Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Apologies for the lack of updates this month, A hectic family life, coupled with some deadlines and weather complications conspired to silence me. I did make a few rough drafts but never finished them and much of what I would say was already written by more popular blogs.

So to make up for the lack of posts heres a couple of gifts from me to you.

First for those of you taking an interest in wikileaks but have had trouble accessing the site due its servers constantly buckling to us pressure here is its direct HTML simply copy that into your internet address bar and so long as one of the servers is still hosting you should be taken to there site.

The second is a song (no the vocals aren't by me, this is a gift not a punishment) a Christmas song thats a bit unorthodox. You see it cuts past all that stale commercialism to get at the heart of what Christmas is truly about, the building of a workers state and the purging of its reactionary Malcontent's, enjoy.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Liar Liar (Jim Carrey not appearing)

I present to you a first, A piece of SKA style music that I can not only listen too but also like.

In all fairness to Clegg I do believe his correct, the ConDem coalition has enabled the Libdems to bring traditional Liberal values to the heart of government. The ConDems policies are so traditional there from the days of Dickens. Whats next Clegg? full axing of public pensions? after all millions of pensioners will be relying on start handouts when they turn grey rather then actively taking care of themselves with reduced incomes as part of the "Big Society" utopia of...... err free volunteer work.

Edit, Liar Liar is on sale now at

And heres the bands Twitter

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Afghans have no idea why we're there

A poll conducted in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces has revealed that the majority of Afghans don't no why the Americans and ISAF are there and have never heard of 9/11. It also reveals that many believe the Taliban will rise to power after coalition forces leave and that they view the Afghan Army and police to be either incompetent or so corrupt they'll work with even the Taliban once the tide starts turning.

The results of this poll is important, Clausewitz famously stated that the point of On War was to conclusively prove that "War is the continuation of policy by other means"* therefore its absolutely vital that your policy goals are clear and well known, which is where we run into a couple of problems seeing as how the original justification was to get Al0Qaeda and Bin Laden, the war against the Taliban was because there government refused to extradite Al-Qaeda or help in his capture. Now though it looks like most of Al-Qaeda has moved across the Durand line into the Pashtoon areas of Pakistan making the first goal unfulfilled.

Furthermore when fighting a counter insurgency war its important to win the population over to your side in atleast a passive way (hence all that tired parroting of "hearts and minds" in the media a few years ago over Iraq) this is very hard to do when your technically the invader, but not necessarily impossible after all every nation is to some degree an amalgamation of several ethnic groups and tribes that were unified by another more dominant group. However it is impossible to convince a people to join your side if they don't know what your side is actually about.

The issue further complicated with the basic principles of Guerilla war. When fighting an enemy conventionally superior to you there are two overall strategies you can employ, but when fighting a foreign power like say ISAF essentially what you have to do is wait till the political will back home dissipates, whilst inflicting damage constantly to sap morale of both the military personnel and population back home eventually there will come a time when the costs or the perception of the costs clearly outweigh the potential gains and then the only thing keeping the politicians and military commanders committed to it is essentially pride. Letting your state of the art professional military get beaten by a rag tag group of farmers with rusty AK's would diminsih not only their professional pride and taint there legacies, it would also weaken their influence on the world stage.

This happened in Vietnam, by the 1970's the US war effort was floundering the war seemed no closer to victory and the death toll on both sides was mounting, not to mention the very large and still growing anti-war movement, yet even when Nixon was elected after promising to withdraw combat troops, the pull out was phased so it would maintain American dignity and wouldn't look like they were cutting and running. Of course that meant that every US casualty who died from 1970-72 truly died for nothing.

The same thing happened with the Soviet Union when they went into Afghanistan. Before deployment it was a common Cold War perception that the "Red Army"* was invincible, so why bother getting into a conventional arms race, just build more nuclear weapons. That changed after Afghanistan it was arguably that humiliation that led to increased anti Soviet demonstrations in the Eastern Bloc coupled with Gorbachev's tolerance for criticism.

* due to translation there are many slight variations depending on the edition, but the implications are the same.
* The Red Army was renamed the Soviet Army in 1946

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Crosland Memorial lecture

This week I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Grimsby's Anthony Crosland Memorial lecture. If live in or around Grimsby and don't know what the Memorial Lecture is then I don't really blame you as this the first we've had for about five or six years and the last speaker was Roy Hattersly.

The Crosland Memorial Lecture is unsurprisingly a lecture held in honour of Grimsby MP and former Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland, and is organised by the local Labour party though attendance is open to anyone and free (they pay for it via donations), for those unfamiliar with the work of Corsland, highlights include taking Henry Kissenger to a Grimsby Town (Mariners) match instead of having a meeting with him, though to be fair to him he only held that position for a year 1976-77 and died shortly after spending quite a bit of his time in the position quite ill so there wasn't any fundamental policy breaks from his predecessors in Callaghan's and Wilson's governments.

He was however extremely active outside of the Foreign office, other posts included Secretary of state for education and science, President of the board for trade and Secretary of state for local government. In fact his most memorable quote comes from his time overseeing education "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland" Well said Tony well said. Outside of Cabinet entirely Crosland was also very influential his book the future of Socialism written published in 1956 caused quite a stir arguing for a mixed economy and a halt to nationalisation, in fact if Crosland were still a live today he'd probably be a Social Democrat, which is funny given that the man who replaced as Foreign Secretary was David "SDP" Owen.

The speaker this year was none other then Helen Clark former Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN development Programme which puts here in the top 3 positions of power for that organisation. Now I don't wish Mr Hattersly any disrespect but theres a bit of a gap between the two, Former Deputy leader of the opposition, no one times 5, then former national leader and 20th most powerful women in the world.

Her Lecture concerned the issues of International development, the problems faced the problems yet to be faced such as climate change, and the solutions and there practical effects. When it came to the eradication of poverty and the Millennium development goals she mentioned that there doing well... so long as you include China, if you take China out of the analysis then the average falls short of the goals which is to cut absolute poverty by half, absolute poverty being those who live on a dollar and a half or less, however Ghana is also doing well in this area and many African states have seen a number of concrete improvements in infrastructure and services so its not all bad in that area, though relativistic poverty is a curse all over the globe and little is being done about that.

The questions section was a bit hit and miss one person raise the issue of population growth and what can be done about it, if you've heard about the "solutions" to over population you've probably been forced to suffer through some keyboard eugenicist ranting about sterilisation or some sort of death lottery. Helen's response was both more compassionate and made more sense, give women the choice in the matter. Simple really societies were sexual education is normal, where contraceptives are available and affordable and there's no impinging social factor against there use and coupled with decent health care to reduce death by pregnancy and the population levels stabilise and the growth rate goes down there by reducing the pressure on resources.

And its true the nuclear family model is the standard family model in the northern hemisphere and it wasn't always so, my Mother was one of eleven and myself am one of Five, hell in some nations its arguably worked to well with the population growth actually becoming a negative trend.

All in all a very good talk, it'll be interesting to see who they get next year (if any one).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Prosperity of Freedom

Today we have Real News interview regarding an investigation into the glorious success of the Western way of business and how its bringing prosperity to the people after decades of evil state planning and aide from the Soviet Union, and the years of informal black economy as warlords carved up the country and drug trafficking prospered and then the final turbulent years of Islamic fundamentalism's pure business transactions.

Or rather how the Privatisation drive in the wake of the 2001 invasion as completely and utterly failed to do any of those things. In the interview (below) reporter Jonathan S. Landrey reveals that at the Ghori cement factory, the one and only Cement factory that is still running on 50 year old Soviet made machinery, making the factory the Lada of Manufacturing I guess.

The heady cocktail of ideologically driven privatisation, reliance on connections and a small state... oh I'm sorry I meant Corrupt err developing state, thats foundations are the spiders web of over a dozen rival warlords and there power plays and influence hoarding; and its cement if you'll excuse the pun is Thousands of Western troops struggling to clean up the fallout of the previous Afghan war. Given the growing resurgence of the Taliban or rather Neo-Taliban as some have such as Antonio Giustozzi call them due to some changes in behaviour tactics and ideas, they've even started making tapes with singing, though instrumentals are of course still Harem*.

Poverty is of course a serious hindrance to the campaign for "hearts and minds" I mean lets assume that those running the show in America and the West are genuine in there desire for Afghanistan to sample the fruits of "democratic" modernity, the inability to provide concrete (sorry) prove of the superiority of "their way" over the Afghan norm then theres really no hope for achieving "Victory conditions" nor a unfurling of a mission accomplished banner that actually means something. After all the proof is in the pudding.

The rest of his findings can be found here.
* Contrary to popular belief the word Harem actually refers to a code of conduct and generally means forbidden or wrong, and is not Arabic for bigamy, or short for rich lech bragging about all the women he has bought.

Friday, 12 November 2010

We're fighting for your rights

Heres a serious post this time,I just thought that this declaration of intent by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) by Subcommandante Marcos named after a friend who was killed at a checkpoint (also known as delegate zero) deserved to be brought to greater attention.

The EZLN or Zapatistas, are Mexican resistance group operating mainly in the state of Chiapos; the most southern state in Mexico, founded in opposition to increased oppression and exploitation of the indigenous population the group has expanded to include rural peoples of all ethnicities and even has some support in more urban areas. After there uprising in 1994 was suppressed by the Mexican army they instead turned to a more defensive campaign only using armed violence against incursions into there territory. The name Zapatista comes from the famous Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata pictured left, who fought for the rural peasantry in the 1910 Revolution.

In International politics many states leaders and peoples make is to assume that what they consider to be true beneficial and rational to them is universal and anyone who actively disagrees to either be dense, insane or inherently evil. Hell the only time a Palestinian group is guaranteed dedicated news coverage nowadays is either during an Intifada when Hamas begins firing Qassams over the barricades and then you'll only here the numbers being fired repeated like a rallying cry, but strangely enough never how many of them actually kill or hit anything or the much more accurate and deadly Israeli weapons being used on the Palestinians both before and after said rocket launches, probably because that would make this big scary threat seem a lot less.... well threatening.

Fortunately for the EZLN they're somewhat better at communicating with the wider world believing that the internet has fundamentally altered the relationship between the audience and the content makers the EZLN has been very active in communicating there goals and ideas to the wider world, "the important thing is the spectacle that you make out of an event in the media, as opposed to the event itself". But there's still quite a lot of work to be done. Heres an archive of Zapatista documents translated into English quite interesting reading.

And to end on a more uplifting note why not a closing song? here is the himno zapatista the anthem of the EZLN enjoy.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A slice of Pi

This has very little to do with anything but I just couldn't let a song about Pi that can actually be listened to go unnoticed.

The version with the lyrics.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

An Avalanche in cyberspace

Hey everybody. I noticed that I've been neglecting UK news recently,in my defence I've been somewhat out of the loop on a few stories and was a bit late, I was just recently made aware of the disgusting actions of strikebreakers at the London picket lines besides many other Comrades can usually be relied upon to write about them in a much more compelling and professional way. But thats about to change you see while I'll never be as good at document the plight of women in 21st century patriarchy, wax lyrical about the works of Gramsci,or cover the latent sinophobia within the British establishment or expose the acid culture of economic lies to mask tax hoarding like some others.

But there is one area of UK politics that I think I can safely say I excel at thats right constantly yammering on about internet founded -yet increasingly encroaching on physical plain- campaign group 38degrees . Regulars -oh according the new stats features I actually have regulars now- will probably have thought that they had finally escaped these little updates seeing as I haven't talked about them for a month or two. I am now going to make up for it now as there have been several new developments.

First Murdoch, it seems that Vince Cable hasn't entirely sold his principles for ministerial kickbacks, he seems to have finally bowed to public pressure and called for an inquiry into Murdochs attempts to take complete ownership of BskyB which by its unpronounceable name reminds us is technically a merging of British Satellite Broadcasting and Sky. So good news however Murdoch is very sensitive regarding allegations that he is breaking are already impotent anti monopoly laws, and will no doubt "unleash the hounds" (heh) by which I mean corporate lobbyists to try and dilute the inquiry and any subsequent penalties if and when he or News International are found guilty of any wrong doing, so its imperative that we keep up the pressure.

Next up we have a follow up to this post on the proposed battery farms for cattle being considered in Lincolnshire, for me the one and only home county. It seems that several companies backing the scheme have well backed off due to protests and the Local councils are differing about whether or not to push thorugh so now could be the time to tip the balance. There also running a similar campaign to tighten laws on UK imports of south American agricultural produce that requires deforestation for farmland.

In other environmental news you may of heard of the ConDems plans to make a bit of cash on the side by selling off vast swathes of our green and pleasant land that middle England daily mail readers claim to love so much to private developers, and the response has been phenomenal, over 50,000 signatures in just a few weeks.

Oh and speaking of chopping there's this little campaign to get George Osborne to come clean on his personal tax records and stop using loopholes since he is after all the Chancellor of Exchequer, maybe we should just pass the hat around and see if we can hire a bounty hunter to dig through his accounts. And hand in hand with that is their campaign to crack down on tax avoiders like Vodafone. Since this man is the ConDems real number 2, you might think that any campaign against him will be fruitless, but you have to remember that this is a man so slimy that he changed his name from "Gideon" to George to appear more likeable not to mention his constant lieing about how "were all in this together", and given that the ConDems are positively riven with contradictions with the Liberals looking weaker by the day prompting further defections and electoral disaster Gideon "call me George" Osborne could be set for a fall if we make enough noise about it.

And on a general and final note it seems that 38degrees has been growing into a more professional outfit, they started raising money for campaigns efficiently, they now put up posters and billboards, they've also got rid of those automatic emails making you at least personalise them to an extent getting rid of that spam feel and appear to be making an increasing impact.

There we go its good to be back on form.

Burns photo source

Friday, 29 October 2010

Kabul Vice

A mini update to yesterday's post, I'll say this for Russia and NATO they sure like to hit the ground running. The US and Russia have been participating in joint heroin busts, you'll no doubt remember that part of the remit for Russian military advisers was to focus on Narcotic raids.

Further adding to the sense of deja vu is this choice quote "Mr Ivanov said the operation involved about 70 personnel from both countries - including four Russian counter-narcotics agents - backed up by attack helicopters." So Russian troops operating under cover of attack helicopters that shouldn't raise a single eyebrow in Afghanistan.

But what will really raise eyebrows particularly within the corridors of power such as they are is the targeting of the drugs trade. Many of the warlords that effectively put troops on the ground in nominal support for Karzai's administration and the Western occupation are linked quite heavily with the drugs trade, how else could one country grow 90% of the worlds opium poppies in the open, and how else could they have afforded all those weapons and smuggled them across the borders during that civil war that left halted all official trade and ripped apart the local infrastructure and economy.

If these joint narcotics raids continue, and they probably will given Russia and the Central Asian republics severe problems with Heroin addiction this will undoubtedly start stepping on several toes within the Afghan government and coalition which will have a knock on effect for the coalition by worsening relations and trust.

Here's several interviews about the state of high placed Afghan drug connections.

I am Legend

“He’d never really appreciated it. Such a short phrase it was, but meaning so much. Bacteria can mutate”.

By Richard Matheson

Given that this book has received a film adaptation no less then three times (the last man on earth with Vincent price, Omega man Charlton Heston Versus the Albino's, and I am Legend subtitled get Will Smith an Oscar). An while they all stay relatively close to the source matierial especially the one with Vincent Price they all had to change or cut out elements which would still leave a few pleasant surprises if you pick up the book even after seeing all three.

Of the three Omega man is the most distant

For those of you who are completely in the dark about this tale heres a synopsis.

I am Legend is a tale about a lone survivor (Robert Neville) in the aftermath of some sort of plague that’s has as far as Robert knows infected or killed the rest of humanity including his wife and daughter. The plague carries symptoms remarkably similar to Vampirism, a connection Roberts scientific mind finds absurd, but as time goes on finds increasingly difficult too dismiss.
The story is as much about the damage isolation does to the human mind as it is about vampires as Robert is merely trying to survive in his boarded up home first and then goes about trying to unravel this mystery plague and hopefully find a cure at some point, but that little adventure comes across as less of an actual goal he wishes to accomplish are more like a task to his mind occupied as hes daily routine of, fix broken boards, grow garlic, make stakes, find sleeping vampires, kill said vampires, dispose of bodies, go to sleep, repeat next morning is gradually wearing him down like water torture. Hell after a while he even gives up actively hunting the creatures of the night only going out of his way to dispose of the vampires when he comes across them or during the lulls in the storm when he finds he has very little real work to do and needs a few distractions to break up the monotony of his lonely existence.

Not being a scientist before the plague struck Neville found his work towards a miracle cure slow going, though he does successfully identify using stolen microscopes and biology journals an alien micro-organism in the vampires bloodstream finally validating his rational "it must be a virus" line of thinking. But its not long after that his research keeps hitting brick walls and he starts to question his sanity. This gets especially worse for him when the vampires he "experiments" on and kill express terror and weaknesses that have absolutely no relation to a bacteria altogether but are prominent features of the Vampire myth e.g. the cross and mirrors. However he does after a few weeks of trail and error make some progress since he now has a hypothesis that it is indeed some kind of mutagenic bacteria thats to blame for the transformations, but the reason things like crosses and mirrors seem to also repel the creatures is due to psychological factors. You see the Vampires aren't beasts they retain much of there memories and personalities and given that they first for blood, sunlight kills them, and garlic makes them ill they must also know that they are Vampires and thus things like the mirror and the crucifix instil an instinctual dread in them. Which makes Robert wonder what would happen if he encountered a Vampire that was a Jew or Muslim in life.

However his work is halted completely when discovers a living immune female by the name of Ruth. Things do not progress like in a Hollywood film as he has to practically kidnap her to get her to enter his home, and its heavily implied that the reason she stays is due to her fear of the Vampires outside and angering him. Due to his isolation of several years at this point he becomes highly suspicious of her and has lost all manners; he continually wars with himself over whether or not he should kill her (regardless of whether or not she is infected) or start trusting her and (hopefully) start a new life with her, and maybe rebuild the human race.

Sadly though it turns out that not only is Ruth infected but she is also some sort of different mutant (a day walker) and spy for a sort of proto-vampire society who are much more controlled then the Vampires Robert has had to tangle with, they've develop a sort of blood nutrient pill to keep the cravings in check and have the ability to organise socially above the level of a lynch mob, and since many of the vampires Robert stumbles across were members of the "civilised" Vampires who had no interest in Robert or any other immune human, have come to regard Robert as some sort of legendary murderous stalker of the night who kills without reason or remorse (not unlike the Vampire to humans) and have decided to hunt him down. The tale ends with Robert in a cell awaiting public execution as he reflects on how some things come full circle.

As well as being a fascinating investigation into the obstacles faced by simply being alone, I am Legend also raises an interesting point about how morality is determined based on your perspective. Everything Robert does, murdering Vampires in the sleep is ultimately an attempt to survive but as far as the vampire civilisation is concerned he is some rabid mad dog killer who has to be stopped. There is ultimately no hero or villain only two perspectives due to circumstances crash head on.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

those who do not learn from history....

.....Are doomed to repeat it.

It looks like once again the bear will be going over the mountains as the US and NATO have turned to the Russians for support in a desperate bid to maintain momentum and sped up rebuilding efforts no doubt so they can pull out much quicker with there heads still held high and pretend they've accomplished something of substance.

This a very strange arrangement given that large sections of the mujahedeen that resisted Soviet forces in the 1980's now occupy key areas of government or are warlords in the alliance that supports NATO. Further adding to the strange turn of events in addition to training Afghan army units Russia has signed a deal agreeing in principle (political speak for when we've crunched the numbers)to supply NATO with helicopters. For those of you who are old enough to remember it or know there history it was an almost identical deal that marked the first stages of Soviet military assistance before there December invasion in 1979, the first official deployment of Soviet Hind helicopters was in July of that year in support of Afghan army units in a sweep of Kunar valley. The only real difference is instead of supplying Mi 24's (pictured) they'll be supplying Mi-17's.

I'm not for one minute suggesting that the Russians are going to invade since I'm not some nutty new world order American militiamen, but the idea that the Russians getting involved again won't play into the hands of the Taliban. Even if we in the west have forgotten the Afghans sure as hell haven't, this will undoubtedly cause quite a bit of consternation in Kabul and it will be interesting to see what President Hamid Karzai will do to keep his camp together. The only Afghan "big boss" I can think of who'll be pleased the Russians are returning is General Dostum whose probably getting a big nostalgic kick out of this sense of deja vu. Millions died during and after the invasion when the world lost interest after the Soviets pulled out and the two factions were left alone to fight it out, in fact the fighting AFTER the Soviet withdrawal was so fierce that the main reason for the growth of the Taliban was that they and they alone seemed to be capable of wending the domination of the warlords.

Now that history is repeating it self it seems incredulous that the Taliban want be able to increase support by simply reminding ordinary Afghans of the damage that was done the last time Moscow invited itself to the neighbourhood.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Invisible Man

“They were prepared for scars, disfigurements, tangible horrors, but nothing!”

The Invisible man by H.G Wells is much like the Time Machine in that they both have a very apt title since thee Time Machine was about a Time Machine and the Invisible Man does indeed heavily feature a man who is invisible. The Invisible Man (pictured) is a highly self centred Albino -presumably his severe lack of skin pigmentation aided his transparency experiments- physics student by the name of Griffin who finally cracks the secret to invisibility just as his landlord evicts him for assault and violations of his tenants’ agreement. In order to keep his secret and thus future fame and wealth secure he makes himself invisible and burns the house down to make sure what equipment he can’t escape with is destroyed lest someone else figure out the secret by chance when the machinery is pawned off to cover Griffins outstanding rent.

However just because he is invisible does not make him invulnerable, he has no invisible clothing (though he did find a way to make fabric invisible during an early experiment he had to smash his apparatus to avoid detection before he could make some clothing invisible and so is stuck naked) and its the middle of Winter, this means he is faced with a dilemma stay invisible and thus risk freezing or discovery from various tell tales, foot prints in the snow, and wet outlines in the rain etc. Or acquiring clothing which would due to the fact that his body is invisible make him much more visible then a normal person, as he would appear as some sort of clothed phantasm. Fortunately for Griffin he finds that by the use of Bandaging and a fake noise and dark glasses he can remedy the situation somewhat though it still draws much more attention than the average person, as passers by often stop and stae trying to figure out what is wrong with him.

After performing a series of burglaries in London to acquire funds to rebuild his laboratory and test out the limits of his stealth, Griffin who has managed to acquire a suitable disguise (well sort of, the curious populace constantly probe him as to the nature of what appear to be extensive injuries) and enough money to purchase some lab equipment and chemicals he decides to flee to the Sussex countryside to the village of Iping were he rents a room in order to work out a way to reverse the procedure when needed. As he fully intends to use his Invisibility to benefit him greatly but needs to become visible now and again to interact with the locals. However the combination of his strange appearance and his strange behaviour (he gets very short tempered and highly paranoid about very minor impediments) and the fact that there have been a number of very suspicious robberies since his arrival bring him to a confrontation with the local constable and village magistrate, there he finally snaps losing his grip on what restraint he had and reveals himself to whole village and now lost in a frenzy he begins to assault and terrorise the village before escaping to a neighbouring port.

Now that the whole countryside believes in the invisible man (he made the front page of all the local papers) his quest for power becomes that much more difficult. He attempts to elevate this by recruiting a local tramp to be a sort of money box and pack mule for his things. Unfortunately the partnership is not a happy one with Mr Marvel the Tramp soon wishing to get out of it and constantly incurring Griffins wrath to the point where Marvel decides to hell with it and steals Griffins journals that contain all his work and equations and promptly legs it for the police station with an irate Griffin fast on his heels, in his attempt to murder Marvel in another of his increasingly frequent fits of rage Griffin is shot and is forced to escape to a nearby house to rest and patch himself up. It is there that Griffin discovers that the house belongs to his old Colleague at University Dr Kemp. Griffin tries to recruit Kemp to his schemes thinking him to be a more reliable ally then Marvel, since surely an intelligent man of learning like the good Dr. Kemp can see the great vision that is to be Griffins on personal fiefdom and naturally want to share in it as his accomplice right?

Kemp however quiet sensibly decides that Griffin s a Narcissistic monster after hearing the revelations of Griffins discovery of invisibility wants nothing to do with Griffins "reign of terror" and instead arranges for the arrest of Griffin while pretending to be sympathetic to Griffins egotistical remorseless ramblings.When Kemps plan to capture Griffin goes awry Griffin goes into yet another maddened rage and instead of escaping after giving the police the slip stays in the area with the intention of coming back and killing Kemp, then presumably Mr Marvel and then reclaiming his books. During the frequent scuffles with Kemp and the Police in a number of houses and streets Griffin is able to finally get his hands round Kemp's throat just outside the local tram station but before he can throttle him is set upon by a mob of townspeople who had little difficulty grabbing and beating Griffin since he had his hands on Kemp's throat. Griffin is beaten to death by the mob and slowly becomes visible again as a bloodied and naked corpse and there it ends.

Or does it?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Whats in a name?

"not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslim"
Who ever first came up with that quote was either very sarcastic or a moron.Though he does lose bonus points for contradicting himself, first he clearly states that all anti US terrorist are from one religion (Islam) clearly placing blame on said religion then makes that rather infamous statement above which means either all non Muslims terrorists aren't good Muslims which is quite wrong and insulting though no more then the rest of his statement or hes just trying cover his bigotry in a rather weak figleaf.

I mean to demonstrate how wrong the above statement is Cenk gave a brief list of terrorist organisations that were not Muslim, heres a slightly longer list:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam(Tamil Tigers): broadly Secular Nationalist though due to the Tamil's being majority Hindu it is no surprise that that is also the predominant religion within the group. Also popularised the suicide bomber, though the first confirmed case of a deliberate suicide attack was in Lebanon in the 1980's directed against US forces stationed there. The group still holds the record for number of suicide attacks.
IRA and its various off shoots: Again a broadly Irish Nationalist group with a strong Catholic Support Base in both Ireland, Scotland and North America.
Northern Irish Loyalist organisations: Again a broad grouping of British Unionists with a strong Protestant (mainly Presbyterian) base in Ireland and Scotland.
ETA: Basque separatists operating in both Spain and France(Basque country overlaps the Spanish and French borders)
Marx inspired groups: These include the West German Red Army Faction, the Italian Rosa Brigade, and the Japanese Red Army Faction sometimes called Red Fraction to avoid confusion.

That should be enough to prove the point.

Now to be fair there is a way that this severe logical fallacy can become at least technically true.You see despite having numerous books, laws and film plots on the subject no one has actually come up with a universally excepted definition of what terrorism is. For example the UN still the closest thing are world has to an international concept dictionary has passed many declarations condemning terrorism and pledges for member states to fight it both before and after 9/11 heres a list notice how very few of those links actually bother to even give a brief summary of terrorism and the more detail they give usually the less support they receive.

The reason is simple no one can agree on what terrorism is. I mean check out the comments section of that video in the top there, you'll get all kinds of nonsensical definitions more then a few that sadly back up the sentiments of the arsehole I've quoted. Though it isn't just the crackpots and bigots who are doing this. While researching the subject I came across a number of academic articles who include definitions of terrorism that enable you to include environmental groups for committing acts which I and must people would at worst deem to be vandalism by emphasising the rights of property to an absurd degree. So it isn't really that surprising to see some people have come to regard the thing as a Islamic pastime.

Then muddying the waters further we have Guerrilla movements and organised crime gangs, can they be classed as terrorists, and is the application of that label conditional on a key number of actions and features? where do we draw the line? Or to be controversial what about when state armies deliberately cause pain and suffering to a people during war time, like bombing campaigns? or drone strikes? and should the situations theses groups operate in matter? is the label still applicable when the group or the people the group claims to represent are under direct existential threat like say the situation of the Palestinians or the Tamils both of whom face either death or a lives languishing in a series of concentration camps, does desperate times and desperate measures give them some slack in this regard?

And then of course the biggest grey area of them all armed resistance against the occupiers, what is the difference between say the French Maquis and the Islamic army of Iraq? both fought against occupation with fanaticism, both regularly murdered collaborators, both could be brutal at times. Yet the two have completely different images in the world why is that?

For clarities sake the definition of terrorism that I have personally come to accept as close to the phenomena as possible is as follows "planned acts of politically motivated violence that deliberately target a civilian population or populations, with the intent to spread terror to achieve an end". But what about you? where do you think a line should drawn (if at all?)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


“I am Dracula. And I bid you welcome.”

Hello everyone, as we all know it is October,and the witching hour is drawing near. So to celebrate (even though as Celt of Irish heritage I find this commercialisation and Americanisation of an old part of my culture deeply offensive) I decided to go the extra mile by finding my old word document notes on some of the books I read a while back for horror appropriate material and then edit them a bit to make them more coherent and less embarrassing for public consumption.

I'll try and up one of these each week perhaps more, (but almost certainly less) in addition to my regular stuff so I hope you enjoy.

Dracula while not the first novel about Vampires is unquestionably the most popular and long lasting story about the Un-dead. How many 19th century novels can you say inspired both a Deaf and Gay version? The novel is set out as a series of journals from the perspective of multiple members of the band of soon to be vampire hunters with a few newspaper cuttings thrown in to flesh out the scenes. The novel starts off with Solicitor Jonathan Harkers personal travelogue on his way to Count Dracula’s estate on the Transylvania/Wallachia border. Harker is a solicitor who has been sent to the Count to help him purchase a property in London. London is a place that seems to hold the Count's imagination as his Library is full of books maps tour guides and even fashionable weekly journals from the city.

While initially mistaking the Count's odd behaviour for a mix of Eastern European etiquette and awkwardness from being alone Harker notices that there are few servants in this fortress the Count resides in. He does however quickly catch on to the strange goings on of the Count and after nearly been sucked to death (tee hee) by the Count's three beautiful concubines he is kept prisoner while the count gets some local gypsies to move his furniture and a number of boxes of dirt (plot point)
to London with him inside one of the boxes.

Then the tale starts again at Whitby where the ship Dracula boards crashes (due to him killing its crew) were it just so happens Jonathan Harkers dearly beloved fiancée Mina is staying with her friend Lucy. Dracula begins feeding on dear Lucy which thanks to her circle of admirers proves to ultimately be his undoing as one of her suitors is a Doctor who happens to have a friend and Colleague in the Netherlands called you guessed Van Helsing. After Van Helsing confirms the diagnosis of Vampire attack its not long before a team of ghoul hunters is assembled from Lucy's potential lovers, Nina and Jonathan who was able to escape from the Castle while the count was away and convalesce for a while before Mina went to collect him. They even get married at his hospital bed (aww).

The team based at the local asylum that borders one of Dracula's properties begin tracking down the Counts other properties where hes been stashing those boxes of dirt, this is important since for some reason Vampires can't cross bodies of running water, though they can fly and control the weather so how and why that works escapes me. Anyway to counter this the Count has to be connected with the soil of his birth so if they an destroy all the boxes and purify the dirt with holy water he'll be trapped though still incredibly strong and very pissed off.

Despite the counts interference by feeding on Mina a few times necessitating a few very naive blood transfusions (this was before blood types were identified but still it is a bit odd to see two Doctors with extensive Medicinal backgrounds just tap into a mans veins because his young and full of energy) they succeed or so they think, it turns out the count had one box left and uses that to escape back across Europe to his stronghold in modern day Romania. Since Van and the gang are all men of science they know that leaving a powerful Vampire to gather his strength when he has a personal vendetta against you and no moral constraints isn't best thing to leave to sort itself out give chase.

They manage to beat the Count, which is quite a feet given that he can control the weather and frequently manipulates storms in order to cut his travel time down. He can even push a boat up river this way. After killing his three concubines who were sleeping at the time they decide to ambush the Count as he and his gypsy followers come up the trail as it is almost sunset. They succeed but the Texan gets stabbed in the side by the Gypsy. Oh did I mention one of Lucy's suitors was a Texan cowboy? thats kind of important as that is all the characterisation he gets. Anyway thats the plot though I did miss out a bit I think that'll do for a synopsis.

Anyway since Dracula is the archetypal Vampire how does he hold up? well The Count himself is heavily hinted to be the actual Prince Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) of Wallachia and defender of Europe against the Turks who raised him and his brother, his rule was so brutal that many Ottoman armies who were much larger refused to fight or march on Wallachia, he practically invented psychological warfare. His subjects in addition to nicknaming him Impaler after his favourite hobby also called him Dracula (Devil in the Wallachia language). The Count has numerous abilities many of which were original to him and went on to become key tenants of the Vampire Myths. These abilities include the pretty standard bloodsucking, aversion to sunlight (though recent drinking and a hat appear to provide some protection) the ability to transform into a wolf and mist and of course a bat. His strength is reckoned to be that of twenty men, and he can control many animals though his favourite is the wolf. He also has a hypnotic link with his victims and can control their actions and read their minds, though that last part works both ways and comes back to bite him (pun intended) in the end as its through hypnotising Mina that Van Helsing is able to find out what the Count's plans are.

However he also has some severe limitations, the Count can’t stand garlic or the crucifix and theres the aforementioned sunlight aversion. The Count also cannot as previously established travel over running water unless at high tide or at its slack which only applies to rivers so for sea travel he has to spend most of his time in the dirt. The Count is also unable to change his form in the day and can only regenerate in soil specially prepared I.e. from his homeland.

Themes of the book include friction between science and faith as despite the hunters being scientists (a psychiatrist and biologist respectively) and successfully tracking the Count down through scientific and official means (trawling through the chartered housing deeds and shipping logs) much of their information in regards to fighting the Count comes from accounts of old eastern European folklore that Van Helsing has come across, then of course there the holy water and the crucifix, tough its implied that its the faith behind such symbols which is actually hurting him. The book also touches briefly and to me quite humorously and I'm fairly sure accidently on gender roles, both female characters Mina and Lucy are archetypal period women servile and sweet and leave the physical work up to the men. Of the two both are victims of Dracula’s “disease” in Lucy ‘s case fatally so, and the main contributions Mina makes to the team is make type written copies of the mens journals for the sake of posterity. Yes she effectively does the filing, and although Mina is the conduit to which Helsing and the boys ultimately track down and defeat the vile one, she is a passive recipient to Van Helsing's hypnosis and is only help to give him the opportunity because of her earlier vulnerability. Though this was the 19th century values dissonance and all that.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Ballad of Ho Chi Minh

Sorry its been a bit quiet here still getting settled in and caught up with all the exciting things happening in the news this past few weeks. But here's a catchy Folk song by the Salford born protest singer and integral part of the folk revival of the 50's, Ewan MacColl The ballad of Ho Chi Minh is unsurprisingly a song dedicated to Revolutionary leader of the Liberation of Vietnam. penned in the 1950's Ho Chi Minh would still have been fighting the French (who eventually withdrew in 1954 following partition)hence the references to Indo-China, though the USA was generously supplying the French with arms and material at this point as part of there policy of containment with President Truman announcing an "acceleration in the furnishing of military assistance to the forces of France and the Associated States in Indochina…" And of course after partition and the total collapse of French colonial power it wasn't long before the Americans stepped in to fill the void and despite Ho Chi Minh declaring an independent Vietnam all the way back in 1945 after driving out the Japanese and there puppet state, it would not be until 1975 that Vietnam was completely liberated from foreign occupation sadly Ho Chi Minh didn't live long enough to see his dream come fully into fruition dying in 1969 after successfully liberating the North of his country.


Far away across the ocean,

Far beyond the sea's eastern rim,

Lives a man who is father of the Indo-Chinese people,

And his name it is Ho Chi Minh.


Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.

Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.

From VietBac to the SaiGon Delta
From the mountains and plains below
Young and old workers, peasants and the toiling tenant farmers
Fight for freedom with Uncle Ho.
Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, etc.

Now Ho Chi Minh was a deep sea sailor
He served his time out on the seven seas
Work and hardship were part of his early education
Exploitation his ABC.

Now Ho Chi Minh came home from sailing
And he looked out on his native land
Saw the want and the hunger of the Indo-Chinese people
Foreign soldiers on every hand.

Now Ho Chi Minh went to the mountains
And he trained a determined band
Heroes all, sworn to liberate the Indo-Chinese people
Drive invaders from the land.

Fourteen men became a hundred
A hundred thousand and Ho Chi Minh
Forged and tempered the army of the Indo-Chinese people
Freedom's Army of Viet Minh.

Every soldier is a farmer
Comes the evening and he grabs his hoe
Comes the morning he swings his rifle on his shoulder
This the army of Uncle Ho.

From the mountains and the jungles
From the ricelands and the Plain of Reeds
March the men and the women of the Indo-Chinese Army
Planting freedom with vict'ry seeds.

From VietBac to the SaiGon Delta
Marched the armies of Viet Minh
And the wind stirs the banners of the Indo-Chinese people
Peace and freedom and Ho Chi Minh.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

What have the Unions ever done for us?

Ton actually. This new video by the TUC is a very well put together comprehensive list of the some of their most important campaign successes and a summary of all the privileges and opportunities that I and many others have come to enjoy and depend on, all thanks to are ancestors hard work and sacrifices.

Thank you to all the working men and women throughout the decades whose dedication made it all possible.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Journey into the heart of darkness

"A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength- life itself is a will to power."

Morning all, will be moving back to continue my studies next week so I've been stuck in limbo for a bit what with much of my possessions (books, dvds etc) are in boxes so I've been spending my free time with my cousins video games. The one I've been most taken with of late is Far Cry 2 (pictured).

Its a first person Shooter that takes place in the Democratic Republic of something something, they manage to make a game that lasts dozens of hours entirely set in side a country without actually naming it. Well there are two regions called Leboa-Sako in the North and Bowa-Seko in the south, so for the sake of clarity I will refer to the North as Leboa and the Southern region as Bowa.

The main character is selected from about a dozen mercenaries sorry private security contractors from around the globe each of which is a thoroughly bleak and callous human being. For some reason despite there being a couple of female mercenaries you can't select them. Why were they worried that a female character committing all these violent acts? that can't be it the game is played from a first person perspective all you see is your fore arms and your knees and feet when performing first aid, so I really don't know why you can't choose them. I mean its not like any of the women are your potential romantic interest which I frankly found to be quite refreshing.

Anyway the main plot of the game is that the country you're deployed to is teetering on the brink of a full scale civil war, the President is dead, the government and the wealthy have fled and the power vacuum is being filled by two bitterly rival factions the United Front for Liberation and Labour (UFLL) headed by the former leader of opposition Mbantuwe and the Alliance for Popular Resistance (APR) lead by the former head of military Major Tambossa. Both groups are brutal power hungry and whose ranks are full of mercs with no concept of morality and are inly in it for the pay offs from the diamond mines and because it amuses them. Currently the only thing keeping the two sides from coming to blows is the lack of a stable supply of arms. And thats were the games main target enters the picture, The Jackal and internationally reviled arms dealer begins selling to both sides and its just a matter of time before the shooting starts.

Its not long before entering the country that your character (lets call him Jack for simplicities sake) Jack first encounters the Jackal, unfortunately due to contracting a very serious case of malaria (which will continually flare up through out the games duration so keep an eye on your malaria pill count) and so just has to sit there while Mr Jackal.... quotes Nietzsche's philosophical works at you (something of a hobby of his) in fact much of the games intellectual content is viewed from the Jackal's "humanist" ideology. In between quoting Will to power he gloats a bit by pointing out that since your mission was to prevent the Jackal from kick starting the conflict with his merchandise Jack has already failed thats right you fail before the ten minute mark is reached. Surprisingly he doesn't kill and instead leaves you clapped out on the bed in the hotel. You wake up to the sound of gunfire and screaming and is not long before your left high and dry in the middle of a war zone.

Since Jack's one and only chance to leave this country is to find and kill the Jackal and hope your benefactors will still make arrangements for your exit, crossing the border is out of the question as the African Union have sealed all the borders. However since you have absolutely no idea where he is and the unemployment office was closed down by men with Kalashnikovs Jack has no choice but to go working for the local factions which one doesn't matter once there out of jobs you just march down the street to the other side and see what they want blown up.

And speaking of those jobs unlike in other games the missions in Far Cry 2 make it absolutely clear that you and your merc "buddies" are not hero's, your every bit the villains that the Jackal, the UFLL and APR are. Your missions often involve going to whats left of the infrastructure that the innocent people of this once proud nation depend on and wrecking it because the other side have a slight advantage by possessing it. And your merc buddies will help you "subvert" the mission which usually means bringing more pain and suffering to the populace. Rather then take the easy way out and make the guys and gals who go around the world killing people they don't know for money into some sort of tragic heroes, they and Jack are depicted as the socio paths they undoubtedly would be in real life.

Hell at some points in the game a Cease fire appears to be on the table as both faction heads have had enough, but since that would put you and your colleagues out of a job and potentially have them facing war crimes tribunals or worse and so take it upon themselves to sabotage the peace process.

What made Far Cry 2 stand out for me amongst the legions of muscle-bound space marines fighting for the planet earth whilst looking for there "wives" is its horrible cynicism. Everyone and everything that appears in this game with the exception of the Journalist and blogger Reuben is shown to be horribly corrupt and well brutal. The two factions ideologies only exist as slogans on there posters and have no qualms about bringing suffering to the people they both claim to serve if it means they profit. The mercs smuggle and murder at the drop of a hat, the Jackal deliberately manipulates the conflict to prolong and expand it. NGO's peace keepers and foriegn companies don't fair much better either.

This game goes along way to disprove the notion that games are "just for kids". Anyway for further reading I recommend the PDF. playthrough Permanent Death by Ben Abraham warning will contain spoilers.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Top cat returns to the alley

You've more than likely already heard that Former Respect Mp George Galloway has got his Talksport gig back The Mother of All Talk Shows at its usual slot of 10-1am Friday though not saturday. Looks like that Facebook group really pulled through for the old Scottish teetotaller eh?

Anyway after listening to the first broadcast after an hiatus of several months does he come up to scratch? as he been rejuvenated by his holiday and now graces us listeners with renewed passion humour and insight?

Well yes and no the start of the new George series was mixed for me. The beginning was all about the Popes visit and while it did have a good interview with Peter Tatchell below.

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with George here. His argument that the Vatican is a state in the post Age of Reason world doesn't hold up. And his continued insistance it is without explaining why comes across as dogmatic.

In this contemporary world you and I live in state hood is ultimately left to the UN to decide, though that certainly doesn't stop other Nations from picking and choosing who to invite to the diplomatic club, see Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Tibet, Kurdistan, and the whole Peoples Republic of China versus Republic of China etc. The Vatican on the other hand doesn't really fit the model of what we would know regard as a state. It was created out of a deal between the Catholic church and Mussolini's Fascist party, a deal that saw the Papal states that at its height could easily have been eligible for modern statehood as it once owned the territory of Central Italy including Rome and whose governing was placed under the direct control of the Catholic church was officially dissolved and reformed into the modern Vatican that has no government nor services nor territory not a direct and active part of the Catholic church.

At best the Vatican is another Grand Duchy or theocratic style Principality like Monaco. At worst its a large micro nation in the vein of Sea Land and does Roy Bates get a red carpet reception every time he gets tired of hanging out on that concrete bunker in the sea and goes back home to Spain? I think not.

Furthermore the UK doesn't even deal with the Pope as if he is the head of state for anything. How many Embassies are in the Vatican? zero how many does the Vatican have in the UK and the world? Zero. How many trade agreements exist? none apart from between the Vatican and Italy and they kind of have to given that the Vatican is inside there own capitol. And unlike all are other disputed territories that aspire to nationhood in the world like say Kosovo, the Vatican has absolutely no chance of becoming a state. What is the ultimate pillar that all states regardless of ideology economy and geography rest upon? the monopoly on the use of Organised force. Thats how they maintain what territory they have and how they usually expand it. To quote a man whose name escapes at the moment "how many divisions does the Pope have?" the answer is again zero unless you count those Swiss Mercs and there plentiful armouries of Axes and Halberds.Truly Italian statesmen must quake in fear at this great dagger pointing directly at the heart of there nation just waiting to be unsheathed.

He also ignored Tatchell's comment that since its the Catholic population that want him here they should foot the bill you know like they did the last time one of them showed up.

But I digress, I also found his other argument that the Pope is the head of the Catholic church therefore every Catholic should automatically bend there knee to him on every thing he says line quite insulting. As a man of Irish (among others) descent I've lost count of the times I've heard my Nan and Aunts say "If the Pope wants me to have a hundred kids he can pay for them" variations there of. Sorry George but I thought you believed everyone should practice reasonable thinking and try to reach conclusion based on that, not you know blindly following what someone else tells you. Look just because the Pope or any other Religious leader tells you something thats wrong it doesn't magically become right. When the Pope says contraceptives actually aid the spread of HIV in Africa when all the evidence says otherwise he is still wrong in saying that.

Anyway as I said this was just the first hour, and it did get better as it progressed. There were too very good and very interesting interviews with a couple of September the 11th survivors. And even the interview (below) with the conspiracy theorist was reasonable and coherent throughout.

But just one last thing though what ever happened to that "Radical Radio network" George said he was organising, the one that was and I quote just "over the rainbow" (scroll down a bit). Looks like that ain't happening. Thats a shame as George himself has pointed out he is quite a solitary figure in the right wing hang em and deport em world of Talk radio. Which seems set to increase given his reduction in air time. To me George's idea of a grouping of prominent Left wing and Progressive commentators is a missed opportunity given that he would be uniquely placed to plug the thing to a wider audience then most internet radio shows get. Oh well.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Never Forget

Its that time of year again the eleventh of September where people around the world stop and remember the great tragedy that occurred on this date. Thats right today is the anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 coup against President Allende of Chile and the coming to power of General Augusto Pinochet.

In contrast to Allende's peaceful redistributive measures, Pinochet set up a brutal regime that combined the bitter repression of political freedoms with Milton Friedmans economic theories making a mockery of the Neo-Liberal claim that free markets and free people go hand in hand. Highlights of Pinochet's rule include a 26% unemployment rate due to the massive cuts in services and the preferences for military spending. Money which was often spent of weapons used against his own people. The turning of a lovely sailing ship the Esmeralda BE-43 in to a floating torture chamber one of many including football pitches. And operation Condor which on the face of it was a regional security policy against Guerilla's, but due to the wording of the agreement also legalised the targeting of "sympathisers" of banned groups throughout Latin America, leading to the harassment imprisonment and even murder of hundreds of problem peoples for the local Junta in the 1980's.

All of this was made possible thanks to some generous contributions by the US government of Richard Nixon and the support of Henry Kissinger. The CIA operation to topple Allende was given 10 Million at day one with the promise of more if and when it proved necessary.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fatah vs Hamas part II

Good day all, been checking out the new blogger stats feature and it seems that the page about the Fatah and Hamas conflict is my most popular by quite a large margin so I felt a quick post highlighting an interview by the Real News Network with Palestinian Activist Omar Barghouti (pictured) that discusses the split would be welcome to some of you.

It also contains a brief update on the current successes of the Boycott of Israeli movement within the European Union Israel's largest trading partner though that isn't really surprising given that the EU is the largest trading partner to everyone else in the world including its self, In fact the only country that has bigger trade connections with non EU nations that I can think of is North Korea with China and South Korea beating the EU into third place.

I also came across a piece in Monday's Morning Star by Israeli peace activist and former Knesset (Parliament) member Uri Avnery about the growing anti occupation movement especially the growing Boycott movement.

I disagree with a number of his points and will be dissecting them below, but for the sake of fairness you can find his entire article here.

The first part of the article is an analysis of the national psyche of Israel which is not only very interesting and revealing but also depressing its own way. Given that Uri is an Israeli and lived in Israel and I have not I will defer to his greater wisdom and move on though I will include his quote from former Israeli Golda Meir for emphasis "Deputy Avnery thinks that they hate us because of what we do. He does not know the Goyim. The Goyim love the Jews when they are beaten and miserable. They hate the Jews when they are victorious and successful." Lovely.

In regards to the protests and boycotts Uri is much more sceptical and negative then I am. "These aims can be achieved only through peace between Palestine and Israel. And such a peace can come about only if the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Israelis support it. Outside pressure will not suffice."

This is a major theme of his argument, that the majority of Israeli's agreeing with him and like minded peace groups in Israel is the only way to end the occupation and give the Palestinians the space they need to build up the institutions necessary to achieve full state hood and bring stability to the region. And yes if it happened it would be great that would be by far the best way to achieve what we all want. However he argues as if that is the only way that could be achieved. Which is actually somewhat disingenuous, you see Israel is not and can not be completely close off from the world and self sufficient it is neither resource rich territorially large or populous enough to say to the world in the spirit of the old Israeli folk song says "go to hell". Further exacerbating its dependence on trade and aid is the legacy of almost constant warfare its geopolitical position forced it into (the 1948 war, the Sinai war,the six day war, the Yom Kippur war, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the 2006 invasion of Lebanon etc.) have left Israel with an entrenched technological and expensive military apparatus putting great strains on its economy.

All of this makes outside pressure a much more viable and realistic tactic then Uri is making it out to be.

Compare this with another nation that found itself in a similar position to Israel, Apartheid South Africa.South Africa's non Jewish white oligarchy found itself having to suppress a large domestic population and often resorted to violence, it alos had a colonising and occupation project occurring in Namibia, was surrounded by neighbours (Angola, Mozambique etc.) who while not continuously hostile to it clearly didn't approve of its policies and ideology. And often intervened in its regional neighbours affairs. And while the Africaans population had a number of brave activists and groups who opposed Apartheid at great risk to themselves including imprisonment the idea that the majority Africaans would just decide to end Apartheid on there own is ludicrous.

"Anyone who understands this must be interested in a worldwide protest that does not push the Israeli population into the arms of the settlers, but, on the contrary, isolates the settlers and turns the general public against them".

Ok Good where getting closer to same page now,but how do we do that Uri?

"The first thing is to clearly differentiate between the boycott of the settlements and a general boycott of Israel. The TV report suggested that many of the protesters do not see the border between the two."

Oh dear, the problem with this tactic of only boycotting settlement goods is two fold, first the settlements and the settlers have a strong hold on the Israeli right wing whom usually have no problem cobbling together a majority in the Knesset and thus form government. Even Israel's all weather friend the USA is getting sick of these settlements and yet there still being built. At best Israel has placed temporary freezes on settlement expansion (not including East Jerusalem) which quickly expire so what exactly will stop the Israeli government from stepping in and financially supporting the settlements since they already spend so much guarding them?

And second were exactly do you draw the line? this important as despite constantly reiterating that we must draw a clear line Uri fails to do so himself. For example what about the IDF and its military companies, should they be boycotted? the settlements depend on them to safe them from Palestinian backlashes but there also a key part of Israel as a whole. And what about Israel banks, pension schemes and insurance companies that serve clients in the settlements, a boycott on these companies international businesses would affect both settler and Israeli proper wouldn't? and what about construction Uri does concede that Caterpillar the company that supplies Israel with bulldozers that mostly see service levelling Palestinian homes during forced evictions, but since they to have a legitimate purpose in Israel that just muddies the water even further.

Anyway moving on.

"Today a large majority of Israelis say that they want peace and are ready to pay the price, but that unfortunately the Arabs don't want peace."

I think we've all heard this one before. The insincerity of it astounds me. What if any price have the Israelis paid to show they want peace? nothing. The Arabs on the other hand? well Fatah has been cooperating with Washington and Tel Aviv has not actively supported armed struggle for several years and is participating fully in the Palestinian Authority and supports the Two state deal, Egypt under Mubarak has effectively allied with Israel to the point that the two now regularly engage in joint military operations in the form of the blockade of Gaza and reaffirmed its acknowledgement of Israel's existence. Lebanon has a history of given government support to Israel (even when the latter is ending its military into the former)and Beirut is now a close ally of Washington with the only sticking point being the popularity of Hezbollah which the Israel sort of help with there 2006 invasion. So whose done more for peace here? well Uri doesn't say.

"The mainstream peace camp, which could once bring hundreds of thousands onto the streets, is in a state of depression. It feels isolated.

Among other things, its once close connection with the Palestinians, which was established at the time of Yasser Arafat after Oslo, has withered. So have relations with protest forces abroad.

If people of goodwill want to speed up the end of the occupation, they must support Israeli peace activists."

Err why? you said so yourself Uri not only have you lost the support of your own people as this report shows well as isolated yourselves form the global movement what good would concentrating are efforts into supporting you guys do? Especially when we take into consideration that back when you were a political force in Israel you were completely impotent and achieved little. Over the period your talking about Israel continued to expand the occupation as well as shift further and further to right and antagonise its neighbours through military clashes and disputes what if anything did your peace movement achieve? or was that the fault of the outside world not being clear in there distinction as well?

"They should build close links with them, break the conspiracy of silence against them in the world media and publicise their courageous actions, and organise more and more international events at which Palestinian and Israeli peace activists are present side by side."

Err we have time and again I can't think of a single Palestinian solidarity group or campaign that hasn't boasted of its ties with or support for a group in Israel. But again it hasn't achieved anything of substance your continually becoming more marginalised. Also doesn't this contradict your first points? if the average Israeli is close minded to the rest of the world then how is the global movement getting even more buddy buddy with there Israeli counter parts supposed to raise there esteem in the eyes of there fellow countrymen?

I'm sorry Uri but I'm not convinced.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Boycott Israeli oranges (and other stuff)

Its the last day of August and I try to make it a point of ending every month on a high for the sake of my own sanity. So heres a bit of news from Palestine which I feel is quite uplifting.

Remember the Palestinian non violent resistance movement I talked about earlier? well its growing, heres a two part summary of the current state of the movement.

And here we have news on the growing boycott of Israeli goods most of which are picked by poorly paid Palestinians anyway and grown on there stolen land.

Now this boycott movement is very important for a number of reasons. First a successful economic boycott as well as obviously damaging the Israeli economy thus meaning less money for settlement expansion and white phosphorous explosives, it was also further entrench Israel's political and diplomatic isolation further weakening the Zionist self confidence that is the glue that holds the present system together. Evidence of how worried the Israeli government is about this potential pariah status is shown by there attempts to turn there entire population into members of a propaganda ministry.

We all know of the history of the boycotts of both Apartheid South Africa and Ian Smith's UDI government of Zimbabwe both his books on the subject have very long diatribes against several British PM's (especially Wilson) for what he saw as betrayal of the White populations of Southern Africa. Of course several military defeats such as the rise of both the Zimbabwean African National Union and the Zimbabwean African Peoples Union and South Africa's disastrous intervention in Angola certainly hammered in the nails.

Monday, 30 August 2010


“Did i request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?”

Hello everyone. And if your wondering no I didn't read the book in one day, I just noticed that it was Mary Shelley's birthday to day so thought it'd be apt to dust of my old notes I took back when I did read Frankenstein and edit it a bit so I could cobble together a review, enjoy.

Frankenstein is very different to the classic film. There is no castle, no Igor (who was originally called Fritz) no lightning and no hammy and melodramatic “It’s ALIVE!”. What there is however is a tale about the follies of letting romantic notions about adventure control a man and that unbridled inquisitiveness can lead to disaster.

Victor Frankenstein becomes a brilliant student of sciences (presumably biology) at the Ingolstadt University, were his quest for intellectual prestige fuelled by his sorrow of the death of his very beloved mother, leads him to experiment with bringing the dead back to life. This proves to be a disaster as when he does finally succeed in conquering mortality he finds the creature he creates to be so hideous and big -in order to make the assembly of the body easier Victor made it from parts that were much bigger then the average so that the creature is around 8ft tall and extremely broad- that he immediately panics and flees, this leads to the creature escaping into the wilderness. And since it has the mind of a newborn spends a lot of its time(several years)wandering through the woods slowly learning about life and mankind. Unfortunately due to his grotesque appearance the creature is constantly met with lynch mobs whenever he tried to find companionship and is forced to constantly flee and hide while developing an intense hatred for mankind and his creator Frankenstein.

By coincidence the creature stumbles upon the Frankenstein home and Victors little brother whom in a fit of rage the monster kills and then frames the Frankenstein’s close family friend who is later executed. However in one of his many fits of self loathing -something he shares with his creator Victor- the monster abandons revenge in order to strike a deal with Victor were the beast will leave him and all humankind alone forever if Victor will construct for him an “eve” to go with him into isolation (see bride of Frankenstein).

The deal goes ahead after the monster recounts his hellish life to Victor including the time he spent several years observing a French family through holes in there walls, by doing this he slowly learns French,as well as the concepts of poverty, love and Islamophobia(that is not a joke)before finally being rejected when he tried to make contact with them. However Victor starts having second thoughts or more accurately third or fourth thoughts, he becomes afraid that if he does do what the creature -which he never gets round to naming despite having several lengthy conversations with- wants then he might just procreate and raise an army,(how two collections of corpses could possibly breed is not made clear though to be far there was little understanding of human reproduction in the early 1800's at the time this was published) and ends up smashing the corpse, this enrages the monster when he discovers Victors double cross and he begins a campaign of vengeance on Victor, first by killing his best friend and once again framing Victor for it and then he caps it off by beating Victors wife to death on there wedding day, the combine shocks break Victor mentally and after several nervous breakdowns decides to embark on a journey of revenge himself, and hunts the monster all the way to the North Pole, in a vane effort to correct his lifetimes worth of failures and mistakes. The End....... Or is it?

So there you go one of the earliest giants of the Victorian Gothic horror and one of the earliest pioneers of Scientific Fiction, though the science here is not only made up but also just a catalyst to get the plot going. Victor in one of the few acts of genuine thoughtfulness we actually read him doing in the book quickly destroys his resurrection secrets and refuses when asked to go into specifics.

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