Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: January 2009

31 January 2009

Child's father comes home from Iraq in a box

This story isn't nearly as tragic as the headline would lead you to believe

Lately, a lot of the reporting about Iraq has centered on happy human interest stories like this one. From reading the papers here in the US, you'd think that the occupation had already ended. But of course, for many soldiers' families, there is no happy ending to the story:


And let's not forget that there are still dozens of killings every week in Iraq, and it's often parents who mourn the death of a child, not the other way around:


(cross posted at appletree)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

30 January 2009

Friday Photography Blogging ...

Oh, boy. What a week. Are we bloody beat - or what?!

Believe it or not though, the blogosphere isn't the be all and end all : not even for yours truly.

So what other sorts of stuff do we do when we want to relax for a while?

The clue's in today's title of course.

Okay, we know. You're bored now.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. We know we will. We've got plenty of freshly charged batteries and a wonderful weather forecast for tomorrow.

G'night for now. Sleep tight.

(Btw, all above pictures are our personal property. We own the copyright. Right?)

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , ,

29 January 2009

See & hear urgent Gaza humanitarian aid appeal, banned by 'top brass' BBC bums

We sincerely wish to apologise in advance for not publishing this particular piece sooner.

We also offer our apologies to any of our readers who may be offended by the above banner ...

... but unfortunately we couldn't find one using stronger language.

Arwh, whatever.

There are many mere lesser mortals (with much more humanity and honesty than those supposedly above them ), to be found among ordinary, everyday, honest, hard working Beeb employees -- including some of the fast becoming increasingly crappy BBC's real journalists.

Witness this cut & pasted taster:


Meanwhile, the BBC is facing a growing revolt from its own journalists, with sources reporting "widespread disgust" within its newsrooms. However, BBC staff have said they have been told they face the sack if they speak out on the issue.

Sources said there was "fury" at the BBC News morning meeting today about the decision, with news editors saying they had not been consulted on the move to not show the appeal.

"Feelings are running extremely high and there is widespread disgust at the BBC's top management," one BBC News source said. "There is widespread anger and frustration at the BBC's refusal to allow people to speak out about it."

Members of the NUJ at London's Television Centre are expected to tomorrow pass a resolution condemning the BBC's decision.

Good on you guys & gals, sez we,

Read the rest of the report, which includes the appeal video itself, in it's entirety.

And ...

Good on the United Nations' boss too, who's told the BBC big-boys straight - to effin' forget the planned interview with him.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , , , ,

28 January 2009

The Obama Effect: 'nuclear diplomacy' edition

Bush and his advisers never did figure out why Putin always seemed to get the best of them

Barack Obama has only been president a week, and already he's had a major success in an area of foreign policy and national security in which Bush found only failure. In response to Obama's assertion that he will review Bush's proposed European missile shield, Vladimir Putin declared that Russia will suspend deployment of nuclear missiles near Kaliningrad. Those missiles had caused our allies in Poland great concern, as Kaliningrad is just just a few miles away from the Polish border.

During the run-up to the 2004 election, challenger John Kerry identified nuclear proliferation as the #1 security threat facing the US, and President Bush agreed. But during his administration, Bush backed out of a non-proliferation deal with North Korea, which responded by tested a nuclear warhead and several nuclear-capable missiles (thankfully, the tests failed and Bush was able to get the Koreans to agree to a deal
almost identical to the one Bush had scrapped a couple of years previous).

But the North Korean fiasco was only the most spectacular of Bush's failures with regard to nuclear non-proliferation. Iran responded to Bush's belligerence by stepping up its program to enrich uranium for its civilian nuclear program, a program that could allow Iran to produce weapons-grade nuclear material in the future. Bush's plan to build a useless missile shield in Poland (ostensibly to protect West Europe from Iran's non-existent nuclear missiles) prompted Vladimir Putin to announce a plan to deploy nuclear missiles on the Polish border. And Bush's agreement to share nuclear technology with India, an agreement that violates the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, enraged the leaders of Pakistan and brought the two nuclear powers to the brink of war.

All of this happened while Bush chased after non-existent nuclear weapons in Syria and Iraq. Bush's only success against what he himself called the most serious security threat facing the country came when Moammar Gaddafi of Libya agreed to abandon a weapons development program. That success looks fairly modest in light of the fact that Libya's weapons program doesn't appear to have been anywhere near to bearing fruit.

After all that failure, you have to draw one of two conclusions. Either the task of containing nuclear proliferation is literally impossible, or Bush and his team didn't know what they were doing. And now Obama has answered that question for us by having immediate success that resulted from a reversal of Bush's policy.


Most leaders, even aggressive, militaristic leaders like Putin, are willing to engage diplomatically with their rivals and make compromises that are mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran isn't among the leaders who are willing to be reasonable. In response to Obama's firm but conciliatory rhetoric, Ahmadinejad demanded that Obama apologize to the Iranian people for past American policies. Presumably, that would mean apologizing for American support of the brutal Shah Mohammad Pahlavi and for the ongoing economic sanctions that continue to hurt Iran's economy.

Demanding an
apology for the actions of Obama's predecessors as a condition for opening serious negotiations is obviously an attempt to ensure that such negotiations negotiations ever take place. It's easy to see why Ahmadinejad wants to avoid such negotiations. An American-led sanctions regime has greatly damaged the Iranian economy, but it's also enhanced Ahmadinejad's political stature at home. So on the one hand, it appears that not much has changed with regard to the US/Iran relationship.

But because of his conciliatory approach, Obama is in a much stronger position than Bush was. Under Bush, China and India voraciously consumed Iranian oil, while Russia provided Iran with advanced weaponry, nuclear power technology, and even enriched uranium. But under Obama, Iran is likely to find itself increasingly marginalized by the world community and increasingly unable to avoid engaging in good-faith diplomacy with the US.

(cross posted at

Labels: , , , , ,

26 January 2009

Israel's Premier Ehud Olmert's Shameless War Crimes Statement

War crimes?

No worries.


No problem.


Because the brave IDF boys were just following orders.

And anyway ~ "Israel ubber alles!"

That's why.

And please pay particular attention to the very last sentence of the BBC report. It's a blatant, inexcusable outright lie.

Hamas did not "seize control" of anywhere. They were democratically elected by the Palestinian people.

Because said election results made such a monkey of the United States and their choice of puppet/poodle, the lying American & British governments (and almost all of their respective media), were/are once again only too willing and eager to create and to perpetuate, yet one more myth.

What has lately happened to the once so credible/reliable and well respected BBC, is not only sickeningly shameful, it's downright sodding scary.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , , , , ,

24 January 2009

What A Shock: Ted Haggard's gay cure didn't work


From the Associated Press:

Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard's former church disclosed Friday that the gay sex scandal that caused his downfall extends to a young male church volunteer who reported having a sexual relationship with Haggard - a revelation that comes as Haggard tries to repair his public image.

Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told The Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute named Mike Jones claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard. Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" after Jones' allegations and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and from New Life Church, where he faced being fired.

Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly. In early 2007, New Life Church disclosed that an investigation uncovered new evidence that Haggard engaged in "sordid conversation" and "improper relationships" - but didn't go into detail. Earlier, a church board member had said there was no evidence that Haggard had sexual relations with anyone but Jones.

Anticipating criticism of the settlement with the former church volunteer, Boyd said Friday that it was in the best interests of all involved. He would not name the volunteer or the settlement amount.

"It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," Boyd said. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance - certainly not hush money. I know what's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was."

Reached Friday night, Haggard declined to comment and said all interviews would have to be arranged through a publicist for HBO, which is airing a documentary about him this month.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can't be put into "stereotypical boxes."
When the Haggard gay sex scandal first became public, Haggard and his gay cure team claimed that Haggard's only gay experiences were with Jones, and that he and Jones only had sex a couple of times. Jones disputed those assertions, and those assertions turn out to be lies.

So why are these new details becoming public now? The New Life Church, which Haggard, built up to 14,000 members before being fired for being gay, would have us believe that the man they paid hush money to just decided to come forward on his own, and that they've decided not to pursue him for breach of contract because they're being merciful. But that doesn't really wash, because it's the New Life Church that is releasing the information.

A more likely explanation is that they're upset because they've heard that Haggard complains about the way the church treated him in a soon-to-be-released HBO documentary, and they're trying to discredit Haggard. Apparently, Evangelicals are also upset because he argues that some people's sexuality is complicated, and often can't be accurately described in the stereotyped, either/or language often employed by leaders of the Evangelical movement. They might also be upset that Haggard, the former president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, now
scoffs at the idea of a cure for homosexuality:

Three weeks after church elders told Haggard to leave and ordered him to undergo "spiritual restoration," they announced that after counseling he was "completely heterosexual."

Haggard smiled wryly at the statement, saying he fits into neither the gay nor the evangelical community.

"My therapist says I am a heterosexual with complications. I don't say that because it is more complex. I love my relationship with my wife."
At least one Evangelical leader still believes that Haggard could be "cured" with the right therapy. James Dobson, who says that he considers Haggard a "close friend", claims that he could cure Haggard, but he doesn't have the time.

It's hard for me to think of this sort of behavior as anything but unchristian. Haggard cheated on his wife, then lied about it even after he was exposed. His former church seems to be attacking him out of spite, using one of his former lovers as a weapon. And a man who claims to be his good friend won't take the time to help him.

Whatever happened to Christian values like fidelity, honesty, mercy, compassion, and going the extra mile for your neighbor? It seems to me that Haggard's bisexuality is the least unchristian aspect of this story.

(cross posted at appletree)

Labels: , , , , ,

23 January 2009

Israel-Gaza latest : Senior Saudi Royal Family Prince, Wades In To Warn The USA

We couldn't care a tinker's cuss what Faux-Fox, and/or any of their lying ilk, might or might not say.

When such a senior member of Saudi Arabia's ruling Royal Family says something so straightforward (and so strongly) as that that follows, then we'd all best pin back our lug-holes and pay attention. Especially, those in the know, in the USA.

Since super-sized-surprise-international-news-wise ~ this is about as big as it gets.

A prominent member of the Saudi royal family is warning the Obama administration that failure to alter US attitudes towards the Arab-Israeli conflict radically would threaten the kingdom’s “special relationship” with the US and could force Riyadh to abandon its own support for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

In an article in Thursday’s Financial Times, Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to Washington", says that if the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and maintain its strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, it “will have to drastically revise its policies vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine”.

Days after the end of Israel’s three-week Gaza offensive, he says the Bush administration, which supported the onslaught, had left a “sickening legacy in the region”.

And while Saudi Arabia has so far resisted Iranian calls to lead a “jihad” against Israel, “eventually the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel”.
Read the full (London) 'Financial Times' report right here.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pope Ratzi the Nazi's latest lame-brained, divine inspiration : An immaculate internet conception connection.


Holy, http:!!

Some more media whores and some more crazy Counterfeit-Christian crap.

Just what our wacko-world needs right now, eh?

Yeah, sure it does.

Like it needs a(nother) huge hole in it's head.

And while we're on about the world, could somebody, somewhere please stop it spinning?

Since currently, it's damned well driving us absolutely stark staring, bloody bonkers.

And for as long as it stays the way it is, we just want to get the eff off of it.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

21 January 2009

Will Obama walk the walk the way he talks the talk?

We're as relieved as most of the rest of the world, that the madman above has gone.

And we're as hopeful as most of our planet's people are, that the man below honestly & truly (and swiftly) definitely does usher in "change", as repeatedly promised.

But we judge people by their deeds, not by their words.

That's why right now, we're reserving our right to reserve our judgement.

Obama as an orator is obviously, inarguabley awesome.

But then again, so was the old Brit below.

Don't just take our word for it. See and hear for yourself.

Just as Obama's powerful performance was perfectly delivered in a single take ~ so was the late great Lord Laurence Olivier's.

As the old saying goes ~ time alone will tell.

(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , ,

19 January 2009

Israel/Gaza: This Old Jewish Brit, Sir Gerald Kaufman standing up to be counted

A long, long time ago before he was ever honoured with a knighthood, we very briefly met and spoke to Gerald Kaufman. (But that's not really relevant to the rest of this tremendously, refreshingly, revealing report. Probably just a bit of vanity, posing and/or name dropping on our part, eh? Well, none of us are perfect are we? Except maybe mad members of certain self proclaimed, 'master races', eh?)

No matter.

This video of Sir Gerald Kaufman delivering an emotional, open, brave, honest and true speech in our old Brit houses of parliament, is a "must NOT miss" sight for sore eyes.

You'd better believe us.

Well said Sir Gerald. We salute you.

[Huge hat-tip to our old fellow blogger friend
"Gert" for finding this extra special, recent, unmissable video, btw.]

* (Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

17 January 2009

Ref: appletree's ~ For Israelis, no atrocity is too great: officer says he was right to shoot a 13-year-old child: UPDATED

(photo source)

Regular readers will know that (appletree's) Gordo (our good blogger buddy from Oregon) and ourselves often cross post pieces at each other's blogs. Well, we're (pretty safely) assuming that in this instance Gordo simply forgot to cross post this particular piece - so we are, shall we say, 'using our initiative''...

From the Guardian:

An Israeli army officer who repeatedly shot a 13-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza dismissed a warning from another soldier that she was a child by saying he would have killed her even if she was three years old.

The officer, identified by the army only as Captain R, was charged this week with illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and other relatively minor infractions after emptying all 10 bullets from his gun's magazine into Iman al-Hams when she walked into a "security area" on the edge of Rafah refugee camp last month.

A tape recording of radio exchanges between soldiers involved in the incident, played on Israeli television, contradicts the army's account of the events and appears to show that the captain shot the girl in cold blood.

The official account claimed that Iman was shot as she walked towards an army post with her schoolbag because soldiers feared she was carrying a bomb.

But the tape recording of the radio conversation between soldiers at the scene reveals that, from the beginning, she was identified as a child and at no point was a bomb spoken about nor was she described as a threat. Iman was also at least 100 yards from any soldier.

Instead, the tape shows that the soldiers swiftly identified her as a "girl of about 10" who was "scared to death".

The tape also reveals that the soldiers said Iman was headed eastwards, away from the army post and back into the refugee camp, when she was shot.

At that point, Captain R took the unusual decision to leave the post in pursuit of the girl. He shot her dead and then "confirmed the kill" by emptying his magazine into her body.

The tape recording is of a three-way conversation between the army watchtower, the army post's operations room and the captain, who was a company commander.

The soldier in the watchtower radioed his colleagues after he saw Iman: "It's a little girl. She's running defensively eastward."

Operations room: "Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?"

Watchtower: "A girl of about 10, she's behind the embankment, scared to death."

A few minutes later, Iman is shot in the leg from one of the army posts.

The watchtower: "I think that one of the positions took her out."

The company commander then moves in as Iman lies wounded and helpless.

Captain R: "I and another soldier ... are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill ... Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her ... I also confirmed the kill. Over."

Witnesses described how the captain shot Iman twice in the head, walked away, turned back and fired a stream of bullets into her body. Doctors at Rafah's hospital said she had been shot at least 17 times.

On the tape, the company commander then "clarifies" why he killed Iman: "This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over."

The army's original account of the killing said that the soldiers only identified Iman as a child after she was first shot. But the tape shows that they were aware just how young the small, slight girl was before any shots were fired.

The case came to light after soldiers under the command of Captain R went to an Israeli newspaper to accuse the army of covering up the circumstances of the killing.

A subsequent investigation by the officer responsible for the Gaza strip, Major General Dan Harel, concluded that the captain had "not acted unethically".

However, the military police launched an investigation, which resulted in charges against the unit commander.

Iman's parents have accused the army of whitewashing the affair by filing minor charges against Captain R. They want him prosecuted for murder.

Naturally, the first impulse of the Israeli Defense Force was to lie and attempt to cover up the incident. When they were forced to acknowledge what really happened, the IDF reacted by charging the officer with relatively minor crimes.

The message to the Israeli troops is clear: no crime is too monstrous, as long as it is committed against a Palestinian.

Now, having read and wept, and probably raged, we urge you to see *GORDO'S UPDATE, which we fervently believe makes matters much worse.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

16 January 2009

Civilized Sunni/Secular TURKEY is Taking in Wounded Palestinians

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (not in the photo) speaks with a wounded Palestinian man in Ankara, on January 13, 2009.

Some Palestinian wounded people are now being carried to Ankara (Turkey's capital) for treatment.

More to follow (as soon as is possible) with cites/links. Because right now, and you'd better believe it, we are busy, bloody, busy.

In the meantime, we're sure that those who read here regularly and have the time and/or inclination, will use their initiative and 'give google a good go' - since our personal physical handicap, since birth, of having been born with only a single pair of hands, is increasingly taking it's toll on us.

All of which -- may make it awfully apt to once again ask for some volunteer, part time co-posters @ This Old Brit' blog.

For those who don't yet know our email address, please use the email link on our profile page.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

New York Times manages to miss the point once again

The carnage in Gaza has further radicalized the populace

A recent New York Times report indicates that Israel's attack on Gaza has strengthened the radicals in Hamas at the expense of the moderates in Fatah:

Israel hoped that the war in Gaza would not only cripple Hamas, but eventually strengthen its secular rival, the Palestinian Authority, and even allow it to claw its way back into Gaza.

But with each day, the authority, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and its leading party, Fatah, seem increasingly beleaguered and marginalized, even in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank, which they control. Protesters accuse Mr. Abbas of not doing enough to stop the carnage in Gaza — indeed, his own police officers have used clubs and tear gas against those same protesters.

The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas’s support seems to be growing at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, already considered corrupt and distant from average Palestinians.
This report appears to show remarkable naivety. Israeli authorities know that every time they engage in wanton slaughter in the West Bank or in Gaza, it enhances the prestige of the radicals and discredits the moderates. Because Israel continues to use the same tactics, one can only conclude that they desire the same results.

It's the oldest tactic in the imperialist playbook. First, kill off the moderates. Then, agitate the radicals. Repeat until the resistance to imperial rule is radical and violent enough to justify an escalation of violence. The more violence the imperial power wants to employ, the more radical they have to make the resistance.

Of course, the editors of the Times are well aware of this tactic. They know that Hamas is
largely a creation of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. They know that Hamas has always gained power and prestige whenever Israel escalates its campaign against the Palestinians. And they know that it was Israel, not Hamas, that triggered the current conflict by violating its ceasefire with Hamas. So how can the editors at the Times be so naive as to believe that "Israel hoped that the war in Gaza would not only cripple Hamas, but eventually strengthen its secular rival, the Palestinian Authority"?

The answer, of course, is that they aren't that naive. The editors at the Times understand that Israel is trying to radicalize the Palestinians in order to justify future operations against them, especially in the West Bank. But they continue to pretend that Hamas is the aggressor and that Israel is seeking to pacify the Palestinians because when it comes to Israel, the New York Times doesn't function as a neutral observer, but as a promoter of Israeli propaganda.

(cross posted at appletree)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

15 January 2009

Bits about Israel, Gaza, White Phosphorous and worse

These first two photos show unmistakable white phosphorous bombs/shells indiscriminately showering down death upon the "caged" Palestinian civilian population.

All the above Gaza photos are taken within the last 10/12 days - they are NOT from old archives. And many, many, many more are being "transmitted and received" all the time.

This is the truth of what Israel is visiting upon a place they have purposely turned into the most densely populated place on the planet. These poor people have nowhere to run to.

Can you even roughly estimate how much more murder and mayhem has ensued - just since you started looking at these photos? Can you?

PLEASE HELP by passing this on - and on - and on and...

(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

Labels: , , , , , , ,