"I don't think Israel is really bombing Lebanon. I think it's faulty construction that's causing these buildings to fall."
Blibble. I think my brain just fell out.
A thought from another place I read... how long before we start to worry about orally ingested explosives. Or worse: those anal (and vaginal) probes GRRM mentions may be on the cards in the not too distant future.
On a vaguely related point, while I was at parents' I retrieved my copy of Craig Murray's Murder in Samarkand (the order was sent there for reasons it would be too tedious to explain) and read it over the weekend. Fascinating: I've always been slightly sceptical about Murray, though I think he's clearly in the right more than in the wrong: though I still have a few quibbles I'm less doubtful about him than I was. The book is absorbing simply as an illustration of how the Foreign Office works these days (little different from how it has for the past 100 years so far as I can see, and not all of the change there has been is for the good) and utterly depressing in it's conclusions. I'll write more about it when I've digested it a little more.
I ought to be utterly shocked to learn that even with the example of Saddam Hussein (and others before him) staring them in the face, British and US foreign policy continues to be so moronic and short-sighted that it is considered an acceptable tradeoff to prop up a brutal totalitarian megalomaniac, with substantial amounts of taxpayers money as well as encouraging noises, for fear of Islamic fundamentalism. But I'm not.
Isn't it grand in Afghanistan now the awful Taliban aren't in charge...?
Abdul Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and could face the death sentence under Sharia law unless he recants.
Via The Religious Policeman, who has more to say.
From yesterday's Snowmail:
The Taliban are alive and well and still oppressing people in Afghanistan no matter what the British or Afghan governments might claim and tonight we'll show you the proof in the form of one incident caught on camera.
It all takes place in wilds of Helmand province - where thousands of British troops are being deployed to try to bring order and tackle the poppy fields. The Taliban in Helmand have been waging a campaign against education - burning schools, attacking teachers, terrorising all concerned.
An independent team working for Channel 4 News in Helmand got a tip off that such an attack was underway and went to film it in progress as a group of Taliban set fire to a school. Incidentally it is worth mentioning the Taliban were clearly Afghans and not foreigners from Pakistan as is often claimed by President Karzai.
While our team were filming the Taliban attack a group of Afghan armed police arrived to defend the school. Chaos ensued in which most of the Taliban got away, our team got beaten up and the school got burned. And this is the chaos our soldiers are walking into.
On the BBC website now:
Bush praises Afghanistan progress
US President George W Bush has praised the progress of Afghan democracy on his first visit to the country, where the US helped eject the Taleban in 2001.
On a surprise first stop of his maiden trip to South Asia, Mr Bush told Afghan President Hamid Karzai his country was "inspiring others".
Many are aware already that The Religious Policeman, a Saudi dissident, is well worth reading and often extremely funny. But his take on the Danish cartoons story, particularly today, really deserves attention.
ETA: In the meantime, various newspapers reprint them, for which the editor of France Soir is sacked (by the Egyptian owner). And (via Ritu) the New York president of the World Jewish Congress weighs in with a letter to The Times
I have to wonder whether it would be a criminal offence to print the cartoons in the UK, ECHR not withstanding, had the Government managed to reverse the Lords amendments on the question of incitement to religious hatred. I think there would be a real issue there, which to my mind highlights why it was so important the Government lose that one.
Seems to me it's a grave insult to any religion to suggest that it is so weak it requires threats of penalties under the civil or criminal law or of violence to protect it and the faith of its members from criticism, comment, or satire.
I shook Yasser Arafat's hand once.
He was in Oxford to talk to the Union and Sir Keith had arranged for him to come to a garden party at our college afterwards (it was summer, was supposed to be a strawberries and cream affair). He'd then told the MCR that he Very Much Hoped they would Accept His Invitation to a garden party. There were hints of a special guest but no one told us anything more.
In the event, it pissed with rain and we had to have it in the Rainolds Room. A rather bored MCR stood around, noticed with irritation the lack of drink, and speculated wildly until, suddenly, we saw a bevy of tall men wearing sunglasses and dark suits walking towards us. In the middle, about two foot lower, a red headscarf bobbing along.
He entered the room, shook an awful lot of hands, and left about five minutes later. And that was that.
I think one can say many bad things about Arafat. Fisk, who is hardly anti-Palestinian, is frankly scathing of him in Pity the Nation both on the specific question of the Lebanon and (in the 2001 edition) more generally. But was there anyone else who could have held his people together for so long? Is there anyone else now?
I can't find the specific bit I was thinking of in Pity the Nation right now. I thought it was in the chapter on his departure from Lebanon on 30th August 1982, but that isn't it.
That chapter is entitled "Dawn at Midnight". It isn't a positive title: it refers to the way the chapter ends, with Fisk's return to Beiruit on the night of 17th September 1982, as the Israelis dropped hundreds of flares, for reasons at the time utterly opaque to all, over West Beiruit.
The next chapter "Terrorists", beginning "It was the flies that told us" and recording the eye-witness accounts of what Fisk, Loren Jenkins of the Washington Post, Karsten Tveit of Norwegian radio, and Bill Foley of AP found on the morning of 18th September 1982, a situation Arafat had helped create but had foreseen and done his best to prevent, still makes me feel sick when I read it.
I think this has to be make or break time for Israel and Palestine -Sharon's plan, the removal of Arafat from the picture, etc, leave everything in flux. And I have a bad feeling.
"I don't know when I'll read it: I don't think it would be healthy for me to get depressed to any further extent. And close engagement with the details of this administration--on any issue--is always depressing."
"Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went out with Mr. Creed to drink our morning draft, which he did give me in chocolate to settle my stomach".
Ah Sam, I sympathise. But.. chocolate and beer?
"Now I usually get myself more organized with a To Do List. It reminds me what I have to do and not do and keeps me organized. I think Ariel Sharon would be able to keep things much straighter if he just kept a goals calendar to keep himself on track. Ariel Sharon, here is an idea to get you started:
- brush teeth
- buy eggs
- do not kill Yasser Arafat.
- go jogging!
- dismantle settlements
- for lunch: a light salad.
- do not kill Yasser Arafat."
Who needs other blogs when you have these three? Well, me, obviously, neverthless they're all high on my list.