All 15 entries tagged Politics

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December 15, 2006

Palestine: Attempt on Ismail Haniyeh

Follow-up to Palestine: Civil War Ahead? from The Story of Hamid-o


Hamas officials said the 24-year-old guard was shot in the head during intense gunfire from Fatah forces. “The bodyguard to Ismail Haniyeh was killed during an assassination attempt,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
/> [Haniyeh] added, “we know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me… and we also know how to deal with this.”
/> About 50 gunmen greeted Haniyeh at his home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City, firing in the air and throwing candies. [What the hell?]
/> More than two dozen people, including the Haniyeh’s son, Abed, 27, were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rival Hamas and Fatah parties closer to civil war. An official said that the son was not badly hurt.

Reading through the article, it’s not clear exactly how things started, but the end result is Haniyeh with a dead bodyguard, a half-dead son and a clear threat in the shape of “And we also know how to deal with this.”

This piles onto other recent events indicating the spiral down into a civil war, at least within Ghaza.

As with nearly any Israeli/American-written article on Palestine/Lebanone/The World these days, the evil Iranian boogeyman crops up:

The security establishment has voiced its concern over the emergence of closer ties between Hamas and Iran, as Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran this week is viewed by Israel as a possible step by them towards establish a strategic pact.

In my view the Palestinians could do a lot worse than looking to Iran for backing. The Arabs have failed them. The Europeans have been pic’ ‘n’ mix friends. The Americans have since the ‘60s been firmly aiding Israel.

The Iranians are promising ideological support (ie firm support for the creation of a Palestinian state or some bi-national state – I’m going to be deleting any comments saying Ahmadenijad wants Israel “wiped off the map”), economic support and logistical support. The Palestinians are already under severe economic sanctions and the occupation has been continuing in its brutality no matter what the Palestinians do. If the Palestinian factions stop failing the Palestinian people and embrace Iran, it is quite possible they will be able to more-effectively wage guerrilla warfare against the occupying power.

December 07, 2006

Rape might not be rape if you're drunk…

Writing about web page,,2-2490449,00.html

This is from The Times so there was plenty of sensationalism to wade through. The proper “news” is contained in the first paragraph.

Juries are reluctant to convict men of rape in cases where the alleged victim has been drinking, research published today suggests.

Then we have:

The findings suggest that juries, as much as the Crown Prosecution Service or police, are responsible for the low rate of rape convictions. Fewer than 6 per cent of rape allegations result in successful convictions.

The research [...] also indicated that juries hold a drunken victim partially responsible for what happens.
/> This is either because she accepted drinks from the defendant, failed to stand her ground against pressure to drink more or did not take adequate care to ensure that her drinks were not spiked.

Another finding was that jurors were less inclined to see “taking advantage” of a drunken woman as rape in situations where the woman’s normal behaviour was to drink heavily in the company of men.
By contrast, where the drug Rohypnol had been used, jurors were more inclined to hold the defendant responsible for rape, even if the effect of the drug was the same as if a woman were very drunk.
Dr Vanessa Munro[...] “These findings reflect the hold that gender stereotypes still have. They suggest that ‘rape myths’ can have a profound influence upon jurors.”
This month Jonathan Hagan was cleared of raping an undergraduate after a freshers’ party at the University of Nottingham, where he was student union president. The girl said that she was so drunk that she could remember nothing more than Hagan removing her underwear before she passed out.

First a comment on these statements before we get on to the statistics given at the end of the article. In the final quoted paragraph, the student remembered that the man had removed her pants before she remembers nothing else (ie claims to have passed out). If she remembers him removing her pants then it would also seem to be a consensual sexual act. The article doesn’t go into great detail, but I would guess that getting into a position where he is removing underwear, intercourse would be the logical conclusion. So it would seem to me that the jury made the right decision in the case. It would also seem to me that it is about as much a rape as an attractive man getting really drunk, having sex with an ugly woman, waking up without remembering anything more than having had his pants removed but seeing that he’s woken up next to a woman with whom he’d normally not have had intercourse and coming to the conclusion that he’d been raped. It would be laughed out of court.

It also seems that juries are leaning in the right directions when it comes to convictions based upon drug-use vs “taking advantage” of drunk women who’ve had a history of getting drunk around men. The usage of such a drug as rohypnol, without the woman’s consent, leading to intercourse seems to me to be clear-cut rape. Having sexual intercourse with a woman who is so drunk as to barely remember the details does not seem to be a clear-cut case of rape. I don’t see the controversy. Nor do I see it as a perpetuation of rape myths. Not all jurors are men. Many jurors are women who will know what it is like to have been drunk. The key is to avoid getting very drunk without making sure you have at least one friend to watch your back in advance.

As for the statistics afterwards, they seem to be very misleading and sensationalist. 5.7% of rape allegations lead to convictions.

OK. But 66% drop out at the police stage, presumably either through embarrassment (I am not saying that it is merited, just one of the psychological reactions to rape), fear or some other such motivation on the part of the woman (or man). So of those we have 34% which continue through the police stage. Of that 34%, 25% are deemed to not be crimes by the police. which means that a further 8.5% of the original claims are deemed to not be crimes. Which means that we have a figure of about 25% of the original allegations being investigated as crimes. 50% of those deemed worthy of criminal investigation (I presume since the artile doesn’t quite define its terms) lead to no further action by the police. One can only imagine that it is due to a significant lack of evidence because once criminal proceedings are begun by the police, the alleged victim cannot simply withdraw her claim without making herself a target of prosecution. Which means that 12.5% of the original figure are claims evidenced enough to warrant the case going to court. As 5.7% of the cases lead to convictions, then about 46% of claims with evidence of sexual activity and/or lack of consent lead to a conviction and presumably a rape conviction. Which means that of the 56% that don’t lead to a conviction, it is entirely possible that quite a substantial number lead to convictions for sexual assault or assault of some kind (ie plea bargains).

Now I don’t think that plea bargains should be part of the system. And I do believe that the punishment system needs an overhaul (but that is a legislative issue and not the fault of the courts). And of course this does not mean that there aren’t inadequacies in the policing or justice systems in this country. But I dislike this statistic-based rhetoric that because there are x allegations then there must be x percentage convictions.

I think that a conviction rate (of rape) of about 50% all evidenced cases of alleged rapes is a figure that shows that the police are working properly on the whole.

December 05, 2006

Palestine: Civil War Ahead?

The Palestinians have more-or-less managed to avoid civil war. over the past 40 years. There were always various rivalries between competing Palestinian factions, but the Palestinians have been able to stop that from fomenting into anything more than rivalry because of the united national goal and the united will of the Palestinian people (to see an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip).

Now it’s looking increasingly as though there is set to be some form of civil war between Fatah (and which ever splinter groups or allies choose to aid it) and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This isn’t worrying just because of the potential violence and death that may ensue, it is also worrying because it reduces the Palestinian leadership(s) to mere monkeys dancing to an Israeli accordian.

Fatah has proven, since 1993, to be willing to comply to Israeli demands in order to gain or retain power. Hamas has proven to be equally pliant but in a different way. Time and again Hamas has predictably reacted to Israeli provocation in precisely the manner the Israeli authorities desired (for example, when Hamas would orchestrate a hudna, the Israelis would make an assassination. And if no reaction, another assassination. And then another until Hamas responded by making a strike against Israeli civilians which the Israelis would use as an excuse to escalate their violence).

And now these two monkeys are hearing the Israeli tune and dancing more ferociously than ever. They can’t see the wood for the trees? Would Palestinian Civil War be beneficial to Israel? Of course it would. Why? Well:

1) If the major Palestinian militant groups are fighting amongst themselves, they’re not going to be fighting with Israel.

2) If the Palestinians are engaged in civil war, Israel can continue to pursue its policy of the last 10 years and create de facto borders which will ultimately result in a semi-autonomous Palestinian region within an Israeli state. The Israelis won’t have to negotiate if the Palestinians can’t decide on their leadership. Negotiations completely go out the window. Palestinians destroy themselves while Israel reaps the benefits. To quote the Chinese Idiom: ”坐山观虎斗“ – Sit on a mountain and watch two tigers fight.

3) It frees the Israelis up to pursue other actions. Notably Lebanon. Israel is already making hints towards a future invasion (as though the hints at the end of the last war weren’t obvious enough) and it’s looking increasingly likely that an invasion or “intervention” will take place. .

Here’s hoping that neither Fatah nor Hamas will take the bait and launch a civil war. It would mean the ruin of hopes for a sovereign Palestine.

December 01, 2006

Best comment I've heard in a while…

Writing about web page

On the 28/11/2006 episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart was commenting on the recent problems the Bush siblings have had in Argentina:

And apparently their trip has caused what’s known as “Chaos”. To the point where, according to, ‘the American Embassy and many Argentinian officials have strongly suggested the twins return to America’.
Just to repeat… Argentina, former safe haven for Nazi War Criminals, is drawing the line at the Bush twins.

Gotta love Jon Stewart.

November 24, 2006

Jewish Professor Suing Canadian University for Defamation…

Writing about web page

The Toronto Star

History professor David Noble is suing York University’s fundraising foundation and several Jewish organizations for defamation, claiming they suggested he is anti-Semitic to try to gag criticism of their activities.
Noble, 61, who is Jewish, has brought a $25 million lawsuit against the York University Foundation, including outgoing York president Lorna Marsden, as well as the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Ontario region, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto for their criticism of flyers he distributed.


He said he criticized York figures for their political views on Israel, not their ethnicity or religion.
The university later issued a news release condemning what Marsden called “this highly offensive material, which singles out certain members of the York community on the basis of their ethnicity and political views.”
While it did not name Noble, it quoted a Jewish student leader who was concerned about “such inflammatory material,” and said “it is unacceptable for any students to be exposed to this type of bigotry.”

Should be interesting to see how this pans out, particularly following the recent decision awarded by an Israeli court against Plaut for libeling Israeli academic, Neve Gordon.

While we’re on the topic, it’s worth checking out this rather horrific website: . It’s a symptom of the organisation of Hasbarah elements within academia attempting to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel on campuses within the US and, indeed, any particular University.

March 04, 2006

China's Military Spending LEAPS 14%!

Writing about web page

I'm guessing you're probably calm at the moment. You're drinking tea. Downloading the latest episode of the UK Aprrentice. You're eating dinner. But while you're sitting there feeling safe and happy… the Chinese have increased their military spending.

It's time to panic.

Wait… they've increased by 14% to about 20bn GBP (thanks Max x 2)? Or roughly what the UK spends each year.

Wait… they've a population of about 1.4 billion people in comparison to the UK's 60,000,000?


The Evil Empire is at it again eh!

February 16, 2006

On banning the glorification of

Writing about web page,,1710761,00.html

A good thing so long as they word the legislation appropriately so as to deprive the Government for using it as a policy measure as opposed to a moral/legal measure. I hope that the legislation is applied equally and that people who glorify State use of terror will be affected.

It will be interesting to see how they define terrorism (or whether it is defined at all and it is left up to judges to interpret what terrorism will mean). I have not yet read the statute or proposed statute – if anyone has any links they'd like to share, they'd be most welcome.

February 14, 2006

Great quotation from Tariq Ramadan on last week's Newsnight…

It's not a clash of civilisations… [but] it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy the way we're talking about it.

February 12, 2006

Seems that Sharon's finally about to pop his clogs…

Writing about web page,2933,184553,00.html

Not as undignified a death as I would have hoped, but a war criminal being kept alive while bits of him die off and get removed? That'll do, that'll do.

February 09, 2006

It's all about free speech… or is it?

Writing about web page;_ylt=AsOoA5n5eTZsRmU5KWj26kDbEfQA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

The Danish newspaper really wanted to test the measures of freedom of speech right? It didn't set out to offend Muslims but, essentially, to bring us the important message that some Muslims are giving all Muslims a bad name right?

Well, no. They deliberately set out to offend Muslims and they weren't acting as bastions of free speech. The paper (and no, I'm not confusing singular and plural – I'm interchanging the paper and "they") had previously refused to print cartoons of Jesus in a variety of silly poses because it would have been offensive to readers. The editor is now claiming that "offensive" was the wrong word and the cartoons were simply "bad". Which makes sense of course, considering these 12 cartoons depicting Mohammed PBUH were veritable works of art.

The self-same paper is now planning to shore up its publicity by publishing comedic/critical/offensive (one presumes) cartoons in relation to the holocaust. Can't wait to see B'nai B'rith, ADL et al. get their panties in a twist.

February 01, 2006

An interesting point of view from a voice of Hamas

Writing about web page,,1698702,00.html

A lot of public opinion in Europe and America with regards to Hamas is formed either by repetitive statements on the part of US officials and continual media focus on Israelis who never seem to have anything more to say than "Hamas wants to kill all Jews. Holocaust. Bombs on buses." All we ever see or hear from Hamas is the odd post-assassination display juxtaposed with Israeli officals/generals proclaiming another victory over 'terrorists' and the newest Hamas leader suggesting that the organisation might want to take revenge. All in all not a very friendly picture. Somewhat lost in the somewhat hyperbolic linking of Hamas to "terror" is the fact that Hamas has provided a great deal of social relief to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Palestinians within the occupied West Bank and the Ghaza strip. When Israeli bulldozes homes, closes roads to people who need emergency treatment, fills in wells, destroys olive groves etc., Hamas steps in to provide social welfare. A further elaboration on this can in the work of a couple of Jewish/Israeli authors in The Palestinian Hamas

Well anyhow, in the above link, Mr. Khalid Misha'l puts forth a case for Hamas and for the future. I think the most notable section is this:

The day Hamas won the Palestinian democratic elections the world's leading democracies failed the test of democracy. Rather than recognise the legitimacy of Hamas as a freely elected representative of the Palestinian people, seize the opportunity created by the result to support the development of good governance in Palestine and search for a means of ending the bloodshed, the US and EU threatened the Palestinian people with collective punishment for exercising their right to choose their parliamentary representatives.
[my emphases]

I think this really hit the nail on the head.

January 21, 2006

Iran learns from History

Writing about web page;_ylt=AilWUjm3fj.d8BKhBPWGzV2s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

If you leave aside the President's recent remarks and take a look at Iran's actions alone, it is clear that she is, perhaps, taking the most sensible course for the preservation of her own sovereignty and her own security… In other words she's quite clearly drawn lessons from America's previous actions concerning modern warfare.

One of them is that she won't attack a nation with a possible nuclear deterrent. (North Korea)

Another is that she will make sure that the foreign assets are strictly controlled and, possibly, used for America's own purposes. (Iraq).

It'll be interesting to see how Iran continues to prepare in the coming months.

January 20, 2006

Indonesians kill up to 180,000 East Timorese civilians from 1975 onwards.

Writing about web page

It'll be interesting to see what the UN makes of the report. It's somewhat less than earlier estimates of around 250,000 killed but I would love to see the UN launch an official investigation into events and, on the basis of UN findings, see international tribunals bring some of the primary perpetrators and their direct supporters (including Americans such as Henry Kissinger) to justice.

On Israeli Hasbarah הסברה: Part 1

Part 1: The Palestinians are clearly failing in their obligations.

Israel has one of the best military services in the world today.
It has some of the most restrictive borders in the world today.
It has security everywhere.
It receives billions per annum in "aid".

A suicide bombing just occured in Tel Aviv. 15 people were injured. Israeli politicians eagerly scrambled to capitalise on the situation issuing statements such as:

"This brutal attack proves once again that the Palestinian Authority is failing to fulfil its obligations," Gideon Meir


Tragic though it may be that a bombing has occured, apparently targetting civilians, I fail to see how the PA, whose infrastructure has been systematically destroyed over the past 5 years could possibly have the finances, the resources, the sheer infrastructure to succeed where the Israelis with their wealth and supposed counter-terrorism policies have failed. If the Israelis cannot police their own borders, how can they expect the PA to police anything when the PA aren't allowed to police their own roads and cities? Even under the terms agreed at Oslo, the Palestinians had very, very little actual military/police control over Palestinian ares. Now, a bare frame of a government, the PA is expected to have absolute control over the actions of every Palestinian?

More on Israeli הסברה, including an introduction to the History, varations and current forms of Hasbarah, to come.


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