Archive for August, 2006

“The mother of all talk shows”

On Saturday, Respect politician and anti-war maverick George Galloway (to whom, as far as I know, I am not related) made broadcasting history by hosting a radio phone-in show from the ruins of southern Beirut.

Speaking about the ‘mother of all talk shows’ coming live from Beirut, Galloway said prior to the broadcast:

“I’m the first British political figure to visit the wreckage of Beirut and the south of Lebanon, seeing for myself the enormous toll taken by 33 days of aerial bombardment.

“I’ll be reporting to talkSPORT listeners on just what I’ve found here and inviting guests from across the spectrum in Lebanon who know what they’re talking about.

“I’ll be taking calls from the listeners across the UK as normal during this two day special on the conflict in the Middle East, its fundamental causes and, a way forward for peace.”

Click here to listen

John Lennon – Love Music Video

This month in 1981, Mark David Chapman received 20 years to life for the slaying of John Lennon.

He is reputed to have worn a bullet-proof vest beneath his T-shirt in court when the sentence was passed down.
Add a video comment to this video

Bug Brother is watching you

 The other day I blogged a report on the roll-out of a secret spy camera network in Scotland.

Today in the Times I find out that the government is bugging our garbage.

Radio frequency tags, containing chips with identifying serial numbers, have been secretly fitted beneath the lids of wheelie-bins in parts of Cheshire, Cambridge, Norfolk and Surrey.

Council spokespersons say that the bugs are designed to help them monitor waste disposal and settle ownership disputes over bins.

Excuse me?

When was the last time your bin was stolen? Have you ever been accused of misappropriating someone else’s?

Click for the story.

24 rules of disinformation

This has been floating on the net in one form or another since the late ’90s at least. I’ve shortened a few things and made a couple of changes to make it scan better.

You can find the unabridged version at 9/11 Truth.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it–especially if you are a public figure. If you don’t report it, it didn’t happen, and you will never have to deal with the issues.

2. Be incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues. Focus on side issues which portray the topic as critical of some otherwise sacrosanct theme: freedom, democracy, family values… This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.

3. Create rumour-mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all as mere rumours and wild accusations.

4. The straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument, which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent look bad, while avoiding discussion of the real issues.

5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the “shoot the messenger ploy”. Associate opponents with unpopular titles — “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviants”, “intellectuals” — thereby discouraging 2nd wave opposition and avoiding discussion of difficult issues.

6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack on your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded. Alternatively, simply ignore any answer.

7. Question motives. Twist or amplify facts to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias.

8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough “jargon” and “minutiae” to illustrate you are “one who knows”; always make it clear that God is on your side. 

9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues with denial: “Lacks credibility”, “Doesn’t make any sense”, “Provides no proof”, “Doesn’t contain or make a point”, “Lacks logic”, “Supports no conclusion” (mix well for maximum effect).

10. Establish fall-back positions. Using a minor element of the facts, “confess” with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities. Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for “coming clean” and “owning up” to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.

11. Enigmas have no solution. Draw upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding an acusation and the multitude of players and events; make out the entire affair as too complex to solve. Commentators will loose interest and the actual issues will not have to be addressed.

12. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards with an apparent deductive logic in a way that forbears any actual material fact.

13. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely.

14. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.

15. Vanishing evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.

16. Change the subject. 

17. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents, draw them into emotional responses, which will make them look foolish and overly motivated.

18. Ignore presented proof and demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the “play dumb” rule. Declare any material presented by an opponent in public forums irrelevant; be critical of media reports or books as valid sources, damn witnesses as unacceptable….

19. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.

20. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. For example, if you own the prosecuting attorney, you can rest assured that the Grand Jury will hear no damaging evidence and that such evidence will not be available to subsequent investigators. In short, the matter can be considered officially closed.

21. Create a new truth. Manufacture your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s); or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.

22. Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working, create bigger news stories.

23. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive means: blackmail, destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, threats against family mambers, arrest and detention…or death by murder if all else fails.

24. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, vacate the kitchen.

Installation of a network of secret Automatic Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras has been completed this month throughout Scotland.

And Alan Burnett, overseer of the project for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, has revealed on-going plans to expand the system to local authority CCTV networks.

“We understand some people are worried about this being Big Brother,” he said, “but the general public shouldn’t worry. There are checks and balances regulating the intelligence on the system.”

Proponents of the network, such as Margaret Mitchell, the Scottish Tories’ justice spokeswoman, say the government needs to deploy “whatever resourses are available” to tackle terrorism.

I’d like to know the nature and extent of those “checks and balances”, Mr Burnett.

“It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”- Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

‘Big Brother’ concerns as secret system of cameras is rolled out

Leeds man Mirza Tahir Hussain, sentenced to death under Sharia law 18 years ago, has been granted a further stay of execution until 1 October.

The article below, which I wrote and first published in May of this year, provides a background to the case.

It was nearly dusk when Mirza Hussain reached Rawalpindi.

He had arrived in Karachi the previous day and had stayed overnight there, setting off before noon to visit relatives.

The 18 year old British-Pakistani was a long way from his home in Leeds, where he had lived since migrating to England with his parents as a boy.

He had been educated and brought up there and had trained in the British Territorial Army.

His ultimate destination was Buhbar, a village in Chakwal district, about 56 miles south of Islamabad.

Mirza had been born there and he looked forward to spending Christmas with members of his family, some of whom he had not seen in many years.

The only way to get there from Rawalpindi, however, was by taxi and, initially, he could not find a driver willing to take him.

Tired from his journey, and apprehensive at the prospect of having to spend the night in a strange city, he eventually became involved in a conversation with Janshir Khan, who agreed to take him to Buhbar for 500 rupees.

It was a ride that was to change the young man’s life forever.

As they approached the village of Mandra, Khan allegedly stopped the car and made a sexual proposition to Mirza.

When the youth refused, the driver produced a gun and assaulted him.

In the ensuing scuffle the firearm went off and Khan was shot.

Mirza kept his head and did what any innocent person would have done had the incident occurred in England.

He drove to the nearest police station.

But, as he was soon to discover to his cost, the police in Pakistan do not operate the way they do in England and Mirza was immediately arrested.

When Khan later died, the boy was charged with his murder, tried, convicted and, in September 1989, sentenced to death by the Session Court.

Upon appeal in November 1992 the High Court in Lahore revoked the death penalty in the light of allegations that the police had fabricated evidence and introduced false witnesses.

The case was returned to the lower court for retrial but Hussain was again convicted.

This time he received a life sentence.

A second appeal was made to the High Court and on May 20 1996 he was acquitted.

Pakistan, however, operates a dual legal system; as well as the secular court, which acquitted him, there is also the Islamic, or Sharia, judiciary.

The following week, as he awaited his release, the case was referred to the Federal Shariat Court on the grounds that the offence with which he had been charged – “haraahbah, or robbery with murder – came under its jurisdiction.

On August 1998 the Shariat Court found
Tahir Mirza Hussain guilty by a split 2-1 verdict and he was again sentenced to death, despite the fact that the system under which he was tried requires an eye-witness or a confession, and the prosecution had neither.

Abdul Waheed Siddiqui, the dissenting judge, said that Hussain was “an innocent, raw youth”, who knew nothing of “the mischief and filth in which the police of this country is engrossed”, and that the police had fabricated evidence in “a shameless manner”.

Mirza has been detained in Islamabad’s notorious Adiala jail for 18 years and was due to be hanged on June 1, two days before his 36th birthday.

After direct appeals by the UK Government and the European Parliament, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has intervened and a fresh stay of execution has been granted, allowing the condemned man’s family another month to negotiate a “blood money” deal.

However, even if that is possible, Mirza will remain in prison indefinitely.

Kahn’s family have reportedly rejected a previous offer of £18000 made six years ago. (Don Galloway 27 May 2006)

In response to news of his brother’s latest reprieve, Amjad Hussain said:

“While this further stay of one month gives me and my family a little relief, it is not enough and in many ways it is extending the uncertainty and agony my brother and all of us have now lived with for 18 years.

“We did not ask for this stay. It shows that my brother’s case has got the attention of the Pakistan authorities, but it seems they are still undecided as to whether President Musharraf will step in and stop an innocent man being executed or whether they will let this barbaric punishment go ahead.

“My brother did not commit the crime of murder that he has been convicted of. His trial was unfair and his detention in Pakistan for the last 18 years has destroyed all our lives. Tony Blair must intervene directly now, and I implore President Musharraf to end our agony and commute the sentence immediately.”

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock added:

“This stay is not enough. It does not address the facts that there are serious doubts about the safety of Mirza Tahir Hussain’s conviction and that he still faces execution in a matter of weeks.

“We will continue to press the Pakistani authorities, for as long as it takes, until we know that Mirza Tahir Hussain will not, at any time, be executed. And we expect the UK Government to do the same.”

Isn’t it a shame about Grandad?

So,their Grandfather has finally passed away.

Sad, isn’t it; still he was 103, had a good life, didn’t suffer too much at the end.

Now they’ve got to organise the send-off.

“I’ve sorted out the venue and the booze,” said the eldest Grandson. “Auntie Jane’s doing the flowers; Mabel’s young man will do the catering–nothing too formal, a buffet, you know…”

Uncle Tim looks pensive.

“What’s the matter Tim?” asks his wife.

He looks up:

“What about the strippers?” he asks. “Has anybody booked the strippers?”

Police crack down on striptease funerals

Thanks to Prashant.

Ceasefire breach was kidnap attempt

When reports of Israel’s blatant violation of the ceasefire on Saturday surfaced, the IDF tried to legitimise the action by claiming its purpose was to intercept weapons shipments from Syria.

No weapons were captured and no evidence was offered that any such shipments existed.

According to local eyewitness reports, Israeli special forces commandos disguised in Lebanese uniforms attempted to pass through Hezbollah checkpoints on the road to Baalbeck.

Their mission?

To kidnap Hezbollah leader Sheik Mohammed Yazbeck.

“The Israelis…flubbed a traditional Arab greeting…They were waved on to the next checkpoint, where Hezbollah fighters ambushed them, sending them fleeing…”

“When the Israelis came, everybody fought them…”

“All–not only Hezbollah–fought. All the people in the village brought their guns to fight. Fifteen year-old boys brought guns.”

Click here for Patrick Martin’s article

Terror Plot: C.P.S press release

21 August 2006
Susan Hemming, Head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, today made the following statement in relation to an alleged plot to detonate explosives on board aircraft:

“I was briefed in relation to these allegations before the arrest and asked to advise on some preliminary legal issues both before and just after arrest. Together with another senior CPS lawyer, I have been working with the police full time at New Scotland Yard for the last eight days. We have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence against each individual with the assistance of anti terrorist officers in order to come to charging decisions at the earliest practicable opportunity.

“This morning I made a decision that there was sufficient evidence and authorised, with the approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the charge of 11 individuals.

“Eight individuals have been charged with two offences relating to an alleged plot to manufacture and smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board. Those individuals have been charged with conspiracy to murder and the new offence of preparing acts of terrorism contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

“In addition, three have been charged with other offences under the Terrorism Act 2000. One has been charged with possession of articles useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism and two with failing to disclose information of material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism. One woman has been released from custody without charge.

“I would like to remind you of the need to take care in reporting the events surrounding this alleged plot. These individuals are only accused of these offences and they have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be responsible media reporting which should not prejudice the due process of law.

“Finally, 11 other individuals are still in custody and remain under active investigation. Their position is being assessed on a regular basis with a view to considering the need to keep them in detention. We cannot yet make a decision about whether further charges will follow or if a further application for detention will be made on Wednesday as the evidential picture is continuously developing. Any such application would be made by a Crown Prosecutor to a High Court Judge in accordance with the new legislation.”

CPS-related enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8106 or 020 7796 8102.

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