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Friday, July 18, 2003

THE BAHA’I CONNECTION: Dr Kelly was it appears a member of the Bahai faith:

“Dr Kelly was said to be a practising member of the Baha'i Faith and a former treasurer of the Oxfordshire Spiritual Assembly.”

I haven’t heard of them before but they are apparently a sect originating in Persia, have been banned in Muslims states as heretical. This is because they have violated a cardinal principle of Islam in their belief in a prophet after Muhammad.

A quick internet search reveals that in 1998:

“The Baha'is Under the Provisions of the Covenant would like to warn the people of the great state of Alaska that the course of action being pursued by the United States against Iraq will assuredly begin a third world war! “

On the other hand they want to keep the Iranians out of Iraq:

Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat": Khalid al-Qishtini has a cautionary tale for those who would like to export Islamic revolution to Iraq. "Now they are talking about exporting the Islamic revolution to Iraqis and making them stop drinking. Let them try!"

Their member apparently include Abu Mazeon of Palestine, they predicted 9/11, they are banded in Iran but that’s about all I can find out. But somehow I think it may be relevant, while not anti invasion, they clearly have a stake in in post war Iraq. Watch this space.
THE BLAME: The death of Dr Kelly is to be regretted, caught in the cross fire of what appears to be a savage war between the Blairites in New Labour and the Browintes in the BBC. And in this internecine warDr Kelly found himself a pawn:

“But Robert Jackson, Dr Kelly’s local MP, said that if he had committed suicide, the BBC was to blame. The corporation should have confirmed that Dr Kelly was not the source after the select committee reached that conclusion, the Tory MP for Wantage said.

He said: “I am obviously very concerned about this and I think the responsibility of the BBC should not go unmentioned. The management refused to say he was not the source Gilligan had given them. The question then is pressure he came under. The pressure was significantly increased by the fact the BBC refused to make it clear he was not the source.”
One of Dr Kelly’s close friends, the veteran journalist Tom Mangold, said that the scientist believed he was the main source behind Mr Gilligan’s story. The claim contradicts Dr Kelly’s insistence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that he did not believe he was the prime source…..

“He felt he was Gilligan’s major source. As I recall it, Andrew Gilligan said the man he spoke to was an expert on weapons of mass destruction and they met at a London hotel. If that’s true that sounds to me like Dave Kelly.”
Asked why he had told the committee that he was not the main source, Mr Mangold said: “I think his famous precision let him down there, because what he said to me was that there were parts of the Gilligan transmission that he did not recognise, but that did not mean that he wasn’t the main source.”


What this sounds like to me is that Gilligan made up the interview and then put pressure on Dr Kelly not to disclose that he was the primary source in order to protect himself. BBC J’accuse.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

THE AGENDA: European educated Magnus Linklater catches the zeitergiet at a European conference:-

"I think of myself as a fully paid-up European…. But my beautiful relationship has been damaged….It was, I suppose, to be expected that the war in Iraq should loom large in our discussions. What I had not anticipated was that this single event should now so clearly define European attitudes, that opposition to the war was more or less assumed and hostility to Washington was held to be synonymous with informed opinion.

The Americans were defensive, the British divided. The issue was debated many times, but it took shape, for me, in the course of a lengthy and brilliant discourse on the future of the market economy, from a French speaker. While outlining thoughts on financial regulation that would have sat perfectly well on this page, he devoted one section of his speech to the “symbolism” of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre. It was of course, he said, an evil act, but the twin towers, as symbols of Western capitalism, had become an almost inevitable target for terrorists..

It slipped in so neatly, so rationally, that no one, not even the Americans, listening intently through their earphones, thought to challenge it. Indeed, it was only as I considered it afterwards that I realised what had been said. The implication, not openly stated, was that US economic power was, in itself, a justification for terrorism, that if it was not modified, then it might expect more of the same, and that Europe, if it was wise, should adopt a different model if it was to avoid similar attacks. ..
I felt a twinge of Anglo-Saxon resentment. I realised these views were widely held on the radical Left in Britain, but if they were now part of mainstream opinion in Europe, things had gone further than I had imagined. As it happened, I had been in Italy on the day of the attacks, and had been overwhelmed by the spontaneous demonstrations of sympathy for America and outrage against the act. Those expressions of solidarity seemed now to be distant memories. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, they had been succeeded by a rejection, not just of military action itself, but of US values as well. I asked an American journalist what he thought. He was more puzzled than angry. “What have these guys against us?” he asked.”


WMD, Iraq and pre-emption were never the issue, it was always market economics.


TRUSTED: A small but significant development:

“A small, but significant, political fact: asked to name Britain's most honest politician, listeners to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 picked William Hague.”

A sign that frankness is returning to British politics? Peter Riddell outlines the task.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

THE STING: In the Times today, Simon Jenkins explains the uranium sting:

“It seems bitterly ironic that the falling out should be over Niger uranium “intelligence”. The source, I understand, was France, with close links to Niger’s mining industry. Britain should have been deeply sceptical of anything French at this juncture before the war, hence perhaps the reluctance to reveal the source to Washington. The effect was to give President Bush dodgy material in his State of the Union address. But worse, a nation that was refusing to eat French fries was unknowingly spoonfed French intelligence. “

And Blair cannot escape censure for allowing this to happen – his belief, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there was no conflict between maintaining the “special relationship” and putting Britain “at the heart of Europe” made him an easy target for French intelligence. This is why it is right that he should not get the Congressional Medal of Honour – a sincere friend he may have been, but resolute naivety should not be honoured.

Monday, July 14, 2003

I AM KIM: On that other little crisis, Tony Jones and Kim Myong Chol, the executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace have an interesting exchange:

"TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, Australia and the US plan to begin, as we've said, these naval exercises in the very near future to practice interdicting North Korean ships. What reaction do you expect from Pyongyang to these practice exercises?

KIM MYONG CHOL, CENTRE FOR KOREAN-AMERICAN PEACE: If practice become actual war games against North Korea, North Korea react violently against American mainland.

TONY JONES: When you say react violently, what do you mean exactly? We know that North Korea has suggested it will regard those interceptions as an act of war.

KIM MYONG CHOL: North Korea will regard it as an act of war. That means North Korea is ready to attack America.

TONY JONES: Are you saying there that they would attack -- you've mentioned attacking the North American mainland, which seems a little far fetched.

KIM MYONG CHOL: That's right. North Korea put the torch to New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco..

TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, is there really any reason to believe, though, that North Korea has the capacity to reach the American mainland with any kind of nuclear weapons?

KIM MYONG CHOL: Yes. Anytime....

TONY JONES: You'd be aware, of course, that it didn't only the United States that's talking about intercepting these ships. Australia is involved and so were 11 countries in the talks in Brisbane recently.

KIM MYONG CHOL: If Australia become part of American manipulation against North Korea, North Korea reserve the right to strike back on Australia."


I seldom agree with Tony but at the end he’s spot on:

“TONY JONES: Alright I'm afraid we are out of time, Kim Myong Chol. As always, it's rather sobering to talk to you late in the evening as we do.”

via Yobbo via Akubra

GIFTS: Interesting article on the gifts Bush gets:

“The Saudis presented President George Bush with a million-dollar oil painting. From the Italians he got an exquisite alabaster sculpture depicting the Allegory of the Triumph. Tony Blair gave him a toilet bag…. It's not entirely clear what the bag of toiletries from Mr Blair represented - possibly a witty echo of Mr Bush's remark at their first meeting that the two men used the same toothpaste. It was clearly no ordinary bag as it was embossed with a gold monogram and officially valued at $351 (£216), probably much more if it ever found its way onto eBay.

It was certainly not the cheapest gift Mr Bush has been given since coming to office. He got a $3 jar of fish bait from Morocco, and a paperback book on fighting terrorism from the Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski. The Canadian prime minister, Jacques Chretien, gave him a marble and wood pen holder which must have been particularly naff, as it is officially registered at a value of only $20. The toilet bag might have been the smartest gift of the lot. It was useful, personalised and cheap enough for the president to keep. “


Not sure what the significance of this is, other than that state visits to Morroco and Canada may be less frequent in the future but it does suggest that rumours of a fall out over the Niger Uranium matter are likely somewhat overstated.


AN UNETHICAL BAN: This goes against everything the pasty pommy tourist stands for:

“The high street chemist chain Lloydspharmacy, which has cleared its shelves of sunscreens below factor 15, said its "ethical stance" had protected consumers against the risk of skin cancer….”

and will also stop Brits in Bondi and the Costa standing out so much.

STRAW MAN: British Foreign secretary discloses:

“Britain cannot tell the United States how it knew that Iraq tried to get uranium from Niger because the information originated from a third country, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, without identifying the country….
He added, however, that Britain was not at liberty to tell the US where it got the information, because it had come from "foreign intelligence sources".

"It just happens to be the rules of liaison with foreign intelligence sources that they own the intelligence. The second intelligence service does not and therefore is not able to pass it on to the third party."


Mais pourquoi pas?


NON SEQUITER: this reveals a pretty limited understanding of what constitutes a “separation of powers”:

Lord Falconer, the Constitution Secretary, said the Government's preference was for a Judicial Appointments Commission that would recommend a single name for each vacancy. As Secretary of State, he would have the right to reject that name and require the commission to recommend someone else….

Lord Falconer said the reforms, announced in the Cabinet reshuffle last month, would put the relationship between Parliament, Government and judges on a modern footing. "We will have a proper separation of powers and we will further strengthen the independence of judges."

Modern as in will accept the EU Constitution no doubt.

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