Thursday, May 27, 2004
Gum is being sold for the first time since 1992, but only at chemists, and customers have to supply names and identity cards before they are supplied. Chemists who flout the law could be jailed for up to two years and fined £1,600 — The Independent
O Mr Pharmacist if you pleeze
Gimme a stick of dat munch and squeeze
So in mah gob there's a minty breeze
O gimme the squiggly wiggly Wrigley
I'm now' all jumped up and bubbly
O for Singapura I feel so happily
For a long time now I've been true
But they never believed me so whattudu:
O woe is me me my name is Chew.
So now all over Bugis Street
The nearly-ladies are salivatin' on the sweetmeat
Of this gum that'll keep our S'pore breaths nice 'n' sweet
For so long now all our Dicks and Toms
Have been chewin' on mint-flavoured condoms
To give them a little of the prom-pom-pom
O Majulah Singapura our leaders so sage
To gi'e us this stuff that's all the rage
We'll even make babies now we've come of age
But don't ptooi! and be so bold as brass
And stick the gooey bits all over our grass
Or this police truncheon'll be up your ...er, face
E Bah Gum!
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Whatever Chalabi will be...
Wheels have turned, but not yet full circle. Darlings have fallen by the wayside as facts emerge anew. Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy...so many facets of just one character, Chalabi. So he's been instrument of the Savak (or whatever they call themselves these days), or, at least his lieutenant Arras Karim Habib was spymaster for them — passing dud intelligence to the US, egging them on to war with Iraq, toppling the dreaded Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Ayatollahs, and now passing crucial US information to the other side.
What a complex web the spinners are spinning in this unlovely war. So who shall we attack next?
This is the plot as it now unfurls: the intelligence agency of the most powerful nation on earth duped into war by dud reports about weapons of mass destruction, some taken from an old PhD thesis, some supplied by erstwhile banker Chalabi. Then Chalabi turns out to be the world's most wanted man: wanted as President of a newly democratic Iraq by the US, wanted for embezzlment by Jordan, and on the sidelines, the Iranians wanted him to succeed too, as their most unlikely spy.
Then Chalabi's house gets raided by US soldiers with the FBI in tow. Someone should've told him earlier that if you go out on a picnic with the bears you don't always come home to play with Goldilocks. They told that to Noriega but it was too late, they told that to Saddam Hussein too but by that time he was already in a hole.
Chalabi has now of course now dismissed all those accusations of spying as a smear. And when asked by Fox News why his man Habib fled Iraq if he's innocent, he replied: "In Iraq there is no justice. There is Abu Ghraib prison, we don't want anybody to be subjected to Abu Ghraib."
So there you are folks, there you are.
Que sera, sera was written by by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 re-make Of his 1934 film "The Man Who Knew Too Much" Starring Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart.
§The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi §Gen. Zinni says Neocons who started the war should go §Things Bush Didn't Say in His Speech
Looking Glass War II
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Now I have to report with sadness that the place is no more, and I shall be lamenting on this in greater detail in the future.
For now there are just a few things that I'd like to say about how we are, and how we should revel in our new transparency (so I'm told). Firstly, who made the decision to surrender the lease on the old buildings? Secondly, who made the decision to buy the new Malaysia Hall now in Bayswater which will soon be officially opened, to some if not to all? Who bought the building? And for how much?
So the old Malaysia Hall is no more, but the old Malaysia Hall in that magnificent place in Bryanston Square was transformed into fortress Malaysia long before it was abandoned. Students no longer had the freedom to go there as in those glory days, the popular student's canteen — a popular meeting place — closed to the public in May last year. Anyone wishing to enter the building for whatever reason was constantly barked at from the entry system at the door.
There are figures floating about about the cost of the new Malaysia Hall. Some say ten, some say fifteen million pounds. Some venture even further to say that the commission on the purchase alone amounted to £5 million. These are monetary figures, not phone numbers, and it comes from the pockets of the people of Malaysia. We have a right to know if money was spent, and here it was, but who by, how much, for what purpose?
Malaysia Hall Premier
There is a school of thought you've probably come across that is one hundred percent sure that all these New American Century people are satanists who're intent on taking over the world. To me that was once a source for mild amusement, but I'm not too sure now. The humiliation, buggery, rape, self-gratification from those blatant acts of sado-masochism appear now to me as the ultimate pornography, the real rapture of this war. All those people that are now taking satanic pride in grinning over the corpses of dead Iraqis, tugging at a man tied to a dog-lead, making human beings stand in agony for hours in positions so grotesque that they cry in fear, and yesterday, another story came out of a young boy of 16 or so who was stripped and taken out for a ride in an open car, exposed to the elements. Then he was taken back, all cut up and dirty, to be shown to his father in prison who broke down in tears while pleading to them to stop what they were doing as he was ready to confess to anything now.
These are people of Arab-Muslim culture as they never tire of telling us, so I'm sure there's a lot more hidden behind that story than was told by the father later. I'm sure now that the boy was raped in front of him to elicit the admission — any admission — from the poor father. People in Iraq don't talk abiut things like that, not especially about thier sons. So this is it that's sickened me, and I'm more convinced now than ever before that in this sense that this is the day of the old Nick, that this is Satan's war.
"My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture, and therefore I'm not going to address the torture word." — Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence, USA.
So be prepared now for a world of aberrating principles, where abuse is fun, and major sins transmuted into mere peccadilloes according to Saint McDonald Rumsfeld. In this sense it is chilling what Susan Sontag has just pronounced, that these photographs are America.
Not So Pretty As A Picture
Saturday, May 22, 2004
"How many people go to the middle of the desert...to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilisation? These were more than two dozen military age males. Let's not be naive."
Mukaradeeb was just a little village of 25 houses near the Syrian border. Early morning last Wednesday, as some revellers were just going to sleep after a hard day's feasting at a wedding that was to forge a bond between the the Shihab and the Rakat family, the planes came and bombed the wedding tent to shreds, then came the armoured vehicles, and the chinook helicopters and all the rest of the shooting soldiers that left behind a trail of mangled bodies.
Not a bad day's work for US occupation sodieis, but a sad, bad day for the folk of Ramadi to the north of this little village who came in to help bury the bodies. Mr Mahadi'athi Nawaf, 55, who watched the merriment from his house next door had this to say later to a reporter from the Guardian newspaper:
"I saw something that nobody ever saw in this world. There were children's bodies cut into pieces, women cut into pieces, men cut into pieces."
The newly married couple however, survived to enjoy this wedding present from the US of A with this further message from Major General Mattis:
"I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men."
Figures vary about the number of dead: the Rakats alone lost 27 family members. One man, Hussein al-Ali, a popular singer in Western Iraq, went to the wedding to sing a few numbers; by early Wednesday morning he was dead as were 11 women and 14 children who, when they were alive, were patients of Dr Hamdi Nur al-Alussi at the al-Qaim general hospital. General Mark Kimmit with the grand title of deputy director of operations of the US military in Iraq estimated that around 40 people were killed, but they were all killed "within our rules of engagement" so it was all right then for General Kimmit, sir.
And that other General Mattis is still unrepentent presumably because he still hasn't seen the photographs. But we've seen enough photographs already in what is becoming this picture postcard war: a woman soldier merrily making the thumbs up sign over the gawping dead body of an Iraqi man who'd been tortured to death, a male soldier doing ditto, Iraqi male prisoner leashed like a dog, naked Iraqi prisoners cowering before snarling fangs, and we've been revulsed by descriptive details of some others. There are other photographs of boys being sodomised, women being abused and raped, things that you couldn't imagine happening in a civilised world. Take this testimony of a prisoner in Iraq:
"I saw [name blacked out] f***ing a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid's ass." — testimony of detainee Kasim HIlas, as quoted in the Washington Post.
Those gleeful picture taking, those sadistic acts, they make you wonder if this isn't a war conducted for its own perverted ends by sickos who enjoy humiliating their fellow men and women. And it's not only in Iraq or Afghanistan or in Guantanamo that all this is happening; across the border, away from scrutinising eyes, similar things are happening too. We've heard from former prisoners of the systematic rape of Palestinian women in prison, the humiliation of men and boy prisoners, and then comes this picture of the disturbing behaviour of the occupying forces themselves, as recorded in the journals of Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Yesterday, Wednesday 19, IDF helicopter gunships fired missiles at a demonstrating crowd in Rafah, leaving a scene of utter carnage, mangled bodies strewn on the ground, children soaked in blood taken to the morgue, the living and grieving standing in shocked disbelief at how the world could just look on as more of their homes are razed to the ground, their future lying in tatters, and their citizens mere cannon fodder.
If this were Rwanda, Sudan or Zimbabwe there'd be cries of war-crimes and genocide, but this is Israel, and the world pussyfoots before Israel. Bush has refused to condemn this act outright, Colin Powell has said this is merely counter-productive to the peace process, and Jack Straw has contributed his required piece of shock horror to the camera.
Yesterday the IDF blasted at least 23 Palestinians to their graves, mostly school children. At least sixty were wounded, mostly women and children. This scene of horror was a demonstration attended by about 3000 people against the invasion of the Tel Sultan neighbourhood in Rafah.
Israel is continuing its policy of demolishing homes there to extend the Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt without fear or care as the world looks on as if it is the natural thing to do. When the demonstrators lay dead after the helicopter gunfire even the BBC reported, like the voice of Israel, that the IDF categorically denied that they'd fired from helicoipter gunships. Then, when it could no longer be denied, the report came with another version of IDF pap: that their helicopters had fired missiles at some buildings nearby. So it's all right then.
It's difficult to imagine the extent of Israel's planned demolition of Rafah. I'm grateful to Lawrence of Cyberia for this link to an aerial map provided by Pace in Medioriente. Please click on map, left, for bigger image.
Covering Israel is an interesting area of study, of course, where the combined media of the western world start mewling like pussies galore. Israel — dear, little, troubled Israel — is always the voice of reason, while Palestinians are the wild-eyed marauders ever ready to strap explosives on their breasts and ever intent on the destruction of this bastion of democracy. There are exceptions, of course, like Robert Fisk, but these are the weirdos who get pointed at in the street as oddities clamouring for the sands of Araby. The norm is that reporters are there to subject Palestianians to the closest scrutiny, and then to explain Israel.
So yesterday, as lives were lost, five houses were also razed to the ground, just five more to make way for the security corridor that will be tightened like a noose around the Palestinian Bantustans to be created for these burdens of Israel. But while Powell was troubled by this counterproductive little Israeli housekeeping, Bush remained speechless in his House.
Pity the man, it's difficult to come out with a word once you're in awe that God has spoken to you personally; and his Armageddonist supporters I understand, have had assurance that it's alright to demolish Rafah as there're nothing of significance in the way there, like the tomb of Rachel or something other. And don't mess around with Armageddonists because they care for things like that, and demolition of Palestinian land, for them, is all part of God's work for the Messiah shall not come until the land is cleared of interlopers.
And when the rapture comes, what will He say about these bodies of children in the morgues of Rafah?
§The Jesus landing pad §B'Tselem report §Under the rubble.§Five militants killed as IDF extends excursion §Can ethnic cleansing bring back Jesus? §It's Okay, says Rabbi
Shameless In Gaza
Blair with trajectory of purple dust behind him.
This was the second time that the Speaker of the House of Commons had to suspend proceedings in recent times because of interuption from members of the public. The last time it happened Blair was subjected to some barracking from the public gallery, and a £600,000 security barrier between the public and parliamentarians was erected following that. This time the attacker was in a part that was unprotected by the screen, having gained entry by a special ticket that he'd won in a raffle. The ticket was donated by a lady member of the House of Lords who later apologised for her indiscretion.
It was very fortunate of course that all Blair suffered was a powder puff on his pride. When commenting on the incident, Home Secretary David Blunkett made much of threats to democracy and public behaviour that can threaten freedom of access to the House. He forgot of course that nastier things had happened in Parliament than just coloured flour thrown at a Prime Minister in a self-raising condom. In 1812, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was walking in the lobby of the House of Commons on his way to a debate when an assassin by the name of John Bellingham got him.
NOTE: I understand that Fathers 4 Justice is a movement fighting for equal rights for men.
§See video of attack via BBC News Page.
Blair In Purple Dust
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Click on thumbnails for bigger image.
Captions for most pictures by MouseOver.
Sources acknowledged with thanks.
— Mohammad, resident of Rafah. Read his Diary.
Friday as I was asleep, Rafah was awake and dying on her feet.
The Israeli occupation forces were building a corridor between Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza, and Egypt. The pretext was retaliation for the death of five IDF soldiers who apparently died in an ambush in the corridor last Wednesday 11th, and they were literally searching the land for the soldiers' remains, but the greater purpose is war against the Palestinian people.
"This is a measure we are taking to provide better protection for armoured personnel carriers and the soldiers, and to reshape the theatre of war so we will enjoy the advantage, not the Palestinians," an Israeli official told Reuters.
Rafah: Wide awake and hurting so bad.
Rafah is a refugee "camp" in that doleful Palestinian way: it's really a sprawling township of people, many of whom have been there since the war of 1948. These are houses of bricks and mortar, not tents, these are people living the only way they can in the face of hardship. It's been heard in arguments in the media that the neighbouring Arab countries are partly responsible for the plight of these people. I've heard them say that these people should be absorbed by them and deserve a better life there. But why should they? Palestine is the home of Palestinians; why should they go to other lands to make way for settlers from Brooklyn or wherever?
The greater purpose of this latest IDF incursion is of course to clear the way for a wider corridor which Israel has been working on since the beginning of the intifada. Since then nearly 2000 homes have been destroyed; last Friday night they demolished 116 more, and more are being demolished even as you're reading this now. So, whatever may be the truth behind the bodies of those IDF soldiers, it was always meant to be this way.
In March last year, American volunteer Rachel Corrie was crushed to death under an Israeli bulldozer while trying to stop a demolition in progress. Since last Friday it has been hell for the Palestinians in Rafah. This is how it was, Monday 17th May:
"At approximately 01:00 this morning, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired missiles into a crowd of Palestinians in the street in Block B of Rafah refugee camp. Three members of the Palestinian resistance were killed and 5 Palestinian civilians walking nearby were injured. Those killed were identified as — Walid Mousa Abu Jazer, 26, from Rafah - Mohammed Khalil al-Jundi, 24, from Rafah - Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Nawajha, 31, from Rafah.
"Approximately two hours later, IOF, supported by dozens of armoured vehicles and under cover of Israeli aircraft, launched an incursion from the illegal Israeli settlement block of Gush Katif into the Tel As-Sultan neighbourhood, to the west of Rafah. At approximately 04:00, Israeli helicopter gunships fired three missiles into a crowd of Palestinian civilians on the street near the Bilall Mosque in the middle of Tel As-Sultan neighbourhood. Two missiles hit the crowd killing five civilians immediately. Two of the dead were brothers, including one child. An additional ten civilians were injured.
"The third missile hit the Bilall Mosque, setting fire to the Mosque's library. Those killed were identified as — Hani Mohammed Quffa, 18, from Rafah — Tareq Ahmed Sheikh-Eid, 24, from Rafah — Ibrahim Ismail al-Ballawi, 18, from Rafah — Mohammed Jasser al-Sha'er, 17, from Rafah — Ahmed Jasser al-Sha'er, 18, from Rafah During the incursion, IOF took up positions on the roofs of Palestinian homes in the Tel As-Sultan neighbourhood and used snipers in these positions to open fire at Palestinians moving in the areas below." — source: PCHR
Oh how Rafah yearns to sleep, but while we're asleep tonight, Rafah will continue to be awake, and how she'll hurt.
While We Slept
Monday, May 17, 2004
Minutes ago I was in the man's shop and all he said to me was something more excessive, "£34.20, please!" It jolted me more than the brief hagiography he was now delivering at the bus stop. He was asking that for laundering two duvet covers, a few sheets, four pillow cases, and two towels. He gave me a little ticket, then said no more of that.
Now, while waiting for the No. 302 bus I had to break to him the sad news: "The man's gone," I said. But he was relentless: "I like your Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad!"
This was a pretty embarrassing moment for me, standing there as I was, at the bus stop, with a banana half-eaten, and my dirty linen just taken in by the man who was now accosting me with words. He gave me a fixed gaze, this little man from the laundry of Londra North.
"I don't think you like him," he said.
"No, no," I protested, "I'm feeling quite good today and am quite well disposed to most everyone. But he's gone, we now have a new man."
The path from his door to the bus stop where I was standing was short, but ah, the loneliness of the short-distance walk of the laundryman. He looked at me, forlorn, this lank youth with the barest hint of a moustache, a man from Pakistan of the Shi'i persuasion. I gleaned this last bit of information when he opened his laundry book. In the first page I saw Ya 'Ali written in Arabic script beneath the usual exaltation to the Lord.
"You don't like him. He is a good man," he insisted.
Now how could I, standing there at the bus stop, banana half eaten in my hand, not like a former Prime Minister of my country who was also a good bloke? But before I could put it in so many words he was gone, back into his laundry shop. Next week I shall apprise him of that, when I confront him again with my £34.20 and and a shoulder to carry back the laundered load. He, of all people, should've understood what I was trying to tell him. As I walked into his shop earlier, before the banana and the bus stop, I asked this complete stranger where Mr Ghulam was. "Mr Ghulam's gone," he said. "I'm now in charge." And the man now in charge was the very same one who followed me to the bus stop, who went back quite perplexed.
But still a week's some distance yet, and in the meantime bus No. 302 had arrived. So I hopped on to it without the faintest idea where it was going as it journeyed further north, past Neasden Parade, past Blackbird Cross and beyond. I was travelling on an all-day ticket which, at less than the price of your fish and chips is pretty much the only decently priced thing left in this place. For £2.50 — thanks to Mayor Livingstone — you can travel to as many parts as you like and if you're a person on a budget with an ambition that's city-wide, it's just your ticket. Tubefares are ruinous nowadays, and fish and chips an unreachable plaice. For less than the price of a latte and a bun (in that place where I fear to tread) you're footlose and fancy free, and dreaming in a Londra bus.
Route 302 was quite a surprise as it turned out. It journeyed through parts of town that were West Indian, Asian (i.e. Indo-Pakistan), and Jewish. It jolted and whirred through the Willesden of the Yardies, the Neasden of the suburbs so loathed by Private Eye, and the cash and carry culture and the cavernous storehouses of the north. I even saw one called LIDL, which I hadn't heard of.
Looking past the hedges, and the long chain terrace houses, and the trees that were still in flower and the varied shop houses, I was telling myself how this Londra is still very much a placid, varied place. In the bus were ladies in veils and hijab, Jewish housewives sweating under their wigs, young travellers loaded with pregnant rucksacks, West Indian men and women travelling to and from work, and languages whose provenance I'd be hard pressed to guess. It was a pretty good, end-of-spring kind of day, when the parks were shady and the kids were beginning to shed their thick uniforms for the winter chill. And the trees were simply just that, following no cultural proclivities of one of their arboreal cousins in Central Park, which — as I'd read in the Evening Standard — was clambered by two naked men who began to throw branches at the police. Ah, the gaiety of New York!
But it came pretty close to that when, some years ago, while walking with some friends near Westminster Abbey, we heard a voice coming from a height admonishing us to listen. It turned out to be Bruno Manser who'd chained himself to the top of Her Majesty's lamp-post in protest against the destruction of rain-forests in Sarawak.
But he didn't think to do it — thank God — stark naked.
My Beautiful Laundrette
Sunday, May 16, 2004
And then they came with another take: that these Arabs were so used to torture in all its forms that it could hardly raise a stir among the general Arab populace. That the general populace are mostly under regimes that are so compliant to the regime whose foot-soldiers are doing the torturing was hardly raised. Nosirree, those client regimes are much too worried about the destabilising effects of such unleashed anger on their own positions than the humiliation wreaked on their own race. What's also disturbing about this way of assuaging the import of barbaric acts is the cultural and political Orientalism that's called into play. Why, even Bush said it, in his joint press conference with the Canadian Prime Minister: those Ay-rabs ain't all bad. They too, on a fine day, can work up a decent democracy, even if they're dark skinned and not like us.
Well, those vile acts are not as bad for them Arabs who are so used to it as it's troubling us decent, humane folk. It's we — Westerners — who have to cope with this vile, barbaric act.
Now that the editor of the Mirror newspaper is gone, it's clear for all to see that the spinners are spinning the plot overtime. Piers Morgan isn't a perfect person (who is?). He was once caught in a funny act about share-dealing with some columnists on his staff, and that came to pass. Once, bitten by the mad populist bug, he hurled racist insults on the Germans in a cheap front-page jibe, and that too came to pass. But on the issue of Bush's and Blair's war he was pretty consistent even at the risk of falling circulation. Some now say he was brilliant, but I doubt it, he was just a brave editor and a man troubled by all this war talk. Now, under pressure from American shareholders of Trinity Mirror, he's gone, escorted out without time to retrieve his own coat from his office after a brief meeting with the paper's management board.
So who gains from the furore about Morgan? Downing Street for sure. The British army for sure, who're now crowing the tune of I told you we're decent if bold as brass. But when the pictures first came out, their first excuse was those pictures were re-enactments. Re-enactments of what? and why? And if fakes, as now widely accepted, how could those fakers use an army vehicle that's now traced to its exact place, where did they get the guns and the uniforms, and who are they in the first place? We need to know all this because the Red Cross and Amnesty and prisoners released from those terrible holding places are saying that torture did take place even under the Brits, Iraqis have died under the custody of the Brits, and measly sums paid to families for their dead. Will all that die too now that Morgan is, well, dead?
Meantime: the videotape of that poor man Berg which came out just in time to put some perspective into the whole business. Vaguely, it was said that it was released on a website allegedly located in Malaysia. Now, stories are coming out that the people behind the web address are actually holed out in a building that also houses some Arabic magazines in central London, and who're also addressed in Nurnberg in Denmark. Now, the website has completely disappeared. Go HERE and HERE to read about this intriguing business.
[More Berg concerns at Je Blog]
§Regiment in fake photo storm to be charged over death of prisoner §Secret US jails hold 10,000 §Powell: Arab Response to Berg Insufficient
Looking Glass War
Thursday, May 13, 2004
There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern. And the Prime Minister -- I don't want to put words in his mouth -- but I think he shares that great sense of optimism and possibility. And it's good to have a friend who shares that with us. Would you like to have the First Ladies come on up?
PRIME MINISTER MARTIN: I've got to say, though, I really do like sharing a press conference with you. You answer those questions perfectly. [Laughter.]
For more laughter, go here [Grateful thanks to Jeneane Sessum for taking me there.]
And a word from a colleague of Lynndie "Soon to be Mum" England's father (as quoted in the Daily Telegraph):
"We went there to help the jackasses and they started blowing us up. Lynndie didn't kill 'em, she didn't cut 'em up. She should have shot some of the suckers."
White On Black
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
It's hard to look around and keep your head when innocent men, women and children are writhing around the bullet-riddled homes of Falluja and on the grounds torn by blasts of rocket fire; while genetically mutilated future Iraqi citizens are walking in the dust of depleted uranium all over the ancient land.
So who now takes the moral high ground? The people who've invaded Iraq or the people who're fighting to reclaim their land?
Wars, all wars, reach a point when defintions are lost and everything is viewed, darkly, through a haze. And then the fingers start pointing — there the barbarians, there the torturers, there the attacker there the attacked, and vice versa ad infinitum.
But poor people of tortured Iraq, is it better now than it was then?
Then there was torture, and then there was none but hell paved in yellow-brick on the weay to good intention. And then the photographs came out, and the yelling and the screaming, once muted, but are now coming up loud from inside the prisons; then it becomes all hazy about where one form of torture ends and another begins, as things are thrown about in a spin: we told you so, it wasn't (meant to be) like that, it was all rogue, rogue, rogue element. Besides, we came here to liberate you, my little Ay-rab lad!
There is a prison called Camp Bucca in southern Iraq (and I'm grateful to Paul Foot for pointing this out), named after Ronald Bucca, a New York fireman who died while on duty in one of the Towers on 9 -11. The tone's set for that, so any surprise that all those gaolers and those contractors are all so rabidly, so single-mindedly intent on beating the daylights out of those deadbeats of Iraq? So they've all been pre-programmed to hate those bastard, it's our tit for their tat, those dirty, tatty Ay-rabs. But can you tell me, because I'm still hazy, who did that Tower thing?. Oh, never mind now, let's just bash them in anyway, those blasted towel heads who so hate our apple pie and freedom.
So they've really seized the moment and come all out in this cakewalk (their word, not mine) all in the name of 9-11, never mind what they're saying about democracy and the eradication of tyranny, and maybe a little bit of oil too at that. This is a war of revenge, and is as much a jihad as any you can get; it's the spirit that permeates those discussions you read in those moderately right-wing websites. In those immoderate ones, it's all hell let loose in their end time Armageddonist pap.
And so they've brought in those contractors and those joy-riders to help them re-build Eye-raq. Some of those contractors — those gleeful torturers — are even said to be holders of more than one passport (aw, go on, have a guess), but never mind that. Think of those who were brought into Camp Bucca, Abu Ghreib, how many innocent men and women then, how many have been tried? Oh, their crimes are too heinous they cannot face Court, all those men and women, protective fathers and mothers, and hotel keepers, all those people who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time, people who took up arms probably for the first time in their lives because they were all so fed up of seeing army boots resting on the heads of their fellow citizens, a father hooded in black sitiing in the sun behind barbed wires, his still free hand trying to reassure a son on his lap who's barely five. You can see all that in photographs that were hitherto hardly commented upon. And now we hear of teenagers raped in some special section of Abu Ghreib, women molested, men made to simulate oral sex, men with hands tied to their backs and forced to kneel as if in Muslim prayer, then one, who popped up, was stamped on the neck so hard that he died. But never mind that last one, the British army gave his family $1000 to soothe their grieving hearts.
They've sprayed the country with radio-active dust, but what other poisons are they now spreading across the land?
§ American Muslims denounce beheading in Iraq
I Came, I Saw, I Tortured
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Click Image for A Year In Pictures
"The United States government has consistently opposed an international court that could hold US military and political leaders to a uniform global standard of justice. The Clinton administration participated actively in negotiations towards the International Criminal Court treaty, seeking Security Council screening of cases. If adopted, this would have enabled the US to veto any dockets it opposed. When other countries refused to agree to such an unequal standard of justice, the US campaigned to weaken and undermine the court. The Bush administration, coming into office in 2001 as the Court neared implementation, adopted an extremely active opposition. Washington began to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries, insuring immunity of US nationals from prosecution by the Court. As leverage, Washington threatened termination of economic aid, withdrawal of military assistance, and other painful measures. These exclusionary steps clearly endanger the fledgling Court and may seriously weaken its credibility and effectiveness."
Why the United States is so opposed to the International Criminal Court
A Year In Pictures
Monday, May 10, 2004
"Israelis are a nation of spies and drug dealers", according to New Zealand immigration officials speaking to the Jewish Agency treasurer Shai Hermesh upon his arrival there, reported Army Radio Saturday."
Maariv International, 10 May, 2004
"Former Minister of Science and Energy, Gonen Segev was indicted Sunday on charges of possession of drugs, attempting to smuggle drugs and conspiring to commit a crime. Other indictments were filed at the Tel Aviv District court against Segev's cousin, Moshe Werner, and attorney Ariel Freedman for their alleged part in the affair."
Just Fancy That
How long has torture in the most humilitaing from been carried out in the prisons of Iraq? Both Amnesty International and the Red Cross say they've been warning governments — British and American — since last year. The minister for human rights [sic] in the US-appointed Council, Abdul-Basat al-Turki, said after resigning last Sunday he'd been complaining to Bremer of the violations since December. And even Tony Blair has said sorry, but for what? Downing Street has said that it wasn't an admission of British torture in Iraq, so we don't know, but sorry, anyway.
So one by one the pictures are coming out, from mere pointing at genitals while enjoying a smoke to naked Iraqi human pyramid to dogs at the ready to pounce on a naked prisoner. Don Rumsfeld — who didn't know — now knows it all: there's more, he said, and sorry, sorry for ever more. Bush, well, he wasn't sorry, but shaken, then he too felt sorry for all that. And if you're feeling all squeamish now, wait for it folks, there's more, says Don "I shall not be moved" Rumsfeld. Reports say these may include soldiers "acting inappropriately with a dead body", rape of young boys by prison guards, and even murder recorded on tape.
It all rather ruins it for Rumsfeld, doesn't it, just as he's about to ask for several billions more for the democratisation of Iraq. Just imagine the cost once the country's handed over completely to the Iraqis next month. Item 1: To running the largest US Embassy in the world, $5 billion a year. Item 2: To running 4 permanent US bases, $4 billion apiece.
But let's not bring money into this, torture's a serious enough job of work.
How sorry we all feel for Pvte Lynndie England — hailed by the tabloid Sun in England (no relation) as a Witch — a smalltown gal who only wanted to be a meteorologist when she grows up; and sorry too we are for Reservist Sabrina Harman who allegedly choreographed the naked Iraqi human pyramid and wrote "Rapeist" [sick] on one of the exposed limbs, she was just obeying orders. Now, where have we heard that before?
What's come to light now is not that some soldiers have been careless with their holiday snaps but that torture, far from being the dirty deed of some rogue elements in the bunch is a studied, serious business. The US are not entirely new to it, the CIA have long associated with regimes that make torture their tool of office. Remember Pinochet, remember Noriega, and remember Latin America of the 1970s when women prisoners spoke of rats being pushed into their orifices to extract confessions, or daughters being gang-raped by prison thugs before helpless parents. In Kazakhstan they recently immersed a screaming prisoner into boiling water, and God knows what else are taking place in other places that are approved by the US of A. And we remember of course that in Vietnam they threw captured Congs or suspects off helicopters if they refused to talk. Colin Powell was there.
Going further back, the French refined it — if torture can be refined, and rather brutally too — in Algeria during the Algerian war for Independence.
And In Iraq who taught the soldiers of freedom tactics of house demolition, sniping at civilians, and firing weapons at will on a civilian population regardless of consequence? In December last year stories leaked out that Israel advisers were training US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations and some of their other favourite tactics in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the US Special forces. And Israeli military consultants also visited Iraq, that much we know.
And as for the soul-searching Brits, this is what the Guardian reported last Saturday:
"The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.
"The techniques devised in the system, called R2I - resistance to interrogation - match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.
"One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: "It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing." Read MORE
What's making torture messy now is that it's all come out in an unexpected way, and you know what worms and other lower life forms do when you lift a rotting plank and expose them to light: they scramble for cover.
§ Israel trains US assassination squads in Iraq § Why torture must lead to defeat
Age of Spin
Friday, May 07, 2004
Towards the end of the 18th century, the bastard son of a Suffolk farmer — and loyal subject of King George the Mad — hoisted the British standard over Penang. The debate is still continuing: was this legitimate conquest or was it a deception on the Sultan of Kedah, the man who gave Francis Light rights over the island of Penang or Pulau Pinang?
Last Wednesday, 5 May, Professor Ulrich Kratz, an expert on Malay philology, delivered an inaugural lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies on aspects of Light's letters to the Sultan of Kedah which give cause for concern. The lecture shed light on the ways of colonialism and its handymen merchants. If anything, the lecture argued for greater energy expended into the study of Malay philology.
On the same day, but earlier, there was a fashion gala at the plush Dorchester Hotel, showcasing Malaysian batik, by a company that is being actively promoted by the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister. At the show, she was introduced as the First Lady of Malaysia, a title not previlusly connected with the wife of the country's Prime Minister.
Malay Studies is on the wane at a time when there's need for closer scrutiny of colonialism and the clash of cultures in our part of the world. Also, there are some 4000 Malay manuscripts extant, maybe more, and little being done about them by people of learning, theirs and ours.
Which event did the High Commissioner of Malaysia choose to attend?
Answers please, on a postcard, to the Malaysian High Commission, 45 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QT.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Steve Bell's Cartoon in the Guardian.
State of Ay-Rab Nayshun Address
My Fellow Ay-Rabs:
I'm shaked, rattled and rolled by some of the foreign fighters in Eye-Raq behavin' badly and upsettin' you good folk of the Ay-Rabs. I mean, lightin' up a cigarette and pointin' gleeful at an Ay-rab genital ain't no way to behave, an' piling 'em up an' makin' them crawl like a dawg. What kind of way is that for a soldier to behave when they should be shootin' from a high tower at passin' Fallujer Ay-rabs. An' ah say this most sincerely folks, ahm sorry unreservedly for havin' to wake up to my coco pops an' seein' some Ay-rabs moonin' at me from Abu Ghreib wherever that place is for it ain't no matter where it is 'cos the whole world in its entire must be made safe from - I mean for - moonin' Ay-rabs, and pilin' them up like a pyramid. It upset mah wife so an' ahm sorry for that.
And so on folks.
Massage to Ay-Rabs
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
We've taken this measure for your safety because of persistent rumours we've heard that leading luminaries of our Neocon age, people like Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary for Defence Paul Wolfowitz, have all been briefed on the Bible Code by the archangel of the Bible Code himself, Michael Drosnin. It is reported that on the eve of the attack on Iraq, February 21, Wolfowitz and 10 other military top brass had Drosnin himself brief them on the drift. Wow! we thought, pretty heady stuff!
The Bible Code technique is based on something started by Dr Eliyahu Rips of the Hebrew University, Israel. Rips found that by putting words of the Hebrew Bible in a large array, omitting spaces and punctuation marks, a computer can read messages in the text by going back and forth reading every nth letter in the array. Applying this, Drosnin claims to have found dates of the Kennedy assassination, and so on, even though Dr Rips himself has publicly doubted the validity of Drosnin's application of his work.
Drosnin, when challenged, replied — as quoted in Newsweek — that if his critics can find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, he'll believe them. Well, here are 'predictions' of not one, but many assassinations of world leaders in Moby Dick, for Drosnin to pick and choose.
Having said all that, we're pleased to tell you that the Gematria reading we've applied to pages of Jalan-Jalan is 'absolutely correct'. That is the confident claim of the people who devised this method, which, as far as we can see, is based on a reading method not dissimilar to the Bible Code — by searching different patterns through the text, giving numerical values to the letters, and then subjecting them to mathematical examination using certain numbers. You can read all this, and obtain a certificate for good or evil for yourself at the Gematriculator page.
Or you may want to do something better and read the first chapter of Moby Dick.
§ Meet Michael Drosnin §
Jews 4 Jesus take a look at the Bible Code §Hidden Messages and The Bible Code §The Skeptic's Dictionary view of the Bbble Code §
Page of Curate's Egg
Monday, May 03, 2004
Let's then get down to business: the business of the army is to kill people. Military training brutalises, and army training is geared towards breaking down the individual and turning him or her into an efficient killing machine without qualms, without more. The Israeli army has reduced this to a fine art: houses demolished, trees uprooted, women and children killed by sniper fire, children used as human shields, all's fair in the love of Israel and war. Now the US are doing much the same too in Falluja, and elsewhere. Any wonder then, when asked to explain his behaviour, a US soldier from Abu Gharib explained that he was not taught the Vienna Convention, nor equipped with the art of interrogation proper? So dehumanising is his experience of the army that he can't remember what it is to be decent anymore.
Anyone who's heard of camp Deepcut in Britain will know how the young recruits are brutalised, humiliated and sexually abused. Some have been found dead, and summarily dismissed as suicides. More than 1000 British sodliers have died in recent times in non-combat incidents, in training camps, and that's the reality of it all. Those who survive the training camps will have in them ingrained, this brutalising culture.
Now that the Brits too are sucked into this business of torture and inhuman behaviour, they differ from the Yanks in only one small matter. Whilst Bush muttered faux-disgust at being caught torturing the cat when his minder wasn't looking, the Brits of course reflexively resort to their decent, pious other. If those Daily Mirror pictures are genuine, says Blair, then blah, blah, blah. The press too join in the chorus, applying rules that were never applied when bombs exploded in public places. There, of course, both politicians and media alike jumped to the only conclusion possible: it must be the Islamist al-Q of the O bin L.
Make your own Iraq Photo HERE
We don't know if the pictures are genuine or not, of course, but we hope for the sake of those poor Iraqis they're not. The Mirror however has come out in spirited defence of its pictures. [See link below] And, contrary to what they're saying in public, the Telegraph yesterday reported that six British soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment faced arrest for having allegedly tortured and abused Iraqi prisoners, and then went on to say that details of the alleged abuse "emerged when photographs were published in yesterday's Daily Mirror".
At the same time Amnesty International are alleging that torture is rife in Iraq and they've been trying to draw attention to that for sometime now. And those of you with a long memory will remember Pvte Gary Bartlam of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who was arrested by the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal MIlitary Police after he'd handed in a roll of film for processing at a branch of Max Spielman's photo-processing shop in Tamworth, Staffordshire, England.
This is how it started, in June last year:
An assistant in a photo processing shop in Tamworth, Staffordshire, Kelly Tilford (22), uncovered the photographs when checking that a film handed in by a soldier had developed properly. She said, "I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. They were grim. I just felt awful...I immediately realised something terribly wrong had happened and something had to be done about it. I started shaking and was panicking."
What made the shop-assistant want to puke were just ordinary snapshots of war that soldiers prize so much and delight in swapping with one another. You know, men stripped to the waist and suspended by a rope from a forklift truck, an Iraqi man forced to perform oral sex on a soldier, Iraqis forced to do anal sex on each other, and soldiers watching them all in glee.
The Mirror says today that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been pictures circulating on the internet of Iraqi women being stripped, raped, and humiliated by invading soldiers. True or fake? We don't know, but if, as Blair says, if they're true... what now?
§ Army swapped torture pics § This is not a hoax, I was there § Shop Assisatnt sickened by army photos § Justice 4 James § "There's bullying and Sexual harrassment" § Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Psychodynamics of Occupation
Snapshots of War
Saturday, May 01, 2004
And the contractors are back in the picture too, well, not the ones you're now seeing in the press, but in this whole privatised war (and today, by the way, is anti-globalisation day.)
Everyone of reason, I imagine, is fed up of this whole Iraq affair which doesn't seem to be leading anywhere except to road-signs pointing to the world's biggest US embassy soon to rise in Baghdad, flying, no doubt, the Old Glory and the blue and white of new democratic Israq.
But the people getting most pissed by this are the Iraqis. See picture below:
Now we understand the fury of the Fallujans, and Iraqis elsewhere in Iraq, now we know why this is no longer Saddam's war. But, these are rogue elements, we hear. Soldiers who buggered a teenager in captivity in Abu Gharib prison — Saddam's most notorious — naked male detainees stacked up in a pile, a women soldier humiliating a naked prisoner by pointing gleefully at his genital. Of course this is nothing compared to the atrocities of Saddam in Abu Gharib, as a BBC correspondent helpfully pointed out. Well, yessiree, thank you very much, can we now get back to our daily life now?
But these are rogue elements of course, and here's a butt in the groin to make you feel better:
Accroding to Amnesty International they've been reporting mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners for a long time, but no one took notice. But now that the pictures are out, everyone's disgusted, horrified, ashamed, from the topmost general to the smallest reporter. Once there was Ann Clwyd, Labour Member of Parliament who was so pro-war because it'd relieve the suffering of the Kurds, and there were others too, so trenchantly pro-human rights, so enthusiastic about the war, but where are they now?
Listen to the words of the uncle of one of the US soldiers who now stand accused of brutality against prisoners in Abu Gharib. On BBC tTV news he said on Friday he knew that his nephew was a scapegoat, he said. They interrogated one of the detainees so enthusiastically, he said, that afterwards they had to pack him in ice because he was dead. Then the next morning they put an Iraqi army tag on him, and took him away in an ambulance as a dead 'soldier'.
And God knows what is happening in Guantanamo. Remember that haven of rest in Guantanamo Bay where men are being held for allegedly belonging to nefarious organisations but never been tried? There was an army Chaplain there, a Captain Yee (remember?), who, bizzarely, was charged for spying for the enemy, later reduced to downloading pornography. Then the charges were dropped entirely, but Yee cannot say anything now because he's been gagged, so he can tell us nothin' about Guantanamo.
But remember please, Guantanamo Bay.
The pictures above are not from Abu Gharib prison (under US charge), but from Basra where the antics of British soldiers are very similar. The poor man being humiliated above was subsequently thrown off a moving vehicle, bleeding, vomitting, and with a broken jaw. They'd also knocked his teeth out, and now God knows whether he lived or died.
Today, a day after the BBC interview interview with the US soldier's uncle, the Guardian published extracts form a journal kept by his nephew, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick, so that his side of the story could be told. He started his journal on 19 January, 2004, and this is what he recorded about a death in custody:
"Back around November an OGA prisoner was brought to 1A. They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately 24 hours in the shower in the 1B. The next day the medics came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away. This OGA was never processed and therefore never had a number."
§ Now we are the Iraqi extremists § Shame of Abuse by British Troops § The journal of Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick §Christians say torture reported earlier § Pictures from Abu Gharib
Pissed By War