Friday, August 05, 2005


West Banksy

From the BBC:
Secretive "guerrilla" artist Banksy has decorated Israel's controversial West Bank barrier with satirical images of life on the other side.

The nine paintings were created on the Palestinian side of the barrier.

One depicts a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side....

Banksy painting on Israel's security barrier
Banksy said he was threatened by Israeli security forces
Another picture shows the head of a white horse appearing to poke through, while he has also painted a ladder going over the wall.

(more Banksy at his website here)


Further London Fallout

I must say that I am reading the text of Tony Blair's statement on anti-terror measures and I feel distinctly uncomfortable. It's discomforting not only for the effect that Blair is seeking to have on England, but also in the way that the "British example" (so lauded in this country as sober and responsible in the wake of the 7 July bombings in London) may serve to justify measures in this country -- measures either ongoing or in the future. Allow me to go through Blair's statement and explain.
Here are the measures either being taken now, immediately, or under urgent examination.

1. The home secretary today publishes new grounds for deportation and exclusion. Deportation is a decision taken by the home secretary under statute. The new grounds will include fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence.
Ok, well how are we going to define "justifying or validating" "violence to further a person's beliefs"? How about if I said this: the Iraq war was the right thing to do to spread democracy in the Middle East. Am I not justifying or validating violence (a war) to further a person's beliefs (my belief that democracy is the best form of government)? Or are we only talking about religious belief? What if I say that the creation of the state of Israel (resulting in the death and displacement of a number of Palestinians, i.e. violence) is justified because of my religious belief in Israel as the land of the Jews. All I am saying is that when you talk about deporting people for "justifying" or "validating" violence, what violence in particular are we talking about? Because that's the real issue, isn't it? Let's move on.
Up to now, the concern has been that orders for deportation will be struck down as contrary to article 3 of the ECHR [European convention on human rights], as interpreted by the European Court in the Chahal case in 1996; and indeed have had such cases struck down.

However, the circumstances of our national security have now self-evidently changed and we believe we can get the necessary assurances from the countries to which we will return the deportees, against their being subject to torture or ill-treatment contrary to article 3.
Ahhh, necessary assurances. Given the "circumstances of our national security," how necessary are those assurances going to be? Who's going to be checking on those assurances and how hard are they going to be checking? Can anybody say "extraordinary rendition"?
2. As has been stated already, there will be new anti-terrorism legislation in the autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK.
Again, we are back to what constitutes "terrorism" and what constitutes "justifying or glorifying" terrorism? At some point there needs to be a serious debate, an open discussion about what constitutes terrorism, about the validity of violence or armed struggle or terrorism or whatever you want to call it, about the roots of terrorism, about the causes that motivate terrorists, about all these things and it needs to include people who feel many different ways about all these isses. This is only possible with freedom of speech, in an evironment in which even terrible things can be said, in which even terrorism can be justified. This is the essential issue, I think -- what violence can we talk about, what violence can we justify, what violence and we glorify, and what violence can we be deported or arrested for talking about or justifying or glorifying? The following excerpts raise these same questions, so instead of writing the same thing after each I'll just use italics to bring out those parts that trouble me down in the gut area [and maybe a comment or two in brackets].
3. Anyone who has participated in terrorism or has anything to do with it anywhere will automatically be refused asylum. [anything to do with it? what does that mean?]

4. We have already powers to strip citizenship from those individuals with British or dual nationality who act in a way that is contrary to the interests of this country. We will now consult on extending these powers, applying them to naturalised citizens engaged in extremism and making the procedures simpler and more effective. [drip ... drip ... drip ... can you hear Alberto Gonzales drooling?]


6. We are already examining a new court procedure which would allow a pre-trial process. We will also examine whether the necessary procedure can be brought about to give us a way of meeting the police and security service request that detention pre-charge of terrorist suspects be significantly extended. [Gitmo, anybody?]

7. For those who are British nationals and who cannot be deported, we will extend the use of control orders. Any breach can mean imprisonment.
And on and on . . .


Scientists: George W. Bush has a small penis (maybe?)

Now I tend to refrain from leveling such personal attacks against political figures, even those I disagree with, but I can't argue with science. Read here how "Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds."
Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.

The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey. But the guys' reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."
Like I said, you can't fuck with science.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Stiff Upper Lip?

So all we heard about after the July 7 bombings in the London subway and bus system was how stoic the response was by Londoners, the stiff upper lip and "life must go on" attitude and all that. Well, that wasn't the only response of course.
Figures released by London police on Tuesday showed crimes motivated by religious hatred had increased by nearly 600 percent since the July 7 London bombings.

Metropolitan Police said they had received 269 reports of religious hatred crimes - including verbal and physical attacks and criminal damage to property including mosques - since the bombings which killed 52 in London on July 7.

This was compared to 40 similar crimes in the same three and a half week period last year.

In the three days immediately after the attacks, which are believed to have been carried out by three young Britons from Muslim Pakistani families and a fourth man who moved from Jamaica as a child, there were 68 religious hate crimes reported in London, compared to none in the same period last year.
Good job, England. Of course, Tom Friedman would have us believe it's because not enough British Muslims spoke out to condemn terrorism.


The revolution will be televised (and copyrighted)

It's a business plan par excellence. U.S. pseudo-NGOs invest in the marketing or a revolution. The revolution takes off. The son of the leader of the revolution copyrights the revolutionary symbols. Everybody wins, right? (some just win more than others)
The symbols of Ukraine's orange revolution last year have been registered as profitable trademarks in the name of the eldest son of the revolution's leader, Viktor Yushchenko.

Crowds protesting over the fraudulent presidential elections of November last year were decorated with a series of opposition logos, including the Tak! logo (Yes! in Ukrainian) and a downward-facing horseshoe. The logos were predominantly on backgrounds of orange - the colour of the opposition.

Mykola Katerinchuk, a former legal adviser to the Yushchenko campaign and now a senior tax official, said he had personally transferred the copyright to Andriy Yushchenko, the president's 19-year-old son, after the third and final round of elections in December. Questions are now being asked as to how much money these highly popular logos have generated for the Yushchenko family.
If somebody somewhere casts a ballot, that's democracy, though, right? Viva la revolucion!
[Adriy Yushchenko counts his money]

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