amy pool

(no subject)

Give this a read:

Veteran bloggers Tim Ireland, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have had their sites pulled by their ISP’s for criticising Alisher Usmanov, the alleged dodgy geezer who is trying to buy Arsenal football club.

People who have been into the blogging scene for a while will know that things like this have happened a few times in the past but that the censors never win.

Ironically, Bob Piper the person who did a picture of David Cameron bloacked up for Bob Piper once threatened legal action to bloggers carrying a copy of a page that he thought he’d deleted - the page in question is, and always has been, available on this blog (Naughty Bob Piper). The Sun got a High Court injunction banning the publishing of images of a journalist they used to try and entrap George Galloway MP. The blogging community published hundreds of copies of his picture and the injunction was set aside because it was unenforceable.

The latest attempt to supress free speech comes courtesy of Alisher Usmanov’s lawyers, Schillings of London. Schillings are apparently well known for this sort of thing although I’ve not had any experience of them. Yet.

No doubt they’ll be in touch soon - the post by Craig Murray, the former Uzbekh ambassador and author of a book which criticises him, which Schillings are trying to censor is as follows:

September 2, 2007

Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist

I thought I should make my views on Alisher Usmanov quite plain to you. You are unlikely to see much plain talking on Usmanov elsewhere in the media becuase he has already used his billions and his lawyers in a pre-emptive strike. They have written to all major UK newspapers, including the latter:

“Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet regime. We wish to make it clear our client did not commit any of the offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these matters have now been expunged from police records . . . Mr Usmanov does not have any criminal record.”

Let me make it quite clear that Alisher Usmanov is a criminal. He was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke “Gorbachev”, a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed. That is completely untrue.

Usmanov’s pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev. It was achieved through the growing autonomy of another thug, President Karimov, at first President of the Uzbek Soviet Socilist Republic and from 1991 President of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered the “Pardon” because of his alliance with Usmanov’s mentor, Uzbek mafia boss and major international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov. Far from being on Gorbachev’s side, Karimov was one of the Politburo hardliners who had Gorbachev arrested in the attempted coup that was thwarted by Yeltsin standing on the tanks outside the White House.

Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the World’s most corrupt regimes got him out of jail. He then plunged into the “privatisation” process at a time when gangster muscle was used to secure physical control of assets, and the alliance between the Russian Mafia and Russian security services was being formed.

Usmanov has two key alliances. he is very close indeed to President Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the country’s natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through Putin’s long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski. Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college. Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazproms interests outside Russia, Usmanov’s role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom’s bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has bought out - with the owners having no choice - the only independent national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist’s death, is set out in great detail here:

Usmanov is also dogged by the widespread belief in Uzbekistan that he was guilty of a particularly atrocious rape, which was covered up and the victim and others in the know disappeared. The sad thing is that this is not particularly remarkable. Rape by the powerful is an everyday hazard in Uzbekistan, again as outlined in Murder in Samarkand page 120. If anyone has more detail on the specific case involving Usmanov please add a comment.

I reported back in 2002 or 2003 in an Ambassadorial top secret telegram to the Foreign Office that Usmanov was the most likely favoured successor of President Karimov as totalitarian leader of Uzbekistan. I also outlined the Gazprom deal (before it happened) and the present by Usmanov to Putin (though in Jastrzebski’s name) of half of Mapobank, a Russian commercial bank owned by Usmanov. I will never forget the priceless reply from our Embassy in Moscow. They said that they had never even heard of Alisher Usmanov, and that Jastrzebski was a jolly nice friend of the Ambassador who would never do anything crooked.

Sadly, I expect the football authorities will be as purblind. Football now is about nothing but money, and even Arsenal supporters - as tight-knit and homespun a football community as any - can be heard saying they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they can compete with Chelsea.

I fear that is very wrong. Letting as diseased a figure as Alisher Usmanov into your club can only do harm in the long term.

This text is available from the Google cached version of Craig Murray’s website and from other websites and blogs. Whether Craig Murray is right or wrong in what he says, he has a right to voice his opinion. If Alisher Usmanov or his lawyers, Schillings, have proof that this is libelous then they should seek redress through the courts. The fact that they simply threaten ISP’s and the media with legal action instead would suggest that the evidence doesn’t exist.

The fact also remains that not only has Craig Murray’s website been taken down but other websites that refer to it have also been taken down. If someone wants to talk about a public figure or talk about someone else talking about a public figure then their right to do that must be protected.

You can do something about this. Alisher Usmanov is a rich man but he cannot realistically take on hundreds or thousands of people. Copy the text above to your website or blog and help protect free speech.
amy pool

(no subject)

I've just been made aware of the website

Suffice it to say I'm pissed off.

Infact, no; that will not suffice. I'm now going to rip it a new arsehole.

It calls itself the Terrorism Awareness Project, when really its more like the Muslim Bashing Project, since it mentions absolutely no other religion, or terrorist group.

It is headed by someone called Stephen Miller, who, by the briefest of glances at his introductory "About the Project" letter, is somewhat grammatically incompetent.

I know it is considered bad form to point out sub-par grammar when arguing against someone's beliefs, as ad hominem attacks are almost always merely diversionary, and I do so on this occasion only to illustrate how inattentive to detail this Stephen Miller apparently is. I think you'll agree that, in the case of a website full of supposed facts seeking to disparage an entire religion, flawlessness should be of the highest importance.

"...America, the world’s beacon of liberty and the guardian its (sic) freedoms."

"We will provide informational literature [...] and panel discussions s (sic) whose purpose is to make our fellow students aware of the Islamic jihad..."

This is just sloppy; a discouraging first impression to those who might otherwise take the project more seriously.

Remaining with the letter, let's now examine the factual inaccuracies and dubious ideological assertions.

"On September 11th 2001 America suffered the worst and bloodiest attack in its history. Nearly 3,000 innocent civilians were brutally murdered in the unprovoked assault."

I don't think there are many sane people in the world who truly believe that 9/11 was utterly unprovoked. Morally unjustified? Yes. Unprovoked? No. But don't take my word for it - Miller himself even alludes to this fact two paragraphs later!

"This threat did not begin with 9/11. [...] Missiles were launched into Afghanistan and Iraq by the Clinton Administration..."

So there you have it. Clinton bombed Arab countries yet we are supposed to believe that the young Arab men who were so brimming with hatred did not consider this, and many other examples of aggression, a provocation? To some people, this might come down to a "chicken or egg?" analogy. Who started it? Who attacked whom first? But an act as simple as opening a history book will show that the Middle East and parts of Africa have for centuries been occupied on and off by Western imperial forces. During World War One, India was considered "Britain's most valuable possession", without a hint of irony surrounding the idea that maybe, just maybe, India should actually belong to the Indian people.

It is very easy to see, when looking neutrally, where this all started.

"The cost of continued complacency will be lethal. The terrorists will attack us again."

I'm actually at a loss to understand this statement. What complacency? The complacency that took us into aggressive war, complacent toppling of the Iraqi government and the resulting complacent occupation? Not to mention the complacent treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and the complacently illegal Guantanamo Bay naval base? If that's what he's referring to, then, yes, that's exactly the kind of complacency that will encourage "the terrorists" to attack us again.

The final quote I'm going to lift really exposes beautifully the sine qua non of this kind of rabid, imperialist racism.

"... defending America, which is under siege both abroad and at home."

The definition of the word "siege", according to, is "the act or process of surrounding and attacking a fortified place..." Ergo, it is impossible for "America" (a fortified continent with clearly defined borders) to be under siege "abroad".

What Miller is attempting to say, of course, is that American soldiers are being attacked abroad. This is a very different thing, considering that they are part of an aggressive, invasive and occupying force in the country that belongs to the Iraqi people. The idea that one can violently invade another's land and set about propping up a puppet government (which is clearly in contravention of international law, anyway) and still have the audacity, when the citizens and rightful owners of that land rise up in opposition to you, to claim it is an attack of your country, which lies thousands of miles away across the Atlantic, is a disgraceful, obscurantist tactic and an incredibly unapologetic, elitist, ideological stance.
amy pool

(no subject)

I made this a while ago, then it got deleted from YouTube for no apparent reason, so I've re-uploaded it and shall now bless you with it.

amy pool

(no subject)

I recently received a link to a video put out by from one of my Republican friends (with whom I enjoy regular shouting matches) and I thought it was interesting enough to write about here.

Here's the video (don't worry, it's only 3 mins 47 seconds). LINK

I understand the point the GOP propagandists are trying to make with it, but it doesn't entirely satisfy me as being a sound argument. The most condensed summary of the video I could make would be along the lines of "Ha-ha, you were as wrong as we were", which is hardly a brilliant point. Kind of like John Wayne Gacy criticising Ted Bundy.

Some of the Democratic Party members shown in the video are also known warmongers and war supporters anyway, so pointing that out is merely pointing out the obvious to educate the oblivious. Think of the bombing attacks Bill Clinton metered out during his presidential term... Think of Hillary Clinton demonstrating outside the American UN building with a banner in her hand that read "Israel is Fighting for American Values", and her continued outspokenness about her support of the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on Iran. Hillary's record on war issues doesn't fill me with very much confidence at all. She might have the donkey as the symbol of her chosen party, but with regard to possible Presidential candiditure, she's the biggest elephant in the room as far as I'm concerned.

As for the section where Nancy Pelosi says "Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons, there's no question about that"... Well, yes he certainly did, because Donald Rumsfeld sold some of them to him. I don't see what the inclusion of that clipping was intended to acheive, unless they just couldn't resist dropping a picture of her face into an anti-Democratic Party propaganda video because they're a bit upset that she's become the current Speaker of the House which now enjoys a Democratic majority.

Finally, the concluding piece of footage shows excerpts of George W Bush reading a speech someone else wrote for him, including the following: "When I took the decision to remove Saddam Hussein, Congress approved it with strong bi-partisan support..."

Doesn't that sit uncomfortably with you? I think it would with most. It seems like a very convenient way of retrospectively delegating blame, fuelled by the notion that the more thinly the blame is spread, the less of it there is plastered on him. It was still his decision, his responsibility as Commander in Chief. The real reason so many senators, including 29 Democrats, voted in favour of the Iraq Resolution was because the dossiers and so-called intelligence gathered for consideration was full of holes and later turned out to be absolutely misleading. Let's also not forget that the UN voted overwhelmingly against the war and thus forbade it, but being one of the five privileged member states of the UN with the absolute power to veto, Bush went ahead with it anyway, with his middle finger erected towards the international community and the world in general, so for him to talk about justification in terms of votes in his own senate is duplicitous. Characteristically so.

On the whole, however, the video does serve as a sound reminder of the horrible state of political affairs in that country and mine, but it fails as an effective pro-Republican video since in pointing out these perceived hypocricies of Democratic Party members, it also reminds us that the Republicans were the ones saying those pro-war things, too, except louder and with greater temerity. All the more reason not to vote for them, or any of the people featured in the video.

All the more reason to seek someone who has always been anti-war. Someone who is not a hypocrite, and someone who doesn't need notes to speak while he pretends the words coming out of his mouth are his own.

I believe some members of like to call him Iraq Hussein Osama.
amy pool

(no subject)

I've been thinking about spin and misrepresentation. And now I'm going to write about it. Wit' mah fingerz!

The recent Channel 4 documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, was a 90 minute debunking of the concerns that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are heavily responsible for global climate change. It was presented and polished in a very convincing way, and this worries me.

I'm not worried because I'm some kind of climate activist - infact I know very little about carbon emissions, recycling, fossil fuels, alternative energy or any of that, and therefore don't really qualify to have a steadfast opinion - I'm worried because the furore created after it aired is a remarkably clear demonstration of how people can be manipulated by television to form political opinions and affiliations at the drop of a hat, yet cling to them like limpets for the rest of their lives as if they were beliefs they'd carved for themselves through years of gathered experience and deep consideration. I'm sure that people no longer consider both sides of an argument, they just see a single programme, or hear the convincing words of a single pundit, and that's it. Instant conversion to that stance. Baptism at the font of dubiously gathered knowledge.

I watched the entire documentary because I was very interested to see what angle the makers of the programme were going to take, since it's a divisive subject. It's always seemed to me that, for the most part, the Right-wing people will deny global warming is a problem even when they are watching great glaciers melt and drop into the arctic depths, leaving some very pissed off looking polar bears stood on what remains, whereas the Left-wingers are more likely to demand that it is a clear and present apocalyptic catastrophe and we should all build floating houses and stock up on canned food and solar-panelled hats.

The documentary was standard fare, presented in the usual juggling of narration over stock footage with excerpts of professors posed in their offices answering questions we don't get to hear asked. It was mainly focussed on four or five leading scientists (but isn't everyone a "leading scientist" these days?) who appeared to be telling us in no uncertain terms that the idea that carbon emissions were warming the Earth was proposterous. As a self-confessed climate change retard, this interested me a lot, because it was like someone telling you that pink was infact blue, and then going on to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was such an astounding polemic that went against everything we hear in the media about the issue. If what these professors were saying was true, and the graphs and evidence they were presenting was real, then the idea of man-made pollution having a terrible, detrimental effect on climate was indeed a swindle. A Great Global Warming Swindle.

Now, please be aware that I'm approximating the details in the following paragraph since I can't remember the exact explanation, so don't quote me on the specifics... The conclusion drawn was that the amount of CO2 attributed to humans and industry was of such a miniscule level compared to naturally occuring CO2 emissions by, for instance, the sea, the animals and a hundred and one other things, that it couldn't possibly account for the warming of the Earth. Instead, they offered the reason for global warming as being the Sun. Not the British gutter newspaper, but the giant hot thing in space. Apparently Sun-spots (and various other phenomena that I don't pretend to understand at all) effect warming far more than anything else, and they had graphs that showed the Sun-spot activity over centuries going up and down, and overlayed a graph of ice ages and warm times in the Earth's history and (bet you never saw this coming!) they married up quite well indeed. Overall conclusion seemed to be that it's the Sun that controls our climate fluctuations, and since we can't control the Sun we should all stop worrying. They stopped short of suggesting we all laugh at people who drive Hybrid cars and celebrate by shooting off an entire can of aerosol-spray into the air, but I think that was implied... Roll credits. Job done.

I was left with a lot of questions, though. I certainly wasn't convinced, but I was convinced that there would be millions of other people sat infront of their televisions that night who were. And that's what concerns me. You can make vast numbers of "ordinary" people believe anything with slick presentation of fact mixed with half-truths and sprinkled with a few out and out lies. Think about the propaganda before the Iraq invasion. So many millions of Americans were in favour of military action, not because they were evil, Neo-Conservative, fascistic, self-interested bastards, but because they'd been presented with untruths and half-truths by evil, Neo-Conservative, fascistic, self-interested bastards. In 2007, now that the reality of the Iraq situation has found its way on to the intellectual radar-screens of plenty more Americans, many have changed their minds and now concede that they simply hadn't fully understood what was going on, that they are disappointed with their government's misinformation and that if they knew then what they know now, they would have been against an invasion of Iraq.

So, was this documentary just a lot of carefully constructed rhetoric in favour of Right-wing policy? I really don't know. I suspect it was. I'd like to believe that it was.

This brings me to my point: One thing I do know for certain - and this is the furore I foreshadowed above - is that one of the professors interviewed on the programme, Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is angry after seeing it aired and is considering making a formal complaint to the channel. From an article in The Independent, he said he'd been completely misrepresented by the programme and totally misled on its content. Infact, he actually does agree that human CO2 emissions are warming the Earth! Now that, to my keenly focussed and sharp mind, is rather an alarming development. If a man who is an expert on global warming and believes that carbon from cars and factories is warming our climate has had footage of himself chopped around and edited up to make his contribution seem supportive of a programme about how human CO2 isn't causing global warming, then what else in the documentary is also complete propagandised, out of context rubbish?

I'll try to follow any further developments in the news as closely as I can, but the one sad fact I'm achingly aware of is this: No matter if, over the course of the next few days or weeks, The Great Global Warming Swindle is taken apart publicly and loudly, and proven to be nothing but lies and twisted truths in its entirety, the damage has already been done. People often choose sides, choose something to instantly believe in, based on a lot less than this.

I wonder how many new recruits the Climate Criminal Club has signed up for life membership this week based on the momentum of just staring at a glowing, lying cathode ray tube in the corner of a lounge for 90 minutes?