30 May 2005

Médecins Sans Frontières

Médecins Sans Frontières valuable work into Sudan is under threat after the Sudanese government issued an arrest warrant for the head of MSF in the country:

Reuter’s reports:

"KHARTOUM, May 30 (Reuters) - Sudan has issued a warrant for the arrest of the country head of aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for publishing a report on hundreds of rape cases in Darfur, the attorney-general said on Monday.

"We have issued a warrant for the arrest of the head of the organisation after speaking to the (governmental) Humanitarian Aid Commission," Mohamed Farid, Sudan's attorney-general, told Reuters. He said it was for publishing a false report on rapes in the Darfur region in March.

MSF Holland released the report in March, saying its doctors working in Darfur had medical evidence of about 500 rape cases over a period of about 4 1/2 months in the region in the throes of a rebellion in its third year. Sudan denies there is widespread rape in Darfur.

. . . .

Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting in Darfur and more than 2 million forced form their homes to makeshift camps around the region. Reports of rape are widespread in the conflict, and a U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry found evidence of mass rape during the conflict.

Rape is a sensitive subject in Muslim Darfur, and victims are often ostracised by society. "

Misconceptions of Israelis

If you listened to some of the political anti-Zionists you'd believe that every Israeli is a gun toting 'settler' hell-bent on murder and mayhem. The truth not unsurprisingly is a deal great different as Lisa in Tel Aviv shows in your latest entry: Learning about coexistence

Thanks for the suggestion Norm.

29 May 2005

Great Wine

Wine 20050524 has been released, the binary downloads are here

For more information on WINE, go here.

Who needs M$ when you have Linux and some wine.

Taken from the WINE FAQ:
"2.1. What is Wine and what is it supposed to do?

Wine is a program which allows the operation of DOS and MS Windows programs (Windows 3.x and Win32 executables) on UNIX operating systems such as Linux. It consists of a program loader, which loads and executes a Windows binary, and a set of libraries that implements Windows API calls using their UNIX or X11 equivalents. The libraries may also be used for porting Win32 code into native UNIX executables, often without many changes in the source. Wine is free software, and its license (contained in the file LICENSE in each distribution) is the LGPL. "

28 May 2005

State of the Guardian?

Small wonder over the years that I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the attitude and content of the Guardian newspaper.

This exchange is on a serious subject (AUT blacklist) and yet receives a flippant response from the Guardian.

It is frightening that alleged committed trade unionists (Sue Blackwell, etc ) don't take the elementary approach of knowing their union rulebook, off by heart, and therefore do not moan when legitimate rules are enacted. It is very clear that the previous AUT discussion on the blacklist was faulty and limited. So a widespread discussion of the issues surrounding the AUT blacklist should be welcomed by all committed trade unionists, but clearly not by the political mavericks and obsessives with a chip on their shoulder.

The days of smoke-filled rooms are long gone and so should be back handed dealings, issues such as academic freedom, selective boycotts, the Middle East and anti-Semitism need inclusive deliberations not posture politics.

Norm sums it up : "Anyone who doubts that what begins with Sue Blackwell will end with Arbeit Macht Frei is simply refusing to listen to the sad, eternal klezmer music of history. Weigh my words-- every last one of them."

Victor Klemperer's diary entry for 10th March, 1933:

"No one dares make a move. The Dresden student body made a declaration today and the honour of German students forbids them to come into contact with Jews. They are not allowed to enter the Student House. How much Jewish money went towards this Student House only a few years ago!"

26 May 2005

AUT blacklist, a Union Vote

The good news is that the AUT blacklist has been overturned, although there is predictably sour grapes from the likes of Sue Blackwell.

Here are a few interesting links on the subject:

Norm's blog - always a delight to read, reasoned and considered arguments on the subject.



And, of course, those fine people at Engage , see the about section

The BBC Newsnight clip on the AUT vote can be found here

Best use Classic Media Player and forword to 37:02 into the programme.

25 May 2005

American Nazis?

In this time of heated and acrimonious discussions concerning the Middle East and anti-Semitism, there is a frequently asked question: “can a Jew be anti-Semitic?"

Self-evidently the answer is yes, however, this strange phenomena is worthy of greater discussion and analysis, I will hopefully returned to it at a later stage.

For the interim articles from the Southern Poverty Law Centre, Frank Collins/Cohen and Andrew Greenbaum, AKA the Spam Nazi will suffice.

Cheap phone calls?

As an example of up-and-coming technologies SKYPE is very promising, with the ability to extend IP telephony to the desktop.

PC to PC phone calls are free, and their PC to landlines calls are comparatively cheap.

Although it is best with broadband and a fairly decent PC (>1 Ghz) SKYPE is usable even on dial-up or lower end machines (500 Mhz Celerons).

The inclusion of multi platform software is very shrewd.

24 May 2005

Students Waving Placards

Students Waving Placards' Journal is always worth a weekly read, and the comments recently on the AUT blacklist with Sue Blackwell's reactions are telling.

23 May 2005

Blackwell sees the 'Elders of Zion'?

The response to AUT blacklist have been most interesting, and none more so than Sue Blackwell's comments recently, as detailed at Engage:

“I’m not very optimistic about the outcome,” she added “We are up against a backlash, being promoted by a well-organized, well-funded pro-Israeli lobby.”

She seems to see Zionist conspiracies behind every response to the disgusting blacklist.

David Hirsh explains her attitude:

"Sue Blackwell does not understand what is going on right now. She thinks that when Israel is on the agenda, something particular happens. The whole world goes completely hysterical, she thinks, a special case is made, and a well-organised, well-funded Zionist lobby rises up and defeats good, honest leftist trade unionists."

But the reality is very different:

"That was why we organised Engage; we wanted the authentic left to have a voice with which it could intervene in the struggle between Palestinian and Israeli nationalisms.

A couple of days later, Jon phoned me again, having found a copy of AUT’s rulebook. A Special Council could be called, he mused, if 25 Council Members ask for it. Why hadn’t it been organised then? Should we do it? Yes. Lets do it. So we put up a call for Council Members to contact us on the website . We argued that the decision had been undemocratic, terribly wrong, it had put AUT in legal jeopardy and we couldn’t wait a whole year to undo the damage."

21 May 2005

Harry's got it

Harry has spotted that this gem from Christopher Hitchen, someone I rarely ever thought I would agree with, but his comments on George Galloway are spot-on:

"Indeed, he was a type well known in the Labour movement. Prolier than thou, and ostentatiously radical, but a bit too fond of the cigars and limos and always looking a bit odd in a suit that was slightly too expensive. By turns aggressive and unctuous, either at your feet or at your throat; a bit of a backslapper, nothing's too good for the working class: what the English call a "wide boy."

The Daily Norm

Norm is always worth reading, none more so than this tale from Israel

20 May 2005

Opposing the AUT blacklist

I think it is better to call the AUT action what it really is: a blacklist.

Perusing the web revealed that one of the opponents of the AUT blacklist is Sari Nusseibeh, Professor of Islamic Philosophy at Al Quds University

He stated:

"We are informed by the principle that we should seek to win Israelis over to our side, not to win against them," said the university, which is headed by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh.

"Therefore...we believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves."

Judith Apter Klinghoffer’s piece is interesting and her blog

Thanks to Norm for reminding us of John Strawson's piece.

Words will come back to haunt you.

We are lucky to live in the age of the Internet: information can be accessed at the touch of a button, Webcams allow us to check the weather in the remotest of cities and electronic books allow people to freely read historical literature.

Yet there are many people, invariably politicians or dictators, which fear freely accessible information and the ability of ordinary people to recall historical facts (previous statements, reports, etc), and therefore hold them to account.

The recent appearance of George Galloway at the Senate sub-committee may prove that words will come back to haunt him.

Irrespective of our view on Galloway, he gave a strong performance and bettered the weak questioning from the senators, but issues concerning Miriam's appeal will not go away.

Below are links to the transcripts of his court appearance and the Senate sub-committee.

Galloway libel

Senate sub-committee transcript

Senate sub-committee video, from the BBC

See his comment " Using their statutory powers they recovered all money in and all money out ever received or spent by the Mariam Appeal. "

16 May 2005

Media Alternatives

Are you sick and tired of bloatware ? Or Microsoft's media players?

Does RealAudio or Qucktime drive you mad? Need something quick and handy?

Try classic media player, real alternative or Quicktime alternative.

Fast, bug free and not a M$ in sight.

15 May 2005

George Galloway on Video

I am always forgetting those wonderful videos of George Galloway and his expressions of admiration for Saddam Hussein.

A picture is certainly worth more than a thousand words, and these videos convey George's true intent.

The Iraqi blogger Salam Pax shows gorgeous George in all his smarminess.

Jeremy Paxman election morning interview with a blustering Galloway.

The text versions are below:

Richard Palmer's piece in the Times, 23rd Jan 1994.

In a speech recorded by the BBC monitoring service, he lavished praise on the Iraqi dictator, calling him "Sir" and addressing him as "Your Excellency, Mr President". "I greet you, in the name of the many thousands of people in Britain who stood against the tide and opposed the war and aggression against Iraq and continued to oppose the war by economic means which is aimed to strangle the life out of the great people of Iraq," he said.

"Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory (sic), until Jerusalem."

Confirmed by David Pallister in the Guardian on 17th Nov 2004, page 9 but expanded as:

Earlier, Mr Justice Eady, who is sitting without a jury, was shown a video clip of Mr Galloway's meeting with Saddam in 1994. During a 10-minute speech Mr Galloway said: "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you 'hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al- Quds' [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem]."

13 May 2005

Pukka Firefox 1.0.4 is out

The people at Mozilla.org have just released Firefox 1.0.4, currently only US but more localised versions will follow.

Cheap shots at Iraqi trade unionists

Iraq from the safety of Europe and viewed on TV looks disastrous, daily suicide attacks, kidnappings and beheadings.

Phil Lenton's comments in the Guardian letter page on the 10th of May 2005 demonstrate an immense loathing of genuine trade union organisation or incredible idiocy:

"He tells us that the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) wants negotiations with employers and strike action. Well, they'll have to do the same as us and risk their jobs and livelihoods when they strike, just as we do."

Self-evidently trade unionists in the war-torn Iraq face insurmountable problems and daily dangers: the proliferation of guns combined with the existence of ex-Ba'athist and hostile fundamentalists, by comparison Europe is tranquil and problem free.

Such condescending comments from Phil Lenton are indicative of crass stupidity, which is occasionally exhibited towards ordinary Iraqis dealing with very genuine hardships in a war-torn country.

Replies to his points are here: support for Iraqi unions

Norm's blog covers the setup of Labour Friends of Iraq

I doubt few living trade unionists have ever setup or organised in the conditions that the Iraqis in , the IFTU find themselves and I wish them well.

12 May 2005

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.4 RC

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.4 RC is just being released with :

Firefox 1.0.4 includes security fixes for the two security flaws that can lead to arbitrary code being executed."

Best downloaded from Majorgeek

11 May 2005

Project Ijtihad tour in Britain.

I will be interested to see the response to the launch of Project Ijtihad tour in Britain .

I hope that the violence, which marred the 2005 General Election in the East End, does not impinge on her expressing her views.

Irshad Manji is an interesting person and I think we should all welcome her views on pluralism and Islam, for more information see in the news at www.muslim-refusenik.com

Global Warming and the perils of the Internet

I am getting old but I do worry about poor David Bellamy. His attitude to Global Warming seems a bit strange:

"555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980."

But the WGMS replied:

"I don't think the response would have been published in Nature, but it had the scientific virtue of clarity: "This is complete bullshit."

The article goes on to explain that:

"there you have it – a 16 year old article that was never written, fraudulently cited by a climate skeptic, re-printed in a publication owned by Lyndon Larouche which was cited by a former architect, and finally misrepresented by a credible scientist. One can only wonder what Bellamy was thinking."

Maybe there are is a lesson for the rest of us:

Don't believe something just because it is published on the Internet or agrees with your own inclinations. Verify the facts on an issue and do your own research before making up your mind.

Google's News and the Neo-Nazis

Good to see that Googlenews has removed the neo-Nazi site 'National Vanguard' from its list of sources.

Although Internetnews.com use a poor choice of words "banning" in the article:

"While some might criticize Google for banning National Vanguard even though that publication's writings are protected speech under the First Amendment"

Clearly, they are not been banned, just excluded as people don't wish to read their neo-Nazi filth. National Vanguard can still, sadly do, publish the putrid mutterings but people are not obliged to accept them as a valid new source from Google.

Would anyone sensible accept Hitler's speeches as a valid news source? No, therefore we should make a critical distinction between the rantings of neo-Nazis and legitimate news sources. Dragging out the US Constitution to defend the proliferation of neo-Nazi ideas is as unworthy as it is bogus.

10 May 2005


We tend to forget the crimes of the past Iraqi leadership but INDICT are here to remind us.

A list of indictable crimes for Tariq Aziz is here.

The new MP for Bethnal Green and Bow should read it.

MAB opens up?

I ran across Butterflies and Wheels and found this quote:

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi believes that women have the right to cover their heads if they choose to fullfil what Islam asks them to do. To claim that he calls for forcing women to wear Hijab is simply a lie. He told the Protection of Hijab conference at City Hall on 12th of July this year” Although it (Hijab) is not a pillar of the religion, it is a requirement, it is a duty and it is required of every Muslim woman … If a woman wants to cover her head, she is free that is part of her choice.
The Muslim Association of Britain
--MAB Online

Some Respect?

09 May 2005

Where will it end?

Reading some of the enthusiastic reactions to George Galloway's win in Bethnal Green and Bow I am left wondering what the excuses will be when Respect falls apart?

The respective elements: MAB, SWP and the George Galloway Fan club are strange political bedfellows with diverging views and although the quest for power, money and kudos will keep them together for a period my gut feeling is that they will break up with recriminations.

Trade Unions and Anti-Fascism

Whilst browsing Searchlight's (the Anti-Fascist magazine) web site I came across an anomaly.

The Trade Union friends of Searchlight comprise most leading unions and yet AUT is missing.

Strange given its stances on the boycott one would assume they might rectify that, or maybe attacking Israel is important to some people than the reemergence of the extreme right.

The BBC programme, Under the Skin, will enlighten people about the BNP.

Colleges and the climate of fear

A piece in the Sunday Times covers some of the issues on the AUT boycott and the climate of fear amongst some Jewish students.

This issue is truly frightening for anyone with a grasp of history, but I wonder in the contemporary world, given the unhealthy preoccupation with soundbites, gesture politics and the seeming attention spans of goldfish, if the implications of AUT boycott will really sink home.


The disgraceful AUT boycott may come to an end.

Engage have corresponded with Sue Blackwell on the matter.

For background information see the article 'Sue Backwell Update' at Harry's Place and Norm's 'Sue Blackwell doesn't strike back'

The WSJ's site has a piece on this

David Aaronovitch's piece in the Observer is interesting.

Post Election Quiz

The General Election is finally but what are your true political colours?

Try this quiz

08 May 2005

Time moves on and so must people.

Technology has for the last 150 years increasingly penetrated the lives of ordinary people, resulting in changing working practices to more latterly changing methods of communication (mobile phones, high-speed Internet, email, etc) and yet I wonder if our ideas and humanity keep pace.

I am reminded of Omar Bradley’s comment “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

I hope to comment in this blog on humanity and all our endeavours, as imperfect and volatile as they are.

My interests are varied and my curiosity endless but more importantly the blog will record my judgements and comments over time. Readers and future generations can judge the accuracy or otherwise of these comments.