Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Muslim problem

Recent arguments suggest that though there are serious divisions between British Muslim groups they have the following in common. Ehsan Masood claims the different groups have five things that unite them.

This makes them a serious problem for the rest of us, since they are stuck in an unchanging book of revelations that leaves little room for deeper understanding. It suggests that most British Muslims are the Muslim equivalent of evangelical fundamentalist Christians. My own experience of the sufis is rather different however. They seem to me to be a very conceptually sophisticated group. They tend to be esoteric rather than exoteric and unitive rather than divisive. Should we believe Masood? I don't know.

A shared ground

For all that divides them, Q-News (and British Sufis more generally) and the MCB’s affiliates have five things in common:

First, both are highly literalist in their reading of the Qur’an. They feel (for the most part) little need to read the book in its historical context, and view each and every word as relevant for all peoples and for all time to come.

Second, both are strongly committed to the idea that a single, faith-based identity is more important for Muslims than any other type of descriptive label.

Third, both adhere strongly to the idea of umma – though more as a supranational network of believers than as a physical Islamic caliphate of the sort advocated by Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Fourth, both share a worrying sympathy for censorship of views they find uncomfortable.

Fifth, both are genuinely struggling to come to terms with modernity and to understand how to handle difference and pluralism within Islam, as well as between Muslims and the world around them.

Moslem beliefs

A shared ground

For all that divides them, Q-News (and British Sufis more generally) and the MCB’s affiliates have five things in common:

First, both are highly literalist in their reading of the Qur’an. They feel (for the most part) little need to read the book in its historical context, and view each and every word as relevant for all peoples and for all time to come.

Second, both are strongly committed to the idea that a single, faith-based identity is more important for Muslims than any other type of descriptive label.

Third, both adhere strongly to the idea of umma – though more as a supranational network of believers than as a physical Islamic caliphate of the sort advocated by Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Fourth, both share a worrying sympathy for censorship of views they find uncomfortable.

Fifth, both are genuinely struggling to come to terms with modernity and to understand how to handle difference and pluralism within Islam, as well as between Muslims and the world around them.

In light of this large area of agreement or at least affinity, could the two camps seek common purpose, or at least agree to disagree? Pakistan, a region where the Sufi/Islamist dispute has deep and often violent roots, may provide some clues. Sufis (represented by the Fuad Nahdi of Q-News) are themselves talented and accomplished journalists, which in itself carries a lot of weight among reporters and editors. The mature understanding of many more Sufis of how the modern press in a plural society works has helped them to nurture good media relationships. Indeed, this contrast in sophistication is very evident in their respective contributions to the Panorama controversy among Sufis and non-Sufis.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Observer | Politics | Leak shows Blair told of Iraq war terror link

My apologies. The link to Jay's letter on my last post does not work.
You can reach it via this Observer report exposing yet again the misrule of Mr Blair.

The Foreign Office's top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in Britain a year before the 7 July bombings, The Observer can reveal."

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Michael Jay's letter to the Cabinet Secretary

The news or gossip this morning is of a reinvigorated Blair returning to press ahead with a Blairite future.

Even with the new leaked evidence that he is still lying to us about Iraq and the Muslim world, he is allowed to drive on.

I have linked this blog to one top civil servant's letter to the head of the civil service spelling out just how clear the link is between our middle east policy and of "the burden of the perceived injustices and of the responsibility for putting them right, but without the legitimate tools to do so," which has fallen on young British Muslims.

It also speaks of the "ummah", a supra national one world of muslims, where British Muslims identify with the abuse and injustice heaped upon Muslims in the middle east and especially Iraq, by the crusader countries.

This morning we also heard from Salman Rushdie on Today confronting the extremism of so-called moderate Muslim leaders.

On the human rights front, the battle continues to release more photos of far worse atrocities committed by Americans in Iraq.

It could not be more clear to a young British Muslims that Christians are desecrating their religion in the name of freedom and democracy.

I have no time for Muslim or Christian beliefs as such. Almost all forms of exoteric religion generate conflict and intollerance between members of the human community. They bring war, not peace.

The future of humanity can only be assured when people collectively turn away from appeals to religious truth and certainty revealed from an external authority beyond argument.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Returning home to despatches from Iraq.

We are back from our camping holiday in Cornwall. We went as a rather motley crew assembled from separate families. We endured a great deal of wind and rain, at least enjoyed a fair amount of sun, and returned as a well functioning team, getting the tent down in rapid fashion to beat the oncoming rain storm.

Back home the world goes on much the same. I quote from despatches from Iraq today. What is new to me is that the resistence to the last British invasion of Iraq also started in Falluja. Locally we could soon have the National Resistence leader to Mr Blair in charge here. No one really thinks Cameron can win the Tory contest this time, though. It seems likely that the Tory party is as divided as Iraq, but with more awful consequences likely.

"Wars for empire don’t change…and Iraq is the perfect example. Invading
armies using slave labor (foreign in this case due to their deep
distrust of Iraqis), taking advantage of those who lack privilege, the
poor, minorities, to do the dirty work while the top 1% make more money
than ever before.

And the pirates behind the US policy-making in Iraq have chosen, perhaps
to their chagrin at this point, to disregard some of the latest history
from a past occupation of Iraq.

During the previous British occupation of Iraq, the resistance began in
Fallujah. As a response the British shelled half of that city to the
ground, much like the US military did recently as part of their failed
policy. (US soldiers are now dying in and near Fallujah again.)

It was said that if the British left Iraq civil war would ignite. Just
as we are hearing today, even though state-sponsored civil war is in
full swing, thanks to the occupiers.

The rule of the British Empire over Iraq went on for three decades
before the Brits withdrew. Every year of that time found an uprising
against the occupiers…and now less than three years into the failed US
occupation, lesser uprisings occur daily.

Attacks on US forces in Iraq are now back up over 70 per day…we’ll cross
the 2,000 dead mark before too much longer, and things are about to get
much, much worse. As Iraqis continue to say, “Today is better than
tomorrow.” The same goes for US troops there.

There is a reason why a relatively recent Army survey found that 54% of
all soldiers in Iraq reported either “low” or “very low” morale.

There is also a reason why, again according to the Army, that 30% of all
soldiers returning from Iraq develop mental health problems 3-4 months
after their return.

And there is a reason why soldiers like Nicolas Prubyla come home and
join organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“Up until five days ago, I had large amounts of blood in my stool,” he
told me recently, “I’ve felt tired all the time, I have had loss of
hair…loss of the feeling in my right arm…I’m battling this stuff.”

What he is battling is exposure to uranium munitions in Iraq. He is
battling radiation sickness as the result of the most recent nuclear war
waged by the United States of America. There is a reason why over 11,000
veterans from the ’91 Gulf War are dead today, and over 250,000 others
are on medical disability. That reason (hundreds and hundreds of tons of
uranium munitions dropped on Iraq) is the same thing Prubyla is battling

“As the years go on this is going to effect a hell of a lot more people
than we think…radioactive dust and the clouds of smoke and dust from
firing the DU [depleted uranium] is getting to us now,” he said, “And I
know I’m not the only person in my unit-my boss got diagnosed with
cancer, one of my other buddies who is 23 years-old is getting
rashes….every time I do more research on DU-I’m seeing that I have all
the side effects.”

Prubyla has realized what more and more veterans understand…that the
powers that be in our military plutocracy (also known as the US
government) could care less for their well being. One of the shadow
members of the current plutocracy who is also an exalted
neo-conservative, Henry Kissinger, has referred to military men as
“dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns for foreign policy.

People like Prubyla get this; they have had enough, and are now doing
something about it.

Meanwhile in the Crawford “Green Zone,” Mr. Bush chooses to ignore the
resistance movement that is standing outside his fence. But that is
alright, because the hundreds of people there now protesting represent
tens (if not hundreds) of millions across the country who, like the
Iraqi resistance, are not going to go away."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Tax Strike

Tax Strike: "A Call for a National Tax Strike

Taxpayers have the power and the duty to stop the killing in Iraq

Stop the Money to Stop the War

The most effective way of stopping war is to stop the money that pays for war. All wars are started by governments, and democratic governments can’t do anything without your money. If the UK and American Governments had had no money to pay the troops or purchase the weapons, to fly the bombers or train the soldiers, then they could not have fought the war with Iraq. The time has come for taxpayers to take control of the nation’s destiny by stopping the money that funds the killing. "

It is not exactly going to stop the war, but I urge my readers to check this legal case out for withholding their taxes as a protest against the continuation of this illegal occupation of another country.

illegal shoot to kill policy

It seems the Menendes story is hotting up. This commentator spells it out in no uncertain terms. If there was ever an action likely to pull our society apart this is it. The United States is already aquiescent in tyranny.
If the brutal state police murder of an ordinary person in London going about his ordinary life in London can happen without successful challenge then we are well on the way to a Blairified hell on earth, that will make Blairy England seem a very green and pleasant memory, but no more than a memory.


"Chris Coverdale claims that “Shooting an innocent visitor to London eight times in the back of the head, when he was already pinned to the ground, is the type of execution tactic used by the Mafia, and Chicago gangsters. Assassinations such as this are used by political tyrannies to impose control over a population and terrify those who dare to oppose, disobey or disagree. That a British Government or police force should employ such tactics and so brazenly break the law and abuse the fundamental human right to life, is a national disgrace, and should be of immense concern to law-abiding Londoners and anyone concerned to uphold the rule of law.”">illegal shoot to kill policy: "Chris Coverdale claims that “Shooting an innocent visitor to London eight times in the back of the head, when he was already pinned to the ground, is the type of execution tactic used by the Mafia, and Chicago gangsters. Assassinations such as this are used by political tyrannies to impose control over a population and terrify those who dare to oppose, disobey or disagree. That a British Government or police force should employ such tactics and so brazenly break the law and abuse the fundamental human right to life, is a national disgrace, and should be of immense concern to law-abiding Londoners and anyone concerned to uphold the rule of law.”"

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Blair's proudest day in politics.

"In fact, the real limits on Blair's counter-terror legislation comes from the European Convention on Human Rights, whose provisions became British law as the Human Rights Act, whose enactment Blair hailed as 'my proudest day in politics.'"

It took ages to find this page on the web. The BBC mentioned his enthusiasm for the human rights act a few days ago, but all mention of this has been buried under a landlside of articles about his recent movements to diminish or destroy the work of the act.

I am determined to use this act while it remains to protect my family against state intrusion.

Officials See Risk in the Release of Images of Iraq Prisoner Abuse - New York Times

"Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement put forth to support the Pentagon's case that he believed that 'riots, violence and attacks by insurgents will result' if the images were released.

The papers were filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan in an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act the release of 87 photos and four videotapes taken at Abu Ghraib. The photos were among those turned over to Army investigators last year by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, a reservist who was posted at Abu Ghraib."

So here we have it, the fight for freedom of information against the need for political propaganda at the heart of the life of the west.

We already know that these images and film are much worse than the utterly repulsive abuse that the earlier "tame" pictures showed.

Buggery of children and rape are featured here.

The Pentagon fears American lives will be put at risk from retaliation. This is surely true.
Yet this neo-con administration is based upon the kind of God who supports eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth.

But not even their God would support the killing of 10,000 Iraqi civilians for every American killed by Bushco on 911.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Democracy Now! | Psychological Warfare? A Debate on the Role of Mental Health Professionals in Military Interrogations at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and B

Psychological Warfare? A Debate on the Role of Mental Health Professionals in Military Interrogations at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Beyond:

"Also, in responding to Dr. Wilks’ statement, if psychologists have engaged in any activity, and at this point the media reports are long on hearsay and innuendo, short on facts, the American Psychological Association wants the facts. And when we have the facts, we will act on them. And if individuals who are members of our association have acted inappropriately, the A.P.A. will address those very directly and very clearly.

DR. ROBERT JAY LIFTON: May I respond to that?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes. Dr. Robert Jay Lifton.

DR. ROBERT JAY LIFTON: I have to say that many of the facts are already in. Unfortunately, American physicians and psychologists have been active in interrogation processes at the edge of torture, and I think we have these facts from very reputable international human rights organizations, including the Red Cross. So, I don't think we have to wait any longer for those facts. The difficulty in the position that Dr. Behnke is putting forward -- I mean, I respect his search for an ethical position, but the difficulty in what he is saying is that it encourages what I call a kind of doubling in psychologists. In Nazi doctors, I observed a process I came to call doubling which meant the formation of what is functionally a second self so that the same person could engage in killing in Auschwitz six days a week and then go home to Germany and be an ordinary father or husband."

My comments:

This is not really about psychological warfare, it is about employing doctors and psychologists as part of state terrorism.
It makes me want to throw up, as a psychologist and as a human being.
This is Nazism all over again.

Ananova - McCririck slams PM at Cook funeral

"Mr McCririck said it demonstrated 'petty vindictiveness' that the Prime Minister had snubbed Mr Cook's widow Gaynor and the rest of the family by staying on holiday.

The comments, which were broadcast on a loudspeaker outside St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, were met with a round of applause from onlookers who packed the Royal Mile.

In his eulogy, Gordon Brown said Mr Cook's passing had left a gap that could never properly be filled."

I do not share the view that Blair stayed away out of petty vindictiveness. Why should he turn up to support someone who has become the first labour martyr to the truth about Iraq?

Brown is right about Cook. There is no one among them with real integrity and a commitment to an ethical foreign policy.

t r u t h o u t - Stirling Newberry | Baghdad Putsch

" This transition means that a large fraction of the armed, organized, and able to govern Shia elite has lost faith in the US backed process, and sees an opportunity to sweep the Sunni completely out of the government. And it means that the unity within the Shia groups is broken. Both of these developments suit the Sunni insurgency just fine - the leading organizations of the insurgency have openly stated that they want a government in the same style as that which Saddam presided over. For them, disenfranchisement of the Sunni minority is a crucial step in the process of radicalizing the Sunni population."

This morning John Reid came on the Today Programme to tell us how well things are going in Iraq. He was as usual trounced by John Humphries. But he did keep his temper and died with dignity for a change.

This blog gets a lot closer to the truth, it seems to me.
Iraq is polarising fast. The majority Shia are becoming disillusioned with American led solutions and are pushing out the Sunnis and the non religious technocrats like the mayor of Baghdad.

When John Humphries quotes middle eastern sources saying civil war has already started he is not far wrong.

From a passionate humanist point of view the disenfranchisement of women is one appalling consequence of the American invasion.

But then that fits quite well with neo-con Christianity.

Soon the men will be back in control of women's bodies in those other disunited states too.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Times Online guest contributors Opinion Rushdie calls for reform of Islam

"If Sir Iqbal Sacranie is the best Mr Blair can offer in the way of a good Muslim, we have a problem.

The Sacranie case illustrates the weakness of the Government’s strategy of relying on traditional, but essentially orthodox, Muslims to help to eradicate Islamist radicalism. Traditional Islam is a broad church that certainly includes millions of tolerant, civilised men and women, but also encompasses many whose views on women’s rights are antediluvian, who think of homosexuality as ungodly, who have little time for real freedom of expression, who routinely express anti-Semitic views, and who, in the case of the Muslim diaspora, are — it has to be said — in many ways at odds with the (Christian, Hindu, non-believing or Jewish) cultures among which they live."

The Times has given Salman Rushdie a platform for an attack on traditional Islam in this country.

It is a bit like asking Christians to dispense with theold testament.

But he highlights the Government's planned new law to stop us attacking religions.

It is vital we be allowed to challenge people who would take us back to the mifddle ages rather than face up to problems that need 21 century solutions.

If this goes ahead the mealy mouthed humanists will suffer silently while passionate humanists will risk imprisonment for asserting rational beliefs.

Mother's Protest at Bush's Doorstep Raises the Stakes - Los Angeles Times

"Sheehan is certainly not the first to denounce the president over the war. From the beginning, activists have been outspoken in criticizing Bush's policy and his stated reasons for sending U.S. troops into Iraq.

For the moment however, the personal nature of Sheehan's protest — with its edge of raw emotion — and the concentration of news media staked out in Crawford, where Bush is spending much of August, have combined to raise her voice above the crowd.

'Anything that focuses media and public attention on Iraq war casualties day after day — particularly [something] that is a good visual for television, like a weeping Gold Star mother — is a really bad thing for President Bush and his administration,' said independent political analyst Charlie Cook."

A while back we had our own forces mother at the door of 10 Downing Street. But no one is stalking Blair on his holidays.

Meanwhile we are no longer allowed to stand and protest ourside parliament. A whole series of arrests have been made of those who dared to protest this last week.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Warming hits 'tipping point'

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Warming hits 'tipping point': "Siberia feels the heat It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting "

Hey you neo cons You can feel really happy
the global warming situation is on the tipping point into hopelessness.

Don't worry about resisting climate change. the more gas you guzzle the closer you get tothat shining or whatever you call it, all pink and glowy.

Oh yes, you are almost in rapture.

AlterNet: Blogs: Peek: Wild foxes attack rolling stones

"You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite.

You call yourself a patriot.

Well, I think your are full of shit!

How come you're so wrong, my sweet neo-con."

Mick Jagger has come out swinging in his new song with the old rollers.

Yes sir, not all of us Brits are subservient ass lickers.
You are not even acceptable to plutocratically rich old rockers.

Fathers and sons

Fathers and sons

I am writing this piece as a very personal story in what is intended as a political journal. Sometimes the personal is more truly political, however. I never intended merely to comment on news stories. My weblog is about the politics of the family, very specifically my family.

The day I met G I also met her children J and C, and was drawn to them immediately. Within minutes I was mending a fuse for C. Very soon I was mad enough to suggest taking them all to Brighton that very afternoon.

We tore through the summer sunshine to Brighton. Then I lost the three of them going to park the car. Somehow I managed to find these needles in the haystack of a beech. It took a long time. G somehow convinced me we would always be able to find each other. A couple of hours later we lost J while attempting to walk along the promenade. It was the first of many times we lost J that summer. He does not get himself lost anymore, though he still detaches to some extent when we go walking together. I found him. G’s first strong impression of me is returning J to her, carrying him on my shoulders. Sometimes I stop believing that I can really offer this to the two of them as a long term project. It should have happened by now if it was going to happen. We need more help.

J and G have significant problems in their relationship. It has never really recovered from her long period of illness when he was very small and G’s betrayal of the family. But this relationship is less problematic than the one I had with my own mother who was only once briefly ill when I was young. While J has had a tendency to get lost, I had a tendency to walk away on holiday. On a number of occasions I have headed for the other end of the promenade. I have no memories of how I returned or was returned to where we were staying. I adored my mother, but I could not be angry with her. I had to walk away or become ill, which happened a lot until I was sent away to boarding school. When I was very small I would shit all around the living room, or so my mother told me. I have no direct memory of this. J finds it much easier to be angry with his mother than I did. But he continues to punish his parents for leaving him by shitting in his pants. It is not a very conscious or deliberate process. But all the doctors have declared it not to be a physical deficiency. He compounded the problem by disgracing himself for the first time at school just before the end of term, however. By this age I was at boarding school and tightly controlling my sphincter muscles in the typically repressed boarding school fashion. My bronchial asthma was probably as disturbed a response as J’s soiling himself. It makes people anxious. In therapy terms it is called turning anger on the self. Soiling makes other people angry. In psychotherapy language we would call it farming your anger out onto other people.

At boarding school it was hard to resist; no, it was impossible to resist institutionalisation. They even tried to control the movement of your bowels. We were made to queue at the toilets after breakfast, and our success or failure was recorded in a book. I always lied. I preferred the leisure of the period of enforced rest after lunch, when we were supposed to lie on our beds for twenty minutes. My resistance to their control led to a kind of constipation which has only left me in the last few years. It was my nick-name for a while at public school. It was a problem for my father all the time I knew him. He was the one whom I recall as supporting my learning to use the toilet as a very small boy. “Big job” we used to call it. Later, at university, I would read Norman O. Brown on culture and psychoanalysis, how constipation became the life pattern of the protestant ethic capitalists where my father belonged. They tell us we have freedom and democracy in the west. I can not imagine any greater degree of control attempted by a totalitarian regime. But of course this was freedom. My parents had chosen these private schools to send their children to, which would make them good drones for the dying days of the Great British Empire. They doubtless hoped it would be a pathway to higher places in the social hierarchy.

With G I am married to a possessor of one of the glittering prizes, an Oxford scholar. I have also continued on my drop out path, divesting myself of the last remnants of my old personality. I now spend about a minute on the loo, instead of twenty. My old sexual boundaries have fallen from me too. I have stopped worrying about catching cold. At six I had a paranoid attitude to authority already. I was sent to what was still called “Child guidance.” I was asked to play alone with toys in a sand pit as far as I can recall. I had no idea what they wanted to find out about me but I was determined not to show it to them. After a considerable struggle I have now succeeded in having J referred to the modern day version of child guidance, child and family mental health service, I think it is called. In terms of accessing public services this is like striking gold. It is the Cinderella of all Cinderellas. Children are not supposed to have psychiatric problems, despite all the research evidence to the contrary. We are to have family therapy, one day. Meanwhile J is to have some tests. He does not fit the profile of the normal version of ADHD, but they have invented a version for dreamers like J. The reason we have been taken on has little to do with J’s symptoms, which are not at all severe. But there is so much history of severe psychosis on the father’s side, as well as the problems G and her dad have had. I have not as yet admitted my own history of fragility to anyone. At J’s age I was sent away to an “open air school,” which catered for emotionally disturbed and delicate children together, which seems remarkably inspired to me. I am not sure in which category I belonged. It did wonders for my physical health. I remained paranoid about life at school, and generally distrustful. I occupied a world with my mother where all outsiders were hypocritical. In truth I was most unsafe with my mother. But I had had a competent nanny for the year before starting school, which had stabilised me. Prior to that I had a series of teenage school leavers whose immaturity and budding sexuality has put me off their ilk permanently. J and C had a full time nanny for a year while G was very unwell, when J was three. J and C do not seem to have the same good feelings for her as I had for Joe, who was a real nanny to rival Nana in Peter Pan.

Like all the older children in our families I was bright at school. I saw little of my father, when I was small. He worked till my bed time six days a week and went to church on Sundays. J’s father was also working a great deal in his early life. But he is very strongly attached to his Dad, which has made adjusting to me an oscillating process for him. Our younger children have struggled at school. R was well behind J at this age, but there was no problem with the school. R’s teacher had a very warm and loving relationship with her. At 13 she has totally blossomed and is outstanding in music, art, all forms of physical exercise and drama. She writes and reads well and is catching up in maths and science.

I continued to do well at school, and then well at university, thriving away from home. The legacy of early distress and illness led me to become one of the leading teachers of psychotherapy and counselling in this country. The primary head recommended boarding school for C. In my view the English Private School system continues to stunt emotional development and certainly did so for me. Recent experience as a therapist to teachers at such schools has convinced me that the fundamentals have not changed. I needed as much therapy to counter boarding school assaults on my rights as a person as I did to tackle family problems. C is undoubtedly thriving at home with us.

This last year in C…y should have really stabilised the boys’ lives. It has worked very well for C, who finishes among the few gifted and talented and the social centre of the class along with his best mate O. It was my doctor who diagnosed problems with my mother and eventually prescribed a parentectomy. Here the doctors, social workers and health visitors have been very positive and supportive about us and J, while the school has attempted to demonise us as his parents. The special needs teacher raised concerns about J’s behaviour in class, and the behaviour support teacher identified us as the reason. The head then compounded the matter my going over our heads and treating us as abusive or at best neglectful parents. This matter is still not put right. I have decided to continue my complaint until the matter is dealt with. The resignation of the head with no explanation is not a satisfactory outcome to us. The claim was that we have victimised J for not being good at school. If this were true it should have been even more true with R. It is utter nonsense.

It is true that Gill has not been well this last academic year, and I have become depressed as the school saga has continued without a good outcome. We have sought help but it has been very slow in coming. The school has made matters immensely worse for all of us. The Blair Government has decided to target children who are behind at the start of year 2 in primary school. The head of this school has been praised for her part in doing this. I think we are the victims of this policy as applied by well meaning but incompetent teachers and their managers driven by bureaucratic parameters instead of human relationships. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am going to do my best to make sure this school starts to play a more positive role in this respect.

I have put an enormous amount of time and energy into the boy’s lives this last year. They are away with their dad for two weeks, giving me some time to reflect. I have a warm and affectionate relationship with both boys, much more so than one might expect with step sons. I have spent most time with J, teaching him cycling, swimming, rugby, cricket, nature study and use of the computer. I have tried teaching him to read and write too, without much success. I have listened a lot to his dreams and nightmares, his fantasies and his fears. I have attempted to provide some discipline and boundaries and to mediate his relationships with the other children. With C I discuss atomic physics and biology. I have helped him with poetry and cycle proficiency. He has tried vainly to involve me in computer games. He no longer needs a radio or a night light. I tuck him in at night. G always does J at bedtime. He comes in to have a cuddle with me in the mornings. I love my boys and they love me. I always wanted a boy; now I have two.

Let me end with an apology for the lack of my customary wit in this piece of writing. It may be the silly season but I still have my private eye open. I notice the Vicar of Albion (the one here is more the Dibley variety) has been having problems with his lawyer wife again. Apparently her firm is threatening to sue primary schools for not letting women wear burkas, and er, oh yes, to sue parents for sending their children to school in burkas. Maybe we should contact that august vicar’s wife to see what can be done about school’s which demonise middle class parents for having underachieving children. Our human rights have been infringed under Articles 7 and 8 of the Act. But the vicar is busy sweeping away all such things without the slightest hint of consultation. If the man in the pew is ever more likely to get gunned down in the street for setting out for matins in a heavy coat, what chance do we have for educational justice in Blairy England’s Albion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

s050803-01.jpg (JPEG Image, 500x333 pixels)

s050803-01.jpg (JPEG Image, 500x333 pixels)

Good God!
New Zealand is moving out of the 1950's.

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | Goodbye Mr Cook and thanks for opposing the war

This will have to do as an epitaph for Mr Cook. It is an excellent article denouncing the madness of Blair's policy on America and Iraq. On the theme of western values Mr Cook tried briefly to offer us an ethical foreign policy.
It is no longer convenient to have an ethical foreign policy. Western values are back with greed and crude self interest as usual.

"Their present approach (to Iraq) is fatally flawed by two delusions.

The first is the belief that they will win if only they can kill, capture or bury under rubble every insurgent. After relentlessly pursuing this approach for two years, the US military is worse off than when it started. In June there were more casualties among coalition troops and Iraqi forces than a year ago in the same month - before the handover of sovereignty that we were promised would transform security. We will continue to lose this conflict until US forces grasp that they breed more insurgents by the indiscriminate use of firepower and by putting higher priority on killing rebels rather than protecting civilians.

The second delusion is the insistence that military occupation of Iraq is the solution to the violence and not a large part of its cause. No strategy to end the insurgency is going to succeed unless it includes an exit plan for foreign troops.

Both George Bush and Tony Blair appealed this week for strong nerves from everyone else. But they also have a responsibility. Peace in Iraq will only be possible if they show the humility to admit the mistakes of the past and to accept that the recent strategy is not working."

Children of Iraq Association

300 child deaths every day

2000 "enemy" children dying for every coalition soldier killed

Since US invasions 2 million of the Iraq holocaust victims have been children.

Current research shows that most current deformities in children in Iraq are in the south. They are the legacy of the last US invasion.
If the Americans poisoned their own troops they did much worse to the children of Iraq.

From here it looks as if Anglo Saxon values include crimes against humanity.

So if the Arabs despise ourr values they are right to do so.

Lawsuit filed against Rumsfeld: Cruel Confinement of 'Enemy Combatant' in the United States

Continuing the theme of western values, we have a first human rights report on the Americans treatment of purported enemy combatants.I picked out just this one snippet. Go read the rest if you really want to feel disgusted with western values.

"According to al-Marri's complaint, he has not been formally interrogated for almost one year. He states, however, that when he was interrogated, government officials threatened he would be sent to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, where they told him he would be tortured and sodomized and his wife would be raped in front of him."

Dr. James Howenstine -- Depleted Uranium, Anthrax Vaccine & The Gulf War Syndrome, Part 1 of 4

"More and more veterans have become chronically ill from a multitude of symptoms since the end of Gulf War I. For many years the U.S. government denied any responsibility for their mysterious symptoms. Only 7,035 men were injured in this war. A total of 580,400 soldiers served in the first Gulf War. By the end of 2000 325,000 of these troops had become disabled This means that 56 % of those who served in the first Gulf War were disabled within less than 10 years."

I thought it might be useful for the sceptics to see a medical view on the effects of depleted uranium on American forces.

Civilised western values! This is abombination.

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Shami Chakrabarti: Don't sell our rights and freedoms

Chakrarti seems to be coming good. She was worse then useless when she first came on the Today Programme, but this is good stuff. She even picked up the reference to the mood changing almost as fast as Blairy England.
I have to say I am surprised at how very strong the lawyers and critics are being with their condemnation of Blair. I was half expecting supine aquiescence in the face of public opinion which is currently paranoid and stupid.

"If Friday was intended as Mr Blair's 'fight them on the beaches' moment, I am afraid that he blew it. Great wartime leaders unite their countries with optimism and resolve that inspires both herculean effort and self-sacrifice in defence of cherished ideals.

Instead Mr Blair was in 'I told you so' mode - his underlying suggestion that Britain's senior judiciary, opposition political parties and just about anyone who had opposed his earlier authoritarian adventures had done so through a lack of belief in the terrorist threat. In this airbrushing of history, none of us had acknowledged the threat."

Monday, August 08, 2005

AlterNet: Blogs: Peek: Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboy presidents

'Every day that another soldier or another Iraqi person gets killed just rips my heart open... I do not want him to use my son's name to continue the killing. It's bad enough that my son is dead -- and I'm a mother whose heart was ripped out on April 4, 2004 -- why would I want one more mother, either Iraqi or American, to go through what I'm going through?'

'I don't want him to justify my son's honorable sacrifice to continue his murderous killing policies.'"

American mothers are stepping forward,as are British mothers to denounce the murderous policies of Bush and Blair.

Meanwhile they move ahead with their plans to cut down our freedom to stand against them.

New laws have come in to prevent us going to demonstrate within a kilometre of parliament.

Statewatch News online: Worse than the disease! New proposals to combat terror

"There is nothing I can say that can adequately react to so terrifying an announcement. This is a statement of dangerous self-delusion, deliberately ignoring history, principle and justice." Gareth Pearce, lawyer.

It seems Mr Blair is afraid of books.

Why not burn them?

There is a precedent I believe.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The road of unending war is paved with the bodies of fighters for peace

The road of unending war is paved with the bodies of fighters for peace

Mr Blair is the greatest British Prime Minister for a hundred years. How can we judge this? He has taken the country into more winning wars than any other. As a very typical Christian, he has brought not peace but the sword. Though the highest Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, have condemned his invading bombers, his cluster bombs, his depleted uranium shells, the torture and murder perpetrated by his troops, he is greatly admired by many Christians in this a nominally Christian country. He is internationally admired too, despite the fact that his wars have broken the United Nations Charter, the long agreed basis for a civilised world.

Why should we judge him so kindly? Because this is a war mongering country. You have only to march through London, as millions of us have done protesting against Blair’s wars, to see the great number of statues to those who have led us into war. We do not celebrate artists and peace makers in our streets, we salute warriors. Edith Cavill stands alone as a peace maker at the heart of the city of London. We shall also judge him kindly because he is a superb politician. By the term politician I mean an actor, a dissembler, someone who plays a part well, a chameleon character who can be different things to different people. I distinguish it from the term statesman, which connotes wisdom, truth, and integrity, which he so singularly lacks. He is immensely talented in the miming skills of the counsellor. It is fascinating to see him arrange his posture to one which mimics the slightly bow legged, knuckles to the front, chimpanzee amble of G.W. Bush, out on the ranch in Texas, and then copy the nose high in the air arrogance of President Chirac, as they inspect the guard in Paris. He will even talk the kind street language he thinks will endear him to teenagers, when he goes out to meet them. Such behaviour enlists empathy and a feeling of being understood. It is done very skilfully. However, psychological research shows that even this very high level of skill is unsuccessful for a therapist who does not have what I believe are wrongly described as meta-skills, the values mentioned above. But what incredible political talent he has shown to transform Old Labour into New Conservative party. But then politicians will pay any price to gain and keep power.

This writer now opens himself to a potential prosecution for support of terrorism, for the reason that I am deeply at odds with the people of my country for re-electing Mr Blair, who is a war criminal. By doing so I believe with many others that we are provoking suicide bombers to do their deadly work on our shores. There is no qualitative difference between what is State Terrorism, the illegal war of aggression by this country against another sovereign people, and small groups of terrorists who attempt to destroy our peace in return. Nor is there a qualitative difference between IRA terrorists with whom he negotiates, and Islamic ones, with whom he will not.

A British military commander is thought to have pondered if the Cosovo war was the first to be fought where civilians were the main targets. He was not much of a student of history. It was Britain which created the first concentration camps, where thousands of civilians died horrible deaths, in a war against the Boers. In the Second World War Germany was defeated, not by overcoming its armies but by destroying its cities: women, children, civilians. Bomber Harris ordered the destruction of hundreds of thousands of civilians in German cities by creating fire storms devouring all the oxygen surrounding the central area of bombing. Now it is the sixtieth anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. By that time Japan’s armies were already defeated and in retreat. This terrible weapon of mass destruction was wielded by American and British forces against civilian populations of two Japanese cities probably to pre-empt the Russians joining in the war. One bomb would have been more than enough. But power and glory and world power status meant both powers dropping one. The principle of domination of the world by atomic bomb was established leading to the atomic arms race and mutually assured destruction.

But as this anniversary arrives Blair and Bush have just compounded the crimes of the past by undermining the non proliferation treaty, encouraging others to seek the bomb by making plans to redevelop our own weapons. There is no possible legitimate target for our nuclear weapons, yet it seems likely we will develop a new version for our future domination of a world we need to learn to share with others.

George Galloway has been headline news recently for his attack on Blair and Bush as war criminals. The press, including the BBC, has vilified him. Reporters keep asking Government ministers if he should be prosecuted for fomenting terrorism. They should be reminded he has been one of the key speakers that vast numbers of us listened to when we marched against the war. Far from being irrelevant, he speaks for many of us.

Only Galloway and Benn have kept pointing out how Rumsfeld gave Saddam his weapons of mass destruction so he could invade Iran. No one has explained to us why it was a good thing to break International Law to invade the democracy of Iran but a bad thing to invade the oligarchic Kingdom of Kuwait.

The BBC is also showing a typically British duplicity in its coverage of recent stories. The headlines covering Blair’s latest plans to restrict civil liberties even further described him as “emboldened,” mirroring back to him the language he used to describe how Saddam would have been, if we had not overthrown him. It is a subtle stroke, and perhaps not picked up by many, but it suggests the way Blair becomes more and more like the people he has denounced. The BBC have also wheeled on a Muslim Imam from the central Birmingham Mosque to tell us how Blair is slowly transforming into another Hitler, with Moslems instead of Jews as hate figures and scapegoats.

On the other hand, perhaps I am judging Mr Blair too swiftly on behalf of the British. It is looking clear now that he will not win his last war, the so-called war on terror. Now that attacks have begun in London we may never be free from the threat of them. Major forces within the establishment and 75% of the rest of us connect London terror with the illegal war against Iraq. The consensus among politicians for new anti terror measures is already breaking down. The peace movement is gathering strength again. The conflict within many groups in Moslem communities is deepening all the time. Racist and religious attacks against Moslems are running out of control since 7/7. Blair thinks he can govern according to the mood of the people rather than good sense. He was very unwise to say that “the rules of the game have changed”. This is no game for us as we walk our city streets. Only those hiding behind armed guards can suggest it is a game. He was judged to be out of touch before the election. People are already saying that he has never really been in favour of democratic values. It is possible the Downing Street memos will start to bite deep as more lives are lost at home and abroad. For Blair to triumph it is enough that good men do nothing. I am doing what I can.


This is a brief exerpt from a major document of the results of the world tribunal on Iraq.
It stands up for all those many millions of us who marched against this war in February 2003 before the war of aggression started.

I have picked out here just the first charges against Britain and the United States.

"II. Charges
On the basis of the preceding findings and recalling the Charter of the United Nations and other legal documents indicated in the appendix, the jury has established the following charges.

A. Against the Governments of the US and the UK

1. Planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.
Evidence for this can be found in the leaked Downing Street Memo of 23rd July, 2002, in which it was revealed: �Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.� Intelligence was manufactured to willfully deceive the people of the US, the UK, and their elected representatives.

2. Targeting the civilian population of Iraq and civilian infrastructure by intentionally directing attacks upon civilians and hospitals, medical centers, residential neighborhoods, electricity stations, and water purification facilities. The complete destruction of the city of Falluja in itself constitutes a glaring example of such crimes."

Friday, August 05, 2005

BBC News Player |Hiroshima

Depleted uranium is destroying the lives of Americans and Iraquis, and will continue to do so. In this clip we see how the atom bomb continues to maim and kill long long after it was dropped.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Galloway defends 'martyrs' remark

"'The people stirring up hatred for our troops are those who put them in Iraq, not the likes of us who want to bring them home to their families.

'The people who put our troops at risk are the people who put them abroad.'"

I cannot find in this report or in the Today programme this morning any statement by George Galloway that bombers or insurgents are martyrs. But that is the press he gets.

Liam Fox is allowed to call him sad and twisted without reply.
Galloway says Al Quaida came out of the first Gulf War and Fox attacks this as proof it is a bad thing after the invasion of Kuwait.

I am puzzled by this weakness, the only one in Galloway's otherwise accurate assessment of the situation.

Binladen was angered by the Americans desecration of the Holy Ground of Saudi in that conflict which led to the Americans being kicked out.

But my impression is that Al Quaida owes its rise to the support of it's campaign against the Russians in Afghanisatan at a much earlier date.

Saddam and Alquaida are lap dogs of Uncle Sam who turned nasty on him. But he trained them to fight wars for him.

When you create weapons of mass destruction they are likely to blow up on you, as the American veterans will tell you as they suffer from the poison of Depleted Uranium now visited on their children.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Blair vows hard line on fanatics

"The prime minister said he was prepared to amend human rights laws to make deportations more straightforward.

But civil rights group Liberty said his plans attacked key human rights and would jeopardise national unity.

National unity?

Director Shami Chakrabarti said: 'It seems he no longer has much truck for fundamental human rights at all.

'He's talking quite actively about deporting people to face torture around the world - that is completely unacceptable and plays into the hands of terrorists.'"

The BBC calls it a hard line on terror.
To many of us it is just the next step in the destruction of our Human Rights.

It makes me so angry to hear New Laboutr and Tories alike bleating about the terrorists disliking our western values. It is straight out of 1984.

Our politicians are undermining and destroying those values in the name of the values of eastern despots, security.

You might have opposed Saddam, but he really delivered on security.

We are happily creating police death squads on the models of countries like Israel, unequivocally led by a war criminal and butcher, in the name of security.

It really makes me come close to vomiting.

Iraq Dispatches: "What Have We Done?"

"The men are using this time to tell more of why they are resisting the illegal occupation, and it’s difficult to ask new questions as they are adding to what one another share.

“I didn’t want to kill another soul for no reason. That’s it,” adds Henderson, “We were firing into small towns….you see people just running, cars going, guys falling off bikes…it was just sad. You just sit there and look through your binos and see things blowing up, and you think, man they have no water, living in the third world, and we’re just bombing them to hell. Blowing up buildings, shrapnel tearing people to shreds.”

Tharp jumps in and adds, “Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection. My easy answer for not going is PTSD…but the deeper moral reason is that I didn’t want to be involved in a crime against humanity.”"

George Galloway was on the Today Programme this morning being denounced as twisted and distorted.

I wonder if the Tories would say the same of these Iraq war veterans who are saying the same things after taking part in the war crimes in Iraq.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sky News : Ken Calls For Iraq Withdrawal To Stop Terror

"'The reason the US is not able to stabilise Iraq is related to the same critical issue that affects policing in Britain: information.'

He said Britain's police forces would only be effective if they receive community co-operation.

The mayor urged fellow anti-war campaigners to tell London's communities to cooperate with police to catch terrorists.

However, 'the quality of information the police get will be decisively affected by the degree to which communities are treated with respect', he added."

I am a fan of Ken Livingstone. He seems to get it pretty much right, unlike his political master, Mr Blair.

Intelligence is the name of the game. Unfortunatley Mr blair remains convinced that the public has little of it. He continues to tell us black is white or at least Asian.

As we know with ever more intelligence as in real information coming through from the leaks in his administration, he had little to no real intelligence about Iraq. In fact the intelligence he had was not inaccurate. He just decided to make it into something it never was.

The days and weeks will go by now as London trembles for the next attack.

The questions will go on mounting, Mr Blair, about why we invaded Iraq, and why we need to stay there.

We would not settle for foreign invaders staying here, would we,

Except the Americans have been here for a very long time now.

We don't need them. It is time for them to go home too.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Terrorism, Islam, reform: thinking the unthinkable Maruf Khwaja - openDemocracy

"Unreformed Islam’s relationship to the Muslim world is equivalent to pre-Reformation Christianity in Europe. The Reformation allowed the west to liberate itself from religious thinking and set free forces of progress; meanwhile, Islamic empires shrank into their shell, refusing reality, rejecting change and resisting “infidel” knowledge. Stupefied by ignorance, they submitted to western conquerors with scarcely a whimper. If today’s Muslim bomb-throwers want someone to blame for their mindless rage, they should look at their own ancestors."

Well, that's the Catholics knocked out of the equation then!
This is an interesting argument all the same. It comments that the only person bidding to be Pope among the Moslems is Mr Binladen.

What very few reports tell us is just what a high proportion of Moslems have sympathy for that personage.

This article also attacks one of the sects that actually dominates the teaching of Islam in much of Britain. Dangerous stuff indeed.

The news this morning is full of the rage that ordinary moslems are now feeling against Blair and his minions for unleashing his namesake pitbull headsmasher.

Can passionate humanists offer any hope?

Several people have joined the e-group.

We need more.

If the future is going to be based on books written in the desert for desert tribes we will all be back in a desert soon.

We need to find something of truth of now for survival.

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Operation: Enduring Presence

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Operation: Enduring Presence: "'If the goal of ... the Bush administration, was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, install a friendly government in Baghdad, set up a permanent political and military presence in Iraq, and dominate the behavior of the region (including securing oil supplies),' Hart wrote in May, 'then you build permanent bases for some kind of permanent American military presence. If the goal was to spread democracy and freedom, then you don't.'

Bush has publicly denied that the United States has permanent designs on Iraq, and on February 17, 2005, Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee, 'I can assure you that we have no intention at the present time of putting permanent bases in Iraq.' For all the Bush administration has done to verbally dispel notions that it seeks permanent bases, it continues to plan and construct bases that are built to last, well, permanently."

Go check this report out if you were thinking about exporting freedom and democracy.

A new permanent military power base in the middle east securing oil supply is why the invasion was done.

I watched an old panaorama programme on the things Blair did not tll us about his plans to invade Iraq yesterday.
It was good but it ommitted the fact that the air war started in November and there was little to do but charge up the desert to Baghdad in march.

There are reports coming through that the prosecutor in Chicago has indicted Bush and his minions for everything from 911 onwards
There was even a story that Blair had ignored his subpoena.

If the time has come to go after Bush then maybe some action could start here. I don't see any signs yet though.