i hope you get cancer™has moved to its shiny new home at Typepad. Please update your links to ensure continued enjoyment of all that cancer™ goodness..
i hope you get cancer™has moved to its shiny new home at Typepad. Please update your links to ensure continued enjoyment of all that cancer™ goodness..
Anyone who doubted that the myths of "Englishness" were anything more than a rhetorical device in the service of racism, greed, bigotry and exclusion will have been able to put their mind comprehensively to rest this weekend. I refer to the release of the Christian peace activist Norman Kember and his two Canadian colleagues, and the small demonstration in support of "freedom of speech" that took place yesterday in London.
The bitterness with which Telegraph readers - if they are a barometer of a certain strand of English opinion - greeted Kember's release was illuminating. Little sign here of the soi-disant characteristics of Britishness or Englishness that often get such people so dewy-eyed. No sense of tolerance, respect, humour, but instead the purest venom. Contempt for Kember's religious faith, scorn for his "selfishness" in "putting lives at risk", and the inevitable nonsense about how much "taxpayers' money" had been spent in rescuing the three. One could almost smell the real ale with which these people would be washing down their small-mindedness.
On, then, to the unhappy little gathering in Trafalgar Square. Notable for the excitement it had generated among the knuckle-dragging classes , what was interesting was the apparent engagement between the organiser, Peter Risdon, and Ismaeel Haneef of the Muslim Action Committee. The howls of protest at such dialogue from Risdon's racist congregation were as predictable, and revealing, as the minute turnout.
From Chris Floyd. Read it and weep.
The third anniversary of the US-led rape of Iraq has given renewed popularity to the sport of Hitchens-checking. For this we must thank not only the roly-poly entertainer himself, but also our friends at Hitchens Watch, who are daily uncovering vintage nuggets of his pure PNAC-inspired bollocks on Iraq which would be risibly ironic were the subject not such a hideous crime.
Inspired by HW, I have been pottering about during a sleepless night caused by a bad cold, and found this beauty from November 2002. As Tubby admits, "part of the charm of the regime-change argument ...is that it depends on premises and objectives that cannot, at least by the administration, be publicly avowed." Helpfully, Hitch puts his boozy candour at the disposal of those who might, in late '02, be guessing as to what those premises and objectives might be.
"Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion. It has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Like the Ceausescu edifice in Romania, it is a pyramid balanced on its apex (its powerbase a minority of the Sunni minority), and when it falls, all the consequences of a post-Saddam Iraq will be with us anyway."
Oh OK. So, no need to invade then? All that stuff you've hawked round over the past three years about the "threat" posed by Saddam was either irrelevant or a lie. So why are all those people dying, Chris? Do tell.
"To suggest that these consequences—Sunni-Shi'a rivalry, conflict over the boundaries of Kurdistan, possible meddling from Turkey or Iran, vertiginous fluctuations in oil prices and production, social chaos—are attributable only to intervention is to be completely blind to the impending reality. The choices are two and only two—to experience these consequences with an American or international presence or to watch them unfold as if they were none of our business. (I respect those who say that the United States should simply withdraw from the Middle East, but I don't respect them for anything but their honesty.)"
Sorry Chris, not with you. You did mention the O-word, did I get that right? And you also reckon we can prevent Sunni-Shia rivalry, social chaos, etc.? And please - Chris - spare me the knee-jerk patronising reply in those cut-glass vowels of yours, would you? Be a love.
"Once this self-evident point has been appreciated it becomes a matter of making a virtue of necessity. If an intervention helps rescue Iraq from mere anarchy and revenge, some of the potential virtues are measurable in advance. The recuperation of the Iraqi oil industry represents the end of the Saudi monopoly, and we know that there are many Wolfowitzians who yearn for this but cannot prudently say so in public. The mullahs in Iran hate America more than they hate Saddam, while Iranian public opinion—notice how seldom "the Iranian street" is mentioned by peaceniks—takes a much more pro-American view. It's hard to picture the disappearance of the Saddam regime as anything but an encouragement to civil and democratic forces in Tehran, as well as in Bahrain, Qatar, and other gulf states that are experimenting with democracy and women's rights. Turkey will be wary about any increase in Kurdish autonomy (another good cause by the way), but even the Islamists in Turkey are determined to have a closer association with the European Union, and the EU has made it clear that Turkey's own Kurds must be granted more recognition before this can occur. One might hope that no American liberal would want to demand any less."
Well at least he was right about the oil.
Man walks into The Ivy and orders a shit sandwich.
So the famous "tolerance" on which Middle England prides itself has limits. Say what you like about muslims, foreigners, religion, but leave Winston Churchill alone. The statue of the wartime leader wearing a straitjacket, erected by a mental health charity to highlight the stigma surrounding depression, with which he suffered, has been quietly removed following a chorus of complaints from his family, the good people of Norwich and the Daily Express.
In stamping on the charity's freedom of expression, critics of the statue have performed a valuable service. Not only have they given the lie to all that "freedom of speech" bollocks trotted out by racists last month, they have also articulated perfectly the point the charity was trying to make in the first place. Namely that the stigma surrounding mental illness remains as strong in 2006 as ever. We now know that certain people regard a public reminder that a revered figure such as Churchill suffered with depression as an insult; would the outrage have been the same had the issue been cancer?
From today's Daily Mail: "Their affliction is grotesque, disturbing, and like something out of a Victorian freak show. They crawl on hands and feet like animals, but with the swift agility of circus gymnasts. Their speech is a primitive babble...a Turkish scientist quoted by the programme goes so far as to claim that the family are some kind of genetic throwback, a "missing link" to our pre-human ancestors."
"Uner Tan, of Cukurova University Medical School, believes the family represent a case of what he calls "backwards evolution". He says the children's quadrupedal gait, primitive language and impaired hand skills are all throwbacks to our ape-like ancestors."
"Astonishingly, he declares: "This syndrome can be considered a live model for human evolution.""
Then I wouldn't have to hear shit like this. I'm not sure what I hate most: her dull, lifeless, poor-man's-india.arie-lift music; the way this stuff gets marketed to death by a music industry that is terrified it won't exist in 10 years; or the 30-something cunts who buy it, think it's "soul" just because the middle-class, English Literature graduate's dad is black, and listen to it in their cosy flat with their partner, when they meet their cunty friends for Sunday brunch in All Bar One, and at the fucking gym. More cunts.
Oh, by the way, this is the motherfucking 200th post.
I can't work out whether this is cool, or just knowingly funny.
As a humble academic, I face the unpalatable prospect of taking industrial action as part of a national pay dispute between the higher education teaching unions and our employers, beginning with a one-day strike on 7 March. As the professionals responsible for educating future generations of graduates and postgraduates, we are paid between £24,352 and £37,513; our pay rose, in real terms, by 6.6 per cent between 1994 and 2003, compared with the following real terms increases for comparable groups:
Public sector average: +12%
Personnel, training and industrial relations managers +23%
Managers/senior officials in government (HEO to senior principal/grade 6) +31%
ICT professionals +22%
Medical practitioners +27%
Secondary education teaching professionals +12%
Chartered and certified accountants +12%
[Source: New Earnings Survey (series)]
"The shortfall of teaching funding has badly hit the salaries of academic staff, which have shown practically no increase in real terms over two decades." Tony Blair, speaking to Universities UK, 14 January 2004.
Lecturer pay was cited by university vice-chancellors as one of the key reasons behind their support for top-up fees, and committed to allocate at least a third of the extra income to lecturers' salaries.
More info, and details of how you can support our claim for fair pay, here.
It's hard not to root for the gang who stole £50 million this week. While there's the little matter of the depot manager and his family who were traumatised in the robbery, there is a general, quiet sense of the British almost hoping they get away with it. Arrests after our heroes, eager to start earning interest on the loot, walked into the local bank with a big bag marked SWAG, adhere strictly to the comic-book discourse of bungling crooks. The trauma of the manager, his wife and 8-year-old son, weighed against the lives devastated by the Enron thieves, puts the Kent job firmly in the category of "good luck to 'em".
Which raises the question of why we tend to brand certain figures as either heroes or, literally in this case, villains, with no attempt to shade in more detail in between. Consider too the way that our soldiers fighting in Iraq are similarly divvied up: heroes (usually when they're dead) or villains (despite the protestations of the Defence Secretary). When they're not earning posthumous medals, or beating the shit out of unarmed civilians, British soldiers in combat are, to all intents and purposes, invisible in the public sphere.
While the flag-in-the-front-yard jingoism of the US sits ill with us Brits, it is odd that - whatever one's views on the war - the young men and women who are shipped out to kill for oil remain faceless cyphers to us, rather than real people not much older than my own kids.
As someone who works at a university, and has had to deal with complaints of racism against members of my department at a previous job, I was interested to hear a programme about diversity awareness courses when I was driving back from a walk with the dog today. Radio Four, just after The World This Weekend? Bound to be a thoughtful, illuminating examination of the subject. I rapidly discovered, on the contrary, that the programme was inspired by the sort of fashionable, racist political-correctness-gone-mad lies one would normally expect to see smeared across the pages of Her Majesty's Press.
The polemic's central theme was that such courses are divisive, and seems to suggest that the UK is about to see an increase of training along the lines of the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes programme. Good - about time too. I know from personal experience how little sensible advice there is for managers trying to deal with racist incidents at work, while the sound of racist scumbags complaining, in their newspaper columns, pamphlets and blogs, about being "gagged" grows more deafening by the week.
The world's most famous bloggeur, Fuckbuddy, recently spotted his dream headline. I have to admit, this looked like a dream headline of mine: Five crucifies Dominik Diamond. Turns out that ugly, beardy twat Dominik (eugh) Diamond ("best known to television viewers as a frequent pundit on Sky One showbusiness documentaries") likes nothing more than going to the Phillipines, not for this, but to join his fellow xtians in re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus H Christ. What a cunt.
Who could have failed to cheer KT Tunstall to the echo last night as the feisty wee lassie from Bonnie Scotland walked away with the Brit Award for Best Woman? The Caledonian rock chick gave a mesmerising performance of some song or other, and her place in the pantheon of rock greats, alongside Lulu and her out of Texas, is surely guaranteed.
Now I'm as likely to form an obsessive relationship with some mouthwatering ubervixen off the telly as the next bloke, but every so often someone comes along and raises the bar for the rest of us. Be afraid, Nina Hossein, be very afraid...
More Californian lunacy spreads like bird flu: as smoking becomes an at-home or outdoor activity in England, I'm thinking of hastening the end of my sentence on this lump of rock by upping my habit to 200 a day.
Well, scientists have been doing just that, and discovered what some of us suspected all along - that spacetime is not as foamy as we thought. You know the way that space is, like, totally composed of ever-changing arrangements of bubbles, called spacetime foam? Yes you do - the uncertainty principle blatantly allows virtual particles to spontaneously pop into and out of existence, remember?
Yeah, so anyway, these scientists have observed an airy ring around the quasar-like object PKS1413 + 135, and reckon that the ring limits the amount of light scattering that could be caused by spacetime foam. The quasar is 1.2 gigaparsecs – or about 4 billion light years – away from the Milky Way, allowing the physicists to accumulate the effects of the fluctuations over a distance, necessary for amplifying the tiny effects of the foam.
Y. Jack Ng, member of the team that observed the ring, was like, “The detection of spacetime foam will give us a glimpse of the ultimate structure of spacetime,” and all, “The observational results may also point physicists to the correct theory of quantum gravity.”
Are you an erstwhile admirer who can't work out what happened to Hitch? Nothing happened, my friend. This guy's worked it out -
"The contradictions and tortured logic of his opinions only seem incoherent when viewed through the lens of political thought. Don't bother. The point is not to be right, or fair, or even consistent. It's all about branding: the book jacket poses surrounded by empty glasses and full ashtrays, the unruly look, the pugnacious attitude. It's about being different, unique, memorable - and "the blending of quite discrepant images." Pay attention, pundits manqué."Thanks to the succulent Sonic (for Hitchens Watch is he) for serving up the link. Now I can just settle down and enjoy dismissing Hitch as a big fat cunt.
He calls his blog The Daily Ablution, suggesting that reading it results in some sort of cleansing or purification. Unfortunately, like washing with any kind of shit, DA has precisely the opposite effect. However that hasn't stopped Burgess from becoming a poster boy for racists since his part in the sacking of junior Guardian staffer Dilpazier Aslam last year, on account of Aslam's membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir(So much for "freedom of speech"). Burgess counts the usual suspects among his fans, thus ensuring his daily emissions reach a large readership. Which makes it all the more surprising that he hasn't been found out yet.
The topic is the demolition of claims to membership of the muslim "mainstream community" by Faiz Siddiqui, convenor of the Muslim Action Committee, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College, an Islamic university in Warwickshire, during an interview on yesterday's Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
Burgess starts by claiming that Siddiqui presents himself "as the fabled "moderate Muslim"", before gleefully quoting Siddiqui dismissing the very notion nine years ago. Just two problems there, Scotty. First, "moderate muslim" was never uttered by Siddiqui in his interview. He was, in refusing to condone those who had called for beheading etc. at last week's protest, distancing mainstream muslim opinion from such "extreme views". In the 1997 interview, by contrast, he was responding to a question about western political interpretation of the recently-elected President Katemi, as a moderate - again, the interviewer's words, not Siddiqui's.
Two interviews, two entirely different subjects, a word introduced by Siddiqui on neither occasion. If this were an undergraduate essay, Burgess might already be looking at a fail, having used such sophistry to concoct the basis for his argument. At no point does Siddiqui make any claim to moderation, but merely refers to mainstream Islam and distances it from figures like Abu Hamza - exactly the sort of thing that the racists are always demanding. Siddiqui is, on the contrary, presented as a muslim activist in opposition to a Metropolitan Police superintendent, which makes Burgess' "exposé" distinctly, like, yawnsville. No matter, let's move on.
He then quotes Siddiqui - highly selectively - as describing the US as "the Pharoah of today" and the EU as a "devil". However the Pharoah reference follows on from his response to a question about Iran-US relations, which he described as "tension between truth and falsehood. For every Pharaoh there will be a Moses. And for the Pharaoh of today, which is the United States, there will have to be a Moses."
And the devil reference? "a better devil, because Europe has a culture, has a tradition and a history. Therefore, the American officials feel vulnerable and are frightened of any interaction between Iran and European Union.... I think Germany can be the best ally for Iran." Sounds like the devil you know, more a figure of speech, but either way, for an Islamic activist to describe the EU, in reference to Iranian foreign policy, is hardly the sort of swivel-eyed lunacy which Burgess is claiming.
Burgess then concludes by juxtaposing Siddiqui's approval of Ayatollah Khomeini with a particularly fire-and-brimstone quote from the old man himself. Again, doesn't really amount to much, since it's like putting Saint Tony next to a sermon from Ian Paisley.
Tampon Teabag informs me that they prefer not to nominate bloggers for their popular Cunt of the Month awards. Pity, as Burgess oozes cuntishness from every pore, and his lies are evidently getting halfway around the world before they're exposed.
After much thought I've decided I'm definitely on the side of Itchy and Scratchy.
Walk the Line finally opened here in Airstrip One this weekend. Hugely enjoyable, smokin' music, great cars, a good night out. The headlines: Joaquin Phoenix just about retains the cred and cool he's built up in films like Gladiator, Buffalo Soldiers, Signs and The Village, although he does seem to need the loo rather urgently whenever he's performing onstage; Reese Witherspoon turns out, against all previous evidence, to be a good actress; the opening and closing scenes, of Johnny Cash's seminal 1968 performance at Folsom Prison, remind us that country, like all music, is best played LOUD. But the coolest character in the film is Luther Perkins, Cash's guitarist and friend, played almost silently by Dan John Miller. Miller fronts "twisted art-rock country" band Blanche and not only co-directed but played the priest in The White Stripes' Hotel Yorba video. In Line, Miller's character periodically steals the show, while his nerdy, white-bread demeanour is so authentic in the Folsom scenes it could almost be original footage.
Want to show your squeeze just how much you love her? Want a little gift that will get her in that special mood after dinner on the 14th? Then iTunes can help you out, with an album of wistful melodies by South Africa's very own Mister Romantic, Eugene Terreblanche. Never mind Italian or French; Die Tolbos reminds us that Afrikaans is the true language of lurve, in songs like Nie Om Digter Te Wees, Sandspruit Se Bloekoms and the boat-floating Hoe Ver Moot Ek Loop. All together now: AWB my baby, my one and only baby...
Long-time readers will recall that cars and cancer™ don't really go well together. Well the long arm of the Safety Camera Partnership has finally caught up with your correspondent, and tomorrow I have to go to the Magistrate's Court with my 12 points and one other offence to be taken into consideration in tow, where the outcome of my trial will almost certainly be a six-month ban. We'll bring you the verdict as it is announced, or a bit later depending whether I stop off to buy a new bike on the way home... UPDATE: Case adjourned till April.
"A month ago, Jodie Marsh was just another Jordan wannabe. But her turn on Celebrity Big Brother proved there's far more to her than that."What, like desperate insecurity? Self-delusion? Hypocrisy? In one of the laziest, most cynical pieces of "journalism" on the whole Celebrity Big Brother circus, Laura Barton tries desperately hard to present Marsh as some sort of post-feminist icon, as a victim of "the tabloids".
"Big Brother, Marsh says through drags on a cigarette, was full of "the most fake, hideous people I've ever met", and her crucial error, she thinks, was going on the show without a game plan. "I was like, do I need one? I just thought I'd be, 'Hello ... here I am!'" Arguably, it was Marsh's naivety that led to her downfall. Having initially charmed the nation through a fly-on-the-wall series, she saw no reason to change the formula, and the fact that nearly all the other celebrities on the show were also vying for public redemption - and might do their best to quash her - had not really occurred to her. "I'd got to the end of my tether with the negative press. There's only so much you can take of every single day hearing yourself being called a slag or a bitch or a slapper or ugly or thick or whatever it is they're calling me. You kind of get to a point where you just don't want it any more.""Where to begin? "Fake, hideous people"? Er - pot and kettle? "She was, she says, just looking for a way to stop people calling her a slag in the street." Hmm, yes maybe putting yourself on your umpteenth reality TV show and talking all the time a) about yourself and b) about sex ain't the way to do it.
"Recently, Marsh became brunette again, after years of being blonde and blue-eyed. "For so long I hid behind the blonde hair and the blue eyes. Now I feel like I've done it, I've done what I set out to achieve, now I can just go back to being me.""Achieve? Dying your hair counts as being you does it?
""I could've been a lawyer by now, I could've gone to uni. But I've taken the quickest and easiest route to making as much money as I can, and having as much fun as I can, and I don't regret that." She has, she points out, recently bought herself a splendid new home, she has worked in Australia and Cyprus and Barbados, she has made a lot of money and written a book. "You can't knock that.""Fine. So shut the fuck up about it. She closes by digging up the standard bleat about women not being "allowed" to talk about sex, conveniently ignoring the point that it wasn't the subject of her conversation to which people objected, but the sheer, mind-numbing, deadly dull monotony of talking about nothing else - apart from when she laid into others. I'm no psychiatrist, but I've met people like Marsh, people who - no fault of their own, admittedly - try to hide their seething insecurity by going around looking like a dog's dinner, talking about themselves to the exclusion of everything else, and who have a heart like a fossilised rabbit turd. Hideous.
The pyjamahadeen hold a tense vigil, anxiously awaiting word that one of their foremost brethren is safe and well. Around the world, lonely men in their underpants leave Pot Noodles untouched, clicking again and again on that link, refusing to believe the 404 that greets their tear-stained eyes. I am David Duff is offline. In a nicely postmodern turn of events, just as a "non-celebrity" is crowned Queen of Celebrity Big Brother, so a pastiche blog has become, in less than a month, entertaining, witty and valued where its original is obvious, boorish and samey. For anyone familar with both, the probable conclusion is that the anonymous imitator found the demands of creating his or her inch-perfect parody too time-consuming. A great shame, whatever the reason, and we still hold out of for the safe restoration of IADD to our screens....
Well raise my rent, sister! Those lovely Tampon Teabag people have tagged little old i hope you get cancer™ in a 7x7 kind of a way. It would be churlish not to accept, so... Seven things to do before I die
Who'd'a thunk it? The nation's students (well, 648 of them) despise their lecturers, not least for their excrutiating ingratiating techniques. One said: "They pick up 'street' information from the media and decide they understand today's youth. It is pathetic to talk about these things to us in the hope of seeming knowledgeable and cool." Another said: "They try to be funny - I'm not at clown college." One particularly aggrieved student said: "In short, every aspect of their measly little lives irritates me." I know you are - but what am I?
So there I was, discussing TV branding, scheduling and promotion with some of my students today, when I asked them to consider the merits of ITV's recent rebranding exercise. One bright young lady asked what the image above depicted. "Well," I replied, with increasing disbelief, "it seems to be an unidentified man throwing water over some children." The group went quiet, except for the odd titter. Some marketing type from Britain's worst TV channel said: "We aim to move perception of ITV from terrestrial broadcaster to content brand, making it fully fit for a multichannel, multi-platform world." Yeah. Anyway, Simon "Slappy" Shaps, the pint-sized director of television at BWTVC, had the gall to say the new look for ITV1 was designed to be "very warm and inviting, not scary". Well I'm afraid you're wrong, Napoleon. That sort of thing - to a parent, or any decent person - is indeed scary. Very scary. Must we pump this perverted filth into the living rooms of hard-working Britons?
What a cunt.
...with all the drinkers and punters, and the Tories are New Labour, and Labour is the Thatcherite Tory party, then... ...how many people in the picture were wearing hats?
"Our national security is linked in innumerable ways to accessible, secure, and preferably cheap energy." So says Lewis Lehrman, well-connected banker, long-standing business partner of President George W. Bush, former Iran-Contra collaborator with Oliver North, and member of the board of directors of The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). In his 2003 article for The Weekly Standard, Lehrman makes the strategic economic argument for US access to cheap, stable sources of energy. Primarily an attack on the "environmental left", Lehrman's piece also leaves no doubt as to the strategic importance the US currently attaches to energy. "The American people face fundamental choices about energy, on the supply side and the demand side," Lehrman declares, "which will decide the way they will live their daily lives for generations to come." He points to the link between the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s and the price of energy, and draws an immediate conclusion: "Cheap energy should once again be a key goal of economic policy." He also rejects out of hand the whole idea of sustainable development, arguing on the contrary that building - not just maintaining, but building - energy supply is a prerequisite for economic growth: "Growing the supply of energy slightly in excess of demand contributes to full employment policies...cheap and growing energy supplies are a crucial part of an effective policy of full employment at rising real wages." Not only does Lehrman dismiss the energy rhetoric of the Europeans as "national suicide", but he posits objective factors such as geography which make the US a special case when it comes to needing more energy than others. Just in case we weren't getting the point, Lehrman spells it out: "A policy of restoring greater energy independence and maintaining inexpensive energy is not only possible but necessary--if Americans truly desire increased national security, a vibrant basic materials industry, and rapid economic growth." Such a policy, he adds, would include "a concerted national trade and security policy to prevent monopolistic collusion by foreign energy producers, especially in crude oil--and thus to restore more U.S. energy independence. Since collusion is not tolerated in any domestic industry, why must we tolerate collusion abroad against a vital U.S. interest, especially by oil-producing countries whose political existence depends to a large extent on U.S. military power?" We may assume Lehrman's views, in an article carried on the PNAC website, from one of W's oldest allies and a former partner in his oil business, represent the thinking behind US policy. Given this, given what we know about the US adventure in Iraq, is it in any way conceivable that the United States will tolerate Iranian defiance indefinitely?
Well, not quite, but the inevitable has happened and Mother of Blair is to be immortalised in a musical.
Those crazy kids at the American Dialect Society have been at it again, identifying those words and phrases which entered the lexicon in 2005.
My personal favourites are:
Heck of a job: catch phrase coined by President Bush.
Brown-out: the poor handling of an emergency.
Muffin top: the bulge of flesh hanging over the top of low-rider jeans.
Patent troll: a person or business, especially a lawyer, who applies for or owns a patent with no intention of developing the product but with every intention of launching lawsuits against patent infringers.
Jump the couch: to exhibit strange or frenetic behavior. Inspired by the couchbouncing
antics of Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in May. It derives
from an earlier term, jump the shark, meaning to (irretrievably) diminish in
quality; to outlast public interest or popular support.
Metrospiritual: an unspecific, cosmopolitan, and expansive view of spirituality. Inspired by metrosexual.
The 2005 Word of the Year, inexplicably, is truthiness, the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true, while podcast was voted the most useful new word.
Previous WotY winners are:
2004: Red/blue/purple states (my favourite is pajamahadeen, bloggers who challenge and factcheck traditional media)
2001: 9/11 (my choice: impeachment nostalgia, longing for the superficial news of the Clinton era.)
1998: e (as prefix)
1997: Millennium bug
1996: Mom (as in Soccer Mom)
1995: World Wide Web
1993: Information superhighway
1991: Mother of all...
Anyone who doubted that Big Brother represents the finest TV gold will have been silenced by the live task on last night's Celebrity Big Brother. The 10 Z-listers were ordered onto podia, where they had to place themselves in order of celebrity. Now, i hope you get cancer™ knows, from many long years working in this crazy business we call show, just how needy and insecure these types are. Talk about going for the jugular! Seeing them torn by the twin impulses to squirm in agony, or to rip each others' eyes out was just too delicious. But seeing "fake celeb" Chantelle Houghton kid her way into the bosom of her "real" celeb housemates, thus turning their own vanity on its head, was sublime. Haven't laughed so much in ages. Unmissable.
Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, tonight publicly admitted what had become an open secret in the Westminster village: "I have a problem, and that problem is ginger hair." The 46-year old stunned Westminster in a bid to quell the growing tide of gossip about his personal life, and his political future. In an emotional statement before a hastily-assembled group of reporters, Kennedy further admitted he'd sought the answer in a bottle, before asking for professional help.
"I learned the hard way of the need to face up to this medical problem, one that is dealt with successfully by many others on a daily basis," he said. "I chose not to acknowledge it publicly before in this way because, if at all possible, I wanted to overcome it privately."Ginger hair, though far less prevalent than in earlier times, still affects a substantial minority of Mr Kennedy's fellow Scots. As yet, however, there is no cure.
Typical. Just when somebody takes a sensible approach to immigration, there's some jackbooted hippy ready to piss all over the idea.
Man-flu. It hit yesterday, and I've been flat on my back with it ever since. Sleeping, sweating, aching, dizzy. Rubbish. Anyway I hope your new year is going better, and that 2006 brings you, you know, stuff.
HE'S DONE IT!!!! The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, has cruised to victory over his fellow nominees to be named i hope you get cancer™ Cunt of the Year 2005. Early voting saw David "From the Tap" Duff streak ahead, but Sir Ian never lost the commanding lead he built up over Duff, Scott Sala, Melanie Phillips and That Bloke From the Picture Loans Advert after the opening weekend of voting. Sir Ian, who presided over the killing of an innocent man, a cover-up and an aggressive spin campaign against the dead man's family and supporters, won with a massive 58 per cent of the vote. Sir Ian, you truly are Cunt of the Year, and we salute you.
The latest Human Rights Annual Report, by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, catalogues widespread and systematic abuses of human rights by the Uzbeki government, and concludes that "torture and other forms of ill treatment are routine, particularly in the early stages of custody". Amid the diplomatic babble of condemning this and encouraging that, the report makes very clear the scale and nature of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, the failure of the regime to honour its international commitments, and the UK policy of "critical engagement." Chapter 7, dealing with human rights, international law and the "war against terror", sets out the UK's position (my italics):
We observe UK law in all our contacts with other states. There have been repeated allegations in the last year about the use by the UK of information from third countries that may have been obtained through torture. The Government has consistently made clear that it never uses torture to obtain information and would never instigate others to use torture. We condemn the use of torture unreservedly and are working hard to eradicate the practice worldwide. We accept, however, that when we receive intelligence from our partners we cannot always be sure of the circumstances under which that intelligence was gathered. The prime purpose for intelligence is to avert threats to British citizens’ lives. Where we receive reliable intelligence on such threats we would be irresponsible to reject it. We do not take intelligence at face value; our intelligence agencies evaluate the reliability of all information they receive. They consider, for instance, where the intelligence comes from; whether the source was in detention; and the source’s motivation and record.So, on at least one of Craig Murray's fundamental points - the routine use of torture to obtain confessions - the FCO is in full agreement, and as Murray pointed out in his Radio 4 interview yesterday, the scale of the problem is such that information extracted from detainees is highly unlikely to have been gained without torture. And in the FCO's own words above, the Government condemns the use of torture except where it uses the confessions extracted by such acts. Classic Third Wayism, classic Blair: trying to have one's cake and eat it, trying to appear "critically engaged" (trans: say one thing, do the opposite).
Or so I thought.
Go here, here, here for more on how our Government is lying to us about its complicity in unimaginable acts of brutality and murder. As is so often the case, Lenin's Tomb and Chicken Yoghurt offer exceptionally clear coverage and analysis, while Blairwatch has full background and mp3s of Blair lying and Straw lying. 5am update: This site is showing a running update of blogs which have published Ambassador Murray's documents. Here is a message of thanks from Craig Murray: "Can I pass on my thanks to everyone who is posting the documents and making them public. You are striking a real blow for humanity and against the appalling decline in our civil liberties and standards. We have also proved that, as long as we have good people out there, technology now makes it impossible for Western governments and political establishments to bury the truth, no matter how much they control the mainstream media." Those memos from Ambassador Murray in full: Letter #1 Confidential FM Tashkent (Ambassador Craig Murray) TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts 16 September 02 SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting Terrorism SUMMARY US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy. DETAIL The Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular, has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree. Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism. Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim. Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform [a reference to my previous telegram on the economy]. In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services. Similarly, following US pressure when Karimov visited Washington, a human rights NGO has been permitted to register. This is an advance, but they have little impact given that no media are prepared to cover any of their activities or carry any of their statements. The final improvement State quote is that in one case of murder of a prisoner the police involved have been prosecuted. That is an improvement, but again related to the Karimov visit and does not appear to presage a general change of policy. On the latest cases of torture deaths the Uzbeks have given the OSCE an incredible explanation, given the nature of the injuries, that the victims died in a fight between prisoners. But allowing a single NGO, a token prosecution of police officers and a fake press freedom cannot possibly outweigh the huge scale of detentions, the torture and the secret executions. President Karimov has admitted to 100 executions a year but human rights groups believe there are more. Added to this, all opposition parties remain banned (the President got a 98% vote) and the Internet is strictly controlled. All Internet providers must go through a single government server and access is barred to many sites including all dissident and opposition sites and much international media (including, ironically, waronterrorism.com). This is in essence still a totalitarian state: there is far less freedom than still prevails, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. A Movement for Democratic Change or any judicial independence would be impossible here. Karimov is a dictator who is committed to neither political nor economic reform. The purpose of his regime is not the development of his country but the diversion of economic rent to his oligarchic supporters through government controls. As a senior Uzbek academic told me privately, there is more repression here now than in Brezhnev's time. The US are trying to prop up Karimov economically and to justify this support they need to claim that a process of economic and political reform is underway. That they do so claim is either cynicism or self-delusion. This policy is doomed to failure. Karimov is driving this resource-rich country towards economic ruin like an Abacha. And the policy of increasing repression aimed indiscriminately at pious Muslims, combined with a deepening poverty, is the most certain way to ensure continuing support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They have certainly been decimated and disorganised in Afghanistan, and Karimov's repression may keep the lid on for years - but pressure is building and could ultimately explode. I quite understand the interest of the US in strategic airbases and why they back Karimov, but I believe US policy is misconceived. In the short term it may help fight terrorism but in the medium term it will promote it, as the Economist points out. And it can never be right to lower our standards on human rights. There is a complex situation in Central Asia and it is wrong to look at it only through a prism picked up on September 12. Worst of all is what appears to be the philosophy underlying the current US view of Uzbekistan: that September 11 divided the World into two camps in the "War against Terrorism" and that Karimov is on "our" side. If Karimov is on "our" side, then this war cannot be simply between the forces of good and evil. It must be about more complex things, like securing the long-term US military presence in Uzbekistan. I silently wept at the 11 September commemoration here. The right words on New York have all been said. But last week was also another anniversary - the US-led overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. The subsequent dictatorship killed, dare I say it, rather more people than died on September 11. Should we not remember then also, and learn from that too? I fear that we are heading down the same path of US-sponsored dictatorship here. It is ironic that the beneficiary is perhaps the most unreformed of the World's old communist leaders. We need to think much more deeply about Central Asia. It is easy to place Uzbekistan in the "too difficult" tray and let the US run with it, but I think they are running in the wrong direction. We should tell them of the dangers we see. Our policy is theoretically one of engagement, but in practice this has not meant much. Engagement makes sense, but it must mean grappling with the problems, not mute collaboration. We need to start actively to state a distinctive position on democracy and human rights, and press for a realistic view to be taken in the IMF. We should continue to resist pressures to start a bilateral DFID programme, unless channelled non-governmentally, and not restore ECGD cover despite the constant lobbying. We should not invite Karimov to the UK. We should step up our public diplomacy effort, stressing democratic values, including more resources from the British Council. We should increase support to human rights activists, and strive for contact with non-official Islamic groups. Above all we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game. MURRAY -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Letter #2 Confidential Fm Tashkent (Ambassador Craig Murray) To FCO 18 March 2003 SUBJECT: US FOREIGN POLICY SUMMARY 1. As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth. DETAIL 2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom. 3. Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years. 4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid - more than US aid to all of West Africa - is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov's vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He - and they - are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West? 5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I understand at American urging). 6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values. Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terrorâ€¦ removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes. 7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan. MURRAY -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Transcript of facsimile sent 25 March 2003 from the Foreign Office] From: Michael Wood, Legal Advisor Date: 13 March 2003 CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLD Linda Duffield UZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE 1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention. 2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides: "Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made." 3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence. [signed] M C Wood Legal Adviser --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Letter #3 CONFIDENTIAL FM TASHKENT (Ambassador Craig Murray) TO IMMEDIATE FCO TELNO 63 OF 220939 JULY 04 INFO IMMEDIATE DFID, ISLAMIC POSTS, MOD, OSCE POSTS UKDEL EBRD LONDON, UKMIS GENEVA, UKMIS MEW YORK SUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE SUMMARY 1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror. 2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results. 3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state. DETAIL 4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice. 5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture. 6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood. 7. Sir Michael Jay's circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department. 8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened. 9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true - the material is marked with a euphemism such as "From detainee debriefing." The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured. 10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact 11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention; "The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights." While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also. 12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." 13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform. 14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment. 15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services. 16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material. 17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this. 18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit. 19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale. MURRAY
You have less than 24 hours to vote for your nominee in the first ever i hope you get cancer™ Cunt of the Year awards. At 6pm GMT tomorrow voting will close and Cunt of the Year will be decided. So whether you're backing current favourite Sir Ian Blair, Melanie Phillips, That Bloke Off The Picture Loans Advert, David Duff or Scott Sala, make your voice heard!!!
So let me get this right. One shameless self-publicist sucks off another so they can both go around saying "look at me! I'm, like, so against poverty!" Altogether now...
i hope you get cancer™ momentarily departs from its lofty public service ideals to do what many other blogs get away with, to tell you what music it's currently listening to. In no particular order, current faves include: The Stooges - The Stooges (why did it take an old punk rocker like me until I was in my 40s to realise how fantastic The Stooges were?) Son House - John the Revelator Dennis Brown Presents Prince Jammy - UMOJA/20th Century Dubwise The League Unlimited Orchestra - Love & Dancing Luxuria Music and DIfm Modern Jazz, the best internet radio stations I've heard. We now return to our regular programming.
On 30 December 2004, this blog took its first stumbling steps. What better time, therefore, to look back at 2005 through the eyes of some of Hell Is Other People/i hope you get cancer™'s leading writers. December, inevitably, was given over to mawkish reflections on the tsunami and on 2004 itself. Having ended 2004 resolving, mawkishly, to be less self-centred following the tsunami, 2005 started as it would continue, with a whiny bleat about my dead iPod. In February, I coined a new word, McAdemic, to describe those, like me, who toil at the coalface of Blair's vision for higher education. Of more significance was the opening of our Ghetto Names Collection point, an immediate hit with our US readers, who seem to Google little else. In March I was too busy to post, and April was little better. In May, I posted a little bit of reportage from my home town's Masturbation Mile and, talking of wankers, Melanie Phillips darkened our doors for the first time the following month. The London bombings on 7 July brought Phillips and her fellow bigots crawling out of the woodwork in droves, and it was your super soaraway Hell Is Other People that first pointed out that Melanie Phillips is a racist scumbag. Another future Cunt of the Year nominee made his HIOP debut the same month, using the London dead as masturbation fodder for their Londonistan racist fantasies. Having reported the Guardian's early revelation that the Metropolitan police admitted to his family that Jean Charles de Menezes had been neither wearing a "bulky jacket" nor jumped the barrier before they shot him dead, HIOP continued to decode the Met's aggressive crisis management during August. A third CoTY nominee was born. September saw HIOP get its collar felt by none other than the Pentagon, but the month belonged to our friends at Lenin's Tomb, for their exemplary reporting of Hurrican Katrina. The first HIOP podcast came out in October, followed by its debut on iTunes in November. As the year draws to a close, HIOP has a new title, and our handful of readers eagerly awaits next week's announcement of the i hope you get cancer™ Cunt of the Year. Will Sir Ian Blair romp home, or could one of his fellow four nominees shoot him in the back? You'll find out right here.
Here's a little holiday brain-teaser for you. One of 2005's more ridiculous showbiz liaisons was reportedly between redundant rock-widow Courtney Love and MOR TV comic Steve Coogan. It prompts one to wonder which other equivalent personalities might make a similarly odd couple. If Courtney Love is to Steve Coogan as X is to Y, what else could be X? And Y?