Archive for November, 2005

I don’t mean in a cheesewire-wielding SAS fashion. It’s time to talk about the consti-bloody-tution. DD has recently done some very odd things con-wise, and they worry me. Apparently, he wants to have two (count’em!) referendums as a matter of policy. This is a little strange to begin with – after all, isn’t a referendum a means of deciding policy, not the policy itself? – but it gets weirder when you hear what he wants to referend about.

Davies wants to hold a national referendum on “whether or not to reclaim powers from Brussels”. This is odd: a referendum to determine the government’s foreign policy? Referendums are normally held to ratify a change in the constitution ex post facto, as with the devolution polls of 1979 and 1998 and the Eureferendum of 1975. But this would be one on an executive action (diplomacy) in the future. Strange. Odder yet, it’s superfluous. There already is a means of getting unimpeachable legitimacy for a future course of action: it’s called a general election. Presumably he thinks we should reclaim powers from Brussels, so why not stick it in his hypothetical manifesto? He would be no more irrevocably committed to it, in fact less, than if he held a referendum and won.

Now, taking the hypothetical a few steps further – imagine DD wins an election, stages the referendum, wins that, goes to Brussels and unaccountably succeeds in getting one or more policy areas converted from qualified-majority voting to unanimous approval.

I agree this is a fairly wild scenario, but bear with me.

DD now wants to hold a further referendum, but not (as you’d think) in order to confirm the alteration of the treaties after, I suppose, he gets the amendments ratified in Parliament. No, he says he wants a further referendum on whether or not he has been successful. This is frankly bizarre. I mean, why not just commission an opinion poll if he wants to measure public opinion? No doubt Anthony Wells would be delighted to do it for a consideration.

Certainly it would be fascinating to see the results, as they would throw light on exactly how much the public understands about any of this stuff. Would the Europhobes be capable of voting “yes”, as presumably they ought to…or would some unconscious force drive their dear little fingers to the NO box? If DD wants further legitimation, of course, he could just call an election. But what need? The changes to the treaty would be ratified by a parliament elected on a manifesto promising them – what more do you need?

I can see perhaps two explanations. One is that DD is simply indulging in blatant self-interest, promising to gratify the hard Right by staging a Europhobic jingofest – no, two! – at the public charge and by using the words “Europe” and “referendum” in close connection a lot. This is pathetic, and reeks of desperation. The other is that, in fact, he doesn’t care for elections or parliament or the constitution and would rather have a system of executive decisions ratified by plebiscite…or something similar to Mussolini’s view of the state, in other words.

He’s going to lose, so it’s only of theoretical value, but the possibility exists that the winner might offer him a Shadow Cabinet slot.

The Government has recently been saying that British troops might leave Iraq some time next year. As previously blogged, they have been saying this since the British troops entered Iraq, there or thereabouts, with the only difference that the number of troops has climbed steadily, from a low of one brigade group and 1 Division HQ immediately post-invasion to the current position, with 7 Armoured Brigade, an adhoc Div HQ, various support elements, and three (I think) battalions-equivalent as reinforcements to 7 – in other words, almost another brigade. (Details.) And, as previously blogged, there were rumours that General Dutton had wanted even more troops at the last rotation but didn’t get them.

This time, one might have thought that there was more point to the story. After all, Prez Jalal Talabani was in town, and he says so. And the Guardian ran a large story on how “the emphasis was shifting” towards withdrawal that was heavily larded with markers of government briefing – “sources”, “officials”, “so-and-so will say..”, all that stuff.

Only one question. This week, the first Army units were officially warned-off for Operation TELIC 9, the next tour of Iraq after the 7th’s, with mobilisations planned for the late summer of 2006 and a planned return home in May, 2007. Ten years to the day after Tony Blair’s election. Now, warning-off isn’t a binding process, it simply announces that unit X is likely to mobilise in the future and ought to prepare. But it certainly sheds light on the confident commentary given by, among others, Sir Michael Jackson this week.

A possible explanation was that one of the official sources who will brief that.. said that 3,000 troops might be withdrawn “without affecting operational capability”. Well, I doubt that very much, as operational capability is exactly why the generals asked for them. I suspect they meant without affecting the operational situation. To put it another way, they are hoping to get back to the original number of troops before the before, and then hope one day to get out of Iraq.

By the way, can the Ones Who Will Brief kindly stop it with re-announcing next spring’s deployment to Afghanistan, Op. HERRICK? The press react, infantile, every time it is spun as if it was all brand new although it was first announced two years ago. Re-announcing five-a-day programmes for sink estates is one thing, re-announcing military operations is too much, surely?

Jesus, this is the end. I’ve started whingeing about “spin”. Old age must be near.

Traitors

7th July victim Rachel from North London is getting some stick.

Just to remind you…a traitor is in our midst.

I don’t mean in a cheesewire-wielding SAS fashion. It’s time to talk about the consti-bloody-tution. DD has recently done some very odd things con-wise, and they worry me. Apparently, he wants to have two (count’em!) referendums as a matter of policy. This is a little strange to begin with – after all, isn’t a referendum a means of deciding policy, not the policy itself? – but it gets weirder when you hear what he wants to referend about.

Davies wants to hold a national referendum on “whether or not to reclaim powers from Brussels”. This is odd: a referendum to determine the government’s foreign policy? Referendums are normally held to ratify a change in the constitution ex post facto, as with the devolution polls of 1979 and 1998 and the Eureferendum of 1975. But this would be one on an executive action (diplomacy) in the future. Strange. Odder yet, it’s superfluous. There already is a means of getting unimpeachable legitimacy for a future course of action: it’s called a general election. Presumably he thinks we should reclaim powers from Brussels, so why not stick it in his hypothetical manifesto? He would be no more irrevocably committed to it, in fact less, than if he held a referendum and won.

Now, taking the hypothetical a few steps further – imagine DD wins an election, stages the referendum, wins that, goes to Brussels and unaccountably succeeds in getting one or more policy areas converted from qualified-majority voting to unanimous approval.

I agree this is a fairly wild scenario, but bear with me.

DD now wants to hold a further referendum, but not (as you’d think) in order to confirm the alteration of the treaties after, I suppose, he gets the amendments ratified in Parliament. No, he says he wants a further referendum on whether or not he has been successful. This is frankly bizarre. I mean, why not just commission an opinion poll if he wants to measure public opinion? No doubt Anthony Wells would be delighted to do it for a consideration.

Certainly it would be fascinating to see the results, as they would throw light on exactly how much the public understands about any of this stuff. Would the Europhobes be capable of voting “yes”, as presumably they ought to…or would some unconscious force drive their dear little fingers to the NO box? If DD wants further legitimation, of course, he could just call an election. But what need? The changes to the treaty would be ratified by a parliament elected on a manifesto promising them – what more do you need?

I can see perhaps two explanations. One is that DD is simply indulging in blatant self-interest, promising to gratify the hard Right by staging a Europhobic jingofest – no, two! – at the public charge and by using the words “Europe” and “referendum” in close connection a lot. This is pathetic, and reeks of desperation. The other is that, in fact, he doesn’t care for elections or parliament or the constitution and would rather have a system of executive decisions ratified by plebiscite…or something similar to Mussolini’s view of the state, in other words.

He’s going to lose, so it’s only of theoretical value, but the possibility exists that the winner might offer him a Shadow Cabinet slot.

The Government has recently been saying that British troops might leave Iraq some time next year. As previously blogged, they have been saying this since the British troops entered Iraq, there or thereabouts, with the only difference that the number of troops has climbed steadily, from a low of one brigade group and 1 Division HQ immediately post-invasion to the current position, with 7 Armoured Brigade, an adhoc Div HQ, various support elements, and three (I think) battalions-equivalent as reinforcements to 7 – in other words, almost another brigade. (Details.) And, as previously blogged, there were rumours that General Dutton had wanted even more troops at the last rotation but didn’t get them.

This time, one might have thought that there was more point to the story. After all, Prez Jalal Talabani was in town, and he says so. And the Guardian ran a large story on how “the emphasis was shifting” towards withdrawal that was heavily larded with markers of government briefing – “sources”, “officials”, “so-and-so will say..”, all that stuff.

Only one question. This week, the first Army units were officially warned-off for Operation TELIC 9, the next tour of Iraq after the 7th’s, with mobilisations planned for the late summer of 2006 and a planned return home in May, 2007. Ten years to the day after Tony Blair’s election. Now, warning-off isn’t a binding process, it simply announces that unit X is likely to mobilise in the future and ought to prepare. But it certainly sheds light on the confident commentary given by, among others, Sir Michael Jackson this week.

A possible explanation was that one of the official sources who will brief that.. said that 3,000 troops might be withdrawn “without affecting operational capability”. Well, I doubt that very much, as operational capability is exactly why the generals asked for them. I suspect they meant without affecting the operational situation. To put it another way, they are hoping to get back to the original number of troops before the before, and then hope one day to get out of Iraq.

By the way, can the Ones Who Will Brief kindly stop it with re-announcing next spring’s deployment to Afghanistan, Op. HERRICK? The press react, infantile, every time it is spun as if it was all brand new although it was first announced two years ago. Re-announcing five-a-day programmes for sink estates is one thing, re-announcing military operations is too much, surely?

Jesus, this is the end. I’ve started whingeing about “spin”. Old age must be near.

RSS on Mobile Gadgets

Does anyone know if freeware RSS reader works with Windows Mobile 5.0?

Webday

As well as Remembrance Sunday (what a day to write about torture), today is Webday…because 15 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee put the first web page on line.

And immediately got comments from four people demanding to know why he hated freedom, three wanting to know why he’d failed to put scarequotes around President Bush (do you mean he was legitimately elected? Well, I thnik your a FASHCIST!), someone offering to elnarge his pen1s, and another from his mum saying how proud she was.

According to news reports in Vienna’s Der Standard and the Italian paper Il Manifesto, a UN investigator in Afghanistan, Cheriff Bassiouni (who is an academic from Egypt) has stated that a secret CIA prison existed in Hungary. It’s not clear what information his statement is based on, but it certainly fits with my suspicions. (So that’s obviously ground to speculate, no? God, the quality on this blogging lark..)

I hadn’t heard of Bassiouni, but it seems he’s a professor of international law who chaired the drafting committee for the statute of the International Criminal Court. His current job is as the UN’s Independent Expert on Human Rights in Afghanistan, a thankless task if ever there was one. A copy of the Italian article appears to be here. Although I don’t read Italian to any extent, he seems to say that Poland, Romania and Hungary have breached the European Convention on Human Rights, and to have prepared a report on secret CIA detentions. I have the impression that he thinks his appointment will not be renewed because of this report.

He also has this to say:

In Afghanistan, nella base aerea di Bagram e a Kandahar, arrivavano i detenuti prelevati con aerei Cia da ogni parte del mondo e da lì gli afghani venivano smistati verso gli altri 14 centri militari segreti americani per essere torturati. Gli altri, dall’Afghanistan venivano spediti nelle carceri segrete sotto controllo americano: in paesi dell’est europeo come Polonia, Romania, Ungheria oppure, gli asiatici, nella base militare di Diego Garcia.

Well, I don’t read Italian but I think that’s sufficiently fucking clear. What I would very much like to see would be a copy of this report, and before that to have someone who reads better Italian take a peek at the text.

I strongly suspect the Hungarian site is Taszar (as previously blogged), the air base where Ahmed Chalabi’s followers were meant to be trained for the invasion of Iraq as “Free Iraqi Forces”. The training programme was widely reported to have been a failure (you get the feeling the Chalabi Boys weren’t keen on route marches across the Puszta with heavy packs and muddy boots compared to hobnobbing with the mighty..and Christopher Hitchens), but what else might have happened there? And what was a Boeing 727 belonging to Miami Air International, Inc, doing going there on the 9th April, 2003…an aircraft that was also used by the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign? (Link may not work – site is subscription with limited visitor access) That last may be coincidential, of course.

Mind you, if you’re Romania’s intelligence chief, there’s an easy way to deal with this stuff: blame George Soros for spreading the story in order to divert terrorists’ attention away from the US and UK – after all he is “close to the US Democrats”. Mmm, crack…nice.

Update: N804MA was, I now know, used by the 2000 Bush campaign. Who took it to Taszar, then?

Best DSR Ever

I am the 10th result on search.com for “chubby men porn bear”. It’s the pride, dammit.

A blogger was present when Ahmed “The Greatest” Chalabi addressed frothing neo-con groupthink-tank the American Enterprise Institute this week, despite being under FBI investigation and accused of leaking US cryptographic data to Iran. (Note: Chalabi recently paid a call on the Iranian President. What’s going on there?)

You can read full details of the visit here. Another guest was the drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay himself. Christopher Hitchens said some astonishingly weird things, it seems. Apparently, he thinks Chalabi cracked the US ciphers himself, all on his ownio, being a “mathematical genius” (actually, although he is a mathematician he’s not a cryptographer, and his studies were years ago before pretty much any of the key techniques of modern crypto were invented, before public key encryption, PGP, SHA1.).

Would simple alcohol make you say these things, or would you need some more exotic drug? Is he insane?