Looking Forward To Winter?

So Centrica (the owner of British Gas -or BG Group-, which before the 80’s er, we owned) raises prices 35% then announces profits of £992m for the first half of 2008. Which part of corporatism don’t people understand? Are they still clinging to ‘efficiencies of the private sector’ like they will cling to their blankets as they shiver this winter? Except…the ones who actually benefited from privatisation are not hard up for their fuel bills, (that’s a clue). So this winter the class war will be in royal hypothermic blue. Thank God there’s a visionary leader in the wings who offers something different, ouch I broke my sarcasm bone.

Petition Against State Funeral For Thatcher

I think the No. 10 petitions are a waste of time, having signed many and had nothing but bullshit brush offs from the government, but for the embarrassment value this is fun, via Stroppyblog– sign a petition against Thatcher having a state funeral (and it is estimated the cost of this will be £3million -USD $6mill and this is a Labour government assenting to this), an honour she is wholly undeserving of and the last time one was granted to an ex PM was for Winston Churchill and he saw us through WWII so that’s understandable, but Thatcher? She destroyed unions, whole industries, privatised our utilities which has left our infrastructure in a much worse state, she openly supported Pinochet and pushed though homophobic and discriminatory legislation against LGBTQ people. She was against sanctions on apartheid South Africa and caused massive homelessness among 16-18 years olds (and others) by stopping their entitlement to welfare, and many other terrible and predictable right wing extremist hate filled crap, feel free to add in comments. In short- imagine Dick Cheney in a dress but twice as spiteful. Sign here.

Police Win Appeal To NOT Pursue Criminals

It makes sense when the crooks are BAE and the House of Saud and cops are the Serious Fraud Office, so the case seems to be finally done, the government, BAE and the House of Saud get away with it-

The Serious Fraud Office won its Law Lords appeal today against a court ruling that it acted unlawfully in halting a corruption inquiry into a lucrative arms deal between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) took the case to the House of Lords after the High Court upheld a legal challenge brought by anti-corruption campaign groups.

Jonathan Sumption QC, for the SFO, told five Law Lords at a hearing this month that its director made a “legal and appropriate” decision to stop the inquiry in late 2006 after receiving threats from the Saudi Arabian government to withhold cooperation on critical issues of anti-terrorism.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) along with the campaign group Corner House Research won permission last year for a judicial review into the SFO’s decision to drop the case.

CAAT spokesman Symon Hill said the case had eroded the public’s trust in BAE and the Government. Speaking outside the House of Lords, he said: “Today I’m sorry to say the Law Lords have ruled in favour of the Government’s appeal and against the decision of the High Court, which was in our favour. However, in the judgment they have handed down, the Law Lords have failed to answer most of the points we raised or that the High Court raised when it ruled in our favour. We feel we may have lost legally but we’ve certainly won politically. Throughout the last few months and the last couple of years, we have been overwhelmed by support by people in all walks of life.

George Orwell Starts a Blog

via Boing Boing, The Orwell Prize peeps are using WordPress free (wordpress.com) to publish his diaries-

From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell’s face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written

RSS ahoy!

Posted in Culture(!), Miscellaneous. Tags: . Comments Off on George Orwell Starts a Blog

Apply Here For An MA in Blog Reading

Yes for only a grand (USD $2,000) I will make up and print a totally legit looking certificate, the only qualification being if you’re dumb enough to send the money, you’re qualified! (although the real money is in actually having a real university doing real courses in bullshit for profit, y’know like the LSE, ahem.).

Hundreds of people working in the military, government and education are on a list of almost 10,000 people who spent $7.3 million buying phony and counterfeit high school and college degrees from a Spokane diploma mill.

The complete list of buyers, which the U.S. Department of Justice has refused to release to the public, has been obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

Now get ready, here are some of the buyers of fake degrees (feel safer?)-

135 individuals with ties to the military, 39 with links to educational institutions and 17 employed by government agencies. However, the exact number of individuals with ties to the military, government and education is believed to be far greater because many of those buyers used their personal e-mail accounts.

  • NASA employee Timothy Francis Gorman, who bought an electrical engineering degree using his e-mail account at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to correspond with the diploma mill, and U.S.
  • Department of Health oncology expert Frank S. Govern, who purchased a doctorate in health care administration.
  • National Security Agency employees David W. Barden and Barry A. Hester both bought degrees. Hester, who was a computer Web trainer and designer for the NSA with top-secret clearance, paid $1,187 for an information systems and technology degree, the list shows.
  • Eric Gregory Cole, who was a contract employee for the Central Intelligence Agency, paid $3,801 for a degree in information systems management. His top-secret clearance at the CIA was revoked late last year, months after his name was forwarded to the Office of Inspector General, according to one source. “It was like pulling teeth to get them to do anything about this guy,” the source said
  • William R. Church, a senior military adviser working in the White House
  • George Michael Navadel, a U.S. State Department computer systems negotiator, who paid $5,400 for a doctorate in network engineering.
  • Duwayne Huss, an employee of Nuclear Management Co., operator of two nuclear plants in Minnesota, bought degrees in nuclear engineering and accounting.
  • Author Bonita E. Broyles, who has written a series of books about prescription dosages and nursing care, bought a doctorate in education for $2,225, the list shows.
  • Richard J. Caverly, of Colbert, paid $236 for a degree in construction management before getting a job in May 2006 as a building inspector with the city of Spokane.
  • Brett C. Jarmin paid $1,041 for a bachelor of science degree in criminology and criminal justice. Jarmin had worked as chief of police in Edgemont, S.D.
  • Michael J. Hoilien, who worked for the Air Force in Fayetteville, N.C., bought a medical degree.
  • Alan P. Hernandez, a police officer in San Antonio, paid $2,630 for a bachelor’s and a Ph.D. in criminal justice, then went to work as an adviser and counselor for one of the Randocks’ bogus online universities.
  • Remah Moustafa Ahmed Kamel, a 43-year-old Saudi Arabian, bought degrees in obstetrics and gynecology, but investigators don’t know whether he’s practicing in those medical fields in his home country.

Now some are clearly not very wealthy people trying to get on where education is a privilege for those who can afford it, but an awful lot are just management fuckwits thinking money will buy them anything (and the degree -hah- they are correct in that is testament to the resounding success of the glorious Church of the Free Market!).

This post brought to you by Emperor Pope Professor United Nations Secretary General Sir RickB (VC) -the Merciless- Lord of Anglesey, High Sheriff, BA (Hons), MA, PhD, MD, FRCS, Jedi Master & Sith Lord of the Furry Beasts, Winner of- 8 Oscars, 14 Turner Prizes, 11 Césars, 32 Pullitzers, 12 Bookers, 8 Nobels (the last shared with Harold Pinter and the clone of Albert Einstein), 73 Grammys, 349 Brits, 37 Mercurys, America’s Next Top Model, The Olympics (all events), Crufts and the next Presidential elections in- USA, France, Russia and the Federation of Planets. Chairman & CEO of BP, Exxon, Halliburton, HSBC, News International, Sony, Monsanto, EDF, SPECTRE, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Lockheed Martin.

A Wingnut Doco & No One Can Mention The CIA

So what do you need to be a successful terror expert? Well act as a McCarthyite stooge in helping railroad prosecutions and then get your ‘documentary’ used as evidence. No really, if your idiot views coincide with those of the establishment you get to be really quite successful, now why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, truth and personal integrity, I knew there was something…

(Reuters) – Prosecutors in the trial of Osama bin Laden’s driver unveiled a graphic video on Monday of the September 11 attacks and other al Qaeda operations that is likely to play a repeated role in pending war crimes cases.

The video is entitled “The Al Qaida Plan,” an echo of “The Nazi Plan” made by Oscar-winning director George Stevens as evidence in the Nuremberg war crimes trials of German leaders after World War II.

“The Al Qaida Plan” was made for $20,000 (10,000 pounds) by terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmannal Qaeda from its formation in 1988 through the September 11 attacks. for the Office of Military Commissions, which is conducting the trials of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

So ladies and gentlemen courtesy of Spinwatch, meet Evan Kohlmann, pundit, movie director and ‘expert’ witness extraordinaire-

When terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann first appeared on the scene he was dubbed the ‘the Doogie Howser of terrorism’. For those who don’t know, Doogie Howser was an American sitcom aired in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The main character was a childhood prodigy who became a doctor at the tender age of 14. The label was a light-hearted quip at Kohlmann’s relative youth. It also implied that he was some sort of genius, which he is not. Unlike the fictional Doogie Howser, Kohlmann has no post-graduate research qualifications and has displayed remarkable ignorance when challenged in court. Not that that has held him back. He is one of the most prominent media commentators on terrorism in the US, and is a prosecutors’ favourite in terrorism trials there and in Britain. Perhaps if your chosen field of expertise is the ‘war on terror’ then ignorance is a virtue.

Evan Kohlmann first became involved in studying terrorism when he was 18 and in his first year at Washington’s Georgetown University. In February 1998 he began an internship at the Investigative Project, a Washington Think-Tank set up by Steve Emerson – a notoriously Islamophobic journalist turned terrorism expert. There Kohlmann says he was responsible for tracking North African militant groups, and monitoring Islamist websites. The latter was to become his speciality. Still an undergraduate, he began writing articles on terrorism for The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security. One of his first articles was co-authored with collaborator and fellow ‘cyber-terrorism expert’ Rita Katz. Entitled ‘Pandering to Terrorists’, the article argued that to consider Hezbollah a resistance group was a dangerous misconception. Rather it was a terrorist organisation dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and of the Western world more generally. His co-author, an Israeli Zionist, would later set up her own think-tank SITE with Kohlmann’s old school friend Josh Devon.

Kohlmann wrote several such articles but then for a time left terrorism research behind him, hoping to “be a conventional lawyer of some sort”1.  After graduating from Georgetown he started a three year law course. His plans changed on September 11th. He recalls racing out of class and calling Rita Katz. “Time to get to work”, she told him. And they did. Kohlmann returned to his website monitoring and began writing a book on Al-Qaida’s jihad in Europe. He wrote several more articles on terrorism which were published by the conservative National Review. Although still a student, Kohlmann says he was “basically the deputy head” of The Investigative Project at this time2.  His research has mostly involved monitoring and recording postings on Islamist websites which he says can yield important intelligence on the plans and activities of terrorists. He considers himself an academic and a “micro-historian”3.

In 2004 after graduating from law school, Kohlmann went into business for himself. He set up his own website Globalterroralert.com and was recruited as an on-air terrorism analyst for MSNBC. With no expertise beyond undergraduate qualifications and an internship at a dubious think-tank, Kohlmann became a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard’s SO-15 Counter Terrorism Command4.  Meanwhile he ran his website from his bedroom in Manhattan, sitting amongst photos of Al-Qaeda leaders wearing what a journalist said “looks suspiciously like last night’s pyjamas”5.

Kohlmann now works at the NEFA foundation, a terrorism research institute set up by the Washington Group – a US lobbying firm and a subsidiary of the giant PR corporation Ketchum. He also works at Counterterrorism Blog, which hosts numerous rightwing terrorism experts and was established up by a former Reagan advisor Andrew Cochran, who worked as a lobbyist for Steven Emerson and The Investigative Project.

Kohlmann has now appeared at over a dozen terror trials. Most of the cases are based on charges of conspiracy or supporting a terrorist organisation, where the individual’s guilt is established by association. In some cases there is no evidence of links to terrorism at all and the defendants have been charged purely in relation to materials in their position such as literature on weapons or explosives, or merely material downloaded from the internet. In Britain for example, Kohlmann testified against Younes Tsouli, aka Irhabi 007, who the Judge said “came no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard”, before sentencing him to 24 years in prison6.  He also testified against Samina Malik who was convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000 for books in her possession and poems she had written “glorifying terrorism”.

What in particular Kohlmann tends to “bring to life” is connections linking defendants to Al-Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. This, in the political climate of the United States greatly increases the prosecution’s chances of a conviction. As one US defence attorney explains: “If a jury in the US finds any connection between your client and Osama bin Laden, you’re going to get convicted.”8

So McCarthy-ism is thriving, hero as he still is to the American right and apparently our own Crown Prosecution Service, to add to the farce the defence are not allowed to mention the CIA (& others), y’know, who tortured Salim Ahmed Hamdan-

The name of the Central Intelligence Agency cannot be spoken in the war crimes trial here. No records of the agency’s interrogations of Salim Ahmed Hamdan can be subpoenaed, and no agent can be called to testify about what he or she learned from Osama bin Laden’s former driver.

When defense attorney Harry H. Schneider Jr. attempted to demonstrate how many interrogations Hamdan had undergone in the months after his November 2001 arrest — at least 40 — he couldn’t list the CIA along with more than a dozen other agencies including the Secret Service and what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The prohibition against naming the CIA came in a “protective order” issued by the court at the government’s request. The tribunal’s deputy chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bruce A. Pagel, couldn’t say which agency sought the shield or what arguments were made to justify it.

That’s some grade ‘A’ civilisation, freedom and democracy right there, gag orders and secret agencies being protected by the judge. What exactly do they teach in US law schools? I mean really, what’s on the syllabus? How to wear suits and make Office templates for your bills? And the final is a trivia quiz on LA Law? Even when they get caught there is no sanction, Bush Crime Family, to the core. I like that there are people who advocate and defend this regime, it makes me think if I ever need to sell a rusty bucket overflowing with cold diarrhoea as a priceless antique soup tureen, I know where I can find some willing shills. And oddly eBay’s Meg Whitman is a right wing nut case (with political ambitions) so caveat emptor baby.

Just So We’re Clear About This Occupation Thingy

You know when sometimes pro-war politicians are asked about withdrawal from Iraq and they act all innocent and shrug saying things like- We are there at the insistence of the democratically elected Iraqi government and When they want us to leave we will and Talk of withdrawal damages the democratically elected Iraq government’s security and that of our forces etc etc blah blah blah.

…in June 2006 in which al-Maliki circulated a draft policy calling for negotiation of just such a withdrawal timetable and the George W. Bush administration had to intervene to force the prime minister to drop it.

“We must agree on a time schedule to pull out the troops from Iraq, while at the same time building up the Iraqi forces that will guarantee Iraqi security, and this must be supported by a United Nations Security Council decision.”

That formula, linking a withdrawal timetable with the buildup of Iraqi forces, was consistent with the position taken by Sunni armed groups in their previous talks with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, which was that the timetable for withdrawal would be “linked to the timescale necessary to rebuild Iraq’s armed forces and security services”. One of the Sunni commanders who had negotiated with Khalilzad described the resistance position in those words to the London-based Arabic-language Alsharq al Awsat in May 2006.

The Iraqi government draft was already completed when Bush arrived in Baghdad Jun. 13 without any previous consultation with al-Maliki, giving the Iraqi leader five minutes’ notice that Bush would be meeting him in person rather than by videoconference.

The al-Maliki cabinet sought to persuade Bush to go along with the withdrawal provision of the document. In his press conference upon returning, Bush conceded that Iraqi cabinet members in the meeting had repeatedly brought up the issue of reconciliation with the Sunni insurgents.

In fact, after Bush had left, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, said he had asked Bush to agree to a timetable for withdrawal of all foreign forces. Then President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, released a statement of support for that request.

Nevertheless, Bush signaled his rejection of the Iraqi initiative in his Jun. 14 press conference, deceitfully attributing his own rejection of a timetable to the Iraqi government. “And the willingness of some to say that if we’re in power we’ll withdraw on a set timetable concerns people in Iraq,” Bush declared.

When the final version of the plan was released to the public Jun. 25, the offending withdrawal timetable provision had disappeared. Bush was insisting that the al-Maliki government embrace the idea of a “conditions-based” U.S. troop withdrawal. Khalilzad gave an interview with Newsweek the week the final reconciliation plan was made public in which he referred to a “conditions-driven roadmap”.

I mean only the weak of thinking buy that schtick about being there because the Iraqis want us to keep killling them some more stay, but this incident from June 06 needs to be thrown in their face anytime they try and pull that shit. Which y’know, is quite often.