BBC’s spearhead into America Matt Frei is interviewed in the Independent, *sigh*

Frei is perturbed by the insularity of the Washington DC bubble, where government policy is drawn up in a highly-intellectual but not cosmopolitan environment. “In London, you walk down the Edgware Road and it’s like the West Bank, you walk down to Piccadilly Circus and you are surrounded by foreigners, you are steeped in international juices and in Washington you are not.”

So at least he acknowledges the beltway elite (at least in an interview) but why the West Bank comparison, what does this mean about his perception of ‘foreigners’? Is the other at home in a war zone?

The journalist has himself enjoyed the liberation of expressing himself in print. “Writing for television is an act of castration, essentially. Good television is about what you leave out, so you don’t use any adjectives and don’t describe what you can already see. It’s quite an unsatisfying form of writing because no-one ever remembers what you’ve written.”

Whoa there Matty, phallo-centric ego much?

He is convinced that the cause of war in Iraq was not oil but rather the President’s desire to settle a score with Saddam, and that the culprits for the current mess are Donald Rumsfeld for trying to “do Iraq on the cheap” and Condoleezza Rice for viewing that country as Germany in 1945 rather than “Germany in 1761, a post feudal tribal state split into different fiefdoms with a relatively low literacy rate and no industrial base”.

Like most of his media class he reduces geopolitical, imperial and cultural complexities to an elite soap opera and that literacy?

Hussein was returning to a very different school system from the one he left in 1975. Early in his rule, Saddam was credited with creating one of the strongest school systems in the Middle East. Iraq won a UNESCO prize for eradicating illiteracy in 1982. Literacy rates for women were among the highest of all Islamic nations, and unlike most Middle East school systems, Iraqi education was largely secular.

But, in the decade after the 1991 Gulf War, UNICEF estimates, school spending plummeted by 90 percent. Teachers’ salaries dropped to $6 a month and buildings deteriorated.

The US says Saddam starved the schools to spend money on his palaces, but many Iraqis say United Nations sanctions are to blame for crippling the school system

Quite apart from it being the supreme war crime not a ‘mess’ ‘on the cheap'(and did sanctions then Shock & Awe have something do to with that eradicated industrial base?) maybe faulty comparisons to European history betray the historical and cultural blindness, the tribalism inherent in the invaders …and their media partners.

Posted in Media. Tags: , . 6 Comments »

Sailors fighting in the dance hall

Posted in Culture(!), Imperialism, Music. Tags: . Comments Off on Sailors fighting in the dance hall

Right Spite of the Clown

Boris Johnson will not renew an oil deal with Venezuela which provides cheap fuel for London’s buses once the agreement ends later this year.

Happy Towel Day

Belgium I didn’t know, anyway like all hoopy froods I know where my towel is (it’s on the airer by my bed if you must). Don’t Panic!

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Free Hich!

Updates via Dave

Hich, a popular, respected and valued former PhD student and current employee of the University of Nottingham now faces deportation to Algeria on Sunday 1st June.

Following last weeks ‘terror operation’ incident, Hich was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation over these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, he was suddenly served with a deportation notice and moved to an immigration detention centre.

The authorities are clearly trying to circumvent the criminal justice system and force Hicham out of the country. Normally they would have to wait for criminal proceedings to finish, but here they have managed to convince the prosecution to drop the charges in an attempt to remove him a quick, covert manner. The desire for justice is clearly not the driving force behind this, as Hicham was happy to stand trial and prove his innocence.

There’s a breaking article in the Independent:

Check out this blog for updates:

Please raise as much awareness about this as you can. And if you’re keen to fundraise or be involved contact:

A recent article in the Guardian covers the ‘terror operation’ incident:,,2282045,00.html

The university administration remain unapologetic for their actions. Their statements are a clear attempt to undermine and discredit critical media and the widespread condemnation that they now face. This incident has raised some very specific concerns, highlighted in a petition that is in circulation, and will be available for signing next week, and at Wednesday’s “public reading”. We must not let this injustice slide.

Free Hicham Yezza

After the Nottingham witch-hunt the authorities are trying to spare their blushes by deporting Hicham Yezza. This is a very old phenomenon in policing, if you put a lot of resources into an operation and come up with nothing careers are in jeopardy, but if you can fiddle some kind of ‘result’ in this case the spurious arrests of Yezza and attempt to fast track deport him then something can be salvaged and asses get covered.

Hicham Yezza, a popular, respected and valued former PhD student and current employee of the University of Nottingham faces deportation to Algeria on Sunday 1st June. This follows his unjust arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday 14th May alongside Rizwaan Sabir and their release without charge six days later.

It has subsequently become clear that these arrests, which the police had claimed related to so-called “radical materials” involved an Al Qaeda manual downloaded by Sabir as part of his research into political Islam and emailed to Yezza for printing because Sabir couldn’t afford to get it printed himself.

There has been a vocal response from lecturers and students. A petition is being circulated, letters have been sent by academics across the world and a demo is being planned for Wednesday. 28th May. This has clearly been deeply embarrassing to a government currently advocating an expansion of anti-terror powers.

On his release Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation over these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, he was suddenly served with a deportation notice and moved to an immigration detention centre. The deportation is being urgently appealed.

Hicham has been resident in the U.K. for 13 years, during which time he has studied for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Nottingham. He is an active member of debating societies, a prominent member of an arts and theatre group, and has written for, and edited, Ceasefire, the Nottingham Student Peace Movement magazine for the last five years.

He is well known and popular on campus amongst the university community and has established himself as a voracious reader and an authority on literature and music. An application for British citizenship was underway, and he had been planning to make his yearly trip to Wales for the Hay Festival when he was suddenly arrested.

The authorities are clearly trying to circumvent the criminal justice system and force Hicham out of the country. Normally they would have to wait for criminal proceedings to finish, but here they have managed to convince the prosecution to drop the charges in an attempt to remove him a quick, covert manner. The desire for justice is clearly not the driving force behind this, as Hicham was happy to stand trial and prove his innocence.

Hicham had a large social network and many of his friends are mobilising to prevent his release. Matthew Butcher, 20, a student at the University of Nottingham and member of the 2008-9 Students Union Executive, said, “This is an abhorrent abuse of due process, pursued by a government currently seeking to expand anti-terror powers. Following the debacle of the initial ‘terror’ arrests they now want to brush the whole affair under the carpet by deporting Hicham.”

Supporters have been able to talk with Hicham and he said, “The Home Office operates with a Gestapo mentality. They have no respect for human dignity and human life. They treat foreign nationals as disposable goods – the recklessness and the cavalier approach they have belongs to a totalitarian state. I thank everyone for their support – it’s been extremely heartening and humbling. I’m grateful to everyone who has come to my aid and stood with me in solidarity, from students to Members of Parliament. I think this really reflects the spirit of the generous, inclusive Britain we know – and not the faceless, brutal, draconian tactics of the Home Office.”

There is also the risk that because of the circumstances surrounding the attempted deportation the Algerian authorities could torture Yezza-

Amnesty International- Algeria: Briefing to the Committee Against Torture 17 April 2008.

Algerian law does not provide sufficient safeguards to protect detainees from torture and other ill-treatment. Moreover, the safeguards set in law are, in practice, disregarded when persons are arrested and detained on suspicion of links with terrorism. Such suspects are routinely held by the DRS incommunicado and in secret places of detention.

The most frequent reports of torture, as received by Amnesty International, include beatings, electric shocks, and the chiffon method, which consists in tying down a detainee and forcing him to swallow large quantities of dirty water, urine or chemicals through a cloth placed in themouth. Detainees have also reported being stripped of their clothes and humiliated, beaten on the soles of their feet (a method known as falaka), and suspended by the arms from the ceiling for prolonged periods during interrogation. In some cases, detainees allege that they were threatened that their female family members would be arrested and raped; in others, male detainees are alleged to have been sexually abused although few details are available due to the cultural sensitivity surrounding the issue of sexual violence against men in Algeria.

On 19 February 2008, at least 30 detainees at El Harrach prison in Algiers,were reported to have been beaten severely by prison guards after they and other inmates refused to return from the prison yard to the ward of the prison in which they were held in protest at the transformation of their prayer zone into accommodation for more detainees. According to the information obtained by Amnesty International, they were taken individually or in groups of two or three to a hall where they were stripped naked, kicked, punched, beaten with metal bars, insulted and threatened with sexual abuse. One inmate sustained a broken leg, another had his jaw fractured, and a third sustained an injury to his nose. The detainees were then reportedly placed in solitary confinement as punishment, were denied visits for three days and medical care. No investigation is known to have been conducted into these alleged assaults despite complaints made by lawyers for the prisoners, who were able to visit them three days later.

So first line of attack contact your MP

More details and other info as it comes. This story has had scant mention in national media, what the authorities are looking to do is spirit him out of the country to seal his lips. They will ruin his career, his life and put him in jeopardy of torture all because he…helped a friend save money by printing out a long document, incidentally such a dangerous document it is openly available on a US government website. Link here. Or or As Lenin points out you can buy it in book form from Amazon!

Updates from Dave in comments-

There has been a massive swathe of media interest in the situation existing at Nottingham University in the wake of last week’s wrongful arrest of two innocent members of the University community.

If you haven’t seen the reports, take a look: (Front page of ‘Nottinghamshire’ section) – Press release for demonstration

If you want to hear how our colleague Rizwaan feels about what has happened, take a look at this news report:

Many academics from around the world are writing to the university to express their concerns about what has happened here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in misc. Tags: . 17 Comments »

Error… Yeah, right.

‘error’ they know they don’t even need to bother with a very convincing alibi-

Shares in US credit rating agency Moody’s Investor Services have tumbled almost 16% after a newspaper report suggested it mislead investors. The Financial Times reported that the New York firm wrongly assigned premium credit ratings to complex pools of debt, which were actually worth less.

The newspaper reported that the error was discovered in early 2007 and changes to the methodology were introduced, but the products kept their AAA rating until January 2008, when the freeze in the credit markets led to downgrades.

The SEC said that as the ratings were given out by Moody’s European arm, it may lack the necessary jurisdiction to get involved. The regulator is deliberating whether additional industry regulations are needed to prevent a conflict of interest that arises from the fact that the fees of the credit rating agencies are paid by the very financial institutions whose bonds they assess.

Nothing to see here, only billions and endemic corruption. Capitalism’s cool, don’t worry about it. Go eat some cake peasant.

Friday! Bill O’Reilly Tantrum

Dangerously nearly topical, I guess a lot of people are aware of this and have seen the comedy re-edit but I have saved it for the end of the week and if you haven’t seen it here first is the footage of the temper tantrum and the second clip is the comedy re-edit (it is much funnier after you watch the original footage) where comedian Rusty Ward inserts himself into the clip as a producer saying what needs to be said to proto-fascist and bully O’Reilly on an hourly basis.

PS. The youtube clip is gone but I was contacted by Rusty Ward and you can view it here, it can be embedded but not apparently on (the free service is limited on flash & shockwave embeds for technical security reasons to Google Video, Youtube, DailyMotion, Grouper, Odeo, and SplashCast.) unless you see it appear below in which case I have somehow tricked the thing to work. Still below is the original footage of the big idiot’s tantrum.

Raytheon 9 Days 3&4


Raytheon 9 Trial – Day Three
Today saw evidence submitted from a number of police officers and also video evidence of the occupation and arrests.  All the defendants left the Court in a positive mood. After the police evidence is completed we will have a number of witnesses from Raytheon. The defence case is expected to begin next Wednesday 28th or Thursday.  It is expected that a number of the defendants will go into the witness box.

Trial Update Day Four
Day Four was like Day Three: more boring evidence from a succession of police officers about the arrests. They all agreed that none of the defendants had resisted arrest in any way except by passive resistance, in that they did not cooperate with arresting officers and some had to be carried out of the building. One of the interesting facts to emerge from details of the damage done to Raytheon’s offices was the extent to which the offices were refurbished following the occupation. So, a bill for over £3,000 for venetian blinds was included as part of the damage caused by the 9. Under cross-examination, it became clear that as little as 10 -15% of the blinds had been damaged, but they had taken the opportunity to replace the lot!

Short (10min) Documentary!

The Sheriff of Nottingham ll

Some more details about the Nottingham anti-terorrist lunacy (ht2 Dave @ Complex System of Pipes)

A masters student at the University of Nottingham who was arrested under the Terrorism Act under suspicion of possessing extremist material was studying terrorism for his dissertation, Times Higher Education can reveal.

Academics and students have expressed concerns about the police’s handling of the case, which saw police searching campus property.

Rizwaan Sabir, a 22-year-old who was studying in the politics department, was arrested along with a 30-year-old member of staff. Both were released without charge on 20 May after having been held in custody for six days.

Mr Sabir’s lawyer, Tayab Ali of McCormacks solicitors in London, told Times Higher Education that as preparation for a PhD on radical Islamic groups, Mr Sabir had downloaded an edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website. It is understood that Mr Sabir sent the 1,500-page document to the staff member – who was subsequently arrested – because he had access to a printer. Mr Ali said: “The two members of the university were treated as though they were part of an al-Qaeda cell. They were detained for 48 hours, and a warrant for further detention was granted on the basis that the police had mobile phones and evidence taken from computers to justify this.”

The case highlights concerns that new anti-terrorism legislation allowing detention for 28 days without charge would lead to people’s being held for extended periods on the “flimsiest of evidence”, Mr Ali said.

“Why did it take so long for the police to reach the conclusions they did?” Mr Ali asked. “These are not unqualified police, they are the top counterterrorism command for the region. They should know the difference between a book that is useful for terrorism and one that is not.”

Academics at Nottingham have expressed deep concerns about the arrest’s implications for academic freedom. Bettina Rentz, a lecturer in international security and Mr Sabir’s personal tutor, said: “This case is very worrying. The student downloaded publicly accessible information and provoked this very harsh reaction. Nobody tried to speak to him or to his tutors before police were sent in. The whole push from the Government is on policy relevance of research, and in this case the student’s research could not be more policy relevant.”

Alf Nilsen, research fellow in law and social sciences, said: “What we’re seeing here is a blatant attack on academic freedom – people have been arrested for being in possession of legitimate research materials. How can we exercise our academic freedom if we are at risk of being arrested for possession of subversive material? This sets a very alarming precedent. Academic freedom on campus should be guaranteed for all staff and students regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.”

Dr Nilsen added: “I perceive the current incident at Nottingham to be occurring in tandem with several other attempts by UK authorities to increase surveillance of the academy and, in particular, non-Western students and staff, and moreover as an episode that is symptomatic of a more general curtailment of civil liberties in UK society, which seems to particularly affect and victimise non-Western citizens.”

Students at Nottingham are circulating a petition asking for the university to guarantee that the freedom of academics and students will be protected. It asks the university to acknowledge its “disproportionate response” to the possession of legitimate research materials.

A spokesman for Nottingham confirmed that the police had been called after material was found on the computer used by a junior clerical member of staff. “There was no reasonable rationale for this person to have that information,” he said. “The police were called in on the basis of reasonable anxiety and concern. In response to that, the police made a connection with a student who, we understand, was impeding the investigation and arrested that person.”

He added that the edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook was “not legitimate research material” in the university’s view.

A Nottinghamshire police spokesman said the police had applied for a warrant to extend the detention. “The judge was satisfied with the evidence presented and granted the extension,” he said.

Dear Nottinghamshire University authorities and the Police, you are War On Terror porn fixated, retarded, racist, witless authoritarian cretins. I mean you could take them to see The Crucible perhaps (although they’d be disappointed when it turned out not to be snooker) and they still wouldn’t get the fucking point, this is hysteria, as water boarding is to the ducking stool. Money quote-

It is worth noticing that in talking to one of my colleagues, a police officer remarked that the incident would never have occurred if the persons involved had been “blonde, Swedish PhD students” (the two men were of British-Pakistani and Algerian backgrounds respectively).

And as Indymedia post-

More dangerously, the whole operation seems to have serious and frightening racial overtones. An officer who investigated the case is reported to have said: “This would never have happened if he had been a white student.” The re-arrest of the second student on bogus immigration grounds displays a clear desire on the part of the police to smear the students in the hope of gaining sympathy from the tabloid press.

Furthermore, the university and police rhetoric during this time period was surprising to many students and academics. Amidst the great amount of rhetoric that the university put out during this period, supporting the police and assuming guilt of its own students, it also spoke of groups or individuals who “unsettle the harmony of the campus.” This seemed to be a direct reference to the peaceful political activism and vocal, peaceful protest that the university now seems to think it can clamp down on under the Terrorism Act.

Welcome to Brazil.

Burma Relief

Myanmar’s military leaders have agreed to allow access to all foreign aid workers to help with the relief operation after Cyclone Nargis, according to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general. Ban made the announcement on Friday after more than two hours of talks with Than Shwe, Myanmar’s senior general. Than Shwe’s earlier refusal to allow relief workers to operate in Myanmar earned him international condemnation.

His change in attitude comes three weeks after the cyclone hit Myanmar on May 2-3, leaving at least 133,000 people dead or missing and around 2.5 million more in need of immediate aid. “He has agreed to allow all aid workers regardless of nationalities,” Ban said in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital.

Asked if this was a breakthrough, Ban said: “Yes, I think so.”

But the specifics of the new agreement remained unclear and it was not immediately known if Myanmar’s rulers would allow in aid from US naval ships nearby – which it said before would be rejected. UN agencies said they are ready to step up relief to cyclone victims but needed to know practical details of the country’s new commitment to admit all aid workers to the devastated coastal area.

International aid groups reacted cautiously to the breakthrough, stressing that they would need full access to the devastated Irrawaddy Delta. “We’re not clear on the details – it is welcome news, but we still don’t know if this will give us access to the worst hit areas,” Chris Webster, from the emergency response team at World Vision, told Al Jazeera.

Posted in Burma. Tags: . 2 Comments »

There’s Good News, And There’s Bad News

NuLabour are on their uppers, the bad news is the Tories have convinced people (thank you too craptastic media) they are the only alternative. The Neoliberal dictatorship continues unabated and Gini climbs and climbs and climbs…What is it with you people, won’t twig ’til HSBC debtor’s prisons and Tesco workhouses are on every G4S surveilled corner?

Israeli Air Force Fail To Improve Reputation

Israeli fighter aircraft were scrambled to intercept a jet carrying former UK prime minister Tony Blair after its crew failed to identify themselves. Aircrew used the radio to explain who they were after the two warplanes adopted an attack position, prompting them to peel off and return to base.

Judge Backs Security Services & Arms Trade Against Citizen’s

A legal challenge over the power of the police to photograph peaceful protesters has failed at the High Court. Andrew Wood, from Oxford, claimed he was harassed by the Metropolitan Police for campaigning against the arms trade. But on Thursday, the force was cleared of breaching Mr Wood’s human rights by photographing him and other activists who had committed no crime. The Met had said its actions were “justified and proportionate”.

Mr Wood had complained that the policy of openly taking pictures of demonstrators, on the basis that they might become involved in future protests, was an illegal interference with the right to take part in political activity both lawfully and peacefully. Mr Wood, media co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said retaining the photos of him at the annual meeting of Reed Elsevier, was oppressive. Mr Wood had bought a share in the company, which entitled him to attend the meeting in Grosvenor Square, central London, in September 2005.

But Mr Justice McCombe said Mr Wood was photographed in a public street in circumstances in which the presence of the police – and the press – must have been expected. He said that if there was any interference with Mr Wood’s rights, it was “in accordance with the law and proportionate”. The police insisted that the photos, which they said were taken in a non-intimidatory way, would have been destroyed shortly after the event.

Meanwhile Raytheon 9 second day-

The second day of the Raytheon 9 trial went reasonably well. The evidence came from PSNI officers, who mainly gave a fairly flat and factual account of what they’d seen on the morning of the occupation.  Importantly, none said that he’d seen violence from any of the 9.

There were exchanges between the prosecutor and defence lawyers about what it is that the prosecution will have to show to establish “affray”—putting people in fear of the lives or safety—and criminal damage: if the defendants can show that they genuinely believed they were helping to stop or hamper a bigger crime, will that be enough for acquittal on the criminal damage count? It sounds very abstract, but this could be the point on which the case turns.

The indications are that it will be Friday before Raytheon witnesses take the stand and can be cross-examined about the nature of the business and the links between Raytheon and defence forces, including the Israeli defence forces.

The case did get some coverage in the mainstream media today. This concentrated on a prosecution suggestion that the 9 had indulged in “an orgy of wanton destruction” and the defence riposte that the 9 had been trying to stop war crimes. Just headline stuff really, but at least the issues may be beginning to leak out into wider society—which is what we need.

Those who are in the dock are all in good spirits, and encouraged by messages of support coming into the DAWC from various parts of the globe.

Posted in Establishment, Militarism. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Judge Backs Security Services & Arms Trade Against Citizen’s

Don’t Be Google

While in California, Secretary of State Rice and Foreign Secretary Miliband will visit Bloom Energy to receive briefings on renewable energy development and participate in a roundtable with employees. The Secretaries will also visit Google, where they will tour the “Googleplex,” receive updates on the company’s cutting-edge technologies, and participate in a “Fireside Chat” with Google employees. The Secretaries will also participate in a joint press availability at Google.

Miliband! Clearly Google are using a definition of ‘Evil’ I have hitherto been unaware of.

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