31 October 2009
Robyn is playing one of his regular benefit concerts for Medecins Sans Frontieres tonight at the Three Kings, Clerkenwell. This time it's going to be a performance of Abbey Road. I'm not a Beatles fan in any way shape or form, but , hey, it's in a good cause!
I Often Dream of Trains is of course the title song of his third solo album released in 1984. It is the title somg of a new live CD/DVD release which should be landing on my doorstep soon, postal strikes notwithstanding
30 October 2009
Back n August we took delivery of a new pet which we were assured was a British Miniature Indoor Angora.
Delighted with our new resident we decided that we should join BAGS forthwith
Imagine our shock and disappointment when the society wrote back to inform us that there was no such thing as a Miniature Indoor Angora. What we had taken in was in fact a cat. We were this told not to bother the society until we obtained a real angora. Furthermore we were advised to avoid sellers of Norwegian Blue parrots or of magic beans
Ah well so Boris is really a cat. He's still a handsome fellow!
There existed an adult male person who had lived a relatively short time, belonging or pertaining to St. John’s*, who desired to commit sodomy with the large web-footed swimming-birds of the genus Cygnus or subfamily Cygninae of the family Anatidae, characterized by a long and gracefully curved neck and a majestic motion when swimming.
So he moved into the presence of the person employed to carry burdens, who declared: “Hold or possess as something at your disposal my female child! The large web-footed swimming birds of the genus Cygnus or subfamily Cygninae of the family Anatidae, characterized by a long and gracefully curved neck and a majestic motion when swimming, are set apart, specially retained for the Head, Fellows and Tutors of the College.”
2. According to Dr Johnson’s Dictionary (Edition of 1765)
There exifted a person, not a woman or a boy, being in the firft part of life, not old, of St John’s* who wifhed to – the large water-fowl, that have along and very straight neck, and are very white, excepting when they are young (their legs and feet being black, as are their bills, which are like that of a goofe, but fomething rounder, and a little hooked at the lower ends, the two fides below their eyes being black and fhining like ebony).
In consequence of this he moved step by step to the one that had charge of the gate, who pronounced: “Poffefs and enjoy my female offspring! The large water-fowl, that have a long and very straight neck, and are very white, excepting when they are young (their legs and feet being black, as are their bills, which are like that of a goofe, but fometimes rounder, and a little hooked at the lower ends, the two fides below their eyes being black and fhining like ebony) are kept in ftore, laid up for a future time, for the fake of the gentlemen with Spanish titles.”
*A college of Cambridge University
Source Well it amused me....
LOST ON THE PRAIRIE
by William McGonagall
In one of fhe States of America, some years ago,
There suddenly came on a violent storm of snow,
Which was nearly the death of a party of workmen,
Who had finished their day's work - nine or ten of them.
The distance was nearly twenty miles to their camp,
And with the thick falling snow their clothes felt damp,
As they set out for their camp, which was in a large grove,
And to reach it, manfully against the storm they strove.
The wind blew very hard, and the snow was falling fast,
Still, they plodded on, but felt a little downcast,
And the snow fell so fast they could scarcely see,
And they began to think they were lost on the wild prairie.
And they suddenly noticed marks of footsteps in the snow,
Which they found were their own tracks, as onward they did go,
Then they knew they were lost on the great prairie,
And what could they do in such a fearful extremity?
Then their hearts began to sink with woe,
In dread of having to pass the night in the snow,
And they cried, "Oh, God help us to find our way,
Or else we are lost on the lonely prairie."
And while they stood shivering with the cold,
One of the party a particular horse did behold,
Which was known by the name of Old Jack,
So to take off his bridle they were not slack.
When the horse was let free he threw up his head and tail,
Which seemed to say, "Follow ms, and ye will not fail.
So come on, boys, and follow me,
And I'll guide ye home safely."
And they cried, " Old Jack can show us the way,
So let's follow his tracks without dismay";
And with the falling snow they were chilled to the bone,
But the horse seemed to say, "I'll show ye home."
And at last they gave a shout of delight
When they saw their camp fire burning bright,
Which was to them a cheerful sight,
And they caressed Old Jack for guiding them home that night.
And they felt thankful to God for their safety,
And they danced around Old Jack with their hearts full of glee,
And Old Jack became a favourite from that day,
Because he saved them from being lost on the wild prairie.
Never forget that you can drink your fill of the Tayside Tragedian here at McGonagall Online/a>
29 October 2009
According to the Times Hossein Rassam, a senior employee of the British Embassy in Tehran, has been given a four-year prison sentence after being found guilty of fomenting violence at the behest of the British Government. Rassam, the embassy’s political counsellor, was sentenced in a closed courtroom this week, although the outcome is yet to be publicly announced.
Mr Rassam was arrested on June 27 and accused of “acting against national security (a catch-all term that can be manipulated to fit any alleged act).According to reports on the state organ Fars in July, Rassam’s confessions “cast light on many hidden angles of the interference of Britain in Iran’s internal affairs in recent years”. Apparently he had confessed to controlling a a £300,000 budget that had been allocated to establishing contacts with political groups, including that of Mir Hossein Mousavi. And so on and so forth.
Needless to say Rassam is more likely the victim of Iran’s paranoid “Uncle Napoleonism” (basically if anything goes wrong, blame Britain – an approach that has a firm basis in the past, sadly) than anything approaching the truth. Here’s hoping that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are on borrowed time
28 October 2009
Recorded at the 40th Anniversary concert Porcdhester Hall in August. Sadly the prospect of standing around all day did not appeal, what with my leg injury, so I sold the ticket I had bought back in late January/early February. I do regret doing so. Ah well roll on December when they play next... better still roll on their 50th anniversary!
27 October 2009
I don’t dine out much so I don’t usually take much notice of restaurant critics. As a result I didn’t read A A Gill’s (Adrian Anthony, or should that be I A for Inadequate Arsehole?) review of the Luxe Restaurant in East London in the last issue of the Sunday Times.
For what it’s worth the food at the Luxe is not bad apparently (3 stars) but the eating establishment and its food took second place to Gill boasting about how he shot a Baboon. I doubt the owner appreciates a review that starts
“I shot a baboon in Africa, last Wednesday, just after lunch. Shot it dead... .I was in Africa wearing a Robert Redford Out of Africa hat. The sort of hat that just makes you ache to kill stuff. I have a theory about hats: they really do maketh the man... "
and doubtlessly the hat made S T Gill make him think he was Ernest Hemmingway in big game hunter mode
“...So I’m in Africa, in a hat, with dark intentions and a truck full of guns and other blokes in hats. Josh the hunter said: “Why don’t we shoot a baboon?” All nonchalant, looking out of the window at the amazing Tanzanian acacia scrub that drifts into the Serengeti plain. What about a baboon? ...So, I said, why not?.. I’ll be a recreational primate killer. Now, baboons aren’t stupid. ..."
Just like that, D H Gill decides to waste a monkey
"So there was this big bloke leaning against a rock, picking his fingernails, a hairy geezer sitting in the sun with his shirt off. I took him just below the armpit.... A soft-nosed .357 blew his lungs out. We paced the ground. The air was filled with a furious keening of his tribe. Two hundred and fifty yards. Not a bad shot. "
Hmm It sounds like Gill had a hard on while blasting one of our distant cousins. But then even he knows there is no real excuse for this behaviour:
"I know perfectly well there is absolutely no excuse for this. There is no mitigation. Baboon isn’t good to eat, unless you’re a leopard. The feeble argument of culling.. a veil for naughty fun....I wanted to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone..."
On the other hand FW Gill could have found out what it was like to kill a person bu pointing the gun into the roof of his mouth and pulling the trigger...
And so on. I picked up the story from today’s Guardian (and before any right wing wankers slag the Grauniad, it’s in the Mail too). Unsurprisingly (and quite rightly) animal welfare groups are up in arms.
Personally I feel nothing but contempt for the man. What was the point? Machismo? Self Esteem? Even if it was simple curiosity, Gill must be a particularly pathetic creature to need to shoot a living being to sate those needs.
And if it turns out to be a fiction, perhaps Gill is sublimating a twisted fantasy..
Ah well, whatever the answer, the man is a sad little specimen. I won’t call him a *unt as c*nts serve a useful purpose
26 October 2009
When I was visiting old friend in Paris in August, we made a spur of the moment decision to visit Bayeux. I had never been there and I wanted to see the Tapestry, My friend, who had been there before wanted to see the journalist Memorial.
In 2007 Reporters Without Borders and the town of Bayeux inaugurated a Journalists Memorial to honour over 2,000 journalists (the most recent being Mexican Norberto Miranda Madrid, murdered on 23 September) who have been killed since 1944 while doing their job. Many are killed reporting on military conflict, but far more are killed for writing what others do not wish to see published.
It is a peaceful memorial, consisting of white stones bearing the names of the dead journalists. Some years, mercifully, have no deaths; some have a few including my birth year (1963) when two Vietnamese photographers died. It is depressing to see that recent years have far more deaths than the years of worldwide conflagration. The death rate appears to be increasing, as our insane propensity for warfare continues and as murder is used more often to silence truth-seekers.
"It’s the only place in the world where my husband’s name is carved in stone,” said Michèle Montas, widow of murdered Haitian journalist Jean Dominique,
Jean Dominique was an exceptionally brave man. The founder of Haiti’s first Independent Radio Station, he was a vocal opponent of the Duvaliers. Dominique, had to flee Haiti twice in 1980 and 1991, He returned for the last time in 1994.
In his final years he concentrated on issues of corruption and negligence. He took on former police chief Dany Toussaint whom he accused of having his rival for the position of Secretary of State for Public Security. On 3 April 2000 Dominique was shot four times in the chest as he arrived for work at Radio Haïti. Toussaint was almost certainly responsible.
Dominique is memorialised in Bayeux, Toussaint is alive and well and immune from prosecution.
If you are in Bayeux, it is well worth the visit
25 October 2009
On Friday he responded to criticism of his performance of on Question Time by insisting he had faced " a lynch mob”
A lynch mob? What Griffin faced was a hostile audience. What he got was a rough ride.
This is a lynch mob:
This is a Question Time Audience.
There is a big difference between the two, no matter how hostile the latter was. Luckily Griffin will never know what it is like to be on the receiving end of a lynching.
Tomorrow sees the start of the trial of war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Poet and psychiatrist, convicted embezzler and new age guru, Karadzic was responsible for mass murder and some the most barbaric behaviour in Europe since the Nazis.
According to the Guardian the trial is likely to open with a test of strength. Karadzic insists on defending himself and, after 15 months in detention, maintains he is not ready, having had to plough through around one million pages of prosecution evidence. The judges run the risk of repeating fateful mistakes that handicapped previous big trials, awarding an early psychological victory to the man in the dock.
"Karadzic has learnt the lessons of [earlier] trials and may suspect a lack of confidence on the part of the judges to deal with obstructive tactics," said Sir Geoffrey Nice, the British QC who led the prosecution of the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic. "The judges let Milosevic defend himself. This allowed him to manipulate the system to slow the trial."
Mirko Klarin, who has been chronicling the workings of the court for more than a decade as director of the Sense news agency, believes that the judges have learnt their lessons from past fiascos, and that they may impose defence counsel on Karadzic to try to avoid the trial degenerating into a political circus. "You had a disaster in the Milosevic case, and now you have a looming disaster in the Karadzic case," he said. "The biggest single mistake was letting the accused defend themselves."
Whatever happens, justice must be seen to be done. Whatever he does to obstruct, Karadzic deserves a fair trial (even if he denied that to many thousands of Bosnians).
While it will be good to see him tried and sentenced to rot in prison for the rest of his worthless life, fellow butcher General Ratko Mladic, remains at large...
...Worse still is that Karadzic’s creation, Republika Srpska, born out of genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes, still abides....
24 October 2009
The athlete replied, No, I'm German, but how did you know my name was Walter?
23 October 2009
The theme for this week's Photo Hunt is tied. Not wishing to show a photo of the sea (stretching the theme to tied) or a barn near where I live which is mistakenly named a tithe barn, I give you a photo from the Pompidou Centre. Something must be tied to something here! I'll be back to visit tomorrow.
22 October 2009
It’s been another good patch for odd appearances. First we have Tommy Cooper on a pie, then there was Jesus in Ikea (I passed on that one). Now we have Koran verses appearing periodically on a baby’s body.
According to the Telegraph Thousands of pilgrims queued up this week to get a glimpse of 9-month-old baby Ali Yakubov. Pinkish in colour and several centimetres high, the Koranic verse "Be grateful to Allah" was printed on the infant's right leg in clearly legible Arabic script this week, religious leaders said. Visiting foreign journalists later saw a single letter after the rest had vanished.
"The fact that this miracle happened here is a signal to us to take the lead and help our brothers and sisters find peace," said Sagid Murtazaliyev, head of the Kizlyar region about 100 miles north of Makhachkala, the sprawling Dagestani capital on the Caspian Sea.
"We must not forget there is a war going on here," he told Muslim leaders who had invited the press to witness what they claim is a sign from God.
Green satin flags mark the way to the baby's modest family home in Kizlyar. Armed police patrol the house while imams change photos of Yakubov's arms and legs covered in Arabic script from previous episodes to both jubilation and wails from the bustling crowd.
Sayid Amirov, Makhachkala's influential mayor who has survived around a dozen attacks on his life since the mid-1990s, interpreted the recent buzz around the baby as a warning."What happened here is indeed a miracle, but this should also be a message to not take religion too far," he told reporters.
Yakubov's 26-year-old mother Madina said she had no doubt the verses - which first appeared two weeks after birth - were connected to extremism. "Allah is great and he sent me my miracle child to keep our people safe,"
Hmm pale pink words that disappear after a few days.. I wonder if indelible ink is available. On the other hand if it did help a little towards peace in another area of conflict...
The Telegraph has a curious report on a study by a Dr Bekoff from the University of Colorado who claims that magpies feel grief and even hold funeral-type gatherings for their fellow birds.
Dr Bekoff studied four magpies alongside a magpie corpse and recorded their behaviour.
"One approached the corpse, gently pecked at it, just as an elephant would nose the carcase of another elephant, and stepped back. Another magpie did the same thing, " he said. "Next, one of the magpies flew off, brought back some grass and laid it by the corpse. Another magpie did the same. Then all four stood vigil for a few seconds and one by one flew off."
After publishing an account of the funeral he received emails from people who had seen the same ritual in magpies, ravens and crows.
"We can't know what they were actually thinking or feeling, but reading their action there's no reason not to believe these birds were saying a magpie farewell to their friend," he wrote in the journal Emotion, Space and Society.
Those who see emotions in animals have been accused of anthropomorphism – the attribution of human characteristics to animals. However, Dr Bekoff said emotions evolved in humans and animals because they improve the chances of survival. "It's bad biology to argue against the existence of animal emotions," he said.
Who knows what the magpies were thinking or doing. Although it is dangerous to apply human emotions directly to animals, the elements of behaviour that have evolved into emotions in our species are present in other species. So perhaps they were conducting a rudimentary funeral rite. However it could have been that the dead magpie was an utter git and the other magpies were making sure he was really dead!
21 October 2009
Peter Alec Cannon, 54, pleaded guilty to aggravated armed robbery in the Supreme Court in Launceston on the island state of Tasmania on Monday. Crown prosecutor John Ransom told the court that a policeman had picked up a leech from near a safe at the scene of the crime from which forensic scientists extracted blood and a DNA sample. Seven years later, Cannon was arrested and charged with a drugs crime. Police were able to match his sample with the one from the leech at the crime scene
The court heard that Cannon and another man had robbed and assaulted a 71-year-old woman at her home, stealing $500 from her.
Hooray for leeches!
20 October 2009
According to the BBC a quiz organised by Somali Islamists did indeed give out such goodies as prizes. The quiz ran during Ramadan in the port city of Kismayo, and included questions about the Koran and Somali geography. A representative for the al-Shabab militant group said the quiz aimed to stop young men from wasting their time and focus on defending their territory.
The winning team reportedly won a rifle, two grenades, a landmine and office supplies worth $1,000 (£613). But the runners-up did not go home empty-handed, taking away an AK-47 and bullets.
The guns, grenades and land mine I can understand but the office equipment? Good for writing ransom demands I suppose... or perhaps the pen IS mightier than the sword
19 October 2009
Back in 2006 when the Poor Mouth was a baby and its poverty was of Corkadoragha levels, I posted and item about the U-35, its rescue of sailors from a ship it had sunk and its appearance in Ventry in County Kerry, Ireland. I reposted the item in April when I was still in my cast and prevented from climbing the walls by the cast itself...
In Saturday’s Irish Examiner columnist Ryle Dwyer (whose original article from 1999 formed the basis of my 2006 post) wrote an article announcing that that a memorial was to be unveiled in Ventry to commemorate the U-boat’s arrival 70 years ago.
The U35 arrived in Ventry on 4 October 1939 to drop off 28 Greek seamen. Two days earlier, off the southwest coast of England, the crew of the Greek vessel Diamantis had panicked and abandoned ship when they saw the U-boat. Launching into rough seas one of the lifeboats overturned, throwing the men into the sea, but the crew of the submarine rescued them.
The other crew members were then invited on board before the U35 sank their ship The Greeks were offered beds and told to make themselves comfortable. They were given cigarettes, tea and other refreshments. They later expressed appreciation for the way they were treated. Obviously they could not be landed in England so they were taken to Eire which was neutral during WWII.
"When the Greek sailors said goodbye to me on the conning tower they went on their knees and kissed my wedding ring as if I was a bishop," the U-boat captain, Werner Lott, recalled. "I did not want this but they said we owe our lives to you. You have treated us very nicely."
When the U35 returned to Germany in October 1939, the crew were celebrated, and Werner Lott was decorated with the Iron Cross. On its next mission, however, the U35 was sunk in the North Sea on November 29, 1939.
Damaged by depth charges, Lott brought the U-boat vessel to the surface and ordered the crew to abandon ship. The commander of the pursuing British flotilla, Lord Louis Mountbatten, ordered that the German submariners should be picked up. It was only afterwards that he learned they were the crew of the U35.
Some days later Lott got a chance to express his appreciation to Mountbatten. "I thanked him for the extraordinary efforts his destroyer made to pick us up," Lott recalled. "That is how life is," Mountbatten replied. "You were extraordinary picking up the Greeks." "I could not help thinking," Lott later wrote, "why are we fighting each other?"
According to a website dedicated to Werner Lott and his vessel, the crew were placed in the Tower of London before dispersal to other POW camps in England and, ultimately, in Canada. Lott and his second in command were treated to dinner at the Savoy by Lord Mountbatten.
Despite its humanitarian nature the incident caused the Irish Government some embarrassment. On October 16, 1939 the landing was featured on the cover of Life, a popular photographic magazine with a huge international circulation. The story lent credence to the wild tales about U-boats bases in Ireland. The stories were rubbish (imagine what Britain would have done if there was truth in the story) but that did not stop them from being believed by many people.
To illustrate this point, a Daily Mail correspondent reported that he heard stories in the remote bogs of Kerry about local fraternisation with U-boat crews that "would make any Briton’s hair stand on end". He also stated that he was shown a pub in Dingle where a U-boat captain proposed a toast to the downfall of John Bull. In another pub a man told him that a U-boat called regularly at a jetty on one of the islands to purchase fresh eggs and vegetables. "Come on, Maggie," the submarine commander used to shout, "hurry up with those cabbages."
The journalist was taken in by people who were taking his beer and telling him what he wanted to hear, that or they were simply taking the rise!
Ironically the U-boat’s arrival was predated by the arrival of a damaged seaplane which set down in Ventry harbour on September 14, 1939 with 12 men on board. The pilot, Lt Edward J Brooks, and a mechanic, went ashore with a broken fuel pipe, and a passing motorist gave them a lift to Dingle where the mechanic repaired the pipe in a garage!
The ceremony to unveil the memorial will be attended by German ambassador to Ireland, Dr Busso von Alvensleben, and the mayor of the Greek Oinousses Islands, It is a small tale but an example of humanity in a war that saw so much brutality and took millions of lives, It is very much the sort of story that should never been forgotten.
Both regular readers will know that I am partial to a good simulacrum (or a bad one), be it Allahu Akbar written in the seeds of an aubergine, the face of Jesus on a griddle or even Our Lord on the arse of a terrier. It is thus with great pleasure to note the appearance of Caerphily’s greatest son on the base of a pie.
According to Wales Online, chip shop owner Crad Jones was tucking into his normal lunch of pie and chips when he discovered the uncanny image of Tommy Cooper appeared. The simulacrum appeared in the village of Trethomas, just a few miles from Caerphilly.
Mr Jones had the presence of mind to phone manufacturer Peter’s Pies, which arranged for a photographer to take a picture of the ghostly image. Crad Jones said: “I was about to eat my lunch in the shop, as I normally do. I got my Peter’s pie, which I always have with chips and peas, and noticed the resemblance of Tommy Cooper on the bottom of it.”
Staff at the PR company who distributed the picture were quick to deny yesterday that the image of Cooper on the pie was an elaborate publicity stunt.
This is just the latest in a series of dead comedians appearing on foodstuffs. Eric Morecambe appeared on a sugar puff in East Grinstead while Tony Hancock’s face ironically was noticed on a red blood corpuscle in Guy’s Hospital. I have just heard that Michael Barrymore came on to a water biscuit but that may have just been a drinking game
18 October 2009
“Since the very first years, Trafigura and all its employees, deeply conscious of their social responsibilities, have shown a strong commitment to charitable support and philanthropy in the communities where they operate...”
And this is from the “About Us” page of the Trafigura Foundation website:
“Being committed to making our world a better one has at all times been at the heart of Trafigura, be it at the personal level of the employees themselves, or at the global corporate one. During the 15 years of existence of the Group, our people and offices have relentlessly shown loads of imagination, dynamism and energy to organize, contribute to or participate in charitable initiatives, offering many charities and non-profit organizations throughout the world significant resources for furthering their causes.”
But not in Abidjan of course... Words fail...
In a letter to the security council, Karadzic claimed that in 1996 American envoy Richard Holbrooke offered to exempt him from prosecution if he agreed to withdraw from politics. Needless to say Holbrooke has repeatedly denied making this offer. Tribunal judges have said that, even if Karadzic's claim was true, it would not bind them.
Karadzic's trial is set to comment on 26 October. He faces 11 charges, including two counts of genocide, including one in respect of the murder of almost 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.
Hmm did Karadzic have important knowledge about building rockets or innovations in chemical or biological warfare? In which case I can’t see any reason why an American would offer the likes of Karadzic a break...
I look forward to seeing Karadzic being set down for a very long time, or at least long enough for him to die of old age in a prison cell
I just could not resist posting this. I wet myself laughing when I saw this on a programme caled "Last Chance To See" on BBC2 a oouple of weeks ago. It's that look of aparent delight on the Kakapo's face which cracks me up while Stephen Fry's mellifluous tones are always a delight to hear.
17 October 2009
Yesterday evening Carter-Ruck, libel lawyers for Trafigura, wrote a letter to the Guardian which said the newspaper should regard itself as "released forthwith" from any reporting restrictions. This come after the paper was hit by a "super-injunction" banning all mention of it, despite the fact that it had been the subject of a parliamentary question.
The report, commissioned in September 2006 by Minton Treharne and Davies, said that based on the "limited" information they had been given Trafigura's oil waste, dumped cheaply the month before in a city in Ivory Coast, was potentially toxic, and "capable of causing severe human health effects".
The study said early reports of large scale medical problems among the inhabitants of Abidjan, were consistent with a release of a cloud of potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas over the city. The effects could have included severe burns to the skin and lungs, eye damage, permanent ulceration, coma and death.
The author of this initial draft study, John Minton, of consultants Minton, Treharne & Davies, said dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe and the proper method of disposal should have been a specialist chemical treatment called wet air oxidation.
Trafigura subsequently did not use the report in the personal injury report in the claim against them and did not disclose the report's existence. Trafigura subsequently issued a series of public statements saying the waste had been routinely disposed of and was harmless. Trafigura based this decision on other reports produced from an analysis of the slops obtained from the Probo Koala ship. Trafigura dismissed complaints of illness in a lawsuit brought by 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan, before being forced last month to pay them £30m in compensation and legal costs in a confidential out of court settlement.
The oil firm then conceded in a public statement that the toxic fumes could have caused "flu-like symptoms" to the inhabitants. But it was accepted in an agreed statement by both sides that expert evidence did not back the more serious claims of deaths, miscarriages or serious injuries, made in previous official statements by the Ivory Coast and British governments and in a UN report.
Before the settlement announcement, Trafigura's lawyers Carter-Ruck obtained a super-injunction from a judge, banning the Guardian not only from revealing the existence of the Minton report, but also from telling anyone about the existence of the injunction.
They said the Minton report was confidential because it had been obtained for possible use in litigation. Trafigura said the report was only preliminary and had proved to be inaccurate. They said hydrogen sulphide in the waste could not have broken down into a dangerous gas after the dumping and that other experts had concluded: "no other chemicals were released in concentrations capable of causing significant harm to human health".
Carter-Ruck was unable to prevent the publication of internal company emails by the Guardian, which confirmed Trafigura executives had been aware in advance that their waste was hazardous, and knew that it ought to have received expensive specialist treatment. Company traders talked about making "serious dollars" from paying someone to take away their "shit".
A statement by Minton, Traherne and Davies indicates that some of the conclusions in the report were incorrect, being based on limited information and was thus redundant.
Even if elements of the report were incorrect, there is one thing that screams out in all of this. Trafigura are, whichever way you look at it, a bunch of amoral money grabbing bastards who almost certainly would not have cared a damn if people would have died so long as it did not affect their profit margin. Had they given a damn in the first place they would have presented the waste for disposal in a matter legal in the European Union. But oh no, that was far too expensive so they looked for a cheaper option involving a bunch of cowboys in West Africa.
No matter how they spin it, this is the act which shows the very worst face of capitalist greed, the bully boy tactics of their lawyers Carter-Ruck highlighted the amorality of their business. Vermin like Trafigura and Carter-Ruck deserve each other. If there was any natural justice in this world it would be them scraping a desperate living in the margins of a Third World shantytown.
16 October 2009
15 October 2009
Apparently an Iranian website has denied that Iran's supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is in a coma
In a separate development, the head of the Basij militia denied that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had explosive diarrhoea while attending Friday prayers at Qom last week....
Fade into you - Mazzy Star
14 October 2009
Recent events have confirmed in my mind that corporate criminals Trafigura and their legal vermin Carter-Ruck exist to give the perverts who sniff bicycle seats someone to look down on. This opinion was strengthened this week when the vile pairing managed to hit another new low when they briefly drove a coach and horses through the right of the Press to report parliamentary proceedings.
By obtaining what is known as a super injunction the corporate criminals and their legal vermin were able to prevent the Guardian from reporting on the following parliamentary question from Labour MP Paul Farrelly the justice secretary, Jack Straw:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura."
Despite it being a public document the Guardian was prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, saying what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.
The Guardian was also forbidden from saying even why it was prevented from reporting parliament. Moreover, the injunction could not be identified nor could the client identified. In fact all that the Guardian could say was that the case involved Carter-Ruck.
According to media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, Lord Denning had ruled in the 1970s that "whatever comments are made in parliament" can be reported in newspapers without fear of contempt. This dates back to a ruling in relation to the identity of an officer granted anonymity by a judge on grounds of 'national security'. The Director of Public Prosecutions threatened the press might be prosecuted for contempt, but most newspapers published.
The injunction was amended yesterday and the Guardian was them able to publish details of the question.
Today Conservative MP Peter Bottomley stated that he was going to report Carter-Ruck, the law firm that acted on behalf of Trafigura, to the Law Society, saying that no lawyers should be able to inhibit the reporting of parliament.
"I will be seeking their advice on whether it is proper for any lawyer to purport or intend to inhibit the reporting of parliament," he said. "It is the job of the press to make aware to all what is known by a few. Any court action which inhibits that should be approved at a very high level, with full justifications, and in normal circumstances, should not be made in secret."
In a press release yesterday Carter-Ruck, stated “The order would indeed have prevented the Guardian from reporting on the parliamentary question which had been tabled for later this week." However, they accused the Guardian of being "highly misleading" in its reporting.
The role blogosphere and Twitter played in broadcasting this outrage is to be commended. Carter-Ruck claimed that it had not been their intention to block reporting of parliamentary proceedings but it must have been clear that this would be the case; I somehow find this very hard to believe...
Adam Tudor and his minions at Carter-Ruck might wish to consider whether defending the reputation of amoral scum like Trafigura is worth the millions they must earn from it. When you consort with criminals the shit rubs off. It is good to see that their arrogance has backfired on them in the same way that fellow shysters Schillings got two years ago over Craig Murray.
On the other hand there is a piece of shit in Chechnya called Kadyrov who I am sure could benefit from their services. That is a pair that deserve each other!
According to the BBC a Moscow court has rejected a lawsuit filed by Yevgeny Dzhugashvili Joseph Stalin’s grandson claiming that the Russian newspaper; Novaya Gazeta, had defamed Joseph Stalin.
Dzhugashvili said that an article published in the newspaper that claimed Stalin personally ordered the deaths of Soviet citizens was a lie. He had requested a public apology and damages from the opposition newspaper.
The court rejected his petition and the Novaya Gazeta had published a piece referring to declassified death warrants, which it said bore Stalin's personal signature.
Mr Dzhugashvili has five days to appeal against the ruling.
Well there you have it Stalin was a murdering bastard after all and not a doting grandfather....
A more disgraceful legal action from the UK featuring my “favourite” corporate criminal scum Trafigura and their rabble of ugly shysters Carter-Ruck to follow.
13 October 2009
According to the Times carbon dating and infra-red analysis of the artist’s technique are consistent with such a conclusion, but the most compelling evidence is that fragment of a fingerprint.
Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal-based forensic art expert, found the print while examining images captured by a multispectral camera The fingerprint is “highly comparable” to one on Leonardo’s St Jerome in the Vatican. Importantly, St Jerome is an early work from a time when Leonardo was not known to have employed assistants, making it likely that it is his fingerprint.
Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford supports these findings. He has rechristened the picture, sold as Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, as La Bella Principessa after identifying her, “by a process of elimination”, as Bianca Sforza, daughter of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan (1452-1508), and his mistress Bernardina de Corradis.
If it is by Leonardo, it would be the only known work by the artist on vellum although Leonardo is known to have asked the French court painter Jean Perréal about the technique of using coloured chalks on vellum in 1494.
Hmmm I daresay the current owner is, let’s say, pleasantly surprised and perhaps even has dollar signs where his pupils should be. Still there is another benefit: Leonardo’s dabs can go on record... you never know when he might go ram raiding....
12 October 2009
Running separate to the furore over June’s stolen election, or its nuclear ambitions Britain and Iran are in a furious (well sort of) war of words over an important cultural artefact.
According to the BBC the Iranian government has said it will cease cultural co-operation with the British Museum unless a treasure known as the Cyrus Cylinder is loaned to the nation.
A British Museum statement said its trustees have "reaffirmed their intention to lend the Cylinder to Iran" but added that "there are a number of issues and practicalities to be resolved, but the intention is to send it as agreed."
Mr Baqaie said Iran's Cultural Heritage Organisation would consider severing ties with the British Museum if the piece was not loaned to them within two months.
The object, which is around 2,500 years old, was ordered to be made by Persian king Cyrus. It is said to represent the first bill of rights and encapsulate religious toleration.
Given that many of the artefacts at the recent Shah Abbas exhibition came from Iran so it is only fair that an important item is loaned to Iran. After all it was hardly dredged up from the Thames riverbed...
11 October 2009
Dave Osler’s latest post sets out the basis for the libel case. This is a brief summary:
In 2007 Kaschke nominated herself as Labour candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow but she received just one vote. Shortly after she defected to the Respect party then a little later to an unnamed Communist Party. Not long after she became a Conservative. Strangely . Kaschke contends that listing her affiliations denies her the right to freedom of association under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The jury will also be asked to decide whether calling her 'one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte'. Is libellous. This was not written by Dave Osler but by a person leaving a comment As Dave Osler says “If I lose on that point, the consequences for internet freedom of speech are clearly considerable.”
John Gray is being sued on a related matter. Alex Hilton’s suit is on the basis that he runs of Labour Home and not for any comment he has made.
This is a ridiculous suit that deserves to be laughed out of court. It appears to be the work of someone who has far too thin a skin for the rough and tumble of politics. I don’t believe that politics should be abusive but one should not run to the courts over such a mild insult! So here goes: Johanna Kaschke is a poopy-faced, knicker-wetter who has fleas, nits and (for the benefit of north American readers) cooties too.
Anyone who goes through four parties in a year is not likely to be considered for high office. Perhaps that is just as well... However, if she wins the the law will demonstrate itself to be an ass but polyorchid (polyorcidism is a condition where a man has more than the normal amount of testicles. In this sense the law will show itself to be a load of bollocks)
According to the Times scientists have determined that there is such a thing as a vegetarian spider. Bagheera kiplingi, a South American species, lives almost exclusively on acacia leaf buds and is thought to be the only spider of about 40,000 species to have largely rejected a carnivorous diet.
“This is the first spider known to ‘hunt’ plants as a primary food source,” said Christopher Meehan of Villanova University, in Pennsylvania, who observed the creatures, about the size of a thumbnail, on a field trip in Mexico. It must be pointed out that he didn’t actually discover the species. It was discovered in 1896 although a female of the species was not found until the 1990s.
B kiplingi is not totally vegetarian: they will sometimes eat the larvae of the ants that have a symbiotic relationship with the acacias where they live (The ants guard the trees from intruders and in return the acacia produces nodules on its leaves called Beltan bodies. These are protein and fat rich. The ants feed on them, as do the spiders). The spider will also resort to cannibalism
Despite this the discovery is a major surprise for zoologists. Before Meehan’s discovery it was that spider physiology made plant-eating impossible. “Spiders aren’t thought to be capable of eating solid food at all,” said Meehan. Normally they secrete enzymes onto their prey to digest them outside the body and then consume what’s left as a kind of soup. B kiplingi, however, eats its vegetables whole.
Ah this is utterly fascinating stuff...
10 October 2009
The theme for this week's Photo Hunt is sport. I don't have a lot of sporting photos but here are a couple of shots of a statue to Irish Olympic champion Dr Pat O'Callaghan in his home town of Kanturk, Co Cork. Dr O'Callaghan won gold medals for Ireland the Hammer event at both the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles games. The photo below is of Dr O'Callaghan in his heyday
09 October 2009
According to the Guardian the first death sentence has been passed against a defendant accused of involvement in the mass protests in Iran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stolen election. A revolutionary court in Tehran handed the penalty to Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani, 37, after convicting him of muhabereh – taking up arms against Iran's Islamic system.
Ali-Zamani had confessed to working for an exile group, the Iran Monarchy Committee, which Iranian officials describe as a terrorist organisation. Prosecutors alleged that he plotted political assassinations with US military officials in Iraq before returning to Iran "aiming at causing disruption during and after the election".
Ali-Zamani admitted guilt during a series of show trials that began in August in. Many senior pro-reformist politicians confessed to fomenting the unrest that followed Ahmadinejad's victory. Needless to say these trials have been rightly condemned. It is pretty certain that the defendants were tortured to force them to confess.
Ali-Zamani is not well known. His indictment said he had joined the Iran Monarchy Committee after hearing about it on a television satellite channel. His activities are said to have included distributing anti-regime CDs and propaganda, as well as copies of the Satanic Verses (!!!!!!).
Ali-Zamani was accused of meeting an American called Frank in the Iraqi city of Irbil and passing information about conditions inside Iran in exchange for money. He was also alleged to have received instructions on how to build a chemical weapon from a fellow member of the IMC. Another part of the indictment alleges that he met two US military officers named "Mike and Robert" and gave them information on Iranian officials who had allegedly been targeted for assassination.
Prosecutors claimed that Ali-Zamani – who they say had a criminal record for forging revolutionary guard and judicial stamps – took part in an operation, called Salman, in which he gave the IMC information on members of the hardline Basij volunteer militia. They said he had conducted "vast communication activities" inside Iran before being arrested by intelligence officers.
The allegations were dismissed by the IMC, which is run by Iranians living in Europe and the US. A committee spokeswoman, Dordaneh Fouladvand, confirmed that Ali-Zamani had worked with the organisation but insisted he had played no role in the post-election protests. His activities had been limited to working for its radio station, Radio Tondar, she said.
This is clearly an exemplary sentence from what was most certainly a show trial. Is this going to deter protestors? I doubt it somehow. The Iranian government has just created a martyr in the making.
08 October 2009
This year’s Nobel Prize for literature goes to Romanian-born German novelist Herta Mueller. The prize recognised her ability to depict “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose ... the landscape of the dispossessed”.
Mueller is apparently best known for describing the harsh conditions suffered in Romania under the totalitarian rule of the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She began work as a translator but was reportedly sacked after refusing to co-operate with the Securitate, the secret police during the communist regime
She made her literary debut in 1982 with a collection of short stories titled Niederungen, which was promptly censored by the Romanian government. In 1984 an uncensored version was published in Germany and her work depicting life in a small, German-speaking village in Romania was devoured by readers. That work was followed by Oppressive Tango in Romania. She left the country with her husband in 1987.
I am utterly unfamiliar with her work. Sadly there does not seem to be much both in translation and in print here. It sounds like it is definitely well worth reading. I hope this award will result in her work being made available here in the UK.
The Wreck of the Abercrombie Robinson
Twas in the year of 1842 and on the 27th of May
That six Companies of the 91st Regiment with spirits light and gay,
And forming the Second Battalion, left Naas without delay,
Commanded by Captain Bertie Gordon, to proceed to the Cape straightaway.
And on the second of June they sailed for the Cape of Good Hope
On board the "Abercrombie Robinson," a vessel with which few vessels could cope;
And in August the 25th they reached Table Bay,
Where a battalion of the 91st was warned for service without delay.
To relieve the 91st, which was to be stationed at Cape Town,
An order which the 91st obeyed without a single frown;
And all the officers not on duty obtained leave to go ashore,
Leaving only six aboard, in grief to deplore.
There were 460 men of the 91st seemingly all content,
Besides a draft of the Cape Mounted Rides and a draft of the 27th Regiment;
But, alas an hour after midnight on the same night
A strong gale was blowing, which filled the passengers' hearts with fright.
The ship pitched heavily and could be felt touching the ground,
Then Captain Gordon warned the Sergeant-Major and officers all round,
That they might expect a storm, to him it seemed plain;
And, as he predicted, it blew a terrific hurricane.
And the passengers' hearts were filled with dismay,
And a little after three o'clock in the morning the cable broke away,
Then the ship drifted helplessly before the merciless storm,
While the women and children looked sad, pale and forlorn.
Then the thunder roared and the lightning dashed in bright array,
And was one of the greatest storms ever raged over Table Bay,
And the ill-fated vessel drove in towards the shore,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh and loudly did roar.
And the ship rolled and heaved with the raging tide,
While the seas poured down the hatchways and broke over her side,
And the ship wrought for herself a bed in the sand;
Still Captain Bertie hoped all might get safely to land.
'Twas about seven o'clock when daylight did appear,
And when the storm ceases the passengers gave a cheer,
Who had been kept below during the awful night,
Then in small groups they came on deck, a most pitiful sight.
Alas! sad and dejected, sickly looking, pale and forlorn,
Owing to the close confinement during the storm;
And for a time attempts were made to send a rope ashore,
But these proved futile owing to the raging billows which loudly did roar.
Then one of the ship's cutters was carefully lowered over the side,
And her crew towards the shore merrily did glide,
And succeeded in reaching the shore with a leading line,
And two boats were conveyed to the sinking ship just in time.
And to save the women and children from being drowned,
Captain Gordon gave orders to the 91st all round
For the women and children to disembark immediately,
Who to God were crying for help most, frantically.
And the 91st made a most determined stand,
While lowering the women and children it was awful and grand,
As they lowered them gently into the boats over the ship's side,
Regardless of their own lives whatever would betide.
Then the sick were to disembark after the women and children,
And next the 27th Regiment and Cape Mounted Riflemen;
And from half-past eight till ten o'clock the disembarkation went on,
While the women and children looked ghastly pale and woe begone.
The disembarkation of the 91st came at last,
And as there were only two boats available they stood aghast,
Because the boats only carried each time thirty;
Still, the work went on for four hours most manfully.
And at half-past three the last boat left the ship's side,
And o'er the raging billows the small boats did glide,
Containing the officers and crew who remained to the last,
To see the women and children saved and all danger past.
And after a night of great danger and through a raging sea
Seven hundred souls were carried from a sinking ship providentially
And among them were trembling children and nervous women also
And sick men who were dying with their hearts full of woe.
But thank God they were all saved and brought to land,
All through Colonel Bertie Gordon, who wisely did command
The 91st to see to the women and children's safety,
An order which they obeyed right manfully;
And all honour is due to the 91st for their gallantry,
Likewise Captain Bertie Gordon, who behaved so heroically.
For more of the Tayside Tragedian go to McGonagall Online
07 October 2009
Excavations at the site have suggested there was once a stone circle 10 metres in diameter and surrounded by a henge (a ditch with an external bank). The stones at the site were removed but the sizes of the holes in which they stood indicate that this was a circle of bluestones, brought from the Preseli mountains of Wales, 150 miles away.
The standing stones marked the end of the avenue that leads from the river Avon to Stonehenge, a 1¾-mile long processional route constructed at the end of the Stone Age. The outer henge around the stones was built about 2400BC but arrowheads found in the stone circle indicate the stones were put up as much as 500 years earlier.
Project director, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of the University of Sheffield said his team was waiting for results of radiocarbon dating which could reveal whether stones currently in the inner circle of Stonehenge were originally located at the other riverside construction. It should also show whether the newly discovered circle's stones were removed by Neolithic people and dragged along the route of the avenue to Stonehenge, to be incorporated within its major rebuilding about 2500BC. After that date Stonehenge consisted of about 80 Welsh stones and 83 local sarsen stones.
Dr Josh Pollard, project co-director from the University of Bristol said that "the newly discovered circle and henge should be considered an integral part of Stonehenge rather than a separate monument and it offers tremendous insight into the history of its famous neighbour. Its landscape location demonstrates once again the importance of the river Avon in Neolithic funerary rites and ceremonies."
Once again this is the sort of thing that I find fascinating. I am a sucker for a stone circle... The time, the effort and the ingenuity that went in to creating it amazes.