ModernityBlog

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

Archive for April 2009

Market For Torture.

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Thanks to Harry I picked up on Craig Murray’s testimony. Murray’s right torture should not be used, condoned or accepted:

“”I would argue that what you are doing is creating a market for torture,” he said.

“We are talking about people screaming in agony in cells and our government’s willingness to accept the fruits of that.”

He accused the government of a “schizophrenic” policy on torture, on one hand saying they “unreservedly” condemn it but on the other hand being prepared to receive its products. “

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29/04/2009 at 20:03

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Carnival Of Contrarians Helps.

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The web is big and you can always miss significant issues, so I am grateful to Comrade Coatsey for his wonderful Carnival of Contrarians and pointing me back to Bob’s, for this important campaign: Strangers into Citizens

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29/04/2009 at 15:50

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The BNP, The Jews And The Prank Call.

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A rather topical joke, this is a prank call to the BNP, and you’ll hear the BNP’s true attitude towards Jews.

BNP spokesperson: “…Jews run the country…” “…concentration camps…” “…the German never gassed one person…”

Hmm, I wonder if that particular BNPer reads the Guardian? Maybe he’s a theatre critic too?

(H/T: David Herman)

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29/04/2009 at 00:30

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My Quick “Anti-Zionist” Quiz

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Thanks to Max Dunbar for pointing me towards Brian Klug’s piece on CIF.

It is a quiz, but I am aiming it at all of those charming “Anti-Zionists” who liked Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children.

The question for you is (and no cheating) which statements are from the notorious antisemitic pamphlet, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and which one is from Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President:

(Again, no cheating, try and see if you can differentiate them.)

” A. “In our day, all the governments of the entire world are consciously or unconsciously submissive to the commands of this great supergovernment of Zion … All affairs – industry, commerce, and diplomacy – are in the hands of Zion.”

B. “In social and political circles, in business and art, wherever one probes, Zionism raises its ugly head … and suddenly reveals itself ubiquitous and all-powerful.”

C. “[Zionists have] penetrated into the political and economic structures including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems and their security and intelligence agencies … to the extent that nothing can be done against their will.”

So which is which, the antisemitic pamphlet and which is the Iranian President’s words, A.B or C.

Leave your answers in the comments, if you dare :)

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26/04/2009 at 21:07

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Nine Years After.

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There is a marvellous question and answer session with Deborah Lipstadt at the JTA:

“JTA: How has the Internet changed the conversation about the Holocaust?

LIPSTADT: What the Internet has done is put a lot of unfiltered information out there, and by so doing it makes it harder for people to differentiate what is legitimate information and what is not; what is fact and what is fiction. The Internet is a wonderful thing — it allows us to spread information in a way we never did before. But it puts out a lot of lies and it’s easy access for people. Someone wrote to me that his son Googled “Jews, Soap and the Holocaust” and the first four sites were Holocaust denial sites. This is a myth. Jews were not made into soap. It never happened — there might have been experiments. Deniers say, “This is another lie that Jews made up.” That’s why I’m such a stickler and I get so upset and worried when you have people making up Holocaust memoirs like “Angel at the Fence.” It’s fodder for the deniers. The deniers then say, “Here’s another example of a Jew being a denier. How can you believe ‘Night’ [by Elie Wiesel] or ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ — it’s all lies.” “

(H/T: Susan at Engage.)

Oh, don’t forget to check out Holocaust Denial on Trial.

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26/04/2009 at 18:42

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Browsers of Despair.

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It is fairly obvious to occasional readers that I get a bit annoyed on political themes, but more recently I have nearly despaired at the piss poor quality of some released open sourced software.

I’m talking about browsers, not my first one, NCSA’s Mosaic. It used to run on a machine with about 2-3 MIPS, that’s probably 1/1000th of today’s processing power. Yet it was functional and did the job. Oh and the memory usage was probably about 2-6 Mbytes.

How we have advanced, machines with the processing power of Cray Super Computers and browsers that grind to a halt, if six plus tabs are open.

Firefox 3.0.7 is a prime example. In my experience, if used for too long, under Debian, and with too many pages open it will often start to consume 97% of the processor, as the machine grinds to a halt.

It’s not as bad as Internet Explorer, but very frustrating when it is fairly easy for developers to profile the code and find these rather conspicuous bugs. Flock have done it.

Granted, Firefox 3.1 beta 2 was much better, but beta 3 had a way of forgetting personal settings and passwords, an incredibly annoying bug.

Chrome looks very good and the Crossover version is usable, but not, in my view, for long and complicated sessions. I look forward to the native Linux version of Chrome.

I seem to have tried all the available browsers, that Debian offers and then some. Not with much success either, they were either resource hungry, as with Firefox, couldn’t display pages correctly, kept crashing or just too crude.

I’m giving Flock a whirl at the moment and it seems fairly good, opening 16 tabs didn’t faze it. Opera or Firefox would have ground to a halt.

I hope that Flock lives up to these expectations. I wrote that 3 weeks ago and Flock is fairly good, light on the machine, but it has a habit of losing the password settings, which might just be me as I am not running under my normal setup.

OK, it wasn’t really despair just annoyance.

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26/04/2009 at 03:59

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A Worthwhile Question.

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Bob on Sri Lanka:

“It struck me then very forcefully the point that keeps on coming into my mind these past few months: why do so few people seem to care about Sri Lanka? The conflict is complex for the simplistic Western mind, but no more complex than the situations in Iraq or Palestine, which people do seem to care about. For those not too knowledgeable, it is hard to identify a goodie and a baddie in Sri Lanka – but, for anyone, it should be crystal clear that the Tamil civilian population is suffering terribly badly, and that the worst of this suffering could be stopped with some political will from those in power.”

Update: There is a bit of a bun fight going on at SU blog on this topic, and I can’t be bothered to enter the world of petty bickering that such an atmosphere tends to engender.

However, reading the thread I was curious about who supplies the Sri Lankan military with arms. Tamilnation.org covers it extensively, I am not sure about their background or potential bias but they have plenty of facts and figures.

The Economist comments:

“Sri Lanka’s long war has probably cost over 100,000 lives, including 30,000 in the past two years.

As a result, Sri Lanka, one of Asia’s oldest democracies, has been driven to seek other friends: Pakistan, its main arms-supplier; Iran, which has been providing 70% of its oil supply on tick; and Libya, from which it expects a soft loan of $500m to arrive soon. That cash would be welcome, but insufficient to avert a looming solvency crisis. The government’s profligacy, including defence spending that has ballooned as the army’s strength has been doubled within three years, to 200,000, has depleted the country’s foreign-currency reserves, which now cover barely six weeks of imports.”

Thaindian News reported in 2008:

“New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Faced with stiff resistance from Tamil Tiger guerrillas, Sri Lanka has ordered emergency military supplies from Pakistan, according to official sources here. In a development noted with some concern by the Indian establishment, the Sri Lanka Army has sought 150,000 rounds of 60 mm mortar ammunition and as many hand grenades for immediate delivery, the sources said.

Sri Lanka has also requested $25 million worth of 81 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm mortar ammunition to be delivered within a month, the sources told IANS.

General Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lankan army chief who spent six days in India last month, has conveyed the requirements to his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashraf Pervez Kayani, said the sources.

The Pakistani military has apparently agreed to supply the ammunition on an emergency basis from its War Wastage Reserve maintained in various army depots.”

And The Times of India reports:

“Both Pakistan and China have assiduously forged deep military links with Sri Lanka, coming to its aid with emergency military supplies whenever the need arose.

Even as India dithered, Pakistan has transferred huge amounts of automatic rifles, heavy mortars, multi-barrel rocket launchers, artillery and tank shells to Sri Lanka in recent years.

Sri Lanka is also getting JY-11 3D air surveillance radars, armoured personnel carriers, T-56 assault rifles, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, missiles, bombs and the like from China.

Some sections of the Indian defence establishment have even called for India to bolster arms supplies to Sri Lanka to prevent a repeat of what happened in Myanmar, where too Pakistan and China stepped in with military and other supplies after India initially rebuffed the military junta there. “


Update 2:
Bob received a half hearted apology from SU blog, given in poor grace, and the assorted thread shows some very nasty attitudes, shame, nothing was learnt along the way.

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24/04/2009 at 16:22

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Want Your Latest Ubuntu Fix?

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Need the latest Ubuntu in a hurry, but can’t get a copy?

Here is a clever method using rsync, basically you get one of the daily copies, then use rsync to collect the remaining bits which make up the new release, rename and burn it. Smart.

Try Linuxleak it has a lot of useful Open Source information, technical tips, gossip, etc.

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23/04/2009 at 22:12

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Holocaust Denier in Geneva.

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Olly has the real story, very cunning.

Good coverage at Tendance Coatesy.

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22/04/2009 at 23:22

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Jack Jones.

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I wouldn’t normally consider doing an obituary, as time passes the mind is so often focused on who we’ve lost, went we lost them and why. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in all of that, but the passing of Jack Jones merits more than one word.

Sadly, I never met Jack at his peak, only some years later when he was lobbying on behalf of pensioners. He struck me as very decent, down-to-earth and in this materialist age, honest.

Jack Jones wasn’t an ideologue, nor did he scream at the top of his voice but when you compare what he did with that of his contemporaries it was more than enough.

Jack didn’t take a peerage as so many trade union leaders did. Nor as far as I can tell, did he dramatically shift to the right, as was so common during Thatcher’s era.

Jack was a decent human being and in the world of politics and trade unionism, you can’t often say that.

More at spartacus.

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22/04/2009 at 01:23

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Hamas Moderates Discuss Peace?

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[Ops, thought I'd posted this]

Not exactly, rather two Hamas leaders let the cat out of the bag:

“Two top Hamas leaders made their first appearances at public events since Israel’s Gaza war on Friday, signaling defiance of rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he discussed peace prospects with a U.S. envoy.

“We cannot, we will not, and we will never recognize the enemy in any way, shape or form,” Mahmoud Zahar, one of the two leaders, said in a mosque sermon broadcast on the Islamist movement’s radio station.

Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas administration in Gaza, spoke at another mosque. As a precaution against assassination, both men had gone underground during a 22-day offensive Israel launched on Dec. 27 to counter Palestinian rocket fire. Their rare statements since have been mostly in pre-recorded speeches.

Hamas won a Palestinian legislative election in 2006, forming a unity government with Fatah that was dissolved by Abbas after the Islamists seized control of Gaza in 2007.

(H/T: Adam Holland)

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22/04/2009 at 01:16

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Sri Lanka.

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AP reports:

“COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s Tamil rebels said Tuesday that 1,000 civilians died in a government raid on their territory that the military says freed thousands of noncombatants from the war zone. The military denied the accusation.

Government forces say they rescued thousands of civilians on Monday after they broke through a barrier built by the rebels to protect their territory. By Tuesday evening, the military said 52,000 had escaped.

But as troops have pushed the rebels into an ever-shrinking sliver of territory, both sides have accused the other of endangering civilians.

Rights groups say the rebels are holding many against their will to use as human shields. But those groups have also accused the government of indiscriminate shelling in the tightly packed region in its bid to end the 25-year war. Both sides deny the allegations against them.

It is not possible to obtain independent accounts of the situation because the war zone is restricted to journalists.

The U.N. estimated that more than 4,500 civilians have been killed in the past three months, and several humanitarian groups warned Tuesday that any government efforts to launch an assault into the densely populated rebel area would result in a dramatic increase in casualties.”

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21/04/2009 at 15:22

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Reading Gadget.

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Close, rather a cheap talking book:

“Last year at LinuxWorld Expo, I had the opportunity to speak with Cliff Schmidt, the Executive Director at Literacy Bridge. At that point, Cliff was showing off an audio recording device with the eventual plan of being able to distribute sub-$10 gadgets that would allow for education and collaboration in struggling third-world countries. The little device that was literally in pieces back at LinuxWorld now is being used in Ghana as part of a pilot program.

Although in many ways the less than $10 “Talking Books” lack features of the OLPC laptops, they also offer some advantages over their big brothers. The first is obviously in cost. Second, the audio-only interaction enables education where illiteracy often is a stumbling block. Paired with freely available audio recordings and the ability to record and share additional content, the Talking Books will be able to reach people that even the OLPC Project left behind. “

More at the Literacy Bridge blog.

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20/04/2009 at 05:16

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HP Down – 20 April 2009.

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No, not another attack from a petulant “anti-Zionist” rather it seems to be a problem with the Harry’s Place’s Service Provider, as other hosts seem to be down too.

I will update when I hear something.

Update:

It is up again, sometime after 21:30 GMT.

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19/04/2009 at 19:46

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Six Week Late And Still Worth a Read.

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Sometimes I am as sharp as an orange, I should have read this six weeks ago. Adloyada, as cutting as ever, takes the BBC to task over Holocaust deniers:

“The World at One is usually one of the less contentious of BBC Radio 4’s news programmes. It does offer the standard BBC world view of most matters but as far as I’m aware has rarely featured on blog sites as a source of some of the most outrageous examples of media bias presented as impartial reporting.

On Wednesday 25th February, however, its reporting of the arrival in Britain of “Bishop” Richard Williamson was astounding in the way it presented a notorious anti-semite and Holocaust denier activist Michele Renouf as no more than “a woman supporting Williamson”. “

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18/04/2009 at 02:18

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