Thursday, July 28, 2005

Perfidious Albion

The Kapecha deportation case is disgusting.

It's time for a total overhaul of immigration policy. It's currently racist and unfeeling. The Kapecha story is of a family living in Dorset with widespread support among the local community, of all backgrounds. The campaign to let them stay joined together Ann Widdecombe and George Galloway. A letter in today's Grauniad says:
Local residents have organised marches. There have been sponsored walks by schoolchildren and students. A delegation has visited the House of Commons and there have been many letters (including my own) sent to the Home Office pleading the case. Now all this is to no avail and the family is to be deported. The minister talks about abiding by the regulations but, as always with this government, what he means is that "targets" take priority over case histories and people.

Every day, hundreds of people are allowed to stay because it is too hard to apprehend them, while others who can be caught - frequently those in real danger - are sent back to make up these purely notional numbers.
In brief, the Kachepas' crime was to be visible, to have a home, a united family, an identity and a place in the community; not, in fact, to be on the run. That was their mistake and now Verah and her four children, Natasha, Alex, Antony and Upili must fly out to an uncertain future in Malawi, a country that is no longer their home and which offers them no security. I do not think immigration should be unlimited. I would only argue that there should be a cogent policy in place that makes more sense than the ramshackle and arbitrary injustice that the present officially sponsored chaos inflicts on innocent citizens.
Julian Fellowes
Dorchester, Dorset
Immigration should be about more than targets and following procedure. It should be about people. Making their lives better. A society that deports people against their will, and the will of a community, is not the kind of society to which I wish to belong.

Let them stay. The Kachepa's have a better life here than in Malawi.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Against Intellectuality

No, not me. But this guy is.
Sheik Khalid Yasin, the executive director of the Islamic Teaching Institute which is dedicated to the work of promoting Islam, told a large gathering of young muslims at Bankstown Town Hall in Sydney last week that muslims could not be friends with anyone who did not share their faith.

"They're not your friend because they don't understand your religious principles and they cannot because they do not understand your faith," he said.

The sheik said young Muslims should not attend university because they would lose their direction.

"University is a gateway for deviation," he said.

"You forget your Islamic direction. Now you have become compromised through some kind of intellectuality."
Don't think, be.

It's possible to have endless debates about the meaning of meaning but this guy is cutting things a bit short. Isn't a literal interpretation of, almost anything, a bit of an infantile disorder?

"Intellectuality" of the non-organic variety can be problematic but this appears to be a total "stay as unthinking jihadi-fodder or else".

Yep, that's what's required - more unthinking. Welcome to the brave new world of the middle ages.

Avicenna is spinning...

(Thanks: Hak Mao)


Last night I watched this BBC programme on the internet and al-qaeda. This should not come as a shock to anyone but there is an irony in the internet, initially funded by DARPA at the Pentagon, being used as a tool in a war against the very secular enlightenment values that founded it.

That aside, there is something inherently distasteful about the gloating nature of many of the websites that show videos of mutilations, bombings and beheadings.

The programme challenges the webmaster Mohammed Al-Massari, who runs a website from his home in London and sees nothing wrong with such images being shown on his site.

As "Islam is a peaceful religion" and Al-Massari is glorifying death and destruction does not that make Al-Massari someone who has turned against Islam and therefore an apostate?

R*E*S*P*E*C*T to shoot!

I must admit when I watched the Esler Galloway ding dong on Newsnight a fortnight ago I didn't believe my ears but here's the proof.
Gavin Esler: So what do we do - engage with them (the terrorists)?

Galloway: No...

Esler. Do we lock them up?

Galloway: Yes; of course we lock them up....shoot them; do anything we can to stop them.
That then is R*E*S*P*E*C*T policy. The Jack Bauer approach to suspected terrorists is supported by RESPECT.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Have you signed yet?

Omar at Iraq the Model has.
A large part of my enthusiasm when it comes to confronting terrorism is basically because I live in Iraq; a country that has been suffering the most from terror attacks through the last couple of years, thus I can feel for people when they become under terror attacks even though those people lived thousands of miles away.

Unfortunately some of us bear the misconception that the war waged by terrorists puts ethnicity or religion in consideration and that is far from being accurate. Terrorism is not a Sunni vs. She'at conflict, it's not Muslims vs. Christians and/or Jews and it's not East vs. West; that's what events have revealed to us.

Terrorism is targeting every beautiful and good thing in our world, from Indonesia to Baghdad to Jerusalem to London and to New York.

I am Muslim, I am Sunni, I am Arab and I am determined to do whatever I can to stop the terrorists from destroying our world.

Some of us already enjoy their freedoms and live in democratic societies; others (like my country-men and women) are working hard to protect and extend their freedoms and establish a strong democratic nation.

But all of us have a common enemy; that is terrorism and no matter what differences exist among our different societies and cultures, we must stay alert and unite our efforts against terror.

Please do not think that I'm supporting this administration or that policy, what I'm trying to defend is the way of living we all want for ourselves and our children.
Join him. Read it.

If you agree sign it.

If you don't agree, what is it you disagree with?


Today's Grauniad has a comment article from Norm.
It needs to be seen and said clearly: there are, among us, apologists for what the killers do. They make more difficult the fight to defeat them. The plea will be - it always is - that these are not apologists, they are merely honest Joes and Joanies endeavouring to understand the world in which we live. What could be wrong with that? What indeed? Nothing is wrong with genuine efforts at understanding; on these we all depend. But the genuine article is one thing, and root-causes advocacy seeking to dissipate responsibility for atrocity, mass murder, crime against humanity, especially in the immediate aftermath of their occurrence, is something else.
Go read it. But there again, you already have, haven't you?

If not, go read it at this place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Unite Against Terror

Read the statement. Think about it. And sign it.

Or not, if you don't agree.

But, if you don't agree, what exactly is it you disagree with?

Monday, July 18, 2005


Take a peek at these clouds.

And these.

Reminds me of cloud chasing.

(Thanks Norm)

Friday, July 15, 2005

The end of politics

This splendid piece discusses the pseudo-left and jihadists.

The jihadist movements are not tools that western pseudo-leftists - with their unstated but blatant contempt for non-westerners - can exploit for their own ends. They are the latest dreadful expression of the lasting damage that was done to non-western societies by the western empires, and one of their goals is to exploit the pseudo-leftists, who are all too stupid enough to be deceived. Neither the jihadists, with their bombs and their swords, nor the pseudo-leftists, with their textbooks and their leaflets, have anything to contribute to any pragmatic attempt to stop the theorising, stop the killing and get on with repairing that damage.
Go on. Read the whole thing.

Humanitarian Intervention in Hundred Acre Wood

One day, not long ago, Pooh found a book. The cover was black with large white writing. The writing said “Peace with Honour by A. A. Milne. It must have been a popular book as the cover also said 35th Thousand. On the title page Pooh read “Peace with Honour an enquiry into the war convention”. This was the FIFTH AND CHEAPER EDITION Pooh was pleased to read as that meant more money for honey. After gathering a pot of honey to place beside his favourite chair Pooh settled to read.
If everybody … thought as I do, there would be no more war … If a few important people thought as I do: if Ramsey MacDonald were Milne, and Mussolini were Milne, and Stalin were Milne, and Hitler were Milne, and anybody who might at any moment be in a French cabinet were Milne: then, however intolerable the prospect in other ways, there would be no more wars. If Beaverbrook were Milne, and Rothermere were Milne and the proprietors of fifty chosen newspapers … were Milne, there would be no more war. If only the Pope were Milne, and the Archbishop of Canterbury were Milne, then it is at least possible that there would be no more war.
Pooh was relieved it wasn't a world of Seumas Milnes.

Pooh read on. Past the chapters on Pacifism, England’s Honour, National Prestige and National Pride. So according to Milne war breaks out because of a difference of opinion and is best avoided by a system of binding arbitration. The steps to Peace are:
  1. Realization that Universal Peace is a vital necessity to Europe
  2. Conditional acceptance of Peace if certain claims are satisfied
  3. Settlement of claims
  4. Complete renunciation both of aggression and defence
Pooh pondered. And pondered some more. What if a nation had a ruler so despotic that they tortured and murdered their own citizens? What if the ruling elite of a country was so barbaric that the only option was for other countries to invade and overthrow the existing regime. A “settlement of claim” would be impossible as the ruling elite wanted to continue conducting genocide. And conducting purges of citizens. And attacking communities with chemical weapons. Would there not be a moral case for humanitarian intervention? These are the things Pooh thought. What did Milne have to say about such things. Pooh looked through the book. He found a chapter called “Fascist Interlude”. In the chapter, Milne said that
“Fascism is simply autocracy up to date. Being an autocracy it is based on force. … To keep the devotion of this army … all the picturesqueness of real war must be invoked: the salute and the uniform, the speeches, the banners and the war-songs: even, from time to time, the intoxication of victory over an elderly Jew or an outnumbered political opponent. That such an army should have occasional longings to ‘bring its human energies to a higher tension’ is natural.”
Who cared about the elderly Jew? I do, thought Pooh (desperately not trying to sound like his mat(e), The Cat in the Hat).

So, Pooh thought, Milne supported Jew–hating, anti-semitism and bullying as a natural event. Pooh remembered that Milne described himself as a pacifist. He also remembered reading Thomas Cushman’s introduction to “A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq” that mentioned “George Orwell once noted in a famous epigraph, ‘Pacifism is objectively profascist’”.

Pooh finally decided which side he was on. He was for the moral case for humanitarian intervention.

He was against wishy-washy, woolly arguments for appeasing the forces of tyranny.


Chris Bertam at Crooked Timbre describes the Grauniad's Seumas Milne.
“Dickhead” and “idiot” are two of the politer epithets I’m inclined to apply to the hapless and unpleasant Milne.
I first met Milne when we were both students (about 1980) and before he ever got employed by the Guardian. My view of him and his (not-very-crypto) Stalinist politics has remained consistent throughout. Clarification over.
[Stalinist is] an accurate characterization of someone who used to go around brandishing a copy of Denver Walker’s Quite Right Mr Trotsky: Some Trotskyist Myths Debunked; And How Troskyists Today Hamper the Fight for Peace and Socialism.
Mr. Kgnao.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Apologists for Fascism

Today's Grauniad, (Britain's oldest liberal newspaper as Norm describes it) contains a shocking piece of fascist apologia by Seumas Milne. Milne argues that
The London bombers were to blame for attacks on civilians that are neither morally nor politically defensible. But the prime minister - who was warned by British intelligence of the risks in the run-up to the war - is also responsible for knowingly putting his own people at risk in the service of a foreign power. The security crackdowns and campaign to uproot an "evil ideology" the government announced yesterday will not extinguish the threat. Only a British commitment to end its role in the bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to do that.
So leaving democratic Iraqis to the hands of a murdering, theocratic, fascist "resistance" is a good thing? This is the politics of international isolationism beloved of the likes of Justin Raimondo and Nick Griffin alike.

As Norm says
there are apologists among us. They have to be fought - fought intellectually and politically and without let-up. What is it that moves them to their disgraceful litany of excuses? This is doubtless a complex matter, but here are a few suggestions. One thing seems to be the treatment of those who practise terror as though they were part of some natural environment we have to take as given - not themselves free and responsible agents, but like a vicious dog or a hive of bees. If we do anything that provokes them, that must make us morally responsible, for they can be expected to react as they do. If this isn't a form of covert racism, then it's a kind of diminishing culturalism and is equally insulting to the people transformed by it into amoral beings incapable of choice or judgement.
Read the whole piece.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

By train or by bus

Everyone should definitely have one of these.

Wear it loud and say it proud.

When Lenin met Stalin met Gorbachov in Moscow

Here's a report of an interesting meeting.
Indian people named after famous Soviet Union-era Russians are to meet up in a village called Moscow.

They first met up a few months ago when Lenin shook hands with Krushchev, Stalin hugged Gorbachev and Tereshkova patted Svetlana. The gathering, at the Russian Cultural Centre in Pathanamthitta, also included two Gagarins, seven Lenins, six Stalins and two Brezhnevs.

Communist influence is the main reasons for the popularity of Russian names in the state of Kerala. Rathish C Nair, a spokesman for the Russian Cultural Centre said: "With the demise of the Soviet Union, the trend of naming new borns after communist leaders has changed.

"Now people draw on Russian literature to name their children as Natashas or Tanyas."
Whither Stalin's tomb?

Friday, July 08, 2005

One Day

Over at Hak Mao's des-res Filo makes a comment that this is just one day. Over in Iraq people have this going on everyday.
In the light of all the self-righteous hand-wringing and self-indulgent anger around in blog world today, perhaps people might like to look here. Or here. And ask themselves where was their outrage yesterday? Or the day before? Or the day before? And they think one day of this this is terrible?
London was and is terrible. Iraq is terrible. Something happening once is shocking and terrible. Something happening regularly is terrible and still shocking. It may not pass the news editor's test of "another bomb in Iraq" but it's still terrible.

This is the force of Fascism we are up against. Not the sad, pathetic bunch of fetishistic bovver-boys in suits the ANL likes to oppose but real, jackboot in the face, bomb-blowing, people-killing Fascists.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Letter to A Friend

This is an excellent timely piece on Harry's Place. It lays part of the blame for today's atrocities on the West. I don't think that's necessarily true but it's worth reading.
Is the West to blame? Yes, but not in the way you might think.

- We are to blame because we allowed societies to develop in which there was no democracy, where democracy was brutally suppressed, and the only opposition to failed arab nationalism was organised round, and hidden in mosques and universities. We did it because we needed oil, and were in a fight for it, and for "influence" with the USSR, but we still did it. Islamism developed by default. In a straight fight against democracy and pluralism, it would have lost. It knows this.
This is why Islamists fear the emergence of arab democracy above all else.

- We are to blame because economies have developed in the middle east which are either entirely oil dependent, and hopelessly corrupt, or excluded from world trade by EU and US tariffs, and in which there is no work for much of the (male) population, some of whom have been recruited to the cause. The people who have been recruited are not misfits. They're educated young men, with nothing to do, but dream of the Caliphate.

The failure of democracy in the middle east is our responsibility.We are suffering today our failure to have addressed it earlier.

If you think that we will defeat radical Islamism only by engaging with the Middle East, supporting democracies against tyrannies, and so on, you are right. If you think that - in the short term - that will make us less of a target rather than more of one, you are very wrong.

It's worth reading the whole letter.

Further News

For further information and comment see Any added comment here would be superfluous.

Explosions in London

Just heard the news. Confirmation has been made that they were terrorist attacks.

Further information is on Norm's site. He's got a splendid rolling news roundup thing going on.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Unions and Democracy

"Unions need democracies and democracies need unions" says Abdullah Muhsin of the IFTU. In an arcticle over at LFIQ he writes
Trade union organizations are fundamental to the development of secure, prosperous and democratic societies. They are the bedrock of civil society. I strongly believe that a truly free and democratic society will not exist any where in the world without a democratic labour movement that can freely advocate and bargain for the interest of the working people. ‘The Union Makes Us Strong’ goes the old slogan. This is true but the ‘Us’ really refers not just to the union members but to the entire society. Democratic societies, not just workers, need free trade unions.
He ends with
We Iraqi democrats wish that the international community would put aside old disputes and rush to Iraq with the urgency and determination and zeal of the poor deluded Islamist fundamentalists who cross the border seeking martyrdom and bringing only death and misery.

Drafting a constitution, holding fresh elections, training new security forces: all these tasks are immense and require the wholehearted support of the international community. We can’t bear these burdens alone.

If democracy fails in Iraq the world will be picking up the pieces for the rest of our lifetimes. If democracy succeeds in Iraq then we may be on the verge of a world historic process of democratisation throughout the region. That is what is at stake in Iraq. It is the hinge of our time.
While Unions are not the solution to every problem and ,yes ,there is a trade union consciousness, they are an important fellow traveller on the road to socialism. Would anyone want to live in a world without free trade unions? Possibly unions with a wider remit than "trying to get a better deal for yourself, your work colleagues and perhaps for all wage and salary workers within capitalism" but still unions.

But it's important to remember that "unions are important for democracies and democracies are important for unions". Speaking technically, unions are a necessary but not sufficient condition for socialism.

Comments welcome.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Iraq and Torture

Hak Mao comments on recent torture in Iraq. Hak quotes the Observer. Go read the whole piece.

Here's a taster
The deputy minister, Aida Ussayran, is a life-long human rights activist who returned from exile in Britain to take up this post. She concedes that abuses by Iraq's security forces have been getting worse even as her ministry has been trying to re-educate the Iraqi police and army to respect detainee rights.

'As you know, for a long time Iraq was a mass grave for human rights,' she says. 'The challenge is that many people who committed these abuses are still there and there is a culture of abuse in the security forces and police - even the army - that needs to be addressed. I do not have a magic solution, but what I can do is to remind people that this kind of behaviour is what creates terrorists.'

There is a sense of frustration too in the Ministry of Human Rights, for even as the security forces rapidly increase in size, the ministry tasked with checking abuses has only 24 monitors to pursue cases, at a time when officials believe it needs hundreds to keep Iraq's police and army effectively in check.

If Ussayran is robust about her country's problems with human rights abuses, others are convinced that, far from being the acts of rogue units, the abuse is being committed at the behest of the ministry itself - or at least senior officials within it.

'There are people in the ministry who want to use these means,' said one. 'It is in their ideology. It is their strategy. They do not understand anything else. They believe that human rights and the Convention against Torture are stupid.'
When a beseiged democratic administration employs security forces previously employed by a torture-happy a Fascist totalitarian government should anyone be surprised that torture is seen as a useful strategy?

A strategy of torture is wrong wrong wrong. Morally wrong. Politically wrong. Wrong every upside down, downside up, backwards, forwards way of looking at it. Anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian forces should be better than that.

Torturers *must* be prosecuted for Human Rights abuses. The Iraqi security forces need cleansing of Ba'athite supporters. Even 'ex' ones.

Why I didn't watch Live8

How can you organise a musical event to raise consciousness about Africa and issues of development and then ignore African artists? Emmanuel Jal commented, in the Grauniad:
Jal, who has topped the charts in Kenya where he is still a refugee, confronted Bob Geldof when he met him in the UK. "He said to me you have to sell more than 4m records to come and perform at Hyde Park," Jal said. "He said that people in China will not want to listen to my music because they do not know me.

"I like the spirit behind this - helping the poor - but when I look at him [Geldof] it looks like he is making history by using the poor people. Years ago, he helped the Ethiopians but this time he lost my respect."

Jal said he received calls from similarly disillusioned Africans. "Thousands of people will think this day is about making pop stars more famous and creating a name for themselves out of poor Africans. Africans are complaining why aren't African performers there to represent them? The idea is good but making poverty history in a concert is not going to happen."
I'm with Andy Kershaw who described the African event at the Eden Project as "musical apartheid".

Some of us like new music. Expanding musical horizons. Breaking genres. We want what we don't know. We switch off when we get the same-o same-o.

Where were bands like Tiniwaren?

You can't help feeling that many of the audience in Hyde Park would have turned up for a similar luvvie-fest if it was for Elton John's new swimming toupee. The gig was the main draw. The campaign came second. This was supported by reports of the BBC cutting away from any information films shown in Hyde Park (the politics). So for the audience away from Hyde Park it was just another pop concert making poverty among mega selling rock stars history.