A picture speaks a thousand words…

Picture nabbed from Jyoti’s blog.

Yup, that’s an old bloke – Walter Wolfgang, 82 years old, who came to England as a Jew persecuted under the Nazis. At the Labour Party conference, he was bodily thrown out for shouting ‘nonsense’ during Jack Straw’s (Jack Boot?) speech on Iraq.

So not only are the Govt still trying to defend the disaster in Iraq, they are throwing out old men for disagreeing – he wasn’t being threatening or rowdy, or winding up ready throw a fresh dog turd at Straw (oh, that he had!), he just disagreed. But no, under New Labour such things are not allowed. And what’s more, he was prevented from re-entering the hall under the new Anti-Terror Laws!! WTF?? Since when was ‘nonsense’ hate-speech, or incitement to blow shit up, or whatever?

Blair’s half-arsed apology this morning was an embarrassment – a pathetic attempt to shrug off common assault taking place in the name of his party stifling dissent.

This quote from the Guardian sums up the government’s response

Returning to the scene today, Mr Wolfgang received a round of applause from both the conference floor and from party members standing outside. However, the two cabinet ministers on stage at the time, Lord Falconer and David Miliband, refused to join in.

Of course they refused – how could they applaud the exposing of a deeply flawed spin-machine-decision? They’d probably get thrown out of the cabinet.

in contrast, “Later, in his closing speech to conference, the defence secretary, John Reid, apologised to Mr Wolfgang with the prime minister applauding from the stage.” – that’s right, applaud the controlled written apology, worded to try and make light of the whole thing. But don’t join in with the rank and file plebs as they show support for an old man assaulted by hired goons.

How long are the labour party members going to put up with this?? The general public in Britain are on the whole way too apathetic to do anything about it on a national level, but those inside the Labour party who’ve seen their beloved institution stolen out from under them and replaced with some kind off hybrid ‘psuedo-compassionate Thatcherism’. It’s hideous, it’s tragic and it’s wrong.

The berk who man-handled Walter should be tried for assault, as should whoever decided on that as a policy. Wouldn’t it be great to have seen a mass walkout in protest? You bet your arse if it had happened in France that’s what they’d have done.

A Blogger's Favourite Blogs blog-meme

OK, here’s a meme for all y’all who blog out there –

If you were stuck on a desert island with an internet connection to only one blog, whose would it be?
Which is the blog that makes you laugh the most?
Which blog is most likely to make you cry?
Which blog is most likely to inspire you to part with cash for a CD/DVD?
Which blog is most likely to cause you to change your mind about an issue?
Which blog do you read first in the morning?
Of the blogs you read by people you don’t know, who would you most like to meet?

And here’s my answers –

1) – assuming that www.howtobuildboatsoutofsand.blogspot.com doesn’t exist, It’d probably be Liz’s – I’m sure if there was a decent curry house on the island, she’ll blog about it at some point, as well as somewhere to purchase stylish footwear should the opportunity arise.
2) – either Liz’s or Going Jesus.
3) – er, probably Sleepless In Sudan – which could also fit into the above category – equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking.
4) – Most likely Sid’s blog.
5) – Hugo’s blog – either him or his comments. Lots of great brain food there. There are a couple of others that teach me a lot – George Monbiot and Jyoti but I don’t often change my mind on an issue because of them, just discover an issue I wasn’t previously aware of.
6) assuming all the blogs I read have got new posts listed, it’s normally Gareth’s, knowing that we’ll be chatting about whatever we’ve both blogged about within about 5 minutes of me switching my computer on. Though, it may actually be the Shark, as she lives in NYC and thus blogs later than anyone else I read, so is more likely to have posted after I went to bed… And this was in no way influenced by her offence at not being mentioned in the rest of the list. Not at all.
7) Either Sara, Hugo or Jyoti – all very interesting peoples.

Right, there you go – now go answer them on your own blogs!

Soundtrack – Duke Ellington, ‘The Classic Tracks Of The 40s’ (featuring the legendary Jimmy Blanton on bass).

Are we living in a police state??

I just read this article in the guardian, thanks to a post on Jyoti’s Blog – it’s the story of a guy that was arrested on the tube under the ‘prevention of terrorism act’, had his flat searched, DNA and fingerprints taken and has now been landed with what looks like it may be a permanent police record despite being found innocent, just because he was carrying a rucksack and wearing a coat.

This is some seriously fucked up stuff. Really really scary – if it had gone another way he might have ended up with a bullet in his head like that poor Brazillian lad. He’s done nothing, is entirely innocent, and yet is now ‘on file’.

Why is London turning into some crap version of a Judge Dread cartoon? This doesn’t make us safer from terrorism. It makes all of us more distrustful of the police – surely that’s a really bad policy at this time, when trust in the police is already pretty damned low. It’s not going to put terrorists off, just make them more determined to beat the system that has presented them with this challenge.

If they need to stop people, surely the least they can do is wipe records clean when a person is proven to be utterly innocent, to treat them and their possessions with respect. Instead, he’s treated with suspicion all along, has his privacy violated in a number of ways, his girlfriend is terrified, and his chances of ever getting a work visa in the US are now utterly buggered.

It’s nice to know that the people that are supposed to be looking after us are doing such a damn fine job of breeding fear.

Once again, I feel sorry for those police officers who entered the force to actually protect and help people. They are going to be labeled along with the muppets that arrested David Mery as some kind of Miliitia.

Very scary stuff. Way way scarier than the threat of a terrorist attack, seriously.

Soundtrack – my last.fm ‘neighbours’ radio station. (no, that doesn’t mean I spend all day listening to tracks by Kylie Jason and Stefan Dennis)

A tale of two hurricanes

jyoti just blogged about an article referencing the category 5 hurricane (Ivan) that hit Cuba last year, destroying 20,000 homes but killing no-one.

I don’t know anywhere near enough about the situation surrounding hurricane Ivan to comment on it too far, but it makes for pretty amazing reading in the light of the carnage in the US.

The reports from the Southern States keep pouring in – blogs, news, video feeds – painting a picture of almost unimaginable levels of degredation and disaster in what is supposedly the most advanced nation on earth. The heartbreak of it is overwhelming, and almost as overwhelming is the disbelief at how the events of the last week have unfolded; the government response (or lack of), the looting, the way the looting was reported along such seemingly stark racial lines, the tragic delay in security and rescue services arriving. It beggars belief, and the end result whatever the excuses is that thousands of people have been killed, many of them needlessly.

The future for New Orleans as a city looks impossibly bleak – even after the water drains away, it’s going to be many months, maybe years before the rebuilding process can being in earnest.

On a more positive note, my friend Stew has been found, thank God. I don’t know the full story yet, but he’s safe, alive and no doubt has one hell of a story to tell.

Soundtrack – The The, ’45 RPM – the best of’; juliet Turner, ‘Season Of The Hurricane’.

Telling us what anyone with half a brain already knew

A report today by Chatham House and the Economic and Social Research Council has reported that Britains involvement in Iraq has put us more at risk from terrorist attacks. It’s what those of us in the anti-war camp have been saying since before the war happened, and it’s been proved time and time again by the terror alerts, and now by the terrible bombing in London on July 7th.

But do the government come clean? Are you kidding? This is the new Labour spin machine at work here. So here’s John Reid to peddle the moronic party line,

“And the idea that somehow by running away from the school bully, then the bully will not come after you is a thesis that is known to be completely untrue by every kid in the playground and it is also refuted by every piece of historical evidence that we have.”

OK, what are the similarities between acts of terror and bullying. Are we talking about big kids attacking small kids for no reason? Er, no. Are we talking about people who want to take the equivalent of our dinner money, or assert their place in some kind of playground heirarchy? Er, no. So the bully analogy means nothing.

You can’t describe a group of people retaliating for a war waged on Arabs as bullies. Their methods are horrific – this isn’t any justification of bombings, suicidal or otherwise – but their motivation is not to grab the UK’s dinner money. It’s the actions of the voiceless. Those who feel for whatever reason, their point is not being heard. Mix that in with a load of crazy exteme fundementalist ranting that gives moral credence to the attacks, and you’ve got a potent cocktail. The answer is not to wage war, but to remove the reasons for war. Bully metaphors are just bollocks.

As usual, Jyoti got there before me, with another fine blog on the same story.

Also a must-read is this week’s cover story in The New Statesman, about the islamic tradition that has spawned the extremists – it’s on the cover story page, but I’ll try and find a more permanent link.

and if you want to read the whole report here’s a link to a PDF of it.

Soundtrack – Edgar Meyer/Bela Fleck, ‘Music For Two’.

Another great post about the bombing

I’m an avid reader of Jyoti Mishra’s blog – he’s eloquent, and full of righteous anger at the shit that’s going on in the world.

His latest blog entry is fantastic – he highlights the false dichotomy drawn by those who suggest that to draw parallels between the daily killings in Iraq and the London bombings is to be on the side of terrorists. He points out that it makes perfect sense to hate all such killing, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the US/UK military in Iraq.

I remember just after the Sept 11th terrorist attack on New York, there was a TV discussion programme on which a young, eloquent Muslim woman commented that hers and many others primary grievance against the behaviour of western governments, media agents and public opinion was the ongoing view that Asian and Arab lives were fundementally less important than western lives. That Arab ‘collateral damage’ is unfortunate, whereas Londoners blown up on tube trains warrants days of mourning and blanket media coverage.

The same could be said of just about any area of foreign policy from any European country or the US – that self-interest has been elevated to the point where pressure is applied to countries to destroy their very infrastructure just to make conditions favourable for western investors.

Her point could not be more striking than it is at the moment, and Jyoti’s blog highlights and explores it fabulously.

When web-filters go mad..

So, there’s an article on World Music Central about Bruce Cockburn’s reissued albums.

However, their word filter doesn’t like the ‘cock’ half of his name, so his name is renders as Bruce *censor*burn. You couldn’t make it up…

SoundtrackWhite Town, ‘Peek And Poke’ (most recent album from ‘Your Woman’ hit-bloke, and blog-buddy, Jyoti Mishra – tune-laden old school pop music, the way it used to be before attitude disolved all trace of tune. Some of it reminds me early Everything But The Girl in its mix of dryly recorded voice and minimal instrumentation and blatant pop melodicism. Good stuff!)

ID Cards? no thanks

Culled from this post on Jyoti’s blog, have a look at No2ID.net – a site setting out the case against the governments proposed ID card system.

It does sound like a gargantuan waste of money, and just another level of possible fraud for large scale criminal organisations to indulge in.

Given the instability of computer systems the world over, surely storing everyone’s data on some central computer is fraught with the possibility of being hacked, not to mention the hideous Big Brother-ness of the concept.

We already have the provision for checking someone’s ID, without having further ID cards – are passports and driver’s licences not good enough? I know that when I want to or need to demostrate that I am who I say I am, I don’t seem to have any trouble finding enough forms of proof, whether I’m applying for a mortgage or a Blockbuster card.

The whole think comes across like another balls up in the increasingly bogus and flawed notion of ‘the war against terror’, coupled with some nonsense about stopping ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘bogus asylum seekers’. No mention of it clearly penalising anyone who either doesn’t understand the system, or whose english isn’t good enough to grasp what they need to do.

The list of reasons for it is flimsy at best. The list of reasons against it is huge. Sounds like another New Labour screw up to me.

Andrea Dworkin has died

Apparently she died on Friday, but it only reached the press yesterday.

Dworkin was one of the most controversial writers of the 20th century, but also one of the most influential. Rabidly loved, hated and misquoted in almost equal measure, her opposition to pornography as a violation of all women’s rights made her the target of much vitriol from liberals in the US, but her books were read in their thousands, and and she even managed to temporarily get the US law changed (it was overturned at appeal.)

The net is filling up with comments – how sad that it takes the woman’s death for us (including me) to reappraise her contribution. Makes me want to go and read some of her books, having only read articles by and about her before now.

here are a few links to obits and comments –

Guardian Obit.
Hugo’s blog post
Jyoti’s blog
some crappy myths clarified.

There don’t seem to be that many revolutionary thinkers around these days – maybe I’ve stopped looking for them, but it just feels like the substance has dropped out the arse-end of cultural critique. Please, if you can suggest any books I should read, post them in the forum.

SoundtrackCathy Burton, ‘Burn Out’; Jaco Pastorius, ‘Jaco Pastorius’; Eric Roche, ‘With These Hands’; John Lester, ‘Big Dreams And The Bottom Line; John Scofield, ‘Up All Night’.

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