30 August 2005

Panorama of Views

Panorama's recent programme on the MCB and their lack of leadership skills brought to my attention the existence of MCB watch, which makes some reasonable points.

A transcript of the programme is here.

John Ware's response to attacks on the BBC.

The later reaction to the programme is telling

Time to make your own mind up.

29 August 2005

Salman Knows

Salman Rushdie has intimate knowledge of extremism and its consequence, and has called for a Muslim reformation.

Rushdie was today on Radio 4 he comments on MCB and their alleged moderation.

26 August 2005

SuSE again

SUSE Linux 10.0 OSS Beta 3 has been released!

They are very busy at www.opensuse.org

25 August 2005

Able Danger

A strange story has come out of the US concerning Able Danger:

"A US army intelligence officer went public yesterday with claims that a secret military unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three other al-Qaida members as a potential threat a year before they carried out the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer said the secret intelligence unit, codenamed Able Danger, had been prevented from passing on its information to the FBI by Pentagon lawyers concerned that the military should not be involved in surveillance of suspects inside the US."

23 August 2005

A Humane Future

Thanks to Harry's Place and a recent petition the work of Fareena Alam, the editor of Q-News has come to my attention and her essay on "A humane Muslim future", which makes some interesting points:

"As Fuad Nahdi points out, contemporary political Islam offers a religion to die for; classical Islam offers a religion to live for. Without the latter the great achievements of Muslim civilisation (so celebrated and extolled by Islamists) would not have been possible."

"Wahhabi Islam that takes as its starting-point a literal, static interpretation of the sacred texts. It is a movement that tore down the four mihrabs in Mecca. During the last four decades, funded by petrodollars and mass-produced literature, it has hijacked much of the popular theological debates within Islam, particularly in the west and the Arab world."

"The whole problem with Bin Ladenism and its related perversions is that while they use the language of Islam and appeal to community, they neglect its moral and ethical tenets. Emotion and outrage is no basis for a solution to the current malaise."

"We need to revive those musical and artistic traditions that have begun to vanish. A people without a cultural agenda, that particularises and localises religious expression, present no hope for their young people. "

Real Audio, Firefox and Codecs

So you've got Firefox ready and even K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 1.36 installed but you get the message "Additional plugins are required to play all the media on this page"


A solution:

Firefox->Tools->Options->Download->RAM Real Media File->Change Action ->[browse to K-Lite Codec Pack directory and find the Real directory which leads to the program:mpclauncher]

Open and it should show something like "D:\Program Files\K-Lite Codec Pack\Real\mpclauncher.exe" in the 'Open them in this application:' field

Now you should be able to watch those Real Audio files with Media Player Classic!

21 August 2005

Beware Internet Greeks?

Trojans are an increasing problem on the Internet and dealing with them can be difficult.

I am evaluating two packages: TrojanHunter and ewido, which work on 2000 and XP only, but they look promising.

20 August 2005

Site of the Week 10

Forgetting the techie sites for the moment, or even political or historical ones.

This week's site of the week goes to Gendergeek

I would recommend the article on Terrorism, pride, and gender

19 August 2005

Trade Unionist and the New Iraqi Constitution

The IFTU has produced a very sensible list of concerns with new Iraqi Constitution:

"The IFTU drew the UN Support Team’s attention to four discrete areas within the draft Constitution, which has changed frequently in recent weeks and which according to the IFTU in its current draft fails to adequately address the justified concerns of its members. These are;

1. Rights of Children: IFTU wishes to insist on the rights of Children aged younger than 16 years of age, not to be allowed to work and to have a full education. IFTU expressed its concern that the draft Constitution made general references to the rights of children without defining at what age these rights apply. In IFTU’s estimation this is a serious weakness, which would have the effect of undermining future attempts to improve the terrible situation for Iraqi children.

2. Right to Strike: IFTU expressed its strong dismay that an explicit Constitutional right of workers to take strike action has been removed from the draft version of the Constitution, although such a right exists in the current Transitional Administrative Law. The draft Constitution refers only to the right of workers to representation, without defining the right of workers to join or form the trade union representation of their choice, or as mentioned the right to withdraw their labour.

3. Rights of Women: IFTU made clear the complete opposition of the trade union to any attempt to revive the notorious Decree 137, which sought to remove the fundamental human rights of women in the name of imposing sharia law. Womens’ rights to marriage, divorce, to own property, inherit and pass on property to their children and others, to access education at all levels, to work and to play a full part in all aspects of civil society and political life must be guaranteed in the Constitution of a modern democratic, federal Iraq.

4. Separation of Politics and Religion: IFTU insists on the complete separation of the powers and authority of ‘the mosque’ from the constitutional state law. Freedom to practice religion must be guaranteed by the Constitution. The Constitution should not take Islam as its sole source of legitimacy. "

An Education?

The Daily Times relays an article on education in Pakistan:

"LAT quoted the education minister of a nation with Asia’s highest illiteracy rates as saying that he was determined to have specialists rewrite course guidelines and textbooks, from the first grade to the college level, so that the curriculum would be in line with that of any other advanced country.

He told LAT, “We don’t want to condemn any religion, which we will not.”

“A study of the public school curriculum and textbooks by 29 Pakistani academics in 2002 concluded that public school ‘textbooks tell lies, create hatred, inculcate militancy and much more’,” the paper said.

“The study by the independent Sustainable Development Policy Institute angered religious conservatives, and even a few liberals, who saw it as an attack on the country’s Islamic values, or even a plot by Western governments and rival India to subvert the Islamic state,” it added."

The report by the SDPI is here

18 August 2005

A Panorama of Leadership

I am not much of a TV person but will be interested to see Panorama on Sunday, 21 August 2005 22:15 on the topic of 'A question of leadership':

"For a sixty minute Panorama special, John Ware has spent the weeks since the London bombs traveling to Britain's Muslim communities, to discover whether their leaders can tackle the growth of extremism in their midst.

The programme contains strong, frank interviews with British Muslims on attitudes to integration, sectarianism, supremacy and suicide bombings in Britain and abroad. "

17 August 2005

Of Roots and Pretexts

I don't have too much time to write at the moment, but found this article made many points that coincided with my preliminary thoughts on the 'root causes' of 7/7 in London:

“Al Qaeda is a revanchist organisation, which holds the West in general and the US in particular responsible for all the evils afflicting the Islamic world and for the decline of the political power of Islam since the end of the Ottoman Empire. It wants to avenge the wrongs allegedly committed against the Muslims since the end of the Ottoman Empire, re-write history and restore an Islamic Caliphate from which Western influence would be totally excluded.

It is comparable to the Nazis of Germany in its revanchist ideas and actions. The Nazis blamed the rest of the Western world for the decline of Germany since the First World War and for all the evils afflicting Germany. They wanted to restore the pre-eminent position of Germany in the world.If the world leaders of that time had said "Let us address the root causes of Nazism first, before we fight the Nazis and Adolf Hitler", where will the world be today?

The call to address the root causes of the Al Qaeda today is as short-sighted as a call to first address the root causes of Nazism would have been in the early 1940s”

15 August 2005

This Day in 1945

VJ day was celebrated on 15th August 1945, 60 years ago.

It has been called the forgotten war:

"To the many veterans who fought in it and for those who survived the brutal conditions in the prisoner of war and labour camps, the war against the Japanese in the Far East will always be the forgotten war."

14 August 2005


I was interested to read Africa's miracle food: plumpy'nut:

Plumpy’nut — a fortified peanut butter stuffed with milk and vitamins — is just the sort of food that overweight Western children are advised to avoid. But for malnourished children it has an amazing effect, making it the undisputed hero of the current crisis in Niger, where 3.6 million people — 800,000 of them children — face severe food shortages.

Within two days, Hilinki’s weight has climbed from 4.6kg to 5kg (10lb to 11lb). She will stay at the clinic for a further three days and receive six meals a day. Nearly all of it will be plumpy’nut — a merging of the words peanut and plump — which can add as much as 1kg (2.2lb) a week to a hungry child’s weight.


Plumpy’nut was created by André Briend, who spent years working in humanitarian crises. He realised that a ready-to-eat supplement that needs no cooking or added water, and is cheap to produce, could help to save millions of lives in remote and under-developed areas. Plumpy’nut is now produced in Normandy by a company that specialises in food relief, in partnership with Unicef, the United Nation’s children’s organisation.


The success of plumpy’nut, which is normally given for four weeks at a cost of £12, in treating that problem is raising some awkward questions, particularly for the governments whose children stand to benefit.

“It is cheap to produce and deliver, so why is it not being manufactured locally and given to children all over Africa?” asks Adrian Hartley, a white Kenyan author and commentator on Africa. “These governments always have money to buy their Mercedes cars and guns — so why not some plumpy’nut?"

13 August 2005

Site of the Week 9

Ever been stuck with a 'new' non-legacy laptop and need to re-install from scratch, but can not connect ANYTHING under DOS?

If so, try The Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk from www.netbootdisk.com and it is described here

Just download the Zip, extract, create a boot floppy and go.

One damn fine piece of software and not a M$ in sight: recommended!

12 August 2005

Cheerful News?

This less than cheeful piece of news was recently reported by Iran Focus:

"Tehran, Iran, Jul. 22 – A military garrison has been opened in Iran to recruit and train volunteers for “martyrdom-seeking operations”, according to the garrison’s commander, Mohammad-Reza Jaafari.


The weekly carried a report in its July 13 issue on a meeting between Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and the commander of Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison. Jaafari was quoted by the weekly as saying that the organisation of "martyrdom-seeking popular forces" was being implemented on the basis of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces"

11 August 2005


Just as you thought it was safe to relax that installation-thumb, more goodies appear!

Novell is releasing beta copies of SUSE Linux 10.0 OSS, downloaded from here

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack is now up to version 1.35


10 August 2005

Well, He Would, Wouldn't He?

As Mandy Rice-Davies said, Tariq Aziz 's help to Saddam Hussein continues, as reported by Reuters:

"I would like to make clear ... that I will not testify against anyone and, in particular, I will not testify against Saddam Hussein," attorney Badia Aref quoted Aziz saying in a note he passed the lawyer during a meeting earlier in the day."

I hope George Galloway will prevail upon his good friend, Tariq, to testify against the Iraqi mass murderer, but I some how doubt he will.

A Legal Move

Saddam Hussein, Iraq's murdering dictator has fired most of his legal team, according to an ABC report:

“Saddam Hussein's family said Monday it has dissolved his Jordan-based legal team, canceling the power of attorney it had given to international lawyers in a move seen as reorganizing the ousted leader's legal counsel ahead of his upcoming trial.

But Saddam's former chief lawyer Jordanian Ziad al-Khasawneh, who resigned on July 7, claimed members of the legal team, especially Americans, had criticized him for rebuking the American occupation of Iraq and declaring the resistance as "legitimate."

He claimed former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark advised Raghad and other members of Saddam's family that such statements hurt Saddam's defense.”

Ramsey Clark has some funny connections, first Slobodan Milosevic and now Saddam Hussein.

09 August 2005

Cuban Soul

The Times yesterday reported the passing away of Ibrahim Ferrer.

The past years have seen that demise of Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo, from the original Buena Vista Social Club

The Depravity Scale

Following on from Norms and Evil, the work of Dr. Michael Welner at Depravity Scale does provide some insights which may help people when reflecting on the 7/7 bombings.

From Indexing Evil Michael Welner, M.D., talks to Psychology Today News Editor Kaja Perina about The Depravity Scale.

"KP: How does September 11 factor into the Depravity Scale?

MW: People look at the hijackers and readily attach this spectrum of depravity. But they’re overlooking the very real possibility that these people were brainwashed, much the way destructive cult followers are. So are we dealing with depravity, or with an act of war? Is bin Laden psychopathic and depraved in his actions, or is he simply an Islamic populist?"

07 August 2005

More Storms in Teapots

Following on from the Satanistic Teapot, Human Rights Watch reports that:

"The Malaysian government is targeting this religious community simply for their beliefs. The government is violating international standards by destroying the Sky Kingdom’s religious structures and now threatening to throw the members in jail without a fair trial. "

and earlier on:

"On July 18, a mob composed of 30 to 35 individuals, who were masked and dressed in robes, launched a pre-dawn attack on the Sky Kingdom. The mob reportedly tossed Molotov cocktails, slashed car tires with machetes, broke the windows of several homes, and partially scorched religious structures. Malaysian police have failed to arrest anyone involved in the attack. Instead, 58 members of the religious group, including 30 women and five children, were arrested on July 20 by the state religious affairs department and the local police."

05 August 2005

Norms and Evil

Too often people try to ascribe some rational motivation or lopsided justification to the actions of murders, bombers or terrorists, and Norm's recent articles on evil and humanity make grim but necessary reading.

The reference to Dr. Michael Stone has revealed comments which related to the recent 7/7 bombings:

“Dr. Michael Stone of Columbia University also showed slides of nearly three dozen killers and others whom he considers evil.

A woman who burned one of her three daughters alive and starved another to death was "at the extreme edge of evil ... one of the most clearly evil persons" of more than 400 whose biographies he has read, Stone said.

However, he added that "the bulk of evil on a world scale is committed by ideologues and their followers." Wars and persecutions, from the Spanish Inquisition to the fighting in Bosnia, show people are capable of "bottomless cruelty to those outside the tribe, especially in times of hardship and hunger," he said.”

Satan's Teapots

The recent destruction of teapot in Malaysia caught my eye:

Members and visitors to the commune believe that water from the teapot, which poured into the giant vase, held purifying powers. They follow the teaching of Ariffin Mohammed, 65, better known as Ayah ("Master") Pin, who holds that every religion is equally valid and that anyone can find his or her own path to God. ...

Religious police raided the compound twice last month and nearly 50 of its members are due in an Islamic court this week, charged with deviation.

But the religious authorities fully approve of the state's actions. Haji Mohammed bin Junoh, the imam of the largest mosque in the area, said: "Pin is a deviationist. It is possible that he is dealing with Satan."

Now we know: Tea drinking is part of some weird Satanistic cult...humm

No Veil

The rise of religious fundamentalism in Iraq has led to increasing attacks on women, and in particular, acid throwing as reported by Feminist Daily News:

"Several Iraqi women have been burned by acid attacks during recent weeks in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar. Acid attacks are a form of violence against women where acid is thrown at or sprayed on women’s faces, legs, or other exposed body parts, in order to punish women in this case for not wearing the ‘abaya,’ a long black cloak that only reveals the nose, mouth, eyes, and hands."

Also, reported by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs :

"BAGDAD, 4 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - For Sumeya Abdullah, a 34-year-old primary school teacher in the capital Baghdad, life will never be the same again. In late June she had her legs burned by corrosive acid in a street attack because, she believes, she was not wearing her veil and the traditional 'abaya' covering common in many Middle Eastern countries.

"I was shopping in one of the most crowded districts in Baghdad when I felt my skin burning by something corrosive. It was horrible, a terrible pain, then I found myself in hospital," Abdullah said.

Witnesses in the district where the attack happened, said that for more than two weeks, women have been targeted by acid attackers for dressing immodestly. Sometimes the assailants spray or throw the acid on foot, or on occasion, from a moving car. Other attacks have been even more shocking."

04 August 2005

Site of the Week 8

Most of us are concerned with the situation in the Middle East and Bitter Lemons provides many useful insights which tend to get missed in the main stream media or the polarised debates on the Internet

Bitter Lemon's sister site Bitter Lemons International is worth a visit as well.

03 August 2005

Looking for Backhanders

George Galloway's tour of the Middle East and his meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister only seek to confirm our worst opinions of this moneygrubbing charlatan.

Having lost his meal ticket from Saddam Hussein, George Galloway is predictably touring the Middle East and looking for a sponsor.

02 August 2005

The Inspector Calls

Verifying video files is a pain and trying to determine what CoDecs are required is a thankless task, but to the rescue comes VideoInspector

KC Softwares summerise it as:

"VideoInspector is a tools designed to provide you with as much information as possible about your video files. With VideoInspector you'll know why your video files has no sound or refuses to play correctly. VideoInspector will help you installing the required CoDecs (coder/decoder software) for an optimal performance. VideoInspector can also inspect your system to find which codecs are available, and it can also process multiple video files and export its result in HTML or plain text files."

Me? I'd just say "very handy!" Downloaded from here

01 August 2005

Get the Bug

I have finally succumb to SuDoku, with legitimate reasons which I won't go into.

But SuDoku is fairly addictive and could be costly if you need to buy puzzle books or daily newspapers to satisfy your cravings, therefore below are links to free puzzles:

Let’s Play Japan

Daily SuDoku

SuDoku in Oz

USAToday’s SuDoku