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June 05, 2009

James Purnell

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8083585.stm

So Purnell has resigned and written a letter asking for Brown to step down for the sake of the party.  He cares so much for the party that he:

1) colluded with the media to get this letter out just after local elections;

2) claimed for things like fridge magnets (£247), accountants (nearly £400) and thousands of pounds in rent on the public purse; and

3) did not resign immediately - as he should have done - when news about his expenses broke.

Perhaps he should reconsider whether he has enough honesty and personal integrity to continue doing anything remotely linked to politics.


January 15, 2008

It's The Daily Mail again: This time 'I have big problems with [Chinese] culture.'

Writing about web page http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=506153&in_page_id=1811

I have big problems with animal cruelty. Torturing animals for any reason is morally reprehensible. I do not (generally) consider the use of animals for medicinal (testing) purposes, food, pets and agriculture a form of torture/cruelty. Bear baiting, cock fighting, the conditions in battery farms, cows hooked up to milking machines: all disgusting.

When it comes to the eating of animals, I don't eat seafood, pig flesh or anything that is carnivorous/omnivorous. I find it hypocritical that people who love nothing more than chomping on their bacon, sausages and blutwurst will cringe at the idea of eating dog meat. Rare steaks dripping with blood and finding tiger penis soup gross? Very odd. 

How about the keeping of animals in captivity? I don't generally have a problem so long as they are looked after. Domestic pets are fine (and yes, animals are abused, as are children), although I have a problem with the caging of birds. Zoos are a necessary evil in that they are often of limited space (see the Gorillas in London zoo, or bent-fin Killer Whales in any aquarium) but they preserve rare species or species on the brink of extinction.

What has all this got to do with The Daily Mail and "Chinese Culture"? 

Well I came across this recent article on a random Google search and I gave it a read. Some choice tidbits:

"It's almost a form of child abuse," says Carol McKenna of the OneVoice animal welfare group. "The cruelty of Chinese zoos is disgusting, but think of the impact on the children watching it. What kind of future is there for China if its children think this kind of cruelty is normal?

"Zoos like this make me want to boycott everything Chinese," says Emma Milne, star of the BBC's Vets In Practice.

"I'd like to rip out everything in my house that's made in China. I have big problems with their culture."

"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by their behaviour towards animals, as the value of human life is so low in China."

I think Emma Milne is bordering on racist there. "I have big problems with their culture... the value of human life is so low in China". Disgusting. Perhaps we should boycott her? 

The Chinese do have some serious problems with animal cruelty. Zoos and supermarkets alike. I've seen videos of monkeys beaten by street performers, images of tigers having had their teeth shaved to the point of exposure of the roots and I've personally witnessed crabs, lobsters and fish kept in distressing conditions in run-of-the-mill Beijing supermarkets.       

Does this provide a stunning indictment of "Chinese culture"? I don't think so. You will find such cruelty in any developing country, especially one so difficult to regulate (through geographical and population size). Moreover, even in "developed nations", animal cruelty is common. I previously mentioned battery farms: if you've seen the pictures and videos they are vomit-worthy. Cows screaming with milk-swollen udders waiting for the machines to kick in;  chickens dragged through electric baths, cows still alive because the bolt hasn't killed them first time around; animal culls; cosmetic testing (and let's not pretend that's not cruel); the list goes on and on.

Let's get back to Emma Milne. Here's a BBC article in which she's quote with regards to her views on dog-breeding:

Emma Milne, from BBC One's Vets In Practice, described the dogs as "mutated freaks". She claims inbreeding to produce show dogs has led to damaging genetic weaknesses.

"Modern bulldogs can't run, they can't breathe, they can't give birth," she tells the Real Story programme.

"They have enormous problems with too much soft tissue in their mouth and it adds up to a dog that is struggling for air all its life."

The breed, once pitted against bulls in fighting rings, is now a regular at competitions where champion bulldogs are worth up to £50,000.

Males and females with the flattest faces, biggest shoulders and smallest hips are mated to produce the purest possible offspring.

I agree. This sort of dog-breeding is disgusting. The animals are, as she says, essentially "mutated freaks" and it is cruel to breed them in this fashion to win dog shows so that rich housewives (and househusbands) can show their wealth and cruelty to the world. I don't see the same sort of criticism of "British culture" though. Perhaps it's not so obviously cruel? Watching a tiger kill a chicken is nasty and inhumane. But keeping a little dog as a fashion accessory..? 

How about the "child abuse" with some children witnessing animals feeding on chickens? It may be terrible and it may verge on abuse. I saw Jurassic Park when I was about nine or ten and I remember seeing a T-Rex (which I found quite realistic at the time) eating a chained-up goat. Veliciraptors  tearing apart  a live cow (off-screen). Not a great example? Seeing a realistic polar bear swipe off the jaw of another polar bear (in the rubbish Golden Compass)? Perhaps seeing what appears to be a lion killing and eating a deer (in I am legend)? Or the strangling of one's own dog (again I am legend). What about the brutal stabbing of a tiger depicted in Gladiator (not to mention the number of grisly deaths)? Will this have less of an impact on a child than seeing a tiger killing and eating?

There's much to fix in China. There's also much to fix over here. There's no use climbing on your high-horse because people here don't like to witness what goes on in an abbatoir while they're busy using their lipstick (that may well have been tested by rubbing it over a monkey/ape's eye) and carrying fashion-accessory pets. 


January 10, 2008

Daily Mail still hates the law

Writing about web page http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=507355&in_page_id=1770

The Daily Mail doesn't usually mince its words. The mincing comes with its understanding of the law. Usually it's issues of self-defence where the misunderstanding of what exactly constitutes 'Reasonable Force' (ie subjective Necessity and objective Proportionate Force) leads to the defence of some people who have been put away either by a jury or by their own guilty plea because the "Nanny State" does all it can to 'protect the criminals'.

Its right-wing vitriol isn't limited to attacking the legislators and courts for juries putting away murderers,  but also towards any council or town that observes health & safety regulations. Naturally the Mail doesn't quite realise that many of these regulations are in place to help protect councils from potentially heavy claims in tort. 

Here's the thought-provoking Daily-Mail headline:

Health and safety killjoys order award-winning village to take down its hanging baskets  

Wonderful, isn't it?

The Daily Mail goes on to criticise the council for its "politically correct" decision to ban placing these heavy (20kg) flower baskets on what the paper itself calls "crumpling" and "old"  lampposts which are due to be replaced in 2010 .

Here is what is really the key issue, brought up by a sensible member of the council:

Simon Mutten, the council's environmental services manager, said: "A risk has been brought to our attention by professionals and we cannot ignore it because if we did and something, however unlikely, happened then we would be taken to the cleaners."

If you have foreseen a risk (and it doesn't necessarily have to be huge: Denning, cricket and all that jazz) with something that is your responsibility and you neglect to do something that is reasonably within your capacity and you have a well-established duty of care (as councils generally do) and someone does die or is harmed by your omission, you leave yourself up to all sorts of claims.

You may see this as a problem with the law/claims culture (see Atiyah)  but that is something not easily changed, precisely because the development of the law has been trying to be as just as possible to all parties. The legislature is not (at least I hope) going to turn around tomorrow and rubbish the last 100 years of development in tort law because a bunch of farmers want to hang heavy baskets on "crumbling" lampposts. Nor should they. 

This being the case, the council has taken reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its residents.  The locals have substituted the flower baskets with roadside viking ship displays. They might not win a decadent flower show. Let's hope they don't turn to forming wierd vigilante cults.


January 02, 2008

Tryl the shill.

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article2951490.ece

You're all probably aware of the recent controversy over the Oxford Union inviting Nick Griffin (renowned racist) and David Irving (convicted Holocaust-denier) to come speak at the venerable institution. You are probably also aware of the attention-seeking President of that society, Luke Tryl, who has been waffling on and on about free speech and loathing what they say but it being necessary to hear it and all that tripe.

Tripe? Yes, when it's coming from his hypocritical mouth or hands. 

Why hypocritical? The man is defending the invitation of two of the most disgusting men in the country, and giving them a platform to publicise their hate. In the ensuing (expected) media furore and protests, they've garnered even more publicity. Luke is revelling in it. Does he give a damn about free speech?

Let's see what Luke Tryl had to say when he was disinviting Norman Finkelstein (author of The Holocaust Industry), the Jewish son of concentration camp survivors.

From: Luke.Tryl[at]magd.ox.ac.uk
To: normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Debate
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 20:38:31 +0100

Dear Dr Finkelstein,

I hope that you are well, I'm so sorry for the confusion about the debate. There was an organisational difficulty at my end and my secretary hadn't seen your emails.

I would appreciate it if you could keep this bit between you and I. Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale.

I hope that you understand my position, this is not ideal and I would be happy to welcome you as an individual speaker to the Union in a forthcoming term. I know that the President-Elect Emily Partington would be keen to host you in Hilary. I just did not want to see the debate compromised and given the Irving Griffin Controversy I couldn't fight a battle on all fronts.

Best wishes

Luke.

Wonderful. 


October 17, 2007

Kim Jong–Heel?


Kim Jong IlYou'll have to forgive the obvious pun. I came across this photo in one of the London morning Papers (Metro/Lite/The London Paper), not sure which. Had the usual gloss on a political story. I was about to flip over when I had a look at his shoes.

It's remarkable. He's wearing a high-heel. It actually resembles a version of those shoes Chinese women with bound feet used to wear. It also makes his feet seem awfully small.

feet


April 20, 2007

Richard Gere's Kiss

Writing about web page http://www.postchronicle.com/news/entertainment/tittletattle/article_21275825.shtml

Some of you may have been keeping up with that whole Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty problem in India (from April 15th). I've been taking a look at some of the more right-wing webpages and they seem to be steering towards blaming Richard Gere. Fair enough, he went somewhat too far. But picture this sort of thing happening in Bahrain or Jordan or some Arabic/Muslim country. The American Right-Wing would be all over it, blaming Islam and Arabic culture for the response. Obsessing over misogyny and the like.

When it happens in India, it is, apparently, Richard Gere's fault for the uproar over an "immodest act". 


April 01, 2007

Bush and Blair, the hypocritical pair.

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6514567.stm

President George W Bush has condemned Iran's "inexcusable behaviour" after its capture of 15 Royal Navy personnel.

Mr Bush told reporters at Camp David: "The British hostages issue is a serious issue because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi water.

"And it is inexcusable behaviour.

"And I support the prime minister when he made it clear there were no quid pro quos. The Iranians must give back the hostages."

(I have edited out irrelevent portions and all parts in bold are my emphasis)

I've been watching BBC news this morning and, without even a trace of amusement (or bemusement), the newsreaders skip from Bush announcing that Iran must free the "British Hostages" to a story of a British "Detainee" realeased from captivity in Guantanamo Bay after five years. This is all amid a deeply sickening fiasco where the US is explicitly refusing to extradite CIA Agents accused of kidnapping (part of the illegal "extraordinary rendition") EU nationals from Germany and Italy. The US is even threatening to withold intelligence from the nations if they persue the extradition requests. 

Disgusting. 


February 11, 2007

The Genius of DS9

Writing about web page http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/DS9/

Star Trek CastOK yes it's a Star Trek post. It's not going to turn into one of those Picard vs Kirk posts (Picard by the way). I just had to express how brilliant this series is.

I haven't seen it since I saw the final episode back when it aired on Sky One. If you didn't have Cable or Sky you'd have to rely on terristrial TV... and anyone who spent their youth as a Trek fan yet lacked access to Sky 1 would find themselves relying on BBC2. And the problem with BBC2 was we'd frequently encounter this message:

"We're sorry to all our regular viewers/Star Trek fans, but this week's episode has been cancelled. Now we bring you snooker."

Yes... Snooker. The Non-Spectator Sport. It was the bane of my youth. How happy I was when I had access to cable! The deliciousness of Sky One. All those Trek repeats! Buffy followed by Angel!  New episodes of DS9 and Voyager up the wazoo. Those were good times. Good times.

Anyhow, I haven't watched it in many years and then a post a wrote a post a month ago that rekindled my passion for the show.  I went out to the Silk Market and obtained for a very reasonable price what appear to be all 7 seasons on DVD. I'm now half-way through season five. And I can only say that age has bettered the series.Worfs1

Unlike The Next Generation (henceforth TNG!) and Voyager (VOY) Deep Space Nine (DS9) has aged very well. Look back to the first series of TNG and while the first episode(s) will give you a jolt of nostalgia followed by a Patrick Stewart-induced (what an actor), you'll laugh your head off at the ludicrous eighties make-up and the frequently boring plots (saved by the acting). Voyager has remained the same as it always was, as irrelevent as it always was.

But watching DS9 at the same time as Season 6 of 24, it made me think how wonderfully DS9 addressed both issues of the time and issues of the day in what is often a more tactful, humourous and balanced way than TV shows of today (ie like 24).  Let's see what's covered:

1) Torture - Garak attempts to torture Odo.

2) Occupation and Resistance - Bajor and Cardassians.

3) Complex international politics - The interplay between the Federation, Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans, Romulans and the Dominion.

4) Racism, Race-relations, interracial marriage and friendships - this theme occurs frequently eg Sisko as "Emissary", Jake and Nog, Rom and Leeta, Dax and Worf etc.

5) Creationism vs Science in schools - Vedek Winn vs Keiko O'Brien.

6) Freedom vs Security - When the founders start showing themselves on earth.

7) Paranoia and Betrayal - Ben and Yates, Garak.

8) War and the fine line between necessity and war crimes - Biological warfare committed against the founders.

9) Terrorism vs Freedom Fighting - this theme is often explored in episodes delving into Bajoran/Cardassian relations.

10) Religion vs Scepticism - the whole Prophets arc is beautiful. Aside from the moments in the wormhole where "linear' is used far too many times, I love the way Sisko balances his skepticism with at least partial belief (for example when Sisko has the vision concerning Bajor entering the Federation.

I've gone through some of the general themes and would love to hear more from you guys about which themes you consider particularly relevent in today's world. But since 2001 I think DS9 has become even more modern than it once was. Despite the odd crappy episode ("Filler" nonsense that plagues every series, like the episode on Risa - bleh) we see a strong series of episodes. We see continuinity in nearly every episode and, moreUSS Defiant importantly, we see constant growth.

Growth? In what way? Well like TNG, the first couple of seasons are interesting and exploratory. Like a baby on its first footsteps. The acting is generally good, but sometimes the actors are struggling to find the niche of their character. In the first season Siddig al-Fadil is clearly a bit over-the-top. It fits in well with his character I guess ( a brilliant doctor seeking to impress). But the acting flaws are present in all of the characters. But it makes their growth all the more impressive. By season three they are all truly comfortable with themselves and they compliment one-another. The acting continues to develop along with the make-up, specifial effects, plot and uniforms!

TNG was good. The acting was superb - practically everyone on the bridge except for Marine "Eye-candy" Sirtis was consistently wonderful. DS9 was brilliant and the acting matched the plots (with the exception of late addition Ezri Dax who made me want to punch her every time she spoke). VOY was like a stagnant pond. No real growth. Ensign Kim of season 1 was the same Kim of season 7. The only real change in VOY was the inclusion (and ruination) of the Borg.

DS9 knew what the audience desired and delivered it. We had great acting. Great plots. Consistency (of a kind - DS9idiots like me will notice how Sisko claims his father is dead before his father somehow works its way into the plot). Some fantastic CGI warfare. Lovable characters. Extraordinary scripting.  I don't know if it won any awards but by hell did it deserve to.

So if you're a Star Trek fan, dust off your old videos or invest in the DVD collection and watch DS9 once again, juxtaposing your nostalgia with moments of "Wow I wish Bush, Blair and the Israelis would watch this!" If you're not a Trek fan then give this a go. It's really worth it. And it reaches its peak when Sisko shaves off the 'fro and dons his magnificent goatee and everyone wears the Dominion War Uniforms. 

Oh and sorry Holly, but Voyager is a bit rubbish :P. 


January 29, 2007

Can someone who sings this poorly ever be US President?

Writing about web page http://youtube.com/watch?v=bfZ_gXCHaMw

I came across this video on the Youtube front page a little while earlier today and I cringed when she eventually began singing. I can imagine this video popping up in ad campaigns (either Democrat Adversaries or anti-Clinton Republicans) lampooning Clinton. Crikey.

Obama seems to be overcoming the early (and disgusting) smear campaigns (oh he went to a radical madrassa, don't ya know?) with appropriate vim and gusto but Hilary just doesn't have any of his charm or his "I-paid-a-million-dollars-for-these-teeth-and-it-shows" winning smile. I'm not an American and I want to vote for Obama! 


January 05, 2007

AP was telling the truth

Writing about web page http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/04/ap/world/mainD8MENNJ80.shtml

Michelle MalkinFor those of you who don’t know, The integrity of the Associated Press has been under sustained attack from the Right-wing “Blogosphere” (spearheaded by Michelle Malkin) over the identity of one of its sources since the publication of this report (ABC presenting the AP news report) on the 24/11/2006.

What was specifically called into question was the existence of primary source Captain Jamil Hussein, who has, apparently, been a source for more than sixty AP pieces. The Right-wing blogosphere not only called into question his identity, but the veracity of his claims concerning the brutal murder of six sunnis outside a Baghdad mosque whilst Iraqi soldiers watched:

BAGHDAD, Iraq Nov 24, 2006 (AP)— Shiite militiamen doused six Sunni Arabs with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by
-
The Mahdi Army militiamen, armed with machines guns and rocket-propelled grenades, swept through Hurriyah neighborhood near an Iraqi army post, burning four mosques and several homes, and attacking worshippers as they left Friday services, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein. [my emphasis]

The Iraqi interior Ministry claimed that they could not find record of Jamil Hussein’s existance (which they are now saying was a mistake) and the US military declined to verify the original story.

The AP later went on to defend its reporting and stick by its report on the burning of the Iraqis outside the mosque.

We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. *And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.
-
No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.

This of course was not good enough for the right-wing bloggers who happily eat news reports straight from the hand of the army or the administration. Now (even Fox News admits that) The AP has been vindicated

This of course is not enough for the blogosphere who are now focusing on the veracity of the reported stories rather than the veracity of the source. But at least the AP has shown its worth and its continuing journalistic integrity in the face of these prolonged attacks merits our respect.

Some of you might not see why this was of any importance. Who cares about what a couple of Armchair Journalists think? Right? Well the controversy spilled over into mainstream media and forced the AP to make at least two statements in defence of both the initial piece and the existence of Jamil Hussein.

Now the police officer faces arrest for his leaking of information. Even if he is not arrested (curiously the Iraqi Interior Ministry seems to be leaving a loophole open to avoid arresting him), there is still the chance that Shi’a groups will kill him for his role in helping to publicise various Shi’a attacks. Either way it looks like the AP has lost another valuable source which means that while the AP has won a battle, it has cost them dearly


January 03, 2007

Fox News (Cavuto) on Muslims…

A friend’s just sent me a copy of an interview between the Cavuto programme on FoxNews recently with Rabbi Weiss.

Now to put some context on things, Rabbi Weiss is an Orthodox Rabbi who is also a member of Neturei Karta. For those who are unfamiliar with the group, Neturei Karta is a religious, anti-Zionist group of Jews who believe that, as stated within the Torah and as has been elaborated on by various Rabbis throughout Jewish history, Jews should not return to Palestine until, essentially, Judgement day. Ie until the Messiah returns (I think the Hebrew is Messiach, Arabic is Messih).

The group, including the featured Rabbi attended the rcent Iranian conference on the Holocaust.

Now I don’t wish to get into a debate on the Holocaust or the Holocaust conference. The conference was more-or-less pointless. The Holocaust has been substantially documented and the only empirical disagreements come over the numbers actually killed. What I do wish to get into is one of the presenter’s (many) throwaway comments:


C*avuto: OK. Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state. You really have trust that Muslims wouldn’t *butcher you?
*R*abbi *W*eiss: Yes.
C: In revenge for what’s happened in the last 60/70 years?
RW: What happened in South Africa? The people were afraid that they would butcher all the white people [Cavuto interrupts]
C: South African blacks are not Muslims.

So not only would the Palestinians butcher all Jews should there be a binational state within Israel/Palestine, but they would do so purely because they are Muslims.

Meanwhile the Iranians have apparently “butchered Christians in Iran for 20 years”.


660 Palestinians killed in 2006

Writing about web page http://www.btselem.org/english/Press_Releases/20061228.asp

On 28/12/2006 B’tselem published a press release tallying the number of people killed in the I/P conflict during 2006. The total figure was 683 of whom 660 were Palestinians. Of the 660 Palestinians, 141 were minors. 23 Israelis, including one minor, were killed in the same period of time.

I wonder how the Hasbarah-spouters will be spinning the fact that the Israelis killed 141 Palestinian minors, whereas one Israeli minor was killed. 141:1 doesn’t make for good propaganda.

Some suggestions include:

*Palestinians picked up their children and threw them underneath tank tracks.
*Palestinians killed their own children, then pretended Israel did it.
*Palestinians duct-taped children to themselves then charged checkpoints.


December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed

Follow-up to Saddam Hussein to be executed tomorrow? from The Story of Hamid-o

Wonderful. As predicted, it’s quite the media circus. We’ve got images on Fox, CNN etc. Frontpages plastered with images of Saddam with a noose around his head. There are step-by-step pictures and videos available of the placing of the noose, the body hanging limply and the corpse on the floor. Fantastic.

Meanwhile, I’m hearing of videos apparently showing various Shi’a executioners dancing around the room.

If he needed to be executed, then fine. But execution on Eid? How wonderful! It’s Like executing a Christian on Christmas day. You don’t bloody execute people on Eid, no matter how vile they may be. And it’s December 30th. How beautifully convenient! Well done Bush! Another mission accomplished!

It’s great to see the “Sovereign” Iraqi courts marching to America’s drumbeat. Naturally the Americans haven’t considered (or have they?) the impact of his show trial and execution on the Sunnis of Iraq. Let’s see how long it takes before Sovereign Iraq divides into three different nations.


December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein to be executed tomorrow?

Writing about web page http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/12/29/hussein/index.html

So it looks like the Iraqi kangaroo court has heard the appeal and decided that the execution should proceed and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will happen either later today or tomorrow. Tomorrow is, coincidentally 30/12/2006 , just one day short of the New Year.

So it looks like Bush will have some propaganda victory as his party staggers into 2007 under the weight of the Iraq war, Foley(gate), the losses incurred in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now he can claim that justice has been served, another mission accomplished and an evil dictator has been “wiped off the map” (wahay!). He can gloat that justice has been served whilst at the same time shy away from completely condoning it.

“We salute the Iraqi people and their quest for freedom and democracy against al-qayder and terrism, and we hope that today will mark the end of an era. An era of rape rooms and soldiers seizing babies from incubators. But you know, being the civilised civilisation that we white…. I mean Americans are, we don’t condone the death penalty. Except in Texas (and other states). Where we execute the mentally-handicapped. And heck, you know them there on death row have several chances to appeal. It can take a long time to execute someone. But when it comes to a former head of state who’s become a political nuisance… well ‘Justice’ is always best served quickly and efficiently!

At least he got the vague semblence of justice instead of a “9mm Labotomy” – or a “window in the back of his head” or whatever charming phrase jingoistic, gun-toting Americans are using today – in his cell. So let’s see how this pans out.

As an aside, the media circus is increasingly stomach-turning. I was just watching CNN and my skin crawled as the announcement came. It reminded me of that satirical scene in Starship Troopers concerning the criminal due to be excecuted “Execution live at 9.00, all channels”. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s live coverage of the execution.

So, whatever you might think of Saddam, there are two things I remember him for, back from my youth:

1) An interview with Trevor Macdonald (I think it was just before the Gulf War whilst America was gathering UN support for “ejecting Iraq from Kuwait”) in which Saddam Hussein was speaking Arabic through a translator. The translator mistranslated something – Saddam paused, looked at his translator and told him to translate it properly. Was quite surprising and an insight into the dictator. As shitty a commander as he was, he had some cunning.

2) Another quotation. I can’t remember when it was said (or to whom it was said) but I remember my father quoting it to me sometime after the Gulf War. I’m paraphrasing but it was essentially:

Reporter: Mr. President, what do you think about the threats coming from Qatar and Bahrain these days?
...
Saddam Hussein : Qatar? Bahrain? Ha! I’ll tell you what I think of Qatar and Bahrain. I took Kuwait in a week. I’ll take Qatar in a day. And I’ll take Bahrain by fax.

For some reason, that still cracks me up. Sadist with a sense of humour perhaps?


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