Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Madeleine McCann..The Daily Express....& Robinson Crusoe

As the time since Madeleine McCann's disappearance draws past the 6 month mark, the ever greedy British middle-brow press, represented by titles such as the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, grow ever more desperate to keep the pot boiling and interest maintained in a case that seems to be able to sell their papers as readily as Princess Diana's story in both life and death used to. Its now open season on any person or agency which seems to be genuinely puzzled by the inconsistencies in the team McCann version of what happened on that fateful night in May. The Portuguese police are portrayed as sleazy lazy greasy fat dagoes who spend their time quaffing wine, chewing their toothpicks removing congealed sardines from their dentures, and smoking foul smelling cigarettes scheming to imprison the brave British medics whose only crime was that they went out for a few drinks.....( leaving their toddler in charge of twin babies in an unlocked apartment two hundred yards from their restaurant ) ....{er remove the last bit.. Ed}. Another target of the Express in particular seems to be the denizens of the country of Morocco which seems to possess a morbid fascination for the journos at the Daily Excess. The latest rash of 'sightings' of 'Maddie' , as she has now been tabloidly re-christened, seems to be quite regularly in Morroco. This has the perfect combination of dusky skinned natives, Islam, and some kind of vague association with slavery and sexual skulduggery. Although it must be said that the historic perpetrators of most paedophilia in Morroco have largely been derived from European male paedophile visitors, who historically preyed upon poverty stricken youngsters in Morroco, a practice testified to in numerous literary memoirs over the decades. The latest serving from the Express is a classic of its kind, under the header ' ‘MADELEINE WILL BE USED AS A LITTLE MAID’ Thursday November 1st 2007 By Nick Fagge ( ho ho ) in Morocco and Martin Evans in Portugal... we discover, thanks to 'Nick' and Martin, that " MADELEINE McCann may have been condemned to a life of slavery working as a “little maid” for a rich Arab family in Morocco, child trafficking experts claimed yesterday. But as a child slave, Madeleine could be regularly abused by her host family or by visitors invited to meet the blonde-haired “curiosity”....."Collected by rich families as “curiosities” as well as domestic servants little maids can live with their host families their whole lives, receiving a pittance in wages which is sent directly to their family. And without the protection of family members these young girls are often abused – physically, emotionally and sexually. " Hang on where have we heard this before? There's something familiar in all this talk of 'curiosities' and 'domestic slavery', and no I am not talking about the thousands of Morrocan women working as 'au-pairs' in London, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid....No its older than that, as old as 1719 in fact, when 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe was published in England, Robinson Crusoe amongst his many misadventures is captured by Moors and made a personal described in Defoe's classic prose below,
"However, to cut short this melancholy part of our story, our ship being disabled, and three of our men killed, and eight wounded, we were obliged to yield, and were carried all prisoners into Sallee, a port belonging to the Moors.
The usage I had there was not so dreadful as at first I apprehended; nor was I carried up the country to the emperor's court, as the rest of our men were, but was kept by the captain of the rover as his proper prize, and made his slave, being young and nimble, and fit for his business. At this surprising change of my circumstances, from a merchant to a miserable slave, I was perfectly overwhelmed; and now I looked back upon my father's prophetic discourse to me, that I should be miserable and have none to relieve me, which I thought was now so effectually brought to pass that I could not be worse; for now the hand of Heaven had overtaken me, and I was undone without redemption; but, alas! this was but a taste of the misery I was to go through, as will appear in the sequel of this story.
As my new patron, or master, had taken me home to his house, so I was in hopes that he would take me with him when he went to sea again, believing that it would some time or other be his fate to be taken by a Spanish or Portugal man-of-war; and that then I should be set at liberty. But this hope of mine was soon taken away; for when he went to sea, he left me on shore to look after his little garden, and do the common drudgery of slaves about his house; and when he came home again from his cruise, he ordered me to lie in the cabin to look after the ship."
It is interesting, depressing, but frankly unsurprising, that the British press is digging into reservoirs of cultural memory, derived from a world view which was probably quite out of date within a century of its publication in 1719. Digging into veins of racism and prejudice which only need the slightest of prompting for it to come oozing out of British middle class opinion. Meanwhile it is widely reported that the Portuguese police are continuing along a definite line of enquiry, a line of enquiry that posits the notion that in common with 70% of all child homicides, no abductor at all was involved, no abductor , neither Morrocan, nor Muslim, in fact no dirty greasy foreigner of any description appears to be in the frame at all. Instead the Portuguese police are annoyingly insistent on investigating issues such as DNA traces, employing almost 100% foolproof UK based 'cadaver dogs' , and questioning the existence of an 'abductor' who quite apart from having no facial features at all was only 'seen' by a close friend of the McCann's and not by one single other of the thousands of holidaymakers thronging the resort of Praia de Luz that evening in May. I suppose eventually they will see sense and search instead for 'Corsairs' in Dhows with turbans, beards, and an unspeakable appetite for the strange and previously unseen and unheard of curiosities spoken of in the hareems of Araby as 'the blond haired ones' .

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The largest dam in Iraq is at risk of an imminent collapse that could unleash a 20m (65ft) wave of water on Mosul, a city of 1.7m people, the US occupation forces in Iraq have warned.
In May, the US told Iraqi authorities to make Mosul Dam a national priority, as a catastrophic failure would result in a "significant loss of life". However, a $27m (£13m) US-funded reconstruction project to help shore up the dam has made little or no progress. Iraq says it is reducing the risk and insists there is no cause for alarm, However, a US watchdog said reconstruction of the dam had been plagued by mismanagement and potential fraud.
In a report published on Tuesday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said US-funded "short-term solutions" had yet to significantly solve the dam's problems. SIGIR found multiple failures in several of the 21 contracts awarded to repair the dam.
Among the faults were faulty construction and delivery of improper parts, as well as projects which were not completed despite full payments having been made. The dam has been a problem for Iraqi engineers since it was constructed in 1984. It was built on water-soluble gypsum, which caused seepage within months of its completion and led investigators to describe the site as "fundamentally flawed". In September 2006, the US Army Corps of Engineers determined that the dam, 45 miles upstream of Mosul on the River Tigris, presented an unacceptable risk. "In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world," the corps warned, according to the SIGIR report. "If a small problem [at] Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely."
A catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam would result in flooding along the Tigris River all the way to Baghdad . The corps later told US commanders to move their equipment away from the Tigris flood plain near Mosul because of the dam's instability. The top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, and US ambassador Ryan Crocker then wrote to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki urging him to make fixing the dam a "national priority".
"A catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam would result in flooding along the Tigris River all the way to Baghdad" the letter on 3 May warned.
"Assuming a worst-case scenario, an instantaneous failure of Mosul Dam filled to its maximum operating level could result in a flood wave 20m deep at the city of Mosul, which would result in a significant loss of life and property." If that were to happen some have predicted that as many as 500,000 people could be killed. Iraqi authorities, however, say they are taking steps to reduce the risk and they do not believe there is cause for alarm.
However, despite these reassuring noises, the SIGIR review found that a Turkish company, which was paid $635,000 for a contract awarded 19 months ago to build storage silos for cement, had done so little and such poor-quality work that its project may have to be restarted. One company contracted to design grout-mixing plants instead submitted plans for unusable concrete-mixing plants. High-tech equipment meant to help grouting is gathering dust because it won’t work, according to investigators.
Embassy and Army Corps officials noted that it has been difficult to conduct oversight of the project because it is in a dangerous area. They said that contracts with the worst businesses have been terminated and that steps have been taken to ensure better management of the project in the future.“Our focus is on whether the project that the Corps undertook got carried out and the answer to that question is no,” said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general. “The expenditures of the money have yielded no benefit yet.”
The more one hears about the United States occupation of Iraq, one is increasingly drawn towards the conclusion that the US occupation has been marked by an extraordinary amount of wasted resources and incompetence. True this dam has been fundamentally flawed since its construction, but the complete inability of the US occupation forces and the largely irrelevant Iraqi 'government' to cope with these huge problems is demonstrating that whatever this occupation was about, it seems to have utterly failed to bring about efficient and transparent governance. Instead it appears that the billions of dollars being spent by the US administration in this foolhardy adventure, seems destined to be siphoned off by every huckster, mountebank, and con man with the temerity to tender for reconstruction related projects in Iraq, of course this trend was set in the earliest of the days after the invasion of Iraq, when corporations with particularly close ties to Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush dynasty seemed to be particularly succesful in getting their noses into the trough.
The revelations about the real state of the Mosul dam contrasts sharply with the anodyne optimism of this relatively recent report about the self same project published by the US Department of Defence 'DefendAmerica'website
If the discrepancies between this report and reality about the Mosul dam project is reflected in every aspect of the USA's reporting of its occupation of Iraq, then its little wonder that the US adminstration are simply desperate to find a way of getting out of Iraq without it looking like a retreat. Oh and lets not forget that this is the country that is intent on poking its nose into Iran next, have'nt they done enough damage?

Friday, October 26, 2007

California Refugee...New Orleans Refugee..Spot the Difference.

Surely the difference in the quality of response from President George W Bush to the plight of citizens made homeless in California, as opposed to New Orleans two years ago (see photo above) is purely down to 'learning from experience'.....yeah, sure it is George. The descriptions of the aid operation in Southern California, and Bush's fervent promises of his prayers, and more practically, his directing of immediate and urgent aid, suggest that the welfare of the well heeled, mainly white residents of Malibu and San Diego, may be closer to Dubya's heart than the poor inner city, mainly black, residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katriona. The description of the aid operation in Southern California ( see photographs below) does seem remarkably different to the chaotic shambles which occurred in New Orleans. According to 10News, and illustrated well in this photograph belowfrom the Qualcomm stadium in San Diego, for example these two guys look more like they are going to a football game, as opposed to commencing a lengthy period of homelessness and misery.
"The evacuation operation was going smoothly Tuesday afternoon, and National Guard troops sent to maintain order were described as polite and helpful.AT&T provided Internet access to the evacuees and charged their cell phones for free. Volunteers offered massage therapy, yoga, kosher food and art projects for kids."There was a call for artists last night," said Brian Patterson, who manages community programs at the San Diego Museum of Art. "And I thought, 'this is what I do, anyway,' so I came down here," he said.Evacuees also had access to information on insurance and got medical help. They were given snacks and drinks and necessities such as baby wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste and hand sanitizers."
Wow!....Yoga and Kosher food. It took the Bush Administration five days to get a fresh bottle of water into New Orleans, but in San Diego they have Yoga classes and their taking account of religious dietary restrictions. The Associated Press also noticed the difference, "Like Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years earlier in New Orleans, thousands of people rousted by natural disaster fled to the NFL stadium here, waiting out the calamity and worrying about their homes. The similarities ended there, as an almost festive atmosphere reigned at Qualcomm Stadium.Bands belted out rock 'n' roll, lavish buffets served gourmet entrees, and massage therapists helped relieve the stress for those forced to flee their homes because of wildfires. "The people are happy. They have everything here," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared."
Its good to see that the response in Southern California has been SO much better, and credit must be given to the emergency services and Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, otherwise known as 'The Terminator', in that regard. The super-rich of the Californian hills will not be camped out in the Qualcomm Stadium in any case , and thats for certain. However the speed and urgency displayed by George Bush in this case, does rather suggest that he may have a stronger 'psychic' connection with the residents of Malibu than those of the 9th Ward in downtown New Orleans.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Recalling An Old Friend..Frank Graham, International Brigade Officer and Noted Publisher

I first heard about Frank Graham when a friend and comrade of mine was researching an aspect of Labour movement history for her final year dissertation at the University of Birmingham around 1980, her description of their encounter was memorable, since it was clear that Frank still held very fast to the beliefs and principles which had informed his view of the world all his life. I suppose he was the original 'Unrepentant Communist'. I did not know then that I too would encounter this memorable individual face to face on numerous occasions both in a political context and through research undertaken with my co-author Dr Donald Watson on the Spanish Civil War and the North East of England, which culminated in the publication of 'An Inspiring Example- The North East of England and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939' (Watson and Corcoran 1996). That publication is still available for purchase via Abe Books , see link, When we heard of his death both Don and I felt that we had lost both a good friend and an irreplaceable link with the past. The photograph reproduced here is quite a rare find, and I like to think that Frank would be particularly proud of this image as he leads the North East's returning volunteers into the mass rally in honour of the returned International Brigaders in Newcastle City Hall in 1939. There has also recently appeared an article in the Sunday Times about the by now dwindling band of living Spanish Civil War International Brigade veterans...see Reproduced below in full , is Don's excellent appreciation of Frank's rich, varied, and highly successful life. Salud ! Gabriel
An Appreciation of Frank Graham ......
Frank Graham, who died in a Newcastle nursing home aged 93 on April 30th 2006, was an International Brigade soldier who later became one of the most successful local publishers in Britain since the Second World War.
Francis Moore Graham was born in Sunderland in 1913, one of five children. His father worked in a draper’s shop. Academically gifted, he won scholarships to the Bede Grammar School in Sunderland and then to King’s College at the University of London. His course – Classics – did not prove to his taste and neither did the College. He spent more time in lectures at the LSE and became active in the student politics of the early 1930s. He threw himself into anti-fascist work, including the famous fight during Oswald Mosley’s rally at the Olympiad in London, and through this he joined the Communist Party.
Money pressures forced Frank to abandon his course and he returned to Sunderland, by then a town devastated by unemployment. He was active in the National Unemployed Workers Movement in the town and helped to organise local contingents for the 1934 and 1936 NUWM Hunger Marches to London. A police report to the Special Branch on the 1936 March described him as ‘one worth watching’. He was always scathing about the more famous but ‘non-political’ Jarrow March in the same year.
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War Frank was instrumental in organising volunteers from Sunderland to join the British Battalion of the International Brigade. Around twenty Sunderland men served but Frank and three of his comrades from the local NUWM were the first of them to arrive in Spain at Christmas 1936. Frank fought through the ferocious battle of Jarama in January and February 1937, and in the trench warfare that followed, when British and Irish volunteers played a crucial role in preventing the fascists under General Franco from seizing the main route to Madrid and an early victory. But the casualties were enormous and Frank was deeply affected by the deaths in action of two of his close friends from Sunderland. He helped to bring one of their bodies back, in darkness, from outside the fascist lines. In April Frank toured England to speak at meetings of the various campaigns to support the Spanish Republic. He returned to the Brigade and took part in the battle of Brunete and the fighting around Villanueva de la Canada. By this time he was attached to the Brigade staff and acted as a reconnaissance officer, often on horseback, for British commanders Fred Copeman and Jock Cunningham.
He was seriously wounded at the battle of Caspe in March 1938. After leaving hospital Frank contributed to Republican radio broadcasts in Barcelona until he contracted typhoid; Sam Russell, a fellow Brigader and a journalist, negotiated his repatriation through a hostile British Embassy towards the end of 1938. On return to Britain he was a speaker at the commemorative rally for the North East of England International Brigade volunteers at Newcastle City Hall, which was attended by over 2,000 people.
The wounds Frank had received in Spain rendered him unfit for further military service and he spent the Second World War in manual jobs, including a spell as a Co-op milkman, on Teeside, where he also worked for the Communist Party. In 1945 he trained as a teacher and then taught for 15 years at Wharrier Street School in Newcastle.
Frank realised how little had been published on the history of the north east of England since the Victorian and Edwardian periods when he was teaching evening classes for the WEA. To fill this gap for his class he researched and published a pamphlet on the history of Lindisfarne on the Northumberland coast. Holy Island appeared in 1958 and sold nearly 3,000 copies in 18 months. Frank realised that there was a market in the region for scholarly but popular and accessible accounts of local history and culture. Thus began Frank Graham the publishing firm, and this, capitalised by a shrewdly-run sideline in antiques and old prints, became his full time business between the 1960s and his retirement.
The first books were on the castles, battles and town histories of the area along with a number on the social and military history of Hadrian’s Wall. But the range was always noted for width, and it included railway studies and 17 books on coalmining and the history of the mining trades unions. They included the Banner Book and Ray Challinor’s The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners. Another useful addition to local studies were the various Miscellanies he produced on social and political themes.
His publication of Larn Yersel Geordie by Scott Dobson was controversial. Some felt it just made a joke out of local dialect and culture. But it was also an extraordinary success: the first run of 3,000 copies sold out in 48 hours and a total of 81,000 copies were sold in the first year. Such successes made a number of solid achievements financially possible. These included re- publishing Victorian collections of northeast songs (some with new introductions by Dave Harker), thus preserving invaluable records of local traditions as well as unique social history resources. The unique contemporary illustrations in Thomas Hair’s Sketches of the Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham (1844), and his facsimiles of engravings by Thomas Bewick are other examples. Frank kept works by local writers Sid Chaplin and Jack Common in print, and published the first studies of Thomas Spence. Publications included two accounts of his own experiences in Spain and a re-print, in 1975, of the official Book of the XVth International Brigade, originally published in 1938 while the war was in progress.
The books and pamphlets were generally illustrated, and to a very high standard, by local photographers and particularly artists such as Ronald and Gill Embleton. The publications received no grants or subsidies and did not take advertising. Wherever possible the printing and binding were also done in the north east - Frank saw no point in producing books promoting the history and culture of the region and then having them printed and bound in the south of England. Further, his pricing policy deliberately put most of them within the budgets of schools, libraries and tourist information offices as well as the general public.
When the firm was sold in 1987 it had published 387 titles (of which 103 were written by Frank himself) with total sales of over three million copies – a British record for local publishing.
Frank was a stalwart member of the International Brigade Memorial Trust and attended their annual commemorative meetings until infirmity prevented him. His views on the internal politics of the Spanish Republic, and on the Soviet Union, remained very much the same as those he had held in the Communist Party as a young man. Like all the surviving International Brigaders Frank felt great satisfaction about the growing interest in the Spanish Civil War in recent years. He was also fortunate enough to attend memorial meetings in Spain after the restoration of democracy and experience the respect and affection in which the anti-fascist volunteers are held there. He left Vera, his wife (and former business partner) of sixty-six years, two sons and a number of grandchildren.
Don Watson
Appreciation of Frank Graham, Published in North East History (Journal of the North East Labour History Society) no38 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bill Maher- US LiveTV Host Gives 9-11 Conspiracy Nuts a Reality Check

I had never heard of this guy before, but I have to admit that I rather enjoyed viewing the reaction of US live chat show host Bill Maher to his discussion on Science and evolution being repeatedly interrupted by 9-11 Conspiracy theorists.I was also quite interested in the context surrounding the disruption of Mahers popular TV chat show, one of the very few remaining pieces of live TV in the whole of the USA. Maher, is known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary. His commentaries target a wide swathe of topics,from the right-wing to the left-wing, bureaucracies of many kinds, political correctness, Hollywood, the mass media, and persons in positions of high political and social power, among many others. He supports the legalization of cannabis and gay marriage.Maher, who inevitably given his surname is half Irish. his Mother is Jewish,adopted the sort of approach that would be adopted by more than one bar proprietor I know here in County Kerry when confronted by a troublesome customer , namely he got stuck in personally to the ignorant obsessives who had infiltrated his audience, despite the fact that he was discussing a completely different topic. Incidentally the combination of Irish and Jewish genetics would be guaranteed I am sure to produce an interesting outcome,and seeing Maher does nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
He had attracted the '9-11 truthers' ire by being more than a little dismissive of their rather peculiar theories about the attack on the Twin Towers. These people represent a significant minority in the USA who are not convinced that the Twin Towers was brought down simply by hi-jacked jets, or rather to be more accurate they believe that the whole 9-11 conspiracy was actually directed from the Whitehouse in advance, in order to permit an attack on Iraq. Well the bit about the attack on Iraq I find the least contentious, however I do draw the line at suggestions that the buildings were already primed with explosives in order to ensure that they collapsed. Nor do I believe that one of the jets approaching the Twin Towers fired an explosive missile before it impacted the building. Such ideas and notions gain currency in societys where people are partially conscious that they do not really live in anything like as democratic a nation as they are repeatedly told they do. They are aware that dark and mysterious forces make decisions behind the scenes, decisions which are made in the interests of a tiny plutocratic minority. So naturally they feel powerless and alienated, and will in reaction to this sense of impotence and fear sometimes fall prey to some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories which seem to gain such a following in the United States. The reality is less dramatic, less sinister, and for some I suppose, less fascinating. The reality is that the USA funded, trained and armed radical fundamentalist Muslims to fight a bloody guerilla war against the Soviet Union and the Progressive forces in Afghanistan. When these fundamentalist Islamist groups defeated the forces of socialism in Afghanistan, it was'nt long before they became profoundly incensed by the presence of US soldiers, including to their particular disgust women soldiers, in the 'land of the Prophet' (Saudi Arabia). This affront in combination with the USA's role in promoting the goals of Zionism in the Middle East earned their former allies in Afghanistan the eternal ire of the radical islamists. Al Qaeda, a grouping established from ranks of the demobbed gun-happy medievalists who fought with US and Saudi funded weapons to prevent evils such health care and literacy in Afghanistan, took the war to the USA with their murderous terrorist attack on the USA. The power elites of the USA, especially those around the Oil industry and the Bush family in Texas, subsequently used the huge sentiment against Islam amongst the American people, to seize the opportunity to take control of oil rich Iraq by launching a disastrous and ill planned war, which is still dragging on and which it is now widely agreed has been roundly lost. So how about that for a Conspiracy theory? Making noises in TV studios about your pet theory is a pathetic form of campaigning, it is ineffective, individualist, and certainly guaranteed to get the average TV viewers backs up. Mahers reaction may have been somewhat theatrical, but I applauded his candid no -nonsense reaction to these time wasters. If some of these 9-11 'truthers' got off the minutiae of the actual attacks, and focused instead on the underlying roots of 9-11 they would find plenty of conspiracy to consider. They may also realise that they would be better being active in the Anti-War movement in the USA, rather than wasting their time advancing such far-fetched theories in TV studios. The reality of the actions of modern day, 21st century, imperialism is far more chilling and scary than any comic book fantasy about explosive charges in the Twin Towers.

US Nuke Flyover...Step Aside Osama Let the USAF Have a Go...

I wonder if something had gone wrong with those errant fully armed nuclear missiles carried over 1,000 miles over the people of the USA's heads, what would have been the default position to explain away the incident? I think the temptation to blame it on 'terrorism' would have proved irresistable. That aside it is simply the mind-numbing stupidity displayed in this case which stands out. The widespread disregard for nuclear weapons safety standards by airmen at Minot and Barksdale Air Force bases led to what has been called the unprecedented “Bent Spear” incident in which six nuclear warheads were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 and flown from North Dakota to Louisiana on Aug. 29-30, US Air Force officials said on Friday after an intensive six-week investigation. The US Air Force relieved the 5th Munitions Squadron commander at Minot immediately after the incident. On Friday, it announced that three more commanders have been sacked.An “erosion of adherence to weapons-handling standards” at the two bases led to five major procedural errors at Minot, which resulted in a weapons loading crew accidentally loading a pylon of nuclear armed air-launched cruise missiles on the wing of a B-52 bomber. The mistake wasn’t discovered for 36 hours, long after the plane had touched down at Barksdale, said Maj. Gen. Richard “Dick” Newton, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, and a former 5th Bomb Wing commander, who was tasked to brief the findings.
THE FIVE COCK UPS..... ( well 6 if you count Dubya)
1)The first mistake occurred at the beginning of an operation to transport 12 Advanced Cruise Missiles on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from Minot to Barksdale, part of a Defense Department program to decommission 400 of these missiles in the U.S. stockpile.
On the morning of Aug. 29, airmen assigned to the Minot weapons storage area were supposed to pick up and transport two pylons to a B-52 assigned to Barksdale. Each pylon is a self-contained package of six cruise missiles that can be quickly mounted to the wing of a Stratofortress. But the pylon had not been properly prepared, and the airmen failed to examine all the warheads on the missiles mounted to the pylons.
Newton confirmed after the briefing that cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads are not stored with cruise missiles armed with conventional warheads. Simply, certain pylons of cruise missiles have nuclear warheads, while others have dummy warheads that are essentially dead weight.
2)The second error occurred when “crews operating the trailer that was tasked with moving the pylons to the B-52 began hooking up while the required pylon inspection was still underway,” Newton said.
3)This played a part in mistake No. 3, when the airmen failed to verify the payload of the missiles mounted on the pylon that they hooked up to be transported to the B-52, Newton said.
Then, before the cruise missiles should have been transported to the aircraft, the munitions control “failed to assess a database, as required, that would have alerted them that one of the pylons was not properly prepared for transfer,” Newton said.
4) Due to the first four mistakes, the nuclear warheads were unknowingly towed out to the flight line at 9:44 a.m. on Aug. 29 without any of the increased security initiatives used when nuclear warheads leave a storage facility.The warheads were loaded onto the B-52 and sat on the flight line, which officials said was secure.
5)Airmen did have one last chance to catch their mistake before the B-52 took off, but “the Barksdale-assigned B-52 instructor radar navigator neglected to check all missiles loaded for transport as required,” Newton said. “The instructor radar navigator performed only a spot check and only on the right pylon, the one that had been properly prepared for transport.” This marked the fifth and final error, according to the Air Force investigation.
At 8:40 a.m. on Aug. 30, the B-52 took off on its 1,100-mile flight to Louisiana, landing there at 11:23 a.m. It sat on the flight line with the nuclear warheads still on its left wing for more than eight hours before munitions personnel, who followed correct procedures, unloaded the weapons and discovered the enormous mistake.
If this is the adherence to safety procedures surrounding deadly ordinance flying over their own citizens of the land of the free, one can only begin to imagine why it is that the USAF's has such a disastrous track record causing civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention some of the many 'friendly fire incidents' where their allies paid the price for their incompetence . The casualness with which the USAF pilots attacked a British army convoy in Iraq killing a British soldier is shown in stark detail in this leaked cockpit footage, shown below.This astonishing catalogue of errors tends to confirm what many have suspected for a long time, that the US military machine has more than its fair share of morons amongst its ranks, whose stupidity and incompetence has resulted in many needless deaths throughout the world, in addition to the multiple deaths they quite intended to occur. The ultimate stupidity is that Nuclear warheads are permitted to exist at all, and this, the longest standing farce of modern times, arises from the fact that mankind has sadly not yet evolved sufficiently politically and economically to render these obscene weapons of mass destruction as obsolete as the cavalry sabre.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Professor Jim Watson- Undoubtedly Highly Intelligent but Utterly Barking

Nobel Prize winning US scientist 79 year old Professor James Watson, was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion. Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Professor Watson is not your stereo-typical numbskull racist, in fact he is a titan in his field, sadly there is little doubt that his comments will be seized upon by race-hate groups throughout the world to add a patina of respectability to their abhorrent views. I have little doubt that Professor Watson, has harboured these sort of extreme views for a long time now. He has 'form' as they say in the police, and the fact that he has a Nobel prize should not distract from the fact that he has uttered a considerable amount of complete garbage throughout his long and very successful life.Watson has repeatedly supported genetic screening and genetic engineerinng in public lectures and interviews, arguing that "stupidity" is a disease and the "really stupid" bottom 10% of people should be cured.

He has also suggested that beauty could be genetically engineered, saying "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great." He also suggested in one of his many interviews that an expectant mother should be able to abort her pregnancy if she was able to determine that her child would turn out to be gay, it was of course an hypothetical suggestion, but his readiness to sanction such a decision shows where he is coming from.

No group seems immune. For instance, in his 1996 annual report at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he has been based for many years, Watson seems to suggest that prospective parents should use genetic engineering to weed disabled persons out of society:
"The truly relevant question for most families is whether an obvious good to them will come from having a child with a major handicap. Is it more likely for such children to fall behind in society or will they through such affliction develop the strengths of character and fortitude that lead, like Jeffrey Tate, the noted British conductor, to the head of their packs. . . . But we perhaps most realistically should see (the handicap) as the major origin of asocial behavior that has among its many bad consequences the breeding of criminal violence." (Watson's unedited remarks can be found at

Getting back to the latest comments by Watson about Africans, this type of Scientific racism has been around for a very long time. The last big wave began in 1969 and was tied up with people like Hans Eysenck, (remember his 'test your own IQ' bestselling paperbacks?) as well as figures such as Jensen in the States. There was a powerful campaign among biologists, psychologists, geneticists, alongside activists, which killed the issue. But with the development of the human genome programme in the last 20 years, claims are now being made that you can use genetics to map the entire genetic composition of humans - genes are seen as causing everything, from aggression to male domination, alcoholism and depression. This has given confidence to the scientific racists and came to the fore with the publication of The Bell Curve in 1994 in the USA. As social order has been eroded in the cities of the Western world there has developed a quasi-scientific argument explaining this decline into gang crime, single parenthood, feckless fathers , prostitution, and drug addiction in many inner city areas. Inner-city people are characterised as being genetically stupid and genetically incapable of coping with modern society. It's a combination therefore of bad genes and bad rearing by bad mothers. That is a very attractive set of arguments for right-wing politicians and the theorists of the Adam Smith Institute. Thus the renewed frequecy by which these long exploded ideas are getting a new lick of paint and being dressed up as "new science".The biological concept of race amongst humans is meaningless. It implies that there are sharp genetic differences between populations. The concept of 'race' is essentially a political concept, and as it is applied in this context , a racist concept.The difference, and the problem with the claims that are being made about intelligence, is the question of whether IQ tests measure anything other than what IQ tests measure. It is essentially a social measure, like measuring something with a bit of elastic - it stretches the way you want it. The likes of Brand and Eysenck claim that there is one unifying thing called 'g' - crystallised intelligence, a lump of something inside the brain. But you cannot take all these complex aspects of the way in which we relate to the outside world, in terms of our linguistic skills, how we respond emotionally, or how good we are at music or chess or mathematics , and lock all of these into one single measure of general intelligence. It is an absurd idea for anyone who looks at how the brain solves puzzles; there are many routes in the brain to puzzle-solving, not just one. The psychometricians are locked into a 19th century concept of the way the brain's intelligence is organised.
This latest incident supports something which I have often observed, namely that sometimes the most intelligent of people, particularly scientists, quite often hold views which are deeply reactionary and offensive and so barking mad, that if they were being expressed by some racist moron, you would observe it to be an indicator of their stupidity. This case seems to support the possibility that it is indeed possible to demonstrate indications of crass stupidity and high intelligence simultaneously.I just hope that Professor Watson's scientific credentials do not add credibility to this nonsense he is spouting about racially determined intelligence.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

US Forces Kill 6 Women & 9 Children in yet another 'Successful' Operation in Iraq

U.S. forces claim to have killed 19 insurgents, but also admit that in this action they have also massacred 15 women and children in air strikes north of Iraq's capital in an action thay said was targeting suspected leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, late on Thursday.
"We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism," said Maj. Brad Leighton, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.
"These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence." The irony of the last statement is only clear when one pauses to consider whether when he is referring to the 'terrorists' he is referring to the insurgents or the US military, it would seem that it is with deadening regularity an increasingly sophist distinction. The U.S. military said aircraft attacked a site in the Lake Thar Thar region, about 120 km (75 miles) north of Baghdad, after intelligence reports indicated senior al Qaeda members were meeting there. Four 'insurgents' were killed, presumably you can identify dead 'insurgents' from a military jet.It said suspects from the initial meeting then moved to another area south of Lake Thar Thar and U.S. forces came under small arms fire from a building. Were the US forces at this stage still airborne? Or were they still half a mile up in the air? "Responding in self-defense, supporting aircraft engaged the enemy threat. After securing the area, the ground force assessed 15 terrorists, six women and nine children were killed, two suspects, one woman and three children were wounded, and one suspected terrorist was detained," the U.S. military said. How many times have we been assured that Iraqi civilian deaths only occur as a by-product of actions against various Iraqi insugent groups? How many more children will have to die at hands of the US occupation forces in Iraq? How can we possibly trust this version of events to be anything approaching what really happened? The fact of the matter is that the USA has completely failed in achieving anything worthwhile in its occupation of Iraq, and now the US forces are now flailing around in a blood soaked morass, that does not appear to be getting anywhere.Despite the frantic attempt to con the world that things are calming down, it is clear that this latest fiasco belies this claim. The spin to create the impression that the so-called 'Iraqi' authorities are taking charge of the situation is just another lie being issued as a prelude to abandoning the people and the country, which they have been responsible for destroying. This lie about things returning to normality is however contradicted by the obvious lies being issued to explain this massacre. Lies explaining away lies, the only thing certain is that the women and children of Iraq continue to die.

Che Guevara's Gift to his Executioner.

Cuban doctors working in Bolivia have saved the sight of the man who executed revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967, Cuban official media report. Mario Teran, a Bolivian army sergeant, shot dead Che Guevara after he was captured in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. Cuban media reported news of the surgery ahead of the 40th anniversary of Che's death on 9 October.
Mr Teran had cataracts removed under a Cuban programme to offer free eye treatment across Latin America. The operation on Mr Teran took place last year and was first revealed when his son wrote to a Bolivian newspaper to thank the Cuban doctors for restoring his father's sight.
But Cuban media took up the story at the weekend as the island prepares for commemorations to mark Che Guevara's death 40 years ago. "Four decades after Mario Teran attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle," the Communist Party's official newspaper Granma proclaimed. "Now an old man, he [Teran] can once again appreciate the colours of the sky and the forest, enjoy the smiles of his grandchildren and watch football games." Wounded Che Guevara, who played a key role in the Cuban revolution of 1959, travelled to Bolivia in 1966 to start a socialist revolution. But in October 1967, the Bolivian army, with assistance from the CIA, captured Guevara and his remaining fighters.
Che Guevara, wounded in the fighting, was taken to a schoolhouse in the village of La Higuera on 8 October where the soldiers debated what to do with him. Mario Teran is reported to have drawn the short straw and been ordered to execute the captured guerrilla. Che Guevara was killed on 9 October and his body taken to a hospital in nearby Vallegrande, where his corpse was paraded before the world's media. In 1997 his remains were discovered, exhumed and returned to Cuba, where he was reburied. Surely the fact that Doctor's from socialist Cuba helped improve the sight of Che's executioner, demonstrates most eloquently, that you may persecute socialism and reverse it in places, but you can not kill the ideas of socialism, which represent the most exalted aspirations of humanity, an exalted humanity which Che Guevara exemplified.

Doris Lessing-Nobel Prize Winner-Congratulations From the Comrades!

Warmest of congratulations to former Communist Party member, Doris Lessing, for being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, an absolutely splendid choice and most thoroughly well deserved. All Communists, Socialists and Progressives will welcome this recognition one of the foremost writers of the 20th Century. Doris fell out with the organised Communist movement, on principled and well thought through grounds, but unlike many who left the CP in that period, did not degenerate into reactionary thinking.She has also contributed enormously to feminist thought through her literature.Some of her depictions of some of more chauvinist and reactionary attitudes prevalent amongst many men in the Communist movement, were painfully accurate, and still appeared to be relevant when I first encountered her writings in the late 1970's. Doris remains a broadly progressive voice in relation to matters of world peace, and anti-racism and social progress.The Swedish academy's announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria's Elfriede Jelinek and Italy's Dario Fo.
Lessing, less than two weeks short of her 88th birthday, is the oldest choice ever for a prize that usually goes to authors in their 50s and 60s. Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Horace Engdahl was not able to reach Lessing before announcing the prize in Stockholm, but reporters waiting outside her brick rowhouse in North London told her she had won as she pulled up in a black cab, two hours later."I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all," said Lessing, whose previous honors include the James Tait Black Memorial Book Prize and the W.H. Smith Literary Award. "It's a royal flush."Later, she told reporters: "I thought you were shooting some kind of television series.
Doris Lessing was born in Persia (present-day Iran) to British parents in 1919. Her family moved to Southern Africa where she spent her childhood on her father's farm in what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). When her second marriage ended in 1949, she moved to London, where her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950. The book explores the complacency and shallowness of white colonial society in Southern Africa and established Lessing as a talented young novelist.She is now widely regarded as one of the most important post-war writers in English. Her novels, short stories and essays have focused on a wide range of twentieth-century issues and concerns, from the politics of race that she confronted in her early novels set in Africa, to the politics of gender which lead to her adoption by the feminist movement, to the role of the family and the individual in society, explored in her space fiction of the late 1970s and early 1980s.The books in the 'Children of Violence' series (1952-69) are strongly influenced by Lessing's rejection of a domestic family role and her involvement with communism. The novels are autobiographical in many respects, telling the story of Martha Quest, a girl growing up in Africa who marries young despite her desperate desire to avoid the life her mother has led. The second book in the series, A Proper Marriage (1954), describes the unhappiness of the marriage and Martha's eventual rejection of it. The sequel, A Ripple from the Storm (1958), is very much a novel of ideas, exploring Marxism and Martha's increasing political awareness. By the time that this book was written, however, Lessing had become disillusioned with communism and had left the party. With the publication of her next novel, The Golden Notebook (1962), Lessing became firmly identified with the feminist movement. The novel concerns Anna Wulf, a writer caught in a personal and artistic crisis, who sees her life compartmentalised into various roles - woman, lover, writer, political activist. Her diaries, written in different coloured notebooks, each correspond to a different part of herself. Anna eventually suffers a mental breakdown and it is only through this disintegration that she is able to discover a new 'wholeness' which she writes about in the final notebook.The pressures of social conformity on the individual and mental breakdown under this pressure was something that Lessing returned to in her next two novels, Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973). Briefing for a Descent into Hell is about a man who is found wandering the streets of London with no memory of a 'normal' life, while Kate, the central character of The Summer Before the Dark, achieves a kind of enlightenment through what doctors would describe as a breakdown. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Doris Lessing turned almost exclusively to writing fantasy and science fiction in the 'Canopus in Argos' series, developing ideas which she had touched on towards the end of 'Children of Violence' and in Briefing for a Descent into Hell. The first book in the series, Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta, was published in 1979. The fourth, The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, was adapted by Philip Glass as an opera, with a libretto by the author.She made a return to realist fiction with Diary of a Good Neighbour (1983) and If the Old Could ... (1984), sent to her publisher under the pseudonym Jane Somers. They were turned down for publication several times and when published had only small print runs and few reviews. When the truth was uncovered, the books were, of course, reprinted to much greater acclaim. Lessing's more recent novels have continued to confront taboos and challenge preconceptions, generating many different and conflicting critical opinions. In The Good Terrorist (1985), Lessing returned to the political arena, through the story of a group of political activists who set up a squat in London. The book was awarded the WH Smith Literary Award. The Fifth Child (1988) is also concerned with alienation and the dangers inherent in a closed social group. Harriet and David react to the hedonism and excesses of the 1960s by setting themselves up in a large house and embarking on an enthusiastic programme of childbearing and domestic bliss. Their fifth child, however, emerges as a malevolent, troll-like and angry figure who quickly disrupts the family idyll. The acclaimed first volume of her autobiography, Under My Skin (1994), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography), and was followed by a second volume, Walking in the Shade: Volume II of My Autobiography 1949-1962 (1997). Doris Lessing's recent fiction includes Ben, in the World (2000), a sequel to the The Fifth Child, and, The Sweetest Dream (2001), which follows the fortunes of a family through the twentieth century, set in London during the 1960s and contemporary Africa. She was made a Companion of Honour by the British Government in 1999, and is President of Booktrust, the educational charity that promotes books and reading. In 2001 she received the David Cohen British Literature Prize.Doris Lessing lives in London. Her recent books include: the grandmothers (2003), a collection of four short novels centred on an unconventional extended family; and Time Bites (2004), a selection of essays based on her life experiences. Her latest novel is The Cleft (2007).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"Who is this Big Prick?"..Not a Question You'd Ever Need Ask Willie O'Dea.

"Who is this Big Prick?",this was the genteel interogative allegedly directed by our states Minister of Defence,Fianna Fail's Willie O'Dea, when asked by a pair of aggrieved Shannon airport workers why, he, an elected TD for Limerick had failed to contribute to the Dáil debate on the Airports future.The newly privatised Aer Lingus decision to axe its route to London Heathrow, and shift this connection to Belfast, with staff on lower wages, has created a huge amount of anger in the Shannon Region. The regions Airport workers and also the business community have reacted with dismay and astonishment to a decision which makes connectivity between Shannon and the vital business hub of Heathrow a thing of the past, despite the fact that the route was making a substantial profit.This decision,it is feared, may cost thousands of jobs in the Mid-West region.
John Fahey, chief executive of the Meet Limerick/Shannon conferencing promotion group, and Geraldine Morrissey, spokeswoman for Aer Lingus workers at the airport,would like an apology from the Minister over the remarks they say he made to them in a Pub in Limerick last Saturday night.The row happened after Mr O’Dea called to South’s pub in Limerick last Saturday night with Tánaiste Brian Cowen. Mr Fahey,a prominent hotelier in the mid-west, was there with his wife and Ms Morrissey.
“Mr O’Dea was there with the Tánaiste,” said Mr Fahey. “Then they both left together. As they did, a number of people said, ‘What about Shannon, what about Shannon?’” A short time later, Mr O’Dea returned.Mr Fahey said when Mr O’Dea approached their group,Ms Morrissey challenged him over not being present in the Dáil for a vote on the Shannon issue.“She asked him why he did not take part in the Dáil debate,”. Willie supposedly responded by saying that he was the Minister for Defence and Mr Fahey, who sounded like a most credible witness whilst speaking on Today FM's"The Last Word" said, ‘Well you did not defend the interests of the West of Ireland very well’. At this comment Willie O'Dea, who is somewhat vertically challenged, apparently turned around and said, ‘Who is this big prick?’, bizarrely informing the 6 foot John Fahey that "I would like to hit you". To which John Fahey replied "if you were a little bigger I might let you", a neat riposte if ever there was one. Apparently the Minister, according to Fahey, then turned to Geraldine Morrissey and informed her,(no doubt concerned to put her mind at ease on the matter), ‘I don’t give a fuck about you’.I really don't think that this is what Mandelson and Blair had in mind when they talked about the need for politicians to get into a 'conversation' with the electorate.
Interestingly this particular 'conversation' ocurred in South's bar in Limerick City. Is it possible that anything connected with that most Limerick of surnames, (Sabhat in Irish), South, is destined to get Willie O'Dea into difficulties? Is there a 'South' hoo-doo haunting Willie??
I recall back in the end of 2006 he landed himself in another embarrassing mess over pulling out abruptly from a promotional event for a book commemorating the life of legendary 1950's Limerick IRA volunteer Sean South..(er..yes of Garryowen). The Minister, who is also from Limerick, withdrew from the event claiming he did not realise who the book was about when he agreed to do the launch. The biography by Des Fogerty is entitled 'Sean South of Garryowen....Mr O’Dea rejected claims by the family that he came under pressure from his own officials to pull out of the event.Sean South, whose death inspired a famous rebel ballad, was shot dead along with another IRA man, Fergal O’Hanlon, during an attack on the RUC barracks in Brookeborough, in January 1957.Mr O’Dea said: “I thought the book I was to launch was about somebody else.”However, Owen South, a well-known photographer and nephew of Sean South, challenged Willie's version of events.“The publisher got a call from the Department of Defence saying the Minister would not be attending the launch at Peter Clohessy’s bar next Saturday night,” he said.“It was the department and not the Minister who contacted us to say he would not be turning up. For the Minister to say he did not know at the outset who the book was about is rubbish. He knew all along the book was about Sean South. Obviously there was pressure from his own department or somewhere not to turn up.”Mr O’Dea said that when he accepted the invitation to launch the book, he did not realise it was about Sean South.“I did not realise it was about Sean South until the other day and I did not think it would be appropriate for the Minister for Defence to launch a book about Sean South...It was my own decision. To be honest I assumed the book was about somebody else as I did a book launch some time ago about the city fishermen"(what that is a reference to is beyond me). “I only realised the book was on Sean South when my diary was being checked and somebody got in touch with my office. I don’t think it appropriate for me to be launching a book on Sean South.
Willie O'Dea is the Minister of Defence in Bertie Ahern's Cabinet, the same Taoiseach who would have us believe he is having difficulties 'recalling' the provenance of the odd thirty grand in sterling, in his recent evidence about his finances at the Mahon Tribunal hearings.Is'nt it clear now, clearer perhaps than ever it has been, that these people who govern this nation, are,in the immortal words of East Ender's Phil Mitchell,simply 'Aving a laugh' ?