Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Year starts on a bluster and a chill. Hurricanes, typhoons and no end to talk of WMDs (World Meteorological Data). Flash floods in Kuala Lumpur. Global warming, shift in earth's polarity apace. Snowflakes in Kota Baru.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi ruffles feathers with choice of deputy - an outsider with excellent records - mostly P. Ramlee, Saloma, Siti Nur Haliza. Safe pair of hands, good pair of ears.
Malaysian Prime Minister chooses CASH as slogan for his new, thrusting government - C-A-S for Cekap (Efficient), Amanah (Trustworthy), Sihat (Health), and Happening as a sop to Malaysia's youth, an important element of Badawi's new civil society. "Malaysia and Malaysians are now efficient, trustworthy and healthy, and Malaysia is a happening place," says national news agency Bernama.
Saddam Hussain threatens to grow a bushier bush than the last one if trial does not take place in the Hague. Blair says Saddam's trail will be littered with many receipts; contradictions come swift from Bremmer who says it's a Red Halliburton in a fictitious Enron trail. "We know nothing about anything, if there's something, or even if there's nothing," adds Donald Rumsfeld.
New head honcho at the Malaysian national English language newspaper group New Straits Times - approved by UMNO Supreme Council. The man, a former journalist and nouveau riche, reshuffles top posts to give paper a cleaner image and less clutter in the office lay-out.
Bush attacks Chad Republic in preparation for Presidential elections in the USA. "Chad gave problems in the last one, " he says. "Roll 'em on, there'll be no more Chads now."
In Malaysia New Straits Times issues tabloid edition simultaneously with the traditional daily broadsheet to take on the Star and lure commuter readership. Rival Star issues broadsheet simultaneously with their daily tabloid format in retaliation. In Batang Berjuntai, bumper broadsheet Star falling from the back of a delivery van falls on goat, killing it instantly. Circulation of freebie tabloid Sun dips amid talks of closure. Proprietor pooh-poohs the idea, saying: "You can always rest assured that whenever it rains in KL you'll have The Sun over your head."
Mamak stall in Batang Berjuntai adds goat curry as star dish on menu.
Drought in the northern States of Malaysia. Iraq-Jordan-Israel oil pipeline comes on-stream amid talks of sabotage. France still refuses to join the coalition of the willing to fight terrorism and hike in price of oil. "They have no word for 'sabotage' in French, " Bush says to wild applause while campaigning in Arkansas.
Sales of the New Straits Times continue to stagnate after slight increase following introduction of tabloid edition. New PM approved boss, former Malaysian correspondent of the Singapore Straits Times, takes a leaf from the tree-lined democracy of Singapore and proposes merger of all Malaysia newspapers under one press holding company, bringing the Star, the Utusan group publications, and the New Straits Times group under a more efficient, centralised control. "Streamlining is the way ahead for greater efficiency," he says. The proposed name for the amalgamation of STar, Utusan and New Straits Times is STUNST. Asian Wall Street Journal immediately dubs the move "Cunning Stunst".
Plan abandoned just before National Day because of stiff opposition from DAP-MCA anti-merger front. Also because of fears of spoonerism outbreak in Malaysia.
Malaysian man breaks world record for simultaneous sneezing and coughing.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan steps down for reasons of health. Bush proposes Muammar Gaddafi, leader of new dynamic Libya as replacement (to loud cheers from New Yorkers of all political hue).
In the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Singapore's agent in the Malaysia-Singapore Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) dispute submits to the Court that the ground for dispute no longer exists because of the success of Singapore's continued land reclamation programme. Pulau Batu Putih/Pedra Branca is now part of the Singapore mainland.
The Beagle, lost British spacecraft reappears and sends back signals from Mars. The incoming sound isn't the Beagle signature tune composed by Blur, but a new arrangement of notes going neh neh neh-neh neh! neh neh neh-neh neh!. Space scientists and well-known composers ponder significance of the musically coded message. Scientists deny there's life on Mars, or green cheese or anything like Coca Cola.
Bush wins Presidential election by a landslide. "I owe this to Chad," he says.
Malaysian petroleum authority Petronas decides to erect another massive Christmas tree early following last year's success. "We need some cheer for Eid too. Muslims need to go on a shopping spree and give presents to each other in this season of cheer. This is an ecumenical tree, it is now a multi-religious symbol." says Petronas Chairman.
Poland outlaws the Muslim hejab, calling it terrorist gear. Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands follow suit.
Israel declares The Wall as part of the proposed Temple after photographs sent in by the Beagle from Mars shows it as the only earth structure visible from there. This is a clear sign, declare ultra-orthodox settlers.
Malaysia holds countrywide elections after Eid euphoria.
Happy New Year one and all! ß
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Woman in France protesting against ban on public display of religious affiliation
Happy Christmas France, er...ulp, Happy Winter's Day! For the rest of the Christian world: Joyeux Noël!
Monday, December 22, 2003
Barely a year after the rescue of Private Lynch and the battle of Samarra, stories are beginning to circulate about the alleged capture of Saddam Hussein in his hole by US soldiers. Saddam - do you need reminding? - was there all hirsute and unkempt, looking absolutely zonked like Santa Claus on boxing day. And among the luxuries he took with him was a Bounty Bar.
In Britain, this chocolate bar used to be portrayed in television commercials as an uplifting thing, taking you into a fantasy world of South Sea beauties and lapping waves, soon as you've sunk your teeth into its chocolaty and coconuty centre. Well, perhaps Saddam's had enough of the heat of Iraq and wanted to transport himself to some tropical isle.
But chocolates aside, who captured Saddam Hussain?
Well, the cat is out of the bag so to speak. Saddam Hussein was captured by Kurds, not US forces. Here is the story as best I can determine by looking through a number of articles...
Who Killed Cock Robin?
Sunday, December 21, 2003
This was the man Ronald Reagan once consigned to the band of Looney Tunes when he started the precursor to the present Neocon war. Gaddafi had been Looney Tuning the Muslim world for a while already then, with his petrodollar financing of all sorts of weird and whacky projects all over the world. In Libya he had ideas that came fast and furious: he had the Green Book of some eclectic ingredients - his interpretation of Islam, his take on socialism, and his own version of being an Arab nationalist. Once, in a flash of enlightenment, he ordered all Tripolians to breed chickens in their urban homes so that Libyans could have cheap chickens on the state. Chicken coops and other related items were imported at great expense. Sometimes one gets the impression that Libya breeds eccentricity. The man he deposed, King Idris, had hoards of cash in his royal trunks; even before that, another Libyan, Hannibal, took elephants in an epic crossing of the Alps to crush the Romans at tremendous price. The smell of elephant dung must've quietened quite a few in those little countries he passed through.
Gaddafi was always a weirdo: living in a tent, walking zombie like in this once Carthaginian splendour. The West placated him, tolerated him, and some even say that Gaddafi was the West's own idea. He ruled Libya with an iron fist, he financed movements of all shades and description worldwide, and he tolerated least of all, dissidents in exile. Many of the latter were silenced, threatened, killed, including perhaps a man - an active dissident - I used to know in West London. He met his ghastly death one morning while preparing to open his grocery shop in Bayswater.
Then came that terrible explosion over Lockerbie, and Libya came into the limelight in the West once more not just as an eccentrically wayward nation, but as prime suspect for the shocking crime. The rest is public knowledge already.
Now, in the wake of all that's happened in Iraq, all that's about to happen in Syria, Iran, Gaddafi has decided to come clean and opened the doors of his house for all to see. He's been applauded by all the right people - Bush, Blair, Straw, and all. Overnight the man Gaddafi, tent-dweller, Green revolutionary, scourge of Arab leaders from mashriq to the maghrib, head of a pariah state, Lockerbie bomber, iron-fisted dictator, is no more. Now he's an examplar, perhaps even a dear leader.
The irony is, not too long ago - 1986 - according to former British MI5 agent David Shayler, the British secret service paid $270,000 for al Qaeda terrorists to assassinate this Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. This came out in Shayler's evidence during his trial at the Old Bailey for whistleblowing last year, but it never appeared in the press in Britain because of the government's Public Interest Immunity certificate - effectively a gagging order. And we all know what's become of the al-Qaeda now.
So welcome then Gaddafi, O Muammar, exemplary leader, back into the fold of righteous leaders in this brave new world.
§ Read more Kadhafi Peace & Love via Je Blog... § Justice in Libya (contains disturbing photos). § Chomsky on Libya, Lockerbie, Vincennes
Another Xmas, Another Turkey
Friday, December 19, 2003
Even now I still don't read enough, standing out in erudite circles like a man from a Bateman cartoon who's just said he hasn't read this or that. O woe is me, I fear.
But now I'm convinced more than ever that there's something in books after all, and that books do open roads never travelled by the reader, or perhaps, more appropriately, the wanderer. But there's a price to pay for that.
Here in Blighty they've just opened a new motorway stretch called the M6 Toll in the West Midlands. This is not to be confused with the regular M6, which tends to get a little congested these days with your regular happy wanderers and Eddie Stobart lorries, which I shall have to blog about later. The M6 Toll, you see, is an exit from chaos - for drivers who're willing to pay the toll - to escape the regular drag of those Eddie Stobaters and those happy wanderers. It is Blighty's first toll motorway (and first of many more to come I can promise you). It's congestion free, it's smooth, strong and very long. And it's surfaced with books, you see.
Er, come again? Books? Yes, Mills & Boon to be exact, all 2,500,000 of them, all pulped and packed with your regular asphalt into your new smoother motorway. And that works out at about 45,000 books per mile. Tarmac, suppliers of material for this new toll motorway are convinced that all that pupled fiction will give their motorway surface a new resilience and a smoother ride.
"Ironically the books are renowned for their slushiness, but when pulped they help to make the road solid and to hold the Tarmac and the asphalt in place," said Richard Beal, Tarmac Central's project manager. Cheeky fella.
So there you are folks, it's all there written on the motorway. And no, the M6 Toll doesn't pass through Reading, which is somewhere else in this here Blighty.
§See a Bateman Cartoon §Read Mills & Boon online.
Falling off a log, nodding off in a bus. Two very easy things to do.
Last Tuesday, as the No. 52 bus was trundling down the road in an unsalubrious part of Kensal Rise towards north Londra, I soon succumbed to the soporific appeal of this journey and began to nod off but was awoken again by the sound of a giggling child. It made me tarry a little to hear the voice of this happy, sad child in conversation with a man whom I took to be the father.
HAPPY SAD CHILD: Who's your favourite footballer ever?
HAPPY SAD FATHER: Nobby Stiles. England player.
Pause. Father makes a threatening fist at child, face smiling brightly.
CHILD: What was Muhammad Ali's old name?
FATHER: Cassius Clay.
Father smiles broadly, puts arm around child.
CHILD: [Looking out of window] What's fillet?
FATHER: That means it's boneless.
CHILD: Mum likes fillet steak.
No response from father.
CHILD: I heard her say that.
FATHER: [Still smiling broadly]. Do you fancy going to the match then next week...
Sadness in joy, even I noticed that. Child trying to rope in Mum into this warm, happy chat with estranged father. Dad refuses to take any notice, but keeps signalling that in spite of everything, he's still loved. Everyday story of a modern, urban split-up family. Child in weekly meeting with absent dad. Mum in Bingo hall elsewhere.
Father and child onward to Willesden Green; I got off at All Souls Road.
Read this in the Guardian's obituaries page:
Hassan Khalifa. Scion of Egyptian aristocrat. Extremely well-connected operator. Senior member in the Egyptian staff of the British Council.
"He also carried on supervising examinations, including GCEs taken by the then President Sadat's son Jehan. Once, sitting in a corridor, he had to explain to Sadat that he was from the British Council. 'Thank God for that,' said the President. 'I thought you were one of those awful Palestinians from the BBC.'
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
It is difficult to rise these December morns without a tinge of the maudlin, seeing as how the year's coming to an end, remembering the state of the world. Rising as I do at the crack of dawn, the crack of doom wouldn't be far removed from the here and now. The people next-door used to have a cockerel that gave much cheer as it crowed close to sunrise, but it was soon put down as a sop to complaining neighbours. One bit of cheer gone to pot so to speak.
Photo taken late afternoon today. Winter chill under a clear blue sky.
Mornings are quieter now, fewer birds singing or no birds at all. Sparrows are becoming almost extinct here, gone to places where once familiar things go to now. There aren't blackbirds any more in the miserly garden such as it is, never fitter you would've thought - by its lush overgrowth - as a refuge for flying, crawling creatures. But cold though it is, winter months aren't cold any more. Hedgehogs no longer hibernate for the warm weather, trees retain their leaves for much longer. Blame it on global warming, blame it on rock-n-roll, but I blame it on what they've done to that sad, late cockerel.
There is an illness that afflicts many in the winter months that produces dark thoughts and brings in a whiff of the Lady Macbeth in one's attitude to the world. They could've named it better to make it more palatable, but they chose to call it SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to rub salt into the gaping wound. SAD is for all the sad people who're fumbling and groping as darkness falls earlier and earlier approaching the solstice of mid-winter.
In Nicaea, sunny Nicaea in Turkey in 325 CE, long before the Kemalists (who're both sad and mad - see Beta-Blogs, passim) and even before the Seljuk arrival, they held a Conference to decide on the true identity of God, to resolve the Arian controversy. As debate was raging, and as Mr Controversey himself - the Bishop Arian - was on his feet to put his point of view, out popped a hefty man from the Bishopric of Myrna by the name of Nicholas who got so worked up by the arguments of the man that he biffed him one in the face in front of all. And now they've dressed him up in red, and given him a cheery character; and they've named him St Nicholas, your Santa Claus.
And this is the man they've now sent us in this darkness of winter to bring some cheer!
All is not lost though, because, looking around at our fellow men and women, you can still find someone like Sorious Samura who, at great risk to life and limb, documented the gory goings on in war torn Sierra Leone, 1999. Life was hell to say the least, living under such brutality, hiding among the poor with precious little to eat, and, if thrown in gaol (as Samura was), you had to pay the guards US$150 a day to escape further humiliation of rape. Why did he do it then? Well, coming from Sierra Leone he wanted to tell the world the way it was, because the world wasn't telling it adequately. Because, he said - in a way that really touched me:
"If you have the blessing of an education and the opportunity to help change the lives of vulnerable people and you don't, you should be charged for cowardice in the face of the enemy."
It's a little voice on behalf of the present suffering of the world where those who ought to act, don't. How little that made me feel, sitting here cowering in the fading light of winter.
Samura's award winning documentary 'Surviving Hunger', on CNN in the New Year. Never mind the station, watch the documentary. ß
Light of Winter
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
What timely appearance: no sooner than the Democrats' candidate Howard Dean's emerged from the unknown into the limelight on the ticket of tired old Gore, barely a week after the neo-Jacobins of the Ruling Council put the finishing touches to their Iraqi War Crimes tribunal and perhaps even ordered the ropes for the gallow too, from out of a hole comes Santa Claus with glad tidings for Bush, for the Ruling Council, and for Bleary eyed Blair in this here Blighty.
Even those Cinderellas of the Ruling Council have all come out into the bright lights of the ball now, in live interviews across the globe. Bearded Santa has something for everyone, all the little people of this bewildering world.
Deus ex machina or deus ex machination? The world is abuzz with that already.
We can all do with some cheering up now. And we are never short of cheer leaders, especially now. Oh, what shall we do with him? Shall we let them hang him or put him before a firing squad of former Republican Guards? Shall we abide by our civilised rules and put him before a panel of distinguished jurists and give him the benefit of our civil society? Aw, come off it, he's the most evil man on the face of this earth, surely we should let our friends in this new democratic Iraq hang 'im 'igh as they please under their own jurispudence in their own principality. Hand wringing, wizened pundits, talking heads, forever more. Ah - altogether now, aaaaaahhhhh - the world is a safer place, peace and goodwill to reign, look at all those Iraqis now jumping and shooting in the air with glee. Why, we've even killed 14 of them in Samarra today. Samarra eh, familiar name.
What, kill Santa Claus? Kill this harbinger of Christmas? Just take it nice and easy for the while folks, while we look for fingerprints on that stash of dollars in Santa's holey grotto... ß
Magic of Christmas
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Spokesman for the coalition forces said it was an electric fan, not a gloating one.
World leaders hail this find as auguring peace and bounty to Babylon, and to the world as a whole. The long search for the WMD (World's Most Desired) man has been justified, British Prime Minister Tony Blair almost said. Chancellor Schroeder of Germany, in a short telegram [what's that?] said this proves to all children of the world that Santa does exist, beard and all.
Santa, with his fabled beard, was napping in his hole in the ground grotto in someone's back garden near Tikrit, a Babylonian district close to Palindrome.
"Peace and prosperity to the people of Iraq," said leader of Britian's main opposition party, Michael Howard on BBC Live.
With Santa was found a bag containing receipts of toy purchases from some of the world's leading toy dealers. One from Halliburton, was for guns and chemistry sets. On Saddam's hole-side table was his favourite picture showing him being thanked by one D. Rumsfeld for his services to the children of the world.
"Iraqi children, nay the world's kids, can all now celebrate," a press statement from the Snow White House said. "Santa was found in a Sunni place, and the world will be a sunnier place as soon as we're finished with Eye-raq."
"I'm as happy as a child on Christmas Day," Iltifat Khanbar, Private Secretary to Governing Council Member said on BBC Live.
Many Iraqis shooting in the air in jubilation were warned to watch out for flying reindeers.
Santa Warning: The above story may contain genuine quotes.
§ A Christmas Story: Did Mrs Santa kiss and tell?ß
Santa Found In Holey Grotto!
Friday, December 12, 2003
And for this I'm thankful to fellow blogger Kura-Kura who drew my attention to the following, from the CEO of Jaring, Malaysia. A man named Dr Mohamed Awang Lah:
"Can you not see how Internet is the most important single word in the history of mankind?" asks Dr Mohamed Awang Lah [quoted in the New Straits Times].
Can you not see the ship? Have you ever seen the rain?
I mention ship because I'm reminded once again of some natives in the South Seas who — as the story goes — failed to notice the big ships coming ashore because they couldn't fit them in their internal eye. Nothing existed beyond their perceived world, so the ships didn't register. (Is this the earliest illustration of Cartesian vs. Wittgensteinian sense of the world?). So what exists beyond the internet? Nowt more. How small is the world of the boffin obsessed by a dot!
I once met a near-boffin who lived in a place so very down-to-earth that it's called Eel Pie Island. A near boffin because he raised himself up by the boot straps to where he is now. A practical man who went to Africa and saw problems, and hunger, and hardship. So he went home and quietly invented a wind-up radio so those poor souls could have the benefit of communication. And what is the most important single word here, in the history of the world? Not wind-up radio, surely! But try compassion, love, understanding, a sense of one's place on this earth...
My friend Kura-Kura suggested God is the one word that is even more important than even the internet. And glory be for that. Hallelujah!
Another thing's now playing, in the wind-up radio of my mind. Don't know why, but it's Credence Clearwater Revival, circa 1970, but still playing now:
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain
Comin' down on a sunny day?
Go leave your air-conditioned office now Doc, and feel the hard rain lashing down on your face. It'll cool you down, and open your eyes somehow.
PS Is the man's last name a diminution, or an exclamation? Dr Mohamed Awang Lah! Eureka!
PPS Jaring is a Malaysian ISP. The name is meant to signify 'network', but it somehow reminds me of a 'cage' with a surrounding wire-mesh.
§Read the joy of Lah! ß
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
You are approaching the ghost village of Zubaydiyah, so adjust your reality goggles now.
Earth day October 20th. A 1985 Chevrolet Caprice was driven by Adel Therji, 19. His eldest brother Muter, 23, was in the passenger seat, and their nephew Karim, 11, in the back seat. Karim said he tried to avoid crashing with a mini-bus that was breaking out of a convoy of Ukrainian coalition soldiers coming from the opposite direction. They had a minor accident with the mini-bus.
The Ukrainians pulled Adel and Muter out of the car and beat them senseless. The car started to burn when the soldiers tried to push it off the road with an armoured vehicle. Karim screamed for help from the burning car, but the Ukrainians ignored him.
Witness Naim Khazner, 33, confirmed this. Villagers attempting to rescue the boy were driven away. Hassan Nassir, another uncle, said he later took Karim's charred remains and put him in a bag. Bystanders took Karim and Muter to hospital, where Karim said he regained consciousness 3 days later. His brother Muter died from neck injury caused by the beating.
Lt. Mohammed Hindi of the Zubaydiyah police department went to the scene with five police officers about an hour after the collision. He said he saw some Ukrainian soldiers in their vehicles, while others were keeping by-standers away from the Caprice. He looked in the car and saw a body in the back-seat. When he asked why they didn't take him out of the car, a Ukrainian replied in broken Arabic that they feared they could've been suicide bombers. He ordered a policeman to help Karim's uncle to put the remains in a flour bag, he said.
The Ukrainians say no such thing happened; the boy Karim didn't die, and the Iraqis were just trying to pull a fast one to gain compensation. The US authorities too denied any knowledge of the incident, even though their helicopters took injured Ukrainian soldiers away for treatment.
Read the full story.
The Muslim hejab or the headscarf has been widely reviled as oppressive to women, even if the women themselves choose to wear them. In Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, this oppressive headgear so scares the Kemalist military that women wearing headscarves are banned from government buildings.[See Goons,passim] Some states in Germany, in a presumed gesture to women's rights, are considering banning them.
In France, President Chirac too is getting all uppity about this headgear thing. He too wants to have it banned. But why oh why oh Monsieur le President? Because, he said last Friday, there's "something aggressive" about veils and France must bar religious propaganda from schools.
Now, wait a minute, is it oppressive or is it aggressive now? Which way does it turn you on Mr President?
A Wiccan writes:
Ce n'est pas une signe de aggression...
C'est horrible! Les femmes Muselman ont des valeurs rigide et la voile représente leur modesté! C'est injuste pour le governement Francais de passé du législation contre quelquechose si personnell.
Ce n'est pas une signe de submission ni agression, la voile est une signe de foi, une chose le governement Francais devrais être capable de comprendre.
C'est les choses comme ceci qui me fait heureux que je suis Canadien.
J'espère que cette nouvelle serai rejetté par le peuple Francais car, quand je visiste le pays en Mars de 2004 avec des amis - deux qui sont Muselman - je veut qu'elles peuvent portés leurs voiles si elles le decide.
Read more of this and other comments from – er – Witches [sic] worldwide.
The United Nations General Assembly approved on Monday a Palestinian-initiated resolution asking the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of the separation fence. Ninety nations voted in favor of the draft, eight opposed and 74 countries abstained.
Israel condemned the resolution. Ra'anan Gissin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesperson, said, "This is an attempt... to delegitimize the right of the Jewish people to have a Jewish state that they can defend." Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, called the vote "a moral victory," saying "most of the world's enlightened democracies" were among the large number of countries that didn't support the resolution while those who voted in favour were "mostly tyrannical dictatorships, corrupt and human rights-defying regimes."
Tyrannical, human rights defying regimes...now, there's a thing. Read full story. ß
Who's A Pretty Boy Then?
Saturday, December 06, 2003
In a Baltimore hotel on Friday December 5th, an employee whose name is Muhammad, was asked to take a day off. How nice you'd say, seeing as it's still the Eid season.
But no. The leave was given by order of the SS (Secret Service) and all because the President of the United States was scheduled to be in the hotel for a fund-raising event.
The Arab-American employee, who doesn't normally use the Muslim name in his daily life, has no criminal records. But the SS had done their research on employees' names, and approached the hotel management to get him outta sight. We can only guess what the reason was: that the President of the United States has allergy problems, particularly to anyone with a Muslim name such as Mohammad. But it may catch on. Look out, in a supermarket near you, for food packaged with this legend: Contains no nuts. Not handled by anyone named Mohammad. Suitable for the President of the United States.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) meantime is asking both the White House and the Secret Service for an explanation and an apology for this 'disturbing incident'. You may want to contact the ADC if you yourself have faced similar problems with these men in jackboots and leather coats.
As they say, if the Bush doesn't come to Mohammad... ß
No Mo Please, We're President
Friday, December 05, 2003
"[M]ost of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals as being reported. During the ambushes the tanks, brads and armored HUMVEES hosed down houses, buildings, and cars while using reflexive fire against the attackers. One of the precepts of "Iron Hammer" is to use an Iron Fist when dealing with the insurgents. As the division spokesman is telling the press, we are responding with overwhelming firepower and are taking the fight to the enemy. The response to these well coordinated ambushes was as a one would expect. The convoy continued to move, shooting at ANY target that appeared to be a threat. RPG fire from a house, the tank destroys the house with main gun fire and hoses the area down with 7.62 and 50cal MG fire. Rifle fire from an alley, the brads fire up the alley and fire up the surrounding buildings with 7.62mm and 25mm HE rounds. This was actually a rolling firefight through the entire town."
If anything, this reminds us of the real Iraqi story that is constantly ignored, that the civilians take the highest toll, the people in whose names Bush and Blair supposedly went to 'war'.
Postscript: But this wasn't the first time the media fell for it was it? Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq (well, Baghdad airport actually) and the world saw him looking very gung-ho, armed with a thanksgiving turkey on a serving tray. But no turkey came from the Bush, all 'photo opportunity' you see, while the adoring soldiers had pre-carved helpings on their plates. We know now of course that he was posing with a plastic turkey for those intrepid cameras. But did you read the thought bubble over his head? "Carving Turkey's on the back-burner for now, folks!"
For Bush's flying visit, read Riverbend's amusing account in her Blog, Baghdad Burning.
§Read the rest of the eMail sent in by the soldier at the scene.
§Read about the US army in Iraq at Hackworth's Website. ß
'Firefighting the Entire Town'
For years they've been talking about this powerful gathering of financiers, egg-heads, politicos, movers and shakers by the fireside in secluded corners of the affluent world, toasting marshmallows perhaps, and discussing ways to make this world a cosier place (for them). They go — I'm told — by the name of the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and a few more besdes. And they meet and decide who gets what share of this wayward world. But like the Beatles, I just kept saying: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Then, last year, they — the Bilderbergers — met again, in Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire, England. [Picture below]This time they came again, the rich and the powerful. You know, Warren Buffet, Rothschild...and, surprise, surprise, Arnold "Arnie" Schwarzenegger, aka Mr Terminator. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Looking up Bilderberger attendees in recent times I've come up with this remarkable list of the upwardly mobile [in alphabetical order]: Tony Blair was with them in Greece in 1993 (he became leader of the Labour Party 1994, then PM 1997); Bill Clinton was at their Germany meeting 1991 (became President of the US of A 1992); Romano Prodi, Germany, 1991 (became President of the European Commission, 1995); Labour Cabinet Minister George Robinson, in Scotland 1998 (became NATO Sec General 1999); Jacques Santer in Germany 1991 (became President of EC, 1995).
Coincidence or what? There they stand, in their glitzy best, Bilderbergers all.
So what next Arnie, the White House? Perhaps not, you'd need to be born in the USA to do that; but Bilderbergers can pull many strange miracles. But then again, would that be a good idea? Last time an Austrian took power outside Austria, the map of Europe was redrawn...
Arnie from his Governor's mansion can still make a significant contribution to the Neoconditioning of America because, in the next Presidential election, the crucial chad count will be in...California.
"I'll be back!"
§Flashback: Is Arnold The Running Man? §Bilderbergers, et al ß
Bob the Bilderberger
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know."
See Newsquake In Iraq, Many Dead, [below] to see how it all makes sense. ß
Donald Duck Couldn't Say Better
And this is what The Guardian (and more or less everyone) said in the headline:
Troops kill 46 in Iraq as violence spreads
Like a curate's egg, it ain't all bad. Violence spreads in Iraq, you'd have to be a see-no-evil hear-no-evil monkey and a Trappist monk not to know that. And 46 dead, that's sad, but who died?
The Guardian story gave no indications but gave these helpful pointers: Two logistical convoys were attacked 'with roadside bombs, small arms fire, mortars and rocket propelled grenades'. In a third attack two hours later, 'a convoy of US military engineers was fired on by 4 men with automatic rifles in a BMW car'.
So we have to turn to other sources to learn more. Here's another US military luminary on the incidents, and the deaths. Colonel Frederick Rudesheim had this to say: Total dead, 46, adding the caveat that this was not a firm toll, but based on estimates based on interviews with all the soldiers involved. We also learn from Rudesheim that the attacks were 'coordinated', and that the two convoys were transporting new Iraqi currency to some banks to replace the old Saddam notes.
Then, in another report, yet another US military personnel, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, estimated [my italics] the number of dead in Samarra at 54, along with 22 wounded. He went to say that one was detained. They were all resistance fighters, he said.
Earlier, the commanding colonel in Samarra said that 11 were captured. "Some of those earlier reports might have been a bit off," Kimmit explained.
When asked by journalists about the lack of combatants' bodies around Samarra or in the only hospital there, Rudesheim turned to Rumsfeldian rhetoric: "Are you asking me to produce (them)?" he asked. A man on the scene, Sergeant Nicholas Mullen explained this more glibly: "We don't stick around," he said.
And then Kimmit came back with further explanation: "I would suspect that the enemy would have carried them away and brought them back to where their initial base was."
All the above information could be gleaned from newpaper and agency reports including, I dare say, al-Jazeera which, to US military, must be counted as enemy combatant.
But here's more, this time from VOA News, which started with this up-beat note:
"In Iraq, the US military gave the first detailed account of Sunday's massive firefight between U.S. troops and Iraqi insurgents in the central city of Samarra."
In the VOA report, Captain Andy Deponai said:
"We think we were looking at anywhere from 30 to 40 individuals at each bank site, and they had broken themselves down to squad and team size elements, so that they could attack each bank at all sides. They also had ambush sites set up on routes into and out of the city, and they had pre-positioned explosives, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on our routes we take into the city, typically."
Then, attributing it just to the 4th Infantry Division, the report added: they killed 'dozens of Iraqi insurgents and wounded 18 in the firefight which lasted for nearly 3 hours. The division says some of the attackers wore the black uniforms of the pro-Saddam Fedayeen militia.'
Most of these military accounts are disputed by the locals (and the initial agency reports).
An anaesthetist at the Samarra hospital's emergency department said they received the bodies of 8 civilians, including a woman and a child. Hospital Director Abd Tawfiq said: "more than 60 people wounded by gunfire and shrapnel from US rounds are being treated at the hospital". (AFP correspondents did actually see a civilian bus completely burned out, 30 metres from the main entrance to the town's hospital). The police guard outside the hospital said nine Iranians were wounded outside the hospital. The town's police chief Colonel Ismail Mahmud Muhammad said about 20 of the injured sustained their injuries while worshipping at a mosque during sunset prayers. And ambulance driver Abd al-Munaim Muhammad said he had not ferried any fighters wounded or killed and wearing the black Fedayeen outfit which US soldiers claimed their assailants wore, adding that if the death toll had reached that announced by the Americans, the atmosphere in Samarra would be "quite different".
Captain Sabti Awad, a Samarra policeman said that during the ambush American troops had opened fire at random, killing and wounding civilians. Another policeman, Ahmed al-Samarai, said: Not more than 10 people were killed, and some were not even involved in the fighting. Jihad Hussein, a student, said: "They were spraying the whole street. I don't know who fired the first shot, the Americans or the Fedayeen, but I saw at least one young woman hit by a bullet as she lay on the ground."
Further, from reports of Iranian passports found in the wreckage, there's evidence that at least two Iranian pilgrims were among the dead.
Abdelrizek Jadwa, who owns a grocery 50 metres (yards) from the scene of one of the attacks, said he did not have the shadow of a doubt. “After the firing, I went out of my shop. There were no wounded, no killed on the streets. Where could they have disappeared?" Another local, Mohammad Salih, 21, said that only four fighters were killed in the battle: "I was hiding inside my father's shop at the time and I saw four fighters riding a black BMW and firing rocket propelled-grenades (RPGs) at the U.S. convoys, but a U.S. tank hit back at their car and killed them."
Another report (IslamOnline, but uncorroborated by others) said that US troops fired at the gates of the mausoleum of Ali Al-Hadi, a Shiite authority, and Al-Risala Al-Muhammadia mosque. The report added that US troops fired shells at the town on Sunday night, wounding 15 worshippers who were about to perform Al-Maghrib prayers.
"As I was about to say my prayers with other worshippers I heard a powerful explosion and I fell into a comma [sic] to find myself later in the hospital," Gamal Muntasir, 19, told IOL.
All these deaths and bodies disappearing also pose a mathematical problem: If forty six were killed and eleven captured, how many were left to pick up the bodies? Three from the figures given by the 166th Armoured Batallion commander Lieut. Colonel Ryan Gonsalves. But suppose there were ninety attackers (pace Kimmit), and 54 dead (revised figures), twenty-two wounded, and one captured. How many left? Thirteen men going back and forth ferrying the dead to places unseen (even though the US forces had all those deadly helicopters hovering above).
What a day of miscalculations. But is there a purpose behind this madness? Lacking all other evidence we'll have to conclude that this is just a morale-boosting exercise to follow a series of heavy enemy attack during the month of Ramadhan. It happened once before, we remember it well, and it'll soon come at a cinema near you in the amazing escapade of Private Jessica Lynch.
Read: §AFP Report §Mosque, Alleyways, Rooftops...American Forces Information Service version
Newsquake In Iraq, Many Dead
Monday, December 01, 2003
—General Tommy Franks, US Central Command
Toll on U.S. troops in Iraq grows as wounded rolls approach 10,000
Nearly 10,000 U.S. troops have been killed, wounded, injured or become ill enough to require evacuation from Iraq since the war began, the equivalent of almost one Army division, according to the Pentagon.
Unlike the more than 2,800 American fighting men and women logged by the Defense Department as killed and wounded by weapons in Iraq, the numbers of injured and sick have been more difficult to track, leading critics to accuse the military of under-reporting casualty numbers...Read Full Report
In just one hospital, the 28th Combat Support Hospital within the U.S.-led occupation authority's headquarters at one of former president Saddam Hussein's palaces:
The number of soldiers treated for serious combat injuries is not publicly disclosed. Instead, the hospital releases statistics on patient admissions – a total of 1,659 U.S. soldiers through Oct. 30. The combined number of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi patients admitted per month has increased since September, and this month was expected to reach about 400...Read Full Report
Crosscheck: Iraq Body Count
B.C. By Hart. 10 November/15th Ramadhan
Slam. Crescent. Shithouse. Odour. Whaddya know!
Back and Forth:
"It's a defamation of Islam. I think the reason there might not have been initial complaints is that it's so cryptic. If you know who the cartoonist is, what he's done in the past, then it becomes clear. Otherwise, it's just an unfunny joke." —Ibrahim Hewitt, Spokesman, CAIR [Council On American-Islamic Relations]
"My goodness. That's incredible, that's unbelievable! This comic was in no way intended to be a message against Islam - subliminal or otherwise. It would be contradictory to my own faith as a Christian to insult other people's beliefs. If you should have any further silly notions about malicious intent from this quarter, you can save yourself a phone call. "
—Hart's reaction to CAIR in Washington Post.
"I don't get the joke...the cartoon makes sense only in light of the religious interpretation. For one thing, people don't slam outhouse doors."
—Marshall Blonsky, Prof of Semiotics, New School, New York.
"We cartoonists are simple folk. We don't write on that cryptic a level. Leave Johnny alone."
—Gary Trudeau, cartoonist [Donnesbury].
"U.S. Muslim leaders are right to be outraged about the anti-Muslim message that can be inferred from Johnny Hart's recent "B.C." comic strip. Were it not for his history of using "B.C." to denigrate other faiths, including unambiguous slights against Judaism, Hart's argument that his Nov. 10 strip was not intended as an anti-Muslim slur might hold at least a shred of credibility. Yet, as anyone familiar with "B.C." knows, Hart has shamelessly used his medium to promote his strongly Christian outlook while casting aspersions on other faiths. Taken in this context, the outhouse cartoon's message is clear. It is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the Muslim faith -- one that must be forcefully condemned by cartoonists, journalists and most importantly, responsible readers."
—Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League.
"I'm a proponent of higher education and I have great respect for those in academia. So I have no problem with your paper asking Marshall Blonsky, a professor of semiotics at the New School in New York, to comment on symbols in a "B.C." comic strip. But presenting him as an expert on whether one would or should slam an outhouse door is quite another -- primarily because he's wrong. Many outhouses were located 50 or even 100 feet from the house, so it is logical that after an emergency sprint of that magnitude in the middle of a cold night, many would, in fact, slam the door. Plus, the door on the outhouse that I used well into the 1970s while visiting the family homestead in Coulter, Pa., slammed all by itself. It was equipped with an automatic closer. I can't believe I wrote this letter."
—Vaughan Gilbert, McKeesport, Pa., Letter, Washington Post.
You decide. ß