Sunday 29 May 2011

Naomi Campbell threatens to sue as Cadbury Kraft likens her to chocolate

How backward is this? Just as First Lady Michelle Obama inspires young black women during her visit to Britain, US food giant corporation Kraft compares Naomi Campbell with chocolate in their new Cadbury ad campaign.

"Move over Naomi – there is a new diva in town." reads the ad in a spiteful swipe at one of the few prominent black women in the world. Not content with reneging on promises guaranteeing their takeover of the English chocolate manufacturer, resulting in the closure of the Somerdale factory one week after signing the agreement, Kraft has now insulted black women across the globe.

Workers and black women in one fell swoop. Well done, Kraft. Putting the K into KKK.

This being 2011, and not 1951 in the Deep South, I hope the litigious Ms Campbell uses her formidable legal team to teach the company some respect, manners and humanity. In the absence of an apology, Cadbury is off the nibbles list for me.

UPDATE 15:30: Kate Moss's friend calls black man a n****r at the Baftas. Ben Douglas was repeatedly called the racist epithet by the hair-raising white media figure at the Baftas in earshot of other guests but no-one protested. He also called Ben's companion a "bitch". Mind you, this was the same Bafta event that gave an award to the same Sherlock series that included a torrent of anti-Chinese racism in the second episode, The Blind Banker, so what do you expect?

Friday 27 May 2011

Chinese pranksters and rebels take on rule-flouting officials

So you think you have problems with bureaucrats. Want to know why the authorities in China are so damned heavy-handed? The draconian clamp-down goes hand-in-hand with a contempt for the law from the powerful and privileged. However, it looks to me like the rule-flouters are losing the battle with the jobsworths.

Yep, the peasants are revolting — but the officials are positively repulsive.

You'd think that with all the crap that happened down the ages, China would be a cowed society. But while people do indeed toe the line, there's also this curious phenomenon where, once they've had enough of being pushed around, they let you know it.

Just saw this at The Wall Street Journal
After being pulled over in the Henan Province capital of Zhengzhou for breaking traffic rules and driving with a fake license plate, an official from a nearby county warns a policeman not to “poke your nose in other people’s business” and threatens to have him killed.

Escorted by a police cruiser, a car carrying the mayor of the Hebei Province city of Xingtai hits a 14-year-old student while rushing through a red light. The mayor carries on with his official duties that day instead of going to the hospital to visit the victim, who was left permanently disabled.

Traffic police in Hunan’s Hengdong County brawl with a man they accuse of having illegally installed an umbrella on his motorcycle. A crowd of more than 1,000 onlookers gets so angry over the policemen’s treatment of the motorcyclist, they overturn two police cars in protest. A subsequent government investigation finds the policemen were “simplistic, rough and lacked patience” in enforcing the law.

Policewoman Mao Li in Shanxi’s Hunyuan County is showered with praise online after it’s reported that she regularly tickets county officials whose cars violate traffic rules. In the six months since starting her job, Mao is reported to have handed out 138 tickets to officials in nearly all the county government agencies, including the police department. She also ticketed her aunt, despite her father’s intervention on the aunt’s behalf.

I'm also told that, not only did father of the Great Firewall, Fang Binxing, get hit by a shoe-thrower, there were also eggs in the mix. And demonstrating a healthy prankster pricking of authority, the room he was given to speak for his recent Hubei University lecture, was Room 404 — the number of the online message that tells you a page is unavailable.

Keep it up, chaps.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Is China a responsible stakeholder? Chatham House report review

Amitai Etzioni asks in the Chatham House-run International Affairs website, if China can be trusted as a "responsible stakeholder" in world politics.

You may remember that "stakeholder" was a term much used by Tony Blair and New Labour after economic guru Will Hutton began popularising the business term and applying it to their aspirations for a section of the population. Not all of them, mind. Just enough of them harbouring the delusion that they'd be granted an interest in society (rather than possessing an inbuilt interest on account of their being a member of society already) to ensure they'd vote for their benefactors.

Who can forget how responsible New Labour were in power: a veritable model of democracy, altruism and benevolence?

This was the same New Labour, not old Labour in opposition to Capital, that took Britain to war against the wishes of its people, including many of those would-be "stakeholders". The same government under which the poverty gap grew for the first time under Labour helmsmanship, a landslide victory notwithstanding.

Etzioni quotes American commentators:
China ‘is refusing to be a responsible stakeholder in the international political system, cultivating, as it has been, good relations with some of the world’s most odious regimes’, according to Robert Kaplan, writing in The Atlantic.

Which is rich considering America's interests in Saudi Arabia and almost the entire Middle East, along with every other commie-killing despot who ever took a Yankee dollar. In 2005, the Bush Jr administration echoed the fear that China would not be a responsible stakeholder even as they bombed Iraq. And Condoleeza Rice had America on paranoia standby when she declared China to be "not a status quo power", meaning the US could not be certain that its own interests would remain untouched by the new kid on the block.

Whether that kid would turn out to be an even bigger bully, or a cohort prepared to carve up the world along new lines suitable to the old masters, remains to be seen. However, some have argued that China is indeed a "status quo power" and plead for its induction into the international community (of business).

China itself has been eager to demonstrate that it is not a "revisionist" power seeking to upset the current geopolitical balance too much:
President Jiang Zemin stated that ‘China needs a long-lasting peaceful international environment for its development’, and in 1997 he initiated China’s ‘New Security Concept’, which stresses ‘mutual respect’ and ‘peaceful coexistence’. Since then, Chinese leaders such as Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have declared that they are seeking a ‘peaceful rise’ and that they seek to focus on domestic development, not international expansion.

Why bother with armed conflict, a Western enthusiasm, when you can buy what you want?
Since then, Chinese leaders such as Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have declared that they are seeking a ‘peaceful rise’ and that they seek to focus on domestic development, not international expansion. The concept was developed by Chinese scholar Zheng Bijian, who wrote in a Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘China’s “peaceful rise” to great power status’, ‘for the next few decades the Chinese nation will be preoccupied with securing a more decent life for its people … China’s emergence thus far has been driven by capital, technology, and resources acquired through peaceful means … China’s peaceful rise will further open its economy so that its population can serve as a growing market for the rest of the world … China’s development depends on world peace — a peace that its development will in turn reinforce.’

So far, so "responsible".

However, the John Milius school of Red Dawn politics rages that China is only pretending to be peaceful and that she'll reveal her full gory glory in true Fu Manchu fashion once all her plans and capabilities are in place. I saw Team America. I know how this one plays out.

Although Etzioni's piece is published on the (British) Chatham House website, it overlooks a vital state of affairs when it asks if China is a "good citizen of the international community". Hey, we Brits aren't citizens of anything, being subjects of the Royal Parasites. In seeking to distinguish between the behaviour expected from communitarian "stakeholders" and upstanding "citizens", it seems we are the Disappeared.

According to Etzioni, a stakeholding community member does everything a citizen does — paying taxes (unless you can afford the accountants), serving on juries (and paying for superinjunctions if you can afford it), submitting to the laws (unless you can afford not to).
A good community member — aside from being an upstanding citizen — also contributes to the common good by volunteering, making donations, heeding the informal norms of the community and helping to enforce them by exerting informal social controls over those who do not.

Hmm, did I see some sort of power wielded there?

In place of a global state, Etzioni sees "a non-trivial and growing body of established international laws and institutions which nations are expected to heed". He considers whether China is a good citizen or stakeholder.

Surfing a tidal wave of claims that China is not pulling its weight, Etzioni cites a parsimonious foreign aid policy. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, I remember foreign media reporting the rapid arrival of fully tooled-up Chinese rescue teams, complete with dog-handlers, on the stricken island before many Western nations, including Britain, could muster their forces. However, China was criticised for being stingy with their relief aid, donating only a miserly US$1.5 million, against US$350 million from America, but rising to US$60 million for the 2004 tsunami fund. He doesn't mention the pledges made by the G8/20 rich nations in a drunken bout of "my wallet's bigger than yours ... isn't it, Angela?" and then forgotten as the hangover wore off. What Etzioni doesn't clarify is the state of the African debt, once thought to be a never-ending problem, which China has alleviated through various deals (open to a slew of criticism), thereby mercifully saving us from Bono's never-ending career as messiah and right royal pain.

Of the list of examples of Chinese aggression throughout the past decades, I'd ask: where's the cut-off point? At what time can't you phone someone? Nine o'clock? Ten o'clock? Ten-fifteen if they don't have kids? Likewise, when's the cut-off point for bad behaviour? How come deliberate acts of aggression, such as the opium wars and sending gunboats up the Yangtze, don't count — but accidents such as the 2001 collision of a Chinese and an American plane do? Are we mentioning the deliberate downing of an Iranian airliner by the US in 1989?

It's hardly surprising that the Chinese get arsey about Japan, when the Rising Sun invaders held beheading contests of its citizens in the streets of Nanking and experimented on people, all within living memory. How should they respond to a nation that has now rewritten the history books to forgive itself? Remember "comfort women"? Shrines to fascist murderers?

How do the Western powers fare when comparing environmental destruction and global deaths resulting from climate change?

At least Etzioni throws a sop to fairness when he writes:
... China is properly criticized for doing little to stop genocides. However, while the US and its allies are credited for stopping the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, they failed to do so in Cambodia, Rwanda, the Congo and Sudan.

And he quotes Bill Gates as saying, " ... the trend is clear that China is becoming a more responsible stakeholder."

Who can blame China for maintaining a discreet distance from America's conflicts?
From China’s perspective, for example, it is in China’s interests for the US military to be mired in a war in Afghanistan (and before that in Iraq) and to be further occupied with a proliferating Iran, especially given statements by American military officials that define China’s military as a major threat to the US, implying that China is an adversary.

Would you rush to the aid of superpower generals eager to make you a target?

This blogpost is not a plea for ignoring China's faults. I'm angry at the way the wealth gap is soaring in China; the number of executions; the corruption; the clampdown on free expression and imprisonment of dissidents. But instead of raising issues of international concern in a way that leads to change and understanding, much of the report seems to present yet another skewed "look over there" job, whilst allowing the West to get away with much the same. After all, how much of the Haiti tragedy, in America's back yard, was due purely to natural forces, and how much — with continuing poverty, disease and corruption, before and since — was set in motion years ago? Presumably this was prior to the cut-off point, whose location only Amitai Etzioni and his friends can detect.

The latter part of the report does note areas where China is improving: slow but steady recognition of human rights, even if Ai Weiwei is still in prison, and despite double standards being applied to US allies such as Saudi Arabia.

I see Western capitalists on the wane looking enviously at the new Eastern capitalists and studying how to do the same. By all means criticise China's policies ... but all too often this looks like the skunk damning the pig for smelling bad.

UPDATE 22 May 2011: Henry Kissinger's book, On China, is out.
... my first question, which concerns the treatment of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who, like Mr. Kissinger, is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. "I have not read his writings," he answers. ... I press on. Does he denounce Mr. Liu's treatment? "My policy on this," he replies, "is to talk to them [Chinese leaders], but my personal view is not to denounce it publicly."

Ye-e-es. Just as well so few Westerners have read them. Lui Xiaobo's award of the Nobel Peace Prize is like Kissinger's in more ways than you'd think from reading interviews like this. The event that took the world "beyond parody".

Thursday 19 May 2011

Geeks Throw Shoes at Father of the Great Firewall of China

Pic: MICGadget

Beware of geeks feeling stiffed. Speaking as a blogger who has fallen foul of the Great Firewall of China, I'm guessing the guy who invented it isn't so popular among the people he reckons he's protecting.

It's with a small but delicious sense of schadenfreude that I note computer students threw shoes at Fang Binxing, known as the father of the "Golden Shield", when he gave a lecture at Wuhan University today. The fact that this news hit Twitter in minutes demonstrates the derision felt for Fang by the computer geeks who Fang presumably hopes will follow in his footsteps. The speed with which they disseminated information pertaining to his humiliation demonstrates their technical savvy. We hope that the good president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication will give them all an A-plus in appreciation of their skills.

Fang himself owns six VPNs, allowing him to Great Leap over the Firewall. How very egalitarian of him. And what a waste. He says, “I’m not interested in reading messy information like some of that anti-government stuff."

Wadda heel! No sole.

This does beg the question: exactly when did shoes become an international symbol of contempt? We saw it in Iraq when portraits of Saddam were walloped with shoes, and Bush's narrow miss certainly added to the gaiety of the anti-war movement. However, not since sabots (wooden clogs) were thrown into machinery in the Netherlands in the 15th century, thereby giving birth to sabotage, has footwear taken on any political significance here in Yurp.

Lemme tell ya: NO-ONE is getting my precious Imeldas.

Thanks to China Digital Times for much of the above. Just 'cause your "Berkeley China Internet Project" is based in Berkeley University in the US sunshine state of California doesn't mean you have an axe to grind yourselves. No way. No siree! Keep it up, guys.

You can send roses or raspberries to the shoe-thrower @hanunyi on Twitter.

Madam Miaow — banned by both the Guardian and the Great Firewall of China ... and proud of it.

New National China Museum cuts out the Cultural Revolution among others.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Ai Weiwei at Somerset House: Jimmy Porter and heads on a stick

A visit to disappeared artist Ai Weiwei's 12 Circle of Animals/Zodia Heads at Somerset House off the Strand in London proves well worthwhile.

The huge bronze animal heads representing the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac have been erected in a suitably impressive setting, standing tall along three sides of the courtyard fountains in this classical 18th century square.

They are based on the heads stolen from the Yuanming Yuan Imperial Palace fountain by the British and French during the second Opium War (1856-60), and are a meditation on looting, the fake and the copy.

Here's an Ai Weiwei moment from British culture — Jimmy Porter, protagonist of John Osbourne's Look Back In Anger from 1956. Kenneth Tynan reviews:
What with this flair for introspection, his gift for ribald parody, his excoriating candour, his contempt for "phoniness", his weakness for soliloquy and his desperate conviction that the time is out of joint, Jimmy Porter is the completest young pup in our literature since Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ... Jimmy is simply and abundantly alive: that rarest of dramatic phenomena, the act of original creation has taken place: and those who carp were better silent. Is Jimmy's anger justified? ... The Porters of our time deplore the tyranny of "good taste" and refuse to accept "emotional" as a term of abuse; they are classless and leaderless.

Ai's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is on exhibition at Somerset House until 26 June. Free entry but the series of talks to accompany the exhibition are £10 each.

UPDATE Monday 16 May: Index on Censorship reports that Ai has been seen by his wife, has had his diabetes medicine, and still has his signature beard even though prisoners are usually shaved.

Saturday 14 May 2011

The Eurovision Song Contest: Charles Shaar Murray gets the blues

A very funny exchange between Charles Shaar Murray and Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz in today's Guardian about the Eurovision Song Contest, showing they have more in common than you'd think.

Here's a sample:
CSM: I've been thinking about what it is about this oom-pah stuff, or its modern, glitzy equivalent, that I don't like, and I figure it's because most of the music I like is derived from an African-American tradition – soul, blues, rock, reggae. But the Americans ain't in it, the Latin Americans ain't in it, the Caribbeans ain't in it.
CB: In Eurovision? That's because it's Europe! Although there is Israel.
CSM: I have a problem with that. It's like they're saying, OK, we may be geographically in the Middle East, but culturally we're down with you white folks. Here's my Eurovision nightmare: this is what all popular music would have been like if the Nazis had won.
CB: Ha ha ha!

You can watch the Eurovision Song Contest tonight at 8pm on BBC1. If your tastes don't run to such dazzling spectacle and you care for some variety, you can always watch Britain's Got Talent followed by Piers Morgan on ITV. Nul points, schedulers.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Ai Weiwei: the Monkey King goes missing

Épater la bourgeoisie. Scare the rich and powerful until their pips squeak. That's always been a healthy drive for anyone with a democratic bone under their flab, and one that turned me into a London punk back in the day. Another guiding principle is that no-one should be locked up for thought crimes. When you crush ideas, the energetic vanguard that expands our society's possibilities, you crush humanity's potential for growth.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo certainly strained my inner Voltaire once I'd read what this unpleasant cheerleader for Nato's wars had actually written. No wonder you couldn't find in-depth pieces expounding his worldview in the Western media. As Tariq Ali revealed in Counterpunch:
Liu Xiaobo has stated publicly that in his view:
(a) China's tragedy is that it wasn't colonised for at least 300 years by a Western power or Japan. This would apparently have civilised it for ever;

(b) The Korean and Vietnam wars fought by the US were wars against totalitarianism and enhanced Washington's 'moral credibility';

(c) Bush was right to go to war in Iraq and Senator Kerry's criticisms were 'slander-mongering';

(d) Afghanistan? No surprises here: Full support for Nato's war.

As much as I recoil from another laughable Nobel Peace Prize that goes, in the tradition of Henry Kissinger's award, beyond satire, I defend Liu's right to say those things, just as I reserve the right to blow raspberries right back at him.

However, Ai Weiwei is another case. He's not just a very bright and talented artist: he looks the kind of guy you'd like personally and would want to have a beer with. Witty, gutsy, principled, original, courageous and entertaining: not for him vapid decorative art. Ai picks on the powerful and the bullies, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. When children died in school-buildings so shoddily constructed with illegal 'tofu' cement that they collapsed in the Sichuan earthquakes, he made this scandal a feature of one of his works.

Instead of the authorities taking this as a kick up the rear to do their job and prevent corruption resulting in such devastating consequences, they added this to the list of his 'crimes'. Who is it who's defending the Chinese people in this case? It's certainly not the time-serving bureaucrats who are persecuting Ai.

If only the Britpop art pack could claim such a powerful raison d'etre.

Ai's mischief with intent has a cultural precedent in Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, whose adventures have delighted and inspired Chinese children for hundreds of years since the classical tales of Journey To The West were written in the 1590s. A cross between Prometheus and Tigger, the irrepressible Monkey King upsets the balance of heaven and experiences various adventures and punishments on his path to enlightenment. In doing so, he takes us along with him.

Heaven – in the form of the Communist Party – is certainly upset now. Stung into retribution by a man who refuses to accept his place in the hierarchical firmament, they've gone a bit nuts in their lashing-out. Even the UK Chinese who usually steer clear of the politics of the mainland are openly derisive about Ai Weiwei's mile-long charge sheet. 'The Chinese authorities are desperate and are throwing everything at him,' said one UK Chinese local politician in London. He's been accused of everything from tax evasion to plagiarism, a ridiculous notion considering this is a man on a mission burning with fresh ideas. I suspect that the artist who designed the beautiful Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, and who gave us millions of hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern, doesn't need to steal from anyone.

It's not as if China is in a state of crisis, a fledgling state seeking equilibrium in its early days. A state will use any means necessary to protect itself, just as Great Britain did during its world wars when its population were warned continuously that walls have ears and paranoia was seen as a sensible defensive measure. China is set to be the biggest economic power of the 21st century, with its luckier natives too busy making money to care about politics. If it's not feeling secure now, when will it ever?

With the banning in America of Tony Kushner and other playwrights critical of Israel, the West can't crow over any absolute right to freedom of speech. At least Peter Kosminski was only excoriated for his brilliant four-part Channel 4 drama on the history of the Palestine conflict, The Promise, and not banned here. However, it took a Twitter campaign to challenge the secretive superinjunctions in the UK which protected the moneyed hypocrites who espoused family values. Left to their own devices, the politicians proved inadequate to the task when the judiciary decided what we could and couldn't know, and it was the collective spontaneity of an 'I Am Spartacus' blizzard of tweets that may have, for once, checked our draconian libel laws.

The Chinese should be proud that they now have a society which can produce such a challenging character, because we have none here any more. They should be nurturing people like Ai Weiwei, and treating him like the national treasure that he is. On second thoughts, that might kill his fight impulse with kindness, so ultimately, their persecution is probably the best thing that could happen to his art. If this latest incarceration since 3rd April hasn't extinguished his spark and destroyed the human being, it will be a very angry man who emerges from imprisonment, and I look forward to seeing what he produces.

And the authorities will have only themselves to blame.

Ai Weiwei's work will be on display at the Lisson Gallery from tomorrow until 16th July.
52-54 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA
T: + 44(0)20 7724 2739
F: + 44(0)20 7724 7124

Ai's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is on exhibition at Somerset House from tomorrow. Free entry but the series of talks to accompany the exhibition are £10 each.

Police, Party and Punishment in China

Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds Tate ModernAi Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Bin Laden already a ghost since the Arab Spring

An illuminating piece from Robert Fisk summing up why Bin Laden was no longer a major influential figure on the world stage and could be dispensed with at last.

This paragraph struck me as especially pertinent, raising important questions.
But a court would have worried more people than Bin Laden. After all, he might have talked about his contacts with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or about his cosy meetings in Islamabad with Prince Turki, Saudi Arabia's head of intelligence. Just as Saddam – who was tried for the murder of a mere 153 people rather than thousands of gassed Kurds – was hanged before he had the chance to tell us about the gas components that came from America, his friendship with Donald Rumsfeld, the US military assistance he received when he invaded Iran in 1980.


Let's hope that, if nothing else, Americans can now emerge from their post-9/11 madness, and that those who lost loved ones can find some sort of closure.

What if Bin Laden had stood trial? 'Imprisoned for life, Bin Laden would have been forced to reflect on the wicked crime of killing innocent civilians. He has been spared that fate. Bush, Blair and Obama should reflect whether they too have now killed too many innocent civilians in the name of the war on terror and revert to the rule of law – however difficult that may be.'

Monday 2 May 2011

Rejoice! The Wicked Witch is dead and America can go back to being nice: Obama offs Osama

So, Obama finishes his hilarious speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner by throwing down the head of Osama Bin Laden, saying, 'Beat that, Donald'.

The Mother of All Prizes, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed by Amurkin troops on this royal wedding weekend, ten years after 9/11.

Following a massive intelligence effort, he was discovered in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan, living with his family in a mega-frakk-off three-story compound cleverly camouflaged by 18 foot walls, hidden among huts in an area populated by goatherds. No subterranean bunker in the mountains, then, living on leaves, lizards and bugs.

Reports say that, this time, no civilians were killed by US Special Forces in keeping with allied custom that includes no arrest, no trial, no witnesses 'in the pursuit of justice'. But there will be T-shirts.

His body was buried at sea 'in accordance with Islamic law and traditions'.

At sea?

Now that the arch-villain of SPECTRE has been nixed, America can go back to being lovely and sweet and a force for good. Allied troops can leave Afghanistan, Libya and all points Middle East, safe in the knowledge that order has been restored and all is right with the world.

For life ain't a tea-party, even if they do now contort themselves to find reasons why this proves Obama done a Bad Thing, which is rich, considering.

And, with that, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin's political careers can be declared as dead in the water as an Al Qaeda leader.

Already the detractors are questioning whether Osama really is dead. Cynics! Photoshop could figure. [UPDATE: that pic has apparently been around for a couple of years and has already been judged inauthentic.]

Danny Baker with an exclusive: @prodnose
LATEST: US team that led raid on Bin Laden HQ: "Assimilation was key to gaining local trust".

Should Jackie Ashley's argument about international law and why targeting Gaddafi for assassination is wrong also apply to Osama Bin Laden?

Robert Fisk says Osama's death is 'pretty irrelevant'.

Boy arrested for possession of pen on royal wedding day: video

A boy is arrested on the day of the royal wedding for possession of a pen. William and Catherine, this is what's being done in your name.

Thanks heavens we're not in China.

Another video showing democracy in action.

All in all, a great weekend for burying bad news and getting away with murder. More videos here

Sunday 1 May 2011

Unto the last babe: Gaddafi's family slaughtered

Michael Corleone knew how to do it.

We all knew that the royal wedding would provide an opportunity to bury bad news but this is a bit Old Testament. So it wasn't just peaceful protesters and Zombie Flash Mobs who were smitten. Looks like NATO had bigger fish to fry under cover of the happy occasion. Killing Muammar Gaddafi's family unto the last babe doesn't seem to have much to to with protecting the rebels from our old mucker but it draws the oil reserves ever closer to our grasp.

First we give the Colonel's son a PhD at the LSE, then NATO bombs his youngest, Saif (not LSE Saif), and three grandchildren under the age of 12 just at the moment he's calling fainites and suing for peace. Of course, incursions into neighbouring Tunisia may not have helped, but still. Gaddafi was in the house but survived. So not targeted, then.

Just think, if those pesky rebels hadn't kicked up when they did, Gaddafi might have been a guest at William and Catherine's wedding just like the other despots. Bahrain calls in the Saudis to kill their protesters and gets their ambassador/torturer a ticket to the main event. Gaddafi was simply playing up when he should have been playing the game.

As they say, never injure what you can't kill. I wonder what happens now.

UPDATE: Monday 2nd May 2011. The Mother of All Prizes, Osama Bin Laden killed by Amurkin troops on this royal wedding weekend, ten years after 9/11. He was found35 miles north of Islamabad, living with his family in a compound surrounded by 18 foot walls. No subterranean bunker, then. His body was buried at sea 'in accordance with Islamic law and traditions'. At sea?

Socialist Unity page among the Facebook purge casualties. Democracy much?

UPDATE 2023: What is now widely known is that Muamar Gaddafi led the richest country in Africa whose people enjoyed housing, health and many other socialist benefits. He'd proposed an African Alliance, was then labelled a dictator, the prelude to violent regime change, and was assassinated while Obama and Hillary Clinton watched: "We came, we saw, he died," she quipped.