20-31 July, 2004

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, July 20th, 2004
at
9:36 am and is filed
under Page 3 – News in Briefs, Uncategorized.

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Date
20040720
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:36
*cough*

Meanwhile, in the country that has a ‘Q’ in it…

The spin has two distinct flavours:

1. Rush Limbaugh: “Good. Good. Hubba-hubba…. Well, the Iraqis are handling their own affairs.”

2. U.S. officials: It’s a useful rumour that isn’t true… “He wants to project that dual role—to the West as a committed democrat, and to the Iraqis as a tough guy who got things done.”

How nice.

Plenty of discussion is sure to follow here. I couldn’t possibly comment. Really. I’ve been banned from Fark.com for two days for posting ‘graphic content’ in this thread. See if you can spot it. (Oh, go on, have a hint. Pretty graphic, huh?)

The truth is, I’m getting banned from Fark.com on a semi-regular basis for daring to suggest – on a very regular basis – that they’re accepting Murdoch money for plugging The Scum on a regular basis.

Oh, and isn’t it funny that a few days after Charles Kennedy brings up the Heathrow incident (see relevant entry at Hansard), The Scum come up with a story that makes the never-fully-explained and often-questioned threat seem more real?

The Scum never attacks Blair unless it’s part of Murdoch’s agenda or Blair’s agenda. In the current political climate, any kind of assurance from the government that this is real or that is genuine is sure to be regarded with more than a small level of suspicion.

Sure, this ‘lost’ document gives them a black eye, but it helps to cement the idea of a real and genuine threat at Heathrow.

Having people think or suspect that Blair cynically rolled tanks into Heathrow to hype-up the terror threat and discourage protestors would be far more damaging than this security lapse that’s easily blamed on one underling or another. (Take a look at the timing of this action and how it wove into the whole Iraq/Terror/WMD lie.)

I’m inclined to think that Heathrow is a bigger story than most people think. Somebody should be shining lights into a few dark corners.

UPDATE – Yep. Here’s your underling…

The Scum – Dossier blunder ‘so bad’: The papers, dated June 26, 2004, were handed to The Sun after they were found near a petrol station close to Heathrow’s perimeter fence. A bungling sergeant based at SO18 Aviation Security is believed to have left them on his car roof when he paid for fuel at the garage. He forgot the papers were there and the dossier fell off his car as the sergeant drove away.

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Date
20040720
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:59
Guardian – Report damns UK political blogs: The quality of comment and debate on political blogs is often poor or even non-existent, and the jury is still out on whether they will ever make a significant contribution to parliamentary democracy, according to a Hansard Society report out today.

As far as I can see, the shortfall is as follows:

1. There aren’t enough weblogs to make a working ecosystem

2. There’s still a danger that the ‘top-down’ approach could stuff everything up:

The Hansard Society also expressed concern at the possibility that the next general election would inspire a wave of homogenous, party-approved campaign blogs. “Should we … expect a launch of off-the-shelf party weblogs in the run-up to the forthcoming UK elections, modelled on their American counterparts and run by blogmasters in party headquarters, as it happened in the States?”

Now, let me see, who’s been working hard to get more MPs blogging?

Who constantly puts the message out that the ‘top down’ approach is flawed and not worthy of the description ‘blogging’?

Tomorrow it will have been a month since I went ‘away’. The new blog format (with better archives and comments) isn’t ready yet, and I don’t feel sufficiently rested, but I may have to return anyway. There’s too much bullshit flying about… and there’s a job to be done.

PS – I collared William Hague yesterday for 60 seconds of valuable face-time. As many of you are aware, I’ve been working on getting Hague to be the first Tory blogger, but I’m having a hell of a time getting the message past his staff (for the record, some of Tom’s staffers also urged caution when he first considered blogging).

Tell you what, why don’t you get in touch with William Hague today (scroll down for email address) and tell him that I’m a smart chap that can be trusted? When you’ve done so, drop me a line. I’ll need some encouragement to get out of bed.

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Date
20040720
Church & State
Time
13:12
Who Would Jesus Torture? The Religion of George W. Bush: It certainly is remarkable that such an insipid, callow, little man like George W. Bush, who has slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians as surely as if he pulled the trigger himself, can be described as deeply religious by one of America’s most mainstream magazines with no sense of irony. American lemmings are now so brain washed that they believe this war criminal is a man of God. It would seem that the God he worships is really the Viking god of war, Thor, with his thunder of ongoing, preemptive “Shock and Awe” extending as far as the eye can see into our future. Heaven save us from these Christians.

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Date
20040720
Video
Time
15:54
You’ve just fired a missile that has killed dozens of human beings before your eyes. What do you say?

1 – “What have I done?”

2 – “Oh, the humanity!”

3 – “May God forgive me!”

No? How about “Woah, dude!”…? (Links to page with embedded 650KB WMV file.)

That’s torn it. I’m back on deck as of now.

UPDATE – Even if we could be sure that these people were ‘insurgents’ – and we can’t – it still wouldn’t make this right. The idiot on the mic seems to think that this is some kind of game.

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Date
20040721
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:06
OK, let’s try to make sense of this one…

Four days ago, a leading Australian newspaper went live with this article based on the testimony of two independent witnesses (compare this to the 45-min WMD claim, which was based on the testimony of one compromised witness)….

Sydney Morning Herald – Allawi shot prisoners in cold blood: witnesses:Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

This received *zero* coverage in the States. It wasn’t even refuted. Until, that is, the official spin was in place. Three days later.

Prime Minister Allawi may be no democrat, but his tough-guy approach plays well in Baghdad: U.S. officials say privately that he may actually have planted the stories about summary executions as part of a psychological smoke-and-mirrors game. “He wants to project that dual role—to the West as a committed democrat, and to the Iraqis as a tough guy who got things done.”

This ABC article acknowledges that this is “the sort of story which cannot be verified without access to Mr McGeough’s sources, or without independent investigations which would take time,” but you and I both know what would have happened were the person at the centre of such claims someone who either the British or US government was out to get. (Admittedly, Saddam Hussein has set one hell of a precedent for this kind of behaviour, which is why I’m not using him as a specific example.)

The result would have been immediate – and damning – worldwide coverage, and therein lies the irony of today’s photoshop. I hope you enjoy it.

Moving right along…

Let’s take a quick look at the tricky game of selling us the notion of transplanted democracy and selling to the Iraqis the exchange of one fist for another.

But not a real fist, because that simply wouldn’t do. No, it has to be phantom fist. (“Phantom fist have strength of ten tigers.” – Old Jungle Saying)

Boston Globe – Myth of Iraq’s premier as ruthless leader showcases nation in turmoil: To Iraqis hurting from months of violence and chaos, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has developed the aura of a tough, perhaps brutal, leader. Surprisingly, that image has endeared him to many Iraqis, accustomed to strongman rule.

In this same article Allawi is quoted denying the rumour and claiming that his enemies were the source.

So what’s it to be? And where is the truth? Or even the pursuit of it, for that matter…?

So far all this has revealed is an entirely different myth – the myth of a free/liberal media.

UPDATE – Axis of Logic – Iraqi prime minister accused of murdering detainees: The newspapers appear to have had the story for several weeks. They finally decided to publish the article on July 17, noting that “the failure by Iraqi and US officialdom to mount convincing denials makes the witness accounts impossible to ignore”…. Far from denouncing the Bush administration for establishing a US-protected police-state in Iraq, commentary over the past week in the New York Times and the Washington Post has lauded Allawi for his reputation for sadism and ruthlessness. It is part of a shift that is underway: previous claims that the US occupation was to establish democracy are being jettisoned in favor of increasingly open support for the “strongman” Allawi and his methods.

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Date
20040721
Tony Blair
Time
09:50
Guardian – Blair survives Commons Iraq debate unscathed: Though Mr Blair again admitted errors to a packed house, the only concession he made before a notably lacklustre attack by Michael Howard was to promise to curb his informal “government by sofa” style of running No 10 and the handling of MI6 assessments.

So, let’s summarise what we’ve learned over the last week or so:

- Everybody was responsible, but no-one is to blame.

- Saddam is a gone, and that’s a good thing.

- Thousands of people were sent to their deaths. And the decision was made in an informal ‘coffee morning’ atmosphere.

- Saddam is a gone, and that’s a good thing.

- Blair may have presented compromised and shaky intelligence as evidence, but he most definitely did not mislead the House or the people.

- Saddam is a gone, and that’s a good thing.

- That Campbell fellow? Well, we had a quick look at some written evidence…

- Saddam is a gone, and that’s a good thing.

And – surprise, surprise – the Tories have let us down once again in their role as opposition.

Guardian – Tory MPs fear Howard is starting to panic

Independent – Howard’s failure to hit home plunges Tories into despair

Last night also saw what I think was the first instance of a Tory standing up and pointing out that IDS was in charge at the time.

Ho-hum. What a joyful and curious world we live in. Howard looks likely to lose his job over this – but not Blair.

Blair has the media machine, y’see. And today his media flagship not only asserts that he has seen his critics off, but also lets loose with a none-too-subtle message for Gordon Brown, dressed up as praise. Gordon is “one of the greatest Chancellors in our history,” he and Tony make a great team. And it would be a shame if that team were broken up. Got the message, Gordon?

Back to Howard…

BBC – Blair buffeted by Iraq fallout: The prime minister’s credibility was at stake during the debate, he stressed. But he then failed to follow through and successfully challenge Mr Blair’s credibility.

(sings)

Gut-less… guuuut-lesssss…!

But Blair is no less a pussy. This morning we finally saw a glimmer of truth from Michael Mates of all people. On Radio 4 this morning he listed the usual justifications for war in Iraq, but closed with a reference to the U.S. and how keen they were to go in.

All this time, Blair has shifted the argument from one place to another, while patting us on the head and assuring us that we would understand one day. Perhaps when we grow up.

But we’ve known all along what our role in this war was about. Blair’s failure to stand up to Bush.

This ‘pretty straight guy’ who ‘never turns away from a challenge’ turned away from a most necessary challenge and lied and cheated in order to get away with it.

And so far he has.

So far.

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Date
20040721
George W. Bush
Time
09:54
“I’m a war president.”

George W. Bush

Meet the Press

February 13th, 2004

“Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president.”

George W. Bush

Campaign Speech

July 20th 2004

(Via Talking Points Memo.)

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Date
20040721
Useful
Time
09:57
BugMeNot.com – helping you to bypass pesky compulsory site registration.

UPDATE – And here’s a Wired article on the service.

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Date
20040721
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s…. oh s**t!
Time
09:58
Scotsman – Hoon pays advisers hundreds of millions to help cut armed forces.

Can I be the first smart-arse to scream “Support the troops!” in mock-fervour?

FFS, it’s not as if Iraq and Afganistan showed the significant shortfalls of reliance on technology and the importance of well-trained and well-disciplined troops or anything…

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Date
20040721
Google
Time
10:03
Google – Beta Version 1.0

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Date
20040721
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:25
James is right, the Tim Yeo weblog doesn’t set a good example and isn’t helping matters, and I’ve said as much myself.

But perhaps the time has come for more responsible action.

Will an amnesty make any difference, do you think?

We could dress the site up in blue and make it look the mutt’s (I’d need a designer who knows their way around Blogger) and offer to hand it over to Mr Yeo. But I’m not sure offering to clear the archives is a good idea. Too many people know the history of the site. Tim Yeo is sure to receive a warmer welcome if he can admit that lessons were learned and take a small hit to the chin.

Still, I’m open to suggestions and opinions. You know the address; use it.

Also, from yesterday:

I collared William Hague yesterday for 60 seconds of valuable face-time. As many of you are aware, I’ve been working on getting Hague to be the first Tory blogger, but I’m having a hell of a time getting the message past his staff (for the record, some of Tom’s staffers also urged caution when he first considered blogging).

Tell you what, why don’t you get in touch with William Hague today (scroll down for email address) and tell him that I’m a smart chap that can be trusted? When you’ve done so, drop me a line.

UPDATE – His office has been in touch. The offer is still being considered. I’ll let you know as and when. Cheers to everyone who chipped in.

Back to today, with something that’s almost a change of subject…

Bloggerheads is back! But what I said a month ago today stands. There will be no more activism through this blog until matters are settled in the US in or around November.

There will be comment. There will be opinion. There will even be some propaganda from time to time. (There will also be quite a few client plugs, because this man has to eat.)

But the only firm action this blog will take over the next few months will be part of a concerted drive to get more elected representatives blogging ahead of the next general election. We have to head the bullshit blogs off at the pass. And there’ll be plenty, believe me. (As the election draws nearer, more and more silly money will come into play. A lot of this will be spent on ‘trusted’ providers who don’t have the first clue about online engagement.)

PS – Bloggerheads will be changing to a Movable Type format. Soon-ish. With an RSS feed, better archives, permalinks, comments, and like that. But it’s a big job and will take time. Hang in there.

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Date
20040721
Flash Music Video
Time
10:33
Touching Things Is Fun! (Totally NSFW, in a whacked-out cartoony way.)

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Date
20040721
Church & State
Time
11:06
Oh dear God…. (Link via Ultimate Insult.)

And, as proof that there is no God, Pray For Reason appears to have been smote. Or is it smitten? I can never tell until it’s too l…

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Date
20040721
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
15:12
Heh. Cheers to Kate for bringing this one to my attention… you can read this Guardian artcile on the subject if you like, but it’s far more entertaining to start here and work your way through the strips yourself. Doonesbury’s current focus is Rupert Murdoch and Outfoxed, the new documentary on his primary lie-machine. My copy is due in the post within a few days.

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Date
20040721
Established Media
Time
15:17
Via Bob Piper

George Monbiot – The Lies Of The Press: All journalists make mistakes. When deadlines are short and subjects are complicated, we are bound to get some things wrong. But the falsehoods reproduced by the media before the invasion of Iraq were massive and consequential: it is hard to see how Britain could have gone to war if the press had done its job. If the newspapers have any interest in putting the record straight, they should surely each be commissioning an inquiry of their own.

Hear-hear!

And when they’re done, I can finally get started on my Iraq war memorial.

UPDATE – Not only, but also…. Allawi? No room! No room! Jenna’s tongue? Hold the front page! Hooray also for the Michael Jackson quads non-story. Can’t they think of anyone else to wheel out in times of crisis?

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Date
20040721
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
16:25
The storm continues to build…

Boing Boing – Evidence for Hersh’s claims of child sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib?: There appears to be evidence for (these) claims in supporting statements that accompany the Taguba Report. What most of us have seen of the report are excerpts from the 50-page summary. In fact, there are well over 6,000 pages in the report itself, including statements by and interviews with witnesses. Among them, testimony from an Iraqi prisoner that would appear to substantiate Seymour Hersh’s claims that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib. Maj. Gen. Taguba evidently found these statements credible — they supported statements from interviews with soldiers and other witnesses.

Brace yourself. It’s not a pretty read.

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Date
20040722
Updates
Time
09:08
Something screwy is happening with my email. If you’ve sent me anything in the last 18 hours, you’re going to have to send it again. Sorry.

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Date
20040722
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:08
The first ‘justice-lite’ hearings at Guantanamo start today. It was reported that they plan to get through 3 hearings a day. I can picture it now…

Are you?

No

Were you?

No

Aguiltymansayswhatnow?

What?

OK, throw him back in the hole. NEXT!

Are you?

No

Were you?

No…

Hrm. If the Coalition of the Willing acted outside of international law, could each and every participant technically be classified as an unlawful combatant? Well, I guess that depends on your economic strength and how many nukes you’ve got.

Speaking of troop support, here’s another sign that the draft may return in the US. And all it would take would be a bit of necessary action. Still, we live in a time of peace, and the Bush administration is doing its best to foster healthy relationships with other nations, so I’m sure nothing will explode anytime soon. Just sit back, relax, drink your donut, and try not to think about where your next sandwich is coming from. Hey, did we mention that Michael Jackson is having quads?

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Date
20040722
Israel Can Do No Wrong
Time
09:27
London News Review – Israel and the UN: pardon my freedom: So what happens now…? The International Court of Justice rules that Israel’s security barrier is illegal. The United Nations General Assembly votes overwhelmingly (150 to 6, with 10 abstentions) to demand that it be torn down. And Israel tells the UN to get royally stuffed.

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Date
20040722
Compare and Contrast
Time
09:32
Blair admits that Iraq mass graves claims are untrue

Mass graves raise questions in Afghanistan

Could it possibly be true? Could Blair’s last-stand argument of humanitarian intervention be on shaky ground?

DailyKos points out the obvious (no-one denies Saddam was a brutal dictator, etc) before asking that all-important question; why isn’t the so-called liberal media calling Bush on using the exact same lie?

WMD threat: Shaky at best.

Al Qaeda connection: Shaky at best.

Humanitarian argument: Excuse me, | seem to be losing my footing.

Oh well. At least we found the rape rooms.

PS – Did you notice how I managed to turn that whole thing into a question about the first article but not the second? Pretty nifty, huh? See how easy it is? You’d best follow that link again and have a little think about it.

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Date
20040722
Useful
Time
09:49
How to roll a joint.

The fine art of nose-picking. (It’s good for you, you know.)

How to build a bottle-cap tripod.

How to build a pair of speakers with a set of headphones, an Altoids tin and a couple of playing cards.

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Date
20040722
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
10:06
This could prove to be interesting. More here.

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Date
20040722
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
10:07
Just in case you missed it; John Ashcroft has finally popped his head up post-Butler to deny that he was unduly influenced by ministers or senior military staff when giving his legal advice on the war. Which changed at the last minute.

Also, the Australians have found that they relied on “thin, ambiguous and incomplete” intelligence to go to war in Iraq, but no-one was to blame.

In other news…

Independent – No respite for Blair as MPs reopen intelligence inquiry: The inquiry into the flawed intelligence which led Britain to war in Iraq on false claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction is to be reopened by a Labour-led select committee.

Key questions or not, I’m sure the overall remit will be suitably narrow, so we can expect another meaningless line in the sand sometime soon.

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Date
20040722
Video
Time
10:20
Brother Can You Spare a Job is an expanded version of a very tasty 30’s-style Bush In 30 Seconds entry. You’ll need Quicktime and a wide pipe.

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Date
20040722
Activism
Time
10:23
Billionaires For Bush continue to go from strength to strength. New on the scene; outragedmoderates.org

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Date
20040722
Distractions
Time
10:25
Discover your inner squirrel.

See cartoons based on spam subject lines.

A hosted version of the best part of the NTK newsletter, including an unfortunate abbreviation for another Mr T Watson.

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Date
20040722
Compare and Contrast
Time
10:29
Berger Quits as an Adviser to Kerry – Ex-Clinton Aide Facing Inquiry Over Papers

Grand jury probes Cheney’s role in ‘illegal’ Iran trade

The difference is in the coverage. See this post at Atrios and the comments for more.

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Date
20040722
119 (please note correct formatting of date)
Time
10:33
The 911 Commission report is due out today. I’m holding my water for now, but you may want to check out the video footage of four of the five hijackers being subjected to additional searches before being allowed onto American Airlines flight 77.

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Date
20040722
Told You So
Time
11:07
Jenna Bush. Tongue. Front Page. Murdoch Paper.

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Date
20040722
Normal People
Time
11:26
*Sigh*…. I wish I were a member of the social elite.

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Date
20040722
Photoshopping
Time
14:17
Here you go; a lunchtime treat to cheer you up.

(Posted to B3ta.)

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Date
20040722
Consume!
Time
17:01
Psst! Wanna buy an air guitar? No? Perhaps a plectrum for same? No? OK, how about some authentic Diana Memorial Fountain water?

(*Sigh*…. I miss the simple days of ghosts in jars.)

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Date
20040722
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:04
For your reference: PDFs of statements included in the report prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (via howlinspoons).

Also, the full 911 Commission report is now available for download in its complete form, or in easy-to-chew instalments, also in PDF format. Your mileage may vary; the site is obviously taking a bit of a hammering right now. My advice would be to back off and allow the fair and balanced team from FOXNews to read and interpret it for you.

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Date
20040722
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
17:12
This eyewitless account of a “terrorists’ dry run” had everybody terribly excited a few days ago. Here’s a modest expanse of calm, blue ocean to counter it.

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Date
20040722
Updates
Time
17:21
Atrios has been upgraded to the ‘follow me’ nav bar.

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Date
20040723
Compare and Contrast
Time
09:14
More of the airborne ‘dry runs’ by dangerous-looking swarthy types. Who like to pee in groups and (*gasp*) speak in their native language.

The Moonie Times – Scouting jetliners for new attacks: Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack. At least two midflight incidents have involved numerous men of Middle Eastern descent behaving in what one pilot called “stereotypical” behavior of an organized attempt to attack a plane.

NRO – The Syrian Wayne Newton – The man inadvertently behind a scare in the skies: Annie Jacobsen’s recent piece for WomensWallStreet.Com made waves. Her account of flying with her family while 14 Middle Eastern passengers acted in a threatening and apparently coordinated manner makes for a terrifying read. Her article captures her sickening sense of both uncertainty and inevitability as what might possibly have been the next 9/11 unfolded around her. Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened…

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Date
20040723
The Environment
Time
09:16
I’m outraged, but not at all surprised.

From: The desk of George W. Bush

To: Whoever is in charge of Japanland

Heh. You sure are cute little guys. Thanks for all your help fighting the threat of terror in Iraq and making the world saferer for democracy. About that commercial whaling thing; sure, you got it. Please don’t freak out when we use terms like ‘responsible management’ and ‘quota’ – you and I both know that a return is a return is a return, but we have to dance about a bit in order to sell it to the public.

George Bushmael

(Hahaha. Did you see what I did there?)

(A larger version of this image has been posted to B3ta.)

UPDATE – More on this matter from Discovery.com and Scotsman.com

UPDATE 2 – OK, we can all stop blubbering now…

Stuff.co.nz – Whaling body retreats from lifting hunt ban: The International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting closed with a small but significant victory for countries that want to maintain a ban on commercial whaling well into the future. During the closing moments of the four-day meeting, the IWC put the brakes on what had seemed unstoppable momentum to set a deadline of June, 2005,for agreeing new whaling rules which could spell the end to the 18-year-old ban.

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Date
20040723
Tony Blair
Time
09:29
Tony Blair gets a tattoo.

Oh, and hooray for this not-at-all arrogant (and yet-to-be-confirmed) appointment…

Scotsman – Anger as Mandelson Is Set for Comeback: Last night Mr Blair laughed off questions about a possible ministerial reshuffle and the future of Hartlepool MP Mr Mandelson, who twice resigned from Cabinet jobs…. He also declined to answer when asked whether Mr Mandelson was to give up his parliamentary seat in order to start a new career in Brussels…. Mr Davidson, who chairs Labour Against The Euro, said: “This would be an appalling appointment. It will give the Government an entirely avoidable by-election and I think we have to ask ourselves how this will be seen.”

Hmmm…. a by-election, you say…? How very inneresting….

Not only, but also…

Belfast Telegraph – Honesty not best policy as Blair sticks to the Big Lie: The BBC reported on Tuesday that “Iraq fatigue is setting in,” suggesting that Tony Blair, having survived another powder-puff Commons assault, was now home free and off the hook. Come the autumn, MPs will have moved on to “the domestic agenda.” We’ll hear no more about the lies that lured the country to war. Maybe so. After all, one of the most egregious of the Iraq lies has now been repeated so often it has morphed into a factoid.

What, only the one?

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Date
20040723
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
09:39
Here’s one that slipped under my radar…

A weblog on behalf of Nick Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich & Woolwich.

I’ll add it to the nav-bar and Blog On Behalf Of Your MP page later today.

I still need input on the Tim Yeo weblog, BTW…

1. Is an amnesty necessary in order to help the political weblogging project along?

2. Is Tim Yeo likely to accept an amnesty, or will he continue to pretend that the site doesn’t exist/matter?

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Date
20040723
Activism
Time
09:46
Some photos of the Billionaires For Bush out on the town. Cheers, Y. Bee.

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Date
20040723
We’re Not At Home To Mr Cock-Up
Time
09:50
Man with ‘NOTAG’ vanity plates receives violation notices for everybody driving without plates: City computers, talking to state Division of Motor Vehicles computers, had finally found an address for ticketed vehicles that lacked license tags: Jim Cara’s home in Elsmere. “All the traffic tickets say, ‘Notice of violation. License number: no tag,’ ” Cara said, “I messed up the system so bad, I wonder if they can put me in jail or something?”

More vanity plate fun to be had here.

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Date
20040723
Useful
Time
09:56
Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do). (Link via Ultimate Insult.)

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Date
20040723
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
09:59
The Internet Explorer team have a blog. No doubt this has a lot to do with the recent success of Firefox, which is enjoying massive word-of-mouth promotion (which, of course, is enabled by weblogs). But weblog chatter isn’t the cause of its success, just a visible symptom of it. Firefox is, quite simply, the superior browser – so I can’t see how much good this rather desperate and pathetic measure will do.

Unless the exercise actually results in them addressing some serious user concerns.

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Date
20040723
119 (please note correct formatting of date)
Time
10:19
With you in a mo. I don’t want to move straight away. Instead I think I’ll just sit here for a bit, read this story about a goat, and try to ignore that hot feeling on the back of my neck….

In the meantime, why don’t you buy yourself a nice t-shirt?

OK, I’m done….

The not-quite-official spin from the Bush camp immediately following the 911 Commission report is as follows:

Clinton had 8 years to deal with the Al Qaeda threat. Bush only had 8 months. Simple mathematics, y’see.

But the 8 years vs. 8 months argument falls apart when you consider how much experience (and how many warnings) the Bush team ignored because of their Everything Clinton Did Was Wrong doctrine. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of what Bush did during those 8 months (besides play golf). And the not-at-all-insignificant matter of Bush not wanting this investigation and doing his best to block it. Now why do you think he’d want to go and do something like that?

Let’s also take a moment to mention the wonderful distraction of the Iraq war, which was dressed up as part of the War on Terror, when in reality that country had nothing to do with the Al Qaeda threat. If anything, the illegal invasion of Iraq has aided the terrorists, by providing them with a largely unregulated playground and some wonderful recruiting assets.

Bush appears to have not only dropped the ball, but then decided that the best way to cover the mistake was to run outside and continue the rest of the game in the parking lot.

*cough*

A HTML version of the full report has been published here, but the site is being hammered into submission at the moment. The executive summary has been published by the New York Times here, and a summary of the summary can be viewed here. I haven’t read the full report yet, but so far, Chapters 6 & 8 look the most damning for the Bush administration. We also have this interesting development to deal with…

Guardian – The Pakistan connection: Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn’t commit – of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl’s wife have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl’s kidnap and murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and reveal too much. Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?

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Date
20040723
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:52
Cheers to Peter for pointing out what a wonderful day this is to bury bad news….

BBC – US army reveals more jail abuse: The US military has found 94 cases of confirmed or alleged abuse of prisoners by its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Senate hearing has been told. Though some cases have been reported before the number is significantly higher than previously acknowledged. But the report said no systemic problems contributed to the abuses.

In other news…

Newsday – Military admits accepting prisoner: The U.S. military acknowledged yesterday that it had accepted an Afghan prisoner in May from three American civilians now suspected of being vigilantes running their own private jail. The admission followed claims by the trio’s leader that it had ties to the Defense Department – which the Pentagon denies – and was another embarrassment for U.S. officials already coping with their own prisoner abuse scandal.

No systemic problems here, no sir…

UPDATE – Wasington Post – Army Calls Abuses ‘Aberrations’: The report by Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek — presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hastily scheduled hearing yesterday morning — concluded that cases of abuse such as those at Abu Ghraib prison were “aberrations” that did not result from flawed Army doctrine. Some senators and human rights advocates criticized the report. They said it ignored many of the most important questions, such as the hiding of “ghost detainees” and the use of unmuzzled dogs during interrogations. They also said the report’s findings are contradicted by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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Date
20040723
Inneresting
Time
16:09
A whole mess of print ads from 1902 onwards. Enjoy. (And ladies… mind those stiles!)

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Date
20040723
Humanity
Time
16:38
Poll suggests that 66% of Americans are against physical torture – but only 55% are against mental torture.

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Date
20040723
Useful
Time
16:54
Search the final report of the 911 Commission. Mmmmmm…. clusters….

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Date
20040723
Consume!
Time
17:02
Hmmm…. Internet Shopping Day…. SudanInternet Shopping Day…. SudanInternet Shopping Day…. Sudan

Your call.

(For news and updates on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, see Me and Ophelia.)

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Date
20040723
RWCs
Time
17:09
Lies make Baby Jesus cry.

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Date
20040723
Anyone But George
Time
17:37
World peace? Bring it on!

The Age – Peace is Bush’s new war cry: “The enemy declared war on us,” Mr Bush told a re-election rally in Cedar Rapids. “Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president . . . the next four years will be peaceful years.” Mr Bush used the words “peace” or “peaceful” a total of 20 times during his speech.

When you’ve finished laughing, you may wish to refer this to your local department of corrections.

UPDATE – The best thing about this speech – which will probably go down in history as the bestest election speech ever – is that it *again* repeats the lie that Iraq was connected to 911… without using either of those words. Fiendishly clever, no?

Ah yes, I remember well when Iraq declared war on the US by bombing… erm… no, wait… hang on, I’ll get it… by invading…. erm… no, sorry, I’ll need help with this.

Perhaps it’s me that needs correction. Maybe if I started thinking like a conservative….

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Date
20040726
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:46
I went to the Farnborough Air Show for the first time this weekend.

A highlight was setting up camp behind Capatin Anorak, who had obviously been refused permission to use the official photographer’s enclosure, and so had set up his own personal enclosure just outside of it (with the tactical placement of a few chairs, towels and bedsheets). He’d obviously been set up for some time, and had the sunburned legs to show for it.

Any kids brave enough to try and make their way towards the fence in or near his enclosure were quickly chased away (“I have a job to do, I do!”), but as he was busy double-checking the settings on his Plastic-cam 2000, one cheeky chappy stepped right over the makeshift fence and merrily snapped away with his own camera, revelling in the elbow-room and completely oblivious to the now-fuming Captain Anorak.

What to do, what to do? The Red Arrows were due to arrive any minute! Captain Anorak summoned all his courage and turned to face Mr Cheeky… who gave him a beaming smile and went straight back to taking pictures.

Three more minutes of determined equipment checking followed before Captain Anorak finally burst out with; “Can you make sure you stay on your side on the enclosure, please?”

Heh. His side. Of the enclosure.

Incursion successful; possession complete. And all it took was some barefaced cheek.

Another interesting aspect of the show was the military hardware on offer… and the presentation of one type in particular.

You may recall the fuss made over Saddam Hussein’s possible alleged potential use of unmanned aircraft which, of course, could only be for inhuman purposes. At the show, the big buzz was the new range of…. unmanned aircraft. This year, the big sell was increased range and an increased payload capacity. And we’re talking themrla imaging cameras or toys for orphans here, boys and girls – and the only debate over future us these ‘drones of death‘ seems to be who gets to play with the new toys.

Hm. I believe I was saying something about barefaced cheek….

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Date
20040726
The Tories
Time
09:48
Torygraph – Howard gets tough on ‘bedblocking’ MPs: Tory MPs who are thought to be “underperforming” are coming under pressure to retire to free 30 safe seats for younger and more enthusiastic candidates. David Maclean, the party chief whip, is having “a quiet whisky” with members whom he believes are not pulling their weight.

1. If you can’t be arsed subscribing, use BugMeNot.com (who also have a prettty nifty registration page of their own).

2. What, no mention of Tim Yeo? Isn’t he just a little bit on the orange side? (Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot how helpful he was during the coup.)

3. The ‘bedblockers’ performance table was almost certainly researched via TheyWorkForYou.com – but don’t expect them to get any credit.

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Date
20040726
Tony Blair
Time
10:00
Guardian – Official sacked over TV remarks on Iraq: A senior intelligence official has been sacked after publicly criticising Tony Blair for claims the prime minister made about Iraq’s weapons programme. John Morrison, an adviser to the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC), has been told his contract will not be renewed after he appeared in a BBC Panorama programme two weeks ago.

I think sometime soon we can expect to hear whispers that Morrison’s contract was not renewed because the poor dear is under great mental strain and in danger of going a little bit loopy. More loopy, that is, than you would have to be to appear on TV to make ridiculous claims about our beloved PM.

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Date
20040726
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:38
The big news – apart from some wingnut-led Moore-bashing and the announcement of the official title of Star Wars Ep 3 – is the Democratic National Convention.

Now, do you want the latest from Official DNC Bloggers or the latest from all bloggers? The latter would be my choice, and it brings us this highlight from the pavements of Boston. (UPDATE – Technorati’s feed is now live also and the Wall Street Journal has more on the ‘official’ blogs.)

A big issue is the Dem’s use of Free Speech Zones (see a picture, read an article, read an opinion and read a first-hand account). I will admit a small level of joy at the prospect of RWCs being on the wrong side of the fence for a change, but this is a mistake for the Dems, and a completely wrong-headed decision that helps to cement the idea of these zones that have SFA to do with free speech. I leave the final word on this subject to Atrios.

Also charting well is a new plug-in for Firefox and a pretty clear indication of who is set to win Browser War II. (Oh, I found this unofficial Google Toolbar for Firefox a week or so ago and it’s pretty damn groovy.)

Finally, we close with this damning admission by the New York Times, which, according to this blogger, completely justifies FOXNews’ use of the trademarked phrase “fair and balanced.”

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Date
20040726
The War on Terror
Time
10:39
Air Marshalls Say Passenger Overreacted: Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS. The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service. Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women. “The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”

Cheers to Pete for the heads-up. More common sense can be found here and here. The Torygraph, however, wants you to Be Afraid. My advice would be to stay in your homes and wait for your pamphlets.

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Date
20040726
Flash Music Video
Time
11:19
Chill Out!

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Date
20040726
Activism
Time
12:23
Save the snails!

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Date
20040726
NSFW
Time
12:57
Vote for your favourite swear word.

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Date
20040726
The War on Terror
Time
14:55
Preparing for Emergencies – official site from the Home Office.

Preparing for Emergencies – a superior alternative from the Department of Vague Paranoia.

RealPlayer victims will be able to view the commercial promoting the campaign via this page on the BBC website. I’ve been reliably informed that the script and voiceover downplay the threat aspect, but the music is the kind you would normally expect to hear when a hapless heroine – curious about a strange noise or looking for her lost cat – gingerly walks downstairs into the basement of a house where a serial killer was caught and killed by the police 10 years ago to this very d…OH MY GOD, LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!!!



UPDATE – “Put it somewhere safe… and then get on with your everyday life.” (Posted to B3ta.)

UPDATE – *Sigh*… some people never learn. The commercial will be promoting the URL preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, but nobody thought to purchase the obvious campaign-hijack domain preparingforemergencies.co.uk… which has just been snapped up by the folks behind the faux website linked above. It should be up and working by the time the TVC debuts tonight. (FFS… 8 million and they can’t afford a few squid to secure some obvious domain names!)

UPDATE – Oh, and here are some words of wisdom from The UK Today.

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Date
20040726
Photoshopping
Time
14:57
I wish they made these. I’d buy a set.

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Date
20040726
We’re Not At Home To Mr Cock-Up
Time
15:11
Times of India – MP caught with porn in parliament. And Tom wonders why they won’t let him take his laptop into the House…

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Date
20040727
Inneresting
Time
09:32
How Fast Do You Read?: “You read between 550 – 600 words per minute. Highly efficient reading level. (The average rate is between 200 – 250 words per minute.) It is assumed that you did not skim the words nor fail to understand the meaning of what was read.”

And, for the record, ‘chunking’ is entirely different to skimming. So there.

(Link via Ultimate Insult.)

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Date
20040727
Somewhat Related
Time
09:34
Fear your community, trust the media.

Ted Turner – My Beef With Big Media.

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Date
20040727
How To Think Like An Evil Bastard
Time
09:37
I’ve had some time to reflect on the issue of delaying elections in case of terrorist attack, and I have a small concern I’d like to share with you:

Were I an incumbent pResident suffering in the polls, with the fight against terrorism my strongest asset, it simply wouldn’t make sense to delay an election if there were a terrorist attack in the days immediately preceding it.

I’d be sure to benefit from the millions who would abandon reason for the few crazy days that followed, because they would almost certainly run home to Daddy.

This being the case, wouldn’t it be prudent to have someone else float the idea on my behalf and spark the debate/outrage so I could then go on the record ruling the idea out? I could even benefit from others citing precedent for me.

Just a thought.

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Date
20040727
A Blog is Born
Time
09:39
Meet Roger. He’s my boss.

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Date
20040727
An American Election
Time
09:40
CNN is blogging from the convention (link via Vari).

A few words from Clinton: “The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of ‘pre-emptive’ war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.”

Makes sense to me. Terrorists strike from the shadows. The best way to fight them is to curtail their efforts by having friends and allies any/everywhere. The alternative is to try to curtail their efforts by force – which would require an all-seeing ‘peacekeeping’ force any/everywhere (i.e. an empire).

A sound stategy of ‘this is is the plan’, but I think it’s a great bloody shame that Kerry has to actually bypass the word ‘liberal’ because of years of strategic liberal-bashing.

FFS, even our Grand and Glorious Leader is howling with the wolves.

UPDATE – Well said, that woman.

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Date
20040727
Page 3 – Words of Wisdom
Time
10:41
Today Anna (22, from London) is shocked that the Government has taken so long to release their “terror attack leaflet” (remember, it’s not an emergency leaflet; it’s a “terror attack leaflet”… the girl with her boobs out said so). She goes on to say; “Why has it taken so long to bring out a 22-page pamphlet on basic planning for emergencies like keeping a supply of batteries, food and water? This should have been rushed out after 9/11.”

Yes, that would have been the prudent move. Rushing a pamphlet out.

No matter, we managed to rush some legislation out instead.

The current spin is that this advice is necessary now because we’ve become accustomed to convenience in our modern lives. Which have changed so much since the last terrorist attack on UK soil. Six years ago.

OK, let’s try to be fair about this…

The government is sensitive to criticism, so has tried to keep this pamphlet relatively low-key (no thanks to Anna and the ginger-freckled cow putting words into her mouth).

But let’s take a look at this sensitivity and what lies at the core of it; a lack of trust in our leaders. A lack of trust that actually places us in greater danger.

Now, a clever editorial could lay this blame right at my door, as I’m one of the people showing a lack of trust… but it wasn’t me who used the words ‘terror’ and ‘Saddam’ and ‘WMD’ in the same sentence as often as possible in order to sell an illegal war to the public. It wasn’t me who bent to the will of George W. Bush in a way that increased the fear by linking the notion of chemical and biological warfare with the terrorist threat. And it wasn’t me that created the climate that makes preparedness problematic because of the risk of criticism.

The risk of an attack is real, but it’s far lower than it appears. The nature and scale of a possible attack has been over-estimated in the public mind because fear-mongering over weapons that Saddam Hussein didn’t have. But the real risk lies in panic; panic that will be borne of fear. Fear that has been cynically used by our government and hyped by the media in order to promote an illegal invasion.

Heh. Look at that. There is a connection between Iraq and the terrorist threat. Who knew?

UPDATE – The faux Preparing for Emergencies site is now live at its new home.

UPDATE – Pfft! Well noted. This is pretty groovy also.

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Date
20040727
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:06
OK, let’s just say for the sake of argument that the best use of my time in the next 12 months is the promotion of genuine political engagement via weblogs.

But, as James Crabtree points out: MPs don’t think that websites win votes, so they don’t invest in the type of sites which could win votes in the future. Even if they wanted to experiment arcane restrictions stop them spending parliamentary money on their sites for fear that they might use them for political campaigning. And political parties concentrate on their building national sites, leaving local politicians with often unimaginative “cookie-cutter” efforts.

Silly-money is sure to be thrown around come election time, but for weblogs to be effective and welcomed, they will have to be live and working much sooner than a few weeks before the polls. (Releasing a swath of top-down or even individual weblogs too close to the election isn’t going to work. It would be the online equivalent of only turning up in the local community when your job is on the line.)

So investment is needed, and it’s needed now. And the money is going to have to come from the individuals or the parties that ‘support’ them.

Thanks to Rob, I now have some clear figures to help matters along

Labour, to YE APR 2004, operating surplus – £2.3m

Liberal Democrats, to YE APR 2004, operating surplus – £98,000

Conservatives, to YE APR 2004, operating deficit – £2.4m

To cement our healthy precedent, we need more MPs blogging. Only one party needs to take action to get the ball rolling. And now we know where the money is.

But…

I’m not going to help Labour while Blair is in charge… and I think it’s somewhat doubtful that I’d be allowed to try in any case.

The options that remain are as follows:

1. Bringing MPs online on an individual case-by-case basis. Which is going to be slow-going at best.

2. A commitment to (and from) the Lib-Dems. Who can’t afford me.

So, where to go from here?

If you believe in…

- The potential of genuine engagement via weblogs

- The risk that this will be polluted/waylaid by near-to-election non-blogs

- Me

…then you may want to put your thinking caps on. I’m running out of options and time is running out.

PS – Either option requires an army of willing builders, designers and providers. If you haven’t put your hand up yet, then please do so soon.

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Date
20040727
The War on Terror
Time
11:33
Terror in the Skies – Snopes goes on the record. I believe I was saying something about fear and panic a moment ago….

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Date
20040727
Activism
Time
12:07
Billionaires For Bush have made the news in their mission to thwart John Kerry, the class-traitor.

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Date
20040727
Google
Time
12:52
Email harvesting virus crashes Google.

Oh, and Virgin.net users had best watch out; you’re currently being targeted with a fake virus warning like this one:

—– Original Message —–

From: Random harvested email address

To: harvested.name@virgin.net

Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 12:45 PM

Subject: harvested.name@virgin.net

–> Dear user of virgin.net,

–>

–> Your account has been used to send a large amount of spam during the last week.

–> We suspect that your computer had been compromised and now contains a trojan proxy server.

–>

–> Please follow our instructions in order to keep your computer safe.

–>

–> Virtually yours,

–> virgin.net user support team.

The ‘instructions’ attachment almost certainly contains the same virus/trojan this email pretends to warn you about.

Isn’t life fun? Aren’t these people the greatest?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
Flash Music Video
Time
13:13
Bush-Kerry parody draws the ire of the music publisher that owns the Guthrie song.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
George W. Bush
Time
13:16
Note the source and prepare a grain or two of salt before comsumption…

National Enquirer – That’s the Ticket: Bush to Pick Rudy Giuliani: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, the hero of 9-11, is being secretly courted to become President George W. Bush’s running mate in the November election, The ENQUIRER has learned. Sources say Republican Party officials want Giuliani, who showed so much leadership and courage during the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, to replace current VP Dick Cheney on the ticket.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
The War on Stupid
Time
14:17
Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Received within twelve hours of www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk going online:

Dear Mr Scott,

Regarding your website, www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk

We run the Government website for the Preparing for Emergencies public information campaign, on www.preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, and are very concerned that the material on your site will confuse people about the sensitive advice and information that we are giving to the public.

This is a very is (sic) serious campaign that should not be trivialised. In the interests of helping people to cope in the event of a crisis or a disaster we would ask that you to take down the site, immediately, and not put it up again in another guise.

Sincerely,

[name removed]

Thomas’s reponse? The inclusion of a link to the official website in order to help those who may assume that the government is actually offering advice like: Reduce fire hazards in your home. Children are the worst fire hazards; consider giving them up for adoption.

FFS… This email lacks authoritative punch and looks as if it were written in a hurry, too. Do I smell a hint of fear from those responsible for the official website? Are the brave men and women who really should have secured an extra domain name or two working to help a confused nation – or hoping that they can bluff an embarrassment out of existence before it makes the newspapers?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
SEO
Time
14:35
Fresh off the workshop bench, The FA Learning Shop – featuring feetball coaching materials, training equipment, and like that.

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Date
20040727
Does What It Says On The Tin
Time
17:04
One for Bob.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
A Blog is Born
Time
17:15
Mail. Watch. Is…. Aliiiiive!

I urge you all to link to it, so it may start appearing where it belongs… amongst the top five search results for ‘daily mail’.

Oh, and nobody’s said anything nice to Roger yet. Do go and visit and say something pleasant.

Why?

1. Remember what life was like in the earlier and lonelier days of your own weblog?

2. This man puts up with a lot of my bullshit. His tolerance should be rewarded.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
17:27
James comments on the whole sorry state of affairs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040727
Photoshopping
Time
17:30
One day, in an underground station photobooth….

(Posted to B3ta.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Virus Alert
Time
09:49
BBC – Virus that hit Google subsiding: The computer virus which affected Google and other search engines is on the wane, say net security experts. But they warn that net users should be on the lookout for a new variant of the worm appearing in the next few days.

Yep, that’s Stage One done with, and if my Inbox is any indication, Stage Two began late yesterday afternoon. Symantec has a profile of the main variant here.

Going by what happened after the last major attack of this kind, I think we can also expect a Stage Three – where some complete bastard receives and collates email addresses collected by the virus and uses them to create one almighty spamming list.

(Note – Just to avoid confusion, MyDoom.O is also known as MyDoom.M.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:01
The parody site preparingforemergencies.co.uk is in 4th place – more on that in a jiffy. Dug from the rest of the chart…

A picture of the reclusive and elusive Atrios.

Ann Coulter bitches about media bias. This is what got spiked. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to swallow your own vomit as you read and not make a mess of your keyboard. Salon has a nice take on the story here.

How-To Turn your iPod in to a Universal Infrared Remote Control

Stargate fan website under fire from the feds.

Democratic convention-goers trolling for sex online.

Video and transcript of Bill Clinton’s convention speech.

When in doubt, target the missus – Teresa Heinz Kerry dares to change her allegiance/mind within three decades.

UPDATE – More on having a go at the missus and that well-justified “Shove it!” moment at this post by Atrios.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Flash Games
Time
10:07
This should keep you busy for a while.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Established Media
Time
10:09
Demeaning bloggers: the NYTimes is running scared: Blogging has terrified mainstream media for a while now. Journalists want to know if blogs are going to degrade their profession, open up new possibilities or otherwise challenge their authority. This also means that whenever the press writes about blogs, one must critically consider what biases are embedded in their reporting.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
The War on Stupid
Time
10:11
Following the launch of preparingforemergencies.gov.uk and the blindingly-fast release of the excellent parody at preparingforemergencies.co.uk, a number of parties have sprung into action.

The following domains were all registered on the 26th:

- preparingforemergencies.com, by an outfit called ‘VisualEye Ltd’

- preparingforemergencies.org.uk, by a chap named Julian Wright

- preparingforemergencies.org, by someone at BDool.com

preparingforemergencies.net was still available yesterday afternoon (i.e. after this email was sent and the dipstick in charge discovered there was a problem) but this has now been purchased by an outfit called Eduserv.

Eduserv describe themselves as providers of ‘managed hosting and development for critical web services and e-government’ – could we have discovered the geniuses behind this snafu?

Perhaps not. I called Eduserv, and they lay claim only to the hosting. A company spokesperson advised me that the .net domain was “probably” purchased following “a request from the client.”

Who is the client? Well, they wouldn’t say, but they did promise to pass my details onto them should they wish to get in touch and answer any further questions. I’ll let you know how I get on…. but don’t hold your breath.

As for efforts to close the initial domain/site down before this embarrassment reaches the media – it’s too late, baby!

Demys New Service – UK government unprepared for domain ‘emergency’: The UK government has introduced a new initiative to inform citizens about major incidents; however preparingforemergencies.gov.uk provoked its own domain name emergency when civil servants failed to register the public variants.

The Register – Emergency advice parody misses Gov UK funny bone: Demonstrating a clear lack of a sense of humour, the folks behind the official Preparing for Emergencies website – GICS Operations Web Team – wrote to Scott, demanding that the offending material be removed from the Web. Scott says he won’t take the site down, but has made it clearer that the site is a joke. He told El Reg: “More than anything, I’m amazed that a silly joke’s gone so far so quickly. I’m also rather suspicious about the British Gas van that’s been parked across the street not doing anything for the last few hours…”

The BBC should be picking it up and chortling shortly if the tone of this diary entry (found via Bob Piper) is any indication…

BBC – Prescott takes the helm: John Prescott is now officially running the country – and the government has launched a new leaflet telling people how to handle disasters. Obviously, these two events are not linked in any way other than being announced on the same day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
SEO
Time
10:20
Another one fresh off the line; Posturite. Ergolonomic workstations and stuff. (The more of these you see the more likely it is that you’ll cotton on to some of my more common techniques.)

Initial results: Site is already indexed right down to product level, with some ‘phantom’ pages from the old site still appearing. The site is 38th in Google.com and 6th in Google.co.uk for the primary generic phrase ‘ergonomic workstations’ (the site has yet to be submitted to the ODP and Yahoo – this happens today).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
11:09
Bloggers from the right would have you believe that life is groovy in Afghanistan, and everybody is headed for a summer of love. But we never hear about the good stuff because of the Cursed Liberal Media. Others may disagree.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Photoshopping
Time
13:05
Go in. Stay in. Tune In. Strut Your Funky Stuff.

The B3ta posting includes a hi-res Disco Tony.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
Tolerance
Time
15:32
Springfield to legalise gay marriage.

Oh, and I’d like to share this touching moment with you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
The War on Stupid
Time
15:48
A new article on preparingforemergencies.co.uk is out and about courtesy of PA News. You can see a version of it here or here. Thomas looks as if he may even get a moment or two on Newsnight tonight. And on Radio 4 this afternoon. Go in. Stay in. Tune In. (Sorry.)

UPDATE – The Guardian explains why pencils have erasers: The familiar “GO IN, STAY IN, TUNE IN” advice has been updated and now comes with a caveat: “Of course, there are always going to be particular occasions when you should not ‘go in’ to a building, for example if there is a fire.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040728
George W. Bush
Time
16:38
Chimpy falls off his bike. Again. Strange how that would get so little coverage but this is treated as a must-print-laff-riot…..

Also, from Capitol Hill Blue (grab your salt-shakers); Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
The War on Stupid
Time
10:09
Guardian – Student finds spoof terror attack drill is no laughing matter: Mr Scott said: “It is quite obviously a parody and I don’t think anybody is going to be confused by it. I’m not sure if this email came from someone high up or a low-level civil servant. But whoever it was, they don’t have a sense of humour.” A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said legal advice had been taken over the spoof, which also reassures readers: “This campaign is not in response to a particular threat, unless you count the threat from the Liberal Democrats.”

There’s also a mention in Backbencher today (but you’ll have to scroll down to see it).

The interview with Thomas on Radio 4 PM yesterday (at about 5:45pm) was preceded by a silky-smooth female voice reading out some choice snippets of advice from the site. It was a genuine hoot.

If anything else comes in today, I’ll add it as an update to this post. In the meantime, you may wish to read some views on the genuine site.

UPDATE – BigDaddyMerk has very kindly made available a 2.8 MB MP3 of Thomas Scott’s interview and the introduction for those of us who refuse to go anywhere near RealPlayer. That warrants a plug for Mail Watch, which today features a fantastic collection of front pages.

UPDATE – As Balders notes, the BoingBoing reference to the parody site is currently the top search result for ‘preparing for emergencies’… Link-support is sure to help the parody site along if you want to join in, but matters are complicated by having a URL redirection thingie instead of direct hosting. We shall see what happens. (Also found at BoingBoing; a dictionary of Don Martin sound effects. Tubba-tubba-tubba-tubba!)

UPDATE – Infamy! Infamy! (And an ‘all clear’ by the looks of things.)

ITV Yorkshire – Student joker under fire from Cabinet Office

The Inquirer – Uni student gets slap on the wrist from Government-types

Scotsman – Student rejects government demand to remove his spoof website

BBC – Spoof website will stay online: The Cabinet Office is “unlikely to take any further action” over a spoof website which parodies its online Preparing for Emergencies advice.

(Bwahahahahahaha! If you look closely, you’ll spot a subtle goatse on the graphic chosen by the BBC.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:48
Guardian – Falling through the net: The British political weblog might be less than 18 months old, but it can also be a weapon if it falls into the wrong hands. Although none of the parties publishes an official blog, party activists publish them on behalf of rivals. And now, in a further twist, Tim Ireland, an Australian-born programmer who successfully campaigned to get Tony Blair to have a public email address, hosts a blog “dedicated to stalking one of our finest Conservative MPs”.

Let’s skip over the few minor inaccuracies in this article (such as Richard Allan and Clive Soley suddenly and unexpectedly switching parties) and focus on the main problem. (This is not a slap for Sean Dodson, who wrote the piece, as it’s a problem that has cropped up before and is sure to come up time and again.)

I spent a great deal of time on the phone with Sean and had a lot to say about the risks and potential of political weblogging, but all of that was cast aside in favour of my little tussle with Tim bloody Yeo.

This problem needs to be corrected, and there are three people who can make it happen. Me, Tim Yeo… and you.

I’ve done my bit:

Read the Declaration Of Amnesty at Tim Yeo’s weblog.

It’s pretty obvious what Tim Yeo needs to do.

Here’s what I need you to do today…

Get in touch with Tim Yeo via any of the following channels today and urge him to consider my offer to hand the blog over. Be nice.

Tim Yeo Constituency Phone number: 01473 823435

Tim Yeo Constituency Fax number: 01473 823 536

Tim Yeo Email: yeot@parliament.uk or timyeomp@parliament.uk

When you’re done with that, I’ll dig in myself and do a little more.

William Hague probably needs to be treated as an opportunity missed, so for the next few days Tim Yeo is the focus. After that, we need to pick another likely target and go to work on them. I need your feedback/help on this.

Everything is still in place for a high-profile MP to get a free MT blog, so I’m taking suggestions on that front. You know the address; use it!

I can’t make the same offer to an MP with a more modest profile, but we can use Blogger.com as a foundation for folks on a tight budget. For this, I need folks who know their HTML and can carve a .blogspot presence into a tidy home in Red, Blue or Gold. If you’ve got time and template juices to spare, please do get in touch.

I think it may be a good idea to build a triptych of templates, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Rob Dyke agrees: Blogs do cost very little to setup. From a technological point of view, there is very little stopping the main political parties from setting up central blog infrastructure and providing default design templates and saying ‘get on with it’. I mean, to a greater of lesser degree that is what the LDs already do – their local party sites are all similar in look and feel.

There are whispers of a November election. That worries me. If the election hits before we establish a working ecosystem, many MPs may be outfitted with last-minute campaign-driven NonBlogs that poison the waters for a long time to come.

What also worries me is this (from the article linked above): Sources inside the Conservative Party say blogs will feature as part of its general election strategy.

That’s all very well and good, but what happens if they put Gavin Barwell in charge? FFS, it doesn’t even bear thinking about.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
Flash Games
Time
12:38
Ah, Mr Bond… we’ve been expecting you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
Inneresting
Time
13:13
Visit Derby! See The Hole!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
Photoshopping
Time
16:53
A Flock of Wingnuts.

(Posted to B3ta.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
George W. Bush
Time
17:10
Some thoughts on Bush, anger, and feelings of powerlessness. Read this after you’ve calmed down.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
Flash Games
Time
17:19
I suck at Zookeeper.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:42
The UK Today comments on the release of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee TWAT Report. Keep in mind when you read this that a few short months ago George W. Bush was bragging about the front he created in Iraq and how it made Americans safer.

And do try to remember that the Mirror images were staged, so this isn’t real…

Independent – Soldiers joked as they beat Iraqis, court told: Reading from the witness statement of Kifah al-Mutari, Mr Singh described how seven Iraqi men were taken to a British Army detention centre at Darul Dhyafa in south-east Iraq and beaten on the neck, chest and genitals. Mr Mutari, who claims he was nearly beaten to death by the same soldiers, said: “Baha appeared to have much worse ill-treatment than the others … The soldiers continued beating him even while he was on the floor. The soldiers used sharp, jabbing movements into the area beneath the ribs, which was particularly painful.” During the detention, Mr Mousa was taken to another room where he allegedly received more beatings. Mr Mutari, who sat with the claimant lawyers in court yesterday, suggested in his statement that the reason Mr Mousa had been singled out for harsher treatment was because his father had caught some of the soldiers taking money from the hotel safe. It is alleged that their commanding officer “slapped” the soldiers and ordered them into an army personnel carrier.

Also worth considering…

Common Dreams – Abu Ghraib Tactics Inspire Torture in Neighbor Egypt: In what may be the first concrete example of the effects of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal in Iraq, lawyers and human rights groups in Egypt, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, say that local police are increasingly resorting to new torture tactics similar to those used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

It ain’t over, boys and girls. Hell, the spectre of Iraq even shapes Blair’s domestic policies, as he ducks and weaves and scrambles for bold initiatives and scraps of good news.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040729
Sudan
Time
17:59
New Statesman – Sudan needs more than an army (requires subscription from some web users): Something indeed needs to be done. However, it is not the despatching of an army, which allows us the comfort of showing we care without the smallest cost, inconvenience or risk to ourselves. This, as the international charity World Vision has observed, is the equivalent of fighting multiple brushfires with a garden hose. The wiser fire services now put most effort into fire prevention. Western politicians and international agencies should apply the same principle.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Bunch of Stuff
Time
09:59
A busy one today; lots going on behind the scenes. Here’s today’s bloggage in one big lump…

First cab off the rank: Everybody has phoned, emailed or faxed Tim yeo, yes?

Rob D (he who blogs for Sarah Teather) has blogged the contents of the email he sent. He’s also written some very good advice on blogging your MP, which I’m going to have to include as a static link on the How To Run a Weblog on Behalf of Your MP page when I get a chance.

Also, thanks to the emailing efforts of Shane McCracken, Jim Cousins is making some progress on his chosen MP.

Moving onto the States…

Barbara and Jenna are blogging for Daddy. That’s kind of cool in a Jimmy Hendrix way, in that it’s making me choke on my own vomit.

Boston.com – Text of John Kerry’s speech: I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a secretary of defense who will listen to the best advice of the military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution of the United States.

SFGate – Don Mischer, aka ‘Balloon Guy’, accidentally cuts in during CNN transmission: “Go balloons! Go balloons! Go balloons! I don’t see anything happening! Stand by confetti. More balloons! Come on, guys, Jesus! No confetti yet. I want all the balloons to go! Go confetti! What’s happening to the balloons? We need all balloons! What the fuck are you guys doing up there!?”

I can’t help but wonder how these people feel this morning…

Aaaand, right back to the UK…

Today, the Independent expresses concern about the effect of global warming on Scottish seabirds. The Guardian is far more concerned about increasingly intelligent sheep who have learned how to do commando rolls to get over road grids. Stay in your homes.

Also in the Guardian today, a bunch of stuff ripped off from Thomas Scott’s site, reprinted in full on the basis that the government is determined to take it down. They haven’t. And this BBC report from yesterday claims that the Cabinet Office is “unlikely to take any further action”… I haven’t seen the print version, but the online version certainly lacks a link credit. Bad form, chaps. (FFS, even the full-page spread in the Daily Mail yesterday gave credit where credit was due.)

Robert Fisk – Baghdad is a city that reeks with the stench of the dead: The statistics of violent death in Baghdad are now beyond shame. Almost a year ago, there were sometimes 400 violent deaths a month. This in itself was a fearful number to follow the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. But in the first 10 days of this July alone, the corpses of 215 men and women were brought to the Baghdad mortuary, almost all of them dead from gunshot wounds. In the second 10 days of this month, the bodies of a further 291 arrived. A total of 506 violent deaths in under three weeks in Baghdad alone. Even the Iraqi officials here shake their heads in disbelief. “New Iraq” under its new American-appointed Prime Minister is more violent than ever.

And finally, a quick Blogdex rundown:

Great Hackers – an essay that’s sure to raise a few hackles.

Zach Braff is blogging his latest movie.

The Batman Begins site doesn’t work properly with Firefox, so I had to temporarily switch over to IE to access the trailer, which looks extremely promising. Christian Bale looks as if he’ll handle this aspect of the Batman mythology very well indeed. The new batsuit doesn’t have man-nipples, but it still relies on black eye make-up, which I find very distracting. (Does the utility belt actually have a make-up kit? Does he actually let super-villains lay waste to Gotham as he fusses over the black stuff? What kind of make-up remover does he use to get it off in a hurry when Commissioner Gordon drops by Wayne Manor unannounced? And does this black stuff irritate his eyes or play havoc with his complexion?)

How to remove Internet Explorer. For hardcore geeks only. Tread with caution. And expect to miss out on the occasional websites as the lazier web developers catch up with the rest of us.

A DIY gadget mag is born! Have your tools, washing-up bottles and sticky-backed plastic on stand-by.

The L33T-speak Bible – here at last!

The future of transportation… yesterday!

Ron Reagan Jnr. on George Bush Jnr.

Osama Bin Laden: his role in George W. Bush’s election campaign. You may wish to read this for further clarity. It’s funny how priorities change, isn’t it?

UPDATE – More on the July Surpise via Metafilter (cheers, Wibbler).

More? Oh, go on then….

Conspiracy Planet offers advice on staying out of the Draft.

And, failing that, my advice is to practice, practice, practice! (That last link via FunJunkie, who are sure to link to a few more games today, as they do most Fridays.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Sudan
Time
10:22
Ummmm-ahhhhh… they used the word ‘genocide’….

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Photoshopping
Time
10:24
Commando-rolling sheep – now illustrated.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Established Media
Time
12:06
Heh. Mail Watch today calls for a ban on Pac-Man following this latest mouth-frothing knee-jerk effort from Wingnut Central. (Check out the debate for an interesting range of views on this.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Compare and Contrast
Time
12:38
Lucky bunny.

Touchy bunny.

Captain Bunnypants.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040730
Newsflash
Time
13:50
Yahoo – Explosions Hit Embassies in Uzbekistan.

I think we’ll find that this is related.

UPDATE – Guardian – 2 Killed in Uzbekistan Embassies Blasts: The attacks occurred as 15 suspects with alleged links to al-Qaida stand trial for a wave of violence earlier this year that left at least 47 people dead. Those attacks had included Central Asia’s first-ever suicide bombings. The blasts also came a day after Pakistani officials announced the arrest of al-Qaida suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, whose wife is Uzbek. Ghailani was wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040731
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:37
BBC – Send us your top political sites: Labour MP for Bromwich East, Tom Watson, is probably the best-known Westminster blogger. He has recently been joined by the likes of Labour’s Austin Mitchell and Richard Allen and the Lib Dem’s Simon Hughes. With characteristic cheek, the blogging community has stepped into the breach and started creating weblogs on behalf of MPs. Enter Tory frontbencher Tim Yeo’s name into the Google search engine and instead of Mr Yeo’s own, official website the top link is the Tim Yeo weblog “dedicated to the stalking of one of our finest Conservative MPs”. The site’s author claims his motivation is to get more MPs blogging but his offer of a “truce” with Mr Yeo, which would involve the MP taking over the blog, has not, so far, been met with a response.

1. Who is this ‘Richard Allen’ you speak of, and what is his role in the Labour party? I only ask, because he could easily be confused with Richard Allan, of the Lib-Dems.

2. Every search engine. Enter Tim Yeo’s name into every major search engine and the Tim Yeo Weblog is the top search result. If I must be labelled a stalker for the rest of my days, the least you can do is get the list of charges right.

3. Welcome to the party, BBC chappies. Do be sensible and have a good poke around Bloggerheads before you jump to any conclusions, hmmm?

4. I’d better win a sodding gong this time around; you guys owe me.








About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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