Saturday, 31 December 2011


- I Know Something About Love :
group show with Shirin Neshat, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Yinka Shonibare and Yang Fudong,
Parasol unit

- L and i had problems with how in Neshat's video on forbidden love (snatched glances across Iranian prayer rooms, women firmly in a post-Revolution cage) the woman was fairly heavily made up beneath her cloths, and the bloke was a bit of a conventional oil painting, foregrounded in a sea of anonymous, unadorned faces *, but the cumulative effect of that, of Yang's inquiring video as young Chinese brazenly discuss their relationships, of Shonibare's (admittedly well-worked, if one-trick **) texture-heavy riff on Rococo France that had you scampering around a delicious trellis maze, all the while as elsewhere the slow dance marathon Cypriots in Panayiotou's video charmed pants off bemused viewers, was certainly enough.

(incidentally - the garden and pond at the back of Parasol Unit lovely.)

* is this a 'correct' response? who knows?

** this was more of a problem for the experienced L than myself, given i was popping my Shonibare cherry

Anselm Kiefer: Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen, White Cube Hoxton Square - signature gigantic seascapes (everything comes from there) that battered faculties into submission; could have stayed beaten for days

- Chantal Joffe, Victoria Miro - portraits to push it forward

- Richard Long and Giuseppe Penone, Haunch of Venison - the complementarity of both (love 'em both, never seen 'em together before)

- Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters, Dulwich Picture Gallery - all of this made sense

Look11 Photography Festival (website), Liverpool, various venues

(including that fabulous resource the Contemporary Urban Centre on Greenland Street, and the splendid Blue Coat School)

- what to mention in scraps? Paul Graham's portraits of Thatcherite dole offices, Mohamed Bourouissa's staged neo-classical-like banlieue series Peripheriques, the group show Collateral Damage, with the likes of Tim Hetherington (RIP), horribly clear-eyed in Sierra Leone, the bedrooms of young American soldiers KIA, preserved in time by grieving parents, documents of American bases worldwide, dry schematic presentations, Edmund Clark's incredibly distressing series from Gitmo, Dornith Doherty photographing seed banks, Juergen Chill’s mundane German prisons: lots and lots of containerisation, confinement benign and otherwise

(quite literally for attendants of the off-off site installations of TRANSITION: fine work - Ciara Leeming on representations and "what it means to be a Gypsy/Traveller in the UK in the 21st century", or listen to Gary Tack here This piece is a kind of photo essay of my old city's attempt at transition architecturally, socially and economically with this theme running throughout the image. It is a reminder to the viewer that Liverpool was and remains, fundamentally, a working class city that is now dysfunctional. It’s original reasons for existence have been lost and the still extant historical attitudes of its mainly working class inhabitants remain despite their urban identity being lost because of the changes forced upon them - pasted on to shipping containers; being locked inside those not something to be forgotten in a hurry)

- Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work, National Gallery's Sunley Room - fundamental

(the work displayed from when she was a teen - her van Eyck copy of his Man in a Red Turban, which was news to me - felt like being on the precipice of a paradigm shift, but then you realised it already happened; does this hymning mean genius > scenius? hrm. wind-flecked Cornish coastal grasses, Egyptian blue, Ad Reinhardt, you know ALL THAT CROWD)

- Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century, Royal Academy - it will suffice to list names: Brassaï, Capa, Kertész, Moholy-Nagy, Munkácsi.

"Others, such as Károly Escher, Rudolf Balogh and Jószef Pécsi".


- Modern British Sculpture, Royal Academy - the curating was deliberately all over the shop; hence i thought 'fucking brilliant'

Friday, 30 December 2011

Thursday, 29 December 2011


that's quite the headline from the London Daily Mail.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Can movement be captured in art?

Deborah Bull: For a dancer to look at a picture of a dancer is to experience the sensation of movement

What can we learn from the changing physique of the dancer since Degas' time?

DB: Dancers tend to reflect the ideal of womanhood of the times.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

and in some of my other favourites from this year, Mike Skinner's mix for FACT (link) has cracking selections all the way through, but i especially appreciate at the end a jungle do-over of Bjork that finishes beautifully, bringing the melancholic 4am come down to you, switching into the shimmering, gorgeous build-up of corking Canadian prog house, that and perhaps how he goes into Jean Jacques Smoothie near the start

Monday, 26 December 2011

here's Natalie Shaw's tracks of 2011 (Spotify link)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The approach of entitlements used in this work is very general and - I would argue - quite inescapable in analysing starvation and poverty. If, nevertheless, it appears odd and unusual, this can be because of the hold of the tradition of thinking in terms of what exists rather than in terms of who can command what. The mesmering simplicity of focusing on the ratio of food to population has persistently played an obscuring role over centuries, and continues to plague policy discussions today much as it has deranged anti-famine policies in the past.

- Amartya Sen, 1982

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Royal Dutch Shell wishes the Niger Delta Merry Christmas in their own inimitable way
Egyptians raise their voices

(photo: Mohamed Omar for epa)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

HRW: 'This 52-page report documents the effect of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer Citizen and Protection Act, commonly known as HB 56, on unauthorized immigrants and their families, as well as the larger Alabama communities in which they live. It is based in part on first-hand accounts by 57 Alabama residents, including citizens and permanent residents, who reported abuse or discrimination under the law.'

a real fucking cunt of a bill.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

from the courageous and invaluable Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Police in Bahrain on Sunday fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans after the funeral of an elderly man who witnesses say died from tear gas inhalation.

The unrest Sunday is the fourth straight day of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces along a main highway west of the Bahraini capital Manama. At least 40 people have been killed since February, when Bahrain's Shiite majority started campaigning for more rights from Sunni rulers in the Gulf kingdom that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Amir al-Mouali said his 73-year-old neighbor, Abdulali Ali Ahmed, was taken to a hospital Saturday morning after struggling to breath during a night of heavy clashes near his home along the Budaiya highway, which connects a string of Shiite villages west of Manama. Al-Mouali said Ahmed died Saturday evening.

In a statement Sunday, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said Ahmed died of natural causes.

- AP.

Bahraini security forces use tear gas made in the USA, France and Brazil.

can you have a dialogue with tear gas?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Where does this road begin? Where does it end? [Dhorai] doesn't know. Perhaps no one knows.
Some of the carts are loaded with maize, others bring plaintiffs to the district court, still others carry patients to the hospital.

- 'Dhorai charitmanas', Satinath Bhaduri

Friday, 16 December 2011

London schoolchildren among those taking to the streets to protest the likely rigged election in the DRC and general lack of outside interest in Congolese woes (this precisely aligns with the international community's systematic plundering of Congolese treasure, naturally),

earlier this month.

i hadn't followed what UK press coverage of these hugely under-reported protests there has been, but apparently what few items have tended to crop up in the UK media have focused on London tourists being inconvenienced (maybe some Christmas shoppers too, i daresay! heavens), which is both absolutely sickening and, of course, not a surprise in the slightest when you take into account the (for the most part) ridiculous shower that passes for an enquiring press in the UK

Sunday, 11 December 2011



neoliberal networks

Intensive globalization has been created largely by law firms and more specialised financial services. As a process it can be interpreted as indicating globalization's origins in mid-twentieth century Americanization. As an outcome it can be interpreted as a continuing core of the globalization process.

Extensive globalization has been created largely by accountancy and advertising firms. As a process it can be interpreted as the diffusion of globalization from its Americanization origins. As an outcome it can be interpreted as the worldwide incorporation of cities into globalization.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hitchens concludes the essay with the observation that even as he was writing the article, he noticed a full-page advertisement from CAMERA [Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America], which said:

In 1948, on the day of the proclamation of the State of Israel, five Arab armies invaded the new country from all sides. In frightful radio broadcasts, they urged the Arabs living there to leave, so that the invading armies could operate without interference.

Hitchens says he wrote to CAMERA on 20 February 1987, asking for an authenticated case of such a broadcast. He did not receive any reply. And he concludes with a prediction:

Even though nobody has ever testified to having heard them, and even though no record of their transmission has ever been found, we shall hear of these orders and broadcasts again and again.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Reynolds on the maximal nation - for Pitchfork no less

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Barbed wire and burnt-out vehicles, trucks laden with logs splayed across the roads, stone-throwing mobs and panicking international peacekeepers cowering behind their riot shields. The Balkan checkpoint, wearily familiar from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, is back.

In an attempt to keep a little swath of Kosovo Serbian, Serbs have cut roads, blocked passages and erected checkpoints at a score of locations across the north of Kosovo bordering Serbia since the summer.

oh dear.

Europe and Serbia are engaged in a risky game of brinkmanship. On the dusty blocked roads of northern Kosovo, Serbia's future is at stake.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Average pay in the City of London has jumped by 12% to £83,000 in the last year, with managing directors enjoying a 21% increase to £237,000, a new report said today.

source: London Evening Standard, Monday 21st November 2011

Saturday, 19 November 2011

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that's all.’

Monday, 14 November 2011

Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011

So when US analysts or European journalists or World Bank bureaucrats ruminate about "when will there be a Palestinian spring?", it's generally because they have no historical context, no idea that Palestine's first intifada spring in many ways set the stage for this Arab spring more than two decades later.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Friday, 4 November 2011

speaking of the arts, gutted to miss - in my beloved Birmingham to boot

Thursday, 3 November 2011

south London dwelling scouser, charting courses through grime, house, UK funky, keeping it on the floor whilst moving forward (not that the two should ever be regarded as usually mutually exclusive), this, fucking remarkable.

love it (dropped a year ago - yes, i live in the back)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

- Matthew 21:12

Sunday, 30 October 2011

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws, and began to think. First of all he said to himself: ‘That buzzing noise means something. You don't get a buzzing noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something.’

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The NHS will not exist within five years of a Conservative victory

- Oliver Letwin, MP, 2009

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

whether there are tasks the army could undertake that would free up more police for the front line

- David Cameron, 2011

"It would be a sorry day if we had to have an army on the streets on the mainland of Britain"

- Willie Whitelaw, 1981

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

one of the great blogs is no more.

cheers Graeme.

i'm going to re-up a David Harvey quote this blog has borrowed once before, first from Graeme's site; it seems appropriate.

My view is that [neoliberalism] refers to a class project that coalesced in the crisis of the 1970s. Masked by a lot of rhetoric about individual freedom, liberty, personal responsibility and the virtues of privatisation, the free market and free trade, it legitimised draconian policies designed to restore and consolidate capitalist class power. This project has been successful, judging by the incredible centralisation of wealth and power observable in all those countries that took the neoliberal road. And there is no evidence that it is dead.

- The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism
Return of the Rajavi Cult

Oliver Craner on the Mujahedin-e Khalq

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tom Hardy, i like this boy, i have a man crush on him. i like his line about dreaming a little bigger, darling (or however it goes) in the Nolan film Inception.

and i also like how Leonardo DiCaprio is growing into some modern weary/driven Robert Mitchum, looks wise, these days, bulking up after a fresh-faced adolescence courting the likes of Claire Danes.

and i particularly like the still, centered quality that Joseph Gordon-Levitt - DiCaprio's foil - brought to same movie. i liked the cast. (Memento by a country mile remains the fave Nolan but here we go.)

clip below.

this post is all about Tom Hardy.

Friday, 19 August 2011

I have seen many country of origin information (COI) reports in my time, and I am generally a big fan of them, but the current UK Border Agency one on Sri Lanka is genuinely shocking.


The UK Border Agency are now relying on war criminals as a source of evidence. It gives a new meaning to the phrase blame the victim.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

'Britain's public snubbing of the court emboldens Moscow, Ankara and other governments who would prefer to ignore its rulings'

What Cameron and other government ministers before him who renounce the "perversion" of human rights really seem to object to is judges making decisions that the government dislikes. Witness the attacks on "unelected" British judges and the European court of human rights over rulings on torture, immigration, prisoner voting and a host of other political hot potatoes.

Strip away the high rhetoric from these attacks and they amount to a rejection of government being subject to the rule of law along with everyone else, and the fact that in a system with checks and balances the executive doesn't always get its way.


Scapegoating human rights, judges and the European court may be effective politics in the eyes of some in government, but it corrodes respect for human rights and the rule of law. That is surely not the outcome the prime minister wants.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


'some were so brazen they made no attempt to disguise their appearance'

Sunday, 14 August 2011

playing this atm. really like it.

(via Yatesy.)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

cannot articulate what UK garage means to me

Thursday, 11 August 2011

looting scum, send him down

A college student with no criminal record was jailed for six months on Thursday for stealing a £3.50 case of bottled water during a night of rioting.

Nicolas Robinson, 23, of Borough, south-east London, carried out the “opportunistic” theft at a Lidl supermarket in Brixton as he walked home from his girlfriend’s house.

Robinson threw away the water and ran when he was confronted by police but was arrested and quickly admitted what he had done.

His solicitor told Camberwell Magistrates’ Court
[Robinson] had “got caught up in the moment” and was “incredibly ashamed”.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

above the door of the Walworth clinic on the Walworth Road in southeast London, a stone is inscribed with a Cicero quotation, The health of the people is the highest law.

this lets me inelegantly segue into observing that nurses, physiotherapists and foot doctors are being used by an increasingly cash-strapped NHS to screen general practitioner referrals back to those same GPs who had sent patients off for extra care in the first place, and no doubt there'll be more like this as funding cuts bite.

elsewhere, we have David Cameron responding to the looting and violence that has recently convulsed urban England (tragically, three young men died defending their neighbourhood in Birmingham, there has been at least one fatality amid the violence in London, and more Londoners made homeless, whilst jobs and livelihoods have been wrecked or affected in more than one city), by promising a fightback of ordinary Britain against the rioters and looters.

you can't blame Cameron for using the language of fightback, but it is a kick in the teeth for him to re-appropriate the term, given in recent months some in Britain's beleaguered public services sector were using it as a rallying point to argue against the Tory-led coalition government's small state hollowing out of the support struts for some of the country's poorest and most vulnerable quarters.

i think Mary Riddell (in the Telegraph, of all places) had a point recently when she wrote "nor, as Adam Smith recognised, can a well-ordered society ever develop when a sizeable number of its members are miserable and, as a consequence, dangerous. This is not a gospel of determinism, for poverty does not ordain lawlessness. Nor, however, is it sufficient to heap contempt on the rioters as if they are a pariah caste".
(Kenan Malik is also worth reading.)

i hope Cameron heeds Riddell.

i'm not sure he will.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

very sadly, not really a surprise

Friday, 5 August 2011

All of the bells in a city or town rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

In a sense, one might define the contemporary poor in the United States as those who, for reasons beyond their control, cannot help themselves. All the most decisive factors making for opportunity and advance are against them. They are born going downward, and most of them stay down. They are victims whose lives are endlessly blown round and round the other America.

- Michael Harrington, 1962

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Gerhard Richter: Panorama

Oct 6-Jan 8 2012 Tate Modern

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Monday, 1 August 2011

Charity is no substitute for justice withheld

- Augustine

Sunday, 31 July 2011

just in

'AFP: Activist says at least 45 civilians killed by Syrian forces in tank assault on city of Hama'

Friday, 29 July 2011

not even amongst the greatest set of men

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Yes, we back Sure Start. It's a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this.

- David Cameron, 5 May 2010.

it turns out funding for Sure Start centres (one of the crowning glories of the New Labour years, a programme of community outreach for childcare, early years learning and such) was not ring fenced - contrary to what Cameron implied would happen, whilst on record last year - and so twenty of them have closed across the country to date (with possibly more getting effectively mothballed), and overall government cuts in early years, youth and child services programmes will disproportionately affect poor areas to boot in "an act of reverse redistribution", as the below shows.

desperately sad.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

ford to city: drop dead

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

how long? not long

Monday, 25 July 2011

By one means or another, what is being avoided here is that Anders Breivik's politics were shaped not by the fact of immigration, nor by jihadism, nor by any actually existing Muslims, but by ideas beginning in the mainstream right and radiating out to the far right.



Saturday, 23 July 2011

earlier this year the always exceptional Graeme made a couple of posts about the ideology of craft beer (part one here, two).

you should read both the posts in full, certainly if you've ever drank a beer and enjoyed it, or, if, like me and some of my mates, you know a bit about the stuff.

Graeme started to hit on some - you might say - peculiarities in the north American craft brewing scene (what the UK calls micro-breweries, or independent brewing, not the giant conglomerates pumping out the same carbonated lager that corners most of the global suds market).

if you've ever drank a few American (or Canadian) craft brews, you'll know a lot of their brewers often enjoy really hopping up their beers (for a rather bitter taste), and a lot of their brewers produce some powerfully knock-out stuff, with a very high alcohol content (by beer standards; which is i guess one in the eye against the Python-initiated joke that American beer is like making love in a canoe, fucking close to water).

Graeme's first post - writing from Montreal, though he has lived in the UK and knows his beer onions to say the very least (though i cannot vouch for terms and conditions at micro-breweries in the UK, but am interested in a discussion of the north American scene on its own merits) - discussed this, and more (it really is worth your while reading them), then he let fly in the second post even more widely

(sample end-quote: Things that I plan on looking at further in depth over the coming weeks, months, years:

-The way in which craft beer is percieved to be about more than just what's in the glass or bottle: when you drink craft beer you're making a political/ethical choice. I'm going to critically examine that notion.

Craft beer and labour. Craft beer hearkens back to an earlier time before the advent of megabreweries, but completely overlooks the role that trade unionism and labour radicalism had in the brewing industry. We're looking at a neutered version of history, and one that in particular benefits the bosses. What sort of political/ethical choice are we making by drinking craft beer when the workers at those breweries are making far less (ie close to half as much) as workers at the unionised megabreweries?

-Whatever else comes to mind. I'm sure there will be plenty to write and think about.

i hope he carries on.

this is a particularly pointless vanity post (so like any post here) as i have nothing to add to what Graeme is saying in general (his typically thoughtful points are starting to say it all as he teases out what he means), except i really just wanted to blurt about the hopping in some American brews (i've drank plenty of Canadian craft down the years, but have spent far more time in the USA, so i will restrict my necessarily generalising remarks to the States), and the strength, so, more a 'me too' just on the styles of the beer itself, as opposed to all the extra structural issues.

now, we all know that the USA is one of the great beer nations, Bell's Brewery near Kalamazoo, Michigan, is for instance (just to restrict myself to one example) in my view one of the greatest breweries on earth.

one could go on.

Portland, Oregon is up there with Munich in terms of breweries per head of population, if not more (if you like food, coffee, the outdoors, or beer, you'd like Portland), and the Pacific Northwest in general is very good for beer, Denver has a reputation, the Bay Area's steam beer (the only original indigenous American beer style AFAIK) has its fans, Delaware's Dogfish Head brewery is very fashionable among ale drinkers in the UK these days, my British mates that drink beer all know i'm a huge fan of Chicago's Goose Island brewery, and so on, these all illustrate its strength in beery depth.

Graeme already mentioned it once, but whilst American craft brewers have been very strong on high alcohol by volume brews such as imperial stouts, or India Pale Ales, down the years, they haven't gone in for session beers so much (as understood in the UK, lower strength, usually bitter ales, though often not very 'bitter' in taste, certainly not compared to some of the scoops you get across the pond).

presumably this may be because the relatively low-strength lagers that are the mainstay of every American street-corner local bar, your Millers and Old Styles and Buds and what have you, are the true working man's session beer (anyone who's drank in a blue collar bar in the States will marvel at the keg Guinness and the cheap pitcher deals, and the fact that in some places, a bit like in Irish villages where the pub of yore can double as a general store, you get a bar stuck in the middle of a pharmaceutical shop or what have you), and perhaps US craft brewers wanted to set out to do their own thing and just experiment all the way up to 11.
(interestingly, as in the UK, beer drinkers in the USA of history were at first ale people, New York two centuries ago for example was an ale town, but over the decades for various reasons that i won't go into, lager came to predominate, as it did in the UK from certainly around the 1970s onwards - my middle aged father is uncompromisingly a lager drinker only, for instance, my elderly grandfather a bitter drinker, and because my brother and i had the good fortune to grow up in an era when micro-breweries are fashionable in the UK and enjoying a renaissance, my little brother and i are bitter drinkers. well, i'll drink anything, including lager, but you get my drift.)

but the amount of times i've sank overly hoppy, strong brews (an abundance of hops means a beer will inevitably taste bitter) in the USA is too many to mention, and the amount of times i've just wanted a mildly hopped, more balanced (a beer is not just hops, malted barley is all-important too) lower strength ale of some sort instead, the same.

i appreciate everything that goes in to a high-quality American craft beer (the Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from California's North Coast Brewery is a fine, fine drink, for example), but trying for a broader range of styles and strengths would be a welcome development for American craft brewers (who may be doing this these days for all i know, it's been years since i paid attention to that area).
certainly Goose Island's pub, not far from downtown Chicago, was showcasing more diverse styles and strengths of beers the last time i was in there (as well as continuing to knock out strong, classy bottled products, such as the Belgian-style Pere Jacques).

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of other civil rights groups asked a federal judge to block Alabama’s anti-immigrant law from taking effect Sept. 1.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Bruce Wayne: Targeting me won't get their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They've crossed a line.

Alfred Pennyworth: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them and hammered them to the point of desperation, and in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.

Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. We just need to figure out what he's after.

Alfred Pennyworth: With respect, Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man you don't fully understand either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: So why steal them?

Alfred Pennyworth: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.


Bruce Wayne: The bandit, in the forest in Burma, did you catch him?

Alfred Pennyworth: Yes.

Bruce Wayne: How?

Alfred Pennyworth: We burned the forest down.

Monday, 18 July 2011

fuck. me.

B'Tselem interviewed 50 Palestinian minors for the report. Many described being arrested in the middle of the night, denied access to their families or lawyers and mistreatment. Only two of the children interviewed for the report, No Minor Matter, had an adult present during questioning.


(via Elizabeth.)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

love this war and i love gun

Sunday, 10 July 2011

there was a incisive (indeed snarky, and in some respects rather unfair but hey) Number Crunching in a recent Private Eye that i want to quote but before i do i just want to note it made me flash on a very good point yer man Owen Jones made in his recent book Chavs: The Demonization of the working class (do get hold of a copy of this essential tome about class and how society's imbalances are structured).

Owen notes how Margaret Thatcher launched the 'right-to-buy' scheme in the late 70s, a policy whereby tenants of British local government-owned housing were encouraged to buy off their property from the local authority and own it outright. the policy was opposed by housing and homelessness charity Shelter, who had the foresight to realise the negative impact it would have in the long-term on housing for the poorest and most vulnerable Britons, people who had come to rely on so-called social housing (local government provided).

as Owen notes "The policy was undoubtedly popular with many working-class people" (one million homes sold off in ten years), and all part of Thatcher's plans to make Britain a more individualistic nation.

the big effect (that Shelter called) was that the very poorest tenants got left behind, unable to afford to buy their home.

local authorities were encouraged to run down their properties, Thatcher started to spend far less on social housing than previous governments, and local authorities were encouraged to flog all their housing stock, whilst proceeds from sales of houses were not put back into social housing, helping to create a perfect storm of ghettoisation (rates of deprivation in social housing areas sky-rocketed under Thatcher), as she left Britain a far less equal place than the Britain she was put in charge of.

anyway, owning your own home is a big thing in the UK as we all know, and it is with this societal golden rule (and clearly to be fair, as it is, a mortgaged property can easily be cheaper in the long run than renting, natch) that was in mind when the Eye recently printed the following Number Crunching

Average age at which young people in UK can soon expect to be able to afford to get on property ladder, according to new figures described as "worrying"

Average age which young people in Afghanistan, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone can expect to live to, not described as worrying

Saturday, 9 July 2011

"There was random shooting at people, no distinction between women, children, armed or unarmed men. Many, many were killed, many unarmed civilians."

"I left Talkalakh to protect my honour. When we talk to our relatives in Banyas, Homs and Talbiseh they tell us horrifying stories. They told us that so many women were raped. These men don't fear God."

"Once they beat me so hard on the back of my head blood filled my eyes, I couldn't see anything. When they interrogated me they would tie my wrists and leave me hanging for hours."

hell in Syria.

Friday, 8 July 2011

In March, the coalition Government ignored the pleas of students and Further Education Colleges alike and announced it would scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) that so many young people rely on to afford education beyond school. A bursary scheme replaced the EMA, albeit proposed with less than one third of the funding.
The Government is now using the News of the World phone hacking scandal as an opportunity to bury bad news, disclosing that the bursary funding will be reduced by a further £65m - a drop of 36%.

UCA Students’ Union Executive have said: “not only does the abolition of EMA itself show disgraceful disdain, but further reduction from the promised £150m replacement scheme shows that the Government is not committed to adequately supporting students and is actively undermining its own commitments.

“How much lower will the figure fall over the coming years, as the EMA recedes into distant memory?”


Thursday, 7 July 2011

This Fourth of July weekend, one very powerful and wealthy man named Dominique Strauss-Kahn was free to leave house arrest because of so-called problems with the victim's "credibility." I do say so-called, because neither lying on an immigration application, nor having an incarcerated boyfriend, makes it less likely a woman will be one of the 600 women raped on any given day.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Cy Twombly has died.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

As you approach the studio-home of sculptor Stephen Cox RA, an old farmhouse not far from Ludlow, you make a steady ascent up Clee Hill.
This high peak, made famous in A.E. Housman's poem, A Shropshire Lad, in the line 'From Clee to heaven the beacon burns', still shows signs of its Iron Age past. As you climb, depending on the weather, a panorama of the Welsh Marches unfurls: Snowdonia to the west, the Peak District to the north and, further around, the Cotswolds, the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains.

This view is not, as Cox might have thought when he and his curator wife Judy moved there from London in 2002, merely of scenic interest. Had he but realised, Cox had chosen an area of the British Isles whose geology precisely matched one of the materials he had used in his own work. The carboniferous rock called dhustone or dolerite, a feature of this area of the west midlands, was the exact type that he had spent years travelling across the globe, specifically to India, to explore in his sculpture.

(from the summer 2011 edition of the Royal Academy magazine)

Friday, 24 June 2011

'The result is a teasingly ambiguous sequence of makeshift workshops and half-lit shelters where weary merchants might have just spent a night, or where itinerant weavers had long before abandoned their tapestry factory. The whole experience is a loop: from beginning to end symbols reiterate and multiply until you are suddenly popped outside into an internal courtyard or Byzantine backstreet. This moment of clarity is like the breath you take at the centre of a labyrinth or before entering an unknown darkness - the vertigo before the plunge.

It's only later that the physical feat of taking the pavilion's roof away and replacing its innards with three storeys of brick and cement render hits you, of how dramatically and seamlessly Nelson switched interiors, leaving almost no trace of himself, like a sculptural thief in the night'

- (emphasis mine) Ossian Ward describes artist Mike Nelson's installation in Venice

Sunday, 19 June 2011

If you are Kurdish today, even if you don’t speak the language, you can hear a song in Kurdish, and your soul roars. It makes you feel part of a struggle.


Monday, 13 June 2011

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The boy amid the ruins could have been no more than 12 years old and he looked at us with genuine disinterest, sitting on a broken office swivel chair in the middle of rue Trablos, scruffy brown hair on top of a tired, old face. He was wearing khaki dungarees about three sizes too big for him and a boy's shirt with pictures of Mickey Mouse printed across the front. In his right hand he held the barrel of a Kalashnikov rifle, its wooden butt resting on the roadway. In his left he balanced a glass of scalding hot tea.


The buildings around us were scorched by fire, their roofs long fallen in, the facades scored by shoals of bullets, shattered by artillery fire.

It was hot and the cicadas whispered away in the shadows. Somewhere, perhaps a mile away down the Beirut front line, shells were bursting in a long, low rumble that ever so slightly changed the air pressure in rue Trablos. The explosions were dull and heavy; the sort of noise that an expensive carpet would make if thrown onto a road from a balcony.


When we approached the 12 year-old's little aluminium throne with its torn plastic seat and its bent wheels, he looked at us with that special insouciance of the Lebanese militiaman. The gunmen of Lebanon had grown used to the sahafa, the press. Sometimes they would take journalists to the front line; sometimes they would risk their lives to help reporters. Or they would rob them or threaten to execute them. One day, in years to come, they would kidnap them, too. Our 12-year-old had plenty of time to make up his mind.

'If you want to see the war, you should go that way,' he said, gesturing wearily in the direction of a gutted restaurant. He put down his glass of tea, lifted the rifle to his shoulder and trudged off into the debris. We followed him, across the street and into the building. It was Al Ajami, once one of Beirut's most prestigious restaurants. We walked into it through the wall, through a shell-hole that had been enlarged by the gunmen for easy access. In the darkness, we padded across the dank, wet velvet floor and out through the kitchen wall into a street whose hollow buildings leaned outwards. Four or five storeys high, they tottered against each other, held up only by the shells of neighbouring structures, their innards shrivelled up by fire, a real Dresden of a street.

What did the boy want to do when he grew up? I asked. 'I want to be a guerrilla commander,' he said in French. An educated gunboy, his intellectual ambitions were limited. He gave us a grin of yellow teeth.
He was enjoying himself. And if the war ended? He shrugged.

- Robert Fisk in 1976

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The UN's human rights commissioner has criticised Australia's tight policies on refugees and the treatment of Aboriginal people.
Navi Pillay, who grew up in apartheid-era South Africa, said it was part of an undercurrent of racism in the country, which leads to refugees and migrants being subjected to arbitrary detention in Australia, and also in Malaysia.

(source: Big Issue, June 6 - 12 2011.)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Controversial government changes to housing benefit could see 11,000 young disabled people forced out of their flats, putting them at risk of homelessness, according to campaigners.

oh goody.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Graeme (one of the few worthwhile politics blogs out there): The rot at the centre of Canada's political culture

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A new Council of Europe treaty will make a real difference to abuse sufferers – so why is our government so reluctant to sign?

by Gauri van Gulik

May 19, 2011

Ministers from countries all across Europe gathered in Istanbul today to sign a new Council of Europe convention on domestic violence at the Istanbul summit of the committee of ministers. Incredibly, the UK wasn't one of the signatories. The British government so far has not commented on its reasoning...the government is nibbling away determinedly at those services that are needed to fight violence, such as legal aid and protection for female asylum seekers who suffered domestic violence in their home country. And now it is reluctant to sign a groundbreaking new treaty that will truly make a difference throughout the European region.


the government probably has one eye on asylum and refugee claims.

lots of things in Europe come down to a vile, miserable calculation about the marginalised and the Other, after all.

even if the UK signs this tomorrow (as they should), their pause will have been noted.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and got into bed before the room was dark

Saturday, 14 May 2011

i've banged on about this one elsewhere online but my love for this one is real.

vital tech-house eudaimonia, how do i love you?

let me count the ways.

if a DJ dropped this at say 6 am during an all-nighter i'm afraid i would go fucking mental.

love how the two vocal samples play off, and the expanding feeling of whole-hearted euphoria.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

And who is insisting on these human sacrifices but the high priests of banking and finance whose blow-out created the problem in the first place and who continue to claim heroic levels of "compensation" when they are villains not heroes?

- Robin Blackburn

Friday, 29 April 2011

Four-handed in Newsweek

(i) on a plane with Abu Mazen:

he told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."


Abbas is missing the tip of his right ring finger. The story I’d heard seemed to reflect the awkwardness Abbas experienced going from being Arafat’s behind-the-curtain deputy to leading the PLO—and how much he hated crowds. While campaigning for president after Arafat died in late 2004, a horde of people surrounded his car in southern Gaza. Unsure about their intentions, he pressed the electric button of his armored window and closed it on his own finger. But Abbas told me the real story, a version that made more sense. It was his driver, concerned for his safety, who pressed the button. By the time Abbas reacted, the tip of his finger had been severed.
Abbas was due to give a speech in the town, so he bandaged the finger and stayed for two hours. The same driver then ferried him to a hospital in Gaza City, 30 kilometers away. “I found the doctor there, he made the surgery for me,” Abbas told me.
Is the driver still working for him? “No, no, no. I told him, ‘You have to leave,’ and he left.”

(ii) 'War photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya last week, telling a story no one wants to hear.'

(iii) Old colleague Michael Ware remembers Hetherington and Hondros, and more besides: The news bludgeoned me on a sunny Australian morning

(iv) In many ways, Beltrame seems miscast for the role of Brazil’s top cop. He speaks slowly in a measured tenor, with the singing accent of his native Rio Grande do Sul, Brazilian gaucho territory. A youthful 53, he has sandy hair brushed with gray and wears bookish wire rims. Country aphorisms dot his speech. “We’re eating porridge from the edge of the bowl,” he says: fire with fire in Rio.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

apparently at least 400 people have been killed by the Syrian security forces in the recent crackdown on civilians.

meanwhile, this coming Friday in London, for the UK royal family wedding, the Crown Prince of Bahrain has just politely turned down his invite, setting out his reasons why in a letter to the groom's father.

the Crown Prince's manners toward another unelected powerful man are touching, though sadly his concern for etiquette does not extend to the doctors his security forces are torturing with impunity, or the civilians his security forces are killing with impunity.

Friday, 22 April 2011

like so many civilians in Libya in recent weeks, the British photographer Tim Hetherington has been killed by the merciless Libyan dictatorship.

i read an interview in a men's magazine with Hetherington years ago in which he described how his British Forces brother, Guy, had just got back from Afghanistan or Iraq (frankly i forget which, shamefully, and i can never find the interview online), and how this had affected his brother.

he said that his brother went into a pub and randomly walked up to a group of blokes, and started punching them.

he said that he went into a London cafe with his brother, who nervously scanned exit lines and insisted on sitting away from the windows.

he said that his brother would jump when walking on the pavement if a car pulled up nearby.

RIP Tim Hetherington and your colleague Chris Hondros.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Owen Jones has more on David Cameron, and immigration generally.

In his speech Cameron takes on "forced marriages", cynically conflating the issue with immigration when the vast majority of people entering the country reject it as much as anyone else. There were 1,735 cases of potential or actual cases reported to the Government's forced marriage unit last year - disturbing, yes, but to be treated separately from a debate on immigration. Cameron's intention is clear: to excite the popular imagination into believing the idea that hundreds of thousands of people are arriving on our shores who reject the "British way of life" and that he is the leader to "defend" us from this invasion.


while it has been fashionable to understand inequality in racial terms, class has been tossed to one side. This has encouraged some white working-class people to develop notions of ethnic pride similar to minority groups, promoting an identity based on race to gain recognition in multicultural society. The BNP has tapped into this disastrous redefining of white working-class people as, effectively, another marginalised ethnic minority.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Asian families should speak English at home. I wonder if he says that to the Brits who buy second homes in Spain. Do they have to speak Spanish? How about...friends in Tuscany? Do they speak Italian? The man has no sense of history and proportion.

that's Ken Loach speaking about David Blunkett seven years ago, but it could be someone describing Cameron today.

one obvious end-product of New Labour's lurch to the right on immigration and asylum when in power is this, of course; they shifted the goalposts and here we are now.

Mehdi Hasan has more.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

I was not prepared to document torture and severe abuses when I started researching the human rights situation for migrants in Europe. After all, I was working on Western Europe, the developed world with a rule of law, independent judiciaries, functioning social services, and oversight bodies.

Greek coast guards punctured rubber boats carrying adults and children before pushing them back toward Turkey. Some migrants never made it to shore.

Ukrainian officials tortured migrants and asylum seekers with electric shocks after Hungary and Slovakia deported them, often after denying them an opportunity to lodge asylum claims.

The French airport border police tried to deport a 5-year-old Comorian boy alone to Yemen, a country he had passed through, not knowing where his parents were or why he had arrived by himself.

Various ships passed by and ignored a damaged, leaking, overcrowded rubber boat drifting for days in the Mediterranean. After finally being rescued by a Turkish freighter, the 140 sick and exhausted African migrants had to wait another four days to disembark as Italy and Malta debated which was responsible for taking them.

These abuses do not occur in a vacuum. Rather, they are the consequence of European governments' boundless efforts to deter, stem, or divert the flow of migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter Europe.


Monday, 28 March 2011

since the start of 2011, Iran has executed at least 116 people.

Amnesty writes the majority were convicted of drugs offences and at least nine were political prisoners.

support actions against capital punishment in Mongolia, here, and in Iran, here.

Monday, 21 March 2011

used to shott weed, now I sell records

- Wiley

One in five young British people are not working, nor in any form of training or education.
in some areas (particularly inner London, provincial cities like Birmingham, and parts of Wales and Scotland) the figure is more like one in three.

the coalition government decided to cut young Britons adrift.

the local authority i live in, Southwark in southeast London, is one of the worst affected (tangentially, one of the parliamentary constituencies that lies in Southwark, Camberwell and Peckham, has been noted as having a greater percentage of people below the breadline than any other constituency).

Southwark lies just south of central London.

from my bedroom window i can see most of the skyscrapers of the City financial district.
a few hundred yards from my front door on a bend in the road you can see some of the skyscrapers of London's other main financial area, Canary Wharf in the east.

despite the fact the government is slashing vital living allowances for disabled Britons, and despite the fact that institutions like Barclays Bank were, in fact, helped by the British taxpayer during the crisis, the British chancellor thinks we're all being too mean to banks, and that the financial sector has suffered enough.
bonuses in the sector are, of course, as healthy as ever.

is this, morally speaking, right?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ireland Park

here's a link to some photos (taken last summer) i want to share.

they're of the Irish famine memorial in downtown Toronto; at the bottom of Bathurst Street, by the water.
(in one of the captions i re-up an Alex de Waal quote noted at this blog before, i must admit.)

anyone reading this who knows me on Facebook might already have seen them (though they were only put up there just yesterday).

you don't have to have a Facebook account to view.

click on individual pictures to enlarge and read captions.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Friday, 25 February 2011

the most recent addition to this blogroll is Andrew Spooner's Asia Provocateur at the Asian Correspondent site. Andrew spends part of his time in the UK so it seems fair that he opens his introductory column with the following UK-specific blast

As the title of this blog suggests Asia Provocateur will be an attempt to stir up intellectual engagement, intelligent debate and radical thinking on a range of issues facing the region and, in particular, Thailand. I won’t be aiming to please or to always be objective but I will hopefully bring in a spread of voices and concerns that are kept to the margins of the political and cultural debates.

In addition, I have always been struck how weak the UK left/liberal-leaning media is on Thai and Southeast Asia-related debates. When set against the blanket coverage and informed discussion surrounding the recent uprisings in the Middle East the paucity of intelligent analysis of the 2010 Red Shirt uprising and the subsequent Bangkok Massacre was striking. I hope, in at least some way, to redress this.

What is also an interesting facet of the Western media coverage of Thailand is the continual failure to even mention the self-censorship and repressive draconian atmosphere placed on coverage of the country via Thailand’s lese majeste laws.

the other most recent additions are Christian Bleuer's non-profit Tajikistan Research Resources, the blog of the proud liberal Muslim Egyptian woman Mona Eltahawy, and the musings of my man Marmaduke, a rather well-turned out Portsmouth-bred, London-based musician and singer, and the campaigners at 38 Degrees, who were among many concerned Britons that wanted to protest Tory-led plans to sell off national forests, a campaign that has forced a U-turn on the issue (though there is still this that concerns).

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Saturday, 19 February 2011

these magnificent convulsions currently taking place across much of north Africa and west Asia - isn't it shameful that Tony Blair (a man with babies apparently named after him in Liberia, and fair enough really, given his record there) - with his appalling and unjustified warm words for Hosni Mubarak - places himself on the side of the autocrats, the dictators, the police states, and the two constituencies easily among the worst in the entire democratic world, i.e., the Right in Israel and the Right in the USA?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

They call it a 'democratic coup d'etat,' see. You have to have lots of coups d'etat. Otherwise it isn't a democracy.

Khamsing Srinawk

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

If you want interrogation, you send them to Jordan. If you want torture, you send them to Syria. If you want them to disappear you send them to Egypt.

Anonymous American "source" quoted in the London Daily Mirror, Saturday 12th February 2011.

meanwhile, the dictatorship in Bahrain shot an unarmed protestor in the back, and then tear-gassed mourners and opened fire at mourners during his funereal procession, killing another human being in the process.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.

- Stephen Harper

Friday, 11 February 2011

There is nothing under the sun that the Thai police cannot do.

- Phao Sriyanond

Thursday, 10 February 2011

If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.

England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.

- James Connolly, January 1897

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Juba, Monday February 7, 2011

(photo Pete Muller, AP)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Egyptian Christians protect praying Egyptian Muslims

photograph from Cairo by Nevine Zaki

Thursday, 3 February 2011

'Big society' suffers setback in showcase Liverpool
City pulls out as key partner in Cameron initiative due to government-imposed spending cuts


how a Tory-led government can embark on ideologically motivated austerity when 18 members of that govt's cabinet are millionaires and MPs in that cabinet represent some very wealthy constituencies - when their programme will affect the poorest and most vulnerable constituencies and some of the most vulnerable people in the UK the most - is appalling, and something that needs to be consistently called out, among other ways of trying to oppose this outrageous shambles that a load of public schoolboys without a democratic mandate for their experimental lunacy are trying to foist on the rest of us

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

THIS > One guy in Tahrir had a "get out Mubarak" sign in Hebrew. "A message for Netanyahu," he said.

Monday, 31 January 2011

listening to Music For Airports and wanted to say out to my dear, dear, dear friend DT, because i was in touch with him during a maudlin moment late last summer in an American airport and this reminds me of him, and more besides

June said she knew there'd be some people from the south here tonight, because some of you guys get out here in California, the damn place is so crazy, you just got to get something to eat some way don't ya

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Orange Book Liberal Democrats should be regarded as no better than Tories.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

via Terry Glavin - who, yes, is on the wrong side of the argument with Graeme here (you have to be absolute on these matters, don't you) - is this piece.

as the heading to Rachel Reid's piece states "Who benefits from Taliban revisionism?
The Afghan government is trying to whitewash the Taliban's image by claiming it no longer opposes education for girls"

Terry is always worth paying attention to on Afghanistan, because of things like this.

There is a lack of proper communication in your country about Afghanistan. They don't see all the good progresses. For me, the hope is for the younger generation. Young men are voting for women. The society is under a big transformation, and there are people who don't want to see this.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

[Amos] Vogel argued that film criticism was suffering because too many critics were from a literary rather than visual arts background 'with the visual serving as illustration of an underlying literary thesis'

- Dan Fox

Friday, 21 January 2011

What could you imagine doing if you didn't do what you do?

John Waters: Being a defence lawyer for the damned in the US court system.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Never, never, never, not one single time do I have a plan.

- Scientist

from the interview by Joe Muggs in the December 2010 issue of The Wire

Sunday, 16 January 2011

last month

this bloke

interesting point here

Kettling is illegal elsewhere and it certainly should be here. I speak as someone who was kettled in Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge last Thursday, one of several thousand people held for nine hours at zero degrees without food, water, heat, toilets.

The widely reproduced photograph of a youth urinating against the plinth of Winston Churchill's statue during the protest over tuition fees provides a disrespectful image, but kettling represents disrespect on a premeditated, industrial scale: degrading conditions of confinement enforcing the shame of performing one's natural functions in public.

from here

Monday, 10 January 2011

very grateful to my friend J for finding the 1985 defence Hitchens made of Chomsky over the Khmer Rouge thing.

a good taster of Hitchens' wonderfully pugilistic style is to be found early doors in the piece (my emphasis)

Sixteen years ago I went to the Examination Schools at Oxford University to hear Professor Noam Chomsky deliver the John Locke Lectures. The series was chiefly concerned with modern theories of grammar, syntax, and linguistics, but Chomsky attached a condition which the syndics of the university could not easily decline. He insisted on devoting one entire, self-contained lecture to the American war in Indochina and to the collusion of "academic experts" in an enterprise which was, he maintained, debauching America even as it savaged Vietnam.

Several things intrigued me about the stipulation. First, I liked the way Chomsky separated his political statement from his obligation as a guest lecturer rather than, as was and is the style at Oxford, pretending to objectivity while larding the discourse with heavily sarcastic political "pointers." There was no imported agenda of the kind one got from Hugh Trevor-Roper, Max Beloff, or John Sparrow. Second, I was impressed by his insistence, which was the inverse of the shifty practice of Tory and liberal scholars, that academics could and should have a role in political life but should state their allegiance squarely.

Friday, 7 January 2011

The UK Tory-led coalition govt's dismantling of govt quangos (look at the useful work, say, the Forestry Commission does) is "not primarily to cut costs" admits Tory MP Francis 'I wouldn't trust me to run a bath' Maude on BBC Radio 4 earlier today.

well at least he's honest, the small state loon.
they really are setting about their task of making the UK a less fair and equal place, hollowing out the safety nets that neo-liberal capitalism in the raw fights against, with some zeal.

what good is it to anyone to stop London schoolchild visits to the London Zoo?

jesus wept.

these people should be given about as much time of day as the preachers that wander Brixton market.

except for George Osborne, who should be interned without charge or something, and whose estate should be disbursed to community projects in Wythenshawe and Runcorn.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The boss of BP's exploration arm, who quit after the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year, has been hired by FTSE-100 oil giant Petrofac for another major role in the industry.

Andy Inglis's appointment to the board of Petrofac comes just a week before American president Barack Obama's commission is due to publish its findings into the cause of the spill catastrophe.

Inglis, 51, was one of the most senior lieutenants of BP's ousted chief executive Tony Hayward.


that's nice.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

You could try, as you say, to put it on VAT, sales tax, but again if you look at the effect of sales tax, it's very regressive, it hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you. Any sales tax, anything that goes on purchases that you make in shops tends to . . . if you look at it, where VAT goes now it doesn't go on food obviously but it goes very, very widely and VAT is a more regressive tax than income tax or council tax.

- David Cameron, May 2009

We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT.

- David Cameron, 23 April 2010

Monday, 3 January 2011


heads above parapets: an anonymous declaration from incredibly brave and eloquent Gazan youth

Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!

hear hear

in a way, this is a little bit reminiscent of the Black Book (simple analogy, so elastic as to be virtually meaningless, at its widest meaning two documents attempting to speak truth to power; but i did flash on the Black Book and so wanted to mention), though as reading Caity Bolton would indicate, this Gazan statement could well be something bigger in terms of rejecting the status quo (as opposed to the Black Book's authors accepting the dominant paradigm, according to Bolton).

as the always elegant and humane Peter Ryley writes, here are "compelling acts of courage against the abnormality of lives lived in servitude or subject to arbitrary violence".

see them on Facebook here

(i took this image - via a Google Images search for large images of 'joe sacco palestine' - without permission from The Moving Silent blog, run by Karzan Kardozi, and specifically from this page on same blog here.)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Respeito, camarada!

Gbagbo may be a blustering brute with a hardline wife who virtually talks in hate speech, who has exceeded his mandate and who is trying to fiddle an election, and who may bear overall responsibility for what are some serious crimes, but one of his latest opinions is, obviously, bang on the money (naturally, he's saying anything at the moment, granted)

Amongst today's great global powers, each has its own sphere of influence. When it's something to do with Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, France speaks and the rest follow