Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Saturday, January 22


Meanwhile, From Our Dictatorship Correspondent...

I took the past few days off blogging and watching or listening to radio & tv news: I just couldn't stand to listen to that hypocritical lying, corrupt, venal bunch of thieves showing just how much better they can do dictatorship than any of those damned Ceausescus or Mobutus...the photos say all that need to be said about the new American fascism and the demolishment of the First Amendment and the US Constitution.

I did, however, (inadvertently, because it was so short; it was almost over before I realised) hear the inaugural address, which was basically a big "Fuck You World! I rule! Yes, me, Chimperor of the World! USA No.1!" to the rest of us.

Bush supporters appear to agree, according to the Washington Post.
"They need a new law for these protesters: 'You cross the line, you do the time,' " said Kenneth E. Boring, 80, still apparently irritated by the experience as he waited to leave Reagan National Airport.

He and his wife Dottie, 59, of Dalton, Ga., are members of Republican Eagles, the elite GOP fundraising group, but they watched the president's speech from the Willard InterContinental Hotel. The security line was too long, they said, and made longer, in their opinion, by the protesters.

"It's time to put a stop to all this nonsense, protesting and causing confusion," Boring said.'
Well, fuck you too Mr. President, and all your supporters, in as many undignified and painful ways as possible. 3 cops to arrest 1 teenage girl? And just look at the sheeple, just sitting there docile while they assault her. Pepper-spraying children who dare to protest? Since you seem to think freedom & democracy are such amazingly good things, try starting them at home first.

I'll let Jeremy Hardy on this week's BBC Radio 4 News Quiz have the last word on the armed camp that Washington DC has become:
" All those snipers placed on the rooftops, and not one of them could get off a clear shot..."

(Pics courtesy of the NY Times and Banana Bush)


Wednesday, January 19


Well, That Didn't Take Long.

From Expatica:

"Mum, baby arrested for lack of ID

A 33-year-old Amsterdam woman and her five-month-old daughter have been
jailed after failing to prove their identification. Since 1 January, everyone in
the Netherlands above the age of 14 has been obliged to be able to prove their
identity or risk a fine or jail. Marba van Dullemen and her baby Dominique, of
Amsterdam North, were arrested on Sunday night because she could not produce a driver's licence. They were detained in a cell for an hour until Van Dullemen's
partner arrived with her driver's licence. A police spokesman confirmed both
mother and baby were detained in a "day cell" made of glass and 3m by 3m in
size. Van Dullemen will be fined for driving without a licence and for not
wearing a seatbelt. "

A number of Dutch-based and Dutch bloggers wrote recently about this pernicious new law before it came in; the consensus seemed to be that they would commit civil disobedience and deliberately not carry ID. Now that the police have shown themselves to be small minded and petty enough to detain mothers and babies, would they care to reconsider? Speaking as an allochtoon, I always carry my passport. My Dutch isn't good enough to argue and you can betcha that as soon as they hear my non-Dutch accent, any police requesting ID will suddenly and conveneiently forget they ever knew any other language but Dutch. English? What's that? Ik kan niet.

What I would be very interested to know is the ethnicity and/or religion of the woman arrested. I live in Noord-Amsterdam: all the police I see are white, and most of the mothers and children I see are Moslem. Funny how this didn't happen in De Pijp.


Tuesday, January 18


Miscellaneous Lifeform Blogging

Apologies to Rising Hegemon, from whom I stole the post-title, but I really can't think of another one for this picture I came across while googling for weird fish. As one does.

It's on a Japanese site and is unidentified. Any willing ichthyologists out there know what this is?



News in Briefs

Not really, though news in briefs could be interesting, depending on whose briefs and the contents.

First, an interesting piece in todays Independent by Peter Stanford, former Catholic Herald editor( who should know) on Opus Dei, the secretive Roman Catholic society, and

Armando at Daily Kos reports that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told him "it is her intention to hold Condoleeza Rice to account for her performance as National Security Advisor -- from the failed performance in the fight against terrorist threats by the Bush Administration prior to 9/11 to the Bush Administration's failing Iraq policy and the harm done by that Debacle to the fight against al Qaida and the terrorist threat to the Nation", and

this fantastic headline from the Boston Herald: "Democrats prepare to pepper Rice at grilling" and...

Here comes World War III, right on time.

No Country Can Attack Us, Iran Says
Jan 18, 2005 — TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has the military might to deter attacks against it, its defense minister said in remarks published on Tuesday, one day after President Bush said he would not rule out military action against Iran. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said the Islamic Republic, which has seen U.S. forces topple regimes in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq in the last three years, did not fear attack.

"We are able to say that we have strength such that no country can attack us because they do not have precise information about our military capabilities due to our ability to implement flexible strategies," the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Shamkhani as saying.
"We can claim that we have rapidly produced equipment that has resulted in the greatest deterrent," he said, without elaborating.



Share the Guilt

Briton admits beating Iraq captive
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 Posted: 1333 GMT (2133 HKT)

OSNABRUECK, Germany (AP) -- A British soldier has pleaded guilty to one count of beating an Iraqi captive, while he and two others pleaded not guilty to all other charges as their court-martial opened on allegations they mistreated Iraqis.

Photos of alleged mistreatment published in a British newspaper in the spring of 2003 led to investigations against the three men, and it is the first case of alleged abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers to go to trial. The defendants, all from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, showed little emotion Tuesday as they entered their pleas at a British base in Germany, answering Judge Michael Hunter only with "guilty" or "not guilty."Lance Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty to battery for assaulting and beating an Iraqi in his custody as the trial opened. But he pleaded not guilty to indecent conduct for allegedly forcing two Iraqi detainees to undress in front of others. Cpl. Daniel Kenyon, 33, and Lance Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It was the first time the charges were officially announced, and it was not immediately clear what possible punishments they face.Cooley is accused of placing an Iraqi captive with bound hands on the front of a forklift and driving it around, and also simulating punching and kicking a detainee while someone else took photographs. Kenyon, who outranks the other defendants, is accused of being present while abuse was taking place -- including naked captives being forced into simulated sex acts -- and not reporting it. He also faces a charge of being an accessory in the battery to which Larkin pleaded guilty. The abuse allegedly happened in May 2003 while the three soldiers were stationed at a food warehouse compound outside Basra in southern Iraq, according to British media reports.The photographs showed an Iraqi detainee gagged and bound, suspended in the air in a cargo net hoisted by a forklift. Other pictures showed simulated sexual acts involving stripped Iraqi detainees. A fourth soldier, 20-year-old Fusilier Gary Bartlam, went on trial last week in the same case at a different British base in Germany but Hunter imposed a gag order on journalists, banning any reporting about the process.

My own country, the UK, is as complicit in the utter clusterfuck that is Iraq as is the US. When I criticise America harshly, you may assume that I include Britain as well; I feel Tony Blair is in many ways worse than Bush. You can see just by looking that Bush is as dumb as a bag of hammers (other then his low cunning and seemingly infinite capacity for self-delusion), but Blair is clever enough to know exactly what he is doing. He has dragged us into a pit of despair, destruction and violence beyond anything we could have imagined, he has lied openly, he has connived at torture and the dismantling of the rule of law both at home and abroad, and he has done so with his eyes wide open, in full knowledge of the likely consequences. I'd like to see Blair impeached, then tried at Den Haag, then jailed. Just a pity we don't still do the hanging, drawing and quartering thing.

No-one has resigned or been fired over Iraq, except the Director-General of the BBC and the editor of the Daily Mirror. So when is Piers Morgan getting his job back?



"Dutch Revolt in Iraq?"

From Eurosavant -if only this story showed the Dutch acting on principle, but typically, it's about money:

"Dutch Revolt in Iraq?

As if there weren't enough troubles already in Iraq, another tribe there is now in revolt. And this is among folks who would ordinarily be among the last you would look to for such trouble, the "good guys," so to speak. I'm talking here about the 1,350-strong contingent of Dutch soldiers stationed there, and that's a direct quote from the head of their union, the AFMP, W. van den Burg: they're in opstand, or "in revolt." What that means in practical terms? Increasing talk about some sort of "strike action," whatever that is supposed to look like in the middle of Iraq.

At least the Dutch still have military forces helping out there, as one-by-one other national contingents slip away (the Hungarians being the latest such). After I first came aware of this story and commenced my usual Dutch press-scanning for it, it turned out that most Netherlands dailies have declined to cover it, at least on-line. The exception is Allard Besse, of the Algemeen Dagblad and his article Soldiers in Iraq Grumble Over Money, but quite a good exception it is."

My Dutch is in no way good enough to deal with that Algemeen Dagblad article, which in any case is hidden behind a subscription wall: would some kind cloggie with an abonnement and a bit of time do the needed and translate for me?



That 'Blog Payola Scandal' In Full


The War On Terror Is A Scam

Vaara points to this excellent op-ed piece in the LA Times: US mainstream journalism appears to have finally noticed last year's excellent BBC documentary 'The Power Of Nightmares' which points out just how the existence of scatttered Islamic terrorist groups has been conflated and inflated by the neocons on both sides of the Atlantic into a fake threat to our very existence, in order to prop up their power.

If you haven't yet seen it do so: BBC 2 is repeating The Power of Nightmares next week on

Tuesday 18th January

Wednesday 19th January

Thursday 20th January

For those who can't get BBC2 for whatever reason a bittorrent of the programme is available here. Download it now before it's illegal under the Patriot Act.



Cute Cats, Death Squads and the Iran Invasion

Well,what with Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker giving us the inside skinny on the USA's latest madcap plans - oh, those jolly japesters and their hazing pranks - to invade Iran (hang on, haven't they done that already? Isn't that what sending special forces teams into a country you're not at war with is, an invasion? Oh, silly me, of course, that's just semantics. Those are US Freedom Squadstm!) I have been feeling the need for some fluffiness. So here it is:

Right on time, via The Poorman , here comes Christy Marx with the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics. I'm not sure I want to know exactly how this cat got where it is, but suffice it to say it probably took some serious spatial geometry calculation, which, as we all know, comes naturally to cats. Dogs, on the other hand, can barely make it through long division.

There has been a lot of left blog commentary on Hersh's report, but what commentary I have read so far seems to miss the main thrust of the article. Instead they've concentrated on the whole Iran thing. I think this is a mistake. What comes over most clearly from the article is the way in which the normal checks and balances, such as they were, that kept the Pentagon from operating secretly have now been dismantled, that the CIA has become a busted flush and is now nothing more than an echo chamber for the administration, and that Rumsfeld has the power to send Special Forces anywhere at all, to do anything at all, with apparently no executive, judicial or legislative oversight. Humint is no longer within the purview of the CIA but that of Defence Intelligence ( that was what the whole Porter Goss purge was about, and aren't secret Executive Orders handy?) ; thus Defence Intelligence, directly overseen by Rumsfeld, is now in control, is free from reporting and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act or subject only when it suits.


"(a) Authority.--Subchapter I of chapter 21 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
Sec. 426.
Protection of sensitive information: operational files of the Defense Intelligence Agency"(a) Authority To Withhold Operational Files.--The Secretary of Defense may withhold from public disclosure operational files described in subsection (b) to the same extent that operational files may be withheld under section 701 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 431), subject to judicial review under the same circumstances and to the same extent as is provided in subsection (f) of such section.

Apparently this is subject to judicial review, at least according to the above. So what happens when a request for a file is made, on the grounds that there might have been some wrongdoing? Here's a case,Paul Wolf v Central Intelligence agency (Civ. No. 01-00729) brought to be judicially reviewed under the very same subsection (f) that supposedly applies now to the Defence Intelligence agency:

"The CIA Information Act provides that exempted operational files are subject to search and review for information concerning "the specific subject matter of any investigation by the intelligence committees of the Congress . . . for any impropriety or violation of law, Executive order, or Presidential directive in the conduct of an intelligence activity." 50 U.S.C. § 431(c). "A congressional investigation that touches on CIA conduct in a particular incident or region, standing alone, is not sufficient to warrant the release of all CIA documents anent that incident or region." Sullivan v. CIA, 992 F.2d 1249, 1255 (1st Cir. 1993) Further, the information requested must relate specifically to the subject matter of the investigation."

Put very, very simply , even if you apply under FOIA and are turned down, and then take it to court, you still can't look at the files unless you exactly what incident they refer to. Which you won't know until you se the file. This is how it appears to me at least: IANA US constitutional scholar, but subverting the constitution, yet again, to allow mini-invasions, snatch and death squads and political assassinations seems to me to be not quite what the founding fathers had in mind. Or maybe I misunderstand what "strict constructionism" means?


Monday, January 17


Miscellaneous Ceph Blogging No.2

Sunday, January 16


All Change Please!

The Sunday Telegraph reports this morning that another MP has defected: this time it's Robert Jackson, Tory MP for Wantage , to Labour. This follows the defection in December ofantiwar Labour MP Paul Marsden to the LibDems.

I remember Marsden well from numerous antiwar marches, rallies, and meetings. He struck me as a principled if soft socialist who was suffering greatly from his party's actions over the war, and who was deeply conflicted about his party membership.

"On October 13, the backbench Labour MP spoke out against the war at a march and rally organised by CND in London that attracted up to 50,000 protestors. Prior to this on October 8, in the third debate on the “international coalition against terrorism”, Marsden had raised a point of order calling for a Commons’ vote on the conduct of the war. Marsden also asked, “When will British citizens be given a written constitution so that Parliament, not a prime minister, authorises a declaration of war?” Both questions were brushed aside"

I remember that: I was there. I felt rather sorry for him while as the same time despising him for staying with the party when he so obviously had deep disagreements with policy. I am glad he has finally had the courage of his convictions.

I was once a very active Labour Party member, and when I left to join the SWP after the defeat of Clause IV it was as though 75% of my life and social circle had just evaporated. I imagine what Paul Marsden must be feeling is much much worse: he has lost all his support systems, his former friends and colleagues have been and are briefing against him, (at one stage, he was being compared by Labour Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, to the appeasers of the Nazis: this is the woman who said 'war is not a matter of conscience', so so much for anything she thinks or says) and he may not keep his seat. I admire his decision; it wasn't easy but he did the right thing. I don't agree with his choice of new party ideologically, but if he wants to stay in big politics he has to join one of the big 3, and he has.

Jackson is on the BBC 1pm news now saying that he feels what Labour has to offer the country is much better than anything the Conservatives could. He is quoted in the Telegraph today as saying that he had decided to quit because the Tories had "dangerous" views on Europe, "incoherent" policies on public services, and had "wobbled" on Iraq. Most damaging for Mr Howard, he said that the party "deserved better leadership". No change there then.

It says all you need to know about the current state of New Labour that it is now the natural home of the Tory. I for one still haven't forgotten the parachuting in of Shaun Woodward, the millionaire former Tory MP who defected to New Labour, against the local candidate, who was supported by the constituency party and many St. Helens residents..

I wonder which safe seat Jackson will get? One thing is for sure, Marsden is moving because of ideological conflict, but from everything I've read and heard Jackson's move is more about his political career or lack of it should he stay with the Conservatives. In this he follows Woodward's example, while proving Marsden's point that the Labour Party is now beyond ideological redemption.



US Gov Promotes Bum Fun!

Pentagon Reveals Rejected Chemical Weapons
15 January 2005
(From New Scientist Print Edition. )

"THE Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says."

"Distasteful but completely non-lethal"? strange assumption there, that homosexuality is distasteful. To whom, in this context?

"Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused "severe and lasting halitosis", making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.

The proposals, from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, date from 1994. The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organisation that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons. Spokesman Edward Hammond says it was not known if the proposed $7.5 million, six-year research plan was ever pursued

(Emphasis mine)

I don't know what's worse, the plans themselves or the fact that the US gov don't know whether or not they spent $7.5 million. But then again that's irrelevant; it's SOP for the Bush government to say they don't know whether they did something when they actually did, so look out for lots of of gay Iranian civil partnerships popping up, and then all the happy couples being tragically killed in frenzied wasp attacks while shopping for factor 150 sunblock.



Cheney Still Not Dead.


Quick Sunday Morning Blogging

I've been quite busy this week one way and another, what with work and taking a dewy eyed American physicist on the red-light/coffeeshop/museum tour of Amsterdam, so have not blogged much. Nevertheless the world has still turned, so here's a quick roundup of the week's events and my reactions to them:

Prince Harry and the Swastika: (And doesn't that sound like the new JK Rowling title?) So, an overprivileged, sloppily educated, motherless and badly brought up semi-adolescent dresses up as Rommel. Same old same old, a thick as a brick aristocracy who have no idea of history or how ordinary people think. Media go wild, big fucking deal. What's the real story? Since the Murdoch press has been deprived of its rightful prey, ie the story behind Harry's real parentage, they'll take anything they can get. The media has been gunning for him for a long time. I wonder whatever came of that 'People' attempt to get a DNA sample?

Kos, MyDD and that whole payola thing:

Sigh, the American left shoots itself in the foot again. Yes, the WSJ lied, and continues to lie that you took money from Dean for favourable blogging. It's a lie got up by the Republican noise machine, as always, to divert attention from the whole Armstrong Williams, ace black commentator, taking taxpayers money to push Bush policy thing - any idiot can see that. But again, the lefty blogopshere sucumbs to the bait and switch operation they have fallen for so many times before. The alleged story, that Kos and Jerome of MyDD were paid consultants for Howard Dean's campaign, has been common knowledge since the campaign and was declared prominently on both blogs. Dean staffers are also on record as saying the consultancy fees were for form, not content. This 'story' only continues to run because the left bloggers are letting it.

Note to lefty bloggers: shit or get off the pot. Kos is a lawyer. So sue the fuckers for libel, and name O'Reilly, and Fox as co-defendant with the WSJ. Every time they republish the lie it's defamation. It's not as though the evidence isn't there. Keeping on blogging about how badly done-by you've been merely keeps the story alive. If it's money that's the issue, I'm sure we can all help. And it's not as though there's no precedent: a Boston judge is sueing a reporter for libel for reporting that he told a 14yr old rape victim to 'get over it', a libel repeated, surprise surprise, by O'Reilly and Fox.

"Murphy, who claims he never said ''tell her to get over it," has sued the Herald and four of its writers for libel. The case is scheduled to go to trial on Wednesday.

Citing more than a dozen articles, Murphy accuses the newspaper of waging a ''malicious and relentless campaign" that has destroyed his personal and professional reputation. He also plans to use statements a Herald reporter made on television to prove his ''malicious state of mind" in writing the articles.

David Wedge, the main reporter on the story, said on Fox's ''The O'Reilly Factor" three weeks after the story ran in the Herald that Murphy had made disparaging remarks about other crime victims, not just the 14-year-old rape victim.

When host Bill O'Reilly asked Wedge if he was sure Murphy said the rape victim should ''get over it," Wedge replied, ''Yes. He made this comment to three lawyers. He knows he said it, and everybody else that knows this judge knows that he said it."

Wedge later said in a deposition that only one of the lawyers heard the comment firsthand and the other two just repeated it to Wedge. The prosecutor who claims to have heard the comment, David Crowley, said in his deposition that he recalled Murphy saying the words ''get over it," but couldn't remember the judge's exact quote."

They have form for this sort of thing. For once, can someone on the left stand up and fight for themselves properly instead of just bleating about it ineffectually on their blog?

Titan and Huygens:

This is where I get all "Oh wow!" while feeling incredible liberal guilt about the cost and what that money could have done for the poor. But on the other hand, Oh wow! Pictures of Titan's surface! Look!



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