Sunday, November 27, 2005

Weekly Round Up

In the spirit of the weekly round-up, here are the articles from Blogsville that ruffled my feathers:

Chris Dillow at the very refined Stumblings and Mumblings offers this cracking review of Oliver Kamm’s Anti-totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy. Kamm is regared as one of the bright young logicians of the Pro-War Left.

“As a liberal lefty with no strong view on the war, I was prepared to be persuaded. Kamm not only fails to do this, but actually weakens the case – and not merely by contaminating it by racism.”

Ouch! This book was meant to have presented the definitive case for going to war and Iraqi regime change and the pro-War Left having been unquestioningly gushing all over it. Not so fast, says Dillow, who not only dismantles Kamm’s arguments but shows us the correct way to write a book review. Nicely done. Read it.

BlairWatch covers the the memo ‘scandal’. This one is going to run and run as long as the Government continues to display all of its trademark belligerance on matters regarding the accountability of Iraq. More links from here by Sunny at PP.

The Sharpener published this on the talk given by the Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the ICA on Friday. Its a little fawning for my taste without much description of what was actually discussed. In other words, no awkward questions mentioned but lots on how wonderfully enlightened Hirsi Ali is. I would love to read a more balanced version of the talk, but until then, thats all I’ve found.

And finally, Lenin of the Tomb lays the boot in, in a masterful and well deserved kick in the groin of an amoral egoist who’s been asking for it.

Pro-War? Where you gonna hide?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Debate This

EDM: 1088:

That this House believes that there should be a select committee of seven honourable Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to militaryaction in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath.
Chicken Yoghurt gives full instructions on how you can use to ask your MP to sign the motion. It is even good enough to give you a template of the wording to use:
Dear [MP Name],

I was fortunate enough to meet you during the General Election campaign in April and noted your opposition/position to the war against Iraq. I would therefore like to ask you to sign Early Day Motion 1088 (Conduct of Government policy in relation to the war against Iraq).

If you do not feel you are able to sign the motion, would you please give your reasons for not doing so.

Many thanks and kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

If the motion gets 200 votes it will be debated in Parliament. What are you waiting for? Make eDemocracy work for you.

Hat Tip: Bloggerheads

Enemies of the Internet

The World Summit on the Information Society presented the "enemies of the internet" which are 15 countries whose attitude to freedom of information is to monitor and censor.

In an article in a similar vein, Julien Pain talks about the rise of the use of spyware by authoritarian countries:
All authoritarian regimes use the same devices to control the Internet. First they install filters against "subversive" material. The champions in this are Saudi Arabia and China, which block thousands of online publications. Both impose very broad censorship - of pornographic sites, independent magazines, human rights material and webpages about banned religious movements. Then they install software to read e-mail messages by spotting keywords that are "counter-revolutionary" or "undermine state security" and set up a cyberpolice to track down dissidents.
Hat Tip: Third World Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Choubi Choubi

This is how the good people at Boomkat describe Choubi Choubi, a compilation of pop and folk music from Iraq of the Saddam era. Its on the Sublime Frequencies imprint and I got it on the strength of the quality of their Radio India compilation. Paroxysms of delight.
Back in stock. Given the amount of Iraq we all see daily on our TV screens, it seems almost abhorrent as to how ignorant the West (and by West, read 'me') are in respect to their cultural output. Bar the odd mention of Mesopotamia on the History Channel, or the fleeting insights afforded by blogs such as Salam Pax, I know fuck all about Iraq's art or music; a situation that is thankfully rectified (in part at least) by Sublime Frequencies franky indispensible collection of 'Folk and Pop Sounds From Iraq'. Ignoring for now the somewhat naove political statements that clutter up the sleeve, 'Choubi Choubi...' is entirely comprised of recordings from the Sadaam-era (1980-2003) and displays a spectrum of sounds that range from the yearning affluence of 'Front My Hope' through to the complex rhythms, squalled strings and prissy vocals of 'Oh Mother The Handsome Man Tortures Me'. A genuinely intriguing album - possibly my favourite in this amazing series so far (bar the magnificent "Radio India") - Buy!...

My personal fave is Ashhad Biannak Hilou by Sadun Jabir. Needless to say it is one of the tracks on my current playlist which you can hear on Radio.TiffinBox. Don't say I never give you nuffin'.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Koushik is a young Canadian DJ and producer. He was signed up to legendary Stones Throw label by its owner, the hiphop polymath, Peanut Butter Wolf. Earlier this year we were pleasantly surprised with the wonderful Be With album.
"What sets Koushik apart from the others is a beautiful '60s psych-pop element that tends to pervade throughout. It shows itself in the spacious panned strings, acoustic guitars, and harpsichords that fall in and out of each other; and the beats have a harder regimented classic true school hip-hop sound[...]" OtherMusic

Tracks by Koushik can be heard on the updated Radio,TiffinBox playlist. Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Five Easy Questions

Juan Cole takes up five questions directed at “Muslims” by [some guy called] Dennis Prager in an op-ed for the LA Times. The questions are:

  1. Why are you so quiet?
  2. Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
  3. Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
  4. Why are so many atrocities committed and threatended by Muslims in the name of Islam?
  5. Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

 Prof Cole not only answers these questons, but highlights Prager’s intentions too:

There is something seriously wrong with the questions themselves. They come out of a weird mindset that lumps Malaysians with Moroccans, Kyrgyz with Sudanese, and Uigurs with Moro Filipinos, all just because they have a common heritage in one of the great world religions; it isn't as if their actual local practices and beliefs are all exactly the same.

In addition, I would add that Prager is guilty of gleefully and, without irony, lumping the large majority of the world’s Muslims in with Islamist fundamentalism. Its ignorant and base stuff. One wonders how the US Press can release that kind of stuff. Luckily there are people in the US who know exactly what kind of stuff that is. Its the kind of commonplace knee-jerk favoured by Right-wingsters and the pseudo-Lefties, which even Harry’s Place is wise to.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What happened to Iraq?

RiverBend is an Iraqi blogger from Baghdad. She's not blogging to score points for this or that political stripe. She writes with an honest simplicity:
Congratulations Americans- not only are the hardliner Iranian clerics running the show in Iran- they are also running the show in Iraq. This shift of power should have been obvious to the world when My-Loyalty-to-the-Highest-Bidder-Chalabi sold his allegiance to Iran last year. American and British sons and daughters and husbands and wives are dying so that this coming December, Iraqis can go out and vote for Iran influenced clerics to knock us back a good four hundred years.

What happened to the dream of a democratic Iraq?

Iraq has been the land of dreams for everyone except Iraqis- the Persian dream of a Shia controlled Islamic state modeled upon Iran and inclusive of the holy shrines in Najaf, the pan-Arab nationalist dream of a united Arab region with Iraq acting as its protective eastern border, the American dream of controlling the region by installing permanent bases and a Puppet government in one of its wealthiest countries, the Kurdish dream of an independent Kurdish state financed by the oil wealth in Kirkukā€¦

The Puppets the Americans empowered are advocates of every dream except the Iraqi one: The dream of Iraqi Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmenā€¦ the dream of a united, stable, prosperous Iraq which has, over the last two years, gone up in the smoke of car bombs, military raids and a foreign occupation.
The question 'what happened to a dream of a democratic Iraq' is of course addressed to all of us who have paid for this war in one way or another. And not just the shameless Pro-War pundits who have resorted to their last weapon: the sneer. How very clever you must think you are.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hitchens Defending Chalabi

Once America’s darling of a post-Saddam Iraq, but now damned to remain overlooked and superceded, Ahmad Chalabi is back in the USA, but not, it would seem, to defend himself nor to clear his name or in fact to even own up to his crimes, as reported here in Prospect.

In a fantastic example of first-hand blogging, Kris Lofgren, covers the story of Chalabi’s speech in Washington. There Lofgren meets up with Hitchens and strikes up conversation, but can’t believe his ears when Hitch comes up with this:

Hitchens then turned the subject back to Chalabi, his good friend.  I asked him if he thought Chalabi had been passing American intelligence to the Iranians.  "No," he insisted.  "It's possible that with his training, you know, at [The University of] Chicago that with his own ability he was able to crack the codes.  He is a mathematical genius.  His expertise is cryptology.  It is possible that he broke the codes himself." 

So Chalabi was hacking code whilst embezzling billions from under the noses of Bremer and Negroponte? I’ve heard about praising your friends to the skies, but is Hitchens serious?

Hat Tip: Joshua Micah Marshall

Thursday, November 10, 2005

90 Days Bill Defeat

Jesus wept. And following today, so must have Tony. On this day his proposal to allow the detention of terror suspects for 90 days without charge was voted out by 31 votes. Signalling the first ever defeat of Blair in Parliament and the precipitation of “Leadership questions”. No doubt, moments of rash, mindless celebration were enjoyed by millions all over England.

The “public support” horse that NuLabour will inevitably be flogging (to death) from tomorrow is questionable to say the least (via PP).

But for me, the best blog comment on this story come from the ever-quotable Laban Tall:

No Briton of any colour should be subject to arrest and lengthy imprisonment without charge or knowing the evidence against them. We have managed without such a law (in peacetime) for 700-odd years now. There is also a sharp distinction to be made between the cases of suspected British terrorists and suspected foreign ones. The Belmarsh detainees, all foreign, are able to leave the UK at any time if they so wish.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Swiss weekend

Took my lovely wife and kid to Switzerland for a long weekend. We got back yesterday rather reluctantly. In Lucerne we went up to Mount Pilatus, met up with friends and caught a superb exhibition of the work of the photo-journalist Rene Burri in Zurich. It was so nice to get away from work and get some pure us-time that we have decided to go again in a few months.

Highlight: Watching the news in German about the French riots, Australian terrorists and Blair blaming the French for Iraq Failures and feeling comfortably numb and detached from it all.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Driver Kuldip

This will be a sombre Diwali for the Delhi dwellers and the family of Kuldip Singh in particular.

Kuldip Singh, 28, was driving a packed bus when his conductor noticed a passenger abandoning a bag. They immediately stopped the bus and shepherded passengers off the vehicle. Then Mr Singh picked up the bag, saw the wires sticking out of it and realised that it was a bomb. He hurled it away just as it detonated and took the force of the blast in his face.

Hat Tip: Laban Tall asks if anyone knows of any way to contribute.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Greetings to Golmalsters

Happy Diwali!

Eid Mubarak!