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Friday, May 02, 2003

MATHS: "So exactly who did win in the local elections?" The Indepndent asks. Me, I'm not so good with maths either. Let me see
Tories + 566, Labour - 833, Lib Dems + 193, BNNP + 11, Greens + 9.

Kinda hard to judge.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

STING IN THE TAIL: New drug problem in India

"The trendy and the elite in India's wealthy western state of Gujarat, bored with mundane drugs, are turning to the sting of a scorpion to get their kicks, a press report stated on Wednesday.

After the customer pays a fee of between 150 and 180 rupees (R20 to R30) and then the scorpion is produced and placed on the body of the thrill-seeker, who is then viciously stung. Users say that after the initial pain, the venom produces an illusionary, floating feeling.

"You won't die," promises one vendor, named in the report only as Nathu. "You should try it at least once.""

LABOUR’S LOVES: What is it about Labour women and terrorists? Cherie Blair’s dalliances with the PLO are well documented and now we have transcripts of telephone conversations, which reveal:

“Mo Mowlam called Martin McGuinness "babe".

The former Cabinet minister, who was removed as Northern Ireland Secretary in 1999 after complaints that she was too close to Irish republicans, seemed almost to flirt with Martin McGuinness, a leading member of the IRA army council, in a telephone conversation recorded secretly by MI5.”

WORDS OF WEASEL: France has denied refusing visas to Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein who wanted to attend a dissidents' conference in Paris.

François Rivasseau, the spokesman for the French foreign ministry, said: "We have found no trace of visas being turned down during this period…..

But he added that records were not generally kept for more than three years. The conference opened on April 14, 2000, just over three years ago.”


Little Green Footballs reported that Iraqi Embassies were burning documents on the 9th of April. Looks like the French were burning embassy records about the same time as the Iraqis. LGF asked “Would anyone like to bet that similar scenes played out in France and Germany? (But hidden a little better...)”Looks like its time to pay up.


Tuesday, April 29, 2003

DONATIONS PLEASE: Galloway demands. I’d like this one to do to trial, would’nt you?
BBC: The BBC reports on the reasons for US withdrawal from Saudi Arabia; note ho they describe Osama Bin Laden:

It is one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born dissident -- blamed by Washington for the 11 September attacks -- to justify violence against the United States and its allies.

You are left wondering whether the BBC actively seeks to employ reporters with a weak grasp of English or a just weak grip on reality.

This article in the Times seems to think that the BBC can be badgered back to reason. Personally I’m more pessimistic; the BBC has passed the tipping point on objectivity; as Greg Dyke’s comments on US rMedia eporting suggest, they’ve gone into the laager fighting and will defend their ever shrinking corner to the last. If you want to know where they’re headed, just look to the Australian ABC – and self marginalized Broadcasting service cut off from the mainstream by its enclosure in eastern suburbs far left chardonnay set.

Sad realy.

NOBEL WINNER SAYS 'GET A GRIP': From Gweilo, Nobel Prize winning virologist, David Baltimore, says people are seriously overreacting to the SARS outbreak. Guess who's at fault?

Much can be blamed on media coverage, Baltimore said. "What we are seeing is a playing up of the things that make people worry," he said.
But, he added, perhaps scary reports are just giving readers and viewers what they want.
"In some sense people like to be frightened," he said. "And so, to some extent what I am saying is a denial of what seems to be a basic human instinct -- to get a sort of frisson (shiver) of excitement out of danger. And the press is playing into that."


As Glenn Reynolds would say: "sounds about right." After all people pay to bunjy jump.

THE SEPARATION OF MOSQUE AND STATE: Terry Eastland outlines the road map for Iraqis’ deciding whether their country should become a secular religious democracy or a theocracy.

“Here, then, is a question, especially for the Shiite majority in Iraq:
Democracy--one that protects the religious rights of all--was the goal.
The issue of mosque and state, says the group's report, is one "only the people of Iraq can decide upon in the course of their deliberations during the transitional period." By posing questions on the issue "to each individual Iraqi," the report intends to confront Iraqis with the nature of the choice before them. The questions are exactly right.
The first is, "Do you want your future state of Iraq to be involved in any way in your religious beliefs, either by way of compelling or persuading you toward a particular belief?"


A big question, a big risk.
REBUFF: It looks like Blair is doing what he does best again – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. After, his pre war position has been vindicated, what does he do. Go to Moscow to be dressed down by Putin. You’re nearly 50, Tony, grow up.
"We went to war just to boost the white male ego" of Jacques Chirac up his own rear passage.
IDIOTARIAN OF THE WEEK: Your country depends on the UK, USA and Australia for nearly 40% of your exports – much of which is agricultural produce, has a strong and consistent policy of opposing nuclear and sees its self as having some influence in the South Pacific. So who do you decided to forge closer ties with? Why, a country that that opposes the UK, US and Australia, takes less than 2% of your exports, has a long history of opposing any liberalisation in agricultural trade, sold a nuclear reactor to Iraq, conducted nuclear tests in your region against the firm wishes of your pacific allies and has previously blown up and killed anti nuclear protesters in your country.

Who is this idiot? Why Helen Clark of New Zealand - seen here accepting a small dollop of Chirac’s saliva. Beforehand she had some wisdom to share:

“Helen Clark shares Mr Chirac's concern that the US might emerge as an unchallenged superpower.
"What everyone's looking at is whether there is going to be a Franco/German/Russia linkup with good links through to the Chinese against what we have which looks like a small Anglo/American group - it shifts the whole dynamic," “

Rather than shifting the whole dynamic, Clark seems to have put on a rather dirty pair of contact lenses. The UK and US constitute an economic block nearly 3 times the size of the Russian, German and French economies combined and have a population about 40% greater. And that’s before adding in the rest of the 45 countries of the coalition of the willing - and I'm not going to plug the military comparison, because, well, that’d be rude.

Another fisk is the NZHerald’s claim, presumably lifted straight from a PR release, that:

“Economic links between the two countries are significant, with two-way trade exceeding $1 billion. “

In fact that represents less than 2% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade ($1.089 billion out of $62 billion). Not significant. Unless you're French; New Zealand imported $705 million from France last year, but exported just $384 million. I think thats the sort of dynamic Chirac had in mind - a shafting.

Monday, April 28, 2003

“”””””””””: More Quotation mark madness from the BBC- an Ivory Coast Rebel has been “killed”. So what's the difference between being killed and being "killed"? Can Felix Doh "tell us"?
IDEALISM: Denis Dutton nails an interesting contemporary affliction:

"Idealism increases in direct proportion to your distance from the problem."

Read it.

Déjà vu Part 462: End of the world possible, massive death toll, super power conceals true extent of the problem. Problem starts to disappear.
DROPPING A STORY: Oxblog wonders why it’s the Telegraph that got its hands on the Iraqi files not a US newspaper. They speculate that it is because British papers like the Telegraph are more “reckless” than their US counterparts (a pretty bizarre allegation when directed at the Telegraph, but never mind). Still it is worth speculating why US intelligence might have been happier for the stories to leak in the UK.

First of all, British public opinion has been softer than US opinion both on the War and European weasel dealings. Leaking the story in Washington would just have confirmed accepted opinion; leaking the story in London might change minds. Secondly, the diplomatic and public relations war is now being fought in Europe (both the EU and Nato)…so dropping your JDAMs in London makes sense.

DON’T MENTION THE WAR ON TERRORISM: I’m starting to get a weird feeling about the Germans and Terrorism. 31 tourists are kidnapped and the Algerians provide only the smallest trickle of information. The German’s keep stum:

“In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
German prosecutors have reportedly opened an investigation into an unidentified terrorist group for allegedly abducting the tourists.
German media have reported that Algerian authorities told Berlin that they believed terrorists were behind the disappearances”


Then, over the last few days we have 2 hijackings. Organised terrorism is ruled out: -

“A Lebanese-born teenager who hijacked a German city bus with 16 people on board and demanded the release of al-Qaida suspects apparently acted on his own, not as part of a terrorist group, a security official said Monday.”
Now strictly speaking it is true that a highly organised international terrorist network probably did not direct these incidents, but that is not what we thought we were fighting anyway. Rather it is a highly decentralised network of loosely connected individuals, some relatively well organised, like the kidnappers in Algeria, others, uncoordinated lone individuals, like the hijacker in Germany. What seems to coordinate them is an Islamic fundamentalist blogosphere – lets call its, say, the “Islamosfear”. And what is curious is that the word seems to have gone out that the Germans are good targets. Why?

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