" Madam Miaow Says: January 2010

Friday, 29 January 2010

Je Ne Regrette Rien: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry, Pt Deux


Afternoon session at Chilcot.

So it all went wrong when those pesky Iran and Al Qaeda outsiders got involved. Even though there was a 911 issue. But Al Qaeda? And the criminality! Who'd have guessed the blighters would have fought back? Blow me down, is that what happens when a country's infrastructure is allowed to collapse?

"The purpose of the people we were fighting was to wreck the reconstruction. Deliberately!" shock horror. "Nobody, but NOBODY, thought that Iran would end up supporting Al Qaeda because they both wanted to destabilise Iraq."

Blair's ingenue schtick continues to appall. It's like when he said he hadn't understood that the 45 minute mobilisation only applied to battlefield armaments and not long-range weapons, and simpered, "I wasn't watching closely". Even though the whole country was being whipped up into a pro-war mood by the threat of imminent attacks at the time?

You would have thought that would have been a good case for negligence and manslaughter at least. Chilcot broke for a tea-break with the blasé, "It might have been an expensive lesson, but one very necessary to learn." Blimey. I could have told you all that at the time. In fact I do believe many of us did.

The voice is huskier this afternoon. Repetition of BS will do that. Blair keeps insisting that "It's pretty clear" that the "spirit" of UN Resolution 1441 gave them the right to go to war. Au contraire, as the Dutch found the other week, 1441 pertains only to disarming, demanded proportionality, and never included the key phrase, "by all means necessary" allowing military force.

The afternoon session focuses on the legality of war and yet the only lawyer present is Blair. That's one reason the panel doesn't challenge him on whether UN resolution 1441 was about removing Saddam, which is what he's slipping in, or the actual subject which was disarmament.

But it doesn't matter what Blair believed in his head, or the "spirit" of lawyerly document, it's about the letter of the law and whether the government contravened or followed it.

There are still so many more issues. However much they bang on about Saddam's atrocities — torture chambers, killing his own people and the like — no-one raises the fact that most of them were committed while he was our boy. Who supplied the chemicals and arms? That's right, we still have the receipts. The papers exchanged between Bush and Blair at Crawford have still not been released despite promises that they would be. Blair had to concede he's "used the wrong words" to Parliament when he said preparations for war weren't yet in place. They were.

There were a few sparks from the panel. One member asked if with such a cavalier attitude to planning wasn't this a heavy price to pay? But Blair insists that Iraqis today have never had it so good, especially since 2002, although one of his questioners said that from Iraqis he's spoken to, that's doubtful. Chilcot concluded with asking what he's learnt. Blair claims if they hadn't got him then they would have had to have dealt with him when he was stronger. If democracy takes hold then we'll look back with pride.
The one audible expression of disgust from the audience (and on exit in the room, boos and a cry of "murderer" and "liar") came when Blair insisted je ne regrette rien despite it being one big FAIL. He says he'd do it all again and I reckon he'd do it all over you.

UPDATE: Protester tried to perform a citizen's arrest of Blair as he left the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London this evening. More here. Arrest Blair. Canadian lawyers give thumbs up to Arrest Blair campaign.

What was it all about? Guardian journalists find fiasco and incompetence.

Harpymarx was at the demo in the freezing rain and has some great pix.

Minority Report: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, Part 1.

"The voices in my head told me to do it"

Thanks to The Lavatory Reader for the Blair pic.

UPDATE: 1st Feb 2010 Iraq inquiry may recall Tony Blair over conflicting evidence

Je Ne Regrette Rien: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry, Pt Deux


Afternoon session at Chilcot.

So it all went wrong when those pesky Iran and Al Qaeda outsiders got involved. Even though there was a 911 issue. But Al Qaeda? And the criminality! Who'd have guessed the blighters would have fought back? Blow me down, is that what happens when a country's infrastructure is allowed to collapse?

"The purpose of the people we were fighting was to wreck the reconstruction. Deliberately!" shock horror. "Nobody, but NOBODY, thought that Iran would end up supporting Al Qaeda because they both wanted to destabilise Iraq."

Blair's ingenue schtick continues to appall. It's like when he said he hadn't understood that the 45 minute mobilisation only applied to battlefield armaments and not long-range weapons, and simpered, "I wasn't watching closely". Even though the whole country was being whipped up into a pro-war mood by the threat of imminent attacks at the time?

You would have thought that would have been a good case for negligence and manslaughter at least. Chilcot broke for a tea-break with the blasé, "It might have been an expensive lesson, but one very necessary to learn." Blimey. I could have told you all that at the time. In fact I do believe many of us did.

The voice is huskier this afternoon. Repetition of BS will do that. Blair keeps insisting that "It's pretty clear" that the "spirit" of UN Resolution 1441 gave them the right to go to war. Au contraire, as the Dutch found the other week, 1441 pertains only to disarming, demanded proportionality, and never included the key phrase, "by all means necessary" allowing military force.

The afternoon session focuses on the legality of war and yet the only lawyer present is Blair. That's one reason the panel doesn't challenge him on whether UN resolution 1441 was about removing Saddam, which is what he's slipping in, or the actual subject which was disarmament.

But it doesn't matter what Blair believed in his head, or the "spirit" of lawyerly document, it's about the letter of the law and whether the government contravened or followed it.

There are still so many more issues. However much they bang on about Saddam's atrocities — torture chambers, killing his own people and the like — no-one raises the fact that most of them were committed while he was our boy. Who supplied the chemicals and arms? That's right, we still have the receipts. The papers exchanged between Bush and Blair at Crawford have still not been released despite promises that they would be. Blair had to concede he's "used the wrong words" to Parliament when he said preparations for war weren't yet in place. They were.

There were a few sparks from the panel. One member asked if with such a cavalier attitude to planning wasn't this a heavy price to pay? But Blair insists that Iraqis today have never had it so good, especially since 2002, although one of his questioners said that from Iraqis he's spoken to, that's doubtful. Chilcot concluded with asking what he's learnt. Blair claims if they hadn't got him then they would have had to have dealt with him when he was stronger. If democracy takes hold then we'll look back with pride.
The one audible expression of disgust from the audience (and on exit in the room, boos and a cry of "murderer" and "liar") came when Blair insisted je ne regrette rien despite it being one big FAIL. He says he'd do it all again and I reckon he'd do it all over you.

UPDATE: Protester tried to perform a citizen's arrest of Blair as he left the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London this evening. More here. Arrest Blair. Canadian lawyers give thumbs up to Arrest Blair campaign.

What was it all about? Guardian journalists find fiasco and incompetence.

Harpymarx was at the demo in the freezing rain and has some great pix.

Minority Report: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, Part 1.

"The voices in my head told me to do it"

Thanks to The Lavatory Reader for the Blair pic.

UPDATE: 1st Feb 2010 Iraq inquiry may recall Tony Blair over conflicting evidence

Minority Report: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry Pt I


Lunchtime. A slippery and unapologetic Tony Blair defended his right to smite at the Iraq Inquiry this morning with his well-rehearsed Minority Report line: we knew Saddam was a bad man and would have done bad things. So you can now be done for pre-crime and Blair is the man to decide.

"It was all about risk" and not an actual threat, he smarmed. "I made the decision based on RISK of renewed WMDs." You may do well in a poker game, Tony, but as a Prime Minister your JUDGEMENT (a word he kept repeating ad nauseam) sucked. He couldn't even extract anything from the Americans in exchange for services rendered (not including whatever it is that Blair may have gained personally). Lyne asked why he couldn't get Bush to give him a reach-around and offer anything on the Middle East and Israel. Oh, that's because Bush didn't think Israel was a fundamental issue.

The biggest stunna of the morning was his insistence on linking 911 with Iraq. Even Fox News no longer returns to this bowl of sick. But Blair kept pressing this as if it was possessed of magic properties and, because there is no lawyer on the panel, he was never pressed to justify and present evidence. It was a point left dangling like a bloody great big elephant on a string.. "The calculus of risk had changed." Force was always an option because he said so. It was his personal JUDGEMENT and he had to make that decision.

Blair didn't want his Amurkin buddies, who had officially been seeking regime change since 1998, to be alone. Ah! Murderous foreign policy determined by an act of chivalry.

Blair also humbly claimed to have been the party to persuade President Clinton to put Serbia under heavy manners over Kosovo and get mediaeval on their behinds. In the same way, he said he was telling Bush to go for it in Iraq. I'd always pictured this as a runt egging on the schoolyard bully. But my father had always maintained that people have it wrong: that because British imperialism is the oldest in the world and they are very good at this, it's not America manipulating us; it's the British Foreign Office dog wagging the US tail. And from Blair's account, Dad was right.

The word "oil" finally surfaced with another Mystic Meg moment. Let's not think about what actually happened in 2003, let's think ahead to 2010 with oil "no longer $25 per barrel, but $100 per barrel". Uh, I think oil had occurred to us at the time.

He weaseled out of the infamous BBC Fern Brittan interview where spoke of "removing" Saddam Hussein but now asserts that because he didn't use the actual words "regime change" he's home and dry.

What we do know is that the UN's Article Two states that you can't use military action to effect a regime change, and there's also a matter or proportionality which Shock And Awe most certainly was not. Resolution 1441 was only about disarmament and any action would have had to have been proportionate to that end. But in order to use military action, the phrase "by all necessary means" (diplomacy-speak for war) would have had to have been included. Which it wasn't.

Hah! 14:45 Blair just lied about 1441. He says "It's pretty obvious ... in spirit" it gave us the right to say, "that's it. This Saddam's last chance. For our armed forces that was sufficient". Smite, smite! Not that he uses words to specifically mean violence. He's very carfeful to let the casual listener draw that conclusion. So next time you're up in front of the law, plead "in spirit". His questioner knows no detail of 1441 and can't challenge him.

The panel were helpful, with Sir Rodders Lyne helping out at a weak moment in the performance with the cue, "So you were pressing for the UN route". An OK amdram actor, Blair picked up the cue which I was beginning to wish was a sawn-off snooker cue and that someone would whack him round his big arrogant homicidal head with it.

Sadly, the protest was a washout with STW leadership managing to mass-mobilise only about 250 people. Timed to start at 8am, Honest Tone had slipped into a back door half an hour earlier and caught the organisers napping.

Depressing to see the line-up of commentators in the media consisting of Westminster Village hawks and lackeys. The strongest detractor was Sir Menzies Campbell on BBC R4 lunchtime news. Where's George Galloway, Bob Marshall Andrews and Craig Murray, f'rinstance? Sharp accounts from Craig Murray here and here

Je ne regrette rien Tony Blair Part Deux

Minority Report: Tony Blair at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry Pt I


Lunchtime. A slippery and unapologetic Tony Blair defended his right to smite at the Iraq Inquiry this morning with his well-rehearsed Minority Report line: we knew Saddam was a bad man and would have done bad things. So you can now be done for pre-crime and Blair is the man to decide.

"It was all about risk" and not an actual threat, he smarmed. "I made the decision based on RISK of renewed WMDs." You may do well in a poker game, Tony, but as a Prime Minister your JUDGEMENT (a word he kept repeating ad nauseam) sucked. He couldn't even extract anything from the Americans in exchange for services rendered (not including whatever it is that Blair may have gained personally). Lyne asked why he couldn't get Bush to give him a reach-around and offer anything on the Middle East and Israel. Oh, that's because Bush didn't think Israel was a fundamental issue.

The biggest stunna of the morning was his insistence on linking 911 with Iraq. Even Fox News no longer returns to this bowl of sick. But Blair kept pressing this as if it was possessed of magic properties and, because there is no lawyer on the panel, he was never pressed to justify and present evidence. It was a point left dangling like a bloody great big elephant on a string.. "The calculus of risk had changed." Force was always an option because he said so. It was his personal JUDGEMENT and he had to make that decision.

Blair didn't want his Amurkin buddies, who had officially been seeking regime change since 1998, to be alone. Ah! Murderous foreign policy determined by an act of chivalry.

Blair also humbly claimed to have been the party to persuade President Clinton to put Serbia under heavy manners over Kosovo and get mediaeval on their behinds. In the same way, he said he was telling Bush to go for it in Iraq. I'd always pictured this as a runt egging on the schoolyard bully. But my father had always maintained that people have it wrong: that because British imperialism is the oldest in the world and they are very good at this, it's not America manipulating us; it's the British Foreign Office dog wagging the US tail. And from Blair's account, Dad was right.

The word "oil" finally surfaced with another Mystic Meg moment. Let's not think about what actually happened in 2003, let's think ahead to 2010 with oil "no longer $25 per barrel, but $100 per barrel". Uh, I think oil had occurred to us at the time.

He weaseled out of the infamous BBC Fern Brittan interview where spoke of "removing" Saddam Hussein but now asserts that because he didn't use the actual words "regime change" he's home and dry.

What we do know is that the UN's Article Two states that you can't use military action to effect a regime change, and there's also a matter or proportionality which Shock And Awe most certainly was not. Resolution 1441 was only about disarmament and any action would have had to have been proportionate to that end. But in order to use military action, the phrase "by all necessary means" (diplomacy-speak for war) would have had to have been included. Which it wasn't.

Hah! 14:45 Blair just lied about 1441. He says "It's pretty obvious ... in spirit" it gave us the right to say, "that's it. This Saddam's last chance. For our armed forces that was sufficient". Smite, smite! Not that he uses words to specifically mean violence. He's very carfeful to let the casual listener draw that conclusion. So next time you're up in front of the law, plead "in spirit". His questioner knows no detail of 1441 and can't challenge him.

The panel were helpful, with Sir Rodders Lyne helping out at a weak moment in the performance with the cue, "So you were pressing for the UN route". An OK amdram actor, Blair picked up the cue which I was beginning to wish was a sawn-off snooker cue and that someone would whack him round his big arrogant homicidal head with it.

Sadly, the protest was a washout with STW leadership managing to mass-mobilise only about 250 people. Timed to start at 8am, Honest Tone had slipped into a back door half an hour earlier and caught the organisers napping.

Depressing to see the line-up of commentators in the media consisting of Westminster Village hawks and lackeys. The strongest detractor was Sir Menzies Campbell on BBC R4 lunchtime news. Where's George Galloway, Bob Marshall Andrews and Craig Murray, f'rinstance? Sharp accounts from Craig Murray here and here

Je ne regrette rien Tony Blair Part Deux

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Chilcot chums: who are the inquisitors?


What's the chance of the Chilcott Iraq Inquiry arriving at a satisfactory objective conclusion?

Andy Beckett asks in The Guardian if the inquiry can do a better job than past whitewashes.

Then there are the inquisitors themselves. None of them is a lawyer, despite the Iraq war being a minefield of legal issues. All are peers, and four out of the five are men; the sole woman is Baroness Usha Prashar. What is more, all four men seem to have pro-government elements in their biographies.

The chairman, Sir John Chilcot, a former senior civil servant, was part of the Butler inquiry panel which, in the eyes of most observers, was robust in its detailed judgments but too charitable in its conclusions. Sir Martin Gilbert is the official biographer of Winston Churchill; in 2004 he wrote in the Observer, "George W Bush and Tony Blair . . . may well, with the passage of time . . . join the ranks of [Franklin] Roosevelt and Churchill [as war leaders] when Iraq has a stable democracy."

Sir Lawrence Freedman is another grand British historian – professor of war studies at King's College London since 1982 – with less than neutral past views on Iraq. In the lead-up to war, he repeatedly wrote hawkish articles for British newspapers about the strategic threat allegedly posed by Saddam Hussein. In 1999, he contributed heavily to a famous Blair speech in Chicago that set out the arguments for military action against repressive and dangerous regimes.

Finally there is Sir Roderic Lyne, a former British ambassador to Russia. In Alastair Campbell's diaries he is referred to fondly as "Rod". In June 2003, a few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, the Times reported that during an international summit in St Petersburg, "Campbell took time out to race Sir Roderic Lyne through six miles of city streets. This was the third in a series of three races that the pair have run."

Watch Blair's testimony live on Friday at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry website.

UPDATE: Applause for Flying Rodent's splendid rant, Lefties – stop chasing the Chilcot farce at Liberal Conspiracy on what the real narrative actually is and why everything else is smoke and mirrors. Good comment at No 9, as well.

Chilcot chums: who are the inquisitors?


What's the chance of the Chilcott Iraq Inquiry arriving at a satisfactory objective conclusion?

Andy Beckett asks in The Guardian if the inquiry can do a better job than past whitewashes.

Then there are the inquisitors themselves. None of them is a lawyer, despite the Iraq war being a minefield of legal issues. All are peers, and four out of the five are men; the sole woman is Baroness Usha Prashar. What is more, all four men seem to have pro-government elements in their biographies.

The chairman, Sir John Chilcot, a former senior civil servant, was part of the Butler inquiry panel which, in the eyes of most observers, was robust in its detailed judgments but too charitable in its conclusions. Sir Martin Gilbert is the official biographer of Winston Churchill; in 2004 he wrote in the Observer, "George W Bush and Tony Blair . . . may well, with the passage of time . . . join the ranks of [Franklin] Roosevelt and Churchill [as war leaders] when Iraq has a stable democracy."

Sir Lawrence Freedman is another grand British historian – professor of war studies at King's College London since 1982 – with less than neutral past views on Iraq. In the lead-up to war, he repeatedly wrote hawkish articles for British newspapers about the strategic threat allegedly posed by Saddam Hussein. In 1999, he contributed heavily to a famous Blair speech in Chicago that set out the arguments for military action against repressive and dangerous regimes.

Finally there is Sir Roderic Lyne, a former British ambassador to Russia. In Alastair Campbell's diaries he is referred to fondly as "Rod". In June 2003, a few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, the Times reported that during an international summit in St Petersburg, "Campbell took time out to race Sir Roderic Lyne through six miles of city streets. This was the third in a series of three races that the pair have run."

Watch Blair's testimony live on Friday at the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry website.

UPDATE: Applause for Flying Rodent's splendid rant, Lefties – stop chasing the Chilcot farce at Liberal Conspiracy on what the real narrative actually is and why everything else is smoke and mirrors. Good comment at No 9, as well.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tony Blair advises shady hedge fund: reward for citizens arrest on war-crime charges


Has this man no shame? Just when you think he can't get any worse, Tony Blair hits rock bottom and breaks through to a whole new bottom no-one knew anything about. Our former British Prime Minister dons fishnets and high heels and makes yet another tranche of loot, this time hundreds of thousands from giving lectures to a shady hedge fund that made millions betting on the failure of our banks.

This is the person who makes £2.5 million per year from JP Morgan, the bank that profits most from co-ordinating the pillage of Iraq, from the war that he helped start. Conflict of interest, much? Here's hoping he gets his just deserts when he appears at Chilcot Iraq Inquiry on Friday and realises how reviled he is. Not that I expect he'll care. Money has a funny way of easing the conscience.

Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle said:
'I never cease to be amazed by Mr Blair's money-making activities. It goes to show that as far as Mr Blair is concerned, his political and public life is behind him and he appears to have no sense of responsibility to those who have been left behind. His entire lifestyle is an ongoing source of embarrassment to everyone in the Labour Party.'

Bob Marshall-Andrews, another Labour MP, said:
'Nothing that this man does surprises me any more after watching him in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.'

Integrity? Propriety? Principles? Going (not so) cheap.

Oh to see him have to spend his ill-gotten gains on lawyers at a war-crimes trial at the Hague. George Monbiot says arrest him and claim your reward:
... was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression. ... Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it.

Monbiot has started a pot for anyone willing to bring Blair to book and make a citizens arrest. So far there's £1534.00 up for grabs and rising.

UPDATE: A fascinating-sounding BBC Radio 4 play based on Craig Murray's book, Saturday Feb 20th, 2:30pm — put this in your diaries. World Premiere of Murder in Samarkand by Sir David Hare based on the memoir by the former ambassador about his brush with Bush and Blair as the Iraq invasion became inevitable. David Tennant stars as Craig Murray.

Matthew Norman on Blair the pariah at Chilcot.

Andy Beckett, The Guardian, on how cosy the Chilcot inquisitors are with the Blair posse and the hawks.

Tony Blair advises shady hedge fund: reward for citizens arrest on war-crime charges


Has this man no shame? Just when you think he can't get any worse, Tony Blair hits rock bottom and breaks through to a whole new bottom no-one knew anything about. Our former British Prime Minister dons fishnets and high heels and makes yet another tranche of loot, this time hundreds of thousands from giving lectures to a shady hedge fund that made millions betting on the failure of our banks.

This is the person who makes £2.5 million per year from JP Morgan, the bank that profits most from co-ordinating the pillage of Iraq, from the war that he helped start. Conflict of interest, much? Here's hoping he gets his just deserts when he appears at Chilcot Iraq Inquiry on Friday and realises how reviled he is. Not that I expect he'll care. Money has a funny way of easing the conscience.

Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle said:
'I never cease to be amazed by Mr Blair's money-making activities. It goes to show that as far as Mr Blair is concerned, his political and public life is behind him and he appears to have no sense of responsibility to those who have been left behind. His entire lifestyle is an ongoing source of embarrassment to everyone in the Labour Party.'

Bob Marshall-Andrews, another Labour MP, said:
'Nothing that this man does surprises me any more after watching him in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.'

Integrity? Propriety? Principles? Going (not so) cheap.

Oh to see him have to spend his ill-gotten gains on lawyers at a war-crimes trial at the Hague. George Monbiot says arrest him and claim your reward:
... was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression. ... Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it.

Monbiot has started a pot for anyone willing to bring Blair to book and make a citizens arrest. So far there's £1534.00 up for grabs and rising.

UPDATE: A fascinating-sounding BBC Radio 4 play based on Craig Murray's book, Saturday Feb 20th, 2:30pm — put this in your diaries. World Premiere of Murder in Samarkand by Sir David Hare based on the memoir by the former ambassador about his brush with Bush and Blair as the Iraq invasion became inevitable. David Tennant stars as Craig Murray.

Matthew Norman on Blair the pariah at Chilcot.

Andy Beckett, The Guardian, on how cosy the Chilcot inquisitors are with the Blair posse and the hawks.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

News round-up: Chilcot, Blair and Brangelina


Another picture in the frame this week.

News of Gordon Brown and his offer to loan Barack Obama the painting that inspired Barry in his youth — Hope by Victorian English artist George Frederic Watts. It would have hung in the Oval Office except it's indelibly associated with preacher Jeremiah Wright, the man who introduced it to him and nearly sunk Obama's bid for the presidency when he suggested that vicious US foreign policy might have something to do with terrorist attacks. The devil lying in the detail, it's revealed that Tony Blair's artwork gift to Bush was ... a bust of Conservative Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (since replaced by one of Martin Luther King). Considering the first former PM Blair invited into Number 10 wasn't his own party's James Callaghan but Margaret Thatcher, I think this says a lot about where his tiny shrunken political heart truly lay.

A picture speaks a thousand words but still not as many as the ban on the autopsy report of the death of Dr David Kelly for a whacking 70 years. Hmm, I wonder what it is that could worry the government so. After all, we all know that Kelly commited suicide by opening his tiny ulnar artery in one wrist with a blunt garden knife. Don't we?
The body of former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Kelly was found in July 2003 in woods close to his Oxfordshire home, shortly after he was exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the Government’s claims that
Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Days before Tony Blair appears at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Home Secretary Alan Johnson raises UK terror threat level to "severe". Some wags have commented, "Iraq Inquiry not going too well then..." Should we expect something "severe" just before Blair's appearance at Chilcot on Friday? Images of tanks at Heathrow might be handy.

Suzanne Moore on moral compasses versus cowboy boots in today's Mail On Sunday:
[Straw] remains in the Cabinet though he now says the war he backed was ‘self-evidently unlawful’. By this he meant getting rid of Saddam militarily without a UN mandate. Hoon apparently felt the same. ... Though we are talking about thousands of dead Iraqis, hundreds of dead British soldiers, the issue that appears to be most important is that they only did what they were told to do even if they had private doubts. ... Alastair Campbell says he has learned some lessons from Iraq. That you can get away with murder might be one.

Remember this, kids, when they are blinding you with bureaucracy and touting United Nations Security Resolution 1441 as being the Golden Ticket for taking us into war with Iraq:
[Of France and Germany not tabling the second resolution] But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained "no automatic trigger" which would lead to military action. ... all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

Aside from getting help to Haiti hours ahead of the US and their 5,000 troops, China has just announced a further $2.64 million in aid to the devastated nation. (Haiti, that is, not the US.)

Brangelina split but agree to divide the kids and $200 million.

News round-up: Chilcot, Blair and Brangelina


Another picture in the frame this week.

News of Gordon Brown and his offer to loan Barack Obama the painting that inspired Barry in his youth — Hope by Victorian English artist George Frederic Watts. It would have hung in the Oval Office except it's indelibly associated with preacher Jeremiah Wright, the man who introduced it to him and nearly sunk Obama's bid for the presidency when he suggested that vicious US foreign policy might have something to do with terrorist attacks. The devil lying in the detail, it's revealed that Tony Blair's artwork gift to Bush was ... a bust of Conservative Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (since replaced by one of Martin Luther King). Considering the first former PM Blair invited into Number 10 wasn't his own party's James Callaghan but Margaret Thatcher, I think this says a lot about where his tiny shrunken political heart truly lay.

A picture speaks a thousand words but still not as many as the ban on the autopsy report of the death of Dr David Kelly for a whacking 70 years. Hmm, I wonder what it is that could worry the government so. After all, we all know that Kelly commited suicide by opening his tiny ulnar artery in one wrist with a blunt garden knife. Don't we?
The body of former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Kelly was found in July 2003 in woods close to his Oxfordshire home, shortly after he was exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the Government’s claims that
Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Days before Tony Blair appears at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Home Secretary Alan Johnson raises UK terror threat level to "severe". Some wags have commented, "Iraq Inquiry not going too well then..." Should we expect something "severe" just before Blair's appearance at Chilcot on Friday? Images of tanks at Heathrow might be handy.

Suzanne Moore on moral compasses versus cowboy boots in today's Mail On Sunday:
[Straw] remains in the Cabinet though he now says the war he backed was ‘self-evidently unlawful’. By this he meant getting rid of Saddam militarily without a UN mandate. Hoon apparently felt the same. ... Though we are talking about thousands of dead Iraqis, hundreds of dead British soldiers, the issue that appears to be most important is that they only did what they were told to do even if they had private doubts. ... Alastair Campbell says he has learned some lessons from Iraq. That you can get away with murder might be one.

Remember this, kids, when they are blinding you with bureaucracy and touting United Nations Security Resolution 1441 as being the Golden Ticket for taking us into war with Iraq:
[Of France and Germany not tabling the second resolution] But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained "no automatic trigger" which would lead to military action. ... all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

Aside from getting help to Haiti hours ahead of the US and their 5,000 troops, China has just announced a further $2.64 million in aid to the devastated nation. (Haiti, that is, not the US.)

Brangelina split but agree to divide the kids and $200 million.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Haiti schoolgirl Fabienne Geismar: bread or roses


The press is telling us that the Haitians are primitives to be feared, hence the slowness in distributing food. But I was looking at this picture when it dawned on me what I was seeing.

I'm looking at the photograph of 15 year-old Fabienne Geismar shot dead by police for stealing three pictures. See the flowers in the framed picture. Note the colour of her clothes. Was this her favourite colour? Was she attracted by the pretty flowers?

Is this the picture of an anonymous stranger halfway across the world shot down like a dog by the police? An image we can gawp at and forget almost immediately? Some might dismiss her as a looter who got what she deserved, but who among us wouldn't steal to survive if we were in her position? How can you value property above human life and still lay claim to being civilised?

Perhaps there is more: a young girl simply seeking a glimpse of something beautiful in her shattered life when the world fell apart. She may not have a wall to hang them on but they are something cheering to look at nevertheless. We see her taste right there — such a big human quality in the detail. There's a world of connection between us and Fabienne, reminding us that these are our brothers and sisters, and not the monsters painted by the media.

Humanitarian aid fiasco in Haiti.

The Looting Lie


UPDATE: 26th January 2010 More now known about Fabienne Cherisma

Vibrant Haiti art scene — thousands of paintings destroyed

Haiti schoolgirl Fabienne Geismar: bread or roses


The press is telling us that the Haitians are primitives to be feared, hence the slowness in distributing food. But I was looking at this picture when it dawned on me what I was seeing.

I'm looking at the photograph of 15 year-old Fabienne Geismar shot dead by police for stealing three pictures. See the flowers in the framed picture. Note the colour of her clothes. Was this her favourite colour? Was she attracted by the pretty flowers?

Is this the picture of an anonymous stranger halfway across the world shot down like a dog by the police? An image we can gawp at and forget almost immediately? Some might dismiss her as a looter who got what she deserved, but who among us wouldn't steal to survive if we were in her position? How can you value property above human life and still lay claim to being civilised?

Perhaps there is more: a young girl simply seeking a glimpse of something beautiful in her shattered life when the world fell apart. She may not have a wall to hang them on but they are something cheering to look at nevertheless. We see her taste right there — such a big human quality in the detail. There's a world of connection between us and Fabienne, reminding us that these are our brothers and sisters, and not the monsters painted by the media.

Humanitarian aid fiasco in Haiti.

The Looting Lie


UPDATE: 26th January 2010 More now known about Fabienne Cherisma

Vibrant Haiti art scene — thousands of paintings destroyed

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Haiti earthquake: schoolgirl 15 shot dead as looter by police


The Haiti earthquake disaster relief effort has turned into a scandal. While the desperate survivors wait to be dug out of the rubble, the media depicts them as savages, aid piles up undistributed at the airport, an army of bureaucrats fill in forms when they venture out of their safe zones, and an army of soldiers ensures that the public unrest won't turn into full-scale revolution. After all, if the black slaves could rise up in the 18th century and kick out their white masters, they could do the same now.

The US airport in Haiti has only just opened to aid, although it was serviceable enough to accommodate Hillary Clinton's flight and the thousands of American soldiers brought in to contain dissent. If you had no water, no food, were surrounded by the rotting corpses of the dead, wouldn't you feel a little mad?

Reports that Rush Limbaugh told people not to contribute to the relief effort because they've already given "tax dollars" turn out to be a distortion in this instance. Far be it from me to defend this repellent wing-nut but he was saying that you should give, but to one of the other charities and not the government's funds. After all, the American Red Cross diverted several million dollars earmarked for 911 to Bush's war effort, and failed to help the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Read Andy Kershaw's angry article in today's Independent. He knows the place and its people and he has a bloody excellent analysis of what's going on:
The alarmingly unanimous priorities of the spokesmen and women of aid organisations and the military, have been with "issues" (for they love that word) of "security", "procedures", and "logistics" (what we used to call "transport" or "trucks"). These obsessions indicate not only a self-serving and self-important careerist culture among some, though not all, aid workers (although wide experience of the profession in Haiti and across Africa tells me it is more common than donors would like to think), but that the magnitude of the crisis has paralysed them into a gibbering strike force of box-tickers. Most worryingly, it reveals that many – even selfless – NGO workers on the ground haven't a clue about the country and its people.

The picture that sums up the horror most tragically for me is the one above of 15 year-old schoolgirl Fabienne Geismar, shot by police for taking three framed pictures. Was her life really that cheap? Who is the bigger thief: Fabienne or the world's powers who have kept Haiti in poverty for so long and are even now planning its carve-up?

Some illuminating articles at Socialist Unity and here.

Killed for wanting something pretty.

The Looting Lie


UPDATE: 24 January 2010 China pledges further $2.4 million in aid for Haiti

Haiti earthquake: schoolgirl 15 shot dead as looter by police


The Haiti earthquake disaster relief effort has turned into a scandal. While the desperate survivors wait to be dug out of the rubble, the media depicts them as savages, aid piles up undistributed at the airport, an army of bureaucrats fill in forms when they venture out of their safe zones, and an army of soldiers ensures that the public unrest won't turn into full-scale revolution. After all, if the black slaves could rise up in the 18th century and kick out their white masters, they could do the same now.

The US airport in Haiti has only just opened to aid, although it was serviceable enough to accommodate Hillary Clinton's flight and the thousands of American soldiers brought in to contain dissent. If you had no water, no food, were surrounded by the rotting corpses of the dead, wouldn't you feel a little mad?

Reports that Rush Limbaugh told people not to contribute to the relief effort because they've already given "tax dollars" turn out to be a distortion in this instance. Far be it from me to defend this repellent wing-nut but he was saying that you should give, but to one of the other charities and not the government's funds. After all, the American Red Cross diverted several million dollars earmarked for 911 to Bush's war effort, and failed to help the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Read Andy Kershaw's angry article in today's Independent. He knows the place and its people and he has a bloody excellent analysis of what's going on:
The alarmingly unanimous priorities of the spokesmen and women of aid organisations and the military, have been with "issues" (for they love that word) of "security", "procedures", and "logistics" (what we used to call "transport" or "trucks"). These obsessions indicate not only a self-serving and self-important careerist culture among some, though not all, aid workers (although wide experience of the profession in Haiti and across Africa tells me it is more common than donors would like to think), but that the magnitude of the crisis has paralysed them into a gibbering strike force of box-tickers. Most worryingly, it reveals that many – even selfless – NGO workers on the ground haven't a clue about the country and its people.

The picture that sums up the horror most tragically for me is the one above of 15 year-old schoolgirl Fabienne Geismar, shot by police for taking three framed pictures. Was her life really that cheap? Who is the bigger thief: Fabienne or the world's powers who have kept Haiti in poverty for so long and are even now planning its carve-up?

Some illuminating articles at Socialist Unity and here.

Killed for wanting something pretty.

The Looting Lie


UPDATE: 24 January 2010 China pledges further $2.4 million in aid for Haiti

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Usual Suspects: Stephen Baldwin IS Keyser Soze in Celebrity Big Brother


Stephen Baldwin's finest hour came when he starred in The Usual Suspects (1995). And it's been all downhill from there.

Watching the weirdest Celebrity Big Brother (every gurl needs a private vice) since George Galloway so famously did his cat thang and revealed his true charming self, I've been fascinated in a horrified sort of way with actor Stephen Baldwin. This right-wing shock jock and Christian fundamentalist (the Baldwin boy who looks like he had a difficult birth, according to some) has been spooking us with his bible-readings and proselytising, all of which, according to various housemates, has been a bit full-on.

It's yielded some darkly comic moments such as Stevie B converting a gullible Alex Reid who blubbed like the lost soul he is, and then proceeding to draw us into the horror fantasy of Alex having to shoot his own son, and snapping, "That's how God felt when he had to kill his only son." Then when Alex was at his lowest, whispering, "Hope I haven't bummed you out," and laughing manically.

Another crazed thing is him preachifying about compassion when the housemates finally put their foot down with the bratty Lady Sovereign (24) while he set out to smite sweet harmless Nicola T in a truly nasty two-faced vendetta.

This is American Psycho's Patrick Batemen but without the stylish clothes or the good haircut. He is gifted with a razored-on smile that slices all the way into his chubby cheeks and makes him a contender for the role of The Joker sans make-up now that Heath Ledger has mysteriously passed away. Hope you got an alibi, Brudder Steve.

So last night we dusted off The Usual Suspects and slung it on the player. I was pleasantly surprised with how good Stephen was. His natural unhinged qualities stood him well as the leather-jacketed Michael McManus, who may or may not have been in love with his partner in crime, Benicio Del Torres's Fenster. If you'd seen Stephen lovingly massaging the muscular Alex and fussing over him like a mother hen — "Fix your nose and you could play Bond" — you'd have your suspicions about exactly what is being repressed as well.

Or him staring — and I mean LASER BEAM wish-I-had-X-ray-vision-instead-of-these-little-piggies — in disapproval at the gorgeous Jonas clad only in his undies. In one hilarious and nutty moment, Stephen insisted that Jonas, who hails from Sweden where the human body has never been much of a hang-up, had pranced around in his "banana-hammock" only. It took the testimony of other housemates (and the video-tape, I keep tellin' ya, Stevie) and our collective memory to prove that Jonas was also wearing a vest as well. For, armed with the good lord on his side, Stephen only had eyes for one thing.

People want to shoot him with a reality gun. Revealing the Narnia in his head with each epic pronouncement, he swears things have happened that we know are not true because we have the video tape. Such as when he blamed Nicola for getting them into trouble with Big Brother by talking about nominations and attributing his own words spoken just that day to her. And because the woman challenged his version of reality, he now hates her, is poisoning everyone against her using the creepiest biblical language and declares forgiveness to be out the window. A cracked nut using the sledgehammer of his lordly wrath to crack a nut.

SPOILER ALERT: I was disappointed by The Usual Suspects because there's a great big hole in the plot. If Keyser Soze schemed so meticulously his genius plan to kill the one person who could identify him, then how about the entire police station that had seen him, spoken to him and fed him coffee? If he could disappear for them, then how about doing his vanishing trick for crims lacking the resources of America's finest?

Meanwhile, former CBB star, left shock-jock and Respect MP George Galloway continues to split himself between Jekyll and Hyde. This winter his Dr Jekyll did the most amazing and brave thing by leading the Viva Palestina aid convoy all the way to the blockaded people of Gaza through the enemy territory that Egypt has become. Following attacks and arrests, Galloway cried "Let my people go", was slung out of Egypt and found himself declared persona non grata — an honour under the circumstances. Go GG!

If you are watching Celebrity Big Brother, check the #cbb and #cbb7 Tweets during broadcast and share the schadenfreude as wackiness ensues.

The Usual Suspects: Stephen Baldwin IS Keyser Soze in Celebrity Big Brother


Stephen Baldwin's finest hour came when he starred in The Usual Suspects (1995). And it's been all downhill from there.

Watching the weirdest Celebrity Big Brother (every gurl needs a private vice) since George Galloway so famously did his cat thang and revealed his true charming self, I've been fascinated in a horrified sort of way with actor Stephen Baldwin. This right-wing shock jock and Christian fundamentalist (the Baldwin boy who looks like he had a difficult birth, according to some) has been spooking us with his bible-readings and proselytising, all of which, according to various housemates, has been a bit full-on.

It's yielded some darkly comic moments such as Stevie B converting a gullible Alex Reid who blubbed like the lost soul he is, and then proceeding to draw us into the horror fantasy of Alex having to shoot his own son, and snapping, "That's how God felt when he had to kill his only son." Then when Alex was at his lowest, whispering, "Hope I haven't bummed you out," and laughing manically.

Another crazed thing is him preachifying about compassion when the housemates finally put their foot down with the bratty Lady Sovereign (24) while he set out to smite sweet harmless Nicola T in a truly nasty two-faced vendetta.

This is American Psycho's Patrick Batemen but without the stylish clothes or the good haircut. He is gifted with a razored-on smile that slices all the way into his chubby cheeks and makes him a contender for the role of The Joker sans make-up now that Heath Ledger has mysteriously passed away. Hope you got an alibi, Brudder Steve.

So last night we dusted off The Usual Suspects and slung it on the player. I was pleasantly surprised with how good Stephen was. His natural unhinged qualities stood him well as the leather-jacketed Michael McManus, who may or may not have been in love with his partner in crime, Benicio Del Torres's Fenster. If you'd seen Stephen lovingly massaging the muscular Alex and fussing over him like a mother hen — "Fix your nose and you could play Bond" — you'd have your suspicions about exactly what is being repressed as well.

Or him staring — and I mean LASER BEAM wish-I-had-X-ray-vision-instead-of-these-little-piggies — in disapproval at the gorgeous Jonas clad only in his undies. In one hilarious and nutty moment, Stephen insisted that Jonas, who hails from Sweden where the human body has never been much of a hang-up, had pranced around in his "banana-hammock" only. It took the testimony of other housemates (and the video-tape, I keep tellin' ya, Stevie) and our collective memory to prove that Jonas was also wearing a vest as well. For, armed with the good lord on his side, Stephen only had eyes for one thing.

People want to shoot him with a reality gun. Revealing the Narnia in his head with each epic pronouncement, he swears things have happened that we know are not true because we have the video tape. Such as when he blamed Nicola for getting them into trouble with Big Brother by talking about nominations and attributing his own words spoken just that day to her. And because the woman challenged his version of reality, he now hates her, is poisoning everyone against her using the creepiest biblical language and declares forgiveness to be out the window. A cracked nut using the sledgehammer of his lordly wrath to crack a nut.

SPOILER ALERT: I was disappointed by The Usual Suspects because there's a great big hole in the plot. If Keyser Soze schemed so meticulously his genius plan to kill the one person who could identify him, then how about the entire police station that had seen him, spoken to him and fed him coffee? If he could disappear for them, then how about doing his vanishing trick for crims lacking the resources of America's finest?

Meanwhile, former CBB star, left shock-jock and Respect MP George Galloway continues to split himself between Jekyll and Hyde. This winter his Dr Jekyll did the most amazing and brave thing by leading the Viva Palestina aid convoy all the way to the blockaded people of Gaza through the enemy territory that Egypt has become. Following attacks and arrests, Galloway cried "Let my people go", was slung out of Egypt and found himself declared persona non grata — an honour under the circumstances. Go GG!

If you are watching Celebrity Big Brother, check the #cbb and #cbb7 Tweets during broadcast and share the schadenfreude as wackiness ensues.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Titanic poem and news round-up


A cursory glance at my blog might give the impression that we're all going to hell in a handcart (copyright Richard Littlejohn, Jeremy Clarkson, Rod Liddle and other great minds of our times).

There's the screw-up around the Haiti disaster with the race to impose the Shock Doctrine on a traumatised nation and the slo-o-ow as molasses help to arrive from the US. More from our glorious leaders as Straw moves to save his own skin over Iraq at Chilcott having seen Alastair Campbell blaming JIC and Sir John Scarlett for not having the cojones to challenge Campbell's rewrites which included removing the crucial sentence that Iraq was not an immediate threat to us. And then there's Brown. And Blair.

Elsewhere the war's cheerleaders are saying, yeah, it was all about getting rid of Saddam, so what? This person is being considered for the post of editor for The Independent newspaper and still writes for The Times and the Spectator. Religious fundies of all stripes are falling over each other to get their moment in the spotlight. The milk of human kindness is all dried up as this DJ wanker plays "Jump" as a woman leaps off a bridge and then says, "I'd do it again".

As I can't hibernate or escape to an exotic island, I thought I'd jolly it up and grace my space with some art.

Not sure I can keep up with online poets like Bill Greenwell who posts a good one every week, but I'll try for a monthly. Here's a poem I wrote the other day.

All aboard
10th January 2010

What’s that creaking? Is it metal ripped
And rivets popped
As the vessel sinks another notch?

Who’s that speaking? Is it posts all pipped,
And plans all stopped,
Cries curtailed by the water slopped

Into upturned mouths while the great hulk drops
Into the darkest yet but I’m safe on top

What’s that skidding? Is it deckchairs slipped
From ranks half-cocked
While the orchestra plays its final spot?

Who’s that kidding? Has reason kipped,
Is fraternity mocked,
Are human bonds tied in a fancy slipknot

That each lurch loosens with a sly little sigh
Unheard by those who are warm and dry?

I’ll stay a while with my little pile
Of salvage glittering under a harvest moon
My precious, my ghostly crop. For soon
No food no gas no salt no grit, just slops
Last night I dined in style on ribs and chops
Tomorrow I might suck at straws
As the wind sucks now at my chilling bones
Better that than freezing currents drawing me down
Don’t look down, look up.
Up at those climbed highest to the helm
A realm ruled by flunkies and fops
Who feign and fulminate, feast and grasp
Above the stalking waterline where these last hours I too have dwelled
Til in my turn a desperate hand outheld
Finding no firm clasp in this wintry hell
I lose my footing and like all good men, women, babes and beasts
I drown


Hmm. Wasn't that cheery after all. Sorry about that. Will do better next time.

(Copyright Anna Chen 2010)

Titanic poem and news round-up


A cursory glance at my blog might give the impression that we're all going to hell in a handcart (copyright Richard Littlejohn, Jeremy Clarkson, Rod Liddle and other great minds of our times).

There's the screw-up around the Haiti disaster with the race to impose the Shock Doctrine on a traumatised nation and the slo-o-ow as molasses help to arrive from the US. More from our glorious leaders as Straw moves to save his own skin over Iraq at Chilcott having seen Alastair Campbell blaming JIC and Sir John Scarlett for not having the cojones to challenge Campbell's rewrites which included removing the crucial sentence that Iraq was not an immediate threat to us. And then there's Brown. And Blair.

Elsewhere the war's cheerleaders are saying, yeah, it was all about getting rid of Saddam, so what? This person is being considered for the post of editor for The Independent newspaper and still writes for The Times and the Spectator. Religious fundies of all stripes are falling over each other to get their moment in the spotlight. The milk of human kindness is all dried up as this DJ wanker plays "Jump" as a woman leaps off a bridge and then says, "I'd do it again".

As I can't hibernate or escape to an exotic island, I thought I'd jolly it up and grace my space with some art.

Not sure I can keep up with online poets like Bill Greenwell who posts a good one every week, but I'll try for a monthly. Here's a poem I wrote the other day.

All aboard
10th January 2010

What’s that creaking? Is it metal ripped
And rivets popped
As the vessel sinks another notch?

Who’s that speaking? Is it posts all pipped,
And plans all stopped,
Cries curtailed by the water slopped

Into upturned mouths while the great hulk drops
Into the darkest yet but I’m safe on top

What’s that skidding? Is it deckchairs slipped
From ranks half-cocked
While the orchestra plays its final spot?

Who’s that kidding? Has reason kipped,
Is fraternity mocked,
Are human bonds tied in a fancy slipknot

That each lurch loosens with a sly little sigh
Unheard by those who are warm and dry?

I’ll stay a while with my little pile
Of salvage glittering under a harvest moon
My precious, my ghostly crop. For soon
No food no gas no salt no grit, just slops
Last night I dined in style on ribs and chops
Tomorrow I might suck at straws
As the wind sucks now at my chilling bones
Better that than freezing currents drawing me down
Don’t look down, look up.
Up at those climbed highest to the helm
A realm ruled by flunkies and fops
Who feign and fulminate, feast and grasp
Above the stalking waterline where these last hours I too have dwelled
Til in my turn a desperate hand outheld
Finding no firm clasp in this wintry hell
I lose my footing and like all good men, women, babes and beasts
I drown


Hmm. Wasn't that cheery after all. Sorry about that. Will do better next time.

(Copyright Anna Chen 2010)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Haiti earthquake horror: Pat Robertson dances on the dead

The Haiti presidential palace destroyed. How must the rest of the nation's poorly constructed buildings have fared?

The first shocking thing about the huge Haiti earthquake which has killed up to 500,000 people is that one of the poorest countries in the world should have to bear even more horror than its permanent poverty. Look at the maps and you'll see how close the epicentre of this 7 magnitude quake is to the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Only ten miles. And because it's only six miles deep, the ground shakes were all the more violent and their impact devastating.

The shoddily built structures have collapsed. Even the presidential palace is down. The head of the UN mission in Haiti is dead, the Archbishop of Haiti is dead, along with hundreds of thousands of others. Privilege and status offer no protection.

The second thing that is shocking, if not surprising, is Pat Robinson and his relentless pursuit of publicity. He says the disaster is a punishment from God due to a pact the Haitians made with the devil when they liberated themselves as slaves from the French in the 1700s.

The Haitian Ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph, makes a dignified response and points out this this "pact with the devil" gave Louisiana to the US for $15 million and helped make America what it is today.


Pat Robertson on the Satanic pact: "It's a true story." Ha!

What is it with pious Christian fundies of late? I can't help noticing that Iris Robinson attacks gays as being an abomination because the bible says so while she indulges in the biblical sin of adultery, not to mention exploitation of a vulnerable bereaved teenage family friend, and the very human sin of graft and kickbacks. From the not-so-sublime to the ridiculous Bible-basher and right-wing shock jock Stephen Baldwin who's whipping up a hate frenzy around nice but dim Nicola T on Celebrity Big Brother. Dim as she might be, Nichola's not so stupid as to meekly accept his cowardly mendacity, where he's shifting his guilt over breaking CBB rules to her, without putting up a challenge. But he's taking revenge and saying forgiveness is not an option. Trivial yes, but the devil is in the detail.

These examples may be a world away from each other but they are united in their warping of stated core Christian values.

And then there's the Pope. With so many human souls gone, including a fair number of his own Catholic constituents, what's his prime concern? Pope says gay marriage a threat to creation.

There's much about the Christian religion that appeals to me: namely love, mercy and compassion. The notion of forgiveness is deeply touching. The protection of a woman against a stoning because she slept with someone who wasn't her husband must have been rare if not unheard of in ancient times. But what I learn from Christ's behaviour is that any system, whether religious or political, should serve human beings, not the other way around. When it devours its followers it's lost its humanity and its reason for being.

“Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC”
donations tax deductible
send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 947
Please consider a tax-deductible donation to HERF/EBSC.
EBSC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, tax ID# 94-3249753.
We will acknowledge all donations.


The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is taking donations through a special phone line, 0370 60 60 900, and through its website www.dec.org.uk

UPDATE: Eagle-eye Ollie found this on the Heritage Foundation website, now replaced (see comments).
"In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."

They're also threatening to send George W Bush like the Haitians haven't suffered enough.

Others are pointing out the political background to the appalling state endured by the Haitian people. Thanks to Splintered Sunrise.

UPDATE 2: Pat Robertson voodoo doll for sale — proceeds to Haiti appeal

Greg Palast's trenchant criticism of the US aid effort ("in a few days") and history in Haiti:
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans. ... China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

IMF holds Haiti to ransom at The Nation

Haiti earthquake horror: Pat Robertson dances on the dead

The Haiti presidential palace destroyed. How must the rest of the nation's poorly constructed buildings have fared?

The first shocking thing about the huge Haiti earthquake which has killed up to 500,000 people is that one of the poorest countries in the world should have to bear even more horror than its permanent poverty. Look at the maps and you'll see how close the epicentre of this 7 magnitude quake is to the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Only ten miles. And because it's only six miles deep, the ground shakes were all the more violent and their impact devastating.

The shoddily built structures have collapsed. Even the presidential palace is down. The head of the UN mission in Haiti is dead, the Archbishop of Haiti is dead, along with hundreds of thousands of others. Privilege and status offer no protection.

The second thing that is shocking, if not surprising, is Pat Robinson and his relentless pursuit of publicity. He says the disaster is a punishment from God due to a pact the Haitians made with the devil when they liberated themselves as slaves from the French in the 1700s.

The Haitian Ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph, makes a dignified response and points out this this "pact with the devil" gave Louisiana to the US for $15 million and helped make America what it is today.


Pat Robertson on the Satanic pact: "It's a true story." Ha!

What is it with pious Christian fundies of late? I can't help noticing that Iris Robinson attacks gays as being an abomination because the bible says so while she indulges in the biblical sin of adultery, not to mention exploitation of a vulnerable bereaved teenage family friend, and the very human sin of graft and kickbacks. From the not-so-sublime to the ridiculous Bible-basher and right-wing shock jock Stephen Baldwin who's whipping up a hate frenzy around nice but dim Nicola T on Celebrity Big Brother. Dim as she might be, Nichola's not so stupid as to meekly accept his cowardly mendacity, where he's shifting his guilt over breaking CBB rules to her, without putting up a challenge. But he's taking revenge and saying forgiveness is not an option. Trivial yes, but the devil is in the detail.

These examples may be a world away from each other but they are united in their warping of stated core Christian values.

And then there's the Pope. With so many human souls gone, including a fair number of his own Catholic constituents, what's his prime concern? Pope says gay marriage a threat to creation.

There's much about the Christian religion that appeals to me: namely love, mercy and compassion. The notion of forgiveness is deeply touching. The protection of a woman against a stoning because she slept with someone who wasn't her husband must have been rare if not unheard of in ancient times. But what I learn from Christ's behaviour is that any system, whether religious or political, should serve human beings, not the other way around. When it devours its followers it's lost its humanity and its reason for being.

“Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC”
donations tax deductible
send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 947
Please consider a tax-deductible donation to HERF/EBSC.
EBSC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, tax ID# 94-3249753.
We will acknowledge all donations.


The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is taking donations through a special phone line, 0370 60 60 900, and through its website www.dec.org.uk

UPDATE: Eagle-eye Ollie found this on the Heritage Foundation website, now replaced (see comments).
"In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."

They're also threatening to send George W Bush like the Haitians haven't suffered enough.

Others are pointing out the political background to the appalling state endured by the Haitian people. Thanks to Splintered Sunrise.

UPDATE 2: Pat Robertson voodoo doll for sale — proceeds to Haiti appeal

Greg Palast's trenchant criticism of the US aid effort ("in a few days") and history in Haiti:
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans. ... China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

IMF holds Haiti to ransom at The Nation

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The East is Pink: first gay marriage in China


We've come a long way since I was informed, when touring China with my parents in the glorious heyday of the Cultural Revolution, that there were no homosexuals in China. I remember this particularly vividly because my mother and I were looking at yet another pair of young guys walking hand in hand in Beijing when we were told this. It was so sweet.

And now, the China Daily reports the first gay marriage in China. Not surprising as, according to friends who know this sort of thing, China has a stunningly vibrant gay scene. Quite handy with men outnumbering women by 24 million due to the one-child policy. 24 million gay men? Roll on China Gay Pride

Hat-tip Ollie at Political Custard

UPDATE: Not to be outdone, here are snogging lesbians in Tiananmen Square

Hundreds of thousands dead in Haiti and the Pope says

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