Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The great game

Speaking of football, I'm on a flying visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the moment and as we stopped at the Israeli checkpoint before crossing over into Jericho the soldier saw my girlfriend's Italian passport and said: "Ah, see the match? Forza Italia!".

When we arrived in Jericho, one of the first people to greet us (tourists being rare birds in these parts) was a young man who asked "where you from?" When I replied London, England, he said: "Ah, Arsenal! Football!".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The young Tony

Tony Blair's youthful enthusiasm for radical socialism and his admiration for communism's founder Karl Marx are revealed in letter written in 1982.

In the 22-page letter, the 29-year-old Mr Blair tells then Labour leader Michael Foot how reading Marx had "irreversibly altered" his outlook.

He also praises Tony Benn, agreeing with the left-winger's analysis that Labour's right-wing was bankrupt...

"I actually did trouble to read Marx first hand. I found it illuminating in so many ways; in particular, my perception of the relationship between people and the society in which they live was irreversibly altered," he wrote.

"But ultimately it was stifling because it sought to embrace in its philosophy every facet of existence. That, of course, is its attraction to many."

Mr Blair signs off advising Mr Foot to make clear he would be leading Labour into the next election and that he would win it - Mr Foot would go on to lead Labour to defeat in the 1983 poll.

The Labour Party's 1983 manifesto was of course described as "the longest suicide note in history".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Act of War in the Wasp Factory

Reuters tells us that the US rows back from Guantanamo suicide comments

Too late.

What more exposing statement can be made about this self-perpetuating and endless war against our own fears than that?

Meanwhile in Forest Gate fear clearly gets the better of an armed police officer on a darkened stairwell.This time a dark-skinned man survives to tell his tale after over a week in custody (and hospital).

But it is notable that as late as 48 hours before the two brothers arrested in the raid were released, the police were requesting a 14 day extension of the period for which they were allowed to hold them. This was pinned back to 24 hours by a judge after which they were released (had it not been be assured the brothers from Forest Gate would still be in Paddington Green).

Could it be that the police, at this late stage, as speculation mounted that the raid was a spectacular mistake yielding nothing, were attempting to buy time to kill the story a little using our great new liberal anti-terror legislation?

It could be.

This aside, however, what fear exactly got the better of the superiors of the officer on the stairwell, not to mention those at a JIC-level who authorised this game of fantasy fanatics?

The Police 'had no choice... they tell us. No choice but to send 200 officers by night. Call me a simpleton but didn't one just used to arrange an MI5/6 burglary team? Or use surveillance equipment? And doesn't a weapon of mass destruction necessitate an area evacuation?

Or is this just another manifestation of messrs Ian and Tony Blair's strategy of tension.

If it is, then it is working in Forest Gate, it's positively buzzing with tension.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi's family: he was a good boy really who loved his mum

Members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's family gathered Thursday to mourn the death of the notorious al Qaeda in Iraq leader.

"We hope that he will join other martyrs in heaven," said Zarqawi's brother Sayel al-Khalayleh.

He said Abu had always been a very good child who had loved his mother. His chief interests were biology and pyrotechnics - he would often be found pulling the legs off insects and once got into trouble for attaching a fire cracker to the tail of a neighbour's cat. But then there wasn't much to do in this out-of-the-way desert town. "I mean," said Sayel. "It's not as if we could go after girls."

"We're not sad, we're happy because he's a martyr and he's now in heaven," added Abu's uncle, who claimed he lost one of his legs fighting Russian forces in Afghanistan as part of the Islamic Mujahedeen, although local gossip went he had lost it falling drunk in front of a tram in Hamburg.

Abu Qudama was later arrested as he was giving a live interview to Al-Jazeera praising al-Zarqawi, the channel reported. Jordanian officials refused to comment on the arrest.

"I'm so sad about my uncle," said a boy, who identified himself as Omar. "I too want to grow up to cut off the heads of the infidel. Look." The boy pulled the severed heads of a handful of Action Men out of his pockets. He had scribbled in red felt tip around their neck.

As news of al-Zarqawi's death spread in his hometown, some 50 boys - aged 8 to 14 - took to the streets, hurling stones at reporters.

"These are lies, Zarqawi is still alive," said one the children, who identified himself as Mohammed.

However, speaking from Heaven in a break between fucking 7659 supermodel virgins, Zarqawi said:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Iran could have barbers by 2010, intelligence chief warns

Calling Tehran "the principal state sponsor of bad hair", US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte told BBC radio Iran seemed determined to introduce barbers by 2010.

"The estimate we have made is that some time between the beginning of the next decade and the middle of the next decade they might be in a position to get their hair cut, which is a cause of great concern," he said.

Western intelligence chiefs fear shaved mullahs may appear more plausible.

"People may start taking them seriously," said Negroponte. "If they start becoming more presentable, people might actually think they have a point."

The move has been prompted by new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose recent move to ban Western music from Iranian airwaves was in part attributed to concern about the corrupting influence of Kenny Gee's long curly locks.

Gee - corrupting influence

In the future all Iranian men will have to be clean-shaven and keep to a regulation short back and sides.

Although some men may suffer, the development is expected to come as huge relief to Iran's women who have been deprived of hair care since the Islamic Revolution. Most are so ashamed of their unkempt barnets they now keep their heads covered.

It has been a 30 year bad hair day for Iranian women

But the move is likely to come in for criticism from traditionalists like Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollha Khomeini who are concerned they won't look so scary without their beards.

Khomeini - less scary?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Death threat

I'm trying to shy away from the obvious these days, but this one from (ok) neo-con website Little Green Footballs did make me laugh - the perils of making a death threat and having it tracked back, particularly if you work for one of the world's leading news agencies...

My Zionist lizardoid ultrasuperpowers tell me that the Reuters IP address has hit our site 134 times since midnight, and it looks like there may even be one or two Reuters people online right now.

Call me an old romantic but...

A Sky News poll is 3-1 in favour of the proposed laws to provide cohabiting couples with similar rights to married ones. Well, we all want equal rights these days, don't we.

But I wonder if this isn't another government initiative that makes a good headline but can have unforeseen consequences?

Yesterday Burnley Council was offering a Mea Culpa over its well-meaning housing policies that just happened to spark race riots. Last week the PM was slagging off the human rights legislation he introduced, and wasn't there a furore some time ago about the legal reforms that happen to have promoted a compensation culture?

Instead of celebrating equal legal rights for living-in-sin, I wonder if a decade on we will be wringing our hands at a commitment-phobic culture whereby men - already wary of the potentially catastrophic financial consequences of a failed marriage - now avoid any semblance of cohabitation for fear of the same? Where once couples would "suck it and see" so to speak, they now keep a (legally-measurable) distance?

On the contrary, according to Sir Roger Toulson, the High Court judge developing the proposals.

More people might marry because partners would no longer avoid financial responsibilities.

Er... up to a point, Sir Roger.