Saturday, July 31, 2004

Off I go...

/ break /
Well I might as well make it official... A weblog pause now - and I'll be back sometime early in September (I think)... I'll be (reluctantly) picking up my email and possibly checking around every once in a while for the next week or so, but after that I will stay away from anything even remotely resembling a computer... Yes I'm leaving Athens for the Olympics as fast as I can.

Enjoy your summer everyone.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Here we go again...

/ deja vu / all over again
Can they sell this sort of nonsense again?? The Iranians are supposed to be connected with ex-CIA asset Osama bin Laden, a Wahabbi of the most fanatical variety - exactly, I suppose, as the Iraqis were supposed to be in cahoots with Al Qaida - as was so conclusively proven in the aftermath of the US invasion by all sorts of stuff Cheney knows but won't even tell the US congress' 9/11 commission...
Let aside the fact that anyone casually cognizant of what was going on in Afghanistan before 9/11 knows that there was an enormous antagonism between the Taliban (the Wahabi sects) and Iran - and generally between (Sunni) Wahabism and Iran's (Shi'a) Islamic Revolution. This antagonism seems to have recently turned into a real conflict in Yemen. Also, again very recently, a top Lebanese Hezbollah man was murdered by an extreme (and I mean extreme) Sunni group, Jund Al Sham, which detests Shiites and Iran and "is headed by Imad Yassin, a dropout from Abu Mohjen's Osbat Al Ansar which has long been blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist faction linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network."

Yet they will try to flog this particular dead horse for as long as they can... only because... they don't want you to learn the shocking truth!!!!

(I am worried that even signs of a possible US agression will hurt the Iranian pro-democracy movement - and I don't mean the Pahlavi fascists - more than any mullah can... But I guess that's an added bonus for the US administration)

Update 22/07/04: Hey don't listen to me... Listen to the expert:

So then you come to me and say that in 2000 and 2001, Iran was actively helping al-Qaeda and was trying to ally with it. And I say, that sounds to me like complete gibberish and I would only accept it if you show me excellent documentary proof.

It would be like saying that you had evidence that Roosevelt let German Nazi agents cross the United States to carry out an operation against Mao's forces in China during World War II. Well, on the face of it, the fascists would not have wanted the Communists to get China, so such a covert operation wouldn't be out of the question. And the US would certainly have in principle welcomed anything that would have helped the Nationalists. So you could argue yourself into thinking that the proposition isn't completely crazy. But if you just step back, you can see that geo-political speculation doesn't carry much weight in such a situation, and the whole idea is obviously crazy. That is how I feel about the idea that Khamenei cozied up to Bin Laden.

Monday, July 19, 2004

A Call for Sudan

/ ethnic cleansing / thorough /
The Sudan/Darfour atrocities definitely not getting enough attention - the scale of the atrocities committed is enormous:

To date an estimated 30,000 people (primarily from the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes) have been killed and further 1.5 million have been sent packing from their homes (mainly across the border into mine-strewn Chad where blood-thirsty militia men have been known to pursue them. As a result 31,000 Sudanese refugees have been moved deeper into eastern Chad) [6]. The Christian Science Monitor estimates that 350,000 will die before the end of this year and according to the International Crisis Group, Darfur represents the “potential horror story of 2004”

David Nally, the author of the linked article, minces no words about this:

The analogy with the Holocaust is neither casual nor superficial — especially by those who know something about these things. While members of the international community agonise over whether terms such as “genocide” and “ethnic-cleansing” (or the more self-congratulatory phrase “democide”) are suitable for the mass murders in Darfur, the Holocaust centres in London and Washington briefly closed in late June to indicate their solidarity with the victims [13]. "They say they don't want to see black skin on this land again," said Issa Bushara, whose brother and cousin were murdered in front of their families during an attack by the Janjaweed militia.

The reports of mass rapes are hair-raising, as this victims testimony suggests:

"They followed us when we tried to escape. The group of people I was with was forced back to Kaileck. They had surrounded the whole town."

"They separated men and women. Then the Janjaweed selected the prettiest women."

"Four men raped me for 10 days."

"Every day, women were picked up, taken to the bush where they were raped and brought back to Kaileck. The next day it would start again."

Apparently some (a very few) members of the militia are facing some sort of justice, but I fear it's mostly for show.

You can help through your local Red Cross or the UNHCR, or whichever aid agency you prefer.

Aznar confesses: Spain had Islamic lead for train bombs

/ politics / deception / failed /
Well, here you have it, directly from Aznar himself. The PP government lied when they were trying to place responsibilty for the 11/3/04 Madrid bombings on ETA on the eve of the elections.
Not that I had the slightest doubt, but it's nice to be confirmed by the Man himself.
Interesting inversion as per the anti-war slogan: it's "Bush lied - people died" and "people died - Aznar lied".

Friday, July 16, 2004

Yes, let's all just return to the city-state

/ countries / proliferation / ban needed/
That's exactly what the Balkans need: more independent countries[/sarcasm]... This is ethnologically unfounded and economically foolish... I have a feeling that Montenegrins in Serbia are more than Montenegrins in Montenegro. It's like a (poorer and more dependent) Crete secceding from Greece.
Apparently this is the new Montenegrin flag the article is talking about. Note that it isn't the 1918 flag, as probably it is considered too close to the current S&M (we'll lose this lovely acronym as well) flag. More about the Montenegrin flag here.
Plus, now we can really have all-ex-Yugoslav European Basketball semi-finals...Great.

Reaction from the Philippines

/ iraq / common /sense/
Teodoro C. Benigno responds to those that criticised the Philippine government's decisionto pull out the small Philippino contigent in Iraq, in order to save the life of Angelo de la Cruz, the Philippino captured by Iraqi guerillas.
"It is all very well for President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to warn her that in pulling out its 51-man humanitarian contingent from Iraq, the Philippines was "sending the wrong signals" to terrorists. The argument goes that other members of the US-led "coalition of the willing" would be more vulnerable to attacks by Iraq’s blood-thirsty insurgents.Why? Because the Philippines chickened. This columnist’s tart reply to that is dammitohell – so what?

America and its dwindling allies in Iraq can very well take care of their intersts. After all, they violated the canons of international comity and international law by waging war on Iraq. Washington resurrected the evil of preemptive war and ignored the Security Council by "going it alone" in Iraq. They played God. And now that God has deserted them, they seek to bully and bamboozle small countries like the Philippines to stay put and lick Uncle Sam’s diminishing lollipop.

The hell we will."

He has quite a few damning things to say about the current government of his country as well...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Kosovo: Clinton's 'Good War'

/ fiction / humanitarianism / kosovo/
Continuing a rather extensive discussion that has been going on in this site's comment section about the Kosovo aggression, following a relevant post, I would like to present Diane Johnstone's latest article on the Kosovo debacle. This is an argument against Kosovo's independence, and a rather accurate (IMHO) description of the aftermath of the military intervention that led to the creation of one of the most ethnically pure states in the Balkans, a true haven of human rights, in the name of multi-culturalism and tolerance. What isn't described in the article is the sort of destabilization the Kosovo precedent has already wrought on the neighbouring Republic of Macedonia and in Southern Serbia - and how explosive this precedent is as far as minority nationalist expectations in the Balkans are concerned... But not only the Balkans... look how lovingly the Kosovo method of dealing with minorities is brought as a shining example by other, much more powerful, would-be repeat cleansers... It is indisputable that the international indifference to the ethnic cleansing processes in Kosovo (and to a lesser extent - because they will be hopefully rectified soon - in Krajna) is the stuff that fuels every crazed nationalist's wet dreams.
But this isn't the end of it... That some serious sort of trouble is brewing in Kosovo is not in doubt, as the KLA seems not happy with the NATO forces in the province as well. It's fascinating to watch how non-commital the "resolution proposals" being suggested are.

On a related issue, the Milosevic trial continues its farcical course. There seems to be no real evidence of Slobo's involvement in any crimes against humanity except in the most indirect sense of being responsible for the atrocities committed by his officers... John Laughland comments on the dire predicament the ICC is in, and notes:
The possibility is now real that a conviction of Milosevic can be secured only on the widest possible interpretation of the doctrine of command responsibility: for instance, that he knew about atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs and did nothing to stop them. But if Milosevic can be convicted for complicity in crimes committed by people in a foreign country, over whom he had no formal control, how much greater is the complicity of the British government in crimes committed by the US in Iraq, a country with which the UK is in an official coalition? This is not just a cheap political jibe but a serious judicial conundrum: the UK is a signatory to the new International Criminal Court, and so Tony Blair is subject to the jurisdiction of the new Hague-based body whose jurisprudence will be modelled on that of the ICTY. So if Slobbo goes down for ten years in Scheveningen jail because of abuses committed by his policemen, then by rights his cell-mate should, in time, be Tony.

(Laughland has in the past also argued about how the Hague is an anti-Nuremberg.)
That's not to say he's innocent - just that one could not seriously expect to dig up the sort of evidence that could stand up in a court of law - at least about his direct involvement in war-crimes.

It seems that only a Serbian court could successfully prosecute Milosevic, specifically for the Stambolic murder. This International Court can only invent a guilty verdict based on the available evidence (or lack thereof). To try to blame Kosovo on Milosevic alone was, anyway, idiotic. This is an unresolved minority issue dating back at least a century. It could be argued that in 1999 Milosevic was supported by more Serbs than at anytime else in his political career. Note also that a number of the NATO countries involved were at least as guilty of atrocities against secessionist minorities as Yugoslavia...

Anyway do not forget this was the direct precedent for the Iraq war. It was equally illegal, it did not have the approval of the Security Council, and it established the right of the Superpower to bomb and attack whoever it wished. Remember all that when Kerry takes office and we all discover how "anti-war" he truly is - at which point the French and the Germans will join the good cause of civilizing the natives in Iraq - in the same way they brought peace, multiculturalism, harmony and understanding to Kosovo...

Boris Kagarlitsky concludes, in an article about the March killings in the province:

The point is not that the West backed the wrong side in the conflict. Serbian nationalists are no more decent and honorable than the Albanians who incite riots and murder. In feuds like this there are no good guys, just the bad and the very bad. And determining who is who with any certainty is impossible.

The point also is that sovereignty should be treasured, at least until we discover a democratic, just and egalitarian way of doing international politics - otherwise humanitarianism becomes the cruel excuse of a new, politically correct but more violent, imperialism.

More (including further discussion of the points Doug Muir raised in our previous comment exchange) in the comments below...

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Bibliotheca Augustana

/ collectio / textuum / electronicorum /
Litteraturae et artis collectio.
In Latin, online library in 9 languages plus a virtual Museum. I'm in awe... From Homer to James Joyce, by way of Epikouros and La Chanson de Roland...

Moore: pirate my film, no problem

/ principle / consistency/
Bravo Michael Moore, putting your money where your mouth is should silence some of the shrillness from the lunatic right. I'm liking the guy more and more already:

Controversial film-maker Michael Moore has welcomed the appearance on the internet of pirated copies of his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 and claimed he is happy for anybody to download it free of charge.

The activist, author and director told the Sunday Herald that, as long as pirated copies of his film were not being sold, he had no problem with it being downloaded.

“I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that,” he said.

“I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the world, to change. The more people who see it the better, so I’m happy this is happening.”

Bizzare "Bush-Cheney 2004" fascist buttons

/ fascism / raw /
This (and it ain't looking like a joke) would look fine with a red armband and a shaved head. Don't miss the small print. The regular kind of fascist rhetoric only this is supposed to be a Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign button! Apparently you can buy this as a T-shirt as well (the party platform is further elucidated in the teaser). Goes well with this. Hey here's the whole list... Enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2004


/ miracles / do happen /
No comments, I'm off to get drunk with a crowd of drunken neighbours and everybody else! Go Greece!!

Saturday, July 3, 2004

The fairy tale continues

/ football / party time /

With the possible exception of Otto Rehhagel no one here believed that the Greek national team could go this far in the European cup. Not even the players themselves. Yet, as if in a dream, this team managed to reach the final. Granted the football they’re playing is not pretty, the offensive talent displayed is far from impressive and maybe a disinterested football fan would wish for the far more spectacular Spain, or Czech Republic in Greece’s place.
Yet this is the most accomplished *team* in the tournament, the team with the most consistent performance and the team with the clearest strategy, run by a coach that has outsmarted all of his opponents except the schizophrenic Russians. It has been a joy to watch them, game after game, play their hearts out, proving that a team with passion, intensity, solid teamwork and a clear gameplan can outlast opponents with even the most brilliant individual talent (France).

The scene in Athens last night was delirious; for the second time in a few days, pretty much everyone was on the roads waving flags, celebrating, making noise till daybreak. It was the biggest party (until the next one?) since 1987 (when Greece won the European Basketball cup) although this was possibly even bigger.

Not only Greece celebrated: from what we hear, from Melbourne to Toronto and from Munich to New York, Greeks poured out in large numbers making all sorts of noise.
Not only Greeks celebrated: the African, Kurdish, Arab and Bangladeshi immigrants joined the party, some with musical instruments some dancing and hugging everyone in sight. A good sign, surely, maybe even a hopeful sign, for a society which, it turns out, might not have the grave assimilation problems we thought it had! (The fascist groups that showed up and tried to translate all this flag-waving into an anti-immigrant ethnic-superiority type of statement, failed – being marginalized by the mass of the people who left them miserably alone in their hate-fest.)

Also, according to BBC-Greek, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat stated his support for the Greek team, as (allegedly) did Serdar Denktash!... Hurriyet sent a trans-Aegean message of support with a "congratulations neighbours!" headline in Greek ("Siharitiria gitones!")! - who said that football doesn't bring people closer together?!

So the Greek Fairy Tale continues. A little taste: a recap of Greece's matches from the BBC commentary (Real Audio files): Portugal, Spain, Russia, France and Czech Republic. But the really interesting (zipped) mp3s are the Greek sportcaster's (from the Radio station Sport-FM) descriptions of the winning goals mixed with the Greek national anthem as sung by the fans in the stadium and a greek popular song! You really don't need to know the language to enjoy his commentary of the goals against France and against the Czechs (zip files - both of them).

If Greece wins against Portugal, I can't imagine what more could possibly happen... How bigger can a celebration be?

(And yes, I know... football is the new opiate of the masses and I really shouldn't fall for this etc. etc. ... but really these past few weeks have been *fun*! What a party!)

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Shoveling Coal for Satan

/ journalism / hypocrisy /
Matt Taibbi's article in the NY Press is not simply a rant against Hitchens and his latest screed against Michael Moore, but a wider polemic about journalism as power apologetics. Interestingly the only lamer piece about "Farenheit 9/11" was published in the NY Press' previous issue by Armond White, who displays a stunning ignorance of the meaning of the word "fascist".
The way all sorts of people have fallen on Michael Moore is amazing to behold. Already various attacks on F911's factuality have been published which seem to be regularly and predictably debunked. Moore himself has a section on his website to address the issues of factuality his detractors raise. Remember though that this is a political documentary not an academic treatise. He has a point to make and he makes it as forcefully as he can - on a pretty solid factual basis it seems. Moore is playing the role others have forfeited. Matt Taibbi hits the nail on the head in his conclusion:

"...Say what you want about Moore, but he picked himself up and did something, something approximating the role journalism is supposed to play..."

As for the movie itself, I await it eagerly, agreeing with the NY Press' better film critic (and Taibbi's onetime partner in Exile) Mark Ames, whose "Preview Review" of the film is brilliant, as usual.