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Friday 30 January 2009

As Zim ditches Z$, millions face starvation

From Freakonomics

This currency has now been completely abandoned by even Zanu-PF.
Here in zimbabwe we are rapidly reversing the march of time and heading right back into the worst history has to offer.

Zimbabwe should revert to the ancient Yap system where gigantic one hundred pound, ten foot chunks of shiny stone were exchanged for goods (Yapese discs were commonly made of quartz, can’t [Central Bank head] Gono just hit the Matopos [hills] for a bit of this instead of the endless printing of waste paper and slashing of zeros?). Rolling stones would be a damn sight better than the wads of useless Z$ that are often seen littering the overgrown verges of our potholed and treacherous roads. Nobody bothers to even pick up discarded Gonillions, unless they need a dash to the nearest fetid public loo to deal with the common bouts of diarrhoea brought on by mucky tap water (pray not cholera).
From Sokwanele.

World Food Programme to cut core maize ration from 10kg to 5kg a month – or just 600 calories a day – for 70% of the population.

What to do? Sign the petition to move the World Cup from South Africa. Here I explain why.

Thursday 29 January 2009

The beginning of the end of newspapers

1981: When it took two hours to 'download' a newspaper ...

"Experts predict that the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer. But that's a few years off."

Postscript: Playing online political catch-up

Fascinating comments thread between Tim Ireland and Tom Watson MP on Watson's blog about Derek Draper's LabourList (in which Watson calls Draper a "chimp").

To it's credit, LabourList now has something against the Third Runway (but not from the campaigners).

Their videos remain crap but they're throwing lots at the wall ... something may stick.

Still looks utterly tedious though and - as I've commented on the thread:
How is this going to help win against the Tories? I don’t get it. I don’t get the proposition.

And was the Huffpost comparison suggested by them? Now a UK version of that would be a good idea …
And, stranger than strange, a Daily Mail commentator gets why Prescott may be good for Labour online:
Oddly enough, Prescott might do quite well as a blogger. The conversational style required comes naturally to him, as does the sense of indignation. These things matter far more than technical geekery.
But also points to why none of them are learning a thing from the online effort to get Obama elected:
The danger is that all the Labour Party sites - gofourth, Labourhome and Labourlist, feel that the best way to deal with unwelcome news is to ignore it.

At the time of writing none of them has covered the main political story of the moment - four Labour peers being caught agreeing to take cash to change legislation. The story is 'unhelpful.' Labour block their ears and hope it will go
Model? Lots. Try DailyKos.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Playing online political catch-up

Whilst, as predicted, former Obama online strategists can name their price, election losers, the Republicans, are now seeing the web as the foundation from which to rebuild. (So, Repub online strategists can also cash in!)

George Bush's former senior advisor, Karl Rove, (aka 'Bush's brain', caricatured right in 'rap' mode) reckons that:

The political Web 2.0 is about networking and Democrats grabbed the lead. The party that figures out where Web 3.0 goes will grab the decisive high ground in high-tech warfare.

Ya think?

In the UK, despite some well received development of the PM's website, only right now does his party seem to have woken up to how far behind the Tories (and the LibDems) it is online — and how damaging that could be.

(Last year I argued that if Ken Livingstone had got his online act together in the London Mayoral election he could have potentially closed the gap).

Gee, that Obama effect reaches everywhere ...

The best of Labour's online responses thus far has come from the unlikely pairing of John Prescott and Alastair Campbell.

Their effort has even received the blessing of top Tory blogger Iain Dale.

This was the same Dale who welcomed the online competition from the more highly publicised LabourList, created by Derek Draper, the NuLabour insider and star of 'Cash for Access'.

Founder of ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie, has also been lending a hand - well advice - to NuLabour's efforts (lunch with Draper). Says Dale, Montgomerie:

did a piece [on the BBC] critiquing Labour's online strategy this lunchtime. Sitting in the studio listening was the old bruiser himself, John Prescott. While using some pretty garbled internet language, it's true to say that John Prescott knows more about campaigning than Derek Draper will ever do. If he can transmit that knowledge into an online environment I suspect his Go Forth website will outdo the disappointing Labour List.

Prescott has started his own BLOG and this afternoon has even taken to commenting on ConservativeHome to thank Tim for his well meant advice. You can view Prescott's response to Tim HERE.

Here's Prescott's first - yes - sweet'n'endearing Vlog:

There seems to be something terribly significant about the attitude and personality of the people behind the two sites: Prescott is humble, Draper is arrogant. The UK political blogosphere's conclusion seems to have already lined up against Draper's enterprise.

Says Tim Ireland, 'Derek Draper is an arrogant sod'.

For one, Draper's LabourList employs the services of the legal firm Schillings:

Without the first clue about what this might mean to other bloggers. I seriously suspect that he chose them on the basis that his wife has hired them in the past.
Schillings are libel lawyers well known for harassing bloggers who question the big and powerful.

Ireland details the whole sorry back-and-forth as he, politely and helpfully, tried to point this out in an email exchange with Draper.

But then newly minted 'cyber-warrior' Draper has written "I am building a site for 60 million people, not 60 bloggers", has raised the middle finger to Iain Dale's very generous and correct advice, thinks three days a week's work commitment is enough and is enhanced by stupid PR claims that his site will be like the UK's version of the Drudge-beating HuffingtonPost —he obviously already knows everything about blogs and websites because he's a work of staggering genius. Not.

Pissing off key people when he's in 'beta' launch like he - stupidly - is just says it all. It's precisely the opposite of how HuffPost built itself. Snide comments isn't how Arianna Huffington has conducted herself. She put the hard work in to learn her trade, Draper seems to have nothing but contempt for the way this stuff actually works.

And it's partisan contempt - which is the entire problem with his approach thus far and why Prescott is far more likely to suceed. Despite all the rhetoric and colum inches just look at the content, the product. Where, for example, is the anti-third runway article?

"60 million people" aren't going to visit a clearly partisan (and dull) website. If Draper thinks otherwise he has everything left to learn. Which he appears to have no interest in. Because he already knows it all ...

Over the pond, the key difference is that it's not like the Republicans (GOP) are starting from nothing. (Which is my sad characterisation of Labour's position).

As with conservatives here, they have some very smart webbies, like Patrick Ruffini, who have been helping them for some years now. But they've been way outgunned by the Democrats for a while now on all online fronts, most importantly in the lack of enthusiasm and lack of smarts expressed in online by the party itself.

This is changing. On websites like, directly inspired by Obama's efforts, more than 1,300 people have submitted ideas for using online social networks to modernize how the party raises money and mobilizes supporters. Five of six candidates in the 30 January election for Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman have endorsed the coalition's plan to make "winning the technology war with the Democrats ... the RNC's number one priority in the next four years."

The conservative wing of the American blogosphere in pretty large - and influential, they perpetuated a lot of vote winning memes in the election - and they are supporting the politicians about-turn vis online campaigning.

The problem left to be dealt with is that - like Labour - the GOP has always had a top-down approach to the Internet, using it primarily to deliver campaign messages rather than mobilize supporters.

At a conference last month at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Mike Connell, a longtime GOP web consultant and leading member of McCain's Web team, listened to Obama's Internet gurus tout their use of online organizing. He was skeptical. "Conservatives are more likely to look for information online than look for a group they can join," he said.

The other half of McCain's Web team, Rebecca Donatelli, agreed. "Our users are not using the Internet in the same way," she said. "You're reaching different audiences." She admitted, "there are a lot of opportunities for us to grow," but defended the campaign's approach, insisting that it was simply "out-resourced."

But it may not just be a question of the right vendors (or consultants) it seems to be about a more basic understanding of the interactive - and somewhat anarchic - nature of the Web. A joint examination by the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting and the Berkman Center during the 2008 presidential campaign revealed a fundamental difference in the candidates' approach to blogging.

The study found that while the Obama campaign reached out to activist bloggers in order to communicate with campaign volunteers and feed them into its online social networking site,, the McCain campaign took a top-down approach to the horizontal network of blogs and used it as an echo chamber for its ideas.

This approach is partly explained by the fact that McCain's blogger outreach coordinator, Patrick Hynes, heads a firm that advises corporations on how to use the blogosphere as part of their public relations strategies.

In 2006, he was accused of masquerading as a 20-year old blogger to promote the telecom corporation Verizon's position on cable regulation. That same year, he blogged in support of McCain without disclosing that he was on the payroll as a political consultant for McCain's political action committee, Straight Talk America. Not long afterward, Hyynes was outed by the National Review's Jim Geraghty.

As president of New Media Strategics, Hynes touts his understanding of "how bloggers receive and process information... what energizes them and, just as important, what turns them off." One of the company's services is "alliance building," which makes use of its existing relationship with bloggers to "create powerful alliances to deliver your brand message and reputation through the New Media."

When McCain became the GOP's lead candidate, Hynes reached out to "top-tier, right-of-center bloggers" such as Red State's Erick Erickson, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, Jim Geraghty at National Review Online and Glenn Reynolds - aka InstaPundit - at Pajamas Media.

We pitch stories to folks online in much the same way a campaign pitches to talk radio journalists. We give them our information, and try to give them our angle [aka 'talking points']. Usually when I'm talking to them its not a big stretch to write something that would agree with our world view.

Doesn't this sound just like how NuLabour might approach 'new media'? Like something Draper might say?

Hynes touts this service on the New Media Strategics website as a "blog release" - conceptualizing, drafting and delivering "blog-friendly content (including podcasts and vodcasts) for placement on friendly or relevant blog venues."

Hynes' techniques frustrated longtime Republican Brad Marston.

It was all about getting information down from the top of the campaign to individuals. That's why we started the and and... social networking sites so that supporters could build a network.

Marston said his groups received no financial support or direction from the McCain campaign, but were so involved among online activists that Meghan McCain (John McCain's daughter) misidentified Marston as the "McCain e-campaign coordinator" on her blog.

Now he is working to register Let' as an educational foundation and political action committee. "Adversity is a terrible thing to waste," said Marston.

Says Karl Rove's IT guru, Mike Connell:

The blogosphere is not just another communications channel. It is an activism channel, a fundraising channel. We're getting caught up on that point of view.

Many conservative activists have looked to groups such as for inspiration. MoveOn was formed in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, it has been cited in some accounts as a factor which helped propel the Democratic Party to power in the 2006 midterm US Congressional elections.

"I believe we should be looking at the left as the model," said David All, founder of and Slatecard - a website modeled on, which provided important fundraising infrastructure for Democrats.

All acknowledges that was organic in its growth, but says the left structure is actually "very top down, even Barack Obama. They just do a good job at making an illusion that people are connected through others. You get an email from someone who lives in your zip code and you think that's bottom up, and its really just a very smart directive from within the top campaign structure."

Some of this is true - staying 'on message' had a certain resonance during the campaign because the fear of an electoral loss remained so great amongst Democrats. This may not remain true if Obama pisses off the netroots. There's already been signs of this over the choice of Rick Warren for the inaugural and through some dodgy manipulation of contributed priorities on the handover website,

But all the new technology won't help Republicans unless they have a message that appeals to the grassroots - a very key point in understanding why and how Obama's online tactics worked as well as they did (compared to - say - Hilliary's).

"I get frustrated with all this talk of what technology we need to build," said Jon Henke, formerly New Media Director for the Republican Communications Office, and co-founder of
Unless you have an idea of what you want to do with it, it doesn't matter.
Ultimately, Henke argues the grassroots:
Needs to develop its gravitational pull with a compelling story.
Cue John Prescott.

Says All:
Republicans have to find a message, then we need a messenger, or vice versa. And from there we'll start building the tools. Amazing tools will never build a house. You have to have a carpenter who can use the tools to build a house.

For NuLabour, this ain't Derek Draper. Shock - it might well be John Prescott.

Credit: Renee Feltz

Change you can believe in

Obama promises 'transparency'. Obama delivers 'transparency'.

At least as far as Google Maps is concerned.

Cheney (aka 'Dr Strangelove') has spent the past few years under a blur. His official residence, the Naval Observatory, hidden from close, satellite inspection.

No longer.

Google announced yesterday:
Our most recent update, which went live last week, included updated imagery of the Washington D.C. area from several providers. The imagery of the Naval Observatory comes from Digital Globe.
And they're unblurred.

Remember, this is the guy who - secretively (he thought) - invented his own logo.

The internet is 52 years old!*&!?*

Who knew? And "inter-net" was invented by the French!

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

The threat to the Auschwitz World Heritage site

The BBC has a great piece with an audio slideshow for today, Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Auschwitz site is under real threat due to a vast shortfall in funds.

Some of the site and some of the artifacts will go due to inevitable decay after 65 years. But other parts will go because the money isn't available to preserve them.

Apparently, most of the funding comes from Poland. There is a debate about whether or not to preserve the site as much as it can be preserved, but the testimony of those who have visited it strongly suggests that it should. And as one survivor says, we preserve the relics of past civilisations but ones who are lost we don't remember.

This, from a SkyNews comment:
As a grandchild of 2 Holocaust survivors, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau last October with my sister. We both grew up with stories from our grandparents about the horrors they had been subjected to and also those of other family members. One story that particularly stuck in my mind was that my great aunt had her womb ripped out of her whilst awake and with no numbing drugs by "Dr" Mengele; the "doctor who liked to experiment". I always wondered why she didnt have children, it was only years later after her passing that I was told. Thousands of stories by thousands of survivors most of whom have since passed away. Auschwitz is a very creepy place, its true that birds dont fly over it. This place must be preserved for future generations from all over the world to see and understand what happened back then.

Some other coverage from today, the day Auschwitz was liberated.

'Someone had to do it. So the 43 Group did'
VIDEO Meet Jules Konopinski and Harry Kaufman, veterans of an English anti-fascist group set up by Jewish ex-servicemen after the second world war. They waged a five-year war against Oswald Mosley's British fascists in the 1930s.

Here's some amazing newsreel footage of the famous 'Battle of Cable Street' against the fascists, which these guys took part in.

Jonathan Sacks: National Holocaust Memorial Day matters because it is not just about Jewish victims, but all those who are touched by atrocity.

Holocaust recordings put online by British Library
Audio recordings made by Jewish survivors of the Second World War go on the British Library's website from today to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day.
Harsh echoes of history as hard times help Europe's extremists to rise again
There is a fresh impetus within the far Right who will seek to capitalise on the recession through making scapegoats and building support from the unemployed and the disillusioned.
Remembering the Holocaust
In the briefest of moments I imagined a giant steam train labouring towards the main gate of the world’s most notorious concentration camp. It would have been just like this in mid-winter. The powerful engine would have hauled up to 15 or more cattle trucks filled with human beings - the already dead, the dying and the soon to be dead - right across Europe.
Events happened all over the UK. As they should

Monday 26 January 2009

Joining Gordon

Gordon Brown's statement today.

"The theme of this Holocaust Memorial Day is Standing up to Hatred."

"We all like to think that we know what we would do in the face of hatred – that in a moment of decision we would honour our obligations to resist brutality and to stand with its victims.

"In studying the Holocaust, however, one thing becomes painfully clear: that the full barbarity of Hitler’s death camps was the end point of many acts of cruelty and discrimination, each injustice feeding on the last.

"The murder of six million Jews and countless Roma, Poles and other Eastern Europeans, gay men and lesbians, trade unionists, disabled people and political and religious opponents of the Nazis was not a sudden and frenzied explosion of hate, but a horror that had been methodically and carefully planned.

"Hatred may begin with small acts of prejudice or bigotry – but it rarely ends with them. That is why we all have an obligation to stand up to hatred.

"This Holocaust Memorial Day I hope that people all across Britain will join me in renewing a personal commitment to resisting hatred wherever it is found today."

Past post: Remembering Sachsenhausen.

BBC out of touch with Israelis over Gaza appeal

The BBC's decision not to broadcast a charities appeal for Gaza is being, rightly, condemned from left and right.

The Observer today suggests that the BBC might think the Disasters Emergency Committee's appeal "other than a genuine humanitarian appeal". But:
An alternative interpretation, and one that is ultimately much more damaging to the BBC's reputation, is that any humanitarian intervention in Gaza, by definition, expresses a political position in the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In other words, collecting charity for Palestinians is a kind of hostility to Israel.
But if this were the case, why would Israelis themselves be collecting aid?

A student from a college near Sderot, the small town repeatedly hit by Hamas missiles, has over the past week collected 10 truckloads of basic supplies.

Hadas Balas, says she felt she had to take action when she heard the sound of bombs exploding in Gaza and the sound of sirens in Sderot.
"I realized there were people getting killed who had no food and nothing to drink, and that caused me a lot of pain."

"We are working beyond the rules, with the common goal of ensuring the right to live to those who are alive."
She sent off emails which reached human rights organizations, yielding more donations than initially anticipated.
"I thought we might get two truckloads. I wasn't expecting ten."
A few non-profit organizations volunteered to help collect clothes, blankets and basic supplies.

The Jerusalem branch of Hashomer Hatzair, the Zionist youth movement's organization, helped collect the supplies along with the Greek Catholic Church's Beit Hachesed in Haifa.

Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which has seen countless Palestinian missiles slam into its premises, volunteered a warehouse to house all the donated supplies before they get shipped out to the Strip.

People seeking to donate clothes and other supplies continue to arrive to the warehouse in Kfar Aza.

The women's Jerusalem facility has run out of room, and their Tel Aviv storage space is also almost full.

The two women have also opened an Internet site whereby surfers can donate money to purchase food. Their appeal has exploded across the Israeli and Jewish blogosphere.
"We have a lot of money now, which we are going to use to buy food to get into Gaza," Balas said.
This isn't an Israeli propaganda operation, it's come from ordinary Israelis who, as her friend and co-organiser, Lee Ziv, puts it
"Just see an immediate need for blankets for people who have nothing to cover them at night and milk for infants who have nothing to eat.”
I think their efforts puts the BBC's weasel words into an even sharper and more shameful light.

Friday 23 January 2009

BBC monitored by US agencies 24/7?

Why isn't this news?

US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Russell Tice was back on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program Thursday evening to expand on his Wednesday revelations that the NSA spied on individual U.S. journalists, entire U.S. news agencies as well as "tens of thousands" of other Americans.

Surely this also means the BBC's communications within the US?

More from Wired.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

"Just awesome"

Music: Beyonce and Aretha

This whole inauguration has been about great music, fantabulous performers.

Here's Beyonce at the Neighborhood Ball performing At Last as two very in love people dance.

And the just amazing, tear-inducing, Aretha. This woman could sing the phone book and make me shiver!

Goodbye to the chimp

N'kay, a few hours late(r), but part of the 'handover' is the removal of 'the chimp' from 'ere.

For over a year I've included this fab 'Bushisms' widget, with the odd tweak. Now it is gone.


For 'Bush as chimp' thank Steve Bell, the Guardian's legendary cartoonist.

Here's how 'the chimp' evolved.

And here's a really neat summation from one of my fave bloggers:
George W. Bush left his country with a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who couldn't administer a 35-word oath without tripping over his own dick.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

A change is gonna come

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more"

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

"We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations."

OMG. Even Sarah Palin is talking 'work with':

Glenn Beck (right-wing Fox ideologue): "right now we're chasing France."

Dieu ne plaise!

These guys have been run over by a steamroller. Magic!

Music: For an inauguration

Aretha Franklin - Impossible Dream

Marvin Gaye - Right On

Curtis Mayfield - People Get Ready

Sounds Of Blackness - Optimistic

This was the point at which I was totally sold on this guy.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Citizen journalism: the reality of occupation in Hebron

Here's a fascinating 22-minute video of Hebron, the history-rich ancient city in the West Bank that is now a source of conflict between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, with Israeli security forces placed squarely in the middle.

Serving as tour guide is Mikhael Manekin, co-founder of Breaking the Silence, a human rights group made up of former Israeli soldiers who participated in the occupation.

The documentary short offers a fascinating glimpse into the obstacles that many Palestinians face in their day-to-day lives under Israeli occupation.

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. The first is A drive through the occupied territories.

Hat-tip: JD Lasica

It's about more than white phosphorus in Gaza

Seems like it's finally over in Gaza. After bombing a hospital, several schools and a food warehouse. Over 300 children are dead and for what? Certainly not 'victory'.
Trying to hide a smile and a sense of self-satisfaction Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced the cameras at the Defense Ministry and declared to the Israeli public, "We won."

But Hamas' gains cannot be ignored: It has won international legitimacy and sympathy, and its forces still control the Gaza Strip.
T'was weapons testing according to a Human Rights Watch investigator quoted in Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper).
Since the first day of the Israeli aerial attack, people have been giving exact descriptions of the side effects of the bombing, and claiming that Israel is using weapons and ammunition that they have not seen during the past eight years.

[Marc Garlasco, the HRW investigator] can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs [the sort which hit the UN food and fuel warehouses]. That was immediately clear to him while he stood last week on a hill facing the Gaza Strip and observed the Israel Defense Forces' bombings for several hours.

The moment the bomb blows up and the phosphorus comes in contact with oxygen - it ignites. This is what creates the "fireworks" and billows of jellyfish-shaped smoke. The fallout covers a wide area and the danger of fires and harm to civilians is enormous. The phosphorus burns glass, and immediately ignites paper, trees, wood - anything that is dry. The burning wafers causes terrible injury to anyone who comes in contact with them. The irony is that tear gas is included in the Chemical Weapons Convention and is subject to all kinds of restrictions, whereas phosphorus is not.

Another new weapon that has forced itself upon Gazans is the GPS-guided mortar - a system equipped with satellite navigation, developed in Israel in late 2006-early 2007, in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. According to local military sources, it was this kind of mortar that missed its target by 30 meters and erroneously hit a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school last week; according to the UN report, 30 people were killed immediately and others died later of their injuries. "It really boggles my mind," Garlasco comments. "According to the literature, it has 3 meters' error - not 30." It is a mortar that is launched in an arc toward an unseen target, he explains, with the intention of being precise and to some extent minimize civilian casualties.

Garlasco says this is the first time the weapon has been used in any military conflict: "The Palestinians say, 'Oh, they use it on us, experiment with it for the Americans.' Experimenting has a different meaning for Americans. We think animal experimenting, but it is indeed a field test."

Only last September did the United States grant Israel's request to supply it with 1,000 bombs of a new type, the GBU-39 [aka DIME]. They arrived at the beginning of December, and inhabitants of Rafah have witnessed their use - without knowing what they were - since the first day of the aerial attacks on the tunnels there.
'Shake 'n' Bake'

Boeing makes them. It :
"Strikes a very small area, 10 to 20 meters, and the fire it ignites burns out very quickly; if it hits us now, we will die, but no one around us will be hurt. The problem is that when you are killed - you are ripped to shreds and there is nothing left."
In Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabalya refugee camp about 90 percent of the wounded were brought in with at least one limb missing. Is it the DIME that is causing the severe injuries being reported by the medical staff?

Another new weapon that he believes is now in use is the Spike:
"It is very new, [from] 2005-2006, a special missile that is made to make very high-speed turns, so if you have a target that is moving and running away from you, you can chase him with the weapon. It was developed by the U.S. Navy jointly with Rafael [the Israel Armament Development Authority]. Rafael is the manufacturer."
Also, the much quoted drones are an Israeli, world-leading 'product':
And America is learning a lot from it
Garlasco is not prepared to accept without question the Israeli claim that Hamas hides behind civilians and makes use of civilians.
Israelis are very quick to say they are doing it, but very short on proof. By keeping the independent people out, they leave doubt in people's minds.
It's worth noting the following: the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the use of Human Shields by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in 2005. This ruling was appealed.

And it's still happening: Israel Uses Gazans as Human Shields.

Friday 16 January 2009


Wow. This is the zeitgeist.

Daft Punk vs. Adam Freeland:

Imagine the Cameroon (or Miliband) version ... cough ... (crickets) ...

Rory Bremner, look and learn

Jon Stewart's Dubya impersonations.

Music: Gwen Guthrie

This is a (then) typically over-mixed 'Kiss mastermix' version of the great Gwen Guthrie's 'Padlock' — it's what's available on YouTube. Was, originally, sufficiently remixed by Sly & Robbie, aka the dub masters. No mix needed, because no value. really added, methinks.

Guthrie - who died at 48 - is best known for 'Ain't nothing going on but the rent', but her Sly & Robbie productions are the best. I also recommend the Larry Levan Mix of 'Seventh Heaven', which is - fabuleux! - on YouTube in its original, un-Kiss FMed glory! Levan being a pioneer who deserves worship, n'all ...

This takes me straight back to Sydney, circa 1988, around 5am at a Black Party ...

Here it is:

Thursday 15 January 2009

Rachel Maddow and Bill Cosby kick Justin Webbe in the head

This is how our of touch he was.

"I am terrorised"

A journalist in Gaza for Al-Jazeera English speaks:

Paramedics risking their lives amid war in Gaza...

White phosphorus is being used in Gaza. It is a chemical weapon which destroys flesh to the skin.

Dispersal looks like this.

And does this.

A voice from British Jewry:
"She wondered if she could resign from being Jewish. Her despair is not new but it is spreading."
Sderot stands on the site of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village — former Sderot.

"Entropa", l'installation d'art moderne au Conseil de l'UE

The UK - criticised by some for being one of the EU's most Eurosceptic members - is absent from Europe altogether
But is it art?

Mais oui.

Artist's website.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Holy taco!


Fun! Fun! Fun! > Bush-a-go-go

From the past > Counting down ...
Whilst you're waiting [for the end], you can while away the hours playing with this game <<

Postscript: Hamas hits the web

I said yesterday that
You cannot look at endless (18 minutes) pictures of dead children and not be affected - and not be politically affected. I'm sure - I know - there are some diehards out there but I sincerely doubt they're actually seeing these pictures.
And here are those diehards:

January 11 rally in front of the Israeli consulate in midtown New York.

"Wipe them all out".

The people of Gaza are a "cancer".


Israel Uses Gazans as Human Shields

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Hamas hits the web

Of course Hamas is already on the web, but, as with B'tselem's videos of the reality of occupation, this communication - a parade of dead children- is on another level to mere online words on their own version of YouTube.

Point being that you cannot look at endless (18 minutes) pictures of dead children and not be affected - and not be politically affected. I'm sure - I know - there are some diehards out there but I sincerely doubt they're actually seeing these pictures.

See the actual dead children then formulate a reason for killing them.

I have zero time for Hamas. As a gay man how can I? But more than that they are a dead end as a resistance. I'm Ghandiist on that score.

But I also have zero time for a hypocrisy which carries on extending its occupation of another's land.

Dead children does not = 'victory over evil terrorists'. Never. Watch the video and - I hope - weep.

Monday 12 January 2009


Iain Dale makes an extremely good point in, of all places, The Guardian today about Labour's latest web effort:
ConservativeHome isn't a success because it can get leading Tories to write for it. It succeeds because it is a genuine grassroots site, which thrives in publishing articles from complete unknowns. Indeed, several stars have emerged – the likes of Graeme Archer, Andrew Lilico, Simon Chapman and Alex Deane. They have a following on the site far wider than its more well-known contributors
This is exactly why the US liberal blog HuffPost has succeeded - not because of the numerous stars its well-connected founder has attracted but the sorts of contributors Iain cites. These people were responsible for a number of major breaking stories during the US primaries and election campaign.

My first reaction to LabourList? Looks boring. Far too much text, not visual enough. And it's a sign of the undeveloped nature of the UK left online that the videos quietly (text, right column) linked to (rather than front and centre) comprise of plain childish digs at the Tories - with associated tiny view numbers.

This isn't because the UK online video debate isn't thriving, just that LabourList isn't yet connected to it.

As Dale also says, three days a week to manage it plain ain't going to work:
It's his [Derek Draper's] baby and it is his efforts that will make it succeed or fail. He's got to be the inspirational driving force behind it. It needs to be updated many times a day. Just posting the odd new article will not be enough.
It really says something, as well, that Dale could end by saying:
I wish them well and genuinely hope they make it. It would be good for the rightwing blogosphere to have some real competition for a change.
Indeed it would.

Referring back to HuffPost, there are a whole host of American models ( see TPM for example) which social democrats could adopt. LabourList appears at first blush to be rejecting them all.

Corporate socialism

Remember that $700 billion corporate bailout? Seems that, A/ no one's accounting for it - no one - and B/ it's being spent to do stuff like boost market position. And the auto industry bailout? The fine print forbids strikes.

This - Bush's legacy - is entirely the source for the global economic crisis and begs a lot of questions about how the UK bailout is being spent.

Rachel Maddow interviewing David Cay Johnston,
"Ninety percent of American's incomes today are smaller than they were in 1973."

"Nothing is being done today, with the initial bailout money, to affect foreclosures. That's what congress said should be done with the money, but that has not been done. The foreclosure crisis is affecting everyone's home value and is at the center of this economic crisis."

Saturday 10 January 2009

Living at -60°c

In Tok, Alaska, you put cardboard or leather across your car grill: "Otherwise, when you are driving, the cold outside air is forced into the car, quickly cooling it down until you literally have no heat."

Also: "The outer walls on our house are 12 inches thick. My husband says this is not typical. Usually, walls are 6 inches thick, I believe. But the foot of wall between us and the cold is why we can stay so warm in the house."

Heading to the general store:

A lil' reality check for us chilled out Brits :]

Music: RIP Eartha Kitt

Completely missed this as it happened at Xmas :{ Eartha Kitt is no more.

"The most exciting woman in the world"
Orson Welles

And anther side to her
"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot."
Her response to Vietnam.

I had the enormous privilege of talking to her once, and my memory is of an utter professional, classy lady even when talking to a small Aussie music rag.

Live she was amazing. Just dominated all with a style unique in the way all genius acts embody. There was no one like her and never will be again.

This is OTT 80s campness, 'Cha Cha Heels':

C'est Si Bon

I Want To Be Evil

And would Eartha compromise for a man?

Excellent obit in the Telegraph.