This week, there will be fewer or even no messages on this blog.
Don’t worry, after that this blog will be its usual self again.
This week, there will be fewer or even no messages on this blog.
Don’t worry, after that this blog will be its usual self again.
From British daily The Morning Star:
Vast majority of ‘terror cases’ fail to produce evidence of terror plots
Friday 15 May 2009
NEW Home Office figures released this week show that only 13 per cent of the almost 1,500 people arrested under anti-terror powers were convicted of a terror-related offence.
In recent years there have been many high-profile policing operations involving the arrests of so-called terror suspects.
In the most recent operation, 11 Pakistani students and one British national were dragged from their homes and classrooms in the north-west of England and detained for almost two weeks before being released without charge.
In the early hours of June 2 2006, 250 armed police officers raided two properties in Forest Gate, east London, acting on “specific intelligence” that the occupants might be terrorists in possession of a chemical bomb.
The officers seized two brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abdul Koyair.
Mr Kahar was shot in the shoulder by armed police during the operation.
No chemical materials were found and the two brothers were released without charge a week later.
In April 2004, police arrested 10 people in Manchester on suspicion of attempting to bomb the Old Trafford football stadium. Among those arrested were a woman and a 16-year-old boy.
The 10 were held for several days and interrogated but were all released without charge. There is no evidence that such a plot existed.
On January 5 2003, police arrested seven north African men after raiding a flat in Wood Green in connection with an alleged plot to release ricin nerve gas on the Underground.
A week later, another man wanted in relation to the supposed ricin plot, Kamel Bourgass, an illegal immigrant from Algeria, stabbed and killed DC Stephen Oakes during an immigration raid on a Manchester flat in which he was staying.
It emerged later that no ricin had been discovered in either location.
While all of the suspects were either acquitted or had charges dropped in relation to “conspiracy to commit murder,” Bourgass was convicted of the killing of DC Oakes as well as “conspiring to commit a public nuisance by the use of poisons and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury.”
This blog told you immediately that Gordon Brown’s “Very big terror plot” at Easter was a complete fake, and this blog was telling the truth: here.
For instance with “translate Google“, pages of this blog can be translated from English into other languages.
According to my GoStats statistics, so far, in this year 2009, there have been Google translations (not counting other translations) from posts of Dear Kitty. Some blog, into these languages: Slovenian, Czech, Slovak, Swedish, Romanian, Dutch, Latvian, Arabic, Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, Bulgarian, French, Danish, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Chinese, Turkish, Spanish, Indonesian.
There was a big trade union demonstration in Brussels, Belgium, today.
The demonstration was against policies burdening the workers with the consequences of the economic crisis.
Photo gallery: here.
A video of the demonstration is here, below.
From British daily The Independent:
Malik steps down pending investigation
Friday, 15 May 2009
Shahid Malik today stepped down pending an investigation of allegations that he paid below-market rent for a house, the highest profile casualty so far of a growing expenses scandal.
See also here.
Shahid Malik in 2008 became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice in the “New” Labour government.
This video, put on YouTube by Afghan women’s organization RAWA, says about itself:
Officials in Western Afghanistan say over 147 innocent civilians, many of them women and children, were killed when US war planes bombed villages of Gerani and Gangabad in Bala Baluk district of Farah Province on May 5, 2009.
This is one out of many war crime cases committed by the US troops in Afghanistan over the past few years. The number of innocent civilians killed since Obama took office in Jan.21, reaches to 300 and his so-called new strategy for Afghanistan and surge in number of troops has result in more such terrible tragedies.
MP for Farah Province condemns NATO bombings:
’This massacre offers the world a glimpse at horrors faced by our people’
As an elected representative for Farah, Afghanistan, I add my voice to those condemning the NATO bombing that claimed over 150 civilian lives in my province earlier this month. This latest massacre offers the world a glimpse of the horrors faced by our people.
However, as I explained at a May 11 press conference in Kabul, the U.S. military authorities do not want you to see this reality. As usual, they have tried to downplay the number of civilian casualties, but I have information that as many as 164 civilians were killed in the bombings. One grief stricken man from the village of Geranai explained at the press conference that he had lost 20 members of his family in the massacre.
The Afghan government commission, furthermore, appears to have failed to list infants under the age of three who were killed. The government commission that went to the village after three days — when all the victims had been buried in mass graves by the villagers — is not willing to make their list public. How can the precious lives of Afghans be treated with such disrespect?
The news last week is that the U.S. has replaced their top military commander in Afghanistan, but I think this is just a trick to deceive our people and put off responsibility for their disastrous overall strategy in Afghanistan on the shoulders of one person.
The Afghan ambassador in the U.S. said in an interview with Al Jazeera that if a ‘proper apology’ is made, then ‘people will understand’ the civilian deaths. But the Afghan people do not just want to hear ‘sorry.’ We ask for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan and a stop to such tragic war crimes.
The demonstrations by students and others against these latest air strikes, like last month’s protest by hundreds of Afghan women in Kabul, show the world the way forward for real democracy in Afghanistan. In the face of harassment and threats, women took to the streets to demand the scrapping of the law that would legalize rape within marriage and codify the oppression of our country’s Shia women. Just as the U.S. air strikes have not brought security to Afghans, nor has the occupation brought security to Afghan women. The reality is quite the opposite.
This now infamous law is but the tip of the iceberg of the women’s rights catastrophe in our occupied country. The whole system, and especially the judiciary, is infected with the virus of fundamentalism and so, in Afghanistan, men who commit crimes against women do so with impunity. Rates of abduction, gang rape, and domestic violence are as high as ever, and so is the number of women’s self-immolations and other forms of suicide. Tragically, women would rather set themselves on fire than endure the hell of life in our ‘liberated’ country.
The Afghan Constitution does include provisions for women’s rights – I was one of many female delegates to the 2003 Loya Jirga who pushed hard to include them. But this founding document of the ‘new Afghanistan’ was also scarred by the heavy influence of fundamentalists and warlords, with whom Karzai and the West have been compromising from the beginning.
In fact, I was not really surprised by this latest law against women. When the U.S. and its allies replaced the Taliban with the old notorious warlords and fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance, I could see that the only change we would see was from the frying pan to the fire.
There have been a whole series of outrageous laws and court decisions in recent years. For instance, there was the disgusting law passed on the pretext of ‘national reconciliation’ that provided immunity from prosecution to warlords and notorious war criminals, many of whom sit in the Afghan Parliament. At that time, the world media and governments turned a blind eye to it.
My opposition to this law was one of the reasons that I, as an elected MP from Farah Province, was expelled from Parliament in May 2007. More recently, there was the outrageous 20-year sentence handed down against Parvez Kambakhsh, a young man whose only crime was to allegedly distribute a dissenting article at his university.
We are told that additional U.S. and NATO troops are coming to Afghanistan to help secure the upcoming presidential election. But frankly the Afghan people have no hope in this election – we know that there can be no true democracy under the guns of warlords, the drug trafficking mafia and occupation.
With the exception of Ramazan Bashardost, most of the other candidates are the known, discredited faces that have been part and parcel of the mafia-like, failed government of Hamid Karzai. We know that one puppet can be replaced by another puppet, and that the winner of this election will most certainly be selected behind closed doors in the White House and the Pentagon. I must conclude that this presidential election is merely a drama to legitimize the future U.S. puppet.
Just like in Iraq, war has not brought liberation to Afghanistan. Neither war was really about democracy or justice or uprooting terrorist groups; rather they were and are about U.S. strategic interests in the region. We Afghans have never liked being pawns in the ‘Great Game’ of empire, as the British and the Soviets learned in the past century.
It is a shame that so much of Afghanistan’s reality has been kept veiled by a western media consensus in support of the ‘good war.’ Perhaps if the citizens of North America had been better informed about my country, President Obama would not have dared to send more troops and spend taxpayers’ money on a war that is only adding to the suffering of our people and pushing the region into deeper conflicts.
A troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan, and continued air strikes, will do nothing to help the liberation of Afghan women. The only thing it will do is increase the number of civilian casualties and increase the resistance to occupation.
To really help Afghan women, citizens in the U.S. and elsewhere must tell their government to stop propping up and covering for a regime of warlords and extremists. If these thugs were finally brought to justice, Afghan women and men would prove quite capable of helping ourselves.
Malalai Joya was the youngest member of the Afghan Parliament, elected in 2005 to represent Farah Province. In May 2007 she was unjustly suspended from Parliament. Her memoir, Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, is forthcoming later this year from Rider.
From Lenin’s Tomb blog in England:
One of the most interesting questions that came up in my talk at Wadham College last night was whether those who lead us into war on the pretext of saving women from oppression or upholding human rights are purely cynics, or whether there is a sense in which they uphold a sort of neoliberal or bourgeois ‘common sense’ which happens to be contiguous with a defence of ruling class interests.
This is a Dutch TV video of Ute Lemper.
From British daily The Guardian:
Touching the void
* Ed Pilkington
* Friday 15 May 2009
For Ute Lemper, the smoky-voiced chanteuse who has turned the German songbook of the 1920s into the core of a global theatrical presence, music is not a passion or a skill or a vocation. It is far more visceral than that. For her, music was a means of escaping the suffocating small-mindedness of her Catholic German upbringing. It was the way she discovered she could unleash her inner demons. “I was able to express in art a lot more than in life, as everything was so tight around me,” she says.
Specifically, it was in the anything-goes culture of Weimar Berlin that she found her salvation. Every summer as a child, she would go to Salzburg to study dance and music, and one year, aged 16, she sat in on a seminar on the collaboration of playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill.
It was a revelation, and it changed her life. “The work was fresh, young – nothing romantic, full of odd characters – there was no normality there. It was anti-religious, anti-oppression, anti-moralistic.” It was everything, in fact, for which she had been yearning and the antithesis of everything she was desperate to escape.
Lemper grew up in the then West German city of Münster, a city she describes first with the German word “bieder” (conventional) and then the French “petit-bourgeois”. Then, for good measure, she throws out a stream of English words: “Conservative, judgmental, normality, Catholic, no paradise birds, no people of other minds, other thoughts. I wanted to be crazy, to get out there.” And get out there she did. That initial jolt of Weill-Brecht helped to propel her into an international career that has won her the accolades of chanson diva, award-winning musicals actor and recording artist.
She is as much at home singing the French tradition – Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Boris Vian – as she is with the world of musicals. She has appeared as Sally Bowles in Cabaret and in the famous Marlene Dietrich role, Lola, from The Blue Angel. She has worked with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Nick Cave; they all wrote songs expressly for her, which became the 2000 album Punishing Kiss. More recently, she has begun to pursue an interest in Middle Eastern music, both Arabic and Yiddish. And she has started to write her own songs, with a new album called Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.
Throughout, however, she has clung to her one great and enduring mission, as she calls it – the championing of the work of Brecht-Weill. “It all starts for me with the German dialogue,” she says. “That’s the root of my desire to be on stage and sing these songs.”
Her use of the word “dialogue” is telling, because language is one reason she is so strongly drawn to the German repertoire. When she was starting out as a singer in the late 70s and early 80s, she was struck by the paucity of contemporary choices in her native German. “There was nothing. It was a cultural vacuum.”
She was also oppressed by the silence from her parents’ generation that surrounded the war and the Holocaust. “I didn’t sense that anyone felt any grief.” She pauses. “Grief!” she says again, this time with deep emphasis. “Sadness, madness, anger. How could that happen? How could such organised crime have happened, this imperial Caesar who felt he could take over the world, and the crime of the killing of all the Jewish people. I was numbed with pain – I couldn’t breathe for years.”
Brecht-Weill filled both the cultural vacuum and the political silence. Politically, Brecht‘s poetry supplied the anger and indignation that she craved. She devoured the history of how Weill, as a German Jew, became a target of the Nazis and was forced to leave the country in March 1933. Five years later, his compositions were paraded in the Düsseldorf exhibition of “degenerate music”.
Artistically, too, the compositions suited her temperament and gave free rein to Lemper’s extraordinary voice, which is capable of delivering not only the most silken flourishes but also the serrated edges that Weill’s atonality demands. When Lemper sings Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife), she spits out every consonant and rolls her Rs with the menace of an alley cat. “It was expressionistic but at the same time very melodic, very juicy,” she says. “I just like to sing the words about the whorehouses and the sailors and the gangsters and the criminals and theft and rape; everything that puts the whole society in question marks. Who is the hero and who is the antihero, the winner and the loser? It was wonderful to sing these words.”
In her shows, Lemper likes to track Weill on from his German days, through the brief period he spent in Paris producing melancholic music in the style of chansons françaises, and then into the American years. Weill lived in the US from 1935 until his death in 1950, immersing himself in the American musical scene; he collaborated with Ira Gershwin, and worked for a time spell in Hollywood alongside fellow European exiles Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky.
Lemper has followed in Weill’s footsteps. Ten years ago, she moved to New York and now lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which is where we meet, aptly in an art deco cafe near Central Park. I ask her whether the move across the Atlantic was inspired by Weill.
“I’m not exiled,” she says. “Yes, I ran away, but it was for personal reasons – to see the world.”
There is another difference between Lemper and her musical idol. Unlike Weill, she has not embraced the American way, clinging instead to the European songbook. She is scathing about the commercial bent of pop music. “It has become a form of furniture, an element of contemporary fashion. Like body culture.”
She has maintained, she professes, total artistic freedom, producing Between Yesterday and Tomorrow herself and dictating her own touring regime. “I have no barriers whatsoever.”
That goes some way to explain how she has kept the fire that was lit in that Salzburg seminar in 1979 still burning strong. The political edge that she craved as a young singer has lost none of its sharpness. The brutal, corrupt world that Brecht and Weill captured in Weimar Germany is alive and well, she insists, and every bit as relevant today as it was then.
• Between Yesterday and Tomorrow is out now on Edel.
Kurt Weill once said: “Seventy-five years from now, Street Scene will be remembered as my major work”: here.
Solidarity Song by Bertolt Brecht: here.
From Associated Press:
May 15, 3:26 AM EDT
JAKARTA, Indonesia — A species of birds able to fly immediately after hatching from eggs buried beneath the tropical sand has just been given its own private beach in eastern Indonesia, a conservation group said Friday.
Maleos – chicken-sized birds with black helmet-like foreheads – number from 5,000 to 10,000 in the wild and can only be found on Sulawesi island. They rely on sun-baked sands or volcanically heated soil to incubate their eggs.
The U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society said it has teamed up with a local environmental group to purchase and protect a 36-acre (14-hectare) stretch of beach in northern Sulawesi that contains about 40 nests.
The environmental groups paid $12,500 for the beach-front property on remote Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, to help preserve the threatened species.
“The protected area is already helping raise awareness about this bird,” said John Tasirin, WCS program coordinator on the island, adding that is especially significant because humans are the greatest threat to the maleo‘s survival.
Villagers often dig up the eggs and harvest them for food, he said.
The maleo, which has a blackish back, a pink stomach, yellow facial skin, a red-orange beak, lays gigantic eggs that are then buried in the sand or soil. The chicks hatch and climb from the ground able to fly and fend for themselves.
“The population of maleos are decreasing quite steadily,” Martin Fowlie of the Britain-based BirdLife International said of their new white-sand beach. “So any protection is going to be a good thing.”
See also here.
Hear a maleo call here.
Research Reveals Genetic Secrets Underlying Remarkable Development of the Domestic Chicken: here.
From ANSA news agency in Italy:
Fiat workers continue labor actions
Concern mounts over job cuts if Opel mergers take place
Palermo, May 14 – Workers at Fiat’s Sicilian plant in Termini Imerese on Thursday continued their temporary work stoppages to protest uncertainty over the factory’s future.
Meanwhile, unions at other Fiat factories met to consider other labor actions, including a refusal to work overtime, to draw attention to the fact that they feel left in the dark about Fiat’s global expansion plans and the effect these will have on jobs in Italy.
Fiat has already negotiated a partnership deal to become a controlling partner in the American automaker Chrysler, but it is its proposed merger with Opel, the main marque in General Motors’ European arm, which has unions in Italy and Germany worried.
Plans allegedly drawn up by Fiat, but which CEO Sergio Marchionne has not confirmed, indicated the shutting down or ‘reorientation’ of Termini Imerese and another plant in Italy, which many believe will be Pomigliano d’Arco near Naples, while an Opel engine and parts plant in Germany also risks being shut down or seeing its work force drastically reduced.
According to union sources at Opel, some 18,000 workers risk losing their jobs in Germany and Italy if the merger goes through.
GM must at least find a partner for its European arm, which includes Saab of Sweden, before the end of the month in order to receive federal bail-out funds. Workers at Termini Imerese staged two 90-minute work stoppages on Thursday morning and blocked a local highway to draw attention to their protest.
Unions at the Sicilian plant said they wanted an immediate meeting with the regional government.
In Turin, where Fiat has its headquarters, union meetings at the automaker’s plants discussed a number of non-strike actions, including work-to-rule and a refusal to do overtime, as a means to force Fiat into giving details on its expansion plans.
”These forms of labor action are a legitimate form of persuasion to open a three-way talks between us, Fiat management and the government in Rome,” explained Gianni Rinaldi, secretary general of the FIOM union.
”If in the coming days we’re not invited to meet with the government and Fiat, we will have to resort to labor initiatives to force a meeting, like refusing overtime. At the moment calling a strike is not under consideration, ” said Eros Panicali, a UILM union chief.
Fiat on Wednesday asked some 800 workers on the first shift at the Mirafiori chassis plant in Turin to work a six-day week six week starting May 23 to meet an upsurge in demand.
According to Giorgio Airaudo, secretary general of FIOM’s Turin chapter, ”Fiat’s workers in Italy want to work, but you can’t expect them to do everything asked unless they are given some assurances about their future”.
”It is also wrong to try and pit workers at one factory against those of another, just as it is wrong to try and divide workers in the same plant by linking threats of layoffs to readiness to do overtime,” he added.
By Hiram Lee:
Home of Slumdog Millionaire child actor destroyed by Mumbai authorities
15 May 2009
Civil authorities in Mumbai, India have torn down the home of Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, the 10-year-old boy from Mumbai’s slums who appeared as young Salim in the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.
The home, more properly described as a shack or a lean-to with a tarpaulin roof and situated in the Garib Nagar slums, was destroyed by bulldozers Thursday in order to make room for a drainage path in preparation for the oncoming monsoon season. Approximately 30 more homes were destroyed along with Ismail’s, whose previous home was also destroyed in similar fashion while filming for Slumdog Millionaire was still taking place.
Those whose homes were destroyed were given no advance warning. Ismail’s mother told the press, “We didn’t even get a chance to remove our belongings. We are now left with no roof over our head tonight and the monsoon will begin in a few weeks. We have lived here for 15 years. I don’t know what we will do next.”
The 10-year-old actor, who had been asleep in the home when the bulldozers came to demolish it, told reporters, “A police officer took a bamboo stick to hit me, and I was frightened.”
The authorities, no doubt embarrassed by the sudden publicity of the event—the outrageous and inhumane destruction of the homes would never have found its way into the news had it not been for the level of fame achieved by one of the victims—have suggested they will provide the Ismail family with housing, but that promise has not yet been kept.
The destruction of the Ismail family’s home is the second highly-publicized tragedy to befall a young cast member from the Oscar-winning film. Last month, the impoverished father of 9-year-old Slumdog actress Rubina Ali allegedly tried to sell his daughter to a wealthy family. Since then, the Jai Ho Trust, established by the makers of Slumdog Millionaire to provide for their young child stars when filming was completed, has hired a social worker to see that Ali is kept safe.
The Jai Ho Trust was meant to provide young Ismail and Ali with housing, education and, once they turned 18 and completed school, an undisclosed amount of money with which to begin their adult lives. The filmmakers also donated $747,500 to a charity charged with providing support to the large number of Mumbai’s slum children.
In spite of their efforts, the filmmakers have been unable to secure a stable, healthy life for their child actors. Both Ismail and Ali continue to suffer in the slums, with Ismail and his family now forced into homelessness. Ultimately, such acts of personal charity, while well-meaning, are inadequate.
There are some 18 million people living in Mumbai. Over half of them are consigned to the slums.
The popularity of Danny Boyle’s recent film, Slumdog Millionaire has led to a surge of media interest in the Mumbai slum of Dharavi which is partially depicted in the film: here.