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

Archive for March 2010

Humour Watch: The Daily Mail.

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I wasn’t sure about this, until I saw it, rather funny, if you know what the Daily Mail is like:

Update 1: Two for the price of one, thanks to entdinglichung for pointing it out, the Irish chickens are busy too!!

Written by modernityblog

29/03/2010 at 23:06

LabourStart’s Global Solidarity Conference.

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Just in from Eric Lee:

LabourStart will be holding its first-ever global solidarity conference this summer in Canada and we’d like to invite all members of our Facebook group to attend the event.

The conference will be held on 9-11 July 2010 at McMaster University School of Labour Studies, in Hamilton, Ontario.

We’re starting to put together a detailed agenda of plenaries and workshops based on the input we’ve received from trade unionists around the world.

Now we need to know who is coming and we’ve begun registering participants.

If you would like to attend, please register today:

(You must do this even if you pre-registered — it will remember your details once you’ve keyed in your email address.)

Participants from developed countries are expected to pay their own way, but we are also raising some money — including from registration fees — to bring over trade unionists from developing countries as well.

This promises to be an enormously exciting and important event and I look forward to seeing you there.

Eric Lee

P.S. Please send any questions you have about this event to the organizing committee –

Roll Around The Blogs.

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Enough of me, me and me. What are other people writing about? Here’s a quick round up:

Jim on the Orwell Prize.

Kirklees Unity on the EDL and the BNP’s drinkers club.

Bob points us to another, Bob Black and some sharp words on Chomsky.

Richard Wilson on Trafigura’s rear guard action and the UK Court system.

John Gray on remembering the awful Tories.

Engage on John Pilger and the New Statesman.

Left Foot Forward on the BBC’s capitulation and Murdoch, on the BNP barrister, Climate sceptic exhibition and Big Oil and disabled wrongly denied benefit.

Seismic shock and gorgeous George’s hypocrisy.

Terry Gavin and who’s barred from Canada? Terry has some kind words for the Gorgeous one.

Phil on the New Party and what happened in Bolton.

Racism Review on the US census.

Right Wing Watch’s round up.

Over at the Hate Watch blog they eyeball Nativist Extremism and Tea Party activists.

Finally, the CST on the oh-so-powerful Lobby, I liked the final paragraph:

“Finally, anybody contemplating why the theme of Jewish power is so embedded in antisemitism could do worse than read the web address on the T-shirts worn by these protestors – photographed outside the 2010 AIPAC conference. “

Written by modernityblog

28/03/2010 at 23:06

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A Tory, One Respect Activist Comments

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Alex Hilton, Dave Osler and John Gray were sued for libelled by a Tory activist, Johanna Kaschke.

She attacked three bloggers for making legitimate comments, and these cases have gone to the High Court.

They are still progressing but Ms. Kaschke has seen fit to comment on an old thread at John Gray’s, which reminds me of my previous post on the topic, One Cherry Short Of A, Support Dave Osler, Part 2 and Support Dave Olser.

Not forgetting Libelled By A Tory.

Here’s Dave Osler’s Kaschke libel update.

Update 1: Whilst I remember here’s Ms. Kaschke’s YouTube channel and very funny it is too.

Update 2: Hangbitch’s old post on these silly libels.

Update 3: Not forgetting Ms. Kaschke’s two blogs, the blogger one and at Woprdpress where she discusses the cases, which is strange as I thought that was ill advised? Who knows?

Update 4: Readers will notice that having gone from being a one-time radical member of Respect that now Ms. Kaschke extols the virtue of private medicine over the NHS and isn’t too keen on workers at British Airways being able to strike. No surprise there.

Update 5: Ms. Kaschke’s entertainment value only increases with her post on The Freemasons and mathematical concepts, if you can read it and not laugh I will be very surprised.

Written by modernityblog

28/03/2010 at 21:53

Neo-Nazis And The Guardian.

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It is often very hard to distinguish the real thinking behind remarks left at Comment is Free.

Some are obviously offensive, others are openly racist and many others are borderline, full of euphemisms, twisted reasoning and questionable assumptions. Plus the fact that many of the most extreme racists have learn to hide their views under a mountain of verbiage or post-modernist twaddle.

So articles like that of Efraim Zuroff’s No time limit for Nazi convictions are most welcome, not only for their content but as they serve a secondary purpose of highlighting those with sympathies for the Extreme Right.

I will leave readers to analyse the full content of the thread, some 159 comments and see how even on this topic certain Far Right posters on Comments is Free can’t resist making snide remarks about Jews or Israel.

I am sure readers will notice that those on the thread so sympathetic to Heinrich Boere are often equally bitter against Israel and Jews, which is hardly a coincidence, is it ?

Not that the Guardian would like it if a fair few of its on-line posters were thought of as neo-Nazis or their sympathisers?

Netanyahu And Gaza.

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When I think of the Netanyahu government, I think of missed opportunities and of his previous term in office which resulted in less than nothing happening.

Netanyahu has always struck me as a rather incomplete politician, seemingly smooth on the surface, but riddled with indecision, political incompetence and the need to seem like a strongman.

I suppose that better explains the recent incursions into Gaza, because I can’t think of any meaningful reason why they should occur.

Firstly, they don’t stop the missiles.

Secondly, they normally lead to wasted deaths, Palestinian civilians, Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.

Thirdly, they only achieve the goal of stirring the pot, nothing more, except possibly providing Hamas with more opportunities to fire missiles at Israeli civilians.

Fourthly, Hamas loved these nonsensical incursions as they provide plenty of propaganda and bolster support for Hamas, but don’t do much more.

All in all negative and unproductive, which seems to me to sum up Netanyahu’s achievements.

Snoopy has more on Bibi.

Written by modernityblog

27/03/2010 at 03:24

Nation Or Government?

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Colin Shindler’s letter in the Guardian highlights some of the dodgy thinking behind the Guardian editorial which uses the phrase:

“Both events in London and Washington are the marks of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself. “

Arrogant nation?

Not as Shindler points out Government or administration (if we were discussing North America), but the Guardian editorial writer chose to use the words “arrogant nation”

That says to me that he or she has wider problems with the very notion of Israel, and not the actions of a particular administration.

The Guardian editorial will have been the product of much discussion within that newspaper, and the writer will have been a highly educated individual, lucid, experienced and in command of his or her words, so the choice of “arrogant nation” is particularly revealing of their underlying psychology, or should that be complex.

Written by modernityblog

25/03/2010 at 11:56

Unfinished Business?

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The Times reports on a member of the Waffen-SS who escaped justice by living in Germany after WW2:

“There was nothing simple about Boere’s evasion of justice, which allowed him to go unpunished for crimes that he freely boasted about. The inability of German courts to convict him irritated Dutch-German relations – Boere had been sentenced to death in absentia by an Amsterdam court in 1949 but was able to live freely in Germany, working as a coal miner until 1976, drawing a German pension and then living in a German nursing home.

Boere’s ducking and weaving within the German judicial system illustrated how much unfinished business was left after the post-war Nuremberg trials. More than 25,000 cases of Nazi crimes were investigated by West German authorities after the post-war trials of surviving Nazi leaders, but the prosecution was often half-hearted and many cases were dropped.”

Written by modernityblog

24/03/2010 at 01:28

World Conflicts.

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I remember last year watching a small video which discussed some of the 300+ conflicts in the world, now Bob scours the Web with greater skill than me and points us to Open Democracy’s discussion of forgotten conflicts.

I think, for anyone with an internationalist prospective, it is an interesting question to ask why the West is so focused on certain conflicts but not others.

Here’s Noah Bernstein:

“The Western media’s fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long overshadowed death and oppression in other parts of the world. Gilad Shalit and the Qassam rocket are known to many; the death of 5.9 million in the eight-nation Second Congo War is not. Recent Israeli and Palestinian elections were covered worldwide in real-time, while images of genocide in Rwanda and Sudan did not surface until it was too late. Countless articles argue media bias in favour of Israel or the Palestinians, yet few address the media bias towards the conflict itself.

The disproportionate media coverage raises several uncomfortable questions: why were the deaths of Congolese civilians at the hands of the LRA deemed less newsworthy than, in the first instance, crumbling cease-fire talks and, later, the deaths of Palestinian civilians? More generally, why is the west so consumed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what are the consequences of underreporting other conflicts? Finally, can anything be done to redress the media balance so that the rights of all humans – regardless of colour, ethnicity, and geography – are given equal weight?”

[My emphasis].

Written by modernityblog

23/03/2010 at 03:11

Bertie Lois And The Riot Police.

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The British riot police are often a law unto themselves.

Please watch the video below, about 26 seconds into it you will see Bertie Lois, a 89 year old man being assaulted by a policeman.

It is not obvious, but as they past him they shove him aside like a rag doll.

Bertie Lois is a WW2 veteran and is treated by the riot police as if he is detritus. Appalling, but fairly typical of British riot police as the death of Ian Tomlinson’s shows.

Update 1: Manchester UAF have rather good coverage of events:

Nurse Karen Reissmann helps Bertie while police attacked anti fascist campaigners.

Evidence of Police Violence in Bolton.

A Good Film Review.

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Over at Socialist Unity they have re-posted a long, informative and critical review of Zeitgeist: The Movie, from the Third Estate blog.

I think it makes a very useful contribution to the debate on anti-Jewish racism, how conspiracy theories, paranoia and the use of euphemisms are all part and parcel of those racist endeavours.

I suspect from reading the comments box at SU blog that this is the first time someone has explained the connections, but it is a start, even if a few of the posters still have fixations about “Zionists”.

The conclusion explains it well:

“It is important to understand that the type of critique of society offered by the Zeitgeist movement cannot be separated from the Jewish conspiracy theory. One cannot take classic anti-Semitic texts, replace the word “Jew” with “international bankers”, or “international finance capital” and then believe that your theory is no longer anti-Semitic. Of course there are very good arguments that capitalism and indeed imperialism are extremely dangerous. There are very good arguments from a left or liberal perspective to say that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been fought. And it is here that we must recognise that ends do not justify means. We cannot afford to support any cause that is simply anti-capitalist, or any cause that is simply anti-war, otherwise we run the risk of getting into bed with fascists. Rather, our positions on capitalism and of war must arise from thoroughgoing critique, rather than a rehashing and rebranding of old anti-Semitic narratives.

Written by modernityblog

21/03/2010 at 14:55

Neofascists in Bolton.

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I’m still waiting for an update on the events today in Bolton, but from the BBC coverage it is apparent that the British police colluded with the English Defence League and escorted them into Victoria Square in Bolton.

The video clip from the BBC suggests that the police were more concerned to attack antifascists than halt the progress of the neofascists in the EDL.

Independent sources suggest that the antifascist turnout was higher than the BBC figure indicates.

And for American readers, who might wonder what is going on, essentially the EDL picking areas of Britain with relatively high ethnic populations and provocatively marching in those areas, in the hope of having a fight or stirring up racial hatred.

Similar to the Ku Klux Klan parades of old but without the white sheets, same type of purpose.

Update 1: Bolton anti-EDLers get “kettled”.

Update 2: Videos over at Counterfire.

Update 3: As it happened from the Manchester Evening News.

Update 4: The Bolton News has various videos and photographs of events.

Update 5: New commenters should read my comments policy before posting.

Update 6: Anorak has various photos including this one of EDL giving Nazi salutes, second row in:

EDLers in Bolton, giving Nazi salute

EDLers in Bolton, giving Nazi salute

Update 7: The Guardian covers it:

“UAF groups waved anti-Nazi placards and chanted: “Fascist scum off our streets” while EDL supporters carried flags bearing the St George’s Cross and banners against “Islamic extremists”. Prior to the demonstration, both groups agreed to stay in separate areas, separated by steel barriers. But many smashed through the barricades and were involved in clashes. Last week a plea from the council and faith leaders to ban the demonstration was turned down in a letter from Alan Johnson, the home secretary. The EDL describes itself as a peaceful group campaigning against “militant Islam”, but violence has frequently marred its protests .”

Update 8: Bob points us to Bolton, Brutality and Lies

Update 9: Not forgetting Dave Osler on the topic.

Update 10: Greater Manchester Police accused by NUJ:

“On Saturday March 20th NUJ member, Rhetta Moran, was arrested by a police snatch squad at a lawful protest against the English Defence League in Bolton.

Rhetta was arrested while reading out a message of support from TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber at the protest in Bolton town centre. She was not engaged in any violent activity at the protest.

She was detained for 10 hours and while in detention her house keys were confiscated and her home was searched without a warrant. Documents were copied from her computer.

She was not charged but released on police bail until May 10 on condition that she does not attend any meetings or gatherings of Unite Against Fascism anywhere in the country. Rhetta is joint secretary of Greater Manchester UAF.

I believe the actions of the police, and in particular the bail condition, is an outrageous violation of my member’s human rights and is in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects freedom of association and assembly.

Since the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it unlawful for UK public authorities to act in any way which is incompatible with Convention rights, Greater Manchester Police has clearly behaved unlawfully. I have therefore protested to the Chair of Greater Manchester Police Authority and I am calling for an investigation into police behaviour at the protest.”

[My emphasis].

Update 11: Luna17 points to Police’s Tweet.

Update 12: The Sauce had UAF live blogging from Bolton.

Written by modernityblog

20/03/2010 at 22:27

Never Saw That Once Coming.

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For years British civil servants have been pushing an ID card scheme, and it seems that when each government knocks it back that the civil servants merely retreat for a more suitable occasion to raise their pet project.

So it should come as no surprise that the existing ID card scheme really isn’t up to much and will have to be changed by 2012, as the Register reports:

“A lack of online functionality has however been an obvious weakness of the ID scheme from the outset, so this is more a case of the Home Office belatedly recognising this than of technological evolution.

But the mooted 2012 upgrade presents the Home Office with some problems. ID cards are valid for ten years, and were originally costed – highly optimistically – to have a ten year lifespan. The cost of replacing the 10,000 that the Home Office says will shortly be in circulation won’t be that great, but obviously the more popular the Home Office makes ID cards, the more expensive it’s going to be to recall them.”>

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20/03/2010 at 12:01

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Sector Size Change And Bits.

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I usually do technological posts when I haven’t got the brains to marshal any arguments, some might say that’s a permanent state, but there’s been quite a lot of technological change in the last two+ weeks and here’s a selection:

The newer 4096 byte sector causes a slight worry.

Free Software, the Internet and autism.

M$’s profit.

Lucid Lynx beta looking promising.

Relentless deletions at Wiki and why they are wrong.

How to avoid malware.

New Features in Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1.

Marvell promise?

Mozilla bugs, but 3.6 is a great improvement.

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20/03/2010 at 01:15

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Executing A Stone Thrower.

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The Torygraph reports:

“Mohammad-Amin Valian, a 20-year-old Islamic studies student, was arrested on the basis of a photograph taken at a mass demonstration against the rigged presidential election last year. He was among six people convicted of the Islamic crime of moharebeh, or waging war against God.”

Written by modernityblog

19/03/2010 at 00:56