Sunday, September 30, 2007

Welcome to the Desert of the Unreal

I have a section in the book about how lies in a fascist shift serve a different purpose than they do in a democracy. In a democracy, people lie to deceive. In a fascist shift, lies serve to disorient. Lies in the service of a fascist shift make it hard for citizens to trust their own judgment about what's real and what's not. Once citizens don't know what's real and what's not real, they are profoundly disempowered. The Bush administration seems to have learned that lesson, and they regularly name things the opposite. And there's a long historical precedent for making people feel that there is no such thing as truth.

School Days

In a racist, terroristic police state.

The Spook Who Sat By The Door

via Zuky

Review at PopMatters.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Alisher Usmanov

Craig Murray's web site host pulled his blog because of the following post (via Lenin, see also):

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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


He ought have asked it, I guess, in cartoons.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007


"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."


To understand what’s really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

Back in January, announcing his plan to send more troops to Iraq, President Bush declared that “America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.”

Near the top of his list was the promise that “to give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.”

There was a reason he placed such importance on oil: oil is pretty much the only thing Iraq has going for it. Two-thirds of Iraq’s G.D.P. and almost all its government revenue come from the oil sector. Without an agreed system for sharing oil revenues, there is no Iraq, just a collection of armed gangs fighting for control of resources.

Well, the legislation Mr. Bush promised never materialized, and on Wednesday attempts to arrive at a compromise oil law collapsed.

What’s particularly revealing is the cause of the breakdown. Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.

Now here’s the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.

Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn’t all that surprising, given this administration’s history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the “axis of evil.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Osama yo mama

From atol letters:

The man with the dyed beard returns [Sep 11] by Ramzy Baroud alludes to the group that translated the recent [Osama] bin Laden video, but no more. A little time spent searching for details about SITE [Search for International Terrorist Entities] finds the following info about SITE and one of its founders, Rita Katz. From Source Watch: "The Terrorism Library, on cursory investigation, looks to be a straight data scrape from the US Department of State's Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2003, Appendix B. The list of publications often provides a very short synopsis of a news item, with a reference given for a translation from their premium service; [at] other times they offer full mirrors of news items, poorly marked up. Rita Katz is director and co-founder of the SITE Institute. Born in Iraq, her father was tried and executed as an Israeli spy, whereupon her family moved to Israel [the move has been described as both an escape and an emigration in different sources]. She received a degree from the Middle Eastern studies program at Tel Aviv University, and is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. She emigrated to the US in 1997. Katz was called as a witness in the trial, but the government didn't claim she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in [the United States of] America in 1997. She also admitted to receiving more than [US]$130,000 for her work as an FBI [US Federal Bureau of Investigation] consultant on the case." It was telling that CNN, when airing the latest video from BL, never mentioned once who performed the translation. An article in the New York Times credits SITE with the translation. Guess they didn't want to get into sticky details, like the one that the head of SITE, Rita Katz's father, was executed for being an Israeli spy. Or that Katz has been receiving money from the FBI. But that wouldn't influence anyone's impartiality, now would it? And that bin Laden: the last time he appeared, the Republicans were needing help in the 2004 presidential elections. Now he appears just as the Republicans are needing help continuing the war against Iraq and selling the next war against Iran. Boy oh boy, is that BL clever or what? He should go to work for the CIA [US Central Intelligence Agency].
Greg Bacon
Ava, Missouri (Sep 12, '07)

Catastrophically Competent

Naomi Klein: Why failure is the new face of success

"So while the reconstruction of Iraq was certainly a failure for Iraqis and for US taxpayers, it has been anything but for the disaster capitalism complex. Made possible by the September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq represented nothing less than the violent birth of a new economy. This was the genius of Rumsfeld's "transformation" plan: since every possible aspect of both destruction and reconstruction has been outsourced and privatised, there is an economic boom when the bombs start falling, when they stop and when they start up again - a closed profit-loop of destruction and reconstruction, of tearing down and building up. For companies that are clever and far-sighted, such as Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, the destroyers and rebuilders are different divisions of the same corporations."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Truly Mos Def

Bill Maher: You don't think Bin Laden knocked down the World Trade Center?

Mos Def: Absolutely Not!

Bill Maher: Come aaaawn...

Mos Def: I don't! I don't. I don't. I don't - and in any barber shop I am so not alone. I am so not alone.

Jana Aranya

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16

Saturday, September 08, 2007

BBC: Osama is neither dead nor dyeing

What's wrong with this beard?

The BBC's comedy security correspondent Frank Gardner is here to help:

"analysts have suggested that, rather than being dyed, it may be actually false, and that to help avoid detection he is clean-shaven these days."

Journalistic rubbish??

i heartily agree that GCC countries are useless at monetary and fiscal policy, and, well, at everything else, which is why any talk of economic, let alone monetary union is simply quite absurd..

i noticed subtle propaganda/disinformation in that exclusive article so I promptly emailed the author..

To my pleasant surprise, he replied the same day (from his Bloomberg Mobile MSG, no less).

How courteous and professional, but then i should expect that from a company I think has the best ever customer service in the world..

Subject: Re: GCC
Date: 12:32 AM
To: ###############??????????@@@@@@

Islamist terrorism was the perceived threat from iranian islam after the
revolution. Of course this wasn't made explicit in any official documentation.

Sent From Bloomberg Mobile MSG

---- Original Message ----
From: &^*$* ##@
At: 9/8/2007 0:17

You wrote:

"The Gulf Cooperation Council, as the alliance is known, was created in
May 1981 as a military accord to protect members from the Iran-Iraq war
and Islamist terrorism."

From "Islamist" terrorism??

What rubbish.

When you have the time maybe you can lead me to an original 1981
document that mentions this.



Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pav Teaching

(Susan Mentzer at 22)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Party Tape

The Life and Times of Alasdair Gray (so far)

Alasdair Gray 0-70, a 25-minute documentary made by Kevin Cameron for the BBC in 2004:

Part One (Early Life & "the possibilities of delight and horror")

Part Two (Art School & the idea of "a fantastic modern Divine Comedy or Pilgrim's Progress, without the religion")

Part Three (Teaching, the dole & "a formidable Danish teenager who accepted my clumsy wooing")

Part Four (Lanark)

Part Five (1982 Janine & the Oran Mor ceiling)

- From Gray's storyboard for a projected film version of

Lanark: A Life in Four Books:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Conspiracy Praxis: Lockerbie

From today's Observer. (The priceless reference to "conspiracy theorists and investigative journalists" in the last paragraph speaks volumes about the current state of journalism.)

Vital Lockerbie evidence 'was tampered with'

Fragments of bomb timer that helped to convict a Libyan ex-agent were 'practically carbonised' before the trial, says bankrupt Swiss businessman

Alex Duval Smith, Europe correspondent
Sunday September 2, 2007

The Observer

The key piece of material evidence used by prosecutors to implicate Libya in the Lockerbie bombing has emerged as a probable fake.

Nearly two decades after Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Scotland on 21 December, 1988, allegations of international political intrigue and shoddy [sic!] investigative work are being levelled at the British government, the FBI and the Scottish police as one of the crucial witnesses, Swiss engineer Ulrich Lumpert, has apparently confessed that he lied about the origins of a crucial 'timer' - evidence that helped tie the man convicted of the bombing to the crime.

The disaster killed 270 people when the London to New York Boeing 747 exploded in mid-air. Britain and theUS blamed Libya, saying that its leader, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, wanted revenge for the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986. At a trial in the Netherlands in 2001, former Libyan agent Abdulbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life.

He is currently serving his sentence in Greenock prison, but later this month the Scottish Court of Appeal is expected to hear Megrahi's case, after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled in June that there was enough evidence to suggest a miscarriage of justice. Lumpert's confession, which was given to police in his home city of Zurich last week, will strengthen Megrahi's appeal.

The Zurich-based Swiss businessman Edwin Bollier, who has spent nearly two decades trying to clear his company's name, is as eager for the appeal as is Megrahi. Bollier's now bankrupt company, Mebo, manufactured the timer switch that prosecutors used to implicate Libya after they said that fragments of it had been found on a Scottish hillside.

Bollier, now 70, admits having done business with Libya. 'Two years before Lockerbie, we sold 20 MST-13 timers to the Libyan military. FBI agents and the Scottish investigators said one of those timers had been used to detonate the bomb. We were shown a fuzzy photograph and I confirmed the fragments looked as though they came from one of our timers.'

However, Bollier was uneasy with the photograph he had been shown and asked to see the fragments. He was finally given permission in 1998 and travelled to Dumfries to see the evidence.
'I was shown fragments of a brown circuit board which matched our prototype. But when the MST-13 went into production, the timers contained green boards. I knew that the timers sold to Libya had green boards. I told the investigators this.'

Back in Switzerland, Bollier's company was in effect bankrupt, having faced a lawsuit from Pan Am and having lost major clients, such as the German federal police to which Mebo supplied communications equipment.

In 2001, Bollier spent five days in the witness box at the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. 'I was a defence witness, but the trial was so skewed to prove Libyan involvement that the details of what I had to say was ignored. A photograph of the fragments was produced in court and I asked to see the pieces again. When they were brought to me, they were practically carbonised. They had been tampered with since I had seen them in Dumfries.
Few people apart from conspiracy theorists and investigative journalists working on the case were prepared to believe Bollier until the end of last month, when Lumpert, one of his former employees, walked into a Zurich police station and asked to swear an affidavit before a notary.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Come Together

The late Ian McDonald on the Beatles, the Sixties, the Left and the Right:

"It was hard for (Christopher) Booker, or Malcolm Muggeridge, or Mary Whitehouse to understand that much of what appeared to be profane in Sixties youth culture was quite the opposite ... by a devilish paradox, those who thought they were at the cutting edge of social development in the Sixties - the hippies, the New Left - soon found themselves adrift in the wake of the *real* social avant-garde of the period: ordinary people. The individualism of the Me Decade, as Tom Wolfe dubbed the Seventies, was a creation of the Sixties' mass mainstream, not of the peripheral groups which challenged it. Former hippies and radicals who abandoned the utopian 'we' for rueful self-interest in the Seventies, far from leading public taste, were merely tagging along behind it. As for the punks, their blurt of betrayal in 1976-8 was apprehended by the comfortable, sensible majority of Western society with no more than mystified amusement.

The irony of modern right-wing antipathy to the Sixties is that this much-misunderstood decade was, in all but the most superficial senses, the creation of the very people who voted for Thatcher and Reagan in the Eighties. It is, to put it mildly, curious to hear Thatcherites condemn a decade in which ordinary folk for the first time aspired to individual self-determination and a life of material security within an economy of high development and low inflation. The social fragmentation of the Nineties which rightly alarms conservatives was created neither by the hippies (who wanted us to "be together") nor by the New Left radicals (all of whom were socialists of some description). So far as anything in the Sixties can be blamed for the demise of the compound entity of society it was the natural desire of the 'masses' to lead easier, pleasanter lives, own their own homes, follow their own fancies and, as far as possible, move out of the communal collective completely.

The truth is that, once the obsolete Christian compact of the Fifties had broken down, there was nothing - apart from, in the last resort, money - holding Western civilisation together ... It is, in short, no accident that Mrs Thatcher should have founded her outlook on the conviction that society does not exist - and no surprise that her favourite Sixties tune is 'Telstar' by The Tornados, a record symbolising the rise of technology-driven post-war prosperity and mass social emancipation. She and her radicalised, post-consensus Conservative voters are the true heirs of the Sixties. *They* changed the world, not the hippies (and certainly not the New Left). What mass society unconsciously began in the Sixties, Thatcher and Reagan raised to the level of ideology in the Eighties; the complete materialistic individualisation - and total fragmentation - of Western society. Hoist with its own petard, the New Right now seeks to pin the blame for the unhappier aspects of the Sixties' social revolution on groups whose influence on the course of events oover the past quarter of a century has been at best peripheral, at worst non-existent ... When contemporary right-wing pundits attack the Sixties, they identify a momentous overall development but ascribe it to the very forces who most strongly reacted against it. The counterculture was less an agent of chaos than a marginal commentary, a passing attempt to propose alternatives to a waning civilisation ... At their heart, the (Sixties) countercultural revolt against acquisitive selfishness - and, in particular, the hippies' unfashionable perception that we can change the world only by changing ourselves - looks in retrospect like a last gasp of the Western soul. Now radically disunited, we live dominated by and addicted to gadgets, our raison d'etre and sense of community unfixably broken."

Brought up in an age of consensus the like of which I know I'm never going to see, [Ian McDonald] could still remember the days of togetherness - his greatest break with Received Wisdom, and hence his finest moment, was his claim that "All You Need Is Love" was not the start of a new era in Western society but the end of the one that came before, the final moment when Everyone Joined In.

Miles Davis (VI)

Miles Davis (V)

Miles Davis (IV)

Miles Davis (III)

Miles Davis (II)

Miles Davis (I)