Thursday, 30 September 2010

this deep house mix is gorgeous

oh and happy birthday to my younger brother, currently watching the football with some cans after a curry at his local pub - quality celebration, i'll hope to rock my next born day like that

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Curtis Jackson III grew up in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, in New York City. He grew up without a father and was raised by his mother, Sabrina, who gave birth to him at the age of fifteen. Sabrina, a cocaine dealer, raised Jackson until the age of twelve, when she was murdered in 1988...After her death, Jackson moved into his grandparents' house with his eight aunts and uncles. He recalls, "My grandmother told me, 'Your mother's not coming home. She's not gonna come back to pick you up. You're gonna stay with us now.' That's when I started adjusting to the streets a little bit".

- Wikipedia for American rap musician and actor '50 Cent'

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

though, as Madeleine Bunting did rightly note recently

'Equality is the one item nobody wants on the UN agenda next week
For all the progress on the millennium development goals, it seems countries are growing richer leaving their poor behind'
in New York these past two days, on behalf of the UK, Andrew Mitchell tries to chide other wealthy countries

Britain is leading the way in helping the world's poorest people, with a firm commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on aid from 2013. The UN Secretary General has praised Britain's 'visionary leadership' on this.
Now is the time for other countries to step up and keep their promises too. We will push for that - and I will push for all aid to be more transparent and more accountable.

Nick Clegg will discuss malaria.
At home and abroad, Serbia's enemies are massing against us

- Slobodan Milošević

We each took an area to organise. We told our lads to prepare for a real fight. We parked two lorries full of stones. We didn't say they were for the police. They were there "just in case".
- Miroslav Solevic, Kosovo Serb nationalist

whoever reduces the war in Bosnia to a civil war between various "ethnic groups", is already on the side of the Serbs.

- Slavoj Žižek

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

"The study also cites senior Lib Dems describing their party as like an adolescent child and admitting that they had 7,000 policies that no one gives a flying fuck about".

"Sacrifice is for the little people"

billionaire businessman possessed by wholly inappropriate comparisons?

check. (actually, he compared Obama to Hitler: yes, really.)

the mainstream business magazine Forbes making pretty much racist comments that are completely wide of the mark, not to mention grounded in a completely laughable, unsupportable and half-arsed cod psychologising?


this and more!

Paul Krugman explains.

The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world’s luckiest people, wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way. Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent.


Monday, 20 September 2010

Lauryn Oates, 48 hours ago:

In the last 24 hours, the Taliban have struck in almost every province of Afghanistan with a series of coordinated attacks. Innumerable IEDs have been found and some have detonated, grenades thrown into polling stations (many of which are in schools), civilians abducted and cars of election workers hijacked, rockets launched at polling stations, and armed attacks against voters, the police trying to protect them, and elections workers. The death toll is mounting. Last I checked, 95 people have been killed. The Taliban have proudly declared that they've attacked 150 polling stations.

And yet, people went to vote.

rest here.

(via Terry Glavin, must read as always.)

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a writer and activist.

he is in exile from Thailand after he ran afoul of the country's ridiculous lèse majesté law (bottom line, they try to put you in chokey if you slag off the King: an absurd anachronism).

here he explains a bit about the background to Thailand's Red Shirt movement (including the massacres of a few months back, when the army rolled in and shot up largely peaceful protesters in Bangkok this spring).

i want to quote a central passage below, as it shows that grasping a basic premise is not difficult, that is, one can be appropriately critical of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's crimes and excesses and also be critical of the coup that removed him.

you might think pointing this out sounds a bit simple-minded, but a lot of people damn the democratic, emancipatory Red Shirt movement by association with Thaksin; of course, since these people may often be supporters of the anti-democratic (and certainly far less politically progressive) Yellow Shirts, such complaints should be taken with salt.

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) was modernising and it captured the imagination of millions of citizens. This is why the conservatives hated it. For the first time in decades, a party gained mass support from the poor because it believed that the poor were not a burden. They argued that the poor should be “stakeholders” rather than serfs. “Populist” policies, such as universal health care, were developed after the 1997 Asian economic crisis and were a result of widespread consultations in society. This was no socialist party, but a party of big business committed to free-market policies at a macro and global level, and Keynesian policies at the village or grassroots level. The TRT government also believed in using a “firm hand”. This resulted in thousands of deaths in “the war on drugs” and the war in the Muslim Malay south. That is why I never voted for or supported the TRT. Nevertheless, I was totally opposed to the coup and the anti-Thaksin PAD.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

earlier this week: Linda Melvern and her short, unblinking gaze towards the UN's mapping exercise in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

the mapping exercise (a draft of which was recently leaked to Le Monde, as the UN news centre reports here) is a forthcoming "inventory of the most serious human rights abuses between 1993 and 2003, identifying potential leads and sources of information for further investigations should trials follow".

it gives form to hell.

In its 500 pages it describes more than 600 serious violations by perpetrators from the armies of Burundi, Uganda, Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Congolese rebel groups, and Rwandan Hutu Power génocidaires. It was, however, the allegation against the Rwandan army that drew the most media attention...Whoever leaked this document was distracting attention from another abject UN failure when, only days before in Congo's North Kivu province, rebels – including remnants of Hutu Power forces responsible for the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi – had systematically gang-raped hundreds of women and children. Atul Khare, the deputy head of UN peacekeeping, later admitted that the UN's forces in the DRC had failed.


The story of what happened in Congo remains massively incomplete. It is inappropriate, or so the Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman wrote last week, to simply blame African states. Braeckman, an expert in the region, says the Congo wars have depended upon tolerance and compromise within the UN security council. They have also depended on the exploitation of mineral reserves and the defence of foreign investment – they are about wealth and influence in Africa.

Braeckman discloses how at one stage the Hutu Power forces in the DRC had received military assistance from Serbian mercenaries hired by the French. She includes a startling claim that the US had provided satellite intelligence to Rwandan forces in order to show the location of Hutu refugees in sprawling forests.

The 1994 genocide and the subsequent massive exodus of more than one million Rwandans – the "Hutu nation", as one military leader called them – into the neighbouring DRC contributed to the destabilisation of an entire region. There have been 16 years of war, human deprivation, rape and misery, with untold and unimaginable brutality, and an incalculable number of victims. It is not over.

can you imagine?

the United States of America gives up the location of refugees to a pursuing army.

France funds genocide.

can you imagine?

Friday, 17 September 2010

Either the left and the labour movement get their act together at this pivotal moment, or they will be destroyed by the coming onslaught, and we will have a future in which Nick Clegg occupies the farthest left of bourgeois politics, with a right-wing increasingly defined by petit-bourgeois reactionaries and fascist provocateurs. Imagine - it would be like living in America.

it's exceedingly true to say this blog doesn't always see eye-to-eye with LENIN'S TOMB (i'm sure a published author and well known blogger like Richard Seymour must be weeping into his cornflakes with this retrospectively lukewarm endorsement), but this sober riffing on the Liberal Democrat party seems fair in analysis terms, contains a few clear-eyed, pretty heart-rending paragraphs about the actual implications of Nick Clegg's benefits announcements, and also includes one sensible - and welcome - reminder about the fundamental inch of difference between Labour proposals, Liberal Democrat proposals, and Tory proposals wrt the choice that faced British voters at the last election, as quoted here.

22% of people back the government's cuts. 37% support the lesser, more gradual cuts that Labour proposed at the last election.

the amount of letters one encounters in the press here at the moment banging on about how Labour's bleating on cuts should stop because they would be cutting too ignores, of course, the modest but crucial distinction between the three main parties in terms of what they said they would do in their manifestos ahead of the election.

put simply: the Tories said they would cut, cut, cut, and with a budget that hit the poorest Britons hardest.

the Liberal Democrats were somewhat less punitive towards the vulnerable than that.

and Labour less so again.

if you cannot understand the difference between the more phased cuts, mild redistribution and some stimulation that Labour said they would do, and the - to be fair to the Tories, they are a reasonably honest bunch about their intentions (which is, admittedly, more than can be said for the national Liberal Democrats in some ways these days) - full-blooded hollowing out the Tories said they would set about, then you really need to wise up.

and, natch, in the interests of completeness, let us recall that the fully advertised in advance Liberal Democrat proposals were quite inferior to what Labour had to say, and rather superior to what the Tories had to say *.

so, yes.

there has been about an inch of difference on social justice between Labour, and the Liberal Democrats, and the Tories these past years.

and you know what?

that inch?

it is a really significant, wide, 2.54 centimetres, where a lot of the poorest Britons get by just a bit better thanks to Labour.

Shuggy, meanwhile, is not optimistic.

Underneath everything this government says about anything - whether about health, education, family life or deficit reduction - you'll find just one thing; the notion that the 'good society' is one where the state is smaller - period.

The Lib Dems have traditionally stressed making the state smaller in relation to personal conduct, the Conservatives with the economic sphere, but with both - especially when you factor in the degree of overlap - the near universal presence of this central idea should be better appreciated. Is there anyone on the government benches that doesn't think the state should be shrunk in some way?

Now, simple ideas have a habit of breaking on the rocks of experience because the human situation always proves to be more complicated but for now the cohesive role it is playing should be tackled more directly. In other words, the opposition to the coalition needs to be clearer about what its attitude towards the state is. This isn't easy because to respond to a simple idea like this with an equally simple one runs the risk of sounding either conservative (keep it the way it is) - or a bit Soviet (make it bigger). Whereas a more complicated idea - while it would do more justice to the mess of actual life - can sound like obfuscation, if you're not careful.

The problem here is that I can't see Labour getting even close to agreeing a broad road on which to travel, never mind coming up with a line.

* this is probably a literally perfect example of 'damning with faint praise'

Thursday, 16 September 2010

There are two chief schools of thought about this.

One is that a man who would put lobster in bouillabaisse would poison wells. The other is that a man who would leave it out would starve his children.

- Waverley Root

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Globe and Mail met with four men from the village this week to find out how they feel about the social and military experiment that is being conducted in their backyards.
One of them is so angry at a Canadian cultural blunder that he said he is forcing himself to overcome thoughts of revenge. He's the exception.
The other three said they are glad their boys are in school and their villages are safe...most of all, they said, they are delighted to be paid for cleaning the canals in Deh-e-Bagh..."They give us a good salary," Faridullah says. "I am happy with Canadians because they keep our young people busy."


It will be many years before the community has the security forces and the economic resources to sustain itself - and there is only one other employer in the region, the Taliban, he said.

"Today," Faridullah said, "the people are working. They don't have time to speak to the Taliban. So I need to tell the Canadians to continue for a long time. Do not stop."

from a piece by Gloria Galloway on this "model village" approach from Canadian forces in Kandahar, the Globe and Mail, October 16, 2009 (not online)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

For every death of a British soldier you hear about, there are four or five Afghans who are killed.

- Doug Beattie won a Military Cross, serving alongside Afghan soldiers, in the Royal Irish Regiment (motto: Faugh A Ballagh or clear the way).

remarks to London Metro, July 14 2010, not online.

Monday, 13 September 2010

what they achieve in terms of farming is remarkable given the limited tools and manpower they have – I have a lot of respect

remarks in today's press from a British Lance Corporal (1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment), describing meeting locals in Helmand

Sunday, 5 September 2010

leonine Terry Glavin and the wonderful Peter Ryley are on fine form in the comments of this Terry post on Afghanistan.

says Terry: "A pal of ours, civil rights lawyer in Kabul, a Talib just shot his brother in the head so I'm in a bit of a mood."

Friday, 3 September 2010