vrijdag, juli 29, 2005

US calls on IRA to now discontinue contact with foreign terrorists

From the BBC:

'The IRA pledge was welcomed by the United States administration as "an important and potentially historic statement".

'"They will want to be certain that this terrorism and criminality are indeed things of the past," the statement said.

'The statement added that it understood from the IRA communiqué that "the IRA and its members will no longer have any contact with any foreign paramilitary and terrorist organisations". '

Well, cutting off contact with the British government would create some difficulties, surely?

woensdag, juli 27, 2005

Days of love and rage

Saturday night I was exuberantly sozzled. I was up until almost Sunday afternoon putting the world to rights with a friend of mine and I had another one of those experiences: It's usually a girl, and it's always after she's had a Bridget-Jones-load of ropey chardonnay. And it's happening increasingly often these days. No, sadly, I'm not talking about that. That's rather rare, unsatisfactorily, whichever side of the street I'm shopping on. I'm talking about the number of lachrymose people I've had to drunkenly comfort lately about 'the state of the world'.

We've all had the 'chardonnay + girl + tale-of-horrid-ex-boyfriend = torrent of blubbing' sessions with somebody. The morning after the evening of illimitable there-there-ing on your part, she always calls up (or, more latterly, text messages - minimising the now acute embarrassment) and says, 'I was just being over-sensitive. I'm a bit embarrassed to have used all your Kleenexes. Just forget what I said about him, all right?'

However, this commonplace maudlin state (and lest anyone think I am making fun of these episodes, let me say I firmly prefer maudlin to lairy, and I myself tend toward the argumentative after a few beverages, which I think many people like least of all), lately seems to me to be increasingly kicked off no longer by thoughts of boyfriend but of thoughts of war, by what seem to be quite heartfelt laments at how wretchedly fucking horrible the world is 'these days'.

One is tempted, especially if one studied history at uni, as I did, to fall back on the old 'It was ever thus.'

But then there are things that you read from time to time - and sometimes it doesn't have to be Srebrenica-sized for it to get to you - and despair grabs you by your scalp and throws you down and, you think, yes, it's true: it really is a world of shit.

On 19 July, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that two gay Iranian teenagers - one 18, the other 16 or 17 - were hanged this week for the 'crime' of homosexuality.

The two young men were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad in north-eastern Iran, on the orders of Court No. 19.

Indymedia Beirut has photos of their last few minutes.

If you've been an activist for a long time you'll know that you become numb after a while to so much, even when you read, say, that we've killed over a hundred thousand people in Iraq. 'Of course,' you think. Of course we've killed a hundred thousand. Of course. How would it be any different to anything else the bosses have done in the Middle East, or Africa, or Latin America? We expect it. And we in our justified cynicism lose a bit of that feeling of that anger or that shock or that pity that made us socialists in the first place at the age of fifteen or sixteen.

It is useful to be angry. This incandescent rage you are now feeling is good. Remember what you are feeling now as you look at these photos - especially the one where the boys are sitting there, knowing what is about to happen - that's the one that gets me - and use that rage. Use it like you're now a battery recharged. Take it with you when next you go out on 'another bloody' march, or are called to come down to 'another damn picket'. Remember: This is why you became a socialist in the first place. To fight this kind of barbarism.

I've not felt so angry or despairing in a while.


Please call the Iranian embassy wherever you are to protest this wickedness. Something better than a call would be better, of course.

I don't expect Condoleeza Rice, however much the White House would like to nuke Iran, to use this to denounce Tehran, as it's something most members of her own party privately or publicly will approve of.


Ambassador Seyed Hossein Adeli, 16 Princes Gate, London SW7 (0044 207 2253000, Fax: 5894440)


Ambassador Seyed Mouhammad Ali Moosavi, Embassy of Iran, 245 Metcalfe St., Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2K2 (001-613- 235-4726, 233-4726; Fax, 233-5712)


Ambassador Ali Ahani, 415 Avenue De Tervuren, 1150 Bruxelles, P.O.Box 34 (0032 27623745, Fax: 7623915) embassy.iran.bxl@skynet.be


Update: My friend James, of the Radical Activist Network, who first alerted me to these events, has posted more details on the RAN site, as well as providing a model letter to be sent to your country's Iranian embassy. Outrage has also issued a press release, noting that a further three young men accused of the same 'crime' are in hiding and being hunted by the police. Amnesty International was built on the idea, long since proven, that letter-writing does, on rare occasion, work. Write that letter, make a call.

No Borders

Useful tip: Do not buy fake Gillette razor blades from down the market, no matter how cheap the dude is selling them for. It's just not worth it.


So I'm listening to the Indefatigable One the other day on Any Questions on Radio Four, and he's quite competently outlining the link between the London bombings and UK/US foreign policy while simultaneously expertly ripping Oliver Letwin a new arsehole and giving what-for to that nasty harpee chairwoman of Republicans Abroad the BBC keeps inviting to speak on all things American, Colleen Graffy, (Comme d'habitude, neither was able to distinguish between explanation and endorsement. I mean really - If I explain to you how your bathroom is going to smell the morning after you've had a marathon bran muffin and refried beans eating contest, it does not follow that I am endorsing the resultant, um, catharsis. I am merely predicting the likely effect of a particular action. [Yes, that's right - it seems I've just described the last hundred years of Western foreign policy in the Middle East as being not unlike fibre-heavy cupcakes or burrito-filling and terrorist atrocities in New York, Madrid and London essentially as runny poo]), but anyway, dude is hot. Dude is on fire.

But then he's all like, 'One of the things that’s always struck me as extraordinary is how few customs officers we have at the ports...Actually, we probably need ten, 20, 30,000 more customs officers.'

And then, buddy's like, 'everyone [who comes to Britain] should be searched.'

And then, buddy's all, 'we need more police,' and then he goes off on one about tighter border controls. Add to this his position, expounded some time ago in an opinion piece in the Morning Star, about controlled immigration, with a 'points system' for immigrants - which the Tories have also called for.- and it all seems rather unexceptional .

And I have to say that I am comprehensively not down with this line of thinking. Oskar Lafontaine - the leader of the new far-left electoral formation, the Linkspartei, in Germany that has already overtaken the Greens and the Free Democrats according to the latest polls and is even running on 30 per cent in the East - has recently, when mixing it up a bit with the populist tubthumping on the hustings, taken to not just defending the welfare state and jobs from an old, social-democratic/left Keynesian perspective, but also to warn of the dangers of Fremdarbeiter, or 'foreign worker' - a term that tends to echo some of the language used in the country some 60, 70 years ago by the Nazis, and which has opened up the new party to - in this case legitimate - accusations from the Greens of right-wing populism on the model of Pim Fortuyn or Jorg Haider.

Apart from the electoral idiocy of such a rhetorical strategy (opening oneself up to attacks from the party's closest ideological rival, the Greens; alienating students and middle class lefties; and chasing those workers who, if they are xenophobic enough to agree with Lafontaine's chauvinism, will pick far-right parties or the CDU first anyway to impose such policy as would target the Fremdarbeiter), the position is just wrong. Any left party worth the name must - especially these days, put immigrant defence at the forefront of its policies and extra-parliamentary activities. We defend, before all others, the weakest amongst us. It is shameful that Lafontaine and Galloway dress themselves in such cheap and brutal rhetoric.

It was a mistake for Respect, when the discussion of what position to take on immigration came up originally, to have pulled back from socialists' traditional demand for an end to all immigration controls, which are, by definition, racist. Unsurprisingly, Oliver Letwin found himself more than surprised to be whole-heartedly agreeing with Galloway on this issue.

Today, when Brazilians are being summarily executed on underground platforms, running from the police afraid of being found out to have had overstayed their student visas, we must say as unshakeably as we ever have: No borders; No deportations; No one is illegal.

At least the
crusties have still got this one right.

N.B, An earlier version of this piece suggested George Galloway supported tighter immigration controls, when in fact he had spoken in favour of tighter border controls. There is more than a distinction without a difference there, and I apologise for perhaps overstating the case.

Rummy reminds ungrateful Kyrgyz who bought them their revolution

Earlier this month, the four Central Asian republics, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Uzekistan and Tajikistan, along with China, called on the US to issue a schedule for the withdrawal of US forces in the region. It seems that they, seeing that the emperor has no clothes - despite all its technology and spending on arms, the US is losing in Iraq - and the republics are tilting back toward Russia and China.

While the US certainly spent heavily on the opposition in Kyrgystan - as it did in Georgia, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe - that ultimately overthrew the government - it seems the new government is not as pliant as the Yanks would have liked.

Right on cue, rapid deployment of Rum-tum-bum on a short-notice trip to the region.

A few hours later today, Kyrgystan tilts back, saying, ' The [US] base at Manas will stay as long as the situation in Afghanistan requires,' said Kyrgyz defence minister Ismail Isakov.

What was offered - or threatened - to make Kyrgystan back off?

dinsdag, juli 19, 2005

Where'd Vic go?

I know, I know - I've been dreadful lately. But my excuse is that I've recently come down with a rather severe case of grandparentvisititis.

Regularly scheduled programming shall resume shortly.

donderdag, juli 07, 2005

First thoughts

Random dude witness on BBC radio started going off the reservation a bit and began to call on Tony Blair to begin 'reconcilation' with whomever we are at war as what we have done so far isn't working. Needless to say he was hurried off the air.

Attacks on Muslims, Arabs and anyone slightly darker than my soapy white Caucasian self will undoubtedly spike over the next few weeks. We need to be vigilant in our defence of these communities.

Watch for politicians to, without haste, link the altermondialist movement to the attackers, as they did after the 11th of September. We must not be caught like a deer in the headlights after that date, but go on the offensive, as they did in Spain after the Madrid bombings.

No to terror, to the murder of ordinary, working class men and women anywhere, whether from bombers on Tube trains or from on high from the bomb bay doors of an F-16! Do the people of London feel any different today than the people of Baghdad under the boot of Operation Lightning?

If there is any difference between Blair and whoever perpetrated this today, it is only that Blair has killed more.

A demo, on the model of Madrid - and admittedly the dynamic is not identical - against ALL terror - from Bush and Blair not just from al Qaeda, would not be out of place, and explicitly links this terrorist government to this morning's terror.

It was bound to happen, and will continue to happen, until we stop killing them.