These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 6, 2008.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
WHITEMOOR PRISON: MP Malcolm Moss claims governor has lost confidence of staff
I had every intention of putting this up on Tuesday when I first spotted it but the computer was raided for homework and I forgot.
From The Cambridge Times (and today the Daily Star). Update, once the story hit the Daily Star (an outlet favoured for its pictures of fetching young women in "swimwear" rather than its journalism) I expected it to attract more interest and it has. The Thaindian News, a paper for the Indian community in Thailand now has the story.
MP MALCOLM Moss today claimed the governor of one of Britain's security prisons had lost the confidence of the majority of his staff.
Mr Moss, the MP for NE Cambs, said staff at the top security prison- recently criticised for its handling of Muslim prisoners- had passed a vote of no confidence in the governor, Steve Rodford.
The MP described the situation at Whitemoor Prison in his constituency as showing grounds for concern and said growing unrests "manifests itself in how the governor runs the jail."
"I am told there are 'no go' areas in the prison, a similar situation to that we had when the IRA maintained an inner sanctum in the prison. Prison officers couldn't do their jobs properly then and prisoners did what they like. We may now be operating a similar situation. My fear is something could happen and we would look back and say why did we let it happen."
Mr Moss, who has recently tabled six Parliamentary questions about Whitemoor-including trying to discover details of an alleged attempted murder- said Government ministers were frustrating his attempts to find out present conditions.
"I think the point should be made that the public has a right to know what is going on in a public institution such as a prison. Information given to me indicates all is not well and my duty is to investigate the facts of the matter," he said.
Mr Moss said he was "confident in my source" in describing a recent vote of no confidence in the governor of the prison where a third of the 360 inmates are now Muslim.
Mr Moss said the atmosphere inside Whitemoor was tense and it was a case of "political correctness gone made. People with the right political correctness are being promoted over more traditionalist officers. . . Mr Moss said one area of concern was about the segregation of non Muslims and Muslims, the latter he described as being "a law unto themselves. It is not a racist thing to say, but if we have a disproportionate large number of prisoners who are not following the normal regime or are having special arrangements made and if you have lost the confidence of staff then you have a heck of a problem in running a prison.
"Staff morale is a problem, and manifests itself in how the governor leads his team." Mr Moss added that he had been pressing the Government for answers "and frankly for civil servants and ministers to block these questions is the wrong approach. If there are difficulties they should open up rather than keep it under wrap. I don't write letters for my own benefit but for the benefit of my constituents - and these letters now go back two years.
Posted on 11/06/2008 2:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 6 November 2008
All the Presidents' Dogs
Damian Whitworth in The Times:
It should come as no surprise that in his acceptance speech Barack Obama told his daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7: “I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us.”
This was not just a sweet gesture to his daughters: it was a statement of intent. He may have won a landslide with a message of change, but he needed to reassure voters that one of the White House traditions that they hold most dear, whether the occupant is a Republican or a Democrat, would be upheld. More than half of America's 43 presidents have owned dogs and in recent years a canine friend has meant more than just a way of softening a Commander-in-Chief's image. It has become an essential job requirement.
We may love our pets in Britain but they rarely play much of a role in politics. Humphrey the Downing Street cat entered the nation's consciousness only when John Major lost him and again when Cherie Blair had to deny reports that he was removed from No 10 because she disliked the animal. It is hard to imagine any other country in which a newly elected leader would announce as his first executive decision the appointment of a First Pooch. White House dogs are involved in diplomacy, political crisis management, even in helping to hold their owners' precarious marriages together. Then they write books.
George Washington found time between winning the Revolutionary War and founding the nation to own ten hounds: Taster, Cloe, Tipler, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan, Sweetlips, Madame Moose and Searcher. Theodore Roosevelt, who worked hard on his macho image, kept a pitbull, Pete, that nearly provoked a diplomatic incident when it attacked the French Ambassador, tearing the seat out of his trousers.
Perhaps it smelt a rat.
I remember Humphrey the Downing Street cat's premature "retirement" at the hands of Cruella de Blair, proof, if proof were needed, of New Labour purr-fidy. There is a cat at No 11 Downing Street, however. Chancellor Alistair Darling has Sybil, named after Sybil Fawlty.
One question: how will Obama's new puppy go down in the Muslim world?
Posted on 11/06/2008 5:45 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Norwegian police find abused child wife
I am rather sad to report that the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has ceased its English language coverage of Norwegian news.
This means that I have no English language version of this story other than the blog post of News from Norway. The Norwegian story is here.
A thirty three year old Bangladeshi male has been charged with severely abusing his teenage wife. The man has been in police custody for two weeks, and has been charged with violating paragraph 219 of the penal code, a paragraph that deals specifically with domestic violence.
Police officers found the young girl dressed in a burkha in her husbands flat after they had responded to a fire call in a tenement block in Oslo in June. The couple are originally from Bangladesh, but the husband has a Norwegian passport. Police officers brought the girl to the emergency unit after they discovered her. According to Aftenposten, the girl initially refused to take off her burkha at the hospital. However after being encouraged by medical staff, she finally agreed and reveal several marks and bruises on her face. The girl explained that she had slipped and fallen while walking. The police gave little credence to this, but even so, chose to send her back home to her husband.
The girl finally ran away from her husband towards the end of August. She was then taken to a women’s shelter in the eastern part of Norway. On August 30th she was accompanied by lawyer, Monica Lindbeck, to Oslo police station, where she lodged a formal complaint against her husband. The complaint contains grotesk descriptions of abuse and humiliation. According to Lindbeck, the girl has told police officers during interrogations that her husband on several occasions tied her arms and ankles, and hoisted her up from the floor by using a rope tied to the ceiling. The husband has also hit her on the head and stomped on her face and throat. He has also whipped her soles and forced her to walk afterwards. The girl is severely traumatized, says Lindbeck.
Police attorney Anne Christine Stoltz, does not wish to comment on the specific details in the girls complaint. But she confirms that the girl’s statement, in addition to marks and bruises brought on by severe violence, has led the police to take this case very seriously. Several sources claim that the girl has been subjected to severe violence for a long time. Police hasn’t yet managed to establish the true identity of the girl. She arrived in Norway with fake ID papers which give her date of birth as 1985. Several sources Aftenposten have been in contact with claim the girl is much younger. Police attorney Stoltz confirms that recent tests carried out by the police pinpoint her age to 17 or 18. The thirty three year old married the girl in the beginning of 2005, and she arrived in Norway through a family reunification earlier this year. Police is trying to establish whether the girl was under 16 when they got married, something that can lead the thirty three year old to be charged with marrying a minor.
That sort of violence isn’t the lashing out of an angry frustrated man who might, just might, be helped by anger management classes. That is planned sadism, enjoyed for its own sake. If she is only 17 now, and they have been married 3 years. that means that he has been torturing a child of 14. Domestic violence happens in all cultures and beliefs but only one ideology encourages it.
Back to Aftenposten, I have taken a few stories from there for this site, and have enjoyed reading about moose, historical Viking discoveries and other local news. The Norway Post is still in English so I will have to visit there instead.
Thank you Aftenposten team for your work in the past.
Posted on 11/06/2008 6:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Ein Briera (No Alternative) for Israel with Obama
American Jews are sheep. 78% of them voted for the Obama spiel, hook, line and sinker of 'strong support for America's ally Israel'. A spiel perpetrated by the fawning editors and columnists at the 'gray lady', The New York Times, Messrs.. Bill Keller, Ethan Broner, Tom Friedman and other masters of disinformation in the mainstream media Today, an editorial in the New York Times, "The War Within" revealed the usual calumnies towards Israel with this comment:
"Israel must freeze all settlements and reduce roadblocks. To do so, israel needs the public support of American Jews against (Israeli or Jewish) militants."
Let us not forget that Broner wrote in last Sunday's New York Times week in Review section 'wistfully' about the 'retirement' of veteran left extremist Israeli politician, Yossi Beilin, formerly a leader of Meretz in the Knesset, who gave us the hoax of Oslo and perpetrated the faux Geneva Peace Accords.
Now, these American Jewish sheep will have to face up to a real horror, no US support for Israel in the 'mother of all battles', the daunting prospect of Israel engaged in a simultaneous war against Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and Iran. Not lost on me was the report yesterday of a barrage of 35 rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad against the Western Negev towns. Hamas like the rest of the Islamic ummah ululated over Obama's electoral victory. This was their way of celebrating. Of additional concern was the report on Israel's northern border of four Syrian divisions encircling the base of Mount Hermon and Shebaa Farms. Add to that the more than 40,000 rockets and short range missiles in the possession of Hezbolleh. Incredulously, we have corrupt caretaker PM Olmert touting a peace deal with Syria and a 'strong relationship' with the incoming Democratic administration in Washington. Delusional.
Foreign Minister and elected Kadima party leader Livin at least understands the message of weakness that Obama's 'engagement' with Iran sends. Her one word answer to the inquiring press yesterday was "no" to engagement with Iran. At least she and her opponent in the tight general election race for PM in Israel, Likkud Party leader Bibi Netanyahu agree on this existential threat.
When I interviewed Israeli M.K. Dr. Arieh Eldad, published in the November New English Review, see here, he responded to the following questions that should send a clear message about whether Israel is prepared to meet these daunting existential threats, because America under the incoming Obama Administration won't.
Gordon: Given your membership on Knesset Security and Defense Committees, why, in your opinion, did Israel fail to win the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah in 2006? Has the IDF overcome deficiencies in unit training, material and equipment cited in the Winograd Commission report? Can Israel cope with another possible conflict on its Northern border with Lebanon?
Eldad: Israel failed to win the war against Hezbollah in August, 2006 because it had a cabal of incompetents. We had an incompetent crook as Prime Minister, Olmert, with no military understanding. We had a Defense Minister Peretz, who was a union activist clown. We had an IDF Chief Of Staff (COS), Halutz, who was a pilot who did not understand how win a ground war against Islamic guerrillas. This tragic combination was the result of the criminal decision of Ariel Sharon who nominated his yes-man, IDF COS Halutz, in order to perform the unilateral disengagement from Gaza a year earlier. I asked PM Sharon, in Knesset defense committee deliberations, if Halutz was nominated because of corrupt political reasons to command the IDF in a real war. Sharon mocked me, lowered his glasses, looked me over and said: "I see you are worried, Doctor ....Do not worry, and I am here." Another criminal decision by Olmert was nominating, as Minister of Defence, Peretz, who did not have a clue about security and military issues. He did so even though Peretz asked to be the Minister of Finance. However corrupt Olmert wanted that cabinet post for his good friend Hirshzon (now facing trial on the accusation that he has stolen millions from the public and could possible spend years in jail, if convicted). The third corruptive element was the pattern of behavior of the IDF general staff. They all knew that the way that Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz conducted the Second Lebanon War led to military failure. They were careerists. They did not want to risk their personal careers. There was not one among them who was ready to resign publicly to tell the people of Israel the truth about the way the war was conducted.
There are many myths about the low level of training of the reserve units of the IDF. It is true that this level was very poor. But the regular excuse was: "No money for training.” It is true that budget cuts were made in the years before the war, and the military needed an additional million training days annually. But one should not be confused by these arguments. The IDF spent 4.5 million training days to prepare the army for the Gaza disengagement. 50,000 soldiers and policemen were trained to evacuate the settlers, including "mental preparation." The government of Israel spent what was needed to fight a real war in Lebanon on the futile training of the IDF to evacuate Jewish Israeli citizens from Gaza. An action that enabled Hamas to build a terror state.
Since the Second Lebanon War, IDF reserve units have been trained, and the country has rid itself of the corrupt and incompetent triumvirate that led Israel during the debacle. Yet, there are more lessons to learn, and unfortunately the wrong conclusions were taken by the current political leadership. They think that the next time a conflict with Hezbollah or Hamas occurs that they can avoid war. They did that in the case of the continuous Kassem and Katyusha rocket bombardments from Gaza on Israeli towns in both the western Negev and the south of the country. The government of Israel allowed a cease fire that gave Hamas the freedom to arm, train, build weapons and ammunition depots. Unfortunately, this will lead to needless loss of IDF soldiers’ lives in the inevitable re-occupation of the area in order to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure. The IDF is better now. The military plans are ready. However, there are no effective leaders to command the IDF. What Israel needs urgently is capable and effective leadership.
Gordon: In light of the virtual veto power that Hezbollah has over the Lebanese government of PM Fuad Saniora and the failure of UNSC 1701 to prevent the restocking of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles threatening Northern and Central Israel, what can the next Israeli government do to combat this threat?
Eldad: The only way to remove the threat of the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon is a large military operation equivalent to the First Lebanon War in 1982. This will be an essential step before any attack on Iranian nuclear weapons development facilities. Israel should understand that if we decide to attack Iran and remove the nuclear threat, we will be attacked from Lebanon, Gaza strip, and, perhaps, Syria. Thus, the first step in the attack against Iran should be a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah and Hamas. The timing of the war against Hezbollah should be coordinated with the plans against Iran.
Next month there will be a closed conference in Jerusalem on December 14-15th. A number of UK, EU, Israeli parliamentarians and American Members of Congress have been invited. The conference has been organized by Dr. Eldad now leading the new party of Ha'tikvah and the Ariel Foundation. Called Facing Jihad, it will endeavor to develop a charter among western Democracies to oppose Islamization directed as supplanting Judeo Christian Western Values. Yours truly has been invited to attend, assuming my health permits.
This is timely given the US Treasury sponsored conference tomorrow on Shariah Compliant Finance endeavoring to recycle vast trillions of petro dollars in Saudi and Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Funds only to have hundreds of millions syphoned off under the cover of zakat, Islamic charities to be funelled to terror organizations out to destroy Israel and perpetrate the Grand Jihad against the West. A coalition lead by Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy will protest this benighted attempt to give US approval to this insidious element of the Grand Jihad. Read Bob Spencer's JIhadWatch post on the conference and protest effort here.
American Jewish leaders have once again failed to warn their fellow Jews of the consequences of casting a ballot to simply salve their consciences left over from the Civil Rights era only to sacrifice Israel. They are the judenrat of the 21st Century. Ironic, but not without precedent. Read what American Jewish leaders and alleged Zionists, like Rabbi Stephen S. Wise did during WWII to throttle the efforts of the Bergson Group to save the remnant of coreligionists in Nazi-occupied Europe where six million Jewish men, women and children were systematically murdered during the Shoah.
We cannot depend on America under Obama to defend Israel. Israel has ein breira (" no alternative") but to defend itself. Israel desperately needs committed political and military leadership to rally the country to defend itself and reclaim the Zionist ethos.
Posted on 11/06/2008 7:35 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 6 November 2008
A Small Traditional And Amusing Bonfire Night Verse
Our youngsters, as the fire got going, and as the fireworks coloured our sky, chanted this traditional verse:
‘Twas bravefire night in our workhouse,
The inmates all danced and sang;
The slow-match, applied to a pauper,
Meant skywards he shot with a bang.
The bonfire was built out of orphans,
With strumpets and tarts on the side;
Old dames explode in sparks,
But the gaffers just fizzled and died.
But the Christ-child came to our rescue,
And taught us the love of our Lord;
For as Martlemas Feast is the next,
So with tithes, and with rents, we are gored.
And that is the drift of the poor man,
On lot and in side we are vexed;
But through the eye of the needle,
By Christ, into Heaven, we’re hexed.
I wonder how old those verses might be? What they might say about the society we no longer know anything of? Sometimes it’s scary living in an ancient and small English village!
Posted on 11/06/2008 7:46 AM by John Joyce
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Jottings From An English Village III
Last night was Bonfire Night –
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...
– and the rememberance, in enjoyable and traditional form, of how Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up our Parliament and our King was so narrowly diverted from its fell purpose on the fifth of November in the Year of Our Lord 1605.
Naturally, my small village built an enormous bonfire on the green and traditionally celebrated the preservation of our ancient liberties. A guy – a straw and rag stuffed mannequin meant to represent the unfortunate Fawkes – had been paraded around the village earlier in the day in a wheelbarrow by children of all ages crying out “Penny for the guy, penny for the guy.” Traditionally, in our village, the monies so raised by the children go to a children’s charity, and this year the £527.58 (about US$740) raised is going to a famous charity in the UK which runs children’s homes.
Of course, when hordes of children and a hideous mannequin in a wheelbarrow invade ones front garden one has to give generously – not only money, but also comestibles and sweet fizzy drinks for the sustenance of those juvenile labourers because, naturally, they will all starve to death if one doesn’t! Once they have extracted every last ounce of charity from we keepers of the purses the children, with great effort, place the guy at the at the pinnacle of the bonfire and then head home for their evening meals – protesting, no doubt, to gullible and doting parents that the pickings were slim this year and that they are in severe danger of succumbing to malnutrition!
One can sense the excitement as the hour for the lighting of the bonfire draws near. Small groups of people make their way towards the village green, sloughing through the drifted piles of windblown, fallen autumn leaves, chattering, as they go, of this and that small incident. Once we are all forgathered on the green the Chairman of our Parish Council marshals as all into a ‘guard of honour’ as the torch which will light the fire is borne out of our ancient village church (it’s of Saxon foundation) – wherein it has been kindled from the Sanctuary Flame – and carried to the waiting pile by our Vicar. At the last moment our Father David stops and turns to the crowd. With tantalising slowness he pretends to hunt amongst the children for one whom he deems worthy of lighting the fire. Seemingly suddenly he appears to find such a child and thrusts the flaming torch into his, or her hand. All that that child has to do now is cast the burning brand onto the waiting heap. It’s theatre which our younglings will never forget, but it’s a theatre, a pageant, which connects them to our past, to our history, and something, by the Grace of God, which they will take with them into their futures.
This year, however, this year our Vicar didn’t select a child! Much to everybody’s surprise, shock, he marched straight through the crowd and handed the torch to a young serviceman home on leave. You should have seen the look on that young man’s face – it would, in the old phrase, have gladdened your heart. Every emotion which the human face is capable of registering crossed his visage in the seconds which it took for him to realise what our Vicar had done. It took us, we in the chorus, as it were, some few seconds to realise what our beloved and worthy priest had done, also. Then the cheering and applause started.
Can you imagine the embarrassment that that poor young soldier must have felt as he had to walk through all of us cheering him on as he made his way toward the waiting tinder? He did it with his head held high, and, yes, there were tears glistening on his cheeks, and no, we didn’t make it easy for him, as he became the focus of our pride, the expression of our collective soul. Then, just as he should have thrown the flaming wood onto the waiting heap, he stopped. He turned around and, in a swift movement he linked arms with a young girl, the seven-year old daughter of my nearest neighbour on my lane as it happens, and he carried her forward by some few steps.
Yes, it was as if she knew, in some strange way she knew, exactly what was expected of her. Together they threw the smouldering sticks onto the waiting wood. My only surprise is that you didn’t hear our resounding cheers wherever you are tonight.
I’ve never been, I think, more proud to be British than on this night!
With private soldiers like that, what need have we to fear anything?
Posted on 11/06/2008 7:52 AM by John Joyce
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Matthew Parris in The Times:
This, too, reaches me: the true story of a man on the top deck of a No 277 London bus from Canary Wharf to Islington. Boris Johnson, who doesn't know my informant, is on an adjacent seat. It is early evening. Something has occurred to the previously placid Boris, who all at once becomes agitated. Begins fumbling wildly in his briefcase, going through all his pockets. Can't find what he urgently needs - his mobile phone. Asks to borrow my informant's, but he doesn't have one. More rummaging. Finally finds his own. Furiously stabs in desired number...
“Hello? Subs [newspaper sub-editors]? Am I too late? There's a mistake in my copy. Can I make a change? Still time? Oh, thank God! About half way down; near the top; the word 'encomium'. Found it? Yes? Delete it. Insert 'valedictory'. Phew. Thanks. Bye.”
I am pleased to see that the London Mayor uses big words and buses, and cares about both. But "encomium" is not a word I feel entirely comfortable with. I'm sure it's a good word; I've seen it used by Theodore Dalrymple and Roger Kimball, so it must be. But it looks too much like "economic" and sounds too much like "euphonium".
Words often get in the way of other words for me, and usually this is a source of pleasure, but not here.
Posted on 11/06/2008 8:10 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Thefts from poppy sellers.
I was chatting to the poppy seller in the supermarket this afternoon, this being the third poppy I have bought as they never live long on my coat.
I told him of my Great Uncle, my Grandmother’s brother who lost a leg in the First War who used to make the poppies when I was a child. It was outdoor work from the factory in Richmond (he lived nearby having taken advantage of a rehousing from the East End scheme in 1946). He would sit surrounded by boxes nad his part of the process was to fix the paper flower onto the metal wire. In the 60’s the stalk was made of wire and had the double function of a pin which could be twisted into the fabric of the lapel. The elderly gentleman in Sainsburys agreed with me that they may have been a health and safety hazard by today’s standard but they stayed in the garment much better.
Once home I tried to find the story I read this morning about the blind war veteran whose collecting tin was stolen. That is such a reprehensible thing to happen I shouldn’t have any difficulty finding it again.
Sadly I have been swamped for choice of abuses to poppy sellers and theft.
The Telegraph has the incident I was thinking of.
A thief stole a collection tin from a blind war veteran as he stood in his uniform selling poppies. The criminal waited until 86-year-old Lionel Broughton had placed the tin on the ground before grabbing it and running away.
Mr Broughton, a widower, had collected around £300 and was about to go home after selling all but 13 of his poppies.
But as he put the tin on the ground while he got his belongings together, a thief crept up and grabbed it.
Mr Broughton, who served in the Second World War, said yesterday he felt only pity for the thief.
But Mr Broughton was back collecting in Rugby, Warks, for the British Legion appeal the day after the theft, proudly wearing his war medals.
In Doncaster a thief took the tin from a shop counter.
DESPICABLE thief was caught on CCTV stealing a poppy collection box from a Doncaster shop counter.
The Royal British Legion container was taken from the Farm Stores shop in High Street, Carcroft, and is believed to have contained up to £30.
In Keighley a thief took the war veteran’s walking sticks.
An 86-year-old Second World War veteran had both his walking sticks stolen while he was collecting money for the Poppy Appeal.
Gordon Thompson, a former sailor who served on convoys to the besieged island of Malta, was accepting donations near the checkout tills at Morrisons’ supermarket, in Keighley, when the thieves struck.
He said he had leaned both sticks up against a wall, only two or three metres away from where he was standing. But when he turned to collect them at the end of the afternoon they had gone. “I wondered just what the hell had happened,” he said.
He added he was “wobbly” on his feet without the sticks — which he had used for about 12 years — so could not return to his Riddlesden home on the bus. He instead had to pay extra for a taxi.
In Scotland the poppy factory providing work for disabled ex servicemen in Canonmills has been raided and a collection tin taken when a café in Whitburn was burgled.
A VALUABLE collection of toy soldiers has been stolen from the factory that makes poppies and wreaths for Remembrance Day.
The theft is thought to have happened when a group of 80 people visited the workshop. The toys had been bequeathed to the factory by the family of a former poppy maker and are thought to be worth around £2000.
A team of 33 army veterans are hard at work at the factory in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, making six million poppies and 8000 wreaths.
Factory manager Major Charlie Pelling said the team, most of whom are registered disabled, were "angry and astonished". He added: "It makes me feel sad because we operate on trust here. Everybody here is an ex-soldier and holds values of trust, honesty and integrity."
West Lothian police are also appealing for information after the thieves smashed their way into a cafe in Whitburn and stole a collection box containing £50. The front door of Net's Cafe in Whitburn, West Lothian, was broken into overnight between Sunday and Monday.
And in Northern Ireland
THE organiser of Portadown's Poppy Appeal has spoken of his shock and disgust after poppy collection boxes were stolen from five premises in the town this week.
Tony Hall said he was appalled at those responsible for the thefts, which he suspects may have been coordinated by the same group of people.
Uncle Bill was in a better position than their other brother, after whom my father was named; he was killed in 1917 and is buried in the military cemetery in Karasouli
So far as these thieves are concerned if their hands drop off it will be no less than they deserve. On the bright side more people have given again, or given more to make up the loss and it is they I prefer to remember.
Posted on 11/06/2008 10:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 6 November 2008
A Musical Interlude: Qu'est-ce qu'on attend pour être heureux? (Ray Ventura Orch.)
Posted on 11/06/2008 10:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 6 November 2008
A Military Manual For Dealing With Muslim Officials
See especially pages 19, 20, 38, 49, 54-56, and 61. Especially page 49. You'll get the picture, despite the level tone.
Little by little, certain home truths about Islam and Muslims -- still most muted -- are thus, by fits and starts, being disseminated to some of the population, possibly because in the case of these army manuals lives are at at stake, so pieties are deliberately discarded. But there is still, alas, no coming to grips with what is so clearly stated in the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira. That may be the kind of thing available to government officials (the Army, the CIA, the FBI, some upper-level police), those with a "Top Secret" clearance, as if we cannot, with a click on our mouse, find at websites run by non-Muslims, ex-Muslims, and of course Muslims themselves, all that "Top Secret" information.
Ideally, such a manual would include that material, and explain -- lay it out - why Muslims behave as they do toward Infidels, including the offering of merely feigned friendship and transitory "undying" loyalty, because Islam itself rests, beyond the Five Pillars which can be seen as rituals of worship, on a division of humanitiy between Muslims and non-Muslims, and insists that between the two a permanent state of hostility, or war (though not always open warfare) must exist, and that it is the duty (not tangential but central) of all Muslims to engage, directly or indirectly, in the struggle or Jihad to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the world-wide dominance, of Islam. This is something the author dare not write, but such truths have to be made known to those who are risking their lives, and spending huge sums of money, in Muslim countries. Even if the dissemination of such truths immediately raises, in the minds of those to whom those truths are disclosed, questions about the efficacy of the very policies they are being asked to execute, surely that is no reason to hide those truths. Surely it is more important for those on the spot, standing in their very own boots or shoes on the relevant ground, to be educated sufficiently in the matter of Islam to make the best judgments they can, not only in executing a policy made by others and given to them to execute, but so that they may, better informed and so capable of making better sense of what they experience "in country," may be able to influence, either there or when they return, policies -- even help to "transform" (the Word Of The Day) them, into something more realistic and less naive, less expensive and more hard-headed.
Posted on 11/06/2008 11:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 6 November 2008
The Color Pastel
Overrated-because-black author and professional bleater Alice Walker writes in The Times about Obama’s lack of nuance. Yes, that’s right, he’s just too straightforward:
After watching the debates between Mr Obama and John McCain, something has leapt out at me. It has now leapt out twice, and I would like to avoid having it appear a third time. It is Mr Obama's statement that, when he is President, he (the US) will pursue al-Qaeda in the hills of Pakistan, find Osama bin Laden and “kill” him. Though I understand that Mr Obama wishes to show himself as “strong”, even “tough”, this is problematic on ethical, moral, and practical levels.
You can almost see those fingers making quotation marks. And I’m starting to agree with Hugh about “problematic”.
This could be it. In a Christian nation, this is what most of us learn. And even if we cease to call ourselves Christians, the notion of non-killing is hard-wired in us. We are not likely to accept the “killer” (even if the killing is done in our defence) with the same open-heartedness and lack of fear that we might have for someone who has not declared for murder.
“The notion of non-killing”? However did this woman come to be regarded as a good writer? And it’s “hard-wired”. Of course it’s hard-wired. Let’s non-kill and connect. Only connect.
We live in a country with a not too distant custom of lynching, particularly in the South. For those of us who are forever aware of this reality, something rises in us whenever there is a manhunt (in my case, even an animal hunt) to demand decent treatment of whoever is captured, and a fair trial. To the surprise of both Mr McCain and Mr Obama, apparently, millions of people in the world don't believe that Osama bin Laden bombed the twin towers and the Pentagon.
But even setting such disbelief aside, we have to think of what we are teaching the youth of the planet. And it is through language that we can help them to grow into the responsible world citizens of our dreams. Mr Obama quite often says “We'll ‘take out' Osama bin Laden” and this is far better than saying “We will kill him”. It is a metaphor. The very, very young will not even get it, hopefully. But to announce “We will kill him” leaves no doubt.
That’s right - if Obama said he was going to “take out” bin Laden, it could mean dinner and a movie.
There is also the black man factor. For many, finally getting to know a black man in all his glory is the high point of their education as American citizens. However, there lingers in the collective psyche a very carefully planted fear of same; that he is vicious, that he is mean, that he is... a killer. This, I think, is not to be shrugged off; even if, by now, much of the planet knows who most of the serious killers are.
Walker doesn’t tell us what “much of the planet knows”, but I imagine "most of the serious killers" are “Pink Men”, and live in America or Israel.
“Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill,” says King Lear, without a trace of nuance. What would Alice Walker think of that? Then again, why worry? Shakespeare was another of those Pink Men, and King Lear never happened.
Posted on 11/06/2008 1:49 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 6 November 2008
"Heuristic", a term, popular for a time, at least, in academia, and which, I'll wager, when seen in print, does not gladden the heart of Hugh….” [from a reader]
The word "heuristic" is peachy-keen. It's the word "quasi-heuristic" I can't stand.
Remember the MESA Nostra Contest? You don't? How could you forget? The one where you have to guess the author of a paragraph in which, in the very first sentence, you will find the word "quasi-heuristic":
"In conclusion, I feel that this work of analysis, by focusing on the implications of the phallic hegemony of Wehrmacht-helmeted Israeli troops and their supporters throughout the American empire, both equally unappeasable in their demonstrable need for "the Other," does what in a quasi-heuristic sense it was intended to do, as it manages to break away from all Eurocentric approaches to discourses of postcolonial subalternity, or even of meta-alterity, and comes so subversively close in its disjunctive interrogation of the counter- or, more exactly, anti-mimesis which is inherently essential to Mesopotamian or indeed to Cairene, Abbasid, Jordanian or Palestinian thought for, as a native of (Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Islamabad, Ramallah, Teheran, etc. – choose one) and hence a non-European, I am of necessity self-assigned to that category of people best placed to perform such a mission of interrogating all postcolonialist as well as narrativised specificity, but of equal necessity, not as one obviously intent on de-undermining or rather meta-determining the poststructuralist or post-postmodern universalism, with its customary relativised discourse analysis which seldom lends itself to anticipatory prolepsis, but on the other hand my critique is quite meta-consciously deeply para-rooted within, as well as up-rooted out of, and obviously from, Western thought with its inalienably alien constructions of meta-identity and hypersexuality, which necessarily give rise to post-essentialism which, in a larger sense, serves merely to violate all the strategic critiques of hegemonic historiographical constructions of essences, whether of the Orient or of scholars who deny the self-referentiality of all postcolonialist essentializing."
Posted on 11/06/2008 2:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 6 November 2008
What is this that dawa'th thus?
Windy City dawah-bus. From Khalifah.com:
14 people have accepted Islam while a bus - with a simple sign: "ISLAM" Got Questions? Get Answers! are going around Chicago to inform about Islam. The bus dawah project aims at combating Islamaphobia and prejudices against Islam by encouraging non-Muslims to ask questions. For example, Leslie C. Toole was thinking about becoming a Muslim for 10 years - but he needed something to "push him along". Mr. Toole, the new Muslim, believes that the simple yet stark advert which merely says "Got Questions? Get Answers" is a brilliant way to draw people's attention. "I thought it was a neat idea...I had never seen that before." The bus dawah project also provides every new Muslim with the Shahada package, which includes: A How to Pray DVD, a Help Yourself in Reading the Qur'an book, and brochures on various topics about Islam.
I've got questions all right. There are a few things I'd want to know before I got on that bus:
- Do I have to sit at the back because I'm a woman?
- How much will it cost?
- Can my blind friend bring her guide dog (seeing-eye dog)?
- I'm carrying a good, reasonably priced Burgundy. Can I still get on?
- Can I sing to pass the time?
- Is it going all the way?
- Once I'm on it, can I get off?
Posted on 11/06/2008 3:58 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 6 November 2008
A slightly improved election results map
Posted on 11/06/2008 6:26 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Thursday, 6 November 2008
South Africa Today And Tomorrow
An article that appeared in The Independent (20 July 2008), written by Andre Brink, the South African novelist who became famous outside South Africa for his anti-apartheid stance:
"He is awakened by his wife just before three in the morning. There’s somebody in the house, she tells him.
Nonsense, he replies, befuddled with sleep. I’m sure it’s only a mouse.
That isn’t a mouse, she insists. It’s much bigger.
Then it’s a rat, he mumbles.
And then the rat shoots him in the face. He dies in the presence of his wife and small daughter, and they are forced at gunpoint to accompany the intruders as they ransack the house, leaving the dead body on the floor.
He is – was – the eldest son of my sister Elsabe. One of the gentlest people I have ever met in my life. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. Or, for that matter, a rat. They lived on a plot just north of Pretoria - or Tshwane, in the new parlance, which came into vogue when the regime decided that only the ANC has a history in this country. (No-one in his right mind would wish to perpetuate insulting, race-determined, narrow-minded names from the past; but the present spree of name-changes which smacks of historical myopia, if not paranoia, is becoming an insult to the very mindset that made our new dispensation possible.) Their life had been peaceful until very recently. Then, in a single month, sixteen armed attacks on plots within less than a kilometre of the young family’s home, made them jittery. Elsabe’s son Adri was the seventeenth.
Before the end of that weekend, another person was killed in the same street. It would seem that the police in the area had finally sensed that something was not altogether well. Within days of the eighteenth attack they actually managed to arrest a gang of six and found the articles stolen from Adri’s home in their possession. Two cellphones and a laptop. Life is not terribly expensive these days.
Unfortunately, the police have now mislaid the evidence, as well as the fingerprints taken during their no doubt thorough investigations. Perhaps they are missing the strong and exemplary leadership of their suspended commissioner, the spotless Mr Selebi, on (fully paid) leave in anticipation of his on court case on charges of corruption. As a result, the six suspects arrested after Adri’s murder, have been graciously allowed to go home, and another open file has been added to the Everest of unsolved crime statistics in the country.
But at least we have the assurance of the minister of Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula, that fewer murders and rapes and armed robberies are committed these days compared to the previous year (only 11,5 murders per day over the past year, only 16 rapes and indecent assaults per day, and only 40 violent home robberies). He may even arrange a debate in parliament at some stage. The problem is that not too many honourable members of parliament may find space in their crammed schedules to attend such a session. There are too many competing obligations: another trip to Dubai to stock up on groceries and jewellery, an appointment at the bank to deposit the latest bribe of half a million or a million, a visit to the travel agent for a new round of tickets for the family now that the stupid idea of prosecuting parliamentary perpetrators has been dropped, a quick dash to Harare to express solidarity with Uncle Robert, even a call at the prison to show solidarity with some high official spending his few weeks of a lengthy gaol sentence languishing in terrible comfort at the mercy of pedicurists and manicurists and masseuses.
It is not that everything in the South Africa of today is darkness and death. If our general euphoria following the first free elections of 1994 were undoubtedly unrealistic, it was not entirely misplaced. Even in the midst of the aggravating circumstances we re facing today, it is possible to take a step or two back to compare our actual situation with that of a mere fourteen years ago – and what is fourteen years in the life of a nation? – one cannot but deny that we have come a surprisingly long way. And I know of no-one (except the die-hard troglodytes from the apartheid past) who would even for a moment prefer to exchange the country we live in today for the atrocities and the misery of a mere two decades ago. But that does not mean that we have ‘arrived’ anywhere yet. At the very best we are only still en route – and no-one can be entirely sure of where we will get to. Still, the very uncertainty of such a situation can be stimulating: and it is not for nothing that in many situations in which South Africans of the past might have spoken of ‘problems’ would now prefer to talk of ‘challenges’ instead – which is a measure of how far we have travelled.
This is largely due to the inspiration of a few iconic figures If one looks at those figures we have lost along the way – Steve Biko many years ago, Chris Hani much more recently, Beyers Naudé, Joe Slovo, Dullah Omar… - one can only be grateful that the most remarkable among them, Mandela, has survived to celebrate his ninetieth birthday. How sad that there could not have been anyone of stature to follow in his footsteps and that the country was forced to make do with Thabo Mbeki People of huge talent and vision were sidelined at an early stage by the ambition and the machiavellian plotting of Mbeki, who started with such glowing promise and then smothered it all in his grotesque mismanagement of the situation in Zimbabwe, his approach to AIDS, and his increasing use of state apparatus to settle personal scores and problems.
But at least we did have – and still have – Mandela, whose light continues to show the way through an ominously murky future. And there are also a few others, people of integrity and enthusiasm and vision, notably Desmond Tutu whose contribution through the TRC has helped to change despair into hope for countless South Africans. This does not mean that the Commission was an unqualified success. In many, many respects it fell short of what one might legitimately have expected. But where would we have been without the Commission? It gave an opportunity to innumerable victims from the darkest years of South African history to tell their own stories – and to find people ready to listen to them. At the very least this has ushered South Africa forward to a position where many things have become possible which would have been unthinkable before.
But in most other respects the country has not been so lucky. Admittedly, we have moved away from the injustices and atrocities and the anomalies and absurdities of the apartheid era.
Schools have been opened up to pupils of all races, which goes a long way towards creating the possibility for all South Africans to grow up together; but there are still huge inequities between the privileged and the poor, and bad planning, misspending, nepotism and blatant theft are hampering the proper evolution of a fair and equal system which is still staggering from the loss of thousands of the best-qualified teachers in the country because of obtuse implementation and blind discrimination.
Poverty remains a crucial problem in a country with stark divisions between rich and poor, and stockpiled funds contributed by governments and organisations all over the world to address the problem, are still pilfered by individuals and groups with easy access to money they have never learned to handle. Even an exemplary leader from the Liberation Struggle like Allan Boesak was sent to prison for stealing money contributed to alleviate the suffering of children in impoverished communities.
The judicial system is hampered by bad management and corruption in the police services and prison authorities. The way in which a convicted criminal rat like Tony Yengeni was escorted to prison by colleagues including the speaker of parliament and, welcomed upon his early release as a hero was indicative of something rotten in the state of South Africa. The way in which the Scorpions are threatened with being closed down is another curtain closing on a once successful performance. The upheaval in and around Judge President Hlope and the judiciary is an indication that the moral heath of the entire community is now at risk.
When the man elected as our likely future president is a person of dubious morals, a demagogue and a rabble-rouser who spends most of his time eluding prosecution for corruption, a shadow settles, not only his personal future but on that of the country as a whole. And among his most influential supporters are vociferous leaders like Julius Melema of the ANC Youth League, and Zwelinzima Vavi of COSATU – from the generation that coined the slogan, First liberation, then education, and who now publicly announce themselves ready to murder and kill for Zuma (although Comrade Melema tries ingenuously to explain that ‘kill’ does not necessary mean ‘kill’). Once again the abdication of morality and a basic sense of responsibility cannot inspire much hope for the future. There are rats, rats everywhere.
Ridiculous extremes in the application of affirmative action have driven into exile numerous of the most qualified and skilled people in the country, as the government and its agencies steadily replace real achievement with mediocrity and inferiority - often laudable attempts to remedy past inequity, but wretched business practice.
Over everything happening in South Africa at the moment, there still hovers the cloud of the infamous and largely unnecessary arms deal at a cost of billions upon billions, much of which ended up in the pockets of political leaders, exacerbating the lot of the poor and deprived masses in the country. Among many other things, the whole backlog in the provision of housing, electricity and running water to the poorest of the poor could have been wiped out several times with the money recklessly wasted on this ill-conceived enterprise. And still the government tries its damnedest to prevent any effective enquiry into the deal, as its ramifications continue to spread at ever-escalating cost.
Against the background of the scourge of rats that has settled over the country, and following Adri’s murder, a surprising number of people, both friends and total strangers, have expressed their assumption that I would now consider leaving the country. Many of them are already living in various degrees of comfort in New Zealand or Australia, the UK or Canada. They seem perplexed when I reply that I am staying right where I am. ‘But surely you can afford it?’ they ask. And if it were just a matter of money, who knows, I might. Perhaps if I were forty or fifty years younger, with my career still ahead and with small children in my house, I might yet have given it some serious thought. Certainly, I do not blame anyone who has already emigrated or who is contemplating such a move. But it is not for me. One can never say never. Yet it will take much more to dislodge me.
There was a time, after the political changeover in 1994, when I would have argued that after a half-century of apartheid and Nationalist rule I had enough faith in the ANC to want to stay here and be part of a tremendous historical transition towards freedom and justice. The myopia and greed of the country’s new regime of rats have eroded my faith in the specific future I had once believed in and for which I had been willing to pay my own price. I do not foresee, today, any significant decrease in crime and violence in South Africa; I have serious doubts that our rulers can even guarantee a safe and successful Soccer World Cup in 2010; I do not believe that the levels of corruption and nepotism and racketeering and incompetence and injustice and unacceptable practices of ‘affirmative action’ in the country will decrease in the near future. On the contrary, I see only the endless proliferation of the ills in that ‘sea of troubles’ so passionately evoked by Hamlet - ‘the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office …’
And yet I wish to stay.
It is not that I believe, for one moment, that my family or I deserve it, or merit it, or that we are in any way entitled to it. Over the nearly four hundred years that we have survived in South Africa, we have always, regrettably, because of the colour of our skin, been on the side of the privileged. Even though many of my ancestors were poor and struggling, in one way or another they have always formed part of the haves rather than the have-nots. They have been slave owners, not slaves. On at least one occasion, an ancestor had several children with a slave woman, and sold those children on an auction. No, we are not entitled to special consideration.
But we have been here. In Rilke’s wonderful words: O not because happiness really exists …/ but because being-here is much and because everything/ that is here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely/ concerns us…
What does it mean to be here, to have been here?
Surely, it means that I share with others, black and brown and white, this part of the earth where my mother and my father lie buried, and my grandparents, and their ancestors, for generations and generations. It means that we have been assimilated by nearly four centuries of life on this continent, and have in turn assimilated those centuries within our bones and blood: the rhythms of drought and flood, the famines and abundance, the inhuman cruelties and killings and deprivations, the laughter and love and mercy and generosity. All of this has come at a price, and we have paid it, sometimes reluctantly or even resentfully, often gladly and willingly. We have been here, not anywhere else; and we wish to be here. It concerns us, and I believe that simply by being here, and remaining here, I have something to offer in return. I know I am not indispensable: but I can be here, and in so doing I can affirm that being-here may mean something: part of a meaning that only our togetherness in this place can bring into being. Because in the key proverb that holds this nation together, umntu ngumntu mgabantu: a person is a person through other persons.
There is no society in the world without challenges, trouble, or danger; but there is an urgency and an immediacy about living in South Africa that lends it a sense of involvement and relevance and significance I cannot readily imagine elsewhere. It is this urgency that makes it important and even necessary for me to want to write and live here rather than anywhere else. The only thing that is truly worth while, said Goethe, is that for which you have to battle every day.
I am not offering this as an explanation for my choice. A love that can be explained is not love. But the fact that it cannot be rationally explained does not invalidate it. It is as valid and as true as the composition of my DNA. Neither the obtuseness nor the bullying or the seductive tactics of the present regime can impose a decision on me. The choice is mine, and I exercise it freely. It is more than mere belonging, it is a commitment and a responsibility I assume. For myself, for my children and my grandchildren, for my friends, for the women and men and children I love and without whom I cannot be me."
Here are the bits I found most worthy of critical note:
"And I know of no-one (except the die-hard troglodytes from the apartheid past) who would even for a moment prefer to exchange the country we live in today for the atrocities and the misery of a mere two decades ago."
Really? No one in all of South Africa, or in the whole wide world, except those "die-hard troglodytes" would prefer to live in South Africa as it was, not in 1908 or 1938 or 1958, but in 1988, than as it is now, in 2008? What about the million or more who have left? What about the 40% of those categorized as White or Colored, or the 30% categorized as Black, who tell polls they would emigrate if they could?
"people of integrity and enthusiasm and vision, notably Desmond Tutu..."
No one in his right mind could call Desmond Tutu someone of "integrity and enthusiasm and vision."
"Admittedly, we have moved away from the injustices and atrocities and the anomalies and absurdities of the apartheid era."
Why not, given all that you have reported, us, admit that "the injustices and atrocities and the anomalies and the absurdities of the apartheid era" were as nothing compared to "the injustices and atrocities and the anomalies and the absurdities of the present day" as you yourself, Andre Brink, have described.
"I do not believe that the levels of corruption and nepotism and racketeering and incompetence and injustice and unacceptable practices of ‘affirmative action’ in the country will decrease in the near future. On the contrary, I see only the endless proliferation of the ills in that ‘sea of troubles’ so passionately evoked by Hamlet - ‘the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office …’"
"Hamlet" is a little out of place here. Such phrases as "the oppressor's wrong" and "the proud man's contumely" somehow do not fittingly sum up the organized and unorganized gangsterism of those who have seized power in South Africa. And "the pangs of disprized love" is irrelevant, while the "law's delay" implies a legal system that functions but that points to the procedural procrastination of of part of the system -- say, the old Courts of Chancery, and Jarndyce v. Jarndyce eating up the disputed inheritance in "Bleak House." But in South Africa, by Brink's own testimony, the six murderers were let loose, and others have gotten off though clearly guilty, and others still treated as heroes when they went off to jail, or when they came back. Brink noted the absence of law, or the complete misuse of the law, and not merely "the law's delay." The only phrase that fully fits is "the insolence of office" of those who are in, alas, not brief but permanent authority. It is the word "insolence," in fact, that one suspects secretly prompted Brink to use that quote from "Hamlet."
Brink, Coetzee, Gordimer were once celebrated for that feat formulaically known as "speaking truth to power." Now, whether it is Gordimer who never left South Africa, or Brink who left for Paris and came back, or Coetzee who left and didn't come back, none of them dares, when it comes to their native land, to speak, except obliquely, as with Coetzee, or incompletely, as with Brink, the truth.
Andre Brink doesn't intend to leave. He's 73.
But surely many in the younger generation do so intend. For how much longer can they be expected to endure, not the tire-necklaces and the celebratory toyi-toyi of yore in the townships, but the corrupt gangsters high in the government, and the murderous gangsters on the street, with the former doing so little to control the latter. And when the targets -- mainly the whites and those classified as Coloreds -- do leave (how many doctors will there be left to treat the sick in South Africa? how many engineers? how many professionals of all kinds?), how long, despite the gold and the diamonds, and the loot that will be left behind to fall into waiting laps, will it take for the country to come apart, in full-fledged internecine warfare, and descend into darkness, in the Monomotapa manner?
Posted on 11/06/2008 6:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 6 November 2008
A Musical Interlude: Close Your Eyes (Al Bowlly)
Posted on 11/06/2008 11:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald