Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Their suspension, my disbelief

Further to my previous post on the campaign to have the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's appearance at the Proms cancelled, it would seem that a group of musicians wrote to the Independent before the IPO's visit calling for its invitation to be withdrawn. (The letter is on this page.)

Proms exploited for arts propaganda campaign

As musicians we are dismayed that the BBC has invited the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to play at the Proms on 1 September. The IPO has a deep involvement with the Israeli state – not least its self-proclaimed "partnership" with the Israeli Defence Forces. This is the same state and army that impedes in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform.

Our main concern is that Israel deliberately uses the arts as propaganda to promote a misleading image of Israel. Through this campaign, officially called "Brand Israel", denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen. The IPO is perhaps Israel 's prime asset in this campaign.

The Director of the Proms, Roger Wright, was asked to cancel the concert in accordance with the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI). He rejected this call, saying that the invitation is "purely musical".

Israel's policy towards the Palestinians fits the UN definition of apartheid. We call on the BBC to cancel this concert.

Derek Ball (composer)

Frances Bernstein (community choir leader)

Steve Bingham (violinist)

John Claydon (saxophonist)

Malcolm Crowthers (music photographer)

Raymond Deane (composer)

Tom Eisner (violinist LPO)

Nancy Elan (violinist LPO)

Deborah Fink (soprano)

Catherine Ford (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)

Reem Kelani (Palestinian singer, musician and broadcaster)

Les Levidow (violinist)

Susie Meszaros (violinist, Chilingirian Quartet)

Roy Mowatt (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)

Ian Pace (pianist)

Leon Rosselson (singer-songwriter)

Dominic Saunders (pianist)

Chris Somes-Charlton (artist manager)

Leni Solinger (violinist)

Sarah Streatfeild (violinist LPO)

Sue Sutherley (cellist, LPO)

Tom Suarez (violinist, New York)

Kareem Taylor (Oud Player/Guitarist and Composer)

Miriam Walton (pianist, organist and French horn player)

Well, it seems that four of the signatories admitted to being members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a direct result they have been suspended from their jobs. This has led to another letter, this time to the Daily Telegraph, with more signatories and more famous names among them.

Musicians’ Israel protest

SIR – We are shocked to hear of the suspension of four members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for adding their signatures to a letter calling for the BBC to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

According to a statement from LPO managers, quoted in the Jewish Chronicle, the action was taken because the musicians included their affiliation to the orchestra with their signatures – a convention that is common practice within the academic world, for example.

One does not have to share the musicians’ support for the campaign for boycotting Israeli institutions to feel grave concern about the bigger issue at stake for artists and others. There is a link being created here between personal conscience and employment, which we must all resist.

A healthy civil society is founded on the ability of all to express non-violent and non-prejudiced opinions, freely and openly, without fear of financial or professional retribution.

The LPO management states that, for it, “music and politics don’t mix” – yet its decision to jeopardise the livelihoods of four talented musicians for expressing their sincerely held views is itself political.

Why should it be so dangerous for artists to speak out on the issue of Israel/Palestine? We are dismayed at the precedent set by this harsh punishment, and we strongly urge the LPO to reconsider its decision.

Howard Brenton
Siobhan Davies
Mike Leigh
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
Philip Hensher
Miriam Margolyes
Richard Barrett
Caryl Churchill
Siobhan Davies
John Harteco
A.L. Kennedy
Ken Loach
Simon McBurney
Steve Martland
Annette Moreau
Cornelia Parker
Prof. Jacqueline Rose
Michael Rosen
Alexei Sayle
Kamila Shamsie
Mark Wallinger
Dame Harriet Walter
Benjamin Zephaniah
Kirsty Alexander
Yasmin Alibhai-Brownwriter
Michael Attenborough
Prof. MonaBaker
Derek Ball
Chris Bluemel
Richard Black
Ian Bourn
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Victoria Brittain
Michael Carlin
Jonathan Chadwick
Prof. Michael Chanan
Sacha Craddock
Andy Cowton
Raymond Deane
Ivor Dembina
Dr Kay Dickinson
Dr Hugh Dunkerley
Tony Dowmunt
Patrick Duval
Gareth Evans
Moris Farhi
Dr Naomi Foyle
Jane Frere
Carol-Anne Grainger
Tony Graham
Lee Hall
Michelle Hanson
Laura Hastings-Smith
Dr Wallace Heimwriter
John Hegley
Matthew Herbert
Prof. Susan Himmelweit
Mary Hoffman
Dr Fergus Johnston
Ann Jungman
Reem Kelani
Judith Kazantzis
Conor Kelly
Anthea Kennedy
Aleksander Kolkowski
Dr Adam Kossoff
Malcolm Le Grice
Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky
Jamie McCarthy
Dr Carole McKenzie
Ewan McLennan
Jeff McMillan
Helen Legg
China Miéville
Roger Mitchell
Jenny Morgan
Carol Morley
Alan Morrison
Paul Morrison
Ian Pace
Sam Paechter
Miranda Pennell
Jeremy Peyton Jones
Henry Porter
James Purefoy
Laure Prouvost
William Raban
A.L. Rees
Lynne Reid Banks
Frances Rifkin
Leon Rosselson
Martin Rowson
Dr Khadiga Safwat
Sukhdev Sandhu
Dominic Saunders
Guy Sherwin
Kevin Smith
Prof. John Smith
Anne Solomon
Ahdaf Soueif
Helen Statman
Michael Stevens
Susannah Stone
Trevor Stuart
Ingrid Swenson
Alia Syed
Jennet Thomas
Miranda Tufnell
Prof. David Turner
Francesca Viceconti
Michelene Wandor
David Ward
Samuel West
Ian Wiblin
Andrew Wilson
Eliza Wyatt
Robin Yassin-Kassab
Zoë Wanamaker
Dr Paul Goodey
Professor John Miller
Anna Clarke

I think it's despicable behaviour by the LPO management. (I note that no such action has been taken by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, or for that matter the Chilingirian String Quartet, though in the latter case their violist Susie Meszaros appears to have been cleverly disguised by the Independent as a violinist.) As Norman Geras points out on his blog, academics are able to identify their employers when writing without anyone suggesting that this is at all reprehensible. I could understand it if the LPO members had been involved in the concert disruption, but they were not.

Of course, there are some who gloat happily that the musicians have been put in their place and when eventually allowed back into their jobs will sit quietly like good little apparatchiks. Personally I hope they will milk the bad publicity this will gain for the LPO for all that it's worth, then take their talents to a real orchestra.

This isn't the first time that the four musicians have published their names and employer in connection with the boycott campaign. As a Jerusalem Post blogger helpfully informs us, they were signatories to a letter which appears to have convinced the Jewish Music Institute not to accept Israeli government funding for a conference.

Perhaps there is an orchestra closer to home than Israel that might benefit from a boycott campaign.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I suppose as Bruch means "break" they picked an appropriate piece to interrupt

I've just realised that while I referred to it on Facebook, I have never done an EKN post on the recent protest by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's appearance at the Proms.

I have a number of problems with this protest, and the least of them is my natural disinclination, as a performing (amateur) musician myself, to disrupt performances. When the Jerusalem Quartet played in Edinburgh in 2008, there was a similar protest at the Queens Hall. The difference there was that the Jerusalem Quartet were appearing as "cultural ambassadors" of the IDF, who were (in their leader's words) proud to play "with a violin in one hand and a Galil in the other"). In their case I supported the boycott and did my best to get the concert cancelled. Having failed in that, though, I would have thought the last thing you would wish to do would be to buy tickets to the concert, thus subsidising what you wish to boycott. Yet that is what the Scottish Palestine Solidarity group did. In my opinion it would have been far better to get a few people outside in tails with stringed instruments in one hand and replica assault rifles in the other. It would have caught attention and press coverage, probably got the protestors arrested, and contributed nothing to the IDF. Ah well.

In London the situation was different. The Israel Philharmonic are nobody's "cultural ambassadors". They get death threats for playing Wagner's music in Israel (a story in itself, but let's not go there). Its members are drawn from all walks of Israeli (and very likely non-Israeli) life. Insofar as they are Israelis, it would be a fair guess that IPO members, as "artistic intellectual" types, would be less in favour of the occupation and the illegal settlements than the average Israeli. Not, then, a sensible target for a protest against those things. A protest such as this can really easily be spun as simple prejudice against either Jews or Israelis: I have no connection to the English PSC so I don't know its position on the legitimacy of Israel within its 1967 borders. I know my own, though, which is that Israel is legal and there to stay, provided it remains within its internationally-recognised borders and forgoes the Lebensraum it has stolen over the past 44 years.

The concert protest got in the way of normal, decent, Israelis trying to earn their salaries. Still, they will have been paid, disruption or no, while the protestors bought tickets and subsidised them. Duh.

However wrong-headed the PSC may have been to target the IPO in the first place, they had a perfect right to try to get their invitation rescinded by the BBC. Failing that, I have no problem with their leafletting concertgoers and picketing the Royal Albert Hall. I still reckon some kind of musical protest outside would have been effective. Even without the Jerusalem Quartet's direct reference to playing with a rifle in one hand, something similar could have worked at the Prom: perhaps a group of people playing music outside in bloodstained evening dress. Or a version of Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony with musicians in Arab costume disappearing one by one to leave just ones in tails. See the PSC: no imagination.

I'm not sure whether the BBC use outside broadcast trucks at the RAH as they do in Edinburgh, or whether they're permanently hard-wired in these days, but if they still use trucks then PSC could REALLY have caused a stir (and guaranteed arrests) by simply attacking one. Nothing disrupts a broadcast like having the power interrupted by a protestor with a chainsaw (and good insulation). No need to buy tickets to do THAT.

Anyway, the protestors did what they did, and got a lot of people's backs up: though presumably not the IPO's who will have heaved a sigh and pocketed their money anyway.

Some commenters on the affair, like Uncle Jimmy, managed to miss the point pretty spectacularly. I wonder where Jimmy copied his post from. Wherever it is, they can spell neither "Haydn" nor "concerto". If Jimmy really is a Warwick School alumnus as he claims then it says little for the standards of the oldest boys' school in the country: he doesn't even read the stuff he steals. (Probably he plagiarised it from here.) No, I still reckon he's an American fraud.

Jimmy's irrelevant wittering about Hamas and the UN (inaccurate where it isn't downright lies) doesn't read as though Jimmy penned it either. ("The UN has been silent to...." ?) See here, here and here. The "Hamas Mickey Mouse" last aired in 2007.

And if he's going to wax eloquent about the Schindler's List theme surely the least he could do is mention John Williams who wrote it?

Jimmy doesn't seem to have much to say about the protest itself; not who was protesting, or why (however wrongly in my opinion). He doesn't even seem to have noticed that the disruption started during the Webern Passacaglia, or that (surprisingly) the protestors don't appear to have been arrested.

And who is Anton Lorien, whose jingoistic pap Jimmy is promoting on his blog? Mmmm, nice. Funny, I didn't think Jimmy approved of people imposing un-British religions on British folk by threats of violence.

Still, he gets the Niemoller quotation right.

It's Not Dark Yet, But It's Getting There

Another thought-provoking Glenn Greenwald article. We in Britain have our own track record of *terrorists" imprisoned, and indeed tortured (though we outsource that - very 21st century), without evidence or indeed legal process of any kind. But the case of Jose Padilla demonstrates how much we still have to learn form our American allies when it comes to the systematic abuse of human rights.

Of thee I sing

Glenn Greenwald gets to the heart of what 9/11 means today: and it's not pretty.

Well, we can try...

....to stop the legalized murder of an innocent man.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peace and Reconciliation

Further to the Mountain Meadows story, I was struck by this article.

Can you imagine, in 144 years' time perhaps, families of the victims of the 2001 9/11 attacks getting together with families of those who carried out the atrocity to make a quilt?

Sadly, neither can I, though real life continues to astonish me.

The Mormons clearly suffered similar prejudice to that suffered today by American Muslims.

It did occur to me to wonder what surviving family members the September 11th 2001 terrorists might have left, so I fired up Google and found this. It contains a link to a PDF of the programme's script which looks interesting. Also this in a similar vein.

So a fair way to go on both sides. Though in a century or so it may all seem very different.

Nothing New Under The Sun

On September 11th, a monument was unveiled to the victims of a massacre of Americans perpetrated on 9/11 by those claiming allegiance to a religious cult while going against its basic principles. And hardly anybody noticed.

I don't know how well-known this story is in the USA, but I haven't met any Brits so far who were familiar with it. I think most of us are aware that September 11th is also the anniversary of the Chilean military coup in which Salvador Allende was murdered and General Pinochet installed himself as dictator, but the tale of another terrorist massacre on American soil has fallen beneath the radar here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Dead Man is the Only Man You Can Trust

This video clip comes from The Onion, but the worrying thing is that sites like Bare Naked Islam carry stuff like this as fact.

Al Qaeda Populating U.S. With Peaceful 'Decoy Muslims'

I'm Writing A Blog, I'm Writing A Blog, Dontcha Ever Interrupt Me While I'm Writing A Blog

And I'm sure it was one of my blogging pals in the USA (Joe? Eddie?) who introduced me to this wonderful video which I found myself humming in the car last week. Thanks to whoever it was: enjoy.

Weaponized Walken

My daughter and I got talking about films the other day and the topic of Christopher Walken came up. She reminded me of this video which I'd forgotten: now how on earth did I manage that?

Trump This

So let me get this straight. Donald Trump, who is despoiling with a golf course and general millionaires' playpen an area which was supposed to be protected because of its wildlife and its natural beauty, is complaining that a wind farm is "environmentally irresponsible"? Because it will be visible from his eyesore?

In the letter to Mr Salmond, he said: "Unfortunately, instead of celebrating the start of something valuable and beautiful for Scotland, this ugly cloud is hanging over the future of the great Scottish coastline.

Mr Trump said he had been "repeatedly promised" that wind farms would not be "destroying and distorting Aberdeen's magnificent coastline".

Of course that would upset him: that's his job.

Still, it's not all doom and gloom. If the wind farm is built, as it undoubtedly will be,

"...you should ask yourself if any other international developer would ever risk investing in Scotland after my experience and all the promises that were made to me."

Well, Donald, you should ask yourself whether Scotland wants any more international developers like you bribing their way around the planning restrictions and concreting over one of Europe's most beautiful countries. Here's a hint: the answer's not "Yes".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Frank Exchange of Views

While I'm on the subject of the BareNakedIslam Nazi site, there was a post there recently concerning the (US) flag-burning protest during the London commemoration of the 9/11 murders. I commented on it thus:

September 12, 2011 at 8:43 AM
BNI – the “ragheads” ARE British citizens, and the police protected their right to protest peacefully. They arrested the Nazi EDL scum who were rioting and attacking people (including the police). You see, just like the USA, we have free speech over here. I know you loathe it in America so naturally you loathe it here. Oh, and flag-burning isn’t illegal here, not even of our flag let alone foreign ones like yours.
Nobody in Britain outside a few sad losers with IQs of about 50 has any time for the EDL strutters. Their Scottish chums got seen off in Edinburgh on Saturday too. We don’t like Nazis, and we especially don’t like American ones trying to tell us how to run our affairs.

Shall we see how the knuckle-walkers and goose-steppers at BNI responded to this eminently reasonable critique? Oh, go on, let's:

September 12, 2011 at 4:10 PM
Sorry for this BNI.
@Einekewhateverthe fuck!
You fucking dirty bastard,were you one of the filthy dirty cowards hiding behind the ob yesterday?
You fucking paedo lover,this ain’t your country.Muslims are proven cowards,you beat women and kids,prove yourself a man.I live in ESSEX come and see me you fucking piece of shit!!
Fucking hard man,i’ll kick your fucking face off.
Nazi’s are we,you might want to read a fucking history book you thick cunt,we fought them,you fucking joined them!!
Sorry BNI but i would LOVE to meet this fucker,unlike him im not all mouth!!

Geoffrey Pfister Sr.
September 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM
BNI, Please allow this response to Einekleinerob….
Don’t you ever, ever use your insulent liberal, muslim loving bias in my presence….you don’t know shit about America obviously, and just use us as an excuse to vent your insullent bullshit. I got a trick for you to try….and do this publicly, try burning or insulting anything Islam and see just how nice they treat you. 2 members of the patrioic EDL were stabbed by your muslim scum brothers on their way home….You sir, or ma’am, are an absolute piece of shit. And if there is anything more dangerous in these times….it is people like you who embrace Satan and his ilk with open arms. Why don’t you do us all a big favor…pull your lower lip over your head and swallow….If you want to look me up sometime let me know.

September 12, 2011 at 4:37 PM
GBA, we would love to see you meet him as well.

September 12, 2011 at 7:47 PM
EINEKLEINNOB: Hey moron, my gut tells me that YOU are in the minority as far as REAL English sentiments go, you fucktard, cowardly leftoid, and I’m American! It is utterly deplorable what you and your kind have done to the UK. Know you this peon, the balance will shift and you and yours, along with the muzzie scum you fellate upon, will all be flushed down the loo when all is said and done. Your days are numbered. BTW, If one replaces the (R) in your username with an (N), it translates as follows, “One small penis” Ha! Ha! Fits you pretty well doesn’t it shrimpy? Well, you know what they say, “if the dick fits, wear it!” Oh my, it doesn’t fit well now does it? Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter, they don’t make condoms that small anyhow! Muahahahahahaha!!!!!!!
“Got Tweezers? Microscope?”
“Long Live the EDL!”
BTW, It isn’t unlawful to burn The Flag in the USA either, but it will likely get your arse stomped, so please try!

So according to these geniuses, I'm a Muslim, a Nazi, a paedophile wife-beater, not British, "insulent", "insullent", a Satanist, a peon, a fucktard, a cowardly leftoid, with a small penis, and I have received three threats of violence. Excellent: clearly I stirred a few flies on the steaming dungheap that is the BNI site. I'd love to know though how GBA fought the Nazis (sorry, Nazi's - LOL) unless he is more than 82 years old......

I left another comment pointing out the error in BNI's dating of 9/11, but that one was censored. Oh well, if they WANT to look foolish, what can one do?

Oh, BTW, I see now that not only does Uncle Jimmy promote these morons on his blog, they promote him on theirs. (Laughable wannabe-fascist-revolutionaries all.) However, as they wonder whether Tony Blair shares Jimmy's racist views which they so adore, perhaps it won't be long before TB's office gets in touch with Jimmy to get him to remove ToeNibbler's name from his site. That would really be funny.

Life imitates satire

The Daily Mash had this a few days ago.

The theorists fall into two distinct camps, with one group claiming that 9-11 happened many years ago, possibly as early as 1922, and another group claiming the event happened in 2007.

And here is BareNakedIslam, End Times loony, white supremacist and Islamophobe at large (at least until the FBI catch up with her/its calls for arson and beheadings), seemingly under the impression that "The day that America was Forever Changed" was 9/11/2011. LOL!

Mind you, what do you expect from someone who includes the hijackers among the count of "victims" in the destruction of the WTC? I guess that;s what happens when you rely on Fox for all your news coverage.....

Life Imitates art

Prince Charles has been wittering on again.

The Royal joked that as a “rare species” himself, he has always felt a close connection to the work of WWF.

That reminds me of one of the numbers in Kit and the Widow's marvellous (but sadly unrecorded) version of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals. They did "Aquarium" with Kit Hesketh-Harvey wearing a pair of gigantic ears (a la Prince Charles) and talking about how the Wales were an endangered species.

I don't know whether the Prince of Wales is a fan of K&TW or not.


You know how in the Disney movie Dumbo gets drunk and winds up stuck in a tree?

Well, in Sweden an elk managed the same trick.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seldom plain and never simple

The position of women in Islamic societies is by no means as clear-cut as a lot of people would like to think. For example, in Yemen.

How true

Blues and Twos

Courtesy of ThinkProgress.

Hold the Mayo

Douglas Hofstadter is the Pulitzer prizewinning author of Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid and used to write the "Metamagical Themas" column in Scientific American, at least one of which was devoted to the music of Chopin.

The article on Chopin's Mayonnaises linked here perfectly embodies the word "deadpan". Enjoy.

Books Do Furnish A Morgue

Truly the world is full of weirdness.

In the spirit of glasnost, here is a link where you can read the book online or download it as a pdf.

However, the perennial warning DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME applies. Also please don't try it in workplaces, neighbour's homes, vehicles, public transport, or anywhere else.

Reading it, I give thanks yet again for the UK's reasonably stringent gun controls.

Over-egging the pudding

Last thing on Uncle Jimmy for today.....

Jimmy continues, as you would expect, to blow Tony Blair's trumpet for him (though the man himself is a far better PR trumpeter than Jimmy could ever aspire to be).

On Thursday he quoted Alan Stevens from a company called (revealingly) "Communication, PR and Reputation Management" who recently made a speech on all the good parts of Blair's legacy we should remember instead of all that tedious "war on terror" stuff that nobody really cares about. And yes, Blair did some good, or his government did at least (kmowing that Scottish devolution was pushed through by Donald Dewar in spite of Blair's attempts to sabotage it, one wonders how many of the other good things were simply "eye-catching initiatives with which I can be personally associated" rather than something for which the Great Pretender had any responsibility at all).

But Jimmy can't leave it at that. Oh no. Alan Stevens didn't go nearly far enough in fawning adulation of Toe-Nibbler. Jimmy accuses him of not wanting to know about "terrorist stuff" and "nasty foreign stuff", and then lists several other achievements that Stevens should have included. I haven't gone through them all, but at least one does appear in Stevens' list ("free nursery places for every three and four-year-old") while another is simply untrue ("employment at its highest level ever"). Yes, under Blair the percentage of those in the labour market employed climbed to 95%, but under the previous Labour government (Jimmy likes to pretend the real Labour party never ran the country and that politics began with Margaret Thatcher) it was as high as 96.5% - maybe more, as the graphs I could readily find only go back to 1971.

It's a small point, perhaps, but I think Jimmy devalues the real achievements (few though they were) of the Blair administration by lying about them. Telling falsehoods to make Tony Blair look better is a job best left to the man himself: nobody does it better, after all.

Once again, why was Tony Blair in Paris at a meeting on Libya when he's being paid to work on Israel/Palestine?

When it comes to inability to understand plain English, Jimmy's "response" to Jon Snow's remarks in the Twitter exchange, to wit:

jonsnowC4Jon Snow
Glimpsed in the UK Ambassador’s garden in Paris during last week’s Libya summit: Tony Blair. What was he doing there?

jonsnowC4Jon Snow
@waggers5 Very hard to see what’capacity building’ on West Bank has to do with a meeting about the future of Libya

is to do a big blog post on all the wonderful work TB is doing to try to restart peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Well, yes, Jimmy, he's working hard on Israel/Palestine: so - to repeat Jon Snow's reasonable question - why was he in Paris for a meeting about Libya, a country with which his last official involvement was when he was PM?

(Presumably this is Jimmy' s American sense of geography showing through, imagining that Libya is in the "Middle East" and that as it's full of Muslims it's just the same as Palestine. His pals over at BNI want all the "Muhanimals" dead anyway.)

Funny that TB is sticking his nose back into Libya just as Wikileaks has published details of his government's cosy deals with Gaddafi over "rendition" of political prisoners to be tortured there. (I notice when Mark G made a similar remark in that Twitter exchange Jimmy prints what he claims was a response to it. Actually it was a reply to a differemt tweet by someone else altogether:

@MarkGG50 Mark G
@blairsupporter @JuliesThinkTank @DHewson @rob_marchant What dealings will be exposed of MI5 and MI6 information given to gadaffi ? In 2005

To which, this response -

lukeakehurstLuke Akehurst
@DHewson @JuliesThinkTank @rob_marchant @blairsupporter what exactly is your evidence for that rather trite and hyperbolic assertion?

though it's clearly the response Jimmy would like someone to have made to Mark G. Of course, WE ALL KNOW that Jimmy is unbiased and truthful on everything concerning TB....(:-)>

Jimmy contra mundum

A few observations on Uncle Jimmy's recent post:

1) If anyone can make sense of this observation about Channel 4's Jon Snow, please advise:

Some might wonder how come a broadcast journalist is able to hold down a job for 22 years, opine his political drops of pearly wisdom into the waiting and watching eyes and ears of tens of thousands, even millions over time, without any of the so afflicted chosen voting for those pearls he throws before … er … swine(?)

because last time I looked, nobody had to "vote" for journalists or their work. Perhaps Jimmy is looking ahead to the days after his longed-for revolution when all the journalists will be government appointees: but of course nobody will be voting for governments any more either.

2) Anyone wishing to read his inane Twitterage can do so on Twitter. Oh, I know it's his own blog and he can make a fool of himself if he wants to (actually he does so all the time regardless of his wishes in the matter) but does he really imagine that anyone in the blogosphere wants to read Jimmy and a few other Blair groupies directing their pointless little attacks at Jon Snow? Mind you, the self-important twit copied Tony Blair's office in on some of the tweets. (I can just imagine how they were received: "Oh Gawd, it's that KTBFPM loony again" "What's he up to now?" "Seems to be suggesting we should pay him for his efforts, I think". "What a plonker.")

3) So busy was our Jim puffing himself up and patting himself on the back over his sad outpourings that he managed to say exactly the opposite of what he intended (at least, to judge from all his previous posts on Tony Blair and wicked leftist media bias he did). Here's the highlighted warning with which he ends his piece:

Whatever they try to tell you – don’t ever, ever, EVER suspect that our media – entire channels and newspapers of it - are anything other than neutral and non-judgemental, especially when it comes to Tony Blair.

For once, Jimmy, you're quite right: "entire channels and newspapers" ARE neutral and non-judgemental when it comes to Tony Blair, and I certainly won't believe otherwise whatever YOU try to tell me.

(Aside: I wonder whether Jimmy will rush to correct the mistake (in which case, tough, the original stays here) or whether with his usual blustering buffoonery he will try to argue that it means exactly what he wants it to mean regardless of what he actually wrote. After all, that's what he did when I called him out on the the-opposite-of-left-wing-is-straight remark he made here n an exchange of comments at Peter Reynolds blog. Sadly I can't link to them as Peter had to take the stream down after receiving threats from Crazionists. A pity: it was fun watching Jimmy denying he'd made any comment about Murray's sexuality, accusing me of having confused the left-right and gay-straight axes, and finally telling me I was too stupid to understand his perfectly clear statement. Wish I had a copy of it.)

4) Oh, and he's got the headline spot on:



This site's threat level has been raised from "Rabid" to "Batshit"

In a week where an Oklahoma congresswoman declared that homosexuality was more of a danger to America than terrorism (more dangerous than Islam, even!) it's worth reading this article by Paul Rosenberg on the very real dangers of Christian fundamentalism in the USA.

"The more loudly such people proclaim themselves patriots, the more loudly they cheer for US collapse. It’s not just Obama they want to fail. It’s the very idea of America."

On September 11th, a shining example of reconciliation and forgiveness

"Sometimes, history keeps some surprises in reserve. Thus, the murderer of Che was cured by doctors sent by Fidel Castro, the most faithful and intimate companion of "the heroic guerrilla." Terán owes his eyesight to the emissaries of health that follow the internationalist example of the man he killed."

Read here.


(from here)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

House of prayer v den of robbers

May I add a couple of observations to the controversy surrounding the spectacularly-misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque"?

Firstly, that if I had lost loved ones in the WTC on 11 September 2001 I would be more affronted by the decision to build an office block - a temple to commerce, if you will - a scant hundred feet or so from the site of the atrocity than by the proposal to enlarge an existing Islamic centre - a place of worship - about half a mile away.

And secondly, if it is held by some Christian and Jewish extremists to be insensitive to have an Islamic Centre almost within sight of the WTC, how insensitive must it seem to the families and friends of the 31 Muslims murdered in the WTC (or indeed of other non-Christian victims) to have a Christian cross erected not simply near the site but slap in the middle of it?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Hands up if you remember The Enid from the 1970s. Aerie Faerie Nonsense, Touch Me, and so on? Prog rock always looked to classical music for inspiration, but these guys went so far as to be almost classical/rock crossover. Anyway, they have reformed and are touring. They're coming to Edinburgh on Friday....on an evening when I'm not only on call but required to be available at short notice. (On the plus side, it should be the start of an extremely lucrative weekend supporting a huge account migration exercise.)

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook to remind me of what I shall be missing.

Ravel's Bolero meets the Dies Irae, with a side order of Mahler 2 at 6:54. What's not to love?

A couple of uplifting animal stories

Yvonne the runaway cow (big story here in Europe) has been recaptured: and instead of being slaughtered she and her sister Waltraud have been bought by an animal sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Happy Feet the Emperor penguin who fetched up in New Zealand, has been patched up and sent on his way.

Robert Spencer gets pwned - bring popcorn!

Robert Spencer, loathsome Muslim-hater and prime instigator of the manufactured "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy, gets handed his ass in a bag in this article by Adam Barnett. Mr Barnett had co-authored a report on far-right hate groups such as Spencer's SIOA (Stop Islamization Of America). Spencer's response, as always when criticised, was to attempt to deflect attention from the substance of the criticism with personal smears about "racist anti-Semites" and "supporters of Jihad".

In this article Adam Barnett exposes Spencer's support for European neo-Nazi groups. And about time too.

And another

From thinkprogress.org

Our guest blogger, Daniel Tutt, is the Outreach Director of Unity Productions Foundation and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Follow “My Fellow American” on Twitter.

One of the more unfortunate repercussions of the Islamophobia echo chamber is their ability to mainstream bigoted discourse towards American Muslims. As the Center for America Progress’ “Fear, Inc.” report documents, “some well-established conservative media outlets are a key part of this echo chamber, mixing coverage of alarmist threats posed by the mere existence of Muslims in America.”

This mainstreaming of hateful rhetoric gives fodder to respected community, political, and civic leaders; radio talk show hosts; and Christian right preachers. Talking points that Obama is a Muslim, or that American mosques are places of stealth jihad, and other routine demonizing statements towards American Muslims have become the norm in our post 9/11 discourse on Islam in America.

But this relationship between mainstream media and the Islamophobia network is not surprising. What is more alarming is that voices of civility and sanity have not taken action to counter this reality. In an effort to push against the mainstreaming of hateful speech towards Muslims, Unity Productions Foundation has launched a new online project called “My Fellow American.” Centered on a short emotional video that juxtaposes voices of anti-Muslim hate with everyday American Muslims, it serves as a call to conscience to everyday Americans:

Watch the video:

With an echo chamber of Islamophobia pseudo experts driving our conversation on Islam more and more into dark tunnels of absurdity, we need the light of a citizen’s movement to counter this trend of hatred and bigotry.

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to say, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only the light can do that.” Americans of all religious, ethnic, political and ideological stripes are needed to shed some light on this growing problem that is impacting our democracy and distracting our political leaders during a time of more pressing and real problems. American Muslims are indeed a part of the national fabric that makes our country great, and they don’t deserve the treatment they receive in the media. Take a stand with them and share your story today.

A worthy cause

An online petition to stop the closure of Remploy's factories.

Petition to Stop the closure of Remploy Factories and the privatisation of Remploy Employment Services.

We, the undersigned, petition The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister to stop the closure of Remploy Factories and the privatisation of Remploy Employment Services.

Remploy being the largest and the oldest employer of disabled people in Britain is not only a workplace but a way of life for thousands of disabled people who want sustainable employment of their choice.

Remploy was established after the Second World War to provide employment for those brave men and women in the armed forces injured in the pursuit of freedom. Remploy quickly developed into the biggest and most important employer of disabled people in Britain, and still continues today to provide sustainable employment for those men and women returning from active service.

Employees now face the threat of closure after the Government accepted the recommendations of the Report prepared by Liz Sayce and opened a three month consultation period finishing in October 2011.

The Sayce Report aims its javelin against the employment of disabled people, Remploy, residential training colleges and other organisations supporting the disabled and other vulnerable members of our society.

We therefore urge The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister to stop the closure of the Remploy Factory sites and instruct the DWP to enter into meaningful discussion on the structure and future of Remploy and the whole of supported employment programme in Britain with a view to introducing a new vision based on public procurement work.

We also petition The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister to stop the privatisation of Remploy Employment Services which will lead to the deterioration of the provision of employment opportunities for disabled people now and in the future.

On behalf of GMB, Unite and Community we ask you to sign the above petition and help us to save Remploy Factories.

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary
Len McCluskey Unite General Secretary

More Good Sense from Noam Chomsky

A good article by Noam Chomsky on 9/11 ten years on. (Adapted from his new book 9-11: Was There An Alternative?) Worth reposting here, I think.

After 9/11, Was War the Only Option?

Noam Chomsky

In These Times, September 5, 2011

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world.

The impact of the attacks is not in doubt. Just keeping to western and central Asia: Afghanistan is barely surviving, Iraq has been devastated and Pakistan is edging closer to a disaster that could be catastrophic.

On May 1, 2011, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan. The most immediate significant consequences have also occurred in Pakistan. There has been much discussion of Washington's anger that Pakistan didn't turn over bin Laden. Less has been said about the fury among Pakistanis that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor had already intensified in Pakistan, and these events have stoked it further.

One of the leading specialists on Pakistan, British military historian Anatol Lieven, wrote in The National Interest in February that the war in Afghanistan is "destabilizing and radicalizing Pakistan, risking a geopolitical catastrophe for the United States -- and the world -- which would dwarf anything that could possibly occur in Afghanistan."

At every level of society, Lieven writes, Pakistanis overwhelmingly sympathize with the Afghan Taliban, not because they like them but because "the Taliban are seen as a legitimate force of resistance against an alien occupation of the country," much as the Afghan mujahedeen were perceived when they resisted the Russian occupation in the 1980s.

These feelings are shared by Pakistan's military leaders, who bitterly resent U.S. pressures to sacrifice themselves in Washington's war against the Taliban. Further bitterness comes from the terror attacks (drone warfare) by the U.S. within Pakistan, the frequency of which was sharply accelerated by President Obama; and from U.S. demands that the Pakistani army carry Washington's war into tribal areas of Pakistan that had been pretty much left on their own, even under British rule.

The military is the stable institution in Pakistan, holding the country together. U.S. actions might "provoke a mutiny of parts of the military," Lieven writes, in which case "the Pakistani state would collapse very quickly indeed, with all the disasters that this would entail."

The potential disasters are drastically heightened by Pakistan's huge, rapidly growing nuclear weapons arsenal, and by the country's substantial jihadi movement.

Both of these are legacies of the Reagan administration. Reagan officials pretended they did not know that Zia ul-Haq, the most vicious of Pakistan's military dictators and a Washington favorite, was developing nuclear weapons and carrying out a program of radical Islamization of Pakistan with Saudi funding.

The catastrophe lurking in the background is that these two legacies might combine, with fissile materials leaking into the hands of jihadis. Thus we might see nuclear weapons, most likely "dirty bombs," exploding in London and New York.

Lieven summarizes: "U.S. and British soldiers are in effect dying in Afghanistan in order to make the world more dangerous for American and British peoples."

Surely Washington understands that U.S. operations in what has been christened "Afpak" -- Afghanistan-Pakistan -- might destabilize and radicalize Pakistan.

The most significant WikiLeaks documents to have been released so far are the cables from U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson in Islamabad, who supports U.S. actions in Afpak but warns that they "risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan"

Patterson writes of the possibility that "someone working in (Pakistani government) facilities could gradually smuggle enough fissile material out to eventually make a weapon," a danger enhanced by "the vulnerability of weapons in transit."

A number of analysts have observed that bin Laden won some major successes in his war against the United States.

As Eric S. Margolis writes in The American Conservative in May, "(bin Laden) repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them."

That Washington seemed bent on fulfilling bin Laden's wishes was evident immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

In his 2004 book "Imperial Hubris," Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA analyst who had tracked Osama bin Laden since 1996, explains: "Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. (He) is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world," and largely achieved his goal.

He continues: "U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally." And arguably remains so, even after his death.

The succession of horrors across the past decade leads to the question: Was there an alternative to the West's response to the 9/11 attacks?

The jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11, if the "crime against humanity," as the attacks were rightly called, had been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered in the rush to war. It is worth adding that bin Laden was condemned in much of the Arab world for his part in the attacks.

By the time of his death, bin Laden had long been a fading presence, and in the previous months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring. His significance in the Arab world is captured by the headline in a New York Times article by Middle East specialist Gilles Kepel: "Bin Laden Was Dead Already."

That headline might have been dated far earlier, had the U.S. not mobilized the jihadi movement with retaliatory attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Within the jihadi movement, bin Laden was doubtless a venerated symbol but apparently didn't play much more of a role for al-Qaida, this "network of networks," as analysts call it, which undertake mostly independent operations.

Even the most obvious and elementary facts about the decade lead to bleak reflections when we consider 9/11 and its consequences, and what they portend for the future.

This article is adapted from 9-11: Was There an Alternative?, the 10th-anniversary edition of 9-11, by Noam Chomsky, just published by Seven Stories Press.

A Christian "honour killing"

Consider this.

I'm sure there is some way that Christian fundamentalists will attempt to retain the moral high ground vis-a-vis Muslims who murder their children for supposed acts of immorality. I look forward to seeing it.

Another terrorist attack by Israeli "settlers"

Why not just call them terrorists and be done with it?

The aftermath of 9/11

The sad legacy of 9/11.

More of the same.

And more, from the other side, so to speak.

At least some people in positions of influence get it.

Note in particular:

Similarly, a 2009 Gallup report found that 70% of Muslim Americans have a job compared with 64% of the US population. Muslim men have one of the highest employment rates of religious groups. After Jews, Muslims are the most educated religious community in the US. Muslim women are as likely as their male counterparts to have a college degree or higher. 40% of women have a college degree as compared to 29% of Americans overall.

So much for the stereotype of the uneducated misogynistic welfare scrounging Muslim.

Marx: wrong about Communism, right about Capitalism. There's irony for you.

Despair of me if you will as a leftist intellectual (or "libturd" as the American right like to call us), but I thought this was a really interesting article.

Friday, September 02, 2011

End Times Cultist Nonsense

....from our old friends at Uncle Jimmy's favourite white supremacist site BareNakedIslam. Apparently the National Cathedral in Washington suffered earthquake damage because it recently hosted a reading from the Q'uran. Forget all that lefty-liberal stuff about plate tectonics: "Maybe God was trying to send a message?"

And these are the people who accuse Muslims of superstition, and of living in the seventh century.

Musical Elephants

A selection of music for Ganesh Chaturthi:

And for those of a less religious bent, or who find it hard going listening to lyrics they can't understand, here a few Western pieces with an elephant theme:

Henry Mancini:

Disney giving his animators free rein to go totally surreal:

And this classic from my childhood. Ganesha clearly removed the obstacles to Nellie's success!

The Elephant In The Room

...in my case on the living-room mantelpiece.

Yesterday marked the start of the Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of Ganesha. Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu deity, son of Shiva and Parvati, who is worshipped as the deva of intellect and wisdom, patron of arts and sciences, and the god of new beginnings: also the Remover of Obstacles. A pretty cool deity really.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, everyone.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The BBC sides with Islamophobic demagogues

I've just been looking at the coming week's edition of Radio Times. Now for non-UK readers, RT is a BBC publication. In my youth it carried programme details for the various BBC TV and radio channels: for the rest you had to buy other publications. Nowadays it carries full programme information, including most of the satellite and cable channels, and its features and articles cover all the main channels as well. I buy it mainly because its radio listings are more comprehensive and informative than those of its rivals.

Now then. Channel 4 (not a BBC channel) is running a programming strand for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Fair enough: I watched one a few days ago debunking the various 9/11 conspiracy theories fairly thoroughly. But next Monday there is a programme entitled Ground Zero Mosque. Now as soon as I read the title I could tell this was likely to be an Islamophobic rant, or at least sympathetic to the protestors, as the Park 51 development is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero. See here. More to the point, using the name attached to the project by its opponents rather than its real name is as good an indicator of the programme's editorial approach as would be a programme on Israel which referred to it as "The Zionist Entity", or one on President Obama entitled "The Muslim In The White House".

Now Channel Four is perfectly entitled to run a programme siding with the protestors if it wishes, and the rest of us can watch it or not, and complain or not to Channel Four and their advertisers. What I found interesting, revealing as it is of the extent to which Islamophobic ideas are entering the mainstream via mass media such as the BBC, was the little description of the program in Radio Times, which picked it as one of Monday's programmes to be given a few paragraphs at the head of the listings. I quote the entry below in full: it was written by Alison Graham, one of Radio Times's regular writers.

Ground Zero Mosque


Sharif El-Gamal, the New York property developer who wants to build an Islamic cultural centre two blocks from Ground Zero, can't believe all the fuss. The project has almost been derailed, notably by the very vocal anger of the 9/11 bereaved, who believe the plan is grotesquely insensitive.

But, say El-Gamal, all wide-eyed: "it never once crossed my mind about hurting anyone". I will leave it to you to decide whether he is staggeringly naive or just a chancer.

Protestors may get their wish. Angry American Muslims have distanced themselves from El-Gamal and his centre. And, crucially, the money is running out.

Alison Graham

Well, at least she admits that it's not a mosque and isn't even close to Ground Zero. But "very vocal anger of the 9/11 bereaved"? Please. The "very vocal anger" all comes from professional Islamophobes such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and if either of those publicity whores (far more deserving of the description "chancer" than El-Gamal) had lost family members in the Twin Towers you may be sure they would have mentioned it somwhere in among the rants about global caliphates and stealth jihad. The actual families of 9/11 victims are divided between supporters and opponents of the centre, but that doesn't suit Graham's and the BBC's agenda.

"I will leave it to you to decide whether he is staggeringly naive or just a chancer." Oh really. Do we have no other choices, Ms Graham? Can't we decide that he's a property developer wishing to build on a site already in use for Muslim worship, not even in sight of the WTC site (and the WTC itself contained facilities for Muslim worship)? Can't we decide that he's a Muslim wishing to honour the 31 Muslim victims of 9/11 and their families? Why must we take only your sarcastic and hate-laden dichotomy?

"Protestors may get their wish." The wish of the most vocal of the protestors is for all orthodox Muslims to be expelled from the USA and Europe. What Pamela Geller, whose hatred of Muslims causes her to defend Slobodan Milosevic and the violent extremists of the EDL, wishes for, one can only guess, though conversion of all Muslims to some other religion seems likely given that she runs a website Leave Islam Safely. Graham seems content with the thought of these people getting what they wish for. She goes on to tell us that "angry American Muslims" oppose the centre. Well after some time hunting on the web I have found an angry American Muslim who is cool about the centre, though as in his case it's because he believes that park 51's Imam Rauf is a tool of American imperialism and that the whole controversy has been manufactured by the US government to promote the "official view" of how the WTC was brought down, and by whom. Uh-huh. I can't see any other signs of Muslims, angry or not, distancing themselves from the project. As for the money running out, the American media (and the internet) are full of folk complaining about how much funding it's getting, and from where, rather than complaining of (or gloating over) any shortfalls. Wishful thinking, Ms Graham?

The BBC is becoming well-known for its institutionalised Islamophobia (see here, here, here and here - and that's ignoring the BBC's woeful record on reporting from Israel and Palestine where Islamophobia can be seen as merely a byproduct of its consistently pro-Zionist bias). However, as a UK resident and license fee payer I don't have to pay for Channel 4 to produce biased rubbish (or anything else), but unfortunately I do have to fund the BBC's decision to add some lies and spin of its own. I shall be complaining: I hope other British RT readers will too.