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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Let their people go

The "only democracy in the Middle East" still has a long way to go to reach the civilised world's standards for elimination of human trafficking, according to a US State Department report. According to the report, "Israel is a destination country for men and womnen subject to forced labor and sex trafficking". In other words, if you want to sell your daughters into child prostitution and your sons into slavery, Israel's buying.

In fairness, the report says there are plenty of worse places, or more specifically places making fewer efforts to improve. It divides countries into four categories:

TIER 1 Countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.

TIER 2 Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

TIER 2 WATCH LIST Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND:

a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the 
next year.

TIER 3 Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Israel is in Tier 2, along with Kosovo, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Pakistan, Jordan and several others. This is the eighth consecutive year that Israel has been in Tier 2 (in 2006 it dipped onto the Tier 2 Watch List) . The country report on Israel is on page 200 and makes interesting reading.

At least Israel is trying to improve. Still, it's worth remembering that Israel is down there with Pakistan and Egypt next time a right-wing nutjob tries to kid on that slavery and sex trafficking exist today purely a result of Islamic wickedness. Yes, Joseph's brothers could still arrange to sell him into slavery in Egypt, but the Egyptians could sell him right back if the price was right.

Though if they had done that, we would have been deprived of this:



(And until I read the comments on Youtube I'd never noticed that - in the film at least - the verse Pharaoh repeats isn't the one Joseph asks for!)

Ain't no homophobes in heaven

I'm sure in due course someone will explain to me in what way teaching toddlers to sing hate songs against gays is different from the stories we're always hearing about Muslim children being coached to hate Jews. It's child abuse either way. I don't approve of death threats, but I don't have a problem with lower level harassment of people who abuse children and encourage others to do so. It's that whole "millstone round the neck" thing: jesus didnlt make a death threat but said these people would wish they had drowned themselves if divine justice caught up with them.

Vaginas are like buses: you wait for ages then....

This story was referred to me by a Facebook friend because of its profusion of intrusive apostrophes (the referral was via a group called "Apostrophe Man is my hero"). OK, "two vagina's, as well as two uterus's and two cervix's" does cause me to gnash my tooth's, but my mind was a little busy boggling.

I had two thoughts. The first was inspired by the final line of the article "she will gladly show off her condition to curious people". Hell, I'm curious, and mainly not in a nudge-nudge way (I have no clue as to whether I'd find the sight erotic or just too weird) but genuinely interested. A little Googling of the condition seems to suggest side-by-side rather than one-above-the-other, but my curiosity is definitely engaged.

And the other thought was that when Ms Jones mentioned losing her virginity twice, without really thinking I began to hum Pulp's This Is Hardcore ("Oh that goes in there. Then that goes in there. Then that goes in there. Then that goes in there. And then it's over.") Could have been worse I suppose: could have been Abba....

Cart Wars

An update on the "food cart wars" in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge on which I blogged here



I know I jokingly referred to Tony Gentile and his bully-boy chums as the local mafiosi, but when you hear them in this video saying that maybe they'd stop hassling Sammy Kassen if he paid money to the "Business Improvement District" it sounds awfully like protection money.....

Anyway, good to see video footage: the cart looks clean and tidy, and its food appetising. No way to tell what the dark Lone Star Bar & Grill is like inside.

Another day down at the old Bully and Bush

As regular readers will be aware, in general I find BlairSupporter (usually referred to here as Uncle Jimmy after Reggie Perrin's uncle, on account of his expressed wish to see our elected government and free press thrown out and replaced with a band of right-thinking paramilitary loonies) to be a figure of fun. Sometimes, though, he goes beyond fun and acts as a conduit for something altogether nastier. Usually it's either Islamophobia or plain old-fashioned racism, though sometimes it's homophobia. Every now and then, though, a different kind of nastiness erupts, which is why I have returned to Jimmy's site today like a dog to its vomit.

Consider: in this post, Jimmy covers the interruption of Tony Blair's testimony to the Levenson Enquiry by a nutter who sneaked in via the judges' entrance and proceeded to shout accusations about the Iraq War at Blair, accusing him of being a war criminal. I should say right at the outset that my opinion of the nutter does not differ greatly from Jimmy's, though our reasons diverge more than a little. Blair isn't a war criminal: he is a suspected war criminal who should be brought to trial as soon as possible. if (as BS keeps telling us) the Sainted One is totally blameless, then he has nothing to fear and everything to gain by presenting himself voluntarily for trial. However, interrupting a hearing on a totally separate matter and yelling slogans doesn't do much to advance the cause of bringing Blair to justice. A more productive strategy might be to get individual countries to hold their own trials (in absentia if necessary) as happened recently with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others. Now as they travel around the world they will be forever looking over their shoulder, Secret Service or no Secret Service: and that would be an excellent start with Blair.

I was quite surprised by how little time BlairSupporter spends on the nutter himself: he puts far more effort into castigating his supporters in the blogosphere and on Twitter (and one other person, but we'll come back to that). Jimmy just can't get his head round the fact that Blair is one of the least popular British political figures of my lifetime (especially in the Scotland from which Jimmy pretends to hail). Nor can he accept that, except for American neocons and their few British fans, nobody on the planet believes that the Iraq war was either lawfully entered into or lawfully carried out. That war crimes were committed is denied only by those to whom the lives of poor brown people are unimportant (like BlairSupporter, and of course Blair). That Toe-Nibbler shares responsibility for those crimes is likely enough to be worth testing in a court. Of course the online chatter is full of it when someone starts shouting on TV about the Iraq war. For BlairSupporter to infer(*) that all those who oppose the Iraq war would have cheered if Lord Leveson had been murdered is simply barking. And I can't speak for the others, but I'd be furious if someone assassinated Blair. I'd be sad because I don't like murder, but furious because it would mean the bastard would have escaped justice.

Funny though that the only person I've seen fantasizing about Blair's being shot is....Uncle Jimmy himself. Funny that he imagines that Lawley-Wakelin had some kind of magic gun which had escaped detection when he passed through the metal detectors and security screening before getting access to the corridor he used. (No, wait, it's coming to me now....the security guards are all wicked leftist trade unionists who would collude in any plot to assassinate Blair. Is that it, Jimmy?) Funniest of all to think that this racist mouthpiece, who glibly calls for non-violent (and more importantly non-white) protestors to be stripped of their citizenship and locked up, has never uttered a single word on his blog to condemn the worst act of terrorist murder Europe has seen this century.

I wasn't at all surprised, though, to note that in his zeal to paint everyone except Tony Blair and himself as part of some massive anti-Blair conspiracy BlairSupporter takes a sly and thoroughly unpleasant shot (metaphorically, I should say, before Jimmy turns up here saying I accused him of running into the courtroom with a magic gun) at a member of the enquiry's legal team, who can be seen in the video Jimmy posts sitting behind Robert Jay QC, counsel to the enquiry. Here is the video:



Let's take a look at Jimmy's comments. We begin with his crazed gunman fantasy, and go on from there:

Then he pulled out a gun and shot dead The Judge, the Prize Witness and the Leading Barrister. Oh and the young legal beaver woman behind the barrister, even though she had clearly been enthralled by the enticing merry dance. [Would someone advise this young "legal person" one doesn't smirk tellingly when one's judicial hearing is interrupted, especially when it is being shown live to the world? (See first few seconds into video.)]

I've watched the start of that clip several times, and I see a young woman (1) nearly jump out of her skin when the nutter appears (2) look very worried (3) turn to say something to a colleague (we can't tell what, but probably "How the hell did he get up there?") to which the colleague makes no response. Does anyone except Jimmy see a "telling smirk"? But hey, here's a young, vulnerable girl, a ripe-for-cyber-bullying member of the legal team which was asking The Sainted One questions (and thus completely misunderstanding the correct relationship between the law of the land and Tony Blair). How utterly like Jimmy to fling out a drive-by smear against someone who is unable to defend herself. But then that's bullies for you.

Just one more thing (imagine I said that in my best Peter Falk Colombo voice). Jimmy: what exactly is a "legal beaver"? I went through my Shorter Oxford Dictionary, my Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and extensive online searching. The only usages of "legal beaver" I found were as the title of a short story by Dolores Labouchere (set in the USA) and as part of the title of a book for new law graduates by an American attorney in Louisiana. (Oh, and as the alias of a 68-year-old Lancashire woman on an online dating site.) So: did Jimmy just get confused? Did "eager beaver" and "legal eagle" collide in the menagerie inside his head? Is this some Louisiana usage known only to Americans like Jimmy? While I always enjoy racking up evidence for Jimmy's real origins - let's see that birth certificate! (:-)) - I suspect the truth is less fun, if much more typical of his general nastiness. You see, so far I've been treating "legal beaver" as a two-word phrase. But what if Jimmy simply used the two words separately? The meaning of "legal beaver" might be unclear, but that of "beaver" is perfectly clear, thank you very much. And he does emphasize in the very next word that he is talking about a woman. (I only just noticed that in many of the definitions of "beaver" as a slang word for female genitals the usage is described as "originally U.S." So no escape even here for Yankee Doodle Jimmy!)

So in just a few lying words about a video clip he hopes we won't actually bother to watch, BlairSupporter not only defames a defenceless legal assistant by suggesting that she was looking forward to seeing Tony Blair assassinated, but he deploys his very best American periphrasis to label her a legal cunt. To quote from Mark Twain's The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, "That's got the hall-mark on it!"

==================

Funnily enough, if Jimmy had actually come right out and called the woman a cunt he might have had a better chance of convincing people of his Glaswegian antecedents.

* And yes, I do mean infer. Though if I had written "imply" that would also have been true. One of the few instances when either word will do, though they would of course emphasize different aspects of Jimmy's barkingness.

See those young aspiring bishops, quite forgotten actresses

Back in the days when the internet was only for US Department of Defense researchers, I was a student. Like most students, my friends and I asked a lot of questions about the important things in life: politics, religion, science, where to score the best cannabis, which Kevin Ayers album was the greatest - that sort of thing. One to which we never found a satisfactory answer was "Who were the original actress and bishop", as in the expression "As the actress said to the bishop"?

Well, in the twenty-first century, when the world-wide web provides us with the functional equivalent of that staple of 1960s futurists, the "computer holding the whole of human knowledge", it occurred to me that this was a question that maybe I could now answer. And it was. I found the answer quite surprising, first of all because in its original form the question has no answer: there are no real-life templates for the bishop and the actress. However, in best Oxford English Dictionary manner, we do know the first occurrence of the phrase, which is much younger than I had imagined.




Nor had I previously known that Americans and Canadians don't use the phrase (not much of a surprise) or that they use "That's what she said" in the same sense.

While that isn't the sense in which the Saw Doctors are using it here, this is a good song. Enjoy.



============================

A word of explanation of the title of this post, which sprang unbidden from my subconscious as I began to write on this topic. In the mid-1970s I was an undergraduate at University College, Durham. As you might expect from a collegiate university, many years of undergraduates (and of undergraduate humour) had led to the composition of various college songs, at least in my college (which was the oldest). I imagine other colleges - or the men's colleges at least - had similar dubious lyrics either extolling the glories of one's own establishment or scurrilously slandering the others. So: approximately eighty yards from my room was another college, St Chad's. Some of its buildings were 18th century, some more recent. (My own college was mainly housed in a Norman castle.) Chad's was originally founded as a seminary for those intending to become clergymen: as a result it retained an aura of High Church Anglicanism. There was also a kind of running gag that it was a hotbed of homosexuality, though I don't think anyone took that too seriously: it was an all male college (of which at the time there were five - now all the colleges are mixed), and its Anglo-Catholic associations joined up the dots, so to speak. (In fairness I should also point out that Chad's was renowned for two other things: the quality of its kitchen (invitations to dine there were highly-prized) and the coolest college ball in the calendar (the Chad's Candlemas Ball, which eclipsed even my own college's Castle June Ball - just).

Anyway, we Castlemen used to sing (on various occasions, especially when rather drunk and passing under the windows of St Chad's) the following lyrics to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy:

St Chad's College architecture may not be fantastical,
But it has a strong tradition that's ecclesiastical.
See those young aspiring bishops, quite forgotten actresses,
Sanctimoniously performing homosexual practices.

(alternatively ".......Anglo-Catholic practices")

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Call it freedom...

BFP ("British Freedom Party") call for execution of elected MP. Further down the report, founder member Michael Wood applauds Anders Breivik's terrorist murders.

One almost has to admire the sheer effrontery of a party claiming to have something to do with "freedom" (and indeed with "Britishness") openly espousing the murder of political opponents. I suppose one should also admire their commitment to equal opportunities: it doesn't matter whether you've been elected or not, nor whether you're an adult or just a kid at school, if you don't support the BFP's policies, they want you dead.

Let's get quizzical

I feel another music-based quiz coming on, but perhaps not first lines this time. I thought perhaps I'd do an Only Connect sort of thing: four cryptic clues pointing to song titles, and you have to find the link (and ideally the song titles themselves too). Starting with what I consider the most difficult:

1) Salicional, Vox Humana, Diapason
2) Which half of this bikini is which?
3) Schoolgirl could be famous conductor, we hear
4) 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other gases

Good luck. I like to think you'll enjoy it, and kick yourselves (being unable to reach me) when the answer is revealed. Unless you guessed it, of course.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Puny god.....

Daughter and I just back from seeing Avengers Assemble (aka Marvel's Avengers or probably half a dozen other titles: hell, it's the one with Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, old Uncle Sam Jackson and all, directed and scripted by Joss Whedon, OK?)

What can I say? I'm not normally big on superhero films, but this is no normal superhero film, and courtesy Mr Whedon it has a phenomenally witty script. Also great performances: the review here reckons Loki steals the show, but I always have a soft spot for Robert Downey Jr. As the review says, he's like an Aaron Sorkin character, than which there can be no higher praise.

Go see it.

Guns and butter

Following on from my recent post about terrorism in the Israeli Occupied Territories, here are reports of a couple more attacks.

And I thought these statistics made interesting reading. A country - "the only democracy in the Middle East", forsooth - which receives billions of dollars every year in aid from the USA, has 10% of its people suffering from hunger and 2% from severe hunger, not to mention the 19% suffering from food insecurity (below the poverty line but not yet actually malnourished). So what is this democracy doing with all that money which is more important to its leaders than feeding their own people?



The Israeli government from time to time puts out propaganda purporting to show how prosperous and well-fed the people in Gaza are (though this article from the right-wing and generally pro-Israeli British Daily Telegraph puts those claims in some perspective). Perhaps the Netanyahu regime believes its own hasbara, which would explain why it denies its own citizens the freedom to visit Gaza: they might not want to come back to starve in Israel.

Watching the loons

I was reading a post on Loonwatch about some ridiculous Teapublican congressional wannabe who was trotting out the usual lie about President Obama being a Muslim. Same old same old, and not interesting: but the post has a good comment by Zakariya Ali Sher, part of which I reproduce here because I like it so much:

But then that’s what it really is about. Identity politics. Obama NEEDS to be identified as a ‘Muslim’ because these people cannot believe he is a Christian. To their minds, Obama represents the opposite of everything they believe in. He is the Antichrist, both figuratively and literally. They cannot believe that a ‘red blooded Christian American’ would be so liberal. Therefore, they play up the idea that Obama is somehow foreign, alien. He is black, he is an African, he is a Muslim. He is anything that they view as different from them, and in their bizarre world, Islam becomes some sort of bizarre ideology melding fundamentalism with Communism and liberalism. How atheism melds with one of the most vehemently monotheistic faiths on earth I don’t know, but that seems to be the case in their mind.

The idea that one is ‘born Muslim’ and cannot change is extremely interesting to me because many of these same people also believe the miraculous conversion stories of hucksters like Kamal Saleem, Ali Sina, Nonie Darwish, Bridgette Gabriel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ergun Caner. Of course, unlike those individuals, Obama is a Liberal and thus the enemy. While he goes to a church, he goes to a black church with a history political activism. Those individuals are affiliated with charismatic/Evangelical churches, ones which are largely identified with white middle class Americans. And they tell their audiences exactly what they want to hear about a shadowy Muslim threat. But they cannot escape the fact that these individuals were (or claim to have been) Muslims. I wonder what fate genocide advocates envision for them? Would they be the first to be executed in Breivik and Spencer’s world, or the last? After all, we can never be trusted.

Some people vanish with a trace

I read the lyrics of this song (by Clive James) something like 30 years ago, but never heard the recording so had to imagine my own tune to fit them. Today I finally got round to listening to the original Julie Covington recording. While in a lot of ways I like my tune better, this one gets the job done: and the lyrics remain terrific.

Listen my friends...

I found myself, for no very good reason, humming this today as I walked along. A 1960s flashback shared is a 1960s flashback halved:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Top this

Just one more and then I'll leave the disgusting Bonni for tonight. In this post she indulges yet another of her obsessions, with women wearing the hijab. or as she prefers to call it, the headbag. Leaving aside the badly photoshopped first picture, the others are of senior U.S. officials and their families wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Now I could understand her attitude if Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton etc had been wearing full veils (niqab). But why complain about headscarves FGS? Is there some magic about being in an Islamic country, or in a mosque, which renders the humble headscarf suddenly satanic? When I was small, back in the 1950s, my mother wouldn't have dreamed of going shopping in town without putting on a headscarf, and neither would any of our neighbours. And we're not talking about Muslims here, we're talking about no-nonsense white working-class Northerners, in a district where most of the immigrants were Ukrainians or Poles. Does Bonni imagine that dress codes came in with Muslim immigrants? (For that matter, I wonder how she feels about Orthodox Jewish women who have to wear wigs rather than headscarves to protect their hair from the vulgar gaze of men?)

Enjoy the comments under that post: they are more than usually cretinous.

Still, at least now I understand why Bonni hates the British so much. It's because we have a Queen who wears headscarves.

Heads you lose

As well as being obsessed by halal food, Bonni has a thing about beheadings. Not that she thinks they're barbaric, or anything like that. No, she thinks they're wonderful, as we saw in this post where I listed some of her especially delightful calls for those who disagree with her to be tortured, beheaded and/or genitally mutilated, all on television of course so she can watch.

She's still at it. Recently we've had her gloating over the beheading of a Muslim by Russian neo-Nazi barbarians: she likes it so much she posts a video of the guy having his head hacked off. (Funnily enough, she doesn't seem troubled by his being conscious rather than stunned.) We've also had her expression of regret that some American I'd never heard of called Omar Hammadi had NOT in fact been beheaded. Because nothing displays one's love of America, American values and the United States Constitution like sitting on one's ignorant butt watching Americans being beheaded on TV. I'm sure Bonni likes to imagine she is in some weird way morally superior to the Taleban or al-Qaeda.

She isn't.

Hypocrisy, thuggery and corruption in the service of being able to eat shit on your chicken.

For some folk, the only good Muslim-owned restaurant is a closed one. Only a fool would be surprised at Bonni's vehemence: after all, she makes no secret of hating Muslims (even when, like President Obama, they're actually Christian but have black skin). But the campaign of hatred being waged against Sammy Kassen by the local (Brooklyn) mafiosi has all kinds of ironies about it. I mean, America is supposed to be the land of free enterprise and consumer choice, right? So if Tony Gentile is losing business to a Halal food cart, that must mean that the customers prefer Sammy's offering to whatever slop Gentile serves up in his bar. The proper American way to win back business is to start serving food customers wish to buy, not whining to your relatives on the City Council, or littering the sidewalk by illegally chaining benches over the food cart's pitch.

Middle Eastern Halal Food has a Facebook page here, and liking it is pretty much all I can to to help as a resident of Edinburgh. If I were a New Yorker I'd be worried by the stench of strong-arm tactics and council corruption, not the smell from the cart. (Incidentally, I think the picture of "halal slop" which Bonni posts looks more appetising than anything I've ever seen in a Burger King.)

Bonni and her fellow white supremacists lose no opportunity to bang on about how cruel and unhealthy halal slaughter is compared with Kosher slaughter. Well, two can play at that game. Notice how Bonni says that Halal slaughtered animals are "bled out" while only mentioning that Kosher slaughter bans strangulation? The rules are IDENTICAL in this regard: a single stroke of a knife to the throat, followed by the animal's bleeding to death. The Muslims say a prayer over the animal: the Jewish butcher just has to have training from a Rabbi. According to Bonni et al in the comments (though unmentioned in her list) Halal slaughterhouses do not stun theanimals before killing,whereas Kosher ones do. Which I suppose might be the case in the USA, but in the UK the opposite is true. I suspect it may not only be the UK, though: see this quote from the relevant wikipedia entry:

"Shechita is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds according to Jewish law. Dhabiha is the method used to slaughter an animal as per Islamic tradition. Shechita requires that an animal be conscious and this is taken to mean the modern practice of electrical, gas, percussive stunning before slaughter is forbidden. Most Muslim authorities also forbid the use of electrical, gas, percussive stunning. However, other authorities state that stunning is permissible so long as it is not the direct cause of the animal's death."

Authorities such as this one.

Here is Temple Grandin, one of the world's foremost authorities on humane and inhumane slaughter. She has pretty firm opinions on ritual slaughter methods whatever the religion involved, and explains how both halal and kosher butchers can (and should) minimise suffering. now clearly when an animal is being slaughtered in somebody's back yard rather than an industrial slaughterhouse, her stipulations are unlikely to be followed. However, in those cases it's more likely to be a sheep or goat having its throat cut rather than a cow (sheep and goats are cheaper and much easier to handle). In which case Temple Grandin reckons there is less of a problem (rather surprisingly, but demonstrating her characteristic thoroughness).

Personally, I feel that anyone really concerned about the welfare of the animals they eat would simply stop eating them. After all, my wife and I had lunch on Saturday in a Halal restaurant and as it happens neither of us ate any meat: it isn't difficult. We do often eat meat, though, and I am far less worried by halal or kosher slaughter than by some of the appalling practices in industrial slaughterhouses. Personally I'd rather eat food that's been prayed over (could be by Satanists for all I care) than food that is covered in shit and has been the cause of injuries to workers.

Which is another reason to prefer Sammy Kassen's Halal food cart to the likes of Burger King: or Tony Gentile's dodgy eatery.

Spice Route

On Saturday night Hilary and I were playing in a concert given by Edinburgh Light Orchestra at the Queen's Hall. Usual light orchestral fare: selections from musicals, themes from TV programmes, and a suite this suite of music from The Sea Hawk, which took me back to my childhood. (Difficult stuff to play, though, being Korngold.) Some lovely singing from baritone Bruce Graham too.

Anyway, in the morning we had a rehearsal, and after that we needed to go into the centre of town to buy a new wi-fi router, our old one having retired itself on Friday evening. About an hour before our rehearsal ended, the Scottish Defence League were due to have a demonstration, which the police were keeping penned up out of decent folks' way in Regent Road.

We found an excellent way to combine grabbing something to eat and ensuring that none of the SDL fascists would bother us: we had lunch in the Edinburgh Mosque Kitchen. We hadn't eaten there before, but will certainly be back: excellent food and excellent value (I have falafel, vegetable curry and rice for £4.50). Very friendly folk too.

We didn't see any of the SDL hooligans in the end, though we saw a large number of police between us and where they might have been. And the new router works just fine.

Update: here's the BBC report on the protests, which passed off without incident, I'm happy to say. It appears the anti-SDL Unite Against Fascism demo had three times as many people as the SDL one. I liked this comment from one of the UAF marchers:

Kirsty Bell, 20, from Edinburgh, told the BBC Scotland news website: "I came here today to stand up against the SDL. It is disgusting that they don't want anyone in Scotland who is from another country. My granddad is from Poland so they are basically saying they don't want me here, so that is why I have come to the march."

Friday, May 25, 2012

State-sponsored terrorist attacks in the Middle East

Another terrorist attack in the Israeli Occupied Territories. But don't expect this one to be met with air strikes or dozens of reprisal murders: this time the IDF were there beforehand. Of course, they didn't simply stand by and watch: at least some of the weapons used were provided by the IDF.

No doubt the Israeli authorities will follow up this shooting incident with their normal vigour: the same they showed after this terrorist fire-bombing in the same area.

And here we have an exercise designed to raise morale in the Israeli Prison Service by dragging Palestinian prisoners from their beds at gunpoint (for no other reason than to make the guards feel good about themselves), beating them, abusing them and shooting a few. And hey, one died, but the important thing is that the guards felt really big and strong and important, just like the brave soldiers of the IDF who make sure they have children to hide behind when doing anything dangerous.

And this from the country which is always being held up as "the only democracy in the Middle East". Democracy my arse.

EDL: protesting about non-existent paedophile gangs while being led by a real paedophile

I posted recently about some folks' obsession with the supposed "grooming" of young girls for sexual abuse by "Muslim gangs". Well, the English Defence League, who really are as stupid as they appear, are still banging on about it, this time in rural Worcestershire, despite the total lack of evidence and clear statements by the police that they're talking rubbish. But what do the police know? I mean, people who spend their lives investigating crimes and suspicions of crimes in a community coudn't possibly know as much as a bunch of neo-Nazi thugs bussed in from hundreds of miles away (and who probably couldn't find Redditch on a map).

Though actually, the EDL's leader Stephen Lennon (who finds the name "Tommy Robinson" more appealing, or perhaps simply finds having several names aids his escape from tight corners) clearly knows plenty about sexually abusing underage girls.

When Will They Ever Learn, When Will They Ever Learn?



I just read a couple of terrific articles via the stopwar.org.uk site.

Here is the first.

And here is the second.

Both are worth reading in full. I mean, I knew that it was the USA which brought an end to the last democratic government in Iran in 1953 (installing a military dictator instead). I knew that Iran has no nuclear weapons programme, and I knew that Ahmadinejad's much-quoted "wipe Israel off the map" is a deliberate mistranslation bearing no relation to Iran's (or Ahmedinejad's) policies or desires whatsoever. I even knew that the CIA has been murdering Iranian scientists. I knew all that because I'm not stupid, can read, and take an interest in foreign affairs. I did not know, however, that Israel has been blowing up Iranian buildings, or that when Dick Cheney was VP he seriously discussed provoking a war with Iran by building fake Iranian vessels and filling them with US Navy SEALS who would be ordered to fire on US merchant ships in the Straits of Hormuz. Nor that the American Enterprise Institute considers that the worst case would not be for Iran to use a nuclear weapon, but for Iran to develop one and then responsibly to refrain from using it (like everyone else with nukes since 1945): because that would undermine the case for war against Iran. (Links to evidence provided in the articles.)

Read the articles and despair. Or better still, protest and campaign.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Un petit bijou pour vous plaire

OK, time for a little French grammar lesson. I'm sure we all remember from our schooldays what the words

chou (cabbage)
hibou (owl)
genou (knee)
caillou (pebble)

have in common? (*)




Well, even if not, Dorothée makes a fun song out of them.


(* They form their plurals in -oux instead of the more usual -ous)

Earth to Bonni - not every candidate for elected office appreciates having his name falsely linked with a supporter of violent neo-Nazis

Bonni, the Holocaust-denying Nazi over at BareNakedIslam, is usually good for a laugh, but today is quite special. It's not at all surprising to see her posting outright lies - indeed she posts little else - but today she is exposed as an unrepentant liar: a sort of BareFacedLiar, you might say.

In this post, Bonni claims that Rev Jesse Lee Peterson has been calling on voters to support odious neofascist "Rabbi" Nahum Shifrem in the impending California primary. As she puts it,

In the spirit of Allen West, Rev. Peterson stands for the same Judeo-Christian values and love of country that we do. Not surprisingly, he loathes Barack Obama.

No, no, it's not the "love of country" or the "Judeo-Christian values" that especially show up Bonni's mandacity, though she wouldn't recognise either if it were poured into her from an enema bag. No, it's that Jesse Lee Peterson is the founder of an organisation called BOND (Brotherhood Organisation for a New Destiny). (You can enjoy his views on the benefits of slavery, and why women should not be allowed to vote, here.) A representative of BOND posted the following comment on Bonni's post:

May 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm
Bare Naked Islam: For the record, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson has made no endorsement in the current Senate race that Rabbi Shifren is involved in. The video that you are showing is from a past race. We ask that you remove your current post and print a clarification. Thanks so much, Patrick Rooney Operations Manager, BOND


Here is Bonni's reply:

May 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm 
PR, if he endorsed him before, why wouldn’t he now? I’m not taking it down. And what proof do you have that this is from a past race?

Patrick Rooney, possibly gobsmacked that Bonni imagines that she knows the views of his boss (whom she has clearly never met) better than he does, patiently tries again:

May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2VBTWcdZkg 
Here’s the original post of You Tube video, note the date in 2010. This is not a current endorsement. Our request of you still stands. We appreciate your cooperation.

With the same result:

May 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm 
PR, do you have evidence that he no longer supports the Rabbi?

So there you are. The woman - well, lets say she initially makes a mistake as to when a video clip was shot. Then someone working for the organisation she is slandering by associating it with a vile Nazi writes to point out the error, very politely, and asks her to publish a correction. She blusters, and refuses to retract her statement or publish a correction. he asks nicely again: again she refuses. She publishes slanderous lies and refuses to retract them when the victim (or one of his employees) askes her to do so. You might expect that if it were some Muslim she was slandering: I would hardly expect her to respond if a CAIR representative asked her to stop describing CAIR as a terrorist front. But her victim here is an ultra-conservative Republican, presumably wanting this antisemitic nutter to take her craziness away from his campaign. Not that I mind: if it stops the odious Peterson from getting elected, it's a job well done. But it does show very nicely both her total disconnection from any matters of fact, and her utter stupidity.

Bonni is fond of blaming anything she views as imbecility on inbreeding resulting from first cousin marriages. Well, Bonni says she's a New Yorker, if you believe that, and as New York allows first cousins to marry,  maybe that's why Bonni displays such evident signs of low intellect.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gotta love those stereotypes....

Look at these poor oppressed Muslim women in Pakistan, where they can do nothing but stay home and be sexual playthings.



Or, you know, policewomen....

And here, at a school in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, dozens of hijab-wearing Muslim women demonstrate their utter intolerance of infidels by ..... sharing in the celebration of Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights).

A four-legged friend, a four-legged friend....

It's funny, the things you find. When I encountered this site in somebody's blogroll it struck me as a good rejoinder to the morons like Brett who believe you can tell everything about a person by what they're wearing: or conversely that if someone is, say, a Muslim then you can make assumptions about how they will dress.

So there I was, browsing through the site, when I encountered this picture. And I thought, I bet there's an interesting story behind that one (though with the slight sinking feeling that there was going to be one of those "Muslim cab drivers refuse to carry guide dogs" angle to it).

Anyway, here is the Mona Ramouni story, and very heartwarming it is too. Also this report, which follows up her story a little later, points out that Muslims can use dogs as assistance animals, and that one of the reasons Mona chose a horse was that it would cut down on the sad business of having to change guide dogs when they become too old to work.



Of course, the other approach is to get your local Muslim community to accept your guide dog, as with this guy in Leicester:



or these ladies in Australia.



I think Neslihan, Karina, and the Muslim community which supports them, are far better advertisements for Australia than the ignorant Nazi troll who originally inspired me to write this post. (But Brett played his part too, like Gollum in Lord Of The Rings.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Funny to see a failed politician who spent his career opposing unions suddenly finding one he's interested in

Uncle Jimmy has stopped posting lies and hypocrisy (oh, don't worry, I'm sure normal service will soon be resumed) in favour of dredging up interminable posts from his archive about how the "cash for peerages" enquiry into allegations of corrupotion under Blair meant that Britain was becoming a police state, or some such nonsense. Which is surprising in a week when there has actually been a story about Tony Blair's impending return to British politics. You would think as that is something Jimmy has been calling for ever since Blair cut and ran, and especially as he pretends to be a Glaswegian himself (incidentally, another reason I call him Jimmy) that Jimmy would be filling his blog with this wonderful news. Labour Party calls on Blair for help? Blair to the rescue?

*Crickets*

Of course, maybe he just had the sense to realise how Blair's involvement in a campaign to save the Union would play in Scotland. I'm sure the SNP are partying like it's 1314 right now at the thought of Blair campaigning against them. This is the man who while supposedly camapigning for devolution said that if the Scottish people voted for a parliament with tax-raising powers he would veto any attempt to use them. That is to say, he forgot that he was supposed to be in favour of such a parliament; he set himself up as being a better judge of such matters than a referendum of the Scottish people; and he fondly imagined that in the event of a parliament's being established he would have a veto to exercise. Tactical imbecility, an arrogant assumption that he knows better than "little people" who have to work for a living, and the even greater arrogance of imagining that anyone gave then, or gives now, a flying fuck for his opinion. Oh, I can't wait.

The comments under the Guardian article are all pretty funny, but I was especially taken by the one which read "You can mock, but intelligence sources conclude that Alex Salmond has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own English population."

Over my dead body (either that, or those of thousands of my countrymen)

I find this story deeply worrying for many reasons. A major increase in US government military spending, and a change in US foreign policy, slipped through Congress with hardly any discussion? Only two Congressmen voted against it? (Let's hear it for Ron Paul and John Dingell, two Congressmen who put America's interests before those of foreign countries.) It contravenes the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act by providing military assistance to a country with unregulated and uninspected nuclear weapons, and is thus arguably an act of treason.

Oh, and it calls for the United States to support the entry of Israel into NATO. Now THAT strikes close to home, as if Israel is allowed into NATO (which one can only hope is a Teapublican fantasy, but with Pres. Obama's spinelessness when it comes to Israel, who can tell?) my taxes will be paying for, and my countrymen potentially dying for, Netanyahu's attempts to spread his reign of theocratic terror from "all his immediate neighbours" to "anywhere else we like the look of and feel like settling our thugs in". One can only hope that however gutless President Obama and his minions are, the other NATO countries will take a more sensible view of a rogue state with uninspected nuclear weapons and a propensity for launching invasions and sneak attacks (not to say murdering other NATO countries' citizens).

Needle of Death

I posted recently about my opposition to the death penalty. I oppose it in principle, but can understand that there are folk who disagree with that stand. Nevertheless, there are sound practical reasons for opposing the DP, of which the most obvious is the risk of executing an innocent person.

I recently read John Grisham's The Confession, which is set in the run-up to execution of a man in Texas for a murder he didn't commit. he was bullied and tricked into confession got the crime he didn't do: meanwhile the real killer has a terminal illness and decides to come clean and stop the wrong man being killed.

It's a very good book, and I was aware that many innocent people have been executed in the USA (and indeed in Texas). But until reading this recent report I hadn't really appreciated the scale of the slaughter of innocents. Read it and weep. Or if you're a US citizen, complain to your Congressman or state Governor.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blair stamps little foot, walks out on Sedgefield constituents. BlairSupporter stamps little foot, walks out on Syrian pro-democracy protestors, Difference is, the Syrians will never notice.

As promised, I return to Uncle Jimmy's recent demonstrations of bewilderment and barefaced mandacity. In a post on the Responsibility to Protect he takes us through the United Nations' policy and procedures governing interventions of various kinds, including use of military force, to sort out the internal affairs of a country whose government is systematically and incorrigibly denying the human rights of its people. He lists (correctly as far as I can tell) the various ways in which these criteria might apply to President Assad's suppression of democracy in Syria.

He then tells us, astonishingly that he does not in fact support such intervention in Syria, not because he wishes to see both sides in the Syrian conflict wipe each other out, but because he's become fed up with having to justify the Bush/Blair "intervention" that was the Iraq War.

If he is serious about not simply wanting the two sides to kill each other (which is, after all, the stated position of his Nazi pal Bonni) then he is very bewildered indeed. After all, the United Nations had no involvement in the Iraq War. The Security Council was not asked to approve it, because Bush and Blair knew that they did not have the votes to get approval.

Of course, perhaps Jimmy is simply arrogant rather than befuddled. He will refuse to support the UN (which is never likely to ask for his opinion) on intervention in Syria because it refused to support Blair (who never asked for the UN's opinion) over Iraq. How sweet: he imagines he is relevant. Mind you, he imagines Blair is relevant, so why not?

As to Jimmy's outright blatant lying, he posted about a very silly "poll" conducted for some BBC programme or other. Most of what he has to say about it is fair enough, but when discussing the reasons given by those questioned about their reasons for their opinions he comes up with this beauty:

Next, a man said, “he ran away from the country, didn’t want to be an MP any more, did he?” [Factually incorrect. He was forced out by Gordon Brown, Tom Watson, Chris Bryant and the rest of the treacherous curry plotters.]

Now whatever one's opinion of the rights and wrongs of the "curry plot", all that it attempted (and achieved) was the ousting of Blair as leader of the Labour Party and thus as Prime Minister. As Jimmy would know if he were actually British (as he pretends to be), the only people who could have caused Blair to stop being an MP before the next election would be his constituency Labour party. They were unconnected with any Westminster plotting, and perfectly content (one assumes) with the MP they had returned to parliament six times (with more than 50% of the vote the last five times). If Tony Blair had cared as much for his constituents as they did for him, he could still be their Member of Parliament today. the fact is that the very same day that he was ousted as Prime Minister, this feckless and corrupt wate of space simply abandoned those constituents by resigning his parliamentary seat in a fit of pique. If he couldn't run the country any more he wasn't interested in the affairs of little people with no money. No, they could have a by-election to sort out their puny local concerns while he swept off to feel important and line his pockets.

So Blair precisely "ran away from the country" because he "didn't want to be an MP any more" (on the day he resigned he took up his new and lucrative role in Jerusalem as Middle East Envoy of the Quartet). And for Jimmy to suggest otherwise is simple, flagrant, lying.

Is telling Eine Kleine Nichtmusik from Intergalactic Source of Truth really that much harder than telling shit from Shinola?

I just checked my secondary email account (the one where comments to this blog get echoed) and found that I'd been spammed by this piece of Teapublican shit who had in some way attached my email address to the blog of "Col. Bunny". I suppose "Col. Bunny", perpetrator of this even greater heap of dung, may have found it funny to pretend to be me, but I doubt he has the gumption to try. I suspect it's simply some kind of screw-up by one or other of these antiscience jerks who are still waiting for the stars to align properly so that they can enter the fifteenth century.

Anyway, any further communication from either of these creeps other than via comments to the blog will be met with extreme prejudice via Google's Department of Vermin Extermination. Teapublicans are fine in their place, which is either in a comment box where everyone can giggle at their ignorance, or somewhere off-planet without a spacesuit. (I'm sorry June, I can't do that.)

Of course, in the unlikely even that June or Bunny shows up in a comment box with an apparent willingness to learn something, there may be no necessity to point and laugh. Until then, these buffoons are easily as hilarious as Bonni or Jimmy, and probably no danger to the public. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lock up: yes. Throw away key: why not? Kill: no way

I think it's heartening news that George Zimmerman, the vigilante who admitted killing Trayvon Martin, may be charged with a hate crime.

I think it's worrying that he could get the death penalty for it. I don't believe it's ever right for the state to put someone to death, whatever the legal processes involved and however vile the crime. Apart from any other considerations, it causes more suffering to the prisoner's family and arguably less to him or her. Anders Breivik, for example, wants to be executed rather than imprisoned for life, which seems an excellent reason to lock him up until he dies).

Every major's terrible

It's about time we had another xkcd cartoon. This one is especially fine.

You may think it's a long way to the chemist but that's just peanuts to Port Stanley

Just spotted this story on the BBC website. Funnily enough I've just finished reading Vulcan 607 by Rowland White, which is the story of the fist of the amazing Operation Black Buck air raids launched by the RAF on Port Stanley during the Falklands War.

Though the BBC didn't say, the Vulcan in the flypast was XH558, the only one still airworthy.

I grew up very familiar with Vulcans. My first RAF camp during my time in the Air Training Corps at school was at RAF Scampton, home to 617 Squadron (the Dambusters) and 27 Squadron, both flying nuclear-armed Vulcans (617 carried what we would now describe as air-launched cruise missiles, 27 just free-falling "buckets of sunshine"). Not only that, my family lived just a few miles from Woodford Aerodrome, where the Vulcans were built and refitted. Not many days went by without the thunder of Vulcan engines either under test or heaving a Vulcan aloft (in which case it often passed over our house). I can testify to the racket they make.

XM607 herself, incidentally, is now the gate guardian at RAF Waddington, the base from which she left for Ascension Island and then on to the Falklands. (And coincidentally, the scene of my second RAF camp with the ATC, though at that time Waddington operated Harrier jump-jets.)

Nazi: no. Hypocrite: you betcha!

I wouldn't describe BlairSupporter as a Nazi. For a start his politics are too incoherent, for another he doesn't have the requisite hatred of Jews. He hates leftists, and gays, and Muslims, and anyone who isn't white, and he would dearly love to throw out all that elected government nonsense and have the country run by right-thinking people (which is why I nicknamed him Uncle Jimmy after the character in the Reggie Perrin series). I feel justified in tagging him as a neofascist, but by comparison with Bonni and the fellow-travellers sharing the space under her rock, he's comparatively harmless, and provokes laughter more frequently. (I note though that despite all Bonni's declarations that she doesn't care if the people she supports are open supporters of Hitler provided they hate Muslims enough, and despite all her Holocaust denial and diatribes against "vile Jews", Jimmy has still never wavered in his support for Bonni and her Nazi pals.

Jimmy these days doesn't have much to say about Muslims, preferring to concentrate on whitewashing the tattered reputation of the washed-up failure whose name he attaches to his site (and indeed his own alias). But that doesn't stop him from trotting out hypocrisy, lies, and simple bewilderment.

Let's start with some hypocrisy. Here is a post linking to a video clip where an interview between Tony Blair and Andrew Marr has been edited to make it appear that Blair is talking about having a sexual relationship with Gordon Brown. Jimmy's comment is "I challenge you to watch this edited Andrew Marr interview of Tony Blair (2m 45s) without laughing, or at least smiling. Brilliant work."

OK, I didn't laugh (the humour is a bit infantile for my taste) but I can certainly see that some folk would find it hilarious. Jimmy has every right to be amused by it. But can you imagine for one second that he would take such a benign view if a similar clip were to be aired in which an interview with Blair had been edited to make it seem that he'd had a sexual relationship with George W Bush? Or Benjamin Netanyahu? Or if an interview with Gordon Brown were to be edited so that he appeared to be describing a session of buggery with Blair?

Oh, wait, we don't need to imagine, because Channel 4 did something similar last year, airing a supposedly humorous piece called "The Hunt For Tony Blair". I didn't watch it: it was a good deal longer than Jimmy's little Youtube clip, and while I don't mind watching a couple of minutes of puerile junk by way of research I drew the line at an hour of "alternative comedy" by The Comic Strip Presents.... when none of their earlier offerings had brought a smile to my face. I don't know whether Jimmy watched it either, though I rather doubt it. The point is that one of the gags in THFTB was the idea that Margaret Thatcher seduced Tony Blair. So how did Jimmy react to this? Here's how (capitals are all Jimmy's):

OUR SOCIETY’S MORAL VALUES HAVE BEEN SAVAGED AND WRECKED IN NO SMALL PART BY A CORRUPT AND MENDACIOUS ALL-PERVASIVE MEDIA AND ITS SOULMATES – THE SO-CALLED “ARTS” WORLD. BOTH REGULARLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR “FREEDOMS” WITH IMPUNITY IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. <

Even better, he adds this:

Tony Blair ...has children, one of just 11 years old, who will be aware of this inane hogwash. They may even be personally affected, if only through ribbing or bullying.

Perfectly true, of course. And so does Gordon Brown: two sons, one eight years old and the other just five and suffering from cystic fibrosis. Does Jimmy give a shit about the effect on them of his promotion of a video portraying their father as a homosexual who was in a relationship with Tony Blair? Clearly not.

Call this “film” a comic strip; call it a satire; call it a film noir. Call it what you will. I call it a disgrace.

But when similar "humour" is directed against Gordon Brown - a man without whom, incidentally, Blair could never have been elected and without whose solid support he could never have run the country - then Jimmy calls it "brilliant work".

========================================================================

While we're doing Jimmy's hypocrisy, I wonder who else has noticed that nowhere at all on Jimmy's blog is there any mention of Anders Breivik, perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in Europe this century. None. Nothing. Not a single word of condemnation for this killer of innocent adults and children. (I just Googled again to be certain.) I won't speculate on why that might be, though I will point out that Jimmy shares many of the views expressed by Breivik on the "Islamisation" of Europe, the evils of multiculturalism, the wicked left-wing media and the complicity of "leftists" in the (imagined) attempt to impose a global caliphate and sharia law. Also on the need for "right-thinking people" to overthrow governments which pander to immigrants. No doubt Jimmy deplores Breivik's actions, but he's never said so.

Which is strange when you consider Jimmy's reaction to Muslim idiots who set fire to a wreath of paper poppies at a Remembrance Day ceremony. They "should be locked up", they should "burn in hell", and even if they are "legal citizens of our country" they're "not BRITISH" (damn that pesky skin colour). The BBC are accused of "disgraceful bias" for reporting that the leader of the EDL had been charged with assaulting a police officer, and Jimmy wonders whether they are in cahoots with all three main political parties, which are in denial about the threat from Islamic extremism. And in a couple of chillingly Breivik-like asides he warns

To the politicians in this blighted land of ours – time is short. It really is.

and

Too many students today. Too few brains.

And the news story which prompted Jimmy's original puff piece for Bare Naked Islam was the murder of two adults and three children in the Israeli settlement of Itamar by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Jimmy found that worthy of pages and pages of condemnation. Yet none for the Oslo and Utoya victims. Is that because the Itamar victims were Jewish settlers (not a group generally known for their left-wing attitudes), while the victims at Utoya were socialists? Or is it that the Itamar killers were brown and Breivik white?

So to sum up. Muslims set fire to paper flowers and yell a lot, and Jimmy goes berserk, declares them non-British and demands that they be locked up. A white guy attacks a police officer and when the BBC report it they are guilty of "bias" for failing to cover up this exemplary British behaviour and focus on the paper-burners. A couple of Palestinians murder 2 adults and 3 children and Jimmy's outrage knows no bounds. Meanwhile, another white guy slaughters 8 adults and 69 children and Jimmy has nothing to say about it at all, possibly because the white guy shares Jimmy's own views on Muslims, immigrants, leftists, multiculturalism, politicians and students.

Perhaps when Anders Breivik is sentenced Jimmy will find something to say. Though somehow I suspect he may find some fascinating piece of Blair puffery to pull from his archive that day so as to avoid any awkwardness.

I'll come back to the bewilderment and lies in a bit. I think the amount of hypocrisy on display both over acts of non-violent and violent protest, terrorist murders and tasteless adolescent humour is enough to be going on with.

Ain't nobody here but us Jew-hating Nazis

It's Laughing at Nazis time again.

First of all, let's take a look at Greece's Golden Dawn party, briefly part of the government in its attempts to form a coalition.

So Holocaust denial: check. Admiration for Hitler: check. Violent supporters beating up opponents on the streets: check. Sound like good little Nazis to me.

Now let's toddle across to BareNakedIslam and see what Bonni and her pals have to say about them. One of the most vocal of these is "Aussie Brett", in whom I must declare an interest as he has appeared on this site as a troll (here, protesting that although Bonni believes that Jews under the Third Reich were completely free and that it was their own fault so many got gassed, and although she believes that no gays were persecuted by the Nazis, that doesn't make her a Holocaust denier).

Here is Bonni's take on the Golden Dawn party. The comments are hilarious, though. Brett starts the ball rolling, wishing that Australia had a proper Nazi party of its own. Then he goes on to assert that "we have laws that prohibit news bulletins about illegal boats arriving".

A couple of comments down, in a reply to Brett, ShirlinOz writes:

Where on earth do you get that the media in Australia are banned from reporting the arrival of illegal boats from? I have never heard so much rubbish in my entire life. As to this political party it should be banned. It’s a neo-Nazi group and they will target Jews, Gays and Blacks too.

It then gets really funny, because Shirl helpfully posts reports from the Australian media demonstrating that the arrival of boatloads of immigrants is indeed being reported. What's funny, is that here posts are simply ignored totally. Someone called Valhalla posts that these stories are being suppressed, and Bonni tells him to send reports to her so she can print them. Shirl patiently points out to Bonni, whose reading skills clearly aren't up to much, that she has posted evidence that such stories are being freely published in Australia. And Bonni's response?

Shirl, as you know, I have posted a lot of stories about the boat people.

Which rather misses the point. However, eventually Shirl agrees that Bonni has posted a lot of these stories (Bonni admits she alters them before posting to make them less sympathetic to the immigrants, which is interesting though hardly a shock, as she happily makes up totally fake stories when it suits her), and just rages that there are supposedly Australians posting at BNI who clearly haven't a clue about what's in the Australian media. (Are you listening, Brett? Can you read the big words?)

But let's go back to those heroic Nazis of the Golden Dawn. A number of people, Shirl included, post compelling evidence of GD's anti-semitism and Nazi credentials. Stan chips in, and is pulled up by Bonni who firstly denies that GD are Nazis then says it doesn't matter that they hate Jews as there are hardly any Jews in Greece. (Gee, I wonder if she takes that view about antisemitism in Saudi Arabia? Just kidding.) When Stan provides evidence, Bonni says that one of her other readers disagrees about GD being Nazis, so who cares about evidence? So Stan provides more evidence, which provokes the following astonishing outburst from Bonni:

Stan, typical left wing Jewish crap. They always sympathize with Muslims as if they have anything in common. They don’t support the EDL or any other anti-Islam group. Rabbis are the worst, always kissing up to their enemies. Whenever Muslims are bitching about something or fighting to build another mosque, they always have scumbag Rabbis and Jews siding with them. These Jews are as vile as muslims. I don’t give a damn. I support anyone who is against Muslims. Don’t post this stuff again. OR you will be banned.

Shall we just run over that again? "These Jews are as vile as muslims." And we all know Bonni's feelings about Muslims. So unsurprisingly her response to evidence of Golden Dawn's Jew-hatred is "I don’t give a damn". She threatens to ban Stan if he posts such Jew-supporting anti-Nazi stuff again, and when he demands an apology (after all, he is a good little Muslim-hater like her and has supported her before) she does indeed ban him. Which is ironic when you consider all the spleen being vented about (totally false) tales of wicked censorship in Australia.

Anyway, in one post we have Bonni not only showing her opinion of freedom of expression, but demonstrating her hatred of "vile" Jews, and especially their rabbis, AND exhibiting fervent support for a party whose members praise Hitler's policies, sing Nazi songs and give Nazi salutes, whose bookshop sells Hitler's books, and whose leader denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers for killing Jews.

So, Brett, if you've managed to read this far, you can quit your attempts to whitewash Bonni's Holocaust denial, her Nazi sympathies or her general Jew-hatred. You're both entitled to your views, of course: and I am entitled to hope that when Barack Obama is re-elected in November with a large majority she and you, and a substantial number of the hillbilly survivalists who festoon her site, all have strokes and are forced to keep still and silent as your dreams of replacing elected democracies with Nazi dictatorships crumble to dust.

The police and CPS know that crimes are committed by criminals, who may be of any colour or religion depending where they come from. How hard is that to understand?

Even my non-UK readers are probably aware that there have been a couple of recent court cases, in Rochdale and Liverpool, in which a number of Asian men (mostly of Pakistani or Afghan backgrounds) have been convicted of a catalogue pretty grim incidents where young (white) girls were tricked into going with one of the men before being raped by the rest of them. A number of people, including Nick Griffin of the BNP, Trevor Phillips of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Baroness Warsi (co-chair of the Conservative Party) have emphasised the racial element in the case, as though this were in some way a uniquely Muslim (or Pakistani, or Asian) sort of way to behave. Meanwhile, people one might presume to be more knowledgeable about crime such as the Northwest regional director of the Crown Prosecution Service (Nazir Aftal) and the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (Steve Heywood) warned against playing the race card, patiently explaining that when crimes are committed in an area largely populated by Asians the perpetrators will tend to be Asian. (Duh.)

But let's not take their word for it. In the Sunday Times (not a paper known for its sympathy for immigrants, socialists or political correctness) last week (13 May) a report explained

"While much of the coverage of the Liverpool trial focused on the fact that the perpetrators were Asian, those working in the field warn against attaching too much significance to race. Traffickers tend to reflect the demographic of the area. In Bristol it is Somali men; in Oldham, Derby and Middlesbrough they tend to be Afghans and Turks: in London they are Afro-Caribbean and in Devon and Cornwall they are white British."

Then of course there is this report. And this one. Oh, and this one.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the reason for citing these reports from Northern Ireland is that its ethnic make-up is overwhelmingly white Christian. So if sexual exploitation of children (and others) is primarily to do with feelings of superiority among Muslim men, how to explain the greater incidence of it in part of the UK where there are hardly any Muslims at all?

Or to return to the Sunday Times article, let's take Devon and Cornwall, where three cases a week of sex trafficking are reported to the police. And what are the demographics for Devon and Cornwall? 95% white and only 1.6% Asian, that's what.

So please will the attention-seekers and racists shut up and leave discussion of crime statistics and population demographics to those who know what they're talking about?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The St John Flaschen.....

You know how sometimes you're looking for something and find something quite different but even more interesting?

Organist Martin Stacey on the organ at St John the Evangelist, Islington. Read more here.

They think it's all over.....

One of the most famous brands in international football is Manchester United FC, who make a habit of winning things. So I could hardly fail to comment on the delightful fact that their local rivals, Manchester City FC, have just become Premier League champions.

Good news: this is the first time for 44 years that MCFC have been champions of the top English division.

Better news: the title was decided on the last day of the competition, in the last match, in extra time, when City came from 2-1 down to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 with two goals in two minutes.

Best news, the team who must have been thinking they had won the title by winning their own match when City were 2-1 down was Manchester United.

A friend of mine (Sue Barnard) who lives in Manchester took this picture of the victory parade, which was going on outside the Central Library where she was at an evening class.

Irony Spotting In The Yemen

There have been a lot of reviews of the recent film Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, ranging from the adulatory to the dismissive. My own response to it fell somewhere between those extremes: I thought it was an enjoyable enough romantic comedy-drama. Clearly a lot of people enjoyed it, as is shown by this report of the interest being shown in the Yemeni Tourist board's website. (I'm not sure which is funnier: that people might actually think there was salmon fishing in Yemen, or the Telegraph's splendid misprint of Salmond Fishing.)

Hilary and I visited Yemen just over 26 years ago. In those days it was two separate countries, and the one we went to was the Yemen Arab Republic which was safe if remote. (The People's Democratic Republic of South Yemen was more iffy.) There may have been direct flights on Yemenia (Yemen's national carrier) but the cheapest way to get there was on Egyptair, changing at Cairo.

All of which is by way of scene-setting for an observation. A major part of the film's plot is that some Yemeni fanatics consider the Sheikh's plan to build a dam and make the desert bloom (and of course provide him with sport fishing) as importation of wicked Western ideas. Now then: there are plenty of Muslim nutters who might well take that view, but I doubt whether you'd find any of them in Yemen, despite its currently being the home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Why do I say that? Well, Yemenis are big on national pride, and mostly consider themselves Yemenis first and Arabs second. And Yemenis are no strangers to big dams for irrigation of the desert. If you take a trip to Mareb, right on the edge of the Arabian Desert, you will see a very big dam indeed, built by Korean engineers and completed in 1986 (opened just after our visit). Not even the al-Qaeda types have complained about it.

But more to the point, about a kilometre downstream of that Mareb Dam is a much older one, often considered the eighth wonder of the ancient world and constructed by the ancestors of Yemen's biblical celebrity, The Queen of Sheba. Amazing as it may seem, the sluices of this vast edifice are still standing.

So it's deeply ironic that a storyline about dams being treated as wicked western imports has been tacked onto the country whose early civilisation gave mankind its first known dam, and which has been refining the idea of "making the desert bloom" for thousands of years. And surprising that nobody - not even the Yemeni Tourist Board - has drawn attention to that irony.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We are normal and we dig Joss Whedon

Went to our local cinema last night to see Cabin In The Woods, the genre-bending horror flick from Joss Whedon. It didn't disappoint. It's difficult to say too much about a film with so many twist and turns without giving things away, so instead I shall refer you to a review which pretty much sums up my reaction. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM AND WISH TO DO SO.

Here it is.

My monarch, 'tis of thee, 'Cos it's your Jubilee, Of thee I sing

This Saturday my main orchestra (Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra) is doing a programme with an American theme. The main work is Dvorak's "New World" symphony, which is preceded by Barry Deacon playing Copland's clarinet concerto (written for Benny Goodman). The programme begins with William Schuman's orchestration of Charles Ives's delightfully anarchich variations for organ on "America". Or as we know it over here, "God save The Queen". It's sheer coincidence that we ended up playing that piece so close to Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, but you can't fight serendipity.

Here's the best version I could find on Youtube. The first time we read it through, the "ting" from the glockenspiel at 1:29 reduced the entire orchestra to giggles. It's that kind of piece. Enjoy it

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Underground Music

I just saw the second video here for the first time, and it reminded me of the first one. But the effect is better if you come to them the other way round. (Work with me here....)

So: here are Kit and the Widow, a comedy musical duo in the same mould as Flanders and Swann or Tom Lehrer, doing probably their most famous number, Norwegians.




Now we take you, not to the London Underground, but the Copenhagen Metro. Where we encounter, not hundreds of Norwegians but dozens of Danes playing the music of one Norwegian.



Cool, huh?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fire, water, winter, summer, and drunken rivalry. Swedish pop: it's not all "Mamma Mia", you know

Time for some music, I think.
And staying with nyckelharpa-paying Swedes, here are Nordman in lyrical mood:
And here are the lads with what is surely the catchiest tune they ever came up with.

Friday, May 04, 2012

He was funnier when he still thought it was acceptable to equate leftists with gays and to claim that only white people were really British

Uncle Jimmy has been pretty boring recently. Since jumping on the Murdoch/Daily Mail bandwagon of posting clips from Big Brother when George Galloway kicked Labour's arse from here to Tuesday (in the Bradford West by-election) he's done little except stick to his knitting (or in his case, Blair-boot-licking). He helped the right-wing media propagate the lie that Lord Nazir Ahmed had offered a bounty on President Obama (something the paper which had reported it rapidly apologised for). But then why would Jimmy bother his racist little head about what brown people put in their newspapers, especially when in contradicts his lovely fiction? Good grief, far from admitting he'd published a libel, Jimmy added inventions of his own. According to Jimmy, Lord Nazir Ali had issued death threats against George W Bush and Tony Blair (to say nothing of President Obama). In his own words:

In both reports, unless BOTH misreported him, he called for a “bounty”

Now I’m not sure what YOU think when someone used the word “bounty”. Personally I imagine a wild west type poster with “dead or alive” in bold lettering.


Leaving aside how revealing it is of Jimmy's origins that the image that comes to mind is of a Wild West poster, clearly the poor colonial boy needs a lesson in British English.

A bounty (from Latin bonitās, goodness) is a payment or reward often offered by a group as an incentive for the accomplishment of a task by someone usually not associated with the group. Bounties are most commonly issued for the capture or retrieval of a person or object. They are typically in the form of money.

Lord Nazir Ali was quite clear: he was offering money in order to have Messrs Bush and Blair brought to trial for their crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court doesn't issue death sentences: perhaps Jimmy is confusing it with the kangaroo court which hanged Saddam Hussein.

Anyway, apart from that one piece of egregious lying, it's mostly been boot-licking from Jimmy. A couple of examples are worth reprinting, though. Have a guess as to what significant award all the wickedly biased British media failed to advertise for Darling Tony (or as Jimmy put it, "If the Mail, Guardian, Independent, BBC & the rest haven't told you of this award for our great former PM, well... what do you expect? The truth?"). Give up? Sillies, it was that world-renowned and internationally-respected International Statesman Award, issued by the World Affairs Council....of Philadelphia. Shame on the British press (and I'm guessing everyone else's outside Philadelphia) for failing to note the delivery of another bought-and-paid-for gong by a bunch of provincial nobodies to an international nobody.

The other example is, if possible, even better:

The May issue of Public Affairs News magazine reveals that Mr Blair has recruited Rachel Grant, communications director at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), to be his top communications adviser.

Ms Grant is expected to join the Office of Tony Blair later this month. The job entails overseeing the former prime minister’s personal PR and managing communications around his extensive lobbying operations.

[...]

In the new role, Ms Grant will help Mr Blair boost his UK profile, following critical media coverage around his overseas lobbying activities. The former prime minister has faced heavy scrutiny over Tony Blair Associates, his consultancy providing guidance for foreign governments.

A source close to Mr Blair said he was now keen to do more in the UK .

“He wants to re-engage in the UK ,” said the source. “He has things to say and he thinks it’s the right time.

“The question is how he re-enters the UK scene without re-entering domestic politics and interfering with the Labour Party. He wants to intervene where he can add value to political debate, but it will be above party politics.”


So the Ego-In-Chief has appointed a new head of marketing for his lobbying business (after all, when you take millions for political lobbying nobody expects you actually to do the lobbying yourself). He wants to "re-engage" in the UK: well maybe he shouldn't have made his first priority after being sacked as PM the betrayal of his loyal Sedgefield constituents. He wants to "add value to political debate" but remain "above party politics". Oh my God, he's after a job with the Murdoch press.

As for boosting his UK profile, isn't going down in history as the most corrupt and incompetent Prime Minister of both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, not to mention the man who tried to destroy the Labour Party (and may have succeeded) and our most infamous war criminal enough to be going on with?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

What can I say?

Just when you thought the American Right couldn't get any crazier....

Why supporting the Netanyahu regime is insane



This piece in the Guardian will come as a surprise only to those who imagine that every Israeli is a genocidal racist. Those of us who blame Israel's woes squarely on the Netanyahu regime (which is the only serious threat to Israel's continued existence) all said "Duh".

 

Incy wincy spider.....

OK, better excuse than usual for not posting recently: on Friday 20 April I noticed that my left hand wasn't responding properly when it came to fine control or fine sensation. I was heading out for my delayed night out to celebrate my leaving my job with Lloyds Banking Group, so I kept a watchful eye on how the hand was doing as the evening progressed. It didn't get worse but it didn't get better either, and while I was on the bus home my arm began to twitch. By the time I was walking from the bus stop to my house it was jerking violently, so when I got in I got my wife to call an ambulance.The paramedics confirmed that I hadn't had a stroke and said they'd be about an hour. I got my wife to help me off and on with my trousers so I could go to the loo, and just as she was helping me zip up I had a major seizure (arm jerked very violently, buzzing noise in head, woke up in ambulance). Apparently I'd got jammed in our small downstairs toilet and had to be hauled out by wife/paramedic/daughter's boyfriend, none of which roused me from my unconsciousness. So off to A&E
at the Royal Infirmary, where I had a CT scan and another seizure. They reckoned it was a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, and sent me to the Western General Hospital's neuroscience unit (by now it was around lunchtime on the Saturday). Two more seizures and a procession of doctors and nurses asking me if I knew where I was and what day it was. Then the electrical storms abated and I caught up with some normal sleep. next day (Sunday) I had an MRI/angiogram, which showed no sign of the bleed or of what might have caused it (seemingly not uncommon). So a few days in hospital on various drugs, another CT/angiogram (clear) and then sent home. All pretty pedestrian compared with the brain tumours, non-cancerous cysts, and aneurysms in the adjacent beds (the aneurysm guy had £25,000-worth of coiled Platinum wire added to his brain: I got a prescription for Levetiracetam).

Anyway, thanks to the many doctors, nurses, porters, cooks and radiographers who provided the famously excellent free medical care we still have in the UK. Even the hospital food was OK.