New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Friday, January 23

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, January 21

"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, January 20

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, January 18

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.