Archive for June, 2003

The ArmedLiberal bloke has a new team blog. And this is certainly interesting.

Pic of the day…

So what did happen to the Stakeknife case? Mr. Knife’s lawsuit intended to force the minister responsible to deny that he was a British agent has begun in earnest, although it’s a common mistake to assume that being given leave to go to a judicial review means you’re winning. It’s not normal, though, for one secret service-related story to be driven off the newspile by another, which is roughly what happened with the dodgy dossiers. At this rate, MI5 will soon be less secret than the cabinet and the world will eat itself with sheer absurdity. Really, though, the Stakeknife affair is a fine example of how hard it is to take a war apart and put it away. There were all sorts of weird spooks and parallel networks, and these things have a tendency to leak back from terrorist wars and poison the commons. France is Exhibit A – the OAS and the various factions in the SDECE and the Securite Militaire came back from Algeria and took France to the brink of civil war. The US had a touch of the same disease over Vietnam, with odd secret service practices turning up about Nixon. We have to avoid it. This is why a serious and painful investigation into what-went-on in NI is so necessary. But at the same time, I can’t help thinking that a double standard is coming to exist. Under the peace agreement, not only were the terrorist prisoners released early – at the end of a war, that’s what happens – but the so-called OTRs, those who were still On The Run, were also pardoned. So – if you were in the IRA Nutting Squad and tortured an informer to death, and kept out of jail until ’98, you are free to pursue a peaceful career – but if you were the informer’s handler, you can still be pilloried. Tweegle wibble flarp! Perhaps the truth commission set up by the South African monitors is the best channel for this..

It’s one of the many reasons, though, why we need democratic control of the secret services and clear accountability. This is the answer to the contradiction between the dangers of secret power and the reality that agent running and the like are indispensable in dealing with terrorism. In these terrorist times, why not a specific minister for security and intelligence, answerable to parliament and a beefed up, fully elected Intel. and Security Committee? That would also suggest an integrated terrorism policy incorporating intelligence, defence, civil defence and international aid. But the last thing we need is a US-type giant “homeland security” ministry. So it looks like I just contradicted myself. Bugger.

Oh dear….This really is not terribly good. After all, you can be a hard-right gun nut blogger if you want, but saying that “Being right-wing and pro-Bush is the in thing right now. I just hopped on that train.” is tantamount to going around wearing a sheep skin and a sign saying “Human Sheep – Seeking Flock Leader!” They’re meant to be your own opinions….

Margaret Atwood’s article on George Orwell – a true Ranter if ever there was one – in today’s Guardian certainly reminded me of a few things. For example, it must be at least 8 years since I read 1984, and my memory of it is startlingly clear. That could perhaps be a definition of genius – the good stuff is what sticks to the brain and stays as clear as stainless. The Junior Spies, the Anti-Sex League, a society built on the rationing of scarcity and institutionalised betrayal, the tired and tiresome officials administering horror – just as new as then. It’s not new, of course, these things are the furniture of tyranny. Faintly religious mass bullying groups like Antisex are very familiar indeed – one could think of all sorts of organisations and campaigns that fit the description, going back to Noel Pemberton Billing’s semi-fascist electoral campaign in the East End in 1918 with its rants against Oscar Wilde and something called the Cult of the Clitoris. Or the League of Time in post-revolutionary Russia, whose members kept cards on which they recorded what they did every minute of their lives, wearing huge watches, and bullied persons suspected of time-wasting. All tyrannies need to get some of the citizens to sign up to aims that seem at least to be their own. These are the small minded annoyers of the bully state. The block warden, the informer, the youth-league volunteer – have current counterparts in the security obsessives, refugee bashers and the like. People who can’t wait for the tyrant to get started.

Picture of the Day…..

Found on a discussion forum…

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,

And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.

Avoid quiet and passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.

Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,

And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss and when.

Consider that two wrongs never make a right,

But that three lefts do.

Wherever possible put people on “HOLD”.

Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,

And despite the changing fortunes of time,

There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.

Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.

Exercise caution in your daily affairs,

Especially with those persons closest to you;

That lemon on your left for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls,

Would scarcely get your feet wet.

Fall not in love therefore; it will stick to your face.

Carefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,

And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.

For a good time, call 606-4311; ask for Ken.

Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog

Is finally getting enough cheese;

And reflect that whatever fortunes may be your lot,

It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the Universe.

You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not,

The Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be, Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,

The world continues to deteriorate.

Give up.”

found on the washroom wall of the Baltimore Bus station 1963.

Not terribly good news in Austria – especially as the weekly Zur Zeit mentioned in the article is still getting press subsidy from the Government.

IT appears that the NHS is getting its act together about IT. The new plan for the “integrated care records service”, which is meant to computerise medical records and admin as a replacement for the current system of little cards that never seem to be where they are needed, has been leaked and seems to suggest that instead of letting computer-ignorant Sir Humphrey write the whole specification, they have decided to write a detailed set of objectives and let the techies get on with it. Mind you – I remember posting on a discussion forum in the autumn of 2001 about this. That was the time Palm had said they were sitting on a hangarful of unsold PDAs, I was of the view that the govt. should have bought the lot at a fire sale price and commissioned the proggies to design the system about them and their functions. But just being right ain’t enough…Link.

Further corporate thieving in the huge and annoyingly named US mortgage lender Freddie Mac…but any real change would be commie…Link.

Oh yeah – last night. After the England match, spent drinking heavily with some football team mates, on to the local, where an Irishman was holding forth on Tajikistan, of all places, where he had been working for the UN. Mind you he threatened to become the pub SAS bullshitter – every pub has one – by not wanting to say what he’d been doing. (you were building a road, right?) Claims that Dushanbe is a great night out – good local wine and kebabs – as long as you carry a letter from the British Embassy for the omnipresent political police. Tajikistan is, of course, Russia’s closest ally in the region and the base of the 201 Motor-Rifle Division, considered the best unit in Russia. From GlobalSecurity.org:

“The Russian military is present in Tajikistan at the request of the Tajikistani Government to support the current regime. Russia’s 201st Motorized Rifle Division is part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Collective Peacekeeping Force established in 1993. Russian border forces also dominate the multi-national CIS forces guarding the Tajikistani-Afghan border.

The Russian military presence in Tajikistan predates the civil war, and the 201st Motorized Rifle Division had been deployed in Tajikistan since the Soviet period. The Russian Army’s 201stDivision, fresh out of Afghanistan, helped ex-communists return to power in May 1992. The resulting civil war claimed between 20-50,000 lives.

In the absence of a strong policy guidance from Moscow, the 201st Division turned into an independent political force. Although the local Russian military in Tajikistan was ordered to stay neutral in the evolving conflict; informally it took side and transferred weapons to the Popular Front. The pro-Communist Popular Front was struggling against the Coalition government formed in May 1992, which included representatives from the Democratic and Muslim Opposition. Without the help of the 201st Division, Emomali Rakhmonov would never have come to power. Russia reinforced the 201st Motorized Rifle Division as fighting in the Tajik conflict worsened and the division became more involved.

Gradually the Russian military presence increased, and the Russian leadership made a series of commitments to defend Tajikistan’s borders. In addition to border guards, some 6,000 troops in Russia’s 201st Motorized Rifle Division, together with a small number of Uzbek troops, made up the majority of a CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan in 1997.

Russia, which already had 25,000 armed troops in Tajikistan, tentatively agreed in April 1999 to the establishment of a military base which would help increase the stability in Tajikistan. The Russian and Tajik defense ministers signed a treaty on 16 April 1999 which granted Russia’s military the right to establish a base on Tajik territory and to quarter troops from the 201st Motorized Rifle Division at that base for the next 10 years. The provided for the construction of more permanent headquarters for the 6,000-7,000 troops of the from the 201st Motorized Rifle Division already deployed there. The bulk of Russia’s troops in Tajikistan are stationed near Dushanbe, Qurghanteppa (close to the Uzbek border), and Kulob (near the Afghan border). The new base will most likely be built somewhere between these three cities.”

According to our man, “there’s a lot of people shot running away on the Afghan border.” Due to drinking with the Irish, I have a head like a dirty, rotten, cheesy, obscene foot today.

Meanwhile, the Chinese continue with their increasing taste for gigantic projects – Three Gorges Dam, Hangzhou Bay Bridge – and space. Perhaps fitting to remember that the UK once had its own space programme

Much respect to the ManifestBorder blogger, who covers US immigration news. Apparently some horrid gang of ultra-patriots have been preparing their own TV-equipped remotely piloted drones to seek those “trrriss wetbacks” in the killer deserts. Like yer local radio-control plane club gone fascist. Mind you, with the US Border Patrol, the vigilantes, the illegals and the activists out laying caches of water for them, those expanses of cactus must get like Waterloo Station with guns.