ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for June 2007

Another Gut Full?

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Bad puns aside, Tribe 2 of Gutsy Gibbon is out, there are bugs, but it is interesting, release information is here

Written by modernityblog

30/06/2007 at 00:41

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Boycott or Libel

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Sue1It has been said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, and so it is with the Boycott Israel campaign.

One of the leaders of the Boycott Israel campaign, Sue Blackwell, is threatening to use the libel laws against fellow academic Jon Pike.

I link directly to the posts at Engage and hope that Sue Blackwell will try to sue me, as well.

I recommend that other bloggers publicise Blackwell’s threats against freedom of speech and her willingness to invoked the pernicious British libel laws.

Written by modernityblog

28/06/2007 at 16:53

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Vacant Legacy

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The spectacle of age old Tories and political dinosaurs, such as Quentin Davies, joining the Labour Party should be slightly amusing, if it didn’t indicate how far to the right that Labour has shifted. Over the years, some four Tories MPs have joined Labour, none of them seemed particularly bothered by existing Labour Party policies, which is a bit surprising but then none of them have really broken with their Tory upbringing.

That noise in the background is Clement Attlee, spinning in his grave.

In the past, the Labour Party has had its fair share of ex-aristocrats, Oxbridge graduates and the odd military type, but the fact that these Tory reptiles can sliver a cross the floor of the House of Commons without a hostile comment is all the more remarkable. Well, it would have been until ten years ago, that is.

Years ago, on the Labour side, there would have been many heated objections into accepting these Tory odd fellows but under Blair’s rule that hardly matters.

Most of these Tories have joined for purely mercenary reasons, keeping their nice rural seats (or being parachuted into new ones), closeness to political power and nor forgetting the plus of their index-linked pensions.

Still, not that such concerns will unduly worry Tony Blair, and I would suspect that within a year or so Tony Blair will become Lord Blair of Dodgy Peerages. He will be able to strut across the international stage like the aimless and vacant individual that he’s proven to be in the past ten years.

One legacy of Tony Blair is to make the Labour Party a retirement home for Tory snakes and chancers.

The Labour Party, created by the trade unions and the force behind much of the modern Welfare State, has become the refuge of City bankers, Tory spivs and the embodiment of privatisation, a fitting tribute to Tony Blair.

Just as one tory exits the Labour Party, another has joined.

Written by modernityblog

28/06/2007 at 01:01

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AI on CAR

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The Amnesty International report on the Central African Republic makes chilling reading, Reuters reports:

“NAIROBI, 26 June 2007 (IRIN) – Violence in Sudan and Chad has placed at risk hundreds of thousands of civilians in northern neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), Amnesty International has warned.

“The northern areas [of CAR] have become a free-for-all – a hunting ground for the region’s various armed opposition forces, government troops, and even armed bandits – some of whom come from as far away as West Africa to kidnap and loot in local villages,” the human rights watchdog said in a statement on 26 June.

In these areas, it noted, armed CAR opposition forces kill civilians who do not support or refuse to join them, while government troops kill civilians they accuse of colluding with the armed groups and burn down entire villages during reprisal attacks.

Preliminary findings of a recent study in the area, AI said, indicated a near complete vacuum of authority to protect civilians – allowing free rein to a host of armed actors.

“The entire area has become a cauldron of violence and fear – threatening to destabilise even further what is already one of the most unstable and dangerous areas in the world,” AI researcher Godfrey Byaruhanga said.

“Civilians are trapped in a lose-lose situation, with many so afraid that they are actually fleeing into Sudan, Cameroon and southern Chad – effectively moving from the frying pan into the fire out of sheer desperation,” he added.

According to AI, it met families whose children – some as young as three years old – had been kidnapped and held for ransom by armed bandits known as Zaraguinas or ‘coupeurs de routes’. “Some parents have had to pay a ransom of up to two million CFA Francs (US$4,000) for a child,” it noted.

“This situation is too dangerous and simply cannot wait,” said Byaruhanga. “The people of the CAR should not be left to live or die at the whim of the Sudanese or Chadian governments, especially when the government has agreed to the deployment of an international force.” “

The political and moral lethargy over these crises in Africa is truly unbelievable, humanity can send probes to Mars, land people on the moon and yet do very little, except expert hand wringing over the catastrophes in Africa.

Written by modernityblog

27/06/2007 at 01:27

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Local Guts?

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Linux continues to steam on a pace, and the next alpha/beta release of Gutsy Gibbon (Ubuntu 7.10) should be out by the end of the week. This is the Gutsy Gibbon release schedule. 

Whilst keeping an eye on new releases and distribution at DistroWatch, I have been astonished at the frequency of localised versions of Linux not least recently by a Nepalese, Vietnamese, Turkish and Persian.

Far too often do native English language speakers take for granted that software will be released in their language, first. We don’t appreciate the time delay, the lag, between a new piece of software coming out (say Office xxxx) and when that particular software is localised for the developing world, with Microsoft that can take months, if not years.

So it is excellent that the developing world is able to use the latest localised Linux software, free from constraints imposed by Microsoft.

Viva NepaLinux!

Written by modernityblog

25/06/2007 at 01:49

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The Boycott, Smear and Links?

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The debate to boycott Israel rolls on, and Dave Osler recently covered the issue and made some genuinely pertinent points. Readers might care to see from the comments (some 237) that the proponents of the boycott had difficulties making a logical and reasoned case for their own strongly held views. This was all the more surprising given that many of the most vocal and active pro-boycotters apparently have had years of political experience, expensive Oxbridge education’s and are well versed in marshalling an argument.

There are many stimulating points within the comment box, not least the asinine defence of China’s conquest of Tibet, but I hope to return to some of those issues later.

One frequent accusation is that the anti-boycotters are trying to smear or imply that the pro-boycotters support anti-Jewish racism or are in someway connected to antisemitism.

I have to admit that I’ve change my mind on this issue and now I think that there is little purpose trying to determine from afar the motives of the pro-boycotters, other than asking them very pointed questions and hoping that they will be honest about their true intent.

But that point set me thinking:

I wondered how hard would it be to find some “inadvertently” links between pro-boycott web sites and nutjob neo-Nazis.

If we’re to believe critics of the anti-boycott case, it should be very hard to find any linkage.

After all, we are led to believe that nearly all of the pro-boycotters are antiracist, and the reason for boycotting Israel is to help the Palestinians, not to attack Israelis, and certainly not to attack Jews.

So testing out that hypothesis, was it be hard to find any linkage between pro-boycott web sites and barmy neo-Nazis?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t.

Using google and a few clicks, it was fairly easy to find a pro-boycott web site which linked to some spaced out neo-Nazi propaganda.

Here’s how, using Google UK type in: boycott israeli

Then look down the entries, the 5th one down (a random choice) is www.boycottisrael.co.uk this link re-directs to http://www.mylinkspage.com/israel.html

Scroll down to 16. Campaign resources and that leads to http://anti-tout.mylinea.com/anti-imperialisme/anti-israel/

Looking down that list of sites:

TheTruthAboutIsrael
Against Israeli judicial despotism petition
Anti-Israeli cartoons
Anti-bushwar
Endtheoccupation.org
Jewsagainsttheoccupation.org
No war for Israel.com
Stop the wall immediately petition
StopUSmilitary aid to Israel.net
Stopthewall.org
Sustaincampaign.org

On the surface a fairly innocuous list, until you look out for No War for Israel, which is one of David Duke’s web sites as the whois records proves, and reading the contents of the web sites should also indicate its racial nature.

As if any more proof was required, the technical contact details for No War for Israel are “Duke, David webmaster@davidduke.com, PO Box 188, Mandeville, LA 70470, US…

So with this particular boycott web site, you’re only four click away from neo-Nazi racist filth

Obviously, this is unscientific and there may be plenty of pro-boycott web sites which have carefully filtered out any connection to racist or neo-Nazi web sites, but nevertheless I was surprised how quickly I found the linkage, in this particular instance.

Having said all that, do I believe that all pro-boycotters are antisemites or neo-Nazis? Certainly not, however, I think, the boycott clouds these issues and allows real antisemites and neo-Nazis to put over their propaganda.

If so many of the pro-boycotters are genuinely antiracist, then they should be concerned about those connections.

No doubt these web links are inadvertent, genuine mistakes, but there is a greater onus on pro-boycotters to take extra care, given the sensitivity of this issue. There are already documented instances of the extreme right trying to make mileage out of Palestinian Solidarity campaign’s, so there is little excuse for ignorance on this topic, or the need for extra care.

I wonder if the constant stream of almost Soviet anti-Zionism has made some people so insensitive to anti-Jewish racism that looking at these links, they can’t tell the difference between the genuine ones and those of racist neo-Nazis.

Therefore, I would suggest to pro-boycotters show your commitment to antiracism and take the trouble to filter out the racist and neo-Nazi filth that is often linked to pro-boycott campaign.

Remember it is the responsibility of the pro-boycotters to prove their sincerity in this matter.

Written by modernityblog

22/06/2007 at 21:14

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World Refugee Day

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Despite the best efforts of humanitarian organisations and the vacant platitudes of politicians the world still suffers from unnecessary and unwanted refugees.

Too often these refugees are fleeing civil strife, military dictators or murdering gangs of thugs. The “international community’s” ability to assist and stop the root causes of these ongoing refugee crises hasn’t really come that far in 80+ years, as Darfur indicates:

“KHARTOUM, Sudan: The British aid group Oxfam said Sunday it was permanently closing down its operation in Darfur’s largest refugee camp because of insecurity.

With some 130,000 refugees, the South Darfur camp of Gereida is among the largest in the world. The compounds of several aid groups in the camp were attacked in a raid last December during which a female French aid worker was raped and several others endured mock executions while some Sudanese aid workers were severely beaten up.”

The 20th June 2007 is the UN World Refugee Day.

Written by modernityblog

20/06/2007 at 14:01

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