Millions of dollars in US rebuilding funds have been wasted in Iraq, US auditors say in a report which warns corruption in the country is rife.
A never-used camp in Baghdad for police trainers with an Olympic-size swimming pool is one of the examples highlighted in the quarterly audit.
Billions of budgeted dollars meanwhile remain unspent by Iraq’s government.
The report comes as President Bush is urging Congress to approve $1.2bn (£600m) in further reconstruction aid.
The audit by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (Sigir), is the latest in a regular series of updates to Congress.
(Source: BBC News)
There you go! When another annoying peacenik bleats on about your tax dollars being spent on murdering Iraqi children, you can boldly go “uh-uh” and point them at the above news article.
Yes, while there apparently isn’t enough money in the USA to give its citizens a civilised healthcare system, there’s plenty of money to build un-used swimming pools in Iraq!
And good old George isn’t done yet! No way! He wants $1.2 billion more of your tax money for his big push in Iraq. He needs to convert your hard work into more bombs to kill children with and, let’s not forget, more swimming pools.
What a fantastic president! How can anyone doubt this genius?
Some years ago, teenage schoolboys at Bellemoor school, Southampton, UK played an end-of-term prank on their teachers. Specifically, they burned a 20ft-long cock into the school’s grass lawn using weedkiller.
The teachers had it reseeded, and the incident passed into memory. However, in the interval between the grass dying and the restoration work…
(Source: Boing Boing)
This is why I love humanity.
Thousands of years ago, some bright early human must have done the first ever drawing on a cave wall. And I’m pretty sure that it will have looked something like this:
Yes, the classic Jizzing Cock has long been a theme all the great artists have returned to. Who amongst us has never drawn this sacred image of virility and joy? I know I have.
And so, we see the non-jizzing variation preserved by the art curators at Microsoft forever! Let us applaud their philanthropy and service to the world of art!
Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 people believed to be CIA agents over the alleged kidnapping of a Lebanese-born German national, in one of the best-known cases of US “renditions” of terror suspects.
The prosecutor’s office in Munich, southern Germany said in a statement that the city’s administrative court had issued the arrest warrants on suspicion of abduction and grievous bodily harm.
German authorities are probing allegations by Khaled el-Masri that he was abducted by US agents in the Macedonian capital Skopje on New Year’s Eve 2003 and flown to a prison in Afghanistan for interrogation before he was released five months later in Albania.
Masri has said he was tortured while imprisoned.
(Source: Common Dreams)
Here we have a classic rogue state: a nation that ignores international law and sends its agents to kidnap innocent people and then tortures them for months.
Yep, the USA sounds pretty rogue to me.
In fact, it’s such a rogue state that it makes no bones about it: the USA withdrew from the ICC precisely because it knew it would be torturing innocent people and engaging in other war crimes. It was a pre-emptive withdrawal so they could wage their war of torture and massacre with no interference from “bleeding heart liberals.”
I doubt that Germany’s legal move will result in any justice for el-Masri. After all, the USA doesn’t care about any form of law apart from the law of its own military might.
But it’s a great step forward for the civilised, law-abiding nations of the world. We have to recognise war crimes when they occur and pursue the war criminals. It’s no coincidence that so far it’s only Germany which has had the courage to seek justice. It’s learnt a bitter lesson about war crimes and criminals from its own history.
If you don’t care about this for humanitarian reasons, maybe I can appeal to pure selfishness. Remember, el-Masri and all the other people kidnapped by the CIA never had any charges brought against them. They never had any legal counsel or were accorded any of their human rights. The USA doesn’t recognise those rights.
Imagine this happening to you. A knock at the door and you’re disappeared out of your country on a secret CIA plane, then you’re held against your will and tortured, never knowing if you’ll live or die. And, seeing how accurate the US intelligence services were about the WMDs they said Hussein had, your entire kidnapping may be based on a mistake.
No liberty, no freedom, no justice. Disappeared by the CIA. Do you want this to happen to you?
Take 5 minutes out of your day and fill out this consultation form from the BBC on how they should progress with the delivery of on-demand content services (online and otherwise).
That last question is the big one, on-line content should be available to everyone, not just Microsoft users. Let’s pressure the BBC into embracing open standards.
(Source: Happenchance, via BoingBoing)
I’m constantly irritated that I can’t listen to any BBC net radio streams because I refuse to install the flaky, crappy RealPlayer software. Why can’t they deliver all their stations in a non-proprietary format? Why force listeners to install un-necessary software?
Now, the same may happen with future on-demand services. Unless we act now. So please go and take this survey and tell the Beeb you want open standards!
Tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated in Washington to demand the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
The rally comes days before Congress is to discuss President George W Bush’s new strategy for Iraq – including the despatch of 21,500 additional troops.
The protesters, chanting “Bring the troops home”, were joined by Vietnam War-era protester, actress Jane Fonda.
(Source: BBC News)
Who wants the war in Iraq? Not the Iraqis. Not the millions of Britons who have marched against it. And not the 500,000+ Americans at this latest in a long series of protests.
Our “great leaders” want it. Bush, Blair, Bin Laden. The old men who send your children to die, the old men who see the lives of human beings as a cheap commodity to be frittered away in their power games.
Notice that they never lead from the front, always the rear. They’re always perfectly safe, as they keep repeating the reasons you or your loved ones have to die.
Ignore Butcher Blair’s televisual slickness, ignore whatever Fox spews about Bush. None of that bullshit matters. We know what’s going on. We know which media is in the pockets of the government and military.
And whether we’re marching in London or Washington, we know this war must be stopped.
While a majority of lawmakers have simply given a whimsical thumbs-up to the potentially voyeuristic plan, the folks in Maine seem to think the invasion of privacy (not to mention the $185 million in implementation cost for the state) is downright lame. Shenna Bellows of the Maine Civil Liberties Union derided the presumably RFID-based Real IDs as “a one-stop shop for identity thieves,”
Closer to the truth than racists would like to admit…
Gene tests on a sample of “indigenous” Englishmen have thrown up a surprise black ancestry, providing new insight into a centuries-old African presence in Britain.
The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, identified a rare West African Y chromosome in a group of men from Yorkshire who share a surname that dates back at least as far as the mid-14th century and have a typical European appearance. They owe their unusual Y chromosome to an African man living in England at least 250 years ago and perhaps as early as Roman times, the researchers say.
(Source: New Scientist)
When Nazis and Tories moan on about “the multicultural experiment” and “alien cultures,” I tend to find it hilarious for four reasons. Firstly, that anyone who claims to be English can claim to be pure-blooded. Pure what? Angle? Saxon? Norman? Dane? Roman? There’s no Nordic purity going on in the English genepool, however much wishful thinkers might like to invoke Thor and wear badly-researched Celtic symbols.
Secondly, Britain’s long history of slavery must have had an impact on the genepool. I remember watching an episode of Eddie Izzard’s ‘Mongrel Nation’ where he revealed that at one time, a significant percentage of Londoners were black (I forget the exact amount, I think it was around 10%). Now, pre-Windrush, that visible black presence had all but disappeared. But then they carried out the same kind of test as the one above on “white” Londoners and found many of them had African genes. Humans had done what humans love to do: shag like bunnies. Although there must have been many coffee-coloured kids in the first few generations, the skin tone eventually faded while other genes didn’t.
So, if you’re a London racist who can’t stand black people, there’s a good chance you may be hating yourself and your own ancestry. I’d love the leaders of the BNP to get gene-tested in this manner. 😀
The third reason is the most obvious. When Nazi ideology talks about “purity” what it really means is an impoverished gene pool. Imagine if you did just breed from stereotypical, blond, blue-eyed people and killed any mutant babies. If you kept breeding from the same stock for long enough, it wouldn’t be long before some kind of hereditary dysfunction showed up. This is exactly the reason why breeders of race horses, pedigree dogs and royal families need to infuse “new blood” every now and then. Too much purity kills you, whether you’re a snuffling dog or a haemophiliac aristocrat.
Purity equals stagnation, diversity equals strength. If you have a genetically very uniform population, all it takes is for one killer disease to come along and it’ll be wiped-out. If the population were more genetically diverse, there would be a far higher chance of some members having a lucky natural immunity or resistance. This is why it’s bad news if you’re a cheetah with a cough:
The cheetah is unusual among felids in exhibiting near genetic uniformity at a variety of loci previously screened to measure population genetic diversity. It has been hypothesized that a demographic crash or population bottle-neck in the recent history of the species is causal to the observed monomorphic profiles for nuclear coding loci. The timing of a bottleneck is difficult to assess, but certain aspects of the cheetah’s natural history suggest it may have occurred near the end of the last ice age (late Pleistocene, approximately 10,000 years ago), when a remarkable extinction of large vertebrates occurred on several continents.
What Hitler and his gaggle of loons tried to do and what the BNP and other neo-Nazis seek nowadays is a man-made evolutionary bottleneck: they want to gas any humans who don’t meet their standards of “purity.” Bad news if you’re a Jew but also if you’re black, brown, gay, disabled or just like speaking your mind. But don’t worry – if Nazis ever did get their wish and created their “master race,” it wouldn’t be long before some plague came along and wiped all the fuckers out. Zero genetic diversity = zero future.
The fourth reason is a doozy. Still feeling sad for the poor cheetah? Well, save some for yourself since we went through the same kind of evolutionary bottleneck:
A new hypothesis about recent human evolution suggests that we came very close to extinction because of a “volcanic winter” that occurred 71,000 years ago.
Some scientists estimate that there may have been as few as 15,000 humans alive at one time.
The volcanic winter lasted about six years. It was followed by 1,000 years of the coldest Ice Age on record.
It brought widespread famine and death to human populations around the world. It also affected subsequent human evolution.
(Source: BBC News)
Think about that. Every sane person accepts that humans eveolved in Africa but most people dismiss it as being millions of years ago and therefore unimportant.
But this is only 70,000 years ago. A mere gnat’s cough in geological terms. Imagine the whole human race comprising only 15,000 Africans. That’s not a lot of people. We all come from that stock. Every one of the 6 billion plus people on the planet is a son or daughter of that group of survivors. We very nearly didn’t make it at all. Our genepool holds echoes of that disaster even now. We survived and did what we love to do: shagged like bunnies. I think the professor puts it more poetically:
“When our African recent ancestors passed through the prism of Toba’s volcanic winter, a rainbow of differences appeared,” Professor Ambrose said.
(Source: BBC News)
The racial differences you see around you are there precisely because those 15,000 people didn’t follow Nazi breeding theory. If they had, well, there wouldn’t be any white people for a start. They would have killed any mutant babies who happened to be bit lighter than their parents. If that group of Africans and their descendents had been as foolish as contemporary fascists, it’s highly likely that the human race wouldn’t be here today. In all its rainbow glory!
So the next time you hear some BNP nutter ranting on about their history or heritage, ask them if they’re proud of their African ancestors who managed to make it through the biggest disaster in human history.
On Sunday 25th January, 1997, my song, ‘Your Woman,’ went to number one in the UK singles chart. It was soon number one in eight other countries (twice in Spain, apparently).
That song, recorded in my spare bedroom in a small semi-detached house on Silverburn Drive, Oakwood, Derby, went on to sell 400,000+ singles in the UK and a shitload in the rest of the world too. Although the album it was from, ‘Women In Technology,’ only sold 47,000 in the UK, it went on to sell 250,000+ in the USA and Canada.
Not bad for one bloke and some basic equipment:
* Tascam 688 Midistudio (8-tracks on cassette)
* Atari 520STFM running Sequencer One (free prog off the front of ST Format magazine)
* Emax II (Akais – yeuchh)
* Casio CZ101 (cost 50 pounds)
* Roland JX3P
* Casio VL-1
* Crappy old electric guitar.
* Tandy PZM mic.
For a while there, my life was a whirl of interviews and promo trips, airports and TV studios.
Of course, it couldn’t last.
Within a year of being signed, EMI couldn’t wait to drop me and I couldn’t wait to be dropped. I can’t work the major label way, I’ve never been a fan of art-by-committee and that’s the definition of working with a major. Everyone sticks their oar in: A&Rs who know nothing about music and less about recording start questioning mixes, MDs start choosing singles, label heads force ugly covers on you. It’s not for me. If you’re a stage-school kid or an artist who is immensely obedient and likes having a lot of money/drugs, it’s probably perfect.
It looks like I’ve been pretty lax in the decade that’s passed since then. I’ve only released two albums, a few singles and a handful of compilation tracks. But, seeing as I went barmy, bought a mansion, sold it, moved to Norwich, went even barmier, bought a studio, sold it, moved back to Derby, got a little less barmy… well, I’ve not been twiddling my thumbs.
Here would be a good place to plug my new album, ‘Don’t Mention The War.’ If you click on that linky, you can have a listen to clips of it to see if I’m still mentally unstable. I seem to have come full-circle in that I’m now back to being completely DIY. I’m very happy being my own label. Of course, if somebody waved wads of money in my face, I would be tempted since there’s a lot of useless gadgetry I want to buy. But I know that as much as I covet HD plasma screens and collecting every synth manufactured, I can’t work with major labels. (Not that they’re queuing up to work with me, mind!)
I feel immensely lucky and happy that a decade on I’m still married to the same gorgeous, silly woman, still making music and still in love with life. I didn’t go mad on cocaine, I didn’t buy a Ferrari, I didn’t go on all the crappy TV nostalgia shows that persist in emailing me. I loved having that bit of commercial success and, as much as people think I must hate it, I’m proud of having written a song that made so many millions of people both happy and slightly puzzled.
The older I get, the easier I feel with my own creativity. I love photography, DJing, I love writing on here but most of all I love being a songwriter. I know that if I hadn’t been a songwriter for the last 24 years, I would have gone even more mental. It’s truly a perfect form of deep auto-psychotherapy! And you get paid for it! 😀
I also know that if nothing had happened all those years ago, I’d still be a musician now. There’s nothing like writing a song and then sitting in front of an audience, singing it to them. That emotional connection, that shared moment is the most wondrous, beautiful feeling.
So, even though you may have to struggle on for years, like I did, even though you may never “make it” in the financial sense, a life in music is its own reward. It’s ace! 😀
The director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, put himself at odds with the home secretary and Downing Street last night by denying that Britain is caught up in a “war on terror” and calling for a “culture of legislative restraint” in passing laws to deal with terrorism.
Sir Ken warned of the pernicious risk that a “fear-driven and inappropriate” response to the threat could lead Britain to abandon respect for fair trials and the due process of law.
(Source: The Guardian)
Finally, someone in the government brave enough to speak out against the New Labour barrage of Bush-endorsed bullshit.
I won’t repeat what I said in this rant but it makes me feel a bit more confident about the future of freedom in this country when I see people like Macdonald drawing a line in the sand.
[Macdonald] said: “London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, ‘soldiers’. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.
“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”
(Source: The Guardian)
Brilliant, forceful stuff. It always stuck me as insane that we humoured the murderers who carried out the July bombings and WTC attack by according them precisely the status they sought. “We’re soldiers in a war!”, they cried and we agreed. Very timely for Bush and Blair, who wanted a war in which to make a grab for Iraq’s oil.
We let a handful of shit-smeared psychopaths hiding out in caves set the world agenda for the last five years. That isn’t an army at war, that isn’t a worldwide movement or even a rogue state. It is, as Macdonald points out, a scattering of self-aggrandising fantasists. They only achieved their aims of inspiring world terror with the collaboration and support of our governments.
Please have a read of the full article, linked above.