02-13 August, 2004

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Date
20040802
Updates
Time
09:20
You may have missed this quick bit o’ bloggage on Saturday. I’m seriously considering writing a page specifically for lazy journalists who can’t be bothered to look at more than one page of a website before writing it up.

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Date
20040802
The General Election
Time
09:23
The election draws near, and here’s the first sign of silly money…

Tories in Turmoil: After another bout of infighting and jockeying for position Tory panic is rising and the knives are out. The big question on everyone’s minds is what will happen next in the Tory House of Turmoil? Now’s your chance to vote on which Tory you would send packing from the house.

As Irritant notes: Tactically this anti-Tory page is not a clever idea as it’s almost begging someone like Tim Ireland or B3ta to knock out a Labour version fairly sharpish.

Indeed it is, only this time the main weapon won’t be domain hijacking but search engine dominance. Here’s the target.

I’m sure a few ideas will be bounced around today, but in the meantime I want to share last night’s dream with you…

I opened the newspaper to see a two-page ad plugging Labour. Strangely, it wasn’t red in theme, but more of a More Than green and blue. For an ad that took up so much space, it had very little to say; the message was; ‘Expect us to last!’

I went outside and the first thing I saw was a billboard with exactly the same message. And another. And another. Labour had started their campaign before announcing the election; and boy, had they started strong. Every inch of available billboard space had been booked and used.

Already there were little protest posters going up on the billboards complaining that Labour hadn’t left any billboards for the other parties. Other billboards had been altered so they said; ‘Expect the least!’

I was looking at one of these when I was invited to lunch by some friends. At first glance the place looking like an automated funeral parlour (food for the wake was in vending machines, a body was lying in state in something that looked like a glass-fronted cigarette machine) but we were led through this to a more restaurant-like arrangement in the back and asked to sit at a large table in the middle of a concrete balcony. Some building work was going on and things were quite noisy, so I declined the offer of lunch. Besides, I was still wearing my pyjamas.

I walked down some dodgy stairs beside the restaurant and saw that the concrete balcony was only being held aloft by some rickety scaffolding. I went for a walk by the river and had many adventures.

Weird, huh?

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Date
20040802
Inneresting
Time
09:25
Send an Elvis e-card! (Found via Myrtledene.)

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Date
20040802
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
09:33
Clive Soley on being incorrectly labelled a Lib-Dem: After 26 years service in the House of Commons and one of the first blogging MP’s and proud owner of a blog entitled “Labour MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush” they have called ME a Liberal Democrat MP! OH MY GOD! THE SHAME! Can I live with it?

The Jim Cousins Blog has also hit a minor snag or two with coverage in a local paper: Apart from a few minor inaccuracies, like extending my offer of a few months technical support to a year (Which I’ll honour Jim – it get’s better and better.), the now obligatory ‘web logger’ reference, saying I update daily (I wish I had the time – that’s where Jim comes in I hope), the fact I may reveal my true identity and the omission of my explicit statement that computer programming has nothing to do with it and is in no way required to write a blog the journalist did at least do a bit of background on the reason for doing it including a mention for Tim at Bloggerheads and the Alan Milburn proxy blog, just down the road from here at Darlington.

That mention of moi, BTW, repeats the erroneous description of me as an ‘Australian-born programmer’… when in truth I’m lucky if I can set my alarm clock correctly. Ho-hum.

BTW, sometime today or tomorrow we move on from encouraging William Hague and hit a new Tory target in his stead. Same offer; same technique.

UPDATE – Mike of the Alan Milburn blog also feels a tad misrepresented.

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Date
20040802
A Blog is Born
Time
09:44
UK Future has been launched by Brazilian-born horse-trader James Malcolm in an attempt to ‘provoke informal political debate’ and fight voter apathy.

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Date
20040802
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:47
Independent – Officers vetoed inquiries into 23 deaths: Army officers blocked police investigations into the deaths of more than 20 Iraqis during incidents involving British troops, raising concerns about the Army’s right to stop inquiries into fatal shootings. Investigations by The Independent on Sunday have revealed that British Army commanders in Iraq routinely used their powers to stop the Royal Military Police and detectives in the Special Investigations Branch from looking into fatal shootings.

Independent – Fair price for a life? Army pays Iraqi family £390 after shooting girl dead: Hanan Saleh Matrud died in an alleyway near her home in northern Basra after a British soldier with the King’s Regiment opened fire nearby. The ricocheting bullet left a deep wound across her stomach, and she later died in hospital. The soldiers claim they fired a warning shot in the air after being targeted by “heavy stone-throwing” by mobs. Local eyewitnesses dispute the claim, and allege that only children were in the streets. The Army admitted the shot “possibly” caused her injury and paid her parents $700, but without admitting responsibility for her death.

That name may seem familiar to regular readers; here’s why.

These two articles were part of a large feature in the Independent on Sunday, the centrepiece was this article by Martian-born ferret-handler Robert Fisk…

Robert Fisk – ‘Can’t Blair see that this country is about to explode? Can’t Bush?’: The stage management of this catastrophe in Iraq was all too evident at Saddam Hussein’s “trial”. Not only did the US military censor the tapes of the event. Not only did they effectively delete all sound of the 11 other defendants. But the Americans led Saddam Hussein to believe – until he reached the courtroom – that he was on his way to his execution. Indeed, when he entered the room he believed that the judge was there to condemn him to death. This, after all, was the way Saddam ran his own state security courts. No wonder he initially looked “disorientated” – CNN’s helpful description – because, of course, he was meant to look that way…. But don’t think we’re going to learn much more about Saddam’s future court appearances. Salem Chalabi, the brother of convicted fraudster Ahmad and the man entrusted by the Americans with the tribunal, told the Iraqi press two weeks ago that all media would be excluded from future court hearings.

Meanwhile: Drive that wedge, baby – drive it!

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Date
20040802
Useful
Time
09:58
Rent a peasant.

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Date
20040802
An American Election
Time
10:02
I smell desperation… or more Drudge bulldust; Republicans planning to eliminate IRS. It sounds great… but only if you don’t think about it too much. In other words, your average Bush-supporter will eat it up. Along with their tinned beans and hog’s anus. More at Atrios.

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Date
20040802
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
10:11
Washington Monthly are cooking something up on the Iraq/Uranium/Nigeria lie.

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Date
20040802
The War on Terror
Time
10:19
Be afraid! Stay alert! Go on with your lives! Be happy in your work!

Also, Poons has a bloody good point here. I’m not a big fan of animal rights activists, either – but if we’re not careful we’ll soon find that police will be armed with a whole new set of laws designed to stifle all forms of protest as and when is ‘necessary’… this issue also blurs the line between terrorists and protestors; a line that is already pretty blurred abroad and at home.

(Incidentally, does that ban on protesting outside people’s homes extend to people marching on Downing Street?)

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Date
20040802
We’re Not At Home To Mr Cock-Up
Time
11:33
Curious name for a computer desk, wouldn’t you say?

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Date
20040802
Normal People
Time
12:51
Found Photos should keep you busy and well-freaked for the rest of the afternoon.

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Date
20040802
The War on Stupid
Time
15:23
epolitix – Labour website mocks ‘Tory turmoil’

Scotsman – Labour’s Big Brother Jibe at Tories

That second article lets us know that this clevery-clogs campaign does have a domain: www.toriesinturmoil.co.uk

Mind you, this currently redirects to the main page of labour.org.uk…. perhaps because the page at www.labour.org.uk/toriesinturmoil has been withdrawn for some unknown reason. (Best guess: the site’s database fell over about 3 hours ago, so it’s probably just being retooled or something.)

UPDATE – Someone must have pressed ‘reset’ – the whole site went down at 5:15pm… now, at 5:30pm, Tories in Turmoil lives and breathes once more.

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Date
20040802
Opportunities
Time
16:20
Party in London this Friday night. Email me for details.

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Date
20040802
Sudan
Time
19:19
Like many, when I think about Sudan, I always end up wondering how it will impact on poor Mr Blair.

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Date
20040802
Photoshopping
Time
20:44
Animation genius. That is all.

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Date
20040803
The War on Terror
Time
09:51
But this time it’s different; it’s not just chatter. We have clear intelligence of a specific threat! Right?

New York Times – Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say: Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

Washington Post – Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts: Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

Independent – A nation in danger. Or a president in peril?: The former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean highlighted the concerns of many without access to the information. “It’s hard to know what to make [of it]. None of us outside the administration have access to the intelligence which led to this determination,” he said. “I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism,” he told CNN. “His whole campaign is based on the notion that ‘I can keep you safe, therefore, at times of difficulty for America, stick with me’ and then out comes Tom Ridge. It’s just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there’s some of both in it.”

Howard dean? Isn’t he that crazy shouty person? Should we really be listening to him? (Read some discussion on this and related matters here.)

Anyway, as I was saying; this time it’s different. It’s not just chatter. We have clear intelligence of a specific threat! Something to do with American banks and financial institutions, if I’m not mistaken. And we have a few of them here in the UK, so – though the threat in our case is rather vague and unspecific – it does result from clear intelligence of a specific threat. With me so far?

Some less responsible people have told Blair to put up or shut up, but today the Daily Mail takes the more prudent step of assuming the worst. They’ve chosen to go with the powerful headline; AL QAEDA’S CHILLING PLOT TO TARGET BRITAIN

Dammit! Now I’m in an advanced state of fear and anxiety (some call it “heightened readiness”) and I’m worried about what effect this is going to have on the value of my house. I simply don’t have room for my brain for this, which just happens to be going on at the same time…

Guardian – Military Hearing Set for Lynndie England: A military hearing was set to start Tuesday that will begin gathering evidence to see if Pfc. Lynndie England should be court-martialed for her actions. The Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a grand jury in civilian court. The hearing will be the first chance in court for the 21-year-old Army reservist’s attorneys to make their case that she was following orders from higher-ups when she was photographed mocking naked detainees at Abu Ghraib.

But, if I did, something in the back of my mind would assure me that – because Iraqis are terrorists – these measures that weren’t authorised at the highest level would be justified even if they were – which they weren’t – because we have to do everything we can to fight the War on Terror.

And not only is mental torture marginally more acceptable than physical torture, it’s also more economically viable. (Now, stay with me here, because we are talking about the War on Terror and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These people are animals, and they deserve everything they get. Erm, and we needed answers to important questions like “Where are the WMDs?”)

Even with a large contingent of willing troops (or, if you prefer, ‘bad apples’) and a continuous supply of Viagra, it simply wouldn’t be possible to sodomise all 8000 detainees. (Or was it 10-15,000? It’s hard to tell with some people being left off the books and so many hostages coming and going.)

No, it’s far more efficient to simply sodomise their children, tape these events, and then use the tapes on the other prisoners.

Alternatively, if sodomy isn’t on the cards (let’s face it, some days you’re just not in the mood), there’s always this method to fall back on: A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers in order to break his father’s resistance to interrogators. The analyst said the teenager was stripped naked, thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air, splattered with mud and then presented to his father at Abu Ghraib, the prison at the center of the ongoing scandal over abuse of Iraqi detainees. Upon seeing his frail and frightened son, the prisoner broke down and cried and told interrogators he would tell them whatever they wanted, the analyst said.

Admittedly that’s rather labour-intensive, but it only took a few hours and saved days of beatings. Besides, I hear that – while being physically demanding – such activity can be rather fun…

Rolling Stone – The Secret File of Abu Ghraib – New classified documents implicate U.S. forces in rape and sodomy of Iraqi prisoners (be warned that this is a very graphic read).

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes…

This time it’s different; it’s not just chatter. We have clear intelligence of a specific threat!

Go In. Stay In. Tune Out.

Comments – Comments, permalinks and all that jazz are planned, but they’ll take time and cash – two things in very short supply at the moment. In the meantime, perhaps we can squeeze in a few manual entries (or maybe just take control of the Usenet group alt.irony). Today, I have this comment emailed in by Andrew H:

I could not agree more that the terror threat in the US yesterday is blatant electioneering. This was the first thing I thought when I saw the news yesterday. There are only so many times that the Bush team can cry “Wolf!” before people catch on. My prediction will be that he is saving his last call of “Wolf!” for late October. Despite the threat I am going to the bank to get some cash out. If you don’t hear from me in the next few days….

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Date
20040803
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:08
How to be creative. I have my own tip here; try not to clench your brain. Give it room to move. And go easy on the stimulants.

From the peeps what brung you Subservient ChickenSubservient President! (Hint: ask him to curl up and die.)

Operation Give is getting screwed by Atlas Lines.

Sorry, I don’t feel like playing today.

Bush staff demand to know race of photographer before permission to photograph Dick Cheney is granted. I don’t see the big problem here. One, we know what a terrorist looks like, so what harm can it do to check for towel-headedness? Two, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a camera and a rocket launcher.

A message from White House West: Americans must be able to trust the facts in political ads. Every voter has the right to truthful advertising. Free speech is no defense to massive, purposeful fraud.

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Date
20040803
Compare and Contrast
Time
10:11
We must crack down on Al Qaeda!

We must stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction!

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Date
20040803
Flash Thingies
Time
10:15
Here you go; this should keep you busy for a while.

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Date
20040803
Scam Alerts
Time
10:17
ZDNet – Criminal gangs blackmail Web users with porn threat: While criminal gangs are more widely associated with threatening denial of service attacks unless they get a kickback of thousands of pounds, it seems some are taking a more small-scale approach to extortion: now average PC users are being targeted. Instead of £50,000, the criminals are making demands by email of a mere £50. Unless they’re paid off, they threaten to tell the police about the child pornography they’ve installed on your machine.

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Date
20040803
OK, So I’m a Star Wars Geek
Time
10:32
Star Wars Art by Ralph McQuarrie (link va Cynical-C Blog.)

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Date
20040803
Is Richard Desmond a Pornographer?
Time
12:02
Richard Desmond is feeling cheeky. Normally he does his best to avoid letting OK! readers in on his seedier side, but now he’s entering the Lad’s Mag race with a new title… KO!

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Date
20040803
RWCs
Time
13:02
1. How can you possibly argue with inspired lyrics like these?

2. James Broadwater has been duped by Ali G, and he’s not happy about it. There’s an excellent post at onegoodmove.org with everything you need to know, so there’s no need to repeat it all here. (Oh, but you may also wish to read this interview with the great man.)

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Date
20040803
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
13:41
Some exciting developments over at the Alan Milburn blog. Go, Mike, go!

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Date
20040804
South West Trains
Time
09:45
I must be cursed or blessed or something…

16:00 – Depart office for 6pm meeting in Westminster. Departure time gives me close to an hour’s grace.

16:17 – Guildford to Waterloo service delayed at the station due to reported “flooding in Earlsfield.”

16:25 – Train leaves station

17:15 – After nearly and hour of stop-start-stop-stop-stop-start, the train terminates at an unscheduled stop at Surbiton. The guard has to walk along the train to tell us to get out, because the tannoy is broken. (Obviously, this was not connected to the reported flooding at Earlsfield; it was just one of those crappy trains built in 1968 or so that SWT still relies on for regular services.)

17:20 – Station manager refuses to issue me with more than one complaint form, so I walk up and down the platform with it telling people in groups what it is and why they should use it.

17:25 – Depart Surbiton on hot and crowded all-stops service with no toilets. One passenger with a young child found this out the hard way.

17:35 – Stop-start-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-start. Driver very vague about cause of delay, which is now being reported as “a localised electrical disturbance.” He states that from Wimbledon onwards it will take a minimum of 30 mins just to reach Clapham Junction. It’s pretty obvious from what’s going on that it would take an extra 20 minutes minimum to reach Waterloo, but this isn’t mentioned. That the London Underground will honour SWT tickets is, but the actual option of proceeding to Waterloo or your chosen destination in London via the Underground is not specified as such. A few passengers and I get together and start talking out loud about our options and decide that the best idea would be to abandon ship at Wimbledon.

17:45 – Heat unbearable by now. Not feeling well at all.

17:55 – Arrive Wimbledon. A mass exodus for the Underground service ensues.

18:35 – Arrive Westminster via the District Line – announcements are being made that Waterloo Underground is closed.

18:36 – Jubilee Line entrances being closed off just to stop anybody getting any bright ideas. It is suggested that passengers continue their journey “above ground” (i.e. – walk).

18:37 – Departing Westminster station, all hell breaks loose. A loud alarm is sounding; an announcer tells us to leave the station immediately. Signs with flashing lights read: Emergency – Do Not Enter. We’re in a state of heightened readiness, so somebody had to say it; “Oh my God, is there a gas attack?”

18:50 – Almost an hour late, but counting myself lucky that I made Westminster at all, I attend my meeting.

19:50 – Meeting ends.

20:00 – Jubilee Line only just returning to service. Signs state that next train is due in a 1 minute; it takes 10.

20:10 – Waterloo is a mess. I have no desire to get on one of the few very crowded trains leaving for Guildford and get back on the stop-start ride of a lifetime, so I chill for an hour.

21:20 – Depart Waterloo for Portsmouth ‘express’ service.

21:40 – Arrive Clapham Junction (normally about 5 mins from Waterloo on a bad day).

22:00 – It is reported over the (working) tannoy of our (modern) train that the two rear toilets are out of order, but the two forward toilets are in working order. A passenger next to me attempts to take advantage of this good fortune – and returns to report that the forward toilets – and the sinks – are overflowing with sewage.

22:30 – Guildford. Home at last. Somewhat comforted by the robot voice apologising for the delays, but felling very rough indeed.

Thank you, South West Trains, for yet another pleasant journey and the usual effort put into serving and advising passengers during times of difficulty.

UPDATE – Ride a bike? Use the trains? Then you’ll be interested in this leaked SWT document.

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Date
20040804
The War on Terror
Time
09:50
Independent – Terror alert: how four-year-old information was transformed into clear and present danger: The Bush administration was forced into the embarrassing admission yesterday that “new” intelligence about al-Qa’ida’s plans to attack US financial institutions – information that led to an official alert and a slew of fresh security measures – was up to four years old and predated the 11 September attacks.

Still, we’re busy making hay while the sun shines over here in the UK…

Independent – Police seize 13 men in terror raids across UK: Scotland Yard said the arrests formed part of “inquiries by security services into alleged international terrorism” and that they were part of a “pre-planned, intelligence-led operation”. It is understood the intelligence came from MI5. The timing of the raids was brought forward in the wake of the publicity over the perceived threat to US financial institutions, although the arrests were not connected with that threat.

Guardian – Home Office draws up tighter terrorism laws: The overhaul of the the anti-terror laws is being considered as American banks in London step up security after the discovery of detailed but dated plans for al-Qaida attacks in the US and Britain. The Home Office said no specific threat had emerged about Britain, adding: “We are maintaining a state of heightened readiness in the UK.” The new counter-terror package is expected to spark sharp criticism from civil liberties groups, who will be dismayed that Mr Blunkett has not used the opportunity to replace his emergency executive detention powers with realistic alternatives.

UPDATE – More on this latest round of arrests from The UK Today.

Oh, and if you’re new to Bloggerheads, you may have missed yesterday’s bloggage on the subject of terror and torture.

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Date
20040804
The Bush Administration
Time
09:54
“I want, and every President must have, the best, unbiased, unvarnished assessment of America’s intelligence professionals.” – George W. Bush, August 2, 2004

It’s a bit ‘king late for that isn’t it? Not that they’re going to get it or anything…

Independent – Bush agrees to independent US spy chief: Many specialists have warned that if the post were part of the White House bureaucracy, it would only increase the risk of intelligence being politicised ­ precisely what critics say happened in the debacle of Iraq and its non-existent weapons of mass destruction… Although the new director will technically not have cabinet rank, he will be named by the President and be subject to approval by the Senate.

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Date
20040804
Page 3 – Words of Wisdom
Time
10:01
Monday, August 2 – Nikkala (22, from Middlesex) gets her cha-chas out and expresses her shock over seaside resorts reportedly having the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country. She says: “No one loves a wild party on the beach more than me, but these figures show youngsters must think twice before they put away too much booze.”

Wednesday, August 4 – Nicola T (22, from London) is excited about a new book giving tips on sex in the office. She says: “This book should go down a treat as us Brits love to spice up our work life. Everyone flirts at some stage and no one can deny it brightens up the day. I can’t see anything wrong with a quick nookie break.”

Read more about brightening up the day for others in your place of work.

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Date
20040804
Video
Time
10:05
Team America is headed your way. Matt Drudge has a few calm words to say about it.

The producers (who you may well be familiar with) have said: “We dont want people thinking we are in on the Fahrenheit 9/11 bandwagon. Everyone should be afraid of this movie.”

But it seems to me that some people have more to worry about than others

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Date
20040804
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:12
Mike is getting closer to an actual meeting with his chosen MP, Alan Milburn. You can help by going to his site and making a comment on any post. Show them how feedback works, people.

Rob has reported similar progress with Sarah Teather. I’ve armed him with an amended version of the PowerPoint presentation on MPs, Weblogs and Search Engines that I presented to a group of Labour MPs a few months back. (Incidentally, that presentation had to be rushed because of the good people at South West Trains. One has to wonder if there isn’t some kind of massive conspiracy going on…)

And today we have a new proxy-blog for Frank Dobson.

I’m going to tone down the whole ‘stalking’ thing so this healthy trend continues. (Yup, here it is. Many thanks to Rob D and Shane for their valuable input.)

I’m also working on something pretty significant in the background. I’ll tell you what I can, when I can.

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Date
20040804
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:23
Wow. Thank you. I’m touched. (But it was only harmless flirting. Really brightened my day.)

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Date
20040804
The War on Stupid
Time
12:49
All Iraqis are terrorists! That’s why we had to fight to save them from terror, or start a new front on the War on Terror in Iraq, or, erm… No, I’m sorry – I’ll need some help on this one.

(Found via Atrios. You may want to make time to skim through the related comments thread. Oh, and here’s a treat for those who ‘know what a terrorist looks like’…)

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Date
20040804
An American Election
Time
14:47
Yeeeeeee-hah! Cheers to Mirjam for the following heads-up…

Bands gather to stump against Bush: In an unprecedented series of concerts in nine swing states, more than 20 musical acts – including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the Dixie Chicks – will perform fund-raising concerts one month before the Nov. 2 election in an effort to unseat President Bush.

Latest news and a full statement can be seen at the Bruce Spingsteen website and the official Act For Change website.

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Date
20040804
Needs Salt
Time
15:11
OMG! Thatcher’s dead! (Click here only if you find yourself in difficulty.)

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Date
20040804
Matters Political
Time
15:34
Bwahahahahahaha! And now, a message from the UK Independence Party (NSFW).

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Date
20040804
The Interweb
Time
16:24
I refer you to this bloggage from Fri, June 18, 2004: Fark.com has been removed from the ‘follow me’ links. This removal should not be taken lightly, as fark.com was one of the earliest inclusions and I cut my photoshopping teeth there. The reason it’s been removed? Let’s just say that I’m not happy with the way they choose their articles for the front page. The omissions are subtle, but deliberate. And The Sun gets plugged in a ha-ha-jolly way every other day. Goodbye, Fark. No more traffic from me.

Now we have this…

Fark.com sells their editorial, and the loyalty of their users: After trying to figure out a deal they told me that I could just buy the editorial. The cost? Like $300 to $400 for a story. I was shocked…. all this time I’ve been reading Fark.com it turns out that some percentage of the stories are paid for. Looking back on it I’m now sure the adult links are all paid for, as are the ifilm.com links. I feel like I can never trust Fark again. The stupid part about all this is that Fark.com could easily just put “Advertisement” by the stories and their readers would click them 2x as much just to support Fark. It is so dumb.

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Date
20040804
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
16:29
The Onion trundles on… CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog

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Date
20040804
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
16:30
Credit card numbers, anyone?

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Date
20040804
Love Me, Love My Clients
Time
17:26
With so many new visitors today, I’d be a fool not to plug Giltsharp’s new and renewed short story competition. String a few words together about a Swiss Army Knife; win a Swiss Army Knife. Dead simple, really…

Here, let me start you off:

It was a dark and stormy night. I wasn’t looking forward to this emergency tracheotomy, because I had a splinter in my thumb and sesame seeds in my teeth…

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Date
20040804
The War on Stupid
Time
17:30
You may remember this laff-riot from the Labour camp that offers the public the chance to vote their favourite Tory out of a house or something like that.

The official Interweb response comes from The UK Today. (Yes, I did help out just a little bit, but Balders – who did the bulk of the research for Labour: I See Red – deserves full credit. And the harsh tax audit that’s headed his way.)

Tories in Turmoil – who would you vote for as the next leader of the Conservative Party?

I’m sure you’ll love the list of choices….

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Date
20040805
The War on Terror
Time
09:37
On Tuesday we were told by Scotland Yard that the arrests in Britain were not connected with the intelligence garnered from Pakistan that pre-dated 11/9 (please note correct formatting of date).

Today, Murdoch’s Times newspaper assures us that they were connected – and that the intelligence coming from Pakistan and the arrests have brought to light more information on the much-plugged ‘Heathrow terror plot’…

We also have the Bush administration assuring us that new intelligence was the reason for the latest round of alerts. We’re also told that this years-old information had recently been ‘revisited and recompiled’ as little as a year ago (which predates Blair’s ‘tanks into Heathrow’ stunt, but that’s by-the-by).

I’m inclined to agree with Balders, who said recently that: History has shown too many times that little faith should be placed in these announcements, and reality usually rears its head within a week or so.

But while other more responsible newspapers are sifting through this often vague and nearly always third-hand information before passing judgement, Murdoch’s Times (linked above) jumps straight into ‘foiled terror plot’ mode just as the whole country is recovering from a bout of healthy scepticism and facing a report from the all-party Joint Committee on Human Rights:

Scotsman – Scrap Jail-Without-Trial Terror Law, Blunkett Urged

Guardian – Blunkett faces revolt on internment

The Herald – Blunkett urged to abandon terror legislation

My advice? If you want an idea of what Blair’s trying to pull, turn first to The Sun, where the strings are there for all to see. Today, they report that “a terror suspect held in UK swoops was finalising plans to bomb Heathrow” and in case you’re in any doubt about this real-genuine-and-current threat, you need look no further than the front page where – in black and white – the reality we’re expected to see is outlined in three simple words – HEATHROW BOMB PLOT.

It brings to mind another front page from The Scum that resulted from vague intelligence and bold assertions when the government was in some difficulty and needed to sell their version of reality. It read; 45 MINS FROM DOOM!

Here’s the guts of it for me…

Most (if not all) of this information appears to be coming from the Pakistani government, who recently have been under pressure from the Bush administration to come up with the goods on Al Qaeda for reasons of political convenience

And the most useful thing they can provide for the Brits? Information suggesting that the threat to Heathrow is/was real.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a very big and very dirty story lurking behind all this Heathrow business… and Blair is more worried about it than he lets on.

UPDATE – An image for your consideration.

UPDATE – I’m terribly sorry, I appear to have been wrong. Pakistan has not been helping Blair out by feeding him politically useful intelligence (well, at least they deny it) – and Blair’s team hasn’t been making shit up and briefing journalists on it (well, at least they deny knowledge of any actual threat). Both of Mr Murdoch’s newspapers just happen to have taken it upon themselves today to paint a picture of a real and current threat and connect it with this ‘fresh’ intelligence from Pakistan….

BBC – Doubt over airport ‘terror plot’: Confusion surrounds claims that an al-Qaeda plan to attack Heathrow airport was foiled by British police… The Times newspaper said an attack was in its “final stages” but had been averted after UK police acted on Pakistani intelligence. But government officials in Pakistan deny any details were passed to the UK…. The Home Office said it would not comment on the details of intelligence, but confirmed that there had not been a specific threat.

But – and this is how the magic time machine works – if I bring up the subject of the Heathrow stunt in 6 months time, the answer from any ardent supporter of the government will be; “Of course the threat on Heathrow was real – they arrested 13 people and found all sorts of plans and photos on a laptop!”

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Date
20040805
Inneresting
Time
09:41
“What do I have to do? Draw you a bloody diagram?” (Link via Ultimate Insult.)

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Date
20040805
An American Election
Time
09:44
Bruce Springsteen – Chords For Change: I don’t think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America’s citizens, courage and faith. People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I’ve tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.

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Date
20040805
Humanity
Time
10:05
Boy, all of this ‘current and specific’ terror intelligence has come at a good time, hasn’t it?

Another thing it does is that is eases the minds of those who may just worry about piffling matter like human rights…

Independent – Father demands release of his British son after claims of torture at Guantanamo Bay: A 115-page dossier, Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, produced by the lawyers of three of the recently released British men, said inmates had been shackled, punched, kicked, hooded and deprived of sleep. Amnesty International condemned the treatment, which drew comparisons with Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison where inmates were ritually humiliated. British Government agencies were accused of complicity.

Torygraph – Foreign Office denies ignoring complaints: The Government has denied ignoring complaints by three British former Guantanamo Bay detainees who claim that they were beaten and abused at the prison camp.

Yes. Our government and the military do everything it can to act responsibly in such matters.

The same goes for the US, who assure us that they’re also (finally) taking ‘appropriate’ action regarding detainees in Guantanamo, but lets us know that these are really, really bad people without pausing for ‘king breath.

Oh, and Abu Ghraib? It was all a bit of fun and Lynndie England was a bad apple is the picture being painted by Murdoch’s New York Post. Please note that this article makes no mention of the response by the defence (in other words, they report some things, and you decide on the basis of that information and that information alone)….

Scotsman – Lynndie Made Illicit Visits to Prison Abuse Block: The prosecution’s case has been aimed at rebutting a defence claim that England was acting on orders from higher-ups to break down prisoners for questioning…Defence lawyer Rick Hernandez contends the government is trying to shift its responsibility to a lowly private for a scandal that has stirred outrage in the Arab world. But the prosecution’s case is flawed, he said, because investigators didn’t look into allegations “at other camps where my client has never been. … All the information out there indicates it is a systematic problem.”

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Date
20040805
Updates
Time
10:05
More later. Meetings. Bleh. In the meantime, do consider giving Tories in Turmoil a plug. I’d like it to to be the top search result come Monday.

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Date
20040805
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:57
Things are really rolling now… today we have a proxy blog for David Lepper and a proxy blog for Keith Vaz. I urge you to visit both (and make an encouraging comment if you’re so inclined). Both blogs have now been added to the front-page navbar and to the How To Run a ‘Proxy’ Weblog on Behalf of Your MP page.

For proxy bloggers due to meet with their chosen MPs… it may pay to point out that they can if they wish – though this is bare bones design and not quite as integrated as it could be – integrate a (free) Blogger weblog into their current website like Lynne Featherstone has done.

UPDATE – Don’t forget that the new proxy blog for Frank Dobson still needs your love-juices. There were some extremely useful comments made at the Alan Milburn blog, so thanks for that. Oh, and the plan to attend David Lepper’s next surgery (this Friday) shows a glorious level of commitment. This is all very encouraging.

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Date
20040805
Advertising Genius
Time
12:08
Best. Product. Name. Ever. (Link via ScaryDuck.)

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Date
20040805
Photoshopping
Time
13:00
This is top banana and most woo-some.

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Date
20040805
Consume!
Time
13:28
Not up to this or this? Can’t even handle something as simple as this?

Then you need this!

(Haven’t lost my touch as a copywriter, have I?)

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Date
20040805
Photoshopping
Time
13:50
A treat for photoshoppers – a huge collection of movie posters.

UPDATE – Heh. Couldn’t stop myself. It’s a bit choppy, but only because I have another bloody meeting to go to. (Posted to B3ta.)

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Date
20040805
Normal People
Time
14:33
Tch. I’m so childish. (Please note the care he has taken in formatting his email address. Link via ScaryDuck.)

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Date
20040805
Established Media
Time
14:54
Pfft! Bygones….

The Register – Victim not killer owned ‘murder manual’ game: The copy of the computer game Manhunt that was discovered during the investigation into the murder of a 14-year-old boy was not the possession of the killer but the victim, it has emerged.

Oh well. They managed to work up a jolly good froth and sell a few papers. That’s got to count for something…

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Date
20040805
Flash Music Video
Time
15:06
Radiohead’s Creep – it’s a lovely build and a beautiful finish. Flash developers will love the intro and credits. (Well, hacks and newbies like me, will…)

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Date
20040806
The War on Terror
Time
10:14
Yes, it’s true. Because I suspect my government and the US government of manipulating the terrorist threat with the help of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, I don’t believe that threat exists. And because I considered the invasion of Iraq to be rash and illegal, I love Saddam and want to hug & kiss and squeeze him until our bodily fluids mix and I can have his babies.

Well, Abu Musa al-Hindi appears to be real, and these connections appear to be damning, but I’m sure you’ll pardon me for questioning the following:

The Times today breezes right over denials from government officials in Pakistan that intelligence regarding Heathrow was shared with the UK (“Pakistan’s interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat later said that the UK authorities had not received information from Pakistan”) and instead praises them for their help in this editorial and goes live with this…

Times – Manhunt as five al-Qaeda militants evade police: A Pakistani intelligence official said Mr Khan told them how he visited Finsbury Park mosque during his time in Britain and met the radical cleric Abu Hamza whose extradition is being sought by the US.

Khan (Khaaaaaaaaaaan!) is of course the man who was arrested in Pakistan, so is not part of the recent round of arrests in the UK, but it’s all happening at the same time and there are so many foreign names to deal with, I doubt anybody know or cares about that. Especially not The Sun who – as you might expect – are all over the Hamza connection and not above linking it to the phantom Heathrow plot from paragraph one….

The Sun – Hamza linked to bomb plot: Preacher of hate Abu Hamza was sensationally linked to the al-Qaeda suspect behind the Heathrow bomb plot yesterday. Hook-handed Hamza had several meetings with terrorist “postman” Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan… The computer expert’s capture led to arrests of 12 terror suspects across Britain on Tuesday.

Today’s bold editorial is even better: The man, codename Bilal, was arrested in the swoop which foiled a plot to attack Heathrow. He had met Hamza several times in London — and you can bet it wasn’t to talk about Arsenal’s back four or who’d win the Derby. Let’s now hear no more nonsense from those who pleaded for Hamza’s “human rights” to be respected.

Let’s skip over the human rights issue and the Heathrow matter for a moment take a look at the timing of these arrests…

Here’s a repeat from Wednesday’s Independent newspaper: Scotland Yard said the arrests formed part of “inquiries by security services into alleged international terrorism” and that they were part of a “pre-planned, intelligence-led operation”. It is understood the intelligence came from MI5. The timing of the raids was brought forward in the wake of the publicity over the perceived threat to US financial institutions, although the arrests were not connected with that threat.

The Times today chooses to present this somewhat differently: The official said that the US had been interested in Bilal “for some time”. British security sources refused to say last night why he had not been picked up earlier.

My guess would be that they had a shifting group with some more elusive members and were doing the sensible thing; monitoring the threat, gathering information, and waiting for the right time to make arrests so they could capture as many suspected cell members as possible and maybe even (God forbid) come up with some actual evidence here and there. Bush’s long overdue, but much hurried and politically-motivated push in Pakistan f**ked that up, which is why we have a manhunt on our hands (much to the joy of the Daily Mail, who get one Manhunt! story that’s so sensational, it’s sure to take people’s minds off their role this Manhunt! story.

*cough*

Human rights…

Stalking David Blunkett brings us this Sun sidebar that you may have missed amongst yesterday’s linkage: Peers and MPs last night infuriated David Blunkett by condemning his anti-terror laws as a breach of human rights. Post-9/11 measures to net Muslim extremists were branded racist in an all-party committee report. It said they breach rights of all Muslims and should be torn up. Mr Blunkett denounced the findings. A close aide to the Home Secretary said “The world changed after the al-Qaeda attacks on the twin towers yet some people don’t seem to have grasped this. The most important thing now is to protect British citizens.”

Hmmm. So, human rights for us, but not for all? Sounds awfully familiar…

BBC – UK troops ‘beat Iraqi to death’: Rabinder Singh QC, appearing for the Iraqis in the six test cases, told the judges European human rights laws, which protect the right to life and freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, applied to troops in Iraq and the government was obliged to investigate. But lawyers for Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon say the Human Rights Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK domestic law, can only be applied inside UK territory.

At this stage, I feel compelled to remind you once more that my objection to our attack on the wrong country and the use of the terrorist threat as a propaganda device to sell the invasion to the public does not mean that I deny there is any terrorist threat. In fact, if anything, Iraq has proved to be one of Al Qaeda’s greatest victories.

The abuse of the terror threat by the US government to pursue a totally unrelated and greed-driven agenda has provided Al Qaeda not only with a great deal of sympathy in some quarters, but a massive and largely unregulated playground in the Middle East that may soon see the introduction of martial law in the new, ‘free’ Iraq. The issue has also effectively split the United States in two.

At home, our role in the invasion of Iraq and Blair’s attempt to spin and sell it via manipulation of the terrorist threat means that it is the terrorists’ agenda, not his own, that now shapes his foreign and domestic policy (we pissed off a lot of people by siding with the US when we could very well have prevented the invasion and allowed the inspectors more time merely by sticking to our guns – and it reached the stage long ago that Blair could not drive forward new policies because of ongoing disquiet about Iraq).

It’s also compromising our justice system. And Bush’s continued use of terror as a trump-card (or ‘Keep Out of Jail Free’ card) now appears to be interfering with our attempts to monitor and contain actual threats. The question you have to ask is; is this making us any safer?

Which brings us back to Heathrow… and another question.

Independent – A plot, or not? Why Heathrow bomb plan was a media dream: It began with tales of a “terror alert in US and Britain” and culminated in a “plot to bomb Heathrow”. In the past few days anyone following the American and British media or listening to US security chiefs would be in little doubt the two countries were facing an imminent attack by al-Qa’ida. New information is, however, emerging that calls into doubt the level of threat. Senior British counter-terrorist sources yesterday denied they had found any specific plot to attack Heathrow or any other British airport.

Blair was very careful not to lie outright about the Iraq/terror connection (that didn’t exist), but he used the word ‘terror’ and Iraq’ or ‘terror’ and ‘Saddam’ or ‘terror’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in the same sentence more times that I can count. This careful and deliberately proximal use of key phrases and concepts painted a false – and useful – picture.

Another picture is being painted right in front of us. The keywords are ‘terror’ and ‘Heathrow’ and ‘real’… why?

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Date
20040806
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:25
Mike (of the Alan Milburn proxy blog) has managed to get a nibble out of a local councillor via this discussion forum. He also reports that this post is only one minor technicality away from being an actual post from his MP.

You may also wish to read Ivan’s post on his personal blog, where he outlines the genesis of the proxy blog for David Lepper.

This is a nice and cuddly blog in keeping with the now-fluffier Blog Your MP campaign, but Ivan has also started another weblog in parallel. …

For David Blunkett, there will be no mercy.

And Balders? Balders has gone all-out and started weblogs for all three MPS in Barnsley: Michael Clapham, Eris Illsley and Jeff Ennis. At the very least, one man running three blogs in tandem (as well as his own) should prove how easy it is.

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Date
20040806
George W. Bush
Time
10:43
Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Independent – Tongue-twisted Bush is bent on self-harm: Even by the previous standards of Bushisms, this was one for the ages. Signing into law a new $417bn (£229bn) defence spending bill, the famously tongue-twisted 43rd President of the United States solemnly declared yesterday that his administration “will never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people”. The gaffe came as President George Bush was warming to his favourite theme of the terrorist threat faced by the US. “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” he said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

More Bushism fun here.

In other news, one can only wonder what the mother of this baby was thinking….

UPDATE – A little somthing extra for you… They Knew: Despite the whitewash, we now know that the Bush administration was warned before the war that its Iraq claims were weak.

Oh, and you may want to check out PoliticalStrikes.com, (where I found this little number).

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Date
20040806
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s…. oh s**t!
Time
10:50
North Korea’s nuclear sub capability exists thanks to the assistance of Sun Myung Moon, the well-known Republican supporter, owner of the Washington Times and all-round religious nutbag.

While we’re on the subject, you may also wish to read about the ‘scrap metal’ being shipped out of Iraq.

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Date
20040806
Opportunities
Time
11:01
Sorry, no fun links today. I’m saving myself. Party. London. Tonight. Be there.

UPDATE – Oh, go on then…. take a pot-shot at a pigeon or two if you must.

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Date
20040806
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
15:09
Bill Thompson – The revolution will not be blogged.

Apart from the joy of the rip-off headline, this article is worth reading purely for the enjoyment of watching a man present every almost every clue available and still fail to come up with the obvious conclusion.

Perhaps Bill’s distaste for weblogs is causing a blind spot (you may remember him asking this time last year if it was all over for blogs).

Perhaps Bill read this report on the report and not the report itself.

No matter – let’s get to the meat….

In this article, Bill Thompson commits the following sins:

- He makes the false claim (often bandied about) that blogs take a lot of work. They don’t. They require a lot of commitment. There is a difference.

- He points out that the development of weblogs has been slow because “they appear to require more technical knowledge than a website built by a constituency activist” – without bothering to point out that they actually don’t.

- He acknowledges the issues of accountability and transparency and how blogs can promote same, but ignores the potential value of this in re-engaging a cynical electorate.

- He acknowledges that it’s not the technology that’s really at work here, but the capacity to engage driven by a willingness to do so – but he then dismisses the potential of this on the basis that it’s foolhardy to place too much faith in technology alone (I’m still trying to work that one out).

- He also notes that some MPs will fear accountability and transparency and/or shun this level of engagement. Quite right. But he completely ignores the rise in personal publication (which he dismisses as noise pollution) and what role this plays now and is going to play in the future. (I would not describe a blog or blog-driven/supported campaign that’s the top search result for an MP’s name or a high-level government campaign to be “absorbed into the general flow of net traffic”, would you?)

Finally, it’s worth taking a look at what he considers to be the difference between his early website for Anne Campbell and a weblog; the former boasted “no trackback, no comments or feedback” (I have none of these – is this not a blog then?)… and* “the content was mostly press release-style information.” Then take a look at Bill Thompson’s blog, where he only ever posts articles that he was writing for the BBC anyway (one wonders where he gets the idea that blogs are a lot of work).

The potential is still there for weblogs to further contribute to political discourse. If all goes well, they may very well shape it in subtle but positive ways.

But in these early days, there are also dangers. These dangers are as follows:

1 – That not enough MPs will fail to understand the value of weblogs before…

2 – A top-driven campaign to exploit them in the wrong way fails miserably, resulting in…

3 – Most MPs being convinced that weblogs are of no use.

Bill Thompson is contributing to Factor 1 with this witless piece. The only thing he brings to the debate is a less-than-helpful mix of prejudice and ignorance. I hope he’ll pardon this trackbackless blogger for saying he should pull his fucking head in.

[UPDATE – *Actually, he was right on this point. It took me far too long to get comments etc. going on this site, because I was too busy building blogs for other people like Tom Watson and Boris Johnson. IMO, for a while, in the very early days, blogs could still be blogs without comments, but this ended as conversation technology became widely accessible. ‘Witless’ etc. was a bit harsh, too. My bad. Cheers, Bill.]

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Date
20040807
Appeals
Time
15:53
The Circle Line Party was grrrrreat. I may report in full on Monday, but for now I have a favour to ask on behalf of one person who had a not-so-great time:

If anyone who went to the Circle Line Party witnessed the arrest of the gentleman in the green t-shirt (or the exchange with the police officer that preceded it) at or around 8.50pm at Sloane Square station, please get in touch with me via my main email address:

manic at bloggerheads DOT com

It seems the police are making some quite ridiculous claims, so we’ll need a few witnesses to set things straight. (And, yes, someone is already chasing up the CCTV footage.)

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Date
20040809
The War on Terror
Time
10:47
Your questions answered…

Were the Pakistan arrests linked to the London raids?: Yes. MI5 had been investigating Mr Khan for some months and had several of his contacts in Britain under surveillance, including Bilal. When details of Mr Khan’s arrest was made public, the police were forced to arrest the suspected cell members in the UK.

A shorter version of this answer reads: Yes. Whoops.

#(Did the Bush Administration Burn a Key al-Qaeda Double Agent?: The announcement of Khan’s name forced the British to arrest 12 members of an al-Qaeda cell prematurely, before they had finished gathering the necessary evidence against them via Khan. Apparently they feared that the cell members would scatter as soon as they saw that Khan had been compromised. (They would have known he was a double agent, since they got emails from him Sunday and Monday!) One of the twelve has already had to be released for lack of evidence, a further fall-out of the Bush SNAFU.

A shorter version of this answer reads: Yes. Whoops.

Is Blunkett really mad with the Americans about this?: David Blunkett has issued a barely coded rebuke to President George Bush for issuing a terror alert that resulted in “ridicule”. The Home Secretary went on the offensive to explain why Britain did not follow suit when the US administration issued a warning on information that turned out to be four years old.

A shorter version of this answer reads: Yes. But only because they made him look stupid.

Have the Bush administration learned anything from this?: Washington reacted by disclosing still more data…. An unnamed military official told Time that there were benefits to spreading panic in terrorist ranks. “People get flushed out and when that happens other people get nervous. As they start to move, they talk and we hear them. It’s like hunting birds: you scare ‘em up, they run then you shoot them.”

A shorter version of this answer reads: No. Duh.

Incidentally, new spin is due from Washington any day now – and could well take hold. The reason Al Qaeda is being targeted in the run-up to the election is because they plan to strike during that election.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? The only thing that’s hard to explain is why this reason wasn’t mentioned before now. Oh, and why Osama bin Laden became not-so-much-a-priority-as-Saddam for close to two bloody years.

Heathrow…

Only the Moonie Times is hanging on to scraps of this, but it’s worth noting how the story (almost) grew legs via Reuters and Bloomberg. Were there a little more panic and a little less healthy scepticism, it could well have become reality by this morning. Not that it isn’t for about a million or so devoted Scum readers, who are unlikely to see any form of correction or retraction…

Bloomberg – Al-Qaeda’s U.K. Leader Planned Heathrow Attack, Times Reports: A senior al-Qaeda member in the U.K., alleged to have been in the final stages of planning an attack on London’s Heathrow airport, has been arrested by British police, the London-based Times reported, citing unidentified intelligence officials in Pakistan.

Reuters – Terror detainee targeted Heathrow: A senior al Qaeda figure planning to attack Heathrow airport was among 12 terrorism suspects arrested in Britain two days ago, newspapers report. None of the papers quoted a named source and all differed in details, but most linked the arrests with recent swoops in Pakistan and this week’s alert in New York and Washington.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
RWCs
Time
10:49
For the least week or so, Blogdex has been close-to-overwhelmed by a variety of posts, articles and plugs for books/sites/ads that question John Kerry’s military service record in Vietnam. The latest question that has the wingnuts foaming at the mouth is “Was Kerry in Cambodia?” – and of course, if they can prove that, they can declare victory. Kerry wasn’t in a certain area of Vietnam when he says he was! And Bush wasn’t in a certain areas of Texas when he says he was!

See? They cancel each other out completely.

Another wonderful bit of balance comes to us in the form of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, who are meant to act as an antidote to the vile poison of the veterans who support John Kerrys’ hateful and unnecessary campaign to unseat that great world leader George W. Bush. You may want to read up on this ‘independent’ and ‘self motivated’ group. They certainly appear to have some interesting ties:

Salon.com – Smear Boat Veterans for Bush: The “swift boat” veterans attacking John Kerry’s war record are led by veteran right-wing operatives using the same vicious techniques they used against John McCain four years ago.

CHB – Anti-Kerry Vets Driven by Longtime GOP Operative, Bankrolled by Bush Cronies

More from Disinfopedia.

The final word I leave to R. H. Blanchard.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Religion
Time
10:55
Unusual Churches and Cults reviews/blogs more whacked-out religions than you can poke a stick at. Including mine, which is nice.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
NSFW
Time
10:58
I hope they’re not serious….

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
10:59
Guardian – Forget the bloggers, it’s the vloggers showing the way on the internet ! You heard it here first, folks. The simple wish to communicate has been outmoded yet again by another sexy bit of tech! (Nice to see Steve get a plug, though…)

UPDATE – Try not to get too excited about MT Tabs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Funny
Time
11:01
Build a better Bush. Should keep you distracted for all of 10 seconds.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s…. oh s**t!
Time
11:07
Martial law is on the way, government censorship is already happening, the death penalty has been reinstated, moderate cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is suffering from a life-threatening illness and arrest warrants have been issued for both Chalabis (the one who helped the US with the WMD claims and the one who’s presiding over the trial of Saddam Hussein).

At times like this I thank the Lord that this perilous step in the Middle East was taken with international cooperation that allowed us to leave behind a strong and renewed Iraq that rests on a solid foundation and is able to handle life’s little challenges.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Circle Line Party III
Time
11:47
Circle Line Party III got a massive response (and this morning wakes up to find itself blogged), but it was obviously too crowded, and a decision had been reached (and spread through the party) that we were to split into two groups – but when we reached the Sloane Sq, the police were waiting.

I don’t know who talked to them about it, but the police seemed OK to let us just split into two groups and be on our merry way, but then the Undergound staff got involved, lost patience very quickly and insisted 1) that the train go nowhere until they decided on what to do and 2) that um, yes, we empty the train.

We don’t know what to do with it, so let’s just be rid of it.

The excuses I heard were technical problems and someone being ill on a train stuck behind ours (which wasn’t true).

So, there were all standing around doing nothing, not having fun, sweating a lot and pissing of commuters. This wasn’t part of the plan. So…

The only thing that got people off the train? A promise that came from somewhere that we had to let this train move on so we could be allowed to split up amongst the next ones. Partygoers trusted this and passed it on. I was one of them. (It needs to be noted that the train could not have been emptied without the partygoers organising this themselves.)

Mostly the authorities looked lost. Maybe they know how to deal with passive crowds (move along now, sir) or aggressive ones (resisting arrest, are we sir?) but not happy ones.

Anyway, we did as they asked and the result was a packed platform, but if we all kept our heads and stuck to the plan, half/some of us could get onto the next Circle Line (or even available) train to ease up pressure on this station (priority one), allow the trains behind us to proceed (priority two) and then get on with the party (priority three).

Only problem was, someone had decided the party was over. Suddenly trains were going through and not stopping. Past a *packed* platform, even at slow speed, this was pretty dodgy and getting dodgier with each passing train (a subdued but ugly ‘booo’ went up when the first Circle Line train did this).

Had we been allowed to split into two groups and proceed, there would have been no danger to anybody (and a much better experience for partygoers and commuters).

Whoever made the decision to stop the party (seemingly at near-to-all costs – at a station with a platform narrowed by building works) fucked up. And the platform only cleared as quickly as it did because there was a ‘pass it on’ distributed by partygoers about moving on, ‘wandering’ off and continuing at a specific time/location.

They couldn’t have evacuated the station without us. But they kept it closed for a further hour or so, just to look like they were doing something, I suppose. Or collect evidence for the attempted murder that took place (dun-dun-dahhhhhhh!).

One of the party-goers lost his footing and ended up putting his dirty, grubby hands on a policeman. This quickly turned into a claim that he had actually pushed him onto the tracks. When this (allegedly) happened, something like 200+ people were still on the platform, and nobody saw anything like this happen. (An arrest was made and CCTV footage is being sought, but we’re still looking for witnesses if you saw the exchange and/or arrest.)

The police and/or Underground staff caused the problems on that platform, and the only solutions (proposed and working) came from the partygoers themselves.

(Incidentally, if there’s ever a panic-causing situation on the Underground, they’d best pray for a few smart commuters being on hand to give some sensible advice. The tannoy system they have going can’t even be heard above the background noise of a *quiet* crowd and their staff’s crowd-handling skills ain’t worth shit.)

Happy news? The split had already started. There was a large group that had got off at Victoria and subsequently didn’t get stopped by some pigheaded jobsworth. This reformed into a party that proceeded happily in an anti-clockwise direction. Some people from the interrupted party stuck around outside Sloane Square to be hassled by a comically large police presence (which eventually dwindled to allow this party to proceed also). A group of us made our way to the whispered rendezvous and this chapter of the party renewed itself successfully and completed a full lap of the Circle Line in the traditional clockwise direction. Both train-based parties managed to meet up afterwards, and a fine time was had by all.

UPDATE – A short report from Geoff, who failed to see me not seeing him.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:49
A political weblog aggregator has just launched. So has a proxy-blog for Glenda Jackson.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
The War on Stupid
Time
13:34
Victory is ours! The zone is owned.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
The End of Democracy
Time
13:49
Some shenanigans of a hi-tech and low-tech variety for you to ponder on. To think of all that campaign money that’s just going to waste when the result has already been decided… makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Compare and Contrast
Time
16:02
Comparing the treatment of Khan and Krar should tell you just about everything you need to know about the Bush administration’s approach to terror (and the vital role the media plays).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Tony Blair
Time
16:36
BBC – Labour group urges new direction: “We did think Blair would…renew social democracy. We were wrong,” says Renewal’s next edition’s editorial. It adds: “Iraq is Blair’s poll tax, a… breach of trust, demonstration of arrogance and strategic blunder for which the party as a whole is paying.”

More from The UK Today.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
In The News
Time
17:01
You won’t be quite so calm when you realise that it’s recycled Prozac…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040809
Inneresting
Time
17:32
I was trying to find/remember the name of an early arcade game when I stumbled upon this collector/dealer website and this fantastic arcade game from 1942.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Page 3 – Words of Wisdom
Time
09:32
Thanks to lies and spin (plus something I like to call ‘selective transparency’) about BSE under the previous government and MMR and WMD under the current government, releasing a simple and safe vaccine has become problematic. At least, that’s the spin.

You read that right, folks. The government is telling us that the vaccine is totally safe, but they’re concerned that people won’t trust it because they lie so often. And if you find yourself doubting the army of doctors, experts and department heads that have come out of the woodwork in the last few days, then turn instead to the page you love most in the one newspaper you can trust:

One Page 3 of today’s super immunosuppressant Sun, Katie (19, from Liverpool, who is wearing a lovely pair of medical-issue panties and little else) says she understands parents’ concerns over the new five-in-one jab. She then goes on to say: “Tony Blair has done the right thing by publicly reassuring mums and dads. The experts seem to agree that the five-in-one jab is a positive step, so I think most people will put their faith in the Government.”

Must. Believe. Girl. With. Boobies.

Must. Place. Faith. In. Government.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
09:34
Guardian – The blog busters : Mighty corporations ignore the whispers on web diaries at their peril. Sean Hargrave reports on how the big brands are logging on to save face.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
The War on Terror
Time
10:01
London News review – Terrorism: how many warnings is too many?: Threatening people is precisely what (Bush is) doing. Terrorism’s the right word for it. An up-against-it President Bush is trying to scare the electorate into keeping the Republican Guard in charge. It’s disgraceful, really it is. Listen to how he measures his presidency by the “job” he has to do, leading the fight against terror: “We will stay there until the job is completed and our commanders on the ground tell us.” Bush has even started calling himself “the war president” – just listen to this amazing statement: “I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish I wasn’t the war president. Who in the heck wants to be a war president? I don’t.” You’ve got to tip your hat to his speech writers – that’s a particularly neat trick: affirming that Bush is “the war president” while suggesting that he is only such by force of circumstance. The same force of circumstance that is forcing Bush to remain at the helm until the “job is completed.” Which it won’t ever be because the War on Terror is unending. Brilliant.

Tom Tomorrow – Using the threat of terrorism to scare voters: all of September will be “National Preparedness Month”: Other September Surprises: a whole “educate the family” campaign, with kits available at various retailers; an in-school “Ready Deputy” duck-and-cover training program; and a website called Readykids.gov (not yet online), all launched in the first week. Brilliance. Tie the concept of Bush’s only winning issue to family and children. Unspoken, deniable implication: “vote for Bush if you want your kids to live.” Nice.

And of course it’s those of us pointing out the dangers of this ongoing manipulation of the terror threat that:

1 – Do not believe in the threat

2 – Cause people to lose trust in the government

3 – Make the threat worse

Heathrow…

The LNR piece links to this wonderful ‘bull-becomes-reality’ article:

rediff.com – Al Qaeda planned to attack Heathrow airport: Al Qaeda’s British cell planned to attack London’s Heathrow airport. This became clear after British agents arrested ‘Bilal,’ the man suspected of heading the Al Qaeda cell in Britain earlier this week.

Of course, it had only become ‘clear’ that this was the case after this ‘journalist’ had read an article in the Times, but to give it more credence he/she/it also references two articles in the Guardian and the New York Times – the only problem being that the former article makes no mention of Heathrow and the latter article only says: The leader of the House of Commons, Peter Hain, told British Broadcasting Corporation radio that those detained in London on Tuesday had been “important arrests.” But Mr. Hain declined to comment on reports in some publications that they had involved a plot against Heathrow Airport.

PS – When he says “some publications,” he really means “two publications owned by the same man that have willingly fed the public our lies since before we took power” – but this quote was obviously edited for reasons of space.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Consume!
Time
10:06
Start ‘em young!

Incidentally, McDonalds recently started airing two minute educational commercials aimed at very young kiddies. You can make all the grown-up arguments you like about what the intentions are and how Ronald McDonald never says ‘hamburgers are good for you,’ but what a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that this is playing to two audiences:

1. Mum – Sees full message. Feels reassured about McDonalds. Stops writing angry letters.

2. Child – Sees; health + clown. Clown=McDonald’s. Therefore; McDonald’s=Health

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:20
More Kerry-bashing, plus:

Every issue of the Toronto Star from 1892-2001 in PDF format. Plus a search engine to help you find what you’re looking for. Other newspapers, please take note.

4 charged in Florida killings over Xbox. No doubt because the X-Box was evil. And the clothes. The clothes were evil, too.

Koko the gorilla calls for a dentist. Awwwww. That’s so cute, I forgot to ask why it’s been 20 years since her first full medical examination.

Psychologists try to learn how to spot a liar. Turns out liars have no reliable tell-tale signs. Conclusion? Anybody not showing any tell-tale signs is lying to you. And that includes you, you bastard.

UPDATE – Oh, I’m sorry. Did I skip over the Kerry-bashing? OK, here’s a link for you; one of the authors of this book is a hardcore Freeper.

Go and browse through the related freep threads before they’re pulled. (FreeRepublic tend to be rather gutless about things like this, and pull threads the moment their own poison starts to work against them.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
10:28
The Washington Post is having a best blog competition. Must be the season for them or something.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Inneresting
Time
10:32
“Do Not Enter” signs from around the world.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
11:09
Reuters – Lynndie England abuse hearing halts: Lawyers for England renewed a request for top U.S. government and military officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be called to testify… (hearing officer Colonel Denise Arn) said she would rule on the additional witnesses and resume the hearing as soon as possible but gave no indication when that might be.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
George W. Bush
Time
11:19
Journalists laugh at Bush, to his face. The cracks are finally showing (mind you, the one in his skull has been visible from Day One).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Cool
Time
11:39
Cool website with nifty jingle. (Doesn’t work in Firefox, sorry.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Circle Line Party III
Time
12:03
More reports, comments, pictures and video.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040810
Tony Blair’s Email
Time
16:27
I decided that enough was enough this afternoon and advised the two biggest abusers of not-Blair’s email address (i.e. the people who hammer it week-in, week-out) that they’ve been wasting their time these past 3-4 years. These are two Very Serious People that each take an opposing view on the Israel/Palestine question. I’m not looking forward to the replies, but at least the deed is done.

Peter Broderick is more of a problem. This is a man on the edge, with a unique view of the world. I’m not sure how well he’d cope with this particular reality. Still, the last email he sent was over a month ago, so perhaps he has finally switched medication….

From: Pete Broderick

To: clu@fco.gov.uk, kay.sweet@fco.gov.uk, marrena.marren@fco.gov.uk, paul.mowat@fco.gov.uk, tony-blair@prime-minister.co.uk

Subject: Health and safety

Date: 6/7/2004 9:25:11 am

Hi,

Questions have to be asked, of the like so fthe GMC, BMA, BMJ, UKCC, RCN, etc when it comes to the amount of hours junior doctors are expected to do over weekends, when from a friday to a Monday junior doctors are expected to be on call over one hundred hours at a stretch, leading to a situation where consultants can vend cocaine to the junior doctors.

This fee nominal lack of regard by the medical bodies, and their doctoring fee loss of fees proves that health and safety are not paramount in their agenda, but actuallly dragging the NHS into disrepute, with regards the Maastricht treaty and the social charter/chapter. Such an approach by the medical bodies is fostering a drug dependency culture, if it hadn’t happened last year I would have suggested that they would be offering amphetamines to the airforces of NATO, to try and take a few out, especially as TOP GUN has probably been repeated on TV recently.

AN NHS with a (w)holistic approach to healthcare and illness prevention would be far better than the current NHS that we have.

The Royal Arches of medicine, still do not support the principle of the NHS and would prefer healthcare to be more commercial, currently the Royal Arches, want the pharmacist to be a person, most NI holders see every week, and they have designs of a crazy paving to take you from being smacked by a medic the minute your born, into a home when you retire, so that your house goes to the owner of the home.

That’s just the way it is

Pete Broderick

Pls could could you actually try and stop these fifth columnists or do you need the help of those that give a shit?

UPDATE – No, I tell a lie. I just found this one that also explains his recent absence…

From: Pete Broderick

To: clu@fco.gov.uk, kay.sweet@fco.gov.uk, marrena.marren@fco.gov.uk, paul.mowat@fco.gov.uk, tony-blair@prime-minister.co.uk

Subject: Industrial espionage

Date: 23/7/2004 8:12:54 am

Hi,

Institute of Directors v CBI

Small retail outlets are being distributed

contaminated alcohol.

1980’s ID knocked out CBI and small business through

the Commercial poll tax.

On Wednesday I drank four cans of tennants super Bar

code 5010017046880 #10010000049/83 T4AA10D

They were contaminated with Prozac+.

This then linked with drink spiking that is going on

the pubs.

The distribution seems to coincide with when ITN’s

Patrick Hubbard concentrates on bINge dr inking.

If it goes unchecked other food sources might also be

targeted.

I have also to contact my local police on a seperate

matter, again there has been an attepmt to break into

my flat.

With Respect

Pete Broderick

And, as we all know by now, Pete may actually have been onto something about that Prozac.

UPDATE 2 – Oh dear, the account seems to be overloaded again… and now I’ve done a bit of a clean-up, some of the backlog is coming in – including at least 8 more emails from Mr Broderick. No matter. I’m sure they’ll keep until tomorrow. (Unless he’s rumbled yet another dastardly plot to poison our beer supply!)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040811
Tony Blair’s Email
Time
09:30
After yesterday’s revelation from Mr Broderick:

…I drank four cans of tennants super Bar

code 5010017046880 #10010000049/83 T4AA10D

They were contaminated with Prozac+.

This then linked with drink spiking that is going on

the pubs.

Pooons got in touch with the following:

Reading the blog about Mr Broderick reminded me of a story a friend

in London told me a few years ago.

She was working as an alcohol counsellor, and the service she worked

for noticed that of all the drinkers they had on file, 90-odd percent

that died drank Tennants Super. The ones drinking Special Brew, etc

seemed to be fine.

A letter to the brewers garnered little response. Completely

unprovable sadly, but you should drop Mr B a line and suggest he

change his poison!

That’s all very interesting, but surely the proof of Mr B’s theory would be that these people died *happily*…

Besides, whatever Pete may or may not be dosed-up on certainly doesn’t appear to be hindering his problem-solving abilities:

From: Pete Broderick

To: uk@un.int , usa@un.int , tony-blair@prime-minister.co.uk , turkey@un.int , smillar@nato-pa.int , so2mr@arrc.nato.int , spain@un.int , slovakia@un.int , slovenia@un.int , romania@un.int , rusun@un.int , poland@un.int , portugal@un.int , president@kremlin.ru , president@whitehouse.gov , press@hq.nato.int , paul.mowat@fco.gov.uk , natodoc@hq.nato.int , netherlands@un.int , luxembourg@un.int , latvia@un.int , lithuania@un.int , italy@un.int , iceland@un.int , hungary@un.int , greece@un.int , france@un.int , estonia@un.int , dims-pia@hq-nato.int , dims.pia@hq-nato.int , delun@mfa.no , denmark@un.int , czechrepublic@un.int , bulgaria@un.int , canada@un.int , belgium@un.int , gerhard.schroeder@bundestag.de , germany@un.int , clu@fco.gov.uk

Subject: NATO & Expansion

Date: 29/7/2004 11:51:16 am

With Respect,

Hi,

Along with the political expansion of the Twenty seven

Countries of the RCN, has developed a geographical

progression, with the thawing of Tundra, in Siberia,

and Greenland.

Both pieces of land should be developed to be used by

NATO, in the first instance.

Denmark, for instance could be awarded 10% of the

contracts, on a home grown basis, with the other

member nations offering 3% each, ditto in Siberia, 10%

of the contracts designated by the Kremlin, and each

other NATO member responsible for approx 3% each.

NATO/RCN should look to Modify the name of the

organization, to include membership of Commenwealth

states, especially Australia/NZ. with the plans of the

PRC in mind, and Arab alliance, that is looking to

form allegiance, with regards the redevelopment of

Iraq.

This org. can then contract services in a professional

manner to the twenty eight bodies of the UN.

On a business basis, is also how professional

preachers have to be dealt with, as they show a

starkling lack of appreciation of patriotism.

Rapid Deployment should be a comprehensive issue, not

just in the resource deployment of troops, but also

assets from Procurement to competitive tenders, and

regional rejuvination.

Finally Sharon is looking to flood the Israeli army

with mercenary troops, a hidden message of his

DIASPORA comments ditto Saddam, his 8/8 posting to the

Iraqi UN Mission 2001, and his repeated emphasis in

the final few paragraphs, regarding aeroplanes.

Business will now look to contaminate every aspect of

the Madrid Treaty, from the bilateral talks, through

the multitrack process.

Again, With Respect

Pete Broderick

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040811
Compare and Contrast
Time
09:32
Michael Howard: “I’ve got my rights” is the verbal equivalent of two-fingers to authority. There is now a palpable sense of outrage that “so-called” human rights have tipped the balance of justice in favour of the criminal and the wrong-doer – rather than the victim and the law abider. The decline of responsibility and the proliferation of rights have left us in an ethical quagmire, which is undermining our fight against crime. The clear distinction between right and wrong has been lost in sociological mumbo-jumbo and politically correct nonsense.

Deborah Coles: “The death of a 14-year-old while in and custody of the state is shocking and highlights the dangerous consequences of locking up children. The Home Secretary can no longer resist the call for a public inquiry into the treatment of children by the criminal justice system. He must take action to address what is a serious and disturbing human rights issue� the death and suffering of children while in the custody of the state.”

(Image posted to B3ta.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040811
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:22
Look up.

Look down. (Note – all images leached from yannarthusbertrand.com)

Look out!

Everything else is Kerry-Kerry-Kerry… which I’d like to have a little chat about if that’s OK with you. The first thing you need to see is that this isn’t charting organically. This is a co-ordinated push of information. This article does worry me some – but what worries me more is where the link support is coming from. In case you haven’t noticed, almost every Kerry-bashing or Bush-supporting chart-topper on Blogdex begins its life (or its link support) at either Drudge or Instapundit. Hardly a natural groundswell.

Now, let’s compare this whole ‘question of service’ thing with the Bush AWOL question. The Torygraph has an interesting angle…

Telegraph – Nuanced? Kerry’s story just doesn’t add up: The point is, even if it were true, it fits the Bush narrative: he was a lackadaisical son of privilege who goofed around, drank too much, found Jesus, sobered up and got his life together. If you’ve got 30-year-old pictures of him dancing naked on a bar in Mexico when he was supposed to be back at the air base, so what? It’s compatible with the official version. That’s Bush: the bad stuff still fits the picture.

Bush is/was an idiot. Therefore it’s water off a duck’s back. Works for me. No need to mention that he’s the (now reluctant) War President who never faced a shot fired in anger (unless there’s some coke-deal-gone-wrong that we don’t know about).

Another comparison worth making is the number of witnesses that have come forward in this case. In Bush’s case, the AWOL question was national news, but the only positive ‘witness’ they could dig up was professional letter-writer William Campenni – who never actually saw anything. Kerry, on the other hand, has backers – and knockers – that have known him for years. FFS, at least someone remembers he was *there* – even if some right-wing activists (who just happen to have deep and long-standing Republican connections and just happen to enjoy Republican funding) wish to cast doubt and sling mud with what appears to be a pack of carefully-crafted lies.

Jim Rassman – John Kerry saved my life. Now his heroism is being questioned: Nobody asked me to join John’s campaign. Why would they? I am a Republican, and for more than 30 years I have largely voted for Republicans. I volunteered for his campaign because I have seen John Kerry in the worst of conditions. I know his character. I’ve witnessed his bravery and leadership under fire. And I truly know he will be a great commander in chief. Now, 35 years after the fact, some Republican-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Bush are suddenly lying about John Kerry’s service in Vietnam; they are calling him a traitor because he spoke out against the Nixon administration’s failed policies in Vietnam. Some of these Republican-sponsored veterans are the same ones who spoke out against John at the behest of the Nixon administration in 1971. But this time their attacks are more vicious, their lies cut deep and are directed not just at John Kerry, but at me and each of his crewmates as well. This hate-filled ad asserts that I was not under fire; it questions my words and Navy records. This smear campaign has been launched by people without decency, people who don’t understand the bond of those who serve in combat.

My advice is as it has always been. If a link on Blogdex raises an eyebrow, always look to see where the support comes from.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040811
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
10:24
I really wish these people would do their research before rushing in with stuff like this….

—– Original Message —–

From: “Jeff Shakoor”

To: manic AT bloggerheads.com

Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 7:38 PM

Subject: FOX TV seeking Star Wars families for “Trading Spouses”

–> My name is Jeff Shakoor. I’m a casting associate at Rocket Science Labs

–> here in Hollywood. We are currently producing the new hit reality show

–> “Trading Spouses” for FOX and are currently seeking a Star Wars family for

–> our second season. We were hoping you could be of some assistance in

–> helping us find this talented and interesting family. If you know of anyone

–> who might be interested could you please have them send the names and ages

–> of everyone in their family who would like to participate along with a photo

–> in jpeg format to jshakoor@rocketscience.com. All children must be five

–> years of age or older and all applicants must be legal US residents. If you

–> have any questions please feel free to contact us. The show airs Tuesdays

–> at eight on FOX. Thanks in advance for any help you could provide us.

–>

–> Jeffrey Shakoor

–> Rocket Science Labs

1. I’m not sure, but I think I’m supposed to leap up and say; “Me! Me! I’m interesting and talented!” and in the process forget to ask for money.

2. Trading Spouses? Was Wife Swap too hardcore, or do you perhaps have more interesting plans for that title?

3. Let me guess, you plan (ha ha ha) to swap the wives (ho ho ho) from a Star Wars (ha ha) and a Star Trek (ho ho) family. Oh, do stop, please. You’re killin’ me here…

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Date
20040811
Inneresting
Time
10:36
Take a look at some bloopers from Bewitched, then – while you’re in the mood – take a peek at who owns gladyskravitz.com

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Date
20040811
Consume!
Time
10:39
Get your face or photo onto a stamp without all that doing a great public service and dying malarkey.

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Date
20040811
Christianity Watch
Time
10:40
“Why are you helping me?”

I think I may have the answer to that question, but I’ll let you work it out for yourselves…

UPDATE – Jesusify your website with these fabbo linky-tract thingies. Highlights include the truth behind martial arts and rock music.

(Latter link via Ultimate Insult.)

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Date
20040811
The Big Intervention
Time
10:42
Independent – Blair faces vote of no-confidence over war: Labour activists are circulating a resolution of no confidence in Tony Blair for next month’s annual party conference because of a loss of trust in him over the war over Iraq.

This is exactly what The Big Intervention was designed to do/create/prompt. If you want to take advantage of this development, check out this update from The UK Today.

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Date
20040811
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
14:05
Hutton fails to find leak culprit shock! His ‘urgent’ investigation took 196 days to complete. And makes no findings whatsoever. And is followed by a two finger salute by Trevor Kavanagh of all people. It’s laughable.

But, hey… it’s six months down the track and the Olympics start in a day or two. Who’s going to care?

(Heads-up via Wibbler.)

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Date
20040812
The War on Terror
Time
10:28
Heads-up via this post at The UK Today….

Independent – Terror suspects lose detention challenge: Ten suspected terrorists detained in the UK without charge or trial today lost a Court of Appeal challenge to their internment. Most of the foreign nationals at the centre of the ruling in London have been held in prisons since 2001. Two of the ten have exercised their option to leave the UK rather than remain in detention. The men challenged a ruling of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) that Home Secretary David Blunkett had “sound material” to back up his decision that they were a risk to national security. Their lawyers had argued that evidence obtained by alleged torture of detainees in US camps should have been excluded by SIAC.

The Scotsman today has a few word from the men’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce: Ms Peirce pointed out that, while British citizens could not be locked up indefinitely, foreign nationals could be detained on mere suspicion of being a threat to national interests, which could include economic interests as well as security.

But that nice Mr Blunkett has assured us that he has used these (new) powers “sparingly and proportionately.” Basically, we should not be concerned about these draconian laws, because they’re only being used – most reluctantly – by people who are quite nice, really, and looking out for our best interests. It’s because the spectre of terror is so very, very scary that these only-very-slightly-scary measures are being taken.

We should also try not to be concerned about the following quote, also from Gareth Peirce: “It shows that we have completely lost our way in this country, legally and morally. We have international treaty obligations which prevent the use of evidence obtained by torture in any proceedings (but) what this judgment says by a two-to-one majority is that, if it is obtained by agents of another country and not procured or connived at by UK agents, it is usable without any restriction and there is no obligation on the secretary of state to inquire into the origins of it.”

We’ll get onto Blunkett’s bleating in a moment. In the meantime, it needs to pointed out that no statement he has made so far directly addresses the question of the rights and wrongs of evidence obtained by torture.

Independent- Evidence gained by torture allowed by British judges: From Lord Justice Laws’ judgement: ‘I am quite unable to see that any … principle prohibits the Secretary of State from relying … on evidence … which has or may have been obtained by torture by agencies of other states over which he has no powers of direction’

OK, let’s go to the bleating…

Independent – David Blunkett: Freedom from terrorist attack is also a human right – in which he claims that he’s protecting our human rights by ignoring theirs – but he’s also looking out for theirs by detaining them and not sending them home. As for comparisons between Belmarsh and Guantanamo? Pshaw! Absurd! They use orange jumpsuits, we use grey. (Please note that one of the ‘safeguards’ he cites is the option he also points out that many detainees do not have.)

Besides, he says, it’s not as if he’s pulling people off the street for the hell of it: “It is not as David Blunkett that I act to protect national security, but as Home Secretary. And act I must to prevent foreign nationals who we believe are international terrorists, but are unable to deport, from remaining at large in the UK.”

Yep, that’s our David. Calm, responsible and detached. Especially when it comes to terrorism.

And of course it needs to be pointed out that he’s not arresting people willy-nilly: “I deeply resent the inference in The Independent’s leading article on Tuesday that taking decisive measures to protect the country against terrorism – and the measures have protected us – is somehow to deny those very rights. I want a rational debate but based on facts. It is wrong to claim – as the media has this week – only 14 people have been charged out of more than 600 arrested under counter-terrorism laws. In fact, about half of those who have been picked up under the Terrorism Act 2000 have been charged with differing offences – 97 of them under the Terrorism Act itself. Under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (ATCSA) 2001, 17 people have been certified, 12 of them are still detained.”

Please note the two-step. He refutes the Independent’s human rights argument because of an ‘erroneous’ claim over how many were charged. If we refer to the article in question, you will note that it claims something lese entirely: Of more than 500 arrested under the Terrorism Act of 2000, just 14 have so far been convicted.

He’s the Home Secretary and he doesn’t know the difference between a charge and a conviction? That calls for a repeat of this link, so it does.

But even if we let this slide, we need to take a look at the ‘about half’ bluff: “In fact, about half of those who have been picked up under the Terrorism Act 2000 have been charged with differing offences – 97 of them under the Terrorism Act itself.”

1. ‘About half’ is not half. Technically it could be ‘more than half,’ but if it were then you would have said that. So is ‘about half’ 290? 240? What? Give me a number, please.

2. 97 charged under the Terrorism Act, hmm? What were the other 100-200 people charged with, then? Littering? I hear that’s an arrestable offence these days.

As for calls for a rational debate, it’s not us defending every move (or hiding from every crisis) with claims that the fucking sky is about to fall. And it’s not us who magically process ‘suspected of having connections to groups who may be involved in terrorism because of what some guy strapped to a board in Guantanamo said’ into ‘people we believe to be international terrorists’…

Beware the lies. Beware the creep.

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

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Date
20040812
Flash Games
Time
10:41
Two cool games via The Ultimate Insult:

Shoot the Cliche is a sad in-joke that starts slow, but gets more challenging as time goes by. (It doesn’t get funnier, it just gets more challenging.)

Herculympics follows a very simple rule; take a retro game and add a twist. Prepare to break your keyboard….

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Date
20040812
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:46
Not-the-Real-Jim-Cousins has a meeting lined up with the real Jim Cousins!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:59
National Lampoon turn their attention to MoveOn.org

The Onion: Delivering the central speech of his 10-day “Solution For America” bus campaign tour Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry outlined his one-point plan for a better America: the removal of George W. Bush from the White House.

Terror searches meet censorship – man almost has book confiscated ‘for his own safety’…

Torygraph – Hand over nuclear weapons and know-how, Iran tells Britain. We’re saying no, yes?

CNN – Wedding guest eat victim. I hope they remembered to keep a slice for luck.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
The War on Stupid
Time
11:16
Rob D noticed that the home page of Labour Party in Shepherds Bush points to what used to be the Hounslow Labour Party website. Sadly, whoever was in charge of renewing the domain hounslowlabour.org forgot to pay the bill and a move to labourinhounslow.org was necessary. What is now at hounslowlabour.org is a very useful guide to pay-as-you-go porn sites.

However, despite this being brought to their attention and reported once or twice, they have yet to chase down and update external links from many other Labour websites. (Not that this is easy to do. With so many of them hiding their content behind frames, a simple Googling of the URL is unlikely to detect every link. Can I perhaps suggest you take a peek at your old referral logs?)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
A Blog is Born
Time
11:17
Meet Rachel, friend of Poons.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
George W. Bush
Time
11:20
As George himself might say; “It was the picture that was heard around the world…”

George W. Bush sucker-punches a rugby opponent at Yale.

UPDATE – Would plugging this t-shirt reveal a horrendous (if gratifying) double-standard?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
No, Really…
Time
12:19
Woman thrown overboard for refusing to share her breastmilk.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
13:01
Independent – Hutton leak inquiry ‘is yet another whitewash’: Richard Ottaway, a Conservative frontbench spokesman who questioned Dr Kelly when he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said: “This is not only a second whitewash. It is a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money. Everyone knows it was No 10.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
Photoshopping
Time
13:45
Intelligence gained under torture is admissible in our courts – so long as we didn’t do the torturing…..

I’m still getting over that. Here’s a picture I made to help me cope.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
14:20
Washington Post – The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story – Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn’t Make Front Page.

I can’t possibly improve on the comments by Atrios and Rising Hegemon.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040812
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
15:16
I did warn ‘Ivor’ about posting in first-person, even in jest. Not that it’s confusing (it only confuses the very stupid) but more because it provides justification for this kind of hard-done-by reaction. So, a gentle slap on the wrist for ‘Ivor’ and a quick “get over yourself” for David Lepper for this effort….

MP hits back over spoof weblog: The Pavilion MP has become the latest victim of a national campaign to ‘blackmail’ politicians into starting web log (blog) online diaries. Some of the “proxy-blogs” are openly hostile to the targeted MP and Mr Lepper will now consider legal action to get the site removed…. Dr Nick Palmer, secretary of the all-party Parliamentary internet group, said: “Blackmailing MPs into creating blogs is not the best way. If they want the MP to blog, they should get in touch and ask.”

Ex-squeeze me? I’ve been in touch. I’ve asked aplenty. I may not have talked with the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group but:

1 – They haven’t approached me, either.

2 – I think I had them on my hassle list, but they didn’t appear to do much apart from talk (and their site still uses frames, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of forward thinking).

As for the whole “David Lepper is a serious and dedicated MP” thing, perhaps his web presence should reflect that.

The blackmail/victim/culprit language deserves a slap too, but what really gets me is “there has been a growth of genuine blogs by MPs following successful internet campaigns in the United States” – when the US model is highly flawed and had nothing to do with this growth. In fact, the first elected officials to start blogging started right here in the UK. And the only reason this campaign is necessary is because the flawed top-down model might yet be adopted here (as the general election looms ever closer and silly money comes into play).

Mr Brendan Montague should check a few of his facts (and perhaps do a little research) before he plays journalist again.

UPDATE – I know, I know – flies and honey. But this kind of ignorance really gets me down. Incidentally, you may wish to take a look at the fabulous website of Nick Palmer, the man who is quoted in this article as some kind of Interweb expert. What would happen if I knocked on your door, Nick?

UPDATE 2 – Nick actually answers his email, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt when he tells me that the quote attributed to him was used rather (ahem) selectively. However, he needs to take a closer look at weblogs before he decides what they are.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
Civil Liberties
Time
10:22
(Image posted to B3ta.)

Just what in the hell is going on here?

On Wednesday, it was established that evidence obtained by torture is admissible in our courts (as long as it’s not us doing the torturing).

Now – when he’s not bleating to The Scum about the injustice of a criminal winning the lottery – Blunkett is proposing that every offence be an arrestable one!

He would also prefer it if officers could fingerprint you, test your DNA and X-ray you without your knowledge or consent.

Independent – Police to have power to arrest litterbugs

Guardian – Police to get wider arrest powers

Bit Mail-esque, that Indy headline, isn’t it?

OK, let’s try to be sensible and look at this with a cool head…

John Kampfner – This is about politics, not policing: When a government floats changes to the criminal justice system, look for the context as much as the content. The political parties are using the summer to test-run ideas ahead of a frenetic election year. There can be no other reason why David Blunkett has, two days after a speech from Michael Howard, decided to unveil another pot-pourri of ideas in the never-ending “battle” against crime.

But, at the same time, let’s be aware of the creep.

There were certain laws rushed through to target terrorists. Who in their right mind would defend the rights of terrorists?

Oops – these laws were also used to stifle protests – against arms dealers!

There are new police powers designed to crack down on animal rights activists. Who in their right mind would defend the rights of such extremists?

But they apply to you too, Jack. And a law that makes it illegal to protest outside someone’s home technically makes it illegal to protest outside Downing St.

I say again; “Oops!”

Even if they are only headline-grabbers and/or an attempt to dominate the right-field and hamper the Tories – what happens if these ideas take hold? After all, they’re designed to such things as slimy, law-savvy hooligans. Who in their right mind would defend the rights of rampant youths thrusting two fingers at authority?

Certainly not Leah (22, from Hastings) who ‘reckons it’s a good idea’ to make every offence arrestable. She says: “There’s no point just ticking people off. This proposal will make a lot more people stay within the law.”

Ah, yes. As with the ever-developing DNA database and the plan to introduce ID cards (hey, we’re at war, remember), the law-abiding have nothing to fear.

Unless you fear the growth of a police state.

Unless you fear that one day the law may change and put you on the wrong side of it.

And I’m not just talking about making something illegal that you wish/need to do – I’m also talking about making something legal that inconveniences, endangers, or outrages you. (Not that our government would ever, say, pander to the needs to a greedy corporation by approving of morally questionable or unsafe practices.)

The further the creep gets, the less likely it will be that you’ll be able to protest against such things (or anything) effectively.

Currently, if a protest gets to be inconvenient or embarrassing (i.e. if it’s working) the police have to use their imagination with regards to charges and/or goad people into violence. If Blunkett’s proposal’s went through, it would be much easier for police to discourage protestors by making one or two ‘show’ arrests or to displace/disperse protestors by taking them into custody. Embarrassment over little incidents like this will be a thing of the past.

Under Blair, we seem to be forgetting the ‘social’ and getting waaaay out of control on the ‘justice’ – this is especially dangerous in an age where media control is increasingly centralised (and the government becomes more and more adept at controlling it).

What recourse do the public have if they object to the actions/inactions of a corporation or their government and the media are unable or unwilling to highlight the problem?

There are some people who are in this position right now – and the media actually conspire against them. But who in their right mind would defend the rights of rampaging anarchists?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
How To Think Like An Evil Bastard
Time
10:30
Steal monkeys and put them to work! If you get enough monkeys, you may even be able to get them to knock out a novel on the side.

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Date
20040813
Humanity
Time
10:37
Evangalist’s ‘miracle baby’ scam acts as a front for baby-trafficking. There’s a programme about this on Radio 4 at 12:30pm (GMT) today. You may wish to tune in.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
Music
Time
10:44
iPod Vs. the Cassette!

‘Stairway to Heaven’ as Schubert would have written it, not to mention Beethoven, Mahler, Miller etc.

The latter brings to mind this fabulous album. I’m proud to say that I not only own a copy, but even keep in the the Regular Rotation library (i.e. not in a box in the attic).

UPDATE – More on the eeeeee-vils of music from Backword.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
Tolerance
Time
10:49
Oh God, what a mess.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
RWCs
Time
10:51
Oh God, what a bunch of asshats.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:28
It seems that this article is mostly the result of a thin-skinned MP and a journalist who wishes to one day write for the Daily Mail.

‘Ivor’ has been in touch about amendments to the David Lepper proxy-blog (i.e. removing/rewriting the ‘first person’ material) but he also points out that this article was written without his knowledge. Mr Brendan Montague didn’t even bother to advise him of the article; much less ask why he had created a proxy-blog. I’d like to think that we have slightly more class than this, so if you do link to this story and/or comment on the writing style, judgement or parentage of Mr Brendan Montague, please do get in touch via mailto:news@theargus.co.uk and let him know why his ears are burning. (UPDATE – Brendan claims to have tried to reach ‘Ivor’ and myself by email and blames deadlines for the inaccuracies. He also requests that any correspondence regarding this article be sent to his direct address. Google hasn’t seen this address yet, so I’ve spamblocked it as a courtesy – brendan DOT montague AT theargus DOT co DOT uk)

Note – It’s worth mentioning the sudden rush of press releases that have followed David Lepper’s discovery of the proxy-blog – and that one of them concerns an issue raised at the blog.

On a more positive note, Nick Palmer has been in touch to defend his choice of publishing platform, which relies heavily on a direct newsletter with a readership approaching 1500 peeps (contents of this newsletter are mirrored on the site).

Nowt wrong with that, but take a look at his main concern about blogging (Nick has asked me to plug his way of doing things, which is why I’m being so liberal with the email quotage):

“I don’t want to write frequent short passing thoughts – I want to chew over issues in depth from time to time, usually about once a week. Because my format is email-driven, a blog approach would mean sending them an email most days. Many would unsubscribe. I could instead invite them to look at the web site when they felt like it, but that would mean that if I wanted to consult them on a current issue I’d be at the mercy of when they next went to have a look.”

Basically, Nick has mistaken capacity with necessity.

A blog would allow him to publish more frequently, but it wouldn’t compel him to. If he wished, he could publish once a week as he had always done and instead of simply sifting through the isolated replies by email (he gets about 300 per newsletter) he could instead bring it to life by inviting comment on the website.

One is a publication, the other is a conversation (which often brings new ideas to the table). There is no need to blog hourly or daily to make this happen.

As an added benefit, this level of interaction with the online community nearly always improves search results (which often brings new people to the table). There is no need to reach thousands of people to make this happen.

Nick seems worried that the site will become inundated with non-constituents, but he doesn’t seem to understand the value of attracting like-minded individuals to his site (i.e. peeps who are interested enough in any given issue to search for more information). I’m sure there’s more than one problem Nick deals with that people outside his constituency may have dealt with before and/or may be able to help with.

Anyway, he knows all this now, so I’ll let you know what he comes back with. (UPDATE – He’s not sold on it yet, but there is hope…)

Moving right along to some excellent news from the proxy blog for Alan Milburn

Meeting Alan Milburn: Alan seemed very keen for the blog to continue, and was interested in himself and his office taking a more active role, but was reluctant to commit to personally updating the blog before he had a better understanding of how much of a time committment it would be. As a halfway step, one of Alan’s constituency workers is going to start posting items to the blog… in addition to me.

Excellent news. Top banana. Good work that man.

I’ve been kind of slack on Tory-chasing this week, as I’ve had something developing in the background. As soon as I get an answer on this, I’ll be ready to move (or not) on the Tory front.

UPDATE – Julian Bond on Ivor/Lepper Vs. Mike/Milburn

UPDATE – Yes, that’s what we do. We rush straight into blackmail. Because we’re evil. And impatient. And ungrateful.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040813
The Bush Administration
Time
11:32
Via Toby….

BBC – Moore embarrasses new CIA chief: Moore, who directed the film Fahrenheit 9/11, has released an interview with Mr Goss in which he says he lacks the qualifications for the top spy post. “I couldn’t get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified,” Mr Goss told Moore’s production company in March. The White House has dismissed the interview as “ridiculous hearsay”.

Ridiculous hearsay direct from the source?

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Date
20040813
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
12:23
Meanwhile, in Iraq…

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Date
20040813
We’re Not At Home To Mr Cock-Up
Time
15:19
I’ll let Annie do the introduction to this wonderful example of customer communication.

It reminds of an idle thought I had the other day about the most interesting request I could make under the Data Protection Act (here’s a handy resource, courtesy of Mark Thomas).

Who do you think would have the most interesting/telling chatter or data relating to little old me and my two stampy feet? SWT? Downing St? The Ecilops?

I can probably only afford one request every month or so, so I’ll have to prioritise. Emails/suggestions to the usual address, please.

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Date
20040813
Distractions
Time
16:54
Crikey! Look at the size of this week’s B3ta newsletter! Oh my… and there’s some very, very rude bits in this latest edition (read a comment from an outraged recipient). If you wish to avoid blushes and go straight to the coolest features, then bikesagainstbush.com, the KFC clones and this very naff/cool Flash version of pool await your attention.

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Date
20040813
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
17:40
Hooray for us, because we’re working to change this.

If you’re an MP, please keep this article and the ‘politics (is) conducted by and for the elite’ comment in mind the next time you prepare to poo-poo our requests or suggest helpfully that perhaps we would care to run for office ourselves. Sneh.








Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

20-31 July, 2004

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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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

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

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

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

(Posted to B3ta.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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….

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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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.

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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.

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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.








Posted in Page 3 - News in Briefs, Uncategorized | Comments Off

02-16 July, 2004

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Date
20040702
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
12:33
Rod, who is currently blogging on behalf of Sarah Teather MP, has applied to be in the audience of this special ‘yoof’ edition of Question Time… where Sarah Teather will be on the panel.

Here’s hoping that the subject of communication with MPs via weblogs gets an airing.

In fact, if you’re a blogger aged 15 to 25 and you live in or near London, you may wish to apply for a place in the audience yourself.

(This has been a rare post in support of The Political Weblog Movement. Find out more here.)

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Date
20040705
A Blog is Born
Time
09:37
Just for the record… I went to see a certain movie last night. Going to see it yourself? My advice would be to take a wingnut with you. If you can find one with enough guts.

Links: www.michaelmoore.com

Counterbias: The Media’s Dual ‘Propaganda’ Thresholds.

Michael Moore started blogging yesterday.

Moore: pirate my film, no problem.

An Independence Day Quiz

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Date
20040705
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:56
Two posts in one day? Honestly, I spoil you people sometimes.

James Mills is trying to get a Tory MP on board with a blog, and he needs your help.

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Date
20040706
Spam
Time
11:59
A little treat for those of you who have been keeping the faith. Like Andrew. Who wishes to bring this to your attention.

UPDATE – Yep, looks like he’s going to weasel his way out again. And there’s nothing you or I can do about it…

Independent – Blair finally admits it: ‘We may never find WMD’: His move was seen at Westminster as a pre-emptive strike before the publication a week today of the Butler report into Britain’s pre-war intelligence, which is expected to criticise the security services and the use by the Government of the material they provided. Mr Blair is expected to admit that mistakes were made ­ but to defend the decision to topple Saddam.

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Date
20040707
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:37
Can you hear that rumble in the distance? That’s a storm headed our way. And it’s going to be a big one.

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Date
20040712
Feedback
Time
11:49
MRSA could kill you stone dead! So wash your hands! FFS, we’ve obviously got some kind of genius in charge of this, the latest Major Life Or Death Issue That’s Nothing To Do With Iraq.

Cheers for all the weekend/morning emails.

Yes, I watched Panorama last night. Yes, I caught the ‘blink and you miss it’ reference to what Blair omitted from the September dossier – the assertion by the intelligence services that there was no clear link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Yes, I’m aware that Bush’s ‘doomsday’ plan for postponing the election is spearheaded by a Baptist pastor and I’m as amused/disturbed as you are.

Yes, I see how determined Bush is to restore dignity to the White House. And now I have a link for you.

It also hasn’t escaped my attention that – in yet another week where Blair needs The Fear – it is delivered with the wonderfully graphic notion of Big Ben falling on the House of Commons. How very WTC.

My turn for a question… what can I do apart from bitch about it?

Juicy links to follow, emails and/or any ideas for futile gestures are welcome.

Andrew Rawnsley – What Tony Blair would say to God: I’m increasingly convinced that the Prime Minister essentially decided to support the removal of the Iraqi dictator first, and then thought about how to sell this to his party, the public and international opinion. On this occasion, the presentation did not drive the policy; the policy drove the presentation.

Peter Preston – Does Big Ben Chime For You?: At heart, you’re just that ordinary guy, stuck with going on and on until something – a trouncing, a visitation from Osama, a superbug the good doctor missed – says you’re not. The trouble with power, you know, is that there is no rest as the clock strikes five.

The Guardian – Focus on The Butler Report

PS – Survival Tips for Tony Blair:

1. Your party is likely to stick with you if you continue to overstate the threat of the Tories. You’re jolly good at this kind of thing, and the plan appears to be working. Keep it up.

2. Try to ignore the torture of children in Abu Ghraib for as long as possible, and then act shocked and take ‘immediate and decisive action’ the moment the issue hits the front pages.

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Date
20040712
Flash Music Video
Time
16:39
There may be a new Flash jobbie cooking away in the background sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this. Cheers all.

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Date
20040713
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
08:49
“The proof? You can’t handle the proof!

PS – Black is white and up is down. Does this remind you of anything?

UPDATE – Who’s rewriting the what now?

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Date
20040713
Photoshopping
Time
13:45
The Butler Report is out tomorrow.

I know I’m going to regret my youthful optimism in the morning, but… (Closes eyes. Makes a wish.)

And now, here is the news: bong… bong… bong…

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Date
20040714
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:21
From today’s issue of Murdoch’s Times newspaper: Officials said yesterday that they were confident the Government had escaped the two most ‘lethal’ verdicts, namely that Mr Blair and his aides lied about Iraqi WMD or that he went to war without legal justification. Although they accept that the report will be “tough and embarrassing,” one senior Whitehall source stated last night: “The Prime Minister will be cleared of misusing intelligence. An hour after receiving the report yesterday, Mr Blair issued a passionate defence of the war with Iraq, saying that the world was safer and more secure with Saddam out of power. He is expected to reiterate that message today in a Commons statement at 1.30pm, an hour after Lord Butler publishes his report.”

That’s it? That’s all he’s got? Saddam bad, Saddam gone, no problem…?

There have been more than a few mentions of the lack of a “silver bullet” aimed at Blair, but it’s also highly unlikely that any aspect of the report magically clears Blair.

Why do I suspect this? Because if there were such a thing, the foundations would almost certainly have been laid in this morning’s Sun, which today contains not one mention of Lord Butler and his report. Instead it’s the new plague and Britney Spears swigging scotch. (Or is that perhaps a bottle of ginseng extract? Never mind. They operated on the intelligence they had at the time and did what had to be done, and that’s what matters.)

Don’t think too hard today, boys and girls. And remember that there are bigger problems to deal with.

That way, Blair has a chance of squirming free once again, instead of being strapped to the nearest long-range missile and sent on his way.

The UK Today: Now remember, and this is the important bit, the rationale for invading Iraq was to prevent Saddam using his WMDs, weapons that would take no more than 45 minutes to deploy and could hit Cyprus. Remember that because it is important. Our Parliament voted to go to war on the issue of WMDs, not to bring about regime change, not to bring democracy to Iraq, not to free the Iraqis, but to get rid of Saddam and his WMDs.

(Click here for a desktop version of this image.)

Keep up with the latest news on the Butler report here or here. For a clear/creative indication of what the public makes of it, scan the B3ta messageboard.

UPDATE – London News Review – Lord Butler has some easy conclusions to draw about Blair and the Iraq intelligence.

UPDATE – Download the report here. Also, there’s this:

BBC – Butler report publication: Point-by-point

My fave bit: On the 45 minute claim, Lord Butler said his inquiry had looked at whether the claim had been spun by the government but he decided it had not. It had been seized on by the media because it was new and striking.

Yes. Downing St had no control over how certain media outlets *cough*Murdochscum*cough* might select or treat this new and striking information. That Blair’s team chose to highlight.

Also: Lord Butler said Iraq was a very big place and there was “lots of sand” and it would be an unwise person who reached the conclusion that nothing would ever be found in Iraq.

Like, perhaps… more sand?

And: Lord Butler said there was no evidence, no reason to question to the prime minister’s good faith.

Quickly leapt upon by Blair as Vindication Lite: The prime minister said there had been two issues one being about good faith – no-one had lied, made up intelligence, everyone had tried to do their best in difficult circumstances. Questions over good faith should now be at an end.

Funny, I could have sworn there was the small matter of “unwittingly” misleading Parliament to be dealt with.

Not that it should be argued in these terms. Blair still has a case to answer in my view.

He needed justification for invading Iraq and he made damn sure that he got it.

Or perhaps you would care to believe that he just happened to have the good fortune to be visited by the Good Intelligence fairies, who delivered a magic carriage of invisible weapons.

That he was left with a crate of rotting pumpkins is by-the-by. And nobody’s fault.

Oh, and Saddam is a bad man, and now he’s gone. War on Terror, 911, etc. etc. etc.

Maggie Thatcher’s Underpants – Whitehall Whitewash Part Deux: The Smell of Teflon: What I am definitely certain of is that something went badly wrong in the interface between the intelligence community and government. The government wanted intelligence to make the case for a war they were already committed to – intelligence didn’t guide what they were doing. In this desperation, pressure was placed on the intelligence community to come up with the sort of language that the government wanted.

The UK Today – Lies, Damn Lies, and Dossiers on WMDs: When it comes to the 45 minute claim, Butler decided that the claim had not been spun by the government, but instead was seized upon by the media because it would make a striking headline. Which would be a valid defence were it not for the fact that Alistair Campbell was in the loop and would have know exactly the effect the 45 minute claim would have on the press.

To close, I offer you a rarity; something that almost never appears on Bloggerheads… a reference to sport. Yes, I’m as amazed as you are.

I may blog the results of New Statesman New Media Awards (the awards are presented/announced tomorrow evening), but after that I fully expect to re-plug and go back to sleep. Cheers all.

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Date
20040714
Opportunities
Time
18:41
Sounds to me like they’re looking for a young blogger. Too bad the pay is so average.

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Date
20040714
Tolerance
Time
19:47
Is George W. Bush a flaming homosexual?

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Date
20040715
Intelligence
Time
08:59
The official Butler Report website – Now trading as the John Scarlett Appreciation Society. Cheers Rogi.

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Date
20040716
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
11:29
You can still sign up to the Bloggerheads mailing list and get updates while I’m resting by sending a blank email to this address:

bloggerheads-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

In fact, if you’d already done this, you would have known that my picks for the New Statesman New Media Awards were Slugger O’Toole for Community and Information and Tom Watson for Elected Representative.

And so it came to pass.

(For comments on Tom’s award, see his website; I’ve just taken the liberty of making a post on his behalf.)

Rob and I spent a very pleasant hour before the awards handing out ‘Will Blair Resign?’ stickers to people queuing up to go into Westminster. I was still wearing mine when I met Peter Hain at the presentation of Tom’s award and during a very pleasant chat in the reception that followed.

(Don’t ask; my lips are firmly sealed. No big secrets; I just don’t want to be rude.)

James Mills was also in fine form and a pleasure to share beer with.

I really should close by saying hooray for Slugger and his gentle but firm nurturing of democracy.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but when you think about it, it’s probably not a good idea to give an achievement award to a guy who spends most of his time setting fires.

Speaking of which, I’m still officially resting, but I’m sure that I will find this very hard to ignore.

(shakes box of matches)

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Date
20040716
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
11:33
See and enjoy www.johnhowardlies.com before it gets knocked for six.

Not only but also…

Independent – Revealed: Government witnesses knew September dossier was unsafe – but did not tell Hutton: Crucial doubts about Iraq’s ability to produce chemical weapons were withheld from two inquiries which examined the Government’s case for war.

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Date
20040716
A Blog is Born
Time
13:33
Mail Watch, brought to you by the Merkster and friends. Look forward to it; that’s an order.








Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

14-28 June, 2004

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Date
20040614
Google
Time
09:22
The answer given so often in Usenet and web groups that actually helped to establish Google is now a website.

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Date
20040614
Church & State
Time
09:24
Independent – Revealed: Blair’s link to schools that take the Creation literally: A controversial chain of schools teaching Biblical “creationism” has been given Tony Blair’s personal support despite serious doubts raised by parents and teachers, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Mr Blair, said to be the most religious Prime Minister since Gladstone, has backed the millionaire car dealer Sir Peter Vardy in his attempt to take over seven comprehensives and turn them into Christian Academies promoting Old Testament views of the world’s creation. This includes the claim that it was made in six days, 10,000 years ago. Two of Sir Peter’s schools are open already, in Gateshead and Middlesbrough, and a third is under construction in Doncaster.

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Date
20040614
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:26
Guardian – Red Cross ultimatum to US on Saddam – Release him, charge him or break international law, Bush told: Saddam Hussein must either be released from custody by June 30 or charged if the US and the new Iraqi government are to conform to international law, the International Committee of the Red Cross said last night.

Torygraph – Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels’: New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week, adding further to pressure on the White House. The Telegraph understands that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly.

There’s also that memo and footage of children in Abu Ghraib to come.

Labour MPs determined to stick with Blair (or tempted to swing back after the morale-boosting ‘new plan’ meeting today) would do well to remember that.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the word that was so useful a few weeks ago (‘abuse’ in place of ‘torture’) should now look to become a huge liability…

Just look at the words and think about the picture they paint in your mind:

child torture

OK, now clear your mind and start again:

child abuse

The footage doesn’t even have to be released for that to be incredibly damaging, especially as we already know how prevalent the use of sexual humiliation was in the torture of adult detainees.

It will be *very* interesting to see how Rebekah ‘Red Mist’ Wade deals with this when it breaks.

If this is the jumping-off point for Murdoch, she’ll be permitted to unleash her fury. If Murdoch is determined to keep playing, will she follow orders, actually try to bury it and do an appeal for abused puppies instead?

Back to the kiddies:

How evil is this?

Well, we already know why the torture and degradation the public already knows about was filmed and photographed. The resulting footage was shown to new detainees to put them in (ahem) the correct frame of mind for interrogation. It’s a sure bet that this footage was used for the same purpose.

And we can all be pretty sure what the first question was:

“Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”

A good thing that WMD is such a concern for Tony Blair as well. I can just hear him now:

“Well, it may not have been a popular decision, but it was the right one. I believe that we are dealing with a genuine threat, war on terror, etc. etc. etc.”

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Date
20040614
Tony Blair
Time
09:54
Michael Moore to target Blair next?: “I personally hold Blair more responsible for this war in Iraq than I do George W. Bush, and the reason is Blair knows better. Blair is not an idiot. What is he doing hanging around this guy?,” Moore told Reuters in an interview.

(Thanks to Steve and Scaryduck for the heads-up.)

UPDATE – Really, what yould I do without you people? Cheers, Mark

BBC – Director Moore denies Blair film: …a message posted on Moore’s website stated that reports of his plans for a film on Blair were false. It is not true. Michael made a joke in an interview and, apparently. it was taken seriously,” the statement added.

Bugger…

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Date
20040614
The Bush Administration
Time
10:06
New York Times – Epitaph and Epigone: At every opportunity, as the extraordinary procession solemnly wended its way from California to the Capitol, W. was peeping out from behind the majestic Reagan mantle, trying to claim the Gipper as his true political father.

UPDATE – This link requires registration, but the headache is worth it for the joy it brings…

LA Times – Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go: A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America’s national security and should be defeated in November.

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Date
20040614
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
10:34
Visit this blog or the duck gets it.

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Date
20040614
The Big Intervention
Time
10:48
The statements page was updated this morning, and now features the most recent statements first.

I kept myself busy over the weekend and had a lot of joy handing out simple stickers with ‘Will Blair Resign?’ and the URL on them. If you want a copy for the Word doc I used (suitable for a 24-sheet page o’ stickers – Avery L7159) then just ask.

Wimbledon was Saturday. Guildford on Sunday and again this morning. Woking at lunchtime.

Balders has been taking it to the streets, as has Poons, who brings us this report from Worcester City Centre.

Remember; to make a difference, you do actually have to get up, step away from the computer, go outside and Do Stuff from time to time.

In fact, if anyone out there works in London and wants a quick job, I need a pile of stickers delivered to Brain Haw (the protestor opposite Parliament). Drop me a line with your mailing address if you think you can help.

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Date
20040614
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
11:20
Various links and posts regarding Dave Winer’s decision to withdraw hosting at weblogs.com pretty much dominate Blogdex today.

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Date
20040614
The Big Intervention
Time
15:06
I have a new statement to add to the Big Intervention…. from Terry Jones.

I got in touch with his agent, I asked, I got. And if I can do it, you can do it. Pick a notable, any notable, and request your statement today.

And now, a few words from Terry:

–> “Tony Blair has successfully supported the most right-wing,

–> corrupt government the USA has ever known. He has successfully turned

–> the Labour party into a warmongers’ party. He has successfully led

–> the Labour party away from any form of socialism. As far as I can see

–> he has successfully destroyed the Labour party.

–> The only hope is for the Labour party itself to destroy him.”

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Date
20040614
Tony Blair
Time
16:12
Just in case you need clarification, Tony Blair’s apology on Friday was not in any way an apology for the war. I love that he’s still playing the ‘Do you want Saddam back?’ card.

Scotsman – Bitter blow to Labour’s recovery bid: Coming so soon after last week’s bleak results from the local government elections, last night’s display of public disenchantment was a bitter blow for the Labour Party. By midnight, Ian McCartney, the party chairman, had been reduced to declaring that the fall in Labour’s vote was actually quite good, because it was not as bad as the Tories’ slump.

Reuters – Blair seeks to calm party after poll rout: In what is likely to be a tense meeting of Labour parliamentarians later on Monday, Blair will try to calm those worried about losing their seats in the next election, expected next year. Blair does not usually attend the weekly meetings. With some angry Labour members demanding he stand aside, Blair has called on his followers to hold their nerve.

Yes. To hold one’s nerve is to show strength of character. To see what obviously needs to be done and act on it is to panic. Glad we’re all on the same page.

Independent – Senior colleagues rally round Blair after Labour suffers double election blow: Cabinet ministers rallied behind Tony Blair yesterday as they tried to prevent Labour’s drubbing in last Thursday’s elections provoking a crisis of confidence in his leadership…. Although a growing number of Labour MPs would like to see Mr Blair stand down before the general election, there were few signs at the weekend that they will try to force him out.

It’s up to us to change that.

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Date
20040614
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
16:46
Time – Redefining Torture – Did the U.S. go too far in changing the rules, or did it apply the new rules to the wrong people?: A series of leaked legal memos has revealed that since late 2001 the Administration has been quietly but fundamentally reshaping America’s stance on torture. Contradicting 50 years of policy governing the treatment of detainees captured during conflict, the memos meticulously list all the laws against torture—then offer methods of evading them. The White House insists that these documents were abstract musings rather than actual policy changes. Nevertheless, they suggest that what happened at Abu Ghraib was not unique but grew out of a climate of ambiguity regarding the treatment and interrogation of prisoners that was created by an Administration determined to do whatever it takes to win the war on terrorism.

And, as we all know, when it comes to terror, Iraq is the central front. Well, it is now

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Date
20040614
Tim Yeo
Time
17:29
Damn. I’ve been sticking pins in the wrong bloody doll. Tim Yeo has just been sacked as Shadow Minister for Public Services, Health, Education and Bottle-Washing!

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Date
20040614
The Bush Administration
Time
17:41
The Age – Cheney linked to suspect contracts: The Pentagon has acknowledged that Vice-President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and other political appointees helped make the controversial decision on a $1.8 million contract for the postwar recovery of Iraq’s oil sector. The decision to award the contract to the energy giant Halliburton overruled recommendations of an army lawyer. Eventually it resulted in the awarding of a much larger $US7 billion ($A10 billion) no-bid contract to Halliburton. Mr Cheney ran Halliburton for five years before he was nominated for vice-president…. Mr Cheney, who was chief executive of the Houston-based oil services company from 1995 to 2000, has repeatedly denied that he or his office influenced decisions to give contracts to Halliburton.

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Date
20040615
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:32
Guardian – British soldiers face abuse court martial: Charges against the four fusiliers include indecent assault, “which apparently involves making the victims engage in sexual activity between themselves”, said Lord Goldsmith. They are also accused of military offences – prejudicing good order and military discipline. In a written statement in the House of Lords, the attorney general said the case “concerns conduct alleged to have occurred while the civilians were being temporarily detained, but not in a prison or detention facility”.

New York Times – Unit Says It Gave Earlier Warning of Abuse in Iraq: Beginning in November, a small unit of interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison began reporting allegations of prisoner abuse, including the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals, in internal documents sent to senior officers, according to interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison. The disclosure of the documents raises new questions about whether senior officers in Iraq were alerted about serious abuses at the prison before January. Top military officials have said they only learned about abuses then, after a soldier came forward with photographs of the abuse.

UPDATE – Analysis of the OLC’s Aug. 1, 2002 Torture Memo: In the views of the author/authors, there’s basically nothing Congress can do to constrain the President’s exercise of the war power. The Geneva Conventions are, by inevitable implications, not binding on the President, nor is any other international agreement if it impedes the war effort. I’m sure our allies will be just thrilled to hear that.

Keep telling yourself that we are only implicated by a necessary alliance. Keep telling yourself that we are only implicated by a necessary alliance. Keep telling yourself that we are only implicated by a necessary alliance. Keep telling yourself that we are only implicated by a necessary alliance.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
Minions of Murdoch
Time
09:43
BBC – US channel’s BBC remarks censured: Ofcom said Fox News breached guidelines when commentator John Gibson claimed the BBC had displayed “a frothing-at-the-mouth” anti-American bias.

Pfft! They claim as part of their defence that; searching for the phrase “BBC anti-American” into the Google internet search engine resulted in 47,200 hits.

Searching Google for ‘murdoch is evil’ returns 46,800 results. Your point being…?

(And, as Joe has been kind enough to point out, searching in Google for ‘fox news is shit’ returns 175,000 results. So this statement is clearly three times as true.)

You can still see this fair and balanced report by John Gibson here and his response to direct complaints here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
The Big Intervention
Time
09:45
More on this soon. I have a big job to do first. In the meantime, why not busy yourself with finding contact details for notable folks who may wish to make a statement?

(Hint: Don’t look for their contact details. Instead, find out who their agent is and go through them.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
A Blog is Born
Time
10:14
Mike has started a weblog for Alan Milburn MP. He gives his reasons for doing this here.

I need to start up some static links to this, the Lewis Mooney weblog and others that come along.

I also have to change the status of a couple of links to James Mills, who is now an ex-Councillor (by 56 votes). But I won’t be removing the links, and I don’t think he should stop blogging.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
11:30
The seven-year-old bloggers

Where are all the British blogs?

Muted dissidence? No comment.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
The Big Intervention
Time
12:33
We have our first response. I can’t tell you who it’s from, but you do need to see it and know that it’s from someone who voted in favour of the war:

–> Having looked at the website I have no intention of responding.

–> I am disappointed you felt you could write to me in the way you did without

–> disclosing your intentions. As it happens, I never respond to surveys.

–> I shall, however, be passing this on to the Labour Party’s National Office.

Alll together now; WOOoooOOOoooooooo….

(I wonder if this will result in a black mark on my permananent record…)

UPDATE – Oh, go on then – have a clue.

Other MPs who get in touch with us and request time to think about it will get that time. Those who wish to speak off the record will be given that opportunity.

But dismissing this initiative (as this MP has, branding it a ‘survey’) rates as a ‘No Comment’ and the response will be recorded as such.

Get snarky about it, and we will go public with the full response.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
The Big Intervention
Time
13:28
I’ve been a busy boy this lunchtime…

To: All Labour MPs (with one or two obvious exceptions)

Subject: The Big Intervention and child torture in Iraq

By now Tony has made his case and you’re aware of several bold initiatives. A way forward. With Iraq behind us.

It’s my sad duty to inform you that this simply isn’t going to happen.

You need to be aware of this memo, that clearly shows how outraged the Bush administration is by the use of torture in Abu Ghraib by one or two ‘bad apples':

http://tinyurl.com/2kbqx

Now think back to when the images of torture were first released. Piers Moron did Blair a tremendous favour with the distraction of the staged images, but the genuine photos still caused a major shift in public opinion here in the UK, and people are about to realise that one set of fake images does not make a story untrue:

http://tinyurl.com/2r4py

The next round of images are going to be even worse. They involve the children of detainees:

http://tinyurl.com/yuuxu

Children. Let that sink in for a bit.

These images exist because footage of this action was taken so it could be shown to new detainees to prepare them for questioning. (Where, presumably, the first question was; “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”)

Successfully spinning this would be about as likely as getting away with calling September 11th a good day to bury bad news.

You need to know this is coming, because even the loosest association with this outrage is going to reflect very badly on Tony Blair, on yourself, and everybody in the UK. Together, we allowed this to happen. Because we supported it, because we didn’t fight it hard enough, or because we simply stood by and watched matters unfold.

In the next few days, you should be receiving letters from your constituents asking what your position is regarding Tony Blair’s suitability for leadership. I urge you to consider your position very carefully. You can see on the website that many people – like myself – believe in the Labour Party, but can no longer support Blair as leader:

http://www.bigintervention.org.uk/statements.htm

The only way forward in Iraq and in the war on terror is for mistakes to be admitted and for justice to be seen to be done.

You must take this stand for social justice here and abroad, or betray everything the Labour Party is supposed to stand for.

Fail to take action when given the opportunity, and you risk associating yourself with every crime and mistake behind this stupid, stupid war.

Yours Sincerely,

Tim Ireland

http://www.bloggerheads.com/

PS – And now a few words from the President of the United States:

http://tinyurl.com/3hfe2

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
The Big Intervention
Time
13:59
Dave needs some help tracking down contact details for Tony Benn. Please help out if you can.

UPDATE – Best routes appear to be via the person who built his site (who also happens to have the last name ‘Benn’) and his publishers. But do get in touch if you know of a better way.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
Tony Blair
Time
15:21
BBC – Blair defiant on Europe and Iraq.

The Leader Who Can Do No Wrong spoke thusly: “Now is not the time for a change in direction … but a change in gear.”

But not into reverse, obviously.

Hm. Considering how likely he is to push these bold initiatives through without the simple currency of trust, can I instead suggest neutral?

(Link via Perfect.co.uk)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040615
It’s Not About The Oil
Time
16:34
Attack brings Iraq oil exports close to a standstill.

Reuters reports that repairs will take 7-10 days, but oil prices surged by a dollar a barrel anyways (which is quite strange, because there was no connection between the ‘need’ to invade Iraq and our thirst for the black stuff).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:43
Slate – A Moral Chernobyl – Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib: But get ready. It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe (“I’m outraged more by the outrage”) have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word “abuse” will have to be dropped. No law or treaty forbids “abuse,” but many conventions and statutes, including our own and the ones we have urged other nations to sign, do punish torture—which is what we are talking about here at a bare minimum.

Past revelations from Iraq of this kind have followed this pattern:

- Blog whispers (done)

- Online report from small news agency/commentary site (you see it before you)

- Major article/programme with release of images through the cursed liberal media

- Shit/fan interface

Here it comes…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
The Bush Administration
Time
09:48
Ken MacLeod: The American Revolution is over. When the President claims for himself powers outlawed in every country issuing from the English Revolution, and last exercised when James the II & VII personally supervised the splitting of Presbyterian shins, I guess we have to admit that in the long run the English Revolution failed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
It’s Not About The Oil
Time
09:51
BBC – Iraqi oil security chief killed: The security chief for the oil fields in northern Iraq has been assassinated, in the latest attack on the industry. Police said Ghazi al-Talabani was shot by gunmen as he travelled to work in the city of Kirkuk.

And now, here’s a speech by Tony Blair that happened inside someone’s head.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
The Big Intervention
Time
09:55
We can do this, we can win this – but we won’t enable those rebel MPs (ding-ding-diddle-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding) unless they feel they have the backing to go for it.

They won’t feel they have that backing unless we can meet our traffic targets for The Big Intervention (more traffic results in more statements and more letters.) – and, overnight, traffic has stalled. We are going to fall far, far short of our target unless something is done about it today.

So today is Link-Whoring and Statement Day.

1. You’ve made a statement, but have you encouraged/asked other readers of your blog to do the same?

2. You’ve featured a link on your website, but have you submitted it to others? (This can be a major source of traffic if you score with a very large website.)

3. You’ve emailed a few friends, but have you really dug through your address book and milked it for all its worth?

4. Have you picked a quotable notable and pumped them for a statement?

I tried for Stephen Fry yesterday, but he’s in America. Today I’m trying again with Damon Albarn, Anita Roddick and anyone else I can track down.

We need more statements, we need more links.

Take a look around you and see what’s coming.

This is a fight that can be won.

This is a fight that must be won.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
A Blog is Born
Time
10:06
Please welcome to the stage the weblog for Sandra Gidley, Lib-Dem MP for Romsley (by Adrian Sedgly and Andy Salridge).

OK, who’s next?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
Stuff
Time
10:18
I’m as hard as nails, me. Here I am playing rugby, aged 7. Or 8. In fact, I’m so tough I don’t care if I can’t remember. Long-term memories are for pussies.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
RWCs
Time
11:15
Hooray for the wingnuts who will do anything – anything – to keep George W. Bush in office. (Link via Atrios.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
Only Interesting To Bloggers
Time
11:26
Winer-Bash 2004 continues. Doc Searles has this to say.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
Compare and Contrast
Time
11:31
Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam. Again.

No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s…. oh s**t!
Time
11:32
Take it with a biiiiiiig grain of salt; this comes from Wingnut Central…

Moonie Times – Iran massing troops on Iraq border: Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum.

Hooray for this timely information from a ‘reliable source’…

Here’s an equally short, but opposing view.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
Labour Needs Leadership Change
Time
13:58
Guardian – Gordon’s world: We know about Brown’s domestic record, but would he have handled Iraq any differently from Tony Blair?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
14:21
Via this excellent post at Perfect.co.uk comes the Best. Article. Ever.

Terry Jones – This won’t hurt much.

I’m not going to quote from it. You have to go and read it in full. I’m in tears, myself.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
The War on Terror
Time
14:41
Washington Post – 9/11 Panel Finds No Collaboration Between Iraq, Al Qaeda – Findings Contradict Comments by Cheney, Bush : There is “no credible evidence” that Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, including the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the hijacking plot. Although Osama bin Laden briefly explored the idea of forging ties with Iraq in the mid-1990s, the terrorist leader was hostile to Hussein’s secular government, and Iraq never responded to requests for help in providing training camps or weapons, the panel’s report says.

Perhaps now people will stop posing that extremely misleading hypothetical question about the rights and wrongs of torturing a suspect who may have had information about an impending attack on the World Trade Centre…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
RWCs
Time
16:34
Will somebody please suture the gaping wound in John Gibson’s face?

For the record, it was the sheer audacity and hypocrisy that shocked me. It continues in this latest offensive defence, that also includes a less-than-subtle jibe regarding sexual orientation.

Oh, and here’s a reply sent to someone who dared to email Gibson and ask for evidence to back his claim that the BBC ‘routinely trashes Americans, the American president, the American military and American policy':

oh gawd… do you ever listen to the bbc world service? did you watch

any of the bbc war coverage? why did brit sailors take the beeb off

their tv feed while at sea? give me a break? you can’t see the anti

americanism that drips from every elongated sylable on the beeb?

I’m amazed they give this troll TV time. Actually, I’m amazed that he’s permitted a share of our precious, precious oxygen.

The email address you need is myword@foxnews.com – reach out and touch the man.

I’ll blog what I’ve sent him as soon as I’ve calmed down a bit.

UPDATE – I sure am glad I calmed down before writing this….

To: John Gibson

Email: myword@foxnews.com

Dearest John,

Any criticism of ‘the American president, the American military and American policy’ by the BBC is far from routine.

Sadly, we live in a time when your un-president takes unprecedented liberties abroad and at home, so somebody has to speak up and state the bleeding obvious.

Yes, I was shocked by your report. I was shocked at the audacity.

I was staggered by the *hypocrisy* of this diatribe from a poster child for a regime and a network (strike that; try ‘corporation’) that regularly distorts, manipulates and misrepresents the truth.

Please also note that in my opening paragraph I omit the part where you claim the BBC ‘routinely trashes Americans’. I did this because it is part of a separate complaint…

You have a hell of a nerve:

1. Making this ludicrous claim without a shred of evidence.

2. Grouping yourself with Americans, as you are one of the most un-American people I have ever had the displeasure of laying eyes and ears on.

I’d even go so far as to say that you are the kind of person who has little to no claim to the lofty title of ‘human being’.

If you were on fire, I wouldn’t stop to piss on you.

(Not out of any lack of mercy on my part, mind, but because you’re better off getting used to flames where you’re headed. In fact, you may wish to start conditioning your arse by having friends or neighbours stab you regularly with a household pitchfork.)

Warmest Regards,

Tim Ireland

http://www.bloggerheads.com/

http://www.bloggerheads.com/bbc/

UPDATE – Guardian – Fox News censured for rant at BBC: The Guardian understands that some Ofcom policymakers would like to draw the restrictions more narrowly, applying them only to ITV, Channel 4 and Five. That would allow Mr Murdoch, if he wished, to remodel Sky News into a British version of Fox. It is unlikely, however, that the Fox rant would get past even a more relaxed regime in Britain, because of its lack of basis in fact.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
The Big Intervention
Time
17:44
Details of The Big Intervention were today sent to the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) – the Dutch version of the Labour Party – by the lovely Mirjam.

It has now been forwarded by their main office to all of their members in the Dutch government.

I’m not sure what good that will do, but it sure is cool.

Whore that link, people!

Send those emails!

Pump those quotable notables for statements!

That only 24 people made an official complaint about John Gibson speaks volumes.

It’s an arse problem. Not enough people actually get off theirs.

Also, consider this…

Time – Meet Joe Bloggs: We may be in the golden age of blogging, a quirky Camelot moment in Internet history when some guy in his underwear with too much free time can take down a Washington politician.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040616
The Big Intervention
Time
21:48
I was really quite struck by that torture article by Terry Jones today. Bush & Blair’s defence is a house of cards. What we need is more stuff that cuts through the bullglue and brings it all down.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and convince Billy Connolly to chip in.

*coughs*

Unless sumbody wants to try an’… beat me to it.

/johnwayne

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
08:42
Six Log: Announcing Pricing & Licensing Changes to Movable Type.

And yet more Winer, Winer, Winer. Another day of staring at our own belly buttons? FFS.

Worry about your data later and count yourself lucky you have something to eat.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
Inneresting
Time
08:46
I’ve blogged Bush/Zombie-Reagan 2004 before, but it’s worth blogging again as The Straight Dope brings you the answer to this very important question:

When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
Useful
Time
08:53
“Oh my god! There’s an axe in my head.” in 102 languages. Including many dead ones.

It brings to mind the I Can Eat Glass project (mirror) which recently disappeared from the Interweb. The stated aim of this project was as follows:

“The Project is based on the idea that people in a foreign country have an irresistable urge to try to say something in the indigenous tongue. In most cases, however, the best a person can do is “Where is the bathroom?” a phrase that marks them as a tourist. But, if one says “I can eat glass, it doesn’t hurt me,” you will be viewed as an insane native, and treated with dignity and respect.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:01
Official verdict: White House misled world over Saddam: The Bush administration’s credibility was dealt a devastating blow yesterday when the commission investigating the attacks of 11 September said there was no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had assisted al-Qa’ida – something repeatedly suggested by the President and his senior officials and held up as a reason for the invasion of Iraq.

To paraphrase John Gibson: They feel entitled to lie. And when caught lying, they feel entitled to defend their lying.

Speaking of John Gibson, Toby Bryans has pointed us in the direction of this report (PDF) that shows that 24 complaints is actually quite a lot when you consider how few people complain at all about all manner of things that make it to air. (You can also see the report about the offending My Word programme in PDF format is you wish.)

Me, I’ve always been amazed at how few people know how to – or take the time to – make an official complaint about anything.

Back to John Gibson. The pin-wearing wingnut.

Below is an unedited transcript of his correspondence with someone deep inside the anti-American liberal agenda machine. (So deep, in fact, that I cannot tell you his or her name.) The emails started following his offensive defence for calling the BBC liars. I didn’t get a reply to my email, but Gibson obviously couldn’t resist baiting someone from the BBC:

Evil Minion of Auntie:

“major media outlet, which routinely trashes Americans, the American

president, the American military and American policy?”

And your evidence is…?

No, no, carry on making sweeping statements based on your honest

opinion. I need a good laugh.

American Hero John Gibson:

oh gawd… do you ever listen to the bbc world service? did you watch

any of the bbc war coverage? why did brit sailors take the beeb off

their tv feed while at sea? give me a break? you can’t see the anti

americanism that drips from every elongated sylable on the beeb?

check for earwax.

gib

Evil Minion of Auntie:

Yes Gib, I did watch the coverage, particularly the Rageh Omaar’s piece

to camera while the US soldiers were helping the locals in Baghdad pull

down the Saddam statue. As I recall he was rather complimentary. This

despite the fact that the hotel he and other reporters were staying in

had been hit repeatedly by US soldiers just days earlier. I also recall

John Simpson’s report when he and his BBC colleagues, plus some US

special forces, plus some anti-Saddam Iraqi militia were bombed by an

American jet in a classic, though sadly not rare, friendly fire

incident. His later documentary was also polite about the people who

injured him and killed his translator, without hint of malice. It was a

remarkably understanding, forgiving but essentially factual account

(including that of the jet pilot himself) of the accident.

And the spelling of the word is syllable.

Check for spelling and selective hearing yourself Gib.

Cheers

American Hero John Gibson:

yes i suppose it was good of them to note that iraqis might be happy to

be rid of a killer/ruler… and to not carp too much about the nasty

bits involving war…

but puhleeze (sp check please)… you cannot be serious claiming the bbc

did not come at this war from the point of view it was wrong and the

americans were wrong to be waging it, can you?

sorry about the missing l. i was using it scribbling the word lies…

gib

Evil Minion of Auntie:

As I recall Gib, the last American to use the line “you cannot be

serious” was one John McEnroe, whilst complaining about a line call by

an English umpire at Wimbledon. He now presents on the BBC when

Wimbledon comes around. See, they like you Americans so much they even

end up employing you! Isn’t that sweet? No doubt it was rather an effort

for the BBC to admit the Iraqis were happy to be rid of Saddam. In the

same way it may have been an effort to admit that Rumsfeld use to visit

on his arms-sale-away-day visits to Saddam. Nevertheless, as for the

point of view, as a broadcaster the BBC has been chastised by even the

British government (Margaret Thatcher’s to be

accurate) over its coverage and “point of view” on the Falklands war.

That was one of ours, if you’ve forgotten. The one where Haig didn’t

want us to go and fight as it might upset that nice Mr Galtieri chap the

Reagan administration liked. So, while the BBC is being attacked for not

backing the troops, by Fox (owned by a Mr R Murdoch I believe, who has

been rather clear about his feelings for the BBC in the past), I think

it’s rather obtuse of you to say the BBC has some kind of agenda. That

kind of thinking would eventually lead to, say, suggesting Fox News has

some kind of agenda when it comes to reporting on the BBC’s behaviour.

And that can’t possibly be “fair and accurate” can it Gib. Bless you.

You should really be working on your next piece rather than gossiping

with me this fine morning. Cheers

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
Normal People
Time
09:27
It’s wrong to laugh at foreign names. So don’t.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040617
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
10:27
New York Times – With 9/11 Report, Bush’s Political Thorn Grows More Stubborn: In questioning the extent of any ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the commission weakened the already spotty scorecard on Mr. Bush’s justifications for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein.

Guardian – No Iraq link to September 11 plot, US report finds: The commission’s report confirmed the judgment of US intelligence officials, who have said that since the fall of Baghdad last April no proof has been found of a significant link between the Saddam Hussein regime and Osama bin Laden. The US vice president, Dick Cheney, revived the allegation at an election campaign appearance on Monday, telling supporters that Saddam “had long-established ties with al-Qaida”, and President George Bush came to his defence on Tuesday, citing the suspected presence in Iraq before the war of an al-Qaida supporter, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A poll by the University of Maryland in April found that 57% of Americans believed that Iraq helped al-Qaida before the war, and 20% believed Iraq was linked to the September 11 attacks.

New York Times – The Plain Truth: It’s hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11. Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

In response, Ann Clwyd was on BBC Radio 4 this morning spouting the humanitarian/liberation argument. She said: “I think the scale of crimes committed by the regime against their own people has constituted war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and had to be dealt with. They couldn’t continue.”

Well, I’m sure that if this is the case, at least the Iraqis will be behind them… right?

Independent – Poll reveals hostility to US and support for rebel cleric: The Bush administration’s last remaining justification for the invasion of Iraq has been demolished by a private poll revealing that only 2 per cent of Iraqis regard the occupying forces as liberators. The poll results are devastating for both President George Bush and Tony Blair, who are fond of saying that future generations of Iraqis will thank them for liberating their country. Tony Blair has consistently said that history will prove him right for engineering the downfall of a cruel tyrant, even if weapons of mass destruction were not found.

Right, let’s go down that list of justifications for war:

WMDs – none found

War on Terror – no connection found

Humanitarian – hmm, let me see… do I want to use the word ‘torture’ or ‘abuse’…?

Moving right along…

The findings of the commission (which ‘change nothing’ according to The Texas City Sun) were released yesterday. Today they feature in every major British newspaper. Bar one.

Today’s Sun carries no mention of the findings. At all.

In fact, the only mention of the word ‘Iraq’ today (apart from this passing mention where a photographer compares his experience at the football violence in Portugal to that conflict) appears in this feature, which is obviously a build to another flag-waving ‘support the troops’ exercise: Hubby away from home? Is your husband currently posted in Iraq? We want to talk to women whose husbands are serving overseas about how they are coping home alone. Perhaps you have a young family you are bringing up while your husband is away and would like to tell us about how you cope. If this sounds like you, we want to hear your story. Simply email us your name, daytime phone number and a brief outline of your story on sunwoman@the-sun.co.uk – Don’t forget to mark your email ‘ARMY WIVES’.

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Date
20040617
The Big Intervention
Time
10:30
I’m mostly working behind the scenes on The Big Intervention today, but will blog any fruits of my labours this afternoon. Check out The UK Today and Howling Spoons for activities and updates in the meantime.

We need more statements from Joe Blogs (like this one from Phlegma), and we need more statements from famous peeps. Help out if you can. Please.

UPDATE – Oh, there is this via Perfect.co.uk

Guardian – A change of leadership is now in Labour’s interests: But it should also be clear that a change of leader before the election is in the interests of Labour as a party. If Blair insists on limping on as prime minister through the next election, he will inevitably be seen as a lame-duck caretaker for the long-heralded Brown premiership, his tarnished reputation sapping Labour support, masking government successes and sowing the seeds of disintegration and defeat… There are a multiplicity of ways in which Blair could orchestrate a face-saving exit in the next six months. But his overweening self-belief suggests there is little chance of that. With Labour’s rules rigged against an open party challenge, only Labour MPs and the cabinet are in practice able to call time on his leadership. But Labour has no tradition of deposing its leaders, who have in any case rarely lasted long enough in government for the issue to arise.

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Date
20040617
Pretend You Care
Time
13:31
National Dad Dancing Championships.

Gosh, do you think Fathers-4-Justice are planning to crash the event? Just maybe? (Oh, and I found a new site for these chappies here. Pow! Zap! Etc!)

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Date
20040617
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
16:14
Guardian – No 10: Saddam let al-Qaida operate: Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did let al-Qaida operate out of Iraq, Downing Street insisted today. A US report yesterday said there was no conclusive evidence of a link between the former Iraqi dictator and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group. But Downing Street said Saddam had created “a permissive environment” for terrorists and al-Qaida operatives were in the country during his time in office.

Typical Blair.

1. There’s no arguing with that.

2. That’s not what he and Bush have been claiming/inferring/not-clarifying all this time and he bloody well knows it.

More at The UK Today.

UPDATE – Now Dubya’s disputing it. I guess he really doesn’t have much choice. There are so few justifications left…

Says Bush: “This administration never said that the 9-11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida…”

No, you only suggested it again and again and again and again until nearly everyone believed it. Hands up who didn’t see this particular denial coming…?

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Date
20040617
We’re Not At Home To Mr Cock-Up
Time
16:22
Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Best laugh you’ll have all day, I promise.

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Date
20040617
RWCs
Time
17:15
Well, that settles it. John Gibson is nothing but a malicious troll.

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Date
20040617
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:30
MSNBC – Rumsfeld ordered prisoner held off the books – Iraqi terror suspect hidden from International Red Cross: Pentagon officials tell NBC News that late last year, at the same time U.S. military police were allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered that one Iraqi prisoner be held “off the books” — hidden entirely from the International Red Cross and anyone else — in possible violation of international law. It’s the first direct link between Rumsfeld and questionable though not violent treatment of prisoners in Iraq.

But of course he was only kept from the Red Cross because he was dangerous. So dangerous that he later got ‘lost in the system’. Do read it; the last line of this story will blow you away.

And, from Camp Murdoch, a timely attempt to yet again ensure that when people hear ‘Abu Ghraib’ they think of Saddam Hussein; Saddam atrocity footage is being ignored by the cursed liberal media!

Saddam was a bad man. We know this. We don’t question this. Even though that nice Mr Blair dares to suggest that us misguided peaceniks think otherwise with ‘Would you prefer Saddam was back?’ (possibly the last line of his crumbling defences).

The reason this footage isn’t being played is because it isn’t necessary. It isn’t news. People know what Saddam was capable of. By and large, they don’t yet know what the Bush administration is capable of. But they will. And very soon, by the looks of things. Why else would this pre-emptive ‘even worse atrocity’ story be necessary?

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Date
20040617
Tony Blair
Time
17:38
Still on the hunt for famous peeps who’ll speak up. It ain’t easy.

The only real news I have for you this afternoon is this:

This time last week I requested from Ladbrokes odds on a bet that Tony Blair would not be the leader of the Labour party after July 1st 2004.

They’ve since updated their site with these odds on the UK General Election but – despite direct email harassment – they have yet to come up with my odds.

Why the delay in calculating these odds? You’d think they’d be happy to take my money.

Perhaps you’d care to get in touch and request odds on a similar bet

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Date
20040617
Funny
Time
18:28
I love people who still put music on their website. The best page/music on this site can be found here.

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Date
20040617
Images
Time
19:57
He is George W. Bush, and his Kung Fu is strong.

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Date
20040618
Updates
Time
10:39
Google Adsense has been removed from Bloggerheads after a very disappointing trial. It amounts to little more than pocket change and often displays ads that I’m less than happy with. Out it goes. (Sorry. I’m not even interested in their new gadget.)

Fark.com has been removed from the ‘follow me’ links. This removal should not be taken lightly, as fark.com was one of the earliest inclusions and I cut my photoshopping teeth there. The reason it’s been removed? Let’s just say that I’m not happy with the way they choose their articles for the front page. The omissions are subtle, but deliberate. And The Sun gets plugged in a ha-ha-jolly way every other day. Goodbye, Fark. No more traffic from me.

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Date
20040618
Pluggage
Time
10:41
You’re a bloody fool if you don’t enter Giltsharp’s short story competition. There’s less than two weeks to go and plenty of prizes still up for grabs. Anybody who strings a few words together has a bloody good shot at a Swiss Card Quattro, and I could throw a stone from here and hit at least five people with the hummus required to take home one of the three SwissMemory jobbies with the sexy USB stick.

I’m not involved in the shortlisting or the judging, so even if we’ve shared email or a pint, you can enter freely without creating on of those conflict of interest thingies.

It’s a gift for bloggers, people. Make this one work and I’ll bring you another.

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Date
20040618
The War on Terror
Time
10:47
Independent – Defiant Bush and Blair insist Saddam had al-Qa’ida links: In a carefully co-ordinated riposte to the commission, London and Washington both insisted that Saddam had allowed al-Qa’ida to operate inside Iraq before the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

Washington Post – Bush Defends Assertions of Iraq-Al Qaeda Relationship: “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” Bush said after a Cabinet meeting.

Well, that settles that, then. But he never, ever claimed a direct connection… that would have been a lie. And we all know that George W. Bush is a good Christian who would never bear false witness.

“I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”George W. Bush, March 21, 2003

“The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding.”George ‘Flight Suit’ Bush, May 1, 2003

Actually, I found the response from Downing St to be the most illuminating…

Guardian – No 10: Saddam let al-Qaida operate: But Downing Street said Saddam had created “a permissive environment” for terrorists and al-Qaida operatives were in the country during his time in office. No 10 said it was not claiming a direct link but a spokeswoman said: “The prime minister has always said Saddam created a permissive environment for terrorism and we know that the people affiliated to al-Qaida operated in Iraq during the regime.

So from this we learn that Saddam presented a danger that warranted a pre-emptive strike because he had created “a permissive environment” for terrorists.

Let’s step back with George W. Bush…

“Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central front.”George W. Bush, September 7, 2003

And who made it the central front?

FACT: al-Qaida are far more active in Iraq than they ever were before – even with that dirtbag Saddam in charge.

It’s not just the opportunities presented by the chaos of war that motivates and enables them, it’s the charging in without a UN mandate, killing and torturing civilians. Works wonders. There and elsewhere.

In short, Bush and Blair have created a permissive environment for terrorism and we know that the people affiliated to al-Qaida operate in Iraq far more effectively during their occupation. And we now know that terrorism has increased worldwide under their watch.

The final word I leave to Loretta Napoleoni…

Hussein’s Weapons of Mild Destruction: What ever the real causes, it is apparent that coalition forces not only have gone to war for the wrong reasons but they have ended up fighting an unexpected new enemy. Since the victory over Hussein’s army, American solders have been engulfed in a vicious guerrilla war, waged by a variety of forces, whose lifeline is the former dictator’s massive arsenal of conventional weapons and small arms. What is killing hundreds of American GIs and thousands of Iraqis civilians are explosives, guns, Kalashnikovs, Soviet-made AK-47s, shoulder missiles similar to US Stingers — these are commonly known as small arms, terrorist groups’ favourite weapons. Ironically, unable to achieve WMD, Saddam Hussein stockpiled ‘weapons of mild destruction’.

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Date
20040618
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
11:07
Winer, winer, hosting, whining, Winer, Winer, weblogs. Get a f**king grip, people!

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Date
20040618
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
11:10
Demagogue on Bush and the Iraq/terror lie: Now, maybe it wasn’t quite a lie; maybe Bush thought it was true, in spite of the absence of evidence for it. If so, Bush is even less competent than he’s looked lately. But in any case, what he said was false. And now, his flaks are trying to pretend he never said it. But he did. And he didn’t just say it; he went to war on it.

Every justification for the war has been shot to hell.

Meanwhile, here in the UK we operate on a two-party system and – in the recent elections – the ruling government were lucky to come third. And Blair is still in power. Why?

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Date
20040618
RWCs
Time
11:18
Pin-wearing wingnut John Gibson owes Mark B five squid:

—–Original Message—–

From: Mark B

To: myword@foxnews.com

Sent: 6/17/2004 12:17 PM

Subject: Hahaha

You are a troll and I claim my five pounds.

—–Original Message—–

From: Show -My Word [mailto:myword@FOXNEWS.COM]

Sent: 17 June 2004 21:09

To: ‘Mark B’

Subject: RE: Hahaha

congrats.

Heh. Here’s an excellent breakdown of the Ofcom ruling, just in case you need it.

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Date
20040618
The War on Terror
Time
11:27
I was looking for a citation for this:

“The greatest danger of bombs is in the explosion of stupidity that they provoke.” – Octave Mirabeau

And found this: The war on terror is the new Cold War and will not help bring peace.

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Date
20040618
The Big Intervention
Time
11:56
A whopping great load of Big Intervention stickers is now in the hands of Brian Haw. Keep an eye out for them in and around Westminster.

This weekend, I’m going to try and apply the blog model (user get audience) to real life by hitting boot sales at sparrow’s fart and handing out individual stickers to sellers who’ll wear them and sheets of stickers to sellers who wish to hand them out.

The hunt for statements from famous peeps goes on, but I keep hitting brick walls. Picking up the phone instead of using email gets you closer, but the job of these people – sadly, a necessary filter for such contact – is to prevent clients from doing silly things like speak up once in a while. Ho-hum.

Oh, and I’m *still* having to chase Ladbrokes, who appear to be having some difficulty calculating the odds of Tony Blair not being the leader of the Labour party after July 1st 2004.

What are you up to? Blog it and I’ll plug it.

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Date
20040618
Pretend You Care
Time
14:04
Big Brother 5: the animals are getting restless.

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Date
20040618
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
15:12
Fox News lies – proof by Google (via Not A Blog).

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Date
20040618
The War on Terror
Time
16:44
Well, Cheney is sticking to his guns, but he doesn’t have much choice after saying in 2002 that; “We know that al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq today.”

Also, curse the liberal media, who attack Bush every chance they get. Unless it’s lunchtime, of course.

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Date
20040618
Useful
Time
17:46
Amusing places close to you (link via the latest B3ta newsletter).

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Date
20040621
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:17
Some fine words from Anthony Sampson, author of Who Runs This Place?

Payment/subscription is required, but the guts have been quoted below for those of you in the cheap seats…

The damaging legacy of our silence over this offshore haven for torturers: The extent to which the British have lost their moral authority by condoning lawless warfare is only gradually beginning to sink in. It is already becoming evident now, with the diminishing British prestige throughout the Middle East. But in the longer term it may more serious consequences by undermining effective protests against torture and abuses of prisoners throughout the developing world. No condemnation of the treatment of prisoners, from Zimbabwe to China, will carry the same weight if the British are seen to have colluded with the methods in Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib.

Samspon also speaks of the US methods of torture that have infected British soliders. And on that note…

Guardian – UK troops accused of mutilating Iraqi bodies: Military police are investigating claims that British soldiers mutilated the bodies of Iraqi insurgents after a firefight last month near the southern Iraqi town of Majar al Kabir. The allegations are contained in official death certificates seen by the Guardian written by Dr Adel Salid Majid, the director of the hospital in Majar al Kabir, on May 15, the day after the battle. Seven of the certificates state that corpses handed over to hospital authorities by British troops showed signs of “mutilation” and “torture”.

And Time takes us a step closer to The Big One with this Notebook entry…

Time – New Abuse Charges – Allegations of mistreatment of female detainees: Could the abuse of prisoners in Iraq have gone beyond the beatings and sexual humiliation already alleged?

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Date
20040621
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:22
Finally, interest turns away from bellybuttons and back to politics. And Clinton. Which, as we all know, is less about politics and more about public interest in the correct use of a cigar.

Yahoo – 9/11 Panel Underscores Saddam Controversy.

Washington Post – Mistakes Loom Large as Handover Nears: The American occupation of Iraq will formally end this month having failed to fulfill many of its goals and stated promises intended to transform the country into a stable democracy, according to a detailed examination drawing upon interviews with senior U.S. and Iraqi officials and internal documents of the occupation authority.

Meanwhile, there are joys elsewhere in the world…

New York Times – Dare We Call It Genocide?: The world has acquiesced shamefully in the Darfur genocide, perhaps because 320,000 deaths this year (a best-case projection from the U.S. Agency for International Development) seems like one more boring statistic. So listen to Ms. Khattar’s story, multiply it by hundreds of thousands, and let’s see if we still want to look the other way.

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Date
20040621
Give ‘Em Enough Europe….
Time
10:26
Was I the only one who laughed out loud at Tony Blair’s declaration that the debate over the new European Union constitution would be “a battle between reality and myth”?

Myth.

Reality.

Anyway, enough about Iraq. Let’s get back to Europe for a moment…

Independent – So what is fact? And what is Eurosceptic fiction?

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Date
20040621
Told You So
Time
10:29
Guardian – Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden’s hands: Al-Qaida may ‘reward’ American president with strike aimed at keeping him in office, senior intelligence man says.

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Date
20040621
The Bush Administration
Time
10:33
Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness. And you’d have to be a little bit funny in the head not to see the benefits of this bold initiative…

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Date
20040621
A Blog is Born
Time
10:39
Sarah Teather is my MP by Rob D is the latest weblog written on behalf of an MP.

Oh, and Dan had some good advice when commenting on Tom’s blog: Warning: many MPs love litigation. If you blog “on behalf of” your MP, remember that you could risk being sued for impersonation, particularly if you are putting words in their mouth they would not normally say.

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Date
20040621
The Big Intervention
Time
11:04
Max Hastings – Only prime minister Brown can win an EU referendum: Yet faith in Blair seems damaged in a fashion that cannot be undone. If he invites the British people to trust him on a matter of such magnitude as the European constitution, he will get a resounding raspberry. Indeed, the more personal the campaign Blair conducts on behalf of the constitution between now and a referendum, the less effective it seems likely to be.

I’ve a mind to include this on the statements page, but should probably ask permission first.

A further statement from me will follow later today.

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Date
20040621
Updates
Time
12:39
Well Blair may not know when to quit, but I do.

The official deadline for The Big Intervention is midnight tonight, but – truth be told – this particular battle was over last Wednesday.

The UK Today will now be taking control of The Big Intervention, aiming for action at the upcoming Labour Party Conference. This is a far more conservative plan, operating on a more generous timetable. Will enough MPs have the sense and the guts to take on Blair and take back the party? Time will tell, but I won’t be taking part.

From tomorrow, Bloggerheads will be going away for a while. What shape it takes and what the priorities will be upon its return remain uncertain at this stage, but there will be no more activism through this blog until matters are settled in the US in or around November. (Please note that in that sentence I make no assumption that Bush will lose or even that an election will take place.)

The campaign to get Tony Blair to establish a publicly accessible email facility had a great many strengths. A clear precedent had been set (every other western leader had one) and a promise had been made (in the closing days of the last general election). Oh, and I was actually receiving email intended for the PM. But in the end, Blair’s communications team delivered the service in their own sweet time, pretending that nothing of consequence had happened. They even managed to rip off my specifications in the process. Blair won.

When Bush came to town, he didn’t dare set foot on a London street. But Blair took Bush back to his constituency with a specially arranged pub lunch complete with its own Free Speech Zone. Again, Blair wins. By pretending that nothing of consequence has happened.

In these campaigns, pornography or the prospect of seeing bare bums in public were the aspects that generated the most public/media interest.

In both campaigns there were many visitors, but very few participants.

I’m glad to see some uptake on the call for people to blog on behalf of their MP, but everybody participating needs to be aware that the actual effectiveness of these blogs will be limited to the actions that are taken OFFLINE by the blogger and/or the readers it reaches. (Note – new blogs will still be plugged here during my period of rest.)

In the days following the local and European elections, Blair was particularly vulnerable. That’s why I pushed for such a tight deadline for the Big Intervention. It was the perfect time to go for the throat.

But in the end, Blair won again. By pretending that nothing of consequence had happened.

So, here I sit, worn to a frazzle and unable to anything but pray.

From tomorrow, Bloggerheads will be going away for a while. It will return, but you may not recognise it when it does.

But nothing of consequence has happened.

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Date
20040622
Goombye
Time
09:48
I have a few final words to say in Flash format. I’m just sorting out hosting for this parting shot… with you in a moment

UPDATE – Yep, here you go… parting shot, as promised.

For occasional updates and an email alert when Bloggerheads gets going again, simply send a blank email to bloggerheads-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

For UK-centric news and commentary, see:

The UK Today | Perfect.co.uk | London News Review | howlingspoons

For US-centric news and commentary, see:

Atrios | The Washington Monthly

Everything else, watch Blogdex, but do keep an eye on where the link support originates from. When in doubt, run the URL through Technorati.

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Date
20040628
A Blog is Born
Time
08:43
Don’t get your hopes up. The only new posts here – for quite some time – will involve the promised pluggage of new weblogs written on behalf of MPs. Like this one…

The weblog for Jim Cousins, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central: The blog’s primary aim is to let his constituents see what he is up to, to find out if he is their ideal person to represent them and most importantly to make their views heard. If the real Jim Cousins ever finds out about this blog he can have it, and the associated gmail address, as long as he keeps it up to date. How good an offer is that? Nice, easy to use way to get in touch with his constituents. For free. Come and get it Jim.








Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

11 Reasons Why Tony Blair Must Resign

[NEW – ImpeachBlair.org]

Let’s see if I can get through this without mentioning the war….

1. Tony Blair has lost the trust of the people. Support from his own party is also in short supply. How can a man in this position expect to run his own party, never mind the country? He simply does not have the currency required to run the government. It’s as simple as that. But here are ten more reasons for you to chew on…

Continue reading








Posted in Tony 'King Blair | 5 Comments

01-12 June, 2004

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Date
20040601
Jolly Good
Time
10:22
Andrew Bailey thinks I should have a bit of a relax and take my mind of things. He may have a point.

Here’s what he offered by way of relaxation. It really is quite wonderful, and we do have a rodent in the house, but I think I’ll stick with more simple pleasures for now.

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Date
20040601
Page 3 – Words of Wisdom
Time
10:25
Ruth (23, from Bolton) today tells us that she was stunned to learn that a thrid of Brits are too lazy to take a ten-minute walk. She said: “A short walk every day keeps me fit. I think everyone should o the same.”

Sadly, for reasons of space, Ruth was unable to also point out that she’s actually thirty-nine and has had four children. And that we should remember our boys on the Malabar front. *cough*

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Date
20040601
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:27
Washington Post – From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity – Scholars Say Campaign Is Making History With Often-Misleading Attacks: Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented — both in speeches and in advertising.

This from the camp that screams ‘Hate Criiiime!’ any time we dare point out that Bush is a lying crim. Much further down the chart, but somewhat related and worthy of attention:

Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics.

UPDATE – Oooh, lookie here… Yahoo – Bush Campaigns Heavily on Air Force One: President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers. (More over at CNN.)

Yet another landmark for the unprecedented un-president….

Back to the chart-toppers, there’s this wonderful piece of work in the 2nd spot. Joanne, if you’re watching, this is for you:

Flash video for the Beatles’ “Come Together”. (You’ll need a moderately wide pipe. It’s 7 megabytes and change.)

There’s also the Time article on Cheney that will be covered in a new post momentarily and this list:

Pros and Cons of John Kerry’s Top Twenty Vice-Presidential Candidates.

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Date
20040601
The Bush Administration
Time
10:43
Via the Tom Watson we all know and love comes a link to this whopper from the other Tom Watson we have yet to know but could come to love. Dick Cheney has been caught lying about Haliburton kickbacks!

Time – The Paper Trail: Cheney’s relationship with Halliburton has been nothing but trouble since he left the company in 2000. Both he and the company say they have no ongoing connections. But TIME has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official – whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon – that raises questions about Cheney’s arm’s-length policy toward his old employer.

Guardian – Email shows Cheney ‘link’ to oil contract: Reports suggest that the process of awarding contracts has changed under the Bush administration. A report to the House of Representatives committee on government reform last week noted that $107bn in contracts had been awarded without open competition. Nearly three-quarters of those exclusive arrangements – worth about $88bn – involved work in Iraq, the report said. Halliburton has won a sizeable share of them.

CNN – Cheney office denies role in Halliburton deal: Vice President Dick Cheney’s office denied Sunday that he was involved in a coordinated effort to secure a multibillion dollar Iraq oil deal for Halliburton, his former employer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Inneresting
Time
10:45
Ever wonder what happens to lighters that get left in the pub?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
The End of Democracy
Time
10:48
Guardian – Making voters care: Yesterday the word from the worst-affected councils was reassuring. Even if today’s deadline is missed, the elections will go ahead as planned. But at best the result is that universal suffrage will no longer be quite so universal. Some voters will get more than a fortnight to send their papers back and some less than a week. Some may not be able to vote at all, unless they return their votes by hand. Once the results are in, legal challenges by failed candidates look unavoidable.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:50
Washington Post – Why Hawks Should Be Angry: Bush could have responded differently. He could have embraced the heroes such as Spec. Joseph Darby, who sounded the alarm; William J. Kimbro, the Navy dog handler who refused to sic his dogs on prisoners; Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who wrote an honest report. He could have apologized to the people of Iraq, appointed an investigator from outside the chain of command, pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, he opted for a Nixonian strategy of damage containment, and a summer of piecemeal disclosure.

Not only but also, a few notes for your scarpbook. The online version really could do with some hyperlinked annotation, but it’s still nice to see comeprehensive messages like this on the front page of a newspaper….

Independent – An A-Z of the Iraq war and its aftermath, focusing on misrepresentation, manipulation, and mistakes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Flash Games
Time
10:54
Fantastic intro, and a great game:

Hulk Hogan, He-Man and Mr T take on the Bush administration.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Interesting Times
Time
11:03
Thanks for all the email. I’ll be answering what I can individually later today – but in the meantime, I have this to tide you over….

I think I have a way of providing those with the power to remove Blair and his cronies with the motivation and elbow-room required to sort this out quickly and efficiently so we can all move forward. The time for action would be in the days following the European elections.

It’s got a pretty good shot at working, but I’m still pondering on whether it should be done. There’s a very strong argument that this move could more or less hand power to the Tories at the next election… but what also worries me is that a certain stubborn person may hang onto power until events force his removal anyway – and this will happen too late for the new cabinet to establish a suitable amount of goodwill/credentials/etc. ahead of the next general election (even if this is held over until 2005).

So, that’s where my head is at. And I’m still thinking about it. Bear with me.

UPDATE – You may want to read the blogged thoughts of Balders and Angel.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
George “War President” Bush
Time
11:55
It was reported over the weekend that George W. Bush keeps and displays in the White House the pistol Saddam Hussein was captured with.

The Rude Pundit points out that it’s illegal to own a handgun in D.C. unless it was registered prior to 1976 and that the District of Columbia also does not allow firearms to be given as gifts.

He also asks:

- Did he receive a background check for the transfer of ownership?

- Is Bush licensed to possess a firearm in a federal facility?

War trophies are also a no-no.

UPDATE – That calls for a picture, that does. Big’un posted to B3ta.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Advertising Genius
Time
18:19
The shortlist is in for the Tory ‘please make us an ad campaign for free’ drive. As you might expect, the bulk of entries stink of professional cleveryness – which might have something to do with the Tories farming this out to ad agencies well ahead of the public release.

To put it bluntly, this whole ‘grass roots’ campaign is based on a lie.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Pretend You Care
Time
22:09
Be you in the UK or not, you should spend time getting to know Kat/Kathryn Pinder, or She Who Shall Now Be Known as ‘Kitten Off Big Brother’. She’s, like, a totally hardcore activist with genuine life experience.

And, until today, only worthy of this single entry in Google from an indexed PDF file.

Whoop, wait a bit… someone in Usenet has been kind enough to post her Friends Reunited profile that she really should have deleted before going into the house.

1991 Molescroft Primary School (St Leonard’s Road, Beverley)

1996 Cottingham High School (Harland Way, Cottingham)

1998 Longcroft School (Burton Road, Beverley)

1998 Denstone College (Uttoxeter, Staffordshire)

What I’m doing now: I am living in brighton and having a fantastic time. I am employed by connexions as a youth worker, working with 13 to 19 yr olds. Im hoping to move to Perth with my Australian girlfriend in September. Email me at…

Member’s Interests: Djing, Political activism, showing off.

I’m sure the phone number in this listing is also due for a hammering given its locality and the name associated with it, and the Brighton arm of the LGB is sure to receive a few calls from gossip-hungry journalists once they’ve finished milking her parents.

OK, that’s enough from me. I’m off to watch some paint dry.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Updates
Time
22:15
I’ve just finished writing my presentation for NotCon 2004. I was orginally going to do a rather vague thing on activism and search engine optimisation, but there’s just too much to say and I thought it would be better if I presented something genuinely and immediately useful.

My presentation is entitled:

HOW TO STALK YOUR LOCAL MP (IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES A DAY)

Regular readers will know that I’ve resisted this idea in the past (despite being a total hypocrite and keeping all the fun to myself), but MPs have had long enough to cotton onto this themselves. It’s time for a little tough love.

There’ll be an abridged (perhaps even an expanded) online version, but I’m deliberately holding back on this because:

1. I’m as busy as all hell.

2. I’m a total bastard and want to make sure that you attend the conference.

Little to no bloggage tomorrow, as I have some work-for-money to do. If I haven’t answered your email yet, it’s because I was working on my presentation. And the dog ate it. Honest, Sir!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
Video
Time
22:20
Bush Family Fortunes. A documentary on the history of the Bush family and how George W. Bush got to the White House. Enjoy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040601
It’s War! Let’s Hug!
Time
22:49
I saw Tom’s link to it this morning and this post by Jeff Jarvis just now. I hate to be a killjoy, but I’m still not sold on Spirit of America. But – what the hell – I’ve linked to it now and you can do what you like with it.

What’s causing the uncertainty?

Well, if we showed this kind of cohesion and goodwill on a certain other matter, we could give the Iraqis what they really need – justice and stability (without one there can’t be the other) – and then send a bunch of food, tools and frisbees over knowing that the goodwill isn’t going to be wasted and the materials aren’t going to be pissed away in the storm of war. Or occupation. Or ‘temporary armed support’. Call it what you like.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
Consume!
Time
10:16
Remember; it’s not about the oil…

BBC – Fuel protest plan for city centre.

Here’s an overview of what the papers are saying and here’s some analysis from The Independent. You’ll love the quote from Tony Blair that actually attempts to tie in with Big Brother of all things. There’s also a survey from the Churchill motor insurance company which indicates that ‘up to seven in 10 motorists would support fuel blockades’. Oh, and you can see copy of the (very old) email this article mentions, and some comments, by clicking here or here (there’s a lot of talk about how much of the current price is tax).

Similar industry-sourced statistics were around well ahead of the last big fuel protest; Alastair Campbell’s strategy of trying to distance the government from the issue (and at the same time involve themselves by demonising lorry drivers) didn’t get very far, as you may well remember.

Whoops. I take that back. It was very effective in stopping the protests themselves. Follow the trail:

Fuel crisis tests Blair’s leadership

Fuel protesters ‘like cornered rats’

Warning on fuel protest dangers

Did Blair back down? Hell, no! But Gordon Brown’s pre-Budget report offered certain concessions and played a very important role (when this card was played in conjunction with the demonising/danger Ace). But Blair didn’t back down. Blair never backs down.

A quick note for Americans; currently there’s fuss over your way about you paying $2 a gallon at the pump.

A quick distraction….

This is typical of a Murdoch paper. The headline says one thing, while the article says another…

Times – £4 gallon of petrol becomes a reality: The oil price rises mean that the £4 gallon of petrol came closer to reality in Britain, as fears of disruption to supplies from Saudi Arabia intensified after the weekend’s attacks by suspected Al-Qaeda militants.

Right, now, where was I? Oh, yes…

You pay $2 a gallon at the pump. We pay close to £4. That’s $7 and change in Yankee dollar, big boy.

And now fuel protests are scheduled for the day before (non-postal) polling day. Panic-buying may very well cause problems well before this.

It looks like al-Qaeda are going to play a role in the local and European elections after all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
Interesting Times
Time
10:54
Sudan? Go here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
It’s War! And You Just Volunteered!
Time
11:24
The Draft is back: and this time conscription is for women, too.

Pending Draft Legislation Targeted for Spring 2005.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
12:47
New York Metro – John Kerry Intern Scandal – The Education of Alexandra Polier: Falsely accused of having an affair with John Kerry, the “intern” sifts through the mud and the people who threw it.

Brian Flynn from The Sun is singled out for special mention. Read the article in full (or take a shortcut to the guts via Gawker) to enjoy the men and women from doorstop-central dodging and weaving and insisting that Alexandra go through ‘proper channels’.

“You’ve just ambushed me,” he cried. “You’ve ambushed me!”

Bwahahahahahaha!

UPDATE – The Sun’s version is now offline, but you can still search about today and confirm that this is a Brian Flynn story:

He Chopped Off My Hand: America gives back what Saddam Took Awayin Abu Ghraib prison

This was all part of Team Bush’s drive last week to reassociate Saddam with Abu Ghraib and shunt their own wrongdoings into the background…

Bush Meets Iraqis Maimed Under Saddam: “I’m honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein with six other Iraqi citizens as well who suffered the same fate,” Bush said, shaking the new hand of Qasim Ghida Kadhim at a photo opportunity at the Oval Office. “They are examples of the brutality of the tyrant.”

I think it’s pretty clear who Brian Flynn is working for, don’t you?

UPDATE – Tinfoil hats on, please. If you poke around, you’ll also find that Brian Flynn has boldly presented more than a few Iraq porkies, was behind many of the more sordid stories concerning Michael Jackson (see: Timely Arrests) and coughed up some juicy nuggets for the whole AIDS/porn-industry thing (see: War on Porn). Interesting, no?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
Photoshopping
Time
14:58
Nominations are now open for this special Iraq War Memorial.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040602
RWCs
Time
15:51
Yahoo – RNC Mocks Kerry Lifestyle in Online Game: In “Kerryopoly,” the Republican National Committee roasts the Democratic presidential candidate with an online satire of his well-heeled lifestyle.

Yes. Because George W. Bush is a stranger to wealth and privilege…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
UKIP=BNP
Time
09:46
Howard: BNP a stain on British democracy.

BBC – UKIP hits back over Howard attack: The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has hit back after Tory leader Michael Howard branded them “extreme”.

*cough*

More on Howard later. For now, let’s have some more UKIP…

Johann Hari – Don’t be fooled: The UK Independence Party is not harmless.

Guardian – It feels like the BNP – only in blazers.

Anthony Wells – Swivel-Eyed Loons Triumphant.

Oh, and someone at the UKIP has been paying attention. Kind of. Take a look at this blog entitled ‘UKIP Uncovered’, which is actually just another layer of bulldust.

Finally, here for your reference is an edited transcript of their party political broadcast last night:

Hey, we’re not extreme! We’re nice! We’re reasonable. But here are some ‘facts’…. 75 million potential immigrants, Britain awash, etc. Look at out big truck with the word ‘NO’ on it! All of our healthcare and education problems can be fixed if we only take immigrants, the EU and other foreigners out of the equation. It’s the British way. Look at our BIG TRUCK! Again, we’re a reasonable lot, so here are some soundbites from people on the street. Look! One of them is wearing a turban! “I think healthcare is important…”, “I think education is important…” There you go. See? We’re not alone. And we also have A VERY BIG TRUCK! (Postal voters! Vote now before you have a chance to think it over!)

UPDATE – Now you can see it for yourself by clicking here (WMV file).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:58
CBS – Enron Traders Caught On Tape. Read it. It’ll confirm a lot for you.

Oooh, and look what I found at the bottom of this page…

CBS – Bush, Atty Huddle On CIA Leak: President Bush has consulted an outside lawyer in case he needs to retain him in the grand jury investigation of who leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year, the White House said Wednesday. There was no indication that Bush is a target of the leak investigation, but the president has decided that in the event he needs an attorney’s advice, “he would retain him,” White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

Circle those wagons, boys!

UPDATE – (from a not-entirely-credible source, so do tread carefully) Capitol Hill Blue – Bush Knew About Leak of CIA Operative’s Name: Witnesses told a federal grand jury President George W. Bush knew about, and took no action to stop, the release of a covert CIA operative’s name to a journalist in an attempt to discredit her husband, a critic of administration policy in Iraq.

Also of interest on Blogdex today; Neil Gaiman ‘fesses up to his daughter Holly. It all started when they were listening to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”….

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
A Blog Is Born
Time
10:06
A new blog for you to enjoy: Spluttermonkey!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Googlejuice
Time
10:08
Sudan. More from this post at The UK Today.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
In The News
Time
10:16
Smoking Gun asked to serve up to serve up Jacko “source”.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Please Remember To Keep Being Afraid
Time
10:18
CNN – House rejects constitutional doomsday measure: Determined to remain elected representatives, House lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed governors to name replacements if half the 435-member chamber died in a terrorist attack or other disaster.

But what about the Rapture? What contingency plan do they have for when the Rapture takes place?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Video
Time
10:23
Farenheit 911 – The Trailer (suitable files for all pipe sizes in Quicktime & Windows Media).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Genie Arse
Time
10:26
School-board Chairman’s plagiarised graduation speech tracked down with simple search in Google.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Fun, Fun, Fun!
Time
10:29
Remember; our government’s foreign policy has nothing to do with this.

It’s also nice to see Michael Howard acting so responsibly. And considering the hammering the tube system took during the last fuel protest, the planned strike couldn’t have come at a better time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Goodbye, George
Time
10:34
Tinfoil helmet optional: The truth, hard as it is to accept, is that Bush is an Iranian agent.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Googlebombing
Time
10:40
#############################################

I hereby call for the following Googlebomb:

Opportunist

That is all.

#############################################

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Free Speech
Time
10:43
Warning: This is what you get for daring to stand around with a bag on your head. (Cheers to Martin for the link.)

UPDATE – Some details and comment over at DailyKos.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Christianity Watch
Time
16:32
Please note the source of this information: The Anti-Christ is due to be revealed to the world in June and death awaits us in the skies above.

Damn. Our house is located directly under the sky. Perhaps now would be a good time to move.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Tony Blair
Time
16:45
Space Hardware: I want one single outcome from the upcoming elections. I want Blair to get a bloody nose. Ideally I want him to bleed so profusely that his own colleagues take advantage of his weakened state and finally find the guts to chuck him out the party.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Church & State
Time
16:57
Pennsylvania political push for Bush could cost churches tax break: President Bush’s re-election campaign is trying to recruit supporters from 1,600 religious congregations in Pennsylvania — a political push that critics said Wednesday could cost churches their tax breaks.

More from Yahoo: “If ever there were a question about the real intent of expanding faith-based initiatives and promoting a presence of religion in government, this tactic puts it to rest,” Rabbi Moline (of The Interfaith Alliance) said. “The Bush-Cheney campaign has dropped any pretense of honoring the separation of church and state mandated by the Constitution, and puts in jeopardy the non-profit status of 1600 houses of worship by asking them to engage in partisan politics. The President should repudiate this initiative immediately. 1600 Pennsylvania churches for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How clever. How reprehensible.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Goodbye, George
Time
17:03
CIA Director Tenet Resigns!. For ‘personal reasons’, of course…

Link via Atrios. Click here to read some comments.

Oh, and here’s a picture that says it all.

UPDATE – “We simply cannot afford to further increase the risk to our country with more blunders by this team. Donald Rumsfeld, as the chief architect of the war plan, should resign today. His deputies Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and his intelligence chief Stephen Cambone should also resign. The nation is especially at risk every single day that Rumsfeld remains as Secretary of Defense. Condoleeza Rice, who has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy, should also resign immediately. George Tenet should also resign. I want to offer a special word about George Tenet, because he is a personal friend and I know him to be a good and decent man. It is especially painful to call for his resignation, but I have regretfully concluded that it is extremely important that our country have new leadership at the CIA immediately.” – Al Gore (the actual President) May 26, 2004

One down….

UPDATE – 1, 2, 3, 4 – I declare a flame war! Oh, and let’s raise a glass for Mr Chalabi, first man to stake a claim on the official fall guy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
The BNP
Time
18:15
Due another plug, I think.

UPDATE – The BNP site fell over about 2 minutes after I posted this. It’s not my fault, I swear!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Oldies But Goodies
Time
18:37
How long has it been since you visited Eric?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Updates
Time
20:34
As a daily read and a site that picks up on (and/or expands on) a lot of stuff I don’t have time to deal with myself, perfect.co.uk qualifies easily as a ‘follow me’ link – and has just been included as such.

Oh, I’ve been thinking about the upcoming transfer to Movable Type… it’s going to be a long, hard slog, but I think I have a way to do it and include all of the archives in MT format.

I’d want a couple of serious plug-ins, too. One plug-in I’d like is something that turns off comments once any given post drops off the front page. Another would let me enable/disable indexability for any new or existing post – with the default set to ‘off’ (see Web Directive No. 7).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Politics
Time
20:45
Is the Tory party due for a major bowel movement? Will Tim Yeo end up with less than 3 jobs? I hope not; I was just beginning to enjoy the show…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Consume!
Time
22:47
Oh, FFS…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Flash Thingies
Time
23:39
The buck stops where exactly…?

(Bloggage will be light tomorrow; if you haven’t been here for a while, scan for updates – there’s a few juicy bits hidden down there that you may have missed.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040603
Proper Gander
Time
23:43
Goebbels would be proud. (Link via Perfect.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040604
Goodbye, George
Time
09:36
Scotsman – CIA Chief Quit for Personal Reasons, Insists Blair: Mr Blair told BBC Breakfast today: “I would just say that the head of the CIA left for personal reasons. He said that very, very clearly. “As far as I understand it, the decision of the CIA director has got absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, 9/11 or anything else.”

Well, there you go. Here are some other official reactions and some from the public as well.

Independent – The Scapegoat?: George Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, resigned yesterday, the Bush administration’s de facto scapegoat for the fiasco of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and the heavy loss of US credibility that followed.

Guardian – Farewell to the fall guy blamed for terror blunders : Now that Mr Tenet is outside the administration, much of the criticism – and there is plenty more to come with a string of inquiries under way into the double debacle – can be deflected away from the president as he approaches re-election.

That he was a Clinton appointee has absolutely nothing to do with it, either.

And now, some news that is no way related. Just a simple retirement. It was planned weeks and weeks and weeks ago. Honest…

BBC – Second top official to quit CIA: A second top CIA official is to retire from his post, less than a day after the surprise resignation of the agency’s director George Tenet.

Incidentally, The Sun have buried news of Tenet’s resignation in the lower right-hand corner of Page Two with a mere 79 words. But the opening paragraph still manages to set the scene for Team Bush…

The Sun – CIA boss stands down: CIA chief George Tenet quit last night, taking the blame for America’s failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Tenet, 51, said he was quitting for personal reasons but sources said he was being blamed for passing flawed information to the White House.

So there it is. George Tenet has the Bush administration’s ‘complete support’ (aaaaand cue: kiss of death).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040604
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
09:53
How Democracy Was Subverted in Peru: What they found was a stunningly bold and effective effort to circumvent three institutions key to maintaining democracy in Peru: the judiciary, the legislature, and the media. “Montesinos and Fujimori maintained the façade of democracy—the citizens voted, judges decided, the media reported—but they drained its substance,” McMillan and Zoido wrote. What’s more, by analyzing the size of the bribes, they demonstrate that the media, or more specifically, television, has become the most forceful of the checks and balances that underpin constitutional government.

And you wonder why Murdoch wants to ruin the BBC and establish his own terrestrial presence here in the UK?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040604
Interesting Times
Time
10:17
If we move, we move next Friday.

The name of the project is The Big Intervention.

You need to be ready.

Bloggerheads regulars (and irregulars):

1. Have you got a weblog yet? If you haven’t, get one. There’s no shame in starting with – or even maintaining – a ‘simple’ presence via Blogger.com, and it takes about 10 minutes to set yourself up. Need any help? Just ask. If you want a voice during this campaign you will need your own web presence.

2. Once you’re done and have made your first post – or, if you already have a weblog – make sure you are listed with each of the major blog directories.

I can’t stress that second one enough. In fact, here it is again;

Make sure your weblog is listed with each of the major blog directories! Blogdex is a bit shaky this morning, so you may have to do that one last, but please do it, because it’s the most important aggregator there is. Also, the processing of submissions can take anywhere from 2 days to 12 in some cases, so it’s very important that you do this today.

Get to it.

Erm, please.

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Date
20040604
Google
Time
10:49
Oh dear, what an unfortunate side effect.

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Date
20040604
Oldies But Goodies
Time
17:39
Welcome to the Interweb! Link via BBSpot.

(What are you doing still hanging around here? Go and build your sodding weblog!)

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Date
20040604
Stuff
Time
23:05
When I was 6 years old, I used to believe that magicians/illusionists got away with what they did because everybody in the audience blinked at the same time. I may have been onto something…

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Date
20040606
Interesting Times
Time
01:08
Big Brother: What a bunch of fools. If they’d stuck with each other in that room, each one of them would have earned £50K in the free market easily. And they punked out the first time their prize money took one step down. Without even discussing it. And then Kitten – who folded faster than Superman on laundry day – had the audacity to scream ‘smash the capitalist state’ on her way out. FFS…

OK, that’s my priorities sorted. Here’s some not-at-all-important stuff.

The unprecedented un-president is at it again, messing with the political opponent of his faaaaaayvrit deputy“. Think about how you would react if Blair praised or criticised any policy of John Kerry. Australia must go to the polls soon; an election is visibly close. WTF does Bush think he’s playing at?

“International law? I better call my lawyer…”

May. Not. Be Necessary. He’s having enough trouble with the locals.

But it was all worth it. His foreign policy is extremely successful.

*cough*

And now this.

Here are some opinions.

Here’s a dirty great flame war.

Me, I plan to take a page out of the Book of Blair and not speak ill of the dead. Unless they’re a deranged fantasist.

Hey, a blog is born! This is kind of harsh, but Howling Spoons has visibly calmed over the last few days.

Everything else, watch the B3ta messageboard. It’s late, so I’ll probably refrain (oh, go on, then). But it would pay to watch for some artistic/personal reactions to this limit and beyond if you have the time to do more than simply scan the latest posts. But only if you’ve already built/prepared your weblog, of course. You’ll want a weapon in your hands during these coming weeks.

Oh, do you want some good news?

Think about all of those generic Tory posters you’ve seen about lately. Think about what the eye-catching strapline is (presented as it is in bold white on dark blue). Think about what you would remember from that if you ever wanted to find out more from a search engine.

Exactly.

(does small victory dance)

(UPDATE – Bugger. This was brand new yesterday (I See Red was 2nd for ‘let down by labour’), and has dropped off the chart today. Happens sometimes. It’ll be back tomorrow. For now I’ll just have to live with another fresh result: Michael Howard is today 3rd in Google for opportunist…)

If you’re a left-handed blogger or want to run a weblog and are left-handed, then get in touch. (Just thought I’d throw that in to see who’s paying attention…)

NotCon is going to be fun

At the time of the last event I was too commercial to be interesting. Lately I find myself too interesting to be commercial…

UPDATE – Here’s an interesting thought for you: There is one further aspect of last week that should not go unremarked. For the Prime Minister has, in effect, issued a challenge. Having blocked all independent routes to get at the truth, he is now saying that my proposals are “undemocratic”. In other words, he is saying that he is accountable only through the ballot box. That may have profound consequences. For when “Hutton”, “Butler”, “45 minutes” and “WMD” have moved to the periphery of public consciousness and we are all focused on some other political debate (such as the disgraceful decision to push ahead with university top-up and tuition fees), the nagging questions about the war will remain. And the only way to resolve them will be the way our votes are cast.

Do make sure that you vote this week. There are several unpleasant people counting on you forgetting or not bothering with stuff. A protest vote is inevitable. Your job is to make it a responsible protest.

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Date
20040607
Updates
Time
08:27
This could not have come at a better time. The system is in beta mode, so do what you can to test it to its limits and make good with the feedback when things go wrong. Robin’s post on this subject or this comment at Boing Boing should help you to understand how cool/useful/important this is. You may want to read either or both before you go and play.

I’ll be publishing a little something later this morning. A statement regarding Friday may not follow until later in the week. Some secret-squirrel emails may be going out in the meantime (it pays to think ahead). Cheers all.

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Date
20040607
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
09:50
Watch Matt Groening strain against his leash.

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Date
20040607
Updates
Time
11:00
As promised, here’s the web version of my talk at NotCon yesterday (there’s an increasing amount of reportage being posted here if you’re interested):

How To Stalk Your MP In Less Than 10 Minutes A Day

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Date
20040607
RWCs
Time
11:18
Just. Listen. To. This. (Requires Windows Media Player; link via Tom.)

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Date
20040607
Search Engine Optimisation
Time
11:21
Nigritude Ultramarine. Because it has to be done.

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Date
20040607
Inneresting
Time
11:54
Chain Saw Injury Statistics (via Everlasting Blort).

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Date
20040607
2004 – The Year of Zero Modesty
Time
13:20
Both Tom and myself have made the shortlist for the New Statesman 2004 New Media Awards.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to make a nomination.

(makes rude face at peeps who didn’t)

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Date
20040607
The Interweb
Time
15:19
Top Ten Internet Fads (according to The Wave Magazine).

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Date
20040608
The Big Intervention
Time
10:16
In quotes: What Blair said about Iraq’s weapons, before and after the war.

PM ‘delusional’ over Iraq WMD, says inspector: Tony Blair was branded ‘delusional’ yesterday over his continued insistence that weapons of mass destruction might still be found in Iraq. The charge was made by the man who headed the hunt.

Yet Blair was on Radio 4 just now urging us to hold our water – yet again – and wait a few months until the Iraq Survey Group publishes its report.

He also played that little game with UN resolutions and what action they may or may not have justified.

He may be an opportunist – but Howard is still right: For, along with the Lib Dems, the Tories are making the right noises on this, the defining topic of the Blair era. They are right, for example, to join Clare Short in demanding to see the full legal opinion issued by the attorney general on the eve of war. The government cites the longstanding “convention” that keeps such advice confidential, but the Conservatives retort that that makes no sense – not when the advice itself, in summary form, has already been released. Now that that is out, there can be no logic which keeps the grounds for that opinion, and the facts on which it was based, a secret. Moreover, it is disingenuous to speak of Whitehall conventions when the Iraq document was clearly the most important legal guidance of its kind for 50 years. It’s no good citing precedents like the Falklands conflict or the 1991 Gulf war, because legality was not an issue in either case (the law on repelling invasions being pretty straightforward). This was an exceptional episode, which broke all previous conventions: it’s no good standing on ceremony now.

Short version: If the case has been made, show us the proof.

Now to the guts of it…

Time and again Blair has said that we the people would decide if he was right at the ballot box.

1. By all means, let us ignore international laws and conventions and let the people decide. After the crime has taken place.

2. You don’t really think he meant it, did you?

Blair urges British voters to put Iraq feelings aside: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, back from the D-Day commemorations in France, urged voters Monday to put aside their feelings about Iraq when they cast ballots in EU and local elections this week.

So let’s push Iraq into the background. It’s not an important issue. In fact, let’s push Tony Blair into the background as well…

‘Invisible man’ attack on Blair: Tony Blair was dubbed “the invisible man” today after all references to him were kept out of Labour’s TV broadcasts and campaign leaflets for this week’s elections. Amid polls showing voters are set to punish the Government over Iraq, the decision underlines fears that the Prime Minister is the party’s biggest liability at the ballot box.

Blair: Labour ‘to decide my future’: Tony Blair has said it is up to the Labour Party to decide whether he should resign as leader. The prime minister had previously pledged to quit if his leadership became an electoral liability to his party.

I say again:

2. You don’t really think he meant it, did you?

Finally, putting his tomorrow-goggles on, Ken Livingston had this to say:

Coup against Blair ‘would be a disaster’: Ken Livingstone today warns Labour rebels that trying to overthrow Tony Blair could destroy the party, amid fears that a wipeout in this week’s local elections could trigger an attempted coup.

If we move, we move on Friday. Yes, the decision to move will be influenced in part by the amount of blood gushing from Tony Blair’s nose.

Today is a day of secretive emails and site builds. There will be few to no updates tomorrow.

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Date
20040608
Inneresting
Time
19:58
Hooray for days of yore.

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Date
20040608
Useful
Time
20:07
Check your vision.

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Date
20040609
A Blog Is Born
Time
08:46
An unofficial blog for Lewis Moonie, Labour MP for Kirkcaldy. A fine effort by DoctorVee!

Everything you need is here: How To Stalk Your MP In Less Than 10 Minutes A Day.

It really is ever so much fun. Trust me.

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Date
20040609
Tony Blair
Time
08:53
Perfect.co.uk – Use your vote on Thursday!

“Well, I voted for Labour in the last election, but…” is the new black. Or something.

Newsnight last night was awesome, BTW. This article focuses on what nobody wants to talk about, but the really fun bit was seeing all that promotional material from a few years back with Tony’s Big ‘King Face on everything. Three times over.

This time around he’s nowhere to be seen.

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Date
20040610
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:59
New York Times – Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn’t Bind Bush: A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation’s security. The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

[Washington Post – Legalising Torture: There is no justification, legal or moral, for the judgments made by Mr. Bush’s political appointees at the Justice and Defense departments. Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of “national security.” For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments — from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan — that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism.

You can see a copy of the leaked memo here (PDF format).

Also, just for giggles, it’s morning in America… again!

Vote Bush/Zombie-Reagan in 2004!

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Date
20040610
Inneresting
Time
10:02
Cherie Blair is a AAA+ eBay buyer!

The ID isn’t cheri-boo, it’s cherie_boo. You can see her profile here. Login, and you can see that she’s a great buyer and makes quick payments.

I hope she gets some good use out of those old flip-flops before she becomes the chief earner in her household and has to switch to the black & cream high heels.

Oh, and in completely unrelated news:

Scotsman – Vote for Sale on Ebay: A Londoner has attempted to sell his or her vote for the June 10 elections on eBay, it emerged tonight. The Electoral Commission confirmed that an advert had been placed on the auction website by a person apparently offering to vote according to the highest bidder’s instructions. The offer, which has now been removed from the website, was condemned by the commission and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA).

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Date
20040610
Flash Thingies
Time
10:05
Where Did The Time Go?

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Date
20040610
Tony Blair
Time
10:07
Has Tony Blair inadvertently misled Parliament… again?

Independent – Ministers accused of misleading MPs over prisoner abuse: Mr Blair was accused of misleading Parliament after the Ministry of Defence admitted the number of cases of alleged abuses of civilians in Iraq being investigated by the military police were nearly double those previously given to MPs.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Thanks to Piers Moron, most of the public has it in their heads that the number of cases involving British troops mistreating Iraqi detainees isn’t 33 or 61, but zero.

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Date
20040610
The End of Democracy
Time
10:09
Prescott claims postal voting is a success!

Postal vote trial boosts turnout!

Hmm, perhaps this has something do with the people who are working so hard to make sure that all of those postal ballots are filled out promptly and *ahem* correctly…

Times – Postal ballot marred by fraud: Postal ballots for (the) European and local elections were thrown into turmoil last night after a Times investigation uncovered widespread allegations of fraud, vote-stealing and intimidation. The investigation, which covered two of the four postal ballot regions, suggests that substantial numbers of voters have been intimidated into handing over blank ballot papers or forced to support a certain party. In one case, an employer allegedly told his staff that he would sack them all if they refused to support Labour.

UPDATE – Have you voted yet? I got up and voted before breakfast. The Lib-Dems got my vote as the least offensive buffer against the BNP and the UKIP. Labour will never get my vote while Tony Blair is in charge, but I’m pretty sure you worked that out already.

Oh, and Private Eye have gone to print with rumours that Robert Kilroy-Suck plans to ‘do a Sonia Gandhi’ if he’s elected….

UPDATE – John Pardoe: “The Labour Party continues to be the only real choice for the sane.”

I agree. But we can’t continue with that Blair fellow in charge, for reasons that I hope to explain clearly sometime very soon. For now, just go out and VOTE!

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Date
20040610
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
10:19
and his minions…

How The Sun’s Brian Flynn made blonde journalist Alexandra Polier into “brunette Kerry intern”

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Date
20040610
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:20
Independent – The Re-United Nations: The world’s powers yesterday called a diplomatic truce over the tragedy in Iraq as the United Nations Security Council at last gave unanimous backing to a new resolution charting Baghdad’s next perilous steps towards self-determination.

Now we get to watch Bush & Blair play with the blurring of time (well, you can’t argue that the war is illegal because we obtained a UN mandate…).

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Date
20040610
Updates
Time
10:23
More to follow this afternoon.

In the meantime, I need to hear from readers of Bloggerheads who live in a Labour-held constituency. After you’ve voted, of course…

Drop me a line.

JUST IN – Ahahahahaha! loggerheads to play honorary role in G8 summit. Those pesky turtles get everywhere… Also from Abnu; John Ashcroft sings!

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Date
20040610
The Political Weblog Movement
Time
10:51
Doctor Vee requests guidance.

Blog:Vote comments on Doctor Vee’s efforts.

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Date
20040610
Photoshopping
Time
12:38
It just feels like it is all….

Not only, but also:

Perfect.co.uk – Use your vote on Thursday (I’ve linked to the version with comments, as they’re worth a look-see).

UPDATE – Whoops. Link now fixed.

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Date
20040610
The Big Intervention
Time
16:39
I’ve just done the sums, and taking into account the % of people who live in a Labour constituency, the % of people who believe that Blair should no longer be PM, and the (quite small) % of people who are likely to get off their arses and actually do something about it, I’ve worked out that I need to reach at least 100,000 web users within about a week in order to meet the MPC (Minimum Practical Requirement).

Chasing Bush reached 125,000 people within 7days, so it’s not impossible. There’s just a lot of work to do is all.

Something you need to know:

If I do this project (and I still won’t know until early or late Friday morning if we’re going ahead), I will be putting everything behind it and calling in every favour.

But if we can’t do this, if I personally can’t motivate enough people to get on with a job that so obviously needs doing, then I’m dropping out of the political circus until after Blair is removed from power and/or the US presidential election takes place (on November 2, 2004).

Two reasons:

1. If I can’t make a difference, what’s the point?

2. If we can’t bring about responsible change now, then I fear a shitfight is coming. A bloody big one. I’ll need to shield my family from the worst of it, and that will take money. This means that pretty much everything on or around Bloggerheads that doesn’t make money will stop. (In fact, if the campaign fails, Bloggerheads will probably stop completely for a few weeks while I quietly lick my wounds in a darkened corner.)

I won’t be plugging generic Viagra on a daily basis, but I’ll probably lose the bulk of my audience. Still, if all we’re doing is shouting into the wind and making ourselves feel better, then I have to ask again… what is the point?

In short, if you believe in me, and if you value Bloggerheads, you need to get behind this.

That means not just sitting there and nodding your head in agreement. That means doing everything you can to help – and then wondering what else you can do.

Can you reach a well-known personality and get them to make a statement of support?

Can you raise enough money to place ads – big or small – in local or national newspapers?

Will you actually get up and walk away from the computer and dare to display this same bold attitude in real life by distributing posters/pamphlets?

We have a campaign window of 10 days. The more sudden and overwhelming the coverage, the more likely it is that this will work.

But this will require commitment. From me, and from you.

I’ll see you in the morning.

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Date
20040610
Cool, Just Cool…
Time
16:44
It’s such a lovely day. Let’s go for a walk.

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Date
20040610
Spam
Time
17:51
Have you noticed how much of spam focuses on improving your quality of life? A bigger wedding tackle, improved tackle performance, income opportunities, mortgages, diplomas, anti-depressant pills, weight-loss products, etc. etc. etc.

I don’t know about you, but my my quality of life would be improved tremendously by the removal of spam. Mind you, I get spam offering me that, as well…

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Date
20040610
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:59
A Metafilter thread on the Bush torture memo.

There’s lots in there, but you should dig though it, follow the links and consider the implications.

Besides, you need something to keep you busy until the whistle blows and I go over the top….

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Date
20040610
Tony Blair
Time
21:07
The cat is away. I repeat: the cat is away.

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Date
20040611
The Big Intervention
Time
08:25
Here’s my statement. Press release is here.

We’re going for it.

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Date
20040611
The War on Terror
Time
08:50
CNN – State Department retracts terrorism assertion: The U.S. government acknowledged Thursday that a recent report declaring a decline in terrorism in 2003 was wrong. The report, released in April and touted by top administration officials as a sign of the success of the war on terrorism, was based on faulty data, said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. In fact, he told reporters, the corrected report will show “a sharp increase over the previous year.” The corrected version is not yet completed, he said. Secretary of State Colin Powell denied the errors were the result of an effort to make the administration look good.

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Date
20040611
Flash Music Video
Time
08:51
Say goodbye to Ray Charles in the most fitting way possible; by shedding a tear for all we have lost. Pride, freedom, brotherhood, and like that. (Oh, well you know, depreciation man…)

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Date
20040611
Photoshopping
Time
11:17
The good news is, it won’t be the door hitting his arse on the way out…

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Date
20040611
The Big Intervention
Time
13:03
Election results keep coming in and things keep looking worse and worse for Labour unless they do the necessary…

UPDATE – And there goes Newcastle!

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Date
20040611
The Bush Administration
Time
13:41
Is Bush in trouble, too?

First they start whispering, then they start talking…

(Link via Perfect.co.uk)

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Date
20040611
The Big Intervention
Time
14:33
BBC – How bad is it for Blair?: Whether he can then get away with simply brushing aside these results as mid-term blues or whether they will spark a leadership crisis in Westminster will be the big question.

(Link via Wibbler, who has started this thread for the Metafiltarians to chew on.)

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Date
20040611
Flash Music Video
Time
16:06
We love you Grandad!

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Date
20040611
Tony Blair
Time
17:30
A few words from a humble Tory councillor: The Labour Party have lost in every area. That may mean RIP Tony Blair, it may also herald an Autumn election – because if Iraq is an issue and TB does manage to hang on – they will be scared witless at the prospect of a Kerry win in the US, because that may lead to the exposure of facts about the Iraq War, making the protest vote in the UK next May even worse.

May lead to the exposure of facts? May?

Pfft. And they call me an optimist.

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Date
20040611
The Big Intervention
Time
17:37
Guardian – Rocky night signals Labour’s three-day storm: In the coming inquest, starting with a sombre meeting of the parliamentary Labour party on Monday evening, Mr Blair will try to persuade his MPs not to panic, hold their nerve and recognise Labour’s standing has been overshadowed temporarily by Iraq.

Yes. Because it will all be over by Christmas.

Oh, and there’s that ‘panic’ word again.

UPDATE – Oh, do keep any eye out for official reactions like this from Downing Street Says.

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Date
20040611
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
18:00
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, now we hear of video footage of children being abused in Abu Ghraib. More here.

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Date
20040611
Flash Music Video
Time
18:36
Goodbye, Ronald.

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Date
20040611
Tony Blair
Time
18:59
Blair in civvies. Get used to it.

UPDATE – All that wagon-circling must make one dizzy. Especially if you have to do it all by yourself… Blair Era Not at End, Says Blunkett.

Oh, and you may want to check out a wide range of opinions being expressed at the BBC website.

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Date
20040612
The Bush Administration
Time
09:56
Everything Isn’t Under Control (requires DivX).

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Date
20040612
Tony Blair
Time
09:58
Independent – Blair says sorry as Prescott admits Labour got a ‘kicking’ for Iraq war: Tony Blair has admitted his decision to go to war in Iraq had cost his party support across the country and he apologised to the Labour councillors that lost their seats.

Today I’m putting together some pamphlets (and maybe even some stickers) and hitting Wimbledon to reach the constituents of Roger Casale (who looks to be a tough sell, but what the hell).








Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

18-28 May, 2004

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Date
20040518
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:44
Tinfoil helmet optional:

Nick Berg’s Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances, Contradictory Claims, and Videotape Anomalies

Old munitions being dug up by ammo-hungry insurgents have sparked some rather optimistic ‘WMD tip of iceberg’ claims. FOX’News’ is leading the charge.

Feel free to skip these two if you don’t know or don’t care about recent developments in the world of MT and other blog formats:

Mark Pilgrim dumps MT in favour of WordPress, explaining that ‘all non-Free software is a dead-end’.

A general link to WordPress is also charting well this morning.

Dave Winer announces that the Frontier kernel will be released as open source.

Just nudging the top ten, Andy Kaufman is a man as good as his word and John Scalzi has a few words for about-to-be-married gays and lesbians.

Finally, here’s a rather commercial and merkin-centric blog survey. I stopped after ‘annual family income’.

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Date
20040518
Tony Blair
Time
09:52
Jack Straw was on Radio 4 this morning. He described the current leadership froth/fluff/genuine-movement-type-thing situation as being part of ‘mid term difficulty’. Reuters carry the first recent reference to this terminology in this piece, which also puts forward the idea that Iraq ‘could constitute a poisoned chalice for Blair’s successor and be no help to the party’.

This works in quite well with another assertion by Mr Straw this morning – that the call for war did not come from Mr Blair; it was voted for by the House of Commons.

Yes folks; this war belongs to everybody, not just Mr Blair. Remember; youuuuu voted for it! (Well, your MP did. After Mr Blair presented his ‘evidence’ in parliament. Which may or may not have been massaged. Subconsciously. Oh, and after the whips had a quiet word with MPS about further ‘evidence’ – that didn’t go on record.)

Get rid of Mr Blair and the problem remains; and then we won’t have The Great Leader on hand to help us solve this problem. That he didn’t cause.

Sun – PM: I will not cut and run!

He said: “The task of leadership when things are difficult is precisely not to cut and run but to face the difficulties and overcome them.

“The choice we have is not just as a coalition but as a world now.”

He said Iraq “was wrecked and degraded under Saddam Hussein,” adding: “Have we got the will to see it through to a country that’s stable and democratic and operates in the best interests of all the Iraqi people?

“We will continue until we have got the job done.”

Mr Blair later warned there will be “no ducking out” from ANY of his responsibilities.

He insisted that he still had the moral and political authority to keep our boys and girls serving in the Gulf state.

Mr Blair added: “Before the war in Iraq Saddam Hussein was in charge, brutalising his people and destroying their country.

“We are trying to make the country better with the support of the vast majority of Iraqis.

“Every time there’s a terrorist incident or somebody is assassinated that to my mind is the reason not for cutting and running or ducking out.”

Ministers backed him after reports that Mr Blair might quit as PM early.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said the reports were “a bit of silliness”.

A source close to Gordon Brown said they would not be “diverted by malicious, divisive and baseless gossip.”

Deputy PM John Prescott told Labour MPs he was “fully behind the Prime Minister”.

I hope this message is getting through, people… there’s more at stake here than one man’s career. There’s also Iraq.

Stay with me, because this last bit can be confusing…

It’s wrong to tie Mr Blair to Iraq, as he is not responsible.

It is wrong to try and remove Mr Blair, as he is responsible for Iraq.

Hang on, let me try and rephrase that so it makes more sense…

We cannot remove Blair from leadership because of Iraq… erm, because of Iraq.

Better?

No, didn’t think so.

Labour: I See Red (Labour Needs Leadership Change)

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Date
20040518
Bunch of Stuff
Time
10:10
I’ll be working on posters ‘as and when’ today – and keeping a sharp eye out for news of Brian Haw, who is due in court today. (UPDATE – He has been granted bail and ordered to return on 1 June.)

I’ll also be posting a job ad later this morning. Just a short-term contract for a local designer who knows their way around Movable Type. The overall design is done, we just need someone to carve what we want out of MT. It’s a no-brainer, but the job needs to be done quickly.

Here’s your chance to bug me for details before I actually post them…

5, 4, 3, 2…

UPDATE – Ok, here it is. Pardon the ‘copy and paste':

We require a committed freelance designer/developer with proven experience of the Movable Type platform. You will be using provided flat Photoshop files to create custom layouts using Movable Type, HTML and CSS. Basic technical requirements include:

- Professional and proven ability to author sites within Movable Type (ability to hand code).

- Excellent understanding of HTML and CSS (ability to hand code).

- Good working knowledge of Photoshop/Fireworks.

You will be working remotely so you’ll need your own home office with relevant software. In the first instance please mail movabletype AT screenpages DOT com with URLs stating your responsibilities on these sites design/build, and your CV in Word or PDF format. This is an immediate requirement so the successful candidate will need to be able to hit the floor running! We will offer an attractive hourly salary for the right person.

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Date
20040518
Activism
Time
15:54
Download and display some nifty fake images. (There’s a little bit of truth in each and every one.)

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Date
20040518
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
16:03
Independent – Allies accused of breaking Geneva Conventions on civilian losses: … the Americans and the British do not bother to keep count of the people they have “liberated” and then killed. This is not usual in modern warfare. In most past conflicts, attempts were made to keep a tally of civilian losses. Legal experts say that, particularly in the case of Iraq, it is the duty of occupying powers to do so under the Geneva Conventions.

UPDATE – Heh. The perfect solution to the Abu Ghraib prison problem: rebranding.

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Date
20040518
Does What It Says On The Tin
Time
17:05
www.instruction-manuals.co.uk

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Date
20040519
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:29
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has spent £15 million on mercenaries in Iraq.

Apparently there’s a world of difference between a private military company and a private security company… but being a naive peacenik, I simply did not know that.

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Date
20040519
Normal People
Time
09:30
German couple advised by fertility clinic to ‘try sex’: A clinic spokesman said: “We are not talking retarded people here, but a couple who were brought up in a religious environment who were simply unaware, after eight years of marriage, of the physical requirements necessary to procreate.”

Man Arrested After Motel Room Is Coated In Vaseline: After Roger Chamberlain checked out last week, the cleaning crew discovered mattresses and bedding were slathered with the slippery stuff. Vaseline covered the TV set, furniture, carpeting and towels — and everything else in the room.

We can only assume that this includes the bible in the bedside table.

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Date
20040519
The Happy Poster Project
Time
09:35
Best. Reaction. Ever.

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Date
20040519
GMail
Time
09:37
GMail attains currency status before it even launches. I’m willing the bet that there’s something in Google’s T&Cs that says being this ‘nice’ is a little bit naughty.

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Date
20040519
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
09:40
Six Apart continue with their “Hey, stop! Now, listen… let’s not be hasty” marketing programme.

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Date
20040519
Opportunities
Time
09:47
Britain’s Oldest Nudist Camp for Sale!

Cease your sniggering! This is serious:

Regulars at the discreetly-named North Devon club told the paper they were fearful about its future – and also concerned at visitors coming to view the property. “We’ve had all sorts just wandering in. We even caught one man hiding in the bushes taking pictures. He was lucky he wasn’t lynched,” said 67-year-old Glenys Banner, who has spent every summer at the camp for 23 years.

(Link via the full-to-overflowing Attu Sees All.)

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Date
20040519
Labour Needs Leadership Change
Time
09:56
Roll up, roll up – place your bets! When do you think Tony will step down or get the shaft?

Ever the optimist, I’ve gone for Tuesday 15th June 2004.

BBC – Blair’s leadership back on menu: Ministers are all rallying round in public, of course but there is little doubt that old feuds – between Robin Cook and Gordon Brown, for example – have been patched up and new alliances are being made. Backbenchers, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly nervous about the safety of their own Commons seats. If Tony Blair really has become an electoral liability, many of them will pay the price.

Fun things to do:

My stats show only 200 or so views of Labour: I See Red from the parliament.uk servers. We need to bump this up a bit.

Your mission today – if your local MP is of the Labour variety – is to send them a link to this important political message.

The email address of any MP is dead easy to work out. If their name is John Smith, it’s smithj@parliament.uk – I’m sure you can work out the rest for yourself. Go to it. (Be nice.)

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Date
20040519
Weapons of Mass Distraction
Time
10:37
Thirtysomethings find comfort in weekend pajama parties and plan the ultimate sleepover. Well, something has to fill the void left by Friends and Sex In The City.

Totally unrelated:

This competition is designed to remind us that it’s nearly time to waste another summer watching nobodies do nothing.

Mind you, it could get exciting. I refer you to this post from June last year: Incidentally, I was quite worried last month that the Big Brother house was a prime UK target (poor security, high visibility, low payload requirement, guaranteed footage, etc.) but now I’ve relaxed a bit. Nothing to do with decreased vigilance, it’s just become obvious that no-one is watching the damn thing.

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Date
20040519
Pluggage
Time
10:37
Time once again to plug Giltsharp’s short story competition. 50 Swiss Quattros are going begging and all you have to do is string a few words together on your blog.

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Date
20040519
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:55
BBC – US ‘abuse soldier’ faces court: The first American soldier charged over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is set to go on trial in Baghdad. Specialist Jeremy Sivits is accused of taking the photos – including one of a “human pyramid” of naked prisoners – which sparked international outrage.

A candlelight vigil has been held in his home town of Hyndman, PA.

Jeremy Sivits, “our hometown hero.” The folks at Hyndman Middle-Senior High must be especially proud. Perhaps they can use some of Jeremy’s snaps to liven up their Pictures page.

Moving right along to where responsibility lies… (hint: look up)

UPI – Army, CIA want torture truths exposed: But what enrages many serving senior Army generals and U.S. top-level intelligence community professionals is that the “few” in this case were not primarily the serving soldiers who were actually encouraged to carry out the abuses and even then take photos of the victims, but that they were encouraged to do so, with the Army’s well-established safeguards against such abuses deliberately removed by high-level Pentagon civilian officials.

ABCNEWS.com – Former Abu Ghraib Intel Staffer Says Army Concealed Involvement in Abuse Scandal: Top military officials have claimed the abuse seen in the photos at Abu Ghraib was limited to a few MPs, but Provance says the sexual humiliation of prisoners began as a technique ordered by the interrogators from military intelligence. “One interrogator told me about how commonly the detainees were stripped naked, and in some occasions, wearing women’s underwear,” Provance said. “If it’s your job to strip people naked, yell at them, scream at them, humiliate them, it’s not going to be too hard to move from that to another level.”

Bag a statue, send a reminder.

UPDATE – A long comments thread relating to that last link is available over at Atrios.

It was also there that I found this chunky nugget…

I’m not putting any helpful text in this link, sorry. You need to follow, read and poke around yourself on this one.

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Date
20040519
Church & State
Time
10:56
Village Voice – Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move: …we’re not supposed to know the National Security Council’s top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios. But now we know.

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Date
20040519
Activism
Time
10:58
I’ll be working on some more ‘Fake Image’ posters later today. I can’t source the actual Sun ’45 minutes from doom’ front page, so I’m going to have to take the piss with an obvious mock-up, I think.

UPDATE – Luke from Expats reports on yesterday’s Bush Snr protest. They got shunted into a Free Speech Zone – the second provided for the Bush family on British soil.

This from Luke: A man was arrested right in front of me for “breach of the peace” for refusing to protest inside the barricades, which was outright unnecessary and can only fan the flames of anger from the other protesters.

UPDATE – Scotsman – Action Hint over Parliament’s Noisy Demonstrator: Possible action against a one-man demonstration opposite Parliament is being carefully considered at the highest level of Government, the Commons heard today.

So, sending the muscle in hasn’t worked, ditto for bullshit terrorism ‘threats’ and charges. What else can they come up with to silence Brian Haw?

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Date
20040519
Flash Music Video
Time
12:15
JPEG Baby is world-famous in Germany again (NSFW site). This single link is resulting in 100 visitors an hour.

UPDATE – Ahahahahaha! Found via the same site, an excellent (and also NSFW) Flash game: Spermicide! They won’t get away with using that music for long….

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Date
20040519
War on ‘Terror’
Time
12:36
The new ‘security’ screen in the House of Commons isn’t balloon-proof:

BBC – Commons suspended: The House of Commons has been suspended during Prime Minister’s question time after a balloon filled with purple powder was thrown at Tony Blair.

(Email heads-up from BigDaddyMerk.)

UPDATE – Please note the subtle alteration to the ‘Labour: I See Red’ banner.

UPDATE – Refresh that BBC link for an increasing amount of detail. The projectiles weren’t thrown from the public (screened) gallery, but from the press gallery.

There’s more from the Guardian. Not that you need my help from this point on. The wires are alive with this. It’s already been reported on CNN, in New Zealand, in South Africa, etc. etc. etc.

So, when do you think we can expect new anti-protest (sorry, best make that ‘anti-terror’) screens for the press gallery and the side gallery? Should do wonders for the growing bunker-mentality that’s served us so well in the past.

UPDATE – Tom Watson is also bringing us fresh news from the purple powder front. Apparently John Prescott was a right old hero, and jumped to cover the powder so it wouldn’t spread.

UPDATE – And here’s the slow-motion replay (1.2Mb AVI) , coming to you courtesy of chachacha.co.uk. Take a look at the shake of the head at 00:14. Blair knows exactly what this is – and what it’s not. Ditto for Brown and Prescott. Makes the whole ‘cover the powder up so it doesn’t spread’ moment look more like housekeeping than heroism. But that’s just me.

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Date
20040519
Guantanamo Bay
Time
15:38
“That’s not the way we do things in America.” – George W Bush, April 30, 2004

Oh, really?

Guardian – Former Guantánamo chief clashed with army interrogators: The commander of Guantánamo Bay, sacked amid charges from the Pentagon that he was too soft on detainees, said he faced constant tension from military interrogators trying to extract information from inmates.

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Date
20040519
Activism
Time
17:54
There are three new posters on a newspapery theme now ready to roll on the ‘Fake’ Image Poster Project page. Download, print, and distribute at will.

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Date
20040520
The War on….
Time
10:58
1. Yes, I found it amusing.

2. Yes, I think it was a stupid thing to do.

Bear with me…

Blair is a man who simply doesn’t listen. His ‘leadership’ has been almost as distant and enclosed as Bush’s.

Remember, I’ve felt the shut-out first hand. I was receiving email intended for Tony Blair for months-stroke-years, and it wasn’t until post-11/9 (please note correct formatting of date) when I was receiving email from high-profile Muslim groups that his communications department suggested that maybe I could spend time vetting and forwarding the emails to his constituency address – before swiftly moving back to the position of pretending that I didn’t exist.

So I can not only empathise with the position of Fathers-4-Justice, I can also tell you with some degree of confidence that you are going to see more and more of this kind of action if Blair continues to:

- operate contrary to (or oblivious to) public feeling

- use willing, almost ‘in house’ media to shift his personal spin

- pass off stunts like The Big Abortion as public consultation.

But there’s one other thing that Blair gets up to that really gets my goat. It’s the massive error in judgement that should be keeping you awake at nights.

Blair deliberately manipulates the (very real) threat of terrorism to serve his own agenda.

And this stunt was an asset for Blair from the moment they decided to use flour bombs.

So let’s congratulate Fathers-4-Justice for an inspired campaign move. We can see the results today in the headlines that read:

FATHERS SEEK JUSTICE IN COMMONS

*cough*

Had Fathers-4-Justice not pulled their stunt yesterday, many of the headlines would have read:

HOWARD TAUNTS BLAIR OVER LEADERSHIP

Take a look at what was being discussed when the flour hit the fan.

or…

HOWARD: BLAIR MUST STAND UP TO BUSH

Independent – Howard’s message to Blair: Time to stand up to Bush: Michael Howard breaks ranks with Tony Blair over Iraq today by calling on the Prime Minister to speak out publicly against the United States when he disagrees with President George Bush.

Well, truth be told, if we had media with brains and balls, the headlines would mostly read:

HOWARD: HYPOCRITE & OPPORTUNIST

Instead, a condom full of purple flour has become a ‘powder missile’. This taps directly into the public’s fears of biological weaponry, doing Bush & Blair’s War on ‘Terror’ a grand service and – surprise, surprise – Murdoch was on the case before the purple haze settled (see right).

And today, The Scum contributes to the ever-growing culture of fear with:

THEY COULD ALL BE DEAD!

Shocking! True! But more than a little misleading. (Oh, and please do note that the pictures of Posh as a teenager are given an equal amount of space. And top billing.)

Actually, perhaps this headline should read:

*WE* COULD ALL BE DEAD!

Especially because the Blair government is soooo concerned about terrorism that MPs have been given no advice or training on any procedures to follow if there were a terrorist attack in the House of Commons. Instead they build screens that serve more to separate us from the seat of democracy and damage what’s left of the concept of open government in this country.

And when there is the possibility of a biological agent on the loose (however unlikely that may seem) you have people like David “Don’t Panic” Maclean herding his Tory charges out the door, crying; “Get out, out, quickly now.”

I think we can all be thankful that Fathers-4-Justice do not have access to their children. Had they been brought on the day, they would no doubt have been used as human shields by wild-eyed Tories rushing for the nearest exit.

Sending potentially contaminated MPs to wander into the lobby and beyond and even have a stroll outside if they wanted to? If we must discuss this matter in terms of an actual possible maybe perhaps terrorist threat sometime maybe possibly in the future (that you can count on), can the focus please be on practical measures we can take to protect the people and their representatives?

No?

OK, let’s just build another screen and ban the public from Westminster altogether. We can use the same security drive to shift that shouty fellow across the road. I mean, we have to protect democracy from terrorism, right?

UPDATE – From the BBC, some promising promises from Peter Hain and – shock horror – use of the non-panic words ‘flour bomb’.

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Date
20040520
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
11:00
I blogged this yesterday, but it’s worth repeating, as it’s f’ing jaw-dropping stuff…

Village Voice – Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move: …we’re not supposed to know the National Security Council’s top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios. But now we know.

Is Bush’s policy guided by people who believe the world is about to end and that we should be helping matters along? Is Bush one of these people?

He certainly has no problem giving them government funding so they can brainwash the kiddies.

You should worry about this. You should worry about this a lot.

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Date
20040520
Activism
Time
11:10
Via Toby

What governments and corporations get up to when they don’t think anyone is paying attention.

UPDATE – Also, there’s this from Y. Bee Normal..

Permission to protest? Denied! We must do what we can to protect our endangered Republicans…

And for those that need reminding:

Sack Bush: The Bagged Statue Experiment

The ‘Fake Image’ Poster Project

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Date
20040520
Normal People
Time
11:43
Where is that smell coming from? (Link via the non-smelly Ultimate Insult.)

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Date
20040520
How Weblogs Work
Time
11:50
The initial analysis from the Memespread experiment is ready. There’s also some coverage at Wired to be had. (Links via Me and Ophelia.)

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Date
20040520
Goodbye, George
Time
12:16
Guardian – Hostilities force Bush into deep hole : The conservatives’ growing awareness that failure may be imminent has generated a backlash against the more radical “neo-conservatives” such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith at the Pentagon, who are blamed for persuading President Bush that an invasion would be relatively easy.

(Link via Sensible Election, who also point us to this ruling on Bush’s Medicare ‘news’ segments.)

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Date
20040520
Advertising Genius
Time
13:47
I Want To Believe.

UPDATE – Oooh, look. It’s even managed a mainstream injection.

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Date
20040520
Photoshopping
Time
14:47
Woof!

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Date
20040520
The Bush Administration
Time
14:53
Yahoo – Pentagon Stops Payments to Iraq’s Chalabi

Yahoo – U.S. Troops Raid Chalabi’s House in Iraq

FYI, Chalabi was a major source of that ‘darn good intelligence’ relied upon by the Bush administration.

UPDATE – Here you go, this should keep you busy.

UPDATE 2 – There’s more on this and the bombing near the Syrian border over at Back to Iraq.

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Date
20040520
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
15:02
Say what you like about Specialist Sabrina Harmon, I think she has a lovely smile.

What a shame she wastes it on naked Iraqi bottoms and people who have been beaten to death.

UPDATE – An i-Poddish treat from the streets of NYC. Oh, and a close-up here.

(Link via Abnu.)

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Date
20040520
Church & State
Time
18:04
If you’re in America, you can watch it on PBS tonight. If you have a beefy computer with a wide pipe, you can watch it anytime you like (Windows Media or RubbishPlayer):

Frontline: The Jesus Factor – ‘Examining George W. Bush’s personal religious journey, its impact on his political career and pResidency, and the growing influence of America’s evangelical Christians.’

(Cheers to Y. Bee Normal for the heads-up.)

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Date
20040520
Flash Music Video
Time
21:19
I think I’ve just been out-done (1.4Mb Flash – also contains a bitchin’ guitar solo).

UPDATE – Link now fixed. Follow and enjoy!

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Date
20040521
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:24
Busy day today, but I do have these for you…

Bush and his lovely little neo-cons are so concerned about their litigious society that they’re planning to use writ-happy parents as part of their censorship drive.

U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings – Bush’s failed Mideast policy is creating more terrorism: Now everyone knows what was not the cause. Even President Bush acknowledges that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Listing the 45 countries where al-Qaida was operating on September 11 (70 cells in the U.S.), the State Department did not list Iraq. Richard Clarke, in “Against All Enemies,” tells how the United States had not received any threat of terrorism for 10 years from Saddam at the time of our invasion.

Bush may acknowledge that there was no terror/Iraq connection before the war, but he suggests or infers it every chance he gets. Oh, and here’s some more good news on ‘the central front on terror‘ that he’s so proud to have created. (Here, have a look at Little Johnny Howard bleating this defensive mantra as recently as yesterday.)

Yahoo News – GI: Boy mistreated to get dad to talk: A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father’s resistance to interrogators.

Has Andy Kaufman returned? Snopes gives it ruling.

Anil Dash steps forward to try and clam the MT storm.

Wired reports on gmailswap.com

Troy in Fifteen Minutes

Robot protest!

Does what is says on the tin. But looks kind of naff.

And finally, Re: Statue-bagging

That’s what I like about Moveon.org; they think big.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040521
Does What It Says On The Tin
Time
11:27
www.marryyourpet.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040521
Flash Music Video
Time
11:28
I don’t understand. Why make something in flash and ‘broadcast’ it as a compressed video? Wouldn’t the .SWF file be more accessible, smaller in file size and offer higher resolution?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040521
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
11:34
The Ultimate War Sim: Like my Grandpa always said, there were no naked human pyramids in Starcraft.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040521
Bunch of Stuff
Time
16:52
Another incredible car makeover that’s sure to impress the chicks, the incredible quality of local newspapers and how upset some people can get about the theft of their digital eyebrows. All this and more in this week’s B3ta newsletter.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040521
Flash Games
Time
18:10
Cheat! (Read the instructions over somebody’s shoulder for maximum enjoyment.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Goodbye, George
Time
09:53
Awwww, poor widdle Bushie fell off his bike and got a boo-boo on his face. Of course, it didn’t happen because he’s a witless and uncoordinated buffoon who can’t even stay upright on a Segway, it happened because he’s a go-getting he-man…

McPaper – Bush suffers cuts, bruises while biking: “It’s been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose,” (White House spokesman Trent Duffy) said. “You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn’t whistling show tunes.”

What a guy! I vote we get him one of those quad-bikes. I hear they’re pretty lethal. If we want to go all out, we can buy this remote-control quad-bike and make sure the job gets done right next time. Hell, if the topsoil is loose enough, we might even be able to plant him head-first like a lawn-dart.

UPDATE – Some thoughts on this and other pResidential misadventures from the London News Review.

UPDATE 2 – Experience a fish/barrel moment and enjoy the heartwarming laughter of the American people.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
I. Want. My. Windmill!
Time
09:55
Power to the people – by rooftop turbine: The Swift Rooftop Wind Energy System, developed by the Edinburgh company Renewable Devices Limited, supplies the power directly into a home’s individual existing mains supply. Each turbine is made up of five two-metre rotor blades encased in an outer-rim, like a wagon wheel, and it sits just 1.5 metres above the height of a house.

Ooh, lookie – they have a website. That needs optimisation. I’ll let you know how I get on.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:59
Hooray for the good ship Lynndie England, and all who sail in her (Link via ScaryDuck.)

US tactics ‘heavy handed’ says Straw memo: The first cracks in Britain’s coalition with the United States over the occupation of Iraq were exposed last night by a leaked government memo which revealed deep misgivings about America’s “heavy-handed” tactics in the war-torn country

Gen. Zinni: ‘They’ve Screwed Up’: But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq, and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty — and that the time has come for heads to roll.

The Marine’s tale: ‘We killed 30 civilians in six weeks. I felt we were committing genocide’: The Marines were told that Iraqis were filling ambulances with explosives, and that soldiers were dressed as civilians, but after pouring fire into vehicles and hearing no explosions, they started to doubt the truth of these claims.

Hmm, sound to me like the Marines were sold some kind of terror/Iraq lie. Mind you, there’s still a chance they can keep a lid on all of this…

Sydney Morning Herald – Rumsfeld bans camera phones in Iraq: Quoting a Pentagon source, (The Business newspaper) said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
South West Trains
Time
10:11
############################################################

Peter is the latest South West Trains victim to stand tall. He’s cooking up a passenger protest!

“I want to be able to give a representative group of passengers the option to travel on time, so I’ll be looking to hire a coach to run from Alton Station to Farnham Station. If I can get a reasonable quote for the journey then there will be no cost to passengers, otherwise there’ll be a nominal fee to recoup the cost. ”

Ahahahahahahaha!

Do go and check it out – and if you’re going to nab a link today, do consider making it this one; this plan deserves support.

############################################################

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:18
Topping the chart, it’s a good old-fashioned blog-broken sex scandal! Wonkette has an exclusive photo and The Washington Post has the report.

Coming a close second and gettings links from all sorts of magical places, a new song from Eric Idle, dedicated to the FCC. (It’s a 2.98 Mb MP3, and NSFW without headphones.)

Also, there’s most of the war stuff collected in the post below and two links relating to Michael Moore:

A report from MichaelMoore.com

Andrew Anthony asks some awkward questions.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Tories are Triffic
Time
10:27
From The Mirror, who you know have every reason to be careful lately

The Tory Leader and his Drug-Dealer Cousin: A drug-dealing cousin of the Conservative leader was named in connection with a Royal Pardon allegedly linked to “large sums of money” changing hands. The cousin, Simon Bakerman, has been linked to the case of two notorious heroin barons who got out of jail early in what an MP on Friday described “scandalous” circumstances. The Royal Prerogative in the case was authorised by Mr Howard when he was Home Secretary in 1996.

UPDATE – Ooh, look; here’s some interesting background via the Observer, courtesy of Google, and a related report from the same period, also from the Sunday Mirror.

If you want to track this story as/if it develops, set up a Google News Alert.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Inneresting
Time
10:32
Photos of an abandoned Japanese mining colony.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
The BNP
Time
10:40
You’ll want to be quick if you want to see this; the server can only take a minor beating.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Tony Blair
Time
10:44
You may want to pay to read this, you may not..

John Rentoul is of the considered opinion that Tony can’t be shifted and that Labour can’t lose and he cites this prediction.

Time, I think, to found The Voter Apathy Party and go with posters like:

WHY BOTHER VOTING? YOU KNOW LABOUR’S GOING TO WIN.

Or, we could colour our futures with a touch of optimism…

The Scotsman – Cook tipped for role of kingmaker: When the former Foreign Secretary quit his Cabinet job as Leader of the House of Commons immediately before British and American troops went in, few fancied his chances of a comeback. But now that the Prime Minister’s Iraq strategy has foundered, and there is open speculation in parliament about whether Mr Blair can survive, the Livingston MP is not only on the road back to office, he is being tipped as a future kingmaker.

Watch the show, link if you have a website, send a copy if your local MP is of the Labour variety.

UPDATE – Bless the Interwebnet. Oh, and cheers Al. Mind you, I’d still be happier if it were a real party that you could actually decide not to bother voting for.

UPDATE 2 – More on the worth of John Rentoul’s words over at The Uk Today.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Video
Time
12:45
Watch George W. Bush prepare to make a very important announcement (streaming Windows Media file). The punchline is a kicker.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
The Bush Administration
Time
13:49
Good news! Great care is being taken to place the right people in the right jobs in Iraq.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
14:45
Quote Of The Day: “Bad people have celebrations, too.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
OK, So I’m a Comic Book Geek
Time
14:58
I have got to get me a copy of Alyas Batman En Robin. You can find out more about this incredible film here and here. (And if you live in the US or Canada, you can pick up a stray copy on eBay here.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Video
Time
16:01
Star Wars Kid in Ep III? Forget that. Check him out starring in Ep IV (3.4Mb WMV). This is a (very) late arrival to the party, but it’s well cut and the music works a treat.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Flash Games
Time
16:05
Defender!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
Opportunities
Time
16:12
The Israeli spy agency Mossad is recruiting! You can find the online form you need here. (Cheers to ScaryDuck for the heads-up.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
11/9 (please note correct formatting of date)
Time
17:06
BBC – Disney strikes Moore movie deal: Miramax chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein will distribute satirist Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, despite an earlier ban by backers Disney. … It is believed the deal will force the Weinsteins to repay Disney the money spent on the film so far, but that Disney will not receive any of the movie’s profits.

They’re going to be sor-ry…..

There’s no release date for the UK yet, but (show of hands) who wants spend their hard-earned money to go and see this as soon as it comes out? We can all go together and dress up as Disney characters and eats lots of popcorn and stuff.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040524
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
17:57
U.N. Iraq Draft Gives No Exit Date for Foreign Force: A new U.S.-British drafted U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing sovereignty for an Iraqi caretaker government approves the presence of the U.S.-led force there but sets no date for the troops to leave.

Tonight’s speech will be interesting. Assuming, of course, that you get a chance to see it.

UPDATE – Almost missed this… Morgue Records Show 5,500 Iraqis Killed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:14
Transcript.

Key excerpts.

Short version: Terror, terror, freedom, Saddam, terror, Abu-Gargd, Aboogravy, Abu… nevermind. We’re building a shiny new prison (applause). We have a plan (applause). Sorry, no details as yet. Hard times to come, terror, Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. We have a vision: us vs. them. I thank you (applause). (Phew! I think they bought it…)

And this is how much he knows/cares about it. Reuters are being very kind about this. Than first pronounciation actually came dangerously close to ‘Abu Gay Rape’ – talk about a Freudian slip.

He also did his best to associate Abu Ghraib with Saddam Hussein before kindly offering to burn down the barn after the horse has bolted. Not even this is news. The bold plan to purge guilt and destroy evidence was announced last week.

Quote of the Day: “So my feeling is, tear it down. Get rid of it Not just because of what a few soldiers did, but because of also because of what that symbol meant to Saddam, and show the Iraqi people, ‘Hey, we don’t want that kind of torture anymore.'”

Hey, torture is bad, m’kay?

Oh, and there it is again: ‘Abu Ghraib, Saddam’… ‘Abu Ghraib, Saddam’…. just keep repeating it and will become as natural as ‘Iraq, terror’.

Saddam is evil. The building is evil. We have a vision and it is holy. Now let’s move on….

The draft resolution does not give the Iraqis powers to make the troops leave: It does not give a definite timetable for the foreign force to leave and calls for a review after a year. An elected Iraqi government, after January, can also call for such a review. A review, however, would be similar to an open-ended mandate and would not mean the force would leave unless the Security Council, where the United States has veto power, decides it should do so. Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham acknowledged there was no authority for Iraq to ask foreign troops to leave.

But they will leave if asked nicely.

Finally…

Poll: Iraq Taking Toll On Bush

I ashamed that it’s taken this much just to get him on the back foot…

UPDATE – One day we will all look back fondly on the days of near-to-infinite Bush/terror flame wars at Fark.com

UPDATE – Two from the London News Review for you…

Bush foresees a “chaotic” future in Iraq.

Bush plans to demolish Abu Ghraib prison: another step towards that Nobel Peace Prize.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
RWCs
Time
10:18
It was bouncing around yesterday that this off-the-cuff remark was a fabrication, but look at the wingnuts eating it up.

‘Revealed’ by Drudge, printed by Murdoch’s Washington TimesKerry pokes fun at Bush mishap. They also feel compelled to point out that Kerry has fallen off a bike, too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:25
Futurama Panomaras.

Author booed for bagging Bush. He even dared to (*gasp*) infer that the pResident is a liar!

Curse the liberal media!

Got a book in you? Would you like one? (No, wait…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
Compare & Contrast
Time
10:29
Guardian – What have we done?: The horrific images from Abu Ghraib have come to define the ill-starred occupation of Iraq, but what do they really tell us about America? Are they simply the work of a few rogue soldiers, or the result of the new foreign and domestic policies of the Bush administration, which find ready approval in an increasingly brutalised society? Susan Sontag on the ugly face of the war on terror.

Independent – UN troops buy sex from teenage refugees in Congo camp: Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
WMDs
Time
10:35
Yahoo – Nuclear Experiment Planned at Nevada Site: The experiments technically do not violate the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because no critical mass is formed and there is no full-scale nuclear explosion. Anti-nuclear groups criticize the experiments as contrary to the treaty’s spirit.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
Updates
Time
10:44
Re: Tom Watson’s site.

It seems to be an automated switch to a holding page. But getting any kind of answer or support for this unannounced change is proving difficult. Just one reason why we’re already making moves to change providers.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
Tony Blair
Time
11:32
The UK Today comments on recent Iraq Polls: At the end of the day, a poll on Iraq is pretty pointless. Tony Blair is going to continue with his sacred policy in Iraq, regardless of what pollsters or protestors say.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
South West Trains
Time
11:37
Did anybody else see that pathetic launch of new rolling stock at Waterloo yesterday? I’d provide a link, but apart from 30 seconds on BBC news, it got the zero coverage it deserved. FFS, they had a bunch of women prancing about in 60’s gear to say goodbye to the old stock. You’d think the last thing they would want to do is remind people that until now they’ve been paying through the nose to ride around in carriages that are close to 40 years old.

If you currently travel from Alton Station to Farnham Station, prepare to protest. If you travel elsewhere on this crappy and unreliable network, why not have a word or two with your fellow victims about group bus charter for a month?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
RWCs
Time
15:06
Is Rush Limbaugh still abusing prescription medication, or has he simply gone ‘street’ and started smoking cheap crack before he goes on air? (I know it’s rough going, but do try to hang in there until the last paragraph. It’s a whopper.)

UPDATE – Here you go; this should cheer you up. Always works for me.

UPDATE – Oh dear, I fear my sides will split with laughter. So clever. So very devastating…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
It’s War! And You Just Volunteered!
Time
16:39
Torture: practice makes perfect.

UPDATE – Also, here’s another nail in Bush’s coffin, courtesy of El Reg.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040525
Goodbye, George
Time
16:53
If you have a blog, please do blog this…

Stirling Newberry – Justice must be seen to be done: It is time for someone, someone with something to lose, (to) come forward and state the obvious: we have, installed in our oval office, a man who is so unfit for the duties – by reason of a pathological dishonesty and complete disregard for the welfare of the citizens of this country – as to demand that we remove him, and his party, from power – and then use every law and organ of government to investigate the nakedly criminal underpinnings of that party.

UPDATE – A small thought for you; the longer we allow this to go on, the weaker we look. As this morning’s first post should show, I feel a significant level of guilt that I haven’t done more myself.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:34
Apart from the minor distraction of a kick-arse computer makeover, Blogdex tells a story today…

Guardian – US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war: An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress…

Washington Post – Bush Poll Numbers On Iraq at New Low: Public approval of President Bush’s handling of the conflict in Iraq has dropped to its lowest point with growing fears that the United States is bogged down and rising criticism of Bush’s handling of the prison abuse scandal…

McPaper – History lesson: GOP must stop Bush: Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States.

And, yes, this is related. It all comes down to the polarisation caused by this fundamentalist administration and – glory be – expectation of the rapture to come. It’s the ultimate Us vs. Them battle… and everyone cast in flesh is invited.

Enter God Zone – the country! Frank Miller will be pleased.

1. Please excuse the obscure literary reference

2. I make no excuses for referring to graphic novels as literature

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
The War on Terror
Time
10:02
Take your tinfoil helmets off; you won’t be needing them…

CNN – Sources: Major terror attack possible this summer: Several U.S. officials said Tuesday that intelligence indicates there is increasing concern about the possibility of a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, perhaps as early as this summer. Such an attack might take place before the November presidential election in an attempt to affect the outcome, the officials said.

Possible? Possible? Try very bloody likely.

The longer Bush & Blair are allowed to maintain their lies and play their games, the more likely this is to work. (It worked in Spain, but only because Aznar played the game that Bush and Blair are still playing right down to the wire.)

Waiting for a major election to enact change is a mistake for three reasons:

1. A crime is in progress. It’s our duty as citizens to bring the criminals posing as our leaders to justice, and not hang around waiting for karma to sort them out.

2. The only way to fight the terrorists is to rob them of their assets. Their primary asset right now is the indefensible actions of our governments. This works for them from the ground up (the more people who have sympathy for their cause, the more able they are to move freely and take action).

3. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the longer we wait, the weaker we look.

The effectiveness of terrorism is rooted in fear. Bush and Blair have been taking that fear and enhancing it (!) in order to turn it into some kind of asset. (Like, say, using it to justify a pre-emptive strike against a nation that had nothing to do with the current terrorist threat.)

Waiting for what passes as democracy these days to sorts things out will invite the worst kind of trouble.

/rant

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
Established Media
Time
10:33
My, my, my – there is a change in the air, isn’t there?

To think that only yesterday I was wondering what Mr Murdoch’s exit strategy was. Not that you’re likely to see anything like this in a Murdoch paper…

New York Times – The Times and Iraq: But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

If you’re looking for someone to thank for this, look here.

(Links via this post at Atrios.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
It’s War! And Somebody’s Telling Porkies!
Time
12:14
London News Review – The Blair Bush Rift: it’s all about elections: If we pick apart the argument between Britain and the United States over the running of Iraq after June 30, we can see that it is all about two leaders facing the end of their political lives. It is about elections, leadership, and legacy. As you might have expected, it isn’t actually about the Iraqi citizenship at all.

The UK Today – Bliar: According to the soaraway Sun, Tony Blair plans to make an historic speech before the UN General Assembly. In my eyes the only way such a speech could be consider historic would be if it contained key phrases such as “I apologise for the reckless and unwarranted invasion of a soveriegn state without your authority.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
Photoshopping
Time
14:13
Mmmmm, rapturous…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
Church & State
Time
14:30
Praise Him!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
It’s War! And Things Is Getting Ridiculous!
Time
15:08
The Register – Did Rumsfeld ban Iraq camera phones?: Rojas, a more sceptical reporter than many, believes it’s possible some reporters have been fooled into picking up the (satirical) Farce story as news. But here’s the thing: it seems pretty likely that Rumsfeld will be pushed into making the satire come true – or at least, into trying.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
The Bush Administration
Time
16:58
All this spin is making me dizzy.

Keep the mantra kickin’, folks:

Abu Ghraib = Saddam, Abu Ghraib = Saddam

Bush good, Saddam bad! Bush good, Saddam bad!

We can’t allow an isolated incident involving a few misguided soldiers to ruin the good reputation of this fine administration.

*cough*

General Miller lied to congress, doo-dah, doo-dah: A U.S. Army general dispatched by senior Pentagon officials to bolster the collection of intelligence from prisoners in Iraq last fall inspired and promoted the use of guard dogs there to frighten the Iraqis, according to sworn testimony by the top U.S. intelligence officer at the Abu Ghraib prison.

UPDATE – Those pesky rotten apples need sorting out, yes they do…

UIP – Army kept whistle-blower in locked ward: The Army kept a soldier whistle-blower in a locked psychiatric ward at its top medical center for nearly two weeks despite concern from some medical staff that he be released, according to medical records.

Now, let’s all wait patiently for the story about soldiers who were put on high-risk duty after giving voice to crazy notions about humanitarian treatment…

UPDATE – It gets betterer and betterer – the U.S. is holding some Iraqis hostage in an attempt to get their relatives to surrender, and they’ve been doing it for some time now. In fact, some of the ‘detainees’ that were abused appear to have been women taken hostage in order to make their husbands surrender. Say it with me: Genevna Conghawfdfdg… Geneva Carnbwfdh… Geneva Cownahdsdf… ah, the hell with it. It’s a whole new world. Old rules don’t apply.

(Damn, I knew we should have taken Bush Snr. into custody when we had the chance.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
Flash Games
Time
19:18
I know it’s been a rough couple of days WHAT WITH ME SHOUTING AT YOU AND EVERYTHING, but here, via FunJunkie, is a nifty game to calm your nerves (the controls kind of remind me of the most excellent Spaced Penguin).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040526
The War on Terror
Time
21:14
Al Qaeda ready to attack! Be afraid!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040527
Is That Real…?
Time
09:58
Neil Gaiman on the reality of the Chernobyl photo-diary and the ‘childless couple told to try sex’ story.

Neil should pick up the latest copy of Private Eye (1107), which has further details on the latter…. and a knockout story on page 2 regarding torture methods in Iraq that I’ve half a mind to repeat here in full later today (seeing as they can’t be arsed to broadcast stories like this online).

UPDATE – Yep, here you go. They owe me for ripping of Tom’s Teens page in its entirety without permission anyways….

From Private Eye No. 1107:

Concern over American forces’ use of torture will not be news to US vice-president Dick Cheney. He was warned about the practice as long ago as 1992 when he was defence secretary for George Bush Snr.

In 1988 US senators investigated claims that American-backed “counter insurgency” operations in Central and South America, particularly Honduras, had included abusive interrogations. The senators were shocked to discover that two CIA manuals used to train interrogators recommended torture. They included techniques similar to those that have been used more recently at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

After the senate investigation the CIA added a new preface to the manuals, stating: “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law, both international and domestic; it is neither authorised nor condoned.” However, the National Security Archive, a historical project at George Washington University, uncovered a 1992 memo to Cheney warning that, even after the 1998 investigations the US government was still circulating Spanish language guidebooks with the torture instructions.

It warned Cheney that the “offensive and objectionable material in the manuals… undermines US credibility and could result in significant embarrassment”.

The memo was stamped “SECDEF HAS SEEN”, and Cheney scribbled on it “I concur” referring to the recommendations that the manuals be withdrawn and the human rights component of military training be re-emphasised.

The senate investigations that led to the 1992 memo to Cheney were spurred by revelations of torture by US-backed forces in Honduras. The US ambassador to Honduras, who was implicated in the scandal, was one John Negroponte. Mr Negroponte is now the US ambassador to… Iraq.

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Date
20040527
“The same thing we do every day, Pinky…”
Time
10:05
The most linked UK weblogs, May 2004.

Well, shucks…

(reaches for tissues)

Now seems as good a time as any to remind you that you only have a few days left to make your nominations for the 2004 New Statesman New Media Awards.

Even if you just to do it to cheer me up or egg me on, please do it – and please do present your nomination in the proper context.

This isn’t a formal political website. It’s just me – one guy, with occasional help from other bloggers – dealing with matters as I see fit. Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’d like to think that I’ve done some small amount of good just by speaking up from time to time and/or inspiring others to do the same.

(reaches for sick bag)

Bloggerheads is also responsible for a few firsts, and one last. The most notable first is the first genuine weblog by politician anywhere in the world, which came about mostly because of efforts to sort out the last world-leader to get a publicly-accessible email facility. (Which, incidentally, is so brilliantly conceived (1, 2) that it can be of immediate use to our new PM when he or she takes charge.)

*cough*

Well, that’s torn it. Modesty is currently cowering under the desk and afraid to show its face, so I’m free to say the following (while also acknowledging that that Tom Watson was born to blog with or without my help):

It has to be noted that the blogs that emerged after Tom’s in the U.S. (Gary Hart, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark and George W. Bush, in that order) grew mostly along party/campaign lines. By the time Bush’s campaign team cottoned on, they had a complete abortion on their hands. Here in the UK, the pattern is clearly very different. The blogs by MPs and Councillors that followed Tom’s (you can see a sequential list here) were of the personal variety, and thankfully quite well-established before the grand joke that is the Big Conversation came along.

We’re still battling to convert more MPs to the correct use of this channel, but without an established pattern of genuine communication, something like Tony Blair’s Big Abortion could very well have set the tone instead. Scary, huh?

Actually, I should probably let you know that recently I’ve come to a decision about the tactics I should be using to spread the correct use of weblogs amongst MPs ahead of the next general election. A few peeps are in on this, but mostly it’s a big secret-squirrel thing.

It’s not going to be easy, and it’s certainly not going to be pretty… and it’s not going to happen unless you give me a bloody good reason to put work and necessary updates to this blog to one side for a wee bit.

OK, now looks like an even better time to remind you that you only have a few days left to make your nominations for the 2004 New Statesman New Media Awards. Unless you’ve done so already.

(reaches for a fresh cup of really hot tea)

UPDATE – Oh, let’s be honest. It’s probably going to happen anyway… but I’d much rather be a happy and well-rewarded worker. Wouldn’t you?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040527
Photoshopping
Time
10:07
Abu Hamza has been arrested. On an extradition warrant issued by the US government. On the day following their big unspecified terror alert thingie. Just when things couldn’t look worse for Bush & Blair.

I’m just saying is all…

(Image posted to B3ta.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040527
In The News
Time
15:02
The UK Today – Abu Hamza: And is it not just so timely that no sooner does the US issue a warning of a serious terror attack in the US, than the UK’s most loud-mouthed pain in the ass suddenly falls victim to deportation to the US. Maybe I’m reading more into this than is there, but it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that there has either been a deal done with the US, or else the UK security services have slipped the US some dodgy information on Hamza. Either way it all seems just too tidy.

I also heard the comments from Hamza’s lawyer on Radio 4 that Balders refers to. And about 20 minutes after that, I heard Norman Tebbit cite gay marriage as a cause for this week’s primary distraction, the obesity epidemic.

Nothing to do with our workstressfearconsumeworkstressfearconsume lifestyle, or the fact that we have so little choice when it comes to food that we may as well be eating out of a trough. (Lord Sainsbury, I’m looking in your direction.)

Also nothing to do with the ‘we wish to regulate ourselves’ food industry that cries ‘nanny state!’, but spends millions every year telling us what to eat.

The kids? That’s the parent’s problem. Nowt to do with TV commercials telling kids that they can be popular, successful sports heroes by topping up on sugar-coated Frosties. Also nothing to do with marketing pushes reaching right into schools.

Expect maximum volume and minimum change.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040527
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
15:29
An archived replica of Washingtonienne is now live, thanks to Wizbang.

Also of interest, and charting quite well on Blogdex today, is this excellent overview of wing-nuttery.

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Date
20040527
Goodbye, George
Time
15:38
And now a few words from the actual President of the United States: In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president. I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability… So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation’s trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands. I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable – and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, “We – even we here – hold the power, and bear the responsibility.”

Keep it up, America. You’re *this* close to saving our asses from WW3.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040527
A Blog Is Born
Time
16:41
Best. Blog. Title. Ever. Some tasty content, too.

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Date
20040527
Rebekah ‘Red Mist’ Wade
Time
18:44
Do you remember how The Sun reacted to breaking news of the torture of Iraqi detainess?

Day One: Less than a 1/4 page. 130 words.

Day Two: Leading with George W. Bush’s version of events, 229 words.

Recently a Labrador puppy was thrown off an overpass and today, The Sun is there with a massive 3/4 page and 270 words!

You read that right, folks. According to Rebekah Wade, Iraqis are less important than dogs; and to prove it, she’s decided to follow outrage with action by offering a £1000 reward (see their fabbo poster) for “information leading to (the) arrest or conviction of the thugs responsible.”

Of course, me just pointing this out makes me an enemy of puppies everywhere. That’s the kind of monster that I am.

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Date
20040527
The Interwebnet
Time
19:04
How it works – 1

How it works – 2

UPDATE – I shouldn’t laugh. Check out this History of the Interweb that I wrote for Tesco back in 1998…

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Date
20040528
Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
Time
10:30
Independent – Abu Hamza: dangerous terrorist – or political pawn?: Suspicions that the timing of the extradition hearing was a stunt to help focus attention away from the Iraq war were heightened when John Ashcroft, the US Attorney General, held a press conference in New York to publicise the charges. His planned arrest was also leaked to The Sun’s political editor hours before it took place, ensuring a positive front page story on anti-terrorism. Raymond Kelly, the commissioner of the New York police, described Mr Hamza as “a freelance consultant to terrorism groups worldwide”.

Ashcroft. Again.

Sensitive information leaked to The Sun to ensure a positive tone is set. Again. (Incidentally, being charged with a crime proves your guilt. According to The Sun.)

Am I the only one who considers this to be embarrassingly obvious?

Abu Hamza is a very shouty and dangerous man. And I don’t like him. But you really have to take a look at the dates on the list of charges and ask yourself one simple question:

Why now?

A kind of related tangent (you need to know where my head is at)…

Night before last, our SKY box had a nervous breakdown and stopped receiving satellite signals. Yesterday, the wife talked to the kids and the kids came to a decision that surprised the hell out of me.

Until yesterday, SKY had been regarded as a necessary evil in our house (I’m not the sort of person to stamp his Daddy-feet and demand that such-and-such a newspaper or such-and-such a service provider isn’t allowed in my house) but now things have changed.

Last night we advised SKY that we were cancelling our subscription. We made a point of telling them why. Right now they’re bleating about contracts and us paying until a certain date (even though we can’t see what we’re paying for, but SKY will happily repair the box if we maintain our contract etc. etc.) but our household has decided to stop funding the willing conspirator Rupert Murdoch. Not in a month from today, but from this moment forward.

SKY had obviously heard this kind of thing before. The main line they had at the ready was “but he’s not even on our board of directors.”

We. Don’t. Care.

We know where the money ends up, and we know what Murdoch does with it. And he’s not getting any more from us.

Of course, this means that I won’t be able to watch BBC Parliament (UPDATE – it’s available on Freeview – Huzzah!) or track the antics of FOX News. Or enjoy new episodes of The Simpsons. This decision also complicates the need to check the print version of The Sun from time to time.

But…

I. Don’t. Care.

Not one more penny for Murdoch. Ever.

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Date
20040528
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:33
Some harmless misdirection, a list of Googlebombs and this…

Scott Rosenberg: For the Times, this transparency thing is still very new. And admitting that major stories that helped launch an ill-conceived war were at best careless and at worst fraudulent is a painful thing for any journalistic enterprise. But admitting mistakes is the first step toward preventing their recurrence. Now if we can only get our president to understand that principle.

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Date
20040528
Interesting Times
Time
10:37
This long weekend, I’d like you to do me a favour. I’d like you to think very seriously about the following…

If you could take measures that didn’t amount to an empty gesture, that might very well bring about real change, what would you risk personally to be rid of the this criminal and his accomplice?

I’m serious.

And if you come to a clear decision, I’d like you to tell me about it. Please.

Speaking for myself, ongoing job security and even the continued existence of this website have become secondary concerns. But I’m not going to piss anything away unless I think I can actually make something positive happen.

(waves nervously to bosses and hopes they don’t panic)

If you come to a clear decision, I’d like you to tell me about it. Please.

I’m speaking to readers, friends, clients, and lurking politicians here. If you’ve never emailed before, now is the time.

Do we take action, or do we turn our heads and hope that it will all sort itself out?

If you come to a clear decision, I’d like you to tell me about it. Please.








Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

04-17 May, 2004

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Date
20040504
Updates
Time
14:42
Sorry, no updates today bar my swiftly expressed opinion that the torture images published by the Mirror are almost certainly of the staged variety (up a bit with the rifle; left a bit, left a bit – great, now give me pain *click* – give me agony *click* – give me outrage – *click*) and the news that Labour: I See Red has climbed to 12th position for the search query ‘labour leadership’.

Head down, arse up… and onwards we go.

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Date
20040504
Christianity Watch
Time
15:02
How could one possibly find fault with the notion of corporate prayer?

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Date
20040505
It’s War! And Things Is Getting Ridiculous!
Time
10:26
I’ve been watching the two main tabloids and their coverage of the Iraq torture issue very carefully.

Rebekah Wade at The Sun deserves a blasting for brushing US torture aside.

Piers Morgan at the Mirror and the twats that shifted the obviously staged photos of British troops ‘brutalising’ an ‘Iraqi prisoner’ deserve a right and proper shafting for – amongst other things – giving Wade just the ammo she needed to breeze right over this.

Day One

Friday 30th April 2004

The Mirror

There are boobs on the front page, but a significant amount of room has been left to highlight ‘torture-lite’, US-style. The core story runs at 486 words. 5 images are shown, including those that are most damning (and most likely to outrage your typical tabloid reader).

The Sun

Murdoch’s Sun buries the story on page 6. Less than a quarter of the page. They show one picture (the chap standing on a box). They do not show grinning soldiers watching naked bodies in obscene poses or building human pyramids. The coverage is limited to 130 words. No editorial. No outrage. Well done, Scum.

Day Two

Saturday 1st May, 2004

The Mirror

More front page coverage and several articles, but this time with similar accusations levelled at British troops – based on what can only be described as carefully staged photos. The most damning thing this collection of images could turn out to be would be a reconstruction commissioned by the armed forces based on an actual or alleged event. But instead they are presented as genuine candid shots, and the damage is done.

The Sun

The Sun finally comments on the US torture images; but they only do so when they can lead with the words of George W. Bush. Today’s coverage is expanded to a mighty 229 words (not including the editorial headlined ‘Bad Apples’) and begins with; President George Bush yesterday condemned US soldiers responsible for the “despicable” torturing of Iraqi prisoners. The more damning images are finally published, but not in print; only on the website. The front page is dominated by a Beckham non-story and Michael Jackson. Conspiracy theorists will note that Mr Jackson seems to get arrested, charged or searched every time Dubya has a PR disaster on his hands. Myself, I think the front-page priority this time around is more likely to be the result of Rebekah Wade’s pathological hatred of (alleged) kiddy-fiddlers.

Sunday – a day of rest and tabloid alternatives.

Day Three

Monday 3rd May, 2004

The Mirror

The Mirror stand by their exclusive (or knee-deep in shit, depending on your point of view).

The Sun

The Sun finally run with a front page about the torture of Iraqis, but only when the images concerned can be dismissed as fakes. This time they show every image in a multi-page spread that goes to 929 words. There is no further mention of the genuine photos but, God help me, they say something in their editorial that I can actually agree with; If the experts are right and the Iraq photos are fakes, they are the most dangerous forgeries ever.

Day Four

Tuesday 4th May, 2004

A celebrity gets caught having Interweb sex or some such and the front pages return to business as usual. For anybody depending primarily on The Sun for information, the impression is left that there were some torture allegations, but authorities are Right On Top Of It and Doing The Right Thing – and the pictures were faked anyway, weren’t they?

Richard Littlejohn mouths off today, and is paraphrased on the front page of the website as saying; Something about photographs of British troops abusing an Iraqi prisoner didn’t ring true. (When what he actually says is; But something about those photographs of British troops abusing an Iraqi prisoner didn’t ring true. They looked suspect from the off.)

Strange that they would be forced to shape the words of our own version of Rush Limbaugh.

But even stranger is this…

To make sure that everybody gets the ‘point’, The Sun again tackles the faked photos (in yet another multi-page spread) while ignoring the importance of the real ones. Wade sets out to prove how easy it is to fake such images by setting up two teenage boys (aged 14 and 17) to do exactly that. The result is – in a newspaper headed by someone normally rabid about child pornography – images of teenage boys posing in their underwear and pretending to urinate on each other.

UPDATE – Guardian – Pressure grows on Mirror editor: Pressure was today mounting on Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan as he faced growing calls to resign if the paper’s pictures of Iraqis being tortured by British troops prove to be faked. And he is expected to be called before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the provenance of the photographs, which rival newspapers today claim to be part of an elaborate hoax.

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Date
20040505
The Bush Administration
Time
10:41
The Claim Vs. Fact Database is the mutt’s: The Center for American Progress has launched this new database project to chart conservatives’ dishonesty – and compare it with the truth. In this database, each conservative quote will be matched against well-documented facts, so that users can get a more accurate picture of the issues.

Not that you’ll be able to do anything with this information…

Washington Post – Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge to Patriot Act

Washington Post – Cheney Praises Fox News Channel – Vice President Calls Network ‘More Accurate’ Than Others: Fox News styles its coverage as “fair and balanced,” but it has a heavy stable of conservative commentators that makes it a favorite around the White House. It is unusual for a president or vice president to single out a commercial enterprise for public praise.

Oh, and George W. Bush was so outraged by the torture of Iraqi prisoners (note – don’t forget to mention that things were far worse under Saddam Hussein) that he kept a lid on this investigation for close to 4 months. (While you’re browsing the always-useful Memory Hole, do take the time to look at their expanded gallery of images of abuse.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040505
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:55
Pat Tilman’s brother says: “Pat isn’t with God. He’s f — ing dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s f — ing dead.”

George W. Bush says: “There’s a lot of people in the world who don’t believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren’t necessarily — are a different color than white can self-govern.”

John O’Neill says: I was on Mr. Kerry’s boat in Vietnam. He doesn’t deserve to be commander in chief.

Too much for you? Why not instead fill your mind with Hollywood gossip Popbitch-style, Pacmanhatten and bunny rabbits re-enacting The Shining in 30 seconds?

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Date
20040505
Labour Needs Leadership Change
Time
11:18
Parties launch local election battle.

Blair attacks Howard as ‘high priest of Thatcherism’.

The ammo Blair is using looks awfully familiar… dare I say ‘I told you so’ again…?

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Date
20040505
Pluggage
Time
11:36
Remember those USB Swiss Army Knives everybody got so excited about a month or so ago? They’ll be shipping pretty soon, and Giltsharp are keen to give a few away. There’s also an added bonus for bloggers. If you nab a link from Bloggerheads today, please make it this one:

Giltsharp’s Swiss Army Knife Short Story Competition

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Date
20040505
Activism
Time
13:40
FCC inundated with Oprah complaints. A glorious lunch-time read.

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Date
20040506
Scam Alert
Time
09:48
Cheers to Neil from the European Ecommerce Association for the heads-up on this one:

This is neat and classic little scam that relies on the usual mix of brand-related trust, urgency, greed and stupidity.

Hey, you’ve won an X-Box! All you have to do is go to the site (now removed) and claim your prize. There is the small matter of $19.99 for shipment costs, but that’s no big deal, right? Of course, if you want to pay for the shipment and get your prize, you need to provide details of your debit card (“no credit cards due to technical reasons”) and your PIN number…

From: “Ken Kawaguchi” kkawaguchi@pikoprizo.com

Subject: Youve won a Microsoft X-Box. (This is not spam)

Greetings,

Your email address was entered into our Microsoft X-Box promotional competition by either yourself or a friend, or perhaps a family member, at http://www.pikoprizo.com

This is a prize draw, you have actually won a brand new Microsoft X-Box Gaming Console!

Your package also includes these top 5 games:

- Halo

- Metal Gear Solid 2

- Max Payne

- Splinter Cell

- Panzer Dragoon Orta

You are now invited to login to our website and claim your prize that you have already won. There are only 5 winners in total this month, out of thousands of emails, so do count yourself lucky!

We have provided the following web link for you, it is temporary and expires in 72 hours. If you do not login within this time, your winning shall unfortunately be returned to the prize pool.

Here is your link! http://www.pikoprizo.com/cgi-bin/script.cgi?code=C3498349349&winner=il@eeauk.com&ref=L2384938493493

On this page you will need to enter this pass code number to proceed:

209581

This is very important. Do not lose that number!

Put in your address, and we will send your X-Box to you.

We hope that you will enjoy your new X-Box gaming console.

Congratulations on winning,

From Microsoft and the PikoPrizo.com team!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
10:14
In the top spot, MSNBC’s (originating) version of the Memory Hole document blogged yesterday:

Complete text of Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade

Dominating most of the rest of the top ten is a number of different versions of the same link. This one is the print-friendly version. Heaven knows why Disney thought they would come out looking good with this little effort (mind you, the keyword ‘Eisner’ should be a bit of a giveaway). FFS, it was one of the lead stories on BBC radio and online this morning:

New York Times – Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush: Mr. Moore’s agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney’s chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush’s brother, Jeb, is governor.

This news item from the ‘and they walked away’ department is doing nicely:

Construction worker survives nail gun accident. Six nails were embedded in his skull and spinal column.

Also nudging the top ten and due further attention, the chaps who set up their own ‘right wing think tank’, dedicated to the collapse of the liberal welfare state. The stunt they pulled was inspired. I won’t spoil it for you; go and see.

Finally, today’s main distraction (I smell B3tan) is:

Badgers and banana-phones!

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Date
20040506
Christianity Watch
Time
10:16
This isn’t me.

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Date
20040506
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
11:26
Washington Post – New Prison Images Emerge – Graphic Photos May Be More Evidence of Abuse: The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man’s neck in an Iraqi prison. He is naked, grimacing and lying on the floor. Mixed in with more than 1,000 digital pictures obtained by The Washington Post are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them. There is another photograph of a naked man with a dark hood over his head, handcuffed to a cell door. And another of a naked man handcuffed to a bunk bed, his arms splayed so wide that his back is arched. A pair of women’s underwear covers his head and face.

Isn’t human nature wonderful? Actually, this is kind of related, but we’ll have to get back to the point very quickly after this; a porn site has released graphic images showing US troops raping and sexually abusing Iraqi women (watch out for NSFW ads). The images are obviously fakes, but are reported to have been used as propaganda tools by ‘at least two Arabic-language websites’. The core site involved – iraqbabes.com – appears to have been hacked, and today features this lovely picture of a horse.

Right, back to the point…

Iraqis unmoved by Bush’s TV offensive. Even in damage-limitation mode, he still can’t bring himself to say the ‘s’ word; that was left to Rice. I particularly love this nugget: Mr Bush said the people of Iraq “must understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know”.

Given that Bush doesn’t read newspapers or watch television and only meets ‘real people’ carefully vetted by his PR team, one can only wonder what the America he knows is – and if it actually exists anywhere outside of his tiny little mind.

Moving right along…

Bush scolds Rumsfeld. There’s talk of Rummy being for the chop. Right now it’s only talk, but one more shocking image should be enough to do the trick.

$25b sought for Iraq, Afghanistan. I remember very clearly the reaction to Bush’s request for $87bn in September ‘to continue the fight on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan’. News that some of this money was used to brutally quell protest at home instead of fighting terror passed most by, but the bulk of them sure felt that hit to the hip pocket. Many Americans found their voice as a result. And f**k me if they aren’t need now more than ever…

Talk-show host Jay Severin seems to think that “the vast majority” of Muslims living in the US are not at all loyal to the country and stand ready to take over when the time is right (that will probably be when you’re in the shower and have soap in your eyes, so do keep a head-towel of your own handy – just in case). When it was suggested by a caller that listeners befriend them, Severin said: “You think we should befriend them. I think we should kill them.”

But not before stripping them naked, putting sacks over their heads and piling them high in the nearest corner, right? I mean, come on – swarthy middle-eastern peeps are less than human. That’s why the death of a US soldier is a tragedy and the death of an Iraqi civilian is a statistic. (One that you probably wouldn’t even be aware of without independent reporting.)

It’s also worth noting that when Saddam’s soldiers played this game, it was called ‘torture’ – but now, when Bush’s soldiers do it, it’s called ‘abuse’…

The final word on this I leave to Riverbend, from this, her latest post: And you know what? You won’t hear half of the atrocities and stories because Iraqis are proud, indignant people and sexual abuse is not a subject anyone is willing to come forward with. The atrocities in Abu Ghraib and other places will be hidden away and buried under all the other dirt the occupation brought with it…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
The End of Democracy
Time
11:29
Diebold critics hail California decision: Last week’s announcement that California had decertified its Diebold electronic voting machines and recommended criminal and civil investigations into the company had local Diebold critics cheering, but Maryland’s elections chief said nothing has changed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
The Bush Administration
Time
11:37
Tucked away in an Atrios thread is this very interesting comment that tracks several evasive answers from the White House regarding what Bush knew about the atrocities in Iraq and when. With this, you have to keep in mind that – when the search for WMDs was scaled back to the search for possibly-maybe-potential-WMD-programmes – the one bit of ammo that Bush kept falling back on was Saddam’s ‘rape rooms’ and how they were a thing of the past, praise Jebus.

What did the pResident know and when did he know it? The army knew about it in January. Bush was still banging on about rape rooms in February:

“Saddam Hussein now sits in a prison cell, and Iraqi men and women are no longer carried to torture chambers and rape rooms …” – Bush, remarks on “Winston Churchill and the War on Terror,” Feb. 4, 2004

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
Labour Needs Leadership Change
Time
12:13
Labour: I See Red continues to find an audience amongst disaffected voters. Robin has very kindly credited it as ‘perhaps the UK’s first political viral campaign,’ but I’m not sure how correct that description would be.

The Greens claimed a first with this ‘online viral film advertising campaign’ in 2002, and this anti-Euro campaign was launched in 2000.

I watched the last general election with interest and even ran a commercial/subversive element during it, but don’t recall anything that stands out apart from a variation of Dancing Paul, the Stereo MPs. This performed well, but had no message.

There was also Labour’s lame text to a bunch of young voters at 11pm on the eve of the election, promising 24-hour pubs. Which turned out to be a broken promise, BTW.

Anyway, I have Something Better in mind for the Bush administration. This would be a plea from the international community to the American people.

Core Message:

America is bigger…

America is better….

… than George W. Bush.

You saved our asses in WW1

You saved our asses in WW2

This is your chance to save our asses from WW3

(extract tongue from cheek)

There’s more, but I want to keep it at secret-squirrel status for now.

To make it happen, I need a choir, recording equipment and a bunch of other stuff I don’t got. Finding the right people could make it happen on the cheap, but often this takes time and leads to disappointment.

So really I need money. Anybody got any bright ideas? Who would agree with that core message and be free & willing to part with the cash that would allow me to deliver it?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
Pluggage
Time
12:15
Cheers to WTFAYBOA, The Whole Wide World Of Fat Buddha and The Ultimate Insult (and now Ghost of a Flea) for their pluggage of Giltsharp’s Swiss Army Knife Short Story Competition.

Something to keep in mind is the fifty (count ‘em – fifty) Swiss Card Quattros on offer to bloggers. Response rates for creative-based competitions hover around 10% or thereabouts. You also have to consider that only 2-7% of web users own and run their own website. Do the maths. Then get typing.

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Date
20040506
Doing The Rounds
Time
12:33
Man’s hole makes him world-famous on the Interweb, crashes his website. No Goatse jokes, please.

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Date
20040506
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
14:22
Oi!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040506
Activism
Time
14:28
Urban75 reports on the May Day picnic and Unreality TV needs you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040507
Bunch of Stuff
Time
09:46
I’m going to be busy today with a little project. Oh, and some work.

Here are a few things to tide you over…

Happy Posters:

Kev and his mate had to make a news report for uni, and chose The Happy Poster Project as their subject. I got a solid kick out of it (actually, it pretty much made my week), but you may not care quite as much. At least, not enough to download a file this size. Your call. You can visit Kev’s site and have a poke around first, or download the video directly (25.6mB MPEG).

Labour Needs Leadership Change:

Watched ITV news last night. Trevor MacDonald said this in his headline rundown:

“Seeing red; John Scarlett is named as the new head of MI6.”

No connection, just spooky is all.

Oh, and Labour: I See Red is today the top search result in Google for the search query ‘labour leadership’.

Thanks to all who linked for your support and Google-juice. (A special nod goes to Dave Weeden for his unprompted, keyword-weighted whoring.)

Torture, Bush & Rumsfeld:

What did they know and when did they know it?

What did they do to rectify the problem? Or did they simply try to hide it…?

Is this an isolated incident, or simply one visible result of a wider culture of torture-lite?

Well, here are some bags, smiles and reports from July 2003.

They knew. They had to know. And for quite some time. They’re only feigning outrage now because the wider population found out about it.

And that’s what my little project is going to be about.

Please stand by.

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Date
20040507
Activism
Time
12:04
OK, here it is. Grab a sack and get ready for action:

Sack Bush: The Bagged Statue Experiment

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Date
20040507
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
14:50
I bet this helps.

I bet this doesn’t.

UPDATE – Bloody hell! Take a look at how many people are buying into Bush’s photo-op. And here’s another touching moment for your delectation.

You tell me that this isn’t staged; I put it to you that the timing is awfully convenient. (Oh, and for future reference, you might want to file ‘It almost sounds like a corny email chain letter’ under the same category as ‘this is not spam’.)

UPDATE 2 – So who can the RWCs blame for the torture (sorry, ‘abuse’) besides Bush and Rumsfeld? Try women, feminists, Muslims, and the academic left. (Link via Atrios.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040510
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:57
Have you bagged a statue yet? I got my morning off to a good start with a cracker in Guildfrod High Street. With that done, I can get on with some late bloggage…

Let us begin with some levity…

Bush Apology Sparks Torrent of Global Goodwill

We begin on such a note because Rush Limbaugh is a hero to me…

CBS – Rush: MPs Just ‘Blowing Off Steam’: “I’m sorry, folks. I’m sorry. Somebody has to provide a little levity here. This is not as serious as everybody is making it out to be.” (Link via Ionicus.)

And so it goes on. You really need to take this on board, because – as ridiculous as Limbaugh may sound to us – this argument will win many over. Especially those that still buy the Iraq/911 lie. I actually heard some woman from Lynndie England’s home town defend her on the basis that perhaps this was a natural and understandable reaction to that terrorist attack. That Iraq had nothing to do with.

You also need to take a close look at the people who swallowed Bush’s Great Humanitarian Moment hook, line and sinker.

Back to the matter at hand:

Slate.com – Rape Rooms: A Chronology – What Bush said as the Iraq prison scandal unfolded.

And a quick word or two on what our own Dear Leader knew and when he knew it:

CNN – Red Cross warned UK of abuse: The Red Cross told British officials as early as February that British troops had been accused of mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a government spokesman said Sunday.

The argument that keeps this report under wraps (yet another selective use of ‘precedent’ by the Blair government) won’t last. I think we can expect to see something by Thursday at the latest. Meanwhile, you may wish to chew on this:

#(Independent – US military confirms existence of horrific pictures and video: The Bush administration was bracing itself last night for the release of new pictures and video footage from Abu Ghraib which show US soldiers having sex with an Iraqi woman prisoner, troops almost beating a prisoner to death, and the rape of young boys by Iraqi guards at the jail. Senior officials have warned that the new images and details of the abuse and torture at the prison west of Baghdad will be even more shocking than those already released.

And this:

Guardian – UK forces taught torture methods: The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.

These are also troops and contractors that are quite likely to believe that Iraqis were behind the September 11 attacks, who see their government detaining alleged terrorists in Guantanamo Bay in breach of the Geneva Conventions and hear their pResident refer to these ‘killers’ in a way that makes it quite clear they deserve no such rights. These are troops and contractors who work within a culture where prisoners are bagged and tagged upon capture as a matter of course, which basically means that they’re represented as less than human before they even arrive at the prison.

All together now: “It puts its bag on its head and it gets into the truck.”

Grab a bag, find a statue, and leave a reminder. Today.

UPDATE – CNN – Pentagon culture led to prison abuse

Y’know, one thing I’ve seen very little focus on so far is the purpose of the interrogation sessions that follow this ‘preparation’… do you think that maybe – just maybe – most of the questions focused on the search for WMDs that don’t exist?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040510
Orwell Was Right
Time
11:00
Halliburton Pulling the Plug on GI Communications: A week after a scandal broke involving photos of American troops torturing Iraqi prisoners, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root is pulling the plug on private electronic communications with the folks back home, apparently at the request of the Department of Defence.

Well, the soldiers have been clamped, but the citizens haven’t. Yet. Read the latest post from Baghdad Burning: Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and other places… seeing the pictures simply made it all more real and tangible somehow…. We heard about it all… we heard stories since the very beginning of the occupation about prisoners being made to sit for several hours on their knees… being deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed with cold water or kicked or slapped… about the infamous ‘red rooms’ where prisoners are kept for prolonged periods of time… about the rape, the degradations, the emotional and physical torture… and there were moments when I actually wanted to believe that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now that it was only a small fragment of the truth. There is nothing that is going to make this ‘better’. Nothing.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040510
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
11:05
The Great Blogger Relaunch

StopDesign comments on the new Blogger

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Date
20040510
The Happy Poster Project
Time
11:11
Bit of a strange day to blog this, but Limbaugh has called for levity, so here we go:

James has submitted this picture of happy people and Nick has been busy pasting posters around the Warwick University campus.

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Date
20040510
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
11:15
Washington Post – Dissension Grows In Senior Ranks On War Strategy: Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time.

MSNBC – The Price of Arrogance: Since 9/11, a handful of officials at the top of the Defense Department and the vice president’s office have commandeered American foreign and defense policy. In the name of fighting terror they have systematically weakened the traditional restraints that have made this country respected around the world. Alliances, international institutions, norms and ethical conventions have all been deemed expensive indulgences at a time of crisis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040510
Labour Needs Leadership Change
Time
11:17
Even spookier news for you on the Labour: I See Red front:

Guardian – Labour trains its guns on Howard

Blair’s strategists have decided to launch an attack on the Tory record, specifically that of leader Michael Howard. They have decided to do this not with a 30 second TVC, but with a two-minute+ music video. Sound familiar so far? Hang in there; it gets better:

The soundtrack has been provided by… Simply Red.

UPDATE – You just have to check out this excellent post by Bykersink, a link-annotated version of REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It.

UPDATE 2 – I couldn’t possibly comment, but I encourage you to.

UPDATE 3 – Bwahahahahahaha!: Angry Conservative chairman Liam Fox fumed: “This sort of negative personal campaigning will only reinforce the impression among voters that the Government has no real ideas.”

Could this be the same Liam Fox who was on the judging panel of Let Down By Labour, the official Tory party request for fresh ideas for negative campaigning?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040510
Pluggage
Time
11:30
Win a SwissMemory USB Swiss Army Knife. It can’t all be doom and gloom, now can it?

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Date
20040510
Church & State
Time
11:45
The Silver Ring thing is coming to the UK!

Guardian – Teens told a silver ring and a vow of chastity are best way to combat sexual epidemic

Independent – Over sex and over here: US virgins to preach restraint to British teens

First, I’m going to remind you of this entry from Bloggerheads back in January, then I’m going to warn you – and them – that a warm welcome is being prepared. If you want to help in any of the target cities, drop me a line.

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Date
20040510
Consume!
Time
12:20
Wear your Lion of England Diamond and Gold Ingot with pride!

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Date
20040510
Flash Music Video
Time
12:48
Hey Hey 16k!

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Date
20040510
Photoshopping
Time
14:10
More levity for our friend Rush Limbaugh.

Also, there’s this defining moment.

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Date
20040510
Jolly Good
Time
16:02
Check out socialscrutiny.org – ‘your one-stop shop for Government propaganda’.

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Date
20040510
In The News
Time
16:42
Oops, almost missed this: Michael Moore responds to ‘engineered story’ claims.

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Date
20040510
Photoshopping
Time
17:02
The 4007th Project has just hit home with these lovely people (it’s nice to be nice to the nice).

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Date
20040510
Inneresting
Time
17:08
Belly Dancing – How To Be An Appreciative Audience Member

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Date
20040510
“The same thing we do every day, Pinky…”
Time
17:49
Voice. Found.

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Date
20040510
Google
Time
17:49
Proogle works just like Google, but is thoughtful enough to display PageRank. It’s sure to be taken down within the next couple of days, so play with it while you can.

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Date
20040511
Activism
Time
09:29
My bagged statue remains bagged.

What’s the bet that a dozen council workers walked past it yesterday and assumed the bag was there for a jolly good reason?

Do yourself and the folks around you a favour and bag a statue today.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
09:31
Dug up by Joe:

“After being hooded I was led to the helicopter and I was thrown bodily into the helicopter. During this exercise my hands and wrists were hurt due to the others handcuffed to me not being pushed equally. (Before being led off to the helicopter, I understand that one of the hooded men, now known to be F. McGuigan, collapsed when the hood was first applied.) On being put into the copter, the handcuffs were removed and were applied to the back of the hood to tighten it around the head. The helicopter took off and a journey which I would estimate to have taken about an hour began. The helicopter than landed at a destination unknown to me and we were taken from the copter and led into a building and eventually into a room where I was made to stand in a search position against a wall. My position was the same as for other men – fully stretched, hands as far apart as humanly possible and feet as far from the wall as possible. Back rigid and head held up. Not allowed to relax any of the joints at all. If any relaxation of limbs – arms, elbow joints, legs, knee joints – someone came along and grabbed the limb in a rough manner and put it back into position again. After being against the wall for a few hours. I was taken away and brought, I was told, to a doctor. Sometime during this period I was taken out of this room, put into a helicopter and flown away. I was always handcuffed and hooded. When the ‘copter landed I was put into a lorry, driven a short distance, transferred to a jeep, five-minute journey, put into another ‘copter, taken for half-hour journey. End of journey put into a police van, driven short distance, five-ten minutes, beaten about the face and body, transferred to other vehicle. Holding my face, asked why, said that I did not want to be beaten again. Assured that I wouldn’t be. Brought into a building, hood removed, shown detention form. Hood replaced, return journey as before.”

Iraq? No, Ireland.

Entirely unrelated link follows…

Guardian – Troops broke the law, admits Hoon: British forces broke the law when they forcibly placed hoods over the heads of Iraqi captives last year, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, was forced to admit yesterday as he faced intense criticism over the government’s handling of a Red Cross report into alleged abuses.

Whoops, and here’s another one…

Army Times – Editorial: A failure of leadership at the highest levels: (But) while responsibility begins with the six soldiers facing criminal charges, it extends all the way up the chain of command to the highest reaches of the military hierarchy and its civilian leadership. The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.

Damn it, don’t these people ever shut up?

Time – How a Pentagon email sought to contain the prison abuse scandal: It’s not exactly every day that the Pentagon warns military personnel to stay away from Fox News. But that’s exactly what some hopeful soul at the Department of Defense instructed, in a memo intended to forbid Pentagon staff reading a copy of the Taguba report detailing abuse of detainees at prisons in Iraq that had been posted at the Fox News web site.

Ah, finally, some common sense; this is all Jimmy Carter’s fault. Him and the rest of us filthy liberals and appeasement monkeys…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Only Interesting to Bloggers
Time
09:33
Finally, Google has a blog.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Established Media
Time
09:35
Boston.com – Blogs colliding with traditional media: But this new form of media is colliding with old-hand political structures, such as the House of Representatives Press Gallery, the initial gatekeeper for credential requests. Officials there decided that independent blogs do not fit their standards of “media,” and passed their applications down the ladder a rung, to the convention staffs that handle credentials for student and weekly papers.

Meanwhile…

Oregon Daily Emerald – Esteemed journalist lectures on ethics: The media industry has been infested by the rise of pseudo-journalists who go against journalism’s long tradition to serve the public with accurate information, Los Angeles Times Editor John S. Carroll told a packed room in the Gerlinger Lounge on Thursday. “All over the country there are offices that look like newsrooms and there are people in those offices that look for all the world just like journalists, but they are not practicing journalism,” he said. “They regard the audience with a cold cynicism. They are practicing something I call a pseudo-journalism, and they view their audience as something to be manipulated.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Animal Kingdom
Time
09:41
Beware the Hornets From Hell! (Link via Everlasting Blort.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Consume!
Time
09:43
Find out who holds your testicles.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Flash Thingies
Time
09:45
Hooray for the BNP and their ability to make me spit blood.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Church & State
Time
09:51
Guardian – America’s virgin soldiers are on their way – ignoring the dangers of abstinence for teenagers

I won’t quote from this, because I want you to follow the link and read it all. I’ll have a another link to follow this one, hopefully later this morning.

In the meantime, I’d urge you all to contact the press office of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and request that he make a statement regarding the abstinence movement.

UPDATE – Here ’tis: Read Angel’s comments on The Silver Ring Thing.

Then blog your own. But not before you’ve contacted the press office of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting that he make a statement regarding the abstinence movement.

Hey, you could even kill two birds with one stone and blog the message you send. (I know there’s no email address, but a call will be more effective. But, if you wish, you can use these instructions to send an email to his fax machine.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Free Speech
Time
10:47
Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor who has spent almost 3 years in a continuous anti-war protest vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament, has been arrested and his possessions / extensive protest display removed, in a sudden midnight police operation.

The bastards! The goose-stepping, freedom-hating, protestor-baiting bastards!

UPDATE – Brian Haw has been released, and his possessions have been returned to him, but this live webcam shows that his presence isn’t quite what it used to be. More soon.

UPDATE 2 – Does anyone here work in London and have the time to pop down to Parliament Square for a first-hand update? I’d love a few choice words from Brian.

UPDATE 3 – From the above press release: Apparently, police were concerned about a suspect vehicle, some distance away. They imposed a security cordon under the terrorism act and the area was cleared of other members of the public before an incident took place in which Mr Haw was arrested, and 3 supporters (including 2 women) who were present at the time, were also threatened with arrest.

Ah, no witnesses. No cameras. God bless the terrorism act.

I ask you, is this a responsible use of laws designed (supposedly) to combat terrorism?

You’ll remember the recent and quite ridiculous claim by Charing Cross police that Brian Haw poses a security risk and his placards could be used by terrorists to hide a bomb. You may also recall that the ‘security’ screens installed in the House of Commons came just a few weeks after Tony Blair was heckled from the public gallery.

How much longer does the Blair government expect to get away with using the terrorist threat to quiet dissent amongst the locals?

UPDATE 4 – BBC – Commons war protester is charged. Some very telling details in this short report. Please keep in mind that this is only my impression of how things panned out:

The cops spark a security alert, which legally obliges Mr Haw to leave the area. Past behaviour and/or what is said by police at this time leaves Mr Haw with the clear impression that his camp will be disrupted or dismantled as part of the security operation (over a vehicle we still know sweet-bugger-all about). Mr Haw refuses to move. Police attempt to move him bodily, he struggles. Now they have him on assault, too.

Brian Haw is due to appear in court on the 18th. I’m going to suggest to the Stop the War Coalition that there be two shows of support on this day. One to celebrate (and protect) the sanctity of his patch at Parliament Square and another protesting police harrassment at the courthouse.

UPDATE 5 – Now I think about it, having too many people at this location gives the police an excuse to clear everybody from the area. So perhaps what we really need is an outstanding stand-in. An anti-war MP perhaps?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Photoshopping
Time
13:04
Had to be said.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
13:17
Fox ‘News’ attempts to defend the indefensible with a triple-reverse-spin.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040511
Weapons of Mass Distraction
Time
14:04
Oh, FFS… New Bush space speech planned (link via ScaryDuck).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20040512
Inneresting
Time
09:27
An early day motion brought to our attention by BigDaddyMerk.

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Date
20040512
Riding High on Blogdex
Time
09:28
Lots of the same ol’ same ol’, but there is news that the Internet Archive can now store one petabyte. A petabyte is a million gigabytes.

There’s also this…

Wired – Browser Hijackers Ruining Lives: Browser hijackers are malicious programs that change browser settings, usually altering designated default start and search pages. But some, such as CWS, also produce pop-up ads for pornography, add dozens of bookmarks — some for extremely hard-core pornography websites — to Internet Explorer’s Favorites folder, and can redirect users to porn websites when they mistype URLs.

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Date
20040512
Christianity Watch
Time
09:35
Weeping cardboard Christ draws Texas pilgrims

Oh, and you have contacted the press office of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting that he make a statement regarding the abstinence movement and the Silver Ring Thing, yes?

(Don’t forget; you can send an email to his fax machine using these instructions.)

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Date
20040512
Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace
Time
09:48
CNN -Mexican Air Force pilots film UFOs: A videotape made widely available to the news media on Tuesday shows the bright objects, some sharp points of light and others like large headlights, moving rapidly in what appears to be a late-evening sky.

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Date
20040512
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
10:34
Right, this is not going to be pretty, but it has to be done. Please bear with me….

Independent – American beheaded as torture backlash grows: A group linked to al-Qa’ida released a video last night showing five of its members beheading an American businessman in Iraq, in what it said was revenge for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail by US troops.

Let’s get one thing straight. Taking the torture of Iraqi detainees (there’s an excellent new feature on this issue at rotten.com) and merely using it as political ammo against Bush is wrong. Highlighting that this abuse is symptomatic of everything that is wrong about the invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration’s conduct in the War on Terror is not. IMHO.

Washington Post – Mistreatment Of Detainees Went Beyond Guards’ Abuse: Problems in the U.S.-run detention system in Iraq extended beyond physical mistreatment in prison cellblocks, involving thousands of arrests without evidence of wrongdoing and abuse of suspects starting from the moment of detention, according to former prisoners, Iraqi lawyers, human rights advocates and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

What al-Qaeda have done here is shameful. They’ve jumped on the bandwagon and hijacked the issue for their own ends with this outrageous execution ‘in the name of the Iraqi people’. Oh, and they’ve chopped some guy’s head off, which is also in itself more than a little bit naughty.

This is a direct link to the complete video.

(5.3Mb WMV file)

This is a direct link to footage of the execution.

(1.5Mb WMV file.)

It’s not pretty. I certainly wouldn’t advise downloading it purely out of curiosity.

With a steady head, we move on to the always-sensible words of Rush Limbaugh:

Left Will Blame Terrorist Savagery on Bush

Well, I won’t. I’ll blame it on al-Qaeda. Because they know just how to manipulate Bush. Him and all his little wingnuts.

Rush ‘Wingnut-Prime’ Limbaugh himself actually delivered the ‘obvious’ message on behalf of Mr Bush in this same broadcast (so please do excuse me as I quote him wildy out of context): This is what this is all about. Al-Qaeda is in Iraq, huh? Al-Qaeda is in Iraq, is that right? I thought there was no connection.

Well, there wasn’t. Until Bush charged into Iraq without UN backing and lying through his teeth about that connection. But that’s not going to stop Bush and Co. from spinning their own atrocities with a little bit of ‘this is what we’re fighting’ bullshit. (Instead of, say, blaming it on Bill Clinton letting homosexuals into the military.)

It’s a blatant lie, of course – but that won’t stop it from working. And so the violence will continue. Bush will make out that he’s calling the shots, but he’s being played by al-Qaeda every step of the way.

UPDATE – Flame wars. The only winning move is not to play.

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Date
20040512
The Bush Administration
Time
10:53
Bush diverted money earmarked for Afghanistan to staging areas outside Iraq. Months before the war started. Without approval from Congress.

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Date
20040512
Told You So
Time
11:01
MSNBC – Abu Ghraib and Beyond: “There was extraordinary pressure being put on MI [military intelligence] from every angle to get better info,” says Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former 800th MP Brigade commander, who at the time was responsible for Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons. “Where is Saddam? Find Saddam. And we want the weapons of mass destruction.”

(See the end of the first post in Monday’s bloggage.)

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Date
20040512
It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!
Time
12:03
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe: “I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations, while our troops, our heroes are fighting and dying.”

What was that about flinching from the facts?

UPDATE – Today seems as good a day as any to view the World Press Photo of the Year for 2003.

UPDATE 2 – A mouth being fired off without first engaging the brain? Sounds like a cue for Rush Limbaugh to speak up again: “(James Inhofe is) what I will call a ‘real guy.’ This is a man who is in touch with the people he represents.”

Let’s be fair, now. That statement could be true, but only if … (I’m sorry, but finishing this sentence would involve me saying something very unkind and not at all true about the good people of Oklahoma).

UPDATE 3 – Guardian – Too easy to blame Bush: It’s time this smug bubble was burst. For the abuse epidemic in Iraq is not an exclusively American disease; it infects us too. We cannot sit back and watch the senate hearings and the Rumsfeld press conferences as if this were only their story: we are up to our necks in it. That remains true, even if you believe Geoff Hoon over Piers Morgan. What’s at issue here is not a single disputed incident. Assess the evidence and what you see is not a blip or a lapse by a few “bad apples” (to deploy another complacent cliche). What emerges is a catalogue of abuse over a long and sustained period.

Grab a bag and get to work. Reminders are needed here and abroad, now more than ever.

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Date
20040512
It’s War! And Somebody’s Making Babies!
Time
14:13
LNR – Lynndie England: up the duff without a paddle: Four months? Do the math. She got herself impregnated in January – at precisely the moment she knew trouble was heading her way – because she reckoned that pregnancy would earn her more lenient treatment.

UPDATE – Ooooh, I’m such a bitch.

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Date
20040512
“The same thing we do every day, Pinky…”
Time
14:28
Well, not quite.