These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 4, 2009.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Knickers are down at Grace Brothers
On Thursday, comedy actress Mollie Sugden, best known as Mrs Slocombe from Are You Being Served, died aged 86. She joins nearly the entire staff of Grace Brothers. From a posting in February this year, on the death of Wendy Richard who played glamorous assistant Miss Brahms:
When somebody dies, even somebody close, there is always an element of selfishness in my reaction: by dying they have disturbed the pattern of my life without asking my permission and reminded me, unasked, that I am getting older. I hadn’t seen Eastenders for years – since Dirty Den came back from the dead – so I really have no right to be indignant about Wendy Richard’s death. But I was. She had no business dying – she was the baby of Are You Being Served. Presumably, then, the others are long gone? I thought I would check.
First the bad news. John Inman, mincer extraordinaire, is now free, having measured his last inside leg two years ago. Regular readers will remember that I marked the event with an E. J. Thribb-style poem, which was promptly stolen by Private Eye. Young Mr Grace, born 1899, pinched his last bottom twenty-eight years ago. Time got the measure of Senior Menswear Assistant Mr Grainger (Arthur Brough) in 1978. Truculent maintenance men Mr Mash and Mr Harman (Larry Martin and Arthur English respectively) will no longer make unauthorised appearances on the shop floor, having repaired to the great maintenance room in the sky in 1994 and 1995.
Now for the good news. Roguishly handsome Junior Menswear Assistant Mr Lucas (Trevor Bannister) is a sprightly 72, and guest-starred in Doctor Who in 2007. Bald, jug-eared manager Mr Rumbold is no balder or more jug-eared at 74 – like some men ill-favoured in their youth, he has changed little and looks better than those once more handsome. Pompous Floor Manager Captain Peacock was played by Frank Thornton (shortened from the singular Frank Thornton Ball). At 88, he is still walking the floor. Last but not least, Mollie Sugden, at 86, is still keeping up standards in Ladies’ Underwear. News of her pussy has not reached the wider public, but she may have had a replacement or two in the intervening years.
She is now reunited with all of them. An friend who lived near the actress said that she was a lovely, down to earth person. I particularly enjoyed the way her accent, artificially refined through elocution lessons, would revert to her native Yorkshire in moments of stress and high drama.
She will be missed.
Talking of the north, I will be away for a few days in a place of no internet. Back Tuesday.
Posted on 07/04/2009 6:08 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 4 July 2009
7th July - conspiracy theory. No, not the Jooz this time - HM Govt.
From The Daily Mail
As rumours swell that the government staged 7/7, victims' relatives call for a proper inquiry.
The country's worst-ever terrorist atrocity during London's morning rush hour on July 7, 2005, shattered for ever the heady euphoria in which the capital was basking the morning after winning the bid for the 2012 Olympics.
That afternoon, Tony Blair - who was hosting the G8 summit on global poverty in Gleneagles, Scotland - returned to Downing Street to pronounce that the attack was an act in the 'name of Islam'.
Later, at a meeting of the Government's national emergency committee COBRA, London's anti-terror police chief Andy Hayman told senior ministers that he suspected suicide bombers.
And so the story of 7/7 that we have come to accept was pieced together: four British Muslims - Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Jermaine Lindsay, 19, and Hasib Hussain, 18 - blew themselves up using home-made explosives, killing 56 and injuring 700 on three Tube trains and a double-decker bus.
They had travelled on a mainline train from Luton into King's Cross Thameslink Station in London, each carrying a heavy rucksack of explosives.
It is a version of events that has been endorsed by a high-level Parliamentary inquiry and a government report, both published in May 2006 ten months after the event, based on 12,500 statements, a police examination of 142 computers and 6,000 hours of CCTV footage.
The report insisted that the bombers acted on their own, constructing explosives from chapatti flour and hair bleach mixed in the bath at a flat in Leeds, Yorkshire, where all four had family and friends.
It concluded that the Muslim bombers were not controlled by a terrorist mastermind, but inspired by Al Qaeda ideology picked up on extremist websites.
But families of the dead victims and an increasing number of 7/7 survivors claim there are inconsistencies and basic mistakes in the official accounts that need explanation.
And they are demanding a full public inquiry to answer key questions about what the Intelligence Services and the police did and did not know before the bombings.
Meanwhile, the Government's determined refusal to meet their demands is having a very dangerous side-effect - fuelling myriad conspiracy theories about 7/7. Books, blogs and several video documentaries point to oddities in the official accounts.
Alarmingly, some of the conspiracy videos are being hawked around mosques throughout the country to whip up anti-British sentiment.
For the most outlandish and offensive of them suggest that the attacks were not the work of Muslim terrorists at all, but were carried out by the Government to boost support for the Iraq war.
The survivors are so intent on an independent inquiry that they are now taking legal action in the High Court to try to force the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to authorise it.
Rachel North, (a courageous and formidable young woman who has faced death threats since for her refusal to lie down and be quiet) a 39-year-old strategy director who survived the King's Cross Tube bombing, adds: 'We need a public inquiry. It was the public, after all, not the politicians, who were attacked. Let the public know what risks they run and tell them why there are those living among them who seek to kill for an ideal.'
And it is such inconsistencies (in the times of the trains, CCTV footage etc) that are fuelling the deepening concerns. This week, a television documentary on BBC2 called Conspiracy Files 7/7 revealed the existence of a conspiracy theorist's 56-minute video called Ripple Effect.
It accuses Tony Blair, the Government, the police, and the British and Israeli Secret Services of murdering the innocent people who died that day to stir up anti-Islamic fervour and create public support for the 'war on terror'.
It alleges that the four British Muslims were tricked by the authorities into taking part in what they were told would be a mock anti-terror training exercise. What they weren't told, the video alleges, was that the Government was going to blow them up, along with other passengers, then pretend the four were suicide bombers.
Without any evidence, the Ripple Effect video accuses government agents of setting off pre-planted explosives under the three Tube trains and on the bus.
It suggests that the four Muslims were not, in fact, on any of the Tube trains, claiming that they missed them altogether because of the train delays on the Luton to London line.
It adds, astonishingly, that because the four did not get onto the Tube on time, three of them were murdered by police at Canary Wharf later that morning and the fourth - the bus bomber - ran off.
Outrageous though these claims are, the video has become an internet hit. More worryingly, it is playing on the fears of Britain's Muslim community.
Even some senior Islamists believe the events of 7/7 were fabricated. As Dr Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, says in the BBC2 documentary: 'We do not accept the government version of July 7, 2005. The Ripple Effect video is more convincing than the official statements.'
Mr Naseem, a well-educated man, had made 2,000 copies of Ripple Effect for members of his mosque. Research has revealed that even before the contentious video came out, one in four British Muslims thought the Government or the Secret Services were responsible for the 7/7 atrocities. Now the number of doubters is growing.
At Friday prayers recently, Dr Naseem asked the congregation to raise their hands if they did not accept the government version of events. Nearly the entire gathering of 150 men and boys did so. He then urged his audience to collect free copies of Ripple Effect at the back of the mosque. If they truely believe this why do they celebrate the 4 murderers as heros, and where do the second 4 in the abortive attempts of 21st July come into it?
The respected chairman has since said that the identities of the bombers were discovered by the police suspiciously quickly. 'When a body is blown up, it is destroyed. How is it that the identification papers found at the bomb scenes of these men were still intact? Were they planted?'
That is another suggestion in Ripple Effect. So who is behind this dangerous video?
He is 60-year-old Yorkshireman Anthony John Hill who lives in Kells, County Meath, Ireland. He is currently under arrest there and fighting extradition to Britain. Police here want to interview him on a charge of perverting the course of justice after he sent a copy of his video to a jury member in a terrorist case.
Mr Hill made Ripple Effect at his own home and is the narrator. He sometimes uses the name Muad Dib who was a character in the Frank Herbert 'science' fiction Dune novels. In my teens I used to be very close to an afficionado of that series of bonkers books - alarm bells should now be ringing instantly. And before anybody wonders, no, I am not a Mother Superior of the Bene Gesserint.
Fact or fiction, it does not matter. The impact of the video is swaying Muslim feeling. The BBC2 documentary shows worshippers in the Birmingham mosque commenting on 7/7 after seeing Ripple Effect. One elderly man states: 'There can be little doubt that the Government did this themselves to these four young men.'
Another adds: 'We have been deceived by the British authorities, and Muslims have been framed for these attacks. They are lying from A to Z.'
Few are more concerned than Rachel North, the King's Cross Tube bomb survivor, about Ripple Effect and the discontent it is stirring up: 'If people in mosques think the Government is so antagonistic towards them, that they're actually willing to frame them for a monstrous crime they didn't commit, what does that do to levels of trust? That is a problem for everybody in this country.'
She says the video's central tenet - that 7/7 was faked to demonise Muslims and sway public opinion in favour of the 'war on terror' - is like throwing petrol on a fire.
Like her, many responsible people - and they include former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, former anti-terror chief of London police Andy Hayman (who oversaw the police response to 7/7) and David Davis, until recently Tory Shadow Home Secretary - now support the call for an independent investigation into the bombings.
My personal opinion is that the government felt itself very dependent on the Muslim vote. Therefore they wanted to play down the threat that Islam, not radical Islam, not religion of peace hijacked by extremist Islam, not Wahabi islam, but plain bare naked Islam poses to everywhere that is not yet in thrall to Islam.
They didn't want reprisals. They didn't want criticism. They didn't want anything to upset the brave new multi-culti world they were trying to impose on us. And because they are not exactly the finest brains this nation has ever produced (as demonstrated by their thinking no-one would notice their expense claims) they thought they could get away with it.
Of course they didn't bargain with several factors.
First that the Muslim vote is not a given. Give Islam an inch and it will demand a mile and threaten worse until it gets it.
Second that they would lose their traditional voters, the white working class, in the numbers that are now voting for BNP, UKIP and other alternatives.
Third that the public can think for themselves and read sites like this, and books by writers like Bat Ye'or, Ibn Warraq, Patrick Sookhedeo.
The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back.
We have come a long way in 4 years.
And we do need to know the extend of these plots against us. I could certainly bear to know the connection between the incidents of the two Thursdays a fortnight apart.
Paddick himself said this week, the torrent of rumours about 7/7 was harming relations between Muslims and the rest of Britain: 'Hopefully there will be people in the police service, the security service and Whitehall who will realise how important it is that every attempt is made to counteract these conspiracy theories.'
But to do that will mean explaining the concept of Global Jihad. And they won't want to do that.
Posted on 07/04/2009 7:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 4 July 2009
In Russia, Anti-Americanism Never Goes Out Of Style
Whereas Americans seem to barely remember the Cold War. LATimes:
"There's no future in Russia for pro-American policy," said Nikolai Zlobin, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the World Security Institute in Washington. "You can build your whole career based on anti-American policy -- build a political career, become a famous journalist or public figure. But if you promote the idea of friendship with America, you'll be denounced immediately."
The Cold War is a faded relic in American memory. Now there are Iran and North Korea to worry about; a few years ago, there was Saddam Hussein. And so it is perhaps easy to forget that, in Russia, the Cold War remains a poignant and powerful idea.
Talk of current events often conveys the distinct sense that Russia is clinging to the idea of an American threat. If there is no hostility with the United States, the thinking runs, it can only mean that Russia is no longer important enough to merit it. And that's unpalatable to Russia's political elite.
When Russian tanks and warplanes poured over the border last summer to battle Georgian troops in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Russian news reports ascribed the war to U.S. missteps, primarily Washington's backing for the anti-Russian president of Georgia, a nation Moscow regards as within its rightful sphere of influence.
Russian leaders believed the U.S. had set the stage for the war when it recognized the independence of Kosovo, a former province of Serbia. Traditionally protective of Serbia's interests, Moscow was infuriated by the move, and said it would set a precedent for other rebel republics to secede.
"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War," Medvedev thundered last summer.
The Russian president's rhetoric has since softened. And in the months since Vice President Joe Biden first called for the two countries to "push the reset button," it has become clear that the Obama administration's hopes are pinned on Medvedev.
This week, Obama accused Putin of keeping "one foot in the old ways" of the Cold War. But in their own country, the two Russian politicians are regarded as functioning in tandem -- with Putin, not Medvedev, unmistakably the senior member of the duo.
When financial crisis gripped Russia last fall, Putin angrily blamed the United States, and Russian leaders held up their nation's follow-on unemployment and bank collapses as proof that too much power was centralized in the United States. When swine flu circled the globe, Russia banned American meat imports despite their irrelevance to the epidemic.
With the advent of the Obama administration, some in the Kremlin have become nervous about the prospect of eased relations, said Andrei Kortunov, head of the New Eurasia Foundation think tank in Moscow. They half-welcome any ills that can be handily blamed on the U.S., he said.
"They are concerned that their attempts to sustain this fortress mentality in Russia will be deflated," he said.
Almost two years ago, as Putin prepared to turn the presidency over to Medvedev in an election that cut out any serious opposition, loathing of Washington reached a new pitch of intensity in the Russian news media. The Kremlin was fretting, somewhat inexplicably, since Putin and his party enjoyed sincere popular support, that street demonstrations might erupt in the style of the government-toppling protests in Georgia and Ukraine.
In this atmosphere of heightened anxiety, a documentary called "Velvet.ru" appeared on state television to warn Russians of the threat at hand. This was the gist:
The U.S. State Department and the CIA, jealous of Russia's vast oil, gas, timber and diamond riches, were backing anti-Kremlin activists in a bid to overthrow the government and dismantle the country.
"They're already here on our threshold, agents and professional provocateurs, preparing for a coup in Moscow," the narrator warned. "In American perception, this state should disappear. Russia should break into pieces."...
On a list of foreign policy goals, I don't think breaking up Russia ranks very high for the U.S., but that's what is driving them crazy. Maybe we should send a few spies over there just to keep the peace.
Posted on 07/04/2009 9:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Obama's Healthcare Proposal Simplified
Mickey Kaus writes:
It's seemed to me that the Obama administration has made a mistake in the framing of the health care issue: 'We'll raise your taxes and in exchange we're going to cut your treatments.' I mean, how could that not have widespread appeal?
Posted on 07/04/2009 10:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Malalai Joya: the woman MP who dares to defy Afghanistan’s warlord rulers
From The Sunday Times
She has survived five assassination attempts, been suspended from parliament and forced into hiding, but Joya refuses to be silent
I’m the youngest member of the Afghan parliament, but I’ve been threatened repeatedly with death because I speak the truth about the warlords and criminals in the puppet government of President Hamid Karzai. Having survived at least five assassination attempts, I’m forced to live like a fugitive, moving every night to stay ahead of my enemies.
After September 11, 2001, many of us thought that — with the overthrow of the Taliban — we might finally see some light. But we’re still faced with a foreign occupation and a government filled with warlords who are just as bad as the Taliban.
Afghan women like me, who vote and run for office, have been held up as proof that we enjoy democracy and women’s rights. It’s a lie. In Afghanistan, killing a woman is like killing a bird. We remain caged, without access to justice, and still ruled by women-hating criminals.
Fundamentalists preach that “a woman should be in her house or in the grave”. In most places it’s not safe for a woman to walk on the street uncovered or without a male relative. Girls are still sold into marriage and hundreds of women have burnt themselves to death to escape their miseries.
I was chosen by women in my district as their representative in the new Afghan assembly, the loya jirga.
All the stops had been pulled out in Kabul for a big show of democracy, with much talk of the “new Afghanistan”. It was clear to me, however, that the old Afghanistan hadn’t gone away. Some of the warlord delegates to the loya jirga were among the worst abusers of human rights that our country had ever known. And they were seated in the first row. Nor did anyone seem to mind the presence of Abdul Rab al-Rasul Sayyaf, the man who had invited Osama Bin Laden to Afghanistan and trained Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
The voices of the countless widows who’d told me of their suffering rang in my ears. It was terrible enough to hear about these men and their crimes, but seeing them in person was like torture.
After four days, I finally got my chance to address the gathering. Because I’m only 5ft tall, an official lowered the microphone. I spoke as rapidly as I could and directly from my heart: “My criticism of all my compatriots is why you are allowing the legitimacy and legality of this loya jirga to come into question due to the presence of those criminals who have brought our country to this state ... They are responsible for our situation now.”
Many in the huge tent where we were meeting applauded, but most of the warlords glowered at me with faces as hard as stone. I went on: “It is they who turned our country into the centre of national and international wars. They are the most anti-women elements in our society who brought our country to this state and they intend to do the same again.”
By now a number of the warlords were on their feet, yelling and shaking their fists in my direction.
“They should be prosecuted in the national and international courts,” I said. Then, suddenly, I could no longer hear my voice echoing over the PA system: the chairman had cut off my microphone.
There was an enormous commotion, with angry men lurching in my direction. One of the female delegates started shouting: “Take the pants off this prostitute and tie them on her head!” In the midst of the pandemonium, a widow called Ayeesha grabbed me and shielded me with her body. She knew the depravities of which these angry men were capable.
My supporters and a group of United Nations facilitators huddled around me, arms locked, to protect me as they escorted me through the mob that was still screaming insults and threats. That night, a group of people came looking for me at the university residence where I was staying. Carrying sticks and screaming insults, they demanded: “Where is that prostitute girl? When we find her, we will rape her and kill her!”
Subsequently there were several attempts to kill me.
In 2005 I decided to stand in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections in 33 years. My enemies spared no effort to block me, distributing leaflets that called me a “prostitute”, “anti-Islamic”, and a “communist”. One had a photo of me with the doubly false slogan: “She took off her scarf at the loya jirga, she’ll take off her pants in parliament.”
My enemies failed: I became the youngest member of parliament. Afterwards I learnt that many of those who’d voted for me had been beaten — or worse. An 18-year-old called Ibrahim who’d campaigned for me very effectively was abducted and killed. His eyes had been gouged out, probably while he was alive.
Once again many warlords forced their way into the government. I shouldn’t have been surprised that when it was my turn to speak in the new parliament the sound was again cut off.
Indeed, I have never once had the chance to speak — my microphone has always been cut off. And I was constantly attacked and insulted by other MPs.
In April 2007 I gave an interview to a US-based TV channel in which I used strong words against the warlords and warned that people would soon be calling our parliament a zoo.
This led to a great row in Kabul — indeed, one friend overheard a warlord MP saying I’d be killed by a suicide bomber — and my suspension from parliament. But that hasn’t stopped people coming to me with evidence of an epidemic of abduction and violence against women and children.
Meanwhile, attacks on female teachers and students are on the increase. Last November in Kandahar, eight schoolgirls were splashed with acid by men on a motorcycle. Little wonder that fewer girls are going to school.
To all intents and purposes the position of women is the same now as it was under the Taliban. In some respects it’s worse, with higher rates of suicide and abduction — and impunity for rapists.
Few rape victims have had the courage to raise their voices publicly because rape is regarded as a shame to the family. Even so, a 14-year-old girl named Bashira and her father decided to seek justice. Bashira had been gang-raped while going to pick up supplies from an aid distribution centre. It turned out that one of the accused was the son of an MP, who quickly intervened to ensure his son wasn’t arrested.
Bashira was so distraught after the rape that she tried to burn herself to death — I saw her scars. Her father said the rapists had tried to bribe him to drop the case; when he refused, they beat him so badly that he ended up in hospital.
Because I’ve been deprived of my parliamentary rights, I’m not in a position to do much for such people except to listen and then tell the world. Sadly, there are thousands of Bashiras in Afghanistan. I try to comfort the women and girls who come to me with their sorrows and I urge them not to choose suicide, but to choose to be part of the struggle to achieve justice for women.
For now, I continue my fight to return to parliament to denounce the tyrants. I still receive death threats and my supporters have uncovered — and thwarted — yet more assassination plots. But I don’t fear death; I fear the consequences of remaining silent in the face of appalling injustice.
Posted on 07/04/2009 6:52 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax