds.

this is also not something you would glean from following the country's right-leaning media, although for totally different reasons to the first observation's occurrence.

tangentially, wrt that 1% figure above, David Osler makes an interesting and fair note when he points out

A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking big money. Even so, it is little more than small change in comparison with the £850bn spent on the bank bailout.

* by debate, i mean a public schoolboy Prime Minister - whose father was a stockbroker and whose business executive wife is the daughter of a land-owning Baronet - lining up to roll back the frontiers of the state, cheered on by the likes of certain misguided Guardian columnists, and the populist conservative nitwits that populate much of the British printing presses.

incidentally, if you think mentioning the guy's background is unreasonable, Cameron himself brought this into the terms of the debate w his recent 'i'm just a normal, sharp-elbowed middle-class guy' routine

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

not that i should really have to say this, but, just, to be clear, yes, The Washington Times is a often kooky rag - which, apart from its excellent wire services in the print edition (good coverage of international stories from one particular continent each day, IIRC, no?), still has (last time i checked and all, etc), i gather, a sketchy rep - but the following August 5th editorial is worth a read in full, you know, Lord Halifax, The Daily Telegraph, all that.

below is its final paragraph

Propaganda aside, brutalizing the population is a key Taliban tactic. They are not a "popular front" but an armed extremist fringe group that imposes control by terror. This was evident during the period when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Even minor violations of their bizarre, extremist Islamist creed were punished by torture and death. For them to attempt to portray themselves as friends of the Afghan people requires the world to forget the charnel house that was Afghanistan in the 1990s and ignore the Taliban's ongoing brutality. Mullah Omar's order to his fighters to respect the rights of Afghan civilians is about as believable as if he ordered them to accept Jesus as their lord and savior


Monday, 9 August 2010

from today's London Metro (not online)

The PKK, which formally ended its ceasefire in June, has now killed more than 100 soldiers this year, exceeding the total for last year.