Friday! Julie London- Fly Me To The Moon

“Darlin’ Kiss me!”

After a frazzled week time for some soothing music, this is my favourite version and the video is just a still. There are some videos that people have made but they just distract and there is that wonderful youtube thing of literalism in a few, you know where the lyric says moon- they cut to a moon, lyric says Jupiter- cuts to Jupiter. I’m sure connoisseurs of intertubes kitsch have top tens of such videos, of hilarious (and tedious) literalism. Ahhh, but no such distractions, the strings, the rhythms, the sensual & playful artistry of Julie London and don’t worry that the icy vacuum of space would in reality kill you within seconds.

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Misspelling ‘Israel’ Now Deemed Anti-Semitic

Anti-Semitism, including government-promoted hatred toward Jews and prejudice couched as criticism of Israel, has risen globally over the last decade, the State Department said on Thursday.

The report, titled “Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism,” did not give comprehensive statistics, and said that in any case such statistics were skewed against Western democratic countries more likely to report the incidents. But it said other governments and institutions had documented similar trends.

While traditional anti-Jewish prejudice, a centuries-old phenomenon, persists, new forms have evolved, the report said.

“The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that — whether intentionally or unintentionally — has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character,” it said.

So this meme is pushed again, to crush dissent and enable policy to proceed unchallenged, politicians are trying to make criticism of Israel and Zionism synonymous with a long history of rancid genocidal bigotry. Whereas just such a cynical political manoeuvre is the thing most likely to cause and mask real anti-Semitism. I mean I have no doubt anti-Semites criticise Israel and/or Zionism but the attempt to push this logical fallacy that therefore all criticism is anti-Semitic is, well insulting and dishonest, and they know that but hey, why not give it a whirl, it’ll help distract from…the current President’s family history of working for the Nazis… for example. Or that well known white supremacist Archbishop Desmond Tutu finding Israel reminds him of apartheid era South Africa.

Military Propaganda In Schools

What is this…America?

One worksheet supplied by the MoD and designed by a private marketing company, Kids Connections, describes the UK force’s efforts in Iraq as mainly targeted at “helping the Iraqis to rebuild their country after the conflict and years of neglect”.

It describes the work the armed forces have done in security and reconstruction, and notes the 2005 democratic elections. But union officials said it failed to mention the US-led invasion, Iraqi civilian deaths and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

The NUT will debate the issue at its annual conference in Manchester next week. Teachers are regularly sent model lesson plans, worksheets and other teaching materials by government departments, charities and private companies, but these are required by law to give a balanced political view. A report by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in January highlighted websites set up by the MoD targeted at 12- to 17-year-olds, but noted that some recruitment tactics targeted children as young as seven. “Children are introduced to the potential benefits of a forces career, but not to its risks,” the report said.

A motion to be discussed at the NUT conference would, if passed, commit the union to “actively opposing military recruitment activities in schools across England and Wales”. The Educational Institute of Scotland has already opposed military recruitment in Scotland. 

But of course when furrners recruit children, they iz bad people init? The NUT measure sounds a very good idea, although I was disappointed to find out that at teachers conferences they don’t pay children as ushers to stop talking at the back.

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Israeli PM Snubs Negotiations

Apparently the big baby didn’t want to be told off by the US general (imagine his pique if an ally wasn’t running the gig) chairing the meeting-

Friday’s talks were attended by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad but Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak surprised some U.S. and Palestinian officials by sending senior ministry strategist Amos Gilad to the meeting, chaired by U.S. General William Fraser. Israel was bracing for strong U.S. criticism for not meeting its commitments under the long-stalled “road map” peace plan. It announced plans this week to build hundreds of new homes in a settlement north of Jerusalem, and Israel has rebuffed U.S. pressure to ease travel restrictions for Palestinians and curb the number of West Bank raids.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Barak’s absence reflected his scepticism about peace negotiations he once described as a “fantasy”. “He didn’t feel like going to a meeting and getting scolded,” the official said. Some diplomats have taken to calling Barak’s representative, Gilad, “Dr. No”. “He always says no,” one of them explained.

So this guy gets off a zinger-

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said: “Maybe Barak couldn’t go because he is busy planning more settlement construction and more incursions.”

Although I think ending after ‘construction’ would be  zippier, scan better. So even though the talks are run by one sides ally and are under the auspices of an administration that has been busily inciting conflict the Palestinian team turn up…and are quite funny too. Israel, same old stale material.

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New Inmate At Gitmo

Every so often vague platitudes from the Bush administration and its familiars in other governments waft across the media that Gitmo is going to be closed down, that it is- a necessary but hopefully soon to be ended- chapter in the war on of terror. But they have just transferred a new inmate into the gulag, not the action of an administration acknowledging it’s errors and listening the chorus of global disaproval.

Bryan Whitman, Pentagon spokesman, said on Friday that Muhammed Rahim was turned over to the US military by the CIA and then transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon spokesman would not say when or where Rahim was captured or how long he had been held by the CIA, but said he was  transferred to Cuba earlier this week. 

And towards the end we find Michael Mukasey has been speechifying at the LSE, so that’s fine with the LSE is it?  A man who refuses to admit waterboarding is torture and is actively blocking investigations of the Bush administration who placed him in the office of attorney general for just such a purpose. To protect them and to continue to torture people? Although should I really expect anything more than collaborating with war criminals from a cathedral of the Church of the Free Market. I trust he was nice and expensive, he’ll be right at home with all the other high price LSE whores.

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‘The Wire’ Writers Call For Resistance To The Drug War

Via Tom @ Automatic Preference: If you don’t know about the Wire, I would find out if I were you, the writers here include the creators and include a former journalist, a former detective & teacher, all award winning writers who in  The Wire have crafted something that appears to be a TV drama but was something far more significant a depiction of the failing dysfunctional institutions of a city, the drugs war, the police, the schools, the working class, the media, politics and how capitalism is devaluing human beings day by day. Here they call for civil disobedience and becoming part of resistance to the failed policies rather than a collaborator-

The Wire’s War on the Drug War
By Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon

We write a television show. Measured against more thoughtful and meaningful occupations, this is not the best seat from which to argue public policy or social justice. Still, those viewers who followed The Wire — our HBO drama that tried to portray all sides of inner-city collapse, including the drug war, with as much detail and as little judgment as we could muster — tell us they’ve invested in the fates of our characters. They worry or grieve for Bubbles, Bodie or Wallace, certain that these characters are fictional yet knowing they are rooted in the reality of the other America, the one rarely acknowledged by anything so overt as a TV drama.

These viewers, admittedly a small shard of the TV universe, deluge us with one question: What can we do? If there are two Americas — separate and unequal — and if the drug war has helped produce a psychic chasm between them, how can well-meaning, well-intentioned people begin to bridge those worlds?

And for five seasons, we answered lamely, offering arguments about economic priorities or drug policy, debating theoreticals within our tangled little drama. We were storytellers, not advocates; we ducked the question as best we could.

Yet this war grinds on, flooding our prisons, devouring resources, turning city neighborhoods into free-fire zones. To what end? State and federal prisons are packed with victims of the drug conflict. A new report by the Pew Center shows that 1 of every 100 adults in the U.S. — and 1 in 15 black men over 18 — is currently incarcerated. That’s the world’s highest rate of imprisonment.

The drug war has ravaged law enforcement too. In cities where police agencies commit the most resources to arresting their way out of their drug problems, the arrest rates for violent crime — murder, rape, aggravated assault — have declined. In Baltimore, where we set The Wire, drug arrests have skyrocketed over the past three decades, yet in that same span, arrest rates for murder have gone from 80% and 90% to half that. Lost in an unwinnable drug war, a new generation of law officers is no longer capable of investigating crime properly, having learned only to make court pay by grabbing cheap, meaningless drug arrests off the nearest corner.

What the drugs themselves have not destroyed, the warfare against them has. And what once began, perhaps, as a battle against dangerous substances long ago transformed itself into a venal war on our underclass. Since declaring war on drugs nearly 40 years ago, we’ve been demonizing our most desperate citizens, isolating and incarcerating them and otherwise denying them a role in the American collective. All to no purpose. The prison population doubles and doubles again; the drugs remain.

Our leaders? There aren’t any politicians — Democrat or Republican — willing to speak truth on this. Instead, politicians compete to prove themselves more draconian than thou, to embrace America’s most profound and enduring policy failure.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right,” wrote Thomas Paine when he called for civil disobedience against monarchy — the flawed national policy of his day. In a similar spirit, we offer a small idea that is, perhaps, no small idea. It will not solve the drug problem, nor will it heal all civic wounds. It does not yet address questions of how the resources spent warring with our poor over drug use might be better spent on treatment or education or job training, or anything else that might begin to restore those places in America where the only economic engine remaining is the illegal drug economy. It doesn’t resolve the myriad complexities that a retreat from war to sanity will require. All it does is open a range of intricate, paradoxical issues. But this is what we can do — and what we will do.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest. If some few episodes of a television entertainment have caused others to reflect on the war zones we have created in our cities and the human beings stranded there, we ask that those people might also consider their conscience. And when the lawyers or the judge or your fellow jurors seek explanation, think for a moment on Bubbles or Bodie or Wallace. And remember that the lives being held in the balance aren’t fictional.

Mehdi Kazemi Safe For Now

The campaign worked-

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the review of his case on Thursday.
“Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr. Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the U.K. from the Netherlands.”

But it is not a granting of asylum just acknowledgement that the public furore over it means they don’t want a PR disaster, they may well hope when no one is looking to quickly deny him permanent asylum and fly him to Iran. Safe for now, but their general position remains the same and this is one case against an institution wide corruption & barbarity.